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Grassley Bill to Require Televising Supreme Court Proceedings Clears Committee PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 10 February 2012 09:00

Thursday, February 9, 2012

WASHINGTON – Legislation written by Senators Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dick Durbin, Judiciary Committee member, to require open proceedings of the Supreme Court to be televised passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today by a vote of 11-7.

The Cameras in the Courtroom Act would require television coverage of all open sessions of the Court, unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that doing so would constitute a violation of the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the Court. A similar bill was approved by a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee last Congress.

“Our Constitution requires that the government be accountable to the people.  The best way we can ensure that the federal government is accountable is to create transparency, openness, and access.  That’s why the Cameras in the Courtroom bill is necessary.  It would permit all Americans, not just the 200 people who can fit inside the public gallery, the opportunity to observe what is already a public proceeding,” Grassley said.  “This is a tremendous opportunity which would help increase understanding of, and appreciation for, the highest court in the land.”

Last year, Grassley asked Chief Justice John Roberts to provide audio and video coverage of the landmark Supreme Court proceedings of the federal health care reform law.  Grassley said that broadcasting the health care reform law proceedings would not only contribute to the public’s understanding of America’s judicial system, but provide an excellent educational opportunity on a case that has the potential to have a far reaching impact on every American.  Grassley has not yet received a response to his letter from the Chief Justice.

"Nine Justices have a tremendous amount of influence on the lives of the people of this country, yet people know very little about the highest court in our country.   In just a month or so the Supreme Court will hear arguments about a law that has the potential to impact every American.  Allowing cameras in the Supreme Court will help bring much needed transparency to a process that is largely unknown to the American public," Grassley said.

The Cameras in the Courtroom Act only applies to open sessions of the Supreme Court – sessions where members of the public are already invited to observe in person. Public scrutiny of Supreme Court proceedings will produce greater accountability, transparency, and understanding of our judicial system.

Grassley is also the author of bipartisan legislation that would allow the chief judge of federal trial and appellate courts to permit cameras in their courtrooms.  The bill directs the Judicial Conference, the principal policy-making entity for the federal courts, to draft nonbinding guidelines that judges can refer to in making a decision pertaining to the coverage of a particular case.  In addition, it instructs the Judicial Conference to issue mandatory guidelines for obscuring vulnerable witnesses such as undercover officers, victims of crime, and their families.  The bill has safeguards in place to protect vulnerable witnesses, to exclude jurors from broadcast, and to allow a judge to use his or her discretion in determining whether to allow cameras in the courtroom.

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Iowa Supreme Court Opinions PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iowa Judicial Branch   
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:56
February 10, 2012

Notice: The opinions posted on this site are slip opinions only. Under the Rules of Appellate Procedure a party has a limited number of days to request a rehearing after the filing of an opinion. Also, all slip opinions are subject to modification or correction by the court. Therefore, opinions on this site are not to be considered the final decisions of the court. The official published opinions of the Iowa Supreme Court are those published in the North Western Reporter published by West Group.

Opinions released before April 2006 and available in the archives are posted in Word format. Opinions released after April 2006 are posted to the website in PDF (Portable Document Format).   Note: To open a PDF you must have the free Acrobat Reader installed. PDF format preserves the original appearance of a document without requiring you to possess the software that created that document. For more information about PDF read: Using the Adobe Reader.

For your convenience, the Judicial Branch offers a free e-mail notification service for Supreme Court opinions, Court of Appeals opinions, press releases and orders. To subscribe, click here.

NOTE: Copies of these opinions may be obtained from the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319, for a fee of fifty cents per page.

No. 10–0795

DONALD A. WESTLING vs. HORMEL FOODS CORPORATION


 
Political intelligence registration provision PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:42

Floor Speech of Sen. Chuck Grassley

Political Intelligence Amendment to the STOCK Act

Delivered Feb. 9, 2012

I would like to speak as if in morning business on my amendment to the STOCK Act.

