May 31, 2012

Media Finally Covers Obama 'Kenya' Bio -- to Bash Romney

Two weeks ago, Breitbart News broke a story about a biography written by a literary agency in 1991 that incorrectly claimed that their then-client, Barack Obama, was born in the African country of Kenya. In followup stories, we reported that the Kenya claim remained on the lit agency's website until two months after then-Senator Obama announced his run for the presidency in 2007. In another followup written by a client of that same agency, we learned it was the standard practice of Dystel and Goderich for their writers to submit their own bios.
As our original story made clear, Breitbart News was in no way questioning where the president was born. What we did and still do question, though, is how the Kenya claim originated, how it remained a part of Obama's biography for almost seventeen years, and what it might tell us about a sitting president who has not been vetted by the media and who therefore has been allowed to pretty much write his own life story.

But, predictably, other than dismissive wrist-flicking and assuming their natural position in defense of the president, the media all but ignored what quite obviously would've been considered a legitimate and important story were Obama a sitting president with an -R- after his name.

Until now.

Over the weekend, the whole of the MSM decided to put an end to the very bad news cycles the Obama campaign brought upon itself last week by conspiring to turn Romney's relationship with Donald Trump into a full-blown narrative meant to put the presumptive GOP nominee on defense.

For whatever reason, Trump still isn’t convinced Obama was born in America, and one of the primary pieces of evidence he now cites to back his claim is the fact that Obama's own literary agency apparently believed for over a decade that their client was born in Kenya:

“He’s a young man doing a book and he said what he believed to be the truth,” Trump told CNBC this morning. “It all wouldn’t matter, except if you’re born in a foreign country, you’re not allowed to be president, so you know this is a minor detail.”

And, lo and behold, the media has suddenly become very interested in our exclusive.


He didn’t know he was running for president, so he told the truth,” Trump said about Obama’s birthplace, basing his assertion on a literary biography written for Obama that was recently unearthed by “The literary agent wrote down what he said… He said he was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia… Now they’re saying it was a mistake. Just like his Kenyan grandmother said he was born in Kenya, and she pointed down the road to the hospital, and after people started screaming at her she said, ‘Oh, I mean Hawaii.’ Give me a break.”

The Los Angeles Times:

Evidently Trump didn't get the memo about the new framing of the whole "born in Kenya" thing. When even Arizona Republicans back away from the birth certificate questions, it's time to move on.

The Hill:

Trump was referring a report last week from conservative website that showed the president's literary agent erroneously claiming he was born in Kenya as part of a pitch for a book on race he never completed. The literary agent said last week that she was mistaken in making the claim.

ABC News even falsely claimed our story had been discredited:

Trump revived the false claims about Obama’s birthplace on Thursday, citing a discredited story about a literary agency that mistakenly listed that Obama was born in Kenya in a recently discovered catalog of clients that included the president.

But do you see what the media is doing here? Every single one of these articles is an attack on Mitt Romney for not doing the media's bidding. The media wants to intimidate and bully Romney into repudiating Trump, so they crafted this intentional distraction.

So even though we uncovered a legitimate document from Obama's not-so-distant adult past, that same document is now being used by the media to beat Romney up. Furthermore, the many questions that still surround the document -- Did Obama ever see the bio? Did he ever proof it? How did the bio writer ever get the idea to begin with that someone born in America was born in Kenya? -- remain unanswered because the media refuses to ask them.

Whether a sitting President of the United States who, as a grown man, (Obama turned 30 in 1991) might have spruced up his bio to look more exotic or allowed others to do it for him, is a legitimate line of inquiry -- especially after what we've learned about Elizabeth Warren and most especially after the Washington Post declared relevant Mitt Romney's high school days from almost a half-century ago. But our corrupt media has only found this story worthwhile as a weapon to use against Obama's opponent.

May 30, 2012

US Cities Pay Anti-Gun Lobbyists With Your Tax Money

Cities around the country have created staff positions for professional lobbyists whose primary function is to drum up support for anti-gun legislation, ordinances and regulations.

Part of these lobbyists salaries are being paid by grants from do-gooder foundations like the Joyce Foundation, but the balance of salaries, benefits and support costs are being borne by you, the taxpayer.

An associate of mine in Florida named Sean Caranna was doing some research for his grassroots rights organization, Florida Carry, Inc., when he came across something on the agenda of the Orlando City Council that he immediately recognized as a serious problem.

The item was for the renewal of a contract for a city employee. That’s mundane enough, but the job title of this particular employee was “Mayors Against Illegal Guns regional coordinator,” and the job description is to “play an integral role in the coordination and planning of gun crime prevention and illegal gun-related initiatives, events and media opportunities in the city and in the region” (the full council agenda and detailed information can be found on the City of Orlando website).

In the case of Orlando, the grant is $60,000 from something called the “United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund,” which appears to be a front group set up by billionaire mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg – the creator of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The Joyce Foundation provides the primary funding for Bloomberg’s “support fund” to the tune of $650,000 in 2011 and at least $1,000,000 more in the previous 3 years.

While the grant to Orlando pays the bulk of the regional coordinator’s salary, the city is allocating $24,000 of citizen’s money to fund the position and providing other city resources and facilities for her use. The person tapped for the job is a woman who has worked as a regional coordinator for the Brady Campaign Against Guns, and as a professional lobbyist for MAIG and several other groups.

In essence, the city is paying $24,000 to have an anti-rights organization’s lobbyist working in their offices and pretending to be a city employee.

After discovering this scam in Orlando, Caranna began digging deeper and found similar sweetheart deals in several other cities around the country, including Seattle, Milwaukee, Columbus and Minneapolis. Based solely on the funding numbers from the Joyce Foundation, there should be at least 10 of these regional coordinators around the country – working against rights and being compensated in part by taxpayers.

Finding them all has proven to be a bit of a challenge, as no one from MAIG, Joyce or the Support Fund seems interested in advertising the coordinators’ existence. Caranna found, and my own research confirms, that some cities try to keep their participation in the scheme on the down low by using initials or euphemistic titles and job descriptions, but now that we know about the scam, I don’t think it will take long to expose most all of the pseudo-city employees. With more than a million and a half dollars granted to the project over the past 4 years by the Joyce Foundation alone, there has to be a money trail to follow. We also know all 600 mayors involved in MAIG and will be scouring the books of each of them looking for traces of this scheme.

ACTION: I’m asking all of the members of The Firearms Coalition and all of my readers to help us locate these taxpayer funded anti-rights lobbyists. You can find a list of all of the participating mayors on the MAIG website and then launch your own investigation into any of them you choose.

While we’re at it, let’s look into this whole concept of private grants funding, and influencing, public policy. On its surface, the idea of a charitable group helping a municipality do some public service seems reasonable; a family group might support municipal preschool and after school programs, for instance. But if that group has a political agenda, or demands inclusion of a controversial curriculum, the “gift” becomes questionable.

From one side these grants look like a way for the charitable group to make their dollars go further while helping a city reach its goals, but it is also a way for a pressure group to get public funding for their agenda.

Imagine the uproar if a city created a staff position for the promotion of firearm safety training with funding from the NRA Foundation. Even if the program focused solely on safety and never crossed into the rights issue or promotion of firearms ownership, the media and hoplophobes would go ballistic.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

The very innocuous and apolitical Eddie Eagle Gun Safe program, with coloring books and video cartoons teaching kids that if they come across a gun they should “Stop – Don’t Touch – Leave the Area – and Tell an Adult,” comes under fire because it is given to schools and police departments free by the NRA Foundation.

Public-private partnerships can be good things, but local politicians need to be extremely cautious about giving the keys to the city to any outside group whose altruism might be driven by a political or social agenda. The old adage of never looking a gift horse in the mouth does not apply in civic matters – just ask the Trojans. It is very tempting to a politician to be able to offer constituents some valuable service at a fraction of its normal cost, so it’s up to the citizens to be attentive and keep their politicians on the straight and narrow.

For those who might not know, Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a political group formed by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. It has an agenda almost identical to that of the Brady Campaign and other anti-gun groups, but it goes to great lengths to make its proposals seem reasonable and moderate when, in fact, they are intended to make firearms ownership more difficult and dangerous. Bloomberg has spent millions of dollars from his own very deep pockets and the pockets of New York taxpayers to advance his agenda and is receiving additional millions from the Joyce Foundation – the same Joyce Foundation that gave Barack Obama a paid directorship as a stepping-stone into politics.

This scandal will be unfolding for weeks, and probably years, to come. The more information we can dig up on the MAIG employees infiltrating municipal government, the better chance we will have of putting a stop to this theft of taxpayer money. Check your local government for any private-public partnership grant programs – particularly programs funded by MAIG – and let me know what you find. Together we can pull the mask off of this beast and return control of municipal government to the people who live there.

