Ten people suffered minor injuries during a car and bike show inside the Georgia World Congress Center Saturday.
GWCC officials said that the incident happened when a fight triggered crowds to rush out of the venue at approximately 8 p.m.
“Just a massive wave of people running, trampling over people. Baby carriages, shoes, people running out of their shoes, it was a fiasco. It was crazy,” said one witness.
Many of these scams will be in operation for Memorial Day.
More Proof: Snowden Doc Programs Create Informants
Let’s be very clear — the reason the NSA is snooping phone calls in the Bahamas and probably Jamaica as well is in order to provide the DEA with informants.
It is pretty clearly spelled out in secret agreements signed with the government of Jamaica back in 2004:
"This information is provided only for intelligence purposes in an effort to develop potential investigative leads. It cannot be used in affidavits, court proceedings, subpoenas, or for legal or judicial purposes."
In other words, the NSA spying provides the DEA with targets, which the DEA then goes after independently to develop information which can be used in court proceedings and prosecutions. In fact, once the dragnet is deployed tabula rasa to ID targets and the DEA develops its own “leads” from that, the spy state can then double back and re-apply its programs to these targets to generate new actionable info — and round and round we go. The vital importance of informants to this process should be obvious.
The “independent” DEA — or FBI, CIA, etc. — HUMINT calls down and completely frees up the massive SIGINT power of the NSA’s Snowden doc programs. It does not even have to be particularly good or accurate HUMINT, any pretext will do. Once up and running, such ops very quickly become self-sustaining and yet wholly secret — the Holy Grail for spooky bureaucrats. When political necessity demands that “results” be shown to AWOL oversight organs including the press, it is relatively ease to surface a ready-made case, either via the DEA cutting deals with one group of dealers or via FBI plants activating various “terror plots” that would not otherwise exist.
In all, it is a neat and air-tight racket — and totally beyond the reach of meaningful reform until we finally put the topic of informants front and center.
Feds’ Tsarnaev Story Changes. Again.
New twist via the LA Times:
Authorities believe Tsarnaev’s ties to the illicit drug trade in Maine helped finance his six-month trip to the southern Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan in early 2012, where he became radicalized. Drug money, they say, also may have helped him buy components of the bomb that killed three people and injured more than 260 on April 15, 2013.
Portland is home to a trio of violent gangs called the True Somali Bloods, the Little Rascals Gang and a newly formed faction of the Crips Nation, according to the FBI.
Except that this account is at odds with what the feds told The Boston Globe last year for the paper’s definitive account of the Tsarnaevs, completed with much official cooperation. That account held that Tamerlan Tsarnaev bumbled his way across Dagestan, attempting to hook up with radicals along the way, but was generally held in disdain by them. In other words, Tamerlan was “radicalized” before going overseas and was looking to hook-up with like a minded cohort.
But — according to the Globe account — that never really happened. In fact, the Dagestan trip was such a non-event in terms of explaining the bombing that federal investigators did not really probe it. Recall:
If US investigators suspected that Tamerlan had actually met with insurgents, Magomedov and other members of the Union of the Just said, they never brought it up when they interviewed Tamerlan’s friends in Dagestan in June. The friends said they were never asked about Nidal or Plotnikov. This claim is supported by a three-hour recording of an interview by two FBI agents with one of Tamerlan’s friends in June, which the Globe was able to listen to. The names never come up.
Some “radicalization” that must have been to not even merit any interest from on-the-ground FBI agents.
The LAT account also addresses another mystery — that of how Tamerlan funded the trip to Dagestan. The Globe account left that matter open — implying that perhaps the haul from Waltham murders funded the trip. But that was always a stretch given the fact that so much cash and near-cash in the form of drugs was left at the scene.
Now the feds are back with an entirely new narrative — that cocaine deals in Maine involving street gangs sent a Chechen to Dagestan. Wow. Marvel at how nimble and air-tight that is — completely unverifiable, but easily backed up by gang-bangers jammed up on federal charges looking to cut a deal.
