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Posts tagged ‘Chuck Grassley’

Police Laud Senate for Rejecting ‘Cop Killer’ Justice Nominee.


Image: Police Laud Senate for Rejecting 'Cop Killer' Justice Nominee Debo Adegbile

By Todd Beamon

Police organizations on Wednesday praised the Senate — and the Democrats who broke ranks — for blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division after strong lobbying against Debo Adegbile, who once helped overturn the death sentence of a convicted “cop killer.”

“We were most gratified,” Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, told Newsmax. “We’re ecstatic – and we’re very grateful to the Democratic senators who voted ‘no’ on this nomination.”

The vote was 47-52, with eight Democrats joining Republicans to end debate on Adegbile’s nomination and send it to a full floor vote.

With 51 votes needed to proceed with the nomination, the move represented the Democrats’ first major defeat since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked “the nuclear option” regarding presidential appointees in November.

“There’s a whole bunch of other things that he can do well,” Johnson said of Adegbile. “There are a ton of other men and women who are very well qualified who can serve as the assistant attorney general for civil rights who don’t have this baggage of having defended a cop killer.”

Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he was “very proud and pleased that a majority of the Senate agreed with the FOP and other law-enforcement organizations on this nominee.”

“Many of our closest allies and champions . . . were conflicted between their belief that the president should be allowed to have his choice lead the civil rights division and the nearly unanimous opposition from the law-enforcement community,” he said.

“But I was very pleased and heartened that all of our allies, regardless of their vote today, listened to our earnest arguments and objections.”

Adegbile, 46, was working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when the organization intervened on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1981 and sentenced to death by a Pennsylvania court for brutally killing Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner after Abu-Jamal’s brother had been stopped by police.

The organization first became involved in the case in 2006, filing a court brief on Abu-Jamal’s behalf. Adegbile argued the case as the Legal Defense Fund’s head of litigation in 2011.

The death sentence was vacated by a federal court in a ruling that was later upheld by an appellate court and then allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu-Jamal is now serving life in prison.

The fund’s actions were strongly opposed by dozens of local and national police organizations — though they attracted such Hollywood celebrities as Ed Asner, Whoopi Goldberg, and Martin Sheen.

The slain officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, cheered Wednesday’s vote.

“I am very relieved that the Senate vote turned out the way it did,” she said in a posting on a website devoted to keeping her late husband’s memory alive. The headline on the statement read, “We Won.”

“I want to thank all of the senators that listened to their conscience and voted to block this nomination,” she said. “While this is a great result for my family, the law enforcement community and myself included, we know that we need to remain vigilant to ensure that this decision is not reconsidered.”

Seven Democrats broke ranks to vote with the Republicans. They were Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, John Walsh of Montana, and Chris Coons of Delaware.

Reid, who represents Nevada, then cast the eighth vote, which allows him to bring Adegbile’s nomination back for reconsideration. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination last month on a 10-8, party-line vote.

Adegbile is senior counsel to the committee’s chairman, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Even though White House officials hinted that Adegbile’s nomination might be withdrawn, President Barack Obama quickly condemned the vote, calling it a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”

Republicans hit the ground running in the Senate floor debate, with Pennsylvania’s other senator, Pat Toomey, reading a letter from Maureen Faulkner.

“Today, as my husband lies 33 years in his grave, his killer has become a wealthy celebrity,” the GOP legislator read.

“Old wounds have once again been ripped open, and additional insult is brought upon our law enforcement community in this country by President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile,” Toomey read.

Other senators charged that Adegbile’s connection to the Abu-Jamal case disqualified him from holding higher office and that his appointment would lead him to “politicize” the civil rights division.

“Everyone deserves a fair trial and a zealous legal defense,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote. “Lawyers aren’t personally responsible for the actions of their clients. But lawyers are responsible for their own actions.

“In this case, the nominee inserted his office in an effort to turn reality on its head, impugn honorable and selfless law-enforcement officers, and glorify an unrepentant cop killer,” the Kentucky Republican added. “This is not required by our legal system. On the contrary, it is noxious to it.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, noted that Adegbile’s nomination was opposed by Seth Williams, a Democrat who is Philadelphia’s district attorney.

