Super-Dooper Snoopers – Tea Party Nation

Super-Dooper Snoopers – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

While in the U.S. Army in the early 60s, I worked in the G-2 (intelligence) office of my battalion. I was surely no James Bond, but I did need a security clearance and quickly was granted one to be around documents marked “secret.” There are now thousands waiting for their security clearances and 4.8 million who already have one!

When Edward Snowden, an analyst for a national security contractor, decided to tell the world that the National Security Agency was actually gathering meta-data about all of our communications (and the rest of the world’s), I was among those who were not surprised. Whole books had been written about this practice before and since 9/11. James Bamford had published “The Puzzle Palace” about the NSA way back in 1983!

The Justice Department has charged Snowden with conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, disclosing communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. The charges, each of which carries a potential 10-year prison term, were filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Well, at least that beats a firing squad.

Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media thinks a lot of notable news media personalities have been duped. “Those who claimed NSA traitor Edward Snowden was a patriot or hero have egg all over their faces, as the former NSA contract worker has fled from China to Russia…” I am inclined to agree.

It is a fact of life in this year of our Lord 2013 that information about you is so available that there are few if any of your purchases and preferences that are not known to every company with whom you do business. Your local supermarket knows the brand of cereal or shampoo you prefer. This is called “open source” information and it is not only gathered, but sold to anyone who wants it.

The information you voluntarily or unwittingly give to those with whom you do business as well as the information may post daily on your Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In accounts is all accessible and accessed.

The NSA has long had powers to scoop up scads of information about communications by, to, and from Americans. Its roots go back to the earliest days of the Cold War. Until recently revelations, we thought that the information we provide to the Internal Revenue Service was closely guarded and never to be used for political purposes, but in the Age of Obama, that illusion has been shattered.

In a recent Business Week article, Ashlee Vance reported “Less recognized is that, in this era of open-source software, the NSA gets direct access to the inventions of thousands of the smartest computer science minds on the planet for free.”

“It started,” said Vance,”with the founding of Google in 1998. The search engine giant needed to collect and analyze so much data that it couldn’t afford to buy systems from big-name tech companies. Instead, Google created its own open-source software program that ran across hundreds of thousands of computers. Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter have been even more aggressive about open-sourcing their underlying infrastructure.”

NSA and, indeed, the President, could have put a lot of the consternation to rest by coming out early and explaining what it does and the limitations under which it works. While it is most certainly a very secretive agency, there is much that is common knowledge about its mission.

In the post 9/11 era with a massive Homeland Security Agency charged with keeping us safe, it is a good, if not essential, idea to have a public discussion about the role of the Fourth Amendment protection of our privacy. Even though the Founders had no idea of modern communications they still believed that our privacy must be respected. Meanwhile, we live in a world of enormous electronic connectivity that is subject to surveillance.

Moreover, there are those who believe all the surveillance we are learning about is just the tip of the iceberg. There is widespread speculation that the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and other agencies has been working on a massive consolidation of power in the White House, preparing for the deliberate collapse of the U.S. dollar, and the chaos that would follow.

On June 19, the president of the Associated Press, Gary Pruitt, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. saying that the DOJ seizure of journalist’s phone records has had “a chilling effect” on newsgathering, not just for the AP but other newsgathering organizations. He described the collection of records affecting more than a hundred journalists was an “overbroad and sloppy fishing expedition” that failed to follow procedures on notification. If the intent was to impact legitimate news gathering, it was successful.

We still trust that law enforcement must secure a warrant to tap our phones, but the information about with whom we speak is routinely gathered, as it must, by telephone companies. It can be a useful tool to determine patterns, especially if they are between Americans and foreigners with bad intentions.

Inherent in all this data-gathering is the potential for its misuse—and worse—but that is true of much of what government does. The need for congressional oversight was never more paramount, but it comes at a time when the Congress is held in low esteem and sharply divided.

The greater present concern must be that we have a White House engaged in a plan to render the Constitution useless with a manufactured crisis to deliberately impose an authoritarian control over all of us.

We now living in an Orwellian era of super-dooper snoopers

© Alan Caruba, 2013

 

‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs – Tea Party Nation

‘Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,’ Read Emails, Texts, IMs – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Seton Motley

Note: This first appeared in Red State.

UPDATES: Aplenty – from late last night – below.  Please, indulge us and read from top to bottom – for clarity’s sake.

