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Story 1: 3 Criminal Biker Gangs aka Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGSs) in Waco, Texas Kill 9 and Islamic State Takes Back Ramadi, Iraq — U.S. Army’s Delta force kills senior ISIS commander — Videos
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. OMGs are highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking, and drug trafficking. There are more than 300 active OMGs within the United States, ranging in size from single chapters with five or six members to hundreds of chapters with thousands of members worldwide. The Hells Angels, Mongols, Bandidos, Outlaws, and Sons of Silence pose a serious national domestic threat and conduct the majority of criminal activity linked to OMGs, especially activity relating to drug-trafficking and, more specifically, to cross-border drug smuggling. Because of their transnational scope, these OMGs are able to coordinate drug smuggling operations in partnership with major international drug-trafficking
9 Dead in Waco Biker Gang Shooting 18 Injured 5-17-15
Biker brawl breaks out at Waco restaurant
Waco Biker Gang Shooting. 9 Dead At Waco Shooting Twin Peaks
Waco Shooting Updates — Ten people killed in Waco, Texas biker gang shooting
[AERIAL FOOTAGE] Biker Gang Shootout Waco, Texas – 17 May 2015
( ORIGINAL FOOTAGE ) Waco Texas Shooting 9 biker gangs Dead In Waco Texas
9 dead in Texas biker brawl
Authorities had anticipated trouble and pre-positioned officers.
“There were at least three rival gang groups here this morning for whatever reason. As they were here, we had officers on scene. We expected issues,” said Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, a police spokesman. He later said there were at least five gangs.
The fight broke out at Twin Peaks restaurant and spilled into the parking lot. It quickly escalated from hands and feet, as weapons, to gunfire, Swanton said.
“In my nearly 35 years of law enforcement experience,” he said, “this is the most violent and gruesome scene that I have dealt with.”
Bikers shot at each other and at officers, who returned fire.
Swanton expressed anger at Twin Peaks, which he claims had been less than helpful in dealing with gangs in the past. He declined to identify the specific groups involved in Sunday’s shooting.
“Are we frustrated? Sure. Because we feel like there may have been more that could have been done by a business to prevent this,” he said.
Corporate management at Twin Peaks released a statement saying it was reviewing the circumstances of the shooting. The Waco restaurant is franchised.
“We are thankful no employees, guests or police were injured in this senseless violence outside the restaurant, and our sympathies are with the families of those killed,” the statement said.
To escape the fight, some restaurant customers and employees took cover in the freezer, according to CNN affiliate KWTX. The station reported that more than 100 weapons were recovered, and Waco police said officers were continuing to arrest people arriving with weapons.
Swanton told reporters that eight people were dead on the scene and another was pronounced dead at an area hospital. A total of 18 people were taken to the hospital. It was not immediately clear whether that figure included the person who died. All those injured or dead are believed to be bikers.
No officers were hurt, Swanton said, praising their response.
“Their action has saved lives in keeping this from spilling into a very busy Sunday morning,” the spokesman said. “Thank goodness the officers were here, and took the action that they needed to take to save numerous lives.”
Police: Deadly Waco biker gang shooting is capital murder
The Cossacks, a smaller, local Texas gang, had been challenging the Bandidos’ dominance, including discussing a possible alliance with rival gang the Hell’s Angels, Steve Cook, executive director of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, told Vox.
The biggest provocation came, he said, when the Cossacks began wearing a Texas patch on their clothing, which was “basically a slap in the face” to the Bandidos.
“We knew the tensions with the Cossacks were as high as they’d ever been,” he said. “I don’t think anybody could have forecasted it to the degree that it happened.”
Cook said Sunday’s shootout parallels previous encounters between the Bandidos and Hells Angels. Cook told The Washington Post that the shootout started because the Cossacks, backed by the Angels, challenged the Bandidos for control of Texas. Several other bike gangs might have joined the battle, too, angry over recent killings by Bandidos members, he said.
“My perception is that the Cossacks have been flirting, if you will, with Hell’s Angles,” Cook said. “If I’m a Bandido, my immediate reaction is: ‘These guys are going to try to make a move and bring an international gang into our state, which is going to cause a war.'”
Cook said he hoped Sunday’s shooting will draw more attention to the gangs. “Maybe it’ll be time for law enforcement and the public to take the blinders off and recognize these groups for what they are: criminals.”
Talking to reporters on Sunday, Waco Police spokesman Sgt. Patrick Swanton cautioned that the groups involved in the shootout were not “a friendly group of motorcycle enthusiasts,” but criminal gangs.
Cook agreed. “They can pretend like they’re these fraternal organizations — I can’t tell you the last time the Kiwanis and the Shriners had a shootout at a public venue.”
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and Photos
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. OMGs are highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking, and drug trafficking. There are more than 300 active OMGs within the United States, ranging in size from single chapters with five or six members to hundreds of chapters with thousands of members worldwide. The Hells Angels, Mongols, Bandidos, Outlaws, and Sons of Silence pose a serious national domestic threat and conduct the majority of criminal activity linked to OMGs, especially activity relating to drug-trafficking and, more specifically, to cross-border drug smuggling. Because of their transnational scope, these OMGs are able to coordinate drug smuggling operations in partnership with major international drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs).
- Bandidos Motorcycle Club
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club (Bandidos) is an OMG with a membership of 2,000 to 2,500 persons in the U.S. and in 13 other countries. The Bandidos constitute a growing criminal threat to the U.S. Law enforcement authorities estimate that the Bandidos are one of the two largest OMGs operating in the U.S., with approximately 900 members belonging to 93 chapters. The Bandidos are involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana and are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of methamphetamine. The Bandidos are most active in the Pacific, Southeastern, Southwestern and the West Central regions of the U.S. The Bandidos are expanding in each of these regions by forming additional chapters and allowing members of supporting clubs, known as “puppet” or “duck” club members who have sworn allegiance to another club but who support and do the “dirty work” of a mother club – to form new or join existing Bandidos chapters.
- Black Pistons Motorcycle Club
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club (Black Pistons) is the official support club for the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws). Established in 2002 with the backing of the Outlaws, the Black Pistons have expanded rapidly throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. The Black Pistons have an estimated 70 domestic chapters in 20 states and an unknown number of foreign chapters in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Poland. The exact number of Black Pistons members is unknown but the figure is estimated to be more than 200 in the U.S. The Outlaws use the Black Pistons chapters as a recruitment source for prospective Outlaws members. The Outlaws also use the Black Pistons chapters to conduct criminal activity, especially for the transportation and distribution of drugs. Members of the Black Pistons are also known to engage in assault, extortion, fraud, intimidation and theft.
- Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (Hells Angels) is an OMG with between 2,000 and 2,500 members who belong to over 230 chapters in the U.S. and in 26 foreign countries. The Hells Angels pose a criminal threat on six continents. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Hells Angels have more than 92 chapters in 27 states with a membership in excess of 800 persons. The Hells Angels are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of marijuana and methamphetamine. Additionally, the Hells Angels are involved in the transportation and distribution of cocaine, hashish, heroin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), ecstasy, PCP (phencyclidine) and diverted pharmaceuticals. The Hells Angels are also involved in other criminal activity including assault, extortion, homicide, money laundering and motorcycle theft.
- Mongols Motorcycle Club
The Mongols Motorcycle Club (Mongols) is an extremely violent OMG that poses a serious criminal threat to the Pacific and Southwestern regions of the U.S. The Mongols are engaged in the transportation and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. The Mongols are also known to frequently commit violent crime including assault, intimidation and murder in defense of their territory, and to uphold the reputation of the club. A majority of the Mongols membership consists of Hispanic males who live in the Los Angeles area, and many are former street gang members with a long history of using violence to settle grievances. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) have called the Mongols the most violent and dangerous OMG in the nation. In the 1980’s the Mongols seized control of Southern California from the Hells Angels, and today, the Mongols are allied with the Bandidos, the Outlaws, the Sons of Silence and the Pagans against the Hells Angels. The Mongols have also maintained their ties with Hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles.
- Outlaws Motorcycle Club
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws) have more than 1,700 members who belong to 176 chapters in the U.S. and in 12 foreign countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Outlaws have more than 86 chapters in 20 states with over 700 members. The Outlaws also identify themselves as the A.O.A. (American Outlaws Association) and the Outlaws Nation. The Outlaws are the dominant OMG in the Great Lakes region. The Outlaws are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of methamphetamine, the transportation and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, ecstasy. The Outlaws engage in various criminal activities including arson, assault, explosives, extortion, fraud, homicide, intimidation, kidnapping, money laundering, prostitution, robbery, theft and weapons violations. The Outlaws compete with the Hells Angels for both members and territory.
- Pagans Motorcycle Club
The Pagans Motorcycle Club (Pagans) is a violent OMG whose membership distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and PCP (phencyclidine). The Pagans are one of the most prominent OMGs in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Pagans have an estimated 200 to 250 members among 41 chapters in 11 states. The Pagans have been tied to traditional organized crime groups in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York and have engaged in criminal activities such as arson, assault, bombing, extortion and murder.
- Sons of Silence
Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club (SOSMC) is one of the largest OMGs in the United States, with 250 to 275 members among 30 chapters in 12 states. The club also has five chapters in Germany. SOSMC members have been implicated in numerous criminal activities, including murder, assault, drug trafficking, intimidation, extortion, prostitution operations, money laundering, weapons trafficking, and motorcycle and motorcycle parts theft.
- Vagos Motorcycle Club
ISIL militants take full control of Iraq’s Ramadi
ISIS captures Ramadi
May 17 2015 Breaking News IRAN led Shiite paramilitaries have been deployed to Ramadi Iraq
ISIL seizes Iraq’s Ramadi
Islamic State ‘seizes Iraqi city of Ramadi’ – BBC News
Watch: ‘Islamic State forces’ march into Ramadi after seizing the Iraqi city
ISIS Seizes Government Headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq
PBS NewsHour Weekend full episode May 17, 2015
US Special Forces Secret Night Mission kills senior ISIS Commander Abu Sayyaf in Syria
How will Abu Sayyaf’s death impact ISIS?
U.S. Army’s Delta force kills senior ISIS commander
U.S. troops kill ISIS leader
Syria: 1st SFOD-D Kill Abu Sayyaf, Capture His Wife, Free Yazidi Slave Girl, Secure Intelligence
ISIS Leader Killed USA (Boots On The Ground)
Iraqi city of Ramadi falls to Islamic State as police, military retreat
By Hugh Naylor and Mustafa Salim
BAGHDAD — The capital of Anbar province fell to Islamic State militants Sunday as hundreds of police personnel, soldiers and tribal fighters abandoned the city, prompting the Iraqi premier to order Iranian-aligned Shiite militias to join the fight to win back control.
The fall of Ramadi represented a huge victory for the Islamic State and dealt a profound blow to Iraq’s U.S.-backed government, led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, and its military campaign to drive the extremist group out of the war-torn country. Just 24 hours before, officials in Baghdad announced that military reinforcements had been dispatched to defend the city, capital of Iraq’s largest province, against a brutal assault that began on Thursday.
But by Sunday, even the roads to Baghdad, 80 miles to the east, appeared vulnerable to the militant advance.
“Ramadi has fallen,” Muhannad Haimour, a spokesman for the Anbar governor told the Associated Press. “The city was completely taken…It was a gradual deterioration. The military is fleeing.”
Sunday’s developments, including Abadi’s decision to deploy Shiite militias to the country’s Sunni heartland, could complicate the U.S.-led campaign targeting the extremist group, which in recent days has included American airstrikes against militant positions in Ramadi in an effort to keep the city in government hands. U.S. officials have expressed concern over the divisive, sectarian-motivated — and increasingly powerful — Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
Carried by state television on Sunday evening, Abadi’s announcement, which contained few details, also included a plea for pro-government forces not to abandon their positions in Anbar.
The rapid disintegration of pro-government forces in Ramadi conjured memories of the Islamic State’s similar lighting defeat of Iraq’s weak military during sweeping advances throughout northern areas of the country last summer. Security forces retreated from the Malaab area of Ramadi at 1:30 p.m., abandoning about 60 military vehicles, including military-grade Humvees, to the militants, said Col. Nasser al-Alwani of the Ramadi police force. About half of the abandoned vehicles were sent by the U.S.-backed government on Saturday to reinforce the neighborhood, he added.
“Today, everybody retreated from the Malaab area, including counterterrorism units, army and police,” he said by telephone. Along with soldiers and counterterrorism units, the force of about 400 police officers who fall under Alwani’s command retreated in their vehicles to the east, he said. Islamic State fighters besieged them on all roads, forcing them to abandon the vehicles and escape on foot. A military convoy from the al-Habbaniyah air base later retrieved the fleeing Iraqi forces, he added.
“The retreat was complete chaos. There was no organization,” Alwani said, describing attacks by “hundreds” of Islamic State militants.
Earlier in the day, militants posted a statement on social media by the Islamic State that described Sunday’s events as a major military success, saying that the group “had imposed its control over all of Ramadi.”
In Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which the group captured in June, loud street celebrations were being held that involved fighters shooting automatic weapons into the air and passing out candy, according to a resident in the city. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing concern for his safety.
“The streets are full of cars honking horns and shouting Allahu Akbar because of Ramadi,” he said in a Facebook message.
In a sign of the seriousness over the situation in Anbar, the prime minister’s order to Shiite militias came just hours after Anbar’s provincial council voted in favor of allowing the irregular forces — known by the government as “popular mobilization units” — to participate in the battle to retake the city.
Iraqis, particularly in the Sunni-dominated province, are wary of the militias and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The Islamic State has capitalized on Sunni grievances to take control of most of most of Anbar.
“We voted yes to the measure,” said Kahtan Abed, officer manager for the provincial council’s head, Sabah Karhout. “We took this decision because we have nowhere else to turn. We’ve literally lost everything.”
Diplomats, analysts and Iraqis say that the powerful militias threaten to undermine Iraq’s government as well as delicate sectarian relations in the country. With aid from Shiite Iran, the militiamen carried out scores of attacks against American soldiers when U.S. forces were still fighting in Iraq. But more recently, the militias have proved to be a crucial force in retaking territory, including the city of Tikrit last month, from the Islamic State.
An official in one of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, Kitaeb Hezbollah, confirmed by text message that the group’s militiamen have mobilized and been put on high alert. Jawad al-Talibawi, a spokesman for the armed wing of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, another Iran-aligned militia, said the group had mobilized 1,500 members of its special forces to enter Anbar. The fighters had spent months battling in Syria’s civil war against rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, also an ally of Iran.
“Those 1,500 fighters are now awaiting the order to go in,” Talibawi said by telephone.
Omar al-Alwani, a pro-government tribal fighter from Ramadi, said no soldiers are left to defend eastern roads to the capital, Baghdad. He said he was among those who fled Malaab with the group of pro-government forces, which he estimated at more than 500. They left behind weapons that included artillery, machine-gun trucks and machine guns, he said.
