tv [untitled] CSPAN June 17, 2009 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT
as it relates to predatory lending by the department of justice. i sent you a letter about a week ago concerning the circumstances in maryland where minority communities were targeted with subprime mortgages. my question to you or my request is that the department of justice investigate and look at the circumstances concerning predatory lending, particularly in minority communities, to see with whether there is a need for aggressive action by the department of justice in order to protect our communities and i would just request that you do this and get back to us on it. >> sir, will do that, although, senator, i will tell you now that i think there is the need for aggressive action by the justice department in this field. we announced an initiative, it was a joint initiative with the treasurey department, the f.t.c., the department of housing and urban development, and the justice department component of that initiative was to look at the very thing you've talked about and that is the use of these mortgage
it is important that it be an open process, we need to develop what's right for america. but we also need to engage the international community because we need to have better understanding from the international community as to what america's doing in regards to its detention policies as we try to lead internationally on human rights issues. i would urge you as part of this process to be open and go beyond just our country in trying to get better understanding as to what good portion of both those
trips talking about the issue of guantanamo with our allies. the state department has the gentleman did, literally traveling the world, to talk about this issue with other countries, so what we are trying to do is to make the world understand that we are trying a different approach. an approach i think is consistent with who we are as a nation and then i think will stop the ability of our adversaries to use guantanamo as a recruiting tool and i think rehabilitate some of the relationships with other countryings that have been frayed. >> i think you're off to a good start there. some of the things you already announced are helpful. we want to be supportive. as has been indicated on both sides of the aisle, there is support for which you are trying to do. the last point i want to bring up is some of my colleagues have
already brought up that's the surveillance statutes. let me focus on the three that expire at the end of this year. again the terrorism subcommittee is going to do some work here. we have the loan wolf provisions, roving wiretaps, and business records. those three expire at the end of this year. and i am -- i very much appreciate the fact that you need adequate time to review the effectiveness of these provisions whether they need to be extended and if they need to be extended whether there needs to be a further modification. but understand that we have an incredibly busy schedule here in congress as far as floor time is concerned. and these issues are not always without controversy. i would just urge you as quickly as possible to share information with this committee so that we can make adequate judgments on the re-authorization of of these tools that at least the f.b.i. director said are important for
national security. >> i'm endeavoring to do this as quickly as we can because we are mindful of the fact this is a very busy committee and congress. we want to make sure also that we have a good gauge of how effective these tools are. whether or not mod if i cases need to be made. we want to be cognizant of the fact there are civil liberty interests that have to be examined as well as the law enforcement equities we have. so we will be getting i think our views to you relatively soon. certainly i think with enough time so that they can be considered as we -- as you have to consider the re-authorization question. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator kyl. >> i second senator cardin's motion. er we get your response the sooner we can deal with it. secondly since i'm the ranking
member on the same subcommittee and i have been advised we are going to have a hearing on the detainees at guantanamo, i'd like to also ask you to get some information to us on that. i had asked in a letter i sent back in may for some information following the president's speech when he talked about the effect our supermax facilities hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. i had written asking if you could break that down. i don't have a response. i'm going to submit for the record a question because i know you can't answer it sitting here to find out who they are, what kind of gatt gorse of folks they are. -- categories of folks they are. second, if you'd like to comment right now, fine, to get a sense of what kind of capacity we have. my understanding is that we are way overcrowded in the supermax facilities today. by the way can you just tell us
do you know whether that's true or not? >> whether they are overcrowded? >> yes. my understanding is there is a capacity of like 13,000 something and there are like 20,000 being held. >> senator, i have to get you those statistics. i don't know off hand. >> i appreciate that. to other follow-up questions on that same matter. one has to do with the recruitment of terrorists in jail. we know that's a big problem with this particular kind of militant islamist. it's something that the f.b.i. director testified in the house of representatives about. is there anything that you would like to offer us today on that question about how we could prevent that from occurring? or if you'd like to respond in the same way. i'm happy to receive that. >> i understand the concern. i think there are measures to be taken that could minimize that possibility. terrorists, people who are considered terrorists are generally held out of the general population. so there's not the ability to interact with other prisoners in a way some might have an ability
then to try to radicalize them. then beyond that, what we have tried to put in place are programs to deal with -- to occupy the time of the people who are in these facilities so that they have alternatives, they have the ability to think of a light outside the prison. and if they have options, if they think they have a life they can lead on the right side of the law they are far less susceptible to these efforts. >> guantanamo was constructed in such a way as to accommodate this particular requirement. it may be more difficult to do that with a supermax facility without asking you to respond to that today, would you include some information in your response to us? i think all of us it would be helpful in preparation for our hearing. >> we will detail for how we think the facilities we have can be used to minimize the concerns that you have expressed. >> the final question in this area is, senator sessions has pointed out that it would be against the law today to release
