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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

“Reasonable” Pardons for Terrorists?

January 16, 2009

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Judicial Watch Opposes Holder for Attorney General

Judicial Watch sent an unequivocal message this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee: Reject Attorney General Designate Eric Holder’s appointment.

On Wednesday, January 14, I sent a letter clearly articulating the reasons for Judicial Watch’s opposition to the Holder appointment. And, for good measure, we also placed a full-page advertisement in The Washington Times.

So, what’s our beef with Mr. Holder? Here’s an excerpt from my letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Arlen Specter:

"Mr. Holder’s record demonstrates a willingness to bend the law in order to protect his political patrons. On his watch at the Clinton Justice Department, the pardon process was upended and corrupted by a ‘pay to play’ mentality. This undermined, in the least, the appearance of the fair administration of justice by the Justice Department. Mr. Holder is the wrong person to head the Department of Justice."

Judicial Watch’s letter highlights Holder’s participation in a number of Clinton-era scandals, including: Holder’s support of pardons for unrepentant terrorists from FALN and the Weather Underground; his efforts to secure a pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich; his participation in planning the violent raid to seize then-six-year-old Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint and returning him to Castro’s Cuba; and his opposition to appointing an independent counsel to investigate fundraising controversies involving President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Judicial Watch’s hard-hitting advertisement, meanwhile, challenges members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to "ask the tough questions" of Holder during his confirmation hearing related to these and other scandals. The ad appeared in the January 14th and January 15th editions of The Washington Times.

"Judicial Watch, America’s leading government watchdog organization, calls upon the members of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary to challenge Mr. Holder on…questions which relate to his fitness to serve as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer," the advertisement states.

I was able to attend Holder’s confirmation hearing. Republican opposition was light and Democrats, obviously, are fully on board. Incredibly, Holder said that his shenanigans (he called them "mistakes") in the Marc Rich pardon scandal would make him a better Attorney General! (I guess that is like being a tax cheat makes you a better Treasury Secretary.) And Holder defended the indefensible – he said that the early release by Bill Clinton (with Holder’s help) of FALN terrorists was "reasonable." For more background on Holder’s scandalous involvement in the FALN matter, check out this LA Times story.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, deserves some credit for trying to ask some of our tough questions and for trying to hold Holder to account. Judicial Watch friend Joe Connor, whose father was murdered by the FALN, testified at Specter’s request today. Connor strongly opposes Holder’s nomination.

We received national news attention for our efforts on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Simply put, Barack Obama made a terrible mistake in nominating Eric Holder and the Senate should reject the nomination.

As I wrote you earlier this week, the Washington establishment is circling the wagons around Holder. Now is the time for everyday Americans to make their voices heard about pardons for terrorists and other Holder misdeeds.

Do you think that Barack Obama ought to be able to nominate whomever he wants – no matter their record? I don’t. But most of corrupt Washington seems to think so.

Please call the Senate and let your voice be heard. The number is (202) 224-3121. I also encourage you to support our Holder efforts and other anti-corruption work. You can donate here.

When it comes to fighting corruption here in DC, Judicial Watch truly is "the only game in town."

Judicial Watch Files Opening Brief in Special Order 40 Lawsuit Appeal

On January 7, Judicial Watch filed its opening brief with the California Court of Appeals in our lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) over Special Order 40, an unlawful "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy that prevents police officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and from fully cooperating with federal immigration officials.

You may recall in June 2008, on the eve of the trial, the California Superior Court decided to put an end to the lawsuit rather than allow it to proceed to trial.

Here’s what happened in a nutshell (check out our brief here):

Lawyers for the LAPD argued in court documents that Judicial Watch’s lawsuit could only be applied to the actual text of the Special Order 40 policy, not to how the policy was being implemented.

This is a very important distinction. Judicial Watch uncovered through the discovery process that the application and interpretation of the Special Order 40 policy is even more radical than the policy itself. While police officers deposed by Judicial Watch varied widely in their description of Special Order 40, they all agreed that the policy, as applied, frustrated communication between police officers and federal immigration officials.

Moreover, as Judicial Watch noted in court filings, the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners asked the Rampart Independent Review Panel to conduct an analysis of the LAPD’s compliance with Special Order 40 in 2000. And what was the panel’s conclusion?

"…in practice, the Department’s procedures vary from the procedures originally set forth in Special Order 40 and go beyond the limited provisions of Special Order 40 that remain in the Manual. Indeed, as articulated, the procedures are more restrictive than as written."

(Importantly, even the LAPD admitted in court documents that the Rampart report "accurately summarizes the implementation of Special Order 40.")

From the outset, Judicial Watch has argued vehemently that both the Special 40 policy, as written and as applied, violates federal immigration law and California State law as well. Our position hasn’t changed one iota.

Nevertheless, the lower court granted the LAPD’s motion for summary judgment based on its erroneous argument and denied Judicial Watch the opportunity to go to trial, prompting our appeal. (By the way, ACLU lawyers intervened on the side of the LAPD in this litigation. So we’re facing quite a wall of opposition from both the local government and the left.)

Let’s hope the appellate court reverses the lower court and gives Judicial Watch its day in court. That’s all we ask.

As I’ve said from the beginning, Special Order 40 is not only unlawful, it’s dangerous. It makes it harder for police officers to do their jobs and puts the citizens of Los Angeles at risk. The only people who benefit from Special Order 40 are illegal alien lawbreakers. You can be sure Judicial Watch will continue to fight in court to see this policy abolished. This is one sanctuary policy that sorely needs to be busted.

Senator Burris

To seat or not to seat? That is the question Senate leaders faced with Roland Burris, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s choice to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama.

Of course there was only one correct answer to this question: By law, Roland Burris is entitled to assume his position as the junior senator from Illinois. And Senate leaders were violating the U.S. Constitution by blocking the Burris appointment.

You may recall, at the direction of Senate leaders, the Secretary of the Senate denied Burris entry last Tuesday. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit in response. (Click here to read through our legal argument.) Shortly thereafter, it appeared Senate leaders were ready to do an about-face and acknowledge the Burris appointment. Burris was sworn in as a Senator on January 15.

Judicial Watch had notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid earlier in the week that Judicial Watch was prepared to seek emergency relief from the courts if Burris was not allowed to assume his rightful position immediately.

According to Judicial Watch’s letter, signed by Judicial Watch’s Litigation Director Paul Orfanedes:

"With confirmation hearings on President-elect Obama’s cabinet nominations beginning this week and with the U.S. Congress about to begin consideration of an economic stimulus package reportedly valued in excess of $770 billion, among other important business, it is of the utmost importance that Mr. Vincent and the people of the State of Illinois to be represented fully in the U.S. Senate. We therefore demand that the U.S. Senate cease its unconstitutional refusal to allow Mr. Burris to take his lawful seat as the junior U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois. If the U.S. Senate continues to refuse to seat Mr. Burris, we intend to seek emergency relief from the Court."

Judicial Watch’s letter also made note of a January 9, 2009 Illinois Supreme Court decision that confirms the Burris appointment was made in accordance with the law.

Senator leaders got the message and the rule of law won out.

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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