Speaker Pelosi asked fellow Democrats to fall on the sword, take one for the team or vote against their values to force a 2,700-page health care legislation bill onto the American citizens that simply doesn’t believe a faltering economy can handle another trillion-dollar entitlement program.
President Obama claimed he heard the voters in his State of the Union speech in January. He promised his administration would pivot to jobs and the economy. In fact, not only has the President failed to live up to his speech, but also his administration plans to focus on the health care topic for the next two to three months.
The recent economic indicators show the country in fact is headed for a double-dip recession. The housing market posted lower than expected sales, the recent positive bounce in unemployment didn’t last, more jobs have disappeared and consumer-spending confidence has dipped again.
Skyrocketing deficits and continued government spending increases have voters on edge. Most understand that they have to live within a budget and cut back when they do not have the money.
The credit card era is over and it’s time to pay the piper. If America doesn’t want to falter to China than it’s time to start thinking about the hard decisions that need to be made in Washington D.C. and belt up for a bumpy ride.
The changes Americans need to make are not easy and there will be a lot of painful cuts that need to be made to ensure our world dominance, but most are ready. If that means pensions need to be trimmed, federal employees salaries need to be more in line with the national average or Social Security needs to be – so be it.
America’s children and grandchildren shouldn’t be saddled with years of reckless spending in the form of unsustainable deficits.
This isn’t the time to trade in values or simply take one for the team, it’s time is for Ms. Pelosi to step aside and let true leaders take the podium and keep the country from the cliff that is on the fast-approaching horizon.
One year ago today, concerned citizens throughout America began the arduous task of organizing a movement. The movement would grow like wildfire and be known as the Tea Party. The leaderless grassroots group would focus on big-government spending and infringement of laws threatening American liberty and freedom.
Tea Party members say this will be the first battle of the Second American Revolution. Across America the calls were heard and citizens formed a vast patriot social network. By April, the Tea Party movement included millions of Americans, and on April 15th, 850 tea parties across the nation hosted 1.2 million patriots voicing their defiance of an out-of-control government.
“To date in California we have 173 different Tea Party groups and we are home to the largest coalition in the country – we are even bigger than Texas,” said Dawn Wildman co-founder of the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition in San Diego. “It’s great to see the rain or the last minute parking charge (formally a free lot on the weekends) didn’t keep the 1,000 Tea Party supporters from our first anniversary.”
The parking charge didn’t sit well with the Tea Party organizers and after the event it was back to work doing what the citizen activists do best – hit the phones.
“I was able to pin this down to the San Diego County Supervisor people. But I also heard that Bill Horn was they’re complaining about us being anti-politician. I guess he hasn’t heard that we are Pro-Citizen! And he doesn’t understand the distinction,” Wildman said.
Nevertheless, the supervisor in charge of parking was Richard (he was actually really nice and just caught in the middle). The county official who contacted him and insisted on having paid parking was David Hall.
“The slimy thing about this is we’ve had several events at the same location, never had any incidents and were always able to park free in the county lot on the weekends. When the Supervisors got wind of our rally they were threatened by our activism (they should because we hold all officials accountable) and decided to charge $10 to park. Did you see how empty the lot was – their ploy didn’t work,” Wildman said.
Wildman explained the movement is so powerful in California that for the first time there has been no talk of Northern or Southern California. “We are all Californians.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a rally without a jab or two at California leadership. This time it would be Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Comments made this week on the Fox News channel by Schwarzenegger described the Tea Party movement as nothing more than anger at a slow economy.
“The irony about Schwarzenegger is a similar movement was responsible for recalling disgraced Governor Gray Davis and got Arnold voted into office,” Wildman pointed out.
The line up of speakers in San Diego did not include any politicians, however many candidates were spotted in the crowd. A tax advocate, Richard Rider, touted the movement as a positive sign and explained change finally is on the horizon. “I was skeptical at first, over the years we’ve seen pockets of resistance, but as the year unfolded the movement grew stronger and stronger.”
Rider also noted that the race to take back the country’s economic freedom was not a sprint race, but more like a super marathon – one which would leave a country worth having for those children who want to grow up and be all they can be.
This sentiment was echoed by headline speaker, Roger Hedgecock, a nationally syndicated Conservative talk show host based in San Diego; “The government is now telling you that they know how to better spend your childrens money they haven’t even made yet.” The crowd went nuts.
Other notable jabs included, “every seat is the people’s seat” and “We the People intend to restore a free market economy that is the envy of the world.”
Another San Diego Tea Party organizer, Leslie Eastman had this to say about the attendee diversity question the main stream media tends to focus on. “Quick — someone call the MSNBC diversity police. I have just shown more racial diversity in two pictures (in the slide show) than MSNBC has on its whole lineup.
Before and after the rally, citizens were encouraged to sign petitions on the three core issues. They were also informed about Icaucus, “Independence Caucus” via a full group table and speech given by Stephanie Jahn. This group puts potential candidates through a thorough background check before endorsements are made. Chuck DeVore, who is running for Senate in California against Barbara Boxer has already been endorsed by Icaucus.
