For MLK Day – Free the Files on his Murder
When asked about MLK Day being a national holiday, the old Southern sheriff says, “Hell, let’s kill another nigger and take two days off.”
Well now MLK Day is a national holiday, and is the day before the inaguration of the first black American president, calling unprecidented attention to the holiday they ask you to make a day of public service.
If you don’t have anything more important scheduled, consider sitting down and writting your Representative in the House and sentators and asking them to pass the MLK Act releasing the MLK Assassination records of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) and hold the mandated oversight hearings on the JFK Act, which has yet to have one hearing since it was passed over fifteen years ago.
With a Democratically controlled Congress, and a new executive administration coming into office, it appeared that the House Reform and Oversight Committee, responsible for such hearings, would actually get around to holding them. Hearings on the proposed MLK Act are actually scheduled for mid-March, during Open Government Sunshine Week, and hearings on the JFK Act would be naturally held at the same time.
But Henry Waxman (D. Calf.), the hardnosed chairman of the House Oversight committee, is moving on, and his replacement, Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Town (D.NY) has already made known his priorities – holding hearings on the NCAA college football playoffs scheme.
The committee has also held hearings on athletes use of steroids, and took sworn public testimony on the issue, and now the Justice Department has responded to the Committee’s request and has conveined a Federal Grand Jury to determine if there is enough evidence to indict anyone who testified before the committee for perjury.
The HSCA also asked the Justice Department to investigate new evidence and destroyed records in the assassination of President Kennedy, but no such Federal Grand Jury has been similarly conveined to investigate those crimes.
Lie about taking steroids? They’re going to come and get you.
Lie about the evidence in the murder of the president? Nothing.
Well now the House Reform and Oversight Committee is responsible for holding public hearings on the proposed MLK Act and the 15 year old JFK Act, and hasn’t done it yet, so why not write a letter to your congressman and senators and ask them why not?
Why haven’t there been hearings on such important topic as releasing the government records related to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the President of the United States?
Other, apparently more significant issues like the NCAA college football playoffs and the use of steroids by professional athletes are taking precident over the release of the government’s records on the assassinations of President Kennedy and MLK.
But these misplaced priorities can be changed.
They can be changed if people contact their representatives and tell them what’s important.
You can begin with Rep. “Ed” Towns (D. NY) who is over 70 years old, has been in Congress for nearly 30 years, is black, comes from a tough hood, and has served on this committee for twenty years, so he knows what’s going on.
Apparently Rep. Ed has breakfast Sundays after church at Juniors on Flatbush Avenue, where the cheesecakes are the best and “Lords of Flatbush” hang their colors. Perhaps someone who lives near that neigborhood could mossey on over to Juniors and meet Rep. Ed Town for breakfast and explain to him the necessity of holding hearings on the MLK Act and JFK Act? Any takers?
Or visit him in Washington, a popular destingation of late.
Or visit him on the web, and send him an email.
Let him know you’re alive and have an interest in this issue.
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D.NY)
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Towns gets brownie points and a feather for his cap since he has already passed two pieces of legislation that await passage in the Senate and the new President’s signature:
You might even be able to relate with what he has to say. In his first speech as new chairman he said, “We need to quickly end this era of secrecy. This secret approach to government has failed the majority of American people and has led to decisions that beneffit small and elete sectors of our society…” and “…one simple recomendation of properly auditing Defense communications contracts could save over $800 milion dollars alone….”
Chairman Towns Speech on Oversight Priorities
The Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C.
January 14, 2009
OPEN GOVERNMENT TAKES THE SUNDAY MORNING TEST – By Rep. Edolphus Towns
I am pleased to be here this morning to discuss the role of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the 111th Congress.
We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. Last November, the American people did some soul searching and for the second election in a row voted for change—demanding that those unique American ideals we all believe in—freedom, liberty and justice for all—be used to restore our faith in government and our standing to the international community.
I say all this because I am very excited about the role that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will play in the new Congress working with the incoming administration. I have been a member of this Committee for 26 years – in the majority and the minority, through six chairmen and a few name changes along the way. I have been preparing for this opportunity throughout my entire tenure in Congress and I am ready.
I wanted to take our time here today to share what is going to be a robust agenda for the Committee this year and for this Congress.
Allow me to begin with the word on everyone’s mind—OVERSIGHT.
Let me be clear to everyone — our committee will provide vigorous oversight of the new administration, corporate wrongdoing and other timely issues.
I feel strongly—as does the new President Elect—that Congressional oversight should not go away just because the Administration and Congress are run by the same party. Constructive oversight can expose and solve small challenges before they become national catastrophes. Congress has a responsibility to the citizens of this nation—to be a check on the executive branch.
Looking back, the Republican Congress did the Bush Administration a disservice by turning a blind eye to problems created in the executive branch. At this point, many Republicans would admit and agree on this…..
….Everyone in Washington agrees on the need for government to run more efficiently and restore that trust to our constituents. There certainly is no quick fix or silver bullet but the first step on this journey is to bring more transparency to federal programs, and stop sweeping our problems under the rug—I believe that Americans can in fact handle the truth! AND we need to tell them the truth! It’s not really that complicated—especially when you follow what I like to call the “Sunday Morning Test.”
The Sunday Morning Test is not whether the pundits on Meet the Press or Face the Nation understand and agree with what the government is doing. My Sunday morning test involves my constituents who talk to me after church on Sunday morning or at breakfast at Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue understanding what their government is doing—***And let me state for the record—if you have EVER been to Brooklyn, you know that people are not shy about telling you what is on their minds!!!
But THAT is why I go back home every weekend. I listen to the stories of working people as they share their experiences and concerns about the future of their families, their communities and their country.
One can see pretty quickly how the Sunday Morning Test can help guide our work, making government more understandable and more approachable, which hopefully will encourage more participation in our democracy!
Constructive congressional oversight should be a dialogue between the people’s representatives and their government. That is why I am heartened to have developed a friendship with my ranking member, Congressman Darrell Issa, who is equally committed to working in a bi-partisan fashion for the continued success of the Committee and for the benefit of the American people.
We need to quickly end this era of secrecy. This secret approach to government has failed the majority of American people and has led to decisions that benefited small and elite sectors of our society, with the hope that these benefits would trickle down to the majority of the American people.
We have already made strides in this regard; in our first week, we passed three bills, issued an oversight report, and launched an investigation—AND this is only the beginning.
The very first bills to pass the House were H.R. 35, the Presidential Records Amendments Act, and H.R. 36, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act. These bills will ensure that records from this and future administrations will be made available to the public in a timely fashion. Presidents must understand that their records, library donors and visitor logs belong to the nation, not simply to the safety deposit box of their choosing.
These two pieces of legislation are a down payment on the types of open government initiatives supported by the public, who in addition to expecting the truth from their government; want a smart, effective government. And….transparency will always be the foundation to success………All of these pressing matters I’ve shared with you show why leading the Oversight Committee at this critical juncture in history means so much. We have the opportunity to go right to the core of the problems facing our country—Americans are eager to believe again and I for one feel that there is room for all of us to work together to make that a reality.
Thank you for your time this morning.
Rep. Ed Towns Chair.
Information Policy, Census, and National Archives
Jurisdiction includes public information and records laws such as the Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Census Bureau, and the National Archives and Records Administration.
Wm. Lacy Clay, Chairman
Paul E. Kanjorski
Carolyn B. Maloney
John A. Yarmuth
Paul W. Hodes
Michael Turner, Ranking Minority Member
Issues and Investigations
As set forth in House Rule X, clause 4, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform may, at any time, conduct investigations of any matter regardless of whether another standing committee has jurisdiction over the matter. In 1998, Rep. Waxman formed the Special Investigations Division to conduct investigations into issues that are important to members of the Oversight Committee and other members of Congress.