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Tag: Charles Grassley

Homeland Security Allows Nearly 100 Employees to Collect Pay without Working

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly 100 Homeland Security employees are collecting pay while not working, the Washington Post reports. 

Auditors made the discovery and expressed concerns about the go-to strategy of placing employees accused of misconduct on administrative leave.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is unhappy and wants to know why so many employees are paid without being required to work.

“DHS also failed to explain why such extended amounts of time were needed to conduct investigations into security issues, misconduct, or fitness for duty,” Grassley wrote in a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

U.S. Senator Harshly Criticizes FBI for Handling of Mob Informant Mark Rossetti

Mark Rossetti/ from Fox video

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime critic of the FBI, issued some harsh words for the agency in the case of  FBI informant Mark Rossetti, a big-time Boston mobster, who was sentenced last week in Suffolk Superior Court to 12 years in prison.

Grassley said the Boston FBI hasn’t learned its lesson since FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger ran amuck and continued to commit crimes while working as an FBI informant, according to MyFox Boston. He said the Boston office needs a major shakeup.

“I thought it was pretty clear after Bulger as an example, now Rossetti coming out and not having learned any lessons. There needs to be big changes. I’m not running the FBI but this has been going on too long. There have to be big changes,” Grassley told FOX Undercover.

Fox wrote on its website:

Rossetti is a mob captain and suspected murderer who was charged in 2010 with running an organized crime ring including heroin trafficking, loan sharking and extortion. A State Police wiretap on Rossetti that gathered evidence used to indict and ultimately convict him also recorded conversations with his FBI handler, showing he was committing crimes while acting as a paid informant.

“It’s very difficult with the use of a Rossetti or a previous person that they wouldn’t know it’s going on and there wasn’t some knowledge of it. And if there isn’t knowledge of it there ought to be, otherwise the FBI is not doing its job,” Grassley said.

To read more click here.

 

Column: NCAA Shouldn’t Ignore Steroid Problem

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. This column first appeared in the New York Daily News.

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In the summer of 2004, a Senate sub-committee, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley and Joseph Biden held a hearing regarding the prevalence of steroids in sports. I had helped arrange for two of the witnesses who testified at this hearing.

One was Curtis Wenzlaff, a convicted steroid dealer, who had supplied steroids to Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Wenzlaff had been prosecuted as part of an FBI undercover operation (UCO) targeting illegal distribution of steroids, codenamed Equine.

It was the late Michigan football coaching legend, Bo Schembechler, that urged our FBI office in Michigan to initiate our steroid UCO in 1989. Schembechler was concerned not only about the prevalence of steroids in college football, but indications that performance-enhancing drugs were being used by high school players as well.

During the ’04 hearing, Wenzlaff testified that the short-term incentives for using steroids were perceived by young competitive athletes to be far greater than the potential health risks later in life – the classic Faustian bargain. Wenzlaff testified that among other incentives, athletes would readily use PEDs if the end result were securing a multi-million dollar playing contract.

The other witness I arranged to appear was the “Mystery Man,” which the Daily News dubbed in their coverage of the hearing. The mystery witness was never identified, wore a hood as he entered the hearing room, and had his voice modified electronically. He was a 4-year football player from a prominent Division-I program, whose last season was 2003. The mystery witness testified that “it became evident that many players on my team were using steroids at some time during their career.” One player was supplying seven to eight other players, according to the witness. He also testified that he knew of players on other Div-I teams using steroids.

Read more »

Grassley Fires Off Letter to Homeland Sec. Napolitano: Concerned About Reduced Searches for Illegals on Northern Border

By Danny Fenster

Sen. Grassley/official photo

ticklethewire.com

A letter from Senator Charles Grassley representing a group of 14 Senators is asking  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reconsider a policy to end routine traffic checks of buses, trains and other vehicles for illegal aliens along the United State’s northern border.

“News of the lessened security will only entice potential terrorists, drug smugglers, and illegal immigrants to attempt to enter the country through the northern border,” read the letter issued Friday.  “The American people must be reassured that our borders remain secure and routine searches will continue.”

Grassley learned of the new policy from media reports, another point of contention he had with DHS.

“The nature in which we learned of the orders sent to the north border field offices is quite troubling considering you appeared before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees over the past two weeks and neglected to inform of this change in policy.”

Grassley asked for copies of any memos or directives sent to the field.

The letter also pointed out specific instances of terrorists crossing or being stopped at the Canadian border, attempting to enter the United States to commit harm.

To read the letter click here.

Feinstein, Breuer: ATF Needs Improved Gun Laws

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended the ATF at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, reports the website Main Justice, saying the real problem is lax gun laws.

“The number of deaths caused by American guns are up in the tens of thousands,” she said, claiming that 70 percent of guns seized in Mexico were traced to the US.

Later on, reports Main Justice, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had entered into the record a report refuting Feinstein’s numbers.

Agreeing with Feinstein, Asst. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said that if the ATF had more information on gun sales and enhanced its regulatory function, the agency would be better positioned to stem the violence.

To read more click here.

Dem Sharply Criticizes Rep. Issa for Attacks on Atty.Gen. Holder Concerning Fast and Furious

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Criticism about ATF’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious have overwhelming come from Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley.  But not everyone agrees with the intensity of the criticism.

On Sunday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight & Government Reform Committee, told CBS’ Face the Nation that he thinks committee Chair Darrell Issa is conducting a witch hunt.

Issa has been aggressively investigating the failing of the operation and has repeatedly accused Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. of knowing more about the operation when it was going on then he has admitted to.

Holder claimed earlier this year that he only heard of the operation after it surfaced as a controversy. Issa has claimed he knew about it much earlier.

Cummings said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that Holder absolutely “didn’t know” what was going on.

“The man in charge of the ATF has told us, has told Mr. Issa, that he never communicated the controversial tactics with regard to ‘Fast & Furious’ to Attorney General Holder,” Cummings told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.

Cummings said the head of the ATF at the time, Ken Melson, wasn’t even aware of the tactics being used that encouraged firearms stores to sell to middlemen, all with the hopes that the ATF could trace the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of hte many of the guns, two of which surfaced at the scene in Arizona last year where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down.

“And still, Chairman Issa goes out there – and Republicans – accusing the highest law enforcement officer in the land of being an accessory to murder and things of that nature, and calling for his resignation,” he said on the show.  “Just because … you don’t like some facts, you don’t throw them out the door and say, ‘I’m not going to look at those.’ You look at the entire picture.

“That simply has not happened here,” he said.

When asked if he agreed with the notion that “the chairman is on a witch hunt here,” Cummings said, “I do.”

“He’s come up with these statements and then he goes in search of the facts,” he added.

UPDATED: Oct. 17: 2:05 p.m.

Becca Glover Watkins, press secretary for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which Issa chairs, responded to questions from ticklethewire.com by issuing a statement that said:

“Despite his commitment to the Terry family, Ranking Member Cummings and the Oversight Committee minority has been conspicuously absent from efforts to uncover new evidence or press the Justice Department to fully answer questions. Their own rhetoric and actions reveal them as apologists for the Justice Department and not as investigators seeking answers.”

 

Column: Ouch! Make ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious Mess Go Away

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

OUCH! Make it stop.

It’s becoming all too painful to see the Congressional probe into ATF’s highly-flawed operation dubbed Fast and Furious.

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley have been leading the charge into the investigation of the operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.  The two Republicans have been releasing one embarrassing fact after another over the past months.

ATF has looked bad. So has the Justice Department.  On Tuesday, it was all the more painful to watch the Issa’s  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hold a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Some ATF agents who testified, who were based in Mexico ,were apologetic and embarrassed about Fast and Furious. That was heartening and good to see.

But what wasn’t so fun to see was William Newell, the former head of the ATF Phoenix Division, who helped lede the Fast and Furious operation.  Newell may be a decent guy, but I’m told he lacked the experience needed to foresee that Operation Fast and Furious was going to be a disaster.

Newell came off like the consumate company man. He drove committee members up the wall when he consistently said ATF did not “walk guns”, when in fact ATF, under his leadership,  clearly did. As if that weren’t bad enough, he admitted that there were some flaws in the operation, but refused to come clean and say it simply stunk.

He just kept saying he should have conducted more “risk assessment” during the operation to better pinpoint problems. It sounded bad.

Interestingly, Newell has been holed up in Washington helping Congressional investigators and the Inspector General’s Office investigate the whole mess.  He’s been assigned to be the ATF attache in Mexico City. He has yet to go.

And if ATF and the White House have any smarts, they won’t send him to Mexico  as the attache.  The Mexican  government is still fuming over the operation that put more deadly guns into the hands of the out-of-control drug cartels. If they do, you can bet that Newell won’t be given a king’s welcome down there. In fact, who knows, the Mexican government could arrest him for his role in Fast and Furious.

In any event, let’s get the warts and all of this operation out in the open quickly. Let’s end this painful mess.

Make it go away.

ATF Was Evasive About Weapons Found at Murder Scene of Border Agent Brian Terry

Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF earlier this year tried to play down the fact that guns from its highly problematic Operation Fast and Furious program surfaced at the scene of the slaying of Arizona Border Patrol agent Brian Terry last December, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The paper reported that the top ATF supervisors in Phoenix conceded in an email two days after the slaying that the weapons found at the scene were linked to the operation that encouraged gun dealers to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

Brian Terry

But the Times reported that nearly two months later Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) inquired whether the weapons purchased during the Fast and Furious operation, were used in the killing, only to get an evasive answer from ATF officials in Washington.

The Justice Department said “these allegations are not true”, according to the Times and failed to acknowledge that the guns were there.

The Times, citing unnamed ATF officials, said the agency drew a distinction because the FBI determined that neither of the two AK-47s in question were used in the murder.

Meanwhile, Grassley had been trying to link the Fast and Furious guns to the murder of ICE agent Jamie Zapata earlier this year in Mexico.

But a source tells ticklethewire.com that authorities found no link to Fast and Furious in that matter.

To read more click here.