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Operation Fast and Furious, Attorney General's comments PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 08:16

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, asked Attorney General Eric Holder about Operation Fast and Furious at a hearing today.   Grassley has been conducting an inquiry on the topic for the past year and a half.   Grassley made the following comment after the hearing.

“Attorney General Holder sounded willing to negotiate over releasing documents.  That’s fine if the offer isn’t hollow.  We’ve been talking for a year and a half.  A show of good faith would be to produce the documents in question.

“On an important factual note, the Attorney General said then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey was briefed on gun walking in Operation Wide Receiver and did absolutely nothing.  There is no evidence of that.  Documents show Attorney General Mukasey was briefed about a different case with a controlled delivery.  Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, on the other hand, did learn about gun walking in Operation Wide Receiver and did absolutely nothing.  These facts are critical, and the nation’s top law enforcement officer should take care to get them right.”

Attorney General Holder’s comment about a prior attorney general and Operation Wide Receiver is available at 1:36:04 in the video here.

More details on the Justice Department’s lack of action on the revelations regarding Operation Wide Receiver are available here.

 
Opening statement at DoJ oversight hearing PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 07:45

Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley

U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Justice

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding today’s oversight hearing focusing on the Justice Department.  There are a number of high profile issues currently before Congress that involve the Justice Department and hopefully today’s hearing provides us with the opportunity to get some answers.  There is a lot of ground to cover so I thank the Attorney General for appearing today and trust that he will provide candid responses to our questions.

 

ATF Investigation

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died in a shoot-out with Mexican bandits in December 2010.  Those bandits were armed with weapons our own government allowed to be purchased and transferred illegally under Operation Fast and Furious.

 

Nearly one year ago, three whistleblowers testified before the House Government Oversight Committee about the use of this practice, called “gunwalking,” in Operation Fast and Furious.  Agent Terry’s mother and sister testified that day as well.  Here we are—one year later—and the Terry family is still waiting for answers.  They are still waiting for justice.  The FBI doesn’t have the shooter in custody.  And, the Justice Department is still defying a Congressional subpoena for information about how all this happened.

 

A lot has happened in the last year, virtually every official in the chain of command from the whistleblowers up to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has been re-assigned.  The United States Attorney for Arizona resigned and admitted leaking sensitive information about one of the whistleblowers to the press.  The Chief of the Criminal Division of the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona refused to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.  Then he resigned.

 

The head of the Criminal Division in Washington, Lanny Breuer, admitted he knew about gunwalking in an earlier case called Wide Receiver.  However, he failed to speak up about it when he was sent copies of a letter to me denying that ATF ever let guns walk.  He stayed silent for eight months while the public controversy over gunwalking grew.  Emails surfaced that show Breuer’s Deputy discussed gunwalking in the context of both Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious.  So senior people at Justice had to have known the details of what was going on.

 

Even more evidence of that fact arose recently.  The House Committee obtained affidavits in support of wiretap applications in Fast and Furious.  We cannot discuss them in open session because the Justice Department has indicated that they are under seal.  But, there is now a public dispute as to what the content of the applications show that senior DOJ officials knew or did not know.  One side says the applications show immense detail such that anyone reviewing them would have to have known that guns were being allowed to be transferred and trafficked across the border.  The Attorney General says he has recently reviewed them, and he does not believe they show evidence of gunwalking.

 

However, when we interviewed the Acting ATF Director on July 4th last year, he told us something very different.  According to former Director Melson, he read the affidavits for the first time on a plane on March 30, 2011—after this controversy had arisen.  This was two months after the Justice Department denied in a letter to me that ATF ever walked guns.  Director Melson said that when he read the affidavits, he was alarmed.  He said, “I was surprised at the number of guns being purchased with our knowledge and not being interdicted.  Primarily because of the number of guns that could, as a result, land in Mexico.”  He said he immediately drafted an email warning “you better back off … the statement in … this February 4th letter to Senator Grassley, because I don't believe we can say that in light of the information that our agent was swearing to before a federal district court judge to get the wiretap.”

 

We have been seeking that email since last summer to corroborate Director Melson’s testimony.  But, the Justice Department has not produced it.  That email should have led the Justice Department to withdraw its initial denial letter in April 2011 instead of December 2011.  We still don’t have a decent explanation for why it took so long to acknowledge the truth.

 

I also wrote to the Attorney General four months ago asking him to seek the Court’s permission to share the affidavits with Congress.  I received no substantive reply to my request.

 

The Justice Department has provided 80,000 pages of documents to the Office of Inspector General. We learned just last Thursday from the Attorney General’s testimony in the House that the Department has gathered 140,000 pages of documents for its own internal review.  Yet, the Department has only produced to Congress a mere 7,000 or so pages of documents.  That’s just a spit in the ocean.