a terrorist or accused terrorist into our -- into the united states, into our society. can you comment on -- if that's not an option, in other words the resolution of the president's dilemma here about closing guantanamo, does not mean releasing anyone into the united states, i guess we don't have to worry about it, but if it does include that option what, is your response to the point that existing law immigration national act would make that -- nationality act would make that a crime? >> the house has passed as part of its supplemental appropriations bill, i guess will be considered by the senate, and what i'm hearing, my intelligence tells me it's going to be passed by the senate, so there will be provisions in that bill that would forbid the bringing into the united states of people who are presently detained at guantanamo. obviously we will respect that law. efforts are underway to those people who would be either
transferred or released to place them in other countries. that is the focus of our efforts. >> thank you. let me quickly switch now to immigration and drug violence on the border. i tie the two together because unfortunately as you undoubtedly know, better than most of us, the cartels that are now controlling the drugs have basically taken over the control of all of the things being smuggled including illegal immigrants, much to their disadvantage as individual human beings i might add. two general lines of questioning here. again i can ask you to respond to some of this for the record if it would be easier for you. you and i talked about operation streamline. this is the idea where we use existing law to prosecute people who are caught crossing the border to get jail time. as a result of that it's a huge disincentive for them to cross because they can't do what they want to do which is mostly to work if they are in jail. i ask you if you would get some information for us that would be
helpful in seeing whether or not we could pursue this across more of the border than just in the del rio, yuma, and tucson sector since it does seem to be a program that's working. we met on may 5 and i asked you to provide me with the estimate of resource, increases in personnel that would be required for this. do you know if your folks have been able to come up with that? >> i know they are working on it. i'm not sure we have completed it. >> let me include that question in the record as a reminder of the information we were seeking. as soon as you can get that to us, i think it would be very helpful because we can't get the funding for these things until you tell us what's needed. obviously we have already gone by one budget cycle. also helpful in that regard would be information, and i'll just ask this for the record, of how many people have been involved in this program, how well we think it's worked, and so on. if you would provide that for us. >> we'll do that. >> finally, -- the matter of the
state criminal alien and assistance program, you are aware that the federal government is authorized to pay states money to -- as compensation for the housing of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. our former governor, janet napolitano, now secretary of homeland security, used to write the attorney general every year and demand payment. senator feinstein and i got an authorization of $975 million a year. we need to know whether the department of justice has sought that funding. there was no funding in the president's budget s there any way you can ask for supplemental funding to cover that? secondly, will you ask for funding for at least a portion of that authorized amount in the budget for next year? >> i think the administration's made the determination that in dealing with that issue there are better ways to do it than through the use of the program that you mentioned. i think that's why that is reflected as having been zeroed
out in the 2010 budget. so i think that is the administration's position at this point. >> my time is up. that certainly didn't used to be governor napolitano's position. i would be very curious to know whether she agrees with the proposition given the fact that she understands what the burdens on states are as a result of the federal government failing to do its job in controlling the border. >> i think regards the position that the administration has taken that you do raise a valid point. that is that the federal government has to be sensitive to the burdens that are placed on our state and local partners as a result of enforcement efforts that happen along the border. we have to find ways in which we alleviate those burdens. in working with them. i think that the administration's position is that with regard to this particular program that there are better ways perhaps that we can do this. >> operation streamline is one of them. let's pursue that. >> senator white house. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
welcome, attorney general, holder. very briefly let me first express my view that the release of the o.l.c. opinions was proper, was necessary, and was wise and was particularly important in light of the damage that had been done to that office by its politicization during the bush era. frankly those were opinions that had to be seen to be believed. it really i think gave the legal community around the country a far better appreciation of the depth of the dive that that office took in that period to have those out entirely apart from all the other considerations. i think it was the right call and i respectfully but completely disagree with the ranking member on that subject. following up on o.l.c., senator durbin asked a few questions about the o.p.r. investigation and its status. when we first asked we were told
on february 18 of 2008 that this investigation was already pending. so we know it predated february 18 of 2008. we know that o.p.r. completed its investigation and provided a draft report in late december of 2008. we know that on may 4 of this year the comment period for those who were the subjects of the investigation closed and their chance to respond to the draft, and we also know that the c.i.a. was given an opportunity for both substantive comment and for classification review. my first question is, is it now the c.i.a. through its request for either substantive comment or through its role in classification review that is holding up the release of this report? >> no. it's not.
