Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action

Current Legislative News

  • 04 Feb 2010 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Investigations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Keeping Foreign Corruption Out of the United States: Four Case Histories

    Corrupt foreign officials and their relatives have used gaps in U.S. law and the assistance of U.S. professionals to funnel millions of dollars in illicit money into the United States, an investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found.

    “For the United States, which has so much riding on global stability, corruption is a direct threat to our national interest,” said Sen. Carl Levin, [D-MI] subcommittee chairman.  “That’s why the United States is engaged in a relentless, worldwide battle to stop the flow of illegal money into and within places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Laundered money is used to train and provide support for terrorists and terrorism.  If we want to credibly lead efforts to stop illegal money abroad, we’ve got to stop it here at home as well.”

    A 330-page bipartisan report to be released by Levin and subcommittee ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn, [R-OK], at today’s hearing shows that politically powerful foreign officials, and those close to them, have found ways to use the U.S. financial system to protect and enhance their ill-gotten gains.  The report exposes how those powerful individuals – known internationally as “politically exposed persons” or PEPs – have used the services of U.S. lawyers, lobbyists, real estate and escrow agents, and other professionals who currently have no obligation under U.S. regulations to establish anti-money laundering (“AML”) programs, know their customers, or evaluate the source of funds transferred into the United States.  Banks, in contrast, are subject to AML obligations and for the most part have honored them.  But glaring gaps have undermined the overall effectiveness of U.S. AML laws.

    Four Case Histories.  The report presents four case histories, each with multiple stories exposing the tactics being used by PEPs to use our financial system to protect and enhance their illicit funds.  They include the following:

    ·       $110 Million.  Teodoro Obiang, the 40-year old son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, is currently under investigation by the Justice Department for corruption and other misconduct.  Between 2004 and 2008, Mr. Obiang used U.S. lawyers, bankers, and real estate and escrow agents to move more than $110 million in suspect funds through U.S. bank accounts, including $30 million to purchase a residence in Malibu and $38.5 million to purchase an aircraft.   

    ·       Third Party Accounts.  Mr. Obiang used shell company, attorney-client, and law office accounts controlled by his attorneys to bring suspect funds into the United States and conduct transactions through U.S. banks without their knowing of his activity, including at banks that had made it clear they did not want his business.

    ·       Lost Escrow Business.  An escrow agent who refused to complete the purchase of a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet without information on the source of the funds being supplied by Mr. Obiang, lost out to a competitor willing to complete the transaction with no questions asked.

    ·       $18 Million Through Lobbyist Account.  Omar Bongo, President of Gabon for 41 years until his death last year, and his eldest son, Ali Bongo, Minister of Defense until he took his father’s place as President of the country, amassed substantial wealth while in office, amid the extreme poverty of its citizens.  In 2006, $18 million in funds from Gabon were wired to the U.S. corporate bank accounts of a U.S. lobbyist who then distributed the funds within the United States and across the globe as directed by President Bongo in connection with two projects to support his regime, buying U.S.-made armored cars and C-130 military cargo planes.  Among the funds the lobbyist distributed was $9.2 million which he wire transferred to an account for President Omar Bongo – not in Gabon – but in the country of Malta.

    ·       $1 Million Shrink Wrapped.  In 2007, President Omar Bongo brought $1 million in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into the United States under cover of diplomatic immunity without declaring the cash to U.S. authorities as required by law.  His daughter, who told her bank that she was an unemployed student, deposited the cash in a U.S. safe deposit box and later into her bank account.

    ·       U.S. Trust Accounts.  President Ali Bongo’s wife formed a U.S. trust under her maiden name, and used the trust to open U.S. bank and securities accounts in California.

    ·       Offshore Wire Transfers.  Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former presidential candidate in Nigeria, helped her husband bring more than $40 million in suspect funds into the United States from 2000 to 2008, through wire transfers from offshore corporations.  The Securities and Exchange Commission has alleged in a 2008 civil complaint that Ms. Douglas received $2.8 million in bribe payments from a German conglomerate, Siemens AG, which has acknowledged making the payments.