“Daesh seized the police station, the big mosque” in the area, he said, adding that Islamic State fighters surrounded the area police station and fatally shot the senior officer there, Col. Muthana al-Jabari. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
He and others expressed concern about several hundred pro-government forces who are still surrounded by militants in a military operations hub in the city. According to unconfirmed reports, as many as 40 people in that facility were killed Sunday in two suicide bombings.
“Only God can help those people now. There is no one left to protect them,” said Alwani the tribal fighter.
However, Majed Abdullah, a captain in the Iraqi army who was besieged in the compound, said that scores of pro-government forces managed to escape the facility. They drove away, heading west, he said, adding that they left behind dozens on wounded soldiers and police. It is unclear whether the Islamic State has entered the compound, although there is fear that those who have been left behind could be executed by the militants.
“We’re on the Iraq-Jordan highway now and we’re waiting for orders to either reconstitute our forces and attack or retreat entirely,” Abdullah said by telephone. Using car bombings and heavy shelling, Islamic State militants launched a surprise attack Thursday on Ramadi, capturing most of the city’s neighborhoods by the following day. Residents, pro-government forces and officials accuse the militants of carrying out dozens of executions and systematic destruction of homes belonging to members of the security services.
Before the assault on Thursday, the Islamic State had already taken control of most of Anbar during sweeping advances last summer throughout Iraq.
Just under a decade ago, U.S.-backed Sunni tribes in Anbar led a revolt against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to the Islamic State. But frustration with Iraq’s Shiite-led government persuaded a number of tribesmen in the province to side with the Islamic State.
Rafia al-Fahdawi, an elder in the province’s Albu Fahed tribe, expressed doubt that a similar tribal uprising could be waged at the moment against the extremist group. On Saturday, he and dozens of fellow Sunni tribal leaders also issued a call for Shiite militias to intervene in Anbar.
“The army has let us down. The SWAT team has let us down. We can’t depend on these forces, and we need forces that are inspired to fight hard,” he said, referring to the militias.
Islamic State captures government compound in Ramadi
An Iraqi official says Islamic State militants have captured the main government compound inRamadi, the capital of the western Anbar province, after fierce clashes with security forces.
Ramadi’s Mayor Dalaf al-Kubaisi says the militants raised the black flag of the IS group over the area on Friday after troops were forced to withdraw from the compound, which houses most of the city’s government offices.
He says the IS militants are now attacking the Anbar Operation Command, the military headquarters for the province.
U.S. troops saw some of the heaviest fighting of the eight-year Iraq intervention in Anbar, and Ramadi was a major insurgent stronghold.
The IS assault on the government compound began with three nearly simultaneous suicide car bombings that killed 10 police and wounded seven others.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/15/islamic-state-captures-government-compound-ramadi/#ixzz3aWZxTx2I
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
Careless tweets costs jihadis: ISIS orders fighters to stop giving away their tactics by bragging on social media
- Embarrassing defeats at Kobane and Tikrit has left ISIS feeling under pressure
- Fighters continue to join social media despite the threat of frequent suspensions
- A series of social media blunders has previously led to fighters giving away their positions and tactics
- Islamic State have recently launched new offensives for the Baiji oil fields and the Iraqi city of Ramadi
Following heavy defeats at Tikrit in Iraq and the appalling costly siege of Kobane, Islamic State have launched their own social media rules to censor coverage on its recent defeats.
The image of the rules began to circulate on social media, two weeks after Islamic State was forced to abandon the Iraqi city of Tikrit.
With ISIS propaganda team releasing endless sets of dull publicity photos from life inside Iraq and Syria, the senior commanders appear keen to eradicate any hint of problems within the group’s territory.
The media crackdown appears to be an attempt by ISIS senior commanders to eradicate any knowledge of the extremist group’s defeats or internal problems.
Some ISIS supporters on social media appear to be exasperated by the apparent leaking of information and discussions of the defeat at Tikrit.
Specific details like the manufacturing of new weapons and any pictures of ISIS fighters, have been deemed by ISIS as a breach of online security.
Perhaps the strangest and most unclear rule reads: ‘The stupendous spread of Mujahideen along a specific locations’ It appears unknown what the extremist group meant by ‘the stupendous spread of mujahideen.’
Whilst it remains unknown how Islamic State will manage to enforce these rules, the jihadi group has previously struggled to keep any control of its fighters and supporters on social media.
One exasperated ISIS supporter wrote: ‘Brothers, please stop posting news about anything in Tirkit or Ramadi walla. You are doing more harm to the mujahideen than good. Fear Allah.’
Some of the rules, particularly regarding the publishing information on the location of fighters and the use of tactics, appears to come after a series of calamitous social media errors by some fighters.
Islamic State fighter Mark Taylor, originally from New Zealand, shot to fame after accidentally tweeting his location whilst fighting in Syria.
Taylor forgot to turn off the geo-locator setting on his account, allowing intelligence services to successfully track his every movement. He even managed to give away where he was living in al-Tabaqah, south west Raqqa.
Known as Ali Al-Farsi, 19-year-old Ali Kalantar’s death was first tweeted by Halane, under the nom de guerre, Umm Jafar al-Britaniyah.
British terror twin Zahra Halane (left) and Kiwi fighter Mark Taylor (right), have both been criticised by ISIS supporters for giving away information on fighters and locations.
Islamic State commander fear that with the deadly coalition air strikes decimating their ranks, such lapses in security is proving costly.
In particular female jihadis have been criticized by fellow ISIS supporters for their loose lipped attitude on social media. One of the British terror twins, Zahra Halane, has previously broken the rules by announcing the death of her husband on social media.
Known as Ali Al-Farsi, 19-year-old Ali Kalantar’s death was first tweeted by Halane, under the nom de guerre, Umm Jafar al-Britaniyah. Halane quickly deleted the tweets but not before a screenshot had sent them viral.
Islamic State propaganda remains highly important to their strategy for recruitment and legitimacy. ISIS media continue to churn out endless propaganda photos from inside ISIS territory.
Islamic State fighters have recently made worrying gains near the Iraqi city of Ramadi, Anbar province. Shiite paramilitary groups and other reinforcements are reportedly heading to Ramadi to provide support against the ISIS threat.
New propaganda photos from Anbar province claim that ISIS were warmly welcomed as they entered a nearby town near Ramadi.
Islamic State continue to launch new offensives, targeting the strategic Iraqi oil fields at Baiji and the city of Ramadi in Anbar province.
Using suicide bombers to destroy the surrounding fence, Islamic State fighters have been managed to fight their way inside the oil field compound in Salahuddin province.
Parts of the oil fields have frequently changed hands between the Iraqi army and militants from Islamic State. Due to its remote desert location, it has proved to be a difficult base to maintain.
Newly published photos and a brief video shows dozens of ISIS fighters celebrating inside the oil field’s facilities.
It remains unknown how long they will manage to hold out before the Baghdad forces re-take it.
Using suicide bombers to destroy the surrounding fence, Islamic State fighters have been managed to fight their way inside the oil field compound
Delta Force Commandos Kill Key ISIS Leader in Ground Raid in Syria
In a ground raid deep in Syrian territory, U.S. special operations forces killed a top ISIS leader who they were attempting to capture and interrogate about American hostages and how the terror group finances its war machine, the Obama…
“a pretty good fight on the ground.“
Battle for control in Syria
U.S. conducts raid in Syria, says it kills senior Islamic State leader
American special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State leader in a raid in Syria, U.S. officials said on Saturday, an operation that marked a departure from Washington’s strategy of relying primarily on air strikes to target militants there.
Delta Force commandos used UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to punch deep into eastern Syria from Iraq. They engaged in a firefight and hand-to-hand combat with Islamic State fighters, killed a key figure in the group named as Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, U.S. officials said.
The officials described Sayyaf, a Tunisian, as an Islamic State commander who helped manage the group’s black-market sales of oil and gas to raise funds. The officials said President Barack Obama ordered the overnight operation, which killed about a dozen Islamic State fighters and had been planned for several weeks.
It marked the first known U.S. special forces operation inside Syria apart from a failed mission last year to rescue U.S. and other foreign hostages held by Islamic State in northeastern Syria.
Wary of the United States getting pulled deeper into Middle East conflicts, Obama has promised not to commit major ground forces in the fight against Islamic State, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. But he has left open the prospect of special forces raids.
It was not immediately clear if this one marked the start of a new chapter in Syria.
U.S. and Arab forces have carried out almost daily air raids against hardline Islamist militant groups in Syria including Islamic State since last September, and U.S.-led forces are also targeting the group in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the operation was intended to capture Abu Sayyaf but he was killed “when he engaged U.S. forces.” His wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured, then placed in U.S. military detention in Iraq and was being questioned about Islamic State operations and hostages held by the group.
No U.S. forces were killed or wounded during the operation, Carter said.
“The operation represents another significant blow to ISIL, and it is a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies,” Carter said, using an acronym for the Islamic State organization.
Local Syrian sources contacted by Reuters said two other senior Islamic State operatives, a Syrian and a Saudi, were also killed alongside Abu Sayyaf. The raid lasted no more than half an hour, according to the sources.
The accounts could not be independently verified. U.S. officials had no immediate comment on whether other senior Islamic State militants were killed in the raid.
The raid in Syria came at a time when Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in areas it controls and has carried out beheadings and massacres, has scored high-profile gains in Iraq and made advances in Syria.
Islamic State militants raised their black flag over the local government headquarters in the Iraqi city of Ramadi on Friday and claimed victory after overrunning most of the provincial capital.
If Ramadi were to fall it would be the first major city seized by the Sunni insurgents in Iraq since security forces and paramilitary groups began pushing them back last year.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said he extended his “gratitude and continued support” for the U.S. troops involved in the Syria raid. But Boehner, a Republican, said he was “gravely concerned” by Islamic State’s advances in Ramadi, which he said “threatens the stability and sovereignty of Iraq, which is vital to America’s interests.”
Hawkish Republican critics of Obama, a Democrat, say he has not acted forcefully enough to rein in the rise of Islamic State.
GREEN LIGHT FROM OBAMA
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the Syria raid was conducted “with the full consent of Iraqi authorities.” She said the United States did not give any advance warning or coordinate with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Washington opposes.
“The president authorized this operation upon the unanimous recommendation of his national security team and as soon as we had developed sufficient intelligence and were confident the mission could be carried out successfully,” Meehan said.
Meehan said U.S. forces freed a young Yezidi woman “who appears to have been held as a slave” by Abu Sayyaf and his wife. His wife was suspected of playing “an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities,” Meehan said.
The U.S. military last summer carried out a failed mission in Syria to rescue journalist James Foley, held hostage by Islamic State. Foley was later beheaded by the group in August 2014.
In December, al Qaeda militants shot and fatally wounded American photo journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie during a failed rescue attempt led by U.S. commandos in Yemen.
Saturday’s raid followed a summit Obama held at Camp David earlier this week with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab allies who have pressed the United States to be more militarily assertive in Syria, especially in support of moderate rebels seeking to oust Assad.
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Story 1: Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch Says Illegal Aliens Have A Right To Work in America — No They Do Not — They Should Be Deported — It Is The Law — Vote Against Nominee — Who Broke The Immigration System By Not Enforcing The Law — Presidents Bush and Obama — Videos
AG Nominee: ‘Right To Work Is Shared By Everyone In This Country Regardless’ Of Immigration Status
Senator Sessions, Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, questioned Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch at today’s Judiciary hearing to consider her nomination. Sessions asked Lynch about the President’s decision to bypass Congress to order an amnesty, and how this action undermined the rights of disadvantaged American workers.
In addition to suspending enforcement for nearly all of the 12 million individuals unlawfully present in the United States, President Obama issue an executive decree on November 20th, 2014, extending work permits, Social Security, Medicare, tax credits, and government identification to 5 million illegal immigrants and illegal visa violators. This would allow illegal immigrants to take any job in America, regardless of chronic high unemployment for Americans—including a 10.4 percent unemployment rate for African-American workers. Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, explained—contra AG Holder’s “breathtaking” contention that amnesty was a civil right—that unlawful amnesty for illegal immigrants violated the rights of U.S. citizens to the full protection of their laws, including those laws passed by Congress to protect their jobs and wages from illegal competition. The President’s executive edict (an edict he said previously only an Emperor would deign to issue) voids Americans’ legal protections in law, supplanting them with a new executive policy that Congress and voters have rejected, a policy which forces unemployed Americans to compete against a large and growing illegal workforce.
Senator Sessions Attorney General Comfirmation Hearing jan 28 2015
Sen. Ted Cruz Second Q&A with Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch
Sen. Ted Cruz Third Q&A with Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch
AG Nominee Lynch: Obama’s Executive Action Did Not Provide Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants
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Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on Obama’s comments about marijuana
Lee questions Loretta Lynch on Prosecutorial Discretion, Operation Chokepoint, and Asset Forfeiture
Graham Questions U.S. Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch During Confirmation Hearing
Obama’s New Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch Hearing, Day 1, Part 1
AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee
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Megyn Kelly: Loretta Lynch Should Be ‘Most Acceptable’ AG Choice for GOP
Opening Statement from Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch (C-SPAN)
Speaker John Boehner on Executive Action on Immigration (C-SPAN)
24+ States File Lawsuit Against Obama’s Executive Amnesty
Up to December 10 a total of 24 States have Filed a Lawsuit Against Obama’s Executive Amnesty. Expect the number of states joining this lawsuit to rise over the next weeks. Originally 18 states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas challenging President Obama’s executive action on immigration. The suit claims that the White House overstepped its authority by granting amnesty and work permits for 5 million illegal aliens.
After filing the federal suit, Texas Attorney General and Governor-elect Greg Abbott wrote in a statement that President Obama’s executive amnesty “tramples the U.S. Constitution’s Take Care Clause and federal law.”
Also included in Attorney General Abbott’s statement were the states’ legal challenges to President Obama’s executive action:
• The executive action on immigration conflicts with the President’s constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The Take Care Clause limits the scope of presidential power and ensures that the chief executive will uphold and enforce Congress’s laws – not unilaterally rewrite them under the cover of “prosecutorial discretion.”
• The DHS Directive failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act’s required notice and comment rulemaking process before providing that legal benefits like federal work permits, Medicare, and Social Security be awarded to individuals who are openly violating immigration laws.
• The executive action to dispense with federal immigration law will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education.
The other states involved in the suit include: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
UPDATE: Arizona has joined the lawsuit. In a statement, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said, “Obama has exceeded his power as clearly defined in the United States Constitution and federal law and deliberately ignored the will of the American people. Such federal overreach cannot stand.”
Florida has joined the lawsuit. In a statement, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “The President repeatedly said he would not violate the law, then decided to do just that. The powers granted to the President are expressly laid out in the United States Constitution, yet President Obama has decided to ignore those parameters.”
