Browsing: Justice

Seen as offensive, "defective" label for the mentally ill lives on in the federal code

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Whatever the federal government’s pluses and minuses, it is usually pretty good at avoiding language that will offend a particular group’s sensibilities. So some Federal Register readers may find it jarring to find two agencies using the term, “mental defective,” in notices set for publication this week. The term, considered useless and derogatory by advocates for the mentally ill, surfaces in a Justice Department filing seeking to clarify definitions of people prohibited from “receiving, possessing, shipping or transporting firearms” under the 1968 Gun Control Act. “The Department recognizes that the term ‘mental defective’ is outdated, but it is included in the statute and…

Prosecutors worried that bill would derail undercover inquiries

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Remember the 1997 movie, “Donnie Brasco,” based on the true-life tale of an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the mob? Now try to imagine the film if Donnie (played by Johnny Depp) had to give hitman Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino) written notice of his right to record their every encounter as the investigation proceeded. Chances are pretty good that this climactic bust (parental discretion advised) wouldn’t have happened: That, in essence, is the alarm being sounded by prosecutors over a House-passed bill that would require federal officials to advise people of their right to record phone conversations and in-person meetings under…

How hackers infiltrated federal agency

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In addition to the standard two forms of identification, offer letter and contact information, new hires at the U.S. Department of Education are required to bring along a certificate of completion for cybersecurity training course. A recent internal investigation shows why that training is probably a pretty good idea. In a previously undisclosed probe into a 2011 “spear phishing” campaign, hackers targeted senior staff and managed to break through the department’s security protections to steal data from the department. Much about the incident, which was described in documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request by Federal Times, remains…

Comey nomination draws positive reaction from two FBI employee groups

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President Obama’s choice of James Comey to head the FBI has been welcomed by two groups representing key elements of the bureau’s workforce. The FBI Agents Association had previously backed a former special agent—House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.—for the job. But in a Friday statement issued shortly after Obama formally nominated Comey,  the association’s president, Konrad Motyka, said the former Justice Department official has an “outstanding reputation” among agents. “We believe that Mr. Comey understands the centrality of the special agent to the bureau’s mission of protecting our country from criminal and terrorist threats,” Motyka said. “We look forward…

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: Stan Beeman, FBI, 'The Americans'

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Silver Screen Feds returns this week with an in-depth look at a major character from this year’s best new TV show: the Cold War spy drama “The Americans.” I’ve enjoyed watching the gifted, flawed FBI counterintelligence agent Stan Beeman unfold over this show’s premiere season. And after watching its May Day finale, I decided that Beeman is too complicated to shoehorn into a narrow “best” or “worst” category, so I’m going to examine both sides of his character. MAJOR SPOILERS for the first season follow. “The Americans” primarily focuses on Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two KGB agents who have been…

Feds file charges, seek yacht in State contract fraud probe

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Kathleen McGrade was a contract specialist inside the State Department, but prosecutors say she didn’t live like one. Steering tens of millions of dollars in work to a company controlled by her husband, McGrade bought a yacht, penthouse condo and lots of jewelry, according to charges unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Virginia. McGrade, 64, and her husband, Brian C. Collinsworth, 46, both of Fredericksburg, Va., face up to 20 years in prison on charges stemming from what authorities called a “secret scheme” by the couple to steer more than $60 million to a company they controlled. Authorities said…

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: 'Dante's Peak,' 'Point Break'

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Welcome back to Silver Screen Feds! This week, Andy Medici brings us the most dashing federal volcanologist to ever be awarded a GS grade: Pierce Brosnan in “Dante’s Peak.” And Stephen Losey explains why our worst fed of the week IS AN EFF … BEE … EYE … AGENT! BEST FEDS: Harry Dalton, U.S. Geological Survey, “Dante’s Peak” (Andy Medici) Deadly volcano? Check. Acid water, poisonous ash clouds and earthquakes? Check. One federal employee willing to risk it all to save the lives of others? You know it. In the 1997 film “Dante’s Peak,” Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan) is a…

The best of "Silver Screen Feds" from movies and television

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Hello everyone, My name is Andy and if you haven’t guessed it yet, I am one of the reporters here at the Federal Times. For the last few weeks we have had a new feature on our blog, “Silver Screen Feds,” where we look at famous federal employees in cinema and television. This week my partner-in-crime and colleague Steve Losey is spending time with his family, so instead of doing all the work myself, you guys get a clip-show version of everything we have done so far. Below are each of our entries in the ongoing series, so feel free…

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: 'Breaking Bad,' 'Seinfeld'

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We began our new feature Silver Screen Feds last week with a look at the heroic postal workers in “Miracle on 34th Street” and the smug Environmental Protection Agency agent from “Ghostbusters.” This week, we examine a far less-honorable mailman — Newman from “Seinfeld” — and the surprising heroism of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Hank Schrader in “Breaking Bad.” BEST FEDS: Hank Schrader, DEA, “Breaking Bad” (Stephen Losey) The main character of the dark crime drama “Breaking Bad” is Walter White, a once-milquetoast high school chemistry teacher who uses his genius and cunning to cook crystal methamphetamine after learning that…

Three more sentenced for involvement in federal contract fraud

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Three men were handed down prison sentences this week for participating in a scheme to defraud the government of more than $20 million through Army Corps of Engineers contracts, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Harold Babb, the former director of contracts at Eyak Technology LLC, was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison on federal charges of bribery and unlawful kickbacks, according to a news release. Babb admitted that he paid Army Corps of Engineers program manager Kerry Khan in return for Khan’s approval on contracts and subcontracts to EyakTek and Big Surf Construction Management, an EyakTek subcontractor,…

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