If and When Democrats Keep the House, Conyers Should Remind Holder the Import of Congressional Oversight

I realize the odds of Democrats keeping the House are not all that great. But I also know that the DCCC is far more competent than the RNCC; DCCC has managed to win just about every challenging election of late.

So let’s just say Democrats keep the House and with it John Conyers his gavel. I really hope he’ll make Eric Holder regret not only this inappropriate comment to Lamar Smith (I don’t care whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge, the Committees are there to exercise oversight, not “be nice” to the agencies they cover), but also the unnecessary disloyalty.

Maybe Conyers can start by asking Holder to either provide a more credible explanation for why Pittsburgh’s FBI office was lying about taking a picture at a peace rally with no premise to do so than the FBI provided to Inspector General Glenn Fine (more on this IG Report in a bit).

FBI officials, including the Pittsburgh office’s top lawyer, engaged in distinctly COINTELPRO-style tactics after the American Civil Liberties Union sued for the release of documents relating to the surveillance.Boiled down to their essence, those tactics involved officials generating post-dated “routing slips” and other paper to create a terrorism threat that didn’t exist.

Or as the inspector general put it, the FBI’s elaborate, “after-the-fact reconstruction” of the Pittsburgh events, designed to fabricate a counter-terrorism rationale for the rookie’s surveillance mission, “was not corroborated by any witnesses or contemporaneous documents.”

It was on the basis of their fabrication, moreover, that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III gave “inaccurate and misleading” testimony to Congress, the IG said.

The IG’s recounting of the Pittsburgh events is lengthy and meticulous.

The FBI, however, continues to deny that bureau officials engaged in an elaborate and deliberate scheme to deceive investigators, Congress and the pubic about what was, in retrospect, one rookie agent’s minor, misdirected surveillance of the Pittsburgh antiwar demonstration.

“Nobody,” the FBI says, “had a motive to provide an intentionally misleading account of it.”

It seems the only people who are given carte blanche to lie and obstruct justice are those trying to evade Congressional oversight, and the people who rely on that seeming carte blanche report up through Holder. That’s a management failure and a failure of the rule of law.

Would that the Attorney General cared more about that rule of law than chumming up to the opposition party.

  1. Jeff Kaye says:

    If readers don’t have it, here’s a link (PDF) to the DoJ Inspector General’s report, just released today, A Review of the FBI’s Investigations of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups, September 2010.

    Lots to look at and laugh and fear in this report. Nice to know that civil disobedience can be a reason to open a terrorist investigation, or that throwing blood on a federal building or a U.S. flag (are you listening, Sen. Feinstein?) is a “forceful” act that would warrant classifying the act as an act of terrorism, as “wilful injury” to U.S. property is listed (or was in 2002) as an offense in the definition of the federal crime of terrorism. (See page 148 of report as the FBI goes after that notorious group, the Catholic Workers!).

    Haven’t by any means read this whole report, which appears a classic partial admission of crimes, without any real accountability, or admission that the sum total of these events represent attacks upon Constitutional rights.

    • MadDog says:

      And here’s hoping that some kind soul on these threads could run the OIG’s latest report through their PDF conversion software to make the document both text-searchable as well as providing a text “copy and paste” function.

      Tis a real PITA to have to re-type the text in order to paste it in a comment here.

      Oh well, such are the tribulations we must endure. *g*

  2. MadDog says:

    To reprise my comment from the last post:

    From page 30 of 209 page PDF:

    VI. FBI Terrorism Classifications

    The FBI classified many of the investigations we reviewed as pertaining to “acts of domestic terrorism” and, in one case, as a Terrorism Enterprise investigation. These classifications raised questions about whether the FBI has expanded the definition of domestic terrorism to people who engage in mainstream political activity, including nonviolent protest and civil disobedience. As described in this section, the consequences of being identified as the subject of a “terrorism” investigation may include being placed on a terrorism watchlist. In subsequent chapters, we discuss some specific cases in which the FBI’s naming of individuals as subject of terrorism investigations have led to their being placed on terrorism watchlists…

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Conyers Should Remind Holder the Import of Congressional Oversight

    Another sternly worded letter?

