On June 17, 2014, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the United States Department of Defense (DOD) to obtain records of communications relating to its May 2, 2011, FOIA request for bin Laden death photographs and videos (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:14-cv-01027)).
Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit in accordance with a June 7, 2013, FOIA request seeking the following:
All records of communications concerning, regarding, or relating to a FOIA request (Control No. 11-F-0931) dated May 2, 2011, filed by Judicial Watch with the DOD office of Freedom of Information (OFOI). The time frame for this request is May 2, 2011, to September 26, 2011.
On May 2, 2011, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the DOD seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.” An identical request had been filed with the CIA. When neither the DOD nor the CIA complied with the FOIA requests within the 20 business days required by law, Judicial Watch, in June, 2011, filed FOIA lawsuits against both agencies.
Obama DOD: Mainstream Conservative Views “Extremist”
Did you ever think there would come a day in this country when the federal government would compare a person speaking about “individual liberties” to a member of the Klu Klux Klan? Unfortunately, such is the state of affairs in Obama’s America.
Judicial Watch recently obtained “educational” materials from the Department of Defense (DOD) depicting conservative organizations as “hate groups” and advising students to be aware that “instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
The documents repeatedly cite the leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a resource for identifying “hate groups.” (More on this contemptible group here.)
Pursuant to our original Freedom of Information (FOIA) request, filed on April 8, 2013, JW sought from DOD: “Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the preparation and presentation of training materials on hate groups or hate crimes distributed or used by the Air Force.”
And here’s what we have received so far: 133 pages of lesson plans and PowerPoint slides provided by the U.S. Air Force. Included in these documents is a January 2013 Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute “student guide” entitled “Extremism.” The document is marked “for training purposes only” with the instruction “do not use on the job.” Highlights include:
- The document defines extremists as “a person who advocates the use of force or violence; advocates supremacist causes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or national origin; or otherwise engages to illegally deprive individuals or groups of their civil rights.”
- A statement that “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publically espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
- “[W]hile not all extremist groups are hate groups, all hate groups are extremist groups.”
- Under a section labeled “Extremist Ideologies” the document states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”
- In this same section, the document lists the 9/11 attack under a category of “Historical events.”
- “[A]ctive participation…with regard to extremist organizations is incompatible with military service and, is therefore prohibited.” [Emphasis in original]
- The document details the “seven stages of hate” and sixteen “extremists’ traits.”
- The SPLC is listed as a resource for information on hate groups and referenced several times throughout the guide.
- Of the five organizations besides the SPLC listed as resources, one is an SPLC project (Teaching Tolerance) and one considers any politically or socially conservative movement to be a potential hate group (Political Research Associates).
- Other than a mention of 9/11 and the Sudan, there is no discussion of Islamic extremism.
In April 2013, following a terrorist shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters that occurred in August 2012, Judicial Watch filed multiple FOIA requests to determine what, if any, influence SPLC’s branding of hate groups had on government agencies.
On its website, the SPLC has depicted FRC as a “hate group,” along with other such mainstream conservative organizations as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and Coral Ridge Ministries. At the time of the shooting, FRC president Tony Perkins accused the SPLC of sparking the shooting, saying the shooter “was given a license to shoot … by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
Though the document released by Judicial Watch was obtained from the Air Force, it originated in the Pentagon, and is likely to have been used throughout the military.
After all, the language used by the DOD to characterize conservative Americans is eerily similar to descriptions used by the Internal Revenue Service to target “Tea Party” and conservative organizations, slamming these groups with unnecessary audits, releasing their confidential financial information and stonewalling the tax-exempt applications of organizations deemed hostile to the president’s Big Government agenda.
The Obama administration has a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism. And now, in a document full of claptrap, its DOD suggests that the Founding Fathers, and many conservative Americans, would not be welcome in today’s military.
After reviewing this document, one can’t help but worry for the future and morale of our nation’s armed forces. And for our national security in general!
