MARCH 04, 2016
Judicial Watch Presses Ahead with Fight over IRS Criminal Investigation Facts
Department of Homeland Security Releases Documents Showing 1,000 Individuals Removed from Terrorist Watch List
Judicial Watch in Court over Congress’s Obamacare Exemption
The Clinton email matter is important, and your JW is, of course, at the center of the story. Check out this New York Times article, which shows that the FBI and Judicial Watch are the only two entities in DC likely to get answers and accountability on the Clinton email issue:
Last week Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of United States District Court in Washington allowed the questioning after a hearing in which he criticized the State Department’s “constant drip” of revelations about emails from the server and said there were many unanswered questions about who authorized its use.
“It just boggles the mind that the State Department allowed this circumstance to arise in the first place,” said Judge Sullivan, who was appointed to the District Court in 1994 by President Bill Clinton and to lower courts by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. “It’s just very, very, very troubling.”
He ordered lawyers for Judicial Watch to submit a “narrowly tailored” plan for questioning that could begin in April as primaries continue to be held in states like New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The organization, according to its court filings so far, is expected to seek depositions from Ms. Abedin and Mr. Pagliano; Mrs. Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl D. Mills; and department officials like Patrick F. Kennedy, the undersecretary of state for management.
Judge Sullivan’s ruling left open the possibility of additional testimony, including testimony from Mrs. Clinton. “I think there are some legitimate issues that arise because of this very atypical system that was created,” he said.
So, as the FBI gets going – thanks, I’m convinced, to the fact that your JW may question witnesses over the next few months – the Clinton email scandal may come to a head sooner rather than later.
That being said, the Clinton email scandal is just one of the major DC scandals angering law-and-order Americans. Don’t think for a minute that we’ve forgotten the “scandal for the ages,” the Obama IRS suppression of conservatives and the Tea Party. I have an update for you on the compromised Obama Justice Department, which did so much to cover up the scandal for Barack Obama.
We are now asking a federal appellate court to overturn a lower court’s ruling allowing the Obama Justice Department to withhold records detailing the number of hours that agency attorney Barbara Bosserman expended on the investigation of the IRS targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. We filed the appellate brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month.
This is the lawsuit that forced the Obama Justice Department to confirm the existence of a criminal investigation into the IRS’ abuses and that Bosserman, a major donor to Obama’s political campaigns and the Democratic National Committee, was part of the team of lawyers criminally investigating the issue. (On October 23, 2015, the Justice Department announced in a letter that it would not press any charges over the IRS abuse scandal.)
In 2014, Judicial Watch filed a 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records detailing the number of hours Bosserman expended on the IRS matter. In 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the agency had properly withheld the Bosserman records under the “attorney work product doctrine.” Judicial Watch argues to the appellate court:
[T]he Department presented no evidence whatsoever that the records requested by Judicial Watch were created in anticipation of litigation. The District Court also did not make such a finding. Instead the Department argued and the court ruled that some of the information contained in the responsive records was protected by the attorney work product doctrine. Because the requested records were created in the ordinary course of business – to assist senior officials in their management responsibilities – the records do not fall within the scope of the attorney work product doctrine. The records are being improperly withheld in their entirety.
In early January 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder reportedly appointed Bosserman to oversee the IRS investigation despite her substantial political activities. According to Federal Election Commission records, Bosserman contributed $6,750 to Obama’s campaigns and the DNC from 2004 to 2012, including 12 separate contributions to Obama for America between 2008 and 2012. Then-House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darryl Issa (R-CA) called the Bosserman appointment “a startling conflict of interest [that has] compromised the Administration’s investigation of the IRS.”
All Judicial Watch wants is the number of hours that the Obama donor/Justice Department lawyer spent investigating the worst IRS abuse in American history. The failure to bring charges in the IRS scandal only adds to the public interest in finding out more details about the involvement of the Obama/Democratic Party donor in the criminal investigation.
The media may yawn when two Republicans candidates for the presidency, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, complain of Obama IRS audits. But it suggests Obama’s IRS corruption never ended. As with the Clinton email scandal, Judicial Watch has a large number of active lawsuits and investigations into the Obama IRS matter. Washington politicians from both political parties want to move on, but we are on the case. In fact, we have more material in the hopper to release over the next few weeks. So watch this space for additional developments.
