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February 5th, 2009
03:07 PM ET

Fixing Forensics

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° contributor and In Session anchor

We hear from our friends at the Innocence Project that a big report is coming down on forensic science. Apparently, the National Academy of Sciences has spent the last two years studying the use of forensics in criminal cases. Their conclusion: Forensic evidence presented in court is often based on shoddy science practices in the lab.

That includes fingerprinting, ballistics, blood spatter and bite marks, hair and handwriting analysis, all of which have been used to convict thousands of defendants for the better part of the last hundred years.

FULL POST


Filed under: Jami Floyd • Justice Department
February 4th, 2009
03:02 PM ET

The greatest show on Earth

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

A performer rides an elephant during a live performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

A performer rides an elephant during a live performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Jami Floyd
AC360° contributor and In Session anchor

I met my first elephant at the Central Park Zoo, when I was a very little girl and I was smitten. Over the years, I read all about them and went to the circus whenever it came to town. So imagine the thrill when, as an adult, I had the good fortune to see elephants in the wild.

I have seen them feed. I’ve seen their burial rituals. I have even been charged by a mother elephant protecting her calf.

FULL POST


Filed under: Jami Floyd • Justice Department
February 3rd, 2009
04:34 PM ET

It's a new day at DOJ

Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer

Only minutes into his reign at the Justice Department the new Attorney General displayed the casual, affable style for which he was known—and widely appreciated—by career employees from legal scholars to rookie secretaries during his stint as Deputy Attorney General during President Clinton’s second term. So, the huge ovation he received upon his arrival was not surprising. Holder was a popular choice within the Justice Department community when he was nominated, including the important backing of both former FBI Director Louis Freeh and current FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Holder took lots of time to shake every hand, take every picture, greet every employee who attended the swearing in. Then without hesitation he waded into the bevy of Justice-based journalists and comfortably began to chat and joke. He provided no important news, but the accessibility was a remarkable change from eight years during which Attorneys General John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Mukasey had largely kept the press at arm’s length.

As if to accentuate the difference in style, hours later Holder wandered unannounced into the Justice Department press room and plopped down for more give and take. As we watched the CNN monitors with the news that Tom Daschle had resigned, the Attorney General said he’d been too busy to watch any TV news on his first day and he wasn’t quite up to speed on the day’s events. Holder wasn’t sure whether he liked the formal full-length picture of himself which a reporter had torn from a magazine and posted in the press room. But he was at ease with the journalists—both newcomers to the beat, as well as a couple of us old-timers who had been here during his first go-around. This time he’s the boss, and he won’t have to worry that Janet Reno is on the fifth floor wondering why her deputy was chatting with the press.

FULL POST


Filed under: Justice Department • Raw Politics • Terry Frieden
February 3rd, 2009
09:51 AM ET

The CIA scandals: how bad a blow?

Robert Baer
Time

The last thing the CIA needs right now is another scandal, let alone two.

Allegations that the CIA chief in Algiers (identified in the press, though not by the government, as Andrew Warren) drugged and raped two women is going to badly hurt. The accusations that Harold Nicholson, a former CIA operative in federal prison convicted of spying for the KGB, continued his work from behind bars isn't nearly as serious, but it won't exactly help the agency's reputation. Nicholson, who allegedly enlisted his son to collect his KGB "pension" and to pass on whatever secrets dad still knows, is pretty much stale history. But even so, the news is an unwanted reminder that the KGB was eating the CIA's lunch in the '90s — along with the National Security Agency's and the Department of Defense's. (See the top 10 Secret Service code names.)

Read more...

February 2nd, 2009
01:09 PM ET

My interview with the woman who just dumped Drew Peterson

Drew Peterson's behavior after his wife disappeared deepened suspicion, but he says she ran off.

Drew Peterson's behavior after his wife disappeared deepened suspicion, but he says she ran off.

Editor’s Note: You can read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session

Lisa Bloom
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Last week Chrissy Raines made news by leaving Drew Peterson, the man who is a suspect in the murders of his third and fourth wives. Twenty-four year old Chrissy Raines and her two children, ages 4 and 5, had been living with Peterson for three weeks. Her father, Ernest Raines, was distraught that his daughter and grandchildren were living with a man many people consider to be a dangerous double murderer. I had the privilege of meeting Ernest when we both appeared on the Dr. Phil show last Wednesday. During and after the show, Dr. Phil and I advised Ernie to stop making threats to Drew Peterson – “I’ll drive my Cadillac through his house!” – and to instead keep a friendly, close relationship with his daughter. Drew Peterson would win if he succeeded in isolating Chrissy from her family, which is what abusers always try to do. Don’t let that happen, I told Ernie. Keep the lines of communication open with your daughter. Let her know that while you don’t like your choice, you love her and are there for her, and will help her in any way you can.

