Posts Tagged United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Eric Holder Held in Contempt by House
It is the first time Congress has taken such a dramatic move against a sitting Cabinet official.
US Attorney General Eric Holder chats with a guest as he arrives for the annual picnic for Members of Congress June 27, 2012 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC
House Republicans on Thursday followed through with their plans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress—but not before dozens of Democrats stormed out of the chamber in protest.
The final vote was 255-67, making Holder the first sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt by Congress. In the end, 17 Democrats broke ranks with their party and sided with Republicans, who contend that Holder has failed to cooperate with their investigation into the botched “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation.
The Democratic-walkout was led by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was among those who boycotted the vote, called it an “abuse of power” while speaking on the House floor.
Pelosi and co. say that John Boehner and his fellow Republicans are going after Holder for the Justice Department’s involvement in another hot-button issue unpopular with the GOP: “The whole reason that they want him to resign is because he’s looking into voter suppression,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, referring to the Justice Department’s lawsuits against some states for allegedly violating voter rights law.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have been locked in a standoff with Holder over which documents the administration will give to the panel for their investigation into the gunwalking scheme.
The Justice Department has repeatedly stressed that they’ve been responsive to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s requests for documents related to the operation, withholding only those documents pertaining to ongoing criminal investigations. The Committee voted to hold Holder in contempt hours after President Obama used executive privilege to override Issa’s subpoena for some Justice Department documents.
- Boehner charges ahead on contempt resolution for Holder (news.yahoo.com)
- Dems avoid, Republicans slam Pelosi theory on Holder contempt push (foxnews.com)
- Pelosi: Attacking Holder part of GOP voter suppression plan (rawstory.com)
- Pelosi: Holder contempt vote about voter suppression… (washingtonexaminer.com)
- Congressional Black Caucus plans walk out of Holder contempt vote (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Left shrieks over reports that up to 35 House Democrats may back Holder contempt vote (twitchy.com)
- Dozens of Dems may join GOP on contempt (upi.com)
- Pelosi Calls GOP Move ‘Shameful’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Democrats defect on AG Holder (thehill.com)
- House Democrat breaks ranks to back Holder contempt as vote looms – Fox News (foxnews.com)
TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony
Last minute excuse blocks Bruce Schneier
Security expert Bruce Schneier was been banned at the last minute from testifying in front of congress on the efficacy – or otherwise – of the US Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) much-maligned perv scanners.
Schneier is a long-time critic of the TSA’s policies for screening travelers, and was formally invited to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearings. However, the TSA objected to his presence because he is currently involved in a legal case over the use of said scanners in US airports.
“I was looking forward to sitting next to a TSA person and challenging some of their statements. That would have been interesting,” Schneier toldThe Register. “The request to appear came from the committee itself, because they’d been reading my stuff on this and thought it would be interesting.”
Schneier, who is currently involved in an Economist debate on just this issue, has criticized the TSA’s procedures as “security theater“, designed to give the appearance of security without actually being effective. He has pointed out that the scanners are easily defeated, and that since people who do have items are merely forced to give them up and sent on their way, terrorists simply need to send enough people through the systems until one of them succeeds.
This isn’t the first time the TSA has been less than willing to have itself subject to anything like the same scrutiny that aircraft passengers are routinely put through. Last year they ducked out of similar hearings at the last minute, apparently because they didn’t want to sit next to representatives from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
The use of the perv scanners is highly controversial. The TSA has spent millions of dollars to buy them, and the industry hired ex–Homeland Security supremo Michael Chertoff as a lobbyist to push the technology. However, there have been numerous examples of people claiming to be able to beat the scanners, concerns about the health implications of scanning, and the so-called “homosexual” pat-downs introduced to encourage people to use them caused a national day of protest.
There are currently several ongoing legal cases against the scanners, including one recent case in which, it is claimed, attractive female subjects were being repeatedly ordered to use the devices. Personal airport searches have to be performed by a member of the same sex as the target, but no such rules are in place for operators of the scanners.
“I think the TSA has really painted themselves into a corner over this,” Schneier told us. “They’ve said the scanners were absolutely necessary for security, and made the pat downs you can have as an alternatives so unpleasant. It’s going to be really hard for them to back down, if indeed they can.”
- Bruce Schneier and the TSA (q-ontech.blogspot.com)
- TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony (go.theregister.com)
- Committee On Oversight & Government Reform (mbcalyn.com)
- TSA Oversight: Tell Us Your TSA Story (oversight.house.gov)
- Congress Wants Your TSA Stories (yro.slashdot.org)
- Congressional Testimony on the TSA (schneier.com)
- Vanity Fair On the TSA and Security Theater (news.slashdot.org)
- TSA Oversight Hearing Today at 130 PM EST: Effective Security or Security Theater? UPDATE: Video Added (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
- Recipe for Awesome: One Part Bruce Schneier + One Part Trope + One Part Geekery (crimedime.com)
- Bruce Schneier on The Internet, Scale and Trust (q-ontech.blogspot.com)