He added that Adegbile had “a long history of advocating legal positions far outside the mainstream.”

“It’s a record that demonstrates he is simply too deeply committed to these liberal causes to be an effective and fair leader of the civil rights division,” Grassley said.

After the vote, Coons, the Delaware Democrat, called his vote “one of the most difficult I have taken since joining the Senate, but I believe it to be right for the people I represent.”

He said he supported the nomination at the committee level because it “should be debated and considered by the full Senate. As a lawyer, I understand the importance of having legal advocates willing to fight for even the most despicable clients, and I embrace the proposition that an attorney is not responsible for the actions of their client.”

“The decades-long public campaign by others, however, to elevate a heinous, cold-blooded killer to the status of a political prisoner and folk hero has caused tremendous pain to the widow of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and shown great disrespect for law-enforcement officers and families throughout our region,” Coons said.

Toomey said the vote represented “a good day for Pennsylvania, for America, and for those who believe in justice. It was a hard-fought victory to the end.”

“Today, the Senate affirmed that our criminal justice system must never be abused to propagate a dishonest, radical agenda,” Toomey said. “The American people, especially law enforcement and Maureen Faulkner, deserve better.”

Casey’s office released no statement on Wednesday’s vote, but the senator said on his website last week that he would not support Adegbile’s nomination.

“The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the city of Philadelphia,” Casey said.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus even hinted strongly that the vote would factor into this fall’s congressional elections.

Priebus called Adegbile “a convicted cop-killer’s most ardent defender,” and noted that several Democrats seeking new terms in swing states had voted to advance the nomination.

One such vulnerable Democrat, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, declined to comment on her vote for Adegbile, Politico reports.

Two other “red-state” Democrats facing tough challenges this fall, Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Begich of Alaska, also voted for the nomination.

Besides Coons, two other Democrats on the ballot this fall, Pryor in Arkansas and Walsh in Montana, voted against Adegbile’s nomination.

In a statement to Newsmax later Wedneday, McConnell slammed the nomination as an example of Reid’s abuse of the Senate rules when he invoked “the nuclear option” last year.

The move lowered the number of votes needed to end filibusters on presidential nominees from 60 to a simple majority.

“This particular nominee would likely not have been nominated at all but for the majority leader breaking the rules of the Senate last November,” McConnell said. “This nominee was so unfit that even seven Democrats couldn’t support it.

“You begin to get the picture here: part of the reason for lowering the threshold was so that the president could send up anybody he wanted to, and presumably get them confirmed,” McConnell added. “He was too difficult for even seven Democrats to swallow.”

In sizing up the Senate vote to Newsmax, NAPO’s Johnson echoed McConnell.

“We figured that Sen. Casey would vote ‘no’ because Officer Faulkner was from Philadelphia, but we were really wondering which Democrats would come around.

“The bottom line was that this was just a poorly-thought-out nomination,” Johnson said. “Some of the most sensitive cases out there fall within his purview at the Department of Justice.

“It really just demands the highest level of implicit trust — both ways, between law enforcement and the attorneys at the Justice Department — in order to prosecute these cases.”

Based in Alexandria, Va., NAPO represents more than 250,000 sworn police officers.

“It really could have saved a lot of energy and heartache for the family and coworkers of Officer Faulkner” if Adegbile had not been nominated, Johnson told Newsmax. “To have this case dragged through the press again and again, it never ends.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Christine O’Donnell: Tax Law Didn’t Protect Me.


A federal law intended to protect the privacy of personal tax information has become a “shield” to protect tax agency employees, says tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, whose tax data was accessed  immediately after she announced her Republican Senate candidacy in Delaware nearly three years ago.

“What was written as a well-meaning law to protect taxpayers has inexplicably transformed into a shield for the perpetrators,” O’Donnell wrote in the New York Post Saturday under the headline “Christine O’Donnell: I was a victim of the IRS.”

