Seattle's KING 5 News reports that states can now let people use marijuana, license people to grow it and even allow adults to stroll into stores and buy it — as long as the weed is kept away from kids, the black market and federal property.
After 75 years of federal prohibition, new legislation allows states the right to decide whether citizens may use, grow, sell, and buy marijuana. Last fall, Washington and Colorado voted to legalize the drug, and now, the Justice Department has given states the power to oversee both medical and recreational industries, along with adoption of regulatory plans. But in a memo to all U.S. attorney offices, Deputy Attorney General James Cole warned that policy must safeguard public health and safety, saying, "If state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust...the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure itself."
"In a memo to all 94 U.S. attorneys' offices around the country, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the federal government expects that states and local governments authorizing "marijuana-related conduct" will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that address the threat those state laws could pose to public health and safety.
A retired F.B.I. agent, a former bomb technician named Donald Sachtleben, has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information, according to court papers filed by the Justice Department on Monday. Sachtleben spoke to the Associated Press last year about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen and was identified after federal investigators obtained phone call logs of Associated Press reporters. The former agent has agreed to serve 43 months in prison in addition to another 97 months on an unrelated child pornography charge. and is the eighth case of a leak-related prosecution under President Obama's administration.
"A former FBI bomb technician who later worked as a contractor for the bureau has agreed to plead guilty to disclosing national defense information to the Associated Press about a disrupted terrorist plot to bring down a civilian airliner headed for the United States, the Justice Department said Monday.
Officials described the disclosure as one of the most serious national security leaks in history, saying it came in the middle of a sensitive intelligence operation. The case led to the Justice Department’s controversial decision to secretly subpoena two months’ worth of phone records from the Associated Press.
Donald John Sachtleben, 55, of Carmel, Ind., provided information to an AP reporter about the disruption of the plot by the Yemen-based terrorist organization al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Sachtleben also told the news agency that the United States had recovered a bomb during the investigation of the April 2012 plot and that it was being examined at an FBI lab in Quantico where he sometimes worked, according to Justice Department officials and court documents filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
Administration officials and others later described the device as extremely difficult to detect and said it was built by the Yemeni group’s master bombmaker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri."
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.
Sachtleben's case is the eighth case of a leak-related prosecution during President Obama's administration.
Eliot Spitzer, former Governor and Attorney General for the State of New York, talks with Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia about the so-called revolving door between the public and private spheres. While he doesn't think the entire concept requires regulatory change, he does feel particular examples have shown an enormous problem of individuals improperly internalizing defenses of the private sector when they go to work for the government. Spitzer feels the issue is more about a person's capacity to change with their given roles. "Can people separate, emotionally and intellectually, one job from the past job...that's a very hard thing to do," he says.
True to form, Spitzer pulls no punches. What does he think of the former Assistant AG for the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice Lanny Breuer's tenure? Simply a “disaster.”
What does he think of the revolving door, current SEC chair Mary Jo White, and the practice of “neither admit nor deny”?
Spitzer adds that he is "disappointed" in the government's current slate of regulators, pointing to what he sees as an "overstated fear" of the economic consequences of prosecuting systemically important companies. Spitzer also gives his thoughts on the upcoming mayoral election in New York City.
Hundreds of teen-agers are raped or sexually assaulted during their stays in the country's juvenile detention facilities, and many of them are victimized repeatedly, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey.
The teens are most often assaulted by staff members working at the facilities, and fully 20 percent of those victimized by the men and women charged with protecting and counseling them said they had been violated on more than 10 occasions.
"Today's report illustrates the fundamental failure of many juvenile detention facilities to keep their youth safe," said Louisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, a California-based health and human rights organization.
The Justice Department survey — covering both secure juvenile detention facilities and group homes, the less restrictive settings into which troubled youngsters are often ordered — involved more than 8,500 boys and girls. In all, 1,720 of those surveyed reported being sexually assaulted.
In this 40-minute web exclusive interview, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks discusses his more than 300 days in the Ecuadorean embassy, the U.S. Justice Department spying on journalists, the future of WikiLeaks and Visa’s financial blockade on WikiLeaks.