    ·       Arms Dealer.  Pierre Falcone, a notorious Angolan arms dealer with a history of run-ins with the law and who is currently serving a 6-year prison sentence, had open access to more than 30 U.S. bank accounts in Arizona for 18 years.

    ·       Central Banker.  Aguinaldo Jaime, former head of the Central Bank of Angola, tried twice to transfer $50 million in Angolan government funds to a private account in the United States, only to have the transfers reversed by U.S. financial institutions who became suspicious.  The corruption concerns raised by his actions caused Citibank to close all accounts for Angolan government agencies and to close down its office in Angola.

    ·       Private Angolan Bank.  Banco Africano Investimentos (“BAI”), a $7 billion private Angolan bank which caters to PEPs, gained access to the U.S. financial system through HSBC in New York, despite troubling information about its ownership and failure to provide a copy of its anti-money laundering policies and procedures.

    Recommendations.  To combat the abuses, the report makes several recommendations, including:

    • World Bank PEP Controls.  Implementing stronger controls on PEP accounts as laid out in a recent World Bank report, including by requiring banks to use reliable databases to screen clients for PEPs, requiring beneficial ownership forms for bank accounts so hidden PEPs are exposed, and conducting annual reviews of PEP accounts to detect suspicious activity.
    • Beneficial Owners.  Requiring U.S. corporations to identify their beneficial owners, in order to thwart the use of shell companies with hidden PEP owners.
    • Ending Exemptions.  Ending the exemptions Treasury granted in 2002 to the Patriot Act’s anti-money laundering requirements, so that real estate and escrow agents will have to know their customers, evaluate the source of their funds, and turn away suspect clients.  Also requiring Treasury to instruct banks to subject attorney-client and law office accounts to greater oversight and stop their use to shield PEPs from scrutiny.
    • Immigration and Visa Criteria.  Toughening immigration and visa rules to make foreign corruption a legal basis for barring entry into the United States and for removing PEPs already here.  Increasing law enforcement support for Presidential Proclamation 7750 to identify corrupt foreign officials who should be barred from the United States.
    • Stronger FATF Recommendations.  Encouraging U.S. professional organizations to issue anti-money laundering and anti-corruption guidance to their members.

    “Stopping the flow of illegal money is critical, because foreign corruption damages civil society, undermines the rule of law, and threatens our security,” said Levin. 

  • 04 Feb 2010 3:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    HR 4061 Cybersecurity Enhancement Act Passes House

    HR 4061, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, which combined the Cybersecurity Coordination and Awareness Act and the Cybersecurity Research and Development Amendments Act, passed the House today by a vote of 422 to 5.  The primary sponsor was Rep. Daniel Lipinski [D-IL].  In a statement he said: “The amount of time all of us spend on the Internet, the vulnerabilities that are out there, hopefully through this work, we can make things better, so we have fewer problems with attacks, not just on government but on individuals.”  The measure goes to the Senate.

    Included in the bill's provisions are:

    • Increases the role of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in developing international cybersecurity technical standards. The measure also charges the NIST with creating IT security awareness and education campaigns for the public, improving the interoperability of identity management systems to encourage more widespread use and developing an IT security checklist for agencies to use before acquiring IT wares. An amendment by Rep. Michael McCaul, [R.-TX], was adopted to clarify that use of the checklist is voluntary.
    • Orders agencies to develop, update and implement a strategic plan for cybersecurity research and development based on an assessment of cybersecurity risk, and that it specify and prioritize near-term, mid-term and long-term research objectives, describing how the near-term objectives complement R&D occurring in the private sector.
    • Establishes a scholarship fund, administrated by the National Science Foundation, in which student recipients promise to work as IT security professionals in government in an equal number of years in which they received the grant. The NSF program also would fund faculty professional development and cybersecurity curricula development programs at U.S. colleges and university. The funding would be spread equally around the country, and would encourage minority students to pursue careers in cybersecurity.
    • Directs the National Science Foundation to support research on the social and behavioral aspects of cybersecurity as part of their total cybersecurity research portfolio
    • Directs NSF to establish a postdoctoral fellowship program in cybersecurity. The measure also would reauthorize the NSF cybersecurity research program and includes identity management as one of the research areas support. Another provision would reauthorize NSF programs that provide funding for capacity building grants, graduate student fellowships, graduate student traineeships and research centers in cybersecurity.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimates provisions of the bill to costs $643 million for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 and $320 million thereafter. 

    Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Relations

    February 4, 2010

  • 03 Feb 2010 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Former New York City Police Department Sergeant Sentenced to Six Months' Imprisonment for Making False Statements to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents
    Defendant Provided Vehicle Registration Information for Law Enforcement Surveillance Vehicles to Narcotics Trafficker

    FEB 02 -- (Brooklyn, NY) Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, Roosevelt Green, formerly a Sergeant with the New York City Police Department was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for making false statements to Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents during a narcotics investigation. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco and announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

    On June 16, 2009, as jury selection was about to commence in his trial, Green pleaded guilty to lying to DEA agents on May 22, 2007. As Green’s guilty plea, indictment, and underlying complaint reveal, he used NYPD computers to obtain vehicle registration information for two DEA surveillance vehicles and provided that information to Frank "Big Bananas" Wilson, a long-time Wyandanch narcotics trafficker. 1 In a May 22, 2007 interview with DEA agents, Green falsely stated that he did not provide the vehicle registration information to Wilson.

    In February 2007, the DEA, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD), and the United States Attorney’s Office commenced a court authorized wiretap investigation of Wilson’s narcotics trafficking organization, which had been distributing cocaine and “crack” cocaine in Suffolk County for more than a decade. Law enforcement officers intercepted a series of conversations between Green and Wilson, which revealed that Wilson asked Green to check license plates on two vehicles Wilson thought might have been used to follow him. The intercepted conversations further revealed that, while on duty in an NYPD patrol car on March 31, 2007, Green used NYPD computers to obtain vehicle registration information for two vehicles and provided that information to Wilson. Both those vehicles had been used to conduct surveillance of Wilson and his co-conspirators during the wiretap investigation. In a subsequent conversation, Green told Wilson that he wanted a warm-up suit and a pair of sneakers in exchange for the information.

    On May 22, 2007, DEA agents and NYPD detectives executed a federal search warrant at Green’s Wyandanch residence. A number of items were seized, including sneakers and other articles of clothing Green admitted receiving from Wilson. At that time, Green told the DEA agents that he had had conversations with Wilson and that he was aware that Wilson was a drug dealer, but denied having obtained vehicle registration information for him.

    As a condition of his plea agreement with the government, Green, a 12-year veteran, resigned from the NYPD immediately after his guilty plea on June 16, 2009 and agreed not to seek future employment with any federal, state or local law enforcement agency.

    “Law enforcement officers have the responsibility to serve the public and protect their communities. This defendant abused that responsibility and used his position to obtain sensitive information that he provided to a known drug dealer,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “By doing so, he not only violated his duties as a police officer, but also endangered fellow law enforcement officers and the public through his actions.” Mr. Campbell thanked the DEA, SCPD, and SCSD for their efforts during this prosecution. Mr. Campbell also thanked the NYPD for its cooperation and assistance during the investigation.

    The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John J. Durham.

    The Defendant: ROOSEVELT GREEN

    Age: 47

    In May 2007, Wilson and 14 co-defendants were arrested for conspiring to distribute cocaine and “crack” cocaine and were subsequently indicted on narcotics and weapons charges. All 15 defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing in the Eastern District of New York.

  • 29 Jan 2010 2:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ISPLA and PICA Represent Industry at FTC Roundtable in Berkeley, CA.

     

    Dateline:  January 28, 2010, Berkeley, CA

     

    Representatives of Investigative and Security Professionals for Legislative Action (ISPLA) and the Professional Investigators of California (PICA) took part in the Federal Trade Commission’s public roundtable discussion on Evolving Consumer Privacy Issues today in Berkeley, CA. 

