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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Montana introduces informant reform legislation

Montana State Senator Nels Swandal (R) has introduced legislation--SB0249--that would improve the reliability and accountability of informant use.  Among other things, the bill would require the recording of informant statements, improved disclosure of informant benefits and prior criminal history, reliability hearings, and post-conviction remedies for wrongful conviction.  News coverage here.

Congressional hearing on informant use at ATF and DEA

Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on April 4, 2017, in response to U.S. Department of Justice reports that ATF and DEA were mishandling their informants.  Testimony was heard from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, DEA Acting Principal Deputy Administrator Robert Patterson, and ATF Associate Deputy Director Ronald Turk.

From the Committee's website:

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continually refused to provide the Committee its new policy regarding the proper use of confidential informants (CIs). During the hearing, Chairman Chaffetz issued a subpoena to DEA for the documents.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s (ATF) and DEA’s inadequate oversight over the CI program prevents the agencies from properly tracking and monitoring CIs.
  • Since 2012, ATF and DEA paid CIs almost $260 million, with payments largely determined by field agents who did not seek approval or review from headquarters.
  • The Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) found incomplete and inaccurate tracking of money or amounts paid to CIs at both agencies.
  • DOJ advised ATF Associate Deputy Director Turk not to appear and testify before the Committee’s hearing last month on the death of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata.