An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets in Dallas — Videos

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An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

Warning, when you check out, be on the lookout for pickpockets.

The latest green movement cause du jour is the banning or taxing of disposable plastic and paper bags. These laws or city ordinances are designed to nudge or coerce customers to bring their own reusable tote bag when they shop for groceries and other merchandise.

A number of United States cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin and now unfortunately Dallas have either banned or taxed disposable plastic and/or paper bags or so-called “single-use carryout bags.” According to the Earth Policy Institute, over 20 million people are currently covered by 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the U.S.

For decades most American and European businesses have provided their customers bags, at no additional charge, to carryout and transport their purchase. In the 1980s businesses began to give their customers a choice of paper or plastic.

On March 26, 2014, the Dallas City Council passed an 8 to 6 City Ordinance No. 29307. It requires business establishments that provide their customers “single-use carryout bags” to register with the city annually each location providing these bags and charge their customers an “environment fee” of 5 cents per bag to promote a “culture of clean” and  “to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residences.”

Give me a break. It is a new tax to raise millions in new tax revenue for the City of Dallas. Who are the elected Dallas-8 council member watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) that ordained this tax on the people and businesses of Dallas? The names of the Dallas-8 are Tennell Atkins, Carolyn R. Davis, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine R. Caraway, Sandy Greyson, Philip T. Kingston, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

The Dallas-8 are led by council member Caraway, who wanted to completely ban plastic and paper single-use carryout bags. Instead they decided to shake down Dallas businesses and their customers with a new highly regressive tax. Caraway refuses to call it a tax and claims the new ordinance which went in effect on January 1 is “a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States.”

The eight-page ordinance includes the definition and standards that reusable carryout bags must satisfy: “A reusable carryout bag must meet the minimum reuse testing standard of 100 reuses carrying 16 pound.” Reusable bags may be made of cloth, washable fabric, durable materials, recyclable plastic with a minimum thickness of 4.0 mil or recyclable paper that contains a minimum of 40 percent recycled content.

All of the above reusable bags must have handles with the exception of small bags with a height of less than 14 inches and a width of less than 8 inches.

Business establishments can either provide or sell reusable carryout bags to its customer or to any person.

The city ordinance exempts some bags from the single-use carryout definition including:

  • Plastic bags used for produce, meats, nuts, grains and other bulk items inside grocery or other retail stores,
  • Single-use plastic bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food only where necessary to prevent moisture damage from soups, sauces, gravies or dressings,
  • Recyclable paper bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food,
  • Recyclable paper bags from pharmacies or veterinarians for prescription drugs,
  • Laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags,
  • Biodegradable door-hanger and newspaper bags, and
  • Bags for trash, yard debris and pet waste.

The Dallas 5 cent paper and plastic bag tax or environment fee applies only to single-use carryout bags defined as bags not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag.

Businesses that violate the ordinance can be fined up to a maximum of $500 per day.

Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a bag manufacturing group, said “This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5 percent of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1 percent of litter in studies conducted across the country;” “Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment: but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small business and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag and recycling industry.”

Stop the shakedown of Dallas businesses and their customers. Repeal the inconvenient tax on paper and plastic disposable bags by voting out of office the Dallas-8 city council members who voted for this tax, Dwaine Caraway. Support your Texas state representatives in passing a new law that would prohibit cities such as Dallas and Austin from banning or taxing paper and plastic carryout bags.

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 393: January 5, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 392: December 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 391: December 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 390: December 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 389: December 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 388: December 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 387: December 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 386: December 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 385: December 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 384: December 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 383: December 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 382: December 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 381: December 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 380: December 1, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 379: November 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 378: November 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 377: November 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 376: November 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 375: November 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 374: November 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 373: November 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 372: November 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 371: November 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 370: November 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 369: November 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 368: November 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 367: November 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 366: November 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 365: November 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 364: November 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 363: November 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 362: November 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 361: October 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 360: October 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 359: October 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 358: October 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 357: October 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 356: October 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 355: October 23, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 354: October 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 353: October 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 352: October 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 351: October 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 350: October 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 349: October 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 348: October 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 347: October 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 346: October 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 345: October 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 344: October 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 343: October 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 342: October 2, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 341: October 1, 2014

 
Where Can I Put Them?

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ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons: A conversation with author James Delingpole

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John Stossel – Green Road To Serfdom

Carryout Bag Ordinance

Disponible en español      NEW⇒Tiếng Việt

On January 1, 2015, the Carryout Bag Ordinance will start in Dallas. 

Are you ready?

 

Shop
shoppers

RETAILERS

CUSTOMERS

Retailers offering single-use bags to customers must:
  • Register ELECTRONICALLY HERE; works best on Chrome or Firefox (if you need to register using a paper form via USPS, clickhere)
  • Assess a five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag; the environmental fee is not subject to sales tax
  • Print total number of bags and fee on each receipt
  • Keep records available for inspectors
  • Post signs in controlled parking lots reminding customers to bring their bags
  • Post signs in the store, within six feet of each register, per the ordinance SAMPLE HERE 
  • The full link to the Code Compliance carryout bag website, with forms and additional information, is here

Retailers offering only reusable bags, as defined by the ordinance, have different requirements.

All retailers should look at their operations and determine if their bags are single-use, reusable, or exempted from the single-use definition. Consult the full ordinance for all details pertaining to the ordinance and what is expected for each type of bag including thickness, language on the bag, durability, signage, and other considerations.

Customers, you are encouraged to bring your bagand keep your change.Single-use carryout bags have a five-cent per bag environmental fee.  A single-use bag can be paper or plastic.Reusable bags do not have the environmental fee, though stores may charge you to offset costs.  Reusable bags stores offer can be made from cloth or other washable woven materials, recyclable paper, or recyclable plastic so long as they meet certain requirements.  However, any bag you bring with you to use is considered reusable since you are reusing it.There are some bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition:

  • Laundry, dry cleaning or garment bags;
  • Biodegradable door-hanger and newspaper bags;
  • Bags for trash, yard debris or pet waste;
  • Plastic bags used for produce, meats, nuts, grains and other bulk items inside grocery or other retail stores;
  • Recyclable paper bags from pharmacies or veterinarians for prescription drugs; and,
  • Recyclable paper bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food.
  • Single-use plastic bags used by restaurants to take away prepared food only where necessary to prevent moisture damage from soups, sauces, gravies or dressings.

Remember to recycle the bags you can recycle appropriately.

Why

Many wonder why the City passed this ordinance.  The Dallas City Council passed the ordinance to help improve the environment and keep our city clean.  The City is currently spending nearly $4 million dollars to remove litter from our community to keep it beautiful and thriving.

The Carryout Bag ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags to carry goods from stores, restaurants, and other locations to reduce the number of bags that can end up loose in the environment as litter. 

To help you understand, we have created this list of frequently asked question.

whatThe carryout bag ordinance outlines the City’s “desire to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residents,” and the “negative impact on the environment caused by improper disposal of single-use carryout bags.” The Dallas City Council approved the ordinance on March 26, 2014.

whenThe ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2015.

Retailers and customers should be ready and know all the details.  This website and the City’s Code Compliance Services website have details to help retailers prepare.  The links to the Code website on DallasCityHall.com are below.

howSome are still unclear how the ordinance may impact them.

Businesses will have to register each location with the City in order to offer single-use bags.  No registration is necessary if a business is only offering reusable bags or bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition in the ordinance.  Businesses must be registered before distributing single-use carryout bags starting January 1, 2015. Businesses are required to collect a five-cent environmental fee for every single-use bag used by a customer.

Customers will be charged a five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag, paper or plastic, they receive from retailers.  Again, reusable bags and bags exempted from the definition of single-use bags do not carry the environmental fee.  You can avoid the environmental fee by bringing your own bags with you.  The five cent fee assessed for the single-use bag is not subject to sales tax.

Will I still be able to get plastic carryout bags?
Yes, provided your retailer chooses to offer them and collect the environmental fee.

Can I bring my own reusable bags to carry out items I purchased?
Yes. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to carry out their items instead of paying the five-cent environmental fee per single-use plastic or paper bag.

If I reuse a single-use carryout bag, will I have to pay the fee again?
Whatever bag you bring — tote bag, golf bag, diaper bag, satchel, purse, or produce bag — if you bring it with you to reuse, you do not have to pay the environmental fee.

Where does the money go?
A portion of the fees will be used to pay for enforcement of the ordinance and for public education efforts.  Stores keep 10 percent of the five-cent fee to help offset administrative costs.

Does this ordinance apply to all businesses?
All retailers that offer single-use carryout bags in Dallas are subject to this ordinance.

What about non-profits or charities?
If the non-profit or charity offers food, groceries, clothing, or other household items free of charge to clients, they may still use single-use carryout bags for the specific function of distributing those items.  However, the ordinance will apply to any bags used at the point of sale for any goods sold through the non-profit or charity.
Additionally, any non-profit or charity that collects goods for donation from the public or which leaves informational material for the public must be sure any door-hanger bags left for collecting those goods or providing that informational material are biodegradable.

Does the ordinance include all bags?
The ordinance applies to single-use paper or plastic carryout bags used by businesses as defined in the ordinance language.

What if businesses don’t follow the ordinance?
Businesses that violate the ordinance could face fines of up to $500 per day.

How will the ordinance be enforced?
City Code Compliance inspectors will respond to complaints and provide proactive enforcement.

How can the City know if businesses aren’t complying with the law? Will they be doing more inspections?
There will be proactive enforcement and periodic audits.  Additionally, the City will respond to complaints from residents.

Will the ban on single-use bags at city facilities apply to retailers at American Airlines Center, city museums, the Omni Dallas Hotel, and Fair Park?
Yes.  The City Attorney’s Office will work with Code Enforcement to determine which facilities are affected and how.

Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?
Call 3-1-1, the Office of Environmental Quality, Code Compliance or email us atgreendallas@dallascityhall.com.

NEW⇒ Where can I find the forms?
Forms and more information are available on the Code Compliance website dedicated to the Carryout Bag Ordinance here.

http://greendallas.net/carryout-bag-ordinance/

 

Dallas City Council OK’s fee-based ordinance that says retailers must charge five cents for carryout bags

For months Dwaine Caraway has insisted he had the votes to pass at least a partial ban on the single-use carryout bag. He was right: By a vote of 8-6 the Dallas City Council passed the so-called “environmental fee ordinance,” which bans single-use carryout bags at all city facilities and events while still allowing retailers to use plastic and paper bags.

But beginning January 1 retailers will have to charge customers who want them “an environmental fee” of five cents per bag, and they will get to keep 10 percent of that money. The ordinance also says retailers who want to keep handing out plastic and paper bags will have to register with the city and keep track of bags sold.

The city says the money raised from the bag fees will help go toward funding enforcement and education efforts that assistant city manager Jill Jordan told the council could cost around $250,000 and necessitate the hiring of up to 12 additional staff members.

Wednesday’s vote came a year after council member Dwaine Caraway asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that completely banned the bag. The council member says the ordinance passed today was a compromise born out of “a fair process” that included environmentalists, bag manufactures and retailers. Several of his colleagues wanted to send the proposed ordinances back to committee for further debate. But Caraway wanted a vote now.

“You get to a point where it’s time to make decisions, decisions that will have a great impact on the city of Dallas and our environmental status … and the beautification of our city,” he said. The process has “been pretty tough. it’s been back and forth. We listened and listened fairly.”

But six of his colleagues disagreed: Sheffie Kadane said the fee-based ban will result in a lawsuit from retailers and manufacturers. Rick Callahan called it a “government intrusion.” Jennifer Staubach Gates said it wouldn’t do any good, because in five years the reusable bags supported by the environmentalists will end up in landfills too. And Jerry Allen said the three options being considered by council, including a full-out ban, represented “a lack of clear conviction,” which he found disappointing.

And then there was Lee Kleinman, who on Friday indicated he supported the fee-based ordinance. Five days later he’d changed his mind and said he no longer cared what happened in his colleagues’ districts.

“I would personally probably stay more focused on my own district, which does not have the same trash problems as others,” he said, to the amazement of some of his southern sector colleagues. “Why should I care if someone is shopping like at Southwest Center Mall and they want a plastic bag? If people in that community are satisfied with the conditions around that mall, why should I utilize my position in North Dallas to improve those conditions? I should just focus my energies on North Dallas redevelopment projects and not help another improve quality of life in other areas of the city.”

That entire speech is above, thanks to my colleague Scott Goldstein.

Vonciel Jones Hill, who has said in the past she opposes any ban or bag tax, was no present for today’s vote. Monica Alonzo also voted against it, but said nothing.

In a statement released following the vote, the American Progressive Bag Alliance said it’s “a move that will fail to accomplish any environmental goals while jeopardizing 4,500 Texas jobs and hurting consumers.”