    Boxturtle (Somebody had to say it)

    • emptywheel says:

      Okay, maybe we’ll have Nadler do it.

      Fuck. What are they going to do? Issue a subpoena that the O DOJ will treat just like Rove treated Conyers’ subpoenas?

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Both houses of congress have proven themselves toothless. Our Atty Gen is a lapdog. The supremes back supreme executive power.

        Who’s left to write a SWL that Holder will take to heart rather than just add to his collection?

        Boxturtle (Remember, Mother Teresa and Mr. Rogers are dead. So they’re out)

      • michaelfishman says:

        (…or Grijalva, or Grayson, or the name that mustn’t be spoken?)


        Yes, issue the subpoenas. Then impeach the AG who refuses to enforce them.

        Remember, the impeachment hearings will be in front of the body whose authority he is denigrating.

        (And the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.)

  4. john in sacramento says:

    Somewhat related. A post of mine from last week

    Sac Cnty Sheriff’s Dept. Forwarded Copies of Letters Intended for Prisoner to the FBI and Beyond [Scans at the link]‏


    Recently we began receiving documents in response to a FOIA request we filed with the FBI about Eric McDavid. The documents have uncovered a few alarming pieces of information, but one in particular we felt it necessary to share with the public as soon as possible. For years people have been speculating that writing political prisoners would result in a person being “put on a list.” Unfortunately, it seems that those speculations were not unfounded.

    We have received perhaps hundreds of pages documenting Eric’s correspondence with other people. These letters are not just kept on file – the Sacramento County Main Jail forwarded all of these letters to the Sacramento FBI field office, which then forwarded them to local field offices around the country (and to law enforcement internationally)


    here’s the kicker

    often the documents include the statement that the letter was “benign in nature.”

  5. MadDog says:

    And what’s with Pennsylvania and its perception as a nexus of terrorism?

    Last week the news that Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security was buying domestic terrorism mumbo-jumbo reports from an outside private corporation and this week the news that the FBI in Pennsylvania was investigating anti-war activists under the rubrik of domestic terrorism.

    Sheesh! I used to like Pennsylvania.

  6. JamesJoyce says:

    Like I say……… Protect the slave-owners? Fugitive slave laws Jim Crow and the like. Protect those due process rights of corporations and fuck Americans.

  7. Peterr says:

    This report led me to wonder who the US Attorney is for Pittsburg PA . . .

    David J. Hickton
    United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania

    David J. Hickton was nominated for United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President Barack Obama on May 20, 2010, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug 5, 2010.

    On the job for less than two months, and this arrives on your doorstep. Welcome to town!

    And his predecessor? Mary Beth Buchanan.

    Yes, that Mary Beth Buchanan

    See also this.

    You don’t suppose that Ms Buchanan whispered in the ear of the local FBI folks to watch out for troublemakers, do you?

    After all, it would be irresponsible not to speculate . . .

  8. MadDog says:

    Well, I’ve finished reading/scanning the entire OIG report (209 page PDF) and I’ve come to the conclusion that there remains not a single drop of white paint left in the entire world, nay, in the entire universe.

    Because DOJ IG Glenn Fine used every bit of it to whitewash away any DOJ and FBI accountability for the crimes, privacy invasions and 1st Amendment violations they committed over and over and over again.

    To read Glenn Fine’s explanations, there were never any attempts by the FBI (and DOJ) to transgress 1st Amendment rights of Americans.

    No, the FBI (and DOJ) merely “invented” stuff (made shit up) to investigate Americans.

    And to read Glenn Fine, how could anyone believe that these FBI (and DOJ) concocted bullshit lies were an attempt to circumvent the prohibition against violating some American’s 1st Amendment rights?

    If Glenn Fine ever leaves the DOJ OIG’s office, he’s got a stellar career awaiting him in Comedy!

      • MadDog says:

        Yeah, that’s what’s so demoralizing. As in, if that’s the best we’ve got, then we really are totally fooked.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      “No, the FBI (and DOJ) merely “invented” stuff (made shit up) to investigate Americans”

      Yellow cake uranium!
      Al-Qaeda in collusion with Saddam!