though that process might not be complete, there are other things that have to be done within the justice department. i met yesterday with the head of o.p.r. who indicates there are still some things they are working on in the preparation of the report. chiefly in response to the response that is were received in early may or so. they are dealing with that. he's new to the office of professional responsibility. understands the seriousness of this particular report. that's also had an impact on the timing of the release. the role of the c.i.a. both in substantive comment and in classification review raises some interesting potential conflicts of of interest. can you tell me what assurances the department of justice has received from the c.i.a. that
those who seek to influence the o.p.r. report through substantive comment or those who have the effect of delaying the report through classfication review are not complicit or involved in the underlying conduct? have you got essentially a clean scrub of those at the c.i.a. who are involved in those processes to ensure they are not tainted by the program that is the subject of the report? >> i think i testified earlier, it is our hope to release as complete a report as we can. one of the things that i think we want to do is declassify as much of this report as we can so in this body or the general public they'll have a full feeling for what it is our lawyers and the office of
personal responsibility dealt with and what is the basis for the conclusion that is they reached. and we'll be be pushing as i said to declassify oose much of this report as we -- declassify as much of this report as we can so the american people have a real sense of what it is that drove the conclusions that we reached. >> i appreciate that but it doesn't address the question of whatever assurances you got from the c.i.a. that in the discharge of either there substantive comment or classification review roles that the people involved in that, you can assure us were actually -- had clean hands with respect to this program and are unbiased, unimplicated advice. >> i don't they have woot -- think we have gotten anything yet from the c.i.a. concerning the declassification issue. i think we have to wait for that and see -- this may be not an issue at all.
to the extent it is an issue, then i will interact with director panetta and raise the questions that you raise. in addition just or general feeling we want to have as much of this declassified. it will be the director who will ultimately make the decision. i would be dealing with him in trying to make the determination as to what should be and should not be declassified. >> on the question of their somebody standive comment on the contents of the report, how do you assure that that isn't tainted by people who are implicated in the program? >> i'm actually -- >> i mean maybe we are talking across each other. is it or is it not important that the c.i.a. in exercising its substantive comment role that it sought and performing the declassification review should be doing so in a manner that keeps the agency's hands clean of implication in the underlying subject of the report. >> let's worry about the substantive comments. we would invite the comments
from any involved agency, ultimately we have justice department lawyers who will make the determination as to what goes in the report, the conclusions that the report reaches. i certainly want to give them the opportunity to express whatever their views are. but that content -- >> would they be likely to evaluate the recommendations of the c.i.a. differently if on the one hand the c.i.a. had not assureder the department that its recommendations were coming from individuals who had clean hands versus those who did not, is that not an important factor in evaluating the substantive comment the c.i.a. would seek to propose? >> i guess those are things that one would take into consideration, but so much of this is really fact driven. that i think is what people will find in the report, it is fact driven. the conclusion that is one draws from the facts i guess can differ, but ultimately it will be the justice department's view
that will control based on the that we have uncovered. taking into account whatever other views people have of those same facts. >> thank you, attorney general. my time has expired, chairman. >> thank you very much. senator clobea char. >> i was listening to some of my colleagues going through some of the cases and the concerns that they had. i think a misplaced argument about politicization and as you were talking i was thinking what was the most high profile case have i dismissed when you came into office. what would you say that is? >> i would probably say it was senator stevens. >> yes. the republican senator. then i was also thinking of a decision you made early on to allow the republican appointed u.s. attorneys to stay in place until a new u.s. attorney had been appointed. was that the policy when bush came into office?
of allowing the previous u.s. attorneys to stay on for a length of time? >> i don't know what exactly the policy was. the concern we had was to maintain continuity in the u.s. attorneys' offices and leave in place those people who were doing a good j j j there's been turnover. but we have not pushed anybody out. we are starting now to get our nominees before this committee and hope to have them confirmed and in place soon. >> how many nominees have been confirmed by this committee so far for the u.s. attorney? >> none. >> ok. so you would like to move that >> that would be for us a priority. to get our u.s. attorneys in place as quickly as possible. it's good for the offices. it's good for us as we try to get our program together. i would also urge respectfully that this committee and the senate act on the other nominees for other justice department positions that have been sent up.
