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Tag: Obama

DEA Seizes Far Fewer Marijuana Plants Under Obama Administration

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA continues to seize and destroy less marijuana under the Obama administration, the Washington Post reports.

Last year the DEA destroyed 4.3 million marijuana plants, compared to 10.4 million in 2009.

The “cannabis eradication program” provides money to local and state law enforcement agencies to destroy marijuana plants. But those funds have been drying up.

The Post wrote:

Marijuana eradication teams, who criss-cross the countryside in helicopters looking for grow sites, occasionally become overzealous in carrying out their missions. The Georgia Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppression earned notoriety last year when they raided a retiree’s garden after misidentifying okra as marijuana. Last month, a member of DEA’s marijuana eradication team in Utah warned lawmakers there that a medical marijuana bill would lead inevitably to stoned rabbits in the state’s forests.

Other Stories of Interest


Republicans Use Paris Terror Attack to Go After Obama’s Immigration Plan

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Not even six hours passed before politicians began injecting the terrorist attack in Paris into budget debates. 

CNN reports that Republicans are trying to add ammunition to their upcoming budgetary battle with Democrats by claiming President Obama’s new immigration policies hamper Homeland Security’s fight against terrorism.

Republicans are expected to unveil their bill Friday.

President Obama has threatened to veto any efforts by Republicans to limit his immigration reforms.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans may resort to a Homeland Security funding bill.

“There are terrorists around the world who are intent on killing Americans and other freedom loving individuals around the country. I believe that the President’s executive action with regard to immigration are outside of the Constitution and outside of his power and I believe that we can deal with that issue in the Department of Homeland Security bill without jeopardizing the security of our country.”

Other Stories of Interest


Obama Administration to Assess Need for National Guard Troops at Texas-Mexico Border

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Obama administration is going explore the need for deploying National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, the Washington Post reports. The administration has dispatched a team of military and national security officials to examine whether the Rio Grande Valley would benefit from a military “temporary assist.”

Despite objections from Democrats, Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided earlier this week to send 1,000 of his state’s National Guard troops to the border over the next month.

“The assessment team will review support options that increase U.S. Customs and Border Protection capacity to conduct enforcement and processing activities and to enable DHS to implement a surge plan that addresses spikes in the influx of UACs [unaccompanied alien children]/migrants along the Southwest Border,” a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

AP: Border Patrol Has Plenty of Agents During Crisis, But They Are in Wrong Places

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol may have enough employees to handle the flood of immigration, but the Associated Press found that the agency places too many agents in the wrong places.

The AP report indicates that many agents are stationed in areas where crossing activity is slow because of the “constantly shifting migration patterns.”

For example, the San Diego sector has about 2,500 agents, who detained 97 immigrants illegally crossing the border on June 14. On the same day, 1,422 immigrants were captured in the Rio Grand Valley, where 3,200 agents are stationed.

The mismatched border protection comes as President Obama plans to ask Congress for more than $2 billion to address a growing crisis on the Texas border where an increase of Central Americans crossings is causing cramped, squalid conditions.

Border Patrol officials said immigrants often shift migration routes depending on the abundance of agents on the border.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Border Patrol Station in Texas Overwhelmed by Central American Migrants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Throngs of Central American women and children are forced to stay in squalid, cramped conditions at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, the Washington Post reports.

Video obtained by the Washington Post shows children sleeping on concrete floors in sweltering heat for days. The migrants are fed tacos and bologna sandwiches and the sick are separated by strips of yellow police tape. They use portable toilets and have no showers.

After seeing the conditions, President Obama declared a “humanitarian crisis.”

Each day, agents capture hundreds of Central American migrants, some of whom travel in groups as large as 250 people.

Many of them are fleeing violence and poverty.

Secret Service Not Bothered by Viral Video of President Obama Working Out at Poland Hotel

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service said it’s not worried about surreptitiously captured video of President Obama working out in a hotel in Poland, the Associated Press reports.

A hotel guest is believed to have captured the video, which has gone viral on the Internet.

The video offers a candid look at President Obama grimacing as he lifts weights.

The Secret Service said guests aren’t prohibited from taking pictures and that the hotel gym was not closed while the president worked out.

