Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Darrell Issa

Operation Choke Point is a Zombie: Once Declared Dead, It Remains Alive and Well

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 16, 2017:

FDIC eagle seal in the main lobby of the headq...

Zombies are often depicted as mindless, unthinking henchmen operating under the spell of an evil magician. A lot of that defines Operation Choke Point, a mindless, unconstitutional apparition invoked by the evil intentions of the previous administration to shut down gun stores, payday loan companies, tobacco sellers, and the like. Each of these was determined to be “disreputable” dictated by the totalitarian worldview of Obama and his henchmen.

Declared dead back in 2015, it lives. Back on January 29, 2015, the FDIC said it was dead:

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Five Congressmen Demand the DOJ “Repudiate” Operation Choke Point

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 15, 2017: 

Logo of the United States Federal Deposit Insu...

Five Republican Congressmen fired off a letter last week to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Fed Chair Janet Yellen, and Acting U.S. Comptroller Keith Noreika, demanding that they repudiate the Obama administration’s successful and continuing efforts to strangle financially gun shops and other supposedly “high-risk” and “disreputable” businesses. Called Operation Choke Point, the program continues despite declamations from the Justice Department to the contrary.

Said the letter:

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ATF Elimination Act Re-introduced in the House

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 20, 2017:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explo...

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In re-introducing the ATF Elimination Act on Thursday, January 12, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) explained one of the primary reasons why: “The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges, and a lack of leadership.”

Not once did he explain the real reason the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF for short) should be eliminated:

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Modest Government Retrenchment Called “Dramatic”

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Saturday, January 31, 2015:

Logo of the United States Federal Deposit Insu...

Kelsey Harkness, a journalist at The Daily Signal, let her enthusiasm for modest retrenchments at the FDIC override her good judgment, calling them “dramatic.” She was referring to the measures the chairman and the vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) promised to make in their efforts to enforce Operation Choke Point. In a phone conversation she had with Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer on Wednesday morning, she heard him say:

We’re very pleased they’ve acknowledged their wrongdoing and they’ve accept our suggestions to put in place measures to stop this activity.

What suggestions, exactly?

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Small Victory in Congressional War Against Operation Chokepoint

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, January 29, 2015:

Logo of the United States Federal Deposit Insu...

Following a meeting between Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and the chairman and vice-chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Wednesday morning, the FDIC issued some changes in how it will enforce Operation Chokepoint.  

Luetkemeyer, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, and Representative Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have focused on the abuses, intimidation, and blackmail tactics used in the Operation Chokepoint program to shut down retail gun shops, along with payday lenders and other businesses suffering from what the Obama administration calls “reputational” risks. 

In what Kelsey Harkness, a journalist at the Daily Signal, called “dramatic steps” in the battle to dismantle the program, she said that Luetkemeyer told her in a telephone conversation: 

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Leahy Offers Weak Bill to Curb NSA Eavesdropping on Americans

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 30, 2014:

English: Official photo of Senator Patrick Lea...

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

On Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy (shown, D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced his version of the USA Freedom Act intended to strengthen a similar bill passed by the House last May. It’s scarcely an improvement and likely won’t be taken up before November, if at all in this congress.

But Leahy was optimistic nonetheless, saying that his bill, if enacted, “would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since … the USA Patriot Act 13 years ago.” That was easy for this hard-left Democrat to say, as there has been no reform of the unconstitutional Patriot Act since it was passed. In fact, without revelations provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, even these modest “reforms” would never have been presented. Without Snowden, the NSA would have continued collecting every last piece of communications data it could and storing it for future reference at one or more of its vast collection facilities around the country. Since the bill was presented so late in this Congress, it is virtually certain no action will be taken on it.

The House bill that was passed back in May was so full of loopholes and modifications by last minute amendments as to make the effort essentially ludicrous. Although offered jointly in October 2013 by Leahy and his House counterpart, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin (the author of the Patriot Act), only the House bill ever saw the light of day. At the time, Sensenbrenner expressed great hopes for his bill:

Following 9/11, the USA Patriot Act … has helped keep Americans safe by ensuring information is shared among those responsible for defending our country and by enhancing the tools the intelligence community needs to identify and track terrorists.

But somewhere along the way, the balance between security and privacy was lost…. Washington must regain Americans’ trust in their government. The USA Freedom Act [I am offering] is an essential first step.