As of December 10, Arkansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma have also joined the lawsuit.
The governors’ claim is in a 75-page document filed in a Texas federal district court that states “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.” President Obama’s unilateral immigration action, which was presented November 20, would allow for work permits and tentative status to nearly five million illegal immigrants, and would protect many others from deportation. However, those not included would not have the same legal standing as the five million officially granted the amnesty.
The governors have said that their reasoning for suing is due to the cost and responsibility that comes with allowing five million people to stay. Their state taxpayers would be required to pay for the expenses entailed with schooling, health care, and police to handle a sudden influx of illegal border crossings. Texas is joined in the lawsuit by the states Alabama, Georgia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, Maine, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Utah, Wisconsin and South Dakota. Attorney General Greg Abbot of Texas leads the charge of spurring lawsuits against immigration amnesty by President Obama. Mr. Abbot has challenged the Obama administration 31 times and this will be his 34th against the federal government. This current lawsuit is being utilized by Republicans as a temporary method to stall President Obama’s amnesty action through the courts.
Jay Sekulow on Fox News: Resetting Obama’s Executive Power
Graham Questions U.S. Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch During Confirmation Hearing
Will Loretta Lynch Be Confirmed As Attorney General?
Federal Judge Rules Obama’s Immigration Orders Unconstitutional • Hannity • 12/17/14
December 17th, 2014 • A Federal Judge has ruled that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration are unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers clause. Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley examines the ruling with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Rep. Gowdy’s Floor Speech on Stopping Executive Action on Immigration
Cornyn: Executive Action on Immigration an Unconstitutional Abuse of Power
Is Obama’s executive action on immigration legal?
Gowdy: ‘President Obama is wrong’ on immigration executive action
Brooks and Marcus on immigration executive action precedent
Obama Immigration Reform 2014 Speech: Announcing Executive Action [FULL] Today on November 20th
Weekly Address: Immigration Accountability Executive Action
Cato Connects: Executive Action on Immigration
[FULL] Stewart Jabs Obama for Going All ‘Emperor’ on Immigration Action
26 states suing Obama over immigration executive action as Boehner plans his own legal action
By Morgan Chalfant
It appears the majority of states believe President Obama’s executive action on immigration to be illegal.
A grand total of 26 states have joined a lawsuit led by Texas against Obama for the executive action he announced last November, according to the Huffington Post.
The suit was filed in December and, as of Monday, has gained the support of more half the states in the country.
“The momentum against the president’s lawlessness continues to build with Tennessee and Nevada joining the effort to protect our states from the economic and public safety implications of illegal amnesty,” explained Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Monday. “As President Obama himself has said numerous times, he lacks the authority to impose amnesty. His actions represent a blatant case of overreach and clear abuse of power.”
Some states — 12 in addition to Washington, D.C., to be precise — have alternatively expressed their support of Obama’s executive action by filing an amicus brief. A group of 30 mayors have done the same.
However, the president certainly does not have the support of the Republican-led Congress on the issue. In fact, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told GOP members of the House Tuesday that the government body will also pursue a lawsuit against Obama over his immigration action, as reports CNN.
“We are finalizing a plan to authorize litigation on this issue — one we believe gives us the best chance of success,” he reportedly said, according to a source.
This comes just months after the House filed a suit against the president over his executive action on Obamacare, which was itself seen by many as the House GOP’s response to Obama’s immigration announcement in November.
The 26 states that have joined in the immigration lawsuit are as follows: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
http://redalertpolitics.com/2015/01/27/26-states-suing-obama-immigration-executive-action-boehner-plans-legal-action/Lynch defends Obama’s immigration policies
By ERICA WERNER and ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Challenged by Republicans, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on Wednesday defended President Barack Obama’s decision to shelter millions of immigrants from deportation though they live in the country illegally.
She said that under the administration’s policy, the Department of Homeland Security is focusing its efforts on the removal of “the most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us.”
“It seems to be a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem” of illegal immigration, she said.
Lynch made her remarks in the opening moments of a hearing into her appointment as the nation’s first black female attorney general. It is the first confirmation proceeding since Republicans took control of the Senate this month.
Lynch, a daughter of the segregated South, was accompanied at the hearing by about 30 family members and friends. Among them were her father, who is a retired minister, her husband and several members of her college sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, wearing their trademark red.Settling into the witness chair for what promised to be a long day of questioning, Lynch promised a fresh relationship with law enforcement and with Congress.
“I pledge to all of you and to the American people that I will fulfill my responsibilities with integrity and independence,” she said in remarks prepared for the panel led by Republicans who say Attorney General Eric Holder has been too willing to follow President Barack Obama’s political agenda.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican and committee chairman, said as much in the opening moments of the hearing. He said the department is “deeply politicized. But that’s what happens when the attorney general of the United States views himself, in his own words, as the president’s ‘wingman.'”
Grassley did not press further after Lynch offered her defense of Obama’s immigration policies, even though he said they amount to rewriting the law rather than enforcing it.
Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is widely expected to win confirmation easily, if only because Republicans are so eager for Holder’s tenure to end. He has been a lightning rod for conservative criticism, clashing with Republicans and becoming the first sitting attorney general held in contempt of Congress.In testimony delivered before she was questioned, Lynch said that if confirmed she would focus on combatting terrorism and cybercrime and would protect the vulnerable from criminal predators.
And she was at pains to promise what Republican critics demanded in advance.
“I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship with this committee, the United States Senate and the entire United States Congress, a relationship based on mutual respect and constitutional balance,” she said.
Holder also battled the perception from critics that he aligned himself more with protesters of police violence than with members of law enforcement, a charge he and the Justice Department have strongly denied — but one that resonated in the aftermath of high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers.
In her prepared testimony, Lynch promised a fresh start in that relationship, too.“Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” Lynch said, pledging to “work to strengthen the vital relationships” if confirmed.
Lynch already has earned praise from several GOP senators for her impressive credentials and accomplishments. But she faced tough questions from Republicans who now control the Senate.
“She certainly has the credentials. We don’t want a repeat of what we had,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a senior committee member. “I look upon her as a pretty good appointment, but I have to listen along with everybody else.”
In answer to a question from Hatch, she said Wednesday, “Every lawyer has to be independent, the attorney general even more so, and I pledge to you that I take that independence seriously.”
The Judiciary Committee includes some of the Senate’s most outspoken Republicans, among them Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a potential presidential candidate who promised to quiz Lynch on Obama’s executive actions on immigration that granted reprieves from deportation to millions.
“We need an attorney general who will stop being a partisan attack dog and instead get back to the traditions of upholding the Constitution and the law in a fair and impartial manner,” Cruz said.
Lynch’s hearing comes amid a nationwide spotlight on police tactics in the wake of deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers, as well as the slaying last month of two officers in New York City. It’s an issue Lynch, 55, is deeply familiar with.
Lynch helped prosecute the New York City police officers who severely beat and sexually assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997. Her office in New York is currently leading a civil rights investigation into the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island last summer.
Lynch has been the top prosecutor since 2010 for a district that includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, a role she also held from 1999 to 2001.
Lynch grew up with humble beginnings in North Carolina, the daughter of a school librarian and a Baptist minister. She received undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. testimony.
Govt tells agents to ID which immigrants not to deport
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has ordered immigration agents to ask immigrants they encounter living in the country illegally whether they might qualify under President Barack Obama’s plans to avoid deporting them, according to internal training materials obtained by The Associated Press.
Agents also have been told to review government files to identify any jailed immigrants they might be able to release under the program.
The directives from the Homeland Security Department mark an unusual change for U.S. immigration enforcement, placing the obligation on the government for identifying immigrants who might qualify for lenient treatment. Previously, it was the responsibility of immigrants or their lawyers to assert that they might qualify under rules that could keep them out of jail and inside the United States.
It’s akin to the Internal Revenue Service calling taxpayers to recommend they should have used certain exemptions or deductions.
The training materials apply to agents for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They instruct agents “to immediately begin identifying persons in their custody, as well as newly encountered persons” who may be eligible for protection from deportation.One training document includes scenarios describing encounters between agents and immigrants with guidance about how agents should proceed, with a checklist of questions to determine whether immigrants might qualify under the president’s plans. ICE officials earlier began releasing immigrants who qualified for leniency from federal immigration jails.
Obama in November announced a program to allow roughly 4 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to apply for permission to stay in the country for up to three years and get a work permit. The program mirrors one announced in 2012 that provides protection from deportation for young immigrants brought to the country as children.
A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, Carlos Diaz, said immigrants caught crossing the border illegally remain a top priority for the agency. The training documents for border agents, he said, “provide clear guidance on immigration enforcement operations so that both time and resources are allocated appropriately.”
Crystal Williams, executive director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, said the training will help filter people the government said should not be a priority anyway. She said the training marked the first she has heard of officers being directed to screen immigrants for potential leniency before they were arrested.
“Just because it’s a change doesn’t mean it’s anything particularly radical,” Williams said.Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat and vocal supporter of Obama’s immigration plans, said having CBP officers screen immigrants out of the deportation line lets the government “move criminals and recent arrivals to the front of the deportation line. The emphasis now is on who should be deported first, not just who can be deported.”
A former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, John Malcolm, said the new instructions limit immigration agents.
“Agents are being discouraged away from anything other than a cursory view” of an immigrant’s status and qualification for leniency, said Malcolm, who works as a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.
Under Obama’s plans, the government is focused on deporting immigrants with serious criminal records or who otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. For the most part, under the new policy, immigrants whose only offense is being in the country without permission aren’t supposed to be a priority for immigration officers.
While the administration has estimated that as many as 4 million people will be eligible for protection from deportation, the Congressional Budget Office estimated about 2 million to 2.5 million immigrants are expected to be approved for the program by 2017. As many as 1.7 million young immigrants were estimated to be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but since its 2012 creation only about 610,000 people have successfully signed up.
Three things that are illegal about Obama’s immigration plan
It’s official. By executive fiat, President Obama will grant amnesty to up to 5 million immigrants living illegally in the United States.
How did we get here? Didn’t the president say, even last year, that he couldn’t, and wouldn’t take executive action on immigration?
If Obama ever finds himself in a court of law, he would surely be advised to invoke the Fifth Amendment. He is prone to contradiction and tends to be a good witness against himself.
President Obama’s favorite justification for his executive action is that “Congress failed to act.” No, Mr. President, Congress did not fail to act, it chose not to act in granting amnesty.
Consider his self-incriminating statements on immigration and executive powers. A year ago, when asked if he had the authority to end deportations of illegal aliens he said, “Actually, I don’t.” Three years earlier, when pressed as to why he could not act on his own on immigration he said, “The notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true.”
Well, now the president says it is true — he can alter the laws unilaterally. Why the metamorphosis? What changed? The law and the Constitution are still the same. Which leaves Obama. When it comes to the truth, inconvenient or otherwise, he is a chameleon like no other politician. He never hesitates to contradict himself, conjuring a new breadth of hypocrisy.
President Obama’s favorite justification for his executive action is that “Congress failed to act.” No, Mr. President, Congress did not fail to act, it chose not to act in granting amnesty.
There is a difference. A determination not to act is, by itself, a deliberate act. This is how the framers constructed our system of government. Congress considers and debates a great many bills. Not all of them pass. This is not “failure” in the conventional sense, but decision by declination. It constitutes a prudent and calculated process.
But the president uses this contrived “failure” as a pretext to arrogate the authority of another branch of government. He wields his pen to legislate by executive decree. He well knows he is exceeding his power. In 2011, he said, “I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the (immigration) on my own. But that‘s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.” He was right. It was a rare moment of clarity for a man who fancies himself a constitutional scholar.
Now, however, by granting legal status to roughly half the nation’s population of illegal immigrants, Obama is twisting the law, ignoring the Constitution, and forsaking his primary responsibility as chief executive. For years, he argued publicly it would be unconstitutional for him to take such action because he said, “I’m president, I’m not king.” Apparently, he now favors a crown on his noggin. In truth, he is king of self-confutation, negating himself with his own words.
Recently, when asked why he disagreed with himself, the president insisted, “Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed”. After the laughter died down, the Washington Post Fact Checker gave Obama an upside-down Pinocchio for his tortured denial of a blatant flip-flop.
The president’s executive action to legalize illegals by nullifying existing law, constitutes a stunning abuse of office: usurping the power of Congress, while abdicating his duty to uphold and enforce the laws. Here are three ways this is happening:
1. Distorting Prosecutorial Discretion
President Obama claims he is entitled to overhaul immigration laws in the name of “prosecutorial discretion.” It is one of those wonderfully fungible phrases in the law. Elastic because it is vague and ambiguous. Useful because it can be easily abused. Mr. Obama has appropriated this doctrine to argue he has near boundless discretion to amend, revise, waive or suspend the execution of immigration laws. As chief executive, he is empowering himself to decide what laws may be enforced or ignored and what persons may come or go across our southern border irrespective of what the law actually states.
In past decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has cautioned the executive branch that its prosecutorial discretion, while broad, is not “unfettered.” It is subject to restrictions. The doctrine may not be used to adopt a sweeping policy of non-enforcement of the law. It applies only to decisions not to prosecute or expelspecific individuals or small groups of people, typically for exigent reasons like war, civil unrest or political persecution.
By contrast, President Obama is bestowing a wholesale, blanket amnesty for an entire class of nearly 5 million people. He is doing so not for the reasons allowed by law, but for purposes that appear to be purely political. This is a flagrant abuse of prosecutorial discretion. His expansive action exceeds his authority in ways that none of his predecessors ever envisioned. And it is a radical departure from any of the executive actions issued by previous presidents.
It is true that President Ronald Reagan utilized executive action in 1987 to grant a limited deportation reprieve to certain spouses and young children of immigrants. But his action was a logical and direct extension of, not a departure from, an existing amnesty law Congress had already passed. His exemption and a subsequent extension by his successor, President George H. W. Bush, were later incorporated into a new law passed by Congress. The point is instructive. The actions by Reagan and Bush are not a supporting precedent for Mr. Obama, but an important limiting principle of presidential authority.
However, President Obama has commandeered this elastic doctrine of prosecutorial discretion and stretched or manipulated it beyond all recognition and reason. It has become his political Gumby toy with which he exerts his will whenever he fails to get his way with Congress. He contorts the word “discretion” to adopt a capacious policy — his own policy — to ban full enforcement of a duly enacted immigration statute. He treats the doctrine as a magical incantation shielding his arbitrariness.
2. Usurping Legislative Authority
Our Constitution clearly delineates a separation of powers. Congress is vested with writing laws and the President is charged with executing those laws. This is especially true when it comes to immigration.
At the end of the 19th century, the Supreme Court declared that Congress had “plenary power” (meaning full and complete) to regulate immigration. Derived from Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the doctrine is based on the concept that immigration is a question of national sovereignty, relating to a nation’s right to define its own borders and restrict entrance therein. As the high court observed, “Over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete.”
