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Facts are STUBBORN Things...Hernandez and Wide Receiver PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:52

Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011

Hernandez and Wide Receiver

Senator Feinstein: “My understanding is that the practice of letting guns walk first occurred in 2006 as part of Operation Wide Receiver, and again the next year as part of the Hernandez investigation.”

FACT

Operation Wide Receiver ran from 2006 to 2007, and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has said that approximately 350 guns were walked in the case.  The Justice Department has produced very few documents from the time period when Wide Receiver was conducted, but what they have provided indicates that the case involved a cooperating gun dealer and real-time notice of suspect purchases, and yet multiple guns ended up in Mexico.  When the Justice Department revived the case for prosecution in 2009 to 2010, the prosecutors recognized these factors constituted gunwalking.

On the other hand, the Hernandez investigation took place in late 2007 and involved a controlled delivery, not gunwalking.  In a controlled delivery, law enforcement watches to see that their target goes through with the steps of a crime in order to see that they have the requisite intent, but then interdicts the guns afterwards.  Documents produced by the Justice Department make clear that in the Hernandez investigation, Mexican law enforcement waiting on the other side of the border failed to interdict the weapons.  The Hernandez investigation is different from Fast and Furious and apparently from Wide Receiver in that those cases involved no safeguards and the government of Mexico was never informed about them.

Documents supporting the FACTS.

 
Increasing Penalties for Counterfeit Drugs-Bipartisan, Bicameral bill introduced PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:49

Leahy, Grassley, Bennet, Blumenthal, Meehan, Sánchez Propose Bipartisan, Bicameral
Bill To Increase Penalties For Counterfeit Drugs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Michael Bennet (D-Co.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation Thursday to increase penalties for trafficking counterfeit drugs.  The legislation responds to recommendations made by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and the administration’s Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Inter-agency Working Group.

The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will increase penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs to reflect the severity of the crime and the harm to the public.  While it is currently illegal to introduce counterfeit drugs into interstate commerce, the penalties are no different than those for the trafficking of other products, such as electronics or clothing.  The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act will target violators that knowingly manufacture, sell or traffic counterfeit medicines to the United States.

“While the manufacture and sale of any counterfeit product is a serious crime, counterfeit medication poses a grave danger to public health that warrants a harsher punishment,” said Leahy.  “This legislation will raise those penalties to a level that meets the severity of the offense.  Deterring this epidemic problem is a bipartisan effort.”

“Counterfeit medicines are some of the most profitable commodities for criminal organizations.  Purchases of counterfeit drugs by unsuspecting customers are growing at alarming rates, especially over the internet,” Grassley said.  “These drugs present a serious threat to the health and safety of people around the world.  It’s important we address this threat by imposing harsher penalties on criminals who counterfeit these medicines.”

“Counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs are putting Coloradans at risk. In some cases the medicine you take may not be effective, in other cases it may make you ill, or worse,” Bennet said. “Right now, the penalties for producing a fake company logo on a bottle of counterfeit drugs are more severe than they are for actually making and selling a counterfeit drug. We can help prevent these drugs from reaching hospitals, pharmacies and consumers by giving law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on these crimes.”

“Counterfeit drugs threaten the health of consumers and undermine American companies,” said Blumenthal.  “This legislation will enhance the penalties for trafficking in these substances, helping us to crack down on the epidemic of illegal counterfeiting and ensure that our medicines remain safe and effective.”

“These illegal, unregulated, uninspected drugs create a false sense of security among purchasers when in fact they can be extremely dangerous,” Meehan said. “Not only are they a threat to public health and safety, but as a prosecutor, I saw the hand of sophisticated criminal enterprises behind the operations. Steeper penalties will help deter these criminals from continuing to break our laws and put people’s lives at risk.”

“As a mother, I want to know the medications my family is taking are authentic and, most importantly, safe.  The American people deserve to have peace of mind when they use medications,” said Sánchez. “Unfortunately, massive counterfeit drug enterprises continue to exploit the Internet to jeopardize the public’s safety and rob American businesses of millions of dollars in revenue.  This legislation not only holds criminals accountable, but it gives our law enforcement officers the ability to effectively go after counterfeit drug traffickers.”

It has been reported that counterfeit drugs result in 100,000 fatalities globally each year, and account for an estimated $75 billion in annual revenue for criminal enterprises.