Its executive director, Lee Califf, said in a statement that “the vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate.”

But it’s not clear if the state will allow Dallas’ new bag “ban” — or bag tax, more appropriately.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is going to weigh in on the legality of bag bans, following a request by state Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton on behalf of the Texas Retailers Association. Jerry Allen asked Dallas City Attorney Warren Ernst if the state allows bag bans.

“We are ready to defend that position,” Ernst said. “If it’s the will of the council to pass the ordinance, we’ll defend that as a legal action by the city.”

Allen was not convinced, insisting “there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty.” Ernst appeared to agree.
Those council members opposed to the ordinance said Dallas needs to do a better job of enforcing its litter laws. Jordan told the council that the city spends $4 million annually on trash pick-up, “and we still have litter.”

In the end, said council member Scott Griggs, “this is just one step. We tackle the bags then we can move on to Styrofoam and other issues that cause trash. This is a large elephant we’ll have to take on as a city and a council.”

Kroger’s Gary Huddleston, also of the Texas Retailers Association, shared a hug with Dwaine Caraway following today’s council vote.

Following the vote, Gary Huddleston, head of the Texas Retailers Association, said he wasn’t sure whether his organization would sue the city. He noted that they are awaiting the attorney general’s ruling on the legality of a fee.

“It will affect the retailers in the city of Dallas and it will affect our customers,” Huddleston said. “They’ll have to pay for their paper and plastic bags or they bring in their reusable bags.”

“We personally believe the solution to litter in the city of Dallas is a strong recycling program and also punishing the people that litter and not punishing the retailer,” Huddleston said.

The fee means that businesses will have to institute additional programming and training in order to enforce ordinance and track the fees. Customers will “have to pay a nickel a bag, whereas maybe they use that nickel to buy more product in my store.”

But Huddleston’s concerns didn’t stop him from hugging Caraway outside chambers. The two men smiled and embraced in front of television cameras.

The council member said he was pleased with the result of more than a year of work. He refused to call the fee a “tax.”

“It’s a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States,” Caraway said.

He said it’s important for residents to know the ban does not cover a variety of bags, such as those in the produce section of grocery stores or at restaurants

“Folks need to understand that these are single-use carryout bags,” Caraway said. “These are simply those thin, flimsy bags that take flight and that are undesirable and bad for the environment.”

Staff writer Scott Goldstein contributed to this report.

http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/dallas-city-council-approves-partial-fee-based-ban-on-single-use-carryout-bags.html/

Dallas Will Charge Fees for Plastic Bag Use
By Josh Ault and Ken Kalthoff

The City of Dallas has implemented new rules for plastic grocery bags, imposing a 5 cent fee on single-use plastic or paper grocery bags. The rules go into effect in January. (Published Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014)
Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 • Updated at 5:56 AM CST
The Dallas City Council has passed a proposal ordering retailers to charge a fee for one-time use plastic bags while partially banning them from city-owned facilities.
In a 8-6 vote, the council passed the ordinance requiring retailers to charge customers a $0.05 fee if they request single-use plastic or paper bags.
Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday[DFW] Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday
The Dallas City Council is expected to vote on plastic bag ban issue on Wednesday. (Published Monday, Mar 24, 2014)
Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway accepted the compromise of a bag fee after spending a year fighting for a ban on single-use bags.
“This is an opportunity for us to clean our city, to clean our environment and to move forward, and to be like the other cities across the country and around the world,” Caraway said.
Zac Trahan with Texas Campaign for The Environment said Austin and eight smaller Texas cities have taken stronger action by banning single-use bags, but he still supported the Dallas regulations.
“It’s still a step in the right direction because it will still result in a huge reduction in the number of bags that will be distributed,” he said.
The ordinance also requires those retailers to register with the city and track the number of single-use bags sold.
The retailer would keep 10 percent of the environmental fee with the remainder going to the city to fund enforcement and education efforts.
Lee Califf, the executive director of the bag manufacturers’ group American Progressive Bag Alliance, released the following statement after the ordinance was passed.
“The vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate. This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5% of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1% of litter in studies conducted across the country. The City Council rushed through a flawed bill to appease its misguided sponsor, despite the fact that 70% of Dallas residents opposed this legislation in a recent poll.

“Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment; but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry. Councilman Caraway may view this vote as a victory for his political career, but there are no winners with today’s outcome.”
Several Council Members opposed any new restrictions.
Rick Callahan said grocery bags are only a small part of the Dallas litter problem and better recycling education is needed.
“Banning something or adding a fee, putting more regulation on business is not the answer,” Callahan said.
The ordinance does ban single-use plastic or paper bags at city-owned facilities and events.
It still allows distributing multi-use, or stronger, paper or plastic bags for free so stores can get around charging the fee by offering better bags.
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Dallas-Council-to-Consider-Plastic-Bag-Ban-252427601.html

 

Dallas’ new plastic bag fee: for and against

By Steve Blow

After more than a year of considering a ban on disposable shopping bags, the Dallas City Council voted instead last week to impose a 5-cent “environmental fee” on each bag.

In previous columns, Steve Blow had opposed a ban, while Jacquielynn Floyd had supported it. Today, they debate the council’s new approach.

Steve: Leave it to the Dallas City Council to take a bad idea and find a way to make it worse. I thought a ban on shopping bags was a bad idea, but slapping a new tax on Dallas shoppers is even more pointless.

This isn’t just a new tax, it’s a new mini-bureaucracy at City Hall. There’s talk of hiring 12 new people to run the program. And I’m sure someone is already writing a job description for a Deputy Junior Assistant City Manager for Retail Packaging Assessment and Oversight.

Good grief. I had little faith that a ban would accomplish much. I’m even more dubious about a bag tax — except as a tool of government growth.

Jacquielynn: Dude, it’s a nickel. Nobody’s getting taxed into bankruptcy here.

I hope, in fact, that this modest 5 cents is enough to assign at least minimal value to these awful bags. The reason they end up on fences, in fields and as tree garbage is that they’re so free and plentiful.

Almost everybody collects them every day — yet they have virtually no value. It’s human nature to take something for free, then toss it or lose track if you don’t need it.

Like it or not, this is the direction cities are headed. Los Angeles has had a ban in effect for more than a year. New York and Chicago are talking about either banning or limiting plastic bags.

I don’t think this is a case of forcing people to bow to the authoritarian rule of government overlords — we’re asking for a very minor change in their habits. It makes environmental sense, like other conservation and recycling measures that have become routine.

Steve: They don’t end up as litter because they’re free and plentiful. They end up as litter because a few dopes among us litter. A nickel is not going to transform those dopes into responsible citizens. Anyone careless with trash is not going to suddenly become careful with 5-cent trash.

On a fundamental level, this issue chaps my inner libertarian. I don’t think “government regulation” is automatically a dirty word. But I firmly believe the need must be obvious and compelling before we add more regulation.

Jack, you may be fixated on plastic bags as you drive around, but I promise they make up a small percentage of the litter that’s out there. I see more cups than anything. Will we be required to carry around reusable cups next? Or pay a cups tax?

Jacquielynn: Steve, I agree that clueless dolts dump all kinds of garbage, from burger wrappers to moldy old sofas.

Plastic bags are a particular problem, though, for the very qualities that make them such a successful consumer product: They’re cheap, durable, lightweight and water-resistant. They’re mobile, easily blown into trees, creeks, fences and even for miles out into rural areas. A farmer who lives outside Dallas told me this week he hates plastic bags because when they land on his property, baby calves can choke on them.

Most of us don’t have calf problems, but the bags’ weightlessness makes them vulnerable to any breeze. Even if they’re responsibly discarded, they’ll blow out of open trash cans, trucks, you name it.

They’re not just a blight — they’re a highly contagious blight.

Steve: Oh, c’mon. How am I supposed to rebut choking baby calves?

I will point out that Washington, D.C., has a real paradox on its hands. It implemented a 5-cent fee on disposable bags in 2010. And in a survey last year, residents reported using 60 percent fewer bags.

But get this: Tax revenue from the bags has been going up, not down as was expected. The city had originally projected to collect $1.05 million in fiscal 2013. Instead, bag fees topped $2 million.

The dollars don’t lie. More bags are being used after four years. Sure, some people will switch to reusable bags. But this sure isn’t going to make plastic bags disappear. Is a regressive new tax really worth it?

Jacquielynn: I’d be happy to sidestep the entire “tax” issue by banning bags outright. If you want groceries, make sure you have a way to get them home.

But if cities aren’t ready to take that step, and they actually see a windfall out of bag taxes, maybe that should be dedicated to cleanup efforts.

Ideally, though, stores wouldn’t have the things at all. They can make boxes available (a la Costco). They can sell heavier plastic multiple-use bags for 25 or 50 cents. Shoppers buying just one or two items could learn to use the flexible appendages at the ends of their arms to carry stuff away.

The mail I’ve received from angry readers makes it plain that a lot of people loathe this plan, whether you call it a ban or a tax.

But I just don’t think we’re asking for a dramatic change in the way we live our lives. If we don’t stop assuming that everything we send to the landfill magically disappears, the landfill is going to start coming to us. Do you really want to live in a city that has garbage in the trees?

Steve: No, it’s not a drastic change. Just a needless one. And I’m looking out my office window at six or seven trees with nary a bag in sight. Except for a few spots, the litter problem has been overblown.

I just wish we had tried a major public-awareness campaign before imposing more taxes and more regulation. 1. Recycle bags where you get them. 2. Try reusable bags. 3. Don’t litter, you dope.

Jacquielynn: On those points, we’re in wholehearted agreement.

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/steve-blow/20140329-dallas-new-plastic-bag-fee-for-and-against.ece

 

Attorney General asked to weigh in on bag bans

Don’t bag it. Butt out. That’s the message Wednesday to Attorney General Greg Abbott from supporters of efforts to ban the use of plastic bags in Texas. The Attorney General has been asked to determine whether or not city ordinances like the one in Austin go too far and violate state law. While Abbott was told to back off, the state lawmaker who asked the Attorney General to get involved explained why he made the request.

It’s no longer legal in Austin for a retailer to provide customers with plastic bags. Wednesday, those who want to keep the bag ban on the books gathered at the state capitol to send a message.

“We call on the Attorney General today to keep his nose out of local government’s business of protecting the health of their residents and local communities, and leave well enough alone,” said Robin Schneider who is the Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.

The group is filing a legal brief to convince the Attorney General that cities in Texas have the Home-Rule authority to out-law plastic bags. Austin is among nearly a dozen towns that have passed bag ban ordinances. Wednesday is the deadline to weigh in before the Attorney General issues an opinion. The question is whether or not a municipal ban violates the state health and safety code.

The state lawmaker who requested the legal opinion, state Rep. Dan Flynn (R) Vann said his concern is not necessarily about the use of plastic bags but about the perceived abuse of power.

“The last this particular law was looked at was about 20 years ago,” said Rep. Flynn.

The Republican from Van heads up a House Committee created to make government more transparent. According to Flynn, he made the request for a legal opinion after getting several calls asking for clarification.

“It’s not about Austin, it’s all about state authority and the power grab by some cities over state law, that’s just about the easiest way to say it.”

When a ban on plastic bags was approved in Austin, the lack of a similar, free, option spurred much of the opposition. Shoppers are required to buy their own reusable cloth of thick plastic bags. Some stores in Austin do provide paper bags but typically charge for them,” said Flynn.

“They’re not charging in Fort Stockton,” said Darren Hodges, Mayor Pro Tem of that west Texas town.

The Fort Stockton city council worked with local retailers before being one of the first to pass a ban. According to Hodges, free biodegradable bags are offered to Fort Stockton shoppers. That kind of option, he agreed, could help reduce back lash in communities considering similar action.

“It’s best to get with your big bag people and work with them on something that they can live with, at least get everyone involved in the process and see if you can move forward,” said Hodges.

An A.G. ruling against bag bans will not strike down any ordinance. It could provide a legal foot-hold for any group that takes a city to court.

The Dallas city council, earlier Wednesday, considered its own bag ban. Instead of out-lawing them, in a close vote, the Dallas council passed an environmental fee ordinance, which is essentially a new tax.

Starting next year shoppers in Dallas will be charged 5-cents for every plastic and paper bag that they use.

In reaction to the Dallas council vote, the American Progressive Bag Alliance issued the following statement:

“The vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate. This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5% of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1% of litter in studies conducted across the country. The City Council rushed through a flawed bill to appease its misguided sponsor, despite the fact that 70% of Dallas residents opposed this legislation in a recent poll.”

