Monday, July 19, 2010
The covert identity of Deep Throat, the informant who blew the whistle on the Watergate scandal, remained a secret for more than 30 years. The times have changed. Today, the government is treating informants as disposable sources of information, often jeopardizing their identities and lives. Considering this modus operandi, how many reliable sources of information will be willing to cross over to the other side of the looking-glass in the future?
Deep Throat was introduced to the public by the Washington Post’s reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their 1974 book “All The President's Men”. Bernstein kept the secret of Deep Throat’s identity even from his then-wife Nora Ephron. The ex-wife would find her own celebrity as a brilliant, Academy Award nominated writer and director ("When Harry Met Sally," "Silkwood," “Sleepless in Seattle," “Julie and Julia”). Nora Ephron became obsessed with figuring out the mystery. Years earlier, Ephron served as an intern in the White House – now she was trying to unlock the secrets of the Nixon administration. Ephron eventually concluded that Deep Throat was FBI Deputy Director W. Mark Felt. On May 31, 2005, a Vanity Fair magazine article blew the lid off the 30 year old conundrum, also naming Felt as the mystery man behind the Watergate floodgates.
In this day and age, informants can no longer rely on the government for the same secrecy and protection. FBI’s guidelines state, "The United States government will strive to protect your identity but cannot promise or guarantee either that your identity will not be divulged..." Having been squeezed out like a lemon, they are dead men walking. Their only hope is to walk fast. The mission of using informants as the sources has been perverted when they become the recipients of law enforcement information, instead. One of the first cases that showcased this problem involved the Godfather of Boston’s Irish mob, Whitey Bulger. After becoming a confidential informant, Bulger and his mob associate Flemmi managed to corrupt their FBI handlers. They lavished gifts upon FBI Supervisors John Morris, his partner James Ring and Agent John Connolly from what they nicknamed “the X fund”.
With these bribes, mobsters bought 30 years of protection from the law by the very agents entrusted with upholding it. FBI agents disclosed identities of informants to the mobsters, ensuring that no one lived to tell about their crimes. FBI quite literally allowed these criminals to get away with murder, many times over.
Wrongful death lawsuits were brought against the federal government by families of victims, tortured and murdered by the mob as the result of being exposed as FBI informants. The FBI was ordered to pay McIntyre’s family $3.1 million for his wrongful death. It took the family 22 years to prove that the FBI’s mishandling of its informants caused McIntyre to be brutally murdered. In its infinite arrogance, the government had the audacity to appeal the ruling and rightfully lost.
The McIntyre lawsuit was the first of 17 cases filed against the government in the Bulger matter. In May of 2009, the government was ordered to pay the families of Michael Donahue and Edward Halloran almost $8.25 million for their murders. In June of 2009, the federal government was ordered to pay $6.25 million dollars to the family of Richard J. Castucci, who was shot in the head after the mobsters discovered he was an informant.
Boston Wrongful Death: Government Ordered to Pay $6.25 Million to Family of Revere Club Owner Murdered by Mob
The mobsters executed many others, such as Roger Wheeler (murdered for refusing to sell his company to gangsters), Debra Davis (Flemmi’s girlfriend, strangled by Bulger because she knew too much about the mobsters’ cozy deal with the FBI), Arthur “Bucky” Barrett (a bank robber, murdered because Bulger wanted to take his money), Deborah Hussey (the teenage daughter of Flemmi’s girlfriend, whom he had been sexually molesting – Bulger choked the teenager with a rope). FBI agent Connolly was convicted on federal racketeering charges in 2002 for protecting mobsters Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution and warning Bulger to flee just before his indictment. Thanks to Connolly, Bulger is still at large and remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Flemmi is serving a life term in prison for 10 murders.
In his federal court testimony, Flemmi stated that former Boston FBI supervisor James Ring “was aware of what we were doing. He condoned it.” Flemmi explained that Ring and his partner, John Morris, treated gangsters as if they were FBI agents,” stating, “It’s like we were equals.”
Bulger Case Changed FBI's Role With Informants
This exposure rocked the FBI to the core and changed the agency’s guidelines in dealing with informants. "The unfortunate thing is that when you have something like this, there tends to be an overreaction," says former FBI assistant director Barry Mawn. It’s difficult to imagine the possibility of “overreacting” to murder caused by the agency whose mission is to protect the citizens from crime.
Tweedledum and TweedleDEA
In spite of the escalating violence on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, the mood is not too somber at the DEA. Their idea of “fun” ended up costing prosecutors a case against a suspected drug trafficker after it was revealed that a DEA agent forced the Mexican-born suspect to pose for a booking photo wearing a sombrero and holding a Mexican flag. Once his attorney asked the prosecution for a copy of the photo, his client was immediately offered a plea deal. This allowed the suspect to avoid a possible 20-year sentence in a cocaine-related case. DEA spokesperson told ABC News the photo was taken but "no longer exists." Apparently, neither does common sense at the DEA.
Prosecutors Release Drug Suspect Forced to Wear Sombrero in DEA Photo
ICE cold corruption
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a relatively young agency that sprang up in a tortured birth of the Department of Homeland Security. In 1957, Charlton Ogburn, Jr. uttered a quote that is often attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter and could be just as easily attributed to today’s DHS agents: “We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”
ICE is heavily mired in corruption, which is exemplified by a slew of recent high profile cases. Richard Padilla Cramer, veteran ICE agent pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and is awaiting sentencing on February 18, 2010. He is facing 20 years in prison for supplying members of the Mexican drug cartel with confidential law enforcement information obtained from the computer systems of ICE and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as well as trafficking more than 600 pounds of cocaine from Panama to Spain.
