May 23, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Court Stays Lawsuit over Hillary’s White House Phone Logs For One Year
On May 20, a federal court judge issued a stay to the National Archives in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit to obtain Hillary Clinton’s White House telephone logs. What does this mean? The National Archives can withhold these records from the American people for one more year, maybe longer.
Regular readers of the Weekly Update will recall that the court had previously allowed Judicial Watch to conduct discovery with regard to how the National Archives processes open records requests related to the Clinton Presidential Library. The Library had admitted in its court filings that it wildly underestimated the public’s interest in the records, was woefully unprepared when it started receiving FOIA requests, and remains understaffed and entirely unable to comply with its statutory responsibilities. We felt, therefore, that their review process was worth a careful look, and the court agreed.
During discovery, we learned that the Archives did not process requests on a “first-in, first-out” basis as some had claimed. Time was but one factor in determining which requests were processed first. We also learned that the Archives had used its self-described “limited resources” to process frivolous information requests. Therefore, the claim that the Archives had exercised due diligence in responding to Judicial Watch’s requests was false.
Still, the court was persuaded by the counter-argument that archivists were simply overworked and needed more time to process requests.
Here’s my statement to the press in response to the ruling:
“Federal law requires these documents be turned over to the American people within 20 days unless an agency presents evidence demonstrating why it should be allowed additional time. The Clinton Library took nearly two years before providing any documents to us. It is as simple as that. Our lawyers argued to the court that the Clinton Library failed to meet its substantial burden in requesting yet more time to produce the remainder of the records we requested.
“This is not about who gets their requests for records handled first, but whether an agency can violate the Freedom of Information Act with impunity.
“It is unacceptable for the American people to be told they will not receive the additional information about Hillary Clinton, to which they are legally entitled, because Archivists are ‘overworked.’
“The Archives processed requests for information about UFOs, while refusing to process requests for important information about a presidential candidate and U.S. Senator. This delay benefits no one except bureaucrats who refuse to do their jobs and politicians running for office.”
Judicial Watch may consider an appeal. In the meantime, we will most definitely continue to pursue Hillary’s White House records. And we scored a significant victory already in this lawsuit when we forced the release of Hillary’s White House schedules. Battling the government for documents is a long-term project and I’m proud to say that Judicial Watch is one of the few in Washington able to battle it over the long haul.
Judicial Watch Files Key Briefs in LA Special Order 40 Lawsuit
Judicial Watch filed key briefs this week in its taxpayer lawsuit to end Special Order 40, an illegal alien sanctuary policy implemented by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that violates federal immigration law (and California law, for that matter).
We filed our briefs in opposition to the LAPD’s and ACLU’s “motions for summary judgment.” The LAPD and lawyers for the ACLU argue that there are no factual issues to be adjudicated and that the court should rule summarily in their favor and not allow our taxpayer client to go to trial. We, of course, take a very different view, as explained in our briefs.
There are a number of arguments and counter-arguments, so I suggest you review our briefs in their entirety for a full understanding. That said, here’s a quick summary of our key points:
Special Order 40 prohibits police officers from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status and from freely communicating with federal immigration officials.
While wildly inconsistent on some of the details of the policy implementation, Los Angeles police officers demonstrated in deposition after deposition that Special Order 40 restricts their ability to ascertain immigration status and to communicate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). For example, Deputy Chief Gary Brennan stated under oath, “It is inconsistent with department policy for officers to contact ICE if it’s unrelated to a criminal investigation.”
Moreover, according to a 2001 report by the Rampart Independent Review Panel, initiated by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners, “The policies and procedures articulated by the Department preclude officers from asking a person about his or her alien status and from notifying [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] about a person’s undocumented status unless the person has been arrested.” The report also notes that in practice, Special Order 40 is “more restrictive than as written.”
Special Order 40 violates federal immigration laws.
Federal law make clear that, a federal, state, or local agency or official cannot prohibit or restrict any government agency or official from communicating freely with ICE regarding the citizen status of an individual, lawful or unlawful. Special Order 40, as we demonstrated in our brief, and as LAPD officers admitted in their depositions, does just that. Here are links to two key provisions of federal law relating to this point, here and here. (There are many local and state officials who need to be reminded of these laws.)
Moreover, given that the U.S. Supreme Court has said that the power to regulate immigration is exclusively a federal power, where federal and state laws contradict each other on the issue of illegal immigration, federal law reigns supreme.
As I say, our briefs address a number of interesting issues so please read them in their entirety, here and here. And click here to read about our national campaign to enforce our nation’s immigration laws.
Scandal-plagued Congressman to Retire
It seems far too often I must write about the scandals of public officials in this space. Shall we review?
First, there was news of Senator Larry Craig’s arrest and conviction in connection with his apparent attempt to solicit sex in the men’s room of a Minneapolis airport. Then Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s phone number surfaced in (the late) D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s phone records. (Palfrey committed suicide on May 1st.) Then New York Governor Eliot Spitzer gets nailed for participating in a prostitution ring. Then his successor, Governor David Patterson, admits to engaging in a series of adulterous relationships, one of which was with a state employee. And the list of the corrupt goes on…Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), Rep. William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson (D-LA), and Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), etc. (all of whom remain in office).
And now this (from Reuters):
“U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella of New York, under pressure from fellow Republicans to step aside after two headline-grabbing scandals, announced on Tuesday he will not seek re-election in November.
“Fossella, who had campaigned on ‘a family values’ platform, escalated his party’s election-year woes this month when he was arrested on charges of drunken driving and then acknowledged he fathered a child, now 3, in an extramarital affair.”
Reports suggest Fossella began his extramarital affair while on a Congressional junket (his mistress was also working the trip on the taxpayer dime). He ought to resign, but will simply serve the remainder of his term as a walking affront to the ethical standards of public office. You can bet, in the meantime, that the House Ethics Committee will not lift a finger to expel or otherwise punish his transgressions.
There are simply too many politicians here in Washington (and across the nation) who think they are above the law. And that’s why we not only need the anti-corruption work of Judicial Watch, but substantial commitment to combat corruption by public policy leaders across the board.
As we celebrate this Memorial Day, we should ask ourselves whether all our government leaders meet the high ethical and moral standards for public office necessary to honor the memories and actions of those who gave their lives defending our country.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.