Eric Holder appoints 2 US attorneys to lead leaks probe

June 9, 2012

Boston Herald on June 9, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama’s re-election chances, a claim Obama calls “offensive” and “wrong.”

Recent news articles contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counterterrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally painted Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief.

“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong,” Obama told reporters at a news conference Friday. “And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office.”

Obama promised investigations into the source of leaks about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

“We’re dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people, our families or our military personnel or our allies, and so we don’t play with that,” he said.

Hours later, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that two U.S. attorneys will lead a pair of criminal investigations already under way into possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information within the executive and legislative branches of government.

Holder said he was confident the prosecutors would follow the facts and evidence wherever they led.

“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated,” he said.

Holder assigned Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, to direct separate probes that are already being conducted by the FBI.

Three weeks ago, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the bureau had launched an investigation into who leaked information about an al-Qaida plot to place an explosive device aboard a U.S.-bound airline flight. Separately, calls from Capitol Hill have mounted urging a leak probe into a New York Times [NYT] story a week ago about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran.

Obama said his administration has “zero tolerance” for such leaks and that there would be an internal administration probe.

“We have mechanisms in place where if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences,” the president said. “In some cases, it’s criminal. These are criminal acts when they release information like this. And we will conduct thorough investigations, as we have in the past.”

Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Thursday they were drafting legislation to further limit access to highly classified information and possibly impose new penalties for revealing it. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said he will investigate recent leaks.

Lawmakers have pointed to recent stories by The New York Times, The Associated Press and other news organizations that contain previously secret information and cite anonymous U.S. officials.

The strongest claims came Tuesday from Obama’s 2008 election opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“They’re intentionally leaking information to enhance President Obama’s image as a tough guy for the elections,” McCain said after taking to the Senate floor to list some of the alleged breaches. “That is unconscionable.”

McCain called on the administration to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate.

In a statement Friday, McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Holder’s decision “falls far short of what is needed” and repeated McCain’s call for a special counsel.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said his committee would formally investigate the leaks but that he was concerned about the level of cooperation he would get from two government agencies.

“Just today, the CIA informed the (committee) that it cannot respond to our request for information regarding the leaks, a very troubling event indeed,” Rogers said.

The CIA has come under fire for allegedly sharing with Hollywood filmmakers classified details of last year’s U.S. raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

A Justice Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said that some officials in the department’s national security division recused themselves from one of the leak probes but that the department overall was investigating.

There are at least three investigations ongoing into disclosures of classified information.

Before becoming U.S. attorney, Machen helped lead the white-collar and internal investigation practices at the prominent Washington law firm of WilmerHale. He served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1997 to 2001.

Machen is leading a high-profile political corruption probe of officials in the District of Columbia. The latest development in that investigation came this week when District of Columbia Council chairman Kwame Brown resigned after being charged with lying about his income on bank loan applications and violating a city campaign law.

Brown pleaded guilty Friday.

Rosenstein was an associate independent counsel who worked for Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr from 1995 to 1997. He was co-counsel in the fraud trial of Jim and Susan McDougal, the former real estate partners of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both of the McDougals were convicted in a trial that also resulted in the conviction of then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said he hopes that the Justice Department brings “the full force of the law against these criminals.”

“We need to send a clear message to anyone who considers leaking sensitive information and putting Americans at risk: If you leak classified information, you will face jail time,” Smith said in a statement.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called Machen and Rosenstein “strong, capable, independent prosecutors” and said the Justice Department’s consultation with the Judiciary and Intelligence committees was an aid to congressional oversight.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Bout Asks Judge to Throw Out Conviction

March 28, 2012

The New York Times on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“By BENJAMIN WEISER

Updated 11:30 a.m. | Viktor Bout, a former Soviet Air Force officer who was convicted in November of conspiring to sell anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons to men he believed were terrorists intending to kill Americans, apparently believes that he does not deserve the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years — or any sentence, for that matter.

Mr. Bout’s lawyer has filed court papers asking a judge to refuse to sentence him next week in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The lawyer, Albert Y. Dayan, argued in a 14-page memorandum filed on Wednesday morning that Mr. Bout’s prosecution by the United States government was “the product of malice” and “private politics” stemming from “the then White House,” a reference to the Bush administration; Mr. Bout was taken into custody in Thailand in March 2008, and later sent to the United States.

His arrest followed a lengthy undercover sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which relied on cooperating informants who posed as members of the Colombian terrorist group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC.