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/25082745/attorney-general-asked-to-weigh-in-on-bag-bans

 

Plan B Updates
APRIL 22, 2014
Plastic Bag Bans Spreading in the United States
Janet Larsen and Savina Venkova

Los Angeles rang in the 2014 New Year with a ban on the distribution of plastic bags at the checkout counter of big retailers, making it the largest of the 132 cities and counties around the United States with anti-plastic bag legislation. And a movement that gained momentum in California is going national. More than 20 million Americans live in communities with plastic bag bans or fees. Currently 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year—almost one bag per person each day. Laid end-to-end, they could circle the equator 1,330 times. But this number will soon fall as more communities, including large cities like New York and Chicago, look for ways to reduce the plastic litter that blights landscapes and clogs up sewers and streams.

While now ubiquitous, the plastic bag has a relatively short history. Invented in Sweden in 1962, the single-use plastic shopping bag was first popularized by Mobil Oil in the 1970s in an attempt to increase its market for polyethylene, a fossil-fuel-derived compound. Many American customers disliked the plastic bag when it was introduced in 1976, disgusted by the checkout clerks having to lick their fingers when pulling the bags from the rack and infuriated when a bag full of groceries would break or spill over. But retailers continued to push for plastic because it was cheaper and took up less space than paper, and now a generation of people can hardly conceive of shopping without being offered a plastic bag at the checkout counter.

The popularity of plastic grocery bags stems from their light weight and their perceived low cost, but it is these very qualities that make them unpleasant, difficult, and expensive to manage. Over one third of all plastic production is for packaging, designed for short-term use. Plastic bags are made from natural gas or petroleum that formed over millions of years, yet they are often used for mere minutes before being discarded to make their way to a dump or incinerator—if they don’t blow away and end up as litter first. The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic bags could drive a car for a mile.

In landfills and waterways, plastic is persistent, lasting for hundreds of years, breaking into smaller pieces and leaching out chemical components as it ages, but never fully disappearing. Animals that confuse plastic bags with food can end up entangled, injured, or dead. Recent studies have shown that plastic from discarded bags actually soaks up additional pollutants like pesticides and industrial waste that are in the ocean and delivers them in large doses to sea life. The harmful substances then can move up the food chain to the food people eat. Plastics and the various additives that they contain have been tied to a number of human health concerns, including disruption of the endocrine and reproductive systems, infertility, and a possible link to some cancers.

Graph on Population Under Plastic Bag Bans and Charges in the United States, 2007-2014

California—with its long coastline and abundant beaches where plastic trash is all too common—has been the epicenter of the U.S. movement against plastic bags. San Francisco was the first American city to regulate their use, starting with a ban on non-compostable plastic bags from large supermarkets and chain pharmacies in 2007. As part of its overall strategy to reach “zero waste” by 2020 (the city now diverts 80 percent of its trash to recyclers or composters instead of landfills), it extended the plastic bag ban to other stores and restaurants in 2012 and 2013. Recipients of recycled paper or compostable bags are charged at least 10ȼ, but—as is common in cities with plastic bag bans—bags for produce or other bulk items are still allowed at no cost. San Francisco also is one of a number of Californian cities banning the use of polystyrene (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) food containers, and it has gone a step further against disposable plastic packaging by banning sales of water in plastic bottles in city property.

All told, plastic bag bans cover one-third of California’s population. Plastic bag purchases by retailers have reportedly fallen from 107 million pounds in 2008 to 62 million pounds in 2012, and bag producers and plastics manufacturers have taken note. Most of the ordinances have faced lawsuits from plastics industry groups like the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Even though the laws have largely held up in the courts, the threat of legal action has deterred additional communities from taking action and delayed the process for others.

Ironically, were it not for the intervention of the plastics industry in the first place, California would likely have far fewer outright plastic bag bans. Instead, more communities might have opted for charging a fee per bag, but this option was prohibited as part of industry-supported state-wide legislation in 2006 requiring Californian grocery stores to institute plastic bag recycling programs. Since a first attempt in 2010, California has come close to introducing a statewide ban on plastic bags, but well-funded industry lobbyists have gotten in the way. A new bill will likely go up for a vote in 2014 with the support of the California Grocers Association as well as state senators who had opposed an earlier iteration.

Seattle’s story is similar. In 2008 the city council passed legislation requiring groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies to charge 20ȼ for each one-time-use bag handed out at the cash register. A $1.4 million campaign headed by the ACC stopped the measure via a ballot initiative before it went into effect, and voters rejected the ordinance in August 2009. But the city did not give up. In 2012 it banned plastic bags and added a 5ȼ fee for paper bags. Attempts to gather signatures to repeal this have been unsuccessful. Eleven other Washington jurisdictions have also banned plastic bags, including the state capital, Olympia. (See database of U.S. plastic bag initiatives and a timeline history.)

U.S. Plastic Bag Laws Map

(Click for a live map)

A number of state governments have entertained proposals for anti-plastic bag legislation, but not one has successfully applied a statewide charge or banned the bags. Hawaii has a virtual state prohibition, as its four populated counties have gotten rid of plastic bags at grocery checkouts, with the last one beginning enforcement in July 2015. Florida, another state renowned for its beaches, legally preempts cities from enacting anti-bag legislation. The latest attempt to remove this barrier was scrapped in April 2014, although state lawmakers say they will revisit the proposal later in the year.

Opposition to plastic bags has emerged in Texas, despite the state accounting for 44 percent of the U.S. plastics market and serving as the home to several important bag manufacturers, including Superbag, one of America’s largest. Eight cities and towns in the state have active plastic bag bans, and others, like San Antonio, have considered jumping on the bandwagon. Austin banned plastic bags in 2013, hoping to reduce the more than $2,300 it was spending each day to deal with plastic bag trash and litter. The smaller cities of Fort Stockton and Kermit banned plastic bags in 2011 and 2013, respectively, after ranchers complained that cattle had died from ingesting them. Plastic bags have also been known to contaminate cotton fields, getting caught up in balers and harming the quality of the final product. Plastic pollution in the Trinity River Basin, which provides water to over half of all Texans, was a compelling reason for Dallas to pass a 5ȼ fee on plastic bags that will go into effect in 2015.

Washington, D.C., was the first U.S. city to require food and alcohol retailers to charge customers 5ȼ for each plastic or paper bag. Part of the revenue from this goes to the stores to help them with the costs of implementation, and part is designated for cleanup of the Anacostia River. Most D.C. shoppers now routinely bring their own reusable bags on outings; one survey found that 80 percent of consumers were using fewer bags and that over 90 percent of businesses viewed the law positively or neutrally.

Montgomery County in Maryland followed Washington’s example and passed a 5ȼ charge for bags in 2011. A recent study that compared shoppers in this county with those in neighboring Prince George’s County, where anti-bag legislation has not gone through, found that reusable bags were seven times more popular in Montgomery County stores. When bags became a product rather than a freebie, shoppers thought about whether the product was worth the extra nickel and quickly got into the habit of bringing their own bags.

One strategy of the plastics industry—concerned about declining demand for its products—is an attempt to change public perception of plastic bags by promoting recycling. Recycling, however, is also not a good long-term solution. The vast majority of plastic bags—97 percent or more in some locales—never make it that far. Even when users have good intentions, bags blow out of outdoor collection bins at grocery stores or off of recycling trucks. The bags that reach recycling facilities are the bane of the programs: when mixed in with other recyclables they jam and damage sorting machines, which are very costly to repair. In San Jose, California, where fewer than 4 percent of plastic bags are recycled, repairs to bag-jammed equipment cost the city about $1 million a year before the plastic bag ban went into effect in 2012.

Proposed plastic bag restrictions have been shelved in a number of jurisdictions, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago, in favor of bag recycling programs. New York City may, however, move ahead with a bill proposed in March 2014 to place a city-wide 10ȼ fee on single-use bags. Chicago is weighing a plastic bag ban.

In their less than 60 years of existence, plastic bags have had far-reaching effects. Enforcing legislation to limit their use challenges the throwaway consumerism that has become pervasive in a world of artificially cheap energy. As U.S. natural gas production has surged and prices have fallen, the plastics industry is looking to ramp up domestic production. Yet using this fossil fuel endowment to make something so short-lived, which can blow away at the slightest breeze and pollutes indefinitely, is illogical—particularly when there is a ready alternative: the reusable bag.

 

A Short History of the Plastic Bag: Selected Dates of Note in the United States and Internationally
1933 Polyethylene is discovered by scientists at Imperial Chemical Industries, a British company.
1950 Total global plastics production stands at less than 2 million metric tons.
1965 Sten Thulin’s 1962 invention of the T-shirt bag, another name for the common single-use plastic shopping bag, is patented by Swedish company Celloplast.
1976 Mobil Oil introduces the plastic bag to the United States. To recognize the U.S. Bicentennial, the bag’s designs are in red, white, and blue.
1982 Safeway and Kroger, two of the biggest U.S. grocery chains, start to switch from paper to plastic bags.
1986 Plastic bags already account for over 80 percent of the market in much of Europe, with paper holding on to the remainder. In the United States, the percentages are reversed.
June 1986 The half-million-member-strong General Federation of Women’s Clubs starts a U.S.-wide letter writing campaign to grocers raising concerns about the negative environmental effects of plastic bags.
Late 1980s Plastic bag usage estimated to catch up to paper in U.S. groceries.
1989 Maine passes a law requiring retailers to only hand out plastic bags if specifically requested; this is replaced in 1991 by a statewide recycling initiative.
1990 The small Massachusetts island of Nantucket bans retail plastic bags.
1994 Denmark begins taxing retailers for plastic bags.
1996 Four of every five grocery bags used in the United States are made of plastic.
1997 Captain Charles Moore discovers the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the remote North Pacific, where plastic is estimated to outweigh zooplankton six to one, drawing global attention to the accumulation of plastics in the ocean.
2000 Mumbai, India, bans plastic bags, with limited enforcement.
2002 Global plastics production tops 200 million metric tons.
March 2002 Ireland becomes the first country to tax consumers’ use of plastic bags directly.
March 2002 Bangladesh becomes the first country to ban plastic bags. Bags had been blamed for exacerbating flooding.
2006 Italy begins efforts to pass a national ban on plastic bags; due to industry complaints and legal issues, these efforts are ongoing.
April 2007 San Francisco becomes the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags, later expanding to all retailers and restaurants.
2007-2008 The ACC spends $5.7 million on lobbying in California, much of it to oppose regulations on plastic bags.
June 2008 China’s plastic bag ban takes effect before Beijing hosts the Olympic Games.
September 2008 Rwanda passes a national ban on plastic bags.
2009 Plastics overtake paper and paperboard to become the number one discarded material in the U.S. waste stream.
July 2009 Hong Kong’s levy on plastic bags takes effect in chains, large groceries, and other more sizable stores; it is later expanded to all retailers.
August 2009 Seattle’s attempt to impose a 20ȼ fee on both paper and plastic bags is defeated before it can take effect by a referendum financed largely by the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
December 2009 Madison, Wisconsin, mandates that households recycle plastic bags rather than disposing of them with their trash.
January 2010 Washington, D.C., begins requiring all stores that sell food or alcohol to charge 5ȼ for plastic and paper checkout bags.
2010 Major bag producer Hilex Poly spends over $1 million in opposition to a proposed statewide plastic bag ban in California.
2010 Plastic bags appear in the Guinness World Records as the world’s “most ubiquitous consumer item.”
October 2011 In Oregon, Portland’s ban on plastic bags at major groceries and certain big-box stores begins.
May 2012 Honolulu County approves a plastic bag ban (to go into effect in July 2015), completing a de facto state-wide ban in Hawaii.
July 2012 Seattle’s plastic bag ban takes effect nearly three years after the first tax attempt failed.
March 2013 A bag ban takes effect in Austin, TX.
September-October 2013 During the Ocean Conservancy’s 2013 Coastal Cleanup event, more than 1 million plastic bags were picked up from coasts and waterways around the world.
January 2014 Los Angeles becomes the largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags.
April 2014 Members of the European Parliament back new rules requiring member countries to cut plastic bag use 50 percent by 2017 and 80 percent by 2019.
April 2014 Over 20 million people are covered under 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the United States.
Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute, www.earth-policy.org, April 2014.