“Unless the law is changed, there will be no public accountability for those who committed this crime, no one will be brought to justice — and there will be no deterrent preventing such crimes from being committed again.”

O’Donnell defeated former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle, in a 2010 primary for Vice President Joe Biden’s old seat, but lost the general election to Democrat Chris Coons.

The day she announced her candidacy the Internal Revenue Service placed an $11,744 tax lien on a Wilmington home O’Donnell had sold in 2008.

“On March 9, 2010, around 10 a.m., I announced my plans to run for the Senate representing Delaware,” O’Donnell said in her Post column. “Later that same day, my office received a call from a reporter asking about my taxes.

“It’s since come out, after a halting and unenthusiastic investigation, that a Delaware Department of Revenue employee named David Smith accessed my records that day at approximately 2 p.m. — out of curiosity, he says.

“That these records ended up in the hands of the press is just a coincidence, the IRS claims,” O’Donnell said.

“The tax records given to the reporters weren’t even accurate,” she continued. “I had never fallen behind on my taxes, and a supposed tax lien was on a house I no longer owned.

“The lien was highly publicized and used as political ammunition by my political opponents. The IRS later withdrew the lien and blamed it on a computer glitch but, at that point, the damage — and the invasion of my privacy — was done,” O’Donnell said.

She noted how the IRS has admitted to targeting tea party, conservative, and religious groups in their applications for tax-exempt status and acknowledged how “opponents of President Obama have been subjected to audits soon after criticizing the administration.”

In fact, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and other conservatives have charged to Newsmax TV that last month’s indictment of Obama critic and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza on campaign-finance charges “smacks of selective prosecution.”

“What we all have in common,” O’Donnell said. “No answers.”

A Treasury Department official told O’Donnell in January 2013 that “my tax records were compromised and misused,” she said, but since then, “no one has been called to testify, no more answers given.

“How did Smith’s curiosity become an erroneous tax lien? How did the material end up in the hands of a journalist?” O’Donnell asked. “Neither Smith, nor anyone else in the Delaware Department of Revenue, nor anyone at the IRS, has never been placed under oath to explain this.”

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are investigating the IRS targeting — and Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley has discussed O’Donnell’s case.

Just this week, Grassley and three other Judiciary Committee members called on FBI Director James Comey to answer specific questions regarding the “routine review” of campaign filings, IRS records and other data that led to the D’Souza indictment.

But “in a brutal irony, even if Congress does track down answers, they may not be able to share what they discover with me,” O’Donnell said.

That’s because of the law requiring the privacy of personal tax information.

“Too bad it didn’t protect mine,” O’Donnell said.

“It has already been 10 months since Sen. Grassley and I were told by Treasury Department officials that we would be given information about my case,” she added. “What is taking so long?

“The only way people will be confident the government is truly on their side is if these cases are resolved with the perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice,” O’Donnell said. “Until then, any taxpayer is a potential target.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Todd Beamon

Obama Under Pressure to Move Soon on NSA Reform.


Image: Obama Under Pressure to Move Soon on NSA Reform

Lawmakers expect President Barack Obama to announce changes to the National Security Agency’s metadata surveillance program before he makes his State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

The president met in private session with 16 members of the House and Senate Thursday,reports The Hill, and while he did not endorse any specific reforms, he said the NSA’s surveillance programs will have to undergo reform, said lawmakers after the meeting.

“Close to half the members of Congress” think reforms and reductions should be made to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the NSA to collect bulk data on phone calls inside the United States, said Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama is still considering options, reports CBS News.

“He’s not yet finished with that and he is still soliciting input, which he did today, sort of reviewing the scope of the matter and some of the ideas that were presented,” Carney said.

Some parts of the program will still require reviews beyond the next few weeks, even if Obama makes an announcement, he added.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said after the meeting that he “wouldn’t be surprised a bit” if Obama makes an announcement next week.

“Many of us made clear our belief that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone calls must end,” Leahy said in a press statement. “This is consistent with the recommendations made by the President’s Review Group.”

Leahy acknowledged there are differences of opinion among lawmakers, “but at least the president knows where we stand.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she will kill legislation sponsored by Leahy and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to end the phone records collections.

