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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Message to Obama: Corruption Matters!

January 22, 2010

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Massachusetts Voters Send Message on Washington DC Corruption

Something happened this week that hadn’t occurred since 1972. The “bluest” state in the union, Massachusetts, elected a Republican to the United States Senate, sending shock waves through the Obama White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress. Adding insult to injury, Brown will be taking over for the late liberal stalwart, Senator Ted Kennedy.

We know in a practical sense that Brown’s victory now means the President no longer has a 60-40 filibuster-proof Senate to rubber stamp his socialist agenda, including his planned government takeover of your healthcare.

But the key question for both major parties, as the nation prepares for mid-term elections this fall, is this: Why did he win?

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews tried to blame the weather, while the White House initially sought to blame Brown’s opponent for running a weak campaign. But let’s listen to the candidate himself explain his victory.

According to CNN Brown said the voters he met on the campaign trail were tired of business as usual: “That means the behind-the-scenes deals. … They want to make sure that their elected officials are doing things in a transparent manner, and doing it with the best interests of our state in mind,” Brown said.

Of course, we knew this already, didn’t we? Republicans swept two key gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia last fall. New Jersey voters threw out an incumbent who was attached to a number of corruption scandals. And then there is the national poll Judicial Watch sponsored conducted by Survey USA in December. Our poll had bad news for Obama from Republicans (obviously), Independents (importantly), and well over a quarter of Democrats (surprisingly). Here are just a few of the key general findings:

  • A majority of likely voters believe that government is too big (64%) and that bigger government leads to more corruption (62%). The vast majority of likely voters (72%) believe political corruption played a “major role” in the financial crisis.
  • A majority of likely voters (56%) say the government is operating in a manner “Out Of Line” with the U.S. Constitution. In fact, a majority think shrinking the size of government by 25% would be good for America.
  • Most Americans (62%) believe increasing government’s role in healthcare will lead to more corruption in the healthcare system.

So one can see why a candidate running on these issues might do well.

But Republicans should remember that Democrats can take advantage of the issue of fighting corruption, too. Our poll found that 54% of Americans thought there was no difference between the two parties in terms of fighting political corruption. The Democratic anti-corruption message of 2006 helped them win Congress. And one of the reasons Obama is having problems now is because he is perceived to have broken his word on the anti-corruption/transparency commitments that help get him elected.

It is my experience that too many politicians get elected with anti-corruption rhetoric, and then forget about it once they’re safely in office. But the voters don’t forget. We saw this with Republicans in Congress, and now they’re out of power. We see it now with President Obama and his congressional allies — and now they are on the ropes.

The discontent with the first year of the Obama regime seems to be boiling over. Remember all those Tea Party protests last year? The groundswell of grassroots support for these efforts has resulted in a National Tea Party Convention, to be held February 4-6, at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. We just signed on as a major sponsor and I’ll be addressing the convention on the topic of government corruption. Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin will provide the keynote address.

Most Americans, especially the Tea Party movement, understand that big government leads to big corruption. So as the Obama administration inflates the size of government to unprecedented and dangerous levels, Americans’ concern about corruption is rightly increasing.

The goal of the convention is to bring together activists and organizations from around the country who believe in limited government, free speech, strong national defense, secure borders and the rule of law. You and I know this represents the majority of Americans. I’m not sure the Obama administration and the liberal establishment (including more than a few Republicans) get that yet.

As a group that has taken on both Republican and Democratic corruption, Judicial Watch is honored to support the independent Tea Party movement

A Quid Pro Quo for the Vice President?

Judicial Watch’s investigation of the federal government’s massive bailout continues. On January 14th, Judicial Watch sued the Obama Treasury Department to obtain documents related to automotive start-up Fisker’s purchase of a former GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware. The Department of Energy made possible the purchase of the plant with a $528.7 million taxpayer-funded loan for Fisker, which plans to use the plant to produce a new line of hybrid electric vehicles set to launch in 2012.

And what does this all have to do with Vice President Biden?

