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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Secret Documents Prove Obama’s Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder Is Full Of Shit – Hid Department’s Documents On Operations That Armed Criminals And Mexican Drug Cartels

June 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – With the help of a mole, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has turned the tables on Attorney General Eric Holder.

Issa has long been exasperated with Holder, claiming that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been withholding information on a controversial gun-running operation. But through an anonymous source, Issa has obtained information about the initiative that is under a federal court-ordered seal.

Giving such information out is a federal crime, raising the question of whether the Justice Department will seek to prosecute what Republicans are calling a whistleblower.

Issa has asked the DOJ for the documents — wiretap applications it used in the botched federal gun-tracking Operation Fast and Furious — for months. The California lawmaker has taken preliminary steps to move contempt-of-Congress citations against Holder, but it remains unclear if GOP leaders support that move. This new controversy could help Issa attract more Republican support for a contempt-of-Congress resolution.

If Holder does launch an investigation into where the leak originated, the powerful Republican could paint the move as an attempt by the DOJ to hide the documents’ contents. It would also raise the possibility that DOJ investigators will seek information from Issa, who has been trying to determine who approved the “gun-walking” tactics used in Fast and Furious along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On the other hand, not launching a probe would mean turning a blind eye to a criminal breach and could lead Issa’s source and others to reveal other information sealed by a judge.

Issa told Fox News on Wednesday that he has no intention of shining the light on his source: “We’re not going to make our whistleblower available. That’s been one of the most sensitive areas, because some of the early whistleblowers are already feeling retribution. They’re being treated horribly.”

Asked earlier this week where he got the wiretap applications, Issa told The Hill, “You can ask, but you should have no expectation of an answer. By the way, if I asked you where you got yours, would you give me your sources?”

Of course, there is some political risk for Issa. The Obama administration could point out that he is stonewalling federal authorities after complaining throughout this Congress of being stonewalled by DOJ.

As the lead congressional investigator of Fast and Furious, Issa says the documents show top-ranking DOJ officials signing off on the condemned “gun-walking” tactics used in the failed operation. Senior DOJ officials have repeatedly denied that they approved the botched initiative.

The documents have not been made public, and Issa has apparently broken no laws by being given the information.

Regardless, the DOJ is not pleased.

“Chairman Issa’s letter makes clear that sealed court documents relating to pending federal prosecutions being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California have been disclosed to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in violation of law,” wrote Deputy Attorney General James Cole to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Issa this week.

“This is of great concern to us,” the letter added.

A spokesman for the DOJ declined to comment about whether it was planning to launch an investigation into the leak.

Democrats say that Issa is exaggerating what he has. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on Issa’s panel, reiterated this week that top-ranking DOJ officials didn’t personally review any of the six wiretap applications related to Fast and Furious. Issa sent Cummings the information he received from his source.

In the past, the DOJ has justified not turning over the wiretap applications to Issa by saying that doing so could jeopardize the current criminal cases it is prosecuting.

Two former prosecutors for the DOJ, who were not familiar with the details of this article, independently told The Hill that defense lawyers could use an instance of documents being leaked in violation of a court-ordered seal to justify seeking a mistrial.

It is unlikely that the DOJ, if it does investigate the leak, will have grounds to go after Issa for accepting the documents. In past instances of court-ordered seals being broken, it is the actual breaker of the seal who is held responsible, which in this case could mean criminal contempt proceedings and possible jail time.

The battle between Issa and the DOJ has escalated over the past month, with House Republican leaders writing a letter to Holder asking him to hand over information about who was responsible for Fast and Furious. The letter also asked whether the DOJ misled Congress on when officials, including Holder, became aware of the program.

Issa is set to square off against Holder on Thursday when the attorney general is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. The Republican lawmaker will appear on a panel to discuss oversight of the DOJ.

Under the now-defunct Fast and Furious initiative, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is under the DOJ, authorized the sale of firearms to known and suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels, but lost track of many of the weapons. Some of those guns might have contributed to the December 2010 shooting death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

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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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Evidence Goes Missing From Asheville North Carolina Police Department Evidence Room, Putting Criminals Back On The Street – At Least 27 Guns, 54 Containers Of Drugs, And 34 Packets Of Money Unaccounted For – Police Hiding Results Of Audit From Public

May 28, 2012

ASHEVILLE — Not long after midnight on a cold January morning, police officer Evan Flanders found himself facing the wrong end of a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.

Flanders thought 24-year-old Twari Rashad Mapp looked suspicious when he walked up to him, and Mapp started to go for a gun, according to police.

But in reality the circumstances leading up to that Jan. 6 confrontation started months earlier with the discovery of sweeping problems in the Police Department evidence room.

Mapp might otherwise have been in jail — along with at least three other violent crime suspects freed on unsecured bonds because of lost evidence, according to a search of criminal and detention center records by the Citizen-Times.

One of four had been recently extradited from Oklahoma for a 2001 break-in, assault and rape of an Asheville woman who was still living in the city.

Before he was freed, Mapp had been jailed on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and was unable to post a $25,000 secured bond.

Police Sgt. Ernie Welborn called the releases unfortunate.

“We regret that the property room issues played a role in the bond reductions,” Welborn said.