The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology last month proposed ending the government’s storage of metadata. After the meeting, Feinstein bashed that plan, saying it could cost phone carriers as much as $60 million a year to store records.

But lawmakers said Obama is more likely to take other actions, including adding a public advocate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Other senators at Thursday’s meeting included Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the ranking GOP member on the intelligence panel; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. However, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a prominent NSA critic, was not invited.

House members present were House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers , R-Mich.; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.; Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.; Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind.; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; and Sensenbrenner.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Congress Gets Perks if Members Get Obamacare Through DC Exchange.


Image: Congress Gets Perks if Members Get Obamacare Through DC Exchange

By Elliot Jager

Members of Congress who are signing up for insurance through the District of Columbia health exchange are getting enhanced customer service and benefits, The Los Angeles Times reported.
During the 2010 debate on the Affordable Care Act, goaded by Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, Congress voted that members and staff members would give up their first-class congressional coverage and purchase health insurance though the exchanges just like other Americans.
Over time this solidarity was modified and diluted, according to the Times.
Elected officials are now treated as “small businesses” at the DC exchange instead of as individuals, and can choose from 112 plans, compared to 34 available to the general public.
This puts their benefits package in line with what was available to them prior to Obamacare.
In-person counseling also is available on Capitol Hill to assist with questions members or their staffers may have.
Four major insurers are actively competing for their business and have dedicated hotlines to queries from members of Congress, the Times reported.
These perks are no different than those offered to other large employers in the District of Columbia, say congressional staffers.
It was Grassley’s intent in 2010 that Congress live under the same healthcare policies it was imposing on the rest of the country. Now, however, participation is no longer required and elected officials and staff members who get insurance from the D.C. exchange are eligible for subsidies of as much as 75 percent of their monthly costs.
Capitol Hill staff members who do not work directly in a lawmaker’s office may keep their old health plans.
The Times reports that politicians are aware that receiving special treatment might not be politically wise. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will donate the value of his healthcare subsidy to charity.
Democratic Sen. Mark Begich signed up using Alaska’s healthcare exchange, thus giving up the subsidy available through the D.C. exchange and assuming a higher monthly premium.
Fellow Democrats up for re-election — including. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana — also plan to skip the D.C. exchange and enroll in their home-state exchanges.
Begich said he wanted to “have the exact same experience and go through the same steps as other Alaskans when it comes to signing up for healthcare.”
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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Feds: Agent Can Now Write Book on Fast and Furious.


A federal agent reportedly will be allowed to write a book about the gun sting dubbed Operation Fast and Furious, reversing an earlier attempt by the government to block the publication.

But the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will request some redactions in the book by whistle-blower Special Agent John DodsonPolitico reported Thursday.

And whether Dodson will be able to profit from sales of “The Unarmed Truth” is under review, according to Politico and CNN, which first reported the story.

Dodson had been told earlier this month federal regulations prohibit agents from profiting off their work as employees while still working for the agency.

But the ACLU; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.; and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, all sent letters to the ATF on his behalf, questioning whether Dodson’s free speech rights were being violated.

Politico said the ATF wrote a letter this week to the ACLU saying it had no objection to the publication after a review of the manuscript.

“ATF does not object to the publication of Special Agent Dodson’s book, once it has been scrubbed of any information that would be law enforcement-sensitive or restricted from dissemination … We have identified certain places in the manuscript that meet those criteria, and we intend to convey those to you early next week,” Department of Justice senior counsel Charles Gross writes in the Oct. 15 letter, Politico reported.

But the letter said it was still a question whether Dodson can profit; Department of Justice regulations state a special agent may not profit from their experiences “while still acting in the special agent capacity,” Politico noted.

A law enforcement official offered no timeline on that decision now that the government shutdown has ended; the letter said a decision was expected “shortly thereafter,” Politico reported.