Cramer was reportedly selling lists of informants to Mexican drug traffickers, which also protected his interests as a major investor in several large shipments of cocaine. He was caught when an informant showed the authorities printouts from law enforcement databases, provided to major drug dealers by Cramer. He is being held at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Miami, Florida.
Federal agent faces prison for tipping off traffickers
Constantine Peter Kallas, former Assistant Chief Counsel for ICE, is also awaiting sentencing. Federal grand jury indicted Kallas and his wife for bribery, money laundering, federal worker's compensation fraud, and other federal charges in connection with accepting payments to adjust the immigration status of aliens. According to the government’s filings, Kallas and his spouse received thousands of dollars from 45 illegal aliens and 2 legal permanent residents in exchange for immigration benefits. They were arrested at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, where authorities believed they were in the process of accepting another bribe. Kallas is being held at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), his wife was released on $ 200,000.00 dollar bond. If convicted, the couple faces a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
Superseding Indictment Charges Couple With 75 Counts In Connection With A Scheme To Take Bribes From Immigrants Seeking Citizenship
Former U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said in a written statement: "As a law enforcement official, Mr. Kallas abused his position in the Department of Homeland Security simply to line his own pockets."Roy M. Bailey is another high-ranking DHS/ICE official indicted by a federal Grand Jury for multiple counts of bribery, conspiracy and extortion. Bailey misused his position as the Assistant District Director of the late Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and thereafter as the Director of Field Operations of ICE in Detroit by taking bribes in return for immigration benefits. This included Bailey securing unjustified releases of detainees from ICE custody and arranging sham marriages for immigration purposes.
Bailey was convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to defraud the United States and misprision of felony. Charges against him carried maximum sentence of up to 68 years in prison and fines of over $1 million. The sentence he received hardly matches the severity of his crimes and the shame he brought upon the agency. In March of 2009, Bailey was sentenced to a puny 37 months imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of $30,000. He is serving time in the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Terminal Island, California and is scheduled to be released on March 20, 2012. Prosecutor Terrence Berg stated, "Today's prison sentence should be a lesson to any who would misuse public power for personal gain." It’s hardly a lesson, since the sentence clearly did not match the severity of Bailey’s betrayal of public office.
Former Assistant Director Of U.S. Immigration Sentenced For Bribery And Conspiracy To Defraud The United States
One of the charges against Bailey included his failure to report that one of his employees, former ICE Detention Officer Patrick Wynne stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from immigration detainees over the course of several years. Ironically, Wynne received a longer sentence than Bailey, having been sentenced to 57 months in prison. Inexplicably, Wynne was released on March 13, 2009, having served only a portion of his sentence.
Yet another veteran ICE Agent, Pedro Cintron, was indicted on 14 counts, including theft, disclosing the name of a confidential informant, making false statements to authorities and taking bribes for bringing illegal immigrants into the U.S. Cintron worked as a federal agent for more than 25 years. He was working as a federal undercover agent investigating an Ecuadorean-Chinese smuggling ring. Cintron crossed over to the other side and impeded authorities by protecting a smuggler from being arrested.
Immigration Agent Charged With Taking Kickbacks
After being indicted, Cintron was placed on paid (that’s right, paid) leave from his ICE job. He was facing a maximum sentence of 57 years in prison. As a result of a plea bargain, Cintron was charged only with “receiving a gratuity by a public official” and received a sentence of only 2 years behind bars. He will be out of prison by May 11, 2011.
Former Ice Agent Pleads Guilty In Kickback, Obstruction Scheme
Daphiney Kimberly Caganap is another high-ranking federal official convicted of corruption. Caganap served as the Port Director at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (the largest and busiest land border crossing in the U.S.), headed intelligence operations and later became the Port Director for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Detroit Metro Airport. After being indicted, Caganap was placed on administrative (paid) leave – after all, American taxpayers wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to pay another corrupt fed. Caganap was charged with nine counts of conspiracy to defraud the US, accepting gratuities, and making false statements. According to federal prosecutors, she received bribes for turning a blind eye to drug and alien smuggling through the San Ysidro port of entry. The indictment stated that after being briefed by federal agents on the investigation, Caganap passed along sensitive information to the suspect.
Port Director Caganap was facing a potential 36-year prison term, but –guess what? She got away with receiving only probation. Is anyone still wondering why corruption is so rampant at the high levels of federal law enforcement? Could lack of accountability have something to do with it?
Ex-San Diego INS Official Is Indicted
Identities of informants were sold out for drugs and money by Gordon Clark Bohannon, former Chief Deputy of the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office. On December 21, 2009, Bohannon pleaded guilty to his role in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. He was charged in a 110-count indictment, along with 27 co-conspirators, with operating a major drug trafficking organization in Texas, Arizona and California. In his position as a Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s Office, Bohannon obtained sensitive law enforcement information that he handed over to his co-conspirators. According to the indictment, he also interfered with the efforts by police to investigate the conspiracy, aided and abetted prohibited criminals in illegally possessing firearms, tried to get authorities to dismiss criminal charges against his co-conspirator and warned drug traffickers that a search warrant would be executed at their residence.