—–

That’s some good news right there.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls….

Hold the phone.  (Get it?)  The NSA claims “it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.”  The Fourth Amendment begs to differ.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How unreasonable are all of these probable-cause-and-warrant-free listening expeditions?

(T)he Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls….

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required….

More legal flights of fancy from Held-in-Bipartisan-Contempt-of-Congress-Once-and-Counting Attorney General Eric Holder.

Edward Snowden – the guy who first alerted us to this NSA-PRISM-NUCLEON mess – has had his veracity (and mental stability) challenged for claiming Little-Old-He could unilaterally “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to ev….”

Edward Snowden Is Completely Wrong

Not so wrong after all.

When some of us responded to all of this with alarm, we too were summarily dismissed.

‘Nobody is Listening to Your Telephone Calls,’ Obama Says

NSA Data Mining

The paranoid imagine that government eavesdroppers are listening in on their phone conversations and reading their intimate emails.

Someone is listening.  Thousands of someones (at least), in fact.  (And reading – please stay tuned.)  Not so paranoid after all.

(President Barack) Obama Calls Surveillance Programs Legal and Limited

“Legal” is highly dubious.  How about “limited?”

NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily

That’s a fairly expansive definition of “limited.”

By now, the following claim – now just nine days old – seems quaint and antiquated.  Not to mention fundamentally untrue.

President Insists Americans Not Target of Records Sweep

Again, we’re all James Rosens now.

What about our fantasies of the government reading our emails (and text messages, and instant m…?

(NSA phone call self-)authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too….

Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, being able to listen to phone calls would mean the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications too without going before a court and seeking approval.

Again, we’re all James Rosens now.  And then some.

But wait – we were told it was just the email and Internet metadata – not the content.

Again, not so much.

We have throughout this nightmare awakening had Big Government proponents and officials aplenty – up to and repeatedly including the President – lying their faces off about what is actually happening with our phone calls, emails and all things Internet.

Preemptively listening to, peeking at and harvesting the data of hundreds of millions of innocent Americans is not a “national security” prerogative.  It is, however, a Big Brother imperative.

So when we have warned you about things like:

Forget the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine – Net Neutrality is the Future of Ce…

Obama Official-Network Neutrality Deviser Says First Amendment Does…

And the Left’s response is:

Right-Wing Delusion: Net Neutrality is Government Plot to Control I…

We can all be forgiven for being more than a little skeptical.  On Net Neutrality – and just about everything else.

—–

UPDATE #1: Obama Administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper late last night released a statement denying most or all of the above.  Which in part reads:

“The statement that a single analyst can eavesdrop on domestic communications without proper legal authorization is incorrect and was not briefed to Congress.”

This is the same James Clapper that in a March 12 Congressional hearing lied to Oregon Democrat Senator Ron … – denying that trillions of Verizon domestic phone call sweeps were occurring.

Fire James Clapper

The Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress about NSA surveillance. What else will he lie about?

Good question.  Is it possible (probable?) that Clapper is lying again here?  Indeed it is.

Which makes the following even more pathetic.


UPDATE #2: New York Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler was a key original source for this eavesdropping story.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee….

In prostrating response to the statement from proven liar James Clapper – a member of the proven-lying Obama Administration – Congressman Nadler has retreated into being a good Democrat, but a troublingly bad representative of We the People and our Constitutio….

James Owens, a spokesman for Nadler, provided a statement on Sunday morning, a day after this (original) article was published, saying:

“I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”

Owens said he couldn’t comment on what assurances from the Obama administration Nadler was referring to, and said Nadler was unavailable for an interview.

Congressman Nadler was thus also unavailable to explain why or how this latest Obama Administration assertion, after all of these lies, is any more believable.

And is Congressman Nadler addled?  Was the briefing he (and obviously, ostensibly other Members) attended merely a figment of his imagination?

Hard to think so.  Especially since he – and Snowdon – aren’t the only people to make similar Administration snooping claims:

Senate Intelligence committee chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) confirmed on Thursday, according to the report, that a court order is not necessary for the NSA to search its call data database that it collects under secret orders from major U.S. telecom firms….

(F)ormer FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente disclosed to CNN that under certain investigations relating to the protection of national security, his former employer could access call records and contents of those calls.

“All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he claimed.