     

    The first roundtable discussions in this series was on December 7th in Washington, D.C. with the focus on exploring the privacy challenges posed by the vast array of 21st century technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data, including those of professional investigators. ISPLA provided the profession’s position regarding the legitimate need for continued access to information by professional investigators. 

     

    The roundtable discussions will consider the risks and benefits of information collection and use in online and offline contexts, consumer expectations surrounding various information management practices, and the adequacy of existing legal and self-regulatory controls to address privacy interests. Roundtable participants will include stakeholders representing a wide range of views and experiences.  The participation of the investigation industry is critical to counter-balance the legitimate concerns of privacy advocates and other industry forces.

     

    ISPLA and their state level partner PICA are concerned with the prospect of additional regulations and laws that limit the legitimate use of consumer information.  ISPLA’s participation, at the behest of the FTC, reflects on the association’s reputation among regulators and legislators as a significant and reasoned voice for the industry. 

     

    The mission of ISPLA is to monitor and identify critical legislative and regulatory issues in order to provide a forum for debate and discussion within the investigative and security professions and to serve as an advocate for these professions. To find out more about ISPLA and how you can support your profession go to www.ispla.org.

     

    PICA’s founding was based on the premise that professional private investigators are an integral part of the state’s legal system.  They seek recognition by demonstrating to legislators and regulators the critical role licensed private investigators fill for the consumer and corporate interests in California.  To find out how to support the efforts of PICA visit their website at www.pica-association.org.

     

    ###

    Contact Information:

    Investigative and Security Professionals for Legislative Action

    Telephone:  (734) 428-9663

    Isplavoice@gmail.com

    www.ispla.org

  • 22 Jan 2010 12:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Changing Political Climate

     

    The special election of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has cost the Democrats their important 60th vote. The potential climate change blowing from the election to fill the vacancy of the late Senator Ted Kennedy bodes well for investigative and security professionals in Washington on a number of bills which are of concern to ISPLA.

     

    Contract security companies and large corporate clients of professional investigators are concerned with HR 1409/S560, the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009. Republicans, who are opposed to this bill, now have the 41st vote which allows them to filibuster bills in the Senate.  Passage of EFCA would allow labor unions to organize via the use of "card check", thus denying employees the right to a secret ballot. The bill also mandates an arbitration scheme thought to be more favorable to unions.

     

    Another national trade association has recently expressed concern with provisions of HR 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, calling for the creation of a Consumer Financial Services Protection Agency.  This provision is being challenged by the financial services industry and the election of Senator Brown will impact the chances of creating such an agency in the Senate Banking Committee's bill.  The proposed Senate bill, if passed, will be a yet another "legacy bill" of Committee Chairman Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut who has opted not to run for re-election this fall.  ISPLA does not share the same concern as the "other" trade association claiming to possess the sole keys to unlock certain doors on Capitol Hill. ISPLA's leadership will continue to maintain its fine rapport developed over years of meeting with the Federal Trade Commission which has jurisdiction over specific aspects regulating segments of the investigative profession, and at the same time will continue to develop its rapport with the Department of Justice, Treasury Department, Homeland Security and other agencies which might be tasked with regulating aspects of the investigative and security industry.    

     

    Supreme Court Decision on Political Campaign Finance

     

    In a 5-4 vote (and 176 pages of total opinions), the Supreme Court threw out the 1907 Tillman Act designed to restrain the influence of big business and unions on elections, ruling that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose federal candidates for office. The decision will significantly change who donates and receives hundreds of millions of dollars in this fall's crucial midterm Congressional elections.

    The Washington Post reported: “The court overturned two of its own decisions as well as the decades-old law that said companies and labor unions can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads. The decision threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.”

     

    Corporations, their industry associations, and labor unions are permitted to assist candidates from their own funds, although the spending may not be coordinated with the candidates. The immediate effect of this Supreme Court ruling is to allow corporate and union-sponsored political ads to run right up to the moment of an election, and to permit them to call for the election or defeat of a candidate. Remaining in place is the prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions. The case does not affect political action committees, which sprang up overnight after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries. ISPLA-PAC serves this purpose for the investigative and security professions.

