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Grassley Urges Holder to Produce Any Evidence to Back Claim of Gun-walking Knowledge by Prior Attorney General PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 15 June 2012 08:10

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today urged Attorney General Eric Holder to produce any evidence to back a serious claim about a prior attorney general’s having knowledge about a gun-walking operation called Wide Receiver and to apologize if no such evidence is available.  Holder made the claim about prior attorney general Michael Mukasey at a Judiciary Committee hearing this week.  If any such evidence exists to back Holder’s claim, it has yet to come to light after months of scrutiny, and the charge should not stand without any evidence to back it up.

Grassley’s letter to Holder is available here.  Supporting documents are available here.

Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement on the Holder charge.

Grassley Statement

On Fast and Furious, I was extremely disappointed to hear Attorney General Holder try to deflect criticism of himself and his Department by pointing the finger at his predecessor.

Specifically, he said to Senator Cornyn: “An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them – nothing.  Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.”

That’s a serious charge. The problem is: we have absolutely zero evidence that it’s true.

Nothing in the documents produced by the Justice Department and no information provided by any whistleblowers that I know of suggests that Attorney General Mukasey was ever briefed about Wide Receiver.  Period.

If Attorney General Holder made that kind of a charge about Attorney General Mukasey to this Committee without any evidence to back it up, that would be an outrage.

So, I’m sending a letter this morning to Attorney General Holder asking him to provide any evidence he has to support his allegation against Attorney General Mukasey.

And, I’m asking for a response before the hearing record is closed next week.

If he can’t produce evidence that Attorney General Mukasey was briefed on Wide Receiver, then he owes Mr. Mukasey an apology.

It appears to be an effort to shift blame away from himself, but I’m willing to hear his explanation.

The highest-ranking Justice Department official I’m aware of who knew about gun-walking in Wide Receiver is not Attorney General Mukasey.  It is Lanny Breuer.

Breuer did nothing to stop ATF from walking guns after learning about it in April 2010. That is why I called on him to resign. The evidence shows he and his deputies did not focus on making sure ATF never did it again. Instead, emails indicate they discussed how to help ATF be prepared to minimize the potential embarrassment over gunwalking in the press.

If Attorney General Holder wants to criticize senior Department officials who knew about gunwalking and did nothing, he should start with the current head of his own Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer.

 

 

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FDA response on employee email monitoring, treatment further delayed PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 13:53

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa continues to seek a response from the Food and Drug Administration to a letter he sent to the agency Jan. 31 about the treatment of a group of employees who raised concern about certain medical devices. Grassley and Commissioner Margaret Hamburg talked on May 24, and she said the FDA expected to respond in two weeks.  Later, FDA staff told Grassley’s office to expect further delays because the response is under review by an Administration official, whom they wouldn’t identify further.  Grassley made the following comment on the status.

“After four months of pushing on our end, at last, the FDA commissioner herself indicated that an FDA response was on the way.  Then the FDA abruptly switched gears and said an unnamed official in the Administration is reviewing the response.  That leaves the response in limbo.  The FDA staff wouldn’t give any more details.  This puts us back to square one, and it’s not a good development from an Administration that was supposed to be the most transparent in history.”

The text of Grassley’s Jan. 31 letter to the FDA commissioner is available here.

An account of developments so far from The Washington Post follows.

 

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 06/12/2012

Sen. Charles Grassley says he is getting no answers from FDA on staff monitoring

By Lisa Rein

Five months after asking the Food and Drug Administration to explain its secret e-mail surveillance of its employees, a prominent Senate Republican says he is getting no answers.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee with a long-standing interest in the FDA and in protecting whistleblowers, has had a longer-than-usual wait for information about the scope and justification for the agency’s monitoring of the private e-mail accounts of six doctors and scientists. They had warned Congress and the White House that medical devices they were reviewing were approved or pushed toward approval despite their safety concerns.

After hearing nothing for months, Grassley said, he spoke with Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on May 24. She promised a detailed response to numerous questions raised by Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. A response would be timely, she said, according to Grassley aides.

But the senator says he has heard nothing. According to an e-mail exchange between Grassley’s staff and FDA officials, the agency cannot provide answers to the lawmakers because the Obama administration is still reviewing its response.