It is difficult under these circumstances – with all of these corroborating statements – to not think that what best represents the truth is what Congressman Nadler said first.

Given that the serially untruthful Obama Administration are the only ones denying it.

 

Holder’s contempt for House now affirmed – Washington Times

Holder’s contempt for House now affirmed – Washington Times.

Fast and Furious stonewall a result of Team Obama arrogance

By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman – The Washington Times

When the House of Representatives voted 255-67 to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress, Mr. Holder and his Justice Department, surprisingly, wasted no time proving that they have nothing but contempt for the lawmakers who undertook that historic measure.

Justice Department officials quickly announced that there would be no prosecution and that as far as they were concerned, no crime had been committed. Mr. Holder, his agency and by proxy, the Obama White House, thumbed its collective nose at Congress, and particularly at the family of a slain Border Patrol agent, who are still waiting for answers about his murder.

How ironic that an administration that rode into office talking about openness and accountability would slam the door of secrecy on the House investigation of Operation Fast and Furious and – at least, so far – not hold anyone accountable for that disastrous misadventure. By invoking executive privilege rather than release an estimated 1,300 subpoenaed documents to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder have claimed full ownership of a scandal for which previously, they had plausibly denied any direct responsibility.

Can it be anything but 100-proof arrogance that now has the attorney general – the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the nation – hiding behind the president’s executive shield and his own department’s indifference to place himself essentially above the law? The Justice Department has treated House Oversight Committee members like lepers, while not removing a single individual responsible for Fast and Furious from the government payroll. Justice took a quick glance at the House vote and blew it off. All these things taken in total reflect a contemptuous indifference toward an equal branch of government that has a job to do.

At the heart of this scandal is an inconvenient truth: Agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) embraced an investigative technique that was disastrous, and they knew it. Had this been a completely private enterprise that was uncovered, those responsible might have already gone before a grand jury, with possible indictments and convictions. Instead, the people most closely associated with Fast and Furious are still receiving paychecks.

Back in 2009, Mr. Holder and others in the Obama administration were sharply critical of “weak” gun laws that they blamed for contributing to Mexico’s mayhem. Gun dealers, gun shows and private citizens making perfectly legal transactions got the blame.

Revelations from the investigation – conducted primarily by online journalists, CBS and Fox News – have vindicated these traditional whipping boys. But gun owners deserve to know who approved this fiasco and then let them take the rap.

When Operation Fast and Furious began disintegrating following the December 2010 slaying of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in the Arizona desert, it was revealed that law-abiding gun dealers had raised red flags. They had been told to complete transactions they believed to be linked to gun smuggling. ATF agents were allegedly told to “stand down” rather than interdict weapons.

When Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley began inquiries, the Justice Department lied to him in a letter that has since been retracted because of “inaccuracies.” When the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation, they were stonewalled. Now, after the House contempt vote, Mr. Holder and the Justice Department are telling Capitol Hill and the American people that we have no right to know what has been done in our name, using our tax money.

The people do have a right to know, especially from an administration touting itself as the “most transparent” in our history, and we need to know now, not after the November election.

Alan Gottlieb is founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. Dave Workman is communications director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Eric Holder’s Tangled Web of Deception – Lurita Doan – Townhall.com

Eric Holder’s Tangled Web of Deception – Lurita Doan – Townhall.com.

How disheartening to watch U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder maneuver, spin, duck, dodge and dissemble.  Perhaps Holder still clings to the notion that he is serving the country and protecting the President, but his actions have pushed him well beyond that high ground.  Even Democrat leaders in congress, long-time Holder allies who long ago stopped thinking for themselves and who now resemble crazed wildebeests lost in their blind stampede against Republicans, are having doubts.  

During three years at Justice, Attorney General Holder has told too many tales, ducked accountability too many times and has too-often clung to the tattered banner of racist assertions.  

Americans have watched this recent Team Obama drama unfold over the past two years as the Attorney General initially claimed no knowledge of the Fast & Furious operation, then admitted limited knowledge but no direct involvement, to his recent assertion of Executive Privilege, implying that not only is Holder involved, but that the President is also.  

Holder’s Fast & Furious story has changed so often, and usually after additional scrutiny is applied, that the Justice Department’s credibility and Holder’s has been shredded.  The credibility of the Justice Department to is further eroded by the latest round of comical maneuvering by the President to assert Executive Privilege  to protect deliberations between the Attorney General and the President regarding an operation about which they both claim they knew nothing.  That Holder and Obama expect Americans to believe such contradictory posturings boggle the mind.  