 

This constant stonewalling is why the House Committee is forced to move forward with contempt proceedings.  I urge the Attorney General to show some leadership and to avoid this Constitutional stand-off and come clean. I think the American people deserve a better explanation than they have received so far. I know the Terry family does.

 

Leaks of Classified National Security Information

In the past month, there have been a number of damaging classified national security leaks to the media. These leaks have included information about U.S. involvement in cyber-attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities, details about the thwarted underwear bombing plot in Yemen, the President’s so called “kill list,” details on the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden, and the identity of the Pakistani doctor who helped locate Osama Bin Laden. Every leak is damaging to national security, but the most dangerous ones threaten ongoing operations and risk the lives of men and women—American and foreign—who are working on our behalf abroad.

 

At a hearing last May, I asked Attorney General Holder about his statement where he said, “Leaks endanger the lives of Americans serving overseas.”  He added that, “[To] the extent that we can find anybody involved in breaking American law who has put at risk the assets and the people that I have described…they will be held responsible.  They will be held accountable.”  I agree with his statements and believe these leaks need to be investigated and prosecuted—especially if they were made for political gain as some have alleged.

 

Unfortunately, as I pointed out in May of last year, Attorney General Holder’s statements say one thing and the Department’s actions in prosecuting leaks say another.  For example, it was reported in the press last year that the Department had dropped the prosecution of a former Department of Justice Attorney, Thomas Tamm, who admitted to leaking classified national security information to the press.  While the Department wouldn’t comment, Tamm’s attorney told the press that he received a letter from the Department confirming that the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Tamm had concluded.

 

Another example of the DOJ’s failure to prosecute their own is related to the Anthrax attacks.  As part of that investigation, information was leaked to the press regarding the involvement of Dr. Stephen Hatfill.  Those leaks ultimately led to a taxpayer funded settlement of nearly $6 million.  In a September 2011 letter, the Department stated, “[a]fter an extensive investigation, career prosecutors concluded that … criminal charges were not appropriate in this matter.”  At the May hearing, Attorney General Holder added, “when it comes to cases that involve national security, sometimes there is a balancing that has to be done … between what our national security interests are and what might be gained by prosecuting a particular individual.”  The Attorney General went on to emphasize that the decisions not to prosecute were made by career employees—not political ones.

 

Based upon conflicts between the Attorney General’s past statements and actual Department practice, I am concerned about the decision to appoint two political appointees—U.S. Attorneys—to investigate this matter.  Further, despite attempts to package this as a special prosecutor, the Attorney General’s decision to assign these two U.S. Attorneys treats this grave national security matter like a regular criminal investigation.  The only reason these U.S. Attorneys were assigned to the investigation is because of their proximity to where the conduct likely occurred. On top of all this, there have been reports that that the National Security Division at the Department has been recused from involvement in the leak investigation—a signal they could possibly be the source of the leak.

 

Given the potential conflicts of interest with the Department investigating itself, the past failures of the Justice Department to prosecute their own who admitted to classified leaks, and the Attorney General’s own tepid responses to my past questions about leak prosecutions, I believe the only way to truly get to the bottom of these dangerous leaks is to appoint an independent special prosecutor.  I want to hear from the Attorney General both why he assigned this matter to two U.S. Attorneys as a regular investigation and how we can have any confidence in the Department to prosecute their own, given their past failures and the double standard of internal discipline we have seen as part of the investigation of discovery failures in the prosecution of Senator Stevens.

 

I also want to discuss a topic I believe the Attorney General and I agree on: the urgent need to reauthorize the expiring provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  This is critical to our national security and the law has helped produce significant intelligence that is vital to protect the nation against international terrorism and other threats.

 

Time permitting, I would like to discuss some important national security matters, including the Justice Department’s legal advice on targeted killing of U.S. citizens abroad, the Department’s continued delays in adjudicating FBI employees’ whistleblower complaints, the Attorney General’s failure to answer a letter signed by all Judiciary Committee Republicans on the transfer of the dangerous terrorist detainee Ali Mussa Daqduq, and the Department’s failures in the prosecution of Senator Stevens. I would also like to ask the Attorney General about the lack of attention his department has given to local jurisdictions that refuse to assist the federal government when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws. The Department has challenged four states that have immigration enforcement-minded laws, yet it has turned a blind eye to jurisdictions such as Cook County which has an ordinance directing the Sheriff to disregard immigration detainers.  The ordinance undermines public safety and hinders Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ability to enforce the nation’s laws.  Despite the strong rhetoric from Secretary Napolitano and ICE’s Assistance Secretary Morton, this administration and this Department of Justice have not adequately addressed this issue in Cook County or other cities that stand in the way of enforcing our immigration laws.

