I have always been a huge fan of what Thomas Perez has done in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. But this sentence, from Adam Serwer’s query on what happened to DOJ’s review of the CIA-on-the-Hudson, ought to give pause.
Since taking office, the special litigation section of the civil rights division has investigated more local police departments for unconstitutional policing than ever before, but never on behalf of American Muslims profiled by law enforcement.
But the rest of Serwer’s piece barely touches a big missed opportunity — and, potentially, an explanation for why DOJ has slow-walked its investigation of the profiling of Muslims in NYC. Serwer notes that Brennan complimented the program, in contrast to Eric Holder’s stated concerns about it.
Although Holder referred to the reports of the NYPD’s actions as “disturbing,” that’s not the view of everyone in the Obama administration. CIA Director John Brennan, formerly a top White House counterterrorism adviser, praised the NYPD’s surveillance program in April 2012. “I have full confidence that the NYPD is doing things consistent with the law, and it’s something that again has been responsible for keeping this city safe over the past decade,” Brennan said.
Brennan is not just the former White House counterterrorism [and homeland security] czar, but he’s also the guy who, when CIA-on-the-Hudson was being set up in the days after 9/11, was in charge of logistics and personnel at the CIA. Which means there’s a pretty decent chance he had a role in dual-hatting the CIA guy who operated domestically to help NYPD spy on Americans.
But Brennan’s role in finding a way to use CIA tactics domestically barely came up in his confirmation hearings. As I noted, he was asked whether he knew about the program (and acknowledged knowing about it), but he was not asked — at least not in any of the public materials — whether he had a role in setting it up.
Sort of a key question for the guy now in charge of the entire CIA, whether he thinks the CIA should find loopholes to get around prohibitions on CIA working domestically, don’t you think?
Serwer names several House Democrats — Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Judy Chu — who have been asking about this investigation. Obviously, they didn’t get a vote on Brennan’s nomination. But it seems the nomination period would have been a very good time to ask questions about how and why, at a time when Brennan played a key role in logistics and personnel at the agency, the government decided to set up this workaround. Asking at that time might have clarified why it is that the Administration seems uninterested in investigating this program.
As it is, we’re now left with a guy who publicly applauded such work-arounds — and CIA involvement through cooperation in fusion centers — in charge of the entire CIA.
One of the unsung heros of this election is Thomas Perez, head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. By aggressively challenging states trying to disenfranchise people of color, he prevented states from tipping the scale for Republicans.
Apparently, the Republicans on the Court read the news on Wednesday, because they’ve just accepted a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.
Lyle Denniston writes:
Acting three days after the nation’s minority voters showed that they have increased and still growing power in U.S. elections, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to rule on a challenge to Congress’s power to protect those groups’ rights at the polls. The Court said it would hear claims that Congress went beyond its authority when it extended for another 25 years the nation’s most important civil rights law, the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and renewed four times since then.
Specially at issue is the constitutionality of the law’s Section 5, the most important provision, under which nine states and parts of seven others with a past history of racial bias in voting must get official clearance in Washington before they may put into effect any change in election laws or procedures, no matter how small. The Court came close to striking down that section three years ago, but instead sent Congress clear signals that it should update the law so that it reflects more recent conditions, especially in the South. Congress did nothing in reaction.
In agreeing to rule on the Voting Rights Act, the Court limited its review to a question which it composed itself: ”Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage fomulal of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.” The Tenth Amendment protects the powers of states by limiting Congress’s powers. Article IV guarantees each state a “republican form of government,” meaning it is protected in its right of self-government. The question specified by the Court differed from that posed by Shelby County’s lawyers only by adding a reference to the Fourteenth Amendment. The case to be decided in Shelby County v. Holder (12-96).
It appears the Court is going out of its way to take this case, with very obvious timing.
I guess John Roberts wants to make his decision in ObamaCare up to the GOP? I guess the Republicans on the Court didn’t think their intervention with Citizens United gave the corporatists enough of a boost this year?
The Justice Department announced today that Deryl Paul Dedmon, 19, John Aaron Rice, 19, and Dylan Wade Butler, 20, all from Brandon, Miss., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Jackson to federal hate crime charges in connection with an assault culminating in the death of James Craig Anderson, an African-American man, in the summer of 2011.
Dedmon, Rice and Butler were each charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for their roles in the death-resulting assault of Anderson, 47, of Jackson, Miss. Dedmon, Rice and Butler entered guilty pleas to both counts. The maximum penalty for these charges is life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“We hope that today’s guilty pleas provide some closure to the victim’s family and to the grievously wounded community that has mourned Mr. Anderson’s death,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Today’s historic pleas mark the first time that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has been used in a case where the defendants’ actions resulted in a victim’s death. The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue those who commit racially motivated assaults and will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that those who commit such acts are brought to justice. And I note that our investigation in this matter is ongoing.”
Sometime this week, the long-awaited terms for the foreclosure settlement will be released, giving banks immunity for much of the fraud and forgery they committed in the course of taking homeowners’ houses.
Which makes the timing of this hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee just announced beyond absurd.
“Examining Lending Discrimination Practices and Foreclosure Abuses”
Senate Judiciary Committee
DATE: March 7, 2012
A better time for such a hearing might have been December 2010, just as the full extent of the robosigning was being exposed. In fact, that’s the second-to-last hearing John Conyers hadbefore Dems lost their House majority. Since that time, he has been imploring the Administration and the Attorneys General to do something substantive about foreclosure problems, even asking MI’s AG not to sign onto the settlement.
But next week!?!?! Just as the settlement will be enacted, making many of these issues (though reportedly not civil rights issues) moot?!?! Really?!?!
I mean, if the Judiciary Committee is going to hold a hearing in the immediate future, it’d be far better to hold a hearing considering what impact it will have on justice in this country to assign a $2,000 price tag to fabricating forged documents or engaging in other fraudulent activities before a court. Will judges ever be able to trust corporations in their courtrooms again? Will private citizens have access to this $2,000 Get Out of Jail Free card, or only Too Big to Fail institutions?
Alternately, act like the bankster-owned body the Senate is, and simply call a hearing to discuss whether having pension funds pay to buy immunity for the banks hurts corporations.
And then there’s the witness list: right now, just Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez will testify. I’m all in favor of Thomas Perez in most any role–his work at Civil Rights has easily been the best part of DOJ under Obama. But aren’t there other people who might better address foreclosure abuses, even if the hearing just focuses on lending discrimination?
I mean, I’m all in favor of someone finally conducting oversight over the fraud going on in this country. But this hearing couldn’t be more badly timed.