Now, right on cue, the Democrat leadership wildebeests stampede to the next waterhole by crying GOP anti-Holder “racism”, when explaining congress’ motive in finding Eric Holder guilty of contempt of congress.    Haven’t Americans had enough of that old saw?  And doesn’t a 258 vote for with only 95 against disprove the “racism” claims?

Let’s look at some facts.

AG Holder has testified that he cannot provide the documents requested by Congress regarding Fast & Furious and the death of Border Agent, Brian Terry, because they are considered too “sensitive” to share with Congress.  

How ironic that the White House and DoJ see no commensurate sensitivity preventing them from revealing the identity of an informer who aided the United States, providing data that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Eric Holder, the Department of Justice and the White House, are awfully quick to release sensitive information that might imprison and ultimately kill a potential ally if the politics suggest a small bump in the polls might be gained.

Nor is that all.  We have seen details of secret operations leaked by the White House, methods and sources coughed up that our intelligence experts say will set back our nation’s ability for the next ten years.  And yet, Holder urges Americans to look away; nothing untoward is happening here he says, as he urges all Americans to join the unthinking, Democrat wildebeests and keep moving along.  

AG Holder also tells Americans that the House Oversight Committee’s inquiry into Fast & Furious is a waste of time, a waste of taxpayer money, and that there is more important work that the Department of Justice needs to be doing.

Right.  Consider this: assisting congress’ investigation into the Fast & Furious debacle, which led to the death of an American border agent and the placement of thousands of assault weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, is a waste of the government’s time?  However, spending three and a half year and almost $100 million taxpayer dollars building a twice-failed case against baseball legend, Roger Clemens, was a better use of DoJ time, energy and tax payer dollars?  Go figure.

The Department of Justice doesn’t have time to investigate and to prosecute with rigor social security disability fraud either, even though it costs our nation almost $200 billion dollars annually in wrongful payments.

Then there is the special case of Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel.   Americans may have forgotten Scott Bloch; the Department of Justice certainly hopes they have.  Bloch was the fellow that unscrupulous Democrat leaders in congress once depended upon to serve up juicy morsels of scandal and alleged misdeeds within the Bush Administration.  Democrats quoted him often, the New York Times and Washington Post rushed editorials.  Then, the FBI raided his office and discovered that he had lied to Congress and had constructed an elaborate disinformation campaign to falsely discredit others.

To cover his tracks, Bloch paid ‘Geeks on Call’ to erase government computers and asked his chums to post blog reports, masquerading as wounded warriors to try and settle scores and sway public opinion.   Bloch was, quite frankly, a real piece of work, who was finally caught after a long run and was forced to plead guilty to lying to Congress back in 2008.   For the past several years, Holder’s Justice Department has helped Bloch escape all responsibility for lying to Congress and falsifying government reports, accepting stall after stall, as Bloch attempts to avoid the mandatory jail term and fine associated with his misdeeds.  

Seemingly, under AG Holder, the Department of Justice is not so much interested in facts and justice, but rather is wholly consumed with political tradeoffs and calculations.  

Justice for those that help the political fortunes of Mr. Holder, and his allies, is far different from the justice others can expect.    

Of course, no description of just how Mr. Holder’s DoJ carefully selects investigations to coincide with the political benefits derived can be complete without a mention of the two Black Panthers swinging night sticks at potential voters at a voting precinct in Philadelphia in 2008.   

Holder’s Justice Department doesn’t have time to investigate that that kind of voter intimidation, but, instead, is now mobilizing huge resources and millions of taxpayer funds to prevent states such as Florida from updating voter lists by removing the people that have died, Mickey Mouse, and countless others that had been added to the voter rolls by fraudsters like ACORN.   

Perhaps Americans should admit that Justice, under Eric Holder’s leadership, is both arbitrary and dangerous, and is neither fair nor swift.  Democrat party leaders crying “racism” is demeaning and shameful and is nothing but a poor attempt to intimidate Congressman Darryl Issa and the House Oversight Committee into silence.

Americans should also understand that holding Holder in contempt of congress is important for what it represents.  First, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are supposed to work for the same goal—the good of the American people.  There should be truth between the two branches. So the contempt charge proves that our Founding Father’s system of checks and balances does work.

