House Oversight Chair Issa Predicts Disgraced US Attorney General Will Be Held In Contempt (But of course it will be civil, and less than a slap on the wrist…)

June 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The top Republican leading the House investigation into Operation Fast and Furious said Sunday he expects a “bipartisan” floor vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this coming week.

“I believe they will (vote to hold him in contempt),” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told “Fox News Sunday.” “Both Republicans and Democrats will vote that — I believe it will be bipartisan.”

Issa kept his focus on the Justice Department, clarifying that he has no evidence the White House was involved in any Fast and Furious cover-up. But he repeatedly said Congress is trying to get to the bottom of why the Justice Department “lied” about the operation.

The comments underscored the apparent momentum among majority House Republicans behind the contempt push, following a committee contempt vote against Holder along party lines this past week. That vote proceeded after Holder and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement over subpoenaed documents pertaining to the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious discussions.

Issa said Sunday it’s possible the vote could be delayed or even “eliminated” if the administration produces the subpoenaed documents the House is seeking. He noted the entire schedule is at the discretion of House Speaker John Boehner.

“But we have to see the documents first,” he said.

Barring such a resolution, Issa and his allies are teeing up a major election-year clash this coming week between the Executive and Legislative branches, and between Democrats and Republicans.

President Obama intervened this past week, invoking executive privilege to protect the documents in question, but Republicans dismissed the claim and proceeded with the contempt vote. On the sidelines, minority House Democrats are pleading with Republicans take a step back and work out the document dispute without the threat of contempt. At the same time, both sides are antagonizing each other at the dais and in the press over what Democrats claim has become a political “witch hunt.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, R-Md., ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that the confrontation was entirely avoidable.

“I think it’s extremely unfortunate,” he said. “The attorney general has made it clear that he is willing to work with this Congress.”

Cummings called on Boehner to intervene and try to reach an agreement with Holder that involves turning over some documents while also halting the contempt proceedings.

“I think that we have a duty … at this critical moment to get the documents,” he said. “I know we can get them. It’s just a matter of sitting down and talking to Holder.”

Cummings suggested the course of the committee’s investigation has lost sight of one of the major reasons for the probe — the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose murder scene included weapons from the Fast and Furious operation.

But Issa defended the escalation, saying the committee is trying to obtain critical documents to help explain why Congress was initially told — incorrectly — in February 2011 that the government did not knowingly let guns “walk” across the U.S.-Mexico border. The department later issued a correction to that statement.

“We, in fact, are simply trying to get to the truth when we were told a lie,” Issa said. “It’s about the cover-up.”

“Ultimately, Justice lied to the American people on February 4 (2011), and they didn’t make it right for 10 months.”

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House Oversight Committee To Vote On Holding Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt Of Congress – Still Hiding Documents And Information On His Department Efforts That Armed Mexican Drug Cartels

June 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It’s the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.

This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation.

The Justice Department has maintained it has cooperated fully with the congressional investigation, turning over tens of thousands of documents and having Holder testify to Congress on the topic at least eight times.

However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says the Justice Department has refused to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those include materials created after Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress saying no gunwalking had occurred. The Justice Department later retracted the denial.

“The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics,” Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.

Issa says the Justice Department can still put a stop to the contempt process at any time by turning over the subpoenaed documents.

If the House Oversight Committee approves the contempt citation, the matter would likely be scheduled for a full House vote.

For several weeks, there has been closed-door discussions and debate among House Republicans as to whether to move forward with contempt. Some have expressed concern that it could distract from the Republican’s focus on the economy in this election year.

Led by Republicans Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Issa, Congress’ investigation into Fast and Furious is now in its second year. In the ATF operation, agents allowed thousands of weapons to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in the hope it would somehow help ATF take down a major cartel. Some of the weapons were used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry at the hands of illegal immigrants crossing into Arizona. Mexican press reports say hundreds of Mexicans have died at the hands of the trafficked weapons. The story was exposed nationally for the first time by CBS News in February 2011.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have called the Republicans’ move to find Holder in contempt a politically-motivated “witch hunt.”

In 1983, Congress found EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

In 1998, the GOP-controlled House Oversight committee found Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena on campaign finance law violations.

In 2008, the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee found former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff John Bolton in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors by the Bush administration was politically motivated.

Congress went to federal court to seek enforcement of that contempt action, but a compromise was reached with the Executive Branch before any court decision was final.

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25 Shot Overnight In Chicago Illinois – No Arrests

May 28, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – 25 people were shot in Chicago overnight.

19-year-old Jaleel Beasley and two other young men were hit just after 2 a.m. outside a bar in the Lawndale neighborhood.

Beasley died later at Mt Sinai hospital.

The other two men were brought to Stroger Hospital and are in stable condition.

Two other people were shot in the same area within 20 minutes of the first incident.

Police are investigating the possibility that the two events were related.

So far, no arrests have been made in connection with any of the shootings.

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District Of Columbia Returns Soldier’s Guns – Took 2 Years, High Power Lawyer, 2 US Senators, Congressman, And National Publicity To Force Police To Return Seized Property

May 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The active duty soldier who had his guns confiscated by the District of Columbia two years ago will have his property returned by Memorial Day. It took the help of a high-powered lawyer, two U.S. Senators, a member of Congress and national publicity to force the obstinate District to show some respect for the Constitution. It should never happen again.

On Friday, D.C. property clerk Derek Gray determined the city would finally return 1st Lt. Augustine Kim’s “dangerous articles” because the Army national guardsman fulfilled the plea agreement arranged with the U.S. attorney’s office a year earlier. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrested Lt. Kim on four felony charges of carrying firearms in the District after he was pulled over with the items securely stored in his trunk, as is allowed under federal law.

Lt. Kim pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of possessing an unregistered gun, and that charge was dismissed in May 2011. Since then, Lt. Kim’s lawyer, Richard Gadiner, had failed to get the attention of Mr. Gray, who refused to respond to his repeated requests for a hearing.

That changed after The Washington Times published a story about the case last Monday. The long-time firearms lawyer had never known the city to set up a hearing within a matter of days. Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, spoke with Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on Thursday. Fellow Palmetto State Republican Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Tim Scott have also been engaged. “When you get two senior U.S. senators and a member of Congress calling the chief of police, it makes a difference,” Mr. Gardiner explained.

Friday’s hearing was held in a tiny, windowless room in the massive MPD evidence building in Southwest. Mr. Gray (photo, above left) spent 17 minutes going through the papers in Mr. Kim’s file with the attorney before arriving announcing the decision. MPD would transfer the guns to a police department near Lt. Kim’s home in Charleston, S.C. next week. After the hearing, Mr. Gardiner called his client. “Auggie is so laconic,” said his smiling defense attorney. “All he said was, ‘That’s good news.’”

Asked how such situations could be avoided in the future, Mr. Gardiner suggested the District be held to the same standard as the federal government. The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act says the federal government has 60 days from the date of seizure to send out notices to possible claimants. Then if someone files a claim, the feds have 90 days to file a forfeiture case or return the property.

In Lt. Kim’s case, it would have meant getting his guns back 8 months earlier, saving considerable hassle and expense. Lt. Kim was lawfully transporting his firearms through the District and should never have been arrested in the first place.

A soldier who served two tours in Afghanistan and was injured so severely that he spent three months in surgeries and recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center deserves gratitude for his service to the country, not a drawn-out legal ordeal. The South Carolina congressional delegation ought to introduce legislation to make sure this never happens again.

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Victim’s Family Awarded $2 Million By Federal Court After California Highway Patrol Officers Shot And Killed Unarmed Driver

May 23, 2012

CALIFORNIA – A Sacramento federal judge has ordered damages of more than $2 million assessed against two California Highway Patrol officers, the agency itself, and the state in the death of a 21-year-old Stockton man.

In a four-page order and judgment Monday, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller said she interprets a somewhat ambiguous jury verdict in January to reflect the panel’s intention to assess economic damages of $6,000 and non-economic damages of $1 million against each of the officers, Michael Walling and Stephen Coffman, for shooting to death Joseph Pinasco Jr.

She also ruled that the CHP and the state are jointly liable for the $2,012,000 in judgments against Walling and Coffman.

In court papers and oral arguments since the verdict, the two sides differed on how to decipher the trial’s outcome, and Mueller sided with Arnold Wolf, attorney for Pinasco’s parents, Joseph and Toni Pinasco, who sued over their son’s death.

The parents own a Stockton plumbing and heating company.

Attorneys for the defendants argued the award should be reduced based on a comparative-fault analysis, in which the young man presumably would be found partially to blame.

But Mueller said, “A fair reading of the verdict is that the jury based its wrongful death determination on the officers’ wrongful acts. Accordingly, principles of comparative fault are inapplicable.”

The state is expected to appeal.

Walling and Coffman are still CHP officers, and Walling was promoted to sergeant after the incident.

They responded in the early hours of Aug. 24, 2008, to reports of street racing. Pinasco, who had been drinking with friends that night, was sitting in a parked pickup in the vicinity of the purported racing. As the officers approached in their car, he pulled away and led them on a high-speed chase. The pickup spun out of control on a dirt road and got stuck in a ditch in a rural area of eastern San Joaquin County.

Walling and Coffman exited their car and drew their guns. Pinasco was still seated behind the steering wheel of the truck and, as Walling approached, he started accelerating and rocking the pickup in an attempt to escape the ditch.

The officers yelled commands for Pinasco to stop and show his hands and Walling banged on the pickup’s windshield with his flashlight, but the truck continued to rock and the officers perceived it was getting traction in Coffman’s direction.

Both officers fired their weapons at Pinasco. They did so, they say, based on a shared fear that Coffman would be seriously injured or killed.

In one of the few differences on the facts, Wolf claims in court papers that the truck was traveling away from the officers as Pinasco began to extricate it from the ditch. It traveled 19 feet before coming to rest against a fence.

Of the 23 shots fired by the officers, six hit Pinasco in the head, face and neck, and one hit his left thigh. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His blood-alcohol level was measured at nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

In early 2009, the CHP’s investigative services unit issued a report concluding the shooting was justified because the pickup was moving toward Coffman. In April 2009, the San Joaquin County district attorney issued a report with the same finding.

According to Wolf’s trial brief, “Neither report bears any resemblance to (another unit of the CHP’s) reconstruction of the pickup truck’s movement before and during the shooting,” or to the state Department of Justice’s analysis of the bullets’ trajectory, “neither of which suggested that the pickup’s movement ever jeopardized Coffman.”

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Judge Orders Man’s Guns Returned After Crazed Cops And State Of New Jersey Tried To Strip Him Of His Constitutional Rights For Being Disabled

May 12, 2012

ROCKAWAY, NEW JERSEY -  A blind New Jersey man is declaring victory in a legal battle over his gun collection.

The state confiscated his weapons citing safety, but now a judge’s order — citing the right to bear arms — means he will get them back.

Steven Hopler of Rockaway knows a lot about guns. The 49-year-old has been handling them since childhood, and practices regularly at a local gun range. His aim is incredible, especially considering he’s blind.

“I’ve handled guns for many years — being sighted and being blind — and I’ve never had a problem,” Hopler told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis on Friday.

But four years ago, Hopler had an accident. He shot himself in the leg. Police responded and took six of his guns, citing safety concerns. They also accused him of drinking too much.

“They had taken the guns that were out in plain sight,” Hopler said.

That episode began a legal battle that wound up in Morris County Superior Court. Prosecutors argued Hopler shouldn’t have guns because he’s a danger. However, a judge ruled otherwise, saying his disability shouldn’t take away his constitutional right to bear arms.

Robert Trautman is Hopler’s attorney, and said police singled out his client.

“The state argued that Steve drinks too much.” Trautman said. “It’s just simply that the police didn’t want Steve Hopler to own firearms because he’s blind and they felt that was improper.”

In a statement, the Morris County prosecutor said “From the outset, there was concern as to whether Mr. Hopler was suitable to possess firearms…we are satisfied that we had our day in court…and no appeals will be filed.”

With the ordeal finally over, Hopler said the victory is about more than guns.

“I wouldn’t say power, [it's] freedom,” he said.

The judge’s order said Hopler’s guns should now be returned. He’ll make arrangements on Monday.

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Not Yours: Florida Governor Shoots Down Tampa Mayor’s Effort To Ban Guns Downtown During Republican National Convention

May 3, 2012

TAMPA, FLORIDA – Florida Governor Rick Scott has shot down a request by Tampa’s mayor to allow local authorities to ban guns from the city’s downtown during the Republican National Convention in August.

Citing Second Amendment protections in the U.S. Constitution, Scott told Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn that conventions and guns have co-existed since the nation’s birth and would continue to do so during the four-day event beginning August 27.

“It is unclear how disarming law abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law,” the Republican governor said in a letter on Tuesday.

Local officials need Scott’s permission to enact the temporary restrictions after state lawmakers last year passed a measure that prohibits local governments from adopting gun ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Florida has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States and by some counts leads the nation in gun ownership, with about 6.5 percent of all adults licensed to carry a concealed weapon, state records show.

New applications for concealed gun permits have quadrupled since 1998.

In a letter to Scott, Buckhorn said the Tampa City Council had banned a host of items from the area surrounding the convention facility, a list that includes water guns, poles and pieces of wood.

“One noticeable item missing from the city’s temporary ordinance is firearms,” Buckhorn wrote. “In the potentially contentious environment surrounding the RNC, a firearm unnecessarily increases the threat of imminent harm and injury to the residents and visitors to the city.”

Scott said he was confident law enforcement officials, who are expected to number nearly 4,000, would be able to protect the public without having to enforce a blanket gun ban.

That city officials have banned other items is irrelevant, he said.

“The choice to allow the government to ban sticks, poles but not firearms, is one that the people made in enacting their state and federal constitutions,” Scott wrote.

Weapons will not be allowed in the convention center itself or in the immediate area surrounding the site. Security in that venue is being handled by the U.S. Secret Service.

The City Council wants to extend the restrictions to all of downtown, including areas that have been designated zones for protesters expected at the event.

“As governor, you have the duty to meet dangers presented by events such as the RNC where there is a threat of substantial injury and harm to Florida residents and visitors to the state,” Buckhorn wrote

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Effort By House Oversight Committee To Hold Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt Making Progress – His Department’s Efforts Armed Mexican Drug Cartels, Then Hid Documents Amid Investigation

May 3, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were to take the first formal step Thursday toward contempt proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation, CBS News has learned.