Consider this. At a time when the FBI is purging its training materials and organizational vocabulary of any term that might offend radical Islam – say, for example, the term “radical Islam” – the federal government has no problem tagging American citizens who believe in traditional American values with labels like “extremist” and “hateful.”
Make no mistake. The ramifications of these types of activities go far beyond hurt feelings. The Obama administration labels conservatives “extremists” to delegitimize opposition to its radical socialism and to justify government oppression against them. (See IRS.) And the Obama administration’s refusal to plainly identify and focus on radical elements within Islam demonstrates a willingness to overlook real threats to our security in the name of political correctness.
Department of Justice Sues Texas over Voter ID Law
Well that didn’t take long. A little more than 60 days after the United States Supreme Court invalidated a key portion of the Voting Rights Act that required certain jurisdictions to obtain “pre-clearance” from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before enacting changes to election laws, Attorney General Eric Holder filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas over its voter ID law.
As reported by Politico:
Attorney General Eric Holder will sue to challenge the Texas voter ID law, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
The Justice lawsuit will allege that the Texas law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which was among the elements of the law that remains in effect after the Supreme Court invalidated the preclearance requirements in June.
Justice will also seek to intervene in a separate lawsuit against Texas over the state’s redistricting laws, arguing that the state should still be forced to submit to federal preclearance.
“Today’s action marks another step forward in the Justice Department’s continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans,” Holder said. “We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights.”
For the attorney general to use the phrase “eligible Americans” to describe the people the DOJ intends to protect is simply laughable. Voter ID laws have only one purpose: To make certain that every vote cast is legitimate. The purpose of the DOJ lawsuit is political. Liberals, specifically the Obama campaign organization, is focusing on turning Texas “blue” or Democratic. And to the degree that liberals rely on illicit votes to get elected, voter ID is a hindrance to their plans. Hence, the new lawsuit from politician Holder.
(We saw this playbook in action in 2012. Click here for more on the DOJ’s scheme to try to steal elections for liberal candidates, including the president himself, and JW’s legal counter-campaign.)
Texas Governor Rick Perry labeled the DOJ’s lawsuit “an end run” around the Supreme Court. That sounds about right. Barack Obama and Eric Holder have rarely allowed the Constitution or the rule of law to obstruct their plans. So they are certainly not going to let a Supreme Court ruling stand in their way.
Our friends over at Pajamas Media, former Justice Department officials and election integrity experts J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky, have done a great job tearing apart the government’s legal arguments. (You can check out their analysis here.)
J. Christian Adams has characterized the government’s complaint as the work of “a progressive snake oil salesman,” noting that Holder has populated the DOJ’s Voting Rights division with attorneys that have “streaks of radicalism.” Click here for his full report compiled by Pajamas demonstrating how Holder has so egregiously politicized this Justice Department.
With respect to the federal government’s case against Texas, Hans Von Spakovsky, now with The Heritage Foundation, maintains that the Holder DOJ is engaging in a little fuzzy math to “distract” the public and, presumably, the courts. For example: citing minority population statistics that include convicted felons, illegal aliens, and individuals who are explicitly prohibited from voting, in order to beef up the numbers of people who the government claims could be “disenfranchised” by the Texas voter ID law.
Hans also points out that the DOJ justifies its lawsuit based upon examples of discrimination dating back to 1927. He closes with this recommendation for Texas public officials: “Texas needs to fight this case the same way South Carolina fought Justice over its voter-ID law — and won.”
Folks, this is a legal battle that can be won and must be won if we are to protect the integrity of our electoral process. As you know, Judicial Watch has been fully engaged in this epic battle, supporting voter integrity measures in states across the country, including Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania and, yes, South Carolina. You can be sure we will be active in Texas as well.
If our nation’s Department of Justice won’t stand for the rule of law, JW will step up to the plate.