Under the law, Mr. Bout faces at least 25 years behind bars when he is to be sentenced on April 5, but Mr. Dayan, calling his client innocent and saying that his prosecution was the product of “outrageous, inexcusable” government conduct, called such a sentence “way too much under the facts and circumstances of this case.”

He asked that the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, dismiss the indictment. A spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office had no comment.

After a three-week trial, Mr. Bout was convicted of conspiring to kill American nationals, as well as officers and employees of the United States; to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles (the count that carries the mandatory 25-year minimum term); and to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He could face up to life in prison on some counts.

In February, Judge Scheindlin did agree to a request by his lawyer that Mr. Bout be transferred from solitary confinement into the general prisoner population in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he had been held for 15 months.

The judge, who held a hearing into the matter, ruled that she could not “shirk my duty under the Constitution” and Supreme Court precedent “to ensure that Bout’s confinement is not arbitrary and excessively harsh.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


U.S. Law May Allow Killings, Holder Says

March 6, 2012

The New York Times on March 5, 2012 released the following:

“By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asserted on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible.

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Mr. Holder said in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”

While Mr. Holder is not the first administration official to address the targeted killing of citizens — the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, did so last month at Yale Law School, for example — it was notable for the nation’s top law enforcement official to declare that it is constitutional for the government to kill citizens without any judicial review under certain circumstances. Mr. Holder’s remarks about the targeted killing of United States citizens were a centerpiece of a speech describing legal principles behind the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies.

“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Mr. Holder’s speech has been planned since last fall, when questions were first raised about the Obama administration’s legal justification for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born radical Muslim cleric who died in an American drone strike last September. The administration has rejected bipartisan calls to release a secret memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which signed off on killing Mr. Awlaki. Mr. Holder’s speech was designed to offer the public some explanation of the government’s reasoning.

Still, the speech contained no footnotes or specific legal citations, and it fell far short of the level of detail contained in the Office of Legal Counsel memo — or in an account of its contents published in October by The New York Times based on descriptions by people who had read it.

The administration has declined to confirm that the memo exists, and late last year, The Times filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act asking a judge to order the Justice Department to make it public. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a broader lawsuit, seeking both the memo and the evidence against Mr. Awlaki.

Last month, Justice Department court filings against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009, provided a detailed account — based on his interrogations — of Mr. Awlaki’s alleged involvement.

Mr. Holder, by contrast, did not acknowledge the killing of Mr. Awlaki or provide new details about him, although he did mention him in passing as “a U.S. citizen and a leader” of Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch when discussing Mr. Abdulmutallab.

Although widely reported, American drone operations over Yemen are considered to be covert by the administration. Mr. Holder said that while he could not “discuss or confirm any particular program or operation,” he believed it was important to publicly explain national security legal principles.

Those began, he said, with the authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda and its allies, enacted by Congress shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an authority that he said extended beyond the traditional battlefields of Afghanistan because Al Qaeda members are moving — and launching attacks — from elsewhere.

He also said that some threats come from “a small number of United States citizens” who are plotting attacks from abroad, and that “United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.”

He focused on one situation in which someone could be killed without a trial: when a citizen who is believed to be an operational leader of Al Qaeda or its allies and who is plotting attacks; who is located in a country that either granted the United States permission to strike or that is unable or unwilling to suppress the threat on its own; and whose capture is not feasible.

Significantly, Mr. Holder did not say that such a situation is the only kind in which it would be lawful to kill a citizen. Rather, he said it would be lawful “at least” under those conditions. Later, he offered an example of another situation in which it would be lawful to kill a citizen even if all those requirements were not met: “operations that take place on traditional battlefields.””

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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.


FBI Pushes to Classify Undercover Animal Abuse Investigations as ‘Terrorism’

January 9, 2012

International Business Times – Australia on January 9, 2012 released the following:

“By Natural News

(NaturalNews) The USA Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and various other unconstitutional “anti-terrorism” legislation all appear to be getting turned right back around on the American people. It has been revealed that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been keeping files on animal rights activists who conduct undercover investigations of factory farms, and the agency is now recommending that these activists be prosecuted as “terrorists.”

Most of the video footage that has captured things like chickens stacked in endless rows of filthy battery cages, or pigs being beaten and forced mercilessly through food processing machines was captured by individuals who did so under cover, often having to lie to the farm owners to gain entry. This act of civil disobedience has been crucial in exposing extreme abuse, and in giving the public a glimpse into how animals raised for commercial consumption are treated.

These undercover investigations, of course, have also led many consumers to either stop eating meat altogether, or purchase meat from small-scale, family farms that raise their animals with dignity, and that allow them to live normal lives outside and on pastures, instead of in large, densely-packed warehouses and feedlots where the animals often never see the light of day.

