Judicial Watch • Government shutdown

Government shutdown Archives | Judicial Watch

Chaos and Corruption in Obama’s Washington

How many people signed up for Obamacare after “the great reveal” last week?  Simple question, yes? One that the Obama administration should be able to answer quite easily, given its technical sophistication and unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data of all kinds.

If you would like to receive weekly emails updating you about all of our efforts to fight corruption, please sign up here.
* Email  
* State:

But the “most transparent administration in history” says we’ll get no data until November. And Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew tap-danced to the point of exhaustion when asked about the data during his interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. Check out the frustrating exchange courtesy of CNSNews.com.

How many actually signed up, sir?” Wallace asked Lew.

“You know, they have six months to sign up. This is a big decision. We never—“

“How many signed up?” Wallace asked again.

“I don’t have the exact number, but the question isn’t how many — the question –

“Do you have any number?” Wallace asked. “Because the government has refused to tell us how many.”

“It’s the wrong question. It’s the wrong question,” Lew said.

“No it isn’t,” Wallace replied.

“The right question–” Lew said, but again, Wallace cut him off.

“The question is, how many people have actually signed up?” Wallace asked.

“Chris, we know that people take time to make important decisions like this. They go on(line), they compare their options. The fact that so many millions of people rushed to get information is a very good sign.”

“The answer is they couldn’t,” Wallace said.

I’ll spare you the rest as it went on like this for some time. It took a newspaper based in another country to get the answer about how many signed up. London’s Daily Mail broke the news that only 51,000 were able to “apply” for insurance on the failing Obamacare government web sites.

Some in the liberal press did their best to provide cover. The Washington Post called the effort to track the data “tricky business.” While Mother Jones said it doesn’t even matter how many people signed up, but then parroted the Post’s excuse: “…getting lots of uninsured people into private health plans…is maddeningly difficult and time-consuming,” writer Stephanie Mencimer complained.

The only reason the number “doesn’t matter” to the Left is because the number is embarrassingly low. You can bet if the number represented good news for the president, it would have been on the tip of the tongue of every Obama administration spokesperson throughout the federal leviathan – and page-one material for the liberal press.

But that wasn’t the big news during the Obamacare launch. No, the headline was the fact that people couldn’t sign up even if they wanted to due to a massive breakdown in the system: a problem that has yet to be fixed! “The second week of Obamacare enrollment started a lot like the first: with error messages,” reported Politico.

Glitches continued crippling online enrollment in new Obamacare exchanges on Monday, despite assurances by the White House that the consumer experience would markedly improve this week.

The Obama administration deployed senior officials over the weekend to emphasize that problems on the enrollment site, HealthCare.gov, were primarily the result of intense interest from prospective enrollees. But their claims were undercut by a Sunday evening Wall Street Journal report claiming serious design flaws in the system’s infrastructure.

According to The Associated Press, the system was “drawing lots of rotten tomatoes” with only 1 in 10 reported successes on the system. CBS This Morning reported that media outlets are having a difficult time finding anyone who has actually been successful (and I’m sure it’s not for lack of trying). One computer programmer summed it up: “It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it.” (Digital Trends called the system a “befuddled beast” noting that the website alone cost $634 million. By way of comparison it took Facebook six years to receive $600 million in operating funds.)

Even liberal political activist John Stewart, typically an apologist for all things Obama, made a mockery of the Obamacare launch during a “cringeworthy” interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week: “I’m gonna try and download every movie ever made,” The Daily Show host quipped, “and you’re gonna try and sign up for Obamacare—and we’ll see which happens first.”

We already know that Obamacare makes a mockery of the rule of law. See, for instance, our lawsuit for Dr. Larry Kawa’s Kawa Orthodontics, LLP trying to get Obama to follow his own darn healthcare law.

Now it is clear Obama isn’t following his own law because he can’t make it work. This is no surprise to constitutional conservatives who understand that the markets for health care are exceedingly complex and can’t be managed by socialists in Washington.

While Obamacare was busy tanking, the National Park Service (NPS) continued its oppressive blockades – even shutting down enterprises not run by the government. It all started last week when World War II heroes were denied access – from seeing their own memorial – by National Park Service personnel because, they were told, of the government shut down.

But here’s the thing. There is no basis for the memorial to be shut down. And it cost the Obama administration more money to keep the memorials closed than to keep them open, as required, 24 hours a day!

