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Tag: Chuck Grassley

Ranking Senator Questions Quickness of Confirming New ATF Head B. Todd Jones Gets

Todd Jones

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ranking Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said “very troubling allegations” have surfaced that suggest B. Todd Jones, who is President Obama’s choice to head the ATF, retaliated against a whistleblower, The Washington Times reports.

The Iowa senator questioned why the confirmation hearings last week weren’t delayed while an investigation of Jones continues. 

When asked about the whistle-blowing complaints, Jones said he wasn’t familiar with the “substance of the complaints” and declined to comment.

“I must say that the allegations in the complaint are extremely troubling,” Grassley said.

NCAA Shouldn’t Ignore Steroid Problem

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.

The NCAA had already begun to recognize there was a problem; in 1996 the NCAA instituted random, year-round testing with relatively stringent penalties for positive tests – a one-season suspension for a first positive test and permanent ineligibility for a second. The tests are, in theory, unannounced, but athletes can often know up to two days’ in advance. (Steroids are generally clear of a individual’s system within 24-72 hrs. Anabolic steroids are a specific type of steroid that promotes muscle growth, and not all steroids are anabolic. Steroids referred to in this column are anabolic.) The NCAA’s current position is that steroid use is no longer a problem with college athletes. In support of their conclusion they point to less than 1% failure rate on their tests.

In a recent Associated Press article about the continued use of anabolic steroids in college football, the report relied on research that catalogued weight gain of different football players. Extraordinary weight gain by athletes can be an indication of steroid use. Citing training experts, the report said, “Adding more than 20 or 25 lbs. of lean muscle in a year is nearly impossible through diet and exercise alone.” The report also relied on interviews of players who admitted to steroid use or knew of other players using steroids.

Steroid use by college football players affects the integrity of the game. It gives those players and their teams a competitive advantage, and it also puts pressure on other players and their teams to use steroids. This “arms war” mentality filters down to high school players thinking they have to use steroids to play at the next level.

Some football programs, while not explicitly, encourage steroid use. Some schools do testing in addition to the NCAA testing. But it is not required to report positive drug test results and penalties vary and are not nearly as stringent as those imposed by the NCAA. This leads to a patchwork of testing with some schools trying to eliminate steroid use and others just making a show of addressing its use.

I think the resolution should be that NCAA institute a much more rigorous testing regimen. That would mean more random testing, and testing for just cause (based on extraordinary weight gain and/or symptoms of steroid use).The NCAA can afford the increased costs associated with these measures. With the NCAA conducting all the testing, it will insure the testing and penalties are uniformly applied.

I saw firsthand what happened when MLB ignored warnings about prevalence of steroid use in baseball in the mid-‘90s. I hope the NCAA doesn’t repeat their mistake.

Column: Grassley and Issa — Time to Show Your Cojones and Go After the NRA

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Hats off to Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa for their keen interest in the failed ATF Operation Fast and Furious.

They have a right to be concerned about the program that let guns walk into Mexico. It’s great that they care that the feds let guns get into the hands of the criminals and cartel members.

Now, it’s time for them to really show that they have some backbone, some cojones, some balls.

Time to stand up to the National Rifle Association, which has done more than any failed ATF operation to help put guns into the hands of criminals and Mexican drug cartels. The cartels use the border states as supermarkets for weapons, thanks for lax laws that allow people to walk into gun stores and walk out with dozens of guns at a time.

Yes, Grassley and Issa. Time to channel some of that outrage, some that first-rate moral indignation and rip into the NRA.

Time to push back and enact tougher gun legislation so more guns don’t walk into Mexico.

That’s right, guns still walk into Mexico. It didn’t suddenly end when you two started throwing a hissy fit about Fast and Furious.

Don’t stop with Fast and Furious, guys.

Time to go after the NRA and show us how much you really care about guns getting into the hands of criminals and the drug cartels.

 

Grassley and Issa Concerned ATF Director’s Comments Could Put a Chill on Whistleblowing

Todd Jones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa, two of Capitol Hill’s chief critics of ATF, expressed concern about comments the agency’s acting Director B. Todd Jones made to employees earlier this month.

Specifically, the two were concerned about a comment that could put a chill on whistleblowers.

Todd said: “… if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences. …”

A press release from Grassley and Issa stated:

Grassley and Issa wrote to Jones, stating that the essence of whistleblowing is reporting problems outside of an employee’s chain of command, and whistleblowers were instrumental in exposing the shortcomings of the government’s botched gun-walking operation, Fast and Furious. Grassley and Issa wrote to Jones, “Your ominous message – which could be interpreted as a threat – is likely to have a major chilling effect on ATF employees exercising their rights to contact Congress. Therefore, it needs to be clarified.”

Grassley and Issa also wrote, “On numerous occasions, we have stressed to ATF and the Department of Justice the importance of protecting whistleblower disclosures and preventing retaliation against whistleblowers.”

 

Secret Service Dir: No Sensitive Info Compromised in Hooker-Gate

Mark Sullivan/s.s. photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Director of the U.S. Secret told Sen. Chuck Grassley that his agents did not compromise any sensitive information during the visit to Colombia that involved booze and hookers.

“The Secret Service has no information to suggest that sensitive information was compromised during the Colombia trip,” Director Mark Sullivan wrote in a letter to Grassley dated May 1.

“The Secret Service can speak to the investigation

into the conduct of Secret Service personnel. We would defer to the Department of Defense and the White House on matters related to their respective personnel.”

 

Could the Secret Service Scandal be Bigger?


Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Just when it looked as if the Secret Service might be able to wrap up its prostitution mess sooner than later.

CBS is reporting that authorities were looking into the possibility that Secret Service agents may have paid for hookers and strippers in El Salvador while being part of an advance team for the President in March 2011.

“This latest allegation only reaffirms the need for independent investigations by the Inspector General,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) said in a statement issued Thursday.

“Regardless of whether the incidents were previously referred to internal investigators, they need to be examined. There are rumors flying about various incidents over several years about the conduct of Secret Service personnel, as well as other law enforcement and military personnel in locations around the world. The only way to put to rest the rumors of a much wider problem is for the allegations to receive transparent and independent reviews.”

Grassley Questions Justice Dept. Commitment to FBI Whistleblowers

Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Chuck Grassley is questioning the commitment of Attorney Gen. Eric Holder and his Deputy Attorney General James Cole to FBI whistleblowers.

In a press released issued Monday, Grassley said one FBI whistleblower case “continues to languish for nine years and a second case sits in limbo for more than four years.”

“Whistleblowers are key to unlocking many of the secrets hidden deep in the closets of the federal government,” Grassley said in a statement. “Allowing a case to sit in limbo for more than nine years shows a lack of commitment to resolving issues for these courageous people.

“The excessive time to make a judgment on these cases indicates that the process for adjudicating FBI whistleblower claims is broken, and needs to be fixed,” Grassley added. “The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General have significant say over the speed at which these matters are addressed, and the recent decision by Deputy Attorney General Cole to remand a nine year old case for further proceedings is mind boggling and calls into question his commitment to help support whistleblowers.”

Grassley, in a letter to Holder, urged the attorney general to address whistleblower cases in a more timely manner.

Grassley mentioned former FBI agent Jane Turner who was fired in 2002 after disclosing to the Justice Department Inspector General after discovering that FBI agents removed items from Ground Zero following the attacks of 9/11.

Grassley said in his release that due to the Inspector General’s delayed decision, Agent Turner was forced to file an appeal with the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management, which ordered the FBI to issue back pay, attorney’s fees and other relief.

After an FBI appeal, the Deputy Attorney General remanded the case for further proceedings and it now continues to languish nine years after Agent Turner’s original complaint, Grassley said.

Grassley also cited the case of Robert Kobus, a 30-year non-agent employee of the FBI who more than four years ago disclosed time and attendance fraud by FBI agents. The Inspector General substantiated his claims of retaliation for protected whistleblowing, yet his case has been sitting with the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management for four years.

“I presume you would agree that DOJ is sxending the wrong message to whistleblowers by taking an inordinate amount of time to issue final declarations for Agent Turner and Mr. Kobus,” Grassley wrote in the letter to Holder.

Read letter to Holder

 

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Gets One Step Closer to 2-Year Extension

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III moved one step closer to extending his 10-year term two additional years.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would clear the way for Mueller to stay on for two years.  The bill must now go before the House, which is expected to give its OK. That vote could come next week.

The current legislation limits the FBI directors term to 10 years. The bill is one time deal that applies to Mueller, and does not change the 10 year limit.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who supported the move, but still raised questions, issued a statement Thursday:

“This is an extraordinary step that the Senate has taken. Thirty-five years ago Congress limited the FBI director’s term to one, 10-year appointment as an important safeguard against improper political influence and abuses of the past.

“Director Mueller has proven his ability to run the FBI over the last 10 years and he has given assurances that he will remain available to Congress and our constitutional responsibilities of oversight. I am glad the Senate was able to reach an agreement that provides a one-time, short term extension of the FBI Director’s term in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution. We live in extraordinary times which make this move unfortunate, but necessary.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) of the Judiciary Committee, who was a big advocate of the extension, issued a statement saying:

“Ten weeks ago, the President asked the Congress to extend the term of service of the FBI Director. I worked in a bipartisan manner to expeditiously report a bill from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate. While no Senator opposed an extension of Director Mueller’s term, some quibbled over the text of a bill to accomplish this goal, causing unnecessary delay. I believe the bill reported by the Committee was constitutional, and that the revisions to the bill are unnecessary.”

“Nonetheless, I am pleased that a bill passed the Senate today that will maintain continuity of leadership at the FBI as we approach the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, and face continuing threats in the wake of the President’s successful operation against Osama bin Laden. I hope the House will take up and pass this bill so that it can be signed by the President, and the Senate can confirm Director Mueller’s re-nomination, prior to August 3, 2011, when Director Mueller’s current term expires.”

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