Voter ID Laws – Obama Decries Voter Fraud as Bogus

Editor’s Note – The left has chosen to champion an issue that does not exist while decrying facts of one that does – demonstrably.

They say that Voter ID Laws curb voting and that real voter fraud does not exist to warrant such laws, all the while blaming the right.

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Catherine Englebrecht of True the Vote

Obama, along with his henchman, Eric Holder, constantly tell us that voter ID laws are preventing voting instead of making it easier, all while stating that these laws are unneeded because there really isn’t any voter fraud occurring.

However, the ‘weaponization’ of the government has been their choice to drive their points home on all fronts.

They repeat this mantra hoping ill-informed people will continue to be just that, ill-informed, and will continue to believe their propaganda about Voter ID Laws.

The problem is that there are many ways to see the proof that voter IDs are necessary and do not stop or infringe upon anyone wishing to vote and that voter fraud is rampant in all states.

Catherine Englebrecht of True the Vote can prove this. Yes, that Catherine Englebrecht, of the now infamous IRS hearings, the weaponization of the IRS. The very person who Elijah Cummings, D-MD (Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) attempted to investigate per newly revealed emails as we witnessed this week.

New IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee show staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. True the Vote was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago. (Read the rest at TownHall.)

This all started for Englebrecht because of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas in 2010, when she accused Englebrecht’s organization of interfering with voters and committing crimes as Engelbrecht and her teams taught people how to monitor voting to ferret out fraud. We are confident that the truth about both Lee and Cummings will be forthcoming soon; along with due punishment.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate election integrity org True the Vote and its associated Tea Party group, King Street Patriots, immediately before the IRS and DOJ began targeting the group in June 2010.

Rep. Jackson Lee sent a letter to Holder which alleged that True the Vote was intimidating voters and their election monitors were crossing the line in unspecified “instances” of voter intimidation. The letter went on to directly assert that the “alleged events” were factual and that the True the Vote effort was behind the crimes. The letter offered no documented instances or data of any kind.

The letter, titled “Voter Intimidation in Houston, Texas and Request for DOJ Poll Monitors to Be Sent,” urged Holder to investigate with his DOJ and stated, “As a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I urge you to order an immediate investigation into these incidents, and call for the Department of Justice to send poll monitors to Harris County immediately to ensure a safe and neutral voting environment during the November 2 election.”

“It was strange and concerning,” said Catherine Englebrecht, founder of King Street Patriots and True the Vote. “She first said there were unspecified reports of crimes and that we were believed to be behind them. In the next paragraph, she began specifically stating that the events did occur, thus accusing us of crimes.” (Read more here.)

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Elijah Cummings and Darrell Issa

Darrel Issa, R-CA, Chairman of Oversight committee seems to be playing the cards very well in exposing the real fraud that is the Democrat Party’s desire to shut down the 1st amendment rights of those who disagree with them.

Here is just a sample of what True the Vote has documented:

How popular is Voter ID?

Of course, these facts do not deter Obama and his merry band of liars from calling them “bogus” and using the government as a weapon:

Obama decries ‘bogus’ voter fraud complaints

By Justin Cink – The Hill

President Obama labeled complaints about voter fraud “bogus” and accused Republicans of cynically trying to prevent Americans from accessing the polls in a fiery speech Friday at a civil rights forum hosted by Al Sharpton.

Obama argued that attempts in some states to impose new voter identification restrictions were actually efforts by Republicans to make “it harder, not easier to vote.” And the president said that while voter fraud should be prevented, it rarely occurred.

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“So let’s be clear, the real voter fraud is the people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud,” Obama said.

Obama sad that the efforts betrayed a weakness within the Republican Party, saying his opposition needed to restrict poll access to remain competitive.

“If your strategy depends on fewer people showing up to vote, that’s not a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness,” Obama said.

“What kind of political platform is that?” he added. “Why would you make that part of your agenda, preventing people from voting?”

Obama called on Congress to pass an updated formula that would restore a central provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Last year, the Supreme Court gutted a part of the historic civil rights legislation that required certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to clear changes in voting procedures with the federal government.

The court said Congress could update the formula for “pre-clearance,” but lawmakers have been unable to agree on new standards.

Some Southern states have subsequently moved aggressively to impose new, tougher voter ID requirements. Supporters of the legislation, including many Republicans, argue the new standards help prevent voter fraud.

But Democrats say the changes are really intended to exclude poor, minority and young voters who might not have the required photo identification and for whom obtaining it would prove costly.

