IRS Hearings – IRS Search and Destroy Approved by Dems

By Scott W. Winchell and Denise Simon

We truly are in the land of utter disbelief. The IRS Scandal is one huge and complicated set of moving parts and its hard to maintain any focus to gather in the breadth and depth of all the wrong-doing and excuses. Things do not look right, smell right, sound right, or feel right, but we are told there was not a “smidgeon of corruption.”

As we watched the IRS hearings last Friday, last night, and then this morning, one thing was clear, one side was conducting an investigation and the other side was conducting a smear campaign. Of course, in that smear campaign, we saw several tactics used to roil the water, all to make the Republicans look bad and to confuse the public.

'I don't believe you!': Paul Ryan levels blistering attack against IRS boss over 'lost' emails explanation
‘I don’t believe you!’: Paul Ryan levels blistering attack against IRS boss over ‘lost’ emails explanation

The Republicans were investigating, the Democrats were smearing, while accusing the Republicans of smearing. But look at how it was characterized by the MSM or “Establishment Media” as posted at Newsbusters:

After ten days of ignoring the June13 revelation that the IRS mysteriously lost two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails related to the scandal plaguing the agency, Tuesday’s network morning shows finally took notice of the development only to tout Democrats dismissing the latest congressional hearing on the government abuse as a “farce.” [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]   

NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning both provided full reports on the “contentious” hearing in which “Republicans unleashed their full fury” on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. On Today, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: “The hearings showcased another round of bitter partisanship, with little resolution in sight.” A soundbite followed of Massachusetts Democratic Congressman John Tierney declaring: “I don’t think I’ve seen a display of this kind of disrespect in all the time I’ve been here in Congress.”

A clip played of Republican committee chairman Darrell Issa admonishing Tierney: “I would caution all members not to characterize the intent or the character of your fellow members here on the dais.” Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly quipped: “I was going to say, but it’s fair to question the integrity of the witness?”

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes asserted: “Previous investigations found no evidence of political motivation, just bad judgment. And Democrats called the hearing a farce.”

What is certain, the left is definitely not looking out for those they represent, they were instead defending their own in the party. They certainly were not acting as Americans First, while accusing the right of attacking the President. Yet the Commissioner, John Koskinen, would not apologize for what happened.

We know that wrong-doing took place, so why was the left not investigating? We know there is a connection, because guess who else lost some emails, Nikole Flax, who served as chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Patrick Howley at the Daily Caller wrote this excerpt:

Flax was one of seven IRS employees including ex-official Lois Lerner whose emails to and from White House officials and other Obama administration agencies were purportedly deleted and could not be handed over to congressional investigators.

Jeanne Lambrew with Obama
Jeanne Lambrew with Obama

Flax held personal meetings with a top assistant to President Obama and also colluded with Lerner to prosecute conservative activists.

Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013.

Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, on Oct. 5, 2012 and Jan. 15, 2013.

Who is Jeanne Lambrew?

As The Daily Caller reported, Lambrew exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram in 2012 as the White House tried to figure out how to deal with a lawsuit filed by a religious organization fighting Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Lambrew also hosted 155 of Ingram’s 165 White House visits. (Read more here.)

John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner at the Hearing.
John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner at the Hearing.

Why is the left not fuming over such incredible activity, blithely defending the indefensible? Once again, one must suspend disbelief to even entertain the left’s accusations, excuses, and blame game tactics. It is more and more obvious daily that the White House was thoroughly involved.

We know that the IRS has admitted to wrong-doing already in this case as we see what Kevin McIntyre wrote at the Daily Signal:

Two years after activists for same-sex marriage obtained the confidential tax return and donor list of a national group opposed to redefining marriage, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle the resulting lawsuit.

The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.” (Read the rest here.)

Nothing to see here folks. Move along…

Also in the hearing, there was the references to the Valerie Plame Scandal during the Bush Administration and the admitted loss of emails then. Then there was the accusation that the two committees charged with investigating the IRS were in a “one-up-man-ship” game between Darrel Issa and Dave Camp. Then there was the accusation of badgering witnesses and so on.

