Tag Archives: Department of Justice

Congressional Chairmen Demand Appointment of Second Special Counsel

Washington, D.C.— Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent an official request on March 6 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the FBI’s alleged abuse of FISA surveillance and “decisions made or not made” by the Department of Justice (DOJ) preceding the 2016 presidential election and in its aftermath.

“There is evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with investigating serious cases,” the Committee chairmen wrote in their letter to Sessions. “There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings. There is evidence this political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal.”

Sessions has called for a probe by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), but Gowdy and Goodlatte, said the appointment of a special prosecutor is more applicable in this case due to the OIG’s lack of authority to investigate or compel former employees to cooperate — due to key figures no longer serving in government— and the DOJ’s inability to investigate itself.

[RELATED: Reality Check: GOP Memo and FISA Problems]

“While we have confidence in the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, the DOJ IG does not have the authority to investigate other governmental entities or former employees of the Department, the Bureau, or other agencies,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote.

The committee chairmen added, “Some have been reluctant to call for the appointment of a Special Counsel because such an appointment should be reserved for those unusual cases where existing investigative and prosecutorial entities cannot adequately discharge those duties. We believe this is just such a case.”

A report by the Washington Times listed a number of U.S. government officials that signed off on the FISA warrant to surveil unpaid Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page: former FBI Director James B. Comey; former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente; and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein all signed off on applications to surveil Carter Page, who had been a Trump campaign adviser.

In an interview with Fox News, Gowdy explained that the discovery of new information was behind the call for a second independent counsel.

“What changed for me was the knowledge that there are two dozen witnesses that Michael Horowitz, the [DOJ] Inspector General, would not have access to,” Gowdy said. “When I counted up 24 witnesses that he would not be able to access were he to investigate it, yeah only one conclusion, that’s special counsel.”

When asked why a special counsel was needed, Gowdy explained, “Congress doesn’t have the tools to investigate this… we leak like the Gossip Girls.”

Democrats claimed that the request was simply political theater meant to distract from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I can understand why House Republicans hope that DOJ will swoop in and save them from this mess — but that is not what the Department of Justice is for,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Days prior to the letter from Gowdy and Goodlatte, thirteen House Republicans made a similar request, calling for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the same issues.

The letter from the thirteen Congressmen stated: “Evidence has come to light that raises serious concerns about decisions and activities by leadership at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding how and why the Clinton probe ended and how and why the Trump-Russia probe began.”

Calls for a second special counsel have grown in the wake of the House Intelligence Committee memo alleging the FBI relied on unvetted campaign opposition research, paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, as evidence used to obtain secret warrants on Trump campaign officials.


Senate Memo Claims Clinton Allies Were “Feeding” Info to State Dept., Christopher Steele

Washington, D.C. — On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a copy of their request for a criminal probe of anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steele. The Grassley/Graham memo has alleged a convoluted scheme that entailed a foreign source supplying information to a friend of the Clinton family, to be fed to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then proceeded to forwarded the information to Steele.

The Grassley-Graham memo, which is heavily redacted at the FBI’s request, stated:

One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges [redacted], as well as [redacted]. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company ‘received his report from [redacted] US State Department,’ that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who ‘is in touch with [redacted], a contact of [redacted], a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to [redacted].

“It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility,” Grassley and Graham wrote in a statement accompanying the memo.

[RELATED: Reality Check: GOP Memo and FISA Problems]

The Grassley-Graham memo comes on the heels of the House Intelligence Committee memo, which publicly claimed that Steele lied to the FBI about his contacts with media organizations – thus being terminated as an FBI source. Steele was referred for criminal investigation by Grassley and Graham for lying to federal authorities on January 4, but the accompanying memo that explained their referral was not released at that time due to the FBI and Justice Department reviewing it.

The referral for criminal investigation was based on conflicts between Steele’s testimony in British court and the information he supplied the FBI/DOJ.

The Grassley-Graham memo includes those specific statements, but they have been redacted at the request of the FBI. In the wake of the House Intelligence Committee memo aka the Nunes/FISA memo being declassified, Grassley has called on the FBI to withdraw its redactions, as he noted the memo is “largely based on the same underlying documents.” The Hill reported that “According to a spokesman for Grassley, the blacked-out sections of the referral contain ‘verbatim quotes’ from government surveillance warrant applications that include ‘the government’s description of Steele’s statements to the FBI about his contacts with the media.’”