     

    Unlike any other national association representing the Private Investigation and Contract Security professions, INVESTIGATIVE AND SECURITY PROFESSIONALS FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION (ISPLA) administers a voluntary non-partisan political action committee (PAC). ISPLA-PAC is committed to improving and protecting the private investigative and security profession in the United States. Banding together as an industry, we make a united effort to obtain better government through education and political action.

     

    ISPLA is truly “your proactive voice” in the Nations Capitol and the State Capitol.

     

    For details on how you can support your profession by joining ISPLA go to www.ispla.org

     

    ISPLA Executive Committee

  • 19 Dec 2009 12:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Statement by American Bar Association President Carolyn B. Lamm
    Re: Introduction In U.S. House Of Representatives Of H.R. 4326,
    The Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act Of 2009


    The American Bar Association applauds the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of legislation, H.R. 4326, designed to roll back federal agency policies that continue to erode fundamental attorney-client privilege, work product and employee legal protections.
     
    The Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act, introduced yesterday by Rep. Bobby Scott and cosponsored by numerous House Judiciary Committee members from both parties, recognizes the importance of the attorney-client privilege to our legal system, our nation’s economic health and our society as a whole.  Protecting confidential attorney-client communications from government-compelled disclosure fosters voluntary compliance with the law, and that benefits everyone.  Government tactics that coerce disclosure, on the other hand, undermine these benefits and our adversarial system of justice, and can unfairly threaten the very survival of organizations, including even the largest, most robust corporations.  In addition, government policies that pressure companies to refuse to provide employees with legal assistance while investigations are pending, or to fire them for asserting their Fifth Amendment rights, weaken the constitutional presumption of innocence and undermine principles of sound corporate governance. 
    The ripple effect harms employees, investors and all of society.
     
    While the ABA supports the revised corporate charging guidelines issued by the Justice Department in August 2008 that expressly bar prosecutors from forcing organizations and their employees to waive fundamental protections during investigations, those guidelines do not have the assurance of permanence and do nothing to change the similar policies still in effect at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other agencies.  Such policies, like the Justice Department’s previous policy, pressure organizations to waive their privileges and violate their employees’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel and Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to receive cooperation credit during investigations.
     
    H.R. 4326 — like the similar Senate bill, S. 445, introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter in February — would make the Justice Department’s reforms permanent, give them the full force of law and apply them to all federal agencies.  The legislation would create a sensible, uniform standard of conduct for all federal agencies and strike the proper balance between the legitimate needs of prosecutors and regulators, and the constitutional and fundamental legal rights of individuals and organizations.
     
    The American Bar Association strongly urges Congress to approve this critical legislation as soon as possible.
             
    Dec. 17, 2009 

  • 19 Dec 2009 10:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Exonerated after serving 28 years - Free on DNA evidence

    District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Fred B. Ugast, acting at the request of the U.S. attorney's office, vacated the sentence of Donald E. Gates.  Gates had been imprisoned for 28 years in the 1981 rape and murder of Catherine Schilling, a 21 year old Georgetown University student.

    The opinion of Judge Ugast states "The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Gates is actually innocent."

    The 58 year old Gates was released last Tuesday from an Arizona prison after DNA evidence proved he had not committed the crime.  According to the Washington Post, “The court petition came as prosecutors were preparing to conduct another DNA test, but instead they filed the motion to vacate the convictions based on "actual innocence."

    Gates had maintained his innocence throughout his 1982 trial and later requested DNA testing to prove that he was not the killer.

    Prosecutors also acknowledged in a letter to the judge that they had found correspondence alerting them in 1997 to 13 discredited FBI crime analysts. One of them had provided key testimony for the prosecution during trial. The prosecutors previously indicated in court that they had not been told about the analysts; a mistake that Judge Ugast called “outrageous.” In addition, the prosecution had relied on testimony from a paid informant who testified that Gates confessed the killing and rape to him.

    The freed Gates stated he was now with his family but did not wish to state where. "I am experiencing the joy of freedom," Gates said, adding that he thanked "everyone at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia for working so hard to win my exoneration." “I thank Judge Ugast for correcting the wrong that was done to me, and I thank God." according to the Washington Post.

  • 10 Dec 2009 6:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Update on H.R. 3126, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act

     

    Conservative "Blue Dog" House Democrats forced a last-minute delay of a sweeping financial regulatory reform package scheduled for debate on the House floor December 9.

     

    A point of contention was a proposed amendment by Rep. Melissa Bean [D-IL-8], vice chair of New Democrats, a centrist coalition. Her amendment, a version of which was defeated in committee, would allow federal laws governing consumer protection to preempt those set by individual states.

     

    The bill's current text would allow states in most cases to impose tougher restrictions, using federal standards as a floor rather than a ceiling. The financial services industry has lobbied strongly against that approach, arguing that such a structure would add layers of burdensome bureaucracy and confuse consumers.

     

    An issue which may affect certain investigations is the moving of FTC authority to a proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Rep. Walter Minnick [D-ID-1], who was once a Republican, proposed an amendment which would eliminate the new independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency and replace it with a council of existing regulators to oversee consumer protection.

     

    Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans have been unified in their opposition to the proposed new consumer agency, as well as other elements of the financial reform bill.

     

    You may have recently read concern expressed by another national professional association, speaking on behalf of private investigators, hoping that this bill in its final version does not move regulatory provisions from the FTC to the proposed Consumer Financial Services Committee. 

     

    However, under the current version of the CFPA Act, the effects on FTC rulemaking authority would still be significant. Presently the FTC uses the rulemaking steps of the Administrative Procedure Act when carrying out a specific grant of authority.  Outside of specific authority the FTC must use enhanced procedures that provide additional public participation rights and other safeguards against agency overreaching when issuing rules under its "unfair or deceptive" authority. ISPLA notes that these safeguards would be eliminated under the CFPA Act.

     

    Furthermore, in expanding the FTC's enforcement powers it could seek civil penalties up to $16,000 per violation for unfair or deceptive acts or practices and have independent civil litigation authority. 

     

    Bruce Hulme

    ISPLA Director of Government Affairs

  • 25 Nov 2009 7:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week ISPLA disseminated the comprehensive report of Stratfor Global Intelligence regarding the upcoming federal criminal trial in New York City of defendants of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack. Yesterday, on this same subject, ISPLA was provided the press release below of Senator Chuck Grassley [R-IA], a long-time friend of Investigative and Security Professionals .  We felt that this information may be of interest to some Investigative and Security Professionals. 

     

    Bruce Hulme

    ISPLA Director of Governmental Affairs

     

    For Immediate Release
    November 24, 2009
     

    Grassley Pushes Attorney General to Honor Administration’s Ethics and Transparency Commitment and Answer Conflicts of Interest Questions

    WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today is urging the U.S. Attorney General to fully answer questions about conflicts of interest in detainee policies at the Justice Department. Grassley asked the questions at a November 18 Justice Department oversight hearing.
     
    During the hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder only said he would “consider” Grassley’s request for a list of Justice Department attorneys who may have conflicts of interest with detainee issues being worked on at the department.
     
    “The decisions to bring detainees into the United States and afford them civilian trials are highly questionable. I want to know more about who is advising the Attorney General. I understand that there are attorneys at the Justice Department working on these issues who either represented Guantanamo detainees or worked for groups who advocated for them. This prior representation creates apparent conflicts of interest,” Grassley said. “My request is about establishing transparency and holding the Administration to its word to make the Government’s business public.”
     
    In a letter to Holder, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee joined Grassley in pressing the Attorney General to answer Grassley’s questions. 
     
     
    The text of the letter to Holder is below, followed by an editorial from the November 22 issue of the Washington Times. 
     