Yet President Obama has decided to usurp this power by unilateral directive, unconstrained by established checks and balances. In so doing, he is granting himself extra-constitutional authority and upsetting the carefully balanced separation of powers. He is also subverting the nucleus of our constitutional design: the rule of law.
3. Breaching His Sworn Duty
President Obama’s decision that existing laws shall not be enforced against some 5 million illegal immigrants violates his sworn constitutional duty. Article II, Section 3 requires that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Nowhere is it written that the chief executive is granted the latitude to pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce. He cannot ignore or nullify laws he does not like because the constitution gives him no power not to execute laws. To infer such latitude would invite an authoritarian rule anathema to our founding fathers’ vision. President Obama admitted as much when he said, “The fact of the matter is, there are laws on the books that I have to enforce.” He was specifically talking about immigration laws.
In 1996, Congress passed a law which requires federal immigration agents to deport illegal immigrants, with few exceptions. The statutory language is mandatory. Thus, whatever prosecutorial discretion which may have existed previously, was specifically eliminated by that legislative act. Yet, the President is now, in effect, ordering those agents to break the law. He cannot, on his own, engage in a de facto repeal of this law by executive action. To do so would be, quite simply, lawlessness and a dereliction of his duty.
If President Obama can refuse to enforce a valid federal law affecting millions of people, are there any limits to his powers? After all, he has frequently threatened, “Where Congress won’t act, I will.” What is to stop him from rewriting other laws with which he disagrees? Or to act where Congress has declined or refused to act? Can he abolish certain tax laws because Congress chooses to keep them? Can he banish all sources of energy except renewables to advance his agenda on climate change? If so, why even have a legislative branch of government? What’s the point of a Constitution which enumerates and circumscribes powers and duties?
Men like Madison, Jefferson and Adams were keenly aware of the tyranny and corruption of authority concentrated in too few hands. They knew the thirst for power posed an existential danger to those who cherish freedom. Their genius was in crafting a sustaining document that would end the arrogance of one man rule and protect the inherent rights of all men. They knew that absolute power corrupts.
And they feared future presidents like Mr. Obama.
In the history of our republic, no president has dared turn his high office into an instrument of unrestrained power. They held too much respect for their fellow citizens than to abuse or misuse the principles of our democracy. Even Lincoln’s actions to preserve the nation during the Civil War were grounded in the Constitution and the rule of law.
But, like the title of his autobiography, Mr. Obama’s measure of himself seems defined by the word “audacity.” It is no more evident than now.
FACT SHEET: Immigration Accountability Executive Action
The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules. Acting within his legal authority, the President is taking an important step to fix our broken immigration system.
These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
These are common sense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill—like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago—that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.
Three critical elements of the President’s executive actions are:
- Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border: The President’s actions increase the chances that anyone attempting to cross the border illegally will be caught and sent back. Continuing the surge of resources that effectively reduced the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally this summer, the President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to continue to crack down on illegal immigration.
- Deporting Felons, Not Families: The President’s actions focus on the deportation of people who threaten national security and public safety. He has directed immigration enforcement to place anyone suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers at the top of the deportation priority list.
- Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes: The President is also acting to hold accountable those undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. By registering and passing criminal and national security background checks, millions of undocumented immigrants will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time.
The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and will promote naturalization for those who qualify.
For more than a half century, every president—Democratic or Republican—has used his legal authority to act on immigration. President Obama is now taking another commonsense step. As the Administration implements these executive actions, Congress should finish the job by passing a bill like the bipartisan Senate bill that: continues to strengthen border security by adding 20,000 more Border Patrol agents; cracks down on companies who hire undocumented workers; creates an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pay a fine and taxes, pass a background check, learn English and go to the back of the line; and boosts our economy and keeps families together by cutting red tape to simplify our legal immigration process.
CRACKING DOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AT THE BORDER
Under the Obama Administration, the resources that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dedicates to security at the Southwest border are at an all-time high. Today, there are 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents along the Southwest Border and our border fencing, unmanned aircraft surveillance systems, and ground surveillance systems have more than doubled since 2008. Taken as a whole, the additional boots on the ground, technology, and resources provided in the last six years represent the most serious and sustained effort to secure our border in our Nation’s history, cutting illegal border crossings by more than half.
And this effort is producing results. From 1990 to 2007, the population of undocumented individuals in the United States grew from 3.5 million to 11 million people. Since then, the size of the undocumented population has stopped growing for the first time in decades. Border apprehensions—a key indicator of border security— are at their lowest level since the 1970s. This past summer, the President and the entire Administration responded to the influx of unaccompanied children with an aggressive, coordinated Federal response focused on heightened deterrence, enhanced enforcement, stronger foreign cooperation, and greater capacity for Federal agencies to ensure that our border remains secure. As a result, the number of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the Southwest border has declined precipitously, and the Administration continues to focus its resources to prevent a similar situation from developing in the future.
To build on these efforts and to ensure that our limited enforcement resources are used effectively, the President has announced the following actions:
- Shifting resources to the border and recent border crossers. Over the summer, DHS sent hundreds of Border Patrol agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel to the Southwest border, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reordered dockets in immigration courts to prioritize removal cases of recent border crossers. This continued focus will help keep our borders safe and secure. In addition, Secretary Johnson is announcing a new Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan which will strengthen the efforts of the agencies who work to keep our border secure. And by establishing clearer priorities for interior enforcement, DHS is increasing the likelihood that people attempting to cross the border illegally will be apprehended and sent back.
- Streamlining the immigration court process. DOJ is announcing a package of immigration court reforms that will address the backlog of pending cases by working with DHS to more quickly adjudicate cases of individuals who meet new DHS-wide enforcement priorities and close cases of individuals who are low priorities. DOJ will also pursue regulations that adopt best practices for court systems to use limited court hearing time as efficiently as possible.
- Protecting victims of crime and human trafficking as well as workers. The Department of Labor (DOL) is expanding and strengthening immigration options for victims of crimes (U visas) and trafficking (T visas) who cooperate in government investigations. An interagency working group will also explore ways to ensure that workers can avail themselves of their labor and employment rights without fear of retaliation.
DEPORTING FELONS, NOT FAMILIES
By setting priorities and focusing its enforcement resources, the Obama Administration has already increased the removal of criminals by more than 80%. These actions build on that strong record by:
- Focusing on the removal of national security, border security, and public safety threats. To better focus on the priorities that matter, Secretary Johnson is issuing a new DHS-wide memorandum that makes clear that the government’s enforcement activity should be focused on national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers. DHS will direct all of its enforcement resources at pursuing these highest priorities for removal.
- Implementing a new Priority Enforcement Program. Effectively identifying and removing criminals in state and local jails is a critical goal but it must be done in a way that sustains the community’s trust. To address concerns from Governors, Mayors, law enforcement and community leaders which have undermined cooperation with DHS, Secretary Johnson is replacing the existing Secure Communities program with a new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) to remove those convicted of criminal offenses. DHS will continue to rely on biometric data to verify individuals who are enforcement priorities, and they will also work with DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons to identify and remove federal criminals serving time as soon as possible.
ACCOUNTABILITY – CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS AND TAXES
Every Democratic and Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration. Consistent with this long history, DHS will expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include more immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. DHS will also create a new deferred action program for people who are parents of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and have lived in the United States for five years or longer if they register, pass a background check and pay taxes.
The President is taking the following actions to hold accountable certain undocumented immigrants:
- Creating a mechanism that requires certain undocumented immigrants to pass a background check to make sure that they start paying their fair share in taxes. In order to promote public safety, DHS is establishing a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. Citizens or LPRs who are not enforcement priorities and have been in the country for more than 5 years. Individuals will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time if they come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement. By providing individuals with an opportunity to come out of the shadows and work legally, we will also help crack down on companies who hired undocumented workers, which undermines the wages of all workers, and ensure that individuals are playing by the rules and paying their fair share of taxes.
- Expanding DACA to cover additional DREAMers. Under the initial DACA program, young people who had been in the U.S. for at least five years, came as children, and met specific education and public safety criteria were eligible for temporary relief from deportation so long as they were born after 1981 and entered the country before June 15, 2007. DHS is expanding DACA so that individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today. Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.
The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and promote naturalization by:
- Providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses. Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available. DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.
- Enhancing options for foreign entrepreneurs. DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S., to ensure that our system encourages them to grow our economy. The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.
- Strengthening and extending on-the-job training for STEM graduates of U.S universities. In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at U.S. universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.
- Streamlining the process for foreign workers and their employers, while protecting American workers. DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas for foreign workers who transfer from a company’s foreign office to its U.S. office. DOL will take regulatory action to modernize the labor market test that is required of employers that sponsor foreign workers for immigrant visas while ensuring that American workers are protected.
- Reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain LPR status. Due to barriers in our system, U.S. citizens and LPRs are often separated for years from their immediate relatives, while they wait to obtain their LPR status. To reduce the time these individuals are separated, DHS will expand an existing program that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional waiver for certain violations before departing the United States to attend visa interviews.
- Ensuring that individuals with lawful status can travel to their countries of origin. DHS will clarify its guidance to provide greater assurance to individuals with a pending LPR application or certain temporary status permission to travel abroad with advance permission (“parole”).
- Issuing a Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization. There are many ways in which our legal immigration system can be modernized to reduce government costs, eliminate redundant systems, reduce burdens on employers and families, and eliminate fraud. The President is issuing a Memorandum directing an interagency group to recommend areas for improvement.
- Creating a White House Task Force on New Americans. The President is creating a White House Task Force on New Americans to create a federal strategy on immigrant integration.
- Promoting Citizenship Public Awareness: DHS will launch a comprehensive citizenship awareness media campaign in the 10 states that are home to 75 percent of the overall LPR population. USCIS will also expand options for paying naturalization fees and explore additional measures to expand accessibility, including studying potential partial fee waiver for qualified individuals.
- Ensuring U.S. Citizens Can Serve: To further our military’s needs and support recruitment efforts, DHS will expand an existing policy to provide relief to spouses and children of U.S. citizens seeking to enlist in the military, consistent with a request made by the Department of Defense.
8 U.S. Code § 1227 – Deportable aliens
(a) Classes of deportable aliens
Any alien (including an alien crewman) in and admitted to the United States shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed if the alien is within one or more of the following classes of deportable aliens:
(1) Inadmissible at time of entry or of adjustment of status or violates status
(A) Inadmissible aliens
Any alien who at the time of entry or adjustment of status was within one or more of the classes of aliens inadmissible by the law existing at such time is deportable.
(B) Present in violation of law
Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this chapter or any other law of the United States, or whose nonimmigrant visa (or other documentation authorizing admission into the United States as a nonimmigrant) has been revoked under section 1201 (i)
of this title, is deportable.
(C) Violated nonimmigrant status or condition of entry
(i) Nonimmigrant status violators Any alien who was admitted as a nonimmigrant and who has failed to maintain the nonimmigrant status in which the alien was admitted or to which it was changed under section 1258 of this title, or to comply with the conditions of any such status, is deportable.
(ii) Violators of conditions of entry Any alien whom the Secretary of Health and Human Services certifies has failed to comply with terms, conditions, and controls that were imposed under section 1182 (g) of this title is deportable.
(D) Termination of conditional permanent residence
(i) In general Any alien with permanent resident status on a conditional basis under section 1186a of this title (relating to conditional permanent resident status for certain alien spouses and sons and daughters) or under section 1186b of this title (relating to conditional permanent resident status for certain alien entrepreneurs, spouses, and children) who has had such status terminated under such respective section is deportable.
(ii) Exception Clause (i) shall not apply in the cases described in section 1186a (c)(4) of this title (relating to certain hardship waivers).
(i) In general Any alien who (prior to the date of entry, at the time of any entry, or within 5 years of the date of any entry) knowingly has encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided any other alien to enter or to try to enter the United States in violation of law is deportable.
(ii) Special rule in the case of family reunification Clause (i) shall not apply in the case of alien who is an eligible immigrant (as defined in section 301(b)(1) of the Immigration Act of 1990), was physically present in the United States on May 5, 1988, and is seeking admission as an immediate relative or under section 1153 (a)(2) of this title (including under section 112 of the Immigration Act of 1990) or benefits under section 301(a) of the Immigration Act of 1990 if the alien, before May 5, 1988, has encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided only the alien’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter (and no other individual) to enter the United States in violation of law.
(iii) Waiver authorized The Attorney General may, in his discretion for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is otherwise in the public interest, waive application of clause (i) in the case of any alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if the alien has encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided only an individual who at the time of the offense was the alien’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter (and no other individual) to enter the United States in violation of law.
(F) Repealed. Pub. L. 104–208, div. C, title VI, § 671(d)(1)(C),Sept. 30, 1996, 110 Stat. 3009–723
(G) Marriage fraud
An alien shall be considered to be deportable as having procured a visa or other documentation by fraud (within the meaning of section 1182 (a)(6)(C)(i)
of this title) and to be in the United States in violation of this chapter (within the meaning of subparagraph (B)) if—
(i) the alien obtains any admission into the United States with an immigrant visa or other documentation procured on the basis of a marriage entered into less than 2 years prior to such admission of the alien and which, within 2 years subsequent to any admission of the alien in the United States, shall be judicially annulled or terminated, unless the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such marriage was not contracted for the purpose of evading any provisions of the immigration laws, or
(ii) it appears to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that the alien has failed or refused to fulfill the alien’s marital agreement which in the opinion of the Attorney General was made for the purpose of procuring the alien’s admission as an immigrant.
(H) Waiver authorized for certain misrepresentations
The provisions of this paragraph relating to the removal of aliens within the United States on the ground that they were inadmissible at the time of admission as aliens described in section 1182 (a)(6)(C)(i)
of this title, whether willful or innocent, may, in the discretion of the Attorney General, be waived for any alien (other than an alien described in paragraph (4)(D)) who—
(I) is the spouse, parent, son, or daughter of a citizen of the United States or of an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence; and
(II) was in possession of an immigrant visa or equivalent document and was otherwise admissible to the United States at the time of such admission except for those grounds of inadmissibility specified under paragraphs (5)(A) and (7)(A) of section 1182 (a) of this title which were a direct result of that fraud or misrepresentation.
(ii) is a VAWA self-petitioner.
A waiver of removal for fraud or misrepresentation granted under this subparagraph shall also operate to waive removal based on the grounds of inadmissibility directly resulting from such fraud or misrepresentation.
(2) Criminal offenses
(A) General crimes
(i) Crimes of moral turpitude Any alien who—
(I) is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status under section 1255 (j) of this title) after the date of admission, and
(II) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed,
(ii) Multiple criminal convictions Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined therefor and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.
(iii) Aggravated felony Any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable.
(iv) High speed flight Any alien who is convicted of a violation of section 758 of title 18 (relating to high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint) is deportable.