"Well, we are literally winning in the courts in Iceland. Of course, Iceland is an independent—is one of the most independent countries in Europe, that has been behind a lot of our values in the past. The European Parliament passed a resolution against the activities of the credit card companies in relation to us. In Australia, we have had three opinion polls. They show that I have between 26 and 28 percent of the voting intention, Australia-wide. We have 40 percent of the voting intention of people under the age of 30, 36 percent of the voting intention in the most popular state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located. The Kissinger Files, 1.7 million documents that we have just published.
And I detect a certain fear in the United States administration and a certain fear in the Pentagon in relation to making statements about us. The bad old neo-McCarthyist fervor that once existed in 2011 about this organization, where politicians felt that they could propose bills to Congress, where Lieberman and Peter T. King felt they could propose bills to Congress to declare my staff enemy combatants of the United States, who could be kidnapped or killed at will, those days are well and truly gone, where politicians like Biden thought that he could come out and declare that I was a high-tech terrorist, where other politicians and high-profile journalists thought they could come out and directly call for my assassination, as Bill O’Reilly did and other people in Fox and The Washington Times. They came out and nakedly called for my assassination, including an adviser even in Canada to Stephen Harper. Those days are gone. Now, this organization is furious, and we are after redress. And we are getting redress."
A full transcript of the interview is available here.
The Obama administration has admitted for the first time to killing four U.S. citizens in drone strikes overseas. Three died in Yemen: the Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. A fourth, Jude Kenan Mohammad — whose death was not previously reported — was killed in Pakistan. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that all but the attack on the elder al-Awlaki were accidental, saying the other three "were not specifically targeted." The admission came on the eve of a major address on counter-terrorism by President Obama, who defended the use of drones and announced modified guidelines for carrying out secret targeted killings.
Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield," and co-producer of the upcoming documentary film by the same name, joins Juan Gonzales and Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow! to discuss the targeted killing of Americans with drones.
On the issue of the other Americans that were killed, you know, Jude Mohammad was a suspect who had been indicted, and his family was contesting those charges. And we don’t know the circumstances over how he was killed. Samir Khan, who was a Pakistani American from North Carolina, was killed alongside Anwar Awlaki. My understanding is that there was a grand jury convened, and they’d failed to return an indictment against him, so he was actually someone where they looked at trying to charge him with a crime and failed to get an indictment against him. His family, in fact, was told by the FBI before his death that there were no criminal charges pending against him. So he was another American killed. And perhaps the most disturbing is the killing of Abdulrahman Awlaki’s, Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who was killed two weeks after his father while he was sitting having dinner with his teenage cousins.
And in the letter, Eric Holder says that besides Anwar al-Awlaki, the other three Americans were—and he used an interesting phrase—"not specifically targeted." You know, what does that phrase mean? It’s almost like an Orwellian statement, "not specifically targeted." Well, it could mean that these individuals were killed in the signature strikes that you mentioned, which is a sort of form of precrime, where the U.S. determines that any military-aged males in a targeted area are in fact terrorists, and their deaths will be registered as having killed terrorists or militants. So, it’s possible that the other Americans that were killed were killed were killed in these so-called signature strikes.
But in the case of this 16-year-old boy, it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s a coincidence that two weeks after his father is killed, he just happens to be killed in a U.S. drone strike. And there were leaks at the time from U.S. officials telling journalists that, oh, he actually was 21 years old, he was at an al-Qaeda meeting. But they’ve never been able to identify who they killed in that strike. And the Obama administration has never publicly taken on the fact that they killed one of their own citizens who was a teenage boy. There are no answers to that question. So, I think that there has to be a far more intense scrutiny of the statements of the attorney general and also what we understand the president is going to say later.
According to The Washington Post, the Department of Justice examined Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal emails, phone records, and visits to the State Department in order to investigate a leak of classified information. Rosen came to the attention of the DOJ after writing an article about CIA analysis of how North Korea might respond to sanctions. The DOJ traced the leak back to State Department worker Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who now faces charges for leaking intel. Unlike the AP investigation, however, it was thought that the reporter may also face charges as a “co-conspirator.” However, statements made Tuesday by White House spokesman Jay Carney indicate that the Fox News reporter is likely off the hook.
The Kim case began in June 2009, when Rosen reported that U.S. intelligence officials were warning that North Korea was likely to respond to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. The CIA had learned the information, Rosen wrote, from sources inside North Korea.
The story was published online the same day that a top-secret report was made available to a small circle within the intelligence community — including Kim, who at the time was a State Department arms expert with security clearance.