“Just to be clear, I know where my birth certificate is, but a lot of people don’t,” Obama quipped, in reference to the campaign controversy over his birthplace. “I think it’s still up on a website. You remember that? That was crazy. That was some crazy stuff. I hadn’t thought about that in a while.”

Obama accused Republicans lawmakers of “changing the rules to try to restrict people’s access to the ballot.”

And the president said he would have Attorney General Eric Holder review all of the laws being passed for possible legal challenges.

“I will not let voter suppression go unchallenged,” Obama said.

But he also encouraged the assembled crowd to turn out and volunteer to register voters, even as restrictions tightened.

The president did not discuss alternative proposals to combat changes to voting laws.

Earlier this week, civil rights leader Andrew Young suggested Obama provide free Social Security cards with photos to all citizens, in a proposal endorsed by Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration hadn’t had a chance to renew the proposal.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to review all of the implications of that idea that Bill Clinton and others have put forward, but generally speaking on the question of voting rights, President Obama believes we should be making it easier and not harder for every eligible citizen to vote,” Carney said.

Impeach Holder – Reps. to Introduce Resolution

Editor’s Note – With all the media time now spent on the ObamaCare implosion and our lying President, his administration continues it ways in other areas. But after such a long list of DOJ shenanigans over the past five years, the House is now positioned to impeach Eric Holder.

Here at SUA, we have been calling not only for his impeachment, but for him to also lose his law license forever. It may not move forward, and we doubt he would ever be convicted in the Senate, but the bell must be rung on him. We support these impeachment steps wholeheartedly.

House Republicans to call for Eric Holder impeachment

By John Bresnahan – Politico

A group of hard-line conservative House Republicans will introduce a resolution on Thursday calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder.

But there is no sign yet that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) or other House GOP leaders will act on the measure.

eric-holder-impeach-250x244Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and 10 other House Republicans — including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Florida Rep. Ted Yoho — have drafted four articles of impeachment against Holder.

These include allegations that Holder violated federal law by refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena over the botched Fast and Furious gun-walking program; “failed to enforce multiple laws, including the Defense of Marriage Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986,”; did not prosecute IRS employees over allegations the agency improperly handled the applications for nonprofit status by conservative political groups; and misled Congress over whether he was aware of a search warrant issued for the emails of FOX News reporter James Rosen.

“This was not a decision that I made lightly,” Olson said in a statement. “Since the House voted in 2012 to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, the pattern of disregard for the rule of law and refusal to be forthright has only continued. The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”

(QUIZ: How well do you know Eric Holder?)

Boehner’s office declined to comment on the Olson impeachment resolution, referring calls to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Goodlatte’s panel would conduct any impeachment hearings against Holder.

In his own statement, Goodlatte was noncommittal on whether he planned to move forward with the resolution, although he did say that Holder should resign for the good of the Justice Department.

“Under Attorney General Holder’s watch, there has been a lack of leadership and a politicization of the Justice Department. Scandals from the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation to the seizure of reporters’ emails and phone records in national security leaks investigations have undermined the Department’s credibility and the American people’s trust. Attorney General Holder has also politicized the rule of law by refusing to enforce laws he doesn’t like.”

Goodlatte added: “The only way to restore credibility at the Department of Justice is through an improvement in the quality of leadership. President Obama should make a change in the leadership of the Department of Justice to restore the confidence of the American people in our nation’s top law enforcement agency.”

(PHOTOS: Eric Holder’s career)

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the impeachment resolution.

But Matthew Miller, a former top Holder aide as DOJ, dismissed it as laughable.

“The first thing I’d say is that I can’t believe they didn’t include Benghazi and the Black Panthers because this is a list of every other Republican bugaboo and conspiracy theory,” said Miller, now a communications consultant on K Street.

“The best thing that could happen to Democrats would be for Republicans to bring this up. The more time they spend on this, the crazier and more out of touch they would look.”

The House approved civil and contempt resolutions against Holder in June 2012 over the Fast and Furious program, the first time that has been done to a sitting Cabinet member. DOJ refused to enforce the criminal contempt resolution, as previous administrations have done. The civil contempt citation is mired in a legal fight in federal court between Justice and House attorneys.

No Cabinet officer has been impeached by the House since Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached in March 1876 , despite the fact that the he resigned minutes before the House vote. The Senate held a trial for Belknap, acquitting him on all five charges. Belknap was never criminally prosecuted over the allegations.

DOJ 'Black Ops' on the Associated Press – Issa Interviewed

Editor’s Note – The Obama Administration just jumped the rails – hopefully for good. The DoJ grabbed AP reporters phone numbers, and the story is developing at an amazing rate. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile this from the ACLU: Letter to Eric Holder from AP President Pruitt

FBI Documents Suggest Feds Read Emails Without a Warrant

New documents from the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ offices paint a troubling picture of the government’s email surveillance practices. Not only does the FBI claim it can read emails and other electronic communications without a warrant—even after a federal appeals court ruled that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment—but the documents strongly suggest that different U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are applying conflicting standards to access communications content (you can see the documentshere).

Last month, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the ACLU received IRS documents indicating that the agency’s criminal investigative arm doesn’t always get a warrant to read Americans’ emails. Today we are releasing these additional documents from other federal law enforcement agencies, reinforcing the urgent need for Congress to protect our privacy by updating the laws that cover electronic communications.

Also from the RightScoop.com Darrell Issa is calling this a Constitutional question and challenge by the very agency that is sworn to uphold and enforce these very laws and the Constitution:

Click here for the video which will likely be available for embed later MUST SEE VIDEO

FILE – In this April 18, 2013 file photo, Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Justice Department has secretly obtained two months of telephone records of journalists for The Associated Press in what AP’s top executive says is an unprecedented intrusion into newsgathering. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

GOVT OBTAINS WIDE AP PHONE RECORDS IN PROBE

By MARK SHERMAN – From AP Big Story

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

Here is the PDF of the letter: Letter to Eric Holder from AP President Pruitt

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.

The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP’s source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”

Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.

In the letter notifying the AP received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt’s letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.

Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012 story.

The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

Justice Department published rules require that subpoenas of records from news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained though subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.

William Miller, a spokesman for Machen, said Monday that in general the U.S. attorney follows “all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations” but he would not address questions about the specifics of the AP records. “We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations,” Miller said in an e-mail.

The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can only be considered after “all reasonable attempts” have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department has taken to get information in the case.

A subpoena to the media must be “as narrowly drawn as possible” and “should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period,” according to the rules.

The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that “might impair the news gathering function” because the government recognizes that “freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news.”

News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption’s wording, might “pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.”

It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.

The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

The plot was significant both because of its seriousness and also because the White House previously had told the public it had “no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden’s death.”

The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once government officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot because officials said it no longer endangered national security. The Obama administration, however, continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.

The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.

Brennan talked about the AP story and investigation in written testimony to the Senate. “The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made … when someone informed the Associated Press that the U.S. Government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. Government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it,” he said.

He also defended the White House’s plan to discuss the plot immediately afterward. “Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with Government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qa’ida plot,” Brennan told senators.

Holder's DOJ down in flames over Texas voter ID Law

MUST READ – Texas Voter ID Trial – Holder DOJ

By SUA Staff – The Department of Justice under Eric Holder with the mandate from the Obama White House as well as from Robert Bauer, the Obama personal lawyer of record for years, has established a habit of suing RED states that are historically opposed to liberal agendas. One such law suit is underway presently in the case of voter ID requirements in the state of Texas. Final arguments are now being completed, but it looks very bad for the federal government.

The entire narrative of the left, and specifically Eric Holder regarding voter suppression is pure bunk, and the State of Texas proved it. All the rhetoric coming from his camp is not just rhetoric, its blatantly false. His ‘experts’ are not experts, they used “Wikipedia Facts” that weren’t facts, and what was said in public had to be re-canted under sworn testimony. But despite this the Attorney General, Eric Holder, Jr., spoke in front of the NAACP this week and said the following:

Eric Holder delivers blistering speech to the NAACP Event in Houston despite the complete failure of his arguments in federal court.

“We call those poll taxes.”

What is worse, its all about fear tactics:

Holder has relentlessly launched legal challenges to every voter ID law in the land, but to my knowledge he has never asserted in court that they were poll taxes.  Whatever political latitude we might choose to extend to the Attorney General, it seems certain that his job should not involve lying about the law to frighten American citizens into cooperation with his political agenda.

We occasionally hear criticism of “the politics of fear.”  The contrast between Romney and Holder [speaking at the NAACP event in Houston] illustrates the politics of fear perfectly.  The NAACP got to hear ridiculous scare tactics from an embattled Attorney General who felt free to address them as if they were imbeciles, easily frightened into obedience with the most absurd and extreme rhetoric. (Read the rest at Human Events)

Then we compare his public statements about Florida and Texas, cleaning their voter rolls and requiring a government ID like Indiana, (which was constitutionally upheld) to what took place in federal court about Texas. SUA read the entire “fact sheet” provided by the State of Texas about the lack of any evidence supporting the DOJ’s claims or Holder’s assertions. What it did prove however, is that Eric Holder, the left, and their boss are lying to America.

The summary document provided by the State of Texas must be required reading by all voters. It completely debunks the entire narrative, stem to stern. Its a bit lengthy, but your hair will ignite as you read it here:

MUST READ – Texas Voter ID Trial – Holder DOJ

How is this man still in office?

Texas Demolishes USDOJ’s Case Against Voter I.D.

Feds could not produce a single person, or provide the name of a single person, who will legitimately be unable to vote due to voter i.d.

By Jim Forsyth – WOAI Local News (Texas)

Testimony has concluded in the trial of Texas ‘Voter I.D.’ law, after attorneys for the state demolished the main arguments raised against the law by the Obama Administration, and got the key witness for the Justice Department to admit he got his information from Wikipedia, 1200 WOAI news reports.

The Justice Department presented what it said was evidence that as many as 1.5 million Texans don’t have the government issued photo i.d. required to vote, but Attorney General Greg Abbott says of the people on that roll, 50,000 are dead, 330,000 are over the age of 65 and can vote by mail, where a photo i.d. is not required, and more than 800,000 are on the list improperly.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

Among the people who the DOJ listed as ‘lacking the required documentation needed to vote’ are Former President George W. Bush, San Antonio State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, and Licia Ellis, who’s husband, Houston state Senator Rodney Ellis, on Wednesday blasted the voter i.d. law as ‘just like the racist murder of James Byrd’ who was dragged to death in east Texas in 1998.

In fact, University of Texas students conducted a telephone survey of random people on the DOJ’s list of people who allegedly don’t have the documents required to vote, and found that more than 90% of them, including 93% of African Americans and 92% of Hispanics on the list, actually have a photo i.d.

Which brings us to Victoria Rodriguez. The San Antonio teenager was the only individual in a flurry of ‘experts’ the Department of Justice called to the stand to represent the 1.5 million allegedly set to be disenfranchised under the Texas law. Rodriguez testified that she not only lacks a photo i.d., but lacks the documentation need to obtain one, and State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said requiring her to pay to obtain those documents would amount to an illegal ‘poll tax.’

Under cross examination, Rodriguez admitted that she has a birth certificate, a voter registration card, and a Social Security Card, and only two of those three forms of i.d. are required to obtain a free voter i.d. card offered by the DPS. Rodriguez testified that she ‘doesn’t have time’ to go the DPS office to obtain the voter i.d. card, but she testified she had plenty of time to fly more than 1500 miles to Baltimore, catch a train to Washington DC, and sit for hours in a federal courtroom to testify about how unfair the Texas voter i.d. law is.

Perhaps the most embarrassing for the Justice Department was the testimony of its alleged expert witness, Harvard Professor Stephen Ansolabehere.

He testified that his research shows the law is ‘more likely to affect black and Hispanic voters worst than white voters.’

But under cross examination, Ansolabehere testified that in fact ‘almost no one is excluded’ by the requirement to vote.

Another Department of Justice ‘expert’ testified that the Legislature ‘intended’ to discriminate against minorities when it passed the Voter I.D. bill. But J. Morgan Kousser’s comments under cross examination show he knows little to nothing about the Texas Legislature (he referred to State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte as the enate Minority Leader, a position that doesn’t exist in the Texas Legislature) and lawyers for the state pointed out that he said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which upheld a similar voter i.d. law in Indiana, a decision which was written by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas, was written so the five, laughably, could ‘promote white supremacy.’

Kousser also claimed in a book that Republicans are ‘not legitimate representatives’ of minority communities, and that any African American or Hispanic who supports voter i.d. ‘has been manipulated and misled by Republicans.

In fact, Kousser admitted that he got many of the ‘facts’ used to buttress these bizarre claims from ‘Wikipedia,’ an on line encyclopedia that anybody, including Kousser himself, can upload information onto.

The three judge federal appeals court panel, which includes two Democrats and one Republican, will issue its ruling on the case in the coming weeks, and the ruling will certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Issa submits facts into Congressional Record

By Scott W. Winchell

Be careful what you ask for Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Dingle, Mr. Cummings, et al – you want a “thorough bipartisan investigation”? America just got one, and now you say it wasn’t? Well check out just how disingenuous the left are. Watch out – bomb fragments are flying.

Look at what Mr. Issa entered into the Congressional Record. No matter how the left tried to change the aim, focus, and discourse, those pesky facts always tear their sails down. They cannot rely on the evidence or the law to support their man, so they attack the prosecutor.

The display we witnessed on the floor of the House yesterday showed exactly how disingenuous the left is. They are not interested in the truth, they only want to paint the prosecutor as conducting a witch hunt.

The trouble is, it appears Holder just may be a ‘witch’. The manner in which they avoided the facts, tried to accuse the other side of lying, and made up things out of whole-cloth only demonstrated what they were up to – obfuscation.

Each accusation was soundly shot down by facts, yet they kept repeating the same tripe, over, and over, and over.

The Democrats were all marching to the same tune, chapter and verse, as distributed by their caucus, not one of them deviated. Then in the end, they walked out, and walked out of seeking the truth over a murder.

Mrs. Pelosi, as the former Speaker-of-the-House, how dare you demean that office so! Mr. Dingle, what were you trying to intimate? How dare you! You never once spoke to the Terry Family.

There must be some really damning stuff yet to be found if they are so willing to put on such an unprofessional display. The White House and Mr. Holder have a lot of explaining to do.

America deserves the truth – the TERRY FAMILY deserves the truth. Mr. Holder – resign now!

Darrell Issa Puts Details of Secret Wiretap Applications in Congressional Record

By Jonathan Strong – Roll Call Staff

In the midst of a fiery floor debate over contempt proceedings for Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.

The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.

The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.

According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.

Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.

The wiretap applications were signed by senior DOJ officials in the department’s criminal division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco and another official who is now deceased.

In Fast and Furious, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed assault guns bought by “straw purchasers” to “walk,” which meant ending surveillance on weapons suspected to be en route to Mexican drug cartels.

The tactic, which was intended to allow agents to track criminal networks by finding the guns at crime scenes, was condemned after two guns that were part of the operation were found at U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder scene.

Straw purchasers are individuals who buy guns on behalf of criminals, obscuring who is buying the weapons.

While Issa has since said he has obtained a number of wiretap applications, the letter only refers to one, from March 15, 2010. The full application is not included in what Issa entered into the Congressional Record, and names are obscured in Issa’s letter.

In the application, ATF agents included transcripts from a wiretap intercept from a previous Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that demonstrated the suspects were part of a gun-smuggling ring.

“The wiretap affidavit details that agents were well aware that large sums of money were being used to purchase a large number of firearms, many of which were flowing across the border,” the letter says.

The application included details such as how many guns specific suspects had purchased via straw purchasers and how many of those guns had been recovered in Mexico.

It also described how ATF officials watched guns bought by suspected straw purchasers but then ended their surveillance without interdicting the guns.

In at least one instance, the guns were recovered at a police stop at the U.S.-Mexico border the next day.

The application included financial details for four suspected straw purchasers showing they had purchased $373,000 worth of guns in cash but reported almost no income for the previous year, the letter says.

“Although ATF was aware of these facts, no one was arrested, and ATF failed to even approach the straw purchasers. Upon learning these details through its review of this wiretap affidavit, senior Justice Department officials had a duty to stop this operation. Further, failure to do so was a violation of Justice Department policy,” the letter says.

Holder declined to discuss the contents of the applications at a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 7 but said the applications were narrowly reviewed for whether there was probable cause to obtain a wiretap application.

Thousands of wiretap applications are reviewed each year by the DOJ’s criminal division. The applications are designed to obtain approval, so they tend to focus on the most suspicious information available.

A line attorney first creates a summary of the application, which is then usually reviewed by a deputy to Lanny Breuer, the head of the division, on his behalf. It is then reviewed and approved or denied by a judge.

Cummings has sided with the DOJ in the debate over the secret applications, but the full substance of his argument is unknown.

A June 5 letter from Cummings responding to Issa’s May 24 letter said Issa “omits the critical fact that [redacted].” The entire first section of the letter’s body is likewise blacked out.

“Sadly, it looks like Mr. Issa is continuing his string of desperate and unsubstantiated claims, while hiding key information from the very same documents,” a Democratic committee staffer said. “His actions demonstrate a lack of concern for the facts, as well as a reckless disregard for our nation’s courts and federal prosecutors who are trying to bring criminals to justice. We’re not going to stoop to his level. Obviously, we are going to honor the court’s seal and the prosecutors’ requests. But if Mr. Issa won’t tell you what he is hiding from the wiretaps, you should ask him why.”

Here is the Congressional Record entry:

CREC-2012-06-28-pt1-PgH4177-2