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Tag: Congress

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


FBI, NSA Officials Urge Congress to Retain Spy Powers Under Patriot Act

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and National Security Administration are on the verge of losing surveillance powers that were gained after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Authorities for both agencies are urging lawmakers to preserve the spy powers before the expire June 1, The Guardian reports. 

Some members of Congress want more surveillance reforms to protect the privacy of innocent Americans.

Losing the authority gained in Section 215 of the Patriot Act will make it difficult to conduct some federal investigations, authorities warned.

Whether Congress renews the powers may depend on the newest members of Congress.

“A lot of it is going to hinge on the freshmen. Right now, as far as I can tell, the select intelligence committee is making a real strong play to persuade the freshmen that all of these public concerns are overblown,” Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, said.

 

 

Justice Department Negatively Impacted by Delay in Confirming Lorreta Lynch

Loretta Lynch

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The partisan delay in confirming Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general is beginning to impact promotions and policy decision at the Justice Department, The Los Angeles Times reports.  

The delay has prompted DOJ officials to question whether to hold a major intentional meeting on cybersecurity this spring.

“There is a constant complication about committing to things,” said Robert Raben, a former assistant attorney general who is advising Lynch on the nomination and remains in touch with department officials. “For April and May, there are an enormous amount of things that are on hold. It’s impossible for the leadership to know what to commit to, because they do not know if Ms. Lynch is going to have a different view.”

The Senate returns this week but it’s unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, will hold a vote.

“There are major policy decisions that are on hold,” said one department official who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal matters.

Both Republicans and Democrats have called for delays.

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.

Buffalo News: FBI, Congress Must Improve Anti-Terrorism Performance

The Buffalo News
Editorial Board

The good news – and it is good news – is that the FBI has made great strides in transforming itself since the 2001 terror attacks. In a new report by the FBI 9/11 Review Commission, the agency is credited with significantly improving the number of analysts qualified for their jobs and better foreign language ability.

Yet some of the finding are also puzzling, so many years after the attacks. While the bureau was credited with having improved its foreign language ability, it also notes the continuing need for more linguists.

That imperative was made public within weeks of the Sept. 11 attacks. How hard can it be, especially when the need is so obviously critical? Schools have churned out 14 years of graduates over that time; surely enough to have produced sufficient numbers of trained linguists – assuming the pay is commensurate with demand. Specifically, the report notes that while the bureau has enough linguists in its large offices, they are in “short supply” in other parts of the country.

And therein lies a problem. Congress has also played a destructive role in – bluntly – keeping the country less safe than it should be. Budget cuts, such as those included in the mindless sequestration policy that took hold two years ago, have “severely hindered the FBI’s intelligence and national security programs,” the report concluded. Among the report’s three principal authors is Edwin Meese III, who was attorney general in the Reagan administration and can hardly be dismissed as a reckless government spender.

The report also notes that the FBI needs to improve its abilities at analysis and to develop a deep roster of informants.

These are areas where the FBI needs to improve, and Congress must play a role, along with the bureau’s leaders. Still, on balance, the report was positive and as one observer noted, periodic evaluations such as this will help keep it on track.

To read more click here. 

Senate Republicans Probe Claims That Agents Disciplined over Obama Immigration Policies

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Senate Republicans want to know whether Border Patrol agents or Homeland Security officials were disciplined for refusing to follow President Obama’s immigration policies.

Fox News reports that Republicans are investigating claims that federal managers are retaliating against employees who don’t follow the president’s order.

“We are aware of multiple allegations of targeting and retaliation against DHS personnel who refuse to comply with this administration’s willful disregard of our immigration laws,” members of a Senate judiciary subcommittee on immigration told Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in a letter on Tuesday.

The letter comes after Chris Cabrera, a National Border Patrol Council (Local 3307) executive, told a Senate committee that Border Patrol agents are facing discipline for repeatedly reporting a gathering of more than 20 illegal immigrants.

“Needless to say, agents got the message and now stay below this 20 person threshold no matter the actual size of the group,” Cabrera testified.

FBI Wants to Ban Cell Phone Encryption; Congress Shows Cluelessness

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If the FBI had its way, security encryption would be outlawed on cell phones.

FBI Director James Comey is lobbying Congress to create a law that would require tech companies to “create a backdoor into any communications device that uses encryption,” Gizmodo reports.

Only trouble is, many Congressional members don’t know the first thing about encryption, Gizmodo wrote.

I don’t know anything about this stuff,” Rep. John Carter, chairman of the subcommittee on Homeland Security, said.

“There you have it—a man in charge of doling out billions of dollars of cybersecurity money openly admits that he knows nothing about cybersecurity. The scene would be hilarious if its implications weren’t so disturbing,” Gizmodo wrote.

 Other Stories of Interest


Secret Service Director Disputes News Accounts of White House Crash

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service Director Joe Clancy disputed news reports that two high-ranking agents drunkenly crashed into a gate at the White House.

“Previous reports of a crash are inaccurate — there was no crash,” Clancy said at a Senate Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee hearing, CNN reports. 

“The video shows the vehicle entering the White House complex at a speed of approximately one to two miles per hour, and pushing aside a plastic barrel. There was no damage to the vehicle,” he said.

Still, Clancy said it was “unacceptable” that it took five days for him to be notified of the incident.

“If it is determined that any one of our employees concealed information about this alleged incident, they will be held accountable,” he told the panel. “Our mission is too important for this to happen. It undermines my leadership and I won’t stand for it.”

Other Stories of Interest