The city of Portland, Ore., will contribute to an anti-terrorism partnership with federal and state authorities on an “as-needed basis,” following a six year absence from the venture, The Oregonian reported Thursday.
The Portland City Council unanimously endorsed the “as-needed” participation with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, allowing the police chief to put officers on cases after consulting with the police commissioner. But Portland will not sign an official memorandum of understanding with the FBI.
The city pulled out of the task force in 2005 over worries about insufficient supervision and civil liberties protections. But the arrest of Somali-born U.S. citizen Mohamed Osman Mohamud on charges that he tried to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland restarted a debate in the city over the task force, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Oregon U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton welcomed the city council’s decision to participate in the task force.
“Everywhere I went early on in this process, cynics and skeptics said to me, ‘Council will never do anything serious. It’s just not that kind of place. It won’t get done. It will get lost in the weeds.’” Holton said, according to The Oregonian. “And you’ve proved them wrong, and I’m deeply, deeply grateful for that.”
FBI investigations will continue unimpeded if the federal government shuts down, but training and new initiatives would be “put on the back burner,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday.
“It is taking a substantial amount of effort [for] our administrative people today to try to anticipate what will happen if there is a government shutdown,” Mueller told the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice and science subcommittee. “And that effort, which could be spent elsewhere, will continue to have to be spent as a result of whatever shutdown there is in the days and the weeks to come.”
The most recent continuing resolution funding the federal government expires Friday and negotiators from the Obama administration and Congress appear to be deadlocked.
Uncertainty over funding for government agencies has led to low morale at the FBI, Mueller said.
“A number of our persons don’t know whether they will be here on Monday,” the FBI Director said. “They don’t know whether they’ll get paid. And that is tremendously disruptive to somebody who has given their service to someplace like the bureau.”
He said the continuing resolutions that have funded the government on a temporary basis since Oct. 1 are “tremendously frustrating” and he urged appropriators to fully fund his agency for fiscal 2011 instead of temporarily financing the agency for another time this fiscal year.
The FBI has run under a $7.8 billion budget since December 2009. The Justice Department asked for $8.2 billion for the FBI in its budget for fiscal 2011, which started on Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30.
Mueller also said he believes the FBI is being shortchanged compared with other intelligence agencies. The bureau should be treated the same as the Defense Department in a congressional proposal for what would be the seventh continuing resolution, Mueller said. The proposed stopgap measure would finance the Defense Department until the end of fiscal 2011, while funding all other agencies on a temporary basis.
“I can only say that under the proposed CR, the FBI would be the only major partner in the intelligence community that is not fully funded while our intelligence community partners would be able to proceed with planned initiatives and programs, the bureau could not,” Mueller said.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the subcommittee, said his panel has directed staff working on the continuing resolution to protect the FBI. He said his subcommittee will “do anything we possibly can” to safeguard the FBI during the budget negotiations.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday that the bureau has struggled to recruit Somali Americans and other members of key ethnic communities as agents.
The FBI is trying to encourage them to apply for jobs at the bureau, but the efforts haven’t always been fruitful, Mueller said in response to a question from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the FBI.
“We have not been as successful as we would like,” Mueller said. “But we continue to press forward and recruit from all segments of the community.”
Somali Americans from Minnesota made national headlines in 2009 when federal authorities brought terrorism charges against about 15 of them for their alleged connection to Somalia-based militant group al-Shabaab. The FBI said al-Shabaab was recruiting men from Minnesota to fight in Somalia.
Mueller said members of the Minnesota Somali-American community have been “very cooperative” with the FBI in its efforts to root out terrorism.
“I think that the Somali community in Minneapolis was taken aback by the number of young men who have traveled to Somalia to work with al-Shabaab,” Mueller said.
The FBI has come under fire from all sides — Republicans, Democrats and Muslim Americans — for its handling of terrorism cases involving U.S. citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations last month filed suit against the FBI alleging the bureau improperly targeted Muslims for surveillance.
Mueller told House members this month that the FBI has a “very good relationship” with Muslim Americans. But he acknowledged that FBI actions in terrorism investigations can often be misinterpreted because the classified nature of some probes makes it difficult to provide details about them.