In the dark of night Tuesday, the House released its version of the STOCK Act, which wiped out any chance at meaningful transparency for the political intelligence industry.

What we are faced with is a powerful industry that works in the shadows.  They don’t want people to know what they do or who they work for.  They are afraid of sunlight.

My amendment was adopted here in the Senate on a bipartisan basis, a rare occurrence recently.  It simply requires registration for lobbyists who seek information from Congress in order to trade on that information.

It’s straightforward.  If trades are taking place based on political intelligence obtained from Congress or the executive branch, people should know who is gathering such information.

Not requiring political intelligence professionals to register and disclose their contacts with government officials is a gaping loophole that my amendment fixes.  In fact, political intelligence firms actually brag about this loophole.

For example, on its website, the Open Source Intelligence Group, a political intelligence firm, says the following:

“Our political intelligence operation differs from standard 'lobbying' in that The OSINT Group is not looking to influence legislation on behalf of clients, but rather provide unique 'monitoring' of information through our personal relationships between lawmakers, staffers, and lobbyists.

Providing this service for clients who do not want their interest in an issue publicly known is an activity that does not need to be reported under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, thus providing an additional layer of confidentiality for our clients.

This service is ideal for companies seeking a competitive advantage by allowing a client's interests to remain confidential…”

If you didn’t hear it the first time, let me repeat some of that for you,

“Providing this service for clients who do not want their interest in an issue publicly known is an activity that does not need to be reported under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, thus providing an additional layer of confidentiality for our clients.”

You have it here on paper.  This firm is telling potential clients, if you don’t want anyone to know what you are asking of federal officials, hire us.  That’s just wrong, but that’s why firms like this don’t want to register.

If somebody on Wall Street is trying to make money off of conversations they have with senators or staff, we should know who they are representing.  It’s just that simple.

Since the passage of my amendment, which would require political intelligence lobbyists to register as lobbyists, I have heard a great deal of “concern” from the lobbying community.

Political intelligence professionals have claimed that they should do their business in secret for several reasons.

First, they’ve said that if they are required to register, they will no longer be able to sell information to their clients because people will not want to hire them.  That makes me wonder, what do they have to hide?

Second, they have said that many of them have large numbers of clients, and it would take them a lot of time to register these large numbers of secret clients.  Again, that makes me think we need more transparency to find out who all these people buying political intelligence are.

Third, they have claimed that it would not address the so-called “20 percent loophole” that allows people who spend less than 20 percent of their time lobbying from having to register as lobbyists.

Well, on this, I have some good news for them.  We don’t make the mistake that caused the 20 percent loophole.

My amendment requires anyone who makes a political intelligence contact to have to register.   No loopholes, no deals, no special treatment – everyone registers.

Finally, I just want to assure people: Journalists won’t need to register.  A constituent looking for information in order to make business decisions won’t have to register.  Only political intelligence brokers, people who seek information so that others can trade securities, would have to register.

As I said before, if people want to trade stocks from what we do here in Congress, we should know who you are.  The American people deserve a little sunlight into this industry.  Last night the House turned away from transparency.  The House supported the status quo.

What we need is a full and open conference process so that Congress, both the House and Senate, can work together and improve this bill.  If not, I worry that we will miss the best opportunity we have had for openness and transparency in years.

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Breuer Violates DoJ Policy in Advocating for Gunwalking PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 10 February 2012 08:37

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Justice Department Accountability Matters

More Fast and Furious Stonewalling

Thursday, February 9, 2012

 

For over a year now I have been investigating Fast and Furious, an operation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This has been a complicated investigation.  It’s been made even more difficult because of the Justice Department’s lack of candor and transparency.  The Justice Department is stonewalling, interfering with Congress' constitutional responsibility of oversight.

For example, the Justice Department Office of Inspector General recently disclosed that it has received 80,000 pages of documents from the Department and over 100,000 emails.  That stands in stark contrast to the 6,000 pages of documents we’ve received from them.