CNN reported Dodson’s supervisors in the ATF’s Phoenix office had earlier rejected his request to seek a publisher for his book in part because they said it would have “a negative impact on morale” and have a detrimental effect on ATF relationships with other agencies, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“We’re heartened that the ATF has acknowledged Agent Dodson’s right to publish his account of the events surrounding Operation Fast and Furious,” ACLU lawyer Lee Rowland told Politico. “We’re now working with the Justice Department and ATF, and we’re hopeful we can come to a resolution that lets the public hear Agent Dodson’s voice and his story.”

Dodson’s publisher declined to comment.

Dodson was among several agents who claimed whistle-blower status to provide information to Congress about the controversial Fast and Furious operation. The operation run by ATF agents in Phoenix allowed suspected smugglers to buy about 2,000 firearms in 2009 and 2010. Their plan was to use the gun sales to try to prosecute major arms traffickers.

But agents had no way to track the weapons, and hundreds wound up in the hands of drug cartels. Two Fast and Furious guns were recovered at the scene of a border agent’s slaying in 2010 near the Mexican border, although it isn’t clear whether they were used to kill him.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Republican Reaction: Swift, Strong, Diverse.


Republican response was swift and varied Wednesday night to votes in the House and Senate to reopen the federal government and extend the nation’s debt ceiling.

Here are some legislators’ comments:

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio:

“There’s no higher priority than strengthening our economy for middle-class families and small businesses. Our negotiating team will pursue real reforms that address the drivers of our debt, get control of spending, put us on a path to a balanced budget, and expand opportunity for all Americans.

“Americans young and old are struggling under the president’s policies — including his disaster of a healthcare law — and these negotiations are a big opportunity to start building a stronger economy and a brighter future.”

Rep. Tom Price of Georgia:

“There’s nothing historic about this agreement. It is the response to a crisis manufactured by the president and a Democratic Party content with the nation’s fiscal ruin.

“Now that there’s an agreement in place to talk about how we solve them is a good first step, but one has to wonder why the Democratic majority in Washington needed two weeks of a government shutdown and a run-up to the debt ceiling in order to agree to talk about doing their job.”

Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee:

“Not only as a congressman, but as the father of an 11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, I cannot, in good conscience, support an unconditional increase in the national debt ceiling without any plan or commitment to begin dealing with the debt today. Later no longer suffices.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee:

“While it’s important to make sure our nation does not default on our debt, I cannot support the Senate proposal in its current form. House Republicans have fought to provide the same relief to hard-working Americans that the Obama administration has generously provided to unions and big business to negate the impact of Obamacare.

“Every American should be treated equally under the law. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case in our nation’s capitol.”

Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia:

“Unfortunately, the Senate-negotiated deal does nothing to stop Obamacare or to protect Americans from its massive new entitlements, which are estimated to cost taxpayers $48 billion in 2014 alone.

“Fixing Obamacare is not the solution, and anything less than a delay or full defund is a letdown for the American people.”

Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania:

“I’ve been calling for the political brinksmanship to end, and I’m encouraged there is a measure that could get to the president’s desk; Washington cannot continue to operate in perpetual crisis mode.

“While this bill only provides a temporary extension to get us back to the negotiating table, it was in the best interest of the country and puts us on track to address the larger budgetary issues, including the fundamental flaws of the president’s healthcare law.”

Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas:

“While I am relieved the Senate proposal allows the country to pay its bills, keeps agreed-upon spending levels and requires people to verify their income when seeking subsidies under Obamacare, it did not go far enough in solving our financial crisis to win my support.

“I remain committed to making sure America doesn’t default on our debts, but believe we must cut up the credit card and find ways to grow our economy first. Instead of identifying long-term ways to decrease spending, the plan passed Wednesday night protects the status quo in Washington. That’s what disappointed me about the proposal, and that’s why I ultimately could not support it.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa:

“This agreement raises the debt limit with no action on the debt. It’s a missed opportunity for forcing action to limit government and increase economic opportunities. America needs the president to roll up his sleeves and work with members of Congress to address the long-term fiscal problems of our country. Our grandkids depend on it.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma:

“Since President [Barack] Obama came into office, he has signed into law a costly 20,000-page healthcare law, authored a $787 billion stimulus, and raised the debt ceiling now six times. Because of his leadership, we have operated from one crisis to the next.