Pro Publica: Three Things Obama’s New Clemency Initiative Doesn’t Do

By Kara Brandeisky
ProPublica

Today, the Department of Justice outlined expanded criteria that could allow prisoners convicted of non-violent crimes to win early release from prison. Under the new initiative, the Office of the Pardon Attorney will fast-track commutation applications from inmates who have served more than 10 years for non-violent offenses and who were well-behaved while imprisoned.

As part of the shift, the department is replacing Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers. Two years ago, we reported that Rodgershad failed to provide critical information to the White House in urging denial of a commutation for Clarence Aaron, a model prisoner who served nearly 20 years for a small role in a drug deal.

Aaron’s release was championed by civil liberties groups, and late last year he was among eight prisoners whose cocaine-related sentences were commuted by President Obama. His case was among the more than 35 stories ProPublica has published over the past three years about racial discrimination in pardon outcomes and questionable practices in the process.

Obama’s commutation reforms cheered prisoners’ rights advocates, who say they are a necessary corrective to an unfair sentencing regime. But the new initiatives, which appear to be aimed at commutations, don’t address other problems identified in our reporting on presidential clemency.

Here’s three areas the new initiative doesn’t address:

1. Whether Outgoing Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers Was Disciplined

Aaron was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for abetting a drug conspiracy – though he had not sold, bought, or supplied the cocaine, and he had no prior criminal convictions. Though he seemed like a model candidate for early release, President Bush denied his petition in December 2008.

Rodgers had misrepresented some key facts about Aaron’s case in his report to the White House. As we reported, both the U.S. attorney for the South District of Alabama and Aaron’s sentencing judge had supported Aaron’s petition. Instead, Rodgers inaccurately informed the White House that the U.S. attorney thought the request was “about 10 years premature.”

In December 2012, the Justice Department’s inspector general said Rodgers’ conduct “fell substantially short of the high standards expected of Department of Justice employees and the duty he owed the President.” In a report, the IG said Justice should review “whether administrative action is appropriate.”

Rodgers has remained in his position until today, when Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced that Rodgers would be replaced by Deborah Leff, the Acting Senior Counselor for Access to Justice. After a transition, Rodgers will take on “another role” in the agency, a Justice Department news release said.

“Over the past several years, Ron has performed admirably in what is a very tough job,” Cole said. “He has demonstrated dedication and integrity in his work on pardons and commutations.”

Asked by a reporter if Rodgers’ departure was related to the inspector general report, Cole said it’s typical for senior officials to change positions within the department. “Ron has expressed some desire for a while to move on, as the senior executive service usually does,” he said.

A spokeswoman from the department was unable to confirm whether Rodgers had been disciplined for his role in the Aaron case. “We can’t comment on personnel matters given Privacy Act concerns,” she said.

Read more »

San Francisco Gate: Offering Clemency to Low-Level Drug Offenders Is Long Overdue

By San Francisco Gate
Editorial Board

When Barack Obama ran for the White House in 2008, federal inmates and their families believed that if he won, miracles would follow. They were convinced that the former law professor and critic of federal mandatory minimum sentences would be liberal with his unfettered constitutional power to free low-level and nonviolent offenders sentenced to decades, even life without parole, behind bars.

Then, for the next five years, criminal lawyers and reformers stood around scratching their heads wondering why Obama held the worst pardon record of any modern president. He commuted one sentence in his first term. When Obama was re-elected in 2012, they hoped he would open the gates. In December, a small door opened. The president commuted the sentences of eight crack offenders, all of whom had served at least 15 years.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement that promises big change. Holder said the Department of Justice will adopt a “new and improved” approach with a bigger team “committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.” Expect the new team to seek out nonviolent, low-level drug offenders with clean prison records.

Sam Morison, a former staffer in the pardon attorney’s office, fears the new clemency project will be a “technical exercise that only an expert in the federal sentencing guidelines can appreciate.”
But Mary Price of Families Against Mandatory Minimums is ecstatic. For years, the Justice Department’s Office of Pardon Attorney has served as an “office of no” that rejected cases of clear sentencing overkill.

To read more click here.