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Tag: Justice Department

Law Firm: Alabama Prison System Rife with Abuse, Should be Investigated by DOJ

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Widespread corruption, misconduct and abusive behavior were found in Alabama’s prison system following a six-month investigation by a nonprofit law firm.

Now the firm, the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, is urging the Justice Department to conduct a formal investigation, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

Alleging extreme violence, security problems and a culture of fear at the prisons, the firm filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections last month.

EJI Director Bryan Stevenson said the problems are widespread and won’t change until the Justice Department gets involved.

“It’s not adequate to say we don’t have the money to do better,” Stevenson said. “A lot of these problems reflect cultural problems, leadership problems and management problems that don’t directly relate to the budget.”

John Doar, a civil rights fighter for Justice Department in 1960s, dies at 92

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Few people in law enforcement played as key a role as John Doar in protecting civil liberties of African Americans.

A top civil rights lawyer for the Justice Department in the 1960s, Doar died Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

He was 92 and had congestive heart failure in New York.

Doar served as a civil rights lawyer from 1960-67 and rose assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s Civil Rights Division.

One of Doar’s most memorable times was escorting James Meredith onto the campus of the University of Mississippi when the governor and angry crowd tried to maintain segregation at the school.

Doar also was the lead prosecutor in the successful case against white thugs who killed three civil rights workers.

“This was the first time that white persons were convicted for violent crimes against blacks in Mississippi. It was a historic verdict,” Doar said in a 2009 C-SPAN interview.

Attorney General Eric Holder described Doar in a statement as a “giant in the history of the rights movement” as well as “a personal hero and an embodiment of what it means to be a public servant.” President Barack Obama described him as “one of the bravest American lawyers of his or any era.”

Eric Holder Applauds The Nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Obama has nominated Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, 55, to replace Eric Holder as attorney general. She would be the first black woman to head up the department.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Saturday:

 “Loretta Lynch is an extraordinarily talented attorney, a dedicated public servant, and a leader of considerable experience and consummate skill. I am certain that she will be an outstanding Attorney General, and I am delighted to join President Obama in congratulating her on this prestigious appointment.

“Throughout her career, and especially during her tenure as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York – during both the Clinton and Obama Administrations – Loretta has earned the trust and respect of Justice Department employees at every level, in Washington and throughout the country. She is held in high regard by criminal justice, law enforcement, and civil rights leaders of all stripes. And from her time as a career attorney, prosecuting high-profile public corruption cases, to her leadership of sensitive financial fraud and national security investigations, she has proven her unwavering fidelity to the law – and her steadfast dedication to protecting the American people.”

 

Top Justice Department Officials Used Influence to Get Relatives Paid Internships

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three top officials in the Justice Department played a role in getting their relatives paid paid internships, the New York Daily News reports.

Executive Office for Immigration Review Director Juan Osuna, Board of Immigration Appeals Chairman David Neal and Chief Immigration Judge Brian O’Leary each helped relatives get the jobs, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

The officials hold the top three positions at the Justice Department agency that oversees the federal immigration court system.

The investigation four that the relatives got the jobs in the agency’s student job program between 2007 and 2010.

It wasn’t just the top officials getting their relatives jobs. Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that about 16% of the 200 interns were relatives of employees between 2007 and 2010.

Justice Department Releases 64,000+ Pages of Fast & Furious Documents to U.S. House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After resisting for years, the Justice Department finally sent Congress 64,280 pages of documents involving the botched Fast and Furious investigation on Tuesday, the Washington Times reports.

The disclosure prompted Republicans to assert that President Obama was acknowledging he had withheld the documents illegally by claiming executive privilege.

The House of Representatives even sued for the documents’ release.

“When Eric Holder wants to know why he was the first attorney general held in criminal contempt of Congress, he can read the judge’s order that compelled the production of 64,280 pages that he and President Obama illegitimately and illegally withheld from Congress,” said Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

The administration is not backing down from its position that the documents did not need to be released.

Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Emerges As Top Candidate to Replace AG Holder

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The next U.S. attorney general may be the deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, the New York Post reports, citing “well-placed sources.”

The short list of candidates to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-American lawyer.

“He’s one of the top candidates. He has all the qualifications needed to succeed in the job,” one insider said.

Mayorkas is backed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, which is the nation’s largest law enforcement officers’ organization.

“The FOP enthusiastically supported his nomination to his current post as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and it has been a true pleasure working with him in that capacity over the last year,” Canterbury wrote. “We have no doubt that Mr. Mayorkas has the requisite ability and experience to lead the U.S. Justice Department and meet the challenges in the years ahead.”

Other names that have emerged are Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.

FBI Seeks New Authority to Hack into Computers, Spy on Users Anywhere

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is seeking new authority to hack into computers and spy on their users, the Guardian reports.

The Justice Department is requesting that an obscure regulatory advisory board change the rules of searches and seizures. The two will meet Nov. 5.

Civil liberties groups claim the new rules would violate the first and fourth amendments and are questioning why the Justice Department is seeking the permission without public debate or congressional oversight.

“This is a giant step forward for the FBI’s operational capabilities, without any consideration of the policy implications. To be seeking these powers at a time of heightened international concern about US surveillance is an especially brazen and potentially dangerous move,” said Ahmed Ghappour, an expert in computer law at University of California, Hastings college of the law, who will be addressing next week’s hearing.

The proposed changes involve court-approved warrants, which currently require surveillance to occur in the same district as the judge who approves the warrant.

The proposed changes would eliminate that requirement and allow the FBI to hack into any computer.

The FBI has been having troubles tracking some hackers because their locations are hidden by tools such as Tor.

 

First-Amendment Lawyer: AG Eric Holder Has Some Wrongs to Correct Before Leaving

By David A. Schulz
For Washington Post

As Eric Holder reflects on his six years as attorney general, one disturbing aspect of his legacy should give him significant pause. On Holder’s watch, legal protections traditionally afforded to communications between reporters and sources have been torn down, potentially damaging for years to come the media’s ability to uncover and report on government missteps. The attorney general should acknowledge the problems and address them before leaving office.

Holder has faced harsh criticism for pursuing two related strategies that undermined reporter-source communications. The first denied that any “reporter’s privilege” exists — and just this year the Supreme Court let stand an appellate court ruling adopting Holder’s position.

That ruling came in response to a prosecutor’s demand that Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen disclose his source for a report on the CIA’s effort to subvert Iran’s nuclear program. Although a reporter’s privilege has been recognized for decades in other contexts, a divided court of appealsaccepted the Justice Department’s argument that no evidentiary privilege allowed Risen to refuse to identify his source in a criminal prosecution. Under this ruling, the question of whether to require a reporter to reveal a source rests with the prosecutor alone.

The ruling is an unflinching rejection of a reporter’s right to make a binding promise of confidentiality in exchange for information. It is a direct assault on the foundation of trust needed for effective investigative reporting and threatens to limit severely disclosures by government whistleblowers. That Holder’s Justice Department fought for just this ruling caused some media lawyers to label this administration “worse than Nixon” for the free press.

The impact of this ruling is compounded by a second Holder strategy: relaxing regulations limiting prosecutors’ surreptitious surveillance of reporters’ communications.
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