 

Thank you.

 
Week 2 of Summer Reading PDF Print E-mail
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Written by R.I. Public Library   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 07:35
Week 2 of Summer Reading

books on a plate illustration Summer Reading started last week at all Rock Island Libraries. If you haven't picked up your forms yet for the childrens, young adult or adult reading clubs, there's still lots of time to read and win! With themes such as Reading is So Delicious, Feed Your Mind: READ and Books are Brain Food, the library is cooking up a summer stacked high with fun and reading.

 

To see the entire list of events, see "Summer @ Your Library" on the library website. See below for events during Week 2 of our summer!

 

Summer Reading events and prizes sponsored by Friends of the Rock Island Public Library, Milan-Blackhawk Area Public Library District (Southwest Branch events) and the Rock Island Public Library Foundation (summer art and drama.)

Reading is So Delicious for Kids

 

The Reading is So Delicious summer reading club offers: A Read-to-Me club log for ages two to five, the I'm a Reader book club for ages six to eight, and the Ravenous Reader log for ages nine to 11. With each log, kids earn prizes for reaching age-appropriate reading goals at three levels, and an extra chance to win special prize baskets.  Fill out an ice cream cone iwth your name on it to be added to our summer reading wall! Events this week include:

 

photo of ventriloquist Kevin HornerVentriloquist Kevin Horner and friends: Thursday, June 14, at 2:30 pm, Main Library. Please note NEW time - schedule changed after publication of summer reading brochure!

 

Storytime at 30/31 Branch: 10:30 am, Tuesday, June 12

Storytime at Southwest: 10:30 am., Wednesday, June 13

 

Book Tasting at 30/31 Branch: 3:00 pm, Wednesday, June 13, 30/31 Children's Room. Offers a taste of new books to add to your summer reading list.

 

Legos at 30/31 Branch: 4:00 pm, Wednesday, June 13 , 30/31 Children's Room

 

Math Munch with Elizabeth: Build a taste for math with five weeks of fun projects! 3:15 to 4:00 pm, Tuesday, June 12 to July 10. Main Library Children's Room.

 

Max Reader's Birthday Bash, Friday, June 15, 10:30 am, Main Library Children's Room. Stories and birthday fun with our library mascot, Max Reader Mouse. (Replaces regular storytime.)

 

All programs are free. No library card required. Questions, call the Children's Room at 309-732-7360,

Teens: Feed your Mind - READ!

Teens ages 12 to 18 turn in a reading card when they complete at least six hours of reading, or a program card for attending any one of 20 events. You can enter multiple times, and earn more chances to win books, DVDs, gift cards, or the grand prize, an Amazon Kindle® eReader. This week, you can earn points for attending:

 

Teen Game Night: Thursday, June 14, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, Main Library Community Room, 2nd floor. Board games, Wii games and snacks.

 

The Chocolate Game, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, 30/31 Branch, 3059 30th Street. Chocolate-bar eating contest with obstacles. Win a gift card!

Books are Brain Food for Adults

Adults 18 and up can win with the Books Are Brain Food reading club.  To enter the reading contest, adults fill out an entry form for every book they read between June 4 and July 27.  Entry forms and boxes at all Rock Island locations. Top prize is a new Sony® eReader.

 

Events this week include:

 

All About NuVal Numbers, 3:30 pm, Tuesday, June 12, Southwest Branch Community Room, 9010 Ridgewood Road. What do those numbers on the front of packages mean? How can you use them to eat better? Learn how with HyVee nutritionist Chrissy Walters.

 

Recipe Club Swap and Shop: A delicious program for adults! Bring a favorite recipe to share, and watch a cooking demonstration by cook Rachel Doumbia. This session will focus on breakfast foods. 2:00 pm, Wednesday, June 13, Southwest Branch Community Room, 9010 Ridgewood Road.

 

Southwest Branch Location

 

And next week, don't miss:

 

Dinner and a Movie Night, Tuesday, June 19, 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Bring dinner from a local restaurant or home and enjoy the free classic movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes." Rock Island Main Library Community Room, 401 19th Street.

Hungry for More Details?
Pick up the summer program brochure at any Rock Island Library, or visit the library website. Reading logs and entry forms are available at the Rock Island Main Library, 30/31 Branch and Southwest Branch. You have until July 27 to turn in your reading logs and entry forms!
Rock Island, Illinois > 309.732.7323 (READ) > www.rockislandlibrary.org Rock Solid, Rock Island.

