Earlier today the Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Eric Holder walked into the line of fire when he appeared in front of the House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) disastrous “Fast and Furious” investigation.
The Attorney General took rapid fire questions from GOP representatives seeking answers for the failed “gunwalking” program that resulted in the murder of at least one Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry, and more than 200 Mexican citizen deaths. From the get go Mr. Holder made it clear that the approximately 2,000 high-powered guns that ATF let “walk” into Mexico will turn up at crime scenes in both countries for years to come.
However, the day-long hearing revealed little new information and yielded no acceptance of responsibility from Holder. He simply doubled-down on DOJ’s innocence regarding the (mis) handling of the botched gun-running investigation.
It’s been almost a year since Border Patrol Agent Terry was callously gunned-down in the Arizona desert by “rip crew” bandits using guns the U.S. government let “walk” into the hands of brutal Mexican drug cartels. During the past year, Agent Terry’s family has witnessed a cover-up by ATF and DOJ and seen no compassion or concern from Mr. Holder regarding the murder of their son.
Instead, the agent’s murder has resulted in a firestorm of inquiry for ATF and DOJ led by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. Despite Issa’s vigorous inquisition, the DOJ still has not told Congress who knew what, and when.
It was just a week ago when the AG’s office asked for a “mulligan” on a letter their office issued to Congress that misstated “Fast and Furious” facts. The DOJ letter stated that ATF’s fatally-flawed “gunwalking” investigation did not allow guns to walk across the border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The DOJ letter lied and ATF did allow guns to leave their jurisdiction and cross the Mexican border.
This led Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to ask AG Holder a direct question regarding the art of lying; “Tell me what’s the difference between lying and misleading Congress, in this context?”
Holder’s reply seemed like a non-answer. “Well, if you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie,” Holder admitted. “The information that was provided by the February 4th letter was gleaned by the people who drafted the letter after they interacted with people who they thought were in the best position to have the information.”
Holder’s answer harkened back to President Bill Clinton’s definition of “what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Nevertheless Republican committee members echoed the same mantra all day- that heads needed to roll for the failed Fast and Furious investigation. And, it appears the Obama Administration is positioning Holder’s long-time friend, confidant and DOJ Assistant AG of the Criminal Division underling Lanny Breuer to be the fall guy.
It was recently discovered emails discussing the ATF “gunwalking” operation that provoked Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley to call for Breuer’s firing earlier this week.
“The real shock was how Mr. Breuer had responded within his own Department when earlier ‘gunwalking’ was first brought to his attention in April 2010. He didn’t tell the Attorney General. He didn’t tell the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff. He didn’t tell the Deputy Attorney General. He didn’t tell the Inspector General. Instead, he simply told his deputy to meet with ATF leadership and inform them of the ‘gunwalking’ so they knew the bad stuff that could come out,” Grassley said.
The final squabble of the day squared Rep. Issa’s sharp- tongue questions surrounding Holder’s continued stonewalling tactics of Fast and Furious. Issa reminded the Attorney General that he could be held in contempt of Congress if he continued to block Congressional members request for documents, to which Holder replied; “Have you no shame?”
But Issa countered Holder’s political gamesmanship with; “No, have you no shame?”
Up next – House committee members will now flood Eric Holder’s office with a litany of follow-up questions, but the answers will not be disclosed until after the holiday season. Stay tuned for more ATF Fast and Furious updates.
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
After an independent investigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they are filing of a lawsuit against a University of California, San Diego Medical Center. The DOJ alleges that the medical center violated the employment eligibility verification process by asking non-citizens to produce paperwork to prove they are allowed to work in the U.S. against people who are authorized to work in the United States.
The DOJ found that the UC medical center engaged in a pattern of requiring non-U.S. citizen hires to produce documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to verify or re-verify their employment eligibility. The independent investigative team also claims the medical center did not ask U.S. citizens to show their documentation.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision, employers are prohibited from placing undue burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process.
“All workers who are authorized to work in the United States have the right to work without encountering discrimination because of their immigration status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are committed to vigorously protecting authorized workers from discrimination in the hiring process and ensuring that employers uphold their obligations under the law.”
The DOJ complaint requests that the court prohibits future discrimination by UC San Diego, monetary damages for individuals affected by the medical centers hiring actions, as well as civil penalties.
The United States is represented in this matter by Luz V. Lopez-Ortiz and Ronald Lee, OSC Trial Attorneys.
