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Facts are STUBBORN Things...Long Gun Reporting Requirement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 21 November 2011 15:40

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

 

Long Gun Reporting Requirement

Attorney General Holder: “[E]arlier this year, the House of Representatives actually voted to keep law enforcement in the dark when individuals purchase semiautomatic rifles and shotguns in southwest border gun shops.  Providing law enforcement with the tools to detect and to disrupt illegal gun trafficking is entirely consistent with the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

FACT

In Operation Fast and Furious, law enforcement was not in the dark when individuals purchased these weapons.  Rather, they were receiving real-time—and sometimes advance—notice from cooperating gun dealers when suspected straw buyers would purchase pistols or long guns.  The information for both pistols and long guns was placed onto what is called a “4473” form, which gun dealers then faxed to the ATF.  However, rather than using that information to question the suspected straw buyers and eventually make arrests, ATF chose to allow them to continue to traffic guns.  There were about 93 multiple handgun purchases by Fast and Furious suspects averaging nearly five handguns per purchase. These were already required to be reported under existing regulations.  There were about 148 multiple long gun purchases by Fast and Furious suspects, averaging over 9 long guns per purchase.  Most of the purchases were made by just a few buyers.  Cooperating dealers reported them even without a regulatory requirement because they were suspicious and involved known straw buyers.

For instance, within three days of Jaime Avila’s January 16, 2010, purchase of the two weapons that were later recovered at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder, ATF had entered the purchase into their Suspect Gun Database.  Beginning 7 weeks prior to that date, ATF had already entered 13 weapons purchased by Avila into their Suspect Gun Database, including 8 long guns.  The problem was not a lack of information.  It was a failure to act on the information the government already had.

Supporting Documents of the FACTS

 
Grassley Praises Restored Funding for U.S. Counternarcotics Programs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 21 November 2011 15:23

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today said House and Senate appropriators are restoring funding for Defense Department international counternarcotics programs.  Grassley, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, caucus chairman, had urged appropriators to restore the funding, which lapsed Oct. 1.

“The funding lapse was worrisome,” Grassley said.  “It put counternarcotics efforts at risk of losing momentum and backsliding on progress in hotbed areas.  It’s a relief that for the safety and security of the United States, funding for U.S. counternarcotics programs abroad will be restored very soon.”

The appropriators’ language restoring the funding is available here, p. 280.  Letters from Grassley and Feinstein to try to restore funding are available here, here and here.

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Facts are Stubborn Things-U.S. Guns in Mexico PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 14:01

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

 

U.S. Guns in Mexico

 

Attorney General Holder: “[O]f the nearly 94,000 [weapons] that have been recovered that have been traced in Mexico in recent years, over 64,000 of those guns were sourced to the United States of America; 64,000 of 94,000 guns sourced to this country.”

FACT

The definition of a “U.S. source gun” used in these often cited statistics was not created by the ATF and is overly broad.  It includes guns manufactured in the United States even if never sold by a federally licensed gun dealer in the United States.  Such weapons may have been legally exported to foreign governments or stolen before falling into the wrong hands.  That cannot be properly blamed on Americans exercising their Second Amendment freedoms.

According to ATF statistics, of the 21,313 guns submitted for tracing by the government of Mexico in 2009, only 5,444 of them (25 percent) traced back to federally licensed gun dealers in the United States.  Similarly, in 2010, of 7,971 guns submitted for tracing by the government of Mexico, only 2,945 (37 percent) traced back to federally licensed gun dealers in the U.S.

The reason for the large disparity between the overall numbers of guns submitted in those two years is that in late 2009, the government of Mexico provided the United States with a large list of guns it had been stockpiling for years.  Accordingly, 2009’s numbers do not reflect guns that were seized exclusively in 2009, but rather for a number of the preceding years.

Additionally, any statistics on the percentage of such guns tracing back to the United States are further skewed because of selection bias.  As it has been widely noted, the government of Mexico only provides guns to the United States for tracing that they already have reason to believe originated here.  There is no reason to submit for tracing guns that are known to originate in Mexico.

In a November 8, 2011, court filing, the Chief of ATF’s Firearms Operations Division made a declaration that “in 2008, of the approximately 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office informed ATF that it had seized, only 7,200, or one quarter of those firearms, were submitted to ATF for tracing.”  Based on these statistics, it’s clear that the total sample of guns submitted for tracing is not representative of all the guns found in Mexico, and there isn’t evidence that the other 75 percent of those guns were sold in a U.S. gun store.