 
House committee plans for contempt of Congress vote PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 11 June 2012 09:16
Monday, June 11, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, issued the comment below about the announcement by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa that the House committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents subpoenaed in October 2011 regarding the government’s Fast and Furious operation.  The House investigation stemmed from Senator Grassley’s inquiry into whistleblower allegations that the government had allowed the transfer of illegally purchased weapons found at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  The Department of Justice denied the allegations to Senator Grassley for 10 months before being forced to withdraw its denial in face of evidence to the contrary.

Grassley statement:

“This action is straightforward and necessary.  Contempt is the only tool Congress has to enforce a subpoena.  The Department of Justice can avoid the action by complying with its legal obligation.  It’s not about personalities.  It’s a procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances.  If Congress is afraid to pursue answers to questions, it’s not doing its job.  People deserve transparency from their government.  Transparency leads to the truth about what’s going on.  It puts people in a position to defend their rights.  It protects our freedoms.

“The only constitutionally viable exception to the Department of Justice’s obligation under the subpoena would be executive privilege.  The President hasn’t asserted that privilege, presumably because the vast majority of the documents at issue aren't related to communications with the White House.  Because the documents don't fit the category of executive privilege, the department is obligated to turn over the documents.  To date, the Department of Justice has refused even to provide a privileged log describing what it wants to withhold and why.  The House committee can't make a judgment about whether there are valid arguments for withholding documents if the department refuses to provide such a log.  That kind of fundamental refusal to even participate in any sort of a process of negotiation is what forced the House committee to move toward contempt to require the Justice Department to respond in a meaningful way.”

 
Animal Rights activists in Davenport today with giant inflatable dog on a bun PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Gary Smith   
Monday, 11 June 2012 08:52
10-FOOT PUPPY IN HAMBURGER BUN SERVES MEATY MESSAGE AT ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTEST IN DOWNTOWN (CITY)
Demonstration Questions Why We Call Some Animals Pets and Others Dinner

CITY, State - Lunchtime commuters in downtown (city) today will be served some serious food for thought - in a thought-provoking demonstration by the national animal rights organization Mercy For Animals that features a massive, 10-foot-long inflatable puppy crammed inside a hamburger bun and topped with ketchup, mustard, cheese, and lettuce. This provocative display will be joined by activists wielding signs with images of an adorable puppy and lovable piglet sitting side-by-side and reading, "Why Love One but Eat the Other?" Other activists will hold signs with images of pigs and chickens abused and confined on factory farms that read, "Boycott Animal Abuse - Choose Vegetarian." 

Date: June 11, 2012
Location:  2nd St between Main and Harrison in downtown Davenport

The demonstration is part of a new campaign, which includes billboards, bus ads, and a national protest tour, and aims to spark debate over why we call some animals pets, and others dinner. Far from receiving the kindness and respect afforded most dogs and cats, the billions of cows, pigs, and chickens raised and killed for meat in America lead lives filled with misery. On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy sheds and cages where many are unable to even fully extend their limbs, walk, turn around, or engage in other natural behaviors. Animals killed for food are routinely burned, castrated, dehorned, tail docked and debeaked without any painkillers. Before slaughter, frightened animals are often electrically prodded onto crowded transport trucks and hauled through all weather extremes to the slaughterhouse, where many will have their throats slit while still alive and conscious.

Although farmed animals are every bit as capable of feeling pain and suffering as dogs and cats, not a single federal law provides protection to them from abuse on factory farms. Undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals at factory farms, hatcheries, and slaughterhouses nationwide have exposed workers beating animals with metal pipes, stabbing them with pitchforks, and bashing in their skulls with pickaxes. MFA's hidden-camera investigations have also exposed farmed animals suffering from untreated infections and wounds, live chicks being thrown into grinding machines, and dead hens left to rot in cages with birds still laying eggs for human consumption.

"If you wouldn't eat your dog, why eat other animals? Cows, pigs, and chickens are just as intelligent, sensitive, and worthy of our respect as the animals we consider companions," said MFA's National Campaign Coordinator Phil Letten. "If meat producers subjected dogs and cats to the array of standard abuses they inflict on farmed animals, they could be jailed on grounds of animal cruelty. The most powerful action we can take to prevent egregious animal abuse is to adopt a compassionate vegetarian diet."

About Mercy For Animals (MFA)
Mercy For Animals is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies. Founded in 1999 and over 75,000 strong, MFA has become a leading voice for farmed animals through undercover cruelty investigation, corporate outreach efforts, legal advocacy, and consumer education campaigns. MFA's work exposing animal abuse in the nation's factory farms, slaughterhouses and hatcheries has triggered international outcry as well as legislative reforms, corporate animal welfare policy changes, and criminal prosecutions of animal abusers. The organization is headquartered in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.MercyForAnimals.org.

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