Obama Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications:
Obama White House ‘trying to have visibility into the UBL (Usama bin Laden) projects.’
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Department of Defense (DOD) 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 their film Zero Dark Thirty, which details the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. According to the records, the Obama administration granted Boal and Bigelow unusual access to agency information in preparation for their film, which was reportedly scheduled for an October 2012 release, just before the presidential election, but the trailers are running now until the rescheduled release in December.
The records – which should have been produced months ago pursuant to a court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012 – include records from a “stack” of “overlooked” documents discovered by the CIA in July 2012. The following are highlights from the records, which include internal DOD, White House and CIA email correspondence with the filmmakers:
- According to a June 15, 2011, email from Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, to then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson, then-CIA Director of Public Affairs George Little, and Deputy White House Press Secretary Jaime Smith, the Obama White House was intent on “trying to have visibility into the UBL (Usama bin Laden) projects.”
“…we are trying to have visibility into the UBL projects and this is likely the most high profile one. Would like to have whatever group is going around in here at the WH [White House] to get a sense of what they’re doing / what cooperation they’re seeking. Jamie will be POC [point of contact].”
- According to e-mail exchange on June 7, 2011, CIA spokesperson Marie E. Harf openly discussed providing preferential treatment to the Boal/Bigelow project over others related to the bin Laden killing: “I know we don’t pick favorites but it makes sense to get behind a winning horse…Mark and Kathryn’s movie is going to be the first and the biggest. It’s got the most money behind it, and two Oscar winners on board…”
- In a July 20, 2011, e-mail, Mark Boal writes to thank then-CIA Director of Public Affairs George Little for “pulling for him” with the agency, noting that it made, “all the difference.” Little responds: “…I can’t tell you how excited we all are (at DOD and CIA) about the project…PS – I want you to know how good I’ve been not mentioning the premiere tickets. :)”
- On July 13, 2011, Mark Boal’s assistant, Jonathan Leven, sent CIA spokesperson Marie Harf a copy of the floor plan of the bin Laden compound and asked him to verify its accuracy: “Per your conversation with Mark, can you verify whether this floor plan is accurate?” The next day Harf responds: “Ok, I checked with our folks, and that floor plan matches with what we have. It looks legit to us.”
- On July 14, 2011, Mark Boal asks CIA spokesperson Marie Harf to provide detailed information regarding the third floor of the compound that were not present on the open-source floor plan: “Would you mind looking into getting us some of the third floor specs…as the open source plan is missing those: height of wall, etc..? We will be building a full scale replica of the house. Including the inhabitants of the animal pen!” Harf responds minutes later: “Ha! Of course I don’t mind! I’ll work on that tomorrow…
- In an internal CIA memo regarding Kathryn Bigelow’s visit to agency headquarters dated July 14, 2011, CIA spokesperson Marie Harf describes Boal’s contact with the agency as a “deep dive.” (The memo was originally classified Secret.): “Kathryn is not interested in doing the deep dives that Mark did; she simply wants to meet the people Mark has been talking to.”
- On August 5, 2011, CIA Spokesperson Marie Harf exchanges several e-mails with New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti about the Boal/Bigelow project and, specifically, about a column by Maureen Dowd to be published August 7, 2011, making critical reference to the access the filmmakers were given. Mazzetti gave Harf an advance copy of the article, with the caveat, “this didn’t come from me… and please delete after you read. See, nothing to worry about!”
- In a June 15, 2011, e-mail, to Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes, Doug Wilson notes that the cooperation that Boal and Bigelow had been getting from the CIA was with the “full knowledge and full approval/support” of Director Panetta. “Boal has been working with us and with the CIA (via George Little) for initial context briefings – at DoD this has been provided by Mike Vickers, and at CIA by relevant officials with the full knowledge and full approval/support of Director Panetta.”
- In a July 17, 2011, e-mail, CIA spokesperson Marie Harf advises then CIA Director of Public Affairs Greg Little that Boal and Bigelow would be “meeting individually with both [name redacted] and the translator who was on the raid…”
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 [sic] 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 post-mortem images of bin Laden and the alleged burial at sea. The Obama administration continues to withhold these records citing national security concerns.
“These new documents provide more backing to the serious charge that the Obama administration played fast and loose with national security information to help Hollywood filmmakers,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “No wonder we’ve had to fight one year of stonewalling from the administration. These new documents show there is no doubt that Obama White House was intensely interested in this film that was set to portray President Obama as ‘gutsy.’”
Read about the search for bin Laden documents and more in Tom Fitton’s New York Times best-seller The Corruption Chronicles, on sale now.
Mexican cartel violence is at an all-time high along the increasingly porous southern border yet the Obama Administration has shut down a critical intelligence agency dedicated to identifying, tracking and severing the nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism.