      Seems the government lies all the time at the behest of interested parties.

      If the scumbags make shit up to go to war, they will fuck Americans the same way everyday. This was Joe M’s game in the red scare. The actions of an opportunistic dysfunctional political drunk! Rot in hell Joe M!

    • MadDog says:

      Thanks for the tell-all! I did jump over to the TT thread to read all of your Divorce Court segments.

      In fact, if you’re planning to continue in attendance, I think many folks would love to read all about it in a Seminal diary, and further, such a diary might even get front-paged here at FDL.

      Caveat emptor: I have no influence here on front page decisions, I reside in the Peanut Gallery just like you, and no lifeforms, edible or otherwise were harmed in the construction of this comment. :-)

  9. wigwam says:

    If and When Democrats Keep the House, Conyers Should Remind Holder the Import of Congressional Oversight.

    Like maybe threaten to hold hearings to impeach their asses, unless he and his boss live up to their oaths of office and enforce the fucking laws.

  10. MadDog says:

    OT – From the “Talk About Chutzpah” record book, from the NYT:

    Israelis Float Settlement Deal Involving Spy

    Israeli officials have tried to float a trade-off in which they would extend the temporary moratorium on settlement construction in exchange for the release by the United States of Jonathan Jay Pollard, the American who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel and is serving a life term in an American jail, Israel’s Army Radio reported Monday…

    With friends like these, who needs enemies?

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Odds are that Pollard will be part of any deal. Any plan that could actually work would put Bibi in an awful position politically and he’d have to have something to throw to his base supporters.

      Boxturtle (Annoying to me, as I’m in the “lock Pollard up forever” group)

  11. nomolos says:

    Just where on the long list of things that need to be investigated by the toothless Congress does tye PA fuck up go. Shit we haven’t gotten to the FISA or torture files yet.

    Seriously, expecting this gummint to any damn thing other than take bribes and other “funny” money is like expecting a baby…..if you are the pope.

  12. hackworth1 says:

    According to Obama/Holder, Hippies who throw blood on a flag are terrorists worthy of waterboarding. Abortion Clinic Doctor Murderers and Tim McVeigh are Patriots.

  13. tanbark says:

    Barack Obama isn’t much into “oversight”.

    His nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Jacob Lew, thinks that Clinton and the repubs’ letting Wall Street and the robber barons run hog-ass wild, had nothing to do with our economic problems:


    I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Lew was a former honcho at CitiGroup.

    Just the kind of fox-guarding-the-hen-house that this preznint has been inflicting on us all along.

    HuffPo has been taking some stick on here, but no matter what the posters think, the site has been right on top of things like this.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Lew’s “appointamink” is to “balance” Warren’s “appointamonk”, kind of an inner-party bipartisanship, proving that Obama can “swing” either way, tanbark.

      (“Sops” for the sappers and toffs for the “toppers”.)

      Just don’t ask and … Obama won’t tell.

      Well, he will congratulate himself on all his “most progressive legislation in a generation.”

      Ought to worth an “A”, this election season … one imagines.


      • tanbark says:

        “Ought to be worth an A, this election season.”


        DW: Would you believe a D-minus/incomplete, headed for an F?” :o)

        With what the american people are going through, that Obama is putting someone like Lew in a position of power in his administration is reason enough to celebrate the high likelihood of his being a one-termer who’s going to be the poster boy for presidential failure. At this point, I’ll do all I can to help. :o)

        • DWBartoo says:

          It would appear that Obama has achieved all of HIS goals, at this point, tanbark.

          He has saved the money-interests and more “pain”, has assured himself a Clintonesque “retirement”, elevated he ans his family to the legacy class, established a fabulous “network” for himself and all of his buds, and hardly broken a sweat in the eleventy-dimensional universe and, whatever the “Official History” says of him (t’will be laudatory and respectful, no doubt – especially if compile by Cass Sunstein or one of his ilk) “early retirement” holds no horrors for Bounce-back Barack.

          What could Obama do, in a second term, to top or even equal what he has achieved in the first?

          He has already said he would prefer to be a “great” one-termer than, as he put it, “a mediocre” two-termer.

          I think you may both get your wishes partially fulfilled.