The case for a citation declaring Holder in contempt will be laid out in a briefing paper and 48-page draft citation distributed to Democrats and Republicans on the committee. CBS News has obtained copies of both documents. In them, Republican members use strong language to accuse Holder of obstructing the committee’s investigation, which is now in its second year.

The documents allege that the Justice Department has issued, “false denials, given answers intended to misdirect investigators, sought to intimidate witnesses, unlawfully withheld subpoenaed documents, and waited to be confronted with indisputable evidence before acknowledging uncomfortable facts.”

“The Justice Department’s demonstrable contempt for the congressional investigation has inflicted harm on the people of two nations seeking the truth – and very pointedly on the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ATF whistleblowers who now face retaliation in the wake of their own heroic efforts to expose wrongdoing,” says the brief to be distributed Thursday.

For its part, the Justice Department says it has complied with the congressional investigations, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

“We’ve done twice-a-month (document) productions since last year, and the Attorney General has testified about this matter no less than seven times,” a Justice official tells CBS News.

There have been at least three House contempt actions against the Executive Branch in the past 30 years.

In 1983, Congress found EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

In 1998, the GOP-controlled House Oversight committee found Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena on campaign finance law violations.

In 2008, the Democrat-controlled House found former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff John Bolton in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically motivated.

In 2008, the Democratic-led Oversight Committee found two White House officials in contempt in the probe of Bush Administration firings of U.S. Attorneys. Congress went to federal court to seek enforcement of that contempt action, but a compromise was reached with the Executive Branch before any court decision was final.

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Contempt Citation Against Digraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In The Works In Wake Of His Department Supplying Mexican Drug Cartels With Thousands Of Firearms – Holder Still Hiding Documents

April 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – House Republicans investigating the Fast and Furious scandal have gotten the go-ahead by their party leaders to pursue a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder, senior congressional aides told CBS News. The resolution will accuse Holder and his Justice Department of obstructing the congressional probe into the allegations that the government let thousands of weapons fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The citation would attempt to force Holder to turn over tens of thousands of pages documents related to the probe, which has entered its second year.

For months, congressional Republicans probing ATF’s Fast and Furious “Gunwalker” scandal – led by California Republican Darrell Issa, have been investigating a contempt citation. They’ve worked quietly behind the scenes to build support among fellow Republicans, since it could ultimately face a full House vote. CBS News has confirmed that House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has given Rep. Issa, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the go-ahead to proceed. A 48-page long draft contempt resolution is being prepared.

How does a contempt proceeding against the executive branch work?

Both Democrats and Republicans have used it, but rarely. After former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten refused to comply with congressional subpoenas on the George W. Bush administration firing of U.S. attorneys in 2008, the Democrat-led House voted to hold them in contempt.

The House then went to a federal district court seeking a declaratory judgment and injunction ordering Miers and Bolten to comply with the subpoenas. The district court ruled in favor of the House, the ruling was subsequently stayed, and a compromise was reached.

Under President Clinton, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee voted to hold Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt over documents regarding campaign finance law violations.

In the case of Holder and Fast and Furious, the Oversight Committee’s contempt resolution would eventually have a full House vote and, if passed, Congress could seek enforcement through federal courts. Passage of the resolution itself could, however, encourage the Justice Department to comply even without a court order.

The Justice Department has maintained it is cooperating with the investigation and has made more than 6,400 pages of documents available for congressional review. However, congressional investigators say the Justice Department has supplied the documents piecemeal and highly redacted, and that tens of thousands of pages of internal documents are responsive to congressional subpoenas.

A contempt citing by Congress against the executive branch, a strong sanction, is considered by some to be politically risky; especially if it doesn’t succeed. Sources say that’s why Republican staffers have taken a great deal of time trying to build support among colleagues in advance of the citation’s formal release, which could come in the next few weeks if not sooner.

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No Bond For US Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Montalvo And Girlfriend – Charged With Smuggling Guns To Mexican Drug Cartel Members

April 19, 2012

EL PASO, TEXAS – A federal judge on Wednesday denied bond for an El Paso Border Patrol agent and his girlfriend, both accused of smuggling guns to members of a Mexican drug cartel.

Federal agents arrested Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Montalvo, 28, and his girlfriend, Carla Gonzales-Ortiz, 29, last week after their indictment on conspiracy, firearms and smuggling charges. The couple showed no emotion after the judge announced his ruling.

An investigation into the allegations began in early 2011, after a man identified in court documents only as E.P. told agents he worked as a “straw purchaser” for Montalvo, who allegedly once tried to recruit other straw purchasers while wearing his Border Patrol uniform.

A straw purchaser is a person who fills out paperwork to buy a gun from a licensed dealer but is actually illegally buying the gun for someone else.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa made his bond ruling during a detention hearing Wednesday morning. After reviewing the possible maximum punishment of more than 10 years in prison, Mesa determined that both Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz are flight risks.

During the hearing, Special Agent Jesus Lowenberg, who works for Customs and Border Protection’s Internal Affairs, testified that in the fall of 2010, Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz became involved in buying weapons, ammunition and accessories destined for Mexico. Montalvo recruited straw purchasers by paying them for buying weapons and other items, and paid them extra if they delivered
the items to Mexico, Lowenberg testified.

The couple’s indictment states Montalvo bought ammunition and firearms, such as AK-47-type pistols favored by Mexican drug cartels. He also allegedly bought about 20,000 rounds of ammo, 97 high-capacity magazines — including 10 100-round magazines for 5.56-mm rifles — and four 37-mm flare launchers that drug cartels can convert to grenade launchers.

During a five-week span beginning in November, Montalvo allegedly spent $11,200 on weapons and ammunition, but his take-home pay as a Border Patrol agent was only $42,000 a year.

Montalvo made hundreds of calls to Mexico between November 2010 and January 2011 on one of two cellphones he kept — one apparently for personal use, and the other for “illicit activity” –ÊLowenberg testified. During the same span, Montalvo was considered a “frequent” border crosser, making six or seven visits a month to Mexico.

In January 2011, agents executed two search warrants at the couple’s home on Emerald Point Drive in far East El Paso. There, the agents seized nine weapons, a handwritten ledger with descriptions of the weapons and price markups, and a photo from Montalvo’s computer showing Montalvo, dressed in plain clothes, holding a large wad of money. Topping the wad was a $100 bill. The photo was titled “Pay Day.”

At one point, Lowenberg testified, Montalvo threatened E. P., telling him, “You know what happens to snitches? Bad things happen to snitches.” Lowenberg also said Montalvo once patted down E. P. to find out whether he was wearing a wire.

During cross-examination, Montalvo’s attorney, Sib Abraham, pointed out that the ledger didn’t have any notes indicating the weapons were indeed sold to cartel members in Mexico, although Lowenberg in turn pointed out that the weapons Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz allegedly bought are favored by the cartels.

Lowenberg also testified that many of the statements made between E. P. and Montalvo weren’t recorded.

Abraham also pointed out that Montalvo has several family members who live in Mexico, including siblings and his father.

Gonzales-Ortiz was charged in the case after she attempted to buy two weapons in 2010 but was denied based on her expired immigrant visa status at the time. At the time the investigation began, Gonzales-Ortiz was living illegally in the U.S. with Montalvo.

She was later granted conditional permanent legal residency, and her parents are legal permanent residents who live in Ruidoso, her attorney Leonard Morales said during the hearing.

Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz have a 6-month-old baby, whom Gonzales-Ortiz was breast-feeding when she was arrested, Morales said.

During the hearing, Montalvo’s U.S. citizenship was also called into question but wasn’t the basis for the federal prosecutors’ request that he be detained without bond.

Lowenberg testified that in early 2011, he and two other agents visited Montalvo’s mother and stepfather in Brownsville, where Montalvo is originally from, to find out why Montalvo’s U.S. birth certificate is flagged as fraudulent by the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Montalvo also has a Mexican birth certificate, Lowenberg said on the stand.

Lowenberg testified that Montalvo’s mother never verified whether Montalvo’s U.S. birth certificate is valid, but during cross-examination, Abraham pointed out Montalvo was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005, when he was honorably discharged, and that Border Patrol agents are required to be U.S. citizens.

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Truck With 268,000 Rounds Of AK-47 And AR-15 Machine Gun Ammunition Takes Wrong Turn And Ends Up In Juárez Mexico

April 19, 2012

MEXICO – The U.S. truck driver detained by Mexican authorities Tuesday with 268,000 rounds of ammunition was transporting a legal cargo to Phoenix but mistakenly exited to Juárez, the man’s employer said on Wednesday.

Dennis Mekenye, owner of Demco Transportation Inc. in Arlington, Texas, said Bogan Jabin Akeem, 27, left Dallas on Monday with a trailer with nine pallets containing the ammunition.

• Photos: Ammunition seizure in Juárez, U.S. trucker arrested

The cargo was being taken from Tennessee to an ammunition retailer in Phoenix called United Nations Ammo Co. as part of a legitimate transaction, Mekenye said.

Akeem made a stop in El Paso and, before driving the last stretch toward Phoenix, he accidentally took a wrong turn toward the international Bridge of the Americas, his boss said.

“It was a mistake for him to take a wrong turn and find himself in Mexican soil,” Mekenye said. “He missed the exit, and he went south. He asked one cop there, ‘I missed my exit, how can I turn around?’ “

Mekenye said Akeem could not turn the vehicle around at the bridge and had to continue into Mexico. Coming back,
Mexican authorities told him they had to inspect his vehicle.

Mekenye said he didn’t know whether Akeem declared he was transporting ammunition or whether Mexican authorities discovered the cargo upon inspection.

“It was a legitimate movement from Tennessee to Phoenix,” said Mekenye, who also said that his company does not ship to Mexico and that he has never been investigated for shipping contraband.

The owner of United Nations Ammo in Phoenix, who identified himself only as “Howie,” said he was expecting Akeem to arrive Tuesday night to offload the cargo Wednesday morning.

“All the media was calling it cartel ammo, but we paid for that ammo, it’s really our property. In no way whatsoever was that ammunition ever supposed to go to Mexico,” he said. “We ordered this ammunition, and it’s ammunition meant to be sold in the United States of America for legal hobbyists, legal shooters and legal enthusiasts.”

The cargo had a value of $100,000, he said.

“It’s a tremendous shipment we paid for,” he said. “We’re hoping they will release the man and our property so it can be delivered to us.”

Howie declined to comment on how large the order of ammunition rounds was compared with previous ones.

Federal officials did not respond to calls seeking comment on Mekenye’s version of the events.

Akeem was arrested Tuesday evening by Mexican federal authorities and will remain in custody until a court determines whether a criminal case will go forward. Mexican authorities have 48 hours to decide whether they will continue with an investigation.

José Angel Torres Valadez, spokesman in the Northern region for Mexico’s General Attorney’s Office, or PGR, said he could not share any details until the 48-hour period has passed but said it is possible that Akeem will be taken to Mexico City to continue the investigation.

Akeem was driving a tractor-trailer with Texas plates and the logo “McKinney Trailer Rentals.” A spokesman with McKinney confirmed that Mekenye’s company has been a McKinney client for several years.

The bullets were being transported inside metal boxes. Sources said the ammunition is of the type used for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. The rifles are often used by members of Mexican criminal organizations.

The bullets are legal to buy in the United States, but the ammunition is banned in Mexico, which considers those types of rifles and bullets only for military use. The seizure was one of the largest made by Mexican authorities in Juárez since a vicious drug-cartel war that has killed more than 9,500 people erupted four years ago.

Mekenye said he has been in touch with the U.S. Consulate in Juárez, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Olga Bashbush, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Juárez, confirmed that Akeem was a U.S. citizen and said consular officials met with him Tuesday. Representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not return calls seeking comment.

Mekenye said that Akeem had been his employee for more than two years. A criminal background check showed Akeem did not appear to have any previous convictions or run-ins with the law.

U.S. authorities have increased enforcement to try to stop the so-called Iron River, or flow of weapons, into Mexico.

Last week, a U.S. Border Patrol agent from El Paso and his girlfriend were arrested by U.S. federal agents on gun-smuggling related charges. They are accused of lying on federal forms to buy firearms and ammo intended for Mexico.

In Juárez, local police operations have resulted in the seizure of 168 weapons so far this year.

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California Senator Dianne Feinstein Trying To Block Votes On Bill To Require States To Honor Other States Legally Issued Gun Permits

April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. Dianne Feinstein is trying to block votes on bills that would require a state to honor concealed gun permits from other states.

The California Democrat wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, requesting that no votes be scheduled on two concealed weapons “reciprocity” bills. There was no immediate response from Reid, D-Nev., or Leahy, D-Vt., to the letter dated April 17.

The National Rifle Association said it would not be deterred in efforts to pass reciprocity legislation.

“We have to work harder to get 60 votes, and we’re prepared to do that,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, referring to the number of senators needed to end a filibuster.

Feinstein wrote, “These dangerous bills … would undermine states’ rights by forcing nearly every state to accept the concealed carry permits issued by other states, even if the permit holder could not qualify for a permit i the state to which he is traveling.”

She said major law enforcement agencies opposed the legislation.

Feinstein said the bills present a special problem for women who are domestic violence victims.

“Imagine that a man who has been convicted of a domestic violence crime against a woman he had been dating seeks — and obtains — a permit to carry a concealed firearm from his state of residence,” she wrote. “Under the concealed carry reciprocity bills, he could legally travel across state lines and confront his former girlfriend …”

She pointed out that state laws vary widely in their requirements for individuals to possess firearms or obtain concealed weapons permits.

Some states issue permits to people with violent misdemeanor criminal convictions, do not require firearms safety training, and do not grant discretion to law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers, she added, could face potentially life-threatening situations. She said it often is impossible for an officer to determine if an out-of-state concealed carry permit furnished during a traffic stop is valid. She said most states do not enter permit information into the primary database used by officers when conducting a stop.

The Republican-controlled House passed a similar measure last year.

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California Senator Dianne Feinstein Trying To Block Votes On Bill To Require States To Honor Other States Legally Issued Gun Permits

April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. Dianne Feinstein is trying to block votes on bills that would require a state to honor concealed gun permits from other states.

The California Democrat wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, requesting that no votes be scheduled on two concealed weapons “reciprocity” bills. There was no immediate response from Reid, D-Nev., or Leahy, D-Vt., to the letter dated April 17.

The National Rifle Association said it would not be deterred in efforts to pass reciprocity legislation.