FULL POST

January 30th, 2009
03:30 PM ET

Governors gone wild

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted at his impeachment trial shortly after delivering closing argument.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted at his impeachment trial shortly after delivering closing argument.

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Like a Shakespearean tragedy, the Blagojevich debacle just keeps getting better and better. Narcissism. Corruption. Colorful characters. And farce.

But it’s not funny. Not really. Because whatever really went down in this case, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And Denmark isn’t the Prairie State. Rather, it’s a political state of mind in which entitlement and corruption have become the order of the day.

FULL POST


Filed under: Jami Floyd • Justice Department • Rod Blagojevich
January 29th, 2009
07:58 AM ET

L.A. archdiocese responds to reports of federal sex abuse probe

The archdiocese said it has been contacted by the U.S. attorney's office for information on individual priests.

The archdiocese said it has been contacted by the U.S. attorney's office for information on individual priests.

Federal prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether leaders of the Los Angeles archdiocese committed fraud by failing to properly deal with charges of priests molesting children, two law-enforcement sources told CNN.

The Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony is specifically targeted in a grand jury investigation - citing unnamed government sources.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien is personally involved in the probe, according to the reports.

In a written statement, the Catholic archdiocese on Wednesday defended its actions. It said the archdiocese has been contacted by the U.S. attorneys office for "information about a number of individual priests" - two who are dead and none of whom are active in the clergy.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Justice Department • Religion
January 27th, 2009
03:43 PM ET

Fact-checking Blago, Day 2

Gov. Blagojevich appeared on CNN's Larry King Live Monday night.

Gov. Blagojevich appeared on CNN's Larry King Live Monday night.

Editor’s Note: You can read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session

Lisa Bloom
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Blago continues to misstate the law.

He’s a lawyer. He should know better.

Blago has steadfastly refused to answer specific questions from Larry King, CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez and others, including Jami Floyd today on In Session (is that you on the tapes? Did you say that? If it’s out of context, what was the context?) on the grounds that he is legally barred from commenting on a pending legal matter. No. Incorrect.

FULL POST


Filed under: Justice Department • Lisa Bloom • Rod Blagojevich
January 27th, 2009
02:54 PM ET

Bush rejected pardons for Duke Cunningham, Edwin Edwards and Michael Milken

Former President George W. Bush helicopters for the last time to Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday.

Former President George W. Bush helicopters for the last time to Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday.

Josh Meyer
The L.A. Times

President George W. Bush, on his last full day in office, formally struck down the petitions for clemency of some high-profile politicians and businessmen, including former lawmakers Randall "Duke" Cunningham, Edwin Edwards and Mario Biaggi and "junk bond" financier Michael Milken, the Justice Department said today.

The chief of the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers, confirmed the pardon rejections through a spokeswoman, in response to queries from The Times' Washington Bureau.

The Justice Department said Bush also denied petitions for clemency for two men who became highly polarizing symbols of their eras. One of them was John Walker Lindh, the young American serving 20 years in prison for aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan at a time when it was fighting U.S. military forces just after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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January 23rd, 2009
09:45 AM ET

What's the end game?

Suzanne Simons
CNN Executive Producer

When it comes to the war on terror, President Barack Obama is wasting no time changing the way the war is waged, in fact he isn't even using the term "war on terror" anymore. By signing four executive orders that deal with the way the U.S. confronts terrorism, or even the suspicion of it, he is beginning to unravel much of what was put into place by the Bush Administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

One of the four executive orders specifically bans torture and will bring an end to the "enhanced methods" made available to the CIA under Mr. Bush. Those enhanced methods include water boarding, the practice of strapping a suspect to a board, gagging them, and pouring water over his face in an effort to simulate drowning. A ban on the act that some see as torture and others deem effective, is welcomed by some intelligence sources who insist the Agency never asked for those powers, but says they were pushed on them by an administration eager to show strength under threat. Just last week, CIA Director Michael Hayden, in parting comments to reporters, said "The Agency did none of this out of enthusiasm. It did it out of duty. It did it with the best legal advice it had." Some inside the Agency, including Hayden, still insist the methods were effective and one former official points to information gleaned from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that led to the detention of other top-ranking members of al Qaeda as proof. The Agency has made progress against al Qaeda namely by taking out many of its top operatives. It's no longer the same terror network that it was in the days after 9/11. Clearly the mindset in fighting terrorism has changed, too.

FULL POST

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