One might think that the National Park Service would shrink in embarrassment, especially after the veterans moved past the blockades to complete their mission, leading to major national news coverage. But what did the NPS do? They doubled down!

There’s the Claude Moore Colonial Home in McLean, Virginia, closed by the NPS even though the service hasn’t operated that site since 1980. When the farm resisted, noting that it was operated with private donations and volunteers, the NPS caved and allowed it to reopen.

The Park Service doesn’t own Mount Vernon either, but that didn’t stop the NPS from closing that facility. And Mt. Rushmore? The NPS “went the extra mile and put out orange cones to block the little scenic overlook areas on the roads near Mount Rushmore. You know, just to make sure no taxpayers could catch a glimpse of it,” writes The Weekly Standard in an editorial.

“Think about that for a minute,” the editorial continues. “The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close.”

Unless, of course, a group of leftists would like to use the “closed” federal parks to conduct a protest. Which is exactly what happened this week.

Just days after World War II veterans were denied access to their memorial, a large group of illegal alien amnesty activists began setting up for a national demonstration (Camino Americano) on the “closed” mall area adjacent to Capitol Hill.

“Rally organizers said that they would be allowed by the NPS to carry out their protest under their First Amendment rights,” The Washington Examiner reported.

Only a corrupted presidential administration, completely out of touch with the Constitution and all reason, could justify denying military veterans an opportunity to visit a memorial built in their honor while defending the rights of the illegal immigration lobby to have its say.

Unlike most Washington politicians, we won’t let these scandals lie.  We have filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to try to expose the truth about the Obamacare debacle.  And we have a filed a half-dozen document requests to expose the full facts about the National Park Service desecration of our nation’s war memorials and parks. We’ll keep watch for you and the other patriotic Americans who are horrified at the chaos and corruption here in DC.  With vigilance and diligence, we can begin to get this town back under control.

Records Obtained by Judicial Watch Reveal U.S. Knew of Sophisticated al Qaeda Plan to Hijack Commercial Airliner in 2000

While the federal government tries to explain to concerned Americans of all political stripes why it was collecting private data from American citizens who appear to have no relation to national security, this week Judicial Watch learned that intelligence officials inside the Clinton administration ignored key intelligence on Osama bin Laden that might have prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

On August 29, 2013, we obtained a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Intelligence Information Report (IIR) revealing that the United States disregarded advanced warning of a 2000 al Qaeda plot to hijack a commercial airliner because “nobody believed that Usama bin Laden’s organization or the Taliban could carry out such an operation.”

We got hold of this blockbuster document, dated September 27, 2001, in response to a May 16, 2002, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request – note it took 11 years for the government to cough up the report. It included the following specific revelations:

  • Al Qaeda (AQ) planned to hijack a plane departing Frankfurt International Airport between March and August 2000. The hijack team was to consist of an Arab, a Pakistani, and a Chechen. Chechen withdrawal from the plot delayed the operation. Sheik Dzabir, a 40-year-old Saudi with ties to the House of Saud, directed the operation. Advanced warning of the plot “was disregarded because nobody believed that Usama bin Laden or the Taliban could carry out such an operation.” [Emphasis added]
  • [Al Qaeda] penetrated the consular section of the German Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and was relying on a “Mrs. Wagner” to provide European Union (EU) visas for use in forged Pakistani passports for terrorists.
  • [Al Qaeda] the Taliban, and Chechen Islamic militants all had substantial operating support bases in Hamburg and Frankfurt, Germany. Name, address, and telephone numbers identify an AQ passport forger in Hamburg for Taliban and other Afghan terrorists and support personnel during January and February 2000.
  • The existence of a secure, reliable terrorist-sponsored route to Chechnya from Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
  • Documented operational coordination and cooperation between [Al Qaeda] and Chechen militants.
  • A January 2000 two-day hijack planning meeting between bin Laden and Taliban officials in Kabul, Afghanistan.

According to the IIR report, information about the plot came from an unidentified human intelligence source that provided U.S. authorities with copies of eight Arabic letters containing details of the al Qaeda plot. For 13 years the subject report was classified “SECRET,” until it was finally declassified and released to Judicial Watch on August 29, 2013.

This is not a case of hindsight being 20/20. The details of names, addresses, and such, from this reporting should have provided “actionable intelligence” for any number of U.S. anti-terrorist operations. It is clear from Judicial Watch’s in-depth investigations of the 9/11 attacks that the terrorist plot could have been derailed if the leads in these documents had been followed.