Those in power can expect to be held accountable in the upcoming elections. The Tea Party movement is supporting like-minded candidates and encourages friends and neighbors to get involved with the political process; every race can expect to be the center of attention, local, state and national.
“We intend to take the country back to America’s founding principles. We’ve let the country drift too far, and as citizens we have an obligation to return the nation to the sort of governance imagined by our Founding Fathers,” says the Tea Party Patriots.
Judging by the turn out and determination career politicians have a real fight on their hands.
It has been reported by the Associated Press that the ethics investigation panel has decided Charles Rangel (D-N.Y) and his staff broke the rules when they knowingly accepted Caribbean vacations on behalf of large corporations.
It is a violation of the House rules to accept extravagant trips on behalf of any businesses while serving in the U.S. Congress. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus say Rangel had been exonerated on four of the trips, however he was guilty of other island vacations.
Rangel, who is an establishment lawmaker, could face the loss of control in the powerful Ways and Means Committee that oversees Medicare and Social Security benefits as well as tax issues.
It is worth pointing put that the House and Means Committee must rewrite the expiring of former President Bush’s tax laws that the committee is expected to tackle – much of it is complicated legislation to craft.
This ethics decision comes as another blow to established Democrats who have suffered a variety of setbacks from passing health care legislation to retiring stalwart leaders. Rangel who has served in the Congress for 34 years could lose his powerful chairmanship.
The good news is the ethics committee decided not to levy formal charges against Rangel that could have led to censure, however the committee is still mulling over other suspect fundraiser and finance activities Rangel is accused of mishandling.
Others contend the beltway insider could decide to retire rather than face a tough midterm election that would be marred with ethical mud slinging as a way to escape further committee investigation.
Rangel did answer a few questions about the ethics committee ruling, but he remained defiant. “So I now have to deal with my lawyer as to what the hell do they (ethics members) mean when something’s ‘imputed?’ Does it mean that no matter what a staff member does, that if a member doesn’t know it a member can be charged and admonished publicly for it?”
In the end Rangel decided to leave the public flogging to his constituents; “I think right now I have to let the general community make its own judgment.”
The ethics committee will issue their report to the public sometime on Friday.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
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A few short days ago Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) voted for pay-as-you go legislation – in which she referred to as a way to “help us maintain fiscal discipline while we continue the hard work of rebuilding America’s economy,” and she broke her promise to her Californian constituents by voting for the new $15 billion stimulus bill disguised as a ‘jobs bill.’
This was the first test legislators faced on their new pay-as-you-go rule and they quickly moved to break the promise of paying for all new bills by cutting other programs or raising taxes.
Last month Boxer and her Democrat friends voted for the PAYGO legislation in order to provide political cover for another vote to raise the national debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion to a record $14.3 trillion. This ballooning debt measure was needed after the Democrats maxed-out the government’s credit card in order to pay out $787 billion for the overrated stimulus package.
“It’s inexplicable that Senator Boxer voted to waive the same law that she applauded the President for reinstating just four weeks earlier. This hypocrisy highlights why Barbara Boxer is facing the toughest re-election battle of her career,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Amber Marchand. “Voters are tired of the out-of-control spending from the Democrat-controlled Congress and they are looking for real change in Washington this November.”
Boxer said on MSNBC that she “believed in PAYGO. If I want to spend something then I’ve got to cut something or figure out a way top for it.”
Boxer who is a longtime cosponsor of PAYGO legislation said PAYGO helps maintain fiscal discipline.
“U.S. Senator Boxer today applauded President Obama’s decision to submit a proposal to Congress to reinstate pay-as-you-go budget rules. Reinstating this common sense principle is long overdue. It will help us maintain fiscal discipline while we continue the hard work of rebuilding America’s economy. Senator Boxer is a longtime cosponsor of PAYGO, which would reinstate pay-as-you-go rules and help block measures that increase the deficit.”
At a teleconference on The Hiring Incentives To Restore Employment Act on February 17, 2010 Boxer discussed the importance of controlling spending. “Now, I could talk to you on the whole issue of the debt, because I was in the Congress in the Senate when we had no debt. And excuse me, we had no deficit, and we were on our way to ending the debt under Bill Clinton, and that is done through pay-as- you-go policies. It’s got to be – you’ve got to have tough – you’ve got to make some tough cuts and tough votes.”
A recent Rasmussen Reports poll states that 71 percent of voters now say the legislature is doing a poor job. The time when politicians could say they believed in balanced budgets to the cameras and then voted to bust the bank with so-called jobs bills are over.
With the November midterms just nine months away Rasmussen says 9 percent of lawmakers jobs are safe. Most Americans believe members of Congress are not genuinely interested in helping people, which ties to the continued fall in poll numbers. Eighty-one percent say most members of Congress are more interested in their own careers – this is a new multi-year high.
Most troubling for Boxer in the latest Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters in California is her continuing inability to break the 50 percent threshold against any of the Republican hopefuls. Rasmussen contends that incumbents who capture less than 50 percent of the vote at this stage of their campaign are considered vulnerable. Something all three GOP candidates, Chuck DeVore, Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina are all zeroing in on.