 

Selected Plastic Bag Regulations in the United States
Boulder, CO Boulder grocery stores charge 10ȼ for plastic and paper bags. The city’s reasons for applying the fee to both were that plastic bags are difficult to recycle and paper bag production is also energy- and water-intensive. Stores keep 4ȼ and the rest of the money goes to the city to cover administrative costs, to provide residents with free reusable bags, and to otherwise minimize the impacts of bag waste. Just six months after the fee began in 2013, the city announced that bag use had dropped by 68 percent.
Chicago, IL The Chicago City Council has visited the idea of limiting plastic bags giveaways several times over the last six years. In 2008 a proposed bag ban was rejected in favor of a bag recycling program. A bill banning plastic bags at most retailers is under consideration.
Dallas, TX Plastic bags and bottles make up about 40 percent of all the trash in the Trinity River that provides water to over half of all Texans, including those living in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, according to estimates by Peter Payton, Executive Director of Groundwork Dallas, a group that does monthly cleanups in the watershed. In March 2014, a 5ȼ fee on plastic and paper bags at all grocery and retail stores, along with a ban on plastic bags at all city events, facilities, and properties, was approved by the City Council. It will go into effect in January 2015. Nine tenths of the revenue generated from bag sales will go to the city.
Hawaii In April 2012, Honolulu County joined the counties of Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii in banning non-biodegradable plastic bags. This amounts to a de facto statewide bag ban—a first for the United States. The ordinances state that plastic bag use must be regulated “to preserve health, safety, welfare, and scenic and natural beauty.” Retailers have until mid-2015 to comply.
Los Angeles County (Unincorporated), CA In July 2011, a ban on plastic bags in large stores took effect in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, home to 1.1 million people. In January 2012, that ban expanded to include small stores, like pharmacies and convenience marts. Nearly 800 retail stores are affected. This was the first in California to add a 10ȼ charge for paper bags; since its enactment, all other California municipalities have included a paper bag charge. In December 2013, the Department of Public Works announced that the ordinance had resulted in a sustained 90 percent reduction in single-use bag use at large stores.
Los Angeles, CA In June 2013, the City Council of Los Angeles voted to ban stores from providing plastic carryout bags to customers, as well as to require stores to charge 10ȼ for paper bags. Large retailers are affected in January 2014; smaller retailers are affected in July 2014. The city was spending $2 million a year cleaning up plastic bags.
Manhattan Beach, CA After passing a plastic bag ban in 2008, the city became the first to be sued by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition—a group of plastic bag manufacturers and distributors—for not preparing an environmental impact report as required under the California Environmental Quality Act. The Coalition claimed a shift from plastic to recycled paper bags would harm the environment. Two lower courts sided with the Coalition and ruled that a report was required, but in 2011, on appeal, the California Supreme Court said that any increased use of paper bags in a small city like Manhattan Beach would have negligible environmental impact and therefore a report was unnecessary. This precedent allowed many California cities to proceed with banning plastic bags without such a report.
Nantucket Island, MA Nantucket, a small seasonal tourist town, banned non-biodegradable plastic bags in 1990. Facing a growing waste disposal problem, the town envisioned building a facility where as much material as possible could be diverted from the landfill to be recycled or composted; such a facility would only be able to accept biodegradable bags.
New York City, NY Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a 5ȼ tax on plastic bags in 2009, but the idea was later dropped in a budget agreement with the City Council. In March 2014, the City Council began to consider a proposal mandating a 10ȼ charge per plastic and paper bag at most stores.
San Francisco, CA San Francisco was the first U.S. city to regulate plastic bags. The original ordinance, which was adopted in April 2007, banned non-compostable plastic bags at all large supermarkets and chain pharmacies. In October 2012 the law was applied to all stores, and in October 2013 the law expanded to restaurants. The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition sued the city, contesting the extensions to the ban, but those were upheld by the First District Court of Appeal in December 2013. In April 2014, the Supreme Court of California denied the Coalition’s first appeal, allowing the city to keep its bag ban.
Santa Monica, CA Santa Monica has banned plastic bags from all retailers since September 2011. Grocery, liquor, and drug stores may offer paper bags for 10ȼ each, while department stores and restaurants may provide paper bags for no fee. Because the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition had sued other cities for not conducting an environmental impact review prior to the announcements of their bag bans, Santa Monica conducted a review and thus avoided a lawsuit. Plastic bags for carryout food items from restaurants and reusable bags made from polyethylene are allowed.
Seattle, WA In July 2008 the Seattle government approved a 20ȼ charge on all paper and plastic checkout bags, but opponents collected enough signatures to put the ordinance up for a vote on the August 2009 primary ballot. The Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax—consisting of the American Chemistry Council’s Progressive Bag Affiliates, 7-Eleven, and the Washington Food Industry—spent $1.4 million on the referendum campaign (15 times more than fee supporters), and voters chose to reject the ordinance. It took until July 2012 for the city to enact its current ban on plastic bags and place a 5ȼ fee on paper bags. Seattle residents are largely in favor of the ban, and attempts to gather signatures to repeal it have not been successful.
Washington, DC In January 2010, Washington, D.C., began requiring a 5ȼ charge for plastic and paper carryout bags at all retailers that sell food or alcohol. Businesses keep a portion of the fee, and the remainder goes to The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund. A survey conducted in early 2013 found that four out of five District households are using fewer bags since the tax came into effect. Almost 60 percent of residents reported carrying reusable bags with them “always” or “most of the time” when they shop. Two thirds of District residents reported seeing less plastic bag litter since the tax came into effect. One half of businesses reported saving money because of the fee.
Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute, www.earth-policy.org, April 2014.

 

http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2014/update122

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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

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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

Fast-and-furious-holder-obamafast-furious-eric-holder

eric-holder-fast-and-furious-gunwalking-documents-political-cartooncartoon_eric_holder_fast_n_furious_n_gun_confiscationJune 21, 2011 John de Rosier editorial cartoonEric Holder guns what guns Obama Fall Guyexecutive privillege gunexecutive_privilege_holder_fulleric holdersobama_holdersfast and furious

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

BY SUSAN FERRECHIO

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.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-used-executive-privilege-to-shield-holder-emails/article/2555188

 

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.

Facts:
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.

Timeline:
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.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/americas/operation-fast-and-furious-fast-facts/

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.[1]

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[2][3] between 2006[4]and 2011[2][5] 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.”[6] 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.[7] The Chambers case[who?] 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.[1]

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.[6][8][9] The tactic was questioned during the operations by a number of people, including ATF field agents and cooperating licensed gun dealers.[10][11][12][13][14] During Operation Fast and Furious, the largest “gunwalking” probe, the ATF monitored the sale of about 2,000[1]:203[15] firearms, of which only 710 were recovered as of February 2012.[1]: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.[6]

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.[2] Dissenting ATF agents came forward to Congress in response.[16][17] 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.[18] Revelations of “gunwalking” led to controversy in both countries, and diplomatic relations were damaged.[2]

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.[19][20] Earlier that month, President Barack Obama had invoked executive privilegefor the first time in his presidency over the same documents.[21][22]

Background

Further information: Project Gunrunner and Mexican Drug War

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][14] 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[1]

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.[23] 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.[24]: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.[25]

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).[24]: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.[24]: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.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28]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.[11] ATF agents assigned to Phoenix from other districts to work on Fast and Furious were critical of the operation.[29]

Operations

There have been allegations of “gunwalking” in at least 10 cities in five states.[30] 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[edit]

Operation Wide Receiver[edit]

The suspicious sale of AR-15s led to Operation Wide Receiver.[31]

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.[31]

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”,[12] Detty would sell a total of about 450 guns during the operation.[30] 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.[6][31][32][33]

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.[1]

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.[23] 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.[31]

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.[4][10]

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.[34] 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.[4][12]

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.”[35]

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.[1][36][37]

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.[36]

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.[3][38][39] 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.[40]

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.[3] However, long-standing DOJ and ATF policy has required suspected illegal arms shipments to be intercepted.[4][5]

FN Five-sevens were among the weapons allowed to walk.[41]

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.[42] 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.[3][5][43] 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.[3]

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.[1]

According to internal ATF documents, the operation was initially run in conjunction with the Phoenix DEA Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force(OCDETF).[44] 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.[45]

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.[1] 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.[14]

The tactic of letting guns walk, rather than interdicting them and arresting the buyers, led to controversy within the ATF.[5][46] 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.[3]

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.[47] 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.[47] 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.[47] 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.[1]:247,274

One of the central targeted individuals was Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta.[45] 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.[45][48][49][50][51]

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.”[1]

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.[1]

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.[8] As guns traced to Fast and Furious began turning up at violent crime scenes in Mexico, ATF agents stationed there also voiced opposition.[3]

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.[3] The Attorney General’s office was immediately notified of the shooting incident by email.[52] 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.[3] 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.[1]: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.[3]

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.[3][12]

Altogether, about 2,000 firearms were bought by straw purchasers during Fast and Furious.[1]:203[3] These included AK-47 variants, Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles, .38 caliber revolvers, and FN Five-sevens.[41] 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.[15] As of February 2012, the total number of recovered firearms was 710.[1]:203 Most of the guns went to the Sinaloa Cartel, while others made their way to El Teo and La Familia.[2][32]

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.[47]

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.[47] 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.[47]

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.[1] 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.[1][53]

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.[54] U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R–Calif.–49) estimated that more than 200 Mexicans were killed by guns linked to the operation.[55] 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,”[56] 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.[57]

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.[58][59] Finally, on February 4, 2012, Marrufo was arrested by the Mexican Police.[60]

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.[2]

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.[61][62] The gun used to kill Zapata was purchased by Otilio Osorio in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas[63] (outside the area of responsibility for the ATF Phoenix field division[64] 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 tactics[63]and to suspect a Texas-based operation similar to Fast and Furious.[65]

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.[66] 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.[67]

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.[68][69]

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.[70] There have also been investigations by the United States Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and others.

2011

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.[71] A second letter from Grassley on January 31 accused the ATF of targeting whistleblowers.[72]

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,[1]: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.”[73][74] On February 28, Attorney GeneralEric Holder requested that the Department of Justice‘s Inspector General begin an investigation of Fast and Furious.[75]

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.”[76]

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,”[77] a claim which would later be questioned[78][79][80] 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.[81]

On June 14, 2011, a preliminary joint staff report was released by Representative Issa and Senator Grassley.[11] 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.[82] Agents were panicked, certain that “someone was going to die.”[83]

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.[84] 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:[85][86]

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.[41]

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.[70][87] 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.[88]

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.[80]

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.[89][90] 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.”[91]

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.”[78][92][93]

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.[94]

On December 2, 2011, the Justice Department formally withdrew its statement from February 4, 2011 denying gunwalking due to inaccuracies.[95]

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.[96]

2012

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.[97] 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.[98]

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”.[36] 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.”[99]

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.[100]

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.[101] 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.[102]

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.[35] The Hernandez Case had ended October 6, 2007,[103]before Mukasey entered office November 9, 2007.[104] 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.”[35] 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.”[1]

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.[21][22] 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.”[105]

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.”[19][20] The National Rifle Association controversially lobbied for Holder to be held in contempt.[106][107][108][109][110][111]

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.[47]

On July 31, the first part of a new three-part report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation,[37] 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.[112] 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.[113] On the same day, ATF Deputy Director William Hoover, who was one of the five blamed in the Congressional report, officially retired.[114] The report included an appendix disputing claims in the Fortune article.[53]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.[115] AfterFortune did not retract the article, Dodson sued for libel on October 12, 2012.[116][117]

On September 19,[118] the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz publicly released a 471-page report[1] 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.[118] It found “no evidence” that Attorney General Holder knew about Fast and Furious before early 2011.[119] It found no evidence that previous Attorneys General had been advised about gunwalking in Operation Wide Receiver.[1]

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.[118][120] 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.[118] 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.[121] 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.[122]

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.[123][124] 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.[120] 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.[125]

2013

Agent John Dodson’s book on his experiences in Operation Fast and Furious was released by Simon and Schuster on December 3, 2013.[126]

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 FBI offered a reward of $250,000 per fugitive for information leading to their arrests. The indictment, originally handed up on November 7, 2011, charges Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and other crimes.[127][128] Manuel Osorio-Arellanes pled guilty to avoid the death penalty and is expected to be sentenced in March 2013. As of December 12, 2012, another of the suspects is in custody, and three remain fugitives.[129]

On October 15, 2012, Danny Cruz Morones, one of the twenty individuals indicted as a result of Fast and Furious, was sentenced to 57 months in prison. He was the first of the twenty to be sentenced. He pled guilty to straw purchasing and recruiting others to buy guns. According to prosecutors, he bought 27 AK-47s, and his recruits bought dozens more.[130]

On December 12, Jaime Avila, Jr. received the maximum penalty of 57 months in prison for gun dealing and conspiracy. He pled guilty after two AK-47 type rifles purchased by him were found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death. Federal prosecutors stated that, in addition to gun trafficking, he had recruited others to do the same. He was under ATF surveillance at the time.[129]

Mexican reactions

As more information on Operations Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver was revealed in 2011, Mexican officials, political commentators and media reacted with anger.[131] Mexican officials stated in September that the U.S. government still had not briefed them on what went wrong nor had they apologized.[132]

