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Archive for March 10th, 2021

Senate Confirms Merrick Garland as Attorney General

By Allan Lengel

Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Well, the second time was the charm.

After failing to even get a vote before the Senate on his Supreme Court nomination in 2016, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Merrick Garland as the new attorney general.

The vote was 70-30, with nearly half the Republicans voting in his favor.

Garland is known as a moderate.

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Garland had a “long reputation as a straight-shooter and legal expert” and that his left-leaning views were “within the legal mainstream,” the Washington Post reports.

Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, issued a statement after the confirmation:

“We congratulate Judge Garland on his successful confirmation vote today. During this confirmation process, we were encouraged to hear that he agrees with us on many very important drug policy issues, such as allowing states to regulate marijuana without fear of federal intervention, eradicating the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses, and ending mandatory minimums.”

Biden Administration Calls on Iran for Answers on 14th Anniversary of Robert Levinson’s Disappearance

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

On the 14th anniversary of Robert Levinson’s disappearance on Tuesday, President Biden’s administration called on Iran to return the former FBI agent to his family and provide answers about what happened to him. 

Levinson, whose 73rd birthday is today, disappeared while on Kish Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. He worked part-time for the CIA, and U.S. officials believed he died while in Iranian custody. 

“For 14 years the Iranian government has denied the U.S. government, the FBI, and most importantly, the Levinson family any answers about the circumstances surrounding Bob’s abduction,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI continues to mourn the loss of our beloved friend and colleague, and the Levinson family continues to grieve the loss of their husband, father, and grandfather. It’s appalling that the Iranian government has yet to cooperate, and we, along with our interagency partners, remain resolute in our efforts to investigate and seek the truth of what happened to Bob.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Levinson’s family.

“I was honored to speak with the Levinson family yesterday,” said Blinken, according to a State Department release. “Since his abduction in 2007, Bob, a father and husband, has missed graduations, marriages and the birth of all but one of his grandchildren. Bob’s family continues to advocate for the answers about what happened after he went to Kish Island in Iran 14 years ago.”

Blinken added, “We call on the Iranian government to provide credible answers to what happened to Bob Levinson, and to immediately and safely release all U.S. citizens who are unjustly held captive in Iran.”

Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. “will remain resolute in our support to the Levinson family and our commitment to pursuing justice for Mr. Levinson and his family.”

“After 14 years and repeated, persistent efforts to secure Iran’s cooperation in locating Mr. Levinson, we are still without answers,” Psaki said. “Nevertheless, we will continue to demand answers and to hold Iran accountable for his abduction, detention, and probable death. We will not relent until all of our citizens who continue to be wrongfully detained in Iran and around the world, are returned to their families.”

FBI Releases New Footage of Washington D.C. Bomb Suspect

Screenshot of the pipe bomb suspect.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI on Tuesday released new security footage of the person believed to have planted pipe bombs outside the Republican and Democratic national committees in Washington D.C. on the day before the U.S. Capitol riot. 

The devices were placed outside the headquarters sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5. The suspect was wearing a face mask, gray hooded sweatshirt, and black and gray Nike Air Max Speed Turf shoes with a yellow logo. 

“The American people have provided invaluable assistance in this investigation, and the FBI and our law enforcement partners are very grateful for that cooperation,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said in a statement. “We still believe there is someone out there who has information they may not have realized was significant until now. We know it can be a difficult decision to report information about family or friends—but this is about protecting human life. These pipe bombs were viable devices that could have been detonated, resulting in serious injury or death. We need the public’s help to identify the individual responsible for placing these pipe bombs to ensure they will not harm themselves or anyone else.”

The FBI previously released photos of the suspect, along with suspect’s shoes, the devices, and kitchen timers. 

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call the bureau at (800) CALL-FBI or send an email to tips.fbi.gov. Tips may be anonymous.