Judicial Watch Considers Obamacare Challenge
How bad is Obamacare? In July, President Obama himself unilaterally rewrote the law. Why? Businesses started cutting hours, slashing benefits and reducing staff to avoid paying hefty $3,000 per-employee penalty/fine/tax – whatever you want to call it – mandated by Obamacare.
And what did the Obama administration do? It simply announced that the employer mandate, scheduled to go into effect in January 2014, would be delayed one year.
“We have listened to your feedback,” Treasury official Mark Mazur said on July 2, announcing the delay in the implementation of the employer mandate, “and we are taking action.”
Is anyone buying the claim that the Obama administration’s move was in response to listening to feedback from American business? Didn’t think so.
This is about politics. Hardest hit by the resulting job cuts were low-wage employees, a key voter demographic for Democrats. Remember, we’re heading into mid-term election season. The last thing the president needs is for his loyal base to abandon the Democrats’ cause at a time when he cannot afford to lose seats in Congress.
But regardless of the president’s reasons, the key question is this: Does he have the authority?
Per The New York Times, “Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and an author of the health law, questioned whether Mr. Obama had the authority to unilaterally delay the employer mandate. ‘This was the law. How can they change the law?’” he asked.
There is no provision in the law allowing for a delay. And, as pointed out by former judge Michael McConnell in the Wall Street Journal, who compared the president to King James II, Obama cannot simply refuse to enforce laws he doesn’t like (no matter the reason).
McConnell makes two key points on the matter:
- “Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president ‘shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.’ This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.
- The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president on legal and constitutional issues, has repeatedly opined that the president may decline to enforce laws he believes are unconstitutional. But these opinions have always insisted that the president has no authority, as one such memo put it in 1990, to “refuse to enforce a statute he opposes for policy reasons.”
(Obviously the president’s position on the employer mandate is not constitutionally based. His administration successfully defended his law’s constitutionality to the Supreme Court.)
While delaying the employer mandate, the president did not rewrite the law to delay the “individual mandate,” which requires nearly all Americans to have Obama-approved health insurance by that same date or pay a tax penalty.
As a result, many Americans are caught in the middle. They are obligated to have Obama-approved health insurance, but their employers are not obligated to provide it, at least for another year. As a result, these Americans will be forced to purchase Obama-approved health insurance on an Obamacare-created health insurance exchange or pay the tax penalty. Either way, they’re out-of-pocket.
As you well know, Judicial Watch objects to the employer mandate, the individual mandate, and the entire Obamacare law. In fact, JW filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court making the argument that the mandate to purchase health insurance is flagrantly unconstitutional.
We also understand that, under the U.S. Constitution, the law can only be changed by legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president. President Obama evidently wants to delay at least some of the ill effects of his health care scheme until after the 2014 congressional elections. But politics do not trump the Constitution or the rule of law.
For this reason, we are seeking to mount a challenge to Obamacare based on the president’s attempts to rewrite the law. And you might be personally able to join in this legal effort.
If you are going to have to purchase Obama-approved health insurance (which would have been covered by the employer mandate) through an Obamacare-created health insurance exchange or pay a tax penalty because your employer is dropping or does not provide health insurance, you may have a claim to challenge President Obama’s unilateral rewriting of the law.
If you think your circumstances fit the bill and you would be interested in being a plaintiff in a challenge to Obama’s unconstitutional power grab, then please contact us by replying to this email address: [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]. And please feel free to share this email with others you think might also have a claim as described here.
President Obama has repeatedly defied the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law to pave the way for his Big Government agenda. This is one action we can take together to stop him. Please consider joining JW’s cause if you are eligible. And I’ll be sure to update you on the progress of our legal efforts in this space.
In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch: “The opinion is craven, absurd, and undermines the rule of law.
The court’s interpretation would allow terrorists to dictate our laws.”