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
As reported in this column (March story here), Senator Grassley has been investigating ATF gun programs “Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious.” His investigations led to the discovery of Department of Justice (DOJ) and ATF misrepresentations the number of “missing or walked” firearms. An internal ATF inspection findings report finds, on average, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) loses track of roughly one million guns per year.
As demand for a special prosecutor rises in this scandal, the prosecutor assigned to litigate “Project Gunrunner” and its investigation companion “Fast and Furious” would find that the internal ATF report provides both statistics and a motive for a cover-up.
The report clearly states that 10, 538 inspections were performed in FY2010 or approximately 9 percent of dealers received a visit from an ATF Agent. (The ATF report also said the agency assigned less than 600 agents to perform dealer inspections around the country.)
Nevertheless, in FY2010 the ATF report draws attention to the initial-missing and final-missing firearms at those 9 percent of dealers are 87,225 and 21,041 respectively. “This means that roughly 1 million firearms are lost each year in the United States,” said a veteran ATF Agent.
The sheer volume of missing weapons could certainly cause any agency to stonewall outside investigations as well as members of Congress.
A July 4 meeting between the ATF front man Kenneth Melson and Congressional investigators revealed the Department of Justice has actively engaged in a “cover-up” and “remain silent” campaign concerning the controversial firearm program that allowed U.S. weapons to cross into Mexico in the hands of criminals.
The hush, hush meeting revealed a couple of things, first, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knew a lot more about this operation than he has previously admitted and Melson, will not be the Obama Administration fall guy. This point was driven home when Melson brought his own attorney and didn’t inform AG Holder about the July 4 meeting until it was over.
Furthermore, Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a letter last week to AG Eric Holder. “If his (Melson’s) account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.”
The ATF’s Fog of War approach to recordkeeping can be found in a November 2010 a Department of Justice report where the Office of Inspector General highlighted ATF’s incompetence regarding record keeping. “Discrepancies were caused by incomplete data in ATF’s N-Force and N-Spect databases, inconsistent coding of work activities by ATF, errors in ATF’s description of the data, unsupportable data entries by ATF, and variations in the time frame covered by ATF’s data.”
These conflicting reports only lead to more questions. Is the ATF flat out incompetent or is DOJ orchestrating a major cover-up? If it’s the latter, the misinformation campaign waged by the Obama Administration regarding “Project Gunrunner” would postdate the Bush Administration.
However, the internal ATF January 2011 report does tie the lack of inspections of firearm businesses to understaffing. Another ATF Agent points to a severely under-staffed agency as a key component to ATF’s failure to effectively monitor gun sales in the country. Currently there are approximately 119,556 firearm dealers in America and less than 2,600 ATF Agents to staff all American offices as well as overseas operations.
Typically the ATF Agents find a broad stroke of infractions at firearm businesses and in 2010 there were 1,366 store violations and additional 1,408 received a warning letter from ATF. Of those dealers in violation only one-half of one percent saw their licenses revoked or denied renewal.
However, ATF officials said in most cases business owners corrected the paperwork while the remaining few dealers transferred the firearm company ownership to a friend or family member– making the closure of a gun store violator a rarity.
The most frequently cited firearm violations are failure to record sales information either accurately or in a timely fashion. This may be due to the complexity of the dealer paperwork involved (federal, state and local) that results in a greater number of administrative violations. Examples of these include a transferee that doesn’t properly complete the application or a licensee that fails to obtain or document the purchaser’s identification information. The use of abbreviations also plays a key role in paperwork that the ATF sends back to a dealer in the form of violations.
Inconsistence application of ATF rules have also led to a large number of violations. For example; An inside industry source says “ATF reporting parallels that of the IRS in as much as you could ask three ATF inspectors about three similar situations and receive three different answers. Often it is the firearm dealer/manufacturer that is more knowledgeable about ATF rules and regulations.”
Another little-known fact about ATF is the number of agents employed remains similar to the agency’s 1920s Prohibition era, yet the number of duties tasked to ATF Agents has increased exponentially to include tobacco, firearms and post- 9/11, explosives.
Nowhere is ATF’s job more important than on the nation’s southern border where the cartel violence continues to explode with nearly 40,000 murders in the past four years.
This past weekend in Mexico at least 40 murders were recorded in a 24-hour period. This escalating violence highlights the need for the American government to control firearms and money that are trafficked south of the border into the hands of cartels, gangs or terrorists. (Not ownership by law-abiding private American citizens).