“This is a triumph of jobs over politics,” Senator Boxer said after the bill cleared a key procedural vote Monday night.
While Boxer continues to vote for every left-leaning piece of legislation put in front of her pen, November may be the only chance for voters to return the favor and hold her voting practices accountable.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
Looking for ways to slow human trafficking and the evils that comes with the modern-day slavery, California Against Slavery has started its petition drive to get tougher penalties for those who peddle in human trafficking onto California’s books.
The groups seeks much tougher criminal penalties, aid to district attorneys to better prosecute cases, increase protections for victims and train law enforcement officers all with hope of deterring those who continue to smuggle immigrants in America under the guise of a better life.
Victims of human trafficking are often subjected to forced labor, sexual exploitation and blackmail from their captures. This phenomenon isn’t unique to the United States, but is thriving in many countries around the world.
“We support and desperately need to see revision in our state law with regard to human trafficking,” said Jenny Williamson, founder and president of Courage to Be You, a Sacramento-area organization that rescues and restores victims of child sex trafficking. “Severe fines and extended jail time for the perpetrators of this evil must be enacted if ever this crime is to be deterred. Our courageous law enforcement officers must be equipped and encouraged with mandatory, specific training so that rescuing these vulnerable victims and putting their perpetrators away becomes a priority within our state.”
Taking a crack at the issue is Daphne Phung, executive director and founder of California Against Slavery;
1. How many people are found in California and U.S. who are victims of human trafficking?
Due to the underground nature of human trafficking, the counts of victims in California and the U.S. are not concrete or recent.
For California, a report by “Human Trafficking in California” of the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery Task Force, published October 2007. (http://www.homeland.ca.gov/pdf/Human_Trafficking_in_CA-Final_Report-2007.pdf )
The report said California has five Task Forces funded by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Between December 1, 2005 and March 12, 2007, California’s five Task Forces reported there were 559 potential victims identified. (These numbers do not include data from the Orange County Task Force, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)
For the United States, the numbers are very imprecise. On February 3, 2010, Luis CdeBaca, director of U.S. Department of State’s Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, held a press conference about human trafficking. Here’s what he said (from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rm/2010/136475.htm):
2. What are the percentages of women/children verses men?
Approximately 80 percent of victims of human trafficking are women and girls.
3. Is there one ethnic group that is particularly vulnerable to human trafficking?
According to a study from Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the largest number of foreign victims came from Thailand, Mexico and Russia.
Experts estimate at least 100,000 American juveniles are victimized through prostitution in America each year. (Shared Hope Report, at http://www.sharedhope.org/files/SHI_National_Report_on_DMST_2009.pdf Common factors for these juveniles are: poverty (basic needs not met), history of abuse, parents use drugs.
American children are victims of sex trafficking within the United States. Domestic child victims tend to be easy targets and carry less risk for the traffickers and buyers than adults and foreign nationals. Many victims are youth in the child welfare system and/or runaways, but some are recruited from middleclass homes as well. A common factor is the history of child physical and sexual abuse in the home or the extended family.
4. What regions of the state/country are more prone to this abuse?
The major metropolitan areas (San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego) are hubs for receiving trafficked victims. Central Valley receives trafficked victims for the agriculture and factory work.
5. What will this cost the taxpayer and how will it be paid for? Do you propose cutting another program to make way for this new law?
Potential increased local government costs of up to a few million dollars on a statewide basis due to the new mandatory training requirements for certain law enforcement officers. Unknown but probably minor net fiscal effects for state and local governments from a potential increase in human trafficking arrests and convictions. This would be a negligible percentage increase in state General Fund spending.
California Against Slavery does not have a position on cutting other California State programs, since the expected increase in General Fund spending would be negligible. For a breakdown visit; California Legislative Analyst’s office estimated the fiscal impact of our initiative cost; http://lao.ca.gov/ballot/2009/090850.aspx
6. Why should the voters care?
First, voters should care because human trafficking threatens the core foundation of our modern society that every person – regardless of race, age, gender, background -possesses an inherent dignity. Human trafficking is a crime against human dignity and a deprivation of the most basic human and civil rights. Allowing this crime to exist and flourish practically unchecked will impact the fabric of our society.
Second, voters should care because human trafficking is linked to other criminal activities that will negatively impact the safety and health of our communities. It gives criminals access to a large amount of money. “Instead, human trafficking often involves organized crime groups who make huge sums of money at the expense of trafficking victims and our societies,” according to the U.S. State Department.
CNN did a story in August 2009 about Mexican drug cartels moving into selling humans. Drug lords are recognizing the high profit in the human trade. A supply of drugs can only be sold once, but slaves can keep producing day after day, week after week. Source: http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/mexican_drug_cartels_switch_to_selling_humans
The US State Department also identified that human trafficking can result in increased exploitation of children, lowered wages (as cheap goods get even cheaper), reduced workforce productivity, and heightened public health problems (STD’s, psychological traumas).