The key thing to remember is that in the Plame case, it was one so-called covert agent exposed, in this case, its hundreds of regular everyday citizens who were denied their first amendment rights. Americans were targeted by the strongest of all governmental agencies, the one we all fear. Then there are the inconsistencies, outright lies, the cover-up, and destruction of evidence. Then, as we found out this morning, the IRS itself was not obeying the archival laws.

Jennifer O’Connor of the Office of the White House Counsel, center, who was subpoenaed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, before the committee's hearing on the IRS targeting scandal. O’Connor once worked at the IRS.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Jennifer O’Connor of the Office of the White House Counsel, center, who was subpoenaed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, before the committee’s hearing on the IRS targeting scandal. O’Connor once worked at the IRS. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Everyone seems to have a bad memory as well. Take a look at one of the key witnesses today, Jennifer O’Connor, a white House lawyer who worked for the IRS in the attempt to clean it up:

White House attorney Jennifer O’Connor testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday that she couldn’t recall who she worked with during her six months at the IRS.

Before working for the Office of White House Counsel, O’Connor worked for the IRS from May 2013 to November 2013 to help the agency deal with the IRS scandal.

Besides naming acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins, and IRS Deputy Chief Counsel of Operations Chris Sterner – whom she reported to – O’Connor could not name one person she interacted with or specifically reported to her during her tenure at the IRS. (Read more here.)

When one cannot argue the law, or the facts, attack the prosecutor. We saw that take place numerous times as well. Then there was all the praise heaped upon John Koskinen, the IRS Commissioner.

Where do we go from here? Darrel Issa did not adjourn the hearing, so look for more of the same. It really was worthy of pay-per-view admission to watch last night.

It is clear that we the people have no way to redress our grievances when the IRS can get away with the power to tax, search and destroy through bolos, all while never being held accountable. Why and how could anyone defend that?

 

Oversight Committee Hearing on IRS – 7 Explosive Points

Editor’s Note – It was all so encompassing and as we learned much, we were exposed to so much more “Sgt. Schuktz” testimony. But we may see much more tomorrow as Lois Lerner has been deemed to have waived here fifth amendment rights.

Here are the 7 most explosive and Informative moments from today’s IRS Hearing

By Beckett Adams – The Blaze

The U.S. House of Representatives, for the second time since the Internal Revenue Service scandal first broke, held a hearing on the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

But unlike yesterday’s Senate hearing on the same topic, Wednesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing was packed with explosive and enlightening exchanges between U.S. lawmakers and the government officials directly involved in the IRS scandal.

So without any further introduction, here are the seven most riveting moments from Wednesday’s hearing on the IRS scandal [in no particular order]:

7. I DID NOTHING WRONG

Lois Lerner, the IRS official who first acknowledged the scandal two weeks ago while responding to a planted question from Washington-based tax lawyer, announced this week that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

She appeared before the House committee on Wednesday determined to defend herself while refusing to answer questions.

“I have done nothing wrong,” she said in her opening statement. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”

Lerner then repeated that she would invoke her right to avoid incriminating herself.

“One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I am invoking today,” she said.

%CODE%

However, her opening statement, coupled with her refusal to talk, did not go over so well with certain members of the committee.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) demanded that Lerner testify, adding that she waived her constitutional privilege by delivering her defensive opening statement.

“You don’t get to tell your side of the story and not be subjected to cross-examination. That’s not the way it works. She waived her right to Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement, she ought to stand here and answer our questions,” Gowdy said, earning applause from the audience.

%CODE2%

Despite Rep. Gowdy’s objections, Lerner refused to answer questions from committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and was eventually excused from the hearing.

As of this writing, there is still some discussion about whether the IRS official waived her rights by delivering an opening statement and whether Rep. Issa can make her talk.

