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Fast and Furious assertions retracted a second time; more evidence of interest in press fallout PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:26
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Justice Department has retracted a second statement made to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  During a hearing last week, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that his predecessor, then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey, had been briefed about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver.  Now, the Department is retracting that statement and claiming Holder “inadvertently” made that claim to the Committee.  The Department’s letter failed to apologize to former Attorney General Mukasey for the false accusation.  This is the second major retraction the Justice Department has made in the last seven months.  In December 2011, the Department retracted its claim that the ATF had not allowed illegally purchased guns to be trafficked to Mexico.  Sen. Chuck Grassley’s letter and the Department’s response can be viewed here.

In addition, the Justice Department released only one page of additional material prior to the Attorney General’s meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.  It is a page of handwritten notes by a public affairs specialist for the Deputy Attorney General, which the Department says it “just recently discovered.”  The notes indicate that when Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein met with senior ATF officials on April 28, 2010, regarding the problem of gunwalking in Wide Receiver, the Deputy Attorney General’s public affairs specialist also attended the meeting. These notes can be viewed here.

The notes indicate that Fast and Furious was also a topic discussed at the meeting, in addition to Wide Receiver.  These notes further corroborate contemporaneous emails in 2010 that show Criminal Division Chief Lanny Breuer and Weinstein seemed to have been more concerned about the press implications of gunwalking than they were about making sure ATF ended the practice. (These emails can be viewed here.)  The notes also undermine the claim that senior DOJ officials failed to “make the connection” between the gunwalking in Wide Receiver—which Breuer admitted to knowing about—and gunwalking in Fast and Furious.  In fact, both cases were discussed by senior Department leadership and senior ATF leadership.

Grassley made the following comment on these developments.

“This is the second time in nearly seven months that the Department has gotten its facts wrong about gunwalking.  Attorney General Holder accused Attorney General Mukasey, without producing any evidence, of having been briefed on gunwalking in Wide Receiver.  The case Attorney General Mukasey was briefed on, Hernandez, is fundamentally different from both Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious since it involved cooperation with the Mexican government. Attorney General Holder’s retraction should have included an apology to the former Attorney General.

“In his eagerness to blame the previous administration, Attorney General Holder got his facts wrong.  And his tactic didn’t bring us any closer to understanding how a bad policy evolved and continued.  Bad policy is bad policy, regardless of how many administrations carried it out.  Ironically, the only document produced yesterday by the Department appears to show that senior officials in the Attorney General’s own Department were strategizing about how to keep gunwalking in both Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious under wraps.”

 
Executive privilege assertion with Fast and Furious documents PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:06
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment about the President’s action today claiming executive privilege in response to congressional oversight of the government’s Fast and Furious gun-walking program.  The congressional investigation began with 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 comment:

“The assertion of executive privilege raises monumental questions.  How can the President assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement?  How can the President exert executive privilege over documents he's supposedly never seen?  Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?  The contempt citation is an important procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances.  The questions from Congress go to determining what happened in a disastrous government program for accountability and so that it's never repeated again.”

 
Religious Embrace Helping Fuel Support for Gay Marriage, Expert Says PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 12:28
Landmark Poll Finds More Strong Support
Than Strong Opposition

For the first time, a new poll shows more Americans “strongly support” same-sex marriage than “strongly oppose” it, a finding that could be attributed to changes occurring within organized religions, says a Presbyterian elder and lay preacher.

“For 2,000 years, religion has been the genesis of antipathy toward homosexuals, but now, three major American denominations have approved ordination of openly gay clergy,” says Paul Hartman, a retired PBS/NPR station executive and author of The Kairos (www.CarpeKairos.com), a novel that imagines Jesus as gay.

“Gay has become the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” he says.

The May survey of more than 1,000 adults found a dramatic reversal from earlier surveys: more adults now “strongly support” same-sex marriage rights (39 percent) than “strongly oppose” them (32 percent).  Over all, Langer Research Associates says, 53 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be legalized – up from only 36 percent just six years ago.

“Episcopalian, Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations have overturned centuries of tradition in welcoming openly gay clergy,” Hartman says. “There’s a growing realization that religion can and should help lead us all toward a more mature understanding and acceptance of minority sexual orientations.”

In 2012, he says, there is a new human rights landscape in the United States. He cites these additional recent developments:

The U.S. military joined 43 other countries when it repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowed openly-gay service members.

Same-sex marriages are now legal in six states and the District of Columbia. Three other states -- Washington, Maryland and California -- have same-sex marriage under active consideration. Eleven more offer “civil union”-type status for same-sex couples.

A federal appeals court in Boston recently struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage as “one man, one woman”), making consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court almost certain.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, one of the last nationally-respected scholars whose studies lent credence to “gay reparative” therapies, recently offered a retraction and apology to the gay community.

“Unfortunately, the occasionally hateful crowd still resonates with a very small group of people, including those headed by preacher Fred Phelps and congregants, who continue to make news as they picket the funerals of soldiers and celebrities,” Hartman says.

Western cultures’ condemnation of same-sex love appears to have originated from Judeo-Christian scriptures, but contemporary biblical scholarship amends old interpretations, he says.

“That’s why I wanted to tell a religion-based suspense story about homophobia,” Hartman says. “It addresses fear of all kinds, because in passage after biblical passage, scripture tells humans who are facing change, sickness, alienation, death, and everything else: ‘fear not.’  It applies to homophobia, as well.”

About Paul Hartman

Paul Hartman is a retired PBS/NPR station executive with a passion for biblical history. He is a Presbyterian elder, a lay preacher and a Dead Sea Scrolls aficionado. Hartman, a father and grandfather, confesses he is a lifelong fear-fighter.

 
Attorney General Holder meeting on Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 08:49

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today made the following comment after participating in a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa on the Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.  Grassley has been working on getting answers from the government on the ill-advised operation for months.

“The Attorney General wants to trade a briefing and the promise of delivering some small, unspecified set of documents tomorrow for a free pass today.  He wants to turn over only what he wants to turn over and not give us any information about what he’s not turning over.  That’s unacceptable.  I’m not going to buy a pig in a poke.  Chairman Issa is right to move forward to seek answers about a disastrous government operation.”

 
Senators Question President’s Authority to Issue Immigration Directive PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 08:27
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is leading a group of senators  in questioning the directive announced last week by President Obama to grant deferred action to illegal immigrants and asking for a full accounting from the President of his legal authority to issue such a directive, how the executive action will be implemented and administered, and the cost to taxpayers.

In a letter sent to the President this afternoon, the senators asked for written responses to a list of detailed questions and a briefing from the administration officials who will be responsible for the program.   They described their concerns about President’s circumvention of Congress in issuing the directive and questioned the impact of allowing work authorizations for illegal immigrants at the same time young Americans face record-high unemployment rates.

Grassley’s letter was signed by Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Mike Crapo of Idaho, James Risch of Idaho, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, John Boozman of Arkansas, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, David Vitter of Louisiana, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Click here for a signed copy of the letter.

 
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