It’s a senseless move, which is why it was done very quietly. The only real way to discover that the Justice Department’s 19-year-old National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) has been closed is by trying to visit its website. It simply says that on June 15, 2012, the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) closed. The public is redirected to another website with “historical materials, an archived version of the NDIC.”
The move is baffling considering the agency’s crucial mission. Consider this; just a few years ago an NDIC task force uncovered that Mexican drug cartels are buying arms from radical Islamic terrorists and that they team up to distribute narcotics in Europe and the Middle East. The NDIC report that revealed this identifies terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestine Liberation Front and the Palestine Liberation Organization as Arab associates of Mexican drug-trafficking cartels. All are officially designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. Department of State.
Other valuable NDIC probes have determined that Mexican drug trafficking organizations represent the greatest crime threat in the U.S. and that cartels have expanded into every region of the country, including idyllic rural areas. This was reiterated by federal authorities less than a year ago in a court case that outlined how Mexican drug cartels have teamed up with violent street gangs to operate in the United States.
The case involves dozens of members of the Barrio Azteca gang charged with operating a massive drug-trafficking and money-laundering enterprise. A handful of members have been convicted and sentenced in Texas while others still face trial for racketeering, murder, drug offenses, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The gang makes money importing heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the United States from Mexico, according to federal prosecutors who clearly relied on the now-defunct NDIC to build their case.
These sorts of illicit enterprises—and the crime that accompanies them—have taken over parts of the southern border and have spilled deep into the U.S., according to various Homeland Security assessments that cite NDIC reports. Why on earth would Obama kill the agency created in 1993 to provide crucial strategic intelligence on trafficking of illegal drugs and related crimes that pose a threat to the national security of the United States? Combined with the president’s backdoor amnesty plan and refusal to secure the border, this is extremely alarming.
While the Obama Administration celebrates the accomplishments of yet another bloated government program—this one providing low-income populations with taxpayer-funded housing—a federal audit exposes the darker side of the costly welfare endeavor.
Known as Rural Housing Service (RHS), the program is responsible for providing safe, sanitary and affordable housing for very-low-income, low-income and moderate-income rural families. The publicly-financed services are delivered through a wide range of housing programs, including those that support single-family home ownership, multi-family rental housing and farm labor housing.
This ends up costing U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually for rent subsidies and guaranteed, low-interest home loans for residents of rural areas who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Just this week a member of Obama’s cabinet touted an RHS development in Ohio as an example of the program’s many triumphs. “Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities,” according to an announcement that also reminds the country about Obama’s “first-ever White House Rural Council.”
The idea is to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. That’s why Uncle Sam has invested north of $170 billion in the RHS program, which includes a national network of state and local offices. It sounds like a noble cause but it’s rife with fraud and corruption that’s so deep-rooted, the magnitude may never really be known.
At least that’s what the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the nonpartisan agency that conducts congressional probes, seems to indicate. In a lengthy report made public this week, the GAO identifies tens of millions of dollars in “improper rental assistance payments” within the RHS program during a three-year period sampled. The cause appears to be “inaccurate calculations of tenant subsidies and incomplete supporting documents.”
The report only addresses the RHS’s rental division, which doled out about $1 billion in fiscal year 2011 to help more than 270,000 low-income rural tenants afford housing. On a positive note, from fiscal years 2007 through 2010, RHS managed to reduce its “error rate” from $35 million to $15 million, saving American taxpayers a whopping 20 million bucks.
Actually, these figures are just a sort of guesstimate because congressional investigators admit they have no real way of knowing the true magnitude of the “improper payments.” Therefore, they logically conclude in their report that the “figures may be understated” and taxpayers could very well be getting cheated out of much more.
The GAO includes all sorts of informative graphs and charts in its findings, but it’s not necessary to sort through all of it to get the bottom line; corruption in a bloated welfare program. This seems to be par for the course for the Obama Administration. Among the recommendations the GAO makes to correct the problem; hold agency managers accountable for reducing improper payments. Now, there’s an innovative idea for government.
On the heels of sparing nearly 1 million young illegal immigrants from deportation, the Obama Administration is doling out nearly $6 million to cover the education costs of “migrant students” or the children of “seasonal farm workers” in the United States.
It’s almost as if the president is on a mission to stick American taxpayers with the exorbitant tab to educate illegal aliens or, as the administration likes to call them “young people brought to the United States through no fault of their own as children.” A handful of states— including Texas, California, Utah, Washington and New York—already subsidize their college education and the feds want to help out.
