Posts tagged House Judiciary committee

Memo Shows Early ATF Concern on Fast and Furious Probe Despite Claims

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Source: http://www.foxnews.com

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a conference at the 66th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters on Sept. 19. AP photo

While federal officials publicly denounced a lone whistleblower and told Congress the Obama administration had done everything it could to stop guns from going to Mexico, administration officials had signs that Fast and Furious investigators were losing track of weapons, a new memo obtained exclusively by Fox News suggests.

The memo, written in early February by Agent Gary Styers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, appears to corroborate allegations made a few weeks earlier by whistleblower ATF Agent John Dodson about the gunrunning probe. It also conflicts with a letter from Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich to Congress, in which he insisted, “The allegation … that ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons … is false.”

Styers’ memo to top ATF officials was dated Feb. 3, a day before Weich told Congress on Feb. 4 that Dodson’s claims were false. Styers explained that Fast and Furious “divided and isolated agents,” and the agent in charge called off surveillance. He detailed one instance in which agents monitoring a firearms transaction at a gas station were told they were too close to the scene — while they repositioned, the buyer left the area without agents following.

“It is unheard of to have an active wiretap investigation without full time dedicated surveillance units on the ground,” he wrote.

Styers wrote that his advice, and the advice of other agents, was “widely disregarded.”

The memo was meant to describe conversations Styers had with staff for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, after the senator’s staff contacted him with questions about Fast and Furious. And it presents a starkly different portrait of the probe than that portrayed by the Feb. 4 letter from Weich — that letter is at the center of the controversy on Capitol Hill.

And while Attorney General Eric Holder now admits Weich’s letter was inaccurate, many in Congress feel deliberately misled. Holder is accused of knowing from multiple sources that Operation Fast and Furious deliberately allowed guns to go to Mexico, and that some of those guns had been linked to the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry the previous December.

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Bill Approved To Create Massive Surveillance Database Of Internet Users

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Source: http://www.prisonplanet.com  7/25/2011

Privacy busting legislation a “stalking horse for a massive expansion of federal power”

Legislation that will force Internet providers to store information on all their customers and share it with the federal government and law enforcement agencies was significantly beefed at the last minute yesterday and approved by a U.S. House of Representatives committee.

Under the guise of protecting children from internet pornographers, the House Judiciary committee voted 19-10 to approve a bill that will require Internet Service Providers to store temporarily assigned IP addresses for future government use.

In addition, the bill was re-written yesterday to also include the enforced retention of customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.

As Declan McCullagh of CNet reports, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.

“The bill is mislabeled,” said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”

It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who led Democratic opposition to the bill. The Californian Representative described the legislation as a “mess of a bill” and a “stalking horse for a massive expansion of federal power”.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted that the bill would open a Pandora’s box of government abuse.

“This is not about child porn. It never has been and never will be,” Issa said. “This is a convenient way for law enforcement to get what they couldn’t get in the PATRIOT Act.”

Advocates for the legislation include the National Sheriffs’ Association, which has said it “strongly supports” mandatory data retention. The bill has also attracted endorsements from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as the FBI.

In a last ditch effort to derail the bill, the ACLU, along with dozens of other privacy watchdog groups penned a letter (PDF) to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith earlier this week, noting that “any data retention mandate is a direct assault on bedrock privacy principles.”

“The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized,” Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said.

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