Tag Archives: Justice Department

Fed’s Halt Return of Zimmerman’s Gun

ABC News

George Zimmerman can’t get back the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin, but nothing is keeping him from purchasing another gun if he wants, Florida police said today.

Federal and local authorities said plans to return Zimmerman’s Kel Tec 9 pistol were put on hold after the Department of Justice announced a new investigation to determine whether Zimmerman violated 17-year-old Martin’s civil rights.

“The Department of Justice put a hold on all of the evidence in the case. The evidence will not be returned until such time as they release the hold,” said Sanford Police spokesman James McAuliffe.

McAuliffe, however, told ABC News that there is nothing legally preventing Zimmerman, who was acquitted in Martin’s murder on Saturday, from purchasing a new firearm.

“I do not believe that there is” any legal reason Zimmerman would not be able to purchase another gun, McAuliffe said.

Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of six women who found he acted in self-defense when he shot the unarmed teenager in February 2012.

The verdict produced an outcry ranging from Martin’s parents to protests in cities across the country. Zimmerman, 29, immediately went into hiding following the verdict.

On Sunday, Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara said Zimmerman was entitled to get the gun back and needed it “even more” than before his acquittal, given the controversy surrounding the case and frequent threats to his life.

“I think that he feels truly in his heart that if he did not have that weapon that night he might not be here…. [He] would have continued to get beat even though he was screaming for help,” O’Mara told ABC News in an exclusive interview last week.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder called Martin’s death “unnecessary” and vowed to proceed with a federal case.

Zimmerman’s attorney was travelling and not available for comment on the decision to retain all evidence pending DOJ orders. Zimmerman’s brother, Robert, also declined to talk about the gun.

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GOP Rep To Zimmerman Demonstrators: ‘Get Over It’

I’m certain this politician believes what he’s saying.  However, in my opinion he hasn’t a clue what tens of thousands of people across the nation are feeling.

Then again as a Tea Party member or sympathizer (see photo) he probably just doesn’t give a damn…

The Huffington Post.

Shortly following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who fatally shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in 2012, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) offered his advice for listeners displeased with the jury’s verdict.

“Get over it,” the congressman said during a Tuesday appearance on WMAL’s “Mornings on the Mall” radio show.

Harris had joined the program to discuss the Affordable Care Act and impending votes in Congress, but the conversation shifted to Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting on Saturday.

When asked if he’d been following the heavily publicized courtroom drama, Harris denounced the media frenzy surrounding the case, expressing frustration that “with all the huge issues going on in the world, with unrest in the Middle East, [the public eye is] hung up on this one case where this one fellow was in fact found not guilty by a jury. That’s the way the American law system works,” he said. “Get over it.”

As the high profile case dominated the airwaves, many caught in its emotionally charged aftermath argued that merely “getting over it” is not an option.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, has urged citizens “on the side of truth and progress” to take part in nationwide demonstrations on Saturday in an effort to spur a federal investigation of Zimmerman.

“Trayvon had undeniable civil rights that are to be protected under the laws of this nation,” Sharpton said. “We must fight for those rights because he no longer can.”

During his WMAL appearance, however, Harris argued that intervention by the Department of Justice would be “purely political,” and would require lawmakers to “look at ways to rein in the Justice Department.”

“To consider going after a person who, under our system, has been found not guilty, is incredulous,” he said.

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Why Are Homeowners Being Jailed for Demanding Wall Street Prosecutions?

That’s an excellent question…

Rolling Stone Magazine

Bankers go free while cops tase peaceful protesters and the Department of Justice targets journalists

A two-day long housing protest outside the Department of Justice this week has resulted in nearly 30 arrests and several instances of law enforcement unnecessarily using tasers on activists, according to eye-witnesses. The action – which was organized by a coalition of housing advocacy groups, including the Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes – called for Attorney General Eric Holder to begin prosecutions against the bankers who created the foreclosure crisis.

“Everyone here is fed up with Holder acknowledging big banks did really bad stuff but [saying] they’re too big to jail,” says Greg Basta, deputy director of New York Communities for Change, who helped organize the event. Holder has previously suggested that prosecuting large banks would be difficult because it could destabilize the economy. The attorney general recently tried to walk those comments back – but the conspicuous lack of criminal prosecutions of bankers tells another story, one thatRolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi has written about extensively.