Due to several failed attempts at coordinating with Mexican law enforcement in the apprehension of suspected arms traffickers in the Wide Receiver and Hernandez cases,[36] and concerns about widespread corruption, details of Operation Fast and Furious were not shared with Mexican government officials, and they were deliberately kept out of the loop after related firearms began turning up at crime scenes and in criminal arsenals in 2010. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico and the ATF Mexico City Office (MCO) were also kept in the dark. According to Attorney General of Mexico Marisela Morales, the Mexican government was told about the undercover program in January 2011, but they were not provided details at the time.[132]

Morales stated, “At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted. In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans.” In addition, she expressed that allowing weapons to “walk” would represent a “betrayal” of Mexico.[132] Morales said that her office would search “to the end” in order to clarify what happened in Fast and Furious.[133] In November 2011, it was reported that the Mexican Attorney General’s office was seeking the extradition of six citizens of the United States implicated with smuggling weapons.[134]

Mexican Senator Arturo Escobar stated after hearing about Operation Wide Receiver, “We can no longer tolerate what is occurring. There must be condemnation from the state,” and that the Mexican Senate condemned the actions of the ATF.[131][135][136]

Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín, president of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, said “This is a serious violation of international law. What happens if next time they need to introduce trained assassins or nuclear weapons?”[137]

Chihuahua state prosecutor Patricia Gonzalez, who had worked closely with the US for years, said, “The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims.” Her brother, Mario, had been kidnapped, tortured and killed by cartel hit men in fall 2010. Later, two AK-47 rifles found among the several weapons recovered after a gunfight between police and cartel members were traced to the Fast and Furious program.[2][132]

Mexican Congressman Humberto Benítez Treviño, a former attorney general, called Fast and Furious “a bad business that got out of hand.”[132] He had also characterized it as “an undercover program that wasn’t properly controlled.”[137]

Like many politicians, Mexican pundits across the political spectrum expressed anger at news of both operations. La Jornada, a left-leaning newspaper, asked “US: ally or enemy?”[138] The paper also argued that after news about Wide Receiver, the Mérida Initiative should be immediately suspended. A right-leaning paper accused the US of violating Mexican sovereignty. Manuel J. Jauregui of the Reforma newspaper wrote, “In sum, the gringo (American) government has been sending weapons to Mexico in a premeditated and systematic manner, knowing that their destinations were Mexican criminal organizations.”[131]

See also

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u “A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters”. U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. November 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Jonsson, Patrik. “How Mexican killers got US guns from ‘Fast and Furious’ operation”. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l Horwitz, Sari (July 27, 2011). “A gunrunning sting gone fatally wrong”. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “AP Exclusive: Second Bush-Era Gun-Smuggling Probe”. Associated Press. October 14, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Savage, Charlie (July 26, 2011). “Agent Who Supervised Gun-Trafficking Operation Testifies on His Failings”. New York Times. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Serrano, Richard (October 3, 2011). “Emails show top Justice Department officials knew of ATF gun program”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  7. Jump up^ “ATF Fact Sheet – Project Gunrunner”. ATF. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b “Congress starting ATF “gunwalker scandal” probe”. CBS News. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  9. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl. “Attorney General Holder subpoenaed for documents in ATF Gunwalker Fast and Furious case”. CBS News. Retrieved October 24, 2011.[dead link]
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b Jason Ryan, “Documents Highlight Bush-Era Incident Pre-Dating ‘Fast and Furious’“, ABC News, October 14, 2011.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b c The Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious: Accounts of ATF Agents, JOINT STAFF REPORT, Prepared for Rep. Darrell E. Issa and Senator Charles E. Grassley, 112th Congress, June 14, 2011.
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Steller, Tim (October 12, 2011). “Newell’s role, Mexico’s participation and more on ATF’s Tucson operation”. Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  13. Jump up^ Sharyl Attkisson, “Gun shop owner expressed concerns early on in “gunwalker” scandal”, CBS News Investigates, April 14, 2011 1:19 pm.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b c Letter from Senator Charles Grasseley to Attorney General Eric Holder, Apr 13, 2011, on e-mails between “Cooperating FFL” and ATF David Voth.
  15. ^ Jump up to:a b Yost, Pete. “2007 Justice memo mentioned gun-walking probe”. Yahoo! News. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  16. Jump up^ Sharyl Attkinsson, “Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF”, CBS Evening News, February 23, 2011.
  17. Jump up^ “memo Feb 3, 2011 to ATF SAC Dallas from Gary M. Steyers, ATF SA Lubbock.” (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  18. Jump up^ Murphy, Kim (March 11, 2011). “Mexico demands answers on guns”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  19. ^ Jump up to:a b “House holds Holder in contempt”. CNN.com. June 28, 2012.
  20. ^ Jump up to:a b House Finds Holder in Contempt Over Inquiry on Guns; New York Times; Jonathan Weisman and Charlie Savage; June 28, 2012
  21. ^ Jump up to:a b Jackson, David (June 20, 2012). “Obama claims executive privilege; Holder held in contempt”. USA Today. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  22. ^ Jump up to:a b Dwyer, Devin; Parkinson, John R. (June 20, 2012). “Committee Votes Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress After Obama Asserts Executive Privilege”. ABC News. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  23. ^ Jump up to:a b Yost, Pete (October 5, 2011). “AP sources: Bush-era probe involved guns ‘walking'”. The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  24. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Gun Trafficking and the Southwest Border”. Congressional Research Service. September 21, 2009.
  25. Jump up^ United States Government Accountability Office (June 2009). “Firearms Trafficking: U.S. Efforts to Combat Arms Trafficking to Mexico Face Planning and Coordination Challenges”. p. 29. Retrieved 28 June 2012. “While straw purchasing is not in itself illegal, it is illegal to intentionally provide false information in connection with the acquisition of a firearm. 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6). See also U.S. v. Moore, 109 F.3d 1456, 1460-63 (9th Cir. 1997) (explaining the straw man doctrine and applying it to a factual case).”
  26. Jump up^ “Two San Juan residents get federal prison time for firearms straw purchases”, YourValleyVoice.com, McAllen Texas, January 18, 2012.
  27. Jump up^ “10 Sentenced for Involvement in Straw Purchase and Export Ring”, USAO Southern District of Texas press release, March 1, 2012.
  28. Jump up^ Arrillaga, Pauline (July 30, 2011). “What Led to ‘Project Gunwalker’?”. ABC News. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  29. Jump up^ “The Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious: Accounts of ATF Agents” Joint Staff Report Prepared for Rep. Darrell E. Issa and Senator Charles E. Grassley, 112th Congress, June 14, 2011.
  30. ^ Jump up to:a b “Informant: ATF “gun walking” went on for years”. CBS news. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  31. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Barrett, Paul. “The Guns That Got Away”. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  32. ^ Jump up to:a b Horwitz, Sari (October 7, 2011). “Earlier ATF gun operation ‘Wide Receiver’ used same tactics as ‘Fast and Furious’”. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  33. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl. “Documents point to ATF “gun running” since 2008″. CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  34. Jump up^ “ATF Emails Discuss Bush-Era ‘Gun Walking’ Program”. Talking Points Memo. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  35. ^ Jump up to:a b c Letters of 14 Jun 2012 from Senator Charles E. Grassley to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and 18 Jun 2012 from U.S. DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs to Senator Charles E. Grassley.[dead link]
  36. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona (Report of the Minority Staff, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member; Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, January 2012)
  37. ^ Jump up to:a b “Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation”. United States Congress. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  38. Jump up^ “Department of Justice Cartel Strategy, October 2009”. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  39. Jump up^ “Judicial Watch Sues Department of Justice and ATF for Documents Pertaining to ATF’s “Fast and Furious” Gun-Running Operation”. Judicial Watch. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  40. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard (August 11, 2011). “ATF’s gun surveillance program showed early signs of failure”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  41. ^ Jump up to:a b c “The Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious: Fueling Cartel Violence”. United States Congress. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  42. Jump up^ Statement of Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 20 Sep 2012.
  43. Jump up^ Savage, Charlie (August 30, 2011). “Gun Inquiry Costs Officials Their Jobs”.The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  44. Jump up^ Charles Grassley, “Charles Grassley Congressional testimony documents”U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, June 15, 2011.
  45. ^ Jump up to:a b c Darrell Issa, “Update on Operation Fast and Furious” House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, May 3, 2012.
  46. Jump up^ Savage, Charlie (July 18, 2011). “Facts Sought on D.E.A. Informants”. The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  47. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Katherine Eban, “The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal”, Fortune Magazine, June 27, 2012.
  48. Jump up^ Richard A. Serrano, “Drug lords targeted by Fast and Furious were FBI informants” Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2012.
  49. Jump up^ Richard A. Serrano, “‘Fast and Furious’ probe: Chief suspect released more than once” Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2012.
  50. Jump up^ Richard A. Serrano, “Informant helped smuggle guns to Mexico, investigators say” Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2011.
  51. Jump up^ William La Jeunesse, “Main suspect in Operation Fast and Furious arrested twice before, report shows Fox News, April 14, 2012.
  52. Jump up^ Carrie Johnson, “Emails Show How ‘Fast And Furious’ Ambush News Unfolded At Justice Dept.” NPR, January 27, 2012.
  53. ^ Jump up to:a b Joint Staff Report Part I Appendix III PDF “The Whole Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal”, 7-31-12.
  54. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard A. (September 11, 2011). “Gun store owner had misgivings about ATF sting”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  55. Jump up^ “200 mexicanos murieron por armas de ‘Rápido y Furioso’: congresista de EU”.CNN Mexico. October 28, 2011.
  56. Jump up^ “Eric Holder: Effects of Fast and Furious will linger”. Politico LLC. November 7, 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  57. Jump up^ Frieden, Terry (November 7, 2011). “El gobierno de EU admite que pierde la batalla contra el tráfico de armas”. CNN Mexico. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  58. Jump up^ Longbottom, Wil (October 13, 2011). “U.S. Attorney General issued with subpoena in probe over ‘Fast and Furious’ gun trafficking”. Daily Mail (London). Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  59. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard (October 8, 2011). “Fast and Furious weapons were found in Mexico cartel enforcer’s home”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  60. Jump up^ Ugarte, Marco (February 4, 2012). “Mexico arrested Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, the reputed enforcer for the Sinaloa drug cartel.”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  61. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard (July 17, 2011). “Family of U.S. agent slain in Mexico demands to know gun source”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  62. Jump up^ Carroll, Susan. “Slain ICE agent’s family still searching for answers”. The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  63. ^ Jump up to:a b Perez-Trevino, Emma. “Straw purchaser of guns pleads guilty in Dallas; defendant linked to Zapata death”. The Brownsville Herald. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  64. Jump up^ “Phoenix Field Division”. ATF. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  65. Jump up^ Titus, Elizabeth. “Cornyn Presses Holder on Alleged Texas Operation”. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  66. Jump up^ “Timeline of “Baytown Crew” case.” (PDF). CBS News. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  67. Jump up^ Sharyl Attkisson, “Second gun used in ICE agent murder linked to ATF undercover operation”, CBS News, February 22, 2012.
  68. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl (19 December 2012). “Pistol purchased by ATF agent found at alleged cartel crime scene in Mexico”. CBS News. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  69. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl (18 December 2012). “Fast and Furious gun found at Mexican crime scene”. CBS News. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  70. ^ Jump up to:a b Serrano, Richard (August 16, 2011). “Supervisors in ATF gun operation are promoted”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  71. Jump up^ Wagner, Dennis. “Phoenix-area gun store, ATF sting may be linked to shootout”. The Arizona Republic. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  72. Jump up^ Lott, Maxim (February 2, 2011). “Senator Calls ATF on Allegations Agency Is Allowing Guns Into Mexico”. Fox News. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  73. Jump up^ Salant, Jonathan (December 2, 2011). “Erroneous Gun Letter Based on U.S. Attorney, Documents Show”. Bloomberg. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  74. Jump up^ Weich, Ronald. “Judiciary ATF 02-04-11 letter from DOJ deny allegations”. United States Senate. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  75. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard (December 24, 2011). “Angry former ATF chief blames subordinates for Fast and Furious”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  76. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl. “Obama on “gunwalking”: Serious mistake may have been made”. CBS News. Retrieved January 13, 2012.[dead link]
  77. Jump up^ Attorney General Eric Holder Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee; CSPAN; May 3, 2011.
  78. ^ Jump up to:a b Hennessey, Kathleen (November 9, 2011). “Senate grills Holder on Fast and Furious gun-trafficking sting”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 9, 2011.
  79. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl. “Attorney General Eric Holder grilled by Congress on ATF “Gunwalker” controversy”. CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2012.[dead link]
  80. ^ Jump up to:a b Attkisson, Sharyl. “ATF Fast and Furious: New documents show Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed in July 2010”. CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2012.[dead link]
  81. Jump up^ Lott, Maxim (June 27, 2011). “‘Project Gunrunner’ Whistleblower Says ATF Sent Him Termination Notice”. Fox News. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  82. Jump up^ Lajeunesse, William (June 15, 2011). “House Panel Releases Scathing Report on ‘Fast and Furious’ Gun Operation, Sure to Anger Mexico”. Fox News. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  83. Jump up^ Murphy, Kim (June 14, 2011). “Report describes gun agents’ ‘state of panic'”.Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  84. Jump up^ La Jeunesse, William (June 10, 2011). “Justice Officials in ‘Panic Mode’ as Hearing Nears on Failed Anti-Gun Trafficking Program”. Fox News. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  85. Jump up^ Johnson, Kevin (June 16, 2011). “ATF agent calls gun-tracking program a ‘disaster'”. USA Today. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  86. Jump up^ Holub, Hugh. “Statement of John Dodson about ATF gunwalker scandal: “The very idea of letting guns walk is unthinkable to most law enforcement.””. Tucson Citizen. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  87. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard (August 17, 2011). “ATF denies it promoted Fast and Furious supervisors”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  88. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl. “Gunwalker scandal: ATF director out of top job”. CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2012.[dead link]
  89. Jump up^ Terry Frieden, Top Justice official expresses regret for failure to warn on ‘gun walking’ CNN, November 1, 2011.
  90. Jump up^ Carrie Johnson, “Official Admits ‘Mistake’ In Gun-Trafficking Case” NPR, November 1, 2011.
  91. Jump up^ “Senate Committee Hearing on International Organized Crime” CSPAN, November 1, 2011.
  92. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl. “Eric Holder calls “gunwalking” unacceptable, regrets tactic as part of Fast and Furious”. CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
  93. Jump up^ “Holder emails” (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  94. Jump up^ Dennis Wagner, “Ex-U.S. Attorney Burke admits to leaking whistle-blower’s records” The Arizona Republic, November 10, 2011.
  95. Jump up^ Carrie Johnson, “Justice Withdraws Inaccurate ‘Fast And Furious’ Letter It Sent To Congress” NPR, December 2, 2011.
  96. Jump up^ Sharyl Attkisson, “Documents: ATF used “Fast and Furious” to make the case for gun regulations”, CBS News, December 7, 2011.
  97. Jump up^ Savage, Charlie (January 31, 2012). “Report by House Democrats Absolves Administration in Gun Trafficking Case”. The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  98. Jump up^ Yager, Jordy. “Federal officer invokes Fifth in ‘Fast and Furious’ investigation”. The Hill. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
  99. Jump up^ Yost, Pete (February 1, 2012). “Dems: Fast & Furious just 1 of 4 misguided probes”. Associated Press. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  100. Jump up^ Attkisson, Sharyl (May 22, 2012). “Homeland Security IG Investigates Fast and Furious”. CBS News. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  101. Jump up^ http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Update-on-Fast-and-Furious-with-attachment-FINAL.pdf
  102. Jump up^ Frieden, Terry (June 7, 2012). “Holder rejects GOP assertions on Fast and Furious at House hearing”. CNN. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  103. Jump up^ “ATF Emails Discuss Bush-Era ‘Gun Walking’ Program” Page 2 email from William Newell to Carson W. Carroll 6 Oct 2007.
  104. Jump up^ Laurie Kellman (AP), “Mukasey confirmed as attorney general”, Washington Post, November 9, 2007.
  105. Jump up^ Issa: Obama executive privilege claim is cover-up or obstruction; Washington Times; June 26, 2012
  106. Jump up^ NRA sends Democrats a message over Holder contempt vote; CNN; July 2, 2012
  107. Jump up^ NRA Letter to the committee – June 20; National Rifle Association; June 20, 2012
  108. Jump up^ “House votes to hold attorney general in contempt”. Fox News. June 28, 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  109. Jump up^ Grant, David (June 27, 2012). “Why NRA wants Congress to vote Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt”. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  110. Jump up^ Hoyer Challenges Issa to Show E-Mails; New York Times; June 26, 2012
  111. Jump up^ Issa’s right: Tougher gun laws Fast and Furious goal; National Rifle Association; June 27, 2012
  112. Jump up^ “Justice Dept: Fast and Furious report distorted”. CBS News. August 1, 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.[dead link]
  113. Jump up^ Serrano, Richard A. (July 31, 2012). “Justice Department shrugs off Fast and Furious report”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  114. Jump up^ Frieden, Terry (August 2, 2012). “Deputy Director William Hoover resigns from ATF in wake of critical report”. CNN. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  115. Jump up^ “Letter from Robert N. Driscoll to Andy Serwer re: The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal”. Politico. September 27, 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  116. Jump up^ Dylan Byers, “Exclusive: Fast and Furious whistleblower sues Time Inc. for libel”, Politico, 24 Oct 2012.
  117. Jump up^ “Libel Complaint, John Dodson v Time Inc., 6:12-294-MGL”. Documentcloud.org. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  118. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Charlie Savage, “Guns Inquiry Urges Action Against 14 in Justice Dept.”,New York Times, 19 Sep 2012.
  119. Jump up^ Kevin Johnson (September 19, 2012). “Review: Holder did not know about ‘Fast and Furious'”. USA Today.
  120. ^ Jump up to:a b Attkisson, Sharyl (5 December 2012). “Heads roll after Fast and Furious investigation”. CBS News. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  121. Jump up^ “Probe faults US agents over Mexico gunrunning”, Al Jazeera, 20 Sep 2012.
  122. Jump up^ Mary Jacoby, “Criminal Division Deputy Weinstein Resigns In Wake of Fast and Furious Report” Main Justice, September 19, 2012.
  123. Jump up^ Evan Perez, “Firings Set Over ‘Fast and Furious'”, The Wall Street Journal, 4 Dec 2012. Subscription required.
  124. Jump up^ Chuck Neubauer (2012-12-05). “Firings advised for 4 ATF leaders tied to Fast and Furious”. Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  125. Jump up^ Sharyl Attkisson, “Brian Terry family sues ATF officials in Fast and Furious”CBS, December 17, 2012.
  126. Jump up^ John Dodson, The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious Hardcover, Threshold Editions, 3 Dec 2013, ISBN 978-1476727554. Hardcover: 304 pages.·
  127. Jump up^ Phillips, Whitney. “Feds name 4 suspects linked to Fast and Furious”. Independentmail.com. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  128. Jump up^ “Feds unveil indictments in Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s slaying”. CNN. July 9, 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  129. ^ Jump up to:a b “Fast and Furious suspect sentenced”. CBS/AP. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  130. Jump up^ Perry, Tony (15 October 2012). “‘Fast and Furious’ defendant gets prison for buying guns”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  131. ^ Jump up to:a b c Hernandez, Daniel (October 6, 2011). “MEXICO: News of another U.S. gun-tracking program stirs criticism”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  132. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Ellingwood, Ken (September 19, 2011). “Mexico still waiting for answers on Fast and Furious gun program”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  133. Jump up^ “México pide la extradición de seis estadounidenses por tráfico de armas”. CNN Mexico. November 16, 2011.
  134. Jump up^ “Busca PGR extradición de implicados en ‘Rápido y furioso'”. Noticieros Televisa. November 16, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  135. Jump up^ “Exige Senado mexicano reclamo a EE.UU por armas ilegales”. Prensa Latina. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  136. Jump up^ MEXICO: News of another U.S. gun-tracking program stirs criticism; Los Angeles Times; October 6, 2011
  137. ^ Jump up to:a b Murphy, Kim (March 10, 2011). “Mexico lawmakers demand answers about guns smuggled under ATF’s watch”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  138. Jump up^ “EU: ¿aliado o enemigo?”. La Jornada. Retrieved October 17, 2011.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATF_gunwalking_scandal