Bohannon retaliated against anyone he saw as a threat to the drug traffickers, obtaining the names of informants from law enforcement databases and providing this information to his co-conspirators. To discredit an informant who was going to testify against their drug organization, Bohannon went so far as to plant methamphetamine at his residence. He then instructed Deputy Sheriffs to obtain and execute a search warrant of the informant’s home. When the deputies conducted the search but couldn’t find the drugs, Bohannon said something to the effect of “well, hold on, let me call and see where she pu . . ., hold on I’ll call you back.” He directed officers to specific locations and offered to send over the confidential informant so she could show them where to look for drugs.
Bohannon was facing a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $4 million fine. If the court accepts his plea agreement, in March 2010, Bohannon will be sentenced to 10 years in prison and no fine.
Former Hockley County Chief Deputy Sheriff Pleads Guilty in Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy
Federal Betrayal of Informants (F.B.I.)
On February 8, 2010, FBI informant “Andrea” went public with her allegations that the Bureau double-crossed her and jeopardized her life, after she helped them in a risky operation against Mexican mob. In the documentary "Inside the FBI," released by the Discovery channel, it was called "one of the largest Mexican Mafia takedowns in FBI history," resulting in 40 arrests.
After the documentary aired, Andrea sent an e-mail to 10News TV station, describing her "problems with the FBI and their broken promises." Andrea stated, "I knew if I wasn't really dead, I was dead now." Soon after sending that e-mail, she was arrested by police. Her mug shot and identity -- which had been changed out of concerns for her safety -- was posted on the jail's Web site. She was charged with obstruction of justice.
Andrea’s arrest warrant stated, "Through FBI San Diego and copies of e-mails … the defendant … did communicate with the news media." They claimed that by talking to the news media, Andrea somehow jeopardized their investigation. She spent 60 days in jail until a Judge dismissed all charges. "My life is a nightmare. They ruined my life. I don't have anything," Andrea said.
FBI Informant Says Agency Put Her Life In Danger
Former FBI agent, Denise Woo, pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of disclosing confidential information for revealing an informant's identity to the target of an investigation. Woo received a meager sentence of one year probation and a $1,000 fine. This was a far cry from the 10 years or more of prison time Ms. Woo was facing for the five felony charges brought against her, including making false statements to the FBI, disclosing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act wiretap, and exposing a covert agent in violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.
Ex-FBI Agent Avoids Jail for Exposing Informant's Identity
Measly penalties for jeopardizing lives of informants can hardly be seen as a deterrent for other law enforcement officials.
This is the thanks you get
In January of 2010, the judge refused to delay the prison sentence of Bradley C. Birkenfeld, a former Swiss banker-turned-informant. Birkenfeld, an American who lived in Switzerland for nearly 15 years, led authorities to the biggest tax fraud case in history. As the result of his disclosures, UBS, the largest bank in Switzerland, admitted to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and agreed to pay $780 million to end an investigation into its activities. UBS also agreed to disclose to the IRS the names of 4,450 wealthy Americans suspected of dodging taxes through secret offshore accounts.
The Justice Department decided to prosecute Birkenfeld because he allegedly did not disclose enough details about his top client, Igor Olenicoff, an American billionaire and property developer. At the same time, the government had rejected Mr. Birkenfeld’s offer to wear a wiretap when talking to clients. In his interview with “60 Minutes”, Birkenfeld said: “I gave them the biggest tax fraud case in the world, I exposed 19,000 international criminals. And I’m going to jail for that?”
Judge Refuses to Delay Prison for UBS Informant
How much for your life?
A relationship between law enforcement officials and their informants is fragile and very important. Approximately 95% of all crimes are solved based on the priceless insight informants provide into the underworld of criminal enterprises, including transnational drug trafficking, white collar investigations and anti-terrorism efforts. Informants can be considered an endangered species, because they are hunted by criminals and often forsaken by the government, once they outlive their value. By revealing information about an informant’s cooperation, corrupt or careless law enforcement officials seal their doom.
Gang leaders often seek an official confirmation of an informant’s participation, before green-lighting their murder. Ironically, this corroborating evidence sometimes comes from law enforcement, when corrupt officials disclose identities of informants, obtained by accessing law enforcement databases.State and local governments lack proper mechanisms for dealing with informants. The federal government started to regulate that murky area mainly because of public embarrassment it was facing. Informants get the short end of the stick, when the authorities are unable or unwilling to protect them. Many of them face certain death for helping law enforcement. The stakes are high, indeed. Accountability for jeopardizing lives should be directly proportionate to the damage such a betrayal of public trust can inflict. Only then we can ensure that the information keeps on coming to help the brave men and women of American law enforcement to solve crimes, to save lives, to protect and to serve.
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Traditionally, politics is the dirty business, where corporate interests, money and power essentially control the candidate whose election they bankrolled. This relationship that ties politicians to their benefactors as marionettes didn’t sit well with LeAnn Hull. This mother of four (two of her children are actively serving in the military) decided that the time was right for Americans to take back the government.
LeAnn Hull is bravely running without fundraising. She is planning to restore the government to what it was originally intended to be: a government of the people, for the people, by the people.
Hull describes herself as a “common sense Republican.” She said her campaign will mainly focus on the economy and jobs creation.
LeAnn Hull for Congress
LeAnn said, “I am running because I have had enough. I know first-hand what the lack of leadership has cost Arizona businesses. We’ve tried doing it with lawyers, professional politicians, special interest groups and lobbyists and ended up with a broken budget and a country in the midst of a financial crisis that has negatively impacted every one of us. It’s time we tried something different.”