(v) Failure to register as a sex offender Any alien who is convicted under section 2250 of title 18 is deportable.
(vi) Waiver authorized Clauses (i), (ii), (iii), and (iv) shall not apply in the case of an alien with respect to a criminal conviction if the alien subsequent to the criminal conviction has been granted a full and unconditional pardon by the President of the United States or by the Governor of any of the several States.
(B) Controlled substances
(i) Conviction Any alien who at any time after admission has been convicted of a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of title 21), other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana, is deportable.
(ii) Drug abusers and addicts Any alien who is, or at any time after admission has been, a drug abuser or addict is deportable.
(C) Certain firearm offenses
Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted under any law of purchasing, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing, or carrying, or of attempting or conspiring to purchase, sell, offer for sale, exchange, use, own, possess, or carry, any weapon, part, or accessory which is a firearm or destructive device (as defined in section 921 (a)
of title 18
) in violation of any law is deportable.
(D) Miscellaneous crimes
Any alien who at any time has been convicted (the judgment on such conviction becoming final) of, or has been so convicted of a conspiracy or attempt to violate—
(i) any offense under chapter 37 (relating to espionage), chapter 105 (relating to sabotage), or chapter 115 (relating to treason and sedition) of title 18 for which a term of imprisonment of five or more years may be imposed;
(ii) any offense under section 871 or 960 of title 18;
(iii) a violation of any provision of the Military Selective Service Act (50 App. U.S.C. 451 et seq.) or the Trading With the Enemy Act (50 App. U.S.C. 1 et seq.); or
(iv) a violation of section 1185 or 1328 of this title,
(E) Crimes of domestic violence, stalking, or violation of protection order, crimes against children and
(i) Domestic violence, stalking, and child abuse Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment is deportable. For purposes of this clause, the term “crime of domestic violence” means any crime of violence (as defined in section 16 of title 18) against a person committed by a current or former spouse of the person, by an individual with whom the person shares a child in common, by an individual who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the person as a spouse, by an individual similarly situated to a spouse of the person under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction where the offense occurs, or by any other individual against a person who is protected from that individual’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the United States or any State, Indian tribal government, or unit of local government.
(ii) Violators of protection orders Any alien who at any time after admission is enjoined under a protection order issued by a court and whom the court determines has engaged in conduct that violates the portion of a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person or persons for whom the protection order was issued is deportable. For purposes of this clause, the term “protection order” means any injunction issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts of domestic violence, including temporary or final orders issued by civil or criminal courts (other than support or child custody orders or provisions) whether obtained by filing an independent action or as a pendente lite order in another proceeding.
Any alien described in section 1182 (a)(2)(H)
of this title is deportable.
(3) Failure to register and falsification of documents
(A) Change of address
An alien who has failed to comply with the provisions of section 1305
of this title is deportable, unless the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that such failure was reasonably excusable or was not willful.
(B) Failure to register or falsification of documents
Any alien who at any time has been convicted—
(i) under section 1306 (c) of this title or under section 36(c) of the Alien Registration Act, 1940,
(ii) of a violation of, or an attempt or a conspiracy to violate, any provision of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (22 U.S.C. 611 et seq.), or
(iii) of a violation of, or an attempt or a conspiracy to violate, section 1546 of title 18 (relating to fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other entry documents),
(C) Document fraud
(i) In general An alien who is the subject of a final order for violation of section 1324c of this title is deportable.
(ii) Waiver authorized The Attorney General may waive clause (i) in the case of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if no previous civil money penalty was imposed against the alien under section1324c of this title and the offense was incurred solely to assist, aid, or support the alien’s spouse or child (and no other individual). No court shall have jurisdiction to review a decision of the Attorney General to grant or deny a waiver under this clause.
(D) Falsely claiming citizenship
(i) In general Any alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented, himself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this chapter (including section 1324a of this title) or any Federal or State law is deportable.
(ii) Exception In the case of an alien making a representation described in clause (i), if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of making such representation that he or she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be deportable under any provision of this subsection based on such representation.
(4) Security and related grounds
(A) In general
Any alien who has engaged, is engaged, or at any time after admission engages in—
(i) any activity to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage or to violate or evade any law prohibiting the export from the United States of goods, technology, or sensitive information,
(ii) any other criminal activity which endangers public safety or national security, or
(iii) any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means,
(B) Terrorist activities
Any alien who is described in subparagraph (B) or (F) of section 1182 (a)(3)
of this title is deportable.
(C) Foreign policy
(i) In general An alien whose presence or activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is deportable.
(ii) Exceptions The exceptions described in clauses (ii) and (iii) of section 1182 (a)(3)(C) of this title shall apply to deportability under clause (i) in the same manner as they apply to inadmissibility under section1182 (a)(3)(C)(i) of this title.
(D) Participated in Nazi persecution, genocide, or the commission of any act of torture or extrajudicial killing
Any alien described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of section 1182 (a)(3)(E)
of this title is deportable.
(E) Participated in the commission of severe violations of religious freedom
Any alien described in section 1182 (a)(2)(G)
of this title is deportable.
(F) Recruitment or use of child soldiers
Any alien who has engaged in the recruitment or use of child soldiers in violation of section 2442
of title 18
(5) Public charge
Any alien who, within five years after the date of entry, has become a public charge from causes not affirmatively shown to have arisen since entry is deportable.
(6) Unlawful voters
(A) In general
Any alien who has voted in violation of any Federal, State, or local constitutional provision, statute, ordinance, or regulation is deportable.
In the case of an alien who voted in a Federal, State, or local election (including an initiative, recall, or referendum) in violation of a lawful restriction of voting to citizens, if each natural parent of the alien (or, in the case of an adopted alien, each adoptive parent of the alien) is or was a citizen (whether by birth or naturalization), the alien permanently resided in the United States prior to attaining the age of 16, and the alien reasonably believed at the time of such violation that he or she was a citizen, the alien shall not be considered to be deportable under any provision of this subsection based on such violation.
(7) Waiver for victims of domestic violence
(A) In general
The Attorney General is not limited by the criminal court record and may waive the application of paragraph (2)(E)(i) (with respect to crimes of domestic violence and crimes of stalking) and (ii) in the case of an alien who has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty and who is not and was not the primary perpetrator of violence in the relationship—
(i) upon a determination that—
(I) the alien was acting is self-defense;
(II) the alien was found to have violated a protection order intended to protect the alien; or
(III) the alien committed, was arrested for, was convicted of, or pled guilty to committing a crime—
(aa) that did not result in serious bodily injury; and
(bb) where there was a connection between the crime and the alien’s having been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty.
(B) Credible evidence considered
In acting on applications under this paragraph, the Attorney General shall consider any credible evidence relevant to the application. The determination of what evidence is credible and the weight to be given that evidence shall be within the sole discretion of the Attorney General.
(b) Deportation of certain nonimmigrants
An alien, admitted as a nonimmigrant under the provisions of either section 1101 (a)(15)(A)(i)
or 1101 (a)(15)(G)(i)
of this title, and who fails to maintain a status under either of those provisions, shall not be required to depart from the United States without the approval of the Secretary of State, unless such alien is subject to deportation under paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of this section.
(c) Waiver of grounds for deportation
Paragraphs (1)(A), (1)(B), (1)(C), (1)(D), and (3)(A) of subsection (a) of this section (other than so much of paragraph (1) as relates to a ground of inadmissibility described in paragraph (2) or (3) of section 1182 (a)
of this title) shall not apply to a special immigrant described in section 1101 (a)(27)(J)
of this title based upon circumstances that existed before the date the alien was provided such special immigrant status.
(d) Administrative stay
(1) If the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that an application for nonimmigrant status under subparagraph (T) or (U) of section 1101 (a)(15) of this title filed for an alien in the United States sets forth a prima facie case for approval, the Secretary may grant the alien an administrative stay of a final order of removal under section 1231 (c)(2) of this title until—
(A) the application for nonimmigrant status under such subparagraph (T) or (U) is approved; or
(B) there is a final administrative denial of the application for such nonimmigrant status after the exhaustion of administrative appeals.
(2) The denial of a request for an administrative stay of removal under this subsection shall not preclude the alien from applying for a stay of removal, deferred action, or a continuance or abeyance of removal proceedings under any other provision of the immigration laws of the United States.
(3) During any period in which the administrative stay of removal is in effect, the alien shall not be removed.
(4) Nothing in this subsection may be construed to limit the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General to grant a stay of removal or deportation in any case not described in this subsection.
Loretta Elizabeth Lynch (born May 21, 1959) is the current United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Her current tenure as U.S. Attorney began in 2010, and she previously held the position from 1999−2001. As U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch oversees federal prosecutions in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. On November 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated her to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.
Early life and education
Lynch was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on May 21, 1959. Her mother was a school librarian and her father was a Baptist minister. As a child, she spent hours with her father, watching court proceedings in the courthouse of Durham, North Carolina. Her early fascination with court proceedings was compounded by stories of her grandfather, also a pastor, who in the 1930s helped people move to the north to escape persecution under the Jim Crow laws of the time. Lynch earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature from Harvard College in 1981 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1984.
Lynch’s first legal job was as a litigation associate for Cahill Gordon & Reindel. She joined the Eastern District as a drug and violent-crime prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1990. From 1994 to 1998, she served as the chief of the Long Island office and worked on several political corruption cases involving the government of Brookhaven, New York. From 1998 to 1999, she was the chief assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District and headed the Brooklyn office. In 1999, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. During her term as U.S. Attorney, Lynch oversaw prosecution of New York City police officers in the Abner Louima case.
In 2001, Lynch left the U.S. Attorney’s office to become a partner at Hogan & Hartson (later Hogan Lovells). She remained there until January 20, 2010, when President Barack Obama nominated Lynch to again serve as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. From 2003 to 2005, she was a member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Following the July 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest and being held in a department-prohibited chokehold by a New York City police officer, Lynch agreed to meet with Garner’s family to discuss possible federal prosecution of the officer believed to be responsible in his death.
Lynch’s office indicted Republican congressman Michael Grimm; prosecuted Democratic politicians Pedro Espada Jr. and William Boyland, Jr.; investigated Citigroup over mortgage securities sold by the bank, resulting in a US$7 billion settlement; and was involved in the US$1.2 billion settlement with HSBC over violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.
On November 8, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Lynch for the position of U.S. Attorney General, succeeding Eric Holder, who had previously announced his resignation pending confirmation of his replacement. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would be the first African-American woman; the second African-American, after Holder; and the second woman, after Janet Reno; to hold this office.
Lynch and her husband, Stephen Hargrove, married in 2007. In her personal life she uses her married name, Loretta Lynch Hargrove. Her husband has two children from a previous marriage.
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Story 1: Obama Asserts Executive Privilege Claim Over Holder’s Wife Emails Pertaining To Fast and Furious — Cover up Of Crimes — Article 1 of Impeachment Bill — What are They Hiding? — Aiding and Abetting Homicides –Videos
President Obama Evokes Executive Privilege for Eric Holder – 2007 v. 2012
Obama announces Eric Holder’s resignation
Is Obama involved in Fast and Furious, obstructing a congressional investigation or both?
Congress Votes to Hold Eric Holder in Contempt Perjury Lied to House Congress Vote Passes
Jon Stewart Slams Obama Executive Privilege, Fast & Furious, and Eric Holder
Remember Brian Terry, the murdered Border Patrol Agent
Judge Napolitano: Executive Privilege Only Applies If Obama Involved
Mark Levin Explains How GOP Should Handle Holder Contempt Charge & Executive Privilege Claim
Issa on Fast and Furious, Holder Contempt, Obama Executive Privilege on Fox News Sunday
Obama Perpetuates The ’90 Percent Of Mexico’s Weapons Come From The U.S.’ Lie — In Mexico!
Eric Holder – We Must “Brainwash” People Against Guns! – (1995)
Holder on 2nd Amendment
Eric Holder Attacking The Second Amendment To Help Mexico?
“Operation Fast & Furious: The Other Side of the Border” Part 1
“Operation Fast & Furious: The Other Side of the Border” Part 2
“Operation Fast & Furious: The Other Side of the Border” Part 3
Fast and Furious: Management Failures at the Department of Justice – Part 1
Eric Holder Choking on his Testimony
Michael Savage offers concise summary of “Fast and Furious”, describes his own love of guns
Congress: Eric Holder Should Be In Jail!
Obama Asserts Fast and Furious Executive Privilege Claim for Holder’s Wife
OCTOBER 23, 2014
Judicial Watch announced today that it received from the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) a “Vaughn index” detailing records about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. The index was forced out of the Obama administration thanks to JW’s June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent September 2012 FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:12-cv-01510)). A federal court had ordered the production over the objections of the Obama Justice Department.
The document details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal. Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – as well as his mother – are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The “First Lady of the Justice Department” is a physician and not a government employee.
This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided a detailed listing of all records being withheld from Congress and the American people about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal. The 1307-page “draft” Vaughn index was emailed to Judicial Watch at 8:34 p.m. last night, a few hours before a federal court-ordered deadline. In its cover letter, the Department of Justice asserts that all of the responsive records described in the index are “subject to the assertion of executive privilege.”
The Vaughn index explains 15,662 documents. Typically, a Vaughn index must: (1) identify each record withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. The Vaughn index arguably fails to provide all of this required information but does provide plenty of interesting information for a public kept in the dark for years about the Fast and Furious scandal.
Based on a preliminary review of the massive document, Judicial Watch can disclose that the Vaughn index reveals:
Numerous emails that detail Attorney General Holder’s direct involvement in crafting talking points, the timing of public disclosures, and handling Congressional inquiries in the Fast and Furious matter.
President Obama has asserted executive privilege over nearly 20 email communications between Holder and his spouse Sharon Malone. The administration also claims that the records are also subject to withholding under the “deliberative process” exemption. This exemption ordinarily exempts from public disclosure records that could chill internal government deliberations.
Numerous entries detail DOJ’s communications (including those of Eric Holder) concerning the White House about Fast and Furious.
The scandal required the attention of virtually every top official of the DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Communications to and from the United States Ambassador to Mexico about the Fast and Furious matter are also described.
Many of the records are already publicly available such as letters from Congress, press clips, and typical agency communications. Ordinarily, these records would, in whole or part, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Few of the records seem to even implicate presidential decision-making and advice that might be subject to President Obama’s broad and unprecedented executive privilege claim.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton criticized President Obama and his disgraced Attorney General in a statement today:
This document provides key information about the cover-up of Fast and Furious by Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-level officials of the Obama administration. Obama’s executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office. There is no precedent for President Obama’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder’s emails to his wife about Fast and Furious.
Once again, Judicial Watch has proven itself more effective than Congress and the establishment media in providing basic oversight of this out-of-control Administration. This Fast and Furious document provides dozens of leads for further congressional, media, and even criminal investigations.