“It happened once again when he and [Senate] Majority Leader [Harry] Reid held Congress hostage with the debt ceiling in order to forge a deal that falls short of anything worthy of conservative support.”

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference:

“This isn’t a perfect proposal, but it will ensure that we don’t blow past the default date that’s been set by the Treasury, and it will force Congress to have a broad debate about Washington’s dangerous levels of spending and debt, which are hamstringing the economy and mortgaging our children’s futures.

“This debate should be an opportunity to focus on fiscal policies that will actually grow the economy and strengthen the middle class.”

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina:

“It is time we move on from this episode, begin the reforms needed in our entitlement programs and the tax code, address the rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in government spending, and get back to creating an environment that allows for economic expansion and job creation.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina:

“To say we as Republicans left a lot on the table would be one of the biggest understatements in American political history. We could have done much, much better. Unfortunately, given where we now find ourselves, this agreement was the best Sen. McConnell could do. By the time we got to this point, we were playing poker only holding a pair of twos.

“Today’s agreement is far from great news but brings to an end, at least temporarily, a disaster. It stops the bleeding and gives us a chance to regroup.

“I hope we learn from the past few weeks. The problems with Obamacare will now be out in the open once this agreement is passed into law — and the Republican Party still has an opportunity in 2014, because every Democrat owns this terrible idea called Obamacare.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Todd Beamon

ACLU Enters ATF Fray to Block Book by Fast and Furious Whistleblower.


Image: ACLU Enters ATF Fray to Block Book by Fast and Furious Whistleblower

John Dodson listens as Attorney General Eric Holder testifies about the Fast and Furious program on Feb. 2, 2012.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

A government agency is blocking publication of a book about the controversial Fast and Furious gun-tracking program, setting up a First Amendment showdown that could unite the American Civil Liberties Union with congressional conservatives.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives says if the book, “The Unarmed Truth,” written by ATF agent and Fast and Furious whistleblower John Dodson, is published for profit, it will hurt morale within the agency, reports The Washington Times.

The ATF refused to comment Sunday night on Dodson’s case specifically, but an official told the Times it’s possible for an agent to be rejected for publishing a book for pay while still getting permission to publish it for free. However, the official said the agency has not approved any manuscripts having to do with the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operations that resulted in a congressional investigation.

Urgent: Do You Support Sen. Ted Cruz’s Efforts to Defund Obamacare? Vote Here. 

Dodson’s book reportedly gives the first inside account about how the program, which began under the George W. Bush administration and continued under the Obama administration, helped sell nearly 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels. Dodson is working with Simon & Schuster publishers, but federal law prohibits actual publication of the book without government approval.

Dodson, who is still a special agent in Arizona, started writing the book last year and in June sought permission from the ATF to seek out a publisher. But according todocuments obtained by The Washington Times, his request was denied by his superiors in Arizona, who said it would have “a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix Field Division and would have a detrimental effect on our relationships with DEA and FBI.”

Lee Rowland, an attorney with the ACLU, which is now representing Dodson, charged in a letter to the ATF delivered Monday that the agency, in denying Dodson the right to publish, had granted “supervisors the discretion to censor critical speech simply because it annoys or embarrasses the ATF,” Fox News reported. 

“Given the national importance of both the Fast and Furious operation and ATF practices more broadly, ATF faces an extremely high burden in demonstrating that its interests outweigh Agent Dodson’s right to speak — and the public’s right to hear — his views about Operation Fast and Furious,” her letter continued.

Dodson went public in 2011 with allegations that ATF supervisors approved the flow of weapons into Mexico in a plot to nab high-level criminals. The resulting controversy led to congressional hearings, and the two lead investigators, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California, have written a foreword for Dodson’s book.

The book, if published, could add to ongoing arguments over the Fast and Furious operations. The fallout from the scandal forced out U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix and acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson. The ATF director, B. Todd Jones, has imposed procedures to keep future Fast and Furious-style operations from occurring again.

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