Similarly, the Inspector General has been allowed to conduct 70 witness interviews.  By contrast, the Justice Department has only provided 9 witnesses to us.

Last week Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The Justice Department did a document dump to Congress the Friday night before the hearing.

That has become a bad habit for the Department.

In fact, without giving us any advance notice that it was coming, they slid a CD of documents under our door after business hours when my office was already closed.  They managed to find time to leak the documents to the press during regular business hours.

Why would they be so mysterious, wanting to put a disk under our door on a Friday night, giving it to the press hours before?  What sort of attitude is that of the Justice Department towards the cooperation that you ought to have with our filling our constitutional role of oversight?

I'd say it’s hardly any cooperation whatsoever.

Now, even though we get a dribble here and a dribble there, even though we get a c.d. under the door instead of very open face-to-face receiving documents, what we got last Friday did reveal further facts about a previously unknown proposal to allow these guns to cross the border.

We have long known that in March 2011, Deputy Attorney General James Cole had a conference call with all Southwest Border U.S. Attorneys.

In a follow-up email after the call, Mr. Cole wrote:

“As I said on the call, to avoid any potential confusion, I want to reiterate the Department’s policy: We should not design or conduct undercover operations which include guns crossing the border. If we have knowledge that guns are about to cross the border, we must take immediate action to stop the firearms from crossing the border, even if that prematurely terminates or otherwise jeopardizes an investigation.”

Attorney General Holder himself told us at a hearing in May that Mr. Cole was simply reiterating an existing Justice Department policy in his email, not communicating a new policy.

So imagine my surprise when I discover in the documents slid under my door late that Friday night that while in Mexico, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer proposed letting guns cross the border.

His proposal came at the same time the Department was preparing to send its letter to me denying that ATF ever does the very thing he was proposing.

In a February 4, 2011 email, the Justice Department attaché in Mexico City wrote to a number of officials at the Justice Department:

AAG Breuer proposed allowing straw purchasers to cross into Mexico so [the Secretariat of Public Security] can arrest and [the Attorney General of Mexico] can prosecute and convict.  Such coordinated operations between the US and Mexico may send a strong message to arms traffickers.”

So, we've got people here in Washington who say the program doesn't exist.  At the same time we've got people talking down in Mexico City of what we're trying to accomplish by the illegal sale of guns.

The recipients of this email included Mr. Breuer’s deputy, Jason Weinstein, who was helping to write the Justice Department’s letter to me that they would later withdraw for its inaccuracies.

Mr. Weinstein was sending updates about the draft letter to Mr. Breuer in Mexico.  Yet, during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Breuer downplayed his involvement in reviewing the draft letter.

It is outrageous to me that the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division proposed exactly what his Department was denying to me was happening.

The Justice Department’s letter to me clearly said:

“ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”

Yet as those words were being sent to Congress Mr. Breuer was advocating that a Justice Department operation allow weapons to be transported into Mexico.  Further, it directly contradicted what the Justice Department has said its policy was.

They can’t have it both ways.

If they didn’t have a policy against such operations, perhaps it is not a surprise that an operation like Fast and Furious sprang up.

After all, as that same Justice Department attaché wrote of a meeting a few days after his first email:

“I raised the issue that there is an inherent risk in allowing weapons to pass from the US to Mexico; the possibility of the [Government of Mexico] not seizing the weapons; and the weapons being used to commit a crime in Mexico.”

The light bulb went on.   Of course, if you're selling guns illegally, 2,000 of them, then don't interdict them, they end up murdering people in Mexico and one person in the United States at least.

If the Justice Department did have a policy against such operations, this is a record of Mr. Breuer proposing to violate it.

That’s not just my conclusion.  That’s the Attorney General’s conclusion as well.

At last week’s hearing, the Attorney General was asked to explain the contradiction between his deputy’s anti-gunwalking policy and the evidence of Mr. Breuer’s proposed operation to let guns cross the border.