LeAnn Hull and her husband have owned a construction company for twenty six years. In the last year that business has been turned upside down. The challenges faced by the Hull family are similar to the challenges most Americans are facing. “As a small business owner I have balanced a budget and created real jobs. We have to quit spending more than we have, start helping small business owners create real jobs, and leave a country our children will be proud to inherit, not a bankrupt shadow of what we could have been,” Hull added.
Instead of the traditional fundraising she detests, LeAnn Hull promises to run an aggressive grassroots campaign. “Our objective will be to get our message to as many people as we can. Meeting with groups, knocking on doors and making sure we "listen" to the people of District 3 will be a key component in our campaign. We will make sure that we are letting them know our position on their concerns. We’ll Tweet and e-mail, be all over Facebook and offer inter-active blogs. This will be a people’s campaign,” Hull said.
LeAnn Hull is keeping her promises. On July 13, 2009 candidate Hull was exchanging ideas with her constituents at the popular event, Austin’s Who Is Who In Arizona (organized by Austin Feldman).
Austin’s Who Is Who In Arizona
LeAnn Hull didn’t skip a beat and also mixed and mingled with politicians, local business owners on July 15, 2009 at the famous Politics on the Rocks, organized by Charles Jensen.
Politics On The Rocks
There, LeAnn Hull had a conversation with Governor Jan Brewer about the current state of affairs. Brewer encouraged LeAnn Hull to continue running for political office and wished her much success, in spite of the stiff competition.
“I know there are many candidates, some with much higher name recognition than I have,” Hull said. “But name, ID and past political experience aren’t nearly enough to meet the challenges we now face.” As a Candidate for Congress, LeAnn Hull is dedicated to preserving liberty and constitutional rights for all.US Senator John McCain opines he has a great record to stand on. However, Senator McCain’s office stated the Senator was unavailable when asked for an on-camera interview to discuss his co-authoring a bill on March 4, 2010 entitled, “S. 3081: Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” where Mr. Mccain (For himself, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Brown Of Massachusetts, Mr. Wicker, Mr. Chambliss, Mr. Lemieux, Mr. Sessions, and Mr. Vitter) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary advocating stating in relevant part: "An individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy… may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported, consistent with the law of war and any authorization for the use of military force provided by Congress pertaining to such hostilities."
S.3081 would eliminate several Constitutional protections, allowing Government to arbitrarily pick up Americans on mere suspicion - with no probable cause, Miranda warnings, charges or the right to be represented by an attorney. Any political opinions and statements that criticize U.S. Government could be used by Authorities to deem you a “hostile Enemy Belligerent”, thereby justifying your arrest and indefinite detention. S.3081 is so broadly written that any protesters or Tea partiers might be arrested and detained just for participating in demonstrations. Government can justify that by charging that attending demonstrations could be considered to have materially supported anti-government hostilities.
Full language of the bill appears to do away with the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Amendments of the constitution, in addition to Statute 42 (1983) violations that correspond with infringements on the rights of US citizens who make complaints and report government corruption. Senators Lieberman, Vitter, Chambliss co-authored this bill to unconstitutionally detain US citizens indefinitely, deny them Miranda rights, constitutional rights, fair and equal protection under the law under the guise of national security issues where any US citizen would be prohibited from speaking against policies or the government.
If this draconian bill was to pass, Americans could be detained indefinitely for protesting against the unlawful use of taxpayers’ dollars. One of the examples would be the Department of Justice launching lawsuits against the State of Arizona at the expense of American taxpayers. Concurrently, various state Attorney Generals rally to support and defend Arizona’s efforts to defend American borders not simply from illegal aliens, but more importantly from terrorist organizations, drug smugglers, sex trade traffickers, illegal arms sales, criminals and border incursions by the Mexican military.
LeAnn Hul acknowledged that she is aware of numerous challenges facing Arizona and America as a whole today. The petite blonde beauty speaks quietly and confidently about changes for the people, the State of Arizona and the United States. Hull stated, “I am ready to lead my country in a new and healthy direction.” Those who have met this rising star of Arizona politics believe that this is yet another promise that LeAnn Hul is going to keep.
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Former FBI Agent from San Diego, Edward Preciado-Nuño, brutally murdered a 31year-old mother of four, Kimberly Ann Long, by beating her to death with a claw hammer. Most defendants in similar scenarios would be denied bail, languishing in prison until their trial date. Incredibly, Preciado-Nuño is awaiting trial from the comfort of his home, having posted a low $250,000.00 dollar bond.
Edward Preciado-Nuño is a brother of Oscar Preciado – former Port Director for the San Ysidro Port of Entry (the largest and busiest land border crossing in the United States). Oscar Preciado still works at the same Port of Entry as a Special Project Manager for the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
After Edward Preciado-Nuño murdered Kimberly Long, Oscar Preciado traveled to Las Vegas in a show of support for his brother. Both of them were born in Tijuana, Mexico and moved to San Diego as children when their family immigrated to the United States.
The possibility of Preciado-Nuño utilizing his brother’s direct access to the US/Mexico border did not stop the court from releasing the accused murderer from house arrest, allowing him to travel to San Diego on two occasions – once for almost one month, “to get his house and affairs in order” and more recently, in April of 2010 to attend his daughter’s wedding. This incredible leniency is especially unusual in light of the gruesome nature of the charges against him for murder with a deadly weapon.
