US Marshals Still Burning Taxpayer Dollars In Effort To Find The Three Inmates Who Escaped From Alcatraz Prison 50 Years Ago – Publish Make-Believe Composite Photos

June 12, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – It is one of the most famous escapes in the history of U.S. prisons, and even though the case has long since gone cold, the U.S. Marshals Service continues to search for three inmates escaped from Alcatraz in 1962.

Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the only successful escape from Alcatraz. The facility was closed down in 1963 and is now a world-famous tourist attraction.

No traces were ever found of Frank Morris and brothers Clarence Anglin and John Anglin who successfully busted out of “The Rock” with a rowboat made of raincoats.
Getting off the island was one thing, but whether they made it across the difficult waters of the San Francisco Bay at night is quite another. The question has been the subject of speculation for a half century.

No trace of the three was ever found. They remain unaccounted for.

“No matter where the leads take us, or how many man hours are spent on this historic case, the Marshals Service will continue to investigate to the fullest extent possible,” said David Harlow, assistant director, U.S. Marshals Investigative Operations Division.

The U.S. Marshals on Monday released age-enhanced composites of the three men in the event that they are still alive. Frank Morris would be 85 years old, Clarence Anglin would be 81 and John Anglin would be 82.

The escape since 1962 has become the stuff of legend.

Clint Eastwood played Morris in the 1979 movie “Escape from Alcatraz.”

And Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of the Discovery Channel program “Mythbusters” determined a successful escape was certainly plausible. In 2003, they recreated the escape, right down to the raincoat rowboat and were able to navigate across the Bay from Alcatraz to Marin Island.

The U.S. Marshal Service took over the lead in the investigation from the FBI in 1979. Officials said that since that time, Since that time, countless deputy U.S. marshals have worked the case and investigated thousands of leads in almost every state in the country and a few foreign countries. The agency has also from time to time reached for through the media.

The elaborate escape plan was the result of more than one year of planning and included the design of a life raft and life preservers fashioned from more than 50 raincoats, the fabrication of lifelike dummies to ruse guards on night bed checks and enlarged ventilation holes in their cell walls, which they used spoons to create and concealed with cardboard replicas of vent covers.

On the night of June 11, 1962, the three escaped through the vents and made their way to the northeast part of the island, where they inflated the makeshift raft and three life preservers and slipped into the water.

Varied reports stated that the inmates either drowned or made their escape via nearby Angel Island.

A fourth inmate, Allen West, was involved in planning the escape, but he never made it out of his prison cell.

The known details of the escape were provided by West during several interviews.

The possibility of survival steered investigators to unusual and detailed leads to suspected whereabouts of the escapees. One example occurred in 2010, when an unmarked grave, claimed to be that of an escapee, was exhumed but failed to offer positive identification.

The Marshals intend to continue pursuing the escapees until they are either arrested, positively determined to be deceased or reach the age of 99.

“The ongoing U.S. Marshals investigation of the 1962 escape from Alcatraz federal prison serves as a warning to fugitives that regardless of time, we will continue to look for you and bring you to justice,” said U.S. Marshal Don O’Keefe of the Northern District of California

The U.S. Marshals have a long history of successfully tracking, locating and apprehending prison escapees. In August 2011, Frederick Barrett, a convicted murderer wanted in Florida for escape, was apprehended after 32 years on the lam. He was found hiding in a remote cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

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84 GSA Employees Got $1.1 Million In Taxpayer Funded Bonuses While Already Under Investigation For Wrongdoing Or Misconduct

June 4, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – An ongoing congressional investigation reveals $1.1 million in bonuses were awarded to 84 employees of the General Services Administration since 2008 — while the inspector general was probing these individuals for wrongdoing or misconduct.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who is heading the investigation, said the overall number of employees receiving bonuses while under investigation is likely to be “far higher” since not all information for current investigations is now available, according to a release from the senator.

Of the 84 GSA employees, each received an average of eight bonuses, totaling $13,000.

One program officer received more than $38,000 in bonuses since 2008, despite being reassigned for abuse of authority. Another employee, a GS-14 level supervisor, received more than $20,000 in bonuses, even after being reprimanded for interfering with an IG investigation, according to the release.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test to be awarding huge bonuses in taxpayer dollars to officials who are being investigated, or have already been found responsible, for fraud and waste of those very taxpayer dollars. That’s why I’m not letting up on our fight for accountability in government,” McCaskill said in the release. McCaskill is the chairman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The GSA has no policies to freeze bonuses to employees under investigation by the IG, according to the release.

The scrutiny of GSA came most heavily starting in April after an investigation by the IG revealed the agency spent more than $823,000 on a Las Vegas conference in 2010. Among the employees investigated was Public Buildings Service Region 9 Commission Jeff Neely, who received a $9,000 bonus despite being under investigation.

In a letter to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, McCaskill asked for information from 2008 to 2011 on bonuses awarded to all federal agencies, “including what actions OPM could take to ensure that bonuses that would otherwise be awarded to federal employees under investigation by the Inspector General are withheld pending the resolution of the investigation.”

McCaskill gave OPM a deadline of June 20 for the federal employee bonus information.