[RELATED: 5 Critical Facts the FBI Reportedly Withheld from FISA Court About the Trump Dossier]

“Seeking transparency and cooperation should not be this challenging. The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding,” Grassley wrote. “There are still may questions that can only be answered by complete transparency. That means declassifying as much of the underlying documents as possible.”

Apple: Founding Fathers ‘Would Be Appalled,’ Accuses DoJ of Trying to ‘Rewrite History’

In preparation for next week’s hearing, Apple Inc. submitted a court filing Tuesday criticizing the United States Department of Justice, claiming that the U.S. founding fathers “would be appalled” at the department’s order.

The company first brought attention to the conflict in February, when a U.S. magistrate judge ordered Apple to create the software to decrypt the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Farook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook argued that creating software to override the iPhone’s encryption “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” and could set a precedent for future cases.

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

In the court filing released Tuesday, Apple’s lawyers argued that the DoJ and the FBI are seeking an order from this Court that would force Apple to create exactly the kind of operating system that Congress has thus far refused to require,” and that in doing so, “they are asking this Court to resolve a policy and political issue that is dividing various agencies of the Executive Branch as well as Congress. “

The DoJ has used the All Writs Act of 1789 as justification for its order. The act states that “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law” and that “an alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.”

[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple To Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case]

Apple is currently facing 12 orders from the DoJ to provide data from iPhones in various cases. On Feb. 29, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Orenstein became the first federal judge to rule that the All Writs Act does not justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will” in a criminal drug case.

Apple argued that the court should reject the DoJ’s order in the San Bernardino case because the All Writs Act “cannot be stretched to fit this case,” claiming that by using it, the government “attempts to rewrite history.”

[pull_quote_center]This Court should reject that request, because the All Writs Act does not authorize such relief, and the Constitution forbids it. The All Writs Act cannot be stretched to fit this case because to do so ‘would be to usurp the legislative function and to improperly extend the limited federal court jurisdiction.’ …The government attempts to rewrite history by portraying the Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is.[/pull_quote_center]

“According to the government, short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up,” Apple argued. “The Founders would be appalled.”

[RELATED: FBI Director Admits Apple’s ‘Backdoor’ Could Be Used for Other iPhones]

Apple also criticized comments made by FBI Director James Comey during a recent congressional hearing from March 1, and questioned why the DoJ has not gone to the NSA, if it is just wanting to hack into the one iPhone in question.

“The government does not deny that there may be other agencies in the government that could assist it in unlocking the phone and accessing its data; rather, it claims, without support, that it has no obligation to consult other agencies,” Apple wrote, noting that former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke said, “Every expert I know believes that NSA could crack this phone.”

The court hearing is scheduled for March 22, and in its court filing, Apple’s lawyers argued that the DoJ’s order is far from what the government has described as a “modest” rule only applying to a “single iPhone.”

“Instead, this case hinges on a contentious policy issue about how society should weigh what law enforcement officials want against the widespread repercussions and serious risk their demands would create,” Apple wrote.

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

DOJ Names 14 New Defendants Facing Charges for Bundy Ranch Standoff

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that 14 new defendants will face charges in connection to an April 2014 standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and armed protesters supporting rancher Cliven Bundy in a dispute over cattle grazing rights.

According to the DOJ news release, the new defendants facing charges areMelvin D. Bundy, 41, of Round Mountain, Nev., David H. Bundy, 39, of Delta, Utah, Brian D. Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nev., Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Ariz., Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, N.H., Eric J. Parker, 32, of Hailey, Idaho, O. Scott Drexler, 44, of Challis, Idaho, Richard R. Lovelien, 52, of Westville, Okla., Steven A. Stewart, 36, of Hailey, Idaho, Todd C. Engel, 48, of Boundary County, Idaho, Gregory P. Burleson, 52, of Phoenix, Ariz., Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Ariz., and Micah L. McGuire, 31, and Jason D. Woods, 30, both of Chandler, Ariz.

Truth in Media reported March 3 on defendant Jerry DeLemus’ arrest by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in New Hampshire. The DOJ’s statement notes that all 14 defendants are now in custody.

[RELATED: Exclusive Interview: Sheriff Mack on the Oregon Standoff and What the Media Isn’t Reporting]

The charges against the 14 new defendants include “one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, and at least one count of using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion, and interstate travel in aid of extortion.” Additionally, the defendants face “five counts of criminal forfeiture which upon conviction would require forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the crimes totaling at least $3 million, as well as the firearms and ammunition possessed and used on April 12, 2014.

The specific situation referred to in the indictments appears to be an April 12, 2014 incident in which CNN notes BLM agents seized and then released around 400 of Cliven Bundy’s cattle due to what the BLM called “escalating tensions” among the armed protesters.

[RELATED: Oregon Standoff: Cliven Bundy Arrested, Occupiers Say They Will Leave Refuge]

The maximum penalties for the charges facing the 14 defendants can be seen below.


Five other defendants, “Cliven D. Bundy, 69, of Bunkerville, Nev., Ryan C. Bundy, 43, of Mesquite, Nev., Ammon E. Bundy, 40, of Emmet, Idaho, Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont., and Peter T. Santilli, Jr., 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio,” had previously been charged in connection with the standoff.

These indictments and subsequent arrests send an irrefutable message to the American people that our determination remains steadfast to protect them and pursue individuals who participate in violent acts of this nature,” said Special Agent in Charge Laura Bucheit according to the news release.

On Thursday, former N.H. GOP chair Jack Kimball, a supporter of defendant Jerry DeLemus, called him “a good and Patriotic Marine” who “is now being prosecuted for standing up for Liberty.

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Menominee Indian Tribe Says DEA Destroyed Hemp Crop

The Menominee Indian Tribe says that the Drug Enforcement Administration raided what it characterized as a legal hemp crop last Friday. DEA officials acknowledged the raid over the weekend, but claimed that it was 30,000 marijuana plants, not hemp plants, that were seized during the raid on 20 acres of tribal property.

Menominee Indian Tribe Chairman Gary Besaw said in a statement:

[pull_quote_center]I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has made the decision to utilize the full force of the DEA to raid our Tribe. We were attempting to grow industrial hemp for research purposes in accordance with the Farm Bill. We offered to take any differences in the interpretation of the Farm Bill to federal court. Instead, the Obama administration sent agents to destroy our crop while allowing recreational marijuana in Colorado. I just wish the President would explain to tribes why we can’t grow industrial hemp like the states, and even more importantly, why we don’t deserve an opportunity to make our argument to a federal judge rather than having our community raided by the DEA?[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Santee Sioux Tribe to Launch First-in-the-Nation Pot Resort in South Dakota]

DEA officials asserted that marijuana was being grown on the premises by non-tribe members from Colorado. CBS 58 Milwaukee pointed out the fact that no arrests were made during the raid and “the investigation is ongoing.”

The Menominee Tribe had reportedly been involved in face-to-face negotiations with the DEA prior to the raid and had offered to destroy some hemp strands from the crop which had been identified as problematic under the Farm Bill’s regulations.

[RELATED: DEA Records Show Punishment is Rare Among Rampant Misconduct]

North American Industrial Hemp Council founder Erwin Sholts told Fox 11 News, “There is always a little bit of THC [in hemp] because the one flower may in the harvesting process spill some THC onto the stalk and so on, but 3/10 of 1 percent is a general level of THC in industrial hemp and you can’t make a drug out of it.

The Menominee Indian Tribe’s statement on the raid said:

[pull_quote_center]In May 2015, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin legalized the growing of low THC non-psychotropic industrial hemp by Tribal licensees on its lands. Notice of this change in Tribal law was provided to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. This action was intended to comply with Congress’ actions in 2014 Farm Bill which recognizing [sic] a distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp that created an exception to the Controlled Substance Act to allow for growth, cultivation and the study of industrial hemp in certain circumstances. The Tribe’s industrial hemp crop was always intended to be a legal crop as allowed by the 2014 Farm Bill.[/pull_quote_center]

Justice Department Will Require Warrants For Some Cellphone Tracking Technology

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will now require U.S. prosecutors and some federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant in order to use cellphone tracking technology.

In a statement, the DoJ said that the new policy “goes into effect immediately” and will “provide department components with standard guidance for the use of cell-site simulators in the department’s domestic criminal investigations,” and “establish new management controls for the use of the technology.”

Before the change in policy, U.S. government agencies were permitted to use cell-site simulators or “stingray” devices to replicate phone towers in order to track a phone’s location without applying for a warrant or giving probable cause.

[RELATED: A Guide To Stingray Cellphone Surveillance Technology]

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates claimed that the stingray devices have been “instrumental in aiding law enforcement in a broad array of investigations, including kidnappings, fugitive investigations and complicated narcotics cases.”  

“This new policy ensures our protocols for this technology are consistent, well-managed and respectful of individuals’ privacy and civil liberties,” Yates said.

[RELATED: Newly Released ‘Stingray’ Manual Shows Company Asked FCC For Secrecy]

The DoJ stated that the new policy will establish a set of required practices for dealing with the data collected by the cell-site simulators, which includes deleting all data from a device “as soon as that device is located, and no less than once daily.”

The policy also lays out guidelines for the type of content that may be collected, and it prohibits the collection “contents of any communication in the course of criminal investigations,” such as emails, texts, contact information and pictures.

[RELATED: Chicago, L.A. Police Using ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Capable Of Breaking Encryption]

Cell-site simulator devices have been criticized by privacy advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union for the frequency in which they are used by law enforcement, the amount of data they pick up on innocent bystanders, and the secrecy surrounding their use.

Reuters noted that the new policy does not apply to agencies outside of the DoJ, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

Proposed Bill Would Make Police Chokeholds a Federal Crime

The Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act, a bill sponsored by New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), would make the use of chokeholds by officers on suspects a crime under federal law.

The bill, which defines a chokehold as “the application of any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce the intake of air,” will be introduced in Congress on Tuesday.

At a press conference on Monday, Jeffries was joined by Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old black man who was choked to death on July 17 by New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Garner’s encounter with Pantaleo was captured on video, which revealed that after Pantaleo confronted Garner for allegedly selling untaxed “loose” cigarettes, and put him in a chokehold, Garner said, “I can’t breathe” 11 times before the chokehold took his life. The Staten Island grand jury announced their decision not to indict Pantaleo on Dec. 3.

“The chokehold is a classic example of violent police tactics,” Jeffries said. “It is an unreasonable measure. It is an unnecessary measure. It is an uncivilized measure. This bill will make it an unlawful measure.”

Carr called this bill a “step in the right direction,” and said she was going to do whatever she could to help the bill pass.

Because police officers are just like other citizens – if there’s a crime, if there’s misconduct, they should arrested and they should be held accountable just like any other citizen,” Carr said. “They should enforce the law, but not be above the law.”

The Huffington Post reported that the United States Dept. of Justice is currently investigating Garner’s death to determine whether Pantaleo violated Garner’s civil rights, and noted that DOJ investigations into alleged police misconduct, “rarely lead to charges being filed.”

According to the Associated Press,  Jeffries defined the bill was a way to amend civil rights laws dealing with excessive force by “defining chokeholds as a depravation of rights under the color of law.”

Jeffries said it is clear that the current department police is “not sufficient,” referencing over over 1,000 complaints that have been filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board regarding NYPD chokeholds from 2009 to 2013. The Huffington Post noted, “only nine of those complaints were substantiated by the CCRB, and only one officer was disciplined – by being docked some vacation days.”


Michael Brown’s Parents Will File Lawsuit Against City of Ferguson, Darren Wilson

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that it will not charge Darren Wilson, a white police officer from Ferguson, Missouri, with any civil rights violations in the shooting that killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager on August 9, 2014.

Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., have confirmed that they will pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against both Wilson and the city of Ferguson.

Anthony Gray, one of the attorneys representing the Brown family, spoke at a press conference on Thursday, and maintained the fact that the Brown family has felt from the very beginning that “Officer Darren Wilson did not have to shoot and kill Mike Brown, Jr. in broad daylight in the manner that he did, that he had other options available to him.”

“We are officially in the process of formulating a civil case that we anticipate will be filed very shortly on behalf of the family,” Gray said. “In our case, we plan to show and outline pretty much the same evidence; however, you will get a more clearer, a more accurate of what took place that day.”

Darryl Parks, another attorney representing the Brown family, said that the family is not surprised by DOJ’s findings, and that they were only choosing to file a lawsuit now, because they did not want to get in the way of the DOJ’s ongoing investigation before, and they are now “entering a different phase of this action.”

As previously reported, the DOJ’s decision not to charge Wilson with any civil rights violations in the shooting that killed Brown, comes at the same time as a report from the department, which revealed that the Ferguson police department exercised discrimination against the black community by using excessive force, issuing minor citations and making unnecessary traffic stops.

Federal law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that upon investigation, they found that 88 percent of the time use of excessive force was documented by Ferguson police, it was being used against a black individual, and that out of the city’s 53 police officers, only three were black.

Truth in Media Gets It Right, DOJ Says Policing for Profit Part of Ferguson Discrimination

A report from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, exercised discrimination against the black community by using excessive force, issuing minor citations and making unnecessary traffic stops.

While the full report has not yet been released, anonymous federal law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that it “chronicles discriminatory practices across the city’s criminal justice system, detailing problems from initial encounters with patrol officers to treatment in the municipal court and jail.

The investigation began weeks after an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the city of Ferguson in August.

The officials told the Associated Press the investigation found that in a city that is 67 percent African American, “black were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge.”

The officials also found that 88 percent of the time use of excessive force was documented by police, it was being used against a black individual, and that out of the city’s 53 police officers, only three were black.

Investigative Journalist Ben Swann documented the clashes between the residents and local police when he visited the city of Ferguson in November.

Swann pointed out that while a lot of people would describe the moment Brown was shot by Wilson as the moment conflict began, some of the city’s residents would say the shooting was the highlight of something that has been building under the surface for decades.

Mark and Earl Banks, brothers who grew up in Ferguson, and now live in Detroit, told Swann that they aren’t surprised by this incident, and that the issues in Detroit are no different than the issues in Ferguson.

Joe Stevenson, who also grew up in Ferguson, told Swann that 30 years ago, just like today, the relationship between citizens and police was tense. He attributed this to the fact that police would look for anyone to write tickets for in order to obtain money from fines.

You could make the argument that this all comes back to social media and new media: the ability for people to rally together, to protest, to communicate, for information to rise to the surface,” Swann said. “Maybe this incident was a long time coming, but for many they’re glad that the moment is finally here.”

News Corp Will Not Face U.S. Investigation for Phone Hacking, Bribery Charges

The United States Department of Justice has determined that it will not prosecute either News Corp, or its sister company 21st Century Fox on charges of phone hacking and bribery of public officials, which stemmed from the 2011 scandal involving News of the World in the United Kingdom.

On Monday, News Corp released a regulatory filing regarding the news:

News Corporation was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute the company or 21st Century Fox.”

RT reported that News Corp faced a possible investigation under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which “makes it illegal for US companies to bribe officials in foreign countries.”

According to The Guardian, “it is understood there has been no background settlement with the Department of Justice in order to avoid a full-blown investigation,” which contradicts previous speculation that the company was “looking at a possible payment of over $850m.”

RT reported that News Corp will not be face a full U.S. investigation due to the fact that there was a “lack of apparent evidence that the media company hacked phones of individuals who were inside the United States.”

Rupert Murdoch, the owner of both News Corp and 21st Century Fox, also owned the UK newspaper News of the World, before closing it in 2011.

The Guardian noted that Murdoch closed the paper after it was revealed that its reporters “had hacked into the voicemails of Milly Dowler, a missing schoolgirl who had been murdered.”

According to the Daily Mail, it was during this scandal that Murdoch split his media empire into two entities, “News Corp focusing on newspapers and publishing, and 21st Century Fox specializing in TV and film.”

Journalists from the paper have since been investigated for hacking the cellphones of various celebrities, and for bribing public officials. Some relatives of victims from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks also claimed that their phones had been hacked.

Norman Siegel, the U.S. attorney for the group, told The Guardian that Monday’s announcement came as a shock to his clients.

The attorney general promised my clients that before the department published any statement, they would meet with us, and explain what their inquiry had found and what their conclusions were,” said Siegel. “So this is very disappointing that they did not fulfill their promise.”

Lois Lerner emails show DOJ and IRS were working together

The recovered emails Lois Lerner attempted to delete concerning the allegations against the IRS and their supposed targeting of conservative groups, show the Department of Justice was helping the IRS.

Some of the recovered emails show Lerner had met with the DOJ’s Election Crime Division about one month before the 2010 elections, according to Forbes.  This in and of itself isn’t damning, but this coupled with the DOJ’s refusal to show over 800 pages of documents concerning Lerner, citing “taxpayer privacy” and “deliberative privilege” as reason not to hand out the documents raises suspicions.

Even worse, a few internal DOJ documents were recovered which showed Lerner had discussed the possibility of prosecuting tax-exempt entities with the DOJ around the same time Lerner was meeting with DOJ officials.

According to the Examiner, other documents contained within the deleted emails show Lerner sent the DOJ a “1.1 million page database of information from 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations,” which included various classified tax records.

A FOIA filed by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch also  revealed how the DOJ was involved in the IRS scandal.  Judicial Watch’s president, Tom Fitton, said it was outrageous that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which is supposed to be investigating such abuses of power and authority, was shown to be involved in the IRS scandal as well.

“It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department,” said Fitton according to Breitbart.  “Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010.”

Justice Department Using Fake Cell Towers On Airplanes, Collecting Data From Countless Cell Phones

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department has been operating a surveillance program that uses fake cell phone towers placed on airplanes to collect identifying data from a vast number of cell phones.

In this program, Cessna aircraft operated by the US Marshals Service fly over most of the United States, embedded with small devices called “dirtboxes” by insider sources familiar with the program. The dirtboxes mimic cell phone towers which prompt cell phones to reveal their identifying information and location, including phones with encryption technology. The program has been utilized by the Justice Department and US Marshals Service since 2007.

In September, Benswann.com reported that fake cell phone towers, or “interceptors,” had been discovered near military bases throughout the United States.

The program insiders have said that this program is in place for the purpose of “locating cellphones linked to individuals under investigation by the government, including fugitives and drug dealers, but it collects information on cellphones belonging to people who aren’t criminal suspects.” The individuals providing information about the program said that data from tens of thousands of phones can be collected after one flight.

The sources claimed that the dirtboxes are able to determine which phones belong to suspects, but did not disclose whether or not the data belonging to unsuspected individuals is stored.

These devices bypass requests for location and identifying data from phone companies such as Verizon and AT&T by gathering the information themselves. A spokesman for Verizon said the company was unaware of such an operation, while AT&T and Sprint declined to comment.

ACLU Attorney Says Graphic Video of Officers Shooting Homeless Man Resembles “Firing Squad”

Warning: the above video contains graphic footage that some viewers may find disturbing.

On July 1, 2012, 49-year-old homeless man Milton Hall slipped off the medication that he used to control his mental illness, got into an argument with a shopkeeper, and stole a cup of coffee. Police were called, and the visibly disoriented Hall ended up in the parking lot of a shopping center in a standoff with eight Saginaw, MI police officers. The officers surrounded him at a distance with guns drawn. Hall attempted to call 911 to open a line of dialogue. When a K-9 unit lurched at Hall and snarled, he pulled a pen knife from his pocket. Officers responded by firing 46 shots, fatally hitting Hall 14 times.

In February of this year, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice concluded its investigation into the officers’ use of deadly force and declined to press charges against them. MLive quoted a joint statement by the DOJ, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, which said, “After a thorough investigation, federal authorities have determined that this tragic event does not present sufficient evidence of willful misconduct to lead to a federal criminal prosecution of the police officers involved.” The investigation had been launched in response to the widespread community outrage that followed Hall’s shooting, which happened in a busy shopping center in broad daylight.

Unsatisfied with this outcome, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan presented Hall’s case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last Monday and released the above-embedded graphic dash cam video of the shooting, which ACLU lawyer Mark Fancher described as resembling a “firing squad.” According to NY Daily News, the ACLU obtained the video from attorneys representing Hall’s family. Audio included from a different bystander’s video recording, seen below and originally released around the time of the incident, appears to capture witnesses loudly protesting and questioning the need for the overwhelming use of deadly force. Some observers have asked why less-lethal alternatives were not used to subdue Hall.

Mark Fancher represented the Hall family and the ACLU of Michigan at Monday’s hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which, as an arm of the inter-continental Organization of American States, lacks legal authority to take action on the issue. The ACLU of Michigan’s legal director Michael Steinberg told Newsweek that his group took the case before an international tribunal in an effort to pressure the US government into abiding by “human rights principles.”

Newsweek quoted Milton’s mother Jewel Hall as saying, “It’s been devastating to our family; it was devastating to the community. And justice still has not been served… There needs to be a change in how police deal with situations like the one that ended my son’s life. Our leaders have to address conditions that allow police to use excessive and deadly force with impunity.”

FBI cut off internet and posed as repairmen to gain entry into hotel rooms

A case in Las Vegas is being undermined by claims that FBI agents intentionally cut off internet service to three luxury suites at Caesar’s Palace in order to pose as internet repairmen so they could gain entry into the suites.

The initial case is against Chinese gamblers who were supposedly running an illegal sportsbooking operation out of their suites.

What raised suspicions at first was when the people in the suites asked for an unusually large amount of computer and technical equipment to be delivered to them.  An electrical engineer employed by the hotel told management about his suspicions, and the Nevada Gaming Commission and FBI were brought into the picture.

From here things get messy on the FBI’s part.

While the NGC and FBI were suspicious of illegal acts, suspicions are not enough for a search warrant to be issued.  So agents began formulating plans in order to gain entry undetected and gather enough evidence for a search warrant.

The first plan, according to NPR, was to deliver a set of laptops to the suites and ask for entry in order to make sure the laptops were able to properly connect to the internet.  This plan failed when the butler at Caesar’s refused to allow entry to the agents.

With the thoughts of the internet still fresh on their minds, agents decided to simply cut off the internet to the suites, pose as repairmen, and gain entry into the suites to carry out their warrant-less investigation.

When the agents gained entry under this false pretense, they began to take pictures of the room and videos commenting on what the agents saw.  The agents on the video seemed happy with what they found, saying on film, “Yeah, we see what we need to see… very cool,” before leaving the rooms.

It is important to note the FBI would have never been implicated on these videos if it were not for a slip-up one agent made while recording when the agent mentioned the FBI and cutting off the internet on purpose.

Whatever evidence found on the tapes which made the agents happy, however, cannot be entered into a legal case as they were gained through deceptive or ambiguous means.  This also means any evidence found after a warrant was issued may be moot in the case.

George Washington University law professor Stephen Saltzburg said this case shows the FBI can cut off a person’s internet or create some other situation where outside help is required, and then gain entry into your home through a ruse, all in order to gain a search warrant.  Saltzburg, who also worked for the Justice Department also said unless the FBI is going to “push the law of consent beyond where it’s ever been before,” the evidence will have to be thrown out.

Former federal prosecutor Mark Rasch said, according to CNBC, “Police are allowed to use a certain kind of subterfuge, but what they can’t do is create a certain kind of circumstance.”  

The Justice Department and FBI have not commented on the matter.

Group That Sued IRS For Targeting Claims It Has Not Been Interviewed By FBI

True The Vote, a conservative vote-monitoring organization that sued the IRS last year for unfairly delaying their application for tax-exempt status, has revealed that neither the FBI or Department of Justice has interviewed the group, refuting what Attorney General Eric Holder had asserted to ABC News over this past weekend.

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True The Vote, was interviewed on the Washington, DC radio station WMAL by Larry O’Connor to discuss the lawsuit. O’Connor asked Engelbrecht about Eric Holder’s recent dismissal of needing a special prosecutor for the IRS scandal, declaring that the Justice Department and FBI are doing a “doing a good, professional job” in their investigation.

“You have been at the center of this IRS scandal, I think many would say your group was specifically targeted, and over the weekend Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about the IRS scandal and the calls for an independent investigation. And he said ‘no need for it, because the professionals at the Department of Justice and the FBI are doing a great job investigating this’,” said O’Connor.

“What has your experience been with the Department of Justice and the FBI in this? Have they talked to you quite a bit? Has there been extensive investigation?” O’Connor asked Engelbrecht

Engelbrecht responded, “Yeah, that would be exactly no. Zero. No time have they approached us. Only when they are investigating us, only when they are being adversarial towards us do we ever hear anything from the Department of Justice.”

“The attorney general says the FBI and the career attorneys at the Department Of Justice are doing a great job investigating this. And they haven’t talked to you at all yet? After over a year?” O’Connor asked.

“No,” said Engelbrecht.

Speaking at a lawsuit hearing last Friday between True The Vote and the IRS, District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the IRS to provide information about former IRS official Lois Lerner’s destroyed hard drive. Walton’s order came one day after District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the IRS to explain how it lost thousands of emails in a separate hearing from a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.

Atty. Gen. Holder Announces “Homegrown” Terrorist Task Force

Washington, D.C.– On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the formation of a Department of Justice task force to combat “escalating danger” from “homegrown” terrorists in the United States.

In a video statement posted on the DOJ website, Holder claimed it was time to focus on terrorism here in the U.S. The video has since been removed.

“We face an escalating danger from self-radicalized individuals within our own borders,” said Holder.

He went on to cite the Fort Hood shootings in 2009 and the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 as examples of “the danger we face from these homegrown threats.”

This newly minted task force, the “Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee,” is in essence a reconstituted version of a now defunct task force created by former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The task force will consist of leaders from the FBI, the Justice Department’s National Security Division and U.S. attorneys.

The task force under Reno focused mainly on right-wing extremism, while Holder’s version will reportedly focus on Internet radicalization.

“As the nature of the threat we face evolves to include the possibility of individual radicalization via the Internet, it is critical that we return our focus to potential extremists here at home,” said Holder.

With the recent characterization of the Bundy supporters as “domestic terrorists,” by Senator Harry Reid, and the revelation that President Obama considered using military force against those that stood in support of the Bundy Ranch under a Department of Defense directive, it begs the question as to who will actually be targeted by this task force.

As previously reported here at BenSwann.com, last month the FBI began an investigation into the militia and supporters that stood with Cliven Bundy during the standoff at his ranch.

Could this task force simply be the continuation and culmination of a narrative that has been forwarded by the government for a number of years?