Third, voters should care because current laws in California fail to deter traffickers from committing these heinous offenses. Under California’s current anti-trafficking laws, a trafficker will walk away with a 3-5 year sentence (and a maximum of 8 years only if the trafficked victim was a minor)! Suffice it to say this does not overweight the profit that traffickers can gain from the crime.
The reality that slavery exists today is a tragedy; and the fact that it is flourishing in our own backyard is absolutely appalling. Its growth is propelled by a lack of deterrence and awareness.
7. Are you going to have a professional signature service collect the 600,000 signatures needed to make the ballot?
No. We are an independent grassroots, volunteer-based organization. We are not financed by any corporation or organization and look to citizens to support our cause. Our current funding comes solely from donations from individuals who believe in our cause. Our strategy is to use volunteers to get signatures in their communities as well as heavily leverage the Internet. We estimated that we would need 600,000 signatures by March 31st to get on the November 2010 ballot.
The importance of deterring those who seek to exploit other humans should be second nature by now, yet it continues to oppress people throughout the world. How we address this issue in the Untied States should be something the rest of the world could turn to as a fair practice barometer. It should also enlighten those in America to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
“Human trafficking is an egregious crime against the most basic human rights and it is an important issue for our state,” said Phung, of California Against Slavery. “We are bringing this issue to the voters to give Californians an opportunity to speak up against human trafficking. We hope that every voter in California will sign the petition and ask ten friends and family members to do the same.”
Please visit http://www.CaliforniaAgainstSlavery.org to print and sign the petition, read the full-text of the initiative, or learn more about California Against Slavery.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County
Tea Party organizers have found their voice, grown exponentially and have exerted their political will into both parties. Many of these grassroots organizations are now celebrating their first anniversary, but one thing is certain, they won’t rest until Washington politics is restored to its roots and begins to live within its means.
According Dylan Ratigan at MSNBC the Tea Party movement has “no coach, no game plan, and did we mention, the tea party has a bit of an integrity problem, as everybody from birthers, to open racists, to outright Nazis are actually on the team. And no one involved, including its leadership, seems to mind the fact.”
Ask the millions of everyday Americans who attended political rallies for the first time in their lives about main stream media view of their cause and you get something along the lines of “sticks and stones.”
While the mainstream media continues to mock the grassroots movement, the Tea Party folks look at the swelling ranks assuring their value in the political process.
“There are two things I have discovered during the course of the past year regarding the media. First, San Diego is blessed to have very engaged and fair-minded local news organizations. Second, in terms of national coverage, Tea Party participants rely mainly on the internet, Facebook, and Twitter and we really don’t expect much out of the beltway/New York media organizations,” says Leslie Eastman founder of the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition.
The chance to usurp a new movement may prove more difficult as the Tea Party remains leaderless. However that won’t stop the left trying to discredit a movement that is clearly resonating with a large majority of Americans. “What they still don’t understand is that this is a leaderless movement, this is a ‘We The People…’ movement. Our new website is a chance for ‘We The People’ to stand up and say that ‘I Am The Tea Party Leader,’” Eastman said.
“As a registered Democrat, and a co-founder of the Tea Party organization, I am taking a few moments to review information that has been setting citizen activists across the country abuzz. There are NO designated Tea Party Leaders,” Eastman explained.
Over the weekend the movement learned of a new clandestine attack against the Tea Party organizers. Recent upset victories in blue states have the Clinton political machine operating in overtime researching activities by Tea Party organizers. The man expected to head the full-frontal assault against the Tea Party crowd is none other than James Carville.
Big Government reports, “that Clintonistas are plotting a “push/pull” strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the Tea Party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign.”
Responding to the attacks from the left, Tea Party organizers across the country have begun a counter-offensive. On their new website ‘I am the tea party leader’ the group posted a response to the attempt to discredit the grassroots movement.
“It is un-American and morally wrong for a former president to attack Americans who have gotten involved in the political system. It was Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘when the people fear the government there is tyranny.’” The website encourages tea party activists across the country o post a short video explaining why they are a leaderless movement and rebuff attacks.
According to Tea Party Patriots, “Our leaders are tea party organizers, patriots that make phone calls and send emails to their elected officials, bloggers, and activists that take time out of their lives to attend tea parties, the list goes on and on. We are the sleeping majority that has awakened.”
No matter the name calling the Tea Party movement likens itself to a starfish with many legs, “you cut one of us off and another will grow to take their place.”
“We patriots know that we are fighting for the principles that our freedom loving nation was founded on. We are just ordinary people reclaiming America’s founding principles. We are a diverse group that comes from every walk of life and ethnic background. We all have one thing in common and that is we love freedom – economic freedom and freedom from big government and massive government deficits,” says Tea Party Patriots.
In an effort to make it easier former President Clinton and James Carville to identify Tea Party leaders the group established the new web site. “We hope to collect videos from thousands of patriots telling former President Clinton and James Carville that they are Tea Party leaders. The videos are filmed at home, soccer fields, grocery stores and other locations that are indicative of the diversity of the tea party movement,” the organization contends.
When asked about former President Clintons attempt to get involved in discrediting Tea Parties, Eastman admits she is angry.