Preciado-Nuño’s trial was originally scheduled for July 28, 2009, but has been delayed three times. According to the court documents, the latest delay was caused by Preciado’s inability to get along with his own attorney. The court granted his Motion to Substitute Counsel on April 28, 2010 and admonished Preciado-Nuño to get along with his new counsel, as any further delay of the trial may send him straight to prison.
The events in this bizarre and bloody case started in November of 2008, when Edward Preciado-Nuño traveled to Las Vegas from San Diego at the behest of his son, Jeffrey Preciado. He wanted to evict the mother of his child, Kimberly Ann Long, while retaining sole custody of their 10-month-old baby. The police report states that father and son plotted to confront and covertly videotape and audiotape Kimberly, in hopes that she would say something incriminating. This “evidence” would then be used to portray her as a bad mother in a child custody dispute.
Authorities said that Kimberly Long and Jeffrey Preciado have gotten into a fight several days before her murder. Police were called to the house during the incident but didn't take either one of them into custody, which seems to suggest that their confrontation was not violent. Jeffrey Preciado testified in his father’s case that several days after his fight with Kimberly, he went to a local police station to make a report against her. He said that together with his father they were planning to evict his girlfriend from the house and to gain custody of their infant son. He hoped that making a police report would help support their claims against Kimberly.
Utilizing his FBI background, Edward Preciado-Nuño began videotaping the residence. Father and son set up a camera at the garage of the home. On November 13, 2008, Edward Preciado-Nuño confronted Kimberly in the garage of the residence as she returned home from work. Shortly thereafter, he called his son, claiming that she was attacking him with a hammer. It is simply mind-boggling why Preciado-Nuño would call his son and not the police if he was in fact being attacked.
Even if the unlikely scenario of being attacked by Kimberly was true, Edward Preciado-Nuño (a seasoned ex-FBI agent and a former Marine who served in Vietnam), would have been able to easily overpower and disarm a 100-pound woman. In the alternative, he could have left the garage and called the police. Instead, he beat her to death with a claw hammer. A medical examiner testified that Kimberly Ann Long had at least a dozen wounds to her head. She also had defense wounds to her hands and arms, including a fractured forearm. There were six injuries to the back of her head. These injuries create a mental picture of Kimberly cowering, trying to cover her head with her arms and turning her back to the killer in an attempt to get away, while Preciado was beating her with the claw-side of a claw hammer.
It is also hard to imagine that Kimberly, who had just arrived home from work, would have a hammer in her hand. Most importantly, father and son set up the cameras specifically to film confrontations with Kimberly. According to the publicly available information, Jeffrey Preciado left the residence in advance, since his father planned to confront his girlfriend. At the same time, cameras set up to record such exchanges were conspicuously not turned on. The combination of these factors brings disturbing questions as to the premeditation in this scenario.
During the first bail hearing in this case, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Abbi Silver said she "smelled a rat" when she looked over the paperwork. "There are some really weird facts in this case," Silver said. "It doesn't make sense though, the facts as I read them, especially with a retired FBI agent, to turn out like this."
Long's 9-year-old son and the couple's 10-month-old son were at home when their mother was murdered. It is unclear whether either child witnessed the grisly scene. When officers arrived to the residence at about 6:30 a.m., Kimberly Long was lying motionless on the garage floor in a pool of her blood. Edward Preciado-Nuño was kneeling next to Kimberly’s lifeless body. Blood was splattered on the wall and ceiling of the garage, two bloody claw hammers laying nearby.
Even after the slaying, Edward Preciado-Nuño did not express any remorse about what he had done. When police interviewed him about the murder, he referred to Kimberly as a “pig” and called her “lazy”, said Las Vegas police homicide detective Tod Williams. Edward Preciado-Nuño told police that Kimberly Long "pissed [him] off" and admitted that he had been taunting her, Williams said. Preciado-Nuño told police: "She hit me with a hammer so I hit her back."
Kimberly’s close friend, Francesca Velgos, didn't believe Preciado-Nuño’s claim that Long attacked him. She said that Kimberly, a 31-year-old mother of four, was a non-confrontational, peaceful person. Kimberly’s disposition and physical strength does not match Preciado-Nuño’s claim that she attacked him with a hammer. "She couldn't even open a jar of pickles," Velgos said. "She was a weakling."
Clark County prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci argued that Edward Preciado-Nuño should be held without bail on the charges of murder with a deadly weapon, especially in light of his comment to the police that he can "fly off the handle." Prosecution’s arguments have fallen on deaf ears and Preciado-Nuño was granted bail.
Clark County District Attorney’s Office stated it is their policy not to issue comments in pending criminal cases. Media requests have been granted and the cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during the trial that is now set to commence on December 6, 2010 at 1:30 PM.
South Park censorship
The irreverent cartoon, “South Park”, made us laugh by poking fun at every imaginable topic. This notoriously acerbic animation made fun of Jesus, the Queen, Mormons, Scientologists, Catholics, Jews, celebrities and politicians.
The 201st episode of merciless satire hit a snag when a New York-based group of extremist Muslim converts, “Revolution Muslim”, sent death threats to Comedy Central. They were prompted by an episode featuring the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume. Death threats were posted on the group’s website, targeting the originators of “South Park”, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
To illustrate the fate that would befall the animators, the site ran by extremists featured a picture of Van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, with his throat cut and a knife in his chest. He was murdered in 2004 after filming a documentary on the abuse of women in Muslim countries. The same website also listed the New York headquarters of Comedy Central and the production company of “South Park”, adding: "You can pay them a visit at these addresses."
