General Info
Report on Operation Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:11

Congressional Investigators Release First Part of Final Joint Report on Operation Fast and Furious

Report Focuses on Role of ATF and Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office

WASHINGTON, DC –House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley today released the first part of the final report on the joint congressional investigation of conduct in Operation Fast and Furious.  The report presents evidence detailing numerous errors and decisions by ATF officials and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office that led to serious problems – including inter-agency communication failures between ATF, DEA, and FBI.  The failed operation might have contributed to the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens.  It also created an ongoing public safety hazard on both sides of the border.  The failures happened because of conscious decisions not to interdict weapons and not to stop suspects in the hope that they would lead to cartel connections and a larger case.

“ATF and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office failed to consider and protect the safety of Americans, Mexicans, and fellow law enforcement personnel throughout Operation Fast and Furious,” said Chairman Issa.  “Testimony and a persistent reluctance to fully cooperate make clear that many officials at ATF and the Department of Justice would have preferred to quietly sweep this matter under the rug.  Though they are among the most vocal objectors to oversight by Congress, this investigation has also shown that both agencies are among those most in need of additional scrutiny and attention from Congress.”

“The ATF wasted time, money and resources on wiretaps and put agents in harm’s way trying to learn about the links that other agencies had already made,” Grassley said.  “It’s a classic case of government agencies’ failure to connect the dots.  The ATF leadership claims it didn’t get the full picture from the FBI until after the case was over.  We know the DEA was actively giving information to the ATF, but the ATF dropped the ball.  Whistleblowers put the spotlight on Operation Fast and Furious.  The ATF clearly needs to clean up its act, and the Department of Justice needs to make certain this kind of program is never allowed to happen again.  This report provides a road map of what went wrong.”

This new report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, Part I of III,” is based on transcribed interviews with 24 individuals, some covering multiple days; informal interviews with more than 50 individuals; and the review of more than 10,000 pages of documents.  While the Justice Department has withheld tens of thousands of pages of documents and denied access to numerous witnesses, the investigation did find sufficient evidence to draw conclusions concerning the origins of Operation Fast and Furious, the detrimental effect of inter-agency miscommunications and turf issues, flawed strategies, delays, and an overall failure to effectively supervise subordinate offices.

The complete report consists of 2,359 pages, including 211 pages of text with 692 footnotes, 266 exhibits, and three appendices.

Below are excerpts from the report’s conclusion (starting on p. 210):

“From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy. In the summer of 2009, the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. promulgated a ‘Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels.’ The new aim was to zero in on the firearms trafficking networks. Agents were advised that ‘merely seizing firearms’ purchased illegally by straw buyers should take a back seat to gathering information in hopes of dismantling entire firearms trafficking networks. To effectuate the new plan, ATF agents in Phoenix convinced local gun dealers to cooperate by supplying ATF with real-time information on the straw purchases, even though ATF knew the buyers were illegally obtaining firearms destined for the Mexican drug cartels. The gun dealers were reassured that ATF was closely monitoring the transactions, and interdicting the weapons. That was false.”

***

“Shortly after the case began, in December 2009, DEA supplied ATF with extensive information on what would become ATF’s prime target. At that point, ATF should have shut Fast and Furious down, but it failed to recognize the significance of the information the DEA had shared. Instead, ATF continued with its plan to identify all the players in the trafficking network rather than disrupt or deter them through confrontation and arrest. So, hundreds of guns flowed to criminals while two of the trafficking network’s customers, who were its connection to the Mexican drug cartels, were already known to U.S. law enforcement. Both the FBI and DEA had key information on the network’s connection drug cartels in Mexico by the time ATF’s wiretaps were approved.”

***

“Though Attorney General Holder testified that the case was ‘fundamentally flawed’ and President Obama has stated that mistakes may have been made, all responsible ATF officials still work either at the ATF or within the Department of Justice. The two men most closely identified with the failed strategy of the case and who bear the brunt of responsibility for supervising the operation on a day-to-day basis, William Newell and David Voth, have both kept their jobs at ATF.”

***

“This report is not intended to imply in any way that the mistakes and responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious are limited to ATF and other federal officials who were based in Arizona. While mistakes by figures in Arizona were immense, the joint Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious will issue a second report detailing the mistakes and culpability of Department of Justice officials based in Washington, D.C.”