    November 24, 2009
     
    The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr. Attorney General U.S. Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20530
     
    Dear Attorney General Holder:
     
        At the November 18, 2009, hearing “Oversight of the Department of Justice,” Senator Grassley asked you for information regarding attorneys at the Justice Department who are advising you on terrorism and detainee policy. Senator Grassley’s questions focused on what appear to be conflicts of interest arising from the prior representation of individual detainees, advocacy on behalf of groups of detainees, or advocacy on detainee policy by attorneys now employed at the Justice Department. 
     
        These questions follow public accounts of what appear to be conflicts of interest by current Justice Department employees. For example, National Journal reported that Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, continues to work on high level terrorism and detainee policy despite his previous legal representation of Osama Bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard. Further, The New York Post reported that Jennifer Daskal was hired to serve in the Justice Department’s National Security Division and a to serve on a terrorist detainee task force despite having no prosecutorial experience and a long history of advocating for detainees. These public accounts of apparent conflicts of interest by those crafting terrorism and detainee policies raise serious concerns that need to be addressed. 
     
        To better understand the scope of these apparent conflicts of interest, Senator Grassley asked for the following information:
     
    (1) The names of political appointees in the Department who represented detainees, worked for organizations advocating on behalf of detainees, or worked for organizations advocating on terrorism or detainee policy; (2) The cases or projects that these appointees worked on with respect to detainees prior to joining the Justice Department; (3) The cases or projects relating to detainees that they have worked on since joining the Justice Department; and (4) A list of all political appointees who have been instructed to, or have voluntarily recused themselves from working on specific detainee cases, projects, or matters pending before the courts or at the Justice Department. 
     
        Unfortunately, your response to Senator Grassley’s request was less than encouraging as you repeatedly stated you would merely “consider” the request. It is imperative that the Committee have this information so we can assure the American people that the Department is in fact formulating terrorism and detainee policy without bias or preconceived beliefs. 
     
        In addition to the information requested at the hearing, we ask that you also provide responses to the following related questions:
     
    (1) Have any ethics waivers been granted to individuals working on terrorism or detainee issues pursuant to President Obama’s Executive Order dated January 21, 2009, titled “Ethical Considerations for Executive Branch Employees?” (2) What are the Department’s criteria for recusing an individual who previously lobbied on detainee issues, represented specific detainees, worked on terrorism or detainee policy for advocacy groups, or formulated terrorism or detainee policy? (3) What is the scope of recusal for each of the political appointees who have recused themselves from working on specific detainee cases, projects, or matters? (e.g. is an individual who previously represented a detainee recused only from matters related to that individual or from other detainees?) Please provide a detailed listing of the scope of each recusal. 
     
        We ask that you provide the requested information in unredacted format as soon as possible. This information is important and will help to uphold the promise President Obama made to the American public to make his administration the most ethical and transparent ever. We trust that you share our concerns with avoiding conflicts of interest and promoting transparency at the Department. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Chuck Grassley of Iowa Orrin Hatch of Utah Jon Kyl of Arizona Jeff Sessions of Alabama Lindsey Graham of South Carolina John Cornyn of Texas Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
     
     
    Sunday, November 22, 2009 EDITORIAL EXCLUSIVE: On terrorists, Justice recused
     
    THE WASHINGTON TIMES
     
    The Obama Justice Department is having problems prosecuting terrorist cases because top department attorneys have conflicts of interest.
     
    According to documents obtained exclusively by The Washington Times, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, No. 3 official in the Justice Department, had to recuse himself on at least 13 active detainee cases and at least 26 cases listed as either closed or mooted.
     
    Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, made waves Nov. 18 when he demanded that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. provide a list of all the suspected-terrorist detainee cases from which current Justice Department political appointees have had to recuse themselves. The extent of the conflicts at the department is still unclear.
     
    Mr. Perrelli's recusals presumably stem from the work that either he or his former firm, Jenner & Block LLP, did on behalf of detainees while Mr. Perrelli served on the firm's management committee and on its appellate and Supreme Court practice groups. And Mr. Perrelli is just one official; a number of other Justice Department officials apparently did private-sector work on detainee cases.
     