“After four months of pushing on our end, at last, the FDA commissioner herself indicated that a response was on the way,” Grassley said in a statement.

“Then the FDA abruptly switched gears and said an unnamed official in the [Obama] administration is reviewing the response. This puts us back to square one, and it’s not a good development from an administration that was supposed to be the most transparent in history.”

FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson said Tuesday that the agency “will be responding directly to Senator Grassley.”

Grassley demanded in January that Hamburg disclose who authorized the monitoring, how many employees were targeted and whether the agency obtained passwords to their personal e-mail accounts, allowing their communications on private computers to be intercepted. Grassley also wants to know whether the monitoring is still going on.

The Post reported in January that the scientists and doctors filed a federal lawsuit against the FDA, alleging that the government violated their constitutional privacy rights by intercepting their communications on Yahoo, Gmail and other private accounts to monitor activity they say was lawful.

The employees’ communications with Congress, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the inspector general’s office that oversees the FDA and the Office of Special Counsel were intercepted. The special counsel, the independent federal agency that represents whistleblowers, also has opened an investigation into the monitoring.

The FDA tried but failed to have criminal charges brought against the whistleblowers for disclosing sensitive business information. The employees were fired, demoted or harassed.

Grassley has warned the FDA that interfering with a congressional inquiry is illegal.

The agency has warnings on its computers, visible when users log on, that employees have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” in any data passing through or stored on the system, and that the government may intercept any such data at any time for any lawful government purpose.

But attorneys for the employees have said the warning itself is illegal because it does not ensure that anyone preparing a complaint to an agency that investigates wrongdoing has a right to keep their private communications confidential.

The plaintiffs had challenged the safety and effectiveness of devices used in detecting colon cancer, breast cancer or other medical problems. Most of the devices were approved by supervisors after the scientists recommended against approval.  The inspector general’s office for the Department of Health and Human Services concluded twice that there was no evidence of criminal misconduct by the scientists.

By Lisa Rein |  06:00 AM ET, 06/12/2012

 
Is Your Detergent Taking You to the Cleaners? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 08:29
Expert Shares Tips to Save Money by the Scoopful

The national crime wave that stunned the nation earlier this spring – coast-to-coast thefts of Tide laundry detergent and its use in illicit drug buys – didn’t surprise Kris Anderson.

“Laundry detergent can be expensive and it’s a product just about everyone values – even drug dealers,” says Anderson, president of Country Save Corp. (www.countrysave.com), maker of all-natural laundry and dish detergents.

“But it’s not just stores getting ripped off; it’s consumers. Anyone who buys laundry detergent and doesn’t pay close attention when they scoop it ends up using too much,” Anderson says. “Not only is it a fallacy to believe that more soap will make your clothes cleaner, it’s a huge waste of money and it’s actually bad for your clothes.”

Almost every brand of detergent has a declaration of loads per box on its packaging, he says. And for almost every brand, the number on the box does not match the scooper size provided in the box.

Anderson, whose environmentally safe Country Save laundry detergent is also distributed by the Department of Defense to all soldiers in the field, offers these facts about using your detergent prudently and economically.

• Don’t just fill up the scoop and dump it in the washer. “You definitely won’t get the maximum number of loads from the box,” Anderson says. “For instance, if you use Ultra Tide’s 40-load box and fill the scoop for every load, you’ll get just 15 scoops per box.” Instead, he says, put on your glasses, if necessary, and look at the lines on the side of the scoop. The top line, for a full load, is usually well below the lip of the scoop. Highlight the lines with a dark-colored marker to help you avoid the problem in the future. If you have soft water, using half the recommended amount is sufficient.

• Too much soap causes clothes to fade faster. Over-use of detergent is actually the leading cause of fading. Clothing may also acquire a thin, filmy layer of soap because your washer can’t thoroughly rinse the fabric. Do you tend to be itchy? It could be you’re wearing your detergent!

• Too much soap’s not good for your washing machine, either. Excess soap can gum up the works as soap deposits and lint form in your washing machine. These can contribute to mold – and its accompanying stench; they can plug up filters and other openings; and they can lead to mechanical breakdowns. In some machines, you may also end up wasting (and spending more for) water as the machine spins into extended cycles in an effort to remove the soap.