First there was the MIAC report, which claimed that potential terrorists include people who own gold, Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, and even people who fly the U.S. flag.

Then in 2012, there was a leaked Homeland Security study that claimed Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty,” and “suspicious of centralized federal authority” are possible “extreme right-wing” terrorists.

More recently, there is a Department of Defense training manual, obtained by Judicial Watch, using a FOIA request, which lists people who embrace “individual liberties” and honor “states’ rights,” among other characteristics, as potential “extremists” who are likely to be members of “hate groups.”

This document goes on to call the Founding Fathers extremists, stating, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements, “ including, “The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule.”

With the continual militarization of executive agencies and local law enforcement, and the refocusing on “domestic threats,” it seems that the nebulous term of “extremist” can be applied to virtually anyone that questions the status quo or stands up against authoritarian systems of power.


Follow Jay on Facebook and on Twitter @SirMetropolis

Obama Admin. Pulls Down “Amber Alerts” Site Due To Govt. Shutdown – Then Puts It Back Up After Bad Press

Amber Alerts notify the public when a child has gone missing or is abducted. The alerts are put out by the Department of Justice and give information about missing minors. The public can then contact authorities if they recognize one of the children.

The alert system appeared to be shut off over the weekend, due to the partial government shutdown.

As of Sunday night, here is what showed up at www.AmberAlert.gov:


Many right-wing news outlets slammed the apparent shut down of Amber Alerts, especially since other, seemingly less important programs have not been affected by the government’s “lapse in federal funding.”

On Sunday, Elizabeth Sheld of Breitbart News wrote, “If you type www.amberalert.gov in your browser, you will find that the website redirects to an error message stating that the government shutdown has stopped the program… [But] if you try and visit letsmove.gov, Michelle Obama’s healthy child/exercise initiative, no such redirect takes place.”


People were also abuzz on Twitter, railing the Obama administration for pulling the website down:

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 3.25.57 PM

After a slew of bad press, the Amber Alert website was restored sometime on Monday morning.

Justice Department officials are now trying to explain away any “confusion” over the apparent Amber Alert shut down. Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said, “The Amber Alert system was never interrupted, but to eliminate any confusion, the informational site maintained by the Justice Department has been restored.”

CNN reported, “The website for the Office of Justice Programs, which hosts Amber Alert information, has been “shut down” due to funding issues, a senior Justice Department official told CNN. The official told CNN that the website is informational only, detailing the department’s role in providing training to states on how to have an Amber Alert system, and that the alerts themselves were not affected. Amber Alerts are issued jurisdictionally, by county or state, the official said, adding that the Amber Alert system, which consists largely of press notifications, highways signs, and tweets, is functional and not affected by the shutdown.”

Since the website is only informational, it is not hard for one to surmise that it was pulled from the web for political reasons. Is it possible that the website, the operations cost of which are likely negligible, was unnecessarily pulled from the web to incite public fear over the government shutdown?

White House spokesperson Jay Carney denies that the decision was political. On Monday he told reporters, “That is of course not the case. I would refer you to DOJ about how the website is administered, but, I can tell you that the website that DOJ maintains is informational. It is not a law enforcement tool used to issue Amber Alerts, and at no point during the shutdown has the Amber Alert system been interrupted.”

Do you think the website was legitimately pulled down for “funding issues,” or do you think there was some other motivation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

BREAKING: Did The Federal Government Just Legalize Marijuana?


As states continue to nullify federal laws against marijuana and hemp, the federal government has been faced with an important question. It’s been more than 75 years, and marijuana and hemp  still remain illegal. Never mind the total lack of reasoning  behind the federal government’s ban. Is it time to end the law?

Less than 24 hours ago, it all came crashing down. According to the Associated Press, the justice department said that states can allow citizens to use the drug, license people to grow it and allow them to purchase it in stores. As long as the drug is kept away from the black market, children and federal property– It’s a go!

According to Mike Maharrey, national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center:

The genie is out of the bottle and she won’t ever go back in. The feds have lost and they know it. No matter how Holder and the DEA couch their words in an attempt to maintain an illusion of control, state actions continue to effectively nullify these unconstitutional marijuana laws.

When asked if the federal government just essentially legalized marijuana Maharrey responded:

The announcement makes it clear the feds have no will to fight the states on weed. They can call it an “illegal drug” all they want, but if they can’t, or won’t, stop people from using marijuana, their “law” means nothing.

The recent surge in nullification has sent states fighting against the federal government on pot use. It would seem that the federal government just gave up. A major victory for the states- no doubt.