WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an email sent to constituents on Saturday, Republican congressman Jim Jordan who represents Ohio’s 4th District announced he is set to unveil new legislation this week aimed at eliminating the federal witness protection program.
Established in the 1970s and implemented by the Department of Justice, the Witness Security Program –or WITSEC– was designed to protect federal and state witnesses in cases involving organized crime and other serious offenses from threats or intimidation. Congressman Mike Turner (R-Oh), who co-sponsored the legislation, said the “proliferation of heresy” and “a complete and total lack of witness credibility” call into question the program’s legitimacy.
The bill is part of a larger effort by House Republicans to repeal the 1970 Organized Crime Control Act, under which WITSEC was established. “These laws have no place in modern society,” Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Ca) told Fox News host Laura Ingram on Saturday. “This was the seventies,” Mr. Nunes explained, continuing, “You had no iPhones then; there was no Internet. It was a different era, Laura, and, frankly, these so-called ‘mafia tactics’ are nothing more than liberal talking points – meaning they don’t exist.”
Citing 18 US Code § 1512-13, which prohibits tampering or retaliating against a witness, victim, or informant, Congressman Nunes said lawmakers need to take a closer look at the terminology. “We need to reexamine the definition of those terms and, more specifically, how and under what conditions they’re applied,” the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee said.
Congressman Jim Jordan on Saturday said the specific portions of the Act which cover obstruction of court orders; obstruction of a federal audit; and obstructing examination of a financial institution have become “archaic” and obsolete. “Take the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, for example,” Jordan told WJW Cleveland, a local Fox affiliate, continuing, “It’s incomprehensible now, but at the time there was a legitimate need for it.”
A former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, Jim Jordan is well-known in Washington political circles as the man who brought articles of impeachment against former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for “blocking Congress’s constitutional oversight role.”