“I have mixed feelings. Anger, because the Tea Parties are comprised of average Americans exercising their First Amendment rights who should not be personally targeted by political elites. I feel sadness, because I voted for President Clinton in 1992, so he obviously valued my opinion then – should it count less now? And I feel mystified, Clinton has a legacy of a sound economy and being flexible enough to change course after the 1994 election – why should he interject himself now in this way and potentially damage any remaining relevancy and credibility he has,” Eastman said.
When it comes to marring the movement or trying to paint the Tea Party actions into some sort of racially negative movement Eastman warns the left-leaning media to be careful.
“It is the opinion of every Tea Party participant that if any attempt is made to target one of us, then the rest of us will rally and become more active. A good example of this is the new I am a leader website,” Eastman concludes. Link here; http://www.iamtheteapartyleader.com/
It doesn’t matter if the media or political talking heads agree or disagree with the Tea Party movement, what is important is that ‘we the people’ are seen in every town across the nation ready to make a difference on election day November 2010, according to the millions of Tea Party leaders.
According to a report in El Universo, the Ecuadorian government will ask the Organization of American States (OAS) to consider pushing the U.S. to adopt an open-border policy to encourage all people of Northern and Southern America to be free to move throughout the region, thus ending the need for deportations.
In the story, Hernan Holguin, sub-secretary of the Ecuadorian national department that oversees migrant issues, said he would bring this matter to the attention of OAS in an effort to solve the “human rights” and to halt the “irregular immigrants” deportations.
The move by Ecuador’s leaders hopes to impose a new world order in the west. Hernan expressed that people around the globe are advancing to a ‘universal citizenship’ and the world at large has already accepted that world globalization extends beyond foreign trade and is advancing towards ‘universal citizenship.’
The Ecuadorian government believes citizens of the world should be able to travel to countries whenever they want to.
The one-world proposal urges that “an integrated migrant policy with full respect for human rights in the framework of human mobility,” Hernan explains. He also emphasized that the process of immigrant returning to their country of origin should be “orderly, planned and supported.”
Once the process is in place, illegal immigrants could avoid being arrested on a minor infraction therefore eliminating the need for deportation. In order to avoid situations in which the undocumented immigrants are arrested for a minor infraction the treaty of sorts would eliminate the need for deportation from North America.
Hernan explained that in order for all nations to accept this new-world order it would be necessary for all countries to sign ‘migratory agreement.’
Ecuador estimates that at least one-fifth of its population is already guilty of illegal migratory status. The countries that Ecuadorians migrate to are; America, Spain and Italy.
Hernan believes the Ecuador economic crisis in 1999 began the process to citizens seeking work outside their country.
The United States continues to be the top destination for Latin Americans seeking work, health care benefits and a better life. One problem that goes hand in hand with illegal immigration is crime. Currently one-third of California’s prison population is Latin American. According to reports, those in prison are there for committing robberies, domestic abuse, drugs, rape and murder.
This is a staggering number and obviously adds a financial burden to the residents of California. This fact alone will give Californian’s pause when the immigration reform battle heats up later this year.
Do read the El Universo article click here; http://www.eluniverso.com/2010/02/15/1/1360/ecuador-pedira-oea-libre-movilidad.html?p=1360&m=1860
Describing the mishandling of the House of Death case and ICE’s treatment of confidential informants goes something like this – what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico or government agencies gone wild; or law enforcement agencies gone wild.
Not only has the House of Death incident never been fully investigated, but also none of the DEA, ICE and DHS management officials responsible for supervising the case reprimanded. No rule books were written to ensure U.S. law enforcement agencies could ever take part in covering-up a dozen murders that crossed international borders with Mexico.
Once the case was shut down and the ‘stuff’ hit the fan ICE agents found themselves in the middle of a game of ‘Clue.’ Except this was very real – it was Mr. ICE agency, with the rope in the House of Death.
A common fact that many news stories and ICE representatives in Washington D.C. conveniently leave out about this gruesome murder tale is the fact each time informant 913 – Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez Peyro or ‘Lalo’ was debriefed about his visits south of the border, several ICE agents and supervisors were present in the interrogation room.
In a recent series of articles by NPR a Kumar Kibble, acting director of criminal investigation for ICE said, “we have been successfully recruiting informants year after year, and I think they have a comfort level working with ICE,” he says. “I mean, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to continue to bring the highly successful investigations that we have been bringing.”
But according to the NPR story Kibble wouldn’t talk about Lalo. He had no comment about why the agency wants to send its star informant back to Mexico, where Lalo faces torture and death at the hands of the cartels he sold down the river.
Several attempts were made to contact ICE and Mr. Kibble, but the agency could not find an employee with that name. Nevertheless Lalo’s attorney Jodi Goodwin made it clear that this problem is not isolated and she represents many informants in similar cases. “The fact they tried to blame this on Lalo and his ICE handler Bencomo and not any of the supervisors who made the decision to move forward after each murder is ridiculous.”
