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Sen. Paul Urges Sen. Reid to Move Immigration Bill to Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

May 6, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued a follow-up letter to Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) urging him to refer the immigration bill to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings last month. In Sen. Reid’s response to Sen. Paul’s first letter, he indicated that HSGAC would hold hearings regarding immigration and border security. But, Sen. Paul does not believe that hearings alone will suffice and calls for further debate and amendments in HSGAC. The text of this letter can be found below.

May 6, 2013

The Honorable Harry Reid Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid,
As I stated in my previous letter to you on April 22 of this year, I believe it is critical for the Senate to fully review and consider the events that led to the tragic bombing in Boston last month. Most importantly, we must learn how persons admitted to and residing legally in the United States-from a dangerous region of the world, no less-could fall through the cracks, progress through the immigration process, and remain in the United States, where they were able to carry out vicious attacks despite being subjected to a significant amount of scrutiny during their immigration processing.
At the same time that we are trying to learn how the warning signs that might have stopped this horrible tragedy were missed, the Senate is pushing ahead with consideration of new immigration reform legislation. This legislation would reorganize large sectors of our society and alter the process we use to admit foreign visitors to the United States, and it would also bring unknown millions of people out of the shadows and into legal residence in the United States. Although I and many of my colleagues have called for full deliberation of this legislation-especially in light of the events in Boston-most indications are that this enormous piece of legislation will be expedited to the fullest extent possible. Just this week, you suggested that that your goal is for the Senate to complete work on this bill and pass it within the next two months.
It has been argued that immigration has already been debated for years and, while that may be true, it most certainly is …read more


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Why Is a Report on Bush's Torture Program Being Kept Classified by Obama?

May 6, 2013 in Blogs

By Marcy Wheeler, Salon

A massive report on torture reveals it's far less effective than reported. But the CIA refuses to declassify it.


Much of what you’ve been told (or seen in movies) about George W. Bush’s supposedly effective torture program is false and overhyped. At least, that’s one of the conclusions of the 6,000-page review of the program the Senate Intelligence Committee completed last year.

Yet, right now, President Obama is preventing you from learning any of this, by keeping the report classified.

Before the end of the Bush Administration, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)—then the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee—started investigating the torture program. When Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) took over as Chair of the Committee in 2009, she intensified the investigation and negotiated with the CIA to get access to its files. After almost four more years of work and reviewing 6 million pages of documents, the Committee voted out the report in December on a mostly party line vote.

As you may recall from the debate around the film “Zero Dark Thirty debate,” Senators Feinstein, Carl Levin (D-MI), and John McCain (R-AZ) have said the report shows thattorture didn’t produce the intelligence that led us to finding Osama bin Laden. According to reports, it shows that torture didn’t produce much useful information. While discussing the report, Jay Rockefeller described the torture program this way:

[T]he people who ran it were ignorant of the topic, [it was] executed by personnel without relevant experience, managed incompetently by senior officials who did not pay attention to crucial details, and corrupted by personnel and pecuniary conflicts of interest. It was sold to the policymakers and lawyers of the White House, the Department of Justice, and Congress, with grossly-inflated claims of professionalism and effectiveness, so-called lives saved.

In short, the report rebuts claims that torture worked—and specifically the claim made by torture boosters from Dick Cheney to former Counterterrorism Center head Jose Rodriguez that it helped to find Osama bin Laden.

Accounts of the reports’ findings are not limited to whether torture worked. According to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the it shows “the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information about …read more


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Armed Children? 5 Craziest Things About This Weekend's NRA Convention

May 6, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet

From an Obama look-alike target to Mayor Michael Bloomberg being portrayed as a Nazi.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was in the media spotlight over the weekend as they held their national convention. One message emerging from the conference was to gear up for the 2014 elections, which the NRA sees as pivotal for gun rights.

It was the first national gathering for an organization that has been in the spotlight since the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado. But stepping into that spotlight hasn’t forced the NRA to curb some of its nutty tendencies. Here are 5 crazy moments that occurred at the convention.

1. Armed Children 

The NRA wants to appeal to….children! The New York Daily News reported that at the convention, “two 10-year-olds took aim with air pistols, an 11-year-old gawked at a semiautomatic weapon and a 3-year-old soaked up applause for being the youngest member.”

That wasn’t the only instance of children attending the NRA convention. The Daily Mail Online notes that Will Marshall, a 12-year-old from Florida, “has been a member of the NRA for 11 years and owns four guns.” In other words, he joined when he was one.

The presence of young kids at the NRA comes as the problem of children holding guns has been tragically highlighted. One April week saw four people shot by toddlers. And in early May, a five-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally killed his two-year-old sister with a small rifle.

2. A Bleeding Target That Looks Like Obama

For two days, a vendor at the NRA convention hawked a gun target that had an image that looked like President Obama bleeding on it. The vendor, Zombie Industries, was asked to take the product down because it looked too much like the president. Zombie Industries sells life-sized targets for gun owners to shoot at.

Asked by a BuzzFeed reporter whether the Obama likeness was intentional, a Zombie Industries worker replied: “Let's just say I gave my Republican father one for Christmas.”

3. Guns and the Boston Marathon Bombing

There’s plenty to parse in NRA Executive Vice President Wayne …read more


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Scoring Immigration Reform Correctly

May 6, 2013 in Economics

The Senate this week will turn its attention to the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill. Recent criticism of the plan has focused on the potential costs to American taxpayers. But Cato scholar Alex Nowrasteh argues that any credible analysis must employ “dynamic fiscal scoring,” which more accurately measures the total impact of legislation on the economy. “Using dynamic scoring to predict the effects of legislation is as relevant for immigration reform as it is for tax cuts,” says Nowrasteh. “Any analysis that doesn’t must be judged as lacking.”

…read more