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Waste: State Department And US Navy Pissing Away Taxpayer Dollars Looking For Amelia Earhart Aircraft That May Or May Not Have Crashed In Pacific 75 Years Ago

June 3, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – One of the most enduring mysteries of the annals of aviation, is what happened after Miss Earhart last radioed from her Lockheed Model 10E “Electra” that she was unable to locate an airstrip for landing.

The accepted wisdom was that Earhart’s aircraft had simply run out of fuel and crashed into the ocean on July 2, 1937, as she searched for Howland Island.

Howland was the final refuelling stop before flying on to Honolulu and completing the journey by touching down in Oakland, California.

An expedition that will set sail from Hawaii on July 2, which marks the 75th anniversary of the last message by Phoenix International, the US Navy’s primary source of deep ocean search and recovery expertise, will map a former British possession that has been indentified as the most likely crash site.

A team of enthusiasts from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (Tighar) has drawn up the plans for the expedition, which is backed by the US State Department.

It will use high technology, including multi-beam sonar, to inspect a steep and craggy underwater mountainside on the western reef slope of island of Nikumaroro, a former British colony that is today part of the republic of Kiribati.

“Our objective on this expedition is to conduct a thorough search of the area we judge to be most likely to contain wreckage from the Earhart Electra,” said Tighar.

While much of the aircraft is likely to have been lost in the intervening years, researchers believe some key components – such as the Pratt & Whitney engines – could still be where they sank 75 years ago.

“Any man-made objects found will be photographed and their location carefully recorded,” the group said. “No recovery of objects will be attempted unless necessary to confirm identification.#”Should identifiable wreckage from the Electra be discovered it will be documented as thoroughly as possible in situ so that a separate expedition can be equipped with the appropriate means to recover and conserve the materials.”

If the aircraft had sufficient fuel to reach Nikumaroro, which was at the time the uninhabited British possession known as Gardner Island, it could have landed on reef flats before being washed over the ledge.

Earhart and Fred Noonan, her navigator, could have survived on the island for a time, but eventually succumbed to injury or infection, food poisoning or thirst.

The theory is supported by British colonial records in Fiji reporting the discovery of the partial skeleton of a castaway who perished shortly before the island was settled in 1938.

The bones were found in the shade of a tree in a part of the island that fits the description of the encampment that Tighar has been excavating.

The site is dotted with the remains of small fires on which meals of birds, fish, turtle and even rat were cooked.

Previous research trips have turned up parts of aluminium skin from an aircraft, plexiglass from a cockpit, a zip made in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s, a broken pocket knife of the same brand that was listed in an inventory of Earhart’s aircraft and the remains of a 1930s woman’s compact.

Ric Gillespie, executive director of Tighar, says they still need to find incontrovertible proof that Earhart on Nikumororo – the “smoking gun.”

This expedition apparently offers the best chances of that yet, with new forensic evidence of a photo that may show part of the aircraft on the reef sufficient to convince the US government to support the project.

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Lawmakers Look Into 9th Federal Circuit Court Of Appeals Plan For $1 Million Maui Hawaii Getaway At Taxpayer Expense

May 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – On the heels of the scandal surrounding one government agency’s lavish Las Vegas conference, federal judges in the western U.S. circuit are catching flak from Congress for a planned Maui getaway that could cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

The Maui meet-up is scheduled for August under the banner of the 2012 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, and will include judges, attorneys, staff and “special guests” from various federal courts spread across nine western states — including judges on the California-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While in Hawaii, the guests are scheduled to stay in the upscale Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. And they’ll have the chance to kick back with an array of recreational activities — sport fishing, golf, paddle-board lessons, yoga, Zumba, even a floral design workshop.

The official website for the conference stresses that “government funds are not used for any recreational or sporting activities.”

But Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a letter to Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, called the activities “unrelated to the business of the court” and questioned whether the Ninth Circuit really needed to ship everyone out to the islands — a trip that incurs substantial costs in travel and lodging alone.

“The programs read more like a vacation than a business trip to discuss the means of improving the administration of justice,” they wrote. “We are concerned about the overall cost of this conference and do not believe that discussions about the administration of justice would be less successful were they held somewhere other than a spa and resort in Hawaii.”

A statement from the senators estimated the trip could cost more than $1 million — pegging the cost of accommodations alone at more than $500,000. That factors in room rates of between $230 and $250 per night for four nights.

The government also provides a per diem — according to the conference website, this per diem starts at a base level of $289.

The hotel itself is situated on Kaanapali Beach, in the northwestern corner of the island on the outskirts of the island’s lush rainforests. The resort features a full-service spa, a salon, 1,800 feet of beachfront property, two pools with waterfalls, a rope bridge and an outdoor whirlpool.

The GOP senators, in their letter, fired off a slew of questions for the Ninth Circuit about the cost of past conventions and the rationale for the upcoming one. They referenced the scandal over the General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas, which cost taxpayers more than $800,000.

“Technology is so advanced that people are earning college degrees online and soldiers serving halfway across the world use Skype with their families at home,” Grassley said in a statement.

“Likewise, a judicial circuit court should be capable of using technology to share information without requiring a trip to an island paradise. It’s especially tone-deaf to plan a pricey conference after the GSA debacle. The taxpayers can’t sustain this kind of spending, and they shouldn’t have to. The court should re-examine whether this is the best use of tax dollars.”

A representative with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has not returned a request for comment.

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