Documents related to the FACTS.

 
Illinois Ranks Number 2 for Thanksgiving Day Cooking Fires PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Missy Lundberg   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 13:50
Nov 15, 2011 — Based on data from insurance giant State Farm, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. In fact, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November.
With the popularity of turkey frying increasing, more people than ever are at risk for fryer related fires and injuries. U.S. fire departments are responding to more than 1,000 fires each year in which a deep fryer is involved. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says deep fryer fires result in more than $15 million in property damage each year and hot oil splatter can cause serious burns to an adult or life threatening injuries to a child.
According to State Farm Insurance claims data, the top 10 states for grease and cooking-related claims on Thanksgiving Day (2005-2010) are as follows:
  1. Texas                       36
  2. Illinois                       24
  3. Ohio                          21
  4. New York                  17
  5. Pennsylvania             17
  6. Michigan                    15
  7. Florida                       14
  8. Minnesota                  14
  9. Indiana                      13
  10. Louisiana                   12
Most turkey fryer fires are preventable. Recognizing common mistakes is a critical step in reducing your risk of a fire or potentially fatal burns.
  • More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors at a safe distance from any buildings or trees and keep the fryer off any wooden structures, such as a deck or patio.
  • Avoid a hot oil spill over by first filling the pot with cold oil and then lower the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be either added or removed.
  • Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.
  • Make sure your turkey is properly thawed before lowering it slowly into the pot.
  • Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
  • Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.
  • Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.
To warn people about the dangers of turkey fryers, State Farm has teamed up with actor William Shatner to produce a short video dramatizing an actual accident where the celebrity was burned in a turkey fryer mishap on Thanksgiving.  Viewers of the video are encouraged to support “Shatner’s Fryers Club” by simply liking or commenting on the video and agreeing to stay safe when frying or cooking turkey.

 
FBI Whistleblower Claims Process Broken, One Case Has Languished Nine Years PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 13:39
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is questioning Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole regarding their commitment to FBI whistleblowers while one case continues to languish for nine years and a second case sits in limbo for more than four years.

“Whistleblowers are key to unlocking many of the secrets hidden deep in the closets of the federal government.  Allowing a case to sit in limbo for more than nine years shows a lack of commitment to resolving issues for these courageous people,” Grassley said.  “The excessive time to make a judgment on these cases indicates that the process for adjudicating FBI whistleblower claims is broken, and needs to be fixed.  The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General have significant say over the speed at which these matters are addressed, and the recent decision by Deputy Attorney General Cole to remand a nine year old case for further proceedings is mind boggling and calls into question his commitment to help support whistleblowers.”

In a letter today to the Attorney General, Grassley cited Agent Jane Turner who in 2002 filed a whistleblower complaint with the Justice Department Inspector General after discovering that FBI agents removed items from Ground Zero following the attacks of 9/11.  Due to the Inspector General’s delayed decision, Agent Turner was forced to file an appeal with the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management, which ordered the FBI to issue back pay, attorney’s fees and other relief.  After an FBI appeal, the Deputy Attorney General remanded the case for further proceedings and it now continues to languish nine years after Agent Turner’s original complaint.

Grassley also cited the case of Robert Kobus, a 30-year non-agent employee of the FBI who more than four years ago disclosed time and attendance fraud by FBI agents.  The Inspector General substantiated his claims of retaliation for protected whistleblowing, yet his case has been sitting with the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management for four years.

Grassley noted that both the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General have testified before Congress that whistleblower retaliation will not be tolerated and that they would work to ensure that safeguards are in place so that whistleblowers are provided all the protections afforded by the law.

A long-time advocate for whistleblowers, in addition to co-authoring the 1989 whistleblower protection law and subsequent updates, Grassley sponsored changes made in 1986 to the President Lincoln-era federal False Claims Act to empower private sector whistleblowers.  Since the 1986 amendments were signed into law, the False Claims Act has brought back more than $27 billion to the federal treasury, and has deterred even more fraudulent activity. In 2009, in coordination with Senator Patrick Leahy, Grassley worked to pass legislation to shore up whistleblower protections in the False Claims Act that had been eroded by the courts after years of litigation by defense and healthcare contractors.

Grassley is also the author of legislation that would give the same whistleblower protections to employees in the legislative branch as provided already to employees of the executive branch of government.  In addition, in October, a Grassley-sponsored amendment to give whistleblower protection to employees in the Judicial Branch was added to a federal judgeships bill that was being debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A copy of the text of the letter can be found here.  A signed copy can be found by clicking here.