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In Iowa’s Interest: Giving Thanks-And Giving a Hand to the Less Fortunate PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:45
by Senator Tom Harkin

As we gather this Thanksgiving to spend time with our families and to enjoy the bounty of the season, we must also remember the many Americans who struggle to put food on their tables.

It is hard to imagine any family, child or individual in a nation as fortunate as ours going without food, but sadly, that is the reality for too many in our country. According to the Iowa Food Bank Association, hunger affects one in eight Iowans. And according to Jordan Vernoy, who heads the organization, Iowans are also grappling with something he calls “hidden hunger” – those who earn enough to not qualify for federal assistance, but are still struggling to provide for their families. For them, food pantries and local aid groups are a lifeline.

But food banks and non-profit providers are struggling too, as they work to keep up with record demand stemming from some of our country’s most protracted economic struggles since the great depression. Just as many families are hard hit by joblessness and reduced wages, so too are the organizations that help these folks straining to keep up with demand, even as contributions are falling.

As the holiday season begins, this is a great time to illustrate the strength and compassion of our community by volunteering time or donating food – a simple act that can make a difference to the less fortunate. There’s an old saying: “we make a living by what we make, but we make a life by what we give.” A number of Iowa resources are available. For a list of local Community Action Agencies, please visit http://www.iowacommunityaction.com/Agency/index.cfm.

Or, if you are interested in donating food or volunteering, please visit the Iowa Food Bank Association at http://iowafba.org/.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful, safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

A PDF version of the column is available by clicking here.

 
Facts are Stubborn Things...#2 at Justice Briefed on Agent Terry Shooting PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 09:38

Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011

Details of Agent Terry Shooting Briefed to the No. 2 at Justice

Senator Grassley: “Did Mr. Grindler ever say anything to you in December or January about the connection between the ATF and the guns found at Terry’s murder scene?”

Attorney General Holder: “No, he did not, but I think it’s understandable in the sense that the information that was shared with him did not indicate that any of the tactics that we find in the flawed Operation Fast and Furious operation, were actually mentioned in the e-mail that – that you reference. So he did not share that information with me.”

FACT

The timeline itself should have raised questions about the tactics to Deputy Attorney General Grindler.  The email Mr. Grindler received on December 17, 2010, read: “[Y]ou may recall that a CBP border agent was killed on Tuesday in a firefight in Arizona involving along the Mexican border [sic].  Two of the weapons recovered from the scene (AK-47 variants) have been linked to Jaime Avila Jr., a straw firearms purchaser that ATF and USAO have been investigating since November 2009 as part of its larger Fast and Furious operation. … ATF agents, assisted by ICE, USMS, and Phoenix Police, arrested Avila on Wednesday for falsification of ATF forms” (emphasis added).

Thus, the email to Mr. Grindler made clear that this known straw purchaser had been under investigation for more than a year, and since Avila’s falsification of forms didn’t just happen on December 15, he was being arrested purely in reaction to the fact that his gun appeared at the Terry murder scene.  Jaime Avila could have been arrested for straw purchasing any time between January 2010 and Agent Terry’s death on December 15, 2010.

Additionally, information on Avila, along with other operational details of Fast and Furious, had already been presented to Mr. Grindler in a detailed March 2010 briefing.  At that time he was informed that Avila had purchased 17 weapons, as well as that three other straw buyers had already bought 670 guns by that time.  Mr. Grindler’s own notes on the presentation show that he knew ATF was following those guns to stash houses, and yet were nevertheless being recovered in Mexico, implying that ATF was not maintaining surveillance.

Documents supporting the FACTS

 
National Adoption Month PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:25

Senator Chuck Grassley made remarks on the Senate floor yesterday about National Adoption Month. Click here for video of remarks. Senator Grassley is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.

Prepared Remarks of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In honor of National Adoption Month, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss my support for Senate Resolution 302 and for policies that promote and encourage adoption.  For years, I have championed efforts to increase awareness of adoption and help streamline the process for families who open their hearts and homes to children who have no other family.  Senate Resolution 302 helps promote national awareness of adoption and the children awaiting families, celebrates children and families involved in adoption, and encourages the people of the United States to secure safety, permanency, and well-being for all children.