In an effort to cover-up their tracks ICE fired Lalo’s handler, Raul Bencomo. Not only was Bencomo a low-level agent, he was never in a position to tell Lalo to participate in murder and stay inside the Juarez drug cartel and collect damning information to bring down a major kingpin and give ICE some much-wanted notoriety. “In the end ICE did me in. They wanted a fall guy and I shouldn’t have been the fall guy. Why weren’t any of my supervisors who directed me through this case I didn’t want to be a part of lose their jobs?” Bencomo said.
The House of Death case did garner ICE notoriety, but it was the kind Washington decided to sweep under the mat and cross their fingers mainstream media would fail to pick up on the cover-up that went all the way to the Bush White House. ICE got lucky and indeed the mainstream media decided to focus on the war in Iraq.
Sandalio Gonzalez, the retired DEA Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of El Paso who blew the whistle on the House of Death says that members of Congress have been, and are being bamboozled by the Executive Branch on this issue. By failing to ask the tough questions relavent to this case makes Congress complicit with the federal law enforcement agencies involved in the House of Death cover up.
The JAT Report remains elusive
Emails posted on FBI Watch in March of 2006/07, quote the cover memorandum to the DEA/ICE Joint Assessment Team (JAT) Report prepared in connection with the House of Death debacle. The memo is directed to John Clark, ICE Director of Investigations, and Michael Ferguson, DEA Chief of Operations, from; (name redacted) Special Agent in Charge Buffalo and Rodney Benson ASAC, DEA Boston Field Division.
The memorandum reads, “This review commenced on February 10, 2004, and ended on February 19, 2004. In connection with this review, the JAT conducted forty-four interviews of DEA, ICE, United States Attorney’s Office and Department of State personnel in El Paso, Texas, and Mexico. In addition, the JAT conducted investigative and confidential source file reviews and reviewed several hundred recorded conversations in connection with the ICE and DEA [redacted] investigations.
This assessment report consists of the JAT timeline of pertinent events, JAT interview summaries and noteworthy reports; all the facts detailed within the JAT timeline were agreed upon by ICE and DEA JAT personnel,” the email read. (Link- FBI Watch 4th post down http://forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139&page=28)
All parties involved know the JAT report exists yet very few eyes have been privy to the entire report including former DEA SAC Gonzalez. There have been claims that the report may be classified as National Security to shut the door for questions, however, Gonzalez sees it differently. “It’s not National Security issue, it’s a national embarrassment issue.”
A summary of the interview with the then DEA SAC Gonzalez, says the House of Death debacle reads something like this;
“On February 11, 2004, JAT members conducted an interview of Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Sandalio Gonzalez, explained that the interview was in connection with a joint review being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The purpose of the joint review was to ascertain the facts related to the events surrounding the evacuation of the DEA Resident Office in [Ciudad Juarez] Mexico and events and activities related to ICE and DEA investigations targeting [the VCF Juarez cartel and Heriberto Santillan-Tabares]. It was stressed by JAT personnel that this was solely a fact-finding inquiry to which the final report would be provided to the DEA Chief of Operations and ICE Director of Investigations,” the interviewers stated.
At many intra-agency meetings, during his four-year stint in El Paso, “SAC Gonzalez advised they discussed significant cases, operational and administrative matters, pertaining to Operation Sky-high: SAC Gonzalez was aware that it was an ongoing multi-agency operation including DEA, FBI, ICE, USAO (U.S. Attorneys Office) and Mexican Authorities targeting elements of the [Vicente Carrillo Fuentes] VCF [drug] organization in Mexico. According to Gonzalez, this multi-agency operation was initiated by DEA [El Paso].”
“Over the years, there has been some concern from U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies regarding the sharing of information with Mexican Authorities. SAC Gonzalez stated that he stressed that DEA would not share another agency’s information with Mexican Agencies without permission from the agency providing the information. Gonzalez stated that the FBI and ICE did not want certain information passed to the Mexican Authorities. SAC Gonzalez stated that the [Heriberto Santillan-Tabares] investigation was a joint investigation between DEA and ICE and that the FBI had very little involvement with this investigation,” the JAT Report team found.
Gonzalez recalled a March 2003 controlled delivery of “twenty-nine kilograms of cocaine that was received by the ICE [El Paso] CS [confidential informant, Guillermo Ramirez Peyro ‘Lalo’] from [Santillan]. In addition, SAC Gonzalez commented that DEA [El Paso] provided an undercover agent for the controlled delivery and DEA [El Paso] intelligence analysts participated in the debriefing of the CS shortly after the controlled delivery. According to SAC Gonzalez, Group Supervisor [redacted’s] group had primary oversight of the DEA [case] targeting VCF,” the report concluded.
Once the JAT report was finished and many questions remained unanswered about the misdoings by ICE, DHS and DOJ regarding the House of Death, many news agencies and attorneys began requesting the report through the Freedom Of Information Act or (FOIA). To this day the JAT report remains in a cabinet drawer in Washington D.C. or South America as some have reported.
Bill Weaver, a law professor at the University of Texas at El Paso who has written extensively about the murder case, stated that a letter from DEA in December 2006 stated, “that his FOIA request for the JAT is being jammed up because some documents are in South America and due to national security concerns.”