Plus it has the added benefit of associating the Tsarnaevs brothers with common, ruthless street-gangs, Crips and Bloods no less. How did Tamerlan get to Dagestan? Crips and Bloods. How was Jahir able to deal drugs with impunity? Crips and Bloods. How did they blow up innocents? Crips and Bloods. No need to look any further.
In sum, the feds appear to have pulled back from one shaky narrative — that federal investigators really did not care what Tamerlan did in Dagestan or who he did it with — in favor of a much more straight-forward and jury salable account: that Tamerlan was radicalized in Dagestan to do harm upon his return. At the same time, the glaring hole of how the trip was funded is deftly plugged with a stretched tie to Maine drug gangs. Unless Jahir’s defense team presses hard on the Dagestan disconnect, probing why “names never came up” we are unlikely to get to the truth of this matter.
The Tsarnaevs and the CIA (Part III)
Back in December it was my intention to follow-up my analysis of the brothers Tsarnaev with a third part, much of which would have focused on yet another strange passage from The Boston Globe’s exhaustive five-months in the making portrait of the brothers. A portrait which was assembled with tremendous cooperation from state and federal authorities.
To a point. The passage:
Tamerlan began partying hard. Much of his time was spent smoking pot and listening to music with some of his Rindge friends. One of them, Sebastian Freddura, said that “Tim,” or the “oddball Russian,” as they called Tamerlan, and their pals would routinely go party on weekends at Salem State University, which Freddura attended from 2008 to 2010.
Another person who happened to be on that campus at the time was Sean Collier, the MIT police officer whom the Tsarnaev brothers are accused of murdering, and who graduated from Salem State in 2009. It is a remarkable coincidence, but the Globe uncovered no evidence that the two ever met. Investigators have indicated that the brothers apparently approached Collier at random on April 18 and shot him as they tried to take his gun. Asked if Tamerlan might have known Collier from the Salem campus or had approached him intentionally, state and federal investigators declined to comment.
The Salem campus is not the only place that Tamerlan and Collier might have crossed paths. Both men were active in Somerville boxing circles. Tamerlan trained at a gym called the Somerville Boxing Club that closed several years ago. Collier provided IT assistance to a newer club called the Somerville Youth Development & Boxing Club. Some trainers and staff involved at both clubs wonder if Tamerlan ever became aware of Collier at one of the two locations.
This struck me as strange on several levels. One, that the possibility existed that Tamerlan and Collier could have crossed paths before the night of Collier’s murder. Two, that authorities were not willing to talk about that possibility. And three, that the Globe included the open question at all, almost as if editors and reporters really did not know what to make of it either — and wanted other eyes on it.
But even after putting eyes and thought on it you really could not go much beyond, “Weird.” Until last week.
An MIT police sergeant told a local radio station that he believes FBI agents were surveilling the Tsarnaev brothers on the night Collier was murdered. This radical change in the timeline echoes back to the October disclosure that the FBI was running some op in Cambridge that night, one which the Bureau swore had nothing to do with the bombing, to wit:
The Joint Terrorism Task Force was at M.I.T., located in Cambridge, MA, on April 18, 2013, on a matter unrelated to the Tsarnaev brothers. Additionally, the Tsarnaev brothers were never sources for the FBI nor did the FBI attempt to recruit them as sources.
There has been recent reporting relating to whether or not the FBI, Boston Police, Massachusetts State Police or other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force knew the identities of the bombers before the shootout with the alleged marathon bombing suspects, and were conducting physical surveillance of them on April 18, 2013. These claims have been repeatedly refuted by the FBI, Boston Police, and Massachusetts State Police.
To be absolutely clear: No one was surveilling the Tsarnaevs and they were not identified until after the shootout. Any claims to the contrary are false.
But then this happens:
“The word was out regarding the suspects now. We knew how they looked like, and we knew they lived in the city of Cambridge at one point,” said Clarence Henniger, a sergeant with MIT police, recalling patrolling campus that evening.
“So our alert basis was not as high because the feds were all over the city of Cambridge, to some degree, knowing that they lived there,” Henniger said. “It was still not really affecting us directly in a sense. We still had this false security of MIT campus. We felt the threat here in Cambridge was gone.”