***

“Operation Fast and Furious was the largest firearms trafficking case involving the U.S.-Mexico border in the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case began in the fall of 2009 in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge William Newell, an agent with a history of sanctioning the dangerous investigative technique known as gunwalking. Newell had been reprimanded before by ATF management for pushing the envelope with discredited tactics. But Newell had an audacious goal. He intended to dismantle the U.S.-based gun trafficking network that supplied the formidable Mexican Sinaloa Cartel. When the Obama administration resurrected an earlier case in which his division used reckless gunwalking tactics, Newell saw his opportunity.”

***

Click here for a copy of the report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, Part I of III” and the 2,148 page appendices.

###

 
America’s Young ‘Globals’ See U.S. Role Differently, Author Says PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 12:14
He Notes Benefits of Millennials’ Itch to Travel, Work Abroad

Just a couple decades ago, only the young adult children of the very rich, the very religious or the very adventurous ventured abroad to live and work in other cultures.

“It was a life-changing experience for those of us fortunate enough to be offered it,” says Ross Palfreyman a lawyer who recounts his two years as a young missionary during the 1970s in Two Years in God’s Mormon Army (www.mormonarmy.net).

“If you had wealthy parents, joined the Peace Corps or belonged to a faith with a belief in mission work, you were able to develop empathy and a broader world view at a younger age,” he says.

“In my church, young men typically go abroad for their mission trip at 19 years old and stay for two years. For Baptists, it may be a group of high school students spending their spring break building a church in Haiti. Whatever the reason, the lessons learned were the same: Less ethnocentricity, the gratification that comes from service to your fellow man, self-discipline, self-sacrifice.”

Travel abroad for work and study is no longer the experience of a select few and that has helped shape America’s young adults for the better, Palfreyman says. Surveys show they have a global world view fostered by the internet and social networks that cross boundaries.

Having online “friends” in other countries and being immediately connected to events in faraway lands through social networks such as Twitter makes them curious about and respectful of other cultures, he says.

“America’s young adults are the ‘First Globals,’ a term coined by the pollster John Zogby,” Palfreyman says. “The group of people born from 1979 to 1990 travel; they embrace and feel connected to other cultures; they want to make a difference.”

That’s exactly what his two years as a missionary did for him, Palfreyman says.

He notes these characteristics of 22- to 33-year-olds:

• Two-thirds have passports. By comparison, according to officials from the U.S. Travel Association, less than one-third of all Americans – 30 percent – have passports. Two of five Globals say they expect to live and work in a foreign capital at some time in their lives.

• 270,000 young people studied abroad in 2009-10. In 1989-90, only about 30,000 did so, according to the International Institute of Education. While Western European countries are still their top destinations, students are increasingly choosing more far-flung locales, especially China and other Asian nations.

• They want to “make the world a better place to live." A study of 10,000 adults by Campbell & Co. fundraising consultants found this group is more likely than any other generation to cite world improvement as the key reason for their philanthropy. (They also give just as much as other generations.)

• They want to make a global impact. The Campbell study found they are most likely of all age groups to respond positively to messages that focus on the global impact of an organization's work.

The problems we face today, such as global warming and regional conflicts, will require nations and cultures to work together toward solutions, Palfreyman says.

“This generation just might be able to achieve that.”

About Ross H. Palfreyman

Ross H. Palfreyman is a Laguna Beach, Calif., lawyer who began his mission work in 1973 in Thailand, during the Vietnam War and the Thai Revolution of ’73. Two years of trying to convince devout Buddhists that they’d be better off as Mormons was trying enough, he also was threatened at gunpoint and fended off parasites and rabid dogs during his “indentured servitude.” He initially wrote about his experiences for his six children. Palfreyman’s youngest son returns from his mission in Mexico in August.