“We have to work harder to get 60 votes, and we’re prepared to do that,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, referring to the number of senators needed to end a filibuster.

Feinstein wrote, “These dangerous bills … would undermine states’ rights by forcing nearly every state to accept the concealed carry permits issued by other states, even if the permit holder could not qualify for a permit i the state to which he is traveling.”

She said major law enforcement agencies opposed the legislation.

Feinstein said the bills present a special problem for women who are domestic violence victims.

“Imagine that a man who has been convicted of a domestic violence crime against a woman he had been dating seeks — and obtains — a permit to carry a concealed firearm from his state of residence,” she wrote. “Under the concealed carry reciprocity bills, he could legally travel across state lines and confront his former girlfriend …”

She pointed out that state laws vary widely in their requirements for individuals to possess firearms or obtain concealed weapons permits.

Some states issue permits to people with violent misdemeanor criminal convictions, do not require firearms safety training, and do not grant discretion to law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers, she added, could face potentially life-threatening situations. She said it often is impossible for an officer to determine if an out-of-state concealed carry permit furnished during a traffic stop is valid. She said most states do not enter permit information into the primary database used by officers when conducting a stop.

The Republican-controlled House passed a similar measure last year.

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Miami NBC Producer Fired After Altering 911 Audio Tape That Made Zimmerman Sound Like He Was Racially Profiling Dead Druggie Trayvon Martin

April 7, 2012

NEW YORK – The controversy erupted after “Today” aired a segment that made shooter George Zimmerman sound as though he was racially profiling the 17-year-old black youth.

NBC News has fired the producer it deemed most responsible for the airing of a selectively edited 911 call placed by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin.
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Sources at NBC who asked not to be identified confirmed a New York Times story saying that a Miami-based producer was fired Thursday, though the sources refused to identify the former employee.

The offending segment aired on NBC’s Today show March 27 but went widely unnoticed until it was highlighted by conservative outlets such as the Media Research Center and Breitbart.com.

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Two days after the Today gaffe, Sean Hannity ran a segment about NBC’s manipulation of the 911 call on his Fox News Channel show. The story went viral when the Drudge Report linked to a Hollywood Reporter story about the growing controversy last week.

In the original 911 call, Zimmerman is heard describing Martin as such: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

The dispatcher then asks: “OK, and this guy – is he white, black or Hispanic?”

“He looks black,” Zimmerman responds.

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The version NBC ran, though, was much shorter and did not include the question posed by the 911 operator.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” Zimmerman is heard saying in NBC’s edited version.

The difference is significant, since activists have been claiming that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin. Critics have argued that NBC set out to purposely advance that narrative by condensing the 911 tape to make it appear that Zimmerman’s motivation for assuming Martin was “up to no good” was based on his skin color.

NBC announced Saturday that it had launched an investigation into the matter, and on Tuesday it apologized for its “error” and said it had completed its inquiry.

“We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers,” NBC said Tuesday.

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New Orleans Louisiana Police Officers Sentenced To Just 6 To 65 Years In Federal Prison After Opening Fire On Unarmed Citizens After Katrina – Department Wanted To Prosecute Two Survivors For Lying After Official Investigation Resulted In Report Full Of Lies

April 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – A federal judge Wednesday sentenced five former New Orleans police officers to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for the shootings of unarmed civilians in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, prosecutors said.

The shootings occurred on the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005, six days after much of New Orleans went underwater when the powerful hurricane slammed into the Gulf Coast. The ex-officers were convicted in August on a combined 25 counts of civil rights violations.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt imposed the stiffest sentence on former officer Robert Faulcon, who was handed a 65-year term for his involvement in shooting two of the victims. Former sergeants Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius got 40 years for their roles in the incident, while ex-officer Robert Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years.

The lightest term went to former detective sergeant Arthur Kaufman, who was sentenced to six years for attempting to cover up what the officers had done, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in New Orleans.

The men were accused of opening fire on an unarmed family, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others. Minutes later, Faulcon shot and killed Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man described by Justice Department officials as having severe mental disabilities and who was trying to flee the scene when he was shot, according to the Justice Department.

At the time, New Orleans police said they got into a running gun battle with several people. Prosecutors said Kaufman wrote the department’s formal report on the incident, which concluded the shootings were justified and recommended the prosecution of two of the survivors “on the basis of false evidence.”

During the trial, the defense asked the jury to consider the stressful circumstances the officers were operating under following Katrina. The shootings took place during a week of dire flooding, rampant looting and death by drowning, and police were strained by suicides and desertion among their ranks.

But U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the prison sentences send the message that “when the crisis we face is the most threatening, that when the challenges are the greatest, the rules don’t go out the window.”

“In fact, that’s when the discipline, when the honesty of our public servants, our police and the men and women of law enforcement are most critical,” Letten said.

Romell Madison, brother of victim Ronald Madison, told reporters after Wednesday’s proceedings that his family was happy with the sentences, even though prosecutors had to enter into plea agreements with several other officers to obtain the convictions.

“I think it made a big difference, even though they did give them lower sentences, that they did come forth and testify to get the truth out,” Madison said. “At least we got to the truth.”

Five other officers, including a lieutenant, have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison terms of up to eight years in the case for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Letten said the plea deals were necessary to break a “logjam” that had prevented investigators to get the whole story of what happened on the Danziger Bridge, in New Orleans East.

The Justice Department brought charges after a similar case brought by local prosecutors foundered. Thomas Perez, the head of the department’s civil rights division, said the feds inherited a “cold case” when they took over in 2008.

“There were many, many New Orleans police officers who performed courageous, selfless acts of heroism in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” Perez said. “But regrettably, the acts of heroism of so many have been overshadowed by the misconduct of a few.

“What we learned in this trial — what we learned in these convictions — is that the Constitution never takes a holiday. The Constitution applies every day of every week, and no police officer can take it upon himself or herself to suspend the Constitution.”

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division launched an investigation into what it called “patterns or practices” of alleged misconduct by New Orleans police in the aftermath of Katrina, which killed nearly 1,500 people in Louisiana and more than 1,700 across the Gulf Coast. Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Wednesday that his department “will continue to take bold and decisive actions to right the wrongs inside the department, some of which we now know go back seven full years.”

Mary Howell, a lawyer for the Madison family, said those promised reforms are “the most critical part in all of this.”

“This just can’t ever happen again,” she said.

Lance Madison, who was with his brother on the bridge that September day, told reporters that he is grateful that his brother had received justice. But he added, “I try to avoid the Danzinger Bridge, because when I go there, it just brings back memories of what I went through.”

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Four New Orleans Louisiana Police Officers Receive 38 To 65 Years In Federal Prison For Danziger Bridge Murders And Shootings Of Unarmed Residents And Following Cover Up Efforts

April 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Four former New Orleans policemen convicted of shootings in 2005 that killed two unarmed people and wounded four others following Hurricane Katrina were given sentences on Wednesday ranging from 38 to 65 years in prison.

A fifth former police officer who did not participate in the shootings but engineered a four-year cover-up of the crimes was sentenced the six years.

The sentencing of the five men in federal court completed one of the last cases of police misconduct in New Orleans more than six years after the devastating hurricane flooded the city and triggered a chaotic aftermath.

Last August, a jury found former policemen Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon, Robert Gisevius and Anthony Villavaso guilty on multiple charges including federal civil rights violations stemming from the September 4, 2005, incident.

Bowen and Gisevius were sentenced to 40 years each and Villavaso to 38 years by U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt. Faulcon was sentenced to 65 years.

A fifth officer, homicide detective Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, was convicted of covering up the crimes through a series of false reports and lies that continued for more than four years.

Another police detective charged with participating in the cover-up is slated for trial in May.

The five who were sentenced on Wednesday were among a dozen officers who responded to a radio call that police were taking fire near the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans just days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city.

The officers packed into a rental truck and sped to the site. Witnesses testified that when the officers arrived, they jumped out of the truck and repeatedly fired assault rifles, shotguns and handguns at civilians walking on the bridge.

“The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez said in a statement. “As a result of today’s sentencing, the city of New Orleans can take another step forward.”

James Bresette, 17, and Ronald Madison, 40, were killed in the incident.

In reports filed by the officers or on their behalf, they claimed they shot only after being threatened or fired on and that they had seen weapons in the victims’ hands.

Kaufman was later convicted of planting a handgun at the scene.

During the six-week-long trial in 2011, lead prosecutor Barbara “Bobbi” Bernstein presented testimony from dozens of witnesses, including eastern New Orleans resident Susan Bartholomew, who lost her arm from a shotgun blast in the incident.

Witnesses included five police officers who earlier pleaded guilty to roles in the shootings or cover-up. Four of the officers testified for the prosecution, and all five began serving sentences that range from three to eight years.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI took up the case in 2009 after a previous case brought by the New Orleans district attorney was thrown out because of a prosecutor’s misconduct.

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Sleeping While Black: Broward County Florida Deputies Open Fire On Man Sleeping In His Car

April 3, 2012

POMPANO BEACH, FLORIDA – Brandon Johnson says he was napping in a car when Broward sheriff’s deputies shot him multiple times on March 8. The deputies say they feared for their lives because Johnson drove his borrowed Toyota Echo at them.

“The truth of the matter is, they were trying to kill him,” said Willie Green, 60, who with his wife, Rosetta, are aunt and uncle to Johnson, 21, and became his legal guardians when he was a child. The Pompano Beach family says it wants accountability from the agency.

BSO says it cannot comment on the incident while an internal affairs investigation proceeds.

A complaint affidavit says Detective Ron Miller and Detective Andrea Penoyer Tianga, a “Police Women of Broward County” reality TV show star, were patrolling Pompano Beach in an unmarked Chevrolet Tahoe when they observed a “suspicious vehicle” backed into a parking space on Northeast 29th Street.

They observed “a black male in the driver’s seat,” “attempting to duck down in an effort not to be seen,” the report states. Miller pulled the SUV in front of Johnson’s car “to initiate a stop” and turned on police lights. The detectives, in tactical gear as part of a Metro Broward Drug Task Force sweep, approached from the driver’s side of Johnson’s car, the report states.

The deputies said they fired after the vehicle accelerated in an aggressive manner toward them.

Penoyer Tianga was struck in the leg by the Toyota and was knocked into a parked vehicle but did not sustain serious injuries, agency spokeswoman Dani Moschella said.

Johnson said the bullets started flying before he fled.

“They didn’t order me out of the car,” Johnson said. “As soon as she shot through the windshield and popped me in my mouth, I figured I didn’t have to stay there no more anyways. I put the thing in reverse and went over the speed bump and then I drove off with my head down. That’s when the glass started popping everywhere.”

Johnson has a record that includes three convictions for cocaine possession, twice with intent to sell or distribute. As a juvenile, he resisted arrest with violence. He served about 18 months in jail, Assistant Public Defender Joanna Nagy said, and on March 24, he was charged by BSO with cocaine possession. Johnson was released on bond and said the drugs belonged to a friend.

Regardless of his past, Johnson and his parents say, he does not carry weapons and the circumstances surrounding his shooting did not warrant such firepower.

“We’re not trying to justify anything,” Rosetta Green said. “When Brandon is wrong, Brandon is wrong. We know Brandon wouldn’t attack the police. He was trying to get out of the line of fire.”

Johnson, who is unemployed, said he was out the night of March 7 and, because of conflict with a housemate, he slept in the car with windows up and air conditioning on.

Johnson lost three teeth when a deputy’s bullet entered his mouth and exited through the bottom of his chin. Chest wounds encircle his heart, an embedded bullet distorts the skin over his right shoulder blade and two weeks later, Johnson said, he was still coughing up blood.

Nagy said, “Police are saying the vehicle Brandon was in was suspicious. And what is suspicious about a black male sitting in a vehicle? He was shot repeatedly by police. It appears if you’re a young black male, a different standard applies.”

Johnson is the second person in five months fired at by a star of “Police Women of Broward County.” The other case, also in Pompano Beach, is still open and happened Sept. 28, 2011 when Deputy Erika Huerta fired at but missed an apparently unarmed felon who ran after she had pulled him over for a traffic stop. Reality show TV cameras were not filming during either incident, BSO says.

BSO prohibits deputies from firing warning shots or intentionally placing themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle. Deputies must make every attempt to move from a vehicle’s path, rather than discharge a firearm at it and also cannot fire at a moving vehicle, unless the occupant is using deadly force, or shooting is needed to prevent death or serious bodily harm to a deputy or another person.

Johnson will be arraigned April 17 for the March 8 incident. If convicted, he could face 35 years in prison.

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71 Year Old Woman Shot And Arrested For Defending Herself During Warrantless Home Invasion By Lee County Florida Deputies

March 31, 2012

LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA – A 71-year-old woman stood at her bedroom doorway pointing a .45 caliber handgun and warned the visitors in her home that she would shoot.

Patricia Mapes stood her ground. It didn’t matter that the visitors were Lee County deputies, according to arrest reports.

“I don’t care who you are. I’ll shoot you,” Mapes told deputies last Friday night (March 23) after they entered her home, called out for the woman and identified themselves.

Mapes fired at the three deputies and they fired back. During the exchange, Mapes was struck and fell to the ground, according to the arrest report. She was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with undisclosed injuries.

On Thursday, at the hospital, Mapes was arrested and is facing charges of two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

The deputies had responded to Mapes’ home on the 16000 block of Briarcliff Lane in Lee County after her daughter called authorities, concerned her mother was suicidal, according to reports. Mapes had received bad news earlier in the day and said she “couldn’t take it anymore.”

Deputies say they knocked several times on Mapes’ front door and received no response. The front door was unlocked and Mapes’ car was in the garage, according to reports.

When Mapes confronted them with a gun the deputies started backing off. And after she started shooting the deputies said they “thought they were going to die,” according to the arrest report

Sheriff Mike Scott said last week the deputies were at Mapes’ home for “a little more than a welfare check.” The sheriff also defended the deputies for shooting the elderly woman.

“When someone is shooting at us, we don’t ask them how old they are,” Scott said.

The deputies, whose names have not been released, are on paid administrative leave until the investigation is turned over state, agency spokesman Tony Schall said. Mapes was released on bond on Friday.

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US Customs Places Order For 450,000,000 Rounds Of Ammunition

March 30, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

Looks like the Department of Homeland Security means business.

Thanks to loyal BI Military & Defense Twitter follower Allen Walter for the heads up.