On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Civil Rights Division testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about steps the DOJ is taking to protect the Muslim Americans from prejudice and abuse because of their religion. Perez touted several cases in which the DOJ has sought to defend the rights of Muslims to practice their religion freely and not face discrimination.
Expiring provisions of the Patriot Act are vital to U.S. national security and should be renewed soon, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified Wednesday.
Several provisions of the law are set to expire May 27. The House has defeated an extension, while the Senate Judiciary Committee approved its legislation last week.
Mueller also asked members of the House Judiciary Committee to continue to ensure that the FBI can collect evidence without a court order. A proposal in the Senate would end that authorization. Mueller said the FBI needs “lone wolf” authority, which permits probes of suspected terrorists not aren’t linked to a specific organization or nation along with provisions that authorize “roving wiretaps” and make it easier for federal authorities to acquire tangible evidence – such as library records — as part of an investigation.
“The authorities, all of which are conducted with full-court review and approval, are critical to our national security,” Mueller said.
The FBI Director also said he opposes a proposal in the Senate that would phase out national security letters. The letters are administrative subpoenas that the FBI employs to get evidence without a court order.
Mueller said the letters help the FBI build cases. Taking them away would undermine investigations, he said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee last week endorsed legislation that would phase out the national security letters and renew the three expiring provisions. The House currently does not have a companion bill. House Democrats and conservative Republicans joined together to reject its version of a Patriot Act renewal bill over civil liberties concerns.
Last year, then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced legislation that would only renew the records and “roving wiretap” authorities. House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he supports the extension of all the expiring provisions.
“It is imperative that Congress reauthorize the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act,” Smith said. “Section 206 roving authority, Section 215 business records, and the lone wolf definition are critical to apprehending terrorists before they strike.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing the Obama Administration to select the New York City police commissioner as the replacement for outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.
Schumer said New York Police commissioner Raymond Kelly would be a “world-class choice” to succeed Mueller, who is set to retire in September. The Democratic senator said he will actively press the Barack Obama administration to make Kelly its nominee for the 10-year term as the leader of FBI.
“He’s the preeminent law enforcement person in the country,” Schumer told the newspaper. “He knows more about this than anyone.”
Kelly, who has spent more than three decades at the New York Police Department, is serving his second stint as New York Police commissioner, which began in 2002. He first held the post from 1992 to 1994.
Schumer praised Kelly for his efforts to fight terrorism. The New York Police commissioner was mentioned as a frontrunner for FBI Director in the 1990s after his response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to the Daily News.
Kelly also has experience in the federal government, serving as Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service from 1998 to 2001 and Under Secretary for Enforcement at the Treasury Department from 1996 to 1998. At the Treasury Department, he oversaw the then-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Secret Service, Customs Service, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
However, others anticipate problems with Schumer’s efforts, including Kelly’s age and his relationship with the FBI, according to Allan Lengel of Ticklethewire.com.
“He’s 69, which would make him 79 at the end of his term,” Lengel wrote on his blog. “Some think that’s too old.”
He added: “Plus, he’s not exactly beloved at the FBI. He’s butted heads with the agency over the years.
John Pistole, who was the second in command at the FBI, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the Northern District of Illinois also have been mentioned as successors to Mueller, according to Lengel.
Pistole departed from the bureau last year to become the leader of the Transportation Security Administration. Fitzgerald has been the U.S. Attorney in Chicago since 2001.
A former FBI agent has been sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison for killing his son’s former girlfriend with a hammer, The Law Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Edward Preciado-Nuno, 63, was sentenced last Wednesday in Las Vegas for killing Kimberly Long on Nov. 13, 2008. Originally charged with murder, Preciado-Nuno was convicted in December of voluntary manslaughter.
The killing occurred at the home the defendant’s son, Jeffrey Preciado-Nuno, had shared with Long. The defendant claimed that Long attacked him with a hammer when he tried to get her to leave the house and end the turbulent relationship with his son, and that he wielded another hammer in self-defense.
In imposing sentence, Judge Donald Mosley said the self-defense claim was hard to believe, given that the victim was struck on the head 13 times, including once on the back of the head.
The American Civil Liberties Union and a prominent Muslim advocacy group that has a rocky history with the FBI filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department agency alleging the bureau improperly targeted Muslims for surveillance, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says paid FBI informant Craig Monteilh infringed on the constitutional rights of several hundred Muslims several years ago when the FBI allegedly ordered him to engage “indiscriminate surveillance” of Muslims. Monteilh has said he was told to keep an eye on members of an Irvine, Calif., mosque in an effort to find potential terrorists.