• Run a test load to see if you’re over-soaping. Run a load with clothes only – no detergent. Do you see suds? That’s an indication of how much detergent you are wearing.

• Reduce pollutants by using an all-natural detergent. While Country Save had the first phosphate-free detergent on the market back in 1977, many companies have now removed the additive because of its harmful effects on rivers, lakes and other fresh water. However, most companies continue to use other additives, such as optic brighteners, fragrances and dyes, Anderson says. “The more often consumers choose the most natural products, the better off our environment will be – even if some people still use too much!

About Country Save Detergent

Country Save became the nation’s first phosphate-free detergent when Elmer Pearson – creator of Elmer’s Glue -- introduced it in 1977. A chemist and environmentalist, he developed Country Save products without animal testing or animal byproducts. They’re designed to be environmentally safe and they’re recommended for people with sensitive skin. The line also includes dish detergent and oxygen-powered powdered bleach. Find Country Save products on the company’s website and amazon.com.

 
Grassley receives award for child advocacy work PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 08:25
WASHINGTON – Iowa leaders and volunteers with the National CASA Association today visited the office of Senator Chuck Grassley to present him the 2012 Children’s Champion in Congress Award.

Aprile Goodman and Deb Pumphrey of Mason City and Jo Stumo and Alan Steckman of Mason City were in Washington, D.C. for an advocates’ conference.  Local CASA -- or Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children -- programs train volunteers who are asked by the court to represent the best interests of children in certain child welfare-related cases.

“For all of the policy improvements Congress makes, it’s the people in the field who make the policies work,” Grassley said.  “Those who spend time waiting at courthouses and weeding through paperwork at child welfare agencies make a tremendous positive difference.  These advocates wade right in and take part, not for glory but out of regard for the quality of life for every child.”

Pumphrey, Goodman, Sutmo, Grassley and Steckman are pictured here.

Grassley was honored this year along with Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.  Grassley is Ranking Member and Leahy is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Here is information from the CASA website.

Children’s Champions in Congress

Every four years, the National CASA Association recognizes members of Congress who are strong and powerful voices for children served by CASA/GAL volunteers. This year, we are proud to honor and acknowledge Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Chuck Grassley.

US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senator Grassley has a long history of fighting for the rights of abused and neglected children. First elected to the US House of Representatives in 1974, he has focused on many issues that affect foster youth, including educational stability, substance abuse, and the over-prescription of psychotropic drugs. He also has worked on several adoption-related policies, including the adoption tax credit, kinship, and adoption awareness resolutions.

Senator Grassley worked to advance the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. Since its enactment, adoptions have increased to 54,000 per year, and many states have doubled their adoptions from foster care. He was a leader in the bipartisan effort to pass the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008. The act included Senator Grassley's legislation to make it easier for foster children to be permanently cared for by their own relatives, including grandparents and aunts and uncles, and to stay in their own home communities.

In 2009, Senator Grassley formed the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth with Sen. Mary Landrieu. The caucus provides a voice for foster youth in shaping the policies that affect their quality of life. The caucus has a special focus on older youth who need continued support as they age out of the system.

Most recently, Senator Grassley worked to reauthorize grants that support families who struggle with substance abuse and that improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children who are not in their homes or are likely to be removed from their homes because of substance abuse by their parents.

Senator Grassley will be honored during the State of CASA Luncheon on Sunday, June 10.

US Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont

Senator Patrick Leahy of Middlesex, VT, was elected to the United States Senate in 1974. He has a long history of standing up for women’s safety and advocating for improvements in health and education that prepare children for success.

Senator Leahy is a defender of attacks on Head Start funding; a supporter of initiatives that improve access to and quality of special education; and a champion of childhood nutrition programs.

He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2011, Senator Leahy introduced the recently passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). The bill strengthens and improves programs authorized under the landmark law to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Additionally, reauthorization of funding for the CASA program is included in VAWA.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act also emphasizes the need to provide services and support to all victims of domestic and sexual violence. The bill helps to ensure access to services for all victims of domestic violence, mandating that victims seeking assistance cannot be denied services based on gender identity or sexual orientation, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.

Senator Leahy will be honored during the Awards of Excellence Luncheon Monday, June 11.

http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.8104357/k.202B/Childrens_Champions_in_Congress.htm#.T9aVhINSx_g.twitter

 
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.

 
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