The Department of Education (DOE), the brilliant creation of Jimmy Carter, will give nine states $5.9 million to support high school and college students who are migrants or seasonal farm workers, or the children of such workers. The money will “help hard working farm workers and their families obtain the quality education that they need to compete in the 21st century global economy,” according to Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The generous allocation will also help migrant youth gain employment at a time of record-high unemployment for American youngsters. Thanks to Uncle Sam, around 5,000 migrants will benefit from this particular program with free counseling job placement, healthcare and housing. An additional 2,000 will get their undergraduate and graduate college courses paid for. Sweet deal!
It’s all part of the Office of Migrant Education, a special division within the DOE that administers programs that provide academic and supportive services to the children of families who come to the U.S. to find work in the agricultural and fishing industries. The programs are designed to help migrant children, who are uniquely affected by the combined effects of poverty, language, cultural barriers, and the migratory lifestyle, to meet the same challenging academic content and student academic achievement standards that are expected of all children.
Among the division’s most popular programs is a Binational Migrant Education Initiative between Mexico and states with a “student population that migrates regularly between Mexico and The United States.” The goal is to work with Mexico to improve primary, secondary and postsecondary education in both counties. There is also a college assistance migrant program, a high school equivalency program and a project designed to help break the cycle of poverty and improve the literacy of participating migrant families by integrating early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program.
President Obama’s controversial plan to spare nearly 1 million young illegal immigrants from deportation has received lots of media attention, but most Americans may not realize the administration is also working behind the scenes granting stealth amnesty to many more undocumented aliens.
It’s bad enough that the commander-in-chief has blown off Congress by giving “young people brought to the United States through no fault of their own as children” a chance at U.S. citizenship. Except for those who live under a rock, practically everyone has been exposed to some sort of news coverage involving the heavily promoted amnesty for young illegals.
There was a Rose Garden press conference and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a bilingual announcement explaining the “deferred action process” for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as young children. They will receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization. U.S. immigration laws are not designed to “remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
There won’t be any formal announcements or White House press conferences about the secret amnesty however, but it’s in full force. Just take a look at the latest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures released by a nonprofit university group dedicated to researching the U.S. government. The nonpartisan New York-based data research center, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), provides detailed information about the operation of hundreds of government agencies. Immigration is one of many areas it researches.
As of the end of May, 4,585 deportation cases were closed under a special ICE program created last summer to conduct “an unprecedented review of all immigration cases pending in the immigration courts and incoming cases.” That’s Obama DHS code for backdoor amnesty. By early this year, the plan was underway with a record amount of illegal immigrants spared from deportation and a huge increase in the number of those allowed to remain in the United States. TRAC provided those figures as well back in February.
The number continues rising, according to TRAC’s latest findings. The amount of pending deportations canceled through “prosecutorial discretion” nearly doubled from the previous quarter with the Los Angeles Immigration Court leading the nation with the largest number of closures (534) under this special amnesty initiative. Denver was second with 401 and San Francisco third with 387. Here is a chart with a breakdown by location.
These Homeland Security figures aren’t easy to obtain for a group that’s become a rather painful thorn for the administration. After engaging in a fierce legal battle with ICE over records involving immigration enforcement, TRAC finally obtained them and earlier this year made them public. The records show that ICE repeatedly lied to Congress, the American people and the media by drastically increasing the number of individuals that have been apprehended, deported or detained.
The U.S. government is blowing $500,000 to study a questionable program that’s received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from the Obama Administration to transform poverty-stricken neighborhoods into sustainable, mixed-income areas with affordable housing, safe streets and good schools.
Known as Choice Neighborhoods, the costly enterprise is a centerpiece of the president’s interagency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. This is described by the administration as collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education, Justice, Treasury and Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the ability of local leaders from the public and private sectors and attract the private investment needed to transform distressed neighborhoods.
Those who care to read between the lines may conclude that this requires big bucks. After all, transforming “distressed” (crime-infested) neighborhoods into desirable middle-class areas can’t be cheap. The proof is in the pudding, or rather the government’s own ledger. Since Obama launched his brilliant Choice Neighborhoods project, it has received north of $236 million, including $110 million in fiscal year 2012. Like many of the president’s initiatives, a chunk of the cash has gone to leftist nonprofits and community groups.
Logic would lead most to conclude that the administration views Choice Neighborhoods as successful or it wouldn’t keep pouring huge sums of taxpayer dollars into it. So why dole out an additional half a million in research grants to study it? It’s unlikely that any of the grant recipients who will conduct the studies will determine that it’s a waste or a miserable failure, considering Uncle Sam is cutting the checks on both ends.
A high-ranking official at HUD, the agency doling out the cash to conduct the studies, says the grants demonstrate a “commitment to sound research to help gauge the program’s overall success and cultivate the most promising approaches to making the greatest possible impact.” This doesn’t sound all that convincing considering all the money that has already been allotted to the revitalization program.