May 29, 2012

U.S. officials to further discuss possible UN plans for Internet takeover

United States officials are expected to take further action next week to address the threat of a U.N. takeover of the Internet.

The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday to discuss the various international proposals to regulate the Internet, which are backed by Russia, China and several former Soviet satellite countries. India and Brazil are also on board with the idea of reforming the “multi-stakeholder process” that currently regulates the Internet.

The ostensible purpose of the proposals is to update the international telecom regulations, which have not been revised in more than a decade.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell — who has been sounding the alarm about this potential Internet takeover since early December 2011, as previously reported by TheDC — will testify as a witness during the House hearing.

David A. Gross, former U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, and Sally Shipman Wentworth, Senior Manager for Public Policy of Internet Society, are also expected to testify.

On Tuesday, McDowell and Richard Beaird, Senior Deputy United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, will discuss the various proposals with a separate panel, hosted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. by the Free State Foundation, a Maryland-based free market think tank.

The proposals would amount to creating a separate “ITUnet” that countries would join, Scott Cleland, a member of the United States Department of State Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy, previously told TheDC.

May 28, 2012

Prostitution scandal wider than believed

Several small groups of Secret Service employees separately visited clubs, bars and brothels in Colombia prior to a visit by President Barack Obama last month and engaged in reckless, "morally repugnant" behavior, Sen. Susan Collins says.

She says the employees' actions during the stunning prostitution scandal could have provided a foreign intelligence service, drug cartels or other criminals with opportunities for blackmail or coercion that could have threatened the president's safety.

In remarks prepared for the first congressional hearing on the matter Wednesday, Collins, R-Maine, also challenged early assurances that the scandal in Colombia appeared to be an isolated incident. She noted that two participants were Secret Service supervisors — one with 21 years of service and the other with 22 years — and both were married. Their involvement "surely sends a message to the rank and file that this kind of activity is tolerated on the road," Collins said.

"This was not a one-time event," said Collins, the senior Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "The circumstances unfortunately suggest an issue of culture."

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the committee's chairman, said, "I want to hear what the Secret Service is doing to encourage people to report egregious behavior when they see it."

Wednesday's hearing was expected to expose new details in the scandal, which became public after a dispute over payment between a Secret Service agent and a prostitute at a Cartagena hotel on April 12. The Secret Service was in the coastal resort for a Latin American summit before Obama's arrival. Collins said several small groups of agency employees from two hotels went out separately to clubs, bars and brothels and they "all ended up in similar circumstances."

"Contrary to the conventional story line, this was not simply a single, organized group that went out for a night on the town together," Collins said.

Senators were expected to focus on whether the Secret Service permitted a culture in which such behavior was tolerated. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has testified previously that she would be surprised if there were other examples, but senators have been skeptical.

In his own prepared remarks, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told senators the behavior in Colombia wasn't representative of the agency's nearly 7,000 employees.

"I can understand how the question could be asked," Sullivan said, calling his employees "among the most dedicated, hardest working, self-sacrificing employees within the federal government."

Sullivan also assured senators that Obama's security was never at risk. The officers implicated in the prostitution scandal could not have inadvertently disclosed sensitive security details because their confidential briefing about Obama's trip had not taken place.

"At the time the misconduct occurred, none of the individuals involved in the misconduct had received any specific protective information, sensitive security documents, firearms, radios or other security-related equipment in their hotel rooms," Sullivan said.

Sullivan has survived professionally so far based on his openness about what happened. Senators were not expected to ask for his resignation, and the acting inspector general for the Homeland Security Department, Charles K. Edwards, gave Sullivan high marks for integrity. Edwards, who estimated that the early stages of his own investigation would be finished before July 2, said the Secret Service "has been completely transparent and cooperative."

"The Secret Service's efforts to date in investigating its own employees should not be discounted," Edwards told senators. "It has done credible job of uncovering the facts and, where appropriate, it has taken swift and decisive action."

The White House on Tuesday reasserted its confidence in Sullivan. Obama "has great faith in the Secret Service, believes the director has done an excellent job," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "The director moved very quickly to have this matter investigated and took action very quickly as a result of that investigation."

A dozen Secret Service officers and supervisors and 12 other U.S. military personnel were implicated. Eight Secret Service employees, including the two supervisors, have lost their jobs. The Secret Service is moving to permanently revoke the security clearance for one other employee, and three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that four of the Secret Service employees have decided to fight their dismissals.

Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but Sullivan quickly issued new guidelines that made it clear that agents on assignment overseas are subject to U.S. laws.

Sullivan said he directed Secret Service inspectors to investigate reports of similar misconduct in San Salvador. After 28 interviews with hotel employees and managers, State Department officials and others, "no evidence was found to substantiate the allegations," Sullivan said.

This week the Drug Enforcement Administration said the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General was investigating possible misconduct by two or more agents in Colombia. Collins revealed that the case involved at least two DEA employees who entertained female masseuses in the Cartagena apartment of one of the DEA agents. The investigation is unrelated to the Secret Service scandal but is based on information provided to the DEA by the Secret Service.

May 25, 2012

The Corruption Law That Scares the Bejesus Out of Corporate America

Walmart's Mexican bribery scandal is shining the spotlight on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an obscure law that's become a bane for some of the world's largest corporations.

Up until this past weekend, there was a very good chance that the average New York Times business page reader had never heard of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It's the sort of law that the public ordinarily doesn't have much reason to think about, even as it keeps corporate lawyers and c-suite executives tossing in their sleep. But thanks to the the paper's damning investigation into Walmart's cover-up of bribery at its Mexican subsidiary, this low-key statute is suddenly getting its turn in the spotlight.

The statute, generally referred to as the FCPA, was passed in 1977 and bans individuals and companies from bribing foreign government officials to win business or influence their decision making. Those who run afoul of the law can face large fines or prison time. For decades after it was enacted, it was barely used. But in the last five years, it has evolved from an obscure vestige of the post-Watergate era into into one of the most talked about and feared laws in America's board rooms.

Just ask Walmart.


There was a time when American businesses didn't fret much about foreign bribery, much less what federal prosecutors might do about it. Rather, it was considered an ugly but necessary aspect of doing business in the graft-plagued developing world. That changed in the wake of Watergate.

The path from Nixon's dirty tricks to the problem of foreign corruption was a bit roundabout, to say the least. At the tail end of the Watergate congressional hearings, a group of business executives testified to making illicit payments to the president's re-election campaign. Their admission perked the interest of Stanley Sporkin, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division, who wondered how those contributions would have been accounted for on the companies' books. He began an investigation, which eventually revealed that the same slush funds used to funnel money to political campaigns at home were also used to pay bribes abroad. The federal inquiry expanded, and more than 400 corporations eventually confessed to collectively making more than $300 million worth of corrupt payments overseas.

This wasn't the first time U.S. companies had been caught doling out cash to foreign governments. After giving the Lockheed Corporation a $250 million federal loan guarantee to avoid bankruptcy in 1971, federal regulators discovered that the airplane maker had bribed public officials in Japan, Italy and the Netherlands to win government contracts. The revelations became national embarrassments in the countries where the deals had occurred.

The Lockheed affair and the shocking outcome of Sporkin's detective work both contributed to a sense that reform was necessary. As Andrew Spalding, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law, has written, U.S. policy makers worried that such rank corruption would become a Cold War liability both by harming our relationship with allies and by discrediting capitalism. It was a sentiment summed up perhaps most eloquently by George Ball, a former undersecretary of state under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, in Senate testimony from 1976:

The vast volume of speeches, pamphlets, and advertising copy and propaganda leaflets extolling the virtues of free enterprise are cancelled every night when managements demonstrate by their conduct that a sector of multinational business activity is not free; it is bought and paid for. This is a problem that, like so many others, has relevance in the struggle of antagonistic ideologies; for, when our enterprises stoop to bribery and kickbacks, they give substance to the communist myth already widely believed in Third World countries that capitalism is fundamentally corrupt.


The FCPA eventually passed under the Carter administration, making the United States the first country to officially outlaw foreign bribery. The law then promptly faded from memory. Cases were rare and little talked about. However, by the 1990s, old concerns about the law began to re-emerge.

Before the FCPA's passage, its opponents argued that criminalizing foreign bribery would put American companies at a disadvantage against international competitors from countries with looser laws -- some governments actually allowed corporations to deduct their bribe payments from their taxes -- and would discourage them from doing business in corruption-prone parts of the world. In 1995, John Hines, Jr. of Harvard's Kennedy School released a paper arguing U.S. companies were in fact investing less in countries where bribery was prevalent than they might have otherwise. When the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development agreed on an international convention against bribery, the Clinton administration pushed Congress to adopt it by arguing it would level the playing field for U.S. businesses, which were allegedly losing $30 billion a year in business to less scrupulous competition.

