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Tag: DEA

DEA Has Chance to ‘Change Culture Within Its Walls’ with New Leader

By The Daily Iowan
Editorial Board

The DEA chief, Michele Leonhart, is stepping down amid heated congressional hearings into her agency’s scandals involving sex parties and compromised information leaked to Colombian drug lords. An internal report documented that prostitutes, sex parties, and undercover apartments were paid for by government money from 2001 to 2005 in Colombia.

Although Leonhart did not publicly cite the intense scrutiny from public officials in the hearings and in the media as the reason for her departure, it’s fair to assume that it played a huge role. She has served the DEA for 35 years and has been chief since her nomination by President Obama in 2010, but much of her tenure has been regarded by many in the White House as facilitating an agency with no regards for rules or consequences.

When it came time to punish 10 DEA agents accused of the aforementioned misconduct in Colombia, only seven had been issued suspensions, all consisting of fewer than two weeks. But nobody was fired. Agents accused of having sex with prostitutes in Colombia only face what is seen by many as a glorified slap-on-the-wrist in the form of a few days vacation.

Why Leonhart did not fire any agents she attributes to the lack of power that a DEA chief actually has to effectively remove workers. The extraordinary job security through civil-service protections make it incredibly difficult to fire appointed agents. But it is not definitively clear if she had had the ability to do so would have fired those affiliated with the scandal, and that is the real problem.

When a culture exists in an agency where there is no incentive to be ethical and professional, no consequences for wrongdoings, it becomes a place that breeds egregious behavior such as the acts committed in Colombia. It’s a “don’t ask for permission, only ask for forgiveness” way of thinking that has permeated through the lifeblood of the DEA and it will not end until new leadership is in place and more power is granted to Leonhart’s replacement to expunge agents in extreme cases such as this.

The American people deserve a new DEA, chief who will change the culture within its walls.

To read more click here. 

Proponents of Medical, Recreational Marijuana Celebrate DEA Head’s Resignation

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The resignation of DEA Director Michele Leonhart is a big victory for proponents of medical and even recreational marijuana.

Leonhart was steadfastly – some say stubbornly – opposed to pot use and even ignored President Obama’s assertion that federal agencies should respect the marijuana laws of each state.

“The real reason we’re glad to see this longtime DEA administration official go is her antiquated and unreasonable views on marijuana,” The Star-Ledger wrote in an editorial for Thursday.”We don’t need our nation’s top drug enforcement officer to be wasting any more taxpayer dollars on totally pointless pot prosecutions.”

Drug reform experts also celebrated Leonhart’s departure.

“We are happy to see her go,” Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told Time. “She’s a career drug warrior at a time when we’ve decided the ‘War on Drugs’ is an abject failure.”

Leonhart, a 35-year veteran of the DEA, served as the head of the administration since 2007.

DEA Chief Resigns Following ‘Sex Parties’ Investigation, Lax Discipline

Michele Leonhart

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

DEA Director Michele Leonhart, who has come under sharp criticism over agents’ misconduct, has announced her retirement.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Leonhart, who served as the agency’s top administrator since 2010, told him of her plans Tuesday, The USA Today reports. 

She was the first women to serve as director.

“She has devoted her life and her professional career to the defense of our nation and the protection of our citizens, and for that, I am deeply grateful,” Holder said in written statement.

Leonhart’s last day is expected to be in mid-May,

Lawmakers became outraged this month after learning that DEA agents participated in sex parties in Columbia and received lax discipline.

“Most of the sex parties occurred in government-leased quarters where agents’ laptops, BlackBerry devices and other government issued equipment were present … potentially exposing them to extortion, blackmail or coercion,” a report on the parties said.

Calling Leonhart’s retirement decision “appropriate,” the leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a joint statement.

“With the opportunity now for fresh leadership, we are hopeful that the DEA can restore itself to an agency of distinction and excellence,” panel Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland said.

Other Stories of Interest

 

IG Looking at DEA’s Handling of Informant Payments

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is under examination for its handling of informant payments.

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General probe comes as the DEA spends more money on informants.

The DEA spent $33 million last year on informants but has done a poor job in the past tracking the money, wrote The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

 

House Members Declare ‘No Confidence’ in DEA Administrator Leonhart

Michele Leonhart

Michele Leonhart

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers leveled harsh claims against DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart on Wednesday, saying they had no confidence in her ability to lead the agency.

The sharp words come a day after lawmakers learned that DEA agents received lax punishment for attending “sex parties” in Columbia, the Huffington Post reports. 

“After over a decade of serving in top leadership positions at DEA, Administrator Leonhart has been woefully unable to change or positively influence the pervasive ‘good old boy’ culture that exists throughout the agency,” read the statement from 22 members of the Oversight Committee, including Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

“From her testimony, it is clear that she lacks the authority and will to make the tough decisions required to hold those accountable who compromise national security and bring disgrace to their position,” the statement continues. “Ms. Leonhart has lost the confidence of this Committee to initiate the necessary reforms to restore the reputation of a vital agency.”

DEA critics were happy to chime in.

“There’s simply no excuse for the outrageous behavior of the DEA’s so-called leadership,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of the reform group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a Maryland police veteran, in a statement. “Leonhart just helps us add to the list of reasons of why we need to rethink our entire approach to drug policy.”

 Other Stories of Interest


DEA Agents Receive Lax Punishment Over ‘Sex Parties;’ Some Get Promoted

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The head of the DEA has come under fire over lax punishments for DEA agents accused of participating in “sex parties” with prostitutes in Columbia, The Huffington Post reports.

In fact, some of the accused agents received promotions. No one was fired.

Allegations of a sex party emerged last month following a critical report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

While one of the accused agents retired, the others were suspended for between one and 10 days.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart defended the actions before Congress.

Lawmakers were not happy.

“This new internal report details years of allegations — beginning in 2001 — that portray DEA agents as completely out of control,”  Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in a statement Tuesday. “They appear to have fraternized with cartel members, accepted lavish gifts, and paid for prostitutes with no concern for the negative repercussions or security vulnerabilities they created.”

Other Stories of Interest


Holy Smokes! DEA Wants to Triple Production of Government’s Marijuana Supply

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The normally anti-marijuana DEA officially recommended that the federal government triple its production of almost 900 pounds of pot for research in 2015.

The proposal, endorsed by DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, is intended to provide a sufficient amount of marijuana to conduct research on the dangers and the medical benefits of cannabis, The Huffington Post reports.

The DEA has the authority to decide when to make marijuana available because it is currently illegal and officially considered by classification to be absent of medical benefits.

The request for increased production follows “unanticipated medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States,” the DEA said in a notice published in the Federal Register.

Numerous studies around the world have shown medical benefits to marijauna.

DEA Sued Following Discovery That Agency Collected Americans’ Phone Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone call records violated the constitutional rights of Americans, alleges the Human Rights Watch in a lawsuit against the agency.

Forbes reports that the suit comes just a day after a USA Today report on the surveillance program.

The DEA reportedly amassed billions of phone records in the decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The suit alleges the DEA violated Americans’ first and fourth amendments by conducting “untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of Americans.“

“The NSA isn’t the only federal agency collecting Americans’ call records in bulk,” said EFF staff attorney Mark Rumold. “The DEA’s program is yet another example of federal agencies overreaching their surveillance authority in secret. We are asking the court to require the government to destroy the records it illegally collected no matter where they are held, and to declare—once and for all—that bulk collection of Americans’ records is unconstitutional.’’

Other Stories of Inerest