That first step was more like a stumble. Under the bill, according to The Guardian, “the government will still be able to collect phone data on Americans, pending a judge’s individualized order based on ‘reasonable articulable suspicion’ — the standard preferred by the NSA (National Security Agency) — of wrongdoing.” This is a far cry from the “probable cause” requirement demanded in the Fourth Amendment, but that’s only the beginning.

The bill purports to modify Section 715 of the Patriot Act while saying nothing about Section 702, which allows worldwide surveillance by the NSA. The bill allows for the continuous collection of Americans’ telephone records, according to the Open Technology Institute. Most grievously, the bill extended the Patriot Act until December of 2017.

Once the House passed its USA Freedom Act, 303 to 121, those opposed, including Republicans Darrell Issa, Ted Poe, and Raul Labrador and Democrat Zoe Lofgren expressed their disappointment with it. Said Lofgren, “[This] bill will actually not end bulk collection, regrettably.” It shifts collection responsibilities from the NSA to the telephone companies to which the NSA has virtually unlimited access, so it’s a cosmetic change only. The bill requires the NSA to get permission from the FISA Court, but FISA is not known for having a high regard for the freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.

When Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) saw what the House had wrought, he said he was “gravely concerned that the changes that have been made to the House version of this bill have watered it down so far that it fails to protect Americans from suspicionless mass surveillance.”

Not surprisingly, the White House endorsed the watered-down version of the bill:

The Administration strongly supports … the USA Freedom Act…. The Administration applauds and appreciates the strong bipartisan effort that led to the formulation of this bill, which heeds the President’s call on this important issue.

The bill ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected.

Especially grievous is the power that continues to be granted to the so-called FISA “court.” This is the secret court that first came to light when Edward Snowden in 2013 leaked a top-secret order issued by the court requiring a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records — including those for domestic calls — to the NSA. As Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford Law School, explained,

The Administration and the intelligence community believe they can do whatever they want, regardless of the laws Congress passes, so long as they can convince one of the judges appointed to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to agree. This isn’t the rule of law. This is a coup d’etat.

Leahy’s bill allegedly will tighten up the House bill somewhat, creating a “special advocate” for liberty at the FISA courts, and limiting the NSA from vacuuming up data from an entire zip code or all the records from a communications service provider. It also declassifies some of those FISA court orders which have remained sealed and protected from public view. In its tentative support for Leahy’s new offering, Nadia Kayyall of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said,

The legislation may not completely end suspicionless surveillance … it allows the NSA to get a second set of records (a second “hop”) with an undefined “direct connection” to the first specific selection term.

Because the “direct connection” standard is vague, the government may seek to construe that phrase to mean less than reasonable suspicion.

Translation: The NSA, under Leahy’s new stronger, tighter, more restrictive language, may continue to do whatever it pleases in collecting and storing for later use all private communications from Americans.

Leahy’s bill will probably never see the light of day in this congress and will have to be reintroduced in the next session if anything is to be done to rein in the NSA’s collection of data. In the meantime, the NSA’s vacuuming of innocent Americans’ private communication continues unabated.

 

 

Pushback Against Operation Choke Point Gains Momentum

 

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 15, 2014:

 

Choking - 365 Day 59

The secret initiative that began as Operation Choke Point (OCP) in March 2013 is now beginning to meet not only with massive unfavorable publicity but also congressional pushback. Three hearings by House committees this week are indicative of the mounting outrage OCP has generated.

Just months into his first term, President Obama launched “Operation Broken Trust” under an executive order, creating the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, seeking to “root out and expose” various investment scams that cropped up at the start of the Great Recession. It has now morphed into a gigantic interagency behemoth involving the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Postal Service, the IRS, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the U.S. Secret Service.

“Mission creep” inevitably set in, and the scope of the investigative attention expanded greatly to include

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Don’t Worry, Ms. Lerner: Your Emails Are Out There and Mr. Issa Will Find Them for You

 

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 20, 2014:

In early August 2011, when Lois Lerner, then the Director of the Exempt Organizations Unit for the IRS, discovered that her computer had crashed, she asked the internal IT people to help her out and restore her files. By Friday, August 5, she hadn’t heard back from them so she called Lillie Willburn, the IRS Field Director involved. Late Saturday evening she received this from Lillie:

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House Investigator Issa Subpoenas Lois Lerner’s hard drive

Rose Mary Woods (1917-2005), Richard Nixon's s...