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Miami Florida SWAT Team Called After Nutcase TSA Agents Jeffrey Piccolella And Nicholas Anthony Puccio Trashed Hotel Room, Threw Furniture Out Window, And Shot Into Neighboring Clothing Store

March 29, 2012

MIAMI, FLORIDA – Miami Beach police say two Transportation Security Administration officers partied a little too hard Tuesday night, trashed their South Beach hotel room and then picked up a semi-automatic handgun and shot six rounds out the window.

One bullet pierced a $1,500 hurricane impact resistant window at a nearby Barneys New York, penetrated a wall and tore into some jeans in the closed store’s stockroom, according to store manager Adelchi Mancusi.

No one was injured.

Jeffrey Piccolella, 27, and Nicholas Anthony Puccio, 25, were arrested just before midnight. The Palm Beach County men have been charged with criminal mischief and use of a firearm while under the influence.

In a city known for wild, late-night behavior, merely tossing speakers, lamps, a phone, ice chest and vase out a second floor room at the Hotel Shelley, 844 Collins. Ave., might not have drawn much attention.

But according to an incident report, a front desk clerk and security guard called police about 11:18 p.m. after they heard one gun shot, followed by three to five more after a few seconds. When the clerk went back inside the hotel, a guest told him someone was throwing furniture and bric-a-brac out the window of room 217, where Piccolella and Puccio were staying the night.

Detective Vivian Hernandez, a police spokeswoman, said officers arrived and, after a shell casing was found on the ground amid broken room furnishings, the SWAT team was called out.

Investigators went to the mens’ room and then took them to police headquarters.

In a recorded interview, Piccolella told a detective he and Puccio were drinking before returning to their hotel room, according to the incident report. He allegedly said they opened a window, tossed several objects out and then Piccolella grabbed a .380-calliber pistol from his luggage and they took turns shooting out the window.

Puccio said the story was untrue, according to the report.

Police impounded the gun.

Hotel management said $400 in furniture was destroyed.

The two men were booked at the Pre-Trial Detention Center on $5,500 bond each.

TSA spokesman Jon Allen wrote in an email that Piccolella and Puccio are part-time officers who have worked one and two years, respectively, for the agency. They were not in Miami Beach on TSA business, according to Allen.

“TSA holds its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards,” Allen wrote. “We will review the facts and take appropriate action as necessary.”

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US Federal Government’s High Profile Michigan Court Case Against “Homegrown Rutal Extremists” Falls Apart At The Seams – Bogus Charges Dismissed By Trial Judge

March 27, 2012

DETROIT, MICHIGAN — A federal judge on Tuesday gutted the government’s case against seven members of a Michigan militia, dismissing the most serious charges in an extraordinary defeat for federal authorities who insisted they had captured homegrown rural extremists poised for war.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said the members’ expressed hatred of law enforcement didn’t amount to a conspiracy to rebel against the government. The FBI had secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia starting in 2008 to collect hours of anti-government audio and video that became the cornerstone of the case.

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“The court is aware that protected speech and mere words can be sufficient to show a conspiracy. In this case, however, they do not rise to that level,” the judge said on the second anniversary of raids and arrests that broke up the group.

Roberts granted requests for acquittal on the most serious charges: conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. Other weapons crimes tied to the alleged conspiracies also were dismissed.

“The judge had a lot of guts,” defense attorney William Swor said. “It would have been very easy to say, ‘The heck with it,’ and hand it off to the jury. But the fact is she looked at the evidence, and she looked at it very carefully.”

The trial, which began Feb. 13, will resume Thursday with only a few gun charges remaining against militia leader David Stone and son Joshua Stone, both from Lenawee County, Mich. They have been in custody without bond for two years.

Prosecutors said Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement, triggered first by the slaying of a police officer.

But there never was an attack. Defense lawyers said highly offensive remarks about police and the government were wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case that drew public praise from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who in 2010 called Hutaree a “dangerous organization.”

David Stone’s “statements and exercises do not evince a concrete agreement to forcibly resist the authority of the United States government,” Roberts said Tuesday. “His diatribes evince nothing more than his own hatred for — perhaps even desire to fight or kill — law enforcement; this is not the same as seditious conspiracy.”

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade declined to comment. Two years ago, when militia members were arrested, she said it was time to “take them down.”

The FBI had put a local informant, Dan Murray, inside the militia in 2008 and paid him $31,000. An FBI agent from New Jersey also was embedded. Steve Haug, known as “Jersey Steve,” posed as a trucker and spent months secretly recording talks with Stone. He even served as Stone’s best man at his wedding, a celebration with militia members wearing military fatigues.

Haug repeatedly talked to Stone about building pipe bombs and getting other sophisticated explosives. The FBI rented a warehouse in Ann Arbor where the agent would invite him and others to store and discuss weapons.

Haug told jurors he was “shocked” by Stone’s knowledge of explosives, noting it matched some of his own instruction as a federal agent.

Stone was recorded saying he was willing to kill police and even their families. He considered them part of a “brotherhood” — a sinister global authority that included federal law enforcers and United Nations troops.

He had bizarre beliefs: Stone suspected Germany and Singapore had aircraft stationed in Texas, and thousands of Canadian troops were poised to take over Michigan. He said the government put computer chips in a flu vaccine.

He had a speech prepared for a regional militia gathering in Kentucky in 2010, but bad weather forced him and others to return to Michigan. Instead, he read it in the van while a secret camera installed by the FBI captured the remarks.

“It is time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny,” Stone said. “Time is up, God bless all of you and welcome to the new revolution.”

Swor said Stone is a Christian who was bracing for war against the Antichrist.

“This is not the United States government. This is Satan’s army,” Swor told the judge Monday, referring to the enemy.

Militia members cleared of all charges were Stone’s wife, Tina Stone, and his son, David Stone Jr.; Thomas Piatek of Whiting, Ind.; Michael Meeks of Manchester, Mich.; and Kris Sickles of Sandusky, Ohio.

“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” said Tina Stone, crying as she spoke by phone. “Thank God we live in a country where we do have freedom of speech.”

Joshua Clough of Blissfield, Mich., pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in December and awaits his sentence. Jacob Ward of Huron, Ohio, will have a separate trial.

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Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department Had Probable Cause To Arrest Gun Runner, Eight Months Before Border Patrol Agent’s Death Ended Operation That Supplied Drug Cartels With Weapons

March 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Documents released Thursday show that federal agents appeared to have probable cause to arrest the biggest buyer of assault weapons in the Fast and Furious operation — eight months before Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death ended the scandal-ridden program.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have demanded Attorney General Eric Holder provide a briefing as to why ringleader Manuel Celis Acosta was not arrested earlier given repeated evidence that he was running guns.

“I think the Department of Justice is the Department of Injustice,” Grassley said on Capitol Hill. “They can’t expect people to believe that they couldn’t arrest this guy.”

On April 2, 2010, Phoenix Police stopped Celis Acosta. In the car they found eight weapons, none of which were registered to him. At least one, a Colt .38, had been bought just a few days earlier by Uriel Patino, who had already bought 434 weapons in the previous six months.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone other than yourself. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has argued it did not have probable cause to arrest Patino or Celis Acosta. These new documents suggest they did, raising new doubts about the agency’s desire to actually bust the trafficking ring.

Two months later, on May 29, 2010, Celis Acosta was stopped again, this time driving a 2002 BMW 754i trying to cross into Mexico. Inside, border agents found 74 rounds of AK-47 ammunition and nine cell phones hidden in the trunk. ATF Special Agent Hope MacAllister and her counterpart from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Layne France, released him after he promised to cooperate in the future. MacAllister wrote her phone number on a $10 bill.

Celis Acosta had been under ATF surveillance since October 2009. He had been a suspect in a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, but when he began buying guns for the Sinaloa Cartel, the DEA alerted ATF. The two agencies shared a wiretap until ATF got its own. The ATF also set up a camera mounted on a telephone pole outside his home where they watched guns and money change hands in his garage multiple times.

On April 7, police in El Paso also seized another load of weapons assembled by Celis Acosta. All the guns had been bought in Phoenix by straw buyers under watch by Operation Fast and Furious. Some belonged to Patino, who again appeared to be trafficking weapons.

ATF managers have told Congress they could not arrest anyone because the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona would not allow it since agents lacked probable cause that a crime was committed. They also admit knowingly allowing some guns to be illegally purchased in order to further their investigation.

Many in Congress don’t buy it.

“If you find somebody carrying a massive number of guns across the border that you didn’t have reason to arrest them?” said Grassley. “That just doesn’t hold water as far as I am concerned. It doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

More than 100 Republicans in the House have signed a resolution asking for Holder to resign.

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Disgraced US Attorney General Still Hiding Documents Detailing His Department’s Efforts That Armed Mexican Drug Cartels – Man Be Finally Held In Contempt Of Congress

February 15, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform, took a major step toward holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to provide subpoenaed documents and other information about Operation Fast and Furious.

In a Jan. 31 letter, Issa had threatened Holder with such a move if he failed to provide all the subpoenaed documents relating to the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal by Feb. 9. That deadline has come and gone, and Holder’s Department of Justice still hasn’t provided most of those documents. Issa’s subpoena dates back to Oct. 12, 2011.

On Tuesday in a seven-page letter, Issa revealed that Deputy Attorney General James Cole begged Congress to extend the Feb. 9 deadline. Issa wrote that the request was “ironic” and “ignores the reality that the Department has unreasonably delayed producing these documents to the Committee.”

“On its face, the requested extension demonstrates a lack of good faith,” Issa wrote to Holder. “With one exception, the Department has only produced documents responsive to the subpoena on the eve of congressional hearings in which senior Department officials testified. The Department appears to be more concerned with protecting its image through spin control than actually cooperating with Congress.”

“We cannot wait any longer for the Department’s cooperation,” Issa continued. “As such, please specify a date by which you expect the Department to produce all documents responsive to the subpoena. In addition, please specify a Department representative who will interface with the Committee for production purposes.”

Issa added that whoever Holder designates as the go-to DOJ official for delivering subpoenaed documents “should also serve as the conduit for dealing with the contempt proceedings, should the Department continue to ignore the Committee’s subpoena.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Eric Holder)

The California Republican slammed Holder, too, for claiming the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious was a political game for Republicans.

“It is ironic that while the Department’s delay tactics have extended this investigation into a presidential election year, you have had the audacity to characterize it as an attempt at ‘headline-grabbing Washington ‘gotcha’ games and cynical political point scoring,’” Issa wrote to Holder on Tuesday. (RELATED: Read the full letter here)

Issa also attacked Holder for Justice’s failure to comply with Congressional subpoenas. “Had the Department demonstrated willingness to cooperate with this investigation from the outset — instead of attempting to cover up its own internal mismanagement — this investigation likely would have concluded well before the end of 2011. In reality, it is the Department that is playing political gotcha games, instead of allowing a co-equal branch of government to perform its constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.”

Issa’s letter concluded by warning that Congress will continue to investigate Operation Fast and Furious until responsible parties are held accountable. He pointed to bipartisan support behind efforts to assign responsibility for Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder, for the murders of at least 300 Mexican civilians and, likely, for the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.

“This is not an ‘election year political ‘gotcha’ game,’ but rather a bipartisan sentiment,” Issa wrote. “As Ranking Member [Democratic Rep. Elijah] Cummings promised the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, ‘we will not rest until every single person responsible for all of this, no matter where they are, are brought to justice.’ I applaud his resolve, and I want to make it clear that Congress will not give up until this accountability has been achieved.”

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Full Of It – Disgraced U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Claims He Knew Nothing Of His Department’s Efforts To Arm Mexican Drug Cartels

February 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Eric Holder vigorously denied a “cover-up” by the Justice Department over “Operation Fast and Furious,” telling a House panel investigating the botched gun-running program that he has nothing to hide and suggesting the probe is a “political” effort to embarrass the administration.

“There’s no attempt at any kind of cover-up,” Holder told lawmakers well into a hearing about whether he had been forthright in responding to requests of the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“We’re not going to be hiding behind any kind of privileges or anything,” he said.

The hearing came after Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, his Senate partner in the probe, asserted that top Justice officials are covering up events surrounding the flawed gun-smuggling probe.

Issa made the accusation in a letter threatening to seek a contempt of Congress ruling against Holder for failing to turn over congressionally subpoenaed documents that were created after problems with Fast and Furious came to light.

Republicans also released a report in the hours ahead of the hearing claiming that Justice Department officials “had much greater knowledge of, and involvement in, Fast and Furious than it has previously acknowledged.”

Asked whether his assistants, Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler or Assistant Attorney Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s Criminal Division, ever authorized gunwalking or the tactics employed in Fast and Furious, Holder responded not to his knowledge.

“Not only did I not authorize those tactics, when I found out about them I told the field and everybody in the United States Department of Justice that those tactics had to stop. That they were not acceptable and that gunwalking was to stop. That was what my reaction [was] to my finding out about the use of that technique,” he added.

He added that he doesn’t think that the situation warranted the kind of response Republicans were giving after his department provided thousands of documents, and planned to deliver more.

Holder also rejected arguments that his handling of the case had lost him any support for the effort he was putting forth as attorney general.

“I don’t think the American people have lost trust in me. … This has become political, I get that,” he said.

But Holder also said no one has been punished “yet” in the case, despite the fact that lost guns from the operation ended up at the crime scene where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December 2010.

Terry’s family has informed the U.S. government that it has six months to respond to its inquiry into Terry’s death or face a $25 million lawsuit.

In the botched operation, more than 1,400 weapons sold to low-level straw purchasers believed to be supplying Mexican drug gangs and other criminals were lost during tracking by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. Another 700 firearms connected to suspects in the investigation have been recovered, some from crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including in Nogales, Ariz., where Terry was killed.

Holder said he didn’t learn about Terry’s murder until 24 hours after his death, and at the time did not hear that weapons tied to Fast and Furious were at the scene.

“I didn’t know about Operation Fast and Furious until the beginning parts of 2011 after I received that letter from Senator Grassley, I guess at the end of January and then that was about Operation Gun Runner. I actually learned about the Fast and Furious operation in February of that year.”

Holder told the committee, “I’m not sure exactly how I found out about the term, ‘Fast and Furious.’” He testified repeatedly that he never authorized the controversial tactics employed in the operation.

“There is no attempt at any kind of cover-up,” Holder said. “We have shared huge amounts of information” and will continue to do so, he said.

But Holder said under questioning that he has not disciplined anyone for his role in the controversial operation.