 

Executive privilege

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States government, executive privilege is the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government to access information and personnel relating to the executive branch. The concept of executive privilege is not mentioned explicitly in the United States Constitution, but the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it to be an element of the separation of powers doctrine, and/or derived from the supremacy of executive branch in its own area of Constitutional activity.[1]The Supreme Court confirmed the legitimacy of this doctrine in United States v. Nixon, but only to the extent of confirming that there is a qualified privilege. Once invoked, a presumption of privilege is established, requiring the Prosecutor to make a “sufficient showing” that the “Presidential material” is “essential to the justice of the case” (418 U.S. at 713-14).Chief Justice Burger further stated that executive privilege would most effectively apply when the oversight of the executive would impair that branch’s national security concerns.

Historically, the uses of executive privilege underscore the untested nature of the doctrine, since Presidents have generally sidestepped open confrontations with the United States Congress and the courts over the issue by first asserting the privilege, then producing some of the documents requested on an assertedly voluntary basis.

Early precedents

Executive privilege is a specific instance of the more general common-law principle of deliberative process privilege and is believed to trace its roots to the English Crown Privilege.[2]

In the context of privilege assertions by US Presidents, “In 1796, President George Washington refused to comply with a request by the House of Representatives for documents related to the negotiation of the then-recently adopted Jay Treaty with the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Senate alone plays a role in the ratification of treaties, Washington reasoned, and therefore the House had no legitimate claim to the material. Therefore, Washington provided the documents to the Senate but not the House.”[3]

President Thomas Jefferson continued the precedent for this in the trial of Aaron Burr for treason in 1807. Burr asked the court to issue a subpoena duces tecum to compel Jefferson to provide his private letters concerning Burr. Chief Justice John Marshall, a strong proponent of the powers of the federal government but also a political opponent of Jefferson, ruled that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for these sorts of court orders for criminal defendants, did not provide any exception for the president. As for Jefferson’s claim that disclosure of the document would imperil public safety, Marshall held that the court, not the president, would be the judge of that. Jefferson complied with Marshall’s order.

In 1833, President Andrew Jackson cited executive privilege when Senator Henry Clay demanded he produce documents concerning statements the president made to his cabinet about the removal of federal deposits from the Second Bank of the United States during the Bank War.[4]

Modern exercises

During the period of 1947-49, several major security cases became known to Congress. There followed a series of investigations, culminating in the famous HissChambers case of 1948. At that point, the Truman Administration issued a sweeping secrecy order blocking congressional efforts from FBI and other executive data on security problems.[5] Security files were moved to the White House and Administration officials were banned from testifying before Congress on security related matters. Investigation of the State Department and other cases was stymied and the matter left unresolved.

During the Army–McCarthy hearings in 1954, Eisenhower used the claim of executive privilege to forbid the “provision of any data about internal conversations, meetings, or written communication among staffers, with no exception to topics or people.” Department of Defense employees were also instructed not to testify on any such conversations or produce any such documents or reproductions.[6] This was done to refuse the McCarthy Committee subpoenas of transcripts of monitored telephone calls from Army officials, as well as information on meetings between Eisenhower officials relating to the hearings. This was done in the form of a letter from Eisenhower to the Department of Defense and an accompanying memo from Eisenhower Justice. The reasoning behind the order was that there was a need for “candid” exchanges among executive employees in giving “advice” to one another. In the end, Eisenhower would invoke the claim 44 times between 1955 and 1960.

U.S. v. Nixon

The Supreme Court addressed ‘executive privilege’ in United States v. Nixon, the 1974 case involving the demand by Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox that President Richard Nixon produce the audiotapes of conversations he and his colleagues had in the Oval Office of the White House in connection with criminal charges being brought against members of the Nixon Administration. Nixon invoked the privilege and refused to produce any records.

The Supreme Court did not reject the claim of privilege out of hand; it noted, in fact, “the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties” and that “[h]uman experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interests to the detriment of the decisionmaking process.” This is very similar to the logic that the Court had used in establishing an “executive immunity” defense for high office-holders charged with violating citizens’ constitutional rights in the course of performing their duties. The Supreme Court stated: “To read the Article II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of ‘a workable government’ and gravely impair the role of the courts under Article III.” Because Nixon had asserted only a generalized need for confidentiality, the Court held that the larger public interest in obtaining the truth in the context of a criminal prosecution took precedence.

“Once executive privilege is asserted, coequal branches of the Government are set on a collision course. The Judiciary is forced into the difficult task of balancing the need for information in a judicial proceeding and the Executive’s Article II prerogatives. This inquiry places courts in the awkward position of evaluating the Executive’s claims of confidentiality and autonomy, and pushes to the fore difficult questions of separation of powers and checks and balances. These ‘occasion[s] for constitutional confrontation between the two branches’ are likely to be avoided whenever possible. United States v. Nixon, supra, at 692.”[7]

Post-Nixon

Clinton administration

The Clinton administration invoked executive privilege on fourteen occasions.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton became the first President since Nixon to assert executive privilege and lose in court, when a Federal judge ruled that Clinton aides could be called to testify in the Lewinsky scandal.[8]

Later, Clinton exercised a form of negotiated executive privilege when he agreed to testify before the grand jury called by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr only after negotiating the terms under which he would appear. Declaring that “absolutely no one is above the law”, Starr said such a privilege “must give way” and evidence “must be turned over” to prosecutors if it is relevant to an investigation.

