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Archive for July 12th, 2011

Pols Accuse Justice Dept. of Trying to Alter Witness Testimony in Fast and Furious Probe

Rep. Issa/gov photo

Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two outspoken  politicians are accusing the Justice Department of giving potential witnesses in a Congressional investigation into a controversial ATF program access to information to tailor their responses “to what they think the Committees already know.”

The Justice Department on Tuesday afternoon said there was an explanation for what happened.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) fired off a letter dated July 11 to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder. The two politicians are conducting Congressional investigations into the controversial ATF program “Operation Fast and Furious” that encouraged gun dealers to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

“We have recently learned that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has afforded potential witness for the Committees’ investigation into Operation Fast and Furious access to a shared drive on its computer system replete with pertinent investigative documents, including official ATF emails,” the two Congressional members wrote.

“Although, our staff has been advised the Department has since terminated access to this document cache, we write to seek additional information regarding this egregious decision. We also ask that you promptly self-report this mater to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).”

Sen. Grassley/official photo

“Allowing witnesses access to such documents could taint their testimony by allowing them to tailor their responses to what they think the Committees already know. Additionally, witnesses who gain access to documents they have not previously seen could alter their recollection of events.”

The letter was just the latest in a series of critical attacks by Grassley and Issa on ATF and the Justice Department as they move forward with their investigations into Fast and Furious.

Tracy Schmaler, a  Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement:

“The share drive was created by ATF as a repository to store documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. There was no attempt to disseminate these documents internally at ATF or elsewhere.

“Only ATF senior leadership and employees conducting the document review had access to the documents in the share drive, and once the Department was made aware that access to this drive included those senior ATF officials who had also been identified as witnesses in the committee’s investigation, their access to documents in that drive was removed.”

Obama Admin. to Toughen Reporting on Gun Sales Along Southwest Border

James Cole/law firm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After a long delay, the White House on Monday finally gave the green light for a regulation that would require gun dealers along the Southwest border to report sales of two or more semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines to the same person within five days.

The rule, which applies to dealers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, comes in the midst of major controversy involving an ATF program known as Operation Fast and Furious. The program encouraged Arizona dealers to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers — all with the hopes of  tracing them to the Mexican cartels. Some of the weapons started showing up at crime scenes, angering the Mexican government and some members of Congress.

“The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border,” Deputy Atty. Gen. James Cole said in a statement.

“This new reporting measure — tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period — will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations.”

White House Favoring Republican Choice for Utah U.S. Atty; Dems Not Happy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Obama administration is apparently looking to throw a bone to the Republicans in Utah.

The Dessert News reports that the White House is looking to nominate the Republican’s choice for U.S. Attorney in Utah. Some Dems aren’t happy.

The paper reported that the White House is looking a David Barlow, legal counsel to freshman Republican Sen. Mike Lee.

“I recommended him. Sen. Lee recommended him, too,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), according to the Dessert News. “I recommended him about two or three months ago, so it takes quite a while down at the White House. They do a lot of vetting.”

The paper reported that some Utah Democrats see it as a missed opportunity and are baffled, particularly since they said there was a viable Democratic candidate.

To read full story click here.

Unruly Saudi Man Arrested for Diverting Plane to Cleveland

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And now for more news from the friendly skies.

A 21-year-old Saudi  Arabia man is facing charges for interfering with United Flight 944 from Chicago to Germany.

Fox News reports that the FBI said that the unruly behavior of  Saleh Ali S. Alramakh, aka Saleh Ali S. Alramakh, 21, of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,  forced the flight to make an unscheduled landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport about 5:30 p.m. Friday.

The FBI alleged that Alramakh was in the bathroom and started to use an electronic device while the plane was taxiing in Chicago. He refused to turn it off and immediately return to his seat, but eventually did, Fox reported.

At one point, he got up a third time and confronted a flight attendant in a belligerent manner, the FBI alleged.

“Alramakh was speaking in a loud tone of voice, using profanity, with his face inches from the flight attendant’s face. The flight attendant asked Alramakh to step back multiple times, but instead Alramakh shoved the flight attendant backwards against the aircraft,” the FBI said in a news release, according to Fox.

Eventually, at least one passenger jumped in to help the crew restrain the man, who was kicking and spitting, the station reported.

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