“No I have not as yet — as yet,” Holder said when questioned by Issa on the matter. “There have been personnel changes made at ATF. We obviously have a new U.S. attorney in Arizona. We have made personnel switches at ATF. People have been moved out of positions.”

Holder’s statements on the Justice Department’s role in the operation did not sit well with Republican lawmakers on the committee, who accused the attorney general of intentionally withholding key documents in the case.

“The conclusion that I come to is there are some things in there that’s being hidden that you don’t want us to see,” said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. “We have every right under the Constitution to check on what you’re doing… So for you to deny this committee anything like that is just dead wrong and I don’t think you’re going to find any way that you can do it.”

Burton went on to say that 93,000 documents related to the operation are being withheld by the Justice Department even though they’ve been turned over internally to the department’s inspector general, a political appointee, Burton said.

“And you’re saying, well, the separation of powers prohibits you from (delivering them to Congress). That’s baloney. That is just baloney,” Burton said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also questioned Holder’s having not discussed the case with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“When people know that I’m going to be the subject of these kinds of hearings, you know six times and all that, nobody necessarily wants to get involved in these kinds of things or get dragged into it,” Holder responded.

Issa told Holder the committee will do what is necessary to obtain the information, “If you do not find a legitimate basis to deny us the material we’ve asked for.”

Holder said earlier during testimony that he would release additional materials “to the extent that I can.”

In Holder’s defense, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., claimed the committee has “not obtained one shred of evidence that would contradict your testimony.”

“Not one witness, not one document, not one e-mail, and still some continue to suggest that you did personally authorize gunwalking and the tactics in Operation Fast and Furious.”

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Investigation By Feds Finds That Beatings At The Hands Of Seattle Washington Police Officers Are Routine And Widespread

December 16, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A federal civil-rights investigation into the Seattle Police Department has found routine and widespread use of excessive force by officers, and city and police officials were told at a stormy Thursday night meeting that they must fix the problems or face a federal lawsuit, according to two sources.

The meeting, attended by Mayor Mike McGinn, Police Chief John Diaz, members of his command staff and others, ended in raised voices and bitter accusations by city and police officials, upset at the Justice Department’s findings, the sources said. One source said the language in the agency’s report, to be officially released Friday, is “astoundingly critical” of the department.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, flew to Seattle from Phoenix on Thursday and will address a 9:30 a.m. Friday news conference alongside U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

The sources confirmed the city will get a chance to work with the Justice Department to address the issues, or it will face a federal lawsuit that could result in fines, penalties and even the appointment of an outside special master to oversee the Police Department.

McGinn, reached Thursday night, declined to discuss the report until its official release. He disputed that the meeting was contentious.

Thomas Bates, the executive assistant U.S. attorney in Durkan’s office, confirmed the meeting but declined to characterize it or discuss the contents of the report.

Friday’s announcement comes 11 months after the Justice Department launched a preliminary review of Seattle police at the request of Durkan and others. Evidence uncovered in that review led to a full-scale civil-rights investigation, announced March 31, to examine whether Seattle police engaged in “systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law.”

The investigation focused on the use of force and allegations of biased policing against minorities.

Three weeks ago, the Justice Department issued a sharply worded letter urging the Police Department to immediately address a policy that allows officers to invoke their protections against self-incrimination in even the most routine use-of-force issues. Justice officials said the policy made prosecutions of errant officers difficult and undermined public confidence.

Last week, in response to the letter, Diaz ordered sweeping changes in how the Police Department develops standards and expectations of officers, and created new panels to monitor and oversee the use of force by police.

Diaz has invited the Department of Justice to participate in a top-down rewrite of his department’s policies and procedures.

The Department of Justice investigation is civil, not criminal. Its goal is to bring the Police Department in compliance with the Constitution and federal law if police practices are determined to be in violation. That could be done through a variety of means, ranging from a negotiated consent decree to a lawsuit.

The downtown King County Jail underwent a similar investigation in 2007 and the Justice Department required it to make significant changes in its care and treatment of inmates, under threat of a federal lawsuit.

Such investigations often take years to complete. The jail investigation lasted nearly two years.

Justice’s most recently announced findings, released Thursday and detailing widespread racial profiling by the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office, took more than three years.

Perez announced the findings of the Arizona investigation via a conference call with reporters. He will announce the Seattle findings in person.

The FBI and Department of Justice investigators interviewed police officers, their commanders and citizens. Assistant Chief Jim Pugel, who was a liaison between Seattle Police and Justice, said the department turned over tens of thousands of documents.

Records show the Department of Justice also obtained dash-cam videos in connection with a number of use-of-force complaints.

The federal agency initiated its review in the wake of several highly publicized confrontations between officers and minority citizens, including the fatal shooting of First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams in August 2010 by Officer Ian Birk. The shooting was found to be unjustified and Birk resigned.

The shooting prompted a letter calling for the investigation, authored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and endorsed by 34 community groups.

The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the Williams shooting. No charges have been filed.

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Alabama Postal Worker Went Postal In Montgomery Post Officer – Two Guns

December 2, 2011

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA- A 29-year-old postal employee was charged with two counts of attempted murder Friday after authorities said he used two guns to fire shots inside the main post office in Alabama’s capital city.

No one was injured in the shootings Thursday night. Officials weren’t disclosing a motive or whether the employee was targeting any specific employee.

Officials said the employee, Arthur Lee Darby Jr., was in the Montgomery County Jail with bond set at $1 million.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Clark Morris, said the man showed up for work in the mail sorting area and began firing shots about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said a supervisor yelled that a man had a gun, and employees scurried outside.

Police took the man into custody within 10 minutes of getting a 911 call from the post office.

Police Chief Kevin Murphy said many officers were able to respond quickly because they were on holiday patrols at a nearby mall and shopping centers and many had special training on how to handle such incidents.

“The best news is that nobody was hurt and the local police responded quickly,” Postal Service spokesman Tony Robinson said Friday. “Management quickly had the building evacuated, which helped minimize the potential threat to the people.”

The post office, located on the city’s east side one block away from Auburn University Montgomery, reopened Friday morning with counselors available to talk to employees, Robinson said.

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Obama Administration Hides Facts On Murdered Border Patrol Agent Amid Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Testimony About His Department Supplying Mexican Drug Cartels With Firearms

November 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – And to think that Attorney General Eric Holder is getting testy about congressional calls for his resignation. After all, the Justice Department has nothing to hide, right?

The Obama Administration has abruptly sealed court records containing alarming details of how Mexican drug smugglers murdered a U.S. Border patrol agent with a gun connected to a failed federal experiment that allowed firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.

This means information will now be kept from the public as well as the media. Could this be a cover-up on the part of the “most transparent” administration in history? After all, the rifle used to kill the federal agent (Brian Terry) last December in Arizona’s Peck Canyon was part of the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious. Conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the disastrous scheme allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.

The murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent is related to a Justice Department willingly turning over thousands of guns to Mexican criminal gangs, and Obama administration is hiding information about his death from the public. Amazing.

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5 Armed Illegal Immigrants Hunted US Border Patrol Agents In Arizona

November 23, 2011

ARIZONA – Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

At least two of the Mexicans carried their assault rifles “at the ready position,” one of several details about the attack showing that Mexican smugglers are becoming more aggressive on the U.S. side of the border.

According to the indictment, the Mexicans were “patrolling the area in single-file formation” a dozen miles northwest of the border town of Nogales and — in the darkness of the Arizona night — opened fire on four Border Patrol agents after the agents identified themselves in Spanish as police officers.

Two AK-47 assault rifles found at the scene came from the failed Fast and Furious operation.

Using thermal binoculars, one of the agents determined that at least two of the Mexicans were carrying rifles, but according to an affidavit in the case by FBI agent Scott Hunter, when the Mexicans did not drop their weapons as ordered, two agents used their shotguns to fire “less than lethal” beanbags at them.

At least one of the Mexicans opened fire and, according to the affidavit, Terry, a 40-year-old former U.S. Marine, was shot in the back. A Border Patrol shooting-incident report said that Terry called out, “I’m hit,” and then fell to the ground, a bullet having pierced his aorta. “I can’t feel my legs,” Terry told one of the agents who cradled him. “I think I’m paralyzed.”

Bleeding profusely, he died at the scene.

After the initial shots, two agents returned fire, hitting Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, 33, in the abdomen and leg. The others fled. The FBI affidavit said Osorio-Arellanes admitted during an interview that all five of the Mexicans were armed.

Peck Canyon is a notorious drug-smuggling corridor.

Osorio-Arellanes initially was charged with illegal entry, but that case was dismissed when the indictment was handed up. It named Osorio-Arellanes on a charge of second-degree murder, but did not identify him as the likely shooter, saying only that Osorio-Arellanes and others whose names were blacked out “did unlawfully kill with malice aforethought United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry while Agent Terry was engaged in … his official duties.”

The indictment also noted that Osorio-Arellanes had been convicted in Phoenix in 2006 of felony aggravated assault, had been detained twice in 2010 as an illegal immigrant, and had been returned to Mexico repeatedly.

Bill Brooks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting southwest border field branch chief, referred inquiries to the FBI, which is conducting the investigation. The FBI declined to comment.

The case against Osorio-Arellanes and others involved in the shooting has since been sealed, meaning that neither the public nor the media has access to any evidence, filings, rulings or arguments.

The U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego, which is prosecuting the case, would confirm only that it was sealed. Also sealed was the judge’s reason for sealing the case.

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Hero: Texas Handgun Instructor Refuses To Teach Muslims And Non-Christian Arabs

November 1, 2011

MASON, TEXAS -  On a YouTube clip that has gone viral, brash Texas handgun instructor Crockett Keller defiantly tells Muslims and non-Christian Arabs he won’t teach them how to handle a firearm.

State officials see the ad as possible discrimination, and may revoke Keller’s instructor license.

Tens of thousands of YouTube viewers have watched the $175 ad for Keller’s business in the small community of Mason, which has won him a handful of admirers but that embarrassed locals say misrepresents their community. Muslim groups dismissed the 65-year-old as a bigot.

Among the couple of thousand residents in the Central Texas town, Keller has other reputations.

“He’s a character and likes attention,” said Diane Eames, a jeweler with a downtown shop in Mason’s quaint town square.

Keller has received plenty of attention since his radio spot on a rural country music station in Mason County, about 100 miles east of Austin, went viral on the Internet. Keller said he whipped up the script on his iPad in 10 minutes. The ad quit airing last week.

“If you are a socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner-in-chief, please do not take this class,” Keller says in the ad’s closing seconds, also taking a swipe at President Barack Obama. “You’ve already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law. Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you this class. Once again, with no shame, I am Crockett Keller.”

The Texas Council on American-Islamic Relations called the ad ugly rhetoric undeserving of media attention. Others have called Keller’s phone number from the ad to personally tell him worse, including alleged death threats.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is now investigating whether to revoke or suspend Keller’s license to teach concealed handgun courses.

“Conduct by an instructor that denied service to individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion would place that instructor’s certification by the Department at risk of suspension or revocation,” the department said in a statement.

Inside a remote highway cabin on the edge of the Llano River, where a draped, full-size cannon is parked across from his desk, Keller said he was inspired to make the ad after being “flabbergasted” by a couple neighbors who left the state to campaign for Obama. As for refusing to teach Muslims, Keller described that as an afterthought tacked onto the spot, which he couldn’t remember but said was likely generated from something in the news.

“I got to thinking, ‘Hmm, I’m arming the enemy,’” Keller said.

Of course, even Keller knows that Muslims were unlikely to show up at his door asking to take his $100 course.

Mason County, as Eames described it, is “white bread” — the population was 93 percent Caucasian in the latest census, and all Republican statewide candidates won with at least 70 percent of the vote in 2010. Keller said he wasn’t aware of any Muslims in Mason County, nor could a handful of locals name one.

Eames and Joyce Arnold, a real estate agent, said they worried about the radio spot embarrassing the city. Eames ran what she described as a successful sex-toy business in Mason before opening the jewelry store, and Scott Haupert, co-owner of the Sandstone Cellars Winery, said Mason is more tolerant than Keller’s comments would suggest.

“I voted for Obama and I’ll vote for Obama again,” said Haupert, an avowed Democrat. “If I signed up to take his gun control class, he would not reject me.”

But Keller has also won over some fans. As he spoke with a reporter in his cabin, rancher Clyde McCarley knocked on his door and asked about signing up for a class.

“It’s mighty dadgum interesting to me that some people can say anything they want, and you make a statement and they bring down the house on you,” McCarley said.

Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Texas Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the group is watching how the state responds to Keller’s ad and whether the agency revokes his instructor license.

“We try not to give too much credibility to some of these people who do outlandish things,” Carroll said. “But there are some issues that we do have to address.”

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Spartanburg County South Carolina Sheriff Urges Residents To Buy And Carry Firearms After Woman Attacked In Park – “Don’t Get Mace. Get A Firearm.”

October 31, 2011

PARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. — The Spartanburg County Sheriff is known for speaking his mind, and at a news conference on Monday, he didn’t hold back his anger and frustration after a woman was attacked in a park over the weekend.

Investigators said 46-year-old Walter Lance grabbed a woman who was walking her dog in Milliken Park on Sunday afternoon. They said Lance choked the woman, made her take off her clothing and tried to rape her. (Full Story)

Lance is in custody and was denied bond on Monday.

Sheriff Chuck Wright opened his news conference by saying, “Our form of justice is not making it.”

He said, “Carry a concealed weapon. That’ll fix it.”

Wright said Lance had been charged numerous times with crimes against women, and other crimes such as resisting arrest and escape. Wright said Lance had been on probation for a federal gun charge.

He referred to Lance repeatedly as an “animal,” and expressed his disgust about Lance’s long record and the attack.

Wright said Lance has had more than 20 charges dating back to 1983.

Wright said Lance has been in jail more often than he has, and he runs the jail, and he said Lance gets out easier. Wright punctuated it by saying, “And I’m aggravated.”

He said he doesn’t believe every person needs to be kept in jail, but he said, “I don’t think this animal deserves to be out in our society, walking alongside our women.”

Wright said,”Liberals call me and tell me the chain-gang form of justice isn’t working. Well, let me inform you, your form of justice isn’t working either.”

He said Lance should not have had the right or opportunity to “violate a good, upstanding woman.”

“This is a horrific crime,” Wright said. “Her life was threatened so many times.”

He said Lance “doesn’t fight police or men folk — he just goes after women.” He said Lance is not married because, “No woman can stay married to him because he beats them down too much.”