Remember, this is not the only evidence ignored by the Clinton administration related to bin Laden.

Judicial Watch previously obtained documents from the Department of State (“Terrorism/Usama bin Ladin: Who’s Chasing Whom?” showing that as far back as 1996, the Clinton administration knew of and ignored a bin Laden terrorist plan against the United States.  The New York Times, reporting on Judicial Watch’s find in 2005, detailed:

State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden’s move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam “well beyond the Middle East,” but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show.

The documents also warned of a suicide car bombing threat in London: “[redacted] indicated bin Ladin planned to sponsor suicide car bombings against US interests in the UK, in part to punish London for ‘submitting’ to US pressure to bar his entry into the UK.”

As the world now knows, 9/11 was just the beginning. The threat of terrorism continues, and so does our investigation. Our investigators continue to gather information on al Qaeda activities and U.S. investigations leading to the 9/11 hijackings as well as other terrorist attacks.  You can learn more about our anti-terrorism investigations, click here.

HUD Sued for Records of Obama Administration Involvement in “Disparate Impact” Discrimination Cases

Unfortunately, Judicial Watch has uncovered yet another egregious example of racial politics courtesy of the Obama administration, which used the heavy hand of government to protect a discredited racial legal theory. JW is now in court to get to the truth in the matter.

On September 24, 2013, we filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for all records of communications regarding two controversial “disparate impact” housing discrimination cases. The first (Magner v. Gallagher) was dismissed by the Supreme Court in February 2012, and the second (Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens Association) is now scheduled for December 4 adjudication before the Court.

Here’s what we’re after:

  • Any and all records regarding the case pending in the Supreme Court as of the date of this request of Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., including, but not limited to, communications regarding the possibility of settlement between the parties. This request applies to records regarding this case during any state of its proceedings.
  • Any and all records regarding the case dismissed from the Supreme Court on February 14, 2012, of Magner v. Gallagher, including but not limited to communications regarding the dismissal of the case.

And And what is the “disparate impact” doctrine?

Under “disparate impact” a defendant can be held liable for discrimination for a race-neutral policy that statistically disadvantages a specific minority group even if that negative “impact” was neither foreseen nor intended. In such cases, defendants can be forced to pay for harm caused not by their own actions, but by economic and statistical realities even if beyond their control.

So in other words, intent, motive, opportunity, cause…all timeless operative principles used by law enforcement and the courts to determine if a crime has been committed, are all tossed out the window with “disparate impact.” Ridiculous, right? Yes, and that is exactly why the Obama administration tried to meddle in these cases.

The Magner v. Gallagher disparate impact case arose from a lawsuit by a St. Paul minority contractor claiming that the city’s targeted enforcement of the city’s housing code against rental units reduced the availability of low-income rentals, with a disparate impact upon African-Americans. The Eighth Circuit found in the contractor’s favor, after which the city appealed to the Supreme Court. The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) then intervened, apparently persuading St. Paul to take the extraordinary step of withdrawing its cert. petition from the Supreme Court docket.

On February 13, 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that various federal officials had asked the City of St. Paul to withdraw its petition for certiorari. The Obama administration’s concern, explained the article, was that a legal theory known as “disparate impact” might either: 1) harden into law as used by the landlords who had won at the state level or 2) be eviscerated entirely.

Apparently, several federal agencies that rely on that legal theory to secure out-of-court settlements in the consumer lending and family housing arena were reluctant to risk a change in the legal landscape. The next day, the parties to Magner v. Gallagher withdrew their case by “mutual consent.”  This was an extraordinary development.  Imagine you had a case that the U.S. Supreme Court was set to hear?  Can you think of any circumstances that would cause you to withdraw it?  If you’re a local politician, such circumstances might be offers of federal funding and pressure from the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

Judicial Watch separately obtained documentsunder the Minnesota Data Practices Act, showing that St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing arranged a meeting between the then-chief of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, current Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Mayor Chris Coleman a week before the city’s withdrawal from the case. Following Perez’s visit, the city withdrew its case and thanked the DOJ and officials at HUD for their involvement.

We are also investigating the Justice Department’s actions in another challenge to the Obama administration “disparate impact” race theory.  The Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action disparate impact case involves a redevelopment plan for Mount Holly Gardens, a 30-acre New Jersey neighborhood of rundown housing and high crime. The plan would have transformed the Gardens into mid-range single-family dwellings. Current and former residents of the Gardens banded together as Citizens in Action to sue, claiming that the plan violated the FHA because a majority of them, predominantly African-Americans and Hispanics, would not be able to afford the new homes.

