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February 12, 2010
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Judicial Watch’s Tea Party Convention Experience
As I mentioned last week, I had the honor of addressing the National Tea Party Convention Friday, February 5 on the subject of corruption. Judicial Watch was one of the major co-sponsors of the historic event, which gained worldwide media attention, especially the keynote address by Sarah Palin. As you might have guessed, many of the Tea Party conventioneers are supporters of Judicial Watch so I was happy to chat with many of them in person. And I’m pleased to say my colleagues and I signed up many other supporters. It was a committed, patriotic crowd. You can be sure that the Tea Party movement is very much in synch with your Judicial Watch’s concern about public corruption, the rule of law and, our national course — a federal government that is increasing its size (and our debt) in an out-of-control fashion.
Here are a few excerpts from my speech:
On Bipartisan Corruption: As Republican leaders now acknowledge, the party of small government became, in the many ways, the party of big corruption, or at least a party that countenanced big corruption. And Democrats also put politics ahead of principle, agreeing to an ethics process that protected Republicans (and themselves) in the short term and one that would protect Democrats in the long term if and when they regained the majority. Now that there has been a change in power, based in no small measure on the perceived corruption of the opposing party, Democrats have simply repeated history and don’t seem to care that corruption matters to the voting public.
On Pelosi: Nancy Pelosi is an ethics disaster. You may have read last year and just (last) week about the Pentagon documents showing Nancy Pelosi’s misuse and abuse of military air travel for her and her family. The liberal media knew there was an issue here. But only Judicial Watch obtained and exposed that Nancy Pelosi (and too many other members of Congress from both parties) use luxury travel provided by our military to go on junkets far and wide. Who pays for it? You do. We found that “Air Pelosi” cost over $2 million in just two years!
On Rangel: Rangel, the man in charge of writing tax policy for the entire country, has yet to adequately explain how he could possibly “forget” to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property. He also faces allegations that he improperly used his influence to maintain ownership of highly coveted rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, and misused his congressional office to fundraise for his private Rangel Center by preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for funding…Charlie Rangel should not be allowed to remain in Congress, let alone serve as Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
On Obama: Even before President Obama was sworn into office, he was interviewed by the FBI for a criminal investigation of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the President’s former Senate seat to the highest bidder… Government-run healthcare and car companies, White House coercion, uninvestigated ACORN corruption, debasing his office to help Chicago cronies, attacks on conservative media and the private sector, unprecedented and dangerous new rights for terrorists, perks for campaign donors — this is Obama’s “ethics” record — and we have just gotten through the first year of his presidency.
On the Bailout: Most Americans are not fools. Our polling shows that over 70% believe political corruption played a “major role” in the financial crisis. (President Obama recently suggested “fat cat bankers” were the chief cause of the crisis.) Let me tell you something about that. Judicial Watch sued the Obama Treasury Department in order to obtain documents regarding the historic 2008 meeting held by former Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson with top bank executives. The documents show that Paulson and other officials, including then-NY Fed Reserve head and current Treasury Secretary and tax cheat Timothy Geithner forced the executives to take the government’s $250 billion “investment” (and resulting government control). So in Obama’s world, you force banks to take government investment, the banks pay it back with interest, and then you tax these same banks as punishment!
- Harry Reid’s Latest Tantrum Targets Fed Judges, ABA
- DHS Admits Improper Scrutiny Of Abortion Foes
- Court Spares Another Criminal From Deportation
- First Lady: Childhood Obesity Threatens National Security
- More TARP Corruption, Secrecy
- Trooper Absolved For Detaining Illegal Immigrants
- Broke State Spends $75 Mil On Cars, Furniture
- Serious Conflicts For Legislators Probing Toyota
- Tattoos Save Convict From Deportation
- Pentagon Offers Abortion Pill At All Military Bases
On Illegal Immigration: Communities across America are wrestling with the local consequences of the illegal immigration crisis. Drugs, violent crime, overcrowded schools, and an overburdened healthcare system are just a few of the social problems caused by rampant illegal immigration…As the federal government continues to fail in one of its most basic functions — to protect our borders — local officials are increasingly being left to clean up the mess. Some local governments rely on the rule of law and place a priority on the rights of American citizens. But far too many others, unfortunately, flout the law and place a priority on the needs of illegal aliens.
The American people are fed up with bloated government bailouts and massive government corruption. As I said at the conclusion of my remarks, the nasty and arrogant attacks on the Tea Party movement by establishment politicians and their allies in the liberal media show the movement has definitely hit a nerve. Liberals are very worried about the threat that the Tea Party movement represents — so you can expect their orchestrated and coordinated attacks to continue. You can also expect that, where we can, Judicial Watch will work this movement to advance our shared goals.
Obama Waffles on Mohammed Trial
If there is one issue that demonstrates an appalling lack of leadership on the part of President Barack Obama it is his administration’s mishandling of the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).
First, Attorney General Eric Holder announced last November that Mohammed and four other terrorists with ties to 9/11 would be tried in a civilian court in New York — a horrible decision he reportedly made without consulting either New York City Mayor Bloomberg or the NYPD. (Bloomberg at first expressed approval for the plan, but then reversed course after sustaining heavy criticism from the citizens of New York.)
