Dec 10, 2006

Case # 06: The United States -vs- William Jefferson

William Jefferson has to be guilty, even if he gets re-elected!

In yesterday’s run-off against a fellow Democrat, “despite an ongoing federal bribery investigation,” the AP reports. “In complete but unofficial returns, Jefferson, Louisiana’s first black congressman since Reconstruction, received 57 percent of the vote over state Rep. Karen Carter, who had 43 percent.”

This is the eight-term incumbent in whose freezer the FBI found $90,000 in bribe money,

Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., led a successful effort to remove Jefferson from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

He was accused of taking bribes from a company seeking lucrative contracts in the Nigerian telecommunications market. He has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing.

Jefferson's campaign committee tried to paint his young African-American woman opposition candidate as a pawn of the white establishment.

His Rap sheet:
  • Investor turns informant and wears a wire. According to an FBI search warrant, Jefferson was videotaped accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from a Northern Virginia investor who was wearing an FBI wire. In one instance, at an unidentified D.C. restaurant, Jefferson allegedly exchanged cryptic notes with investor Lori Mody and discussed illegal kickbacks for his children in a telecommunications venture in Nigeria in which she had invested. “All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking as if the FBI is watching,” he told Mody, who was indeed wearing an FBI wire. The FBI probe began in March 2005 after Mody became concerned that Jefferson and others were trying to defraud her of millions of dollars that she had invested in iGate Inc., a Louisville high-tech company, the affidavit said. That was when the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria set up a sting.
  • Cold cash in the freezer. As part of the investigation against Jefferson, on August 3, 2005, federal agents executed search warrants against Jefferson's homes, car, and offices as part of an undisclosed investigation. The federal agents seized $90,000 in cash that was stuffed in plastic bags in Jefferson’s home freezer. This $90,000 was part of the $100,000 in cash that was handed over to Jefferson and videotaped in the sting operation. Five other offices were raided across the country in conjunction with the raid on Jefferson's property.
  • Former aide pleads guilty. Former Jefferson aide Brett Pfeffer, who was intimately involved in the scandal, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe Jefferson as part of a plea bargain with the Department of Justice. On May 26, 2006, he was sentenced to eight years in prison.
  • Looking out for himself. Jefferson was criticized by ABC News for the apparent misuse of National Guard resources to check on his personal belongings and property at the height of the Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts. According to a military source, Jefferson delayed two heavy trucks, a helicopter and several National Guard members for over an hour while he went back into his house to retrieve “a laptop computer, three suitcases and a box about the size of a small refrigerator.” [ABC News, 9/15/2005]
  • Feds storm Capitol Hill. On May 20th FBI agents raided Jefferson's Capitol Hill office and stayed for 17 hours collecting documents. This was the first time that the FBI had raided and searched a Congressional office. The raid followed explicit procedures laid out in a judge-approved search warrant. Nevertheless, it has created a furor on Capitol Hill as lawmakers from both parties have charged the FBI with violating the constitutional separation of powers between the congressional and executive branches.
Sure, I'll take this case! I'll convict his shabby and crooked ass. I don't care if his constituents love him! He's fooking embarrassment to all non-Republicans!!!

Dec 2, 2006

Case #05: ACLU -vs- Transportation Security Administration

I'll Take This Case!


And I say, "TSA - All the Way!"

By Christmas, Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix will test a new federal screening system that takes X-rays of passenger's bodies to detect concealed explosives and other weapons. The technology, called backscatter, has been around for several years but has not been widely used in the U.S. as an anti-terrorism tool because of privacy concerns.

TSA's Web site indicates that the Backscatter technology will be used initially as a secondary screening measure, meaning that only those passengers who first fail the standard screening process will be directed to the X-ray area.

When I first heard of it, soon after 9-11, I was immediately sold. I haven't changed my mind. I would like to see the program expanded and become a primary system.

The Transportation Security Administration said it has found a way to refine the machine's images so that the normally graphic pictures can be blurred in certain areas while still being effective in detecting bombs and other threats.

High-resolution images -- which clearly depict the outline of the passenger's body, plus anything attached to it, such as jewelry -- might be judged as too invasive.

The system will be set up so that the image can be viewed only by a security officer in a remote location. Other passengers, and even the agent at the checkpoint, will not have access to the picture.

In addition, the system will be configured so that the X-ray will be deleted as soon as the individual steps away from the machine. It will not be stored or available for printing or transmitting,

The radiation is lower than the kind a doctor would use to look at organs or bones. It's low enough it can be used safely on a pregnant woman.
The process is anonymous: as long as you don't pack pistol, knives or plastic explosives on your person, no one will ever associate your name to your physique.

Privacy-smivacy! We're talking about the front defensive lines in the struggle against world terror.

ASAP, I would like to see this technology become commonplace, installed in all target-rich environments in the civilized world: air terminals, athletic events, etc.

Install it as much as medical safety and budget considerations permit. Privacy is not an issue for me.