Political correctness can be deadly. That’s one of the key takeaways from what we learned by probing into the internal machinations of the federal agency charged with protecting the public’s safety. If people weren’t so concerned about others playing the race card, some of our fellow citizens who died in the terrorist attack last December might still be alive today.
Our team has obtained 183 pages of documents from the Department of Homeland Security revealing that the Obama administration scrubbed the law enforcement agency’s “Terrorist Screening Database” in order to protect what it considered the civil rights of suspected Islamic terrorist groups. The documents appear to confirm charges that Obama administration changes created a massive “hands off” list. Removed data from the terrorist watch list could have helped prevent the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
The new documents were produced in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on February 13, 2015, for:
- A copy of the [Department of Homeland Security] Office of Inspector General report regarding, concerning, or related to a “hands off list” purportedly maintained by [Department of Homeland Security], US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and/or US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) used to allow certain individuals to enter the United States, who had previously been denied entry to the United States or been made to undergo secondary screening by CBP based on suspicion of terrorism ties.
- Any and all records of communication to or from [Department of Homeland Security] Inspector General Charles Edwards from May 31, 2014 regarding the aforementioned OIG report.
On May 6, 2014, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) released internal Department of Homeland Security emails revealing an alleged terrorist “hands off” list allowing into the United States individuals with potential terrorist ties. Allegations by former Customs and Border Patrol Officer Philip Haney spurred Senator Grassley’s and other congressional investigations.
The new Homeland Security documents confirm the modification of nearly 1,000 terrorist suspect reports. The September 25, 2013, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General memorandum regarding Haney’s terror watch list entries discloses that the Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office and Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties determined that individuals could only be “‘watchlisted’ based on an association with a known or suspected terrorist already ‘watchlisted’… not based on their affiliation with [Redacted] (or any other [Redacted] organization.” The redactions are under Exemption 7 (E), which the government asserts in this instance:
Protects all law enforcement information that “would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigation or prosecution, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecution if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(E). DHS-OIG is withholding from disclosure specific information pertaining to a terrorist watch list which could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.
The Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, released only as a result of the Judicial Watch lawsuit, shows that a Homeland Security official reported that Haney was forced to “modify” nearly a thousand terror suspect entries:
“In order to be in compliance with CBP [Customs and Border Protection] policy, [Redacted] was ordered by [Redacted] supervisors to modify all 820 records and remove all references to terrorism.”
The documents include a June 8, 2012, letter of commendation to Haney by a senior official with Homeland Security’s National Targeting Center who describes Haney as “invaluable” and commends him for assisting “in the identification of over 300 persons with possible connections to terrorism.”
Senator Grassley previously released emails, including a 2012 email chain between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, asking whether to admit an unnamed individual with ties to various terrorist groups. The person was believed to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close associate and supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to the email exchange obtained by Grassley’s office.
In his February 3, 2014, letter to Johnson, Grassley quotes an email from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official to a Customs and Border Protection official saying, “I’m puzzled how someone could be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, be an associate of [Redacted], say that the US is staging car bombings in Iraq and that [it] is ok for men to beat their wives, question who was behind the 9/11 attacks, and be afforded the luxury of a visitor visa and de-watchlisted.”
On May 19, 2014, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Mike McCaul (R-TX) told Breitbart.com that the “terrorist hands off list” emails released by Grassley had been under investigation by the newly appointed Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth for over three months. McCaul added, “The new IG has inherited this matter. He’s a new IG. He’s pretty decent–well respected. Obviously, his predecessor was not.”
Roth’s predecessor was Charles Edwards, who left office after a series of allegations that he had softened reports to avoid embarrassing the Obama administration. According to an April 24, 2014, report from an oversight panel of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee, Edwards “failed to uphold the independence of the OIG … and directed that reports be altered or delayed to accommodate senior Department of Homeland Security officials.”
These new documents bolster allegations that the Obama administration may have removed information from a terrorist watch list that could have prevented the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Philip Haney risked his career to blow the whistle on how the Obama administration created a “hands off” list of over 1,000 foreign nationals with potential terrorist ties. And, once again, it was a Judicial Watch lawsuit – and not Congress or the media – that uncovered the key information about this national security scandal.