 
Cornyn, Grassley Celebrate ‘Meat Monday’ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 12:00

WASHINGTON – The offices of U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today celebrated ‘Meat Monday’ with barbeque beef brisket, ribs, and sausage from Hill Country BBQ restaurant.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees our nation’s ranchers and farmers, recently encouraged its employees to boycott meat on Mondays:

 

“In some of the toughest times they’ve seen in recent memory, Texas cattle ranchers and farmers deserve an Administration who works with them, not one who undermines them with boneheaded decisions from bureaucrats in Washington,” said Sen. Cornyn.

 

“This is a reminder to USDA that it’s supposed to advocate for American agriculture, not against it,” Sen. Grassley said.

Cornyn, Grassley Celebrate Meat Monday.jpg

 
Branstad, Reynolds pledge continued efforts in addressing the drought’s impact Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Iowa Governor's Office   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:37

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds used their weekly press conference this morning to highlight the state’s ongoing efforts to address the impact of this summer’s drought in Iowa.

The most recent USDA drought monitor shows that almost 75% of Iowa is now in the D-2 severe drought stage and roughly 25% in the D-3 extreme drought stage. At the time of the governor and lieutenant governor’s drought summit in Mt. Pleasant less than two weeks.

Joining them at the news conference was Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp, Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino, and Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Mark Schouten.

Branstad and Reynolds will continue their efforts, and wanted to ensure Iowans were aware of the following measures that have been taken thus far:

  • Two weeks ago, the governor sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack informing him of the worsening conditions in Iowa, where he requested the secretary to declare Secretarial Disaster designations for Iowa counties as soon as they qualify. Also in the letter, the governor asked the Secretary to open up CRP lands as soon as federal guidelines allow. Just recently the Secretary announced the USDA will open CRP lands for emergency grazing in 26 counties in Iowa and that CRP lands will be open for the rest of Iowa counties as soon as Aug. 2nd for haying and grazing.
  • Last week, state-owned land managed by the DNR was opened for our farmers and producers for emergency grazing and haying. Having access to additional 6,000 acres is something that should provide immediate relief to those who are being impacted by these conditions.
  • Another item of significant concern was the need to relax certain rules and regulations that would hinder swift relief for those who need it the most. There is an increasing demand for access to hay, straw and stover for our livestock producers. As a result, the governor approved a proclamation that temporally waives certain weight and width and hours of service requirements for those transporting hay, straw and stover.
  • The state opened up DOT roadside ditches as another avenue for our farmers to bail hay. Through this program, farmers can obtain a DOT permit to bail roadside ditches as an economical and efficient way for producers to obtain hay for their livestock.
  • The Beginning Farmer Loan Program, through the Iowa Agricultural Development Authority, allows all farmers to obtain low-interest loans to assist them with costs for eligible projects. Despite its name, the program eligibility is not based on the age of the farmer, but rather, the net worth of the applicant.
  • Administration staff, along with key state agency staff members, will hold weekly conference calls with leadership of Iowa farmer and producer associations. The purpose of these calls is to ensure that the concerns and questions of our impacted farmers and producers are being heard and addressed.
  • The administration has launched a web site, http://governor.iowa.gov/drought, to act as a one-stop-shop on all flood-related items and news from state government.

“We want to assure Iowans that every effort will be taken on their behalf with regard to this drought,” said Gov. Branstad. “We will work with federal partners, state agencies and departments, and all Iowans as we combat the effects of this drought. This is a top priority of my administration.”

The lieutenant governor noted that the administration is taking a proactive strategy with regard to the drought.

“Our administration firmly believes that the best way to attack any potential disaster is through a proactive strategy,” said Reynolds. “We will continue to engage every department and agency that has a role to play in these efforts.”

# # #

 
Governor Quinn Signs New Laws To Protect Illinois Seniors PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:08

CHICAGO - July 28, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today continued his commitment to protecting Illinois seniors by signing several new laws to protect senior citizens in Illinois. The new laws will promote safety, increase oversight and accountability for caregivers and help authorities identify and respond to reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“Our seniors deserve our respect and protection against those who would take advantage of them,” Governor Quinn said. “Safeguarding seniors from exploitation and abuse will make our state stronger.”

House Bill 5653, sponsored by Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), allows a prosecutor to ask a court to freeze a defendant’s assets if he or she is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person. This is an initiative of AARP Illinois, which has advocated for greater protection against elderly financial exploitation committed by family and non-family members. This new law will help prevent defendants from spending stolen money or using stolen money to mount an expensive legal defense that would make it more difficult for victims to collect proper restitution. The legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1.