The number of inconsistencies also confirms that ATF does not know where the thousands of missing guns end up. Even if ATF wanted to intensify their gun inspections, they don’t have the manpower to locate such a large cache of missing weapons.
However, one thing is clear; ATF requires a heavy-dose of housecleaning.
This investigation is evolving on a daily basis and this reporter encourages readers to check back for new stories as information warrants.
For more information on ATF; http://www.atf.gov/
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
Continue reading on Examiner.com A 2011 ATF internal report confirms 1 million guns go missing each year – National Homeland Security | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/a-2011-atf-internal-report-confirms-1-million-guns-go-missing-each-year#ixzz1Rukj82qW
Last week U.S. national security stood front and center with a stunning acknowledgment Americans can expect another terrorist attempt on the homeland in the next three to six months. That prediction sparked countrywide debate ending with a five-page letter from Attorney General Eric Holder lashing out at Republicans and letting the country know he will run the Department of Justice his way.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took the brunt of Holder’s anger as the five-page letter was addressed to the Kentucky Senate Minority leader. The lesson in terrorist treatment of the most recent American terrorist attempt on Christmas Day began this way;
“The decision to charge Mr. Abdulmutallab in federal court, and the methods used to interrogate him, are fully consistent with the long-established and publicly known policies and practices of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the United States Government as a whole, as implemented for many years by Administrations of both parties. Those policies and practices, which were not criticized when employed by previous Administrations, have been and remain extremely effective in protecting national security. They are among the many powerful weapons this country can and should use to win the war against al-Qaeda,” said Holder. (click link to read letter; http://www.scribd.com/doc/26325635/Eric-Holder-letter-to-Mitch-McConnell-2-3-2010)
This statement suggests the U.S. government must use all tools in the toolbox to combat the fight against terror. However, just as there are many tools in the toolbox, it can be said there are many forms of terrorism the country faces.
Case in point when it comes to the country’s southwest borders the Mexican drug cartels pose just as much of a threat to American sovereignty. In fact the cartels have no allegiance to America and will use terrorists as a means to their ends – get drugs to the hungry U.S. customer.
There are some curious points contained in Holder’s letter to Senate Republicans.
“In contrast to the government’s recent self-serving letter by AG Holder to a number of U.S. Senators concerned with the handling of the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 last December 25th, the mishandling of House of Death informant Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez Peyro or ‘Lalo’ along with the related cover up of alleged U.S. involvement in over a dozen murders, is a national disgrace for which both the Bush and Obama administrations should be held accountable by the U.S. Congress,” explains Sandalio Gonzalez retired DEA agent who blew the whistle on the infamous House of Death case.
“The complete lack of integrity, rampant hypocrisy, and reckless disregard for the rule of law exhibited by the U.S. government in every aspect of this case (House of Death) is nothing short of reprehensible,” Gonzalez says. “To this day it continues to be an ongoing insult to the nation and all its law enforcement officers and law abiding citizens. Every government official with knowledge of this tragic affair, from all branches of government, who have stood silent and allowed the cover up to continue, are themselves part of the conspiracy and should hang their heads in shame,” he finishes.
For those unfamiliar with the House of Death, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) participated in an undercover operation to infiltrate one of the Juarez drug cartels. The informant they chose, Lalo, had a prior relationship with a ranking Juarez cartel lieutenant, Heriberto Santillan Tabares and Lalo would rely on his relationship with his boss to collect intelligence for the U.S. government.
Mexican drug cartels have evolved over the years and the ruthless, gruesome killing methods associated with the drug trade placed Lalo in the middle of a high-stakes, take no prisoners game. One wrong move and Lalo would be on the receiving end of death.
“My job was very dangerous,” says Lalo. “I explained this to my ICE handler, Raul Bencomo. They (ICE) knew I was giving good information and they wanted me to keep going even after the first murder.” Yes, the U.S. government wanted a civilian-informant to continue recording information about the cartel business even if it happened to be murder. “They wanted me to try and not record anymore murders, but I told them I couldn’t promise that because the ‘death house’ was very dangerous,” Lalo said.
With the promise of a new life in America and plenty of start-up money, Lalo continued to place his life on the line for ICE agents. “He was the best informant we had,” Bencomo said about his reliable informant Lalo. However, it would take a dozen murders and the breach of safety of DEA agents living in Juarez, Mexico to end Lalo’s run as informant.
Despite the emergency evacuation of DEA personnel from the world’s most violent city, Lalo would undertake one last job for ICE – lure cartel leader, Santillan to the United States so ICE could arrest him.