Haney told Breitbart.com after the San Bernardino terrorist attack that entries regarding suspicious and terror-related activity were removed from an agency watch list as the result of political pressure after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing:
“They came into the National Targeting Center, either physically or through emails and correspondence, and said that we could not develop cases based on association with Tablighi Jamaat [a Muslim religious organization with which the San Bernardino terrorists were reportedly affiliated], and/or any Islamic group,” Haney revealed.
Haney said his superiors actually erased some of his files pertinent to the case, because they insisted the initiative had “gone in a different direction” and he was no longer authorized to add his data.
Judicial Watch supporters know too well that there are often two sets of rules, one for the political class and another for the rest of us. Judicial Watch is second to none to righting this lawlessness when and where we can.
For example, earlier this week, Judicial Watch’s legal team appeared before a panel from the D.C. Court of Appeals concerning a taxpayer lawsuit our legal team filed against the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority to stop Congress from participating in D.C.’s Obamacare “Small Business Exchange.” The benefit at issue is popularly known as Congress’s Obamacare exemption.
The lawsuit, which names the District of Colombia Health Benefit Exchange Authority and its officials as defendants, was filed on October 15, 2014, on behalf of D.C. taxpayer Kirby Vining in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. D.C. law limits participation in the exchange to small businesses employing 50 or fewer full-time employees. Vining, a District of Columbia resident since 1986, seeks to prevent the Exchange Authority from allowing at least 12,359 members of Congress, congressional staffers, their spouses and dependents to purchase health insurance in D.C.’s Small Business Exchange.
The lawsuit first exposed fraudulent applications filed by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate with the D.C. Exchange Authority. The applications, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show that the House and Senate claimed to have only 45 employees each. They also show that the House and Senate attested to having “50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.” Congress employs upwards of 20,000 people. The applications also falsely state that the House and Senate are “local/state governments.” The “electronic signature” section of the application includes the following language:
I’ve provided true and correct information to all the questions on this form to the best of my knowledge. I know that if I’m not truthful, there may be a penalty.
The actual names of the signatories were blacked out by the D.C. Exchange in the documents Judicial Watch obtained. The taxpayer lawsuit seeks to prevent at least $77 million in District funds from being used to help Congress violate the restrictions imposed on it by the Obamacare law. The fraudulent Obamacare applications filed by Congress resulted in an U.S. Senate investigation led by Senator David Vitter (R-LA). (Separately, Judicial Watch, Citizens Against Government Waste, and eight other public interest groups filed an ethics complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee.)
On January 7, 2015, the D.C. government admitted that the law does not allow for Congress to obtain benefits on the Exchange, but also argued that the Office of Personnel Management could override the District’s law. The case was dismissed on February 25, 2015, despite the continued fraudulent use of D.C. monies to provide special health benefits to Congress.
In its appeal, Judicial Watch argues that the D.C. Exchange Authority has knowingly allowed Congress to participate in the Small Business Exchange, despite the fact that Congress employs thousands of individuals:
Since November 2013, the Exchange Authority has allowed the U.S. House of Representatives … and the U.S. Senate … to use the Small Business Exchange to provide health insurance to some (but not all) congressional employees, including members of Congress and these employees’ spouses and dependents … At all relevant times, Defendants have known that the House and the Senate were participating in the Small Business Exchange to provide health insurance to some (but not all) congressional employees … As of February 9, 2014, at least 12,359 congressional employees and their dependents had obtained health insurance through the Small Business Exchange. These 12,359 persons represent approximately 86 percent of the 14,289 persons enrolled in the Small Business Exchange between October 1, 2013 and September 9, 2014.
Judicial Watch also argues that, in light of the district’s use of municipal funds to pay for the D.C. Small Business Exchange, Kirby Vining, a longtime D.C. resident, has standing to file a grievance as a D.C. resident and taxpayer.
I was privileged to attend the court hearing. The questioning from the judges wasn’t terribly supportive so I’m not sure if our arguments will prevail at this stage, but I can tell you that Kirby Vining, our client, is so grateful for JW’s advocacy on his behalf.
In the meantime, you might want to ask your representatives in Congress, both in the House and in the Senate, why they continue to allow themselves and congressional staff to get Obamacare insurance coverage and taxpayer subsidies absolutely prohibited by law.