He couldn’t.

The Attorney General answered: “Well, clearly what was proposed in, I guess, February by Lanny Breuer was in contravention of the policy that I had the Deputy Attorney General make clear to everybody at Main Justice and to the field…”

Perhaps this disconnect between Justice Department policy and Lanny Breuer’s proposal explains Mr. Breuer’s previous inaction to stop gunwalking.

When he found out about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver in April 2010, he failed to do anything to stop it or hold anyone accountable.  He simply had his deputy inform ATF leadership.

Regardless, Mr. Breuer’s contravention of Justice Department policy is yet another reason why it is long past time for him to go.  Mr. Breuer has misled Congress about whether he was aware of the Department’s false letter to me.

To this day, he is still the highest-ranking official in ANY administration that we know was aware of gunwalking in any federal program.

Yet he took no actions to stop gunwalking.  He failed to alert the Attorney General or the Inspector General.  Mr. Breuer has failed the Justice Department, and he has failed the American people.  This failure raises some important questions.

When did Attorney General Holder determine that Mr. Breuer was proposing allowing straw purchasers to reach Mexico with trafficked weapons?

What has he done about it?

Will Mr. Breuer be held accountable for hatching a plan to directly violate the Attorney General’s anti-gunwalking policy?

The Attorney General clearly testified that the proposal was in “contravention” of the policy.

How does the Justice Department know other senior Criminal Division officials weren’t proposing operations similar to Fast and Furious?

These are just a subset of some of the major questions remaining in our investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.

It has now been one year since the Justice Department sent its false letter to me.

How did the Justice Department move from its position of dismissing the complaints of whistleblowers to acknowledging that they were true?

What officials were internally dismissive of the whistleblowers’ complaints, and who believed they could have merit and should be taken seriously?

To what extent did Justice Department officials seek to retaliate against whistleblowers?

Exactly how and when did Justice Department officials begin to learn the truth of what happened?

Former ATF Director Ken Melson has testified how and when he learned that guns had walked.

What about Attorney General Holder?

What about Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer?

A year after Operation Fast and Furious concluded, who will be held accountable?

Why didn’t top Justice Department officials see the clear connections between Fast and Furious and previous flawed operations that they have admitted they knew about?

How has the Justice Department assessed the mistakes and culpability of these top officials?

It’s time for the Justice Department to stop stonewalling and start providing answers.

It’s time for them to share with Congress the other 74,000 pages of documents they’ve turned over to the Inspector General.  It’s time for them to give us access to the dozens of other people the Inspector General has been allowed to interview.

In short, it’s time for them to come clean with the American people.


 
Slumberland Donates New Beds to Homeless Shelter Serving Quad Cities Families PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Holly Nomura   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 15:25

Quad Cities, USA: Slumberland Furniture in Davenport, Iowa, is working to provide families in need with a comfortable bed in which to sleep at night. Through its annual Making Homes for the Holidays Program, Slumberland donated 26 mattress and box spring sets to The Salvation Army Family Service Center, a facility that provides food and shelter to families that are rebuilding their lives.

Slumberland realizes that a good night’s sleep can have a positive impact on the shelter clients’ progress in their program. “For far too many families, a warm bed has become a luxury, especially in today’s tough economic environment. With Making Homes for the Holidays, Slumberland is working to ensure that everyone in our community gets a good night’s sleep,” said Lee Kerr, Owner of Slumberland Furniture in Davenport.

In recognizing that there a 52 beds in the Emergency Shelter Program and 48 beds in the Transitional Housing Program, Slumberland has made a commitment to supply beds to the shelter anytime another bed needs disposal.

The Making Homes for the Holidays Program began in 1993. Since then, Slumberland has donated more than 20,000 new mattresses and box springs to deserving families nationwide. For more information about this program, please visit Slumberland’s website at www.slumberland.com.

To learn more about the programs at the Family Service Center, please call Brandon Luke or Holly Nomura at 563-324-4808.

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