Second, in voting 258 – 95, Congress seems to be saying that under Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, the law is not being applied fairly or equally, and that the decisions, at the highest level, of what Department of Justice and Team Obama considers “transparent” and time-worthy is capricious, vindictive and politically motivated.  Congress seems to be saying that Americans deserve better—and we do.

Democrats to Defect, Vote for Holder Contempt – Newsmax.com

Democrats to Defect, Vote for Holder Contempt – Newsmax.com.

A rapidly growing number of Democrats are lining up to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Thursday for withholding documents in the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, a botched sting operation that let guns slip into the hands of drug cartels.

At least five Democrats so far have said they plan to vote to hold Holder in contempt, according to Fox News, and as many as 11 appear ready to break ranks. They include Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga, Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.; Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Jim Matheson, D-Utah; and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.

“The only way to get to the bottom of what happened is for the Department of Justice to turn over the remaining documents,” said Barrow. “We can work together to ensure this tragedy never happens again.”

Federal agents allowed 2,500 firearms to be illegally purchased on the Southwest border. Two of the guns were recovered when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.

“The Terry family, the public and Congress deserve answers,” said Matheson, a six-term Democrat from Utah. “Sadly, it seems that it will take holding the attorney general in contempt to communicate that evasiveness is unacceptable. It is a vote I will support.”

The votes are expected hours after the Supreme Court will capture the nation’s attention with its ruling on the legality of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Even without that diversion, the contempt issue throws both parties temporarily off-track in their efforts to focus on the economy in an election year.

There’s little question that Republicans will get the votes they need, not only from their own majority but from Democrats aligned with the National Rifle Association — which has said it’s keeping score.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving House member and normally an NRA supporter, said Wednesday he would not back the contempt resolutions but instead wants the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to conduct a more thorough investigation.

The criminal contempt resolution would send the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who is under Holder. The civil contempt resolution would allow the House to go to court in an effort to force Holder to turn over documents the Oversight committee wants. In past cases, courts have been reluctant to settle disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government.

The House is unlikely to get the documents anytime soon, because President Barack Obama has invoked a broad form of executive privilege, which protects from disclosure internal documents in executive branch agencies.

In nearly three hours of arguments before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats squared off with oft-repeated arguments that have turned a major constitutional issue into a political food fight.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and chairman of the Oversight panel, told the Rules Committee that the documents sought were essential to learn who in the administration produced a February, 2011 letter denying that Operation Fast and Furious allowed guns to “walk” from Arizona to Mexico. The Justice Department has already given Issa’s committee 7,600 pages on the operation itself. The documents now sought covered a period after the operation was shut down.

Referring to Justice Department officials, he asked, “When did they know we were lied to and what did they do about it?” It took 10 months before the administration acknowledged the false information. Issa said he had no evidence that Holder knew of the gun-walking tactics.

The ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, countered, “Why are we rushing” toward the first-ever vote to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt? He said he was certain that the dispute could be worked out.

“It has all the trappings of a witch hunt,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee. She also said, “I don’t think there’s any way we’re doing justice to Brian Terry with what we’re doing today.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the public would view the vote as “political theater” and “gamesmanship.”

Carney said the Justice Department and the White House on Tuesday had shown House Republicans a representative sample of the documents they were seeking. He said the administration’s offer would have provided “unprecedented access” to internal communications about how it responded to congressional inquiries into the Fast and Furious program.

Ironically, the documents at the heart of the current argument are not directly related to the workings of Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed guns to “walk” from Arizona to Mexico in hopes they could be tracked. The department has given Issa 7,600 documents on the operation.

Rather, Issa wants internal communications from February 2011, when the administration denied knowledge of gun-walking, to the end of that year, when officials acknowledged the denial was erroneous. Those documents covered a period after Fast and Furious had been shut down.

In Fast and Furious, agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona abandoned the agency’s usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers who long had eluded prosecution and to dismantle their networks.

Gun-walking long has been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before Fast and Furious. The agents in Arizona lost track of several hundred weapons in the operation.

EDITORIAL: Holder’s contempt and Obama’s privilege – Washington Times

EDITORIAL: Holder’s contempt and Obama’s privilege – Washington Times.

