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Union officials are outraged over a massive immigration sweep yesterday, which sent 1,000 Homeland Security Department agents -- some in riot gear -- to meatpacking plants in six states to round up immigrant workers suspected of using fake identification, but may have picked up legal workers in the process.

"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses," regardless of the immigrants' legal status, Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) told me this morning.

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."

Recently unsealed court documents show that DHS had identified 170 identity-fraud suspects it wished to apprehend, but that the agency wanted to round up as many as 5,000 other workers because it "further expect[ed] to apprehend persons who are engaged in large-scale identity theft[.]" Union officials say the total number of detained workers may be higher than 5,000. (Update: We've uploaded those court documents to our document collection here.)



Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not released official tallies from the raids, but have promised to do so at a 10 a.m. press conference in Washington. UFCW is holding a press conference at 9:30 to discuss what they believe to be heavy-handed tactics used by the federal government.

Dems Consider Creating Outside Ethics Panel "House Democrats are seriously exploring the creation of an independent ethics arm to enforce new rules on travel, lobbying, gifts and other issues that Democrats intend to put in place on taking power next month.

"Senior party officials said Tuesday that Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the incoming speaker, had consulted with Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the minority leader, on forming a bipartisan group to examine outside enforcement. The goal would be to have the group report back in the spring.

"An independent Congressional watchdog, if approved, would be a major break with tradition. Some lawmakers say House and Senate members have sole responsibility for policing themselves when it comes to internal rules." (New York Times)

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Morale has tanked at the Justice Department's counterterrorism division, a well-informed source tells me. These are the officials who oversee the federal government's terror prosecutions around the country -- the part of the war on terror that involves actually locking up real terrorists. Why? The administration doesn't seem focused on that part, he says.

These Justice guys are at the business end of the domestic war on terror, but they haven't seen much real action, and that's got to burn. While the NSA sifts through millions of phone records, and the FBI runs down tens of thousands of mostly useless tips, federal prosecutors have only fielded a few hundred cases since 9/11. And even those are mostly chump change: Of 510 cases brought by the Feds in the past five years, they've won only four convictions on terror charges, according to one study.

But the complaints aren't about the stats, my source says. It's the leadership vacuum that keeps them from fighting the good fight. "There's widespread dismay at the adminisration's complete lack of focus and ability to get anything done," he said. "There's no coordination. Nothing actually happens. It's all the same [expletive]."

Via ThinkProgress, I see that Tom DeLay has admitted to not authoring his own blog posts. "“I have the ideas, and I have somebody else put the words together," says he.

Punchline, anyone?

From a chat at washingtonpost.com this morning with the Post's White House reporter Peter Baker:

Rochester, N.Y.: I'm sure you won't take this one, but it's worth a shot: is anyone in the newsroom concerned about the fact that the Post is hiring John Solomon (formerly of the AP), whose pieces on Harry Reid were widely criticized, not only in the blogosphere but also by media critics (such as your own Howard Kurtz)? Does his hiring mean we can look forward to more RNC-inspired hit pieces on Democratic leaders?

I'll bet your getting a lot of questions like this today. And I'll bet you won't take any of them.

Peter Baker: Old trick: "I bet you won't take this question cuz you're scared, nyah, nyah." (And by the way, glad to welcome back our friend in Rochester to these chats.) But the serious answer to your question is everyone I've talked with in the newsroom is absolutely thrilled that John Solomon is joining us from the Associated Press. John is one of the marquee names in political journalism and he's going to help us build the best accountability team in the business going into the 2008 election cycle. Has he been criticized by partisans in the blogosphere? Personally, I don't know, but who hasn't been? He wouldn't be doing his job as an investigative journalist if he didn't make some people squirm. John and the team he's led at the Associated Press have broken a lot of important stories without regard to political party; in addition to the ethical missteps of Senator Reid, he and his team exposed the Dubai ports deal that caused a huge civil war within the Republican party and uncovered the videotape showing what President Bush was told about Hurricane Katrina before it hit.


Many things I could point out about this response (nothing easier than painting critics with the broad brush of partisanship), but I'll settle for this: Baker, listing Solomon's accomplishments, notes the Dubai ports deal and the pre-Katrina Bush tape, both indisputably big stories, together with Solomon's stories on Reid. The paper also did this in their press release on the hiring.

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Incoming House intelligence chief Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) found himself in hot water recently for failing to know the basics of Islamic radicalism. But he's got other problems: WarandPiece.com blogger Laura Rozen and other reporters recently noted that Reyes attended a strange meeting with former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) and lying arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, according to former CIA official Bill Murray.

Reyes has simply denied the claim, but Weldon is apparently outraged. And while he may be leaving Congress, he's not one to leave an embattled friend behind. So to Newsmax.com, he fired off a defense of Reyes in his inimitable style:

"Bill Murray's aim was to impugn the reputation of the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. . . . This is outrageous. And it is a blatant lie, because Reyes never met with Ghorbanifar in Paris."


That's right -- Weldon doesn't deny the meeting took place, nor that he attended. He's only incensed that Murray insulted Reyes by suggesting he was also there.

Does that remind anybody else of that old Groucho Marx line, I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me for a member?

Update on the case of the admitted criminal who's still working at the National Insitutes of Health -- it turns out Dr. Trey Sunderland can't quit, and NIH can't fire him. Here's why:

First, NIH can't fire him because Sunderland doesn't work for NIH. He's a member of a quasi-military organization called the U.S. Commissioned Corps, we're told. Corps members are medical experts with ranks and uniforms who can be dispatched to respond to disease outbreaks and other medical emergencies. When they aren't responding they work in the federal health system, but they're under the control of the U.S. Surgeon General.

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