This, of course, prompted more denials from the FBI yesterday.
In response, Assistant Special Agent In Charge of the Boston office, Kieran Ramsey, told Boston that Henniger is “absolutely uninformed” and that his claims are “patently false. We did not know the identities of the Tsarnaev brothers until after [Tamerlan] was fingerprinted.”
Henniger, a 39-year veteran of MIT’s police force, gave fuel to conspiracy theorists and bloggers when he told Northeastern University that “The word was out regarding the suspects. We knew that his house was under surveillance, and the feds were all over the city of Cambridge.” However, when contacted by Boston, Henniger admitted that his information is not based in fact. “We were just assuming,” Henniger said. “We had an idea that they had already put it together who they were.”
Henniger, however, was correct that FBI agents were swarming around Cambridge at the time Collier was killed. Ramsey, who was the on-scene commander in Cambridge that day, confirmed that agents “were following up on leads far and wide which included following up on leads on the MIT campus. Everywhere we could, where we had a lead, we would follow-up immediately.” Though he would not give specifics, Ramsey added that the leads his agents were tracking were connected to the bombings but not to the Tsarnaevs. …
Despite the FBI’s strong assertions, Henniger stands by his story and says he still has lingering doubts about what the feds knew and when. “We still have questions,” he says, “and to some degree I’m sure [the FBI] knew.”
To that, says Ramsey, “That MIT officer could not be more wrong.”
Well, well. Just what were those bombing “leads” unrelated to Tsarnaevs that brought the feds down on Cambridge? Did they have anything to do with Sean Collier? Is this what Sgt. Henninger is circumlocuting around? And is that what the feds are so intent on keeping secret?
Was Collier, in any capacity, formal or informal, at any time prior to the night he was killed, in contact with any element of the federal government and/or state joint terrorism task force elements?
We would not have to demand answers to such left-field questions if the government would just speak plainly about what it knows and what it did. Perhaps it is fear of messing up the Jahir trial, but something is fundamentally wrong with the official account of the days after the bombing. And the state seems intent on protecting its current narrative as it goes to trial. That does not bode well for the truth.
Confirmed: Wacky Biz Deals in CLT
As predicted a week ago, the local arm of North Carolina’s Alcohol Law Enforcement agency was deeply involved in tipping off the FBI in the corruption case the Bureau lodged against Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon. And since Cannon’s resignation, the extent of the federal investigation has begun to become apparent.
Already we have an interesting cameo in the person of NYC hotelier and self-promotion master George Dfouni. Dfouni is part of the ownership group of a Charlotte hotel that badly needed an alcohol permit. Cannon’s parking company has a contract with the hotel to manage parking at the site. A hotel rep, Larry Parks, contributed $1250 to Cannon’s city council campaign and, according to an ALE agent, claimed he could get the hotel’s alcohol permit approved via his influence over the local alcohol licensing board.
Dfouni is cutting Parks loose on that one:
Hotel co-owner Dfouni said he knows Cannon and has met him several times, but never sought influence from him. He said he dealt with Jeff Feemster, E-Z Parking’s co-president, when dealing with parking, not Cannon.
“I didn’t ask for favors,” he said. “What do I need the mayor for, with all due respect to the mayor?” …
Dfouni said he was surprised to hear that Parks allegedly told people he could influence the ABC. He said Parks was an architectural consultant.
“This is news to me,” he said. “I’m actually surprised by this. … He was introduced to me as somebody local who knows a lot of architects. He was like a middleman between me and contractors. I really don’t deal with Larry that much.”
Dfouni has much better things to do, you see — like dabble with running for president of Lebanon after a whirlwind trip to Beirut, London, and Europe. But instead of running himself Dfouni, whom the Lebanese press describes as “known for his friendship with President Barack Obama,” has thrown his support behind former Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud.
Dfouni, recall, became involved with the Charlotte property following the spectacular flame out of another NYC hotel magnate, Charles Dayan and his ownership group.
Charlotte is finally truly world-class.