Fast and Furious fight heads to the House floor

President Obama’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to forestall contempt-of-Congress proceedings against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. failed. Instead, the claim elevates the dispute between the administration and Capitol Hill to a new and troubling level. The operative question now is, what did the president know and when did he know it?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted Wednesday to recommend a contempt charge against Mr. Holder. Since October, the Justice Department has refused to respond to a subpoena seeking 1,300 pages of documents related to the botched Fast and Furious Mexican gunrunning operation. Negotiations between the Justice Department and committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, broke down, and the contempt recommendation followed.

Mr. Obama’s last-minute move to extend the umbrella of executive privilege raises the question of whether the president or his staff had extensive prior knowledge of the operation, because this privilege can only be invoked when the chief executive’s office is involved. “Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding Fast and Furious were confined to the Department of Justice,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the Fast and Furious operation or the cover-up that followed.”

Mr. Holder claims the documents in question are internal and deliberative and thus are records that traditionally are removed from congressional oversight. The committee is investigating the role Mr. Holder played in these very deliberations and how much he knew about the operation. He swore under oath that his involvement was limited and came late in the game, but he is withholding evidence that could either support or undercut his testimony. White House intervention gives the appearance that Mr. Holder’s stonewalling was not to protect himself from a perjury charge, but to conceal hitherto unknown Oval Office involvement in Fast and Furious. This also may explain why Mr. Holder said that what should have been a routine investigation could lead to a “constitutional crisis.”

Mr. Obama has an affinity for exerting unilateral power, so the attempt to extend executive privilege ought not to come as a surprise. Former President Bill Clinton made no such effort when his attorney general, Janet Reno, faced a contempt charge from the same committee in 1998. That dispute was resolved eventually without any broad claims of authority even though Mr. Clinton did exercise the privilege on 14 other occasions.

The danger in the administration’s strategy is that congressional investigators may already have obtained documents by other means. Earlier this month, Mr. Issa revealed that an anonymous whistleblower had provided wiretap applications related to Fast and Furious that had been under a federal court seal. Those papers by themselves probably have no bearing on Mr. Holder’s case or on the matter of White House participation, but it is possible that Mr. Issa may yet obtain other material directly contradicting Mr. Holder’s sworn testimony or revealing White House involvement. It remains to be seen whether this investigation will produce a smoking gun.

The Washington Times

It’s about time. – Tea Party Nation

It’s about time. – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

After months of dithering, the House is finally taking action against Eric Holder.  Holder has simply stonewalled Congress, refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee and refusing to take legal actions to prevent the disclosure, such as claiming the documents are protected by privilege. 

 From CBS News:

 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.

 There is even better news.  Perhaps it is simply an election year or perhaps John Boehner is finally getting the message.  It looks like he is hauling down his freshly laundered white flag of surrender and is supporting this move.

 From the Hill:

 The action has been contemplated for weeks, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) threw his support behind the politically-sensitive move in a statement on Monday.

  “The Justice Department is out of excuses,” Boehner said. “Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.”

 Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also weighed in with his support.

 “Assuming Attorney General Holder continues to stonewall, we will have no choice but to hold him in contempt for his failure to provide the documents necessary to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again,” Cantor said.

  Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Republicans on his panel argue Holder has failed to hand over documents related to the gun-tracking operation.

  In Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel operations in the hope of tracking them to wanted criminals and them making big arrests.

 If there is no other reason to make certain the House stays in Republican hands this fall, it would be to make certain this investigation continues.  If Nancy Pelosi were to ascend back to the Speaker’s chair, you can be certain this investigation would die an immediate death.

 The Obama Regime believes it is above the law.  It needs a reality check quickly and the House of Representatives is the only body today that can deliver that check.

HANDRAHAN: Eric Holder’s sizzling summer – Washington Times

HANDRAHAN: Eric Holder’s sizzling summer – Washington Times.

Attorney general on hot seat for probes on gun-running, child exploitation funds

By Lori Handrahan

What a week it was in Washington. Summer heat has not yet hit, but steam already is rising from Republicans on the Hill as they express outrage over U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s conduct.

Mr. Holder was up on the Hill last week testifying before Congress, again, about the Department of Justice’s gun-tracking Fast and Furious operation. There are allegations of lies and obstruction of justice committed by department employees and claims that the attorney general himself is covering for his staff rather than upholding the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Holder’s recent testimony caused Rep. Paul A. Gosar, Arizona Republican, to declare Mr. Holder is unfit to be America’s attorney general.

Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hopes to hold Mr. Holder in congressional contempt over his alleged refusal to share information with the American people and Congress about which department officials were involved in this botched program.

Just a mile or so downtown from the Hill, another shoe quietly dropped this week for the attorney general. On Tuesday, Cause of Action, a Washington-based nonprofit dedicated to government accountability, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for extensive records of Justice’s federal funds provided to states – specifically Maine – with the intention of prosecuting child porn perpetrators and keeping America’s children safe.

Cause of Action’s FOIA states, “Internet crimes against children are the fastest-growing crime in the United States. We therefore write seeking information about the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal DivisionsChild Exploitation and Obscenity Section and its funding of Internet Crimes Against Children investigations, specifically as they concern the State of Maine.”

After noting the large amount, perhaps millions of dollars, of the department’s federal funds going to Maine compared with just seven referrals in one year, Cause of Action’s FOIA request states that “one is left to wonder what Maine is doing with the federal money it receives.”

Anyone who follows Maine may have a theory about these missing funds. The state of Maine is, by all accounts, a failed state. Maine received an F for overall corruption risk, 46th out of 50 states in preventive measures. It received an F and ranked the absolute worst in the country for judicial oversight, with zero accountability for judges. Maine received an F on child-trafficking prevention. Trafficking of women and children is one of organized crime’s signature businesses.

Maine indeed it is a miserable state, particularly if you are a child hoping to be kept safe from pedophiles. So it is little surprise to Maine-watchers that millions of Department of Justice federal funds might have gone missing north of Boston.

The real question is: Will Mr. Holder withhold the documents that Cause of Action has just requested related to the potential misuse of funds meant to protect our children? Congressional Republicans allege Mr. Holder has done just that with documents related to Fast and Furious. Will he cover for his staff rather than uphold the Constitution and protect America’s children?

If so, Mr. Holder could be back on the Hill soon facing more Republican heat, this time for obstruction-of-justice allegations related to federal funds meant to protect our children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It just may be that Cause of Action’s quiet little Freedom of Information Act request could result in a very hot summer for Eric Holder and the Department of Justice.

Lori Handrahan is a professor at American University’s School of International Service in Washington and serves on the United Nations’ Interagency Standing Committee Child Protection Working Group.

Holder’s Chutzpah – Thomas Sowell – Townhall Conservative Columnists

Holder’s Chutzpah – Thomas Sowell – Townhall Conservative Columnists.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently told a group of black clergymen that the right to vote was being threatened by people who are seeking to block access to the ballot box by blacks and other minorities.

This is truly world-class chutzpah, by an Attorney General who stopped attorneys in his own Department of Justice from completing the prosecution of black thugs who stationed themselves outside a Philadelphia voting site to harass and intimidate white voters.

This may have seemed like a small episode to some at the time, but it was only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting that case — J. Christian Adams — resigned from the Department of Justice in protest, and wrote a book about a whole array of similar race-based decisions on voting rights by Eric Holder and his subordinates at the Department of Justice.

The book is titled “Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department.” It names names, dates and places around the country where the Department of Justice stopped its own attorneys from pursuing cases of voter fraud and intimidation, when it was blacks who were accused of these crimes.

If Mr. Adams is lying, he has taken a huge risk in citing individuals by name and quoting them directly. Yet, despite the fact that most of those he accuses are lawyers, apparently no one has sued him. Moreover, Adams has also testified under oath before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, on the racial double standard at the Department of Justice, when it comes to voting rights.

What Attorney General Holder has been complaining loudly about, and launching federal lawsuits about, are states that require photo identification to vote. Holder calls this blocking minority “access” to the voting booths.

Since millions of black Americans — like millions of white Americans — are confronted with demands for photo identification at airports, banks and innumerable other institutions, it is a little much to claim that requiring the same thing to vote is denying the right to vote. But Holder’s chutzpah is up to the task.

Attorney General Holder claims that the states’ requirement of photo identification for voting, in order to prevent voter fraud, is just a pretext for discriminating against blacks and other minorities. He apparently sees no voter fraud, hears no voter fraud and speaks no voter fraud.

Despite Holder’s claim, a little experiment in his own home voting district showed how easy it is to commit voter fraud. An actor — a white actor, at that — went to a voting place where Eric Holder is registered to vote, and told them that he was Eric Holder.