Then came the flip. According to the January 29 edition of the New York Daily News: “The White House has abandoned its plan to hold the 9/11 terror trial in lower Manhattan after a wave of protests from New York to Washington, it was reported last night… ‘New York is out,’ an administration official told The Washington Post… ‘We’re considering other options.’”
And now the flop. When asked about holding the trial in New York, Obama told CBS News’ anchor Katie Couric in an interview that aired during the Super Bowl: “I have not ruled it out, but I think it’s important for us to take into account the practical, logistical issues involved.”
Now The Washington Post reports today that President Obama has frozen Eric Holder out of the process and will decide where the trial will take place. And it is looking more likely than ever that there will be military trials of KSM and other 9/11 conspirators.
Of course Mohammed shouldn’t be anywhere near a U.S. civilian court. He should be tried in a military tribunal like all other war criminals. (As I’ve mentioned previously, Judicial Watch was invited to observe the military tribunal process for KSM at Guantanamo Bay and found it more than fair.) Obama should have overruled Holder from the start, just like he did for the release of the “prisoner abuse” photos. Instead he’s allowed perhaps the most important trial in U.S. history to devolve into a circus. The citizens of New York want no part of this trial. And, as the President is finding out, no other city or state wants to give a man that murdered thousands of Americans his day in their courts. That’s why Obama is back to square one.
In the absence of leadership in the White House, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate is now trying to make sure this trial doesn’t happen in any U.S. city. A group of 18 Senators (including two Democrats) has proposed legislation that would strip the Obama administration of its funding for a civil trial.
“We run the risk of having very costly show trials that would benefit the international terrorist movement,” said Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA.), explaining his support of the legislation.
That is exactly the point. And while the President doesn’t see it, the American people do. According to a Quinnipiac poll released this week: “By a 59%-35% margin, voters prefer that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his cohorts be tried by military tribunals instead of in federal courts.”
Obama’s inexperienced and ideological approach to fighting terrorism makes our country look foolish and weak. Obama’s coming reversal on these terrorism trials is welcome, and shows that the grassroots opposition of citizens and groups like Judicial Watch can have an effect.
Murtha Passes, Leaves Legacy of Corruption
Rep. John Murtha died this week. As one might expect, the powerful Pennsylvania Democrat is being remembered fondly by his colleagues in Congress and the press. Downplayed in these discussions, however, is the long legacy of corruption Murtha leaves behind.
Given that Murtha was a regular on Judicial Watch’s list of the “Ten Most Wanted” corrupt politicians, let me take a few minutes to recount for you some of his most objectionable activities.
First, there was, of course, the Abscam scandal, where Murtha was caught on tape apparently offering political concessions for cash.
Abscam was the moniker for a sting operation run by the FBI to catch politicians accepting bribes from federal agents dressed as Arab sheiks. Although Murtha initially turned the deal down, he suggested he might be willing to entertain a bribe at some point in the future: “We do business for a while, maybe I’ll be interested, maybe I won’t,” Murtha, a former Marine, said on tape.
Six Members of Congress and one Senator were charged with crimes. Murtha was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.
At the time of his death, Murtha was also under federal investigation for his corrupt relationship with the now-defunct defense lobbyist PMA Group. PMA, founded by a former Murtha associate, has been the congressman’s largest campaign contributor. Between 1989 and 2009, Murtha took in $2.3 million in contributions from PMA’s lobbyists and corporate clients.
In return for this remarkable generosity, PMA and its clients received tens of millions of dollars in earmarks with help from Murtha, who was widely known as the unrepentant “King of Pork” in Congress. (By one count, Murtha and two fellow Democrats on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee directed $137 million in earmarks to PMA defense contractor clients in 2007 and 2008 alone.) Never the shrinking violet, Murtha kept peddling influence even after the FBI raided PMA’s offices early in 2009. According to The Hill, in April 2009, “Murtha reported receiving contributions from three former PMA clients for whom he requested earmarks in the pending appropriations bills.”
As many as six other Members of Congress are currently under scrutiny for their ties to PMA according to The Washington Post. They include: Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN), James P. Moran Jr. (D-VA), Norm Dicks (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).
The Washington Post also reported in 2009 that Murtha’s nephew received $4 million in Defense Department no-bid contracts: “Newly obtained documents…show Robert Murtha mentioning his influential family connection as leverage in his business dealings and holding unusual power with the military.”
First elected in 1974, Murtha was also known throughout his long career for making inflammatory and controversial statements. For example, during the 2008 presidential election, when asked about Obama’s chances in his congressional district, Murtha said, “There is no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”
On ABC’s This Week program in 2006, Murtha also falsely accused Marines of killing Iraqi civilians “in cold blood,” claiming the cover-up for these alleged war crimes went “up the chain of command.” Of the eight Marines originally charged, charges against six of them were dropped and one Marine was acquitted. (Another still faces trial.)
Murtha, in many ways, was an old school politician. I’m sure there was some good that came from this approach to politics, but his lack of ethics and his abuse of office shows that Washington can be as backward as a Third World backwater.
Murtha died during complications from gallbladder surgery. He was 77. May he rest in peace.
Until next week…
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