As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, I have taken a keen interest in helping children who find themselves in the foster care system.

In the United States today, more than 400,000 children live in the foster care system.  Many of these children have been welcomed into adoptive homes.  However, over 105,000 of those in foster care are still waiting to be adopted.

According to the Administration of Children and Families, in my home state of Iowa, more than 4,700 kids entered the foster care system last year.  A total of 6,500 kids were in my state’s foster care system in 2010.

Foster youth simply desire to have what so many of us were blessed to have —that is, a home with caring, loving parents and siblings.  They want permanency.  Too many older children in foster care, especially those with special needs, are often the ones who wait the longest to leave foster care.  These kids are less likely than younger children to find “forever homes.”

While research shows that 40 percent of Americans have considered adopting, many are reluctant because they are unsure of the adoption process.  They have inaccurate perceptions about the children who are eligible to be adopted.  Some believe that children in foster care are there because of delinquency and other behavior problems.

The unfortunate fact is that most children who are in foster care are there because they were abused, neglected, or abandoned.  These vulnerable children desperately need a family structure.  They need parents who serve as positive role models to help them become bright and successful members of their communities.

While progress is being made to increase adoption, there is always more work to be done.  Helping in this process are numerous agencies and nonprofit organizations who work tirelessly to find worthy American families who want to be adopting parents.

In Iowa, one such agency is Four Oaks Family and Children Services of Cedar Rapids.  Four Oaks has had a recruiter working with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids since 2005.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is an innovative program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, named after the late American business icon who founded Wendy’s Restaurants. The foundation’s mission is to promote adoption.  It recently released a report about the success of the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program.  Specifically, the program is more focused on the harder-to-place children.  Recruiters work with children to find them the most appropriate placement.  This program is a success story.

Congress has also acted.  In 2008, I was part of a bipartisan effort to pass the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008.  This new law represented the most significant and far-reaching improvements to child welfare in over a decade.

It provided additional federal incentives for states to move children from foster care to adoptive homes.  It included legislation I had introduced 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.

Provisions in the law also made all children with special needs eligible for federal adoption assistance.  Previously, that assistance had been limited to children who were removed from very low-income families.  The law broke new ground by establishing opportunities to help kids who age out of the foster care system at age 18 by giving states the option to extend their care and by helping them pursue education or vocational training.

In late 2009, Senator Mary Landrieu and I formed the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to give older youths in and out of care and their families a place where their voices could be heard.  We wanted foster youth to be a part of the legislative process.  By hearing from young people and their families who have experienced the foster care system firsthand, congressional leaders will become more aware of the issues facing young people and their families.

The caucus has and will continue to generate new ideas to prevent negative outcomes and create new opportunities for success.  We wanted to focus on helping young people when they age out of the foster care system, typically at 18 years.  As many as 29,000 children age out every year without ever having found an adoptive placement, and without the security of a family, they often end up homeless, incarcerated, or addicted to drugs.

Children who age out of the system enter adulthood without knowing what it was like to be raised having their own family.  They missed out on having a mom and a dad, and maybe brothers and sisters, to grow with and learn from, and whom they would have relationships with the rest of their life.  They missed out on a very important part of childhood that they will never know, one that too many of us take for granted.  They are thrown into the world by themselves and forced to take care of themselves.  They struggle to pay bills, to find and hold a job, and to simply make ends meet.

This is why adoption awareness is so important.

Since the first National Adoption Day in 2000, more than 35,000 children have joined forever families during National Adoption Day.  In 2010 alone, adoptions for almost 5,000 children were finalized through 400 National Adoption Day events in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

These are impressive numbers -- numbers that make us proud of the work being done to help children in foster care.  But there is always more work to be done, and it is through awareness like this that we can help that work continue.

In passing Senate Resolution 302, this body will make an important statement about our collective support for the needs of foster children.  It recognizes the families who took the giant leap to open their homes to other children.

National Adoption Month is about kids who need a home.  It’s about kids who just want a mom and a dad.  It’s about helping children who are victims of neglect and abuse.  It’s about giving children living in foster care the ability to live their dreams.

We need to keep working together to break down the barriers to adoption so every child feels the relief of a solid family.   I’m proud to support the many kids who wait for permanency and salute the many organizations that make those dreams come true.

 
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