Even after the convention was adopted, the FCPA still remained largely beneath the radar. That changed dramatically in 2007. The graph below, based on annual report by the law firm Shearman & Sterling, shows how the yearly number of Department of Justice cases brought against corporations more than doubled in middle of the last decade.

penalties paid out by companies also surged, peaking at more than $1.7 billion in 2010.

What brought on the sudden shift isn't entirely clear. The Sarbanes Oxley Act's accounting reforms might have made it more difficult for companies to hide bribes on their books. Meanwhile, the United Nations adopted its own convention on corruption in 2003, and there may have been a sense that the United States needed to show good faith by enforcing its own laws more stringently. If you're to believe comments from Justice Department officials at the time, the Bush Administration simply thought that combating graft was important to the growth of global business. Others have been skeptical of the DOJ's motives. A 2010 Forbes article argued that the only beneficiaries of the government's crusade seemed to be white collar defense lawyers, who reaped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fees from companies conducting lengthy internal investigations.

What are these prosecutors accomplishing? Maybe they are fighting for truth and justice. Maybe, that is, it makes sense for the U.S. to hold its corporations to a higher standard of integrity than the French or Chinese outfits they compete against when trying to win business abroad. The prosecutors, though, are doing something else at the same time. They are creating a lucrative industry -- FCPA defense work -- in which they will someday be prime candidates for the cushy assignments.

Regardless of why, the reality is that the FCPA has transformed into one of the most fearsome elements in the SEC and Justice Department's arsenals. Some of the cases have involved fairly small stakes. Take the American couple who were sentenced to six months in jail for bribing organizers of a Thai film festival. Others, however, have been blockbusters. In 2009, Halliburton agreed to pay $559 million to settle charges that a former unit had bribed Nigerian officials while building a gas plant. German engineering firm Siemens has coughed up the largest settlement so far, paying $800 million in 2008 to put to rest allegations over the company's pervasive use of bribes in its global operations.

Wait, a German company?, you might ask. Indeed. Increasingly, the FCPA has become a tool for American prosecutors to police the world's large multinationals. Corporations whose shares trade on American exchanges are considered fair targets. So are corrupt transactions that pass through American banks. Using that theory, the Justice Department brought a case against against Japan's JPC, a company that, as the Shearman & Sterling report put it, had "no apparent commercial connection with the United States whatsoever." Rather than test the government's arguments in court, and risk criminal convictions for their executives, most companies have chosen to settle using deferred prosecution agreements.

As prosecutors have become more aggressive, corporations' have sought to try and limit the law's reach. The Chamber of Commerce has argued the statute is too vague on such issues as who actually counts as a foreign official, and penalizes companies with strong compliance programs for the actions of rogue employees. The chamber is lobbying for a slate of major changes, which, for instance, would require prosecutors to prove companies "willfully" violated the statute, and would also limit parent company liability for the actions of their foreign subsidiaries.

Not all of corporate America seems to have a problem with the law in its current form. A survey of more than 100 U.S. companies by accounting firm KPMG, for instance, found executives were essentially split on whether the law put domestic companies at a disadvantage against competitors from countries with looser bribery restrictions, such as China. Only 19 percent strongly agreed that FCPA enforcement was currently excessive.


Which brings us back to Walmart. In Mexico, bribery is seen as a matter of course. And some of the bribes Walmart allegedly used to speed the development of its stores may have actually been legal under the FCPA, which makes an exception for grease payments meant to make low-level bureaucrats do their jobs faster (amazingly!). Other payments may have fallen outside the bounds of the law. But as Holman Jenkins Jr. noted in today's Wall Street Journal, the outcome wasn't necessarily bad for Mexico. Walmart helped modernize the country's retail sector. It brought down prices for poor consumers. It's now Mexico's largest private employer. Does this seem like it would be a problem for U.S.-Mexican relations, or like the sort of thing that would damage capitalism? Legally, the answer doesn't matter. But my guess is not.

May 24, 2012

Judicial Watch Obtains DOD and CIA Records Detailing Meetings with bin Laden Raid Filmmakers

Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and screenwriter Mark Boal. According to the records, the Obama Defense Department granted Bigelow and Boal access to a “planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six,” which was responsible for the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, to assist Bigelow prepare her upcoming feature film.

The records, obtained pursuant to court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012, include 153 pages of records from the DOD and 113 pages of records from the CIA (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:12-cv-00049)). The documents were delivered to Judicial Watch late last Friday (May 18). The following are the highlights from the records, which include internal Defense Department email correspondence as well as a transcript from a key July 14, 2011, meeting between DOD officials, Bigelow and Boal:

•A transcript of a July 14, 2011, meeting between DOD officials, including Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, Bigelow and Boal indicates that Boal met directly with White House officials on at least two occasions regarding the film: “I took your guidance and spoke to the WH and had a good meeting with Brennan and McDonough and I plan to follow up with them; and they were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view; command and control; so that was great, thank you,” Boal said according to the transcript. Vickers asks if the meeting was a follow-up, to which Boal responds, “Yes correct; this was a follow-up.” The documents seemingly reference John O. Brennan, Chief Counterterrorism Advisor to President Obama and Denis McDonough, who serves as President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor.

•The July 14, 2011, meeting transcript also reveals that the DOD provided the filmmakers with the identity of a “planner, SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander.” (The name is blacked out in the document.) In proposing the arrangement, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers said: “The only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because . . . he shouldn’t be talking out of school.” Vickers went on to say during the meeting at the Pentagon: “This at least, this gives him one step removed and he knows what he can and can’t say, but this way at least he can be as open as he can with you and it ought to meet your needs.” Boal later responds, “You delivered.”

•A July 13, 2011, internal CIA email indicates that Bigelow and Boal were granted access to “the Vault,” which is described the CIA building where some of the tactical planning for the bin Laden raid took place: “I was given your name as the POC in [redacted] who could determine the feasibility of having a potential walk-through of…the Vault in the [redacted] building that was used for some of the tactical planning in the Bin Laden Raid [sic]. In consultation with the Office of Public Affairs and as part of the larger chronicling of the Bin Laden raid, OPA will be hosting some visitors sanctioned by ODCIA this Friday afternoon.” (The name of the sender is blacked out.) “Of course this is doable,” an official responds.

•DOD Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson told colleagues in a June 13, 2011, email to limit media access and that he would follow up with the White House: “I think this looks very good as a way forward, and agree particularly that we need to be careful here so we don’t open the media floodgates on this. I’m going to check with WH to update them on status, and will report back.” A day later, he wrote Department of Defense communications staffers, saying: “Ok to set up the second session with Vickers. I am getting additional guidance from WH.”

•Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers told Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson and two other DOD communications staffers in a June 13, 2011, email that “[DOD] would like to shape the story to prevent any gross inaccuracies, but do not want to make it look like the commanders think it’s okay to talk to the media.” The email went on to say: “For the intelligence case, they are basically using the WH-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.” The talking points called the raid “a ‘Gutsy Decision’ by the POTUS,” adding that “WH involvement was critical.”

•A June 9, 2011, email from Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations, to Vickers and other DOD staff summarizes a meeting with Boal and notes the release date for the film: “Release date set for 4th Qtr 2012…”

•A July 13, 2011, email to Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations, indicates that Sarah Zukowski, an associate for The Glover Park Group, arranged the July 14, 2011 visit by Bigelow and Boal to the DOD and the CIA. The Glover Park Group is described by Politico as a “Democratic-leaning advocacy firm.”

•A June 27, 2011, email to an official at the Office of the Secretary of Defense suggests that the request from Bigelow and Boal to meet with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers came via the White House press office. A June 22, 2011, email to Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations notes, “The White House does want to engage with Mark but it probably won’t be for a few more weeks. We should provide them a read-out of the session you do with Vickers.” The name of the White House official who forwarded the request is blacked out.

Judicial Watch launched its investigation of Bigelow’s meetings with the Obama administration following press reports suggesting that the Obama administration may have leaked classified information to the director as source material for Bigelow’s film.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the information leak was designed to help the Obama 2012 presidential reelection campaign: “The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made ‘The Hurt Locker’ will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.”

In addition to Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden film records, the organization continues to fight in court for the release of the bin Laden post-mortem photos and video. The Obama administration continues to withhold these records citing national security concerns.

“These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected film makers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”

To view the entire production click here.

May 23, 2012

GSA Bonuses Not Reported In Federal Worker Database And Documents Show Bonuses To Scandal Officials

A 9 News Now investigation has identified 67 bonuses of about $10,000 apiece to senior General Services Administration officials, including five with links to the agency's Las Vegas scandal.

The inquiry also uncovered GSA bonuses that were never reported in a federal payroll database which, despite repeated inquiries, the White House, Office of Personnel Management, nor the GSA will explain.

According to payroll documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, bonuses of about $10,000 went to five senior officials who were placed on administrative leave after the agency's lavish $823,000 Vegas conference with $2,400 square foot luxury hotel rooms, tuxedos and a clown.

