WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced on Thursday that federal law enforcement officials will be required to videotape their interviews with suspects in most instances, reversing a longstanding policy that forbids the practice.
The policy, which applies to the F.B.I., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Marshals Service and which will go into effect in July, also encourages officials to use electronic recording in other parts of their investigations, like witness interviews.
"Federal agents and prosecutors throughout the nation are firmly committed to due process in their rigorous and evenhanded enforcement of the law," Holder said. "This new recording policy not only reaffirms our steadfast commitment to these ideals -- it will provide verifiable evidence that our words are matched by our deeds. And it will help to strengthen the robust and fair system of justice upon which all Americans depend -- and which every American deserves."
Holder said creating an electronic record "will ensure that we have an objective account of key investigations and interactions with people who are held in federal custody" and "allow us to document that detained individuals are afforded their constitutionally protected rights." It would also provide a "backstop" so that federal officials "have clear and indisputable records of important statements and confessions made by individuals who have been detained."
For criminal defense lawyers, the policy change is long overdue. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Jerry J. Cox welcomed the change and said that recording interrogations "protects the accused against police misconduct, protects law enforcement against false allegations, and protects public safety by ensuring a verbatim record of the interrogation process and any statements."
It's about time. Both agencies, especially the DEA have an reputation for abusing suspects rights and then only turning on camera when they've compelled them to make a confession. Attorney General Eric Holder seems to be trying to do his best to advance progressive causes in a challenging and complex situation. This viperous snake in the grass Michele Leonhart still refuses to resign.
Holder had her into his office on Monday and had a "stern" talk with her where her reportedly told here to stop undermining President Obama and himself and doing tremendous damage to their reputation which is totally inadequate in my opinion, but a loyal Democrat it would appear I have little choice but to trust that our Attorney General is doing the best possible job he can to advance what he sees as the best interests of the American people and serve President Obama to the best of his ability.
How he can live up to that goal without throwing this miserable DEA Czar out the window and firing her sorry ass is beyond my imagination, and is straining my nearly infinite powers of restraint and maturity, and I can tell I am nearly my limit. I need to do some more research on this to figure out what could possibly be going on because this makes no sense to me. Maybe she has a terrible disease and is dying an agonizing and slow death, and only has a few more weeks to live? That might explain her grim visage. And Holder does seem like a compassionate fellow.
Oh, well. This new policy on interrogation is another plus in A.G. Eric Holder's column. He seems personally like a likable and good person doing the best he can, however, since he presides over a number of divisions with very poor records he must be held responsible for his overall record, which therefore, is still mixed. He could vastly improve his score if he merely fire Michele Leonhart and intructed the DEA to start arresting owners of state legal medical marijuana dispensaries which is not only stupid, unwise, and destructive, but is killing the image of President Obama and the Democratic Party right as we need to fire up our base going the November elections. I already feel sick with my own hypocrisy for only focus my disgust on her.
2:36 PM PT: Ryan J. Reilly and Ryan Grim report
WASHINGTON -- Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart and her boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, appear locked in a bureaucratic staring match over the Obama administration's attempt to reform the way the federal government approaches criminal justice and punishment.
For Holder and for President Barack Obama, sentencing reform has become a critical, second-term legacy item, as they aim to bend the arc of incarceration policy away from a federal system well practiced at imprisoning drug offenders for as long as possible. But those efforts are colliding with institutional resistance from law enforcement officials with a single-minded focus and, perhaps, turf to defend.
She publicly distanced herself from Obama's remarks about marijuana's relative harmlessness. She griped about the Justice Department's failure to try to block marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state. She clings to a comically outdated view of drugs, refusing to acknowledge a difference between pot and crack cocaine. And this week, her agency picked a fight with Kentucky over the state's purchase of industrial hemp seeds to begin a newly legalized agricultural test.