It’s unclear whether that argument will stick.

6. BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT: THIS SCANDAL STINKS

Though he generally disagrees with his Republican colleagues, Rep. Elijah Cummings joined with his GOP counterparts on Wednesday in reprimanding former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman for his dereliction of duty.

And he pulled no punches:

%CODE3%

5. THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY

Speaking of criticism from the left, here’s Democrat Congressman Stephen Lynch promising Doug Shulman that “there will be hell to pay” if IRS officials can’t truthfully answer questions regarding the agency’s targeting of conservative groups:

%CODE4%

And here’s a clip of Rep. Lynch raking Shulman over the coals for saying in 2012 that there was “absolutely no” targeting of conservative groups by the IRS:

Click here for CSPAN Video.

Ouch.

4. THE IRS HELD MAY 2012 INTERNAL PROBE FROM U.S LAWMAKERS

The IRS performed an internal investigation of its targeting practices one year before the Treasury Department Inspector General report was completed, according to Rep. Darrell Issa.

The agency hid its findings from Congress.

“Just yesterday the committee interviewed Holly Paz, the director of exempt organizations, rulings and agreements, division of the IRS,” Congressman Issa said.

“While a tremendous amount of attention is centered about the Inspector General’s report, or investigation, the committee has learned from Ms. Paz that she in fact participated in an IRS internal investigation that concluded in May of 2012 – May 3 of 2012 – and found essentially the same thing that Mr. George found more than a year later,” he added.

So, yes, the IRS knew of the political targeting in May – but agency official apparently didn’t think it was worth mentioning to Congress.

“Think about it,’ he added. “For more than a year, the IRS knew that it had inappropriately targeted groups of Americans based on their political beliefs, and without mentioning it, and in fact without honestly answering questions that were the result of this internal investigation.”

Click here for CSPAN Video.

3. TREY GOWDY GOES SCORCHED EARTH

South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy wasn’t interested in listening to a former IRS official mince his words — so he went right for the throat.

“Why was the culture such under your watch that an employee felt comfortable targeting conservative groups?” Gowdy asked. “Did you investigate that?”

“From my reading of the report, um, I can’t tell if it was political motivation or if it was tone-deaf, somebody trying to expedite a way –” Shulman started.

“You still don’t know that this was political?”

“Excuse me?”

“You still don’t know that this was political?”

“I defer to the inspector general.”

“Well, I’ll tell you this, Mister Shulman, your predecessor said that he wasn’t sure if it was partisan and that requires the listener to be as stupid as the speaker.”

%CODE5%

2. OH, REALLY? YOU DON’T ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY?

Former IRS Chief Dough Shulman. (AP)

Shulman said Tuesday that he is not responsible for the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“I certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it,” Shulman told Texas Senator John Cornyn. “What I know, with the full facts that are out is – from the Inspector General’s report – which doesn’t say that I’m responsible for that.”

Shulman on Wednesday repeated the claim, arguing that he shouldn’t have to bear the burden of responsibility even if he was IRS chief at the time of the targeting.

Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran who lost both her legs in Iraq, wasnot impressed with Shulman’s dodging and decided to give it to him with both barrels:

Click here for CSPAN Video.

1. EASTER EGG ROLL?

Between 2010 and 2011 (i.e. during the height of the IRS’ political targeting), Shulman visited the White House 118 times.

And when he was asked why he visited the White House 118 times, the former IRS chief paused for a moment and responded by citing the annual Easter Egg Roll:

%CODE6%

Unsurprisingly, Shulman couldn’t say whether he discussed the IRS’ targeting of conservatives or the implementation of Obamacare during those 100+ visits.

But he does remember the Easter Egg Roll.

"What difference at this point does it make?" – Find out on Weds.

Editor’s Note – Hold onto your seats; Wednesday is shaping up to be quite the show. The House Oversight Committee will be probing deep for the answers we deserve, unlike the report from the ARB that never interviewed Clinton. Now even the ARB is being investigated.

However, damage control is already underway as we saw on the Sunday ‘talking head’ shows. The defenders of the administration, or better said, the ‘cover-up water carriers’ are already saying its just political.

After all, Jay Carney said; “the attack happened a long time ago”, and John Kerry said; “So we have to demythologize this issue, and certainly depoliticize it.”

This defense is clearly a deflection; a way to minimize the hearings; a way to keep the facts being revealed and holding people accountable. Future political ambitions are in the balance and America deserves to know the facts before certain people attempt to run for higher office. Remember Hillary Clinton’s own words:

Hillary Clinton: “What difference at this point does it make?” – It makes all the difference!

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they would go kill some Americans?

What difference at this point does it make?

It is our job to figure out what happened and do and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the-the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The I.C. has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out.

But, you know to be clear, it is from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it, than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Mrs. Clinton, we agree, it is time “to find them and bring them to justice.” However, it is also time to provide America answers on how you and this administration handled the situation. The “difference” is that they killed our people, but we need to know if any of the four dead Americans could have been saved. If they could have been saved, then you too, and others, may be complicit in their murders; all for political positioning.

Mr. Kerry, the only ones “politicizing” anything is you and this administration – stop the deflections and allow the truth to come forward. If it ruins someone’s political career, or better yet, lands them in prison, so be it!

Before we watch the hearings this Wednesday the 8th, it might be wise to peruse the transcript from previous testimony here.

Diplomat: U.S. Special Forces told “you can’t go” to Benghazi during attacks

By SHARYL ATTKISSON – CBS NEWS

The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command South Africa.

The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.

According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”

No assistance arrived from the U.S. military outside of Libya during the hours that Americans were under attack or trapped inside compounds by hostile forces armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles. 

Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour’s flight from Libya.

“I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them,” Hicks testified. Two Americans died in the morning mortar attack.

Obama administration officials have insisted that no military resources could have made it in time. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

Hicks is expected to be the first ground-level eyewitness to speak publicly in the nearly eight months since the terrorist attacks that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. When Stevens went missing, Hicks became the Chief of Mission for the U.S. in Libya.

Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initially indicated the attacks were not planned acts of terror, but an outgrowth of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islamic YouTube video. Unidentified government officials removed references to terrorism and al Qaeda from so-called “talking points” released to the public shortly after the attacks. 

Below are the released excerpts from Hicks’ April interview with congressional investigators on the House Oversight Committee.

Q: But do you think, you know, if an F-15, if the military had allowed a jet to go fly over, that it might have prevented [the second attack]?A: Yeah, and if we had gotten clearance from the Libyan military for an American plane to fly over Libyan airspace. The Libyans that I talked to and the Libyans and other Americans who were involved in the war have told me also that Libyan revolutionaries were very cognizant of the impact that American and NATO airpower had with respect to their victory. They are under no illusions that American and NATO airpower won that war for them. And so, in my personal opinion, a fast-mover flying over Benghazi at some point, you know, as soon as possible might very well have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night.

Q : The theory being, the folks on the ground that are doing these — committing these terrorist attacks look up, see a heavy duty airplane above, and decide to hightail it?

A: I believe that if — I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.

______________

Q: I just wanted to ask, you mentioned permission from the Libyans. Why is that important? What did you mean by that?

A: Well, it’s their country. And for an American military aircraft to fly over their country, we have to have permission from them to do so.

Q: So what would have been the risk of — do you think it would have been risky for us to send someone, do you think it would have been counterproductive for us to send a fighter pilot plane over Benghazi without that permission?

A: We would have certainly wanted to obtain that permission. I believe we would have gotten it if we had asked. I believe that the Libyans were hoping that we were going to come bail them out of this mess. And, you know, they were as surprised as we were that American — the military forces that did arrive only arrived on the evening of September 12. Yeah.

______________

Q: So, at this point [at approximately 10:00 pm in Tripoli], you are talking to Washington, you are talking to your RSO Martinec, you are talking to RAO. Are you talking to the Defense Attache?

A: The Defense Attache is there, and he is immediately on the phone to Ministry of Defense and to chief of staff of the Libyan Armed Forces. He also notifies Joint Staff and AFRICOM. Our SOCAFRICA lead, Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, connects with SOCAFRICA in Stuttgart, as well. And, obviously, RAO is also connected back home.

Q: Was there ever any thought at that time of the night to have an F-16, you know, fly over?

A: I called — when we knew that — I talked with the Defense Attache, Lt. Col. Keith Phillips, and I asked him, “Is there anything coming?” And he said that the nearest fighter planes were Aviano, that he had been told that it would take two to three hours to get them airborne, but that there were no tanker assets near enough to support a flight from Aviano.

______________

A: And for the second time that night [Before 5:15 AM attack], I asked the Defense Attache, is there anything coming, is there anything out there to help our people from, you know, big military? And the answer, again, was the same as before.

Q: And what was that answer?

A: The answer was, it’s too far away, there are no tankers, there is nothing, there is nothing that could respond.

______________

Q: So you had mentioned that the first team from Tripoli to Benghazi arrived at 1:15?

A: Right.

Q: And was there a second team that was organized? Could you tell us about the second team?

A: Right. The second team — the Defense Attache worked assiduously all night long to try to get the Libyan military to respond in some way. Early in the morning — sorry, after we were formally notified by the Prime Minister, who called me, that Chris had passed, the Libyan military agreed to fly their C-130 to Benghazi and carry additional personnel to Benghazi as reinforcements. Because we at that time — at that time, the third attack, the mortar attack at 5:15, had not yet occurred, if I remember correctly.

Q: So what time did the second rescue team ??

A: Well, again, they flew — I think that flight took off sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m.

Q: At that point, you are the Chief of Mission?

A: Yeah, I’m Chief of Mission effective 3:00 a.m.

______________

Q: Now, did any of the Special Forces folks, were they planning at any time to travel on that second aircraft?

A: On the second, on the C-130? Yes. We fully intended for those guys to go, because we had already essentially stripped ourselves of our security presence, or our security capability to the bare minimum …

______________

A: So Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, who is the SOCAFRICA commander, his team, you know, they were on their way to the vehicles to go to the airport to get on the C-130 when he got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now. And so they missed the flight. And, of course, this meant that one of the …

Q : They didn’t miss the flight. They were told not to board the flight.

A: They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it. So, anyway, and yeah. I still remember Colonel Gibson, he said, “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.” A nice compliment.

Q: Now, at this point, are you having communications with Washington?

A: I was in communications with Washington all night long. I was reporting all night long what was happening to Washington by telephone.

Q: When these Special Forces folks were told essentially to stand down, what was your next move? Did you have a recourse? Were you able to call Washington? Were you able to call anyone at this point to get that decision reversed?

A: No, because the flight was — the flight was leaving. And, you know, if they missed — you know, if the vehicles didn’t leave when they leave, they would miss the flight time at the airport. And the airport — you know, we were going all the way to Mitiga. The C-130 is at Mitiga, which is all the way on the other side of Tripoli.

Q: What was the rationale that you were given that they couldn’t go, ultimately?

A: I guess they just didn’t have the right authority from the right.

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

Contempt vote on, talks fail, some Dems to vote yea

Editor’s Note – Today, the table is set, tomorrow is the big vote. Last minute talks with the White House have failed and we also learned that many Democrats are planning to vote FOR contempt. That is a sign of two things; one, Obama has no coat tails to help congressmen to get re-elected, and two, Holder and the White House are guilty as sin.

Thursday is going to be a busy news day – contempt vote, and the SCOTUS decision on Obama Care – we hope neither is over-shadowed by the other. Stay tuned.

Boehner: House will go ahead with contempt vote

By LAURIE KELLMAN | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker John Boehner (BAY’-nur) says the House will move forward with a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder over the botched gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious.

The Ohio Republican told reporters Wednesday that last-minute talks with the White House about releasing documents had failed to avert the vote. President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege to keep the documents secret, but Republicans say there’s no basis for that.

The issue has political implications this election year. The National Rifle Association is keeping score, prompting some Democrats to join Republicans in voting for contempt. Such a citation would not cause the release of more documents on the operation, in which guns were allowed to “walk” from Arizona to Mexico in hopes they could be tracked.

__________________________________________

Hoyer: Some Dems Will Vote To Hold Holder In Contempt For Fast And Furious

CBS News Local – DC

WASHINGTON (AP) — Now that the politically potent National Rifle Association is keeping score, some Democrats may join House Republicans if there’s a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in a dispute over documents related to a botched gun-tracking operation.

House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) speaks to the media December 21, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The chief Democratic House head counter, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, declined to tell reporters how many defections he expected, but acknowledged that some in his party would consider heeding the NRA’s call for a “yes” vote.

The gun owners association injected itself last week into the stalemate over Justice Department documents demanded by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The NRA said it supports the contempt resolution and will keep a record of how members vote.

An NRA letter to House members contended that the Obama administration “actively sought information” from Operation Fast and Furious to support its program to require dealers to report multiple rifle sales.

The program, which began last August, imposed the requirement for sales of specifically identified long guns in four border states: Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico. A federal judge upheld the requirement.

Republicans want Eric Holder to become the first attorney general to be cited by the House for contempt, because he has refused to give the Oversight and Government Reform Committee all the documents it wants related to Operation Fast and Furious.

Unless a last-minute deal is worked out, always a possibility in Congress, the contempt vote is scheduled for Thursday — the same day the Supreme Court is to announce its ruling on the legality of the nation’s health care law.

A vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress wouldn’t send any documents to the Oversight committee and its chairman, Republican Rep. Darrell of California. President Barack Obama has claimed executive privilege, a legal step that presidents have used to maintain secrecy of internal administration documents.

Obama invoked what is known as “deliberative process privilege,” a claim designed to broadly cover executive branch documents. However Issa, in a letter to the president, said Obama was misusing the narrower “presidential communications privilege,” which is reserved for documents to and from the president and his most senior advisers.

White House Spokesman Eric Schultz said Tuesday that Issa’s analysis “has as much merit as his absurd contention that Operation Fast and Furious was created in order to promote gun control. Our position is consistent with executive branch legal precedent for the past three decades spanning administrations of both parties.”

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

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

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

Gun-walking long has been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before Fast and Furious. These experiments came as the department was under widespread criticism that the old policy of arresting every suspected low-level “straw purchaser” was still allowing tens of thousands of guns to reach Mexico. A straw purchaser is an illicit buyer of guns for others.

The agents in Arizona lost track of several hundred weapons in Operation Fast and Furious. The low point of the operation came in Arizona in 2010, when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a firefight with a group of armed Mexican bandits and two guns traced to the operation were found at the scene.

Issa, in his letter to the president, wrote, “Courts have consistently held that the assertion of the constitutionally-based executive privilege … is only applicable … to documents and communications that implicate the confidentiality of the president’s decision-making process.”

The letter said that while the privilege covers only the president and his advisers, it is a qualified privilege that can be overcome by a showing of the committee’s need for the documents.

Issa quoted from a 1997 case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in which the court said the privilege should not extend to staff outside the White House in executive branch agencies.

Rather, the court said, it should apply only to “communications authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House adviser’s staff” with responsibility for formulating advice for the president.

However, the case Issa repeatedly cited in his letter distinguishes carefully between the “presidential communications privilege” and the “deliberative process privilege,” which Obama invoked in the current dispute over Operation Fast and Furious. In the case Issa cited, the court dealt only with the presidential communication privilege but observed that both the communications privilege and the deliberative privilege are executive privileges designed to protect the confidentiality of executive branch decision-making.