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today criticized a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirming a U.S. District Court decision allowing the Department of Defense (DOD) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to withhold 59 images from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and the terrorist mastermind’s burial at sea (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (No. 12-5137)). Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton issued the following statement reacting to today’s ruling:
“The opinion is craven, absurd, and undermines the rule of law. The court seems to acknowledge that the images were improperly classified but gives the Obama administration a pass. The court’s interpretation would allow terrorists to dictate our laws. Americans’ fundamental right to access government information and, frankly, the First Amendment are implicated in this ruling. As one of the judges on this panel suggested that the Benghazi attack was caused by an Internet video, this decision is perhaps unsurprising. The courts need to stop rubberstamping this administration’s improper secrecy. There is no provision of the Freedom of Information Act that allows documents to be kept secret because their release might offend our terrorist enemies. Our lawyers are considering our next legal steps.”
The Appeals Court decision upheld an April 26, 2012, ruling by the District Court denying a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. Military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.”
While ruling against Judicial Watch, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg had conceded, “Indeed, it makes sense that the more significant an event is to our nation – and the end of bin Laden’s reign of terror certainly ranks high – the more need the public has for full disclosure.”
Judicial Watch on May 25, 2012 launched an investigation into the military’s response to sequestration, which entailed 600 billion dollars of automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon budget slated to take effect in January 2013. Judicial Watch’s investigation was prompted by a report in the Washington Times that military planners had been ordered not to develop a contingency strategy for operating in the event sequestration took place in order to force Congress into repealing the budget-balancing measure. The Washington Times further reported that, despite an order not to make sequestration plans, the military had formed secret cells to plan covertly for such a contingency.
In support of its investigation, Judicial Watch filed public records requests pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, with the Offices of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Inspector General (DOD-IG), as well as the Departments of Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Joint Chiefs seeking:
All communications from January 1, 2012 through the date of the request respecting sequestration, including whether to develop contingency plans at all and, if so, to do so covertly.
The deadline for responding was June 25, 2012. No agency timely complied with the law governing this transaction. OSD produced 10 pages’ worth of responsive documents consisting entirely of congressional correspondence.
As for the rest:
- DOD-IG on June 19, 2012 denied Judicial Watch’s request for a public interest fee waiver, which Judicial Watch appealed on June 22, 2012. DOD-IG never issued a determination of Judicial Watch’s fee appeal, nor addressed the substantive request itself.
- The Army on January 15, 2013 affirmed its total denial of records, claiming that the agency conducted a legally adequate search and that all six (6) responsive documents located were privileged and, therefore, entirely exempt from compulsory disclosure.
- The Navy on November 27, 2012 denied Judicial Watch’s request for a public interest fee waiver but never went on to address the substantive request.
- The Air Force on August 22, 2012 asked for an extension in deciding Judicial Watch’s appeal of the agency’s initial “no records” response. As of April 8, 2013, Judicial Watch has heard nothing more from this agency either.
Judicial Watch announced today that Obama administration officials disclosed in sworn court documents that sensitive information released tothe filmmakers for the upcoming film on the bin Laden raid, Zero Dark Thirty, could cause an “unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk” if released to the public. The admissions, made during the course of Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records pertaining to cooperation between Obama administration officials and director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal in preparation for the film, raise questions about the public statement to reporters by Obama White House spokesman Jay Carney regarding the controversy: “We do not discuss classified information.” The government claims that the information shared is not necessarily classified “in isolation.”
“The government cannot have it both ways in this case,” Judicial Watch argued in a countermotion for summary judgment filed with the court on November 12, 2012. “If this information were very sensitive, it would not have been shared with the filmmakers. Since the government did share the information with the filmmakers, the court should conclude that it is necessarily not sensitive … Assisting to make a movie about government accomplishments is not a necessary or important governmental function. If it were, the term for it would be political propaganda.”