Gangster Bankers: Too Big To Jail

Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street employee and current Occupy Wall Street activist who was also at the event on Monday, agrees. “I want Eric Holder to uphold the rule of law, regardless of how much power the criminal has,” says Goldstein. She says the lack of criminal prosecutions has created a “culture of immunity” that only gets further entrenched by the small settlements that banks now consider a cost of doing business. “There’s no risk,” she says, adding that the DOJ is effectively “incentivizing breaking the law.”

Around 400 homeowners and 100 supporters took part in Monday’s actions outside the DOJ, according to Basta. One of them was Vera Johnson, of Seattle. “I’ve been dealing with foreclosure issues for three years,” says Johnson, just minutes after being released from the jail where she was held for over 24 hours for participating in this peaceful protest. Bank of America recently granted Johnson a loan modification after the media picked up on a Change.org petition that she started to save her home; this reprieve turned out to be a time bomb, as her rates were set to return to their original levels after four years. It’s an all too common story, and Johnson went to Washington, D.C. to “join in solidarity” with others in similar situations.

Many of this week’s protesters have been black and Latino homeowners, who were hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis. Mildred Garrison-Obi – a black woman from Stone Mountain, Georgia – was evicted from her home in 2012, though with the help of Occupy Our Homes she was able to return to it after four months of facing homelessness. “It was devastating,” says Garrison-Obi, who was arrested today in a related action held outside of a law firm where Holder was once a partner. “But I’m not alone.”

Activists note with dismay that the government has been significantly harder on people who stage nonviolent demonstrations against Wall Street than it has on the crooked bankers responsible for the housing crisis. Goldstein and Basta both say they witnessed law enforcement using tasers on multiple protesters this week. Johnson says that several hours before her arrest, as she and others sat on planter boxes outside the DOJ, a Department of Homeland Security officer asked, “Do you want to get arrested?” and then, “Do you want to get tased?” Later, when she refused to unlock her arms with another protester after three warnings – hardly a violent act or a threat to public safety – she says she was tased from behind on her left arm. She turned around to see the same officer, who she recalls telling her, “That’s what you get.”

Carmen Pittman, an activist with Occupy Our Homes in Atlanta, suffered similar treatment at this week’s protests. In video footage of her arrest, Pittman appears to have her arms interlocked with another protester.

Continue reading here…

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How Do You Steal a Dream? Supreme Court hears suit to kill Voting Rights Act

I’m inclined to believe that this Supreme Court (The Rehnquist/Roberts Court) does not want to tarnish it’s legacy further and thus, will reach a just decision on the issue…

Greg Palast

Jim Crow is alive and well — and he has mounted a new attack on the law Martin Luther King dreamed of: the Voting Rights Act.

Today, February 27, the Supreme Court will hear a suit brought by Shelby County, Alabama, which challenges the right of the Department of Justice to review changes in voting procedure. Example: Attempts to cut the number of early voting days, to expunge “illegal alien” voters without any evidence, refusing Spanish-language ballots, have been blocked by the Department of Justice and courts because they have stopped Black and Hispanic citizens casting ballots.

Sixteen states are subject to this “pre-clearance” law, every one with a history of Jim Crow rules such as “literacy” tests — Blacks had to recite the Constitution, Whites “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Dixie moans it’s been picked on unfairly, but the “pre-clearance” states, chosen by an arithmetic formula, include all or parts of the “Confederate states” of California, Arizona, Alaska and New York.

All those above the Mason-Dixon line are on the civil-rights hot-water roster because of a history of hostility to Hispanic citizens. In 2006, for example, the Republican Secretary of State of California rejected 42% of voter registration forms because the names were “unusual” and difficult to type into records! The names, like Chávez and Muhammad, were only “unusual” for Republicans.

New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg is happy to pre-clear his city’s changes with the Justice Department and has told that to the Court. But once again, as Dr. King said in his Dream speech, in Alabama, the “Governor has his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification” — to nullify the 15th Amendment’s right to vote and to interpose himself between federal law and the enforcement of this basic American right.