          He won’t be great … but he will be gone.

          (One wonders “what” or “who” the MONEY is betting on? I’ll wager it is not “the people”.)


      • tanbark says:

        Woops! Almost forgot:

        Since we’re talking about “balance”, DW, don’t you think that Obama should have treated Lew just like Warren, and basically put him in as a temp, with a desk and a toy computer in the Oval Office broom closet that’s been re-designed so that she can only enter and leave through a trap-door under Timothy Geithner’s desk?

        • DWBartoo says:

          Naw, tanbark, “balanced” is not your concern, “fair” is, and that, tanbark, has yet to be inserted into the Obama equation.

          Hint, Obama won’t allow this equational change because then he could be accused of being just like the evil ones and their Fox.

          (Obama is far too clever a fabulist to allow such odious comparison.)


  14. DWBartoo says:

    EW, if memory serves, you’ve met Conyers and perhaps have developed some “sense” regarding his character, conscience and courage?

    Do you imagine that if the Democrats do, somehow, retain control of the House, that Conyers will actually dare do as you suggest?

    Frankly, he should do it regardless, and, in fact, in my opinion, he should have done so already …

    The fact that he has not done so, at least publicly, to my knowledge, suggests, to me, that Conyers is loathe, as are all other members of Congress, both Senate and House, to call the Executive to task, to engage in “oversight” as is their function and responsibility and to effectively, or even ineffectively for that matter, TRY to counter the obvious power-grab the Executive has been “engineering” for decades …

    Now that the judicial branch is “on board” with the “grab”, it is very difficult to imagine ANY serious “push-back” from ANY member of Congress, gavel-wielding or not, at this rather “late” date … not only would it draw hoots of derisive laughter from the media, but it would also be a career-killer for any politician hoping to use the lobby door, “looking forward”.

    Right now, SILENCE is golden for those who ostensibly “represent” the “people” … quite literally.

    In the ongoing “class war”, Congress capitulated long ago, as its “members” are all more than astute enough to know, the lot of them, which “side” their “but, what about …” is buttered on.

    Perhaps, EW, you hope, by laying out the facts and critical time-lines, as you consistently and impeccably over time and every day, to encourage Conyers, IF he has been paying honest attention, to do what he has the sacred obligation and human responsibility to do?

    Does reason, or even shame, have currency any longer, especially when it comes to truth, or what was once termed the “search” for truth, among ANY of the ELITES?

    Time and character will tell.

    And that’s the truth.

    I don’t imagine we shall much like “what” will probably “prevail”, but I seriously doubt that ANY Congress “person” will hold themselves responsible or accountable for or to anything but their own, pragmatic (and expedient) “interests”.

    As far as “hope” goes? I’m a-hoping I am wrong, completely and totally wrong.


    • Kassandra says:

      I’m thinking Congress has just about as much power under the unitary executive as US citizens do.
      Look at all the committees set up to write the laws the way the corporations want them and then just have congress sign off on them.
      Democracy is a convenient fiction; so’s Congress…and maybe now, the Supreme Court.
      Take a look at this one:
      Obama to Tea Party: ‘What would you do?’

      Note the only things he even brings up cutting are things for the grunts and working stiffs.
      I’d take him a bit more seriously of he said something like “cut subsidies for Big Oil; or companies taking our jobs overseas; or ending a few wars”

      • bmaz says:

        It is not that Congress does not have the power, they do , it is right there in the Constitution. The problem is Congress refuses to protect and use it appropriately.

          • DWBartoo says:

            Regardless of the “Patriot” Act, and the “threats”, the “blackmail” that many postulate is “held over them”, individual members of Congress do have the power (and the obligation), the sole responsibility of oversight. Congress, collectively, for their own “reasons”, complicity being writ large among those “reasons”, chooses not to engage in oversight, and, with the Judicial branch’s very clearly demonstrated willingness to “believe” any and all “security” and “state’s secrets” claims, Congress has no interest, at all, in exposing itself or its “members” … at least in legal terms, to any public scrutiny.

            Congress is circumscribed only if it chooses to be circumscribed, Kassandra.

            Conscience and courage are, simply, “not on the table”.