Let’s check out some of the study recipients; a public university in Washington State will get close to $200,000 to develop an advanced administrative database that provides information about the residents of a Seattle public housing community and its surrounding neighborhood. Another public university in northern California will get $131,148 to research the challenges of brining healthy food options to poor neighborhoods and a Portland college will get close to $77,000 to collect data the characteristics of the neighborhoods being targeted for transformation in the first place.
The Obama Administration has spent $36.2 million on studies that justify awarding huge sums to leftist groups that help poor minorities with “housing counseling,” a Judicial Watch investigation has found.
JW launched a probe to uncover how much taxpayer money is being spent on research that, incredibly, always concludes housing counseling is a positive and valuable thing for low-income populations and minorities. The Obama Administration has poured tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of leftwing community groups that help minorities seeking a good home or struggling to keep one on the verge of foreclosure. In fact, in last few months alone, the nonprofits have received $42 million.
Among them are hundreds of national, regional and local organizations like the powerful open borders group with close ties to the president, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Earlier this year the NCLR, whose federal funding has skyrocketed since one of its top officials got a job on the Obama White House, got nearly $2 million to help combat predatory lending, train poor Latinos about financial literacy and help them become homeowners.
The National Community Reinvestment Corporation, a famously liberal activist group that seeks to eliminate “discrimination” in housing and mortgage lending, and the equally leftist National Urban League, which advocates for social justice and claims voter identification laws are racist also got a chunk of change this year. The first group received $2.5 million from Uncle Sam and the second got $1.05 million.
To justify the exorbitant allocations, last week the administration released two in-depth studies that essentially say the government-funded housing counseling program is the best thing since sliced bread. Not surprisingly, both studies also concluded that Uncle Sam must keep funding the dubious program for the good of mankind. Read all about it in a 197-page report titled “Foreclosure Counseling Outcome Study” and a 91-page “Pre-Purchase Counseling Outcome Study.”
How much did American taxpayers spend on these studies? That’s what JW set out to find and the figure is downright enraging. Since 2009 the company hired by the Obama Administration to conduct the studies, ABT Associates, has received $36.2 million, according to documents obtained by JW. This includes $18.3 million for “program study and evaluation,” the government records show.
To produce the pro housing counseling reports released last week, ABT Associates received at least $2.5 million, according to a government contract signed in the fall of 2011. The deal was for “impact evaluation” of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “pre-purchasing counseling program.” The administration has yet to reveal the amount it paid for the second study, which is also linked above. JW will continue investigating this matter.
A special treat from the Obama Administration; for the first time, the U.S. government’s annual comprehensive report on Americans’ health features a special and heavily promoted section on socioeconomic status.
This appears to be part of the president’s mission to close the gap in “health disparities” that currently exist between poor minorities and whites. In fact, Obamacare created an initiative to “reduce racial and ethnic health disparities” by, among other things, establishing dozens of new “health equity” offices to “empower people” and “mobilize community partnerships” to end disparities. More than $100 million has already been dedicated to the initiative to help lower chronic diseases “disproportionately seen among poor and minority populations.”
To promote the cause, and the Affordable Care Act’s groundbreaking policies, April was coined National Minority Health Month (because “health equity can’t wait”). This month, the agency that publishes the nation’s annual health report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proudly announced its dedicating a portion to socioeconomic status and health. The report’s bright purple cover promotes the new section in big type right below the main title (Health, United States, 2011).
Approximately 20 pages are dedicated to the special socioeconomic status section, which features a variety of charts and graphs comparing the difference in the healthcare received by whites, Hispanics, blacks and Asians. Practically all ailments are mentioned, including asthma, obesity, mental disorders and dental visits with a breakdown of disparities among ethnic minorities and the uneducated and poverty-stricken.
Everything from depression to edentulism (lack of natural teeth), obesity, cigarette smoking and cancer is more prevalent among the poor, according to the government’s assessment. Even childhood attention deficit disorder hits low-income minorities harder and practically every chronic disease known to man strikes them at much greater rates than educated whites. In short, people with higher education and income levels have lower rates of many chronic diseases compared to those with less education and lower income levels, the feds assert.
This also applies to childhood obesity, one of Michelle Obama’s obsessions. If you recall, the First Lady got Congress to pass a $4.5 billion law to conquer childhood obesity by convincing lawmakers and the nation that it’s an epidemic, especially among low-income minorities. As a result American taxpayers are funding an overhaul of the inner city diet by providing affordable—and in some cases free—healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in areas known as “food deserts.”
As part of that particular effort, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched an internet-based mapping tool last year that identifies so-called “food deserts,” which are low-income areas with “limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.” The tool will help the feds provide fresh produce and grilled lean meats as alternatives to greasy, fried foods that tend to be more popular in those areas.