George W. Bush administration

The Bush administration invoked executive privilege on six occasions.

President George W. Bush first asserted executive privilege to deny disclosure of sought details regarding former Attorney General Janet Reno,[2] the scandal involving Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misuse of organized-crime informants James J. Bulger and Stephen Flemmi in Boston, and Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton’s fundraising tactics, in December 2001.[9]

Bush invoked executive privilege “in substance” in refusing to disclose the details of Vice President Dick Cheney‘s meetings with energy executives, which was not appealed by the GAO. In a separate Supreme Court decision in 2004, however, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted “Executive privilege is an extraordinary assertion of power ‘not to be lightly invoked.’ United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 7 (1953).

Further, on June 28, 2007, Bush invoked executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas requesting documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor,[10] citing that:

The reason for these distinctions rests upon a bedrock presidential prerogative: for the President to perform his constitutional duties, it is imperative that he receive candid and unfettered advice and that free and open discussions and deliberations occur among his advisors and between those advisors and others within and outside the Executive Branch.

On July 9, 2007, Bush again invoked executive privilege to block a congressional subpoena requiring the testimonies of Taylor and Miers. Furthermore, White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding refused to comply with a deadline set by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain its privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it, and provide logs of which documents were being withheld. On July 25, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee voted to cite Miers andWhite House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten for contempt of Congress.[11][12]

On July 13, less than a week after claiming executive privilege for Miers and Taylor, Counsel Fielding effectively claimed the privilege once again, this time in relation to documents related to the 2004 death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Fielding claimed certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and would therefore not be turned over to the committee.[13]

On August 1, 2007, Bush invoked the privilege for the fourth time in little over a month, this time rejecting a subpoena for Karl Rove. The subpoena would have required the President’s Senior Advisor to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors. In a letter to Senate Judiciary ChairmanPatrick Leahy, Fielding claimed that “Mr. Rove, as an immediate presidential advisor, is immune from compelled congressional testimony about matters that arose during his tenure and that relate to his official duties in that capacity….”[14]

Leahy claimed that President Bush was not involved with the employment terminations of U.S. attorneys. Furthermore, he asserted that the president’s executive privilege claims protecting Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove are illegal. The Senator demanded that Bolten, Rove, Sara Taylor, and J. Scott Jennings comply “immediately” with their subpoenas, presumably to await a further review of these matters. This development paved the way for a Senate panel vote on whether to advance the citations to the full Senate. “It is obvious that the reasons given for these firings were contrived as part of a cover up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort”, Leahy concluded about these incidents.[15][16][17][18]

As of July 17, 2008, Rove still claimed executive privilege to avoid a congressional subpoena. Rove’s lawyer wrote that his client is “constitutionally immune from compelled congressional testimony.”[19]

House Investigation of the SEC

Leaders of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission testified on February 4, 2009 before the United States House Committee on Financial Servicessubcommittee including Linda Chatman Thomsen S.E.C. enforcement director, acting General Counsel Andy Vollmer, Andrew Donohue, Erik Sirri, and Lori Richards and Stephen Luparello of FINRA. The subject of the hearings were on why the SEC had failed to act when Harry Markopolos, a private fraud investigator from Boston alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing his persistent and unsuccessful efforts to get the SEC to investigate Bernard Madoff, beginning in 1999.[20]Vollmer claimed executive privilege in declining to answer some questions.[21][22] Subcommittee chairman Paul E. Kanjorski asked Mr. Vollmer if he had obtained executive privilege from the U.S. attorney general.[21] “No … this is the position of the agency,” said Vollmer.[21] “Did the SEC instruct him not to respond to questions?” Mr. Kanjorski asked.[21] Vollmer replied that it was the position of the Commission and that “the answer is no.”[21] The SEC announced Vollmer would “leave the Commission and return to the private sector,” just 14 days after making the claim.[23]

Obama administration

On June 20, 2012, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege, his first, to withhold certain Department of Justice documents related to the ongoingOperation Fast and Furious controversy ahead of a United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder inContempt of Congress for refusing to produce the documents.[24] Later the same day, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted 23-17 along party lines to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress over not releasing documents regarding Fast and Furious.[25]

References

  1. Jump up^ Chief Justice Burger, writing for the majority in US v. Nixon noted: “Whatever the nature of the privilege of confidentiality of Presidential communications in the exercise of Art. II powers, the privilege can be said to derive from the supremacy of each branch within its own assigned area of constitutional duties. Certain powers and privileges flow from the nature of enumerated powers; the protection of the confidentiality of Presidential communications has similar constitutional underpinnings.United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974) (Supreme Court opinion at FindLaw)
  2. Jump up^ Proper Assertion of the Deliberative Process Principle, S Narayan, p 6
  3. Jump up^ FindLaw’s Writ – Dorf: A Brief History Of Executive Privilege, From George Washington Through Dick Cheney
  4. Jump up^ David and Jeanne Heidler, Henry Clay: The Essential American (2010) p.264
  5. Jump up^ Blacklisted by History, p. 23
  6. Jump up^ Blacklisted by History p.575
  7. Jump up^ Holding, Reynolds. Time, March 21, 2007. Holding, Reynolds (March 21, 2007). “The Executive Privilege Showdown”. Time. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
  8. Jump up^ Baker, Peter; and Schmidt, Susan. “President is Denied Executive Privilege”. The Washington Post. July 22, 1998. Retrieved 2007-03-27. Washington Post, May 6, 1998.
  9. Jump up^ Lewis, Neil A. (2001-12-14). “Bush Claims Executive Privilege in Response to House Inquiry”. New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  10. Jump up^ [1]
  11. Jump up^ “House inches toward constitutional showdown with contempt vote”. Politics (CNN). July 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
  12. Jump up^ “House Judiciary Reports Contempt Citations to the House of Representatives” (Press release). U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. July 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
  13. Jump up^ “White House Rebuffs Congress on Tillman Papers”. Politics (The Seattle Times). August 1, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  14. Jump up^ “Bush won’t let aide Rove testify to Congress”. Politics (Reuters). August 1, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  15. Jump up^ “Leahy: Bush not involved in firings”. Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2008-11-30.[dead link]
  16. Jump up^ “Leahy: Rove, others must comply with subpoenas”. CNN. Retrieved 2008-11-30.[dead link]
  17. Jump up^ “Leahy again orders Karl Rove to appear”. Bennington Banner. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  18. Jump up^ “Leahy again demands U.S. attorney info”. Earth Times. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  19. Jump up^ “Rove ignores committee’s subpoena, refuses to testify”. CNN. July 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  20. Jump up^ Henriques, Diana (February 4, 2009). “Anger and Drama at a House Hearing on Madoff”. The New York Times.
  21. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Jamieson, Dan (February 4, 2009). “SEC officials dodge questions; one claims privilege”. InvestmentNews.
  22. Jump up^ Ahrens, Frank (February 5, 2009). “Lawmakers Sink Teeth Into the SEC: Agency Mocked for Not Catching Madoff”. The Washington Post. pp. D01.
  23. Jump up^ “Acting General Counsel Andrew Vollmer to Leave SEC”. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Feb 18, 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  24. Jump up^ Jackson, David (June 20, 2012). “Obama team: ‘Fast and Furious’ documents are privileged”. USA Today. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  25. Jump up^ Madhani and Davis, Aamer and Susan (June 20, 2012). “House panel votes to cite Holder for contempt of Congress”. USA Today. Retrieved 20 June 2012.

President Asserts Executive Privilege in Bid to Forestall Contempt Vote By JOHN H. CUSHMAN Jr. Published: June 20, 2012 NY Times

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_privilege

 

 

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16 Year Old Teenager Stabs 20 in High School — Progressives Call For Registration of All Knives, Concealed Knife Carry Permits and Ban On All Assault Knives — Will Baseball Bats Be Next? — Videos

Posted on April 10, 2014. Filed under: Blogroll, Culture, Diasters, Economics, Education, Freedom, High School, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Press, Rants, Security, Talk Radio, Terrorism, Video, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1:16 Year Old Teenager Stabs 20 in High School — Progressives Call For Registration of All Knives, Concealed Knife Carry Permits and Ban On All Assault Knives — Will Baseball Bats Be Next? —  Videos

Kitchen-knives

20_hurt_in_Pennsylvania_school_stabbing_1492980000_4031342_ver1.0_640_480franklin-regional-hs-600franklin2 the_stabber stabber_2Alex Hribal suspect

kitchen-knife-f2z

News Wrap: Teenager stabs students at Pennsylvania school

High School Stabbing Franklin Regional High School Murrysville Pennsylvania 20 Students

Alex Hribal Did High School Stabbing At Franklin High Murrysville Pennsylvania

BREAKING: Surgeon Reports Over Mass Stabbing at Franklin High School

Mass Stabbing 20 Students injured Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville PA YouTube

BREAKING: Mass Stabbing Suspect Alex Hribal to be Tried as Adult

News Wrap: Teenager stabs students at Pennsylvania school

CNN Contributor Compares MASS Stabbing VS Shooting: You Get Your Hands Dirty

Suspect in School Stabbing Spree Is ‘Confused, Scared and Depressed’

Alex Hribal, the 16-year-old student who police say stabbed 22 people at his Pennsylvania high school Wednesday, is “confused, scared and depressed,” his attorney told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

“I think he understands what he did,” attorney Patrick Thomassey said in an interview with “Good Morning America.”

“I don’t think he at this point understands the gravity of what he did. I don’t think he realizes how severely injured some of these people are. And, hopefully, there’s no death involved in any of these. We’re praying that everybody is all right.”

Knife-Wielding Pa. Student Wounds at Least 22 in Stabbing Spree

Thomassey said he’s unaware of any signs of Hribal’s being bullied, adding that the teen’s parents are shocked and horrified.

“They could not have predicted that this was going to happen,” he said. “They don’t understand how this occurred.”

The stabbing spree happened at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, a suburb located about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh. Morgan Ritchey, who said she had two classes with Hribal, described him as being “a little misunderstood.”

I just always felt like he had a different side to him that nobody knew and it was, like, hard to uncover,” said Ritchey. Hribal, a sophomore, used two 8-to-10 inch “kitchen-type” “straight” knives in the attack, which started shortly after 7 a.m., police said. Murrysville Police Officer William “Buzz” Yakshe, a school resource officer, heard a disturbance in the hallway and joined a school security guard to go find out what was happening, according to a police affidavit. The guard and officer split up. The next time Yakshe saw the guard, he was leaning against a wall, bleeding from his stomach. Sam King, the school’s assistant principal, told police he saw Hribal stab the security guard. King tackled the teen and subdued him while Yakshe handcuffed him. King heard one of the victims say, “I’ve been stabbed,” he told police. Authorities charged Hribal as an adult with four counts of attempted criminal homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of weapons on school property. He was being held without bail in a juvenile detention center in Westmoreland County. Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld said someone pulled a fire alarm during the attack, raising attention and getting students and teachers to evacuate. “When we got there we saw a hallway in chaos, as you can imagine,” Seefeld said at a news conference. “There was a lot of evidence of blood on the floors and in the hallway, we had students running about, trying to get out of the area.” Nate Moore, 15, was stabbed during the rampage and said he had to be treated with 15 stitches. “It was really fast. It felt like he hit me with a wet rag because I felt the blood splash on my face. It spurted up on my forehead,” Moore told The Associated Press. Student Gracey Evans said heroes emerged during the attack. “My best friend, he stepped in front of me and in the meantime, he got stabbed in the back protecting me,” she said. “You couldn’t step a single place without pretty much stepping in blood.” At least 22 people were injured after the stabbings at the start of the school day, Westmoreland County emergency management spokesman Dan Stevens said. The motive for the rampage is under investigation. Seefeld said officials were unaware of any warning signs from the suspect, a sophomore at the school. At least four people with injuries emergency management officials described as “serious” were flown to hospitals for treatment. Others were not actually stabbed, he said, and some of their injuries included cuts and scrapes. http://gma.yahoo.com/suspect-school-stabbing-spree-confused-scared-depressed-115319444–abc-news-topstories.html

A BLANK LOOK, FOLLOWED BY BLOODSHED AT HIGH SCHOOL

It was just before the start of class and the hallways were packed with students at their lockers or chatting with friends.