Charlotte’s Web of Corruption
As I have said previously, any honest observer of Charlotte politics and culture over the past 25 years was surprised by the federal arrest of Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon on bribery charges — but not shocked. Not given the way the city operated for decades via wink-and-nod, bait-and-switch, and insider self-dealing.
In a way, you almost feel sorry for Cannon. He was a lowly parking lot operator and as such without easy access to connected windfalls available to CLT pols who had law firms, construction companies, or other professional service cut-outs. Maybe a bribe-funded feminine hygiene product really was the best get-rich quick scheme he could come up with. But to the question of the day: What comes next?
First, let’s backfill some sloppy assumptions afoot in the matter. Because the indictment sources the investigation to a tip from “local law enforcement” operating undercover in 2010, some outlets have taken that to mean Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Not so fast.
By “local law enforcement” the feds could mean any local arm of law enforcement. And the designation of “undercover” is slippery as well. It could just mean an entity that sometimes operates undercover, so as to wall-off the source from disclosure. Also, the more you know about how law enforcement typically works in Charlotte, the less it seems like CMPD provided the initial tip.
For one, the only undercover ops I ever knew CMPD to undertake involved either drugs or prostitution. Now it is possible one of those operations stumbled on an elaborate development and permitting corruption scheme located at the GovCenter, but that suggests truly epic Sharky’s Machine scale illegality that is just not reflected in the Cannon criminal complaint.
Besides, the mention of alcohol permits in the complaint should direct our attention to the local arm of the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement agency. While CMPD conducts background checks on permit applicants on behalf of city officials who then recommend up or down on permits to the county arm of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control commission — North Carolina has deliberately made the distribution and sale of alcohol as complicated as possible — it is ALE that is charged with the day-to-day enforcement of liquor laws at licensed operators. What’s more, ALE does deploy plain-clothes “undercover” agents in a variety of sting ops, from underage sales to over-serving to after-hours operation.
Further, CMPD and ALE have not always had the best working relationship, with CMPD more interested in tracking down the sale of heroin and other drugs at bars and restaurants than in policing every dot of the state’s arcane alcohol code. This conflict reached its zenith several years ago with ALE attempting to shut down bars in which CMPD had carefully placed informants among the kitchen staff in an attempt to get a handle on the city’s rampant black tar heroin trade.
Given the division of labor and history between the two institutions, this scenario suggests itself: ALE operatives get wind of a current or prospective permit holder boasting of having an in with city officials and/or CMPD due to bribes. Without any jurisdiction to investigate such a claim, ALE must turn it over to another investigative agency. Presumably the initial allegation involved an out-of-state, multi-state current or possible permit holder, making it a federal matter.
This scenario also comports with the language in the FBI complaint stating that “other individuals” were probed prior to the investigation landing on Cannon. Had CMPD initiated the investigation, it would have done both an internal clearance of its own officers and that of any non-elected city personnel. Instead, it certainly sounds like the FBI was on the case from the start. And that suggests to me ALE called them in. We may never know.
Meanwhile, only insular, proud Charlotte could have produced a legitimately shocking follow-up to Cannon’s arrest — a serial attempt at witness tampering by Charlotte City manager Ron Carlee.
…Carlee said he met with city executives Thursday morning, including those in the planning and zoning departments. He said they told him the city wasn’t a “pay-to-play environment” and Carlee said Charlotte is “doing things right.” …
In a news conference Thursday, Carlee tried to downplay Cannon’s ability to corrupt city government, saying much of the mayor’s job is ceremonial and that there are enough checks and balances to limit one person’s power.
Carlee said Cannon’s arrest wouldn’t impact the city’s quest to secure federal funding to build a streetcar or keep control of the airport.
“(The mayor) doesn’t have operational responsibility for the airport or transit,” Carlee said. “It can’t be done by the mayor, it’s done by the council. The mayor is an important position, has a bully pulpit, but he doesn’t have operational control.” …
The city’s zoning process has several steps that would make it difficult for one person to advance a project, Carlee said.
Just brazen. If anyone asks, just say the mayor had no influence and you did things by the book.
But that is how Charlotte rolls. Has rolled. Straight into a ditch. What comes next?
More of the same.