JW previously obtained records from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the CIA regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and screenwriter Mark Boal in preparation for Zero Dark Thirty. According to the records, the Obama administration sought to have “high visibility” into bin Laden related projects, and granted Boal and Bigelow unusual access to agency information in preparation for their film, now scheduled for release in mid-December. The disclosures made to the filmmakers are now part of an investigation by the DOD Inspector General.
The DOD and the CIA have continued to withhold information concerning the names of five CIA and military operatives involved in the bin Laden operation, which were shared with the filmmakers. Judicial Watch has identified the precise emails containing the information it wishes to obtain, and in sworn declarations Obama administration officials conceded that this information was provided to Bigelow and Boal.
Mark Herrington, Associate Deputy General Counsel, testified that the military officers’ “identities would be threatened” if publicly disclosed but admitted that Under Secretary of Defense Mike Vickers released one of the names to Mark Boal.
According to sworn testimony from CIA Information Review Officer Martha Lutz, releasing of this type of information could provide an “unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk”:
Nonetheless, I can represent to the Court that the absolute protection for officers’ identities that Congress provided in the CIA Act is extremely important to the functioning of the Agency and the safety and security of its employees. This is true even for the identities of officers who are not undercover, and it is also true with respect to the first names of undercover officers. While such identifying information may not be classified in isolation, the widespread public release of this information creates an unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk for the Agency and its officers.
In its brief seeking to deny Judicial Watch access to the names of the CIA operatives, the government asserts that it had protected the operatives’ confidentiality by asking the filmmakers not to share the names. In its cross motion, however, JW responds that the government has provided no evidence that it asked the filmmakers to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or any other contract that would prevent them from sharing the names as required under law. In addition, the government has provided no evidence that either Boal or Bigelow underwent background checks or received security clearances before being provided the information the DOD and CIA now claim is too sensitive for public disclosure.
“The Obama administration now confirms to a federal court that it released sensitive information to help with a film that was set to portray Barack Obama as ‘gutsy.’ If this is true, then the Obama administration was lying to the American people when it said the leaks were no big deal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The public has a right to get to the bottom of this scandal and the Obama administration should comply with the open records law and disclose the names that were leaked.”
Judicial Watch initially launched its investigation of the filmmakers’ meetings with the Obama administration following press reports suggesting that the Obama administration may have leaked classified information to the director as source material for Bigelow’s film.
In August 2011, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the information leak was originally designed to help the Obama 2012 presidential reelection campaign: “The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made ‘The Hurt Locker’ will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds.”
Judicial Watch’s counter motion for summary judgment, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colombia, petitions the court for an oral hearing on the opposing motions.
DOD Officials Disclosed to Filmmakers Identity of SEAL Team Six Operator and Commander; Ask Film Director to Withhold Operator’s Name, ‘because he shouldn’t be talking out of school.’
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and screenwriter Mark Boal. According to the records, the Obama Defense Department granted Bigelow and Boal access to a “planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six,” which was responsible for the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, to assist Bigelow prepare her upcoming feature film.
The records, obtained pursuant to court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012, include 153 pages of records from the DOD and 113 pages of records from the CIA (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:12-cv-00049)). The documents were delivered to Judicial Watch late last Friday (May 18). The following are the highlights from the records, which include internal Defense Department email correspondence as well as a transcript from a key July 14, 2011, meeting between DOD officials, Bigelow and Boal:
- A transcript of a July 14, 2011, meeting between DOD officials, including Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, Bigelow and Boal indicates that Boal met directly with White House officials on at least two occasions regarding the film: “I took your guidance and spoke to the WH and had a good meeting with Brennan and McDonough and I plan to follow up with them; and they were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view; command and control; so that was great, thank you,” Boal said according to the transcript. Vickers asks if the meeting was a follow-up, to which Boal responds, “Yes correct; this was a follow-up.” The documents seemingly reference John O. Brennan, Chief Counterterrorism Advisor to President Obama and Denis McDonough, who serves as President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor.