Weaver replied to the letter from DEA and said, “There is nothing in the Joint Assessment Team report or supporting materials that remotely involved ‘South America’ or the ‘Southern United States.’ All of the events investigated by the team occurred in the El Paso/Juarez region. Some interviews were made in Mexico City.”
A letter from DEA headquarters in Washington and the Department of Justice, to U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s office is proof that the JAT report does in fact exist. It also shows that Washington was concerned enough about a possible public relations disaster and then they buried the JAT report and settled their case against Santillan in a plea deal which didn’t include any murder charges.
The memorandum read, “This is a partial response to your letter of April 6, 2004, to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Sandalio Gonzalez concerning the captioned [Santillan] case. In that letter you requested any and all impeaching or otherwise exculpatory information relating to two essential witnesses for the Government (namely), Eduardo Ramirez, aka Lalo [the ICE informant] (and) Jose Jaime Marquez [Ramirez’ assistant in the House of Death murders].
More specifically, this memorandum is in response to paragraph 10 of your letter in which you requested ‘(a) copy of the final report, any internal memorandum or other documents prepared by the joint management inquiry team [the DEA/ICE Joint Assessment Team].’ Please note that the enclosed final report also includes a ‘Joint Assessment Team Timeline,’ which is referenced in paragraph “9” of your letter. This report is being provided to you in its entirety because we fully appreciate your office’s need to review all potentially relevant information with regard to the Santillan-Tabares case, and we understand that disclosure of this information outside of the United States Attorney’s office will not be made without further notification to, and consultation with, DEA,” the memo states.
The theory behind JAT Reports is two-fold. First they can hold a governmental agency accountable for mishandling operations, straying from agency policy and getting to the bottom of what happened and when. The second is to designate a new game plan when another similar event unravels and providing the rulebook to play by.
Neither has occurred in this case.
“The reason the Joint Assessment Team (JAT) Report remains so elusive is because the government has something to hide. It’s kind of like the child who breaks a toy and then hides it. The old adage out of sight, out of mind, can’t get in trouble. DHS has been hiding the facts for so long, they don’t know any other way. Unfortunately, DOJ also did this constantly during the Bush Administration. Had there not been anything to hide, they would have gone public long ago, instead of continuing to keep it quiet, hoping that it would all just go away. Remember that Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart testified under oath during Sandy Gonzalez civil suit that ICE was responsible for the House of Death murder spree,” stated Andy Ramirez of the non-profit Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council.
This case screams for Inspector General oversight
Currently there are approximately 69 federal Offices of Inspectors Generals (OIG), who are supposed to look out for the taxpayers and for the most part they try to sell the public on their anonymity. The IGs employ criminal investigators and auditors.
One of the goals many Inspector Generals are responsible for is uncovering misconduct activities by federal agencies including the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of the government programs and operations within their parent organizations. IG investigations may be internal and can target government employees; or external when it comes to targeting grant recipients, contractors, or recipients of the various loans and subsidies offered through the thousands of federal domestic and foreign assistance programs.
The mission statement of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) states “was statutorily established as an independent entity within the executive branch by the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008 to address integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend individual Government agencies; and increase the professionalism and effectiveness of personnel by developing policies, standards, and approaches to aid in the establishment of a well-trained and highly skilled workforce in the offices of the Inspectors General.”
Once the House of Death was discovered, Clark Ervin, the DHS Inspector General, began to write a series of reports on security programs used by DHS that were failures and run by “inept” government officials. “There isn’t a concern about the importance of spending every single dollar to the maximum effect of the core mission of the department,” Ervin told ABC News in 2004.
The White House only appointed Ervin for one term. He was appointed to oversee issues within the Department of Homeland Security. ABC reported he wanted to stay on, but was informed that he would be replaced. “I think this was a voice that was a little too critical and made the administration a little too uncomfortable,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit government watchdog group.
Former DEA SAC Gonzalez reported the House of Death murders to the two most appropriate government watchdog agencies. As a Department of Justice employee he wrote to the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General to request appropriate action, and as a government whistleblower he wrote to the Office of Special Counsel seeking protection from retaliation. In addition, after he retired Mr. Gonzalez personally briefed senior staff members of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D- VT) about the House of Death murders and the subsequent cover up. All parties he tried to inform ignored him.
In a letter from Office of Special Counsel to DEA agent Gonzalez dated July 2, 2004 the OSC office appears to take a blasé tone regarding the SAC of El Paso’s concern regarding mismanagement -resulting in 12 murders. The letter reads in part; “This will acknowledge receipt of the above-referenced disclosure matter… Please bear in mind that each year OSC receives a large number of matters concerning disclosures of information of a violation of law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
We attempt to handle all the cases as expeditiously as is possible. Cases are generally processed in the order in which they are received,” The OSC office said in the letter. Wow, murder doesn’t appear to garner much attention from the Washington D.C. It’s worth pointing out that there has yet been a report taken by DHS, DOJ or ICE that has been made public detailing the atrocities that occurred at the House of Death.