Wright said, “It’s too bad someone with a concealed weapons permit didn’t walk by. That would fix it.” He said people are tired of doing the right thing and criminals getting away with their actions.

He said several times, “I want you to get a concealed weapons permit.”

At one point, Wright held up a fanny pack and said, “They make this right here where you can conceal a small pistol in them. They got one called The Judge that shoots a .45 or a .410 shell. You ain’t got to be accurate; you just have to get close.”

Wright said, “I’m tired of looking at victims saying, ‘There’s life after this’ … I’m tired of saying, ‘We’re sorry, we can’t keep them in jail.’”

Wright said in his view, gun control is, “Is when you can get you barrel back on the target quick. That’s gun control.”

Wright said the attack is not the fault of Millken Park. He said, “It’s a nice place for families.”

He said officers patrol the area all the time and respond to various calls there. He said, “Don’t blame anyone for having an animal on their property … We can’t get it all.”

He encouraged women to walk in groups, and he ended by saying again, “I want you to get a concealed weapons permit. Don’t get Mace. Get a firearm.”

And then he said, “I think I better stop before I get sanctioned.”

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Disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder To Testify About His Department’s Efforts That Supplied Guns To Mexican Drug Cartels

October 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – CBS News has learned Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee regarding “Fast and Furious.” The hearing will take place Dec. 8th.

Judiciary Committee member and head of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) had requested that Holder appear, in part to dig deeper into when-he-knew-what about ATF’s so-called “gunwalking” operation Fast and Furious.

In May, Holder testified that he only first heard about Fast and Furious a few weeks before. However, as CBS News reported, documents and memos indicate he had been sent multiple briefings mentioning Fast and Furious in 2010.

Holder later explained in a letter to Congress that he didn’t read those memos, and that in any event, nobody at the Justice Department who knew of Fast and Furious was aware of the specific “gunwalking” tactics used.

More Fast and Furious coverage
Memos contradict Holder on Fast and Furious
Agent: I was ordered to let guns “walk” into Mexico
Gunwalking scandal uncovered at ATF

Also today, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) requested a public hearing with the former Director of ATF: Kenneth Melson.

“A hearing with Mr. Melson would help the Committee and the American people better understand what mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, how these tactics originated, who did and did not authorize them, and what steps are being taken to ensure that they are not used again,” wrote Cummings in a letter today to Rep. Issa.

Rep. Cummings says Melson’s attorney has indicated Melson would be “pleased to cooperate.”

Below is a copy of the Cummings letter.

October 28, 2011

The Honorable Darrell E. Issa

Chairman

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

As I have stated repeatedly, I believe Operation Fast and Furious was a terrible mistake with tragic consequences. As I have also stated, I support a fair and responsible investigation that follows the facts where they lead, rather than drawing conclusions before evidence is gathered or ignoring information that does not fit into a preconceived narrative.

On several occasions over the past month, you have called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about when he first became aware of the controversial tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious. The Attorney General has now agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8, 2011, when you will have another opportunity to question him directly.

With respect to our own Committee’s investigation, I do not believe it will be viewed as legitimate or credible-and I do not believe the public record will be complete-without public testimony from Kenneth Melson, who served as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

A hearing with Mr. Melson would help the Committee and the American people better understand what mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, how these tactics originated, who did and did not authorize them, and what steps are being taken to ensure that they are not used again.

Our staffs have already conducted transcribed interviews with Mr. Melson and the former Deputy Director of ATF, William Hoover. During those interviews, these officials expressed serious concerns about the controversial tactics employed by the Phoenix Field Division of ATF as part of this operation. They also raised concerns about the manner in which the Department of Justice responded to congressional inquiries. Both officials also stated that they had not been aware of the controversial tactics being used in Operation Fast and Furious, had not authorized those tactics, and had not informed anyone at the Department of Justice headquarters about them. They stated that Operation Fast and Furious originated within the Phoenix Field Division, and that ATF headquarters failed to properly supervise it.

Since the Attorney General has now agreed to appear before Congress in December, I believe Members also deserve an opportunity to question Mr. Melson directly, especially since he headed the agency responsible for

Operation Fast and Furious. My staff has been in touch with Mr. Melson’s attorney, who reports that Mr. Melson would be pleased to cooperate with the Committee.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Elijah E. Cummings

Ranking Member

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Five New York City Police Officers Arrested, Charged After Smugging Guns, Slot Machines, And Stealing Cigarettes

October 25, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Five New York Police Department officers smuggled firearms and slot machines they thought were stolen and some even used bolt cutters to pilfer hundreds of boxes of cigarettes from tractor-trailers as part of a 12-person theft ring that was under federal surveillance the entire time, authorities said Tuesday.

Three retired NYPD officers and a New Jersey correction officer are among the other defendants named in a federal criminal complaint alleging an undercover agent paid them more than $100,000 to moonlight as gun runners while under FBI surveillance. Three current officers also participated in a brazen theft of cigarettes they were told were worth $500,000, the complaint says.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long targeted illegal smuggling of guns into the city and said that, if the accusations are true, the officials engaged in “a disgraceful and deplorable betrayal of the public trust.”

The men were eager and willing to smuggle the weapons and commit other crimes “so long as the price was right,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference announcing the arrests.

Arresting fellow law enforcers in a corruption case “is a heartbreaking thing,” Bharara added. “But it is our duty to enforce the law and to uphold the rule of law – and to do so perhaps most unflinchingly when we come across people who have chosen to breach that sacred duty, because an officer who betrays his badge betrays every honorable officer as well as every member of the public.”

The arrests come amid speculation that other NYPD officers could be facing less-serious criminal charges in a separate investigation of ticket fixing in the Bronx.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the new case, involving officers assigned in Brooklyn, has no connection to the Bronx probe. He also defended the reputation of the nation’s largest police department.

“The vast majority of police officers do outstanding work to protect the city,” Kelly said. “A case like this is disheartening to the entire department.”

The defendants were to appear in court later Tuesday to face conspiracy and firearms charges. The names of their attorneys were not immediately available.

The arrests stem from an FBI-NYPD internal affairs investigation that began in 2009 when a paid FBI informant tipped off authorities that an 18-year NYPD veteran, William Masso, was interested in making money by transporting stolen goods. In the months that followed, the informant and an undercover investigator posing as the ringleader began supplying the defendants and others cigarettes – purportedly stolen out of state – for resale in New York, the criminal complaint says.

Court papers described the informant as a non-U.S. citizen who “has been assisting the FBI in exchange for payment and aid in remaining in the United States.”

Masso, 47, recruited younger officers from his Brooklyn precinct to join the smuggling ring, authorities said. He instructed the men to carry their badges while transporting the stolen goods and, if they were stopped by police, to say they were doing legitimate off-duty work, they added.

According to the complaint, Masso complained in a taped conversation that the officers weren’t getting paid enough.

“They’re risking a lot for a little. … They know what’s going and how much trouble they could get in,” he said, according to the complaint.

In May, three of the officers and other defendants traveled to Virginia, where they received instructions from the informant and undercover on where to find $500,000 worth of cigarettes in trucks parked outside a warehouse, the complaint says. Using a bolt cutter, they broke into the rigs and stole 200 boxes they later delivered to a location on Long Island, it says.

Masso and other defendants also agreed last month to transport 20 weapons from New Jersey to New York using rented mini-vans, the complaint says. The cache was composed of three assault rifles, a shotgun and 16 handguns with serial numbers that had been “obliterated or altered” so they couldn’t be traced, it says.

Prosecutors say the officers were unaware that the weapons also had “been rendered inoperable by the FBI,” the complaint says. The undercover gave four of the police officers about $5,000 each to help transport the guns, it says.

Bloomberg has inserted himself into the national debate over gun control and heads a national coalition of mayors advocating stricter enforcement.

“Our administration is taking every possible step to crack down on illegal guns and continue making the safest big city in the country even safer,” Bloomberg said in a statement Tuesday.

In the Bronx case, a dozen or more officers, including union representatives, are facing allegations they abused their authority by helping friends and family avoid paying traffic tickets.

The gun-smuggling complaint describes the confidential informant being introduced to Masso “as a person who could `fix’ the CI’s traffic tickets.” The officer, it adds, “discussed his willingness to `fix’ tickets.”

Despite the chatter, “This is not a ticket-fixing case,” Bharara said Tuesday.

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Los Angeles California Police Lose Twenty-One 600 Round Per Minute Machine Guns And Twelve Colt 45 Pistols From A “Secure” Building

October 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Two separate investigations are underway Monday after multiple submachine guns and pistols used for SWAT training by the LAPD were found missing.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports the weapons were stolen from a building owned and used specifically for training by the LAPD.

The 21 MP-5 submachine guns and a dozen Colt 45 automatic pistols were taken from a locked container inside the Kennedy Building on San Pedro Street, police officials said.

The location — which formerly housed clothing firms before it was donated to the LAPD several years ago — is considered a secure site, Deputy Chief Michael Downing told the Associated Press.

While the weapons had been modified to fire training ammunition, the concern is that they could easily be converted back to fire live rounds.

“These guns can’t be used with regular ammunition unless they’re significantly modified back,” said LAPD Commander Andy Smith.

With the proper fittings, the MP-5 can fire live ammo at 600 rounds minute — potentially putting heavy firepower into criminal hands.

A second administrative investigation is also underway as to why the weapons were stored in a location with no alarms or security cameras.

“We always do an internal investigation whenever anything like this occurs, and we’ll have our investigators look at it from top to bottom,” said Smith.

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Subpoena Issued As Congress Investigates US Justice Department Efforts That Armed Mexican Drug Cartels With High Power Assault Weapons

October 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional investigators issued a subpoena Wednesday for communications from several top Justice Department officials — including Attorney General Eric Holder — relating to the discredited “Fast and Furious” federal gunrunning operation.

The subpoena, issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also covers communications from Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, and from Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s criminal division.

Among other things, the subpoena includes a request for information regarding relevant Justice Department communications with the White House, as well as details about the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent last December, the source added.

“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It’s time we know the whole truth.”

Holder has promised to comply with any Capitol Hill subpoena, though a Justice Department spokeswoman appeared to dismiss the development as a political exercise.

“We’ve made clear from the beginning that the department intends to work with the committee to answer legitimate questions,” Tracy Schmaler said. “However, this subpoena shows that Chairman Issa is more interested in generating headlines than in real oversight important to the American people.”

Operation Fast and Furious involved agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowing illegal sales of guns, believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels, to “walk” from Phoenix gun stores into Mexico.

The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers of guns to Mexican cartels. But the program became mired in controversy after weapons found at Mexican and American murder scenes were traced back to the program. Mexican officials and critics in the United States called the operation a failure, saying it exacerbated the longstanding problem of U.S. weapons getting into the hands of the violent Mexican cartels.

A GOP-led congressional investigation into the matter has become politically contentious, with administration and Capitol Hill leaders accusing each other of acting irresponsibly.

In a letter to Holder released Monday, Issa, a California congressman, accused the attorney general of actively obstructing Congress’ oversight function and damaging his own credibility as a top national law enforcement officer.

“Numerous statements” made by Holder about Operation Fast and Furious have “been proven to be untrue,” Issa said.

“The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over,” Issa wrote in the letter, which was dated Sunday. “The time has come for you to come clean to the American public about what you knew about Fast and Furious, when you knew it, and who is going to be held accountable for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.”

Issa blasted Holder for “negligence and incompetence” on the issue, and for offering a “roving set of ever-changing explanations” designed primarily to “circle the wagons around (the Justice Department) and its political appointees.”

The operation was the Justice Department’s “most significant gun trafficking case,” Issa said. “On your watch, it went spectacularly wrong. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility.”

Holder testified before the Judiciary Committee in May that he had known about the Fast and Furious program for just a few weeks. Republicans insist that recently released Justice Department documents show the attorney general actually knew about the program much earlier.

Holder and his aides continue to vehemently deny that charge.

The attorney general responded angrily Friday to GOP critics of his handling of the operation, charging them with using “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“I simply cannot sit idly by as a (Republican) member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered ‘accessories to murder,’” Holder said in a letter to members of Congress.

Such rhetoric, Holder declared, “must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms.”

On Sunday, Issa said the Judiciary Committee has invited Holder to “come and clear the record.”

“Clearly, he knew when he said he didn’t know,” Issa said. “Now the question is, what did he know and how is he going to explain why he gave that answer?”

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Oversight Committee Letter Questions Disgraced US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr’s Trustworthiness And Credibility After Lies About His Department Supplying Guns To Mexican Drug Cartels

October 11, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s “lack of trustworthiness” in explaining what he knew about the failed “Fast and Furious” weapons investigation has “called into question his overall credibility” to serve as the nation’s top prosecutor, the chairman of a House committee investigating the operation said Monday.

In a blistering letter, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Mr. Holder that it was time for him “to come clean to the American public” on what he knew and when about the weapons investigation, saying Mr. Holder has made numerous statements about the operation that have “proven to be untrue.”

“The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over,” Mr. Issa wrote. “Operation Fast and Furious was the department’s most significant gun-trafficking case. It related to two of your major initiatives — destroying the Mexican [drug] cartels and reducing gun violence on both sides of the border.

“On your watch, it went spectacularly wrong. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility,” he wrote, adding that Mr. Holder had an obligation to say who is going to be held accountable “for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.”

Mr. Issa has been investigating Fast and Furious for several months with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The operation involved the purchase of weapons at Phoenix-area gun shops that eventually were “walked,” or taken, into Mexico, where they were delivered to Mexican dug bosses.

Two of the weapons, both AK-47 assault rifles, were found at the scene of the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry in December.

Mr. Issa said the Justice Department from the beginning of the probe has offered “a roving set of ever-changing explanations to justify its involvement in this reckless and deadly program.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman dismissed Mr. Issa’s letter Monday as “recycled” partisanship.

But Mr. Issa said Justice’s defenses were aimed at undermining the congressional investigation.

The Justice Department insisted from the start that no wrongdoing had occurred and asked that he and Mr. Grassley defer their oversight responsibilities because of concerns they would interfere with an ongoing investigation by the department’s Office of Inspector General, Mr. Issa said.

Additionally, he said, the department steadfastly insisted that none of the Fast and Furious guns had been “walked” into Mexico.

“Once documentary and testimonial evidence strongly contradicted these claims, the department attempted to limit the fallout from Fast and Furious to the Phoenix field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” he said. “When that effort also proved unsuccessful, the department next argued that Fast and Furious resided only within ATF itself, before eventually also assigning blame to the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona.

