White House: The Federal Government Still Opposes Legalizing Marijuana

“The Federal Government opposes drug legalization because it runs counter to a public health and safety approach to drug policy,” a White House official tells BuzzFeed News after Loretta Lynch testifies.

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WASHINGTON — When Loretta Lynch told senators “I do not support the legalization of marijuana” during her confirmation hearing for Attorney General Wednesday, she upset a delicate balance for an Obama administration that has expressed support for current federal law banning pot use while also signaling a desire to loosen federal restrictions on the drug.

A White House official told BuzzFeed News Wednesday evening that Lynch’s unequivocal opposition to marijuana legalization didn’t set a new tone.

“Our position has been clear — marijuana remains illegal under Federal law,” the official said in an email when asked if Lynch stated the administration position in her confirmation hearing. “The Federal Government opposes drug legalization because it runs counter to a public health and safety approach to drug policy.”

But Obama has not been as hardline about marijuana as Lynch was Wednesday. Speaking to YouTube vlogger Hank Green last week, Obama said that pot was not a priority as the legal landscape has become muddied by states legalizing recreational use.

“The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance,” Obama said. “But we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue.”

Obama told the New Yorker last year that he doesn’t think marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes. In the interview with Green, he openly questioned the government’s current approach to marijuana enforcement.

“You know, what we have done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused, say, with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem,” Obama said. “And I think that it’s been counterproductive, and it’s been, you know, devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law. And that has to be changed.”

As he has in the past, Obama pivoted the question about marijuana to the push for changes to federal sentencing laws for drug offenders, which he has supported since the beginning of his presidency.

Since Colorado and Washington passed their state laws legalizing pot, the Justice Department has promised not to make prosecutions of recreational or medicinal users of marijuana a priority.

The White House official reiterated that stance after Lynch’s testimony Wednesday. If confirmed, Lynch would be in charge of managing the prosecutorial discretion rules as Attorney General.

“The Administration’s position on enforcement has been clear and consistent: while the prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, targeting individual marijuana users — especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers — is not the best allocation of limited Federal law enforcement resources,” the official wrote.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/evanmcsan/white-house-the-federal-government-still-opposes-legalizing

Three Brooklyn Residents Charged With Planning To Join ISIS And Attack The President

  • The three men came to the attention of the authorities after posting pro-ISIS messages online.
  • They planned to travel to Syria to join ISIS or, failing that, attack targets in the U.S.
  • One of the defendants allegedly admitted to federal agents that he would kill President Obama if ordered to do so by ISIS.
  • A confidential informant wearing a wire approached the men at their mosque and recorded them discussing their plans.

In this courtroom sketch, defendants Akhror Saidakhmetov, third from left, and Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, fourth from right, stand in Federal Court at their arraignment, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Jane Rosenberg / AP

NEW YORK — Three Brooklyn residents were arrested on Wednesday on charges of plotting to join ISIS in Syria and conspiring with the terror organization to launch attacks in the United States, according to federal prosecutors.

The defendants — Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, age 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, age 19, and Abror Habibov, age 30 — were all charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Juraboev, a citizen of Uzbekistan, allegedly offered to bomb Coney Island, a theme park in Brooklyn, and attack President Obama. Saidakhmetov, a citizen of Kazakhstan, allegedly said he wanted to buy a machine gun and shoot at police officers and soldiers. Habibov, also a citizen of Uzbekistan, allegedly provided financial support for their attempts to travel to the Middle East.

The men were arrested by agents with the FBI and the New York Police Department. They will be prosecuted by Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for Brooklyn and a candidate to succeed Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general.

“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,” Lynch said in a statement. “We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them.”

The three men came to the attention of the authorities in August 2014, after Juraboev allegedly posted pro-ISIS comments in an Uzbek-language website, the complaint said. After seeing the comments, agents with the FBI paid several visits to Juraboev.

During those visits, Juraboev allegedly admitted in writing that he was planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS, and that he would kill President Obama or bomb Coney Island if ordered to do so. He also allegedly told the agents that Saidakhmetov shared his views.

Juraboev continued to plan his travel to ISIS after speaking to the FBI, the complaint alleges. Two days after the last interview with the federal agents, the teenager sent several messages to an ISIS representative.

“If right now I decide to go to the airport and go anywhere, except for Uzbekistan, they may arrest me,” Juraboev allegedly told the ISIS representative, according to the complaint. “It’s because of what I told them about Obama. […] I need to sneak out of here with extreme caution without being noticed by them.”

A few days later, in September 2014, Juraboev and Saidakhmetov allegedly discussed their plans to travel to Syria, according to the complaint.

“The only way to get there is via Turkey, via Istanbul,” Juraboev allegedly wrote Saidakhmetov, according to the complaint. “Supposedly none of them can help. In other words, since they don’t know us, they won’t help us.”

A month after that exchange, the FBI sent a confidential informant to Juraboev’s mosque, according to the complaint. The informant, who was wearing a wire, posed as an “ideologically sympathetic individual.” Juraboev and Saidakhmetov then allegedly tried to convince the informant to travel to Syria with them and join ISIS.

Saidakhmetov also told the informant that his mother had taken his passport away to prevent him from joining ISIS, according to the complaint. He also told the informant that if he was not able to travel to Syria, he would try to kill law enforcement officers in the United States.

“I will just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, and shoot all police,” the defendant allegedly said. “It is legal in America to carry a gun. We will go and purchase one handgun, then go and shoot one police officer. Then we will take his gun, bullets, and bulletproof vest. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI people.”

Earlier this year, Juraboev and Saidakhmetov procured travel documents and bought tickets to travel to Turkey, the complaint said. Saidakhmetov was scheduled to travel on Wednesday, while Juraboev was planning to fly next month.

Saidakhmetov was arrested Wednesday morning at John F. Kennedy airport while attempting to fly to Turkey. Juraboev was arrested in his apartment in Brooklyn. Habibov was arrested in Florida.

The defendants are expected to have their first court appearance later on Wednesday. It was unclear if any of them had retained attorneys.

If convicted, the men face up to 15 years behind bars.

CBS reports this is Abror Habibov, the defendant accused of providing financial support to the other two, who was arrested in Florida on Wednesday.

A Google+ page appearing to belong to the 19-year-old Saidakhmetov shows many pro-ISIS videos and comments.

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He commented, “Allahu akbar,” meaning “God is great,” when he shared an official ISIS video on his page.

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Saidakhmetov also posted and commented on a video of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared leader of ISIS.

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Read the full complaint here:

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This is a developing story. Follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter for more updates.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolasmedinamora/three-new-yorkers-arrested-for-allegeldy-planning-to-join-is