On June 28, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives over his refusal to turn over records explaining why the Obama administration may have lied to Congress and refused for months to disclose the truth about the gun running operation. It marked the first time in U.S. history that a sitting Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress.
A week before the contempt finding, to protect Holder from criminal prosecution and stave off the contempt vote, President Obama asserted executive privilege over the Fast and Furious records the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier. Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request two days later. Holder’s Justice Department wouldn’t budge (or follow the law), so JW filed a FOIA lawsuit on September 12, 2012.
But then the Justice Department convinced U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates to stay our lawsuit, in part to allow ongoing settlement discussions between the Holder’s government lawyers and the House Committee to continue. Unsurprisingly, the “negotiations” between politicians running the House and the Justice Department went nowhere.
Fed up with the interminable delay caused Holder’s gamesmanship and stonewalling, JW renewed its request to the Court to allow our transparency lawsuit to continue. Thankfully, this past July, Judge John D. Bates ended the 16-month delay and ordered the Obama administration to produce a Vaughn index of the alleged “executive privilege” records by October 1. Judge Bates noted that no court has ever “expressly recognized” President Obama’s unprecedented executive privilege claims in the Fast and Furious matter.
Unhappy with having to produce the records prior to the elections, Justice lawyers asked the judge to give them one extra month, until November 3 (the day before Election Day!) to produce the info. Judge Bates rejected this gambit, suggested that the Holder’s agency did not take court order seriously. Rather than a month, Judge Bates gave Justice until yesterday to cough up the Vaughn index. Judge Bates issued his smack down on September 23.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation two days later.
Many share our opinion it was “no coincidence” that Holder’s resignation came “on the heels of another court ruling that the Justice Department must finally cough up information about how Holder’s Justice Department lied to Congress and the American people about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, for which Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives.”
The House had been separately litigating to obtain the records but had gotten nowhere until after Judge Bates ruled that the DOJ finally had to disclose information to Judicial Watch.
On September 9, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing Judicial Watch’s success, ordered the Justice Department to produce information to Congress by November 3.
Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun running” operation in which the Obama administration reportedly allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels hoping they would end up at crime scenes, advancing gun-control policies. Fast and Furious weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of other innocents in Mexico. Guns from the Fast and Furious scandal are expected to be used in criminal activity on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border for years to come.
Guns from the Fast and Furious scandal continue to be used in crimes. Just last week, Judicial Watch disclosed that a Fast and Furious gun was used in gang -style assault on a Phoenix apartment building that left two people wounded. We figured this out from information we uncovered through another public records lawsuit against the City of Phoenix.
Congress officially confirmed the AK-47 was used in the assault that terrorized residents in Phoenix. In an October 16 letter sent from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) to Deputy Attorney General James Cole discloses that “we have learned of another crime gun connected to Fast and Furious. The [Justice] Department did not provide any notice to the Congress or the public about this gun….This lack of transparency about the consequences of Fast and Furious undermines public confidence in law enforcement and gives the impression that the Department is seeking to suppress information and limit its exposure to public scrutiny.”
We have many other active lawsuits over the Fast and Furious scandal:
On October 11, 2011, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain all Fast and Furious records submitted to the House Committee on Oversight.
On June 6, 2012, Judicial Watch sued the ATF seeking access to records detailing communications between ATF officials and Kevin O’Reilly, former Obama White House Director of North American Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.
On September 5, 2013, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ seeking access to all records of communications between DOJ and the Oversight Committee relating to settlement discussions in the Committee’s 2012 contempt of Congress lawsuit against Holder. The contempt citation stemmed from Holder’s refusal to turn over documents to Congress related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.
On May 28, 2014, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ on behalf of ATF Special Agent John Dodson, who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious and was then subjected to an alleged smear campaign designed to destroy his reputation.
Obama used executive privilege to shield Holder emails
President Obama used executive privilege to withhold the contents of more than 20 emails sent between Attorney General Eric Holder, his wife and his mother that a conservative watchdog group sought in connection with the federal government’s botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation.
The document, according to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, “details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal.”
Judicial Watch said the White House is withholding the contents of the Holder emails between his wife and mother citing not only the executive privilege, but the “deliberative process” exemption, which is normally used to exclude from public disclosure any information “that could chill internal government deliberations.”
Holder’s wife, Sharon Malone, is a Washington, D.C., gynecologist.
The Republican-led House has been dueling with Holder for years in an effort to get documents and emails related to Fast and Furious.
In 2012, the House voted to find Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to the operation and has sued to obtain them. Democrats have accused the GOP of a politically motivated witch hunt against Holder, who recently announced plans to step down.
The Fast and Furious program ran from 2006 to 2011 out of an Arizona division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It involved U.S. agents selling guns to Mexican drug traffickers in an effort to trace the weapons to the drug cartels. But agents lost track of the weapons and some of them were used to kill people, including U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
“Obama’s executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “There is no precedent for President Obama’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder’s emails to his wife about Fast and Furious.”
“This list of documents was provided in order to fulfill a procedural step in this case,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon told theExaminer. “We will make a further submission, related to these same materials, on Nov. 3 in connection to the case brought by the House Oversight Committee.”
Editor’s note: Judicial Watch is representing the Washington Examiner in the newspaper’s federal lawsuit seeking access to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau records under FOIA.
Operation Fast and Furious Fast Facts
Here’s some background information about Operation Fast and Furious. From 2009 – 2011, under Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Phoenix Field Division, along with other partners, allowed illegal gun sales believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels in order to track the sellers and purchasers.
An estimated 1,400 weapons were lost by the ATF in Mexico. Two of the missing weapons linked to the operation turned up at the Arizona murder scene of United States Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Whistle-blowing leads to a Congressional investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Attorney General Eric Holder is cited for contempt.
Operation Fast and Furious was one of the operations under Project Gunrunner, part of the Department of Justice’s broader Southwest Border Initiative, an “inter-agency effort to combat Mexico-based trafficking groups.” (DOJ)
“Straw purchasers (also called straw buyers) buy firearms on behalf of others without disclosing that fact on the forms required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.” (DOJ)
The operation lasted approximately 15 months, resulting in grand jury indictments of 34 suspects in drug and firearms trafficking organizations.
Operation Fast and Furious was not the first “gun walking” investigation by ATF; it was preceded by Operation Wide Receiver, which began in 2006.
April 2006 – Official launch of Project Gunrunner.
October 2009 – Operation Fast and Furious begins, based on a review of Project Gunrunner by the ATF Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
January 2010 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms agents tell the staff of Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the ATF allowed straw buyer Jaime Avila to make repeated purchases of guns after his name had been entered into a “suspect person database” on January 13, 2009.
December 14, 2011 – Border patrol agent Brian Terry is killed in the Arizona desert, and two weapons the ATF allowed to be purchased earlier in 2010 by purported “straw buyer” Jaime Avila are found near the shooting scene. It is unknown whether any of the guns were used as the murder weapon.
January 25, 2011 – The Department of Justice announces the end of Operation Fast and Furious, with the indictments of 34 drug and firearm trafficking suspects.
March 3, 2011 – ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson announces the formation of a panel to “review the bureau’s current firearms trafficking strategies employed by field division managers and special agents.”
April 1, 2011 – Acting Director Melson is issued a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
May 3, 2011 – Attorney General Eric Holder testifies for the first time before the House Judiciary Committee that he had first heard of Operation Fast and Furious only over the past few weeks.
June 2011 – Whistleblowers testify before the House Oversight committee. ATF agent John Dodson tells lawmakers, “I cannot begin to think how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest.”
July 26, 2011 – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a second hearing.
August 30, 2011 – Melson is reassigned to the Justice Department, and is replaced by B. Todd Jones.
October 12, 2011 – Congressional investigators issue a subpoena for communications from Attorney General Holder relating to the federal gunrunning operation.
October 2011 – Investigators uncover memos indicating Attorney General Holder had known about Operation Fast and Furious for close to a year, not a few weeks as he had stated in May 2011.
November 7, 2011 – A federal grand jury in the District of Arizona hands up an 11-count indictment. It alleges that on December 14, 2010, five of the defendants (Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza) were involved in a firefight with Border Patrol agents during which Terry was fatally shot. The men are charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, carrying and using a firearm during a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The indictment is unsealed on July 9th, 2012.
November 8, 2011 – Attorney General Holder testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that, “this operation was flawed in concept, as well as in execution.”
February 1, 2012 – The family of ATF agent Brian Terry files a $25 million wrongful death claim against the United States.
February 2, 2012 – Attorney General Holder testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that firings and charges against Justice Department officials who oversaw Fast and Furious are likely to come in the next six months. He also denies any cover-up.
June 12, 2012 – Attorney General Holder testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and rejects calls for his resignation.
June 20, 2012 – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recommends that Attorney General Holder be cited for contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents relating to the Fast and Furious operation.
June 20, 2012 – President Barack Obama asserts executive privilege over the documents sought by the investigating committee. This prevents future prosecution of Holder.
June 28, 2012 – The House of Representatives votes 255-67 to hold Holder in criminal contempt. This is the first time in American history that the head of the Justice Department has been held in contempt by Congress.
July 31, 2012 – The first of a three-part joint staff Congressional report is released, Fast and Furious: Anatomy of a Failed Operation, which lays blame for the failed gun-running probe on Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson and Deputy Director William Hoover.
July 31, 2012 – ATF Deputy Director William Hoover resigns.
August 13, 2012 – The House Oversight Committee files a civil lawsuit against Holder over Operation Fast and Furious documents.
September 6, 2012 – Mexican authorities arrest Leonel Sanchez Jesus Meza, wanted in the killing of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
September 19, 2012 – Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz releases a report on the operation. The report finds 14 employees of the ATF and the Justice Department responsible for management failures. After the release, former acting ATF head Kenneth Melson retires and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein resigns.
December 13, 2012 – Jaime Avila is sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in buying weapons that were found at the site of the killing of patrol agent Brian A. Terry.
June 17, 2014 – Lionel Portillo Meza, a suspect in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, is extradited from Mexico to the U.S.
ATF gunwalking scandal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Weapons recovered by Mexican military in Naco, Sonora, Mexico on November 20, 2009. They include weapons bought two weeks earlier by Operation Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino, who bought 723 guns during the operation.
“Gunwalking“, or “letting guns walk“, was a tactic of the Arizona Field Office of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which ran a series of sting operations between 2006and 2011 in the Tucson and Phoenix area where the ATF “purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them.” These operations were done under the umbrella of Project Gunrunner, a project intended to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico by interdicting straw purchasers and gun traffickers within the United States. The Chambers case began in October 2009, and eventually became known in February 2010 as “Operation Fast and Furious” after agents discovered some of the suspects under investigation belonged to a car club.
The stated goal of allowing these purchases was to continue to track the firearms as they were transferred to higher-level traffickers and key figures in Mexican cartels, with the expectation that this would lead to their arrests and the dismantling of the cartels. The tactic was questioned during the operations by a number of people, including ATF field agents and cooperating licensed gun dealers. During Operation Fast and Furious, the largest “gunwalking” probe, the ATF monitored the sale of about 2,000:203 firearms, of which only 710 were recovered as of February 2012.:203 A number of straw purchasers have been arrested and indicted; however, as of October 2011, none of the targeted high-level cartel figures had been arrested.
Guns tracked by the ATF have been found at crime scenes on both sides of the Mexico–United States border, and the scene where United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed December 2010. The “gunwalking” operations became public in the aftermath of Terry’s murder. Dissenting ATF agents came forward to Congress in response. According to Humberto Benítez Treviño, former Mexican Attorney General and chair of the justice committee in the Chamber of Deputies, related firearms have been found at numerous crime scenes in Mexico where at least 150 Mexican civilians were maimed or killed. Revelations of “gunwalking” led to controversy in both countries, and diplomatic relations were damaged.
As a result of a dispute over the release of Justice Department documents related to the scandal, Attorney General Eric Holder became the first sitting member of theCabinet of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012. Earlier that month, President Barack Obama had invoked executive privilegefor the first time in his presidency over the same documents.
One 20-year veteran of ATF’s Tucson office told us that before Operation Wide Receiver, all of ATF’s trafficking cases were very similar in their simplicity: ATF would get a tip from an FFL[Federal Firearms Licensee] about a buyer who wanted a large number of firearms and information about when the transaction was scheduled to take place, and would set up surveillance and arrest the buyer when he headed southbound or at the border. Sometimes the initial buyer would cooperate with ATF, and agents would arrest the actual buyer when he showed up to take possession of the guns. If the guns went to a stash house, agents would speak with subjects at the stash house or conduct a search of the stash house. This agent told us that ATF interdicted guns as a matter of course and had been “content to make the little cases,” but that Wide Receiver represented a “different direction” from ATF’s typical practice.
—Report by the Office of the Inspector General on the Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters, September 2012
ATF “gunwalking” operations were, in part, a response to longstanding criticism of the bureau for focusing on relatively minor gun violations while failing to target high-level gun smuggling figures. U.S. firearms laws currently govern the possession and transfer of firearms and provide penalties for the violation of such laws. “Gun trafficking”, although not defined by statute, essentially includes the movement or diversion of firearms from legal to illegal markets.:Summary A 2009 GAO report on efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico notes that straw purchasing is not in itself illegal, although it is illegal to provide false information in connection with a purchase.
Four federal statutes govern U.S. commerce of firearms domestically and internationally. Many states supplement these federal statutes and have firearms laws of their own that are stricter. For example, some states require permits to obtain firearms and impose a waiting period for firearm transfers. Domestic commerce and importations into the United States are generally regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). The exportation of firearms from the United States is regulated by the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 and, to a lesser extent, the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).:3
Defendants are often prosecuted and convicted under provisions of statutes such as the GCA that make it unlawful for certain persons to be in possession of firearms, govern the transaction process of obtaining firearms (e.g., straw purchases), and contain penalties for the use of a firearm in a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime, or penalties for knowingly or fraudulently smuggling goods that would be contrary to U.S. law and regulation.:18
In a 2012 case in San Juan, Texas, under existing 1968 Gun Control Act provisions on straw purchasing (Title 18 United States Code, Section 924(a)(1)(A)), straw purchaser Taisa Garcia received 33 months and buyer Marco Villalobos received 46 months, plus two years supervision after release. In another Texas gun trafficking case, Oscar Bravo Hernandez received a sentence of 84 months for buying and sending to Mexico at least 55 firearms from a ring of nine straw purchasers who received sentences from 51 months for the most involved down to three years probation for the least involved.
According to twenty-year ATF veteran Jay Wachtel, letting guns “walk” has been a practice done in a controlled manner that involved surveillance and eventual seizure of the weapons. “The idea was that you would follow it long enough until you were sure you had enough probable cause” to initiate an arrest, Wachtel said.According to ATF field agents involved in Operation Fast and Furious, a part of Project Gunrunner, “ATF agents were trained to interdict guns and prevent criminals from obtaining them” and not to allow guns to walk and then disappear. ATF agents assigned to Phoenix from other districts to work on Fast and Furious were critical of the operation.
There have been allegations of “gunwalking” in at least 10 cities in five states. The most widely known and controversial operations took place in Arizona under the ATF’s Phoenix, Arizona field division.
2006–2008: Operation Wide Receiver and other probes
Operation Wide Receiver
The suspicious sale of AR-15s led to Operation Wide Receiver.
The first known ATF “gunwalking” operation to Mexican drug cartels, named Operation Wide Receiver, began in early 2006 and ran into late 2007. Licensed dealer Mike Detty of Mad Dawg Global informed the ATF of a suspicious gun purchase that took place in February 2006 in Tucson, Arizona. In March he was hired as a confidential informant working with the ATF’s Tucson office, part of their Phoenix, Arizona field division.
With the use of surveillance equipment, ATF agents monitored additional sales by Detty to straw purchasers. With assurance from ATF “that Mexican officials would be conducting surveillance or interdictions when guns got to the other side of the border”, Detty would sell a total of about 450 guns during the operation. These included AR-15s, semi-automatic AK-pattern rifles, and Colt .38s. The majority of the guns were eventually lost as they moved into Mexico.
As the later DOJ OIG Report documented, under Wide Receiver coordination of ATF Tucson with the ATF Mexico City Office (MCO) and with Mexican law enforcement had been haphazard. Discussions of getting tracking devices from Raytheon were not followed up. ATF field agents and the cooperating gun dealer had been told by ATF supervisors that the guns were being interdicted before they could reach Mexico, but only 64 of the 474 guns had actually been seized. The kingpin sought by walking the guns, Israel Egurrola-Leon, turned out to be the target of a larger drug case Operation Iron River run by OCDETF. After Operation Wide Receiver was ended, several attorneys at the Phoenix USAO who reviewed the Wide Receiver cases for prosecution found the cases had been so poorly managed that they were reluctant to bring any of them to trial.
At the time, under the Bush administration Department of Justice (DOJ), no arrests or indictments were made. After President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the DOJ reviewed Wide Receiver and found that guns had been allowed into the hands of suspected gun traffickers. Indictments began in 2010, over three years after Wide Receiver concluded. As of October 4, 2011, nine people had been charged with making false statements in acquisition of firearms and illicit transfer, shipment or delivery of firearms. As of November, charges against one defendant had been dropped; five of them had pled guilty, and one had been sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Two of them remained fugitives.
The Hernandez case
Another, smaller probe occurred in 2007 under the same ATF Phoenix field division. The Fidel Hernandez case began when the ATF identified Mexican suspects who bought weapons from a Phoenix gun shop over a span of several months. The probe ultimately involved over 200 guns, a dozen of which were lost in Mexico. On September 27, 2007, ATF agents saw the original suspects buying weapons at the same store and followed them toward the Mexican border. The ATF informed the Mexican government when the suspects successfully crossed the border, but Mexican law enforcement were unable to track them.
Less than two weeks later, on October 6, William Newell, then ATF’s Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Phoenix field division, shut down the operation at the behest of William Hoover, ATF’s assistant director for the office of field operations. No charges were filed. Newell, who was Phoenix ATF SAC from June 2006 to May 2011, would later play a major role in Operation Fast and Furious.
The Hernandez case was referenced in a briefing paper prepared for Attorney General Michael Mukasey prior to his meeting with the Mexican Attorney General Medina Mora on November 16, 2007. The paper stated, “ATF has recently worked jointly with Mexico on the first-ever attempt to have a controlled delivery of weapons being smuggled into Mexico by a major arms trafficker” and that “the first attempts at this controlled delivery have not been successful.” The paper also stated, “ATF would like to expand the possibility of such joint investigations and controlled deliveries — since only then will it be possible to investigate an entire smuggling network, rather than arresting simply a single smuggler.”
Investigators regarded the Hernandez Case as an example of “controlled delivery” with surveillance and involvement of Mexican authorities rather than “gunwalking” or failure to attempt interdiction.
The Medrano case[
The 2008 Alejandro Medrano case involved both ATF SAC William Newell and cooperating Tucson gun dealer Mike Detty of Operation Wide Receiver. ATF Phoenix allowed about 100 guns to be taken into Mexico over the objections of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel who became aware of the case. Phoenix ATF SAC Newell acknowledged to ICE “that letting guns cross the border was part of ATF’s plan”. In August 2010, Medrano was sentenced to 46 months, his associate Hernan Ramos received 50 months and their fellow conspirators received prison terms from 14 to 30 months, but the target, a Sinaloa Cartel kingpin, Javier Elenes Ruiz, nicknamed “Rambo,” remained untouched inside Mexico.
2009–2011: Operation Fast and Furious
On October 26, 2009, a teleconference was held at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to discuss U.S. strategy for combating Mexican drug cartels. Participating in the meeting were Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, acting ATF Director Kenneth E. Melson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert Mueller and the top federal prosecutors in theSouthwestern border states. They decided on a strategy to identify and eliminate entire arms trafficking networks rather than low-level buyers. Those at the meeting apparently did not suggest using the “gunwalking” tactic, but Phoenix ATF supervisors would soon use it in an attempt to achieve the desired goals.
The strategy of targeting high-level individuals, which was already ATF policy, would be implemented by Bill Newell, special agent in charge of ATF’s Phoenix field division. In order to accomplish it, the office decided to monitor suspicious firearms purchases which federal prosecutors had determined lacked sufficient evidence for prosecution, as laid out in a January 2010 briefing paper. This was said to be allowed under ATF regulations and given legal backing by U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis K. Burke. It was additionally approved and funded by a Justice Department task force. However, long-standing DOJ and ATF policy has required suspected illegal arms shipments to be intercepted.
The operation began on October 31, 2009, when a local gun store reported to the Phoenix ATF that four individuals had purchased multiple AK47 style rifles. In November 2009, the Phoenix office’s Group VII, which would be the lead investigative group in Fast and Furious, began to follow a prolific gun trafficker. He had bought 34 firearms in 24 days, and he and his associates bought 212 more in the next month. The case soon grew to over two dozen straw purchasers, the most prolific of which would ultimately buy more than 600 weapons. The effort would come to be called Operation Fast and Furious for the successful film franchise, because some of the suspects under investigation operated out of an auto repair store and street raced.
Under the previous Operation Wide Receiver, there had been a formal ATF contract with the cooperating gun dealer and efforts were made to involve the ATF Mexico City Office (MCO) and Mexican law enforcement. Under Operation Fast and Furious, at Newell’s insistence the cooperating gun dealers did not have contracts with ATF, and MCO and Mexican police were left in the dark.
According to internal ATF documents, the operation was initially run in conjunction with the Phoenix DEA Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force(OCDETF). On January 26, 2010, ATF formally applied to the Justice Department in Washington for funding through the OCDETF program. When it won approval and received additional funding, Operation Fast and Furious was reorganized as a Strike Force that included agents from ATF, FBI, DEA, and the ICE component of the Department of Homeland Security, which would be run through the U.S. Attorney’s office rather than the ATF. This new Strike Force designation allowed the operation to take advantage of sophisticated surveillance techniques such as federal wiretaps, which would require court orders and interaction from Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C. since federal law requires certain individuals to review evidence and certify the necessity of such techniques.
The dealers involved became concerned as months went by and the same individuals they reported to ATF as suspected straw purchasers returned and repeatedly bought identical weapons. As they later told the DOJ OIG, their previous experience was that after they reported a suspected straw to ATF, they did not see the straw again unless subpoenaed to testify against the straw at trial. One cooperating dealer expressed his concerns in a series of emails in April and June 2010 to GS David Voth, who assured the dealer that ATF was monitoring the suspects using a variety of techniques that he could not discuss in detail.
The tactic of letting guns walk, rather than interdicting them and arresting the buyers, led to controversy within the ATF. As the case continued, several members of Group VII, including John Dodson and Olindo Casa, became increasingly upset at the tactic of allowing guns to walk. Their standard Project Gunrunner training was to follow the straw purchasers to the hand-off to the cartel buyers, then arrest both parties and seize the guns. But according to Dodson, they watched guns being bought illegally and stashed on a daily basis, while their supervisors, including David Voth and Hope MacAllister, prevented the agents from intervening.
However, other accounts of the operation insist that ATF agents were prevented from intervening not by ATF officials, but rather by federal prosecutors with the Attorney General’s office, who were unsure of whether the agents had sufficient evidence to arrest suspected straw-buyers. According to some reports, many agents insisted they were prevented from making arrests because prosecutors were unwilling to engage in what could become a potentially contentious political battle over Second Amendment rights during an election year, particularly given the difficult nature of prosecuting straw buyers, and the weak penalties associated with it, even if successful. Instead, prosecutors instructed ATF agents not to make arrests, but rather continue collecting evidence in order to build a stronger case. One tactic proposed for doing so was a wiretap of suspected straw-buyers, in an attempt to link the suspects to criminal activities taking place on the Mexican side of the border. Between March 20 and July 30, 2010, nine wiretaps were sought and approved by Justice Department officials, resulting in a significant delay in concluding the case.:247,274
One of the central targeted individuals was Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta. By December 2009, Celis-Acosta was being investigated by the ATF, which had placed a secret pole camera outside his Phoenix home to track his movements. Around this time, apparently by chance, ATF agents discovered Celis-Acosta was also a potential criminal target of the DEA, which was operating a wire room to monitor live wiretaps in order to track him. On April 2, 2010, Celis-Acosta was arrested on possession of cocaine and found in possession of a weapon purchased by Uriel Patino, who had already purchased at least 434 guns from cooperating gun dealers in the Phoenix area. By this time about a dozen ATF agents regularly surveilled Celis-Acosta as he recruited 20 friends and family to buy guns for him and regularly traveled to Texas to obtain funds from cartel associates to purchase firearms. On May 29, 2010, Celis-Acosta was detained in Lukeville, Arizona with 74 rounds of ammunition and 9 cell phones. He was then released by the chief ATF investigator on Fast and Furious, Hope MacAllister, after he promised to cooperate with her to find two specific Sinaloa cartel associates. After the redetention and arrest of Celis-Acosta in February 2011, the ATF learned that the associates they were after were FBI/DEA paid informants, and one of them was Celis-Acosta’s financier. Since they were informants, they were unindictable under Operation Fast and Furious.
Later, the DOJ inspector General concluded: “We did not find persuasive evidence that agents sought to seize firearms or make arrests during the investigative stage of the case and were rebuffed by the prosecutor. … We found that the lack of seizures and arrests was primarily attributable to the pursuit of a strategic goal shared by both the [Phoenix] ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office—to eliminate a trafficking organization—and the belief that confronting subjects and seizing firearms could compromise that goal.”
Weapons bought by Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino, seized by Border Patrol and Tucson ATF agents on the Tohono O’odham Reservation from a vehicle headed toward the Mexican border, February 20, 2010.
By June 2010, suspects had purchased 1,608 firearms at a cost of over US$1 million at Phoenix-area gun shops. At that time, the ATF was also aware of 179 of those weapons being found at crime scenes in Mexico, and 130 in the United States. As guns traced to Fast and Furious began turning up at violent crime scenes in Mexico, ATF agents stationed there also voiced opposition.
On the evening of December 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and others were patrolling Peck Canyon,Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 11 miles from the Mexican border. The group came across five suspected illegal immigrants. When they fired non-lethal beanbag guns, the suspects responded with their own weapons, leading to a firefight. Terry was shot and killed; four of the suspects were arrested and two AK-pattern rifles were found nearby. The Attorney General’s office was immediately notified of the shooting incident by email. The rifles were traced within hours of the shooting to a Phoenix store involved in the Fast and Furious operation, but the bullet that killed Terry was too badly damaged to be conclusively linked to either gun. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler and Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson were informed about the guns, but they didn’t believe the information was sufficiently important to alert the Attorney General about it or to make any further inquiry regarding the development.:297
After hearing of the incident, Dodson contacted ATF headquarters, ATF’s chief counsel, the ATF ethics section and the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, none of whom immediately responded. He and other agents then contacted Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa (R–IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who would become a major figure in the investigation of “gunwalking.” At the same time, information began leaking to various bloggers and Web sites.
On January 25, 2011, Burke announced the first details of the case to become officially public, marking the end of Operation Fast and Furious. At a news conference in Phoenix, he reported a 53-count indictment of 20 suspects for buying hundreds of guns intended for illegal export between September 2009 and December 2010. Newell, who was at the conference, called Fast and Furious a “phenomenal case,” while denying that guns had been deliberately allowed to walk into Mexico.
Altogether, about 2,000 firearms were bought by straw purchasers during Fast and Furious.:203 These included AK-47 variants, Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles, .38 caliber revolvers, and FN Five-sevens. As of October 20, 2011, 389 had been recovered in the US and 276 had been recovered in Mexico. The rest remained on the streets, unaccounted for. As of February 2012, the total number of recovered firearms was 710.:203 Most of the guns went to the Sinaloa Cartel, while others made their way to El Teo and La Familia.
Although most weapons were purchased by suspects under investigation by the program, there have been reports of at least one instance of ATF agents being directly involved in the transfer of weapons. On April 13, 2010, ATF Agent John Dodson, with assistance from Agents Casa and Alt, directed a cooperating straw purchaser to give three guns to Isaiah Fernandez, a suspected gun trafficker, and had taped the conversations without prosecutor approval.
After being instructed by his superiors to obtain approval from prosecutors (albeit retroactively), Dodson’s proposal was later rejected by his immediate superior David Voth, although he later received permission from Voth’s supervisor after submitting a written proposal for the program. On June 1, 2010, Dodson used $2,500 of ATF funds to purchase six AK Draco pistols from local gun dealers, which he then gave to Mr. Fernandez, who reimbursed him for the expense of the guns, plus $700 for his assistance. Two days later, Agent Dodson went on a scheduled vacation without interdicting the weapons. As a result, the weapons were never recovered, no arrests were ever made, and the case was closed without charges being filed.
According to the DOJ OIG report, Agent Dodson, as the undercover posing as a straw buyer, was not expected to surveil the weapons after hand-off to Fernandez. Other ATF agents followed the weapons to a storage facility; then surveillance was terminated without interdiction. The Fernandez case was dropped from Fast and Furious after it was determined that Fernandez was not connected to Mexican cartels and had ceased buying guns for resale.
Aftermath and reaction
Fate of walked guns
Since the end of Operation Fast and Furious, related firearms have continued to be discovered in criminal hands. As reported in September 2011, the Mexican government stated that an undisclosed number of guns found at about 170 crime scenes were linked to Fast and Furious. U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R–Calif.–49) estimated that more than 200 Mexicans were killed by guns linked to the operation. Reflecting on the operation, Attorney General Eric Holder said that theUnited States government is “…losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico,” and that the effects of Operation Fast and Furious will most likely continue to be felt for years, as more walked guns appear at Mexican crime scenes.