“All of these efforts were designed to circle the wagons around [Justice] and its political appointees,” he said.

Last month, Mr. Holder claimed Fast and Furious did not reach the upper levels of the Justice Department, Mr. Issa said, although documents discovered through the course of the investigation proved that “each and every one of these claims advanced by the department to be untrue.”

“It appears your latest defense has reached a new low,” he said, adding that Mr. Holder in a letter Friday said he was unaware of the Fast and Furious operation because his staff failed to inform him of information contained in memos that were specifically addressed to the attorney general.

“At best, this indicates negligence and incompetence in your duties as attorney general,” Mr. Issa said. “At worst, it places your credibility into serious doubt.

“Instead of pledging all necessary resources to assist the congressional investigation in discovering the truth behind the fundamentally flawed Operation Fast and Furious, your letter instead did little but obfuscate, shift blame, berate and attempt to change the topic away from the department’s responsibility in the creation, implementation and authorization of this reckless program.”

On Friday, Mr. Holder denied that emails sent to his office showed that he knew of the Fast and Furious operation and did nothing about it. He said public comments about the inquiry and his involvement with it had become “so base and so harmful to interests that I hope we all share” that he had to publicly address the matter.

Mr. Holder said he took “decisive action” when he learned earlier this year about Fast and Furious in ordering the Office of Inspector General to investigate the matter. He said he also overhauled the leadership at ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, which oversaw the investigation.

“It has become clear that the flawed tactics employed in Fast and Furious were not limited to that operation and were actually employed in an investigation conducted during the prior administration,” Mr. Holder said, referring to a separate initiative known as “Operation Wide Receiver” managed by federal authorities during the George W. Bush administration.

“Regardless, those tactics should never again be adopted in any investigation,” he said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the Issa allegations, no matter how many times they are repeated, continue to be “baseless.” She said Mr. Holder took concerns about tactics used in Fast and Furious to the Office of Inspector General, where the operation is now under investigation.

“The department will continue to cooperate with both the inspector general and congressional investigations,” she said. “In the meantime, what the American people deserve is less partisan showboating and more responsible solutions to stopping gun violence on the Southwest Border.”

In the letter, Mr. Issa said documents obtained by congressional investigators show Mr. Holder was aware of Fast and Furious in the summer of 2010 at the latest, not April or May of this year as he testified. Mr. Issa said Mr. Holder was informed about the ATF investigation on at least five occasions and was told that straw buyers were responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels.

“Yet, you did nothing to stop this program,” Mr. Issa said. “You failed to own up to your responsibility to safeguard the American public by hiding behind” attorneys in your office, “who you now claim did not bring this information to your attention.”

Mr. Issa said the “most disturbing aspect of this intransigence” is that the Justice Department “has been lying to Congress ever since the inquiry into Fast and Furious began.”

“These firearms were not interdicted. They were not stopped. Your agents allowed these firearms purchases to continue, sometimes even monitoring them in person, and within days some of these weapons were being recovered in Mexico,” he said.

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100+ Assault Weapons Supplied By U.S. ATF Found In Drug Cartel Enforcer’s Home In Mexico

October 9, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – High-powered assault weapons illegally purchased under the ATF’s Fast and Furious program in Phoenix ended up in a home belonging to the purported top Sinaloa cartel enforcer in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, whose organization was terrorizing that city with the worst violence in the Mexican drug wars.

In all, 100 assault weapons acquired under Fast and Furious were transported 350 miles from Phoenix to El Paso, making that West Texas city a central hub for gun traffickers. Forty of the weapons made it across the border and into the arsenal of Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, a feared cartel leader in Ciudad Juarez, according to federal court records and trace documents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The smugglers’ tactics — quickly moving the weapons far from ATF agents in southern Arizona, where it had been assumed they would circulate — vividly demonstrate that what had been viewed as a local problem was much larger. Six other Fast and Furious guns destined for El Paso were recovered in Columbus, N.M.

“These Fast and Furious guns were going to Sinaloans, and they are killing everyone down there,” said one knowledgeable U.S. government source, who asked for anonymity because of the ongoing investigations. “But that’s only how many we know came through Texas. Hundreds more had to get through.”

Torres Marrufo, also known as “the Jaguar,” has been identified by U.S. authorities as the enforcer for Sinaloa cartel chieftain Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman. The Fast and Furious weapons were found at one of Torres Marrufo’s homes April 30 when Mexican police inspected the property. It was unoccupied but “showed signs of recent activity,” they said.

The basement had been converted into a gym with a wall covered with built-in mirrors. Behind the mirrors they found a hidden room with the Fast and Furious weapons and dozens more, including an antiaircraft machine gun, a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher.

“We have seized the most important cache of weapons in the history of Ciudad Juarez,” Chihuahua state Gov. Cesar Duarte said at the time, though he did not know that many of the weapons came from the U.S. and Fast and Furious.

Torres Marrufo has been indicted in El Paso, but authorities have been unable to locate and arrest him.

In the U.S., intelligence officials consider the Sinaloa cartel the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world. Weekly reports from U.S. intelligence authorities to the Justice Department in the summer of 2010, at the height of Fast and Furious, warned about the proliferation of guns reaching the Sinaloa cartel.

Under Fast and Furious, begun in fall 2009, the ATF allowed illegal buyers to walk away with weapons in the hope that agents in Phoenix could track the guns and arrest cartel leaders.

Three months into the program, El Paso began to emerge as a hub, perhaps the central location, for Fast and Furious weapons. On Jan. 13, 2010, El Paso police stumbled upon 40 firearms after following a suspicious dark blue Volkswagen Jetta that backed into a garage at a local residence, according to federal court records.

Alberto Sandoval told authorities he acquired the weapons three days after they were purchased from someone he knew only as “Rudy.” He said he was paid $1,000 to store the guns and “knew the firearms were going to Mexico.”

Sandoval pleaded guilty in federal court in El Paso and was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. A month later, on Dec. 17, 2010, he escaped from a minimum-security prison in Tucson; officials believe he fled to Mexico.

Two others, Ivan Chavira and Edgar Ivan Galvan, were subsequently charged in that gun recovery, along with the recovery of 20 Fast and Furious weapons on April 7, 2010, in El Paso. Those guns also were discovered by chance by local authorities, and ATF trace records show that the weapons were purchased in Phoenix two weeks before they were found in El Paso.

Chavira and Galvan pleaded guilty. Chavira received eight years in prison; Galvan is to be sentenced next month.

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At Least 3 Dead And 17 Injured In Overnight Shootings In Chicago Illinois

October 8, 2011

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – At least three people were killed and at least 17 others wounded, including nine teenagers, in shootings across the city late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Two women were shot in the head in the 2300 block of North Harding Street in the Logan Square neighborhood at about 4:40 a.m., police said. One woman was found unresponsive at the scene and the other’s condition wasn’t known, police said, citing preliminary reports. Their ages weren’t immediately available.

A man was shot in his chest and possibly stabbed in the 400 block of South Pulaski Road at about 4 a.m., police said, citing preliminary reports. The Cook County medical examiner’s office was notified of the death.

A 29-year-old man was shot and killed across from the Lake View High School at the intersection of Ashland Avenue and Irving Park Road early this morning in the city’s Lake View neighborhood, according to police. The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the man as Louis Cotto. Cotto was standing on a corner when shots were fired in a possible drive-by shooting at about 1:20 a.m, police said. He was shot in his chest and back and was pronounced dead at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, police said. Nobody is in custody, police said.

A boy and a girl, both aged 17, were shot at about 2:15 a.m. in the 7500 block of South Dante Avenue in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, Chicago Police News Affairs Sgt. Al Stinites said. The boy was shot in his leg and the girl in her foot, and both were transported to Jackson Park Hospital, he said.

A 25-year-old man was shot in his back at 71st and Halsted Avenue Street at about 2:15 a.m., police said. He was initially listed in serious condition. Additional details weren’t immediately available.

A 56-year-old man was shot in the 4100 block of West Adams Street in the West Garfield Park neighborhood at about 1:30 a.m., police said. He was walking with a friend when someone approached him and shot him in the arm and leg. He’s in stable condition at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said.

A 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were shot in the 13200 block of South Langley Avenue in the Altgeld Gardens housing complex on the Far South Side at about 1:30 a.m., police said. A group of people was chasing a second group and someone in the first group shot at the victims while they were running away, hitting the 16-year-old in his leg and hitting the 20-year-old in his abdomen, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli. The teen was taken to Roseland Community Hospital and the older man was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in suburban Oak Lawn, Mirabelli said.

A 17-year-old boy was shot in the back in the 7400 block of South Blackstone Avenue at about 1:20 a.m. and is in serious condition at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said. He was sitting in the back seat of a vehicle when someone approached and shot into the car. The boy was driven to the University of Chicago Hospital and then transferred to Mount Sinai, police said.

At about 12:30 a.m., a 22-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were shot in the 2600 block of South Ridgeway Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood, police said. The man was shot in his chest and ankle and the teen was shot in his leg, police said. Both victims are in stable condition at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said. They were standing in a backyard and were shot after a gun was fired from inside a light-colored SUV in an alley behind the house, police said. The SUV fled north in the alley.

A 41-year-old man was shot in his forearm, buttocks and suffered a graze wound to his head on the 3900 block of South Indiana Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood at about 11:30 p.m. Friday. He was involved in an argument with the person who shot him, police said. The shooter pulled out a gun, opened fire and fled the scene. The victim was transported in serious condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Mirabelli said.

A 24-year-old man was shot in the 8400 block of South Carpenter Street at about 11:10 p.m. in the city’s Gresham neighborhood. He was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center after being shot in his abdomen, Mirabelli said. The shooting followed an altercation between the victim and the offender, who isn’t in custody, Mirabelli said.

A 17-year-old boy was shot in his neck while sitting in a car at a stop light on the 7600 block of South Chicago Avenue at about 11:10
p.m., police said. It wasn’t clear whether the boy was transported to the hospital by the Chicago Fire Department or whether he was driven in the same car, police said.

A 37-year-old man was shot in his groin in the 800 block of North Noble Street at about 10 p.m. in the Noble Square neighborhood, police said. Police responded to a shots fired call and found someone yelling that his friend had been shot, Mirabelli said. Police caught two “persons of interest” and recovered a handgun. The victim was shot once in the thigh and once in the wrist, Mirabelli said, and transported to Stroger Hospital.

Two other boys, age 16 and 17, were shot as they left a restaurant on the 3200 block of West Cermak Road at about 9:40 p.m. on Friday in the Little Village neighborhood, police said. The 16-year-old was in stable condition at Mount Sinai Hospital and the 17-year-old was in stable condition at Stroger Hospital, police said.

A 15-year-old was accidentally shot in the 7900 block of South Christiana Avenue in the Ashburn neighborhood at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, police said. He was standing with a man who was showing him a gun when the gun went off. The man will likely face gun charges, police said.

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Two Top Washington DC ATF Supervisors Demoted After Agency Supplied Guns To Mexican Drug Cartels

October 6, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Two top supervisors at ATF headquarters in Washington — the deputy director and the assistant director for all field operations — have been reassigned as the beleaguered agency attempts to remake itself amid the fallout from a failed gun-tracking operation along the Southwest border called Fast and Furious, according to two sources briefed on the changes.

William J. Hoover, the No. 2 man at ATF, will become special agent-in-charge of the agency’s Washington field office, while Mark Chait, who ran all of the field investigations around the country, is being reassigned as head of the Baltimore field office.

Thomas Brandon, who was sent to Phoenix to run the field office there and help it recover from the repercussions of Fast and Furious, will be taking Hoover’s spot as deputy director.

The new assignments, along with other job changes, were announced today by Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis who was named acting head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this year. He succeeded ATF chief Kenneth Melson, who was reassigned to a lower-level position in the Justice Department.

Hoover had broad supervision over Fast and Furious, was given routine updates on the “gun walking” operation, and grew concerned over the number of firearms getting into Mexico without any U.S. indictments on this side of the border.

He tried to get it shut down six months after it began in the fall of 2009. But he failed, and the program continued until January of this year. During that time, a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in Arizona and two Fast and Furious weapons were recovered at the scene.

Under the program, the ATF allowed the illegal purchase of countless weapons and expected agents to track them to Mexican drug cartels.

Instead, more than 2,000 were lost and many turned up in at least 170 violent crime scenes in Mexico.

The furor has prompted a congressional investigation and a review by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office.

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Changes His Story With Respect To His Department Supplying Guns To Medican Drug Cartels

October 5, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

Yet internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious.

The documents came from the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

In Fast and Furious, ATF agents allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to cross the border and fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

It’s called letting guns “walk,” and it remained secret to the public until Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered last December. Two guns from Fast and Furious were found at the scene, and ATF agent John Dodson blew the whistle on the operation.

Agent: I was ordered to let guns “walk” into Mexico

Ever since, the Justice Department has publicly tried to distance itself. But the new documents leave no doubt that high level Justice officials knew guns were being “walked.”

Two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010. “It’s a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions,” says Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replies “I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘guns walking.’ It may be more like, “Finally they’re going after people who sent guns down there.”

The Justice Department told CBS News that the officials in those emails were talking about a different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General. And tonight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee – he did know about Fast and Furious – just not the details.

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Documents Show Our Tax Dollars Funded ATF’s “Fast And Furious” Operation – Which Provided 2,000+ Guns To Mexican Drug Cartel

September 26, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel — the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice’s previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a “botched” operation where agents simply “lost track” of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009. In it, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged gun stores to sell weapons to an arms smuggling gang, then watched as the guns crossed the border and were used in crimes. Each month, the agency allowed hundreds of guns to go South, despite opposition from some agents.

All told, the gang spent more than $1.25 million for the illegal guns.

In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual “seller” of guns.

According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols — two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor.

Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby.

This was not a “buy-bust” or a sting operation, where police sell to a buyer and then arrest them immediately afterward. In this case, agents were “ordered” to let the sale go through and follow the weapons to a stash house.

According to sources directly involved in the case, Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth.

A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance.

According to a story posted Sunday on a website dedicated to covering Fast and Furious, Voth gave Dodson the assignment to “dirty him up,” since Dodson had become the most vocal critic of the operation.

“I think Dodson demanded the letter from Voth to cover both himself and the FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). He didn’t want to be hung out to dry by Voth,” a source told the website “Sipsey Street Irregulars.”