FBI investigators used the security-badge data, phone records and e-mail exchanges to build a case that Kim shared the report with Rosen soon after receiving it, court records show.
In the documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described in detail how Kim and Rosen moved in and out of the State Department headquarters at 2201 C St. NW a few hours before the story was published on June 11, 2009.
“Mr. Kim departed DoS at or around 12:02 p.m. followed shortly thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:03 p.m.,” Reyes wrote. Next, the agent said, “Mr. Kim returned to DoS at or around 12:26 p.m. followed shortly thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:30 p.m.”
The activity, Reyes wrote in an affidavit, suggested a “face-to-face” meeting between the two men. “Within a few hours after those nearly simultaneous exits and entries at DoS, the June 2009 article was published on the Internet,” he wrote.
Rosen and Kim used coded signals in emails to communicate, “One asterisk means to contact them, or that previously suggested plans for communication are to proceed as agreed; two asterisks means the opposite.”
Once again, Senator Elizabeth Warren asks the most obvious question -- why aren't banks prosecuted? -- only to get the same incredulous responses. What? Prosecute the banks? No way!
Warren took bank regulators to task on Thursday about the fact that British bank HSBC is still doing business in the U.S., with no criminal charges filed against it, despite confessing to what one regulator called "egregious" money laundering violations.
Money laundering was a major focus of U.S. counterterrorism policy after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Patriot Act of 2002 included provisions that required the Treasury Department to identify banks and individuals suspected of links to terrorism. And the law instructed banks to strictly monitor and report potentially illegal transactions.
"They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it," Warren said of HSBC. "How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?"
The regulator she was questioning, David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, repeatedly refused to answer the question. Like other regulators at the hearing, he said that his department has no authority to shut down a bank unless the Justice Department convicts the bank of a crime.
Warren said: “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, chances are good you’re going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidentially, if you laundered nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violated our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night -- every single individual associated with this. And I just -- I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
The issue is part of a broader debate over large financial institutions and whether they are too big to be broken up. The Massachusetts senator’s comments come after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Wednesday that some of the largest banks are too big to prosecute and that prosecution could have a negative impact on the U.S. and global economies.
Speaking before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder said he is concerned that the size of some of these institutions “becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
Holder added that “I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”
It is far past time for someone to "indicate" to Mr. Holder that he needs to prosecute the criminal banks, or someone will show him to the door.
While the banks are stepping up efforts to help borrowers stay in their homes, they are still spending most of the settlement on short sales and forgiveness of home-equity loans that allow them to take bad loans off their books. Profits from new lending are increasing even as regulators enforce penalties for modification missteps and foreclosures pursued with fraudulent or missing documents. Last year, mortgage revenue at the four largest lenders -- Bank of America, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and U.S. Bancorp --surpassed the amount they spent on consumer settlements and investor demands they buy back faulty loans.
“The banks have shown a knack for sidestepping government attempts to have them redress their role in the foreclosure crisis and keep people in their homes,” said Arthur Wilmarth, a law professor at George Washington University in the nation’s capital. “A lot of these efforts end up helping the banks, not the homeowners.”
Lets recap: The Big Banks pay a small (Small in Banker dollars, anyways) "penalty" *cough* to the DOJ for fraudulent foreclosure practices, and agree to review their own foreclosures and decide which homeowners will receive aid from the "penalty" funds paid to the DOJ that are allotted to homeowner aid. Then typically, the Banks are going to punish the homeowner with a short sale of their home that A) Results in the homeowner losing their home, and destroys their credit. B)Helps the Bank complete their obligation to the DOJ. and C)Allows the Bank further forgiveness by erasing home equity loans from their books.
The Big Banks have struck a Trifecta with Eric Holder's Department of in-Justice. For troubled homeowners, there is homelessness and despair, and just a small glimmer of hope.
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi takes the Justice Department to task over settling with HSBC late last year in the “largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever.”
"The HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated with Wall Street," Taibbi writes. "In this case the bank literally got away with murder – well, aiding and abetting it, anyway."
Three-time losers doing life in California prisons for street felonies might be surprised to learn that the no-jail settlement Lanny Breuer worked out for HSBC was already the bank's third strike. In fact, as a mortifying 334-page report issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations last summer made plain, HSBC ignored a truly awesome quantity of official warnings.