House Bill 5266, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst) and Sen. John Millner (R-Carol Stream), allows law enforcement and fire departments access to reports of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect compiled by senior service providers. Under current law, law enforcement cannot access this information without a specific instance of abuse or suspected abuse that has been reported to them. Senior services providers will now be able to proactively work with law enforcement in advance of visits like well-being checks or emergency calls, to inform them of circumstances that suggest evidence of elder crime or neglect. The legislation passed the General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1.

House Bill 3986, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Chicago), allows the Illinois Department on Aging to receive reports of elder abuse or neglect from senior service providers via the internet. This legislation will make it easier for the state and law enforcement to receive and act on reports of elder abuse and neglect. The same laws governing the use of confidential information will still apply to online reporting. The new takes effect immediately.

House Bill 5098, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello, II (D-Sparta) and Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), further expands the state’s efforts to recognize and respond to crimes against the elderly by requiring probation officers’ training to include courses on how to recognize and appropriately respond to crimes against the elderly. The law is effective Jan. 1.

House Bill 5009, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island) and Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-Moline), will help nursing home patients found outside of their facility to be safely assisted and returned to their residence. This legislation requires nursing home residents’ identification wristlets to include their facility’s telephone number. The law is effective immediately.

Senate Bill 3204, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), changes the Illinois Power of Attorney Act by specifying that certain financial agreements and contracts do not interfere with a person’s primary power of attorney. This bill is an initiative of the Corporate Fiduciaries Association of Illinois to address the difficulties banks, attorneys and trust officers frequently encounter when handling multiple powers of attorney. A previous version of this legislation was vetoed by Governor Quinn because it did not contain enough protections for the elderly. This alternative legislation was negotiated by AARP Illinois, the Department on Aging, the Corporate Fiduciaries Association of Illinois, the Illinois Bankers Association and the Illinois Credit Union League. It takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill 3690, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), requires the state budget to take into account the costs of achieving the goals of Illinois’ long-term care rebalancing initiative by providing new definitions of populations that need varying levels of care. The legislation is an initiative of the Health Care Council of Illinois and will provide guidance to agencies under the governor charged with providing long-term care to vulnerable demographics including frail older adults. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill 680, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and Rep. Esther Golar (D-Chicago), will further protect the elderly and other vulnerable populations by creating additional requirements for safe lifting of residents with limited mobility in nursing homes and healthcare facilities. The law will require the training of nurses and other care providers on safe lifting techniques and equipment that will reduce risk for fragile residents and give them more input on how they are lifted. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect Jan. 1.

Senate Bill 3499, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), reduces litigation costs for the Department of Public Health and nursing care facilities by clarifying the conditions under which they can waive their right to contest state fines. The law provides that any facility can only waive the right to contest the state’s penalty by paying a settlement amount of 65% of the fine within 10 days of receiving the penalty notice. This legislation is an initiative of the Healthcare Council of Illinois (HCCI), which sought to streamline the process by which state fines against nursing homes may be offset by the federal fines also levied against violators. The law is effective immediately.

Senate Bill 3420, sponsored by Sen. Mike Jacobs (East Moline) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), allows the owners of nursing homes to serve as representatives of residents to whom they are related. Current law allows other employees of nursing homes who are related to residents this same ability. The law is effective immediately.

House Bill 5134, sponsored by Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria) and Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria), amends the Nursing Home Care Act to formalize the informal dispute process between the Department of Public Health and nursing care facilities that occurs during state licensing and review. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill 3171, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Quincy) and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), brings Illinois law into compliance with federal law regarding the release of health records of the deceased. The new legislation allows the executor of the estate of a deceased person who holds their power of attorney to receive their medical records or designate another to receive them. If an executor does not exist and no one holds power of attorney over an estate, the legislation allows medical records to be released to a personal representative of the deceased who meets certain conditions under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law was passed by the General Assembly unanimously in consultation with the federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Illinois State Bar Association. It takes effect immediately.

 

###

 
<< Start < Prev 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 Next > End >>

Page 239 of 406