On October 27, 2009, in a press event announcing the plant reopening in his home state, the Vice President made news by inadvertently revealing Fisker’s undisclosed plans to produce 100,000 plug-in hybrid sedans, coupes and crossovers. At the conclusion of his speech, Biden told the crowd of mostly UAW workers, who had previously worked at the plant when it was owned by General Motors, “imagine when this factory, when the floor we’re standing on right now is making 100,000 plug-in hybrid sedans, coupes and crossovers every single year.”

Many considered the slip another classic Biden gaffe. But others, particularly those in the auto industry, felt as though something more sinister might be at work.

Fisker’s selection of the plant, and Vice President’s participation in the press conference announcing the plant reopening as well as his intimate knowledge of Fisker’s production plans, raised questions in the auto industry as to whether there was any quid pro quo arrangement with the Vice President related to the purchase. After all, a large government loan from the Obama administration made the purchase possible. (Moreover, given that the federal government is the majority owner of GM, there are other potential conflicts of interest related to this deal that merit investigation.)

According to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judicial Watch seeks access to “any and all records regarding the sale of General Motor Company’s Wilmington, Delaware plant to Fisker Automotive, Inc.” The time frame for the request is August 1-October 31, 2009.

We filed our original FOIA request with the Treasury Department November 2, 2009. Treasury acknowledged receipt of the request and, on November 9, granted itself additional time for processing (as is the usual these days). A response was due December 16. However, to date, Treasury has failed to produce any documents or tell us why documents are exempt from production.

We’re hoping the lawsuit forces Treasury’s hand. Taxpayers have half a billion dollars at stake in this controversial and expensive business idea. And the American people deserve to know how this deal was struck. On the face of it, it appears Vice President Biden had inside knowledge about Fisker’s purchase of the plant, which happened to be based in his home state, creating at least the appearance of impropriety. Generally speaking, now that the federal government has an ownership stake in the auto industry, its decisions must be completely transparent in order to root out any possible corruption. That’s why we’re so aggressive with our bailout FOIAs in the face Obama administration lawlessness on transparency matters.

What did the Obama Administration Do to Prevent Great Britain’s Release of Libyan Lockerbie Terrorist?

What did the US government know about the UK’s release of a convicted Libyan terrorist last summer? That’s the question at the center of a new Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit filed this week against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The terrorist, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, was serving a life sentence for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. As you may recall, the UK came under heavy fire on August 20, 2009, for releasing the former Libyan intelligence officer from prison on “compassionate grounds” due to al-Megrahi’s reported terminal prostate cancer.

The British government, meanwhile, reportedly attempted to include al-Megrahi as part of a prisoner transfer pact signed with Col. Muammer al-Gadaffi’s Libyan government in 2007 in order to help secure oil contracts for British companies. (The UK’s Justice Secretary reportedly stated in leaked letters that it was in the UK’s “overwhelming interests” not to exclude al-Megrahi from the prisoner transfer pact.)

Al-Megrahi, of course, received a hero’s welcome upon returning to Libya. He was given only three months to live at the time of his release. However, now five months after his release, al-Megrahi is reportedly alive and well living in freedom with his family in Libya. He served only eight years of his life sentence.

With this lawsuit, filed on January 14, Judicial Watch seeks “all communications with/between the FBI and the United Kingdom concerning the August 20, 2009 release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer who was convicted of 270 counts of murder for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.”

Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on September 10, 2009. By law, the FBI was required to respond by October 8, 2009. However, to date, the FBI has not provided any documents responsive to the request, nor has the agency provided an explanation as to why documents must be withheld.

Not only was the decision to release al-Megrahi from prison was an affront to justice and an insult to the families of the victims of the Pan Am tragedy, but it also served to rally terrorists around the world. And given the fact that most of the 270 people on board that Pan Am flight were Americans, we deserve to know what the U.S. government knew about this horrible decision to release a known terrorist from prison. The FBI has an obligation to the American people and the victims’ families to release all relevant documents as soon as possible.

Frankly, given its lackadaisical and ideological approach to the terrorist threat, I’m concerned the Obama administration did not do enough to prevent this terrorist’s release.

Until next week…

Tom Fitton

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.

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