- The July 14, 2011, meeting transcript also reveals that the DOD provided the filmmakers with the identity of a “planner, SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander.” (The name is blacked out in the document.) In proposing the arrangement, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers said: “The only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant because . . . he shouldn’t be talking out of school.” Vickers went on to say during the meeting at the Pentagon: “This at least, this gives him one step removed and he knows what he can and can’t say, but this way at least he can be as open as he can with you and it ought to meet your needs.” Boal later responds, “You delivered.”
- A July 13, 2011, internal CIA email indicates that Bigelow and Boal were granted access to “the Vault,” which is described the CIA building where some of the tactical planning for the bin Laden raid took place: “I was given your name as the POC in [redacted] who could determine the feasibility of having a potential walk-through of…the Vault in the [redacted] building that was used for some of the tactical planning in the Bin Laden Raid [sic]. In consultation with the Office of Public Affairs and as part of the larger chronicling of the Bin Laden raid, OPA will be hosting some visitors sanctioned by ODCIA this Friday afternoon.” (The name of the sender is blacked out.) “Of course this is doable,” an official responds.
- DOD Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson told colleagues in a June 13, 2011, email to limit media access and that he would follow up with the White House: “I think this looks very good as a way forward, and agree particularly that we need to be careful here so we don’t open the media floodgates on this. I’m going to check with WH to update them on status, and will report back.” A day later, he wrote Department of Defense communications staffers, saying: “Ok to set up the second session with Vickers. I am getting additional guidance from WH.”
- Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers told Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson and two other DOD communications staffers in a June 13, 2011, email that “[DOD] would like to shape the story to prevent any gross inaccuracies, but do not want to make it look like the commanders think it’s okay to talk to the media.” The email went on to say: “For the intelligence case, they are basically using the WH-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.” The talking points called the raid “a ‘Gutsy Decision’ by the POTUS,” adding that “WH involvement was critical.”
- A June 9, 2011, email from Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations, to Vickers and other DOD staff summarizes a meeting with Boal and notes the release date for the film: “Release date set for 4th Qtr 2012…”
- A July 13, 2011, email to Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations, indicates that Sarah Zukowski, an associate for The Glover Park Group, arranged the July 14, 2011 visit by Bigelow and Boal to the DOD and the CIA. The Glover Park Group is described by Politico as a “Democratic-leaning advocacy firm.”
- A June 27, 2011, email to an official at the Office of the Secretary of Defense suggests that the request from Bigelow and Boal to meet with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers came via the White House press office. A June 22, 2011, email to Commander Bob Mehal, Public Affairs Officer for Defense Press Operations notes, “The White House does want to engage with Mark but it probably won’t be for a few more weeks. We should provide them a read-out of the session you do with Vickers.” The name of the White House official who forwarded the request is blacked out.
Judicial Watch launched its investigation of Bigelow’s meetings with the Obama administration following press reports suggesting that the Obama administration may have leaked classified information to the director as source material for Bigelow’s film.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the information leak was designed to help the Obama 2012 presidential reelection campaign: “The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made ‘The Hurt Locker’ will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.”
In addition to Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden film records, the organization continues to fight in court for the release of the bin Laden post-mortem photos and video. The Obama administration continues to withhold these records citing national security concerns.
“These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected film makers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”
To view the entire production click here.
“Under FOIA…the American people have a right to these historical artifacts…”
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has filed a new court document in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Defense (DOD) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense et al. (No. 1:11-cv-00890)). Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit on May 13, 2011.
On December 14, 2011, Judicial Watch filed a “Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and in Support of Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.” (In order for a Motion for Summary Judgment to be granted by the court, the moving party must demonstrate that there are “no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”) Judicial Watch also seeks a court hearing on the matter.