The group that issued death threats has a record of making extremist statements. One of its members, Younus Abdullah Muhammad, told CNN last year that the attacks of 9/11 were “justified”.
How did the most powerful country in the world respond to death threats? By unleashing the might of law enforcement and recently empowered Interpol to hunt down the perpetrators? By refusing to acknowledge terroristic tactics? Wrong. The “solution” was a complete capitulation. The caustic cartoon was mutilated with bleeps and "censored" blocks throughout, removing all references in question. It wasn’t seamless or effortless – to the contrary, choppy inserts seemed to say, “We’re afraid of your threats and will do whatever you please. Do you like us now?”
Shockingly, this was the second time that “South Park” had been censored after taking on the prophet as a subject. In 2006, soon after violent protests erupted against the Danish cartoons, Stone and Parker produced a double episode that also featured the prophet. It was quietly sterilized by Comedy Central. If our media is so terrified, who is winning the war on terror?
By bowing down to brute force and ignoring our own set of values, we’re encouraging future threats of violence. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, our strength and courage as a nation is being thrown under the feet of uncivilized attackers. Is this the message the US as a nation wants to convey?
While we continue to kowtow to terrorists, the new legislation pending before the Senate will make it easy for the government to target outspoken Americans.
Senate Bill S. 3081
Unlike the immediate “South Park” reaction, you won’t see any furore in the mainstream media over the pending Senate bill, entitled "Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010". If the proposed piece of draconian legislation is passed by the Senate, it will place every American in danger of becoming “Enemy Of The State”, under the guise of protecting national security. This outrageously un-American bill was cooked up by Arizona Senator John McCain, Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senators Roger Wicker, Saxby Chambliss, Scott Brown, David Vitter and George LeMieux.
Deliberately vague legal definitions serve as a carte blanche for arresting, interrogating and detaining any American citizen without trial, formal charges or even Miranda warnings. McCain, the former Republican Candidate for the US Presidency, who was also a former Prisoner Of War, should be ashamed of the language used in the Bill S. 3081. Section 5 of the bill makes it clear that U.S. citizens are included, stating in relevant part: "An individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy… may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported, consistent with the law of war and any authorization for the use of military force provided by Congress pertaining to such hostilities."
Text of S. 3081: Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010
S.3081 would eliminate several Constitutional protections, allowing Government to arbitrarily pick up Americans on mere suspicion—with no probable cause. Any political opinions and statements that criticize U.S. Government could be used by Authorities to deem you a “hostile Enemy Belligerent”, thereby justifying your arrest and indefinite detention. S.3081 is so broadly written that any protesters or Tea partiers might be arrested and detained just for attending demonstrations. The government can justify that by charging that attending demonstrations could be considered to have materially supported anti-government hostilities.
Full language of the bill appears to do away with the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Amendments of the constitution, in addition to Statute 42 (1983) violations that correspond with infringements on the rights of whistleblowers and US citizens. Investigative journalists with the Los Angeles based company, Fleur De Lis Film Studios, served media requests, requesting on-camera interviews with all of the senators responsible for the creation of the Bill S. 3081. All of these senators refused to answer questions pertaining to the unconstitutional bill they’re proposing to pass into law.
Under this bill’s predecessor, the unpatriotically deceptive Patriot Act, law enforcement generally needed probable cause to detain a person indefinitely. Passage of S.3081 will permit government to use “mere suspicion” to crush an individual’s Constitutional Protections against unlawful arrest, detention and interrogation without benefit of legal counsel and trial. According to S.3081 Big Brother is not required to provide detained individuals U.S. Miranda Warnings or even an attorney.
S.3081 is written so broadly that it could target any individual who writes on the Internet or verbally express an unflattering commentary about the government. Such an individual might be detained on the basis he or she is an “unprivileged enemy belligerent”, “supporting hostilities against U.S. Government.” Such allegations of “suspicious activities” need not be proven – the military can use hearsay or informants.
Notably, McCain’s S.3081 mandates merging Federal, State and Local Police and subsequently the U.S. Military to detain and hold Individuals in the U.S. without probable cause. Interestingly, a recently released Rand Report prepared for the Army, appears to suggest that the U.S. Government develop a Local, State and Federal “National Police Stabilization Force”, merging State law enforcement with the Feds. What could happen to State Rights and what Laws and Jurisdiction would be used to prosecute state Citizens arrested by a National Police Stabilization Force? A National Police Force could potentially be sent by the President into any State with the approval of its governor, against the wishes of its Citizens.
Historically it is foreseeable under S.3081 that “erroneous informant information” could be used to detain innocent Individuals. Other countries have used lying informants and corrupt law enforcement officials to imprison or annihilate political opposition.
AZ Immigration Bill
Another way to circumvent the constitution under the guise of protecting us from illegal immigration was the controversial Arizona Immigration Bill, signed by Governor Jan Brewer. Instead of the common sense approach of tougher border control, harsher penalties against businesses that employ illegals and questioning criminal detainees as to their legal status in this country, the new bill provides a venue for the police to question and arrest any citizen on the street for looking “suspicious”. The Obama administration called the Arizona bill "misguided" and instructed the Justice Department to determine whether it is legal or not. The President also said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level – or leave the door open to "irresponsibility by others."
The law will take effect in late July or early August, and AZ Governor Brewer ordered the state's law enforcement licensing agency to develop a training course on how to implement it without violating civil rights. The law doesn’t take into account the intentional targeting of individuals for personal motives, attacks against whistleblowers, protesters or civil rights activists. It simply opens the door for local police to stop and question anyone on the street without any probable cause.