In 2006, Congress passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), which proponents insisted was only aimed at animal rights groups that burn down buildings, for instance, or commit various other legitimate property crimes. But now that the legislation is law, the FBI wants to use it to target those who merely try to expose what goes on behind the scenes at some of the nation’s largest and most well-known factory farms.

According to the FBI, filming horrendous conditions at factory farms can cause said farms to experience “economic loss,” which the agency says fits the parameters of AETA’s “terrorist” activity. In other words, the mere act of taking pictures or capturing video at factory farms is a “reasonable indication,” according to the FBI, that an individual has violated AETA.

In order to combat the FBI’s egregious efforts in this matter, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts challenging the constitutionality of AETA, which can be so broadly defined as to criminalize protesting and free speech. The group says the bill is “unconstitutional” and “in violation of the First Amendment,” as well as the constitutional right to due process (http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/news/lawsuit-challenges-animal-enterprise-terror-law-unconstitutional).”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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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.


US indictment accuses Canadian man of conspiring with suicide bombers in Iraq

December 11, 2011

The Washington Post on December 9, 2011 released the following:

“By Associated Press

NEW YORK — A man in custody in Canada was indicted on Friday on U.S. charges that he helped coordinate Tunisian jihadists believed responsible for separate suicide attacks in Iraq in 2009 that killed five American soldiers outside a U.S. base and seven people at an Iraqi police complex.

Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old Canadian citizen and Iraqi national, was arrested in January on a U.S. warrant after an investigation by authorities in New York, Canada and Tunisia. Muhammad ‘Isa is being held in Edmonton, Alberta, where he’s fighting extradition to federal court in Brooklyn to face charges of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists.

Muhammad ‘Isa never left Canada as part of the alleged conspiracy, and his attorney said Friday that the United States has no jurisdiction.

“All the evidence was gathered here,” said the Edmonton lawyer, Bob Aloneissi, said in a phone interview. “There’s just no tie. … This should be done for a legal reason and not a political reason.”

An extradition request made public Friday offered fresh details on wiretap evidence and an interview of Muhammad ‘Isa that U.S. authorities claim link him to the terror network. Authorities say the group used a suicide bomber to detonate an explosives-laden truck outside the gate of the U.S. base in Mosul, Iraq, on April 10, 2009, killing the five soldiers, and it also staged a suicide bombing on the Iraqi police station on March 31, 2009.

The evidence shows that “the goal of the attacks was to compel the United States government to remove its armed forces from Iraq,” the extradition request says.

A U.S. Department of Justice investigator interviewed Muhammad ‘Isa on Jan. 19 with an FBI agent and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police corporal present, the request says. The interview “was conducted in compliance with United States law,” with Muhammad ‘Isa signing a waiver before voluntarily answering questions, it says.

During the interview, Muhammad ‘Isa admitted he corresponded by email from Canada with two of the terrorists while they were in Syria, and knew that they were on a mission to kill Americans, the paperwork says. The documents allege he corresponded with “facilitators” who were trying to get the attackers into Iraq, and wired one of them $700.

On wiretaps, Muhammad ‘Isa was overheard last year discussing with someone in Iraq how he used code words when discussing the Iraq operation, the papers say.

“For example, when I want to name the brothers, I say the farmers — because they plant metal and harvest metal and flesh,” the papers quote him as saying. He also explained that he used the term “married” to mean “in the afterlife.”

U.S. authorities alleged that the day after the attack that killed the five soldiers, Muhammad ‘Isa asked in an electronic communication, “Did you hear about the huge incident yesterday? Is it known?” He also identified the bomber as “one of the Tunisian brothers,” to which a facilitator responded, “Praise God.”

Muhammad ‘Isa told investigators in the interview that by “huge incident” he meant an explosion, the papers say.

The papers add: “When asked if he believed that it was a religious duty for Muslims to travel to Iraq and fight Americans, (Muhammad ‘Isa) stated that he believed it was the duty for every Muslim who lived in Iraq to fight American ‘invaders.’”

The indictment comes at a time when Congress, over Obama administration objections, is pushing policies to ramp up the military’s role in the handling of captured terrorism suspects. A House-passed bill would require military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. A Senate-passed bill would mandate military custody for those captured, even in the United States, and linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates.

Members of the House and Senate are negotiating a final version of the bill that could include those provisions. They hope to complete their work by early next week.

If convicted in a civilian court, Muhammad ‘Isa faces life in prison.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.


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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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

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.