And the Southland? In 2000, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris purged tens of thousands of African-Americans from voter rolls, labeling them “felons” when their only crime was VWB: Voting While Black. All — every one — were innocent. And again, in 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott targeted 180,000 voters, mostly Latinos, as illegal “alien” voters. The Governor, when challenged by the Justice Department, cut the “alien” list to 198 but in the end, could only produce evidence against one.
If it were not for Section 5, the pre-clearance law, the purges, gerrymandering and other racially bent trickery rampant in Florida, Arizona (with its profiling and harassment of Hispanic voters) and Alaska with its bias against Native Americans would be so much worse. Without review — and the threat of review — Americans would once again lose the rights that the Constitution promises, won with the blood of our Fathers.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the Jim Crow and José Crow tactics that create long lines of voters of color in Ohio and other states.

Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan signed massive expansions of the Voting Rights Act, tripling its reach. It is time to extend the law’s protections again — to Ohio, to Wisconsin, to everyone.

When every American is protected by the Voting Rights Act review of voting changes, then all of us may be secure that our votes will not be nullified by politicians abusing the voting system to seize office through tactics racist in effect, if not intent.

A half century ago this year, Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream with America:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

“We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

King’s dream is the American Dream — which no Court should take away. It is a mighty stream which must touch all citizens in every state.

Without “pre-clearance,” the Voting Rights Act is an empty promise — with purged, blocked and intimidated voters having to protest after an election to the very officials elected by the vote thievery that put them in office.

If this Supreme Court removes “pre-clearance” Section 5 on the grounds that it does not apply to every state, then the solution is simple and just: apply pre-clearance to every state.  Every American deserves a review by Justice of laws which tell us who can vote — and who can’t.

As King admonished us, we must not be satisfied when we see Black folk, a half century after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, stand in line for six hours to vote whether in Miami or in Cleveland.

We petition the Court and Congress to let freedom ring.

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Justice Dept. Ends Investigation Into Goldman Sachs Mortgage Abuses Without Pressing Charges

 

 

After four years of investigating Goldman Sachs’ blatant mortgage abuses, the crooks go free.

What the heck does this say to the next round of crooks coming out of Wall Street with their derivatives and toxic debris.

People go to jail for stealing a loaf of bread while others stay free after stealing from the entire global finance system and simply walk away unscathed.

This is one of the few things I don’t like about this administration.  Some people say they are beholden to the Banks for helping to get Obama elected in 2008.  I tend to believe that, but wonder why Obama is still in the tank with Goldman Sachs, et al.   Now, they refuse to endorse or support Obama’s bid for a second term…

Think Progress

After a year-long investigation into Goldman Sachs, the bank singled out by a Senate investigative committee for its abusive mortgage practices in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Friday that it would not press charges against the bank. Goldman Sachs became of the face of widespread mortgage fraud and abuse that led to the subprime mortgage crisis when evidence that it had made trades described by its own bankers as “shitty deals” came to light during a Senate investigation in 2011.

The Department of Justice, however, concluded that it did not have enough evidence to meet the “burden of proof” required for charges, the Wall Street Journal reports:

“Based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report,” the statement read. [...]

In a statement Thursday, Goldman said: “We are pleased that this matter is behind us.”

DOJ’s investigation began after an April 2011 report from the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations revealed that Goldman Sachs had pushed its clients to make trades on risky mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps even as the bank was betting the same securities would lose value. Though Goldman Sachs was “doing God’s work,” according to chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, other bankers described pushing “shitty deals” on customers. In March of this year, a Goldman Sachs trader lambasted the bank’s “toxic and destructive” culture in a scathing resignation editorial in the New York Times; a former Goldman partner followed up the next week by admitting that the bank’s “commercial animals” had duped customers and peddled “junk” to its clients.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also declined to press charges related to the bank’s role in a $1.3 billion sale of mortgage-backed securities, a reversal from last month when it indicated that it would recommend criminal prosecution. In July, Goldman settled a civil suit with the SEC for $550 million, and it faced sanctions from the Federal Reserve in September.

DOJ reserved the right to re-open the case and press charges should new evidence emerges, but for now, the case seems the latest in a string of them in which the biggest purveyors of the toxic assets that led to the financial crisis walk away with minimal penalties and, in many cases, no penalty at all.