Pastor Martin Niemöller wrote:
“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for meand by that time no one was left to speak up.”
As Americans, we should speak up – without waiting until they come for each and every one of us. We should stop the erosion of our constitutional rights under the guise of such actions being done “for our own good”. We have to stand up for what is right, for what is just, for our American dream. Our freedom depends on it.
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LaHood stated that documents obtained from Toyota show that the company was aware of the problem with the sticking gas pedals for several months before it issued a recall. This problem impacted 2.3 million vehicles. "We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," LaHood said in an official statement. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families."
Secretary LaHood Announces DOT is Seeking Maximum Civil Penalty from Toyota
Because of the deliberate nature of Toyota’s actions, the government is seeking the maximum penalty of $16.375 million. As federal investigations continue, additional repercussions are likely to follow for the beleaguered Japanese automaker. The fine is just the latest development in a series of events that have stained Toyota’s once-sterling image and made it the subject of private lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages. To date, Toyota Motor Corp. has recalled more than 6 million vehicles in the U.S., and more than 8 million worldwide. These massive recalls were caused by acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid.
Toyota is facing 138 potential class-action lawsuits over falling vehicle values and nearly 100 personal injury and wrongful death cases in federal courts nationwide. If Toyota pays the fines, that could be considered an admission of wrongdoing. That would in turn adversely impact the company’s standing in litigation. On the other hand, if Toyota chose to dispute the penalties imposed by the government, that could undermine the automaker's attempts to move on from the recalls.
The automaker did not say whether or not it would pay or dispute the fine. Toyota has two weeks to accept or contest the penalty. "While we have not yet received their letter, we understand that NHTSA has taken a position on this recall," Toyota said in a statement, referring to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). "We have already taken a number of important steps to improve our communications with regulators and customers on safety-related matters as part of our strengthened overall commitment to quality assurance."
Under federal law, automakers must notify NHTSA within five days of determining that a safety defect exists and promptly conducting a recall immediately thereafter. NHTSA itself has come under criticism for being too lenient in the past in the handling of Toyota’s handling of defects and recalls. According to the statement by the Transportation Department, the fine it is seeking is specifically tied to the delayed recall related to the sticking pedal defect. Toyota could face additional penalties if warranted by ongoing federal investigations.
The recalls led to a series of hearings in Congress that included the company’s president, Akio Toyoda, as well as relatives of those killed in crashes and owners of vehicles who reportedly had experienced unintended acceleration. Mr. Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder, has apologized profusely for the accidents and vowed his company would do everything possible to prevent future safety problems. Toyota has appointed a new Chief Quality Officer for North America and has empowered its North American office to have a greater impact in making safety-related decisions.
During Congressional testimony, officials at Toyota’s American operations said that they were unaware of the sticking accelerator issue until this winter, even though Toyota had received complaints about it in Ireland and Britain in late 2008, and began changing production methods in Europe last August. Accelerator problems in Toyotas allegedly caused crashes resulting in 52 deaths. Subsequent recalls have led to congressional hearings, a federal criminal investigation, numerous civil lawsuits and a thorough review by the Transportation Department.
Toyota has attributed the problem to sticking gas pedals and accelerators that can become trapped in floor mats. Dealers have fixed 1.7 million vehicles under recall so far. The sticky accelerator pedal recall involves the 2007-2010 Camry, 2009-10 Corolla, 2009-10 Matrix, 2005-10 Avalon, the 2010 Highlander and 2007-10 Tundra. Consumer groups disagree, suggesting that electronics could be the real culprit. Numerous Toyota owners who had their cars fixed in the recall have complained of additional problems with their vehicles, accelerating unexpectedly. Toyota claims it was unable to identify either mechanical or electrical problems.
NHTSA said documents provided by Toyota showed the automaker had known about the sticky pedal defect since at least Sept. 29, 2009, when it issued repair procedures to distributors in 31 European countries and Canada to address complaints of sticking pedals, sudden increases in engine RPM and sudden vehicle acceleration.
The government said the documents also show that Toyota knew that owners in the U. S. had experienced the same problems. Toyota has reportedly provided NHTSA with more than 70,000 pages of documents during the investigation. NHTSA has the most active defect investigation program in the world, opening or closing an investigation almost every week. Over the last three years, NHTSA’s defect and compliance investigations have resulted in 524 recalls involving 23.5 million vehicles.
The $16.375 million penalty against Toyota is the largest fine allowed per recall under the Tread Act, which was enacted after accidents involving Firestone tires on Ford Explorers. Though it would be a record in the auto industry, the fine pales in comparison with penalties the government has levied against other companies (such a $2.3 billion dollar settlement the Justice Department reached with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, over fraudulent marketing issues).
Toyota reported strong March sales, helped by incentives it introduced in the wake of the recalls. The company’s advertisements played on consumers’ loyalty to the brand. Toyota’s customers might not be as supportive once they discover that Toyota purposely tried to hide the defects, as the government contended. At that point, mannequins used to lure in customers by a Los Angeles Toyota dealerships, might be the only dummies left to populate the car lot.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Lieberman, Collins Astounded DHS Contract Workers Exceed Number Of Civilian Employees
This grim reality was further exacerbated by Napolitano’s proposed 2011 budget for the Department of Homeland Security, described by Congressman Hal Rogers as “simply indefensible”, “at best - curious, at worst - dangerous.” In his opening statement, Rogers said, “In the seven years that I have examined DHS’s budgets, I don’t think I’ve seen a proposal that is so poorly prioritized and that so badly fails to address the realities our country is currently facing.”