“Not only did I get Santillan to come to El Paso I drove him around and got him to talk about the past murders. Santillan started talking about the last days’ actions,” Lalo explains. It would be here the wanted cartel leader would talk about another murder at the “little house.”
Once the dark story was complete, Lalo would be pulled over in his own vehicle by a controlled traffic stop. The “House of Death” saga would end quietly with the arrest of Santillan. Law enforcement would tell the Juarez cartel leader he was under arrest and the last thing Lalo overheard from his boss was fact he had a warrant for his arrest, “I don’t have two hours in this country, how do I get a warrant?”
With Lalo’s mission complete, he is released from fake custody and Bencomo thanked him for a job well done.
In a strange twist, Santillan would admit to drug charges and get 25 years in U.S. prison and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton would drop the murder charges in order to avoid a messy trial.
However in an unexpected turn of events Lalo would find himself in custody. Lalo explained that DHS was scrambling to pin a murder on him and when that didn’t work they wanted him to say his ICE handler, Bencomo was corrupt and when that didn’t work they threatened to deport his common-law wife and children back to Mexico.
“That was blackmail because if they sent my family back to Mexico the cartels would kill them immediately. Juanita Fielden, Assistant U.S. Attorney in El Paso, promised me many things, and once I signed the paper to remain in custody, I never heard from her again,” Lalo said.
He continues to fight deportation to this day even after favorable rulings by immigration judges. Yet he and has spent more than six years in jail, most of it in solitary confinement. While enemy combatants have access to other prisoners, TV, computers and attorneys Lalo does not. “I think they (America) want to keep me by myself and break me, hoping I will just accept deportation.”
The fact remains, Lalo, who was paid approximately $250,000 to be an ICE informant, was stabbed in the back by a corrupt U.S. government who continues to cover its tracks and push for Lalo to be deported where he will surely face death at the hands of the very people he successfully collected evidence against.
What effect will this have on future informants the U.S. depends on to fight the drug cartels or other criminal enterprises remains to be seen, but the fallout is surely devastating for future undercover operations.
“The implications are significant for such behavior on the part of the government quickly becomes known in the “underworld” so to speak, as in Lalo’s case. As a result, potential “walk in” sources of information that the government has no hammer on, as opposed to defendant/informants (the ones that “flip” to get their sentences reduced), simply will not come forward to cooperate,” explains retired DEA Agent Gonzalez “There’s also a strong possibility that agents with a conscience will simply not recruit such sources because they know that people above them in the pecking order will leave them hanging. Every time an informant is burned the word gets out, and it becomes increasingly difficult to convince other individuals to cooperate.”
Former NYPD officer Charles Houser had this to say about the treatment of informants.
“Burning informants is a very bad and seriously unintelligent maneuver. It’s very difficult to cultivate a productive informant from a law enforcement perspective. Informants are sometimes the only vehicle available to bringing bad guys to justice. Burning an informant only serves as a warning to other potential informants who may consider cooperating with law enforcement authorities, of the hazards of such a relationship.”
Houser explains that NYPD back in the day, “we had enough of a problem just getting witnesses to a felony, even homicides, to make a statement. I can’t imagine any scenario short of an emergency where the public safety was a priority and necessary to sacrificing informant. The betrayal of trust would be enough to send potential informants running.
It is truly the height of hypocrisy that the government provides rights to terrorists, while government informants are held without charges pressed against them in violation of due process, according to Andy Ramirez of Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council.
“It is important to define such labels as Congress has not declared war on Afghanistan or any other nation. Operations are being conducted against terrorist outfits that could consist of a number of cells with any number of persons, or made up of a sole individual, of which there is no way to know specifics. As such, one must question Constitutional protections provided beyond human rights.”
“Of course the irony is that these basic rights, given to terrorists, have not been provided to ‘Lalo’ the ICE informant in the House of Death case. He continues to be held illegally by ICE (and DHS), while justice continues to be obstructed by the government. Of course the reason is very simple as Lalo is ‘the material witness’ in the House of Death case and can implicate wrongdoing by many officials. Documentation shows that the cover-up of this case involved many of the highest- ranking Bush Administration officials. By continuing to try to deport Lalo to Mexico knowing he will be murdered by the cartels, and violating his rights, this is no longer just a Bush case as it continues to be obstructed by the Obama Administration.”