Others, though, including residents living near the site of Flanders’ struggle, said the incidents were disturbing.

All four violent crime suspects were eventually jailed again, but not before two committed offenses again, according to police charges.

The releases of the men had to happen because those accused of crimes have a right to see any evidence against them, Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore said.

Moore has refused to release the findings of a full evidence room audit, saying the state Bureau of Investigation is using the city-funded report as part its investigation.

Evidence frozen, lesser pleas

Moore was alerted to problems on April 1, 2011, when an assistant district attorney and an attorney defending a man on drug trafficking charges discovered 397 prescription oxycodone pills were missing from the evidence room.

Days later, a police audit of 1,097 “high-risk” items found 27 guns, 54 containers of drugs and 34 packets of money missing.

Longtime evidence room manager, William Lee Smith, resigned two months earlier.

Moore, working with the SBI, sealed the evidence room, and state agents began working it as a crime scene. The city, meanwhile, hired a special auditor to go through the whole room.

That meant only the auditor and SBI agents would have access.

Because Moore could not immediately produce evidence against people facing charges, he was forced to allow some charged with violent crimes to leave jail on unsecured bonds.

They included:

• Andrew Grady Davis, 37, extradited to Asheville on DNA evidence for a 2001 rape and placed in jail on a $1 million bond before it was reduced to unsecured.

• Mapp, in jail on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed on a $25,000 bond before it was reduced.

• Corey Jawil Mapp, 21, brother of Twari, in jail on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed on a $24,100 bond before it was reduced. Prior charges against him include robbery and drug dealing.

• Daniel Wayne Jenkins, 19, in jail on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault by pointing a gun. His bond was $31,000 before being reduced to unsecured.

In other cases, those charged with nonviolent crimes were allowed to plead to lesser crimes.

Moore, who could not be reached Thursday or Friday, has said he didn’t know the full tally but that they involved more than a dozen cases, many of them drug-related.
Charged with offenses while out

It was while they were out that the Mapp brothers again ran afoul of the law, according to police.

Corey Mapp was cited for driving while license revoked and careless and reckless driving.

His brother, meanwhile, got into deeper trouble. It’s not clear why Twari Mapp had a loaded gun, according to police, and was out near the neighborhood south of downtown early on Jan. 6.

Police reports say Flanders recognized him as someone who had been charged with violent crimes before, including robbery with a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, and suspected he might have a warrant out for his arrest.

He approached Mapp near the corner of South French Broad and Hilliard avenues. A release from the police department gave an account of the encounter:

“As Officer Flanders interacted with the individual, he asked repeatedly for the suspect to remove his hands from his pockets. After the suspect refused to comply, Officer Flanders grabbed both of the suspect’s wrists and immediately ascertained that the suspect was then trying to pull a handgun from his pocket. Officer Flanders noted that the suspect had his hand around the handle of the gun in his pocket, and the barrel of the gun was extended forward in the direction of Officer Flanders as he attempted to break the suspect’s grip.”

At that point, Flanders feared “for his life,” the release said, and moved to draw his own pistol. He was able to do it, and Mapp, seeing the gun slackened his grip, allowing Flanders to take his pistol.

Mapp was charged with assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. He remains in jail under a $5,500 bond.

His attorney Gene Ellison would not comment on the charges.

Ranking police officers acknowledge problems in the evidence room led to Mapp and the other men having reduced bonds.

But it’s possible, too, they could have gotten out anyway, Welborn said.

“We cannot know if these subjects would have made bond without the reductions,” the sergeant said.

Welborn denied a request to speak directly to Flanders.

Residents near where Flanders and Mapp struggled say the neighborhood is usually safe and internal police problems put dangerous people near their homes.

Theo Crouse-Mann lives with his girlfriend, Spring Pearson, near the corner where the fight happened and said that he has seen minor crime such as prostitution, but never anything violent.

“I’ve never heard a gunshot,” Crouse-Mann said. “But now, this thing with the evidence room seems like a systemic failure.”
Back in police control

Police have regained control of the evidence room, and new Chief William Anderson said he will make a national search for a new evidence room manager a priority.

The problems happened under former Police Chief Bill Hogan, who abruptly retired after they became public.

Davis is back in jail under a $400,000 bond for charges including the rape. His attorney, public defender LeAnn Melton, did not return a call or email seeking comment.

Corey Mapp is under a $105,000 bond for his original charges, plus others, including possession of a stolen vehicle and stolen goods.

Jenkins was sentenced to six to eight months in a state prison. He was released Sept. 11, according to Department of Correction records.

Moore has withheld results of the city-funded audit despite requests for its release made by the Citizen-Times and numerous other media organizations under the state’s public records law.

N.C. Press Association attorneys say the report should be available to anyone, but the district attorney said it is exempt from state public records law because it is part of the SBI investigation.

The city paid a private contractor $174,723 for the audit, but no city officials have requested to see it, saying they would wait for the SBI probe to play out.

SBI spokeswoman Noelle Talley said the investigation is ongoing but said she could not say when it wound be done.

“It is our policy not to comment on ongoing investigations so as not to jeopardize those investigations,” Talley said.
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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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