Napolitano’s budget proposal seeks to dramatically increase the size of DHS management and administrative bureaucracy, asking for a $47 million dollar increase of headquarters staff - without increasing the agency’s border workforce. This would mean that with time, due to the dramatic rates of attrition plaguing the agency, the numbers of active agents and officers protecting our ports of entry would actually decrease. “Madam Secretary, to put it mildly, I am very concerned about DHS FY11 budget request as well as the current state of the Department,“ stated Rogers.
Congressman Rogers sharply criticized the budget that focused on hiring more bureaucrats in DC headquarters, instead of law enforcement personnel. The situation is already catastrophic, as DHS agents and officers are often forced to work double shifts due to the lack of personnel. Immense pressure, exhaustion and chronic lack of sleep continually undermine the ability of America’s frontline defense to efficiently deal with security issues. DHS agencies are also lacking definitive leadership, since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as well as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are still without department heads.
Congressman Rogers stated, “One look at this budget suggests the Administration’s “plan” for moving forward through the current threat environment is to:
- Severely cut our frontline security capabilities;
- Grow DHS’ administrative offices with double-digit increases;
- Delay investments in critical operational assets;
- Avoid true, visible budgeting for key programs;
- Ignore Congressional mandates and reporting requirements; and
- Waste $200 million on the cost of security for terror trials.”
While Napolitano wants American taxpayers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on terror trials, she was unable to answer any questions as to what other cities are being considered as an alternative to New York City. She was similarly unable or unwilling to answer any other questions posed to her at the two hearings on the Hill on February 25, 2010. Most questions were met with a blanket answer of “I’ll have to get back to you on that” or something along the lines of “We’re working very hard to make this happen.”
The proposed budget draft seeks to spend tens of millions of dollars more on staffing than on the advanced technology or the implementation of systems to screen foreign travelers (such as the Christmas Day would-be bomber, Abdulmutallab). Napolitano also wants to significantly decrease the interdiction capabilities of Border Patrol and Coast Guard personnel, while increasing the funds devoted for bureaucrats in virtually every office within DHS’ headquarters. While Napolitano exclaimed that there is no bigger supporter of the Coast Guard than she is, her budget proposal intends to cut 1,100 Coast Guard personnel positions.
Napolitano refused to answer the question posed by Rogers as to the EINSTEIN-3 Program – a controversial intrusion detection system that monitors government computer traffic on private sector sites, with a high potential for privacy violations. Previous versions of EINSTEIN concentrated on the network gateways of government departments and agencies in the United States for unauthorized traffic. Since EINSTEIN-3 is a classified program by the National Protection and Programs Directorate, Napolitano avoided questions by requesting a meeting that is closed to the public.
Representative Calvert asked Napolitano about reports that the E-Verify system was plagued with a 54% inaccuracy rate, as well as whether the DHS is doing anything to address this problem – especially in light of the fact that the proposed budget seeks to cut funding for the program by $4.7 million dollars. Napolitano was unable to provide any clarification, except for her deliberately vague statement that the system’s inaccuracy rate was not quite as high as reported.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey asked Napolitano whether the timelines for the DHS personnel to screen the lists of airline passengers will be increased to 24 hours from the current 30 minutes. Representative Lowey emphasized that Abdulmutallab would not have been allowed to board the plane, had he been properly screened in advance. Lowey also commented that former CBP Commissioner Jay Ahern categorically rejected the idea of increasing the time for the screening of passenger lists to 24 hours, much to the outrage of the Congress. Ahern resigned from his position as the former Assistant CBP Commissioner amid reports of his unsavory dealings within the agency, including corruption, cover-ups and the sexual exploitation of female federal officers within the agency. Janet Napolitano was unable to respond to these valid concerns.
Congresswoman Lowey also asked Napolitano about the funds for the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), since none of the budget was devoted to the protection of the DHS whistleblowers. In the passing years, the agency continued to waste enormous resources on investigations, prosecutions, firings and other forms of retaliation against whistleblowers who report fraud, waste, abuse and national security breaches within the agency, at the enormous expense to the American taxpayers. Napolitano did not provide any response to these valid questions and the agency's proposed budget for the Inspector General operations represents mere 1% of the budget.
Representative Kirk questioned Janet Napolitano as to the status of investigation into Project Shield, which misspent $41 million dollars of the agency’s money on what he described as a “phony surveillance program”. Kirk stated that his office sent a letter to Napolitano, inquiring as to the latest developments in this matter. Napolitano brushed these questions aside on the grounds that the letters were addressed to the Inspector General and not directly to Napolitano herself. Understandably outraged and frustrated by Napolitano’s continued refusal to answer any questions, Kirk finished by making a statement that Napolitano’s lack of knowledge as to the goings-on within the agency clearly betray her "incompetence as the head of DHS."
Napolitano was also reminded of the reports the Agency was ordered to produce to Congress, with which she repeatedly failed to comply. The content of the DHS Secretary’s unproductive testimony is best summarized by the statement of Congressman Hal Rogers, who stated, “I’m troubled by what appears to be the Administration’s greater emphasis upon political correctness, global public opinion polls, and other “domestic priorities”, rather than a serious focus down-range for the next terror threat, the next natural disaster, or the next unprovoked attack against the American people.”
Sunday, February 21, 2010
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