For now Lalo’s family in the U.S. remains hopeful the government will pull through and honor their promises to give Lalo his U.S. paperwork so he can get on with his life. “I just came from a visit with my son in New York,” says Lalo’s father. “They only allowed me one hour a day and I had to talk into a phone through thick glass. This isn’t right my son isn’t a wanted criminal in any country. Why are they treating him like this – solitary confinement and no TV or computers, it’s just no way to live.”
In a new CBS News/ New York Times poll only eight percent want the current members in the House to remain in office while a staggering 92 percent want the bums kicked out.
The November election is shaping up to be historical in nature especially with the general public completely placing their anger squarely on the ultra-partisan politics taking place under the tutelage of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The question being raised is how will President Obama react if he loses the majority in both chambers, will he dig in or will he morph much like President Clinton did after the 1994 Congressional revolution?
Nowhere is this scenario on display more than the shocking announcement from Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) that he would not seek reelection-not because he didn’t like serving, but he didn’t like D.C. politics.
The American people are voicing their concern in a big way as 80 percent of those polled stated Congress is more interested in serving special interests rather than their constituents.
It doesn’t get much better for those poll participants who voiced their overwhelming disapproval of the job Congress is currently doing, 75 percent are unhappy with House members.
As far as the President is concerned, the left-leaning poll reports Obama’s numbers continue to sink and now stand at 46 percent with 45 percent strongly disapproving of his performance.
Also there’s no improvement when it comes to Obama’s signature piece of legislation – health care reform. Highlighting the process that took place behind closed doors and bribing his own party members didn’t bode well with respondents, 55 percent said they disapproved of the President’s handling while only 35 percent sided with Obama.
Another poll out today from Pew Research Center showed the numbers increase when it comes to reelecting their representative. More than 30 percent said they would not vote for the incumbent. The polls in the past showed voters upset with Congress as a whole, yet they seemed to like their guy. This should serve as a wake -up call for the entire Washington clan
Riding the wave of discontent is the tea party movement and their efforts have has been successful in getting fiscally conservative candidates elected in the recent off –cycle races namely, Scott Brown (R-MA), Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Chris Christie (R-NJ).
The success of Conservatives comes as welcome news to tea party organizers who tend to be more moderate on social issues and remain solid on smaller government and less taxation principles.
The populist movement could help propel Reagan Conservative Chuck DeVore in his fight with California’s stalwart Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the Bayh vacancy opens up the primary race to Indiana tea party supporter John Hostettler (R-IN) race against a liberal Republican and GOP establishment player Dan Coats (R-IN) who is also a former lobbyist.
As the silly season warms up one thing is for sure, no one in Congress is safe, no candidates are immune from online blogging and the 24-hour news cycle will be catching every minute on the campaign trail.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
Graffiti and tagging are nothing new, but brazen efforts drew the ire of community that prides itself on local artistry and the tagline of “keep Leucadia funky.” While the majority of handy work is likely the work of teenagers looking for attention, some could be related to “sea aliens” who are now invading San Diego’s coastline from Mexico.
The words used in connection to this graffiti or tagging spree included Liberté, égalité, fraternité, which is French for “liberty, equality and fraternity for brotherhood. The words used in that combination are also commonly used as a sometime motto for French groups and can be tied to the French Revolution.
Regardless of the meaning residents who were on the receiving end of the graffiti found nothing artistic or funny about it.
“I have worked all my life to live in a nice neighborhood and I am outraged that these punks have the gall to mark their turf with spray paint like some dog urinating on a tree to mark their territory,” John Herbert a resident in the middle of the tagging spree. “When I see such a total disregard like this for someone else’s property, it’s obvious to me that it’s all going to hell.”
Others took it in stride, but expressed their disappointment in kids who think defacing public and private property will gain some attention.
“This is the first time we’ve seen this and we are very disappointed and saddened with whoever defaced the Stone Steps stairwell and private property,” said Tom and Jan Lyon. “We’ve lived here for 13 years and it’s disappointing and unacceptable for this to take place.”
One beachfront resident had a different spin on the graffiti that has shown up in recent months.
“I’ve noticed an uptick of tagging on sign and telephone poles lately,” explains Rick Stoddard an Encinitas beachfront resident. “I’ve seen the panga boats come up the beach and drop off illegals on the sand. I think there’s a strong possibility that the graffiti out here on the street could point these illegal immigrants who are getting off the boats to safe houses somewhere in the community.”
One thing the beachtown residents have on their side is a well-prepared city. First thing in the morning residents called the graffiti hotline and by four in the afternoon it’s as if nobody had disturb the lazy seaside neighborhood. “We send out code enforcement employees to photograph the graffiti, forward pictures to the Sheriff Department and then we repaint,” said Joan Kling Code Enforcement manager.
The community representatives also want the residents to know that no matter the problem they are attentive and want to work with the community to solve issues as they arise.
“It’s important to make all the people who live in San Diego County feel like you are looking out for them,” says Sheriff candidate Jim Duffy. “Even graffiti is a quality of life issue and we need to make sure our deputies address these types of issues within the targeted communities.”