We reviewed bonus information reported for every GSA regional commissioner for fiscal year 2011 in a database published by the at Gannett sister publication Asbury Park Press, finding no bonuses comparable to previous years GSA averages.

According to a 2011 FOIA response from GSA's director of Executive Resources, Karla Hester, in 2010, the average bonus for Senior GSA officials was $11,888.

According to the same response, in FY 2011, GSA Awarded senior official Anthony Costa $10,000, Commissioner Paul Prouty $15,500, and Regional Commissioner Mary Ruwwe $9,800.

None of those bonuses appear in the database built with information provided by the Office of Personnel Management.

The fiscal year 2011 payroll database reports Costa's $10,000 bonus as $1900, Prouty's $15,500 bonus as $1,900, and Ruwwe's $9,800 bonus as $900.

Click here to check the federal payroll database yourself.
The original bonus information was obtained by our sister publication, the Asbury Park Press through a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of Personnel Management.

When we asked OPM why these new numbers don't match those numbers, they referred us to the White House.

The White House referred us back to our sister publication the Asbury Park Press.

"As the Asbury Park Press disclosed, the data they collected may be incomplete and has not been certified as complete and accurate," said White House Office of Management and Budget Spokeswoman Moira Mack.

The paper's investigative editor, Paul D'Ambrosio said OPM releases the information GSA provides it.

"All I can say is this is what OPM gave me. It's supposed to be for the full fiscal year," D'Ambrosio said. "I dont know why GSA totals would be off."

"I think it's a classic case of passing the buck," said James Sherk, an analyst at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

Sherk is more troubled by the bonus money we uncovered for fiscal year 2012.

Our FOIA obtained a GSA list of 67 high ranking officials splitting more than a half-million dollars in bonus money in December 2011 or January 2012.

Almost all between about $8,000 and $10,000 a piece.

"What's very disturbing is that these performance bonuses, which are supposed to be performance bonuses were apparently weren't," Sherk said. "Very large bonuses were going to some, as we know, terrible performers."

He's talking about GSA Regional Commissioner Jeffrey Neely, the GSA official infamous for organizing the Las Vegas conference, his bathtub photos, luxury hotel rooms and whirlwind trips at taxpayer expense.

In January 2012, after the inspector general alerted GSA to the accusations against Neely, the agency awarded him a bonus of more than $9,400.

"First of all, these aren't bonuses, they're performance awards," said Bill Bransford who is lead attorney for Senior Executives Association, a group that represents high ranking government workers. "My knee jerk reaction is that these numbers are quite low for SES performance awards."

Bransford says policy allows awards as high as 20% of annual salary for performance, but the FY 2012 GSA awards we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act were all 6.5% of salary or lower.

He says Neely's troubles are the exception among senior government officials and the award payouts are designed as part of worker compensation packages to make the positions competive.

"I think some of them should be higher," Bransford said.

Many GSA senior officials received no FY 2012 bonus payment at all.

But the heritage foundation's Sherk argues Neely's bonus, and bonuses awarded to other GSA officials linked to Las Vegas, were almost identical with the other 62 senior officials, indicating no significant difference in award money for work performance.

Documents indicate in January of 2012, GSA senior official David Foley received more than $9,500.

He's the high ranking GSA official who joked on stage at the Las Vegas conference about making light about bonuses, executive pay, and even a possible oversight committee investigation.

Among the bonus recipients, we identified three other Vegas conference leaders besides Foley and Neely, all now on administrative leave, with similar payouts.

A GSA source says Foley has returned to his job after disciplinary action and the other high ranking officials are receiving pay while on administrative leave.

A GSA spokeswoman says the new acting administrator, Dan Tangerlini, was already aware of the bonus information and it is part of his top to bottom review of the agency.

May 22, 2012

Ninth Circuit court takes million-dollar trip on taxpayer dime

Judges, lawyers and staff from the federal district, appeals and bankruptcy courts in the famously liberal Ninth Circuit are planning a million-dollar trip to the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa August 13-16, at taxpayers’ expense.

Participants can choose to stay in rooms ranging from $230 to $250 per night, costing a minimum of $920 per person for a four-night stay. The Ninth Circuit’s 2010 conference cost taxpayers more than $657,000 in travel costs alone for 700 attendees; taxpayers were billed a combined $860,000 for travel to the 2008 and 2009 conferences.

Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking members of the budget and judiciary committees, respectively, wrote to Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski on May 18 ”to ensure that the courts are using their current funding allocation effectively.”

“We are concerned about the overall cost of this conference and do not believe that discussions about the administration of justice would be less successful were they held somewhere other than a spa and resort in Hawaii,” the senators wrote.

Although the conference starts on a Monday, registration opens Saturday. Sport fishing and golf are scheduled for Sunday. According to the letter, other activities during the week will include yoga, surfing lessons, stand-up paddle board lessons, Zumba (a latin-inspired dance program), a tennis tournament, a tour of Upcountry Maui, a snorkel trip and an event called “The Aloha Experience.”

U-T San Diego reported in August 2011 that after convening at La Costa Resort and Spa in Southern California, the Ninth Circuit would next travel to Maui “with a lock-in commitment that would make it prohibitive to cancel.”

The Ninth Circuit includes courts in 15 districts in nine Western states and two territories, and has the highest percentage of Democrats in judgeships — 64 percent.

Other circuits are holding conferences in less luxurious places, or canceling their annual conferences entirely. The Eighth Circuit will convene for a three-day conference in Kansas City, the Seventh Circuit will go to Chicago and the Sixth Circuit will hold its event in Lexington, Ky. Districts covering New England, the Rocky Mountains and the mid-Atlantic have cancelled their conferences.

May 21, 2012

Obama Campaign Responds to Breitbart 'Kenya' Booklet Story

Though it quickly became an Internet punchline, Attack Watch should not be dismissed. Attack Watch is paid for and an extension of Obama for America, which is part of, the online campaign hub for the White House. That means that the Obama campaign itself has decided to comment on the Breitbart News' exclusive surrounding a 1991 booklet published by President Obama's literary agency that falsely claimed the President was born in Kenya. It's also worth noting that this claim extended to the lit agency's website until 2007, two months after Obama announced his candidacy for president.
What's fascinating about the Obama campaign's response is the many questions it leaves unanswered:

Fact: The Breitbart bloggers chose to ignore the very clear facts that belie their claim.

•The literary agent who put together the 1991 pamphlet in question noted that, “there was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii.” The mistake in the pamphlet was the result of “nothing more than a fact checking error” by the agent.

•Despite the Breitbart bloggers’ claim that the booklet was an attempt to manipulate some carefully crafted persona, numerous news outlets had already reported the President as Hawaiian-born. A year before the pamphlet’s release in 1991, a New York Times article on Barack Obama’s election to head the Harvard Law Review reported correctly, “Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.”

As far as that first bullet point, what the Obama camp won't tell you is that Breitbart News made numerous attempts to contact the literary agency without any kind of response. Once the agency finally released a statement, we published it.

But it's the combination of both bullet points that's most revealing. We've since learned that the agency in question, Dystel & Goderich, asks writers to submit their own bios and if our President had an "R" after his name, this is the thread that would be pulled to launch a thousand mainstream media questions, the most obvious among them being: Did Obama submit his own bio? If so, what did it say? How in the in the world does someone mistakenly assume an American citizen was born in Africa? This may well be a "fact checking error," but it's an awfully bizarre one with an origin that deserves an explanation. Moreover, did Obama ever see the 16 year-long error and request it be fixed? Was he ever asked to proof the bio?

There's no mistaking the fact that there's a legitimate narrative surrounding Obama that involves the way in which both he and those around him engage in myth-making. Even Obama protectors like Politico admitted as much as recently as just a few weeks ago:

Yet, make no mistake, [the upcoming David Maraniss biography] is a dangerous book for Obama, and White House staffers have been fretting about it in a low-grade way for a long, long time — in part because it could redefine the self-portrait Obama skillfully created for himself in 1995 with “Dreams from My Father.”

And yet, the literary agency that handled this "skillfully created self-portrait" known as "Dreams from My Father" is the same literary agency that falsely claimed Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This potential new piece of a puzzle, though, has only been met with dismissiveness from Politico (along with the rest of the media).

After what we've learned and are still learning about Elizabeth Warren, the number of questions worth asking about the "skillfully created self-portrait" of Barack Obama only grows. The media has made clear that what Mitt Romney did a half-century ago as a teenager is fair game. Barack Obama is a sitting United States president and was a grown man in 1991 (and in 2007). If either he or those around him were intentionally primping his biography, we have a right to know.

May 18, 2012

Federal government spent nearly $70 billion on ‘climate change activities’ since 2008

The Congressional Research Service estimates that since 2008 the federal government has spent nearly $70 billion on “climate change activities.”