Subsequent to this undercover operation, sources told Sipsey, “Dodson just about came apart all over them (his supervisors). In a ‘screaming match’ that was heard throughout the Phoenix office by many employees, Dodson yelled at Voth and Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett, ‘Why not just go direct and empty out the (ATF) arms room?” (to the cartels), or words to that effect.’

After the confrontation, ATF managers transferred Dodson to a more menial job. Months later, after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Dodson blew the whistle and went public about the federal government’s gunrunning operation.

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Florida Credit Card Processor Offers New Business Clients AK-47 Assault Rifles To Protect Themselves

September 20, 2011

FLORIDA – A Florida company is giving new clients a voucher to buy an AK-47 assault rifle to defend themselves from violent crime.

Sarasota-based MerchantService.com is a business that provides small stores and businesses with cash machines and credit card processing services.

Its “No Merchant Victim” program now offers a voucher that can be used to buy a gun such as an AK-47 from a local gun dealer, or upgraded security camera equipment, when clients have had its services for three months.

“We encourage all merchants to stand their ground against attack with lethal force,” company president Gino Kauzlarich told AFP. “Hence our recommendation they buy a firearm such as a AK-47… (But) what the merchant chooses to do with the voucher payment cash is the merchants choice.”

He charged that US federal government plans to increase early releases from prison, particularly in California, will likely fuel violent crime such as assaults on merchants.

Kauzlarich also said that with 400,000-500,000 guns robbed annually in the United States, “our goal is to effect a societal expectation shift that every criminal should expect to confront lethal force when they attack our merchants, rather than the criminal justice system protects the criminals well being during the commission of murders, robberies and crimes.”

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El Paso County Texas Sheriff’s Detective Got A Whooping, Lost Unmarked Car, Guns, Radio, And Bulletproof Vest To Arrested Man

September 15, 2011

EL PASO, TEXAS – A manhunt is underway in West Texas for an “extremely dangerous” fugitive who overpowered a detective and fled in an unmarked police car with stolen guns and a bulletproof vest, authorities said.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said Fernando Lavenant, 19, who is wanted on numerous felony charges, was briefly arrested by officers from the U.S. Marshal Lone Star Fugitive Task Force in Vinton, Texas, on Thursday.

But he overpowered a sheriff’s office detective while under arrest in an unmarked police car and fled in the vehicle, which was later found abandoned nearby.

“Fugitive Lavenant is armed with weapons taken from the unmarked unit and should be considered extremely dangerous,” the office said in a statement.

“He is also in possession of a sheriff’s office radio and bulletproof vest,” it added.

Lavenant was described at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 185 pounds. He has a tattoo of La Santa Muerte, a scythe-wielding icon often revered by criminals in Mexico, on his chest.

The sheriff’s office said Lavenant, whose outstanding charges include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and driving while intoxicated, may have fled to New Mexico. It urged members of the public not to approach or make contact with him, but to call 911.

The El Paso Times newspaper reported that several schools in the El Paso area were placed in lock-down Thursday as police hunted for Lavenant.

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Cover Up Revealed: More Guns That ATF Supplied To Mexican Drug Cartels Show Up At Crime Scenes

September 2, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Just hours after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, federal officials tried to cover up evidence that the gun that killed Terry was one the government intentionally helped sell to the Mexican cartels in a weapons trafficking program known as Operation Fast and Furious.

The revelation comes just days after a huge shake-up of government officials who oversaw the failed anti-gun trafficking program and Congress renewed its demand for more answers.

Also late Thursday, Sen. Charles Grassley’s office revealed that 21 more Fast and Furious guns have been found at violent crime scenes in Mexico. That is up from 11 the agency admitted just last month.

“The Justice Department has been less than forthcoming since day one, so the revisions here are hardly surprising, and the numbers will likely rise until the more than 1,000 guns that were allowed to fall into the hands of bad guys are recovered — most likely years down the road,” Grassley said in a statement released Thursday.

“What we’re still waiting for are the answers to the other questions the Attorney General failed to answer per our agreement. The cooperation of the Attorney General and his staff is needed if we’re ever going to get to the bottom of this disastrous policy and help the ATF and the department move forward.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Grassley, R-Iowa, said they are expanding their investigation into the scandal on Thursday. In a strongly worded letter to Anne Scheel, the new U.S. attorney for Arizona, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested interviews, emails, memos and even hand-written notes from members of the U.S. attorney’s office that played key roles in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program.

Issa and Grassley said they want to speak with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory Hurley and Michael Morrissey, along with Patrick Cunningham, chief of the office’s Criminal Division.

Not only do congressional investigators want to “make sense” of details of the operation that allowed more than 2,000 guns to “walk” and later turn up at crime scenes on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, but they want to known why Hurley — who knew almost immediately the guns found at Terry’s crime scene belonged to Fast and Furious — tried to “prevent the connection from being disclosed.”

In an internal email the day after the murder, Hurley, and then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, decided not to disclose the connection, saying ” … this way we do not divulge our current case (Fast and Furious) or the Border Patrol shooting case.”

“The level of involvement of the United States Attorney’s Office … in the genesis and implementation of this case is striking,” wrote Issa and Grassley.

The two claim witnesses have told them that recently reassigned Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley may have also prevented ATF agents from doing their jobs.

“Many ATF agents working on Operation Fast and Furious were under the impression that even some of the most basic law enforcement techniques typically used to interdict weapons required the explicit approval of your office, specifically that from Hurley,” the letter states.

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Department Of Justice In “Panic Mode” As Hearing Nears On Failed Anti-Gun Trafficking Program That Flooded Mexico With Assault Rifles

June 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.

Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.

Only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died did ATF Agent John Dodson blow the whistle and expose the scandal.

“What people don’t understand is how long we will be dealing with this,” Dodson told Fox News back in March. “Those guns are gone. You can’t just give the order and get them back. There is no telling how many crimes will be committed before we retrieve them.”

But now the casualties are coming in.

Mexican officials estimate 150 of their people have been shot by Fast and Furious guns. Police have recovered roughly 700 guns at crime scenes, 250 in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico, including five AK-47s found at a cartel warehouse in Juarez last month.

A high-powered sniper rifle was used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter. Two other Romanian-made AK-47s were found in a shoot-out that left 11 dead in the state of Jalisco three weeks ago.

The guns were traced to the Lone Wolf Gun Store in Glendale, Ariz., and were sold only after the store employees were told to do so by the ATF.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone but yourself. However, ATF’s own documents show it allowed just 15 men to buy 1,725 guns, and 1,318 of those were after the purchasers officially became targets of investigation.

Arizona gun store owners say they were explicitly told by the ATF to sell the guns, sometimes 20, 30, even up to 40 in a single day to single person.

And those orders, from at least one ATF case agent, are on audio recording.

“We would say, ‘Do you (the ATF) want us to stop selling, is there something we should do here?’” Brad DeSayes, owner of J&G Gun Sales in Prescott, said. “And they would say, ‘No, no, no, keep selling – just tell us after the fact.’”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, holds a hearing Wednesday into Operation Fast and Furious.

The hearing is billed as “Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes,” and the following are among the details expected in testimony:

- The ATF allowed and encouraged five Arizona gun store owners to sell some 1,800 weapons to buyers known to them as gun smugglers.

- It installed cameras inside the gun stores to record purchases made by those smugglers.

- It hid GPS trackers inside gun stocks and watched the weapons go south on computer screens.

- It obtained surveillance video from parking lots and helicopters showing straw buyers transferring their guns from one car to another.

- It learned guns sold in Phoenix were recovered only when Mexico police requested “trace data,” which is obtained from their serial number.

The first witness in Wednesday’s hearing is Sen. Charles Grassley, who will describe what his investigative team learned from four months of interviews and thousands of documents. He will be followed by three members of Brian Terry’s family, three ATF agents and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, who only months ago insisted the agency did not let guns go south to Mexico, a claim contradicted by field agents in Group 7, the actual agents who ran the operation in Phoenix.

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Pleasantville New York Police Officer Aaron Hess Named “Officer Of The Year” After Shooting And Killing Unarmed Negro Student – Bogus Charges Against Other Students Dropped

April 13, 2011

PLEASANTVILLE, NEW YORK – As the investigation continues into the shooting of Danroy “D.J.” Henry, the popular Pace University football player shot by police last year, a police union decided to give the “Officer of the Year” award to the man who gunned him down.

In response to the award, the victim’s family lashed out against the Pleasantville Police Benevolent Association, saying it wasn’t that much of a surprise.

“I’m glad the world gets to see the arrogance we’ve been dealing with since Oct. 17, from the district attorney’s office all the way to the Police Benevolent Association,” said Danroy Henry’s mother, Angella Henry, in a statement Tuesday.

The US Department of Justice is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the Oct. 17 fatal shooting of Henry who was killed outside a Thornwood bar. Officers on the scene claim the student drove his car into Police Officer Aaron Hess and another officer, prompting Hess to open fire.

Friends of Danroy Henry gave a different account, however. Henry’s friend Desmond Hinds told PIX 11 News:

“I remember everything. I was in the backseat of the car, we were in the fire lane, officer came up on the left and banged on DJ’s door, he indicated us to move, DJ followed instruction. He pulled off at a nice normal speed, not speeding, as he turned, I remember the officer on the left comes and jumps out in front of the car, next thing I know with his gun drawn, I see three holes in the windshield (and) the car came to a sudden stop…I saw the bullet holes in the windshield, then i heard DJ yell ‘they shot me! they shot me!”

Four fellow Pace University students were arrested that night after chaos and utter confusion erupted at the scene following the shooting. The students faced numerous criminal charges that were recently dropped as prosecutors ruled the actions taken by the young men was a result of “youthful visceral reactions to the sudden, unexpected shooting of their friend.”

A grand jury also decided not to charge Hess or any of the other officers in the shooting.

“What is the criteria for Police Officer of the Year? Killing an unarmed African-American college student?” said attorney Bonita Zelman, who represented four of Henry’s friends who were arrested that night.

In defense of their choice for the officer of the year, PBA President Matthew Listwan said, “The PBA’s Award is an expression of support for the dignified and professional manner in which Officer Hess has conducted himself throughout this ordeal, and most particularly, the very difficult aftermath of this tragic incident.”

To Danroy Henry’s family, however, the timing of the award was troubling. “It just seems weird to us that they would honor him while he is still under investigation by the Department of Justice,¿ said Angella Henry.

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Former Russellville Alabama Police Officer Robert Saint Arrested After 3 Hour Standoff At His Home

April 12, 2011

RUSSELLVILLE, ALABAMA – A Russellville man is in custody after a three hour standoff.

Police say former Russellville Police Officer Robert Saint barricaded himself in his home Monday night. Witnesses say police blocked off the street.

Officers were called to Saint’s home after a report of shots fired. When they arrived, Saint was in the front yard with a gun. Police say they tried to negotiate with him for several hours. Eventually, they saw Saint on the ground without a gun and were able to arrest him.

Saint was taken to a hospital for an evaluation.

Saint left the Russellville police force in 2004 for health reasons.

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Trigger Happy Kansas City Missouri Police Officers Shoot At Unarmed Man In Van That Backfired

November 13, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – Two Kansas City police officers who thought they were being shot at from inside a van returned fire Thursday night.

Only later did police realize that the van was actually backfiring and the man inside was not armed. He was not injured by the shots fired by police.

Windows of the police car were apparently shot out by the officers as they exited the patrol car.

The officers were dispatched on a report of shots being fired from a white van just before 6 p.m. Thursday on Gregory Boulevard near Interstate 435.

When the officers got to the area they saw a white van parked on Gregory and pulled up near it. As they were getting out of the patrol car they heard the backfiring and fired their weapons. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

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St. Petersburg Florida Police Department Loses Officers Due To Relationship With Teen Girl, Firing Issued Shotgun “Accidentally”, Lying, Cuffing A Child To A Bed

June 3, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – Two officers about to be fired by the St. Petersburg Police Department resigned on Wednesday. Another was reprimanded for cuffing his unruly preteen son to a bed.

One officer quit because he was about to be fired for lying in connection to his relationship with a 17-year-old girl, police said. Another resigned before he was fired for a series of errors, the last of which was accidentally firing his city-issued shotgun.

• Chad McLaren, who resigned Wednesday after 15 months on the job, faced allegations of making “conflicting” and “false” statements to his superiors.

In March, police said, McLaren, 27, started a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. They texted up to 50 times a day, according to an internal report. Police said it was unclear what kind of relationship they were in.

McLaren became involved in disputes the 17-year-old was having with her teen ex-boyfriend and other youths. The ex-boyfriend’s mother complained to the department in April about McLaren.

McLaren was ordered not to have contact with anyone involved in the case. But his superiors said he gave conflicting statements about who he knew and who he contacted. He also ran checks on people using official police databases, the report states. The probationary officer was about to be terminated, police said.

• Officer Adrian Owens resigned Wednesday after 17 months on the force. An internal report states he accidentally fired a shotgun round in the department parking lot while trying to clear the weapon. Owens, 32, had already been disciplined four times, police said, and was on the verge of being fired when he resigned.

• Officer James Griffis Jr., a 20-year veteran, received a temporary written reprimand for cuffing his son in March.

The officer restrained the child, police said, because the boy was disrespectful and unruly. When the child threatened to run away, the father tried to cuff him to the bed, police said. The child flailed his arms, striking the father in the face with the cuffs. The father cuffed the son and called for his mother to come get him.

Prosecutors investigated but decided nothing criminal occurred. The Department of Children and Families determined it was an “isolated incident.” Griffis, 44, used “poor judgment” restraining the child with city equipment, the report states.

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Chicago Illinois Police Have No Suspects In Custody After Seven Shooting Deaths In 24 Hour Weekend Period As Police Superintendent Jody Weis Spoke At Anti-Violence Rally

June 1, 2009

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Chicago had seven shooting deaths in 24 hours this weekend, and police say they have no suspects in custody.

All seven victims were men in their 20s or 30s, and all were shot to death.

The shootings occurred between 6:15 a.m. Saturday and just before 6 a.m. Sunday.

One victim, 30-year-old Demond Stansbury, was shot along with two of his cousins, who survived and are in fair condition.

The shootings spanned the city, happening on the North, South and West sides.

Chicago Police spokesman Roderick Drew says investigations into the shootings are ongoing.

On Saturday, police Superintendent Jody Weis spoke at an anti-violence march and rally on the West side.

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