            Even though that which the three branches are trying to hide … cannot and will not remain hidden, the “conviction” or perceived “wisdom” is that it will remain hidden … “long enough” … “looking forward”.


      • BMcGarth says:

        Kassandra you are making to much sense…

        The Prez is doing all these forums & town-hall type meetings…and no one asks him to explain his HAMP program that’s done for the benefit of the Banks & not the home owners….How do you figure that…

        I am sure the audience is hand picked…with just a few questions about the Prez’s economic policies..to con the TV audience into thinking..well reasonable questions are being asked…..so ask yourselves,with millions of American families house-less…no one in the audience is affected by HAMP ?

        Folks we have seen this movie before….remember Bush town-hall meetings…fixed.I am sure this Prez’ is also scripted.

  15. Mason says:

    With the exception of the Blago trial that ended in a mistrial as to all but one count, has the Obama/Holder DOJ obtained any indictments against any public official, public figure, investment banker, corporate official, SEC regulator, other type regulator, federal law enforcement official, or private sector contractor?

    Looking forward and not backward is nothing more than a conspiracy to obstruct justice, as far as I’m concerned, but now it looks like the official refusal to look backward shifts forward with each passing day so that the unlawful conduct that happens today will receive the Obama/Holder absolution tomorrow because by tomorrow consideration of anything that happened today would be considered looking backward and not forward.

    Anyone else here notice what I’m talking about?

    Also, I’m not seeing any persuasive, much less convincing, evidence that the all pervasive criminal conduct of the Bush/Cheney Administration isn’t still going on. Instead, Obama appears to be institutionalizing it.

    Doesn’t all of this bullshit law enforcement surveillance signify guilty knowledge that the government is nothing more than a criminal enterprise and sooner or later the public will realize that and start a revolution to throw the bums out?

    • DWBartoo says:

      ” … the government is nothing more than a criminal enterprise …”

      Well, Mason, “they” did want “government” to be “run like a business” and it is.



      It’s “business” … as usual.

      I mean, why shouldn’t government be profitable for the few?

      Isn’t that what America is ALL about?

      There may be no justice left “the people” but an appreciation of justice’s “poetic” aspect, as the “haves and have mores” will be leaving the “mess” and the pain to all the “little” people.

      Ain’t that “BIG” of “them”?

      Remember: Government helps them what help themselves (to as much as they can get away with …) But, you’re an attorney, so you know that to be so … too often.


  16. radiofreewill says:

    Nothing sends a Gooper into Rage quite like the feeling of being had.

    So, if Boehner and McConnell are certain that they don’t have any skeletons in their GOP closet that would ‘rip the curtain back’ to reveal heinous manipulation – things like “Bush knew about 911 in advance, and let it happen” or “Sarah Palin’s baby, Trig, isn’t hers” or something similar – if they don’t have any treachery waiting to be revealed, then their mid-term campaign based on Ideological Purity has a chance to be successful.

    But, if the Goopers find out that they’ve been had – that all the moral outrage was manipulated – they will turn on the GOP…and tear it apart.

    • tanbark says:

      RFW; Let’s have some fun and change three words in your last sentence:

      “But if the DEMOCRATS find out that they’ve been had—that all the moral outrage—was manipulated, they will turn on the DEMOCRATIC PARTY…and tear it apart.”


      • radiofreewill says:

        No doubt that’s true!

        If we all – Dems and Goopers – found out, for instance, that Bush intentionally ‘faked’ the case for invading Iraq in order to advance the Neocon Agenda, then we’d All be outraged.

        But, through this whole long sorry tale, my sense has been that Our Clueless Dems have been kept clueless by Team Bush/GOP/Neocons as part of their strategy.

        I don’t feel like the same can be said of the GOP. It seems clear that Delay and Frist, Boehner and McConnell, and all the Gooper leadership – orchestrating ‘slam-dunk’ and ‘just say no’ party-line votes – have been ‘on the inside’ of the Bush/Cheney/Rove Plan from the beginning.

        At every point along the way, the Neocons have tried to pull the Dem leadership into the slime with them, but so far we’ve only had strong suspicions that they successfully gamed Jane Harman.