Nate Moore was walking to homeroom, book in hand, when a classmate he knew to be quiet and unassuming tackled a freshman boy a few feet in front of him. Moore thought it was the start of a fistfight and went to break it up.

But 16-year-old Alex Hribal wasn’t throwing punches — he was stabbing his victim in the belly, Moore said. The suspect got up and slashed Moore’s face, then took off down the hall, where authorities said he stabbed and slashed other students in an attack that injured 21 students and a security guard — and might have been even worse but for the “heroes” who Pennsylvania’s governor said helped prevent further injury or loss of life.

An assistant principal tackled and subdued Hribal, who was charged Wednesday night with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault and jailed without bail. Authorities said he would be prosecuted as an adult.

The suspect’s motive remained a mystery.

“He wasn’t saying anything,” Moore recalled hours later. “He didn’t have any anger on his face. It was just a blank expression.”

At a brief hearing Wednesday night, District Attorney John Peck said that after he was taken into custody, Hribal made comments suggesting he wanted to die. Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey described him as a good student who got along with others, and asked for a psychiatric examination.

Thomassey told ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday that any defense he offers would likely be based on Hribal’s mental health. He said he hoped to move the charges against the teenager to juvenile court, where he could be rehabilitated. If convicted as an adult, Hribal faces likely decades in prison.

Thomassey told several media outlets that Hribal is remorseful, though he acknowledged his client didn’t appear to appreciate the gravity of his actions.

“At this point, he’s confused, scared and depressed. Over the next few days we’ll try to figure out what the heck happened here,” Thomassey told ABC. “I think he understands what he did. … I don’t think he realizes how severely injured some of these people are.”

At least five students were critically wounded in the attack, including a boy who was on a ventilator after a knife pierced his liver, missing his heart and aorta by only millimeters, doctors said. He had additional surgery overnight, they said.

The rampage comes after decades in which U.S. schools have focused their emergency preparedness on mass shootings, not stabbings.

While knife attacks at schools are not unusual, they’re most often limited to a single victim, said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Nevertheless, there have been at least two major stabbing attacks at U.S. schools over the past year, the first at a community college in Texas last April that wounded at least 14 people, and another, also in Texas, that killed a 17-year-old student and injured three others at a high school last September.

The attack in Pittsburgh unfolded shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, a few minutes before the start of classes at 1,200-student Franklin Regional High School, in an upper-middle-class area 15 miles east of Pittsburgh. By Thursday morning, the school was no longer being treated as a crime scene, according to police and school officials, who said they expected it to reopen Monday.

Mia Meixner, 16, said the freshman boy who was tackled tried to fight back, then, when his assailant got off him, stood up and lifted his shirt to reveal a midsection covered in blood.

“He had his shirt pulled up and he was screaming, ‘Help! Help!'” said another witness, Michael Float, 18. “He had a stab wound right at the top right of his stomach, blood pouring down.”

As students rushed to the boy’s aid, the attacker slashed Moore before taking off around a bend.

“It was really fast. It felt like he hit me with a wet rag because I felt the blood splash on my face. It spurted up on my forehead,” said Moore, whose gashed right cheek required 11 stitches.

The boy ran down about 200 feet of hallway, slashing and stabbing other students with kitchen knives about 8 to 10 inches long, police said. The assault touched off a “stampede of kids” yelling, “Run! Get out of here! Someone has a knife!” according to Meixner.

Assistant Principal Sam King heard the commotion and found a chaotic scene in the blood-soaked hall.

“I’ve been stabbed,” he heard a student say, according to a police affidavit.

King then saw Hribal stab a security guard, who leaned against the wall, bleeding from his stomach, the affidavit said. King tackled Hribal and kept him on the floor until a school police officer handcuffed him.

The rampage lasted about five minutes.

“There are a number of heroes in this day. Many of them are students,” Gov. Tom Corbett said in a visit to the town. “Students who stayed with their friends and didn’t leave their friends.”

He also commended cafeteria workers, teachers and teacher’s aides who put themselves at risk to help others.

Looking for a motive, Murrysville Police Chief Thomas Seefeld said investigators were checking reports of a threatening phone call between Hribal and another student the night before. He didn’t say whether the suspect received or made the call.

The FBI went to the boy’s house, and local media reports said agents removed at least one computer along with other items.

Meixner and Moore called the attacker a shy and quiet boy who largely kept to himself, but they said he was not an outcast and they saw no indication before the attack that he might be violent.

“He was never mean to anyone, and I never saw people be mean to him,” Meixner said. “I never saw him with a particular group of friends.”

During the attack, the boy had a “blank look,” she said. “He was just kind of looking like he always does, not smiling, not scowling or frowning.”

___

Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh and JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

http://www.breitbart.com/system/wire/ap_9a58be3772564946b1e85a87f10519ca

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President Obama’s State of the Union 2014 Address — The Young and The Jobless Betrayed By Obama — Videos

Posted on January 29, 2014. Filed under: Agriculture, American History, Babies, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Culture, Demographics, Diasters, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Farming, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Fraud, government, government spending, Health Care, history, History of Economic Thought, Illegal, Immigration, Inflation, Investments, IRS, Language, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Narcissism, Obamacare, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Private Sector, Psychology, Public Sector, Quotations, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Resources, Reviews, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Unemployment, Unions, Video, War, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 168: November 15, 2013

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Story 1: President Obama’s State of the Union 2014 Address — The Young and The Jobless Betrayed By Obama — Videos

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U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report — TERRORIST ATTACKS ON U.S. FACILITIES IN BENGHAZI, LIBYA, SEPTEMBER 11-12, 2012 January 1, 2014 — General Carter Ham’s Testimony — Benghazi Was A Terrorist Attack — YouTube Video Story Was A Lie – The White House Is The Liars Lair — Videos

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general_carter_hamm

The head of the U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham, told the House Committee on Armed Services in June 2013, according to recently declassified testimony, that Benghazi was immediately considered an attack.

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Document

Senate Benghazi report

A Sen­ate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day places the blame on State De­part­ment and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies for the 2012 ter­ror­ist at­tack in Benghazi.

Senator Intelligence Committee releases Benghazi attack report The Latest News

[youube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF5VSfqyuCw]

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Benghazi attack: New report shows the real scandal isn’t what Obama called it

By Ryan Teague Beckwith,

The fight over Benghazi isn’t going away, but the reason for the fight may be changing.

In the days after the deadly attack on a U.S. mission in Libya, the political fight centered on whether President Obama had called it terrorism and whether it was a planned or spontaneous attack.

A new bipartisan Senate report released Wednesday, however, focuses more on the failure of the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies for not preventing the attack.

The report shows several major problems:

• The State Department did not increase security at its sites despite warnings of possible violence.

• The CIA did not share information about the existence of its outpost with the U.S. military.

• The CIA and the State Department were not working out of the same location.

• Libyans charged with protecting the compound did not do their job.

The report doesn’t touch on the more political aspects of the 2012 attack, which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and two others. But six Republican senators added a separate note to the report criticizing the Obama administration for delaying the report and for not being transparent.

“Information has been withheld from the Committee because of the ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ into the attacks, in an apparent effort to shield certain government agencies from congressional oversight or potential embarrassment,” they wrote.

But the fact that their criticisms come up as an addendum to the report instead of in the report itself shows the controversy about what happened at Benghazi is shifting in D.C.

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20140115/benghazi-attack-new-report-shows-the-real-scandal-isnt-what-obama-called-it

Pentagon labeled Benghazi a terrorist attack as Obama administration wavered: newly declassified testimony

Gen. Carter Ham’s newly declassified testimony before the House suggests the prospect of an out-of-control demonstration was not raised by Defense officials and that they immediately considered the incident an attack.

By Leslie Larson

The Obama administration was wary to label the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as an act of terrorism but declassified testimony from a top Pentagon official indicates there was little ambiguity among Defense Department players that terrorism was the likely motive.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice represented the Obama administration in discussing the incident in the aftermath of the attack, suggesting the death of Ambassador Chris Stephens and three Americans came as the result of a protest over an incendiary viral video blasting the prophet Mohammad and was not a preplanned act of terrorism.

Rice appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” NBC’s “Meet The Press,” “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week” on Sep. 16, 2012, to speak on behalf of the President and she repeated the belief that the incident was a “spontaneous” mob uprising and not “a preplanned, premeditated attack.”

“This is not an expression of hostility in the broadest sense toward the United States or to U.S. policy,” she stated.

Republicans pounced on Rice’s analysis, claiming she was placating extremists and not adequately representing the national security threat to the American people.

Now testimony by Gen. Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM at the time of attack, before the House Committee on Armed Services in June 2013 suggests that Defense officials did not raise the prospect of an out-of-control demonstration and immediately deemed the incident an attack.

Ham, whose partially redacted transcript was declassified by the House on Monday, said at the 2013 hearing that he was alerted to the incident 15 minutes after it erupted at 9:42 p.m. Libya Time (3:42 p.m. EST) on Sep. 11, 2012.

“When we saw a rocket-propelled grenade attack, what appeared to be pretty well aimed small arms fire — again, this is all coming second and third hand through unclassified, you know, commercial cellphones for the most part initially. To me, it started to become clear pretty quickly that this was certainly a terrorist attack and not just not something sporadic,” he stated.

Ham served as head of the United States Africa Command, which manages U.S. military operations in Africa. He served in that capacity from March 2011 to April 2013.

He describes how as soon as AFRICOM learned of the attack, the command control repositioned a drone to the consulate to gather intelligence on the ground movements. The unmanned, unarmed surveillance aircraft was ordered to be diverted to the Benghazi site at 9:59 p.m. Libya Time, 17 minutes after the attack.

According to the timeline, at 10:32 p.m. Libya Time, Ham briefed then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before they traveled to the White House for a pre-scheduled meeting with Obama, during which they briefed Obama on the situation.

During Ham’s briefing with Panetta and Dempsey, before they left for the White House, he said there was a “peripheral” discussion as to the cause but added, “We knew at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack.”

“I am not aware of (a demonstration), sir. It became pretty apparent to me, and I think to most at Africa Command pretty shortly after this attack began, that this was an attack,” he told Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“We knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. Smith (a Foreign Service information officer), unaccounted for. And so the focus of our effort at that point was gaining understanding of what the situation was. And then we started very quickly to think about, you know, the possibility of a U.S. ambassador being held hostage in a foreign land and what does that mean,” Ham said during his House testimony.

The testimony includes a reference to an Ops Alert announcing the attack that was received in the White House Situation Room at 10:05 p.m. Libya time, but Ham was not privy to what details the alert included.

Panetta’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February similarly stated the early belief that the episode was an attack.

“There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta said of his early assessment of the situation on the ground in Benghazi.

Ham’s version of events could discredit the accounts from some Obama officials who were hesitant to state the security threat posed by the attack.

In particular, Rice has been accused of misleading the American public with her statements that the incident was a protest run amok rather than terrorism.

In May 2013, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also implicated in an ABC News report that claimed a State Department official urged the CIA and White House to avoid describing the event as an act of terrorism in public statements.

susan_rice

Susan Rice went on TV talk shows days after the Benghazi attack to speak on behalf of the President. She repeated the belief that the incident was a ‘spontaneous’ mob uprising and not ‘a preplanned, premeditated attack.’

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Leaked emails show that then State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggested that a CIA memo on Benghazi not include any reference of links to al-Qaeda and the intelligence warnings in the months preceding the attack.

Nuland wrote in protest to the CIA description, saying it “could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat up on the State Department for not paying attention to warnings,” in an email to the White House and the CIA, according to ABC.

The intelligence memo was the basis for Rice’s public statements in September 2012.

The PR spin to describe the attack as spontaneous rather than pre-planned was seen as a move to protect the State Department from being blamed for not adequately providing security and anticipating the attack.

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied any wrongdoing in Rice’s description of the episode, telling the press in May that Rice didn’t have “hard, concrete evidence” to suggest terrorism.

“It was simply a reflection of we did not, and the intelligence community did not, and others within the administration did not, jump to conclusions about who was responsible before we had an investigation to find out the facts,” he said of Rice’s highly criticized assessment of the situation.

Her behavior in the aftermath of the tragedy displeased Congress and is largely to blame for her failure to be appointed Secretary of State after Clinton’s retirement in Obama’s second term.

Instead, Rice was appointed to the role of National Security adviser.

Clinton has defended Rice and said the root motive for the attack was not an important detail to focus on.

“We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night and decided to go kill some Americans? At this point what difference does it make, Senator?” Clinton said at a tense Senate hearing in January 2013.

Clinton, a likely contender in the 2016 White House bid, remains defensive as the “Benghazi stain” continues to haunt her legacy.

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