 

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Eric Holder: Voter ID Laws Are ‘Poll Taxes’

Eric Holder Voter Id Poll Tax

Was there ever any doubt?

The Huffington Post

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters.

In remarks to the NAACP in Houston, the attorney general said the Justice Department “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”

Under the law passed in Texas, Holder said that “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them – and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.”

“We call those poll taxes,” Holder added spontaneously, drawing applause as he moved away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people.

The 24th amendment to the constitution made that type of tax illegal.

Holder spoke a day after a trial started in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls.

Under Texas’ law, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would serve as acceptable ID to vote, but a student ID would not. He went on to say that while only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, about 25 percent of black people lack such identification.

“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said.

Holder said the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”

“I will not allow that to happen,” he added.

The attorney general spoke at the 103rd convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is launching a battle against new state voter ID laws. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous has likened the fight against conservative-backed voter ID laws passed in several states to “Selma and Montgomery times,” referring to historic Alabama civil rights confrontations of the mid-1960s.

Holder, the first black man named U.S. Attorney General, was received with resounding applause, a standing ovation and chants of “Holder, Holder, Holder” at the convention.

Those chants quickly changed to “stand your ground, stand your ground,” a reference to a Florida law that neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is using to defend fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager he encountered while patrolling his community in February. Police did not initially arrest or charge Zimmerman, saying the “stand your ground” law allowed self-defense. He was later charged with second-degree murder.

Holder said the Justice Department under his leadership has taken unprecedented steps to study and prevent violence against youth and address the high homicide rate among young black men.

Finally, the attorney general noted with pride that the U.S. Supreme Court in two recent rulings regarding President Barack Obama’s health care law and immigration laws passed in Arizona, largely supported the federal government and the Department of Justice. However, he said, he remained concerned that Arizona law enforcement, under the portion of the law upheld by the court, would be able to check the immigration status of any person suspected of being in the United States illegally.

“No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” Holder said.

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Six decades of executive privilege

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder answers questions while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill June 12, 2012 in Washington, DC. Holder faced questions from senators about the ongoing Operation Fast and Furious investigation, his decision to ordered two federal prosecutors to begin criminal investigations into a series of national security leaks to the news media and other subjects.

Darrell Issa and his oversight committee are blatantly trying to get Attorney General Eric Holder fired.

Some people are suggesting that the committee’s underlying reason for this unprecedented attack on the AG is about gun control.  There is a far-fetched conspiracy theory that Issa, et al have concocted in which many people (especially Fox news viewers) believe Holder and President Obama are underhandedly trying to take away their guns.

On the other hand, and I subscribe to this theory: Others believe that Issa et al are going after AG Holder  for…

  • Blocking voter suppression laws
  • Challenging anti-immigration laws
  • Refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act

This is all about making Obama look bad in an election year.  in my opinion, it’s also about them truly being upset that the Justice Department is blocking their attempts to steal the election…plain and simple.

Meanwhile President Obama had enough of the showboating and utter disrespect for the Attorney General’s office and stature.  That’s one of the reasons why he implemented executive privilege over Issa’s request for more documents (although Holder submitted 7000 documents to Issa’s committee over the last few months.) Some of the remaining  documents were too sensitive to release.

The Washington Post

Most presidents have used executive privilege for reasons similar to President Obama’s: to keep officials or documents from revealing sensitive information, often to Congress. Read related article.

Most presidents have used executive privilege for reasons similar to President Obama’s: to keep officials or documents from revealing sensitive information, often to Congress. A look at six decades of executive privilege.

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BREAKING: Obama Asserts Executive Privilege Over ‘Fast & Furious’ Documents

 

 

Here’s the thing…

The Right has had a major conniption over possible legislative attempts to expose their millionaire donors to the Romney campaign.

Yet Darrell Issa and company are just about ready to explode over the idea of President Obama claiming executive privilege over certain White House connected high level documents pertaining to the Department of Justice’s Fast and Furious campaign.

 

The hypocrisy and double standard is astounding but that’s not even the half of it…

 

Think Progress

 

President Obama is asserting executive privilege over documents Republicans are requesting from the Department of Justice in the Fast and Furious investigation.

