FBI Fights To Keep Jurisdiction On Terror Suspects

December 1, 2011
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller

WSJ on November 29, 2011 released the following:

“By Evan Perez

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller is joining the fray as lawmakers and the Obama administration fight over whether the U.S. will rely on civilian or military authorities to detain and try terrorists in the U.S.

Mr. Mueller, who rarely injects himself publicly in such disputes, has written to Senate lawmakers who are pushing a plan to put the military in the lead. The plan, part of a defense spending bill, would allow the FBI to take charge only if the defense secretary granted a waiver.

The legislation “introduces a substantial element of uncertainty as to what procedures are to be followed in the course of a terrorism investigation,” Mr. Mueller wrote. He added that the proposed changes “will inhibit our ability to convince covered arrestees to cooperate immediately, and provide critical intelligence.”

Unlike so many disputes in D.C., this one doesn’t fall neatly on partisan lines. Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the leaders of the Armed Services Committee, worked out the detainee provision and defended it in a Washington Post op-ed.

“The bill does not tie the administration’s hands in deciding how best to handle a detainee,” the senators wrote. “Not only does the bill include a national security waiver, but it expressly authorizes the transfer of any military detainee to civilian custody for trial in the federal courts.”

Mr. Mueller, an appointee of President George W. Bush, is in his 10th year heading the FBI and earlier this year won a 100-0 Senate vote to extend his term by two years.

As we wrote yesterday, the Bush administration relied almost exclusively on civilian courts to try alleged terrorism plotters in the U.S. The lines have shifted since President Barack Obama took office. Lawmakers have used spending bills to insert restrictions on resettling Guantanamo prisoners in other countries or moving detainees to the U.S. for trial.

Freshman Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) has led the fight to put accused terrorists into military custody. “I don’t believe the criminal system should be a default position,” she said in an interview.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Pants on fire

October 18, 2011

Boston Globe on October 18, 2011 released the following:

“By Kevin Cullen

You’ve got to admire the FBI’s chutzpah. Eight years after the bureau promised Congress it would never, ever, pull another Whitey Bulger, it has been caught red-handed pulling another Whitey Bulger, this time with a reputed gangster and suspected murderer named Mark Rossetti.

Rossetti, a suspect in at least six homicides, was used as an FBI informant for two decades, ostensibly because he was a reputed capo regime in the Mafia in Boston, though, given the state of that fine fraternal organization, that’s like being the captain of a sinking ship.

In the two months that have passed since the Globe revealed that the FBI was using Rossetti as an informant despite his violent record and had lied to the State Police about his informant status, the bureau has done nothing to answer the myriad questions raised by its actions. They just say no comment, hoping we’ll all grow bored and go away.

Stephen Lynch, the congressman from South Boston, took part in those hearings eight years ago at which the FBI promised, cross-their-hearts-hope-to-die, that they wouldn’t pull another Whitey Bulger. Lynch has asked his colleagues on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold a hearing on the FBI-Rossetti axis. This, after he met three weeks ago with three FBI officials at his Washington office. They told Lynch they were about to launch a review of the Rossetti case, then told Lynch they had spoken too soon: They hadn’t received the go-ahead from above.

The foot dragging surprised Lynch.

“You would think the FBI would be hypersensitive to this sort of stuff, given what happened with Bulger,’’ said Lynch.

You would think.

Lynch also filed a bill last week that would increase congressional oversight of informants. And he’s hoping New York’s congressional delegation might piggyback on it after recent revelations that members of the Colombo crime family were killing people while working as FBI informants.

FBI stonewalling makes the need for congressional intervention beyond Boston and New England imperative, which is why Senator Chuck Grassley’s intervention is so welcome. Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He comes from Iowa and is a plain-speaking, get-to-the-point kind of guy.

Yesterday, he sent a letter to Robert Mueller, the FBI’s director, asking some very reasonable questions: When did Rossetti become an informant? How much was he paid? When did the FBI become aware of Rossetti’s criminal activity? What crimes were the FBI aware of? Was murder one of them? Did the FBI or the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility conduct a review? If the FBI lied to the State Police about Rossetti being an informant, were any agents disciplined?

Grassley says he will wait for answers and, like Lynch, he’s not going away until he gets some. As it reviews its options, the FBI might want to consider the prospect of a repeat performance of those congressional hearings eight years ago and what that did to its reputation and credibility.

The FBI employed similar tactics of delay and denial when the Bulger fiasco was first exposed in these pages in 1988. For a decade, it lied about using a reputed killer like Bulger as an informant until a federal judge named Mark Wolf made the bureau tell the truth.

The FBI can try the same thing with Mark Rossetti. It will ultimately prove futile, and the truth will come out.

And the FBI will find that, as with Bulger, putting off the inevitable only makes the final reckoning worse.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


FBI Probing News Corp. 9/11 Phone Link

July 14, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on July 14, 2011 released the following:

“By TOM HAYS
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The FBI has opened an investigation into allegations that media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. sought to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The decision to investigate was made after U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican, wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The FBI had received letters from King and other members of Congress.

News Corp., based in New York, has been in crisis mode because of a scandal that sank its U.K. newspaper the News of the World.

A rival newspaper reported last week that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of U.K. teenage murder victim Milly Dowler in 2002 and may have impeded a police investigation into her disappearance.

More possible victims soon emerged: other child murder victims, 2005 London bombing victims, the families of dead soldiers and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The FBI’s New York office didn’t immediately comment Thursday. There was no immediate response to a phone message left for News Corp. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan referred a call to the Department of Justice, which declined immediate comment.

On Thursday, Murdoch caved in to pressure from Britain’s Parliament as he and his son James first refused, then agreed, to appear next week before lawmakers investigating phone hacking and bribery by employees of their newspaper empire.

Murdoch began his media career in Australia in 1952 after inheriting The News newspaper after the death of his father, and he has built News Corp. into one of the world’s biggest media groups. Assets include Fox News, the 20th Century Fox movie studio, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and three newspapers in Britain – down from four with the death of the News of the World.

Also Thursday, Scotland Yard said it had made its seventh arrest related to the inquiry into phone hacking at the now-defunct tabloid, whose closure was a doomed effort to keep alive a bid for the highly profitable network British Sky Broadcasting. Police didn’t disclose the name of the arrested man.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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