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe presented the new CRS report on the Senate Floor Thursday to make the point that the Obama administration has been focused on “green” defense projects to the detriment of the military.

The report revealed that from fiscal years 2008 through 2012 the federal government spent $68.4 billion to combat climate change. The Department of Defense also spent $4 billion of its budget, the report adds, on climate change and energy efficiency activities in that same time period.

Inhofe, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued that the expenditures are foolish at a time when the military is facing “devastating cuts.”

“[E]veryone agrees that energy efficiency in the military is a worthy goal,” he said. “In fact, I have been a strong supporter of some of DoD’s alternative energy solutions that are affordable and make sense, including their initiatives on non-algal bio-fuels and natural gas. But forcing our military to take money away from core programs in order to invest in unproven technologies as part of a failed cap-and-trade agenda is not only wrong, it’s reckless.”

Inhofe, who believes climate change is an unproven scientific theory at best and a hoax at worst, expressed concern about recent statements by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressing the department’s focus on making and keeping the military “green.”

Panetta’s comments came just two weeks prior to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the current Defense Authorization bill. During that markup, Inhofe said he plans to “put the spotlight on President Obama forcing his costly green agenda on DoD while [Obama] is gutting the defense budget.” He added his intention to introduce amendments to stop the administration’s green military plans.

May 17, 2012

Film Exposing Fast and Furious Gun Scandal in the Works

As Congress drags its feet on charging disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt for unlawfully covering up the deadly “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal, a respected documentary maker decided to create Blood on Their Hands, a film exposing the Obama administration’s crimes. Activists and analysts celebrated the news, calling it a positive step forward in getting to the truth about the weapons-trafficking scheme that saw the U.S. government arm violent Mexican drug cartels using American tax money.

Tired of the media’s lack of serious interest in addressing the explosive nature of the scandal, award-winning documentary maker Michael McNulty (above) decided it was time to take action. “The people that are charged in our society with finding the truth are the media, and they have failed miserably,” he said in a recent video seeking support, offering to do the job that the press has so far largely refused to do.

The Colorado-based producer is hoping to raise almost $400,000 from supporters for the film to ensure that the truth about the U.S. government’s blood-drenched operation is known to the world. During the first week, the project has already raised more than $20,000 online from over 230 donors. And with a great deal of coverage among liberty-minded media organizations in recent days, the producers hope more funds will keep coming in.

Activists and citizen journalists involved in exposing “Fast and Furious” applauded McNulty’s efforts, urging the public to support the project. “This to me is the perfect way for all of us… to actually do something about it,” noted David Codrea, a journalist and gun-rights advocate who played a key role in shining the light on the Obama administration’s deadly schemes. “I know a lot of people are outraged... It’s time to step up to the plate and do a bit more than that and to become involved.”

According to McNulty, the film will be dedicated to finding answers to one question in particular: “Why would the Attorney General of the United States give our money and assault weapons to Mexican drug cartel members all in the name of the American people's government?” There are a lot of people who want to know the answer to that — from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to the families of victims slaughtered by guns provided by the U.S. government.

After whistleblowers first exposed the deadly scheme more than a year ago, Holder and other administration officials tried to deny it or claim ignorance, even if it meant lying to Congress under oath. They later claimed the purpose of arming cartels was to somehow bust criminals. Most analysts, however, are not convinced — especially because documents that have come to light since the scandal erupted cast serious doubts on the government’s perpetually evolving claims.

Consider, for instance, the fact that the two main “drug lords” supposedly being targeted in the operation were already working for the FBI. Official e-mails that surfaced during the congressional investigation also revealed what had long been suspected by Second Amendment supporters: the administration was using the resulting violence to push for more infringements on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.

And Holder, who has a borderline-fanatical obsession with trampling on those rights, is believed to have been at the center of the deadly operation and its criminal cover-up. This film, however, would not be the first time McNulty has come across evidence of Holder’s criminality. After the tragedy surrounding the federal government’s horrific massacre of Branch Davidians in Texas — including more than two dozen children — McNulty produced the documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement. That film eventually won an Emmy for investigative journalism and was nominated for an Oscar award in 1997.

The current Attorney General, who was a top official with the Justice Department under Janet Reno at the time, played a key role in covering up the facts surrounding that federal blood bath, too — lying and protecting those responsible from accountability. And Holder is still at it, McNulty says. “He’s the guy who has authorized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to sell assault weapons to the Mexican cartels,” he explained in a promotional video soliciting public support for his latest project.

Those guns were then used to murder American law enforcement officers such as Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, as well as hundreds of Mexican citizens. “This is a problem that affects our entire country and our country’s reputation in the world,” McNulty said. “This issue has changed our standing amongst the Nations of the world and the outcome is not good.”

According to McNulty, there is now a clear pattern that has emerged indicating that Holder has been in the “cover up business” for some two decades. And it must be exposed to the public, he said, to prevent future tragedies and to ensure that officials are held accountable for criminal activity. Plus, when the American people know the truth, they will elect honest officials to serve them properly.

“Attorney General Eric Holder’s involvement in ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ seems to be a sign of the escalating abuse of power,” observed McNulty. And examining Holder’s past involvement in covering up of crimes by federal law enforcement — such as the slaughter of women and children at Waco — is key to understanding that the Attorney General appears to be involved in a “Continuing Criminal Enterprise,” or a cover-up at the very least.

“This is not an issue of politics. The ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal is not about Democrats versus Republicans,” McNulty explained. “It is about right and wrong, good versus evil, and where this country and its people stand.”

In light of the establishment media’s extraordinary lack of coverage surrounding what amounts to possibly one of the most important scandals exposed in recent years, commentators expressed high hopes for the film. “When this all shakes out in the end Holder and company won't be the only ones with blood on their hands,” wrote Catharine Evans in a piece about McNulty’s upcoming documentary for the American Thinker. “How about a criminally silent media?”

Congress, of course, has been investigating the scandal for over a year. During that time, hundreds have died, Holder has lied under oath, senior officials have pled the Fifth Amendment, whistleblowers have suffered retaliation, and the Justice Department continues to stonewall. But as House Republicans probing the crimes seek to charge Holder with contempt of Congress, GOP leaders such as Speaker John Boehner are reportedly frustrating the efforts for reasons that are not entirely clear.

“For over a year, the Department has issued false denials, given answers intended to misdirect investigators, sought to intimidate witnesses, unlawfully withheld subpoenaed documents, and waited to be confronted with indisputable evidence before acknowledging uncomfortable facts,” Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) explained in a memo outlining the case against Holder. On top of that, he said, senior officials have continually sought to lay the blame on lower-ranking functionaries using deception — presumably to shield Obama’s appointees and protect high-level insiders.

Despite the administration’s efforts to portray outrage over the scandal as partisan, even Democratic lawmakers have added their voices to the growing chorus demanding accountability as well. “One of the duties of Congress is to provide oversight of the executive branch,” Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) told The Daily Caller. “There has been a serious allegation of federal law enforcement misconduct and we need to get to the bottom of this issue without playing partisan politics.”

McNulty hopes to have the documentary completed before the November election so it can play in theaters across the nation and raise awareness. If all goes as planned, the film should be close to two hours long. It is being produced by Citizens Organization for Public Safety (COPS) Productions, where McNulty serves as CEO.

May 16, 2012

Senators probe GSA financial controls after conference scandal

Leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday asked the General Services Administration to provide details about its financial management and internal controls aimed at preventing waste, fraud and abuse, in the wake of a scathing inspector general report about GSA's 2010 Western Regions Conference (WRC) held near Las Vegas.
Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose committee is tasked with overseeing agency efficiency and effectiveness, requested the information in a nine-page letter, released to the public Monday and filled with questions about conference spending, travel, awards and contracting. They addressed the letter to Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini.

GSA spent nearly $823,000 on the training conference, according to the IG report, which detailed "excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible" spending and improper procurement practices.

"It is never appropriate for an agency to skirt acquisition rules and policies and waste tax dollars in the process," Lieberman and Collins wrote in the letter. "These issues are even more troubling given GSA's unique and lead role in contracting and management of travel and conference planning."

One question focuses on travel by a regional Public Buildings Service commissioner who was placed on administrative leave, following news of the conference.

"At times, the PBS Commissioner for Region 9, Jeff Neely, apparently approved his own travel because he was also serving as acting administrator for Region 9," the senators wrote. "Have you, or do you intend to, put in place procedures to ensure that employees, including those serving in 'acting' positions, do not approve their own travel or other expenses or otherwise ensure that all employees' travel expenses are adequately reviewed?"

Other parts of the letter focused on the apparent lack of competition for conference-related contracts, including one for M Resorts, which hosted the conference.