Given the tenor and tone of this letter from AG Holder to Senate Minority Leader McConnell, it’s what I would have expected of former AG Gonzales. Yet, it is what it is given the refusal by the Congress to hold the Justice Department and Homeland Security accountable for outright lying repeatedly in testimony as well as to the American people. “Both are known for rampant abuse, retaliations against whistleblowers, and bad terminations and prosecutions in what I’ve coined the ‘War on Law Enforcement,’” Ramirez states.
“The only way this nonsense will ever cease is for Congress to realize that the Executive Branch is out of control, as well as their partner in collusion, that being the courts, and rein the other two branches back in for that is their role, to maintain accountability under checks and balances. The other two branches have crossed the so-called separation of powers line repeatedly and that must stop by auditing funding, filing contempt of Congress citations and articles of impeachment, issuing subpoenas, conducting real hearings under oath, and appointing independent special prosecutors to get to the bottom of things,” Ramirez finishes.
When comparing Lalo’s House of Death case to the terrorists in U.S. custody Gonzalez calls it like he sees it.
“It’s simple, while the government is willing to prosecute alleged terrorists, it is not yet, nor will it be anytime soon, willing to prosecute former and present high-level government officials on murder-related charges. That would be quite the embarrassing situation to say the least. Lalo would be key for such a prosecution, which is why he’s being held as some sort of nuclear inter-galactic combatant because if he were a mere enemy combatant he would have some rights. Apparently the laws of this planet don’t apply to him,” he says.
“By the way, let’s not forget that the government was fully willing to take action against only one low level official; Agent Bencomo, a Hispanic, was fired by ICE. Coincidence?” This is Gonzalez’ explanation of the House of Death fiasco where an ICE informant who is not wanted for any crime anywhere in the world remains in jail, fighting for his life because the government he worked for wants him deported to Mexico – a death sentence.
In frustration Lalo sums up his experience as an informant for America, “it’s been my American nightmare and I can no longer trust anything the government says. I don’t even want to be in the witness protection program because I don’t believe they will protect me. It’s ridiculous how they are treating someone who did nothing but help DHS put dangerous cartel members in jail.”
Why does a “standard operating procedure” apply to suspected terrorists eliciting a detailed response by Holder, but yet the government continues to hold Lalo in prison, in violation of his rights – both human and constitutional? It certainly appears that the U.S. government is only interested in protecting terrorists who wish to harm American citizens, while the Departments of Homeland Security and “Justice” are interested in protecting their employees from the legal consequences of reprehensible actions they participated in.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
The attorney for at least one of the 9/11 attack planners announced that Ali Abdal al-Aziz Ali would plea not guilty in a New York court room. However, the alleged terrorist will not deny his role in the planning of a terrorist attack that rocked New York City and ultimately killed more than 3,000 people.
Attorney Scott Fenstermaker said his client will use the New York federal court trial as a platform to express his political view and explain why he attacked the country. According to the attorney representing al-Aziz Ali, the five 9/11 terrorists have been discussing the trial among themselves at their current residence in Guantanamo Bay.
Fenstermaker claims the defendants will explain “their assessment of American foreign policy in the courtroom.”
The trial is expected to get under way sometime next year in New York and the security price tag has soared past the $75 million mark, something that has sparked opposition debate as to the soundness of trying war criminals in open federal court.
In an interview with Fox News, the father of Todd Breamer, who uttered the now famous words “let’s roll” aboard flight 93, explained his profound objection to the terrorist ability to use U.S. courtrooms as a platform to expose radical views and insult the victim’s families all over again.
David Breamer was able to attend the Senate Judiciary hearing last week where Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General pointed out that the suspected terrorists would receive a fair trial. President Obama also weighed in on this issue and stated he was confident the terrorists would receive a guilty verdict and pay the ultimate price – death.
Breamer wrote an Op-Ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal in which he referred to the New York City trial as September 11th the sequel.
With his eyes and ears open to the legal process Beamer said, “This showed a political system that we have a ruling party. The decision to try the terrorists in open court is a violation of the oath he (Holder) took, I believe, that he is duty bound to protect our country and uphold the Constitution.”
The trial comes with unnecessary risks and forces New Yorkers to face ramped up security during the trial, according to Breamer. “These evil people have confessed their guilt already and have asked to be executed. We should quickly grant their wish.”
The “left-minded decision” of allowing these terrorists a platform will only cause insecurities among the 9/11 survivors and leave taxpayers with another unnecessary tax burden, he finished.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner