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Tag: Democrats

Democrats Cite New COINTELPRO Movie in Push to Remove Hoover’s Name from FBI Headquarters

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C., named after J. Edgar Hoover.

By Steve Neavling

Democrats who are leading a push to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters building are citing a new film that explores the bureau’s former attempts to discredit civil rights activists under a subversive program known as COINTELPRO.

COINTELPRO, or Counter Intelligence Program, existed from 1965 to 1971 and subjected African Americans to illegal FBI surveillance.  

“You take a poll and I would bet 90% of the society has no clue what COINTELPRO was,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn, who was among 23 co-sponsors of a bill to remove the longtime FBI director’s name, said, Yahoo News reports. “This is an ugly part of our past that is not well known.”

The film “Judas and the Black Messiah” depicts the stories of Fred Hampton, the charismatic leader of the Black Panther Party, and Bill O’Neal, the FBI informant who betrayed him. 

Cohen says he hopes the film will spur action on his longtime effort to remove Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters. 

“That movie has gotten a grand reception, and it showed the interactions between the Chicago police and the FBI in the murder of Fred Hampton,” Cohen said. “That was part of COINTELPRO, J. Edgar Hoover’s organized effort to make sure there was not a Black leader who would rise up for civil rights and better conditions in the Black community.”

House Democrats Introduce Bill to Remove J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from FBI Headquarters, Calling Him a Bigot

Hoover receives the National Security Medal from President Dwight Eisenhower on May 27, 1955, as then-Vice President Richard Nixon and others look on. (FBI photo)

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Democrats in the U.S. House are trying to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters building, calling the bureau’s former director a bigot who violated the civil rights of black leaders and political rivals.

Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-VA, Steve Cohen, D-TN, Dina Titus D-NV, and Karen Bass, D-CA, introduced legislation last week to remove any reference to Hoover from the building in Washington D.C.

“It’s long past time to rename the FBI Headquarters. J. Edgar Hoover was a racist, a bigot, and a homophobe,” Rep. Connolly says in a news release. “He abused his power and trampled the civil liberties of Dr. King, anti-war protesters, his political rivals, and too many others. He is no role model for any time, and certainly not this one. Congress must right this wrong and rename this building.”

The National Commission on Renaming the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters Building ACT of 2020 would create a nine-member commission to recommend a new name that reflects diversity, as well as the values of the FBI and U.S. Constitution. The members would be appointed by the president, the Senate majority and minority leaders, the speaker of the House and the House minority leader.

“As our nation faces a historical reckoning, we have an opportunity to right our wrongs and honor Americans who represent the democratic principles on which our union was founded,” Bass says. “J. Edgar Hoover used COINTELPRO to thwart the efforts of Black activists calling for equality in America. The program was ultimately designed to surveil, defame, and silence civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. Much worse, Hoover’s own racist views impacted FBI operations and countless racially-motivated hate crimes were left unchecked under his leadership. Identifying a namesake that reflects the true values of the FBI is worth supporting now more than ever.”

A similar bill was introduced in the U.S. House in 2015 but languished.

Cohen says it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor.”

“The civil rights we enjoy today are in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him,” Cohen says. “Yet, his name adorns one of the most prominent buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital and one that houses an agency of government responsible for assuring justice.”

Fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Testifies Barr Repeatedly Pressured Him to Resign

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Trump, told lawmakers that Attorney General William Barr repeatedly pressured him to resign last month.

Berman, in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr suggested he take another job so Trump could replace him with a political ally. Berman, whose office was investigating Trump allies, said the job offers included the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission or head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired,” he said in his statement obtained by The Washington Post. “He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.”

Barr’s firing has drawn criticism from Democrats and legal experts who questioned why Barr was trying to remove an accomplished prosecutor from an office with a reputation for being independent and apolitical.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the committee in the end of July.

“We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters after Berman testified.

House Democrats Urge TSA to Require Masks at Security Checkpoints to Protect Employees, Travelers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are urging the TSA to require face masks for travelers at airport security checkpoints to protect agency employees and others.