"Although a solicitation for conference sites was published by PBS in February 2009, a GSA contracting officer (who had not been involved in, and, inexplicably, was not aware of, the initial solicitation) wrote a memo dated September 29, 2010 justifying a sole source award to M Resorts because, according to the memo, the October 2010 WRC was a 'very time sensitive procurement' and it 'would have been a waste of government funds' to review the nine sites deemed to satisfy initial criteria," according to the senators' letter.

Recommendation to review other conferences, per diem

In all, the letter contains 41 multi-part questions for Tangherlini, with answers due by May 31. But the senators also included recommendations for the GSA chief financial officer to review spending associated with all of agency's recent conferences. The goal is to identify possible wasteful or illegal spending.

Lieberman and Collins also requested the CFO investigate per diem expenses "to ensure that GSA employees who received meals as part of a conference did not also claim per diem expenses for those meals, as did some employees who attended the WRC."

Request for more IG oversight

While Lieberman and Collins directed the bulk of questions to the GSA acting administrator, they also asked IG Brian Miller to keep an extra eye on GSA by separately investigating the agency's conference and travel spending.

"Should your initial review find any other extravagant or potentially illegal spending on conferences, or any suspicious travel expenses — including unusually long trips and large expenses claimed for travel in an employee's local area--we ask that you conduct a full investigation as you did with the WRC, and let us know the findings," they wrote in a May 10 letter to Miller.

The senators also asked Miller to further investigate contracts supporting activities by GSA regional offices "to determine the frequency with which they violate procurement regulations. Such a sampling would help determine the need for additional audits of particular regions or programmatic activities. Furthermore, both GSA and Congress would benefit from your examination of, and recommendations on how to improve, GSA's recruitment, certification, and training of contract officers."

The remaining requests focused on the use of travel cards, ideas for improving internal oversight, and the status of Miller's recommendations to GSA management, as they relate to the WRC.

May 15, 2012

Fast and Furious: Botched Gun Probe or Criminal Scandal?

A growing number of lawmakers say Attorney General Eric Holder should be charged with contempt of Congress for his responsibility in the "Fast and Furious" gun scandal.

Critics claim Holder and other officials in the federal government tried to cover up the major gun smuggling investigation that went awry.

For more than a year, both House and Senate committees have tried to find out how the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms sent guns across the Mexican border in hopes of catching smugglers -- and then lost track of them.

The guns found their way into the hands of drug cartels and led to the death of at least one border agent, Brian Terry, and possibly scores of Mexican citizens.

Investigative reporter and news editor Katie Pavlich says the Fast and Furious case is a criminal ordeal that can't be ignored.

The details of the gun running and federal stonewalling are found in her new book by, Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Shameless Cover-up.

Katie Pavlich will appear on the May 14 edition of 'The 700 Club' to talk more about the 'Fast and Furious' gun scandal and how it's being handled. Check local listings here for showtimes and stay with for the entire interview, Tuesday after 11 a.m. ET.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee heard from a parade of witnesses, including Holder. But many are not satisfied with what they see as stonewalling and the submission of heavily edited documents.

"There are things in those documents that you don't want us to see," Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said at a recent hearing.

"There's no attempt at any kind of cover-up," Holder responded. "We're not going to be hiding behind any kind of privileges or anything."

"How many more border agents would have had to die for you to take responsibility?" Rep Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y., asked Holder.

"That kind of question, I think, is frankly -- and again, respectfully -- I think that's beneath a member of Congress," he said.

Fourteen months after Agent Terry's death, his family filed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit against the government.

Meanwhile, California Rep. Darrel Issa has drafted a contempt of Congress document against Holder for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena.

May 14, 2012

Cyber-intelligence bill sponsor silent on FBI push to wiretap social networks

The author of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) — a bill that would allow the sharing of network cyber threat information between private corporations and the federal government, particularly the NSA — is staying quiet about the prospect of the FBI’s separate push for the ability to wiretap social networks.

First signed into law in 1994, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) currently gives the FBI the ability to legally conduct electronic surveillance of telecommunications networks, including traffic over broadband networks and Voice over IP (VoIP). The FBI morphed into a full-fledged intelligence agency following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

A recent CNET report revealed that the FBI was quietly pushing for a reform to the CALEA, and that the Federal Communications Commission was potentially preparing for regulatory action to amend the law, which would require Internet companies to modify their website code to make it easier to monitor persons of interest for national security purposes. The amendment would affect social networks like Facebook, video chat services like Skype, and web email providers.

Google, Facebook and Twitter have thus far remained silent about the new FBI push to expand its Internet surveillance capabilities.

An amendment to CALEA, however, is only the latest in a sequence of moves by the federal government to expand the influence of the executive branch over the Internet using various attempts to craft legislation or create regulations to address concerns about national security, cybersecurity and the piracy of intellectual property.

Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, sponsored and championed CISPA — which enjoyed the support of companies like Facebook — as a necessary law for the maintenance of national security.

CISPA, however, induced visceral reaction among civil and digital liberties groups, who had just recently helped to defeat Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The groups view CISPA as a danger to individual privacy rights since CISPA would allow the information of private citizens to be monitored by the military.

Rogers’ office did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment about CALEA.

Regulatory action by the FCC through net neutrality in 2010 also placed Internet service providers (ISPs) under a federal regulatory framework which governs how ISPs can manage network traffic, later upheld by the Senate Democrats in 2011.

International efforts to regulate the Internet are also underway. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the U.N. involving 193 member countries, is expected to meet in Dubai to renegotiate a telecommunications treaty to bring the Internet under the governance of the United Nations.

May 11, 2012

Documents withheld in GSA scandal

The watchdog agency for the General Services Administration is declining to release hundreds of thousands of documents about travel fraud investigations, saying the disclosure could interfere with ongoing law enforcement proceedings.

The Washington Times had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking copies of final reports for all travel fraud probes since 2007, as well as information about a highly publicized audit of lavish spending for a GSA conference in Las Vegas.

In a letter explaining the decision to withhold many of the records, an attorney for the Office of the Inspector General for the GSA noted that “over [800,000] documents are being withheld.” The letter said releasing the records could “interfere with ongoing enforcement proceedings.”

Since the conference audit was already released, the decision to keep the records from public view provides further evidence that criminal charges could come next in the 2010 GSA conference scandal.

Inspector General Brian Miller already has recommended a criminal probe as accusations of bribery and kickbacks emerged following his report on the conference. And the GSA official who planned the conference, Jeffrey Neely, invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination at a congressional hearing last month.

Issued last month, the inspector general’s report on the more than $800,000 Western Region Conference sparked bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill and the ouster of GSA’s top official, Martha Johnson.

The report found the GSA violated a host of contracting rules and spent nearly $150,000 on buffets, in-room parties, a networking reception and a cocktail-and-awards dinner. The conference also featured a talent show.

The networking reception included a cash bar, a pasta station and an “American Artisanal Cheese Display,” while another event featured a commemorative-coin giveaway rewarding participants for their work on projects under the federal economic stimulus act.

Other funds were spent on tuxedos worn by three employees who were masters of ceremonies at the awards dinner.

The inspector general's office did release other records to The Times that did not relate to the conference involving past instances of travel fraud.

In one report, documents describe how a former deputy under Mr. Neely had made numerous unauthorized charges on his government credit card in 2009. The deputy, Daniel B. Voll, retired in January 2010 while under investigation and pleaded guilty to federal charges in California involving $61,000 in credit card charges.

Another now-closed investigation began after the inspector general's office received an allegation that a GSA official went to a conference in Branson, Mo., but did not attend any of the sessions.

Yet another case described a 2007 probe that found at least two questionable trips involving a GSA office in Atlanta.

The GSA’s acting administrator, Dan Tangherlini, who previously worked as city administrator in the D.C. government, has pledged reforms to cut wasteful travel spending. A spokeswoman for the GSA inspector general declined to comment on the investigation Thursday.

May 10, 2012

Congressional Democrats Introduce Amendment to Outlaw Self Defense

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has announced it will introduce legislation designed to strip Americans of the right to defend themselves. Called “Stop Shoot First Laws,” the amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill under consideration in the House would deny states federal funding allocated under section 505 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 if they continue to allow citizens to defend themselves.

“Shoot first laws have already cost too many lives,” said Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva upon introducing their amendment. “In Florida alone, deaths due to self-defense have tripled since the law was enacted. Federal money shouldn’t be spent supporting states with laws that endanger their own people. This is no different than withholding transportation funds from states that don’t enforce seatbelt laws.”

“The message here is if you have this kind of law that your federal funding is going to take a hit because they make states less safe,” Adam Sarvana, communications director for Grijalva, told Politico.

In other words, the Democrats will force states to choose between putting their citizens at the mercy of violent criminals or taking federal largess.

Because the House does not have an open amendment process, the amendment will likely not see a vote on the floor. Ellison and Grijalva introduced the amendment in and effort to further politicize the Trayvon Martin case and increase pressure on the Second Amendment.