    This is an important topic. Even if each official who did prior work on detainee cases has indeed properly recused himself from those cases while at the Justice Department, there could be such a large number of affected officials that the department's prevailing ethos could be tilted strongly in the detainees' favor. Mr. Grassley's inquiry is pressing because it could ferret out any instance in which a department official should have been recused but wasn't.
     
    When the senator publicly requested information from Mr. Holder, the attorney general merely promised to "consider" the request. After some hemming and hawing and dodging, Mr. Holder eventually said he needed to make sure there was no "attorney-client privilege" involved before disclosing the list of recusals. This is absurd. Attorney-client privilege may extend to the substance of lawyers' discussions with detainees, but not to the mere question of whether the lawyers are doing such work.
     
    While the rest of the list of recusals has yet to be provided to the senator, The Washington Times secured the Perrelli recusal list, which previously had been distributed widely within the Justice Department. Herewith, consider this list of names of detainees whose cases are listed as "active" on the Perrelli recusal list:
     
    Saad Al Qahtani. Mohammed Zahrani. Achraf Salim ("Sultan") Abdessalam. Abdul Rahman Abdul Abu Ghityh Sulayman. Musaab Omar Al Madhwani. Jawad Jabbar Sadkhan (Al Sahlani). Majid Khan.
     
    Also listed as active are the cases of Anam v. Bush, Jabbarov v. Bush, Bronte v. Department of Defense, Al Odah et. al. v. USA, Boumediene v. Bush, and Rumsfeld v. Padilla.
     
    None of this is to say that Mr. Perrelli did anything wrong. His recusals are proper, but the extent of the recusals raises questions about whether the attorney general has enough unbiased advisers around him to have made good judgments about how to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other detainees. He certainly did seem terribly ill-informed when asked basic questions at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday about how Miranda rights for detainees would be treated in civil courts and if any enemy combatant from a foreign battlefield had ever been tried in American civil courts. Columnist Charles Krauthammer justly called Mr. Holder's responses "utterly incoherent." If the incoherence stems from an inherent bias among President Obama's appointees at the Justice Department, senators and the American public have the right to know it.

     

  • 25 Nov 2009 6:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ISPLA expects very little action from Congress over the Thanksgiving Holiday recess, but for those interested there have been some recent developments in the courts regarding HR 218 which may impact the rights of some law enforcement officers and a few colleagues. HR 218 is the bill that became the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act allowing active duty and retired LEOs to carry without the need for a license/permit (provided they “qualify” once a year with their carry firearm at their former department)

     

    USA v. Steven Skoien ,7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chicago on November 18, 2009:  The case involved a man convicted of domestic battery.  His probation officer learned he obtained a hunting permit, then found a shotgun in his truck.  Skoien bagged a deer that morning.  The U.S. Attorney prosecuted him for violating the Lautenberg Amendment.  Skoien was convicted and appealed.  The 7th Circuit reversed the conviction and remanded to the trial court, holding that the prosecution failed to demonstrate how the the Lautenberg Amendment trumped Skoien's 2nd Amendment rights.  The decision has implications for any law enforcement officer convicted of domestic violence.

     

    In Re Jonathan Wheeler involved a retired law enforcement officer permit appeal.  The New Jersey Appellate Division held that the retired Newark arson investigator did not meet NJ's definition of a "full-time member of a law enforcement agency" and reversed approval of his permit, but invited him to reapply and argue how he meets the definition of a "retired qualified LEO" under LEOSA.  This case best exemplifies that Wheeler, a pro se should have hired an attorney for assistance.

     

    Some readers may not be aware of the fact that ISPLA officers Peter Psarouthakis, Al Cavasin and Bruce Hulme previously spear headed the efforts of several investigative and security professional associations in the preparation of this profession's amicus brief filed in the successful U.S. Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller involving a security officer. 

     

    ISPLA will be working throughout the holiday season to protect investigative and security professionals on both the state and federal levels. For the latest in-depth coverage of state and federal legislative issues of concern to Investigative and Security Professionals go to WWW.ISPLA.ORG

     

    ISPLA wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!!

                                                         ISPLA

Powered by Wild Apricot. Try our all-in-one platform for easy membership management