The district court dismissed the argument, ruling that the redevelopment plan affected Gardens residents equally, without regard to race, and was tied only to economic considerations. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed that ruling, holding that the left wing group suing the township had established a case of discrimination under the theory of disparate impact because a majority of the affected residents were non-white. On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to the township’s request to take on the issue.

On September 3, 2013, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of the township of Mt. Holly. In its brief, Judicial Watch argued, “Section 804(a) of the FHA prohibits only disparate treatment, not disparate impact as the Third Circuit has ruled. An analysis of the legislative history only confirms the clear language of the text.”  So far, the Obama gang hasn’t gotten to the citizens and government of Mt. Holly, so the case is still set for potential resolution by the Supreme Court.

So, in summary, we have evidence that the Obama administration, through current Labor Secretary Tom Perez, improperly intervened to try to prevent the Supreme Court from shooting down its radical racial legal theories. The Obama administration and its liberal activist allies are desperate to preserve the discredited theory of “disparate impact” to bludgeon its opponents as racists and violate equal protection under the law.  Our new FOIA lawsuit is designed to expose the Obama-Holder cover-up and uncover the secrets of this scandal.  Stay tuned.

Join Judicial Watch for a Special Panel: “The Second Amendment under Attack”

I want to close this week by telling you about a special panel Judicial Watch is hosting at its DC headquarters next Tuesday, October 15, 2013, entitled, “The Second Amendment Under Attack.” It will focus on how the recent mass shootings by two mentally ill individuals in Sandy Hook and the Washington Navy Yard have emboldened the Obama administration and its allies to promote policies, through executive action and legislation, restricting certain Second Amendment rights of Americans.

Confirmed panelists include: Dr. John R. Lott Jr., President of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of “More Guns, Less Crime”; Attorney Stephen P. Halbrook, who represented a majority of members of Congress as amici curiae in DC v. Heller and author of “The Founders’ Second Amendment”; and Emily J. Miller, Senior Editor of the Washington Times Opinion Pages and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours.”

The panel will run from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET at JW headquarters, 425 Third Street, SW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20024. If you are not able to join us in person, you can watch live online beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET at http://www.judicialwatch.org/live.

Until next week…

The government shutdown has provided a great opportunity to examine some of the more obscure agencies that most Americans have probably never even heard of and that the country could likely do without. Think of all the money we could save as a nation. 

Besides brining attention to these largely unheard of agencies, the shutdown—caused by Congress’s inability to agree on a funding bill—is also shedding light on just how bloated the federal government is, with an astounding workforce that’s seen nearly 800,000 furloughed this week. Some media outlets report the shutdown could cost the already frail U.S. economy about $1 billion a week in pay lost by the government workers.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to members of Congress. They will continue getting their checks and so will the president because his annual salary—$400,000—is considered mandatory spending. There are other exceptions like active duty military, all of 1.4 million of which will remain on the job and receive paychecks.

Well-known agencies such as the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is part of Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development are also mostly shut down. So is the Department of Education, that useless 4,195-employee monster created by Jimmy Carter. Public education is a state duty yet the agency, which has grown immensely under President Obama, is bulldozing its way towards a takeover by, among other things, issuing federal standards known as Common Core.

We can’t move on to the less-known agencies that shouldn’t even exist before mentioning that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has six separate divisions that are closing during the impasse. The Food Safety and Inspection Service has the largest payroll (9,633), but there’s a Rural Development division with nearly 5,000 employees that provides consultations, assistance and funding opportunities for rural communities. The USDA’s 1,363-employee food stamp division will scale down but still operate to assure a record 46 million people keep getting their free groceries from Uncle Sam.

Here are some of the closures that are likely to go completely unnoticed. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, with 39 employees, advises the president and Congress on national historic preservation policy. The Corporation for National and Community Service will have 538 of its 610 employees stay home. We can’t really say what they do because the agency’s website is “currently not available” due to a “lapse in government funding.”

Here are a few other good ones; the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with 69 employees, will close, but not the Inter-American Foundation, which assists with development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. The National Capital Planning Commission, which provides long-range planning guidance for Washington and nearby areas, will only keep five of its 35 employees and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will still function. A mainstream media outlet has provided a list of all the agencies and the number of workers they employ.     

Sign Up for Updates!