everything from tax to environmental natural resources division, o.l.c., there are a variety of division that is are still waiting approval. >> i can tell you in our state it's worked very well. we had a lot of uproar over a political appointment and then attorney general put someone new in. he is still staying on until the person i suggested has been recommended by the president. we are hoping that we can get him in there soon. we have some major cases pending in our jurisdiction. the other interesting thing, this is just my most interesting thing i learned this week, attorney general holder, as i recommended a marshall. there are 94 marshalls. do you know how many are women? >> no, do i not. >> there is only one in the state of florida and i thought that was quite interesting. i thought i would share that with my colleagues as we recommend people as we go forward. i'm going to ask a few questions about things that are closer to home that people have been focused on in my state and that is some of the white collar
fraud, the madeoff -- madoff case hit our state. could you talk about what's going on with the initial steps to implement fera as well as some of the other changes to and enforce some of the white collar laws. we look at the tarp money, things like that, that there could be even more white collar fraud. >> we are in the process of ironing out what i'll call the last wrinkles in what's going to be a comprehensive announcement about the program that we are going to have with regard to financial fraud, white collar crimes more generally. mortgage fraud. we have been working with our state and local counterparts with the other federal agencies to come up with this effort. this is a priority for this department of justice. to hold people accountable who have defrauded huge numbers of people with almost unheard of
amounts of money. or those who would seek to misuse the recovery money that is now being -- now trickling into the economy. these are things that we will be taking very close looks at and will be emphasizing in our enforcement efforts. >> i know you are also working with secretary sebelius on the health care fraud prevention as we are going into the summer, focusing on health care there's still a significant problem with health care fraud. estimates can be 3% to 10% of the total amount of spending amounting of billions of dollars. i saw cases myself as a prosecutor of identity theft in hospital settings and things like that. i think it will be very important as we move into this health care debate that the work that you do, you're doing with this new focus is understood. you want to talk a little about that. >> i would agree with that. if you look at the statistics for last year it was about $1.2 billion that was recovered as a result of the fraud found in the health care system.
that is why secretary sebelius and i have made this a priority and why we have announce add joint effort to look at these issues. in two additional cities in addition to what we are doing more generally. that's a lot of money. $1.2 billion in actual money received by the federal government as a result of its enforcement efforts. we plan to keep those efforts as strong as they are, robust as they are. >> one of the things that came out in the report for 2007 was they are actually seeing some cases, i care about this a lot because i come from a state where we value high quality health care, we haven't had issues with this, there have been recent health care fraud cases which included medical professionals risking patient harm with unnecessary surgeries and things like that. what are you doing to combat this particular kind of fraud? >> that's a very good point. there's not only an economic consequence to some of the fraud that we see, there are health care outcomes that get affected
in a negative way by at least some of the things that we have seen. that i found to be very honest, very surprising when i became attorney general and saw the results of some of these f.b.i. efforts. we are going to be looking not only at the financial aspect of this, but the, in some ways, the ultimate fraud. whether or not patients are getting the care, the government's getting the care for which it is paying. and whether or not people's lives are being put at risk. to the extent that we prioritize this, although the financial component obviously will be important, what we really want to emphasize is making sure that no one's life is put at risk and that the kinds of treatment that people are expecting to get they are receiving. >> one last issue, it's the upcoming re-authorization for the violence against women act. we had a very good hearing here that chairman leahy conducted and we had focus on some of the
new trends and things that are happening. one of them is just because of economic problems, states not being willing or unable to pay and help with things like rape kits and other things. a lineup, l.a. county is the worst of these tests that haven't been done on some of the rape kits when we could be potentially finding and prosecuting people who are committing sexual assault. that's just something i'm sure we'll talk about in the future. thank you. >> senator specter. >> thank you. mr. attorney general, i join my colleagues in welcoming you here and compliment you on your many abilities including handling a marathon. i began on the question of the immunity from the telephone companies, been subject to a lot of analysis and a lot of consideration by the congress.
i had pressed an amendment to substitute the government for the telephone companies as the parts defended, the provision on immunity i thought very troublesome. what it does in effect is take away the jurisdiction from district court to determine what has happened. it's a more sophisticated way for pork stripping which on constitutional issues i find unacceptable. it's not the supreme court of the united states, but marbury vs. madison established judicial supremacy here. and the position which i pressed was to have the government substituted as the party defendant. i felt the telephone companies were good citizens. they ought not to be subject to damages, not subje