 

November 14, 2011

Via Electronic Transmission

 

The Honorable Eric H. Holder

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I write to express my concerns regarding the perpetual delays for resolving Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblower cases at the Department of Justice (DOJ).  As you are well aware, I am a long-standing advocate for whistleblower rights.  Whistleblowers point out fraud, waste, and abuse when no one else will, and they do so while risking their professional careers.  Whistleblowers have played a critical role in exposing failed government operations such as Operation Fast and Furious, and retaliation against whistleblowers should never be tolerated.  Thus, I am concerned about the treatment of whistleblowers at the FBI, specifically in the cases of Jane Turner and Robert Kobus.  The process of resolving whistleblower claims appears to be broken.

Jane Turner was a career FBI agent with an outstanding record for conducting investigations involving missing and exploited children.  Agent Turner filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), in 2002 when she discovered that FBI agents removed items from Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Unfortunately, Agent Turner was forced to file an appeal to the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) due to the OIG’s delayed decision in their investigation.  Ultimately, the OARM substantiated her allegations in May, 2010, and the FBI was ordered to provide Agent Turner back pay, attorney’s fees, and other relief.  It is my understanding that the FBI filed an appeal to the Deputy Attorney General concerning the issue of back pay, despite the FBI’s failure to raise the issue of back pay during previous OARM proceedings, and the case was remanded, in part, back to OARM for further review of the back pay issue.  Consequently, a final resolution to Jane Turner’s reprisal case against the FBI is now further delayed by the Deputy Attorney General’s curious decision.  Given the already excessive delays in this case, the ruling by the Deputy Attorney General postpones a judgment that should have come much sooner.  I remind you that Agent Turner initially filed her complaint approximately 9 years ago, and she has yet to receive a final decision.  Any reasonable person would agree that 9 years is extreme and unacceptable.

Robert Kobus is a 30 year non-agent employee of the FBI who disclosed time and attendance fraud by FBI agents.  The OIG also conducted an investigation into these allegations and substantiated that he was retaliated against for protected whistleblowing.  The FBI management not only demoted Mr. Kobus to a non-supervisory position, but they even went so far as to move him from his office to a cubicle on the vacant 24th floor of the FBI’s office building.  Nevertheless, the OIG’s findings were referred to OARM for adjudication and Mr. Kobus’ case has now languished in bureaucratic red tape for approximately 4 years.

I’m confident you would agree that a cumulative 13 years is an excessive amount of time to complete two whistleblower investigations.  You previously stated during your testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that you will “ensure that people are given the opportunity to blow the whistle and they will not be retaliated against, and then to hold accountable anybody who would attempt to do that.”[1]  You also stated that, “I have seen their [whistleblowers’] utility, their worth, and, frankly, the amount of money that they return to the Federal Government.  And they serve a very, very useful purpose.”[2] The Deputy Attorney General, in his responses to congressional “Questions for the Record”, asserted he would “work with the Judiciary Committee and the independent Office of Special Counsel, which investigates and prosecutes violation of law, including reprisals against whistleblowers, to provide timely and accurate information to the Congress.”[3] He further pledged he would “not tolerate unlawful retaliation against any Department of Justice employee, including FBI employees” and he would “work to ensure that there are adequate safeguards so that whistleblowers receive all of the protections to which they are entitled by law.”[4] I would ask that you honor these statements and ensure these cases, and others like them, are investigated and decided in a reasonable timeframe.

Given your previously stated support for whistleblowers, I presume that you would agree that DOJ is sending the wrong message to whistleblowers by taking an inordinate amount of time to issue final declarations for Agent Turner and Mr. Kobus.  The excessive time the OARM has taken to issue a final judgment, which is further exacerbated by the Deputy Attorney General’s recent decision in Agent Turner’s case, has cast your department in a dubious light regarding your stated support for whistleblowers.  These excessive delays indicate that the process of adjudicating a FBI whistleblower claim is broken.  Consequently, I ask that you review these matters and ensure that the OARM and the Deputy Attorney General conduct their respective reviews in a transparent and expeditious manner.  While I appreciate that allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse must be properly investigated, Agent Turner and Mr. Kobus deserve transparency in the process and finality to their cases.

Thank you for your cooperation and attention to this important matter.  I request you provide a written response to this letter no later than November 18, 2011.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

 
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