“The FBI should be spending its time and resources investigating actual threats, not spying on every American who happens to worship at a mosque,” Peter Bibring, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, told The Post.
Law enforcement officials have said Monteilh served as a paid FBI informant for a number of years until 2007, according to The Post. But they have said he was working on an existing probe and wasn’t ordered to spy on Muslims because of their religion.
The FBI declined to comment to The Post on the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and CAIR.
The bureau has had a tense relationship with CAIR and the greater Muslim American community over the last decade.
In 2008, the FBI cut off contact with the leaders of the prominent Muslim advocacy organization because a terrorism trial in Dallas showed they were part of a support network for Hamas, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group for its history of suicide bombings against Israel. But the DOJ has since worked to improve its relationship with the Muslim American community.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the DOJ Civil Rights Division have said the DOJ is committed to protecting the rights of Muslim Americans while aggressively working to combat terrorism. In his remarks before the Muslim Public Affairs Council in 2009, Perez said racial profiling is “not just bad as a matter of civil rights; it is ineffective police work.”
Law enforcement identified Adrian Norbell Johnson as the FBI agent suspected of drunk driving in a fatal accident in Maryland Monday night, Fox News TV reported Thursday.
The 37-year-old agent was driving with a blood alcohol content of .25 when 18-year-old Lawrence “JR” Garner, Jr. was killed on North Key Road in Brandywine around 10 p.m. Monday, police said. That blood alcohol level is three times the legal limit.
Johnson has been with the FBI for six years and had recently been hired to work on Attorney General Eric Holder’s security detail. He had not yet started the job. His most recent assignment was at the FBI field office in Newark, N.J.
“It’s a very high level of intoxication,” Corporal Evan Baxter of Prince George’s County Police told Fox. “At a .20, you’re definitely looking at impaired speech. You’re talking about possibly losing the ability to stand or walk. There’s certainly an impairment of judgment.”
The passenger in the car, Robert Mitchell II is at the Intensive Care Unit at Prince George’s Hospital Center.
Johnson has not yet returned to work since the crash and his future with the FBI remains uncertain.
A retired FBI agent was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter on Tuesday for using a hammer to beat his son’s girlfriend to death, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Edward Presciado-Nuno, whose trial began last week, had worked at the FBI bureau in San Diego until 2003,when he resigned.
On Nov. 13, 2008, Presciado-Nuno allegedly went to the Las Vegas home shared by his son Jeffrey Preciado-Nuno, his son’s girlfriend, Kimberly Long, and their infant son at the request of Presciado-Nuno’s son. The defendant allegedly asked his son to leave the house while he talked with Long about her moving out due to the turbulent relationship between her and the younger Presciado-Nuno.
Presciado-Nuno claimed that Long attacked him with a hammer for trying to take legal means to get her to leave the house. As a result, he said, he used another hammer against her in self-defense, the Sun reported.
Presciado-Nuno had pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder with a deadly weapon.
The case is being handled by Clark County prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci.
Preciado-Nuno is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 23, 2011. He faces up to 10 years in prison, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. However, District Judge Donald Mosley has the option of sentencing him to probation.
A former FBI agent pleaded guilty on Wednesday to plotting to kill his boss, the Dallas Morning News reported.
In May, Carlos Ortiz Jr., 49,was suspended without pay by Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Casey Jr. after Ortiz’s wife, an analyst in the Dallas FBI office, accused him of domestic violence. Ortiz filed for divorce in 2009 after eight years of marriage.
On Aug. 19 and 20, Ortiz made several phone calls to a former law enforcement officer and licensed firearms dealer, the newspaper reported. During those cases he made threats against his wife and Casey. He also said he was looking for a .50-caliber rifle.
The former officer notified the FBI, which had him record later calls. During those calls, Ortiz threatened to kill his wife and Casey and accused them of an “illicit relationship,” which FBI officials have denied.
On Aug. 25, Casey fired Ortiz and had agents take him into custody. Ortiz, who is scheduled to be sentenced March 18, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on a charge of retaliating against a federal official.