 

“After you rejected the Department’s recent offers of additional accommodations, you stated that the Committee intends to proceed with its scheduled meeting to consider a resolution citing the Attorney General for contempt for failing to comply with the Committee’s subpoena of October 11, 2011,” James M. Cole, the Deputy Attorney General wrote in a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) Wednesday morning. “I write now to inform you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the relevant post-February 4, 2011, documents.” The move is certainly not unprecedented: President George W. Bush asserted executive privilege six times during his eight years in office, while President Bill Clinton did so 14 times.

 

UPDATE 

 

Bush invoked the privilege repeatedly: to block a Congressional committee’s subpoenas for documents relating to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in the US attorneys scandal that brought down Alberto Gonzales, to prevent Josh Bolten from turning over documents, and to protect Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor and Karl Rove and Scott Jennings from testimony.

 

UPDATE 

Issa on March 20, 2012: “We very clearly want to respect the history of executive privilege.”

 

UPDATE 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on June 11, 2012: “The only constitutionally viable exception to the Department of Justice`s obligation under the subpoena would be executive privilege. The President hasnt asserted that privilege, presumably because the vast majority of the documents at issue aren’t related to communications with the White House. Because the documents don’t fit the category of executive privilege, the department is obligated to turn over the documents.”

 

UPDATE 

Responding to Obama’s use of executive privilege, Issa says “the untimely assertion by the Justice Department falls short of any reason to delay today’s proceedings.”

 

UPDATE 

Grassley has also issued a statement decrying Obama’s action: “The assertion of executive privilege raises monumental questions. How can the President assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the President exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme? The contempt citation is an important procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances. The questions from Congress go to determining what happened in a disastrous government program for accountability and so that it’s never repeated again.”

 

UPDATE 

The House Oversight Committee will consider this contempt resolution, which Democrats are opposing.  As Rep. Elijiah Cummings (D-MD) explained to Issa, “You accused him of a cover-up for protecting documents that he was prohibited by law from producing.”

 

 

 

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All 67 Florida Election Supervisors Suspend Governor Rick Scott’s Voter Purge

This is what DEMOCRACY looks like!

The Obamacrat

On Thursday, the Justice Department demanded Florida Governor Rick Scott end his extensive purge of registered voters from the rolls because it was in violation offederal law. Scott still hasn’t formally responded but his county election supervisors have already taken action.

The Palm Beach Post reports:

Florida elections supervisors said Friday they will discontinue a state-directed effort to remove names from county voter rolls because they believe the state data is flawed and because the U.S. Department of Justice has said the process violates federal voting laws...

The Justice Department letter and mistakes that the 67 county elections supervisors have found in the state list make the scrub undoable, saidMartin County Elections Supervisor Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections…

Ron Labasky, the association’s general counsel, sent a memo to the 67 supervisors Friday telling them to stop processing the list.

“I recommend that Supervisors of Elections cease any further action until the issues raised by the Department of Justice are resolved between the parties or by a Court,” Labasky wrote.

H/t: Jueseppi B.

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CNN’s Toobin: Appeals court judge threw ‘judicial hissy-fit’

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin via YouTube screenshot

I believe Jeffrey Toobin got it right this time…

The Raw Story

An appeals court judge who claimed President Barack Obama was challenging the authority of federal courts was just throwing a “judicial hissy-fit,” according to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

“Totally extraordinary and totally inappropriate,” Toobin said. “This was a judicial hissy-fit.”

U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith on Tuesday demanded a “three page, single spaced” letter from the Justice Department regarding the authority of the federal courts to strike down laws passed by Congress. Obama said Monday that the “unelected” Supreme Court should not to take the “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” step of striking down the Affordable Care Act.

“What the President said was entirely appropriate, entirely within his rights as an American citizen to express his opinions about this law,” Toobin continued.

“He wasn’t intimidating the Supreme Court. He couldn’t intimidate the Supreme Court if he wanted to. He was simply saying that he believes this law is constitutional, and this judge, doing this ridiculous patronizing act to the Department of Justice has simply made himself look ridiculous.”

Toobin claimed that if the Supreme Court did strike down the health care law, it would in fact be “extremely unprecedented,” even though the Supreme Court has the right to do so.

Toobin previously predicted that the Supreme Court would strike down the law’s individual mandate clause.

Watch video, courtesy of CNN, below:

Related articles

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