In April 2011, a large cache of weapons, 40 traced to Fast and Furious but also including military-grade weapons difficult to obtain legally in the US such as an anti-aircraft machine gun and grenade launcher, was found in the home of Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, a prominent Sinaloa Cartel member, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Torres Marrufo was indicted, but evaded law enforcement for a brief time. Finally, on February 4, 2012, Marrufo was arrested by the Mexican Police.
On May 29, 2011, four Mexican Federal Police helicopters attacked a cartel compound, where they were met with heavy fire, including from a .50 caliber rifle. According to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, this rifle is likely linked to Fast and Furious.
There have been questions raised over a possible connection between Fast and Furious and the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on February 15, 2011. The gun used to kill Zapata was purchased by Otilio Osorio in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas (outside the area of responsibility for the ATF Phoenix field division which conducted Fast and Furious), and then smuggled into Mexico. Congressional investigators have stated that Osorio was known by the ATF to be a straw purchaser months before he purchased the gun used to kill Zapata, leading them to question ATF surveillance tacticsand to suspect a Texas-based operation similar to Fast and Furious.
In addition to Otilio Osorio, a Texas-based drug and gun trafficker, Manuel Barba, was involved trafficking another of the guns recovered in the Zapata shooting. The timeline of this case, called “Baytown Crew”, shows guns were allowed to walk during surveillance that began June 7, 2010. On August 20, 2010, Barba received a rifle later recovered in the Zapata ambush and sent it with nine others to Mexico. The warrant for Barba’s arrest was issued February 14, 2011, the day before Zapata was shot. On January 30, 2012, Barba, who claimed to be working with Los Zetas in illegally exporting at least 44 weapons purchased through straw buyers, was sentenced to 100 months in prison.
On November 23, 2012, two firearms linked to the ATF were found at the scene of a shootout between Sinaloa cartel members and the Mexican military. One of the weapons was an AK-47 type rifle trafficked by Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino, and the other was an FN Herstal pistol originally purchased by an ATF agent. Mexican beauty queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez and four others were killed.
Investigations and fallout
In the U.S. Congress, Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA–49), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Chuck Grassley(R–IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been leading investigations of “gunwalking” operations. There have also been investigations by the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and others.
On January 27, 2011, Grassley wrote a letter to ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson requesting information about the ATF-sanctioned sale of hundreds of firearms to straw purchasers. The letter mentioned a number of allegations that walked guns were used in the fight that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. A second letter from Grassley on January 31 accused the ATF of targeting whistleblowers.
On February 4, after review and comment from dozens of officials in the Justice Department Criminal Division, the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, and ATF Headquarters,:332 Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich sent a response to Grassley regarding his two letters. Weich said claims “…that (the) ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them to Mexico [are] false. ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” On February 28, Attorney GeneralEric Holder requested that the Department of Justice‘s Inspector General begin an investigation of Fast and Furious.
On March 23, President Barack Obama appeared on Univision and spoke about the “gunwalking” controversy. He said that neither he nor Attorney General Holder authorized Fast and Furious. He also stated, “There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made, and if that’s the case then we’ll find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable.”
On May 3, Attorney General Holder testified to the House Judiciary Committee that he did not know who approved Fast and Furious, but that it was being investigated. He also stated that he “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks,” a claim which would later be questioned as explained below.
In June, ATF Agent Vince Cefalu, who helped to publicize Fast and Furious, was served with termination papers, in a move by the agency he described as politically motivated retaliation. He had been at odds with ATF management since he filed a complaint over tactics in an unrelated case in 2005. The ATF denied that the firing was retaliation, and Cefalu’s termination letter noted that he leaked documents to the Internet and showed a “lack of candor” in other operations.
On June 14, 2011, a preliminary joint staff report was released by Representative Issa and Senator Grassley. Among the findings: agents were told to stand down rather than interdict weapons, they complained about the strategy and were ignored, and Fast and Furious led to increased violence and death in Mexico. Agents were panicked, certain that “someone was going to die.”
Representative Issa continued to hold hearings in June and July where ATF officials based in Phoenix and Mexico, and at headquarters in Washington, testified before the committee. ATF agent John Dodson stated that he and other agents were ordered to observe the activities of gun smugglers but not to intervene. He testified:
Over the course of the next 10 months that I was involved in this operation, we monitored as they purchased hand guns, AK-47 variants, and .50 caliberrifles almost daily. Rather than conduct any enforcement actions, we took notes, we recorded observations, we tracked movements of these individuals for a short time after their purchases, but nothing more. Knowing all the while, just days after these purchases, the guns that we saw these individuals buy would begin turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico, we still did nothing. …
I cannot begin to think of how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest.
A second joint staff report was released by the Republicans on July 26.
In August, three important Fast and Furious supervisors were transferred to new management positions at ATF headquarters in Washington: William Newell and David Voth, field supervisors who oversaw the program from Phoenix, and William McMahon, an ATF deputy director of operations. The transfers were initially reported as promotions by the Los Angeles Times, but the ATF stated that they did not receive raises or take on greater responsibilities. In late August, it was announced that Acting ATF Director Melson had been reassigned to the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney Burke announced his resignation after being questioned by Congressional investigators earlier that month.
In October, documents showing that Attorney General Holder’s office had been sent briefings on Fast and Furious as early as July 2010, prompted questions about his May statement that he wasn’t sure of the exact date, but had known about it for only a few weeks. The briefings were from the National Drug Intelligence Center andAssistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. The Justice Department said that those briefings were about a different case started before Holder became Attorney General, and that while he had known about Fast and Furious, he didn’t know the details of the tactics being used.
On October 31, 2011, after the release of subpoenaed documents, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer stated he found out about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver in April 2010, and that he wished he had alerted the deputy or the attorney general at the time. The following day, in testimony before the Senate Judicial Committee in a hearing on International Organized Crime, when asked if he had reviewed the letter before it was sent to Senator Charles Grassley on February 4, 2011 denying gunwalking, Breuer replied, “I cannot say for sure whether I saw a draft of the letter that was sent to you. What I can tell you, Senator, is that at that time I was in Mexico dealing with the very real issues that we’re all so committed to.”
On November 8, Holder stated for the first time in Congressional testimony that “gunwalking” was used in Fast and Furious. He remarked that the tactic is unacceptable, and that the operation was “flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution.” He further stated that his office had inaccurately described the program in previous letters sent to Congress, but that this was unintentional. Reiterating previous testimony, he said that he and other top officials had been unaware that the “gunwalking” tactic was being used. Holder stated that his staff had not showed him memos about the program, noting, “There is nothing in any of those memos that indicates any of those inappropriate tactics that are of concern. Those things were not brought to my attention, and my staff, I think, made the correct decision in that regard.”
That same month, ex-US Attorney Burke admitted to leaking sensitive documents about ATF agent and whistleblower Dodson. Senator Grassley expressed concern that the Justice Department was using Burke as a scapegoat to protect higher officials and vowed to continue his probe.
On December 2, 2011, the Justice Department formally withdrew its statement from February 4, 2011 denying gunwalking due to inaccuracies.
Later that month, documents showed that some ATF agents discussed using Fast and Furious to provide anecdotal cases to support controversial new rules about gun sales. The regulation, called Demand Letter 3, would require 8,500 firearms dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas that “have a significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico” to report multiple rifle sales.
Investigations by Congress and the DOJ Inspector General continued into 2012. In January, Patrick Cunningham, who was the criminal division chief at the Phoenix office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and has since resigned, asserted his innocence and his constitutional right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying. Cunningham worked directly under Burke during Fast and Furious. He was subpoenaed because of the role he might have played in the operation, and in the letter sent from the DOJ to Senator Grassley in February 2011 that claimed the ATF did not allow weapons to be trafficked to Mexico.
On January 31, 2012, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report titled, “Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona”. The report concluded that there was no evidence of involvement by high-ranking appointees at the Justice Department in “gunwalking.” Rather, Operation Fast and Furious was just one of four such operations conducted over five years during the Bush and Obama administrations, and was only “the latest in a series of fatally flawed operations run by ATF agents in Phoenix and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
In May, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General had begun to investigate Fast and Furious, with a report expected in October. The DHS had Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents assigned to the operation after becoming involved in late 2009.
On May 3, 2012, Congressman Issa released a letter to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that included a draft of a resolution to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt. In the letter, Issa described the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and the OCDETF program since at least January 2009, which would involve multiple executive agencies including the ATF, DOJ, DEA, FBI, ICE, and DHS. He questioned how, why, or if oversight by high level Justice Department did not occur in such an important case. He further described the tragic death of Brian Terry, the whistleblowers and their mistreatment, and the damage the operation had to US-Mexico relations.
On June 7, 2012, under the threat of being held in contempt of Congress for not turning over additional requested documents, Attorney General Holder appeared at his seventh Congressional hearing, where he continued to deny knowledge of “gunwalking” by high-level officials. By then, the Justice Department had turned over more than 7,000 pages of documents.
During the June 12, 2012, Senate hearing, Eric Holder stated, “If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I’m the Attorney General that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them—nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.” Holder cited a briefing paper on “Wide Receiver”; the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs later clarified that the briefing paper was about the Fidel Hernandez case, prepared for Holder’s predecessor, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey before his meeting with Mexican Attorney General Mora on November 16, 2007. The Hernandez Case had ended October 6, 2007,before Mukasey entered office November 9, 2007. The office further explained, “As Attorney General Holder also noted in his testimony, and as we have set forth in prior correspondence and testimony, he took measures and instituted a series of important reforms designed to ensure that the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver, Hernandez, and other matters about which the Department has informed Congress are not repeated.” The later DOJ OIG investigation concluded “Attorney General Mukasey was not briefed about Operation Wide Receiver or gun “walking,” but on a different and traditional law enforcement tactic that was employed in a different case.”
On June 20, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to recommend that Holder be held in contempt. At issue were 1,300 pages of documents that had not been turned over to Congress by the DOJ. Earlier that day, President Obama had invoked executive privilege over those documents, marking the first time the privilege has been asserted during his presidency. Issa contends that the Obama executive privilege claim is a cover-up or an obstruction to the congressional probe. Issa said the department has identified “140,000 pages of documents and communications responsive to the committee’s subpoena.”
On Thursday, June 28, 2012, Holder became the first sitting member of the Cabinet of the United States to be held in criminal contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives for refusing to disclose internal Justice Department documents in response to a subpoena. The vote was 255–67 in favor, with 17 Democrats voting yes and a large number of Democrats walking off the floor in protest and refusing to vote. A civil contempt measure was also voted on and passed, 258–95. The civil contempt vote allows the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to go to court with a civil lawsuit to look into the US Justice Department’s refusal to turn over some of the subpoenaed documents and to test Obama’s assertion of executive privilege. Holder dismissed the votes as “the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided—and politically motivated—investigation during an election year,” and the White House called it “political theater rather than legitimate congressional oversight.” The National Rifle Association controversially lobbied for Holder to be held in contempt.
In June 2012, a six-month long investigation by Fortune magazine stated that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, in contrast to most other reports. Agents interviewed during the investigation repeatedly asserted that only one isolated incident of “gunwalking” ever occurred, and was performed independently by ATF Agent John Dodson (who later appeared on CBS News as a whistleblower to denounce the gunwalking scandal) as part of an unauthorized solo action outside the larger Fast and Furious operation.
On July 31, the first part of a new three-part report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, was released by Republican lawmakers. The report singled out five ATF supervisors for responsibility in Fast and Furious, all of whom had been previously reassigned. The report also said that Fast and Furious resulted from a change in strategy by the Obama Administration. The Justice Department was dismissive of the report, saying that it contained “distortions” and “debunked conspiracy theories,” and that “gunwalking” tactics dated back to 2006. DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, while critical of the report, did credit it for acknowledging that the idea for “gun walking”—allowing illegal sales of weapons on the border—originated under the Republican administration before Eric Holder took office in 2009. Schmaler noted that Holder moved swiftly to replace the ATF’s management and instill reforms. On the same day, ATF Deputy Director William Hoover, who was one of the five blamed in the Congressional report, officially retired. The report included an appendix disputing claims in the Fortune article.Following its publication, Dodson’s lawyer wrote the managing editor of Fortune stating the article was “demonstrably false” and that a retraction was in order. AfterFortune did not retract the article, Dodson sued for libel on October 12, 2012.
On September 19, the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz publicly released a 471-page report detailing the results of the Justice Department’s own internal investigations. The Inspector General’s report, which had access to evidence and interviews with witnesses not permitted in previous Congressional reports, recommended 14 federal officials for disciplinary action, ranging from ATF agents to federal prosecutors involved in the Fast and Furious operation. It found “no evidence” that Attorney General Holder knew about Fast and Furious before early 2011. It found no evidence that previous Attorneys General had been advised about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver.
While the OIG report found no evidence that higher officials at the Justice Department in Washington had authorized or approved of the tactics used in the Fast and Furious investigations, it did fault 14 lower officials for related failures, including failures to take note of “red flags” uncovered by the investigation, as well as failures to follow up on information produced through Operation Fast and Furious and its predecessor, Operation Wide Receiver. The report also noted ATF agents’ apparent frustrations over legal obstacles from the Phoenix Attorney’s Office to prosecuting suspected “straw-buyers,” while also criticizing the agents’ failure to quickly intervene and interdict weapons obtained by low-level suspects in the case. The 14 Justice Department employees were referred for possible internal discipline. The Justice Department’s Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer, an Obama administration presidential appointee, was cited for not alerting his bosses in 2010 to the flaws of Operation Wide Receiver. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, who was responsible for authorizing a portion of the wiretap applications in Operation Fast and Furious and faulted in the report for not identifying the gunwalking tactics, resigned on the day of the report.
On December 4, 2012, the ATF Professional Review Board delivered its recommendations to high-level ATF managers, who will decide whether to accept them. The recommendations included firing William McMahon, ATF Deputy Assistant Director; Mark Chait, ATF Assistant Director for Field Operations; William Newell, Phoenix ATF Special Agent in Charge; and George Gillett, Newell’s second in command. Two additional ATF employees, Phoenix supervisor David Voth and lead agent Hope McAllister, received recommendations for demotion and disciplinary transfer to another ATF post, respectively. It was reported the next day that McMahon had been fired. It was also announced that Gary Grindler, Eric Holder’s chief of staff who was faulted in the OIG report, would be leaving the Justice Department. Later that month, the family of Brian Terry sued seven government officials and a gun shop involved in Operation Fast and Furious for negligence and wrongful death.
Agent John Dodson’s book on his experiences in Operation Fast and Furious was released by Simon and Schuster on December 3, 2013.
Related criminal prosecutions
On July 9, 2012, an indictment charging five men in the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was unsealed. The