Judicial Watch contends that the Obama administration’s arguments for withholding the bin Laden documents should fail because it has “failed to satisfy even the most basic requirements of FOIA.” The agency has failed to provide sufficient evidence that it has conducted an adequate search for responsive records or demonstrate that the records were properly classified pursuant to President Obama’s Executive Order 13526 signed on December 29, 2009 which provided a “uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information.” The Obama administration has also failed to provide any evidence of “whether the withheld records are photographs or video recordings, accounted for the various circumstances in which the records were created, or sufficiently correlated specific claims of exemption to particular records or categories of records.”
Conversely, Judicial Watch contends that its “Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment” should be granted because the Defendants “cannot legally justify their claims of exemption” for some of the withheld records. Judicial Watch “does not seek the production of any photographs or video recordings that have been properly classified or would actually cause harm to the national security by revealing intelligence methods or the identity of U.S. personnel or classified technology. [Judicial Watch] solely seeks those records that have not been properly classified as well as those records for which no military or intelligence secrets would be revealed.”
Judicial Watch concludes that the American people “have a right to these historical artifacts to capture this moment. To date, the government has failed to provide a legally sufficient justification for why such records must not be released. Therefore, the government must be held accountable. The law requires it.”
On May 4, 2011, President Obama told CBS News in an interview that he would not release the death photos of Osama bin Laden, who was captured and killed by U.S. Navy Seals, to the public, saying “we don’t need to spike the football” or “gloat.” Obama’s decision reportedly came after a debate within his administration. CIA Director Leon Panetta said some photos would be released. But Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Clinton reportedly lobbied against it.
“We shouldn’t appease our enemies by undermining our nation’s core government accountability law – the Freedom of Information Act. We suspect the administration is playing shell games with the bin Laden death photos and video. President Obama is asking the court to allow his administration to withhold documents simply because their disclosure may cause controversy. There is simply no legal precedent for this,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “President Obama’s political calculations are no substitute for the rule of law. The Obama administration has no legal right to withhold this material from the American people, especially now that he is using this military victory in his presidential campaign. The killing of Osama bin Laden is a tremendous historic event. The law simply doesn’t allow President Obama to put the bin Laden photos and video down the memory hole.”
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of OSM Media LLC (d/b/a Pajamas Media (PJM)), against the Department of Defense (DOD) seeking records related to the transportation of all United States government officials, congressional elected officials, staff, families and guests to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2009. (OSM Media, LLC, d/b/a/ Pajamas Media and PJTV v. U.S. Department of Defense (Case No. 1-11-cv-01151(CKK)).
On December 23, 2009, Pajamas Media sent a FOIA request to the Air Force. On June 28, 2010, the Air Force notified Pajamas Media that part of their FOIA request had been forwarded to the Office of the Secretary. Nearly one year later, on May 17, 2011, the Office of the Secretary produced four pages of almost entirely redacted material and informed Pajamas Media that it referred the withheld material to the U.S. Secret Service.
To date, the Air Force has failed to produce any records responsive to PJM’s FOIA request or demonstrate that the withheld material is legally exempt from production. The Air Force has not indicated whether or when it will produce or identify the requested records.
“What happened to the transparency that candidate Obama promised? It has taken almost a year for this administration to turn over a flight manifest and then that document was heavily redacted. The Obama administration has proven itself to be one of the most secretive administrations in history,” stated Pajamas Media CEO Roger L. Simon.
On behalf of its client, Judicial Watch is asking the court to: order the Air Force to conduct a search for “any and all responsive records;” set a specific date that Pajamas Media is to receive the requested documents; and provide OSM Media with a Vaughn index describing the records that are being withheld under claims of exemption.
“The December 2009 United Nations ‘climate change’ conference in Copenhagen must have been embarrassing for global warming activists and their associates in Washington. The Conference not only failed to enact worldwide ‘climate’ action, but the airlift of President Obama and other government officials must have resulted in huge, wasteful costs for the American people. No wonder PJM can’t get anything out of the administration about that disastrous conference,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.