Democrats are using “Shoot First” instead of “Stand Your Ground” in an effort to portray self defense as homicide.

“Stand Your Ground” is a legal extension of the Castle doctrine stating that a person has a right to defend himself against an intruder. “Stand Your Ground” laws state that one can use deadly force in any location one is legally allowed to be and removes the requirement that the threat must occur on one’s own property.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is the largest caucus within the Democratic caucus in Congress. It is supported by the Institute for Policy Studies,, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Hip Hop Caucus, and other liberal and so-called “progressive” organizations.

May 9, 2012

Democrat breaks ranks, supports Issa’s push to enforce Fast and Furious subpoena

Indiana Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he supports the House oversight committee’s efforts to enforce the congressional subpoena of Attorney General Eric Holder over Operation Fast and Furious.

“One of the duties of Congress is to provide oversight of the Executive Branch,” Donnelly told TheDC. “There has been a serious allegation of federal law enforcement misconduct and we need to get to the bottom of this issue without playing partisan politics.”

Holder has demonstrably failed to comply with the congressional subpoena House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served him on Oct. 12, 2011. Holder has failed to comply with all 22 categories of the subpoena that demands he provide documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. With 13 of the categories, Holder has provided no documents whatsoever. When it comes to the other nine subpoena categories, Holder is still far from compliant, as TheDC reported late last week.

Despite Holder’s explicit failure to comply with the subpoena, the House oversight committee’s top Democrat, ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, still insists Holder has not failed to comply. On Monday, Cummings spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told TheDC that Cummings believes Holder hasn’t failed to comply with the subpoena because he thinks the Department of Justice is “still producing documents.”

Etienne wouldn’t specify which “documents” Cummings believes the DOJ is “still producing” when asked. Republicans have been extraordinarily specific on that front.

Cummings has also accused those pushing for answers and accountability when it comes to Fast and Furious – specifically with the apparently imminent contempt of Congress citation against Holder for his failure to comply with the subpoena – of trying to “generate press for political purposes.”

“Holding someone in contempt is one of the most serious actions Congress can take, but it is being used in this case as part of a partisan election year witch-hunt,” Cummings said in response to beginnings of contempt proceedings against Holder, according to Fox News.

Donnelly’s support of the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious and his support of Congress’ duty to provide oversight of the administration is a break from the ranks of his fellow Democrats, like Cummings. It also indicates that there’s some bipartisan support for the investigation Issa is undertaking into the Obama administration’s role in Fast and Furious.

Donnelly was one of 31 House Democrats who, in June 2011, wrote to President Barack Obama asking him to direct Holder and the Justice Department to comply with the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious.

In that letter, Donnelly and his Democratic colleagues told Obama that while the reports of the gunwalking “tactics used in this operation [Fast and Furious] are extremely troubling,” they think it’s “equally troubling that the Department of Justice has delayed action and withheld information from Congressional inquiries.”

Donnelly is currently the only Democratic candidate in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race this year. He will be facing off against either incumbent GOP Sen. Dick Lugar or the state’s current treasurer Richard Mourdock depending on who wins on Tuesday.

The other 30 House Democrats who signed that June 2011 letter to Obama on Fast and Furious haven’t responded to TheDC’s requests for comment on how Holder has provably failed to comply with the congressional subpoena. Even so, many of them have been outspoken against the administration’s handling of the scandal in recent months.

Most notably, Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren told TheDC he had “no comment” when asked if he still had confidence in Holder after Fast and Furious – indicating that he’s openly choosing to not back the embattled attorney general. Democratic Reps. Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Gene Green of Texas recently told The Washington Times’ Kerry Picket they want the DOJ’s Inspector General to release her internal report on Fast and Furious before the upcoming November presidential election and Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Ron Kind said he’s concerned about the slow pace of the investigations.

The other Democrats who signed that June 2011 letter who haven’t returned TheDC’s requests for comment are: Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire, Tim Holden and Mark Critz, California Reps. Joe Baca, Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa, Georgia Reps. Sanford Bishop and John Barrow, Iowa Rep. Leonard Boswell, Kentucky Rep. Ben Chandler, Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper, Illinois Rep. Jerry Costello, Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, New Mexico Reps. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, North Carolina Reps. Larry Kissell , Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, Maine Rep. Mike Michaud, New York Rep. Bill Owens, Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

May 8, 2012

Homeland Security Office to Unload Hundreds of Corruption Probes

Facing an overwhelming backlog of corruption probes, the Department of Homeland Security's watchdog agency will unload almost half of its investigations of employees suspected of wrongdoing, officials said last week.

The department's acting inspector general, Charles K. Edwards, said he will transfer control of approximately 360 corruption and misconduct case against employees at two agencies -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection. Internal affairs offices at the agencies will instead handle the investigations.

Edwards said in a statement that the transfer was part of his office's commitment to ensure "that all allegations of employee corruption are fully investigated."

His office has a backlog of about 760 corruption or misconduct cases at those two agencies alone. Edwards is transferring control of cases that involve specific employees who have been named, rather than allegations of misconduct by unidentified employees.

Homeland security officials said they would prioritize cases that threaten the nation's security and focus on clearing any employees who have been falsely accused. Edwards did not describe specific allegations against homeland security employees. They could include customs officers allegedly accepting bribes to allow drugs into the country or crimes unrelated to their jobs, such as possessing child pornography.

The beleaguered inspector general's office, which has been under scrutiny by a federal grand jury, identified last month more than 80 corruption cases at a Texas field office that needed to be re-examined. Officials in turn reached out to other federal agencies, including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, for assistance.

The transfer of cases from the inspector general -- which investigates waste, fraud and corruption within the Department of Homeland Security -- is expected to be completed by June 1. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the agency, which will lead the transferred investigations and has 260 agents assigned to investigate employee misconduct, can handle the influx of new cases from the inspector general.

Homeland security officials have praised Edwards, who became acting inspector general in February 2011, for his efforts to steer the agency in the right direction. They say he has fostered cooperation with other law enforcement agencies to investigate corruption and end turf wars. They also pointed to an August agreement intended to ease tensions between the inspector general and Customs and Border Protection on corruption probes.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Matthew Chandler said the department's primary goal is to ensure that corruption is thoroughly investigated. "We expect this effort to lead to an even better working relationship between agencies, the elimination of the inherited backlog and significant acceleration in the investigation of corruption allegations," Chandler wrote in an email.

Despite being taxed by its caseload, the inspector general's decision to unburden itself of investigations excludes the FBI, which has roughly 700 agents assigned to public corruption cases, including some 120 along the southwest border. FBI officials were not available for comment. The inspector general's office has fought for years with the FBI and other homeland security agencies over the responsibility to police corruption.

Current and former officials were skeptical that working relations among agencies tasked with ferreting out corruption would improve unless Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano or lawmakers give the matter sustained attention. In recent years, members of Congress have held hearings on border corruption and made inquiries into cooperation among those agencies that police it, but have said they would wait for the outcome of the grand jury probe.

W. Ralph Basham, a former Customs and Border Protection commissioner from 2006 to 2009, said he expected the inspector general to dump outdated and low-profile cases. "That's what I would do -- offload the dogs to get them off the plate," he said. "What happens is -- and in my opinion it's disgraceful -- they get around to investigate these things, and the witnesses are gone."

Cases hit roadblocks

While the inspector general has conceded the transfer of a few hundred corruption cases, hundreds more may never be investigated because delays have pushed the cases beyond the statute of limitations.

According to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, corruption and misconduct cases that were under control of a special inspector general unit -- called "forensic threat analysis" -- may have ended up shelved without resolution. Those cases have typically involved unidentified employees.

Instead of sharing information about the case with the FBI or other homeland security agencies, the forensic threat analysis unit retains the case until the statute of limitations expires, the documents show. That effectively prevents other homeland security agencies or the FBI from offering new leads, connecting tips or doing their own investigative work.

Figures provided by the inspector general show the analysis unit has nearly 340 cases in its inventory. The agency did not provide answers to questions regarding how many new investigative leads the unit has generated or the number returned to investigators for follow-up. The inspector general's office also declined to comment on whether it has held cases until the statute of limitations expires.

Overall, the inspector general had 2,564 open investigations as of Sept. 30, 2011, the end of the last fiscal year, up by nearly a quarter compared to the year before. The watchdog has 219 investigators, of whom just fewer than 200 are stationed in 33 offices nationwide.

Complaints against Customs and Border Protection employees have increased 38 percent since 2004. The nation's largest federal law enforcement agency with about 60,000 employees, Customs and Border Protection has 203 agents to police misconduct, but the inspector general has the right of first refusal. The majority of the 137 employees who have been indicted or convicted since October 2004 were stationed along the southwest border with Mexico.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also had a flurry of corruption and criminal misconduct cases in recent years. Last week, a former intelligence chief for the agency became the fifth employee to plead guilty in an embezzlement scheme that bilked the government of more than $600,000.