Rose Mary Woods (1917-2005), Richard Nixon’s secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this week Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, subpoenaed the hard drive from Lois Lerner’s computer that allegedly crashed – along with those of six other IRS personnel – in August 2011. He wanted everything, including “all hard drives, external drives, thumb drives and computers” plus “all [other] electronic communications devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner.”

When asked about the matter, an IRS “spokesman” told Politico:

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Obama Administration Choking off Bank Lending to Gun Dealers

Cover of "The Second Amendment"

Cover of The Second Amendment

For seven years Theodore Roosevelt Liberti – known to his friends as “T.R.” – ran a retail gun shop in New Jersey and then moved it to Florida. T.R.’s bank had always been BankUnited (BU) which handled his accounts and cleared his customer’s credit card purchases. But when he decided to open an online store called Discount Ammo-N-Guns, BankUnited closed his accounts on March 12 “pursuant to the terms and conditions listed in our Depositor’s Agreement.”

When T.R. demanded a further explanation, the bank remained silent. T.R.’s wife and business partner, Elizabeth said:

I was very angry. They were very inconsiderate. We had all our credit cards going through that bank.

All of a sudden we had to run and find another bank to keep our business going. We [had to] shut down for two weeks.

[BUT] wouldn’t even tell us why.

When the bank finally responded, its explanation was unsatisfactory:

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The Likely Happy Ending to the IRS Targeting Scandal

Stop Corruption

Stop Corruption (Photo credit: kmillard92)

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 9, 2014:

To some, the two votes on Wednesday in the House of Representatives – one to cite IRS official Lois Lerner for contempt, the other to demand that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor for investigate further the IRS’ targeting scandal – represents the end of the matter.

The Inspector General’s report issued back in May 2013 has long since been forgotten, the FBI’s investigation came up empty, and now Wednesday’s contempt citation is headed for oblivion.

But the aftermath, the residuals, are significant. And positive.

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House holds Former IRS Official Lois Lerner in Contempt

Lois G. Lerner

Lois G. Lerner (Photo credit: SuperSleuther)

On Wednesday the House of Representatives charged former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner with contempt of Congress, and then voted minutes later to ask the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the targeting scandal centered (so far) around Lerner.

The first vote passed 231-187 with every Republican and six disaffected Democrats voting for contempt. The second vote passed 250-168 with two dozen Democrats supporting the appointment of a special prosecutor.

The issues now arrive at the desk of Washington, DC’s US attorney, Ronald Machen who,

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Delays in the Obamacare Rollout Expose Lies and Deceit

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013:

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott, meet Barack Obama. By trying to hide the real costs – far higher than most expected and way above the savings Obama initially promised – of signing up for Obamacare, Obama ordered his techies to force applicants to

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Fitch Threatens Downgrade; Boehner to Surrender

This article first appeared at The New American online on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013:

 

Despite mounting evidence that the government will have more than enough money to pay its essential bills and that the real national debt is $70 trillion, not $17 trillion, and despite pressure from Tea Partiers and constitutionalists to resist, House Speaker John Boehner is likely to bring the Senate bill to a vote in the House where, if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is right, it will

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IRS Apologizes … for what?

The IRS is an enforcement tool. FDR used the IRS for his own political purposes. So did Tricky Dicky Nixon. A year ago various “Tea Party” and “Patriot” groups started complaining that they were being targeted for special attention by the IRS as they applied for tax exempt status. What did they expect?

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DHS Spokesman Waffles over Huge Ammo Purchases

At a hearing at the House of Representatives on Thursday a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did his best to defuse growing concerns about excessive purchases of ammunition for its 72,000 agents. These purchases were needed, said Nick Nayak, because of

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Medicaid Fraud in the Billions

Darrell Issa - Caricature

Darrell Issa – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

The response to the admission by Deputy Director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Penny Thompson, made in September before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), that payments made by the federal government to New York’s state-run development centers were “excessive and unacceptable,” was simple and to the point: those overpayments were “inexcusable” and “exceeded the entire Medicaid budgets of 14 states” and added that “the failure … suggests an institutional failure and a pattern of irresponsible actions that have cost the taxpayers billions.”

The amount, just in New York, is estimated by Issa’s committee to be in excess of $15 billion, equivalent to $1.9 million per patient per year!

Using the bureaucratic shuffle which Thompson has no doubt refined in her 20 years as a top-level bureaucrat for Medicare and Medicaid, she admitted:

The growth of the daily Medicaid reimbursement rate for [New York] State’s developmental centers has significantly outpaced those of privately operated developmental centers and New York claimed significantly more for the State-run developmental center services than its actual costs. (emphasis added)

The daily rate for a Medicaid beneficiary to reside in a developmental center grew from $195 per day in 1985 to $4,116 in 2009, vastly outgrowing the Medicaid daily rate for private developmental centers. (emphasis added)

Simply put, bureaucrats in New York have been milking the system for decades, but Thompson claims she just found about it a few months ago. Here’s more from her report to Issa’s committee: 

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Post Office Privatization Moves Closer

English: United States Postal Service, Ford Wi...

United States Postal Service, Ford Windstar Minivan. In Olympia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will be unable to make a $5.6 billion payment to its employees’ health benefit plan due on September 30th, calls for privatization of the archaic service are mounting.

The service already failed to make last year’s payment of $5.5 billion which Congress had allowed to be delayed until August 1st. And it’s no wonder that the service can’t make those payments: it lost $5.2 billion in the third quarter this year, up from a loss of $2.1 billion a year ago. Estimates are that the service will lose at least $10 billion this year without counting the default of $11 billion in payments to its benefit plan.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer thinks the service can still be salvaged through “comprehensive reform” of the laws that govern the service. He said:

They are urgently needed in order for the Postal Service to fully implement its five-year business plan and return to long-term financial stability.

Missing from his statement was any mention of profitability, just

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The World is Waiting for Jackson Hole

Liar Ben Bernanke

Liar Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: Ondrej Kloucek)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to give his annual Jackson Hole speech on August 31 while the world waits in anticipation. They are likely to be disappointed.

In past years the invitation-only event hosted by the Kansas City Fed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has been an opportunity for Bernanke to suggest future Fed policy actions. In 2010 he said that a second round of stimulus—called QE2 for Quantitative Easing Round Two—was likely, and in November of that year the Fed began its purchase of another $600 billion of long-term debt securities.

Since then little has changed: Unemployment remains significantly above eight percent, the housing market remains largely moribund, gross domestic product remains barely positive, and consumer confidence is waning.

Some investors are expecting nothing but a repeat of Bernanke’s talk in Jackson Hole last August when he said: “The Federal Reserve will certainly do all that it can to help restore high rates of growth and employment” but “most of the economic policies that support economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the central bank.”

Which was a banker’s way of saying, “We’re

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Edolphus Towns Brings Political Graft to New Lows

John Ransom: Wanna a Free Car? Be a Congressman

According to the Associated Press, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y, overrode his own subpoena three years ago in an investigation of former sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. to exclude records showing that he, other House members and congressional aides got VIP discounted loans from the company.

English: Portrait of US Rep. Edolphus Towns

English: Portrait of US Rep. Edolphus Towns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is how a 15-term Congressman games the system. And when he is caught, he changes the rules in order to hide his gaming. When he is finally caught, he quits, and retires on a pension that far exceeds what this corruptocrat (HT: Michelle Malkin) could possibly earn legitimately.

Here’s what AP said about Towns’ maneuver:

The procedure to keep the names secret was devised by Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. In 2003, the 15-term congressman had two loans processed by Countrywide’s VIP section, which was established to give discounts to favored borrowers.

The effort at secrecy was reversed when Towns’ Republican successor as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, California Rep. Darrell Issa, issued a second subpoena. It yielded Countrywide records identifying four current House members, a former member and five staff aides whose loans went through the VIP unit. Towns was on the list.

His litany of fraud and self-help at taxpayers’ expense goes back decades. In 1992 he was named in the House banking scandal that erupted that year, having written an astounding 408 checks on his overdrawn House bank account.

He now leases a high-end Mercury Milan hybrid automobile, at taxpayers’ expense, of course, for triple the normal lease rate: $1,285 a month. It’s a two year lease, and taxpayers will have essentially purchased the automobile over that span. But have no doubt: Towns will have figured out a way to keep the auto, or sell it, and keep the proceeds for himself.

After all, he’s a master.

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.