        So, while I think the risk to the Dems is that they get exposed as weak and meekly submissive in the face of Bush’s Unitary Executive power – the risk to the GOP is that they could be seen as Traitors to the Constitution and to All of US.

        Finally, this is election season. It’s a blood sport. If Boehner and McConnell aren’t 100% Positive that nothing is ‘out there’ that could float down onto the card table and destroy them – no blackberry message or e-mail or tape or video or whatever – then they would do well to muzzle the Tea Party and meet Obama in the middle tomorrow.

        But, honestly, I don’t think disaster for the GOP can be averted…

          • radiofreewill says:

            I hear you, bmaz!

            I think the perception that is lingering – vaguely and uneasily – with the Goopers is that Bush was always ‘acting in good faith’ with ‘honorable’ intentions.

            Of course, we on the Left never believed that.

            But the Goopers still do – and it’s a major component of their ‘righteousness’ about ‘taking back America!’

            The Goopers see US as dis-loyal at a time when they were/are convinced that Bush’s cause – their cause – was ‘right.’

            What I’m saying is that there is a liklihood – pretty high in my estimate – that there exists damning evidence of Bush’s intentional, dis-honorable trampling of the Principles embodied in the Constitution – Total Bad Faith – in favor of maniacally pursuing His Ideology – evidence so bad that it would also crater the GOP, should it ever come out.

            For the Goopers to run an Ideological Purity campaign, imvho, is just asking for a delivery from the Landshark…

  17. tanbark says:

    And let’s not forget that July thread by Marcy.

    Two words about Obama’s consistent view of “oversight”:

    “Liz Fowler”….the former VP of Wellpoint. :o) :o) :o)

  18. rosalind says:

    apologies for the OT, but whoa: Lawyer testifies he switched L.A. Dodgers ownership document

    The lawyer who negotiated the now-disputed agreement between Frank and Jamie McCourt testified Tuesday he had switched a page that excluded Frank McCourt from sole ownership of the L.A. Dodgers to one that granted him sole control after the couple had signed the agreement.

    The McCourts are in the midst of a divorce trial with ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers at stake.

    “Did you think it was OK to switch an exhibit to a legal document after it had been signed and notarized?” asked David Boies, attorney for Jamie McCourt.

    “In certain circumstances, yes,” said Larry Silverstein.

    (emphasis – and disbelief – mine)

    bmaz: if this reporting is true, isn’t this game – set – match for Jamie?

    • bmaz says:

      WOW. Time will tell, but you sure as hell don’t see that every day. To be admitting it, Silverstien must have some explanation, but Holy Shit.

      • rosalind says:

        His “explanation” is that he was correcting a typo…that completely switched the meaning of the document. I missed Boies vs. Silverstein in action yesterday unfortunately, but did watch the other Bingham lawyer get filleted by another Jamie lawyer – really fun stuff.

        The lawyer made it sound like he’d spent all this time working with Jamie, drafting the MPA, a lot of it at a lunch at Dodger Stadium. Then Jamie’s lawyer puts up the Bingham timecard showing his total hours billed for putting together the MPA were 7.4. The Bingham lawyer insisted that evidently not all his time got billed, producing much mirth among the many lawyers in the room.

        Second big laugh was when the Bingham lawyer was asked about something in his depo, and he cautioned that he wanted to make sure he wasn’t remembering something he’d read in a press account instead. Jamie’s lawyers says “Oh I seriously doubt anything interesting has been in the press”. Every head in the room automatically turned to look at the Reporters sitting in back. The paper writers kinda rolled their eyes. The young ‘uns in the blogger section went “hissssss”. After even the Judge started to laugh Jamie’s lawyer jokingly begged for forgiveness.

        Where things stand: Larry Silverstein’s admission that he himself switched the Exhibit after the MPA had been signed and notarized has provided the impetus to get both sides to agree to enter into Mediation, which is suppose to start this Friday. I can’t make it to the Courthouse today, but Larry Silverstein is supposed to finish up on the stand if his health permits.

        (I’m totally behind on my real work due to playing Courthouse hooky, but will try to write up my notes from yesterday’s afternoon sessions later and post over at Seminal).