In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, Reps. Bennie Thompson and Lou Correa pointed out that nearly 1,000 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and seven died, Government Executive reports.

“We were pleased to see you fulfill part of that request when you announced on May 7th a requirement for TSA employees to wear masks. However, it is difficult to understand your hesitation to issue a national requirement for passenger masks to ensure that all frontline workers and passengers are equally protected across the aviation system,” they wrote.

The Democrats said mask requirements are a common sense approach to protecting frontline workers and travelers.

“The only controversy surrounding masks is a dangerous political one manufactured by President Trump and his enablers. There is a clear consensus among public health officials that masks are effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote. “TSA employees routinely enforce a number of requirements that are unpopular with the public, such as conducting invasive pat-downs and confiscating liquids, which you and your predecessors have deemed necessary to protect passengers.”

The TSA last month suggested there were no mask requirements because the CDC only recommends – not mandates – face coverings.

House Democrats Call for Severe Funding Cuts to ICE, Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats announced a plan Monday to severely cut the budgets of Border Patrol and ICE to reduce Homeland Security’s deportation operations.

The House Appropriations Committee introduced the fiscal 2021 spending bill, which would halt the hiring of new Border Patrol agents, prevent additional construction on President Trump’s border wall, and stop the detention of families, The Washington Times reports.

Under the plan, watchdog groups would receive a boost in funding to oversee ICE operations.

ICE’s deportation and detention division would be reduced to $3.3 billion, a $1.1 billion cut.

“Our bill fights for a more humane immigration approach, including the more restricted use of civil detention, expanded alternatives to detention, and the phase-out of family detention this year,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security funding, said.

Supreme Court to Consider Dispute Over Secret Grand Jury Materials from Mueller Probe

U.S. Supreme Court

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The dispute between House Democrats and the Trump administration over releasing secret grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s investigation will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court on Thursday said it will take up the case as the House Judiciary Committee seeks secret grand jury information, CBS News reports.

But it’s unlikely court will make a decision before the November election.

The case centers around the August 2019 release of Mueller’s report, which was heavily redacted.

The Justice Department has refused to give congressional leaders access to the grand jury documents in the case.

Democrats say they need the information to determine whether the president committed impeachable offenses.

Mueller’s Secret Grand Jury Materials Sought in Impeachment Trials

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Much of evidence collected during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has remained secret, but that could change as the impeachment inquiry continues.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit is expected to consider whether the grand-jury materials from the investigation should be released to the House Judiciary Committee.

The three-member panel is set to consider a lower-court’s ruling that called for the release of evidence that the House Committee says is critical to determining whether President Trump should be impeached, The Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department argues the redacted materials cited in the Mueller report should not be released because the impeachment proceeding are not “judicial.”

House lawyers argued in court filings that the material is important to “aid the House in determining whether the President committed impeachable offenses, including attempted obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and solicitation of Ukrainian interference in the 2020 Presidential election.”

House Democrats: Trump’s Administration Turns Blind Eye to White Nationalism

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are questioning why Trump’s administration “is failing to address white supremacist, extremist violence” as domestic terrorism is on the rise.

Consider this: All race-based domestic terrorism in 2018 was committed by alleged white supremacists. When the Department of Homeland Security wanted to increase its focus on domestic terrorism, the White House intervened and rejected the idea.

So alarmed by the surge in white supremacist violence, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress in July that “a majority of domestic terrorism cases are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

So why does it appear Trump’s administration is not taking the threat seriously?

In a letter to the leadership of the FBI and Homeland Security, 65 House Democrats said white supremacy must be met with a “vigorous, systemic and coordinated response.”

“We are concerned that the Trump administration is jeopardizing our national security by failing to take domestic terrorism seriously,” the letter reads. “In particular, this administration is failing to address white supremacist extremist violence, the leading cause of domestic terrorism.”

The letter adds, “It is unacceptable that political interference from the White House should prevent domestic terrorism from receiving the elevated level of focus it deserves, especially following recent, high profile terrorist attacks.”