Trouble in Texas

The decision to offload investigations comes amid an expanding grand jury probe into the practices of the overburdened inspector general. The investigation, led by the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, has focused in recent months on allegations of criminal misconduct in the agency's McAllen, Texas, office, including the possible fabrication of investigative reports ahead of an office inspection last fall.

Investigators have broadened the inquiry to include the agency's Dallas office and the alleged mistreatment of a confidential informant who was deported to Mexico. Agents from Dallas and Washington were subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in recent weeks. Ralph Isenberg, a Dallas businessman aiding the informant, said the FBI has requested an interview with the person.

Amid the grand jury probe, several employees have been placed on administrative leave or re-assigned.

In late March, Edwards placed his top criminal investigator and a deputy on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the FBI and Justice Department investigation. The head of the McAllen office was put on leave earlier this year. Another top deputy, Wayne Salzgaber, who oversees field operations, was re-assigned in late April to other duties after receiving a subpoena and testifying before the grand jury.

Inspector general spokeswoman Marty Metelko declined to discuss ongoing investigations or personnel matters.

The inspector general's policy is to open investigations on all allegations of corruption involving department employees. But the huge volume of cases has buried the watchdog agency. Rather than delegate the workload, the inspector general often held onto cases. As a result, corruption was not fully investigated or cases languished for years, agents say.

Amid this, the inspector general's top investigators have been reluctant to work with the FBI in border-related corruption cases.

The FBI, whose top criminal priority is to investigate public corruption, has established 21 border corruption task forces, 13 in the southwest alone. Homeland security agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, have participated in many of those task forces.

But homeland security officials have barred Customs and Border Protection from sharing information regarding potential corruption without the inspector general's approval. This policy is backed up by the highest reaches of the Department of Homeland Security. They believe only the inspector general -- not Customs and Border Protection -- should share information with the FBI regarding corruption investigations.

"Recently, an FBI official requested that CBP begin providing notice of criminal allegations directly to the FBI," the department's general counsel, Ivan Fong, wrote in a confidential April 16 memo.

"Such notice is not legally required and would in fact be inconsistent" with the August agreement that was supposed to ease tensions between the inspector general and Customs and Border Protection on corruption probes, Fong wrote.

Officials with the inspectors general's office believe bypassing the watchdog agency by going directly to Customs and Border Protection for information could hamper their investigations. Other agents, however, view the inspector general as ill-equipped to root out corruption.

There is also a mutual sense of distrust that the agencies are not sharing information on new investigations, despite specific guidelines issued by the U.S. attorney general on how soon the inspector general and the FBI must notify each other when a case is initiated. Fong wrote that the watchdog agency had properly notified the FBI "in at least 98 percent of criminal investigations." The inspector general, however, did not believe the FBI was as consistent.

Basham, the former customs commissioner, said it was ridiculous for the Department of Homeland Security to isolate the FBI from corruption investigations.

"There's lots of cooperation between the FBI and (Customs and Border Protection) right now," he said. "They share information with regard to the protection of the United States and its borders. It's bizarre that they would not share information with the FBI for criminal investigations. It makes no sense."

May 7, 2012

Dick Morris: White House will spin Holder contempt proceedings as racism for political gain

While Attorney General Eric Holder is on the verge of facing a contempt citation in Congress for allegedly not complying with a congressional subpoena over Operation Fast and Furious, in the long run the situation could be a political positive for President Barack Obama’s reelection effort, according to former Clinton adviser and Fox News analyst Dick Morris.

Morris, the co-author of the book “Screwed!: How Foreign Countries Are Ripping America Off and Plundering Our Economy — and How Our Leaders Help Them Do It,” explained his theory on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on the Fox News Channel on Saturday. He said that, despite Holder’s baggage, he is still viewed positively in the African-American community.

“I think [a contempt citation] certainly is not healthy for him,” Morris said. “But you got to realize that — I believe he is our first African-American attorney general. And I think he’s — an outspoken and forceful advocate for the minority community — motor voter and voter ID and a range of those issues. And I think that the problem is, if Obama forces him out or makes him resign in the face of all of this stuff, it is going to send a bad message to the black community. On the other hand, if Holder is sitting there as attorney general being persecuted in the eyes of many of the African-American community by the Republicans in Congress, he becomes the symbol of victimization and helpful to Obama because he would have generated turnout. It is probably in Obama’s interest to leave him right where he is, in contempt of Congress fighting the Republicans.”

Morris said that Holder’s standing in the black community would make it possible to advance the idea that the Republican Party has a racial agenda.

“I don’t think that it is it race, but I think they will spin it as race,” he said. “And what I think that it is is this was a stupid operation in the first place. It was — you could put guns in the hands of drug dealers, deliberately give them the guns and one guy who they actually arrested for it and then let him go because they wanted to track the weapons, that’s insane and led to deaths of several DEA agents as well as many, many other people. It was a terribly conceived and terribly executed and of course it is being covered up now. But I think that the sense of outrage about it will not prevent some people from saying that this is it a race-based thing.

May 3, 2012

New investigation launched into prostitution scandal

The acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security is investigating the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia, in addition to four congressional committees as well as internal reviews by the agency, the military and the White House.

The top legislators on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Tuesday they sent a letter to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan asking for information on the incident last month in Cartagena, Colombia, that has resulted in nine agents resigning or in the process of being forced out.

Three other Secret Service agents were cleared of serious misconduct, and the military is investigating the alleged involvement of 12 service members.

On Monday, the Homeland Security official announced his separate investigation of the incident, which embarrassed the government and raised questions of a possible security breach before President Barack Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.

The "field work is beginning immediately," acting Inspector General Charles Edwards said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Sullivan faced a pair of deadlines Tuesday to answer dozens of questions about the issue.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-New York, submitted 50 questions to Sullivan, while House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, have 10 questions they wanted answered, including a precise time line of exactly what happened in Cartagena.

"The incident in Cartagena is troubling because Secret Service agents and officers made a range of bad decisions," said a letter from Issa, R-California, and Cummings of Maryland.

The pair also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting details of the military investigation by May 8.

In their correspondence to Panetta, Issa and Cummings said security personnel showed an "alarming lack" of "character" and "judgment."

The Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the controversy at a hearing last week. On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins said they sent Sullivan a letter Monday that also sought answers about what happened.

"We wish to determine whether those events were indicative of a pattern of behavior by agents or officers of the Secret Service, and need to be addressed systemically, or if they instead constituted an isolated incident warranting action only with respect to the individuals involved," said the letter from Lieberman and Collins.

The U.S. Southern Command expects to finish questioning the 12 military personnel implicated in possible wrongdoing this week before forwarding its findings to military lawyers for review, and then to Gen. Douglas Fraser, commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command, a Defense Department official said Monday.

Last week, the Secret Service distributed new rules for its agents on assignment intended to prevent a repeat of such alleged misconduct, according to two government sources familiar with the resulting investigation.

Called Enhanced Standards of Conduct, the new guidelines given to all Secret Service personnel make clear that standards of behavior required in the United States apply on missions abroad, the sources said.

Effective immediately, the new standards require detailed briefings before each trip that will include safety precautions and any necessary designations of establishments and areas that are "off limits" for Secret Service personnel, the sources said.

Also in the new standards, foreigners are banned from Secret Service hotel rooms at all times, except for hotel staff and host nation law enforcement and government officials on official business, according to the officials, and all Secret Service personnel are prohibited from going to a "nonreputable establishment."

The new standards specify that U.S. laws apply to Secret Service personnel when traveling, rendering invalid the excuse that specific activity is legal in the foreign country, the officials said.

In addition, the new guidelines allow moderate alcohol consumption when off duty, but prohibit alcohol consumption within 10 hours of reporting for duty or at any time when at the hotel where the protected official is staying, the officials explained.

An additional supervisor from the Office of Professional Responsibility will now accompany the "jump teams" that bring vehicles for motorcades and other transportation, the officials said. Agents involved in the Colombia incident were part of such a jump team.

Allegations of further transgressions by agents have emerged after the initial reports of heavy drinking and consorting with prostitutes last month before Obama arrived in Cartagena.

Recent claims include an account from El Salvador described by CNN affiliate Seatte TV station KIRO as very similar to the Colombia scandal, involving members of the Secret Service and other government agencies.

However, Panetta said last week that his department is not investigating any of its troops over the reported incident in El Salvador, while State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said embassy staff in El Salvador were being questioned about the allegations

The Drug Enforcement Administration also is prepared to look into, "in an appropriate manner and immediately," allegations that it deems "credible" regarding its agents in El Salvador, agency spokesman Rusty Payne said. But he added that, while the DEA had seen news reports, "we are unaware of any allegations of misconduct."