The actor had no identification at all with him, either with or without a photo. He told the voting official that he had forgotten and left his identification in his car. Instead of telling him to go back to the car and get some identification, the official said that that was all right, and offered him the ballot.

The actor had the good sense not to actually take the ballot, which would have made him guilty of voter fraud — and, being white, he would undoubtedly have been prosecuted by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.

But the actor had made his point. When a white man with no identification can go to a voting site, impersonate a black man who lives in that district, and get his ballot offered to him, then it is far too easy to commit voter fraud.

Does not Attorney General Eric Holder understand that? Of course he understands it! The man is not stupid, despite his other failings.

Holder’s pooh-poohing of voter fraud dangers, and hyping the “threat” of denying minorities “access” to the voting booth, are completely consistent with his drive to (1) maximize the number of votes by black Democrats and (2) spread as much fear as possible among minorities that they are under siege, and that the Democrats are their only protection and salvation.

It is a political protection racket, with payoffs in votes.

Nor can Holder’s boss, Barack Obama, be unaware of voter fraud. After all, he comes from Chicago, where voting officials refuse to discriminate against dead people.

Four GOP lawmakers hit Holder on guns operation – Washington Times

Four GOP lawmakers hit Holder on guns operation – Washington Times.

By Jerry SeperThe Washington Times

Four senior House Republicans say Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has not fully cooperated with a congressional subpoena seeking information on the botched “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation and suggested the nation’s top prosecutor comply with a 7-month-old subpoena or face the consequences.

“As co-equal branches of the U.S. government, the relationship between the legislative and executive branches must be predicated on honest communications and cannot be clouded by allegations of obstruction,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa said in a letter Friday to Mr. Holder.

“If necessary, the House will act to fulfill our constitutional obligations in the coming weeks. It is our hope that, with your cooperation, this sad chapter in the history of American law enforcement can be put behind us,” they stated.

The four lawmakers told the attorney general the Justice Department has not sufficiently complied with a congressional subpoena seeking answers on the operation, and questioned whether false information that was provided — and later withdrawn — was “part of a broader effort by your department to obstruct a congressional investigation.”

They said the family of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, killed in December in a gunbattle along the Arizona-Mexico border where one of the Operation Fast and Furious-purchased assault rifles was discovered, deserved to “know the truth about the circumstances that led to Agent Terry’s murder.”

“The American people deserve to know how such a fundamentally flawed operation could have continued for so long and have a full accounting of who knew of and approved an operation that placed weapons in the hands of drug cartels,” they said.

Mr. Issa’s committee drafted a contempt of Congress resolution against Mr. Holder earlier this month for not responding to an Oct. 21 subpoena for internal Justice Department documents.

In the letter, the lawmakers said two key questions remained unanswered: Who among the Justice Department leadership was informed of the “reckless tactics” used in Fast and Furious prior to Terry’s death, and did Mr. Holder’s leadership team mislead or misinform Congress in response to a congressional subpoena?

“Fast & Furious was a fundamentally flawed operation. It was taken to an extreme that resulted in at least one death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and unknown other consequences, because U.S. law enforcement agencies allowed thousands of firearms to be illegally ‘walked’ into Mexico and into the hands of drug cartels,” the lawmakers said.

“It is our hope that, in finding the truth, we can both provide closure to the Terry family, begin to repair our relationship with Mexico, and take steps to make necessary changes at the department,” they said.

The letter also noted that seven wiretaps were approved for the Fast and Furious operation by the department’s leadership between March 2010 and July 2010. It said whether the information used to justify the wiretaps or the information gained from them was used in any ongoing criminal prosecution was “immaterial to the question of who on your leadership team reviewed and approved the wiretaps and was therefore privy to the details of the Fast and Furious operation.”

The lawmakers said Mr. Holder’s assertion that his leadership team could approve wiretaps in 2010 and yet not have any knowledge of the tactics used in Fast and Furious until 2011 “simply cannot be accurate and furthers the perception that the department is not being forthright with Congress.”

The said the Terry family “deserves to know the truth about the circumstances” that led to their son’s death, that the whistle-blowers who brought the operation to light “deserve to be protected, not intimidated, by their government,” and the “American people deserve to know how such a fundamentally flawed operation could have continued for so long and have a full accounting of who knew of and approved an operation that placed weapons in the hands of drug cartels.”