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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

JW Wins in Arizona

April 8, 2011

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Judicial Watch Wins Motion in SB 1070 Lawsuit!

This week, let’s start with a big Judicial Watch victory.

On Wednesday, April 5, our client, the Arizona State Legislature, was granted permission to intervene as a defendant in the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against SB 1070, Arizona’s get-tough illegal immigration law. Judge Susan Bolton granted Judicial Watch’s motion over the objections of the Obama DOJ. Here’s a quick squib from the order, which was short and sweet:

On February 7, 2011, Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer signed into law Senate Bill 1117 (“S.B. 1117”), which provides that “the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate may direct counsel to initiate a legal proceeding or appear on behalf of their respective chambers or on behalf of the Legislature in any challenge in a state or federal court” to S.B. 1070. The Legislature now seeks permission of the Court to intervene as a Defendant in this action…permitting the Legislature to intervene at this time will not unduly delay or prejudice the original parties…the Court in its discretion finds that the Legislature should be permitted to intervene as Defendant at this time.

Now, the Legislature joins the State of Arizona, Governor Brewer and the author of the law, Arizona State Senate President and Judicial Watch client Russell Pearce, for the purpose of defending its enactment of SB 1070 in the interests of the people of Arizona.

You may recall that Judicial Watch filed its “Motion to Intervene,” on February 11, 2011, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona stating: “The Legislature…has a paramount interest in seeing that [SB 1070’s] enactment is upheld.” At the same time, we also filed an “Answer in Intervention” with the court on behalf of the Arizona State Legislature. And here are our main arguments:

  • “[The Arizona Legislature] has a right to protect its citizens.”
  • “Arizona has a right to self defense under the Constitution, particularly when the federal government fails to protect it.”
  • “[The Arizona Legislature] complied with all relevant federal, state, and local laws, including the Arizona Constitution and the [U.S.] Constitution” in crafting SB 1070.
  • “SB 1070 is not preempted by federal law or the Constitution. SB 1070 does not conflict with federal law, does not constitute an improper regulation of immigration, and Congress has not fully occupied the field.”

Fortunately, thanks to Judge Bolton’s ruling, the Arizona Legislature will have the opportunity to make this case in court.

So where does the Obama DOJ’s lawsuit against the State of Arizona now stand?

Frankly, the future of SB 1070, and other similar measures intended to confront the threat of rampant illegal immigration, are in limbo thanks to the Obama administration and its persistent attempts to thwart federal immigration laws.

It is important to remember, this lawsuit is not just about the state of Arizona. Many other states across the country are looking to this lawsuit to set the guidelines for how they can protect themselves. This lawsuit will have ramifications for the rest of the country and that’s one reason we’re expending a considerable amount of effort trying to stop it.

Sure enough, we’ve been working with elected representatives in Texas, Maryland, and Pennsylvania (to name just a few) as they consider their own Arizona-type legislation. Arizona is leading the wave of states that want to enforce our laws against illegal immigration.

By way of review, this all began on April 23, 2010, when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. Shortly thereafter, on July 6, 2010, the Obama DOJ filed a lawsuit challenging the law and requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from being enforced. On July 28, 2010, U.S. Judge Bolton allowed some provisions of the law to be enacted, while granting the Obama administration an injunction on other provisions until the Court could determine whether these provisions are constitutional.

The State of Arizona appealed Judge Bolton’s ruling, which is now under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Many believe the lawsuit will ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

No matter where this lawsuit goes next, we are quite pleased that the Arizona State Legislature, which represents the people of Arizona, will at least be able to defend against the DOJ’s suit. As we argued in court, the Legislature has a paramount interest in seeing its law upheld.

Arizona’s citizens have been living on the frontline in the battle against illegal immigration, suffering the effects of an out-of-control border and a Justice Department that refuses to uphold the law. The Obama administration has utterly failed in its obligation to protect Arizona’s citizens and secure the border. The people of Arizona are the winners today along with the Arizona State Legislature, Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams and your Judicial Watch.

I wrote you earlier this week asking you to support this and all our important work for the rule of law. In these days of looming government shutdowns and a federal government that is simply off the rails, Judicial Watch is a reliable way for you to help keep things in check — whether in Washington or in a federal courtroom in Phoenix. This latest news shows that Judicial Watch is the only game in town when it comes to effectively fighting for your shared values in these trying times. Please donate today and pass the word along about our cause to your contacts.

Obama Flip Flops — AGAIN! — Sheikh Mohammed will be Tried before Military Commission

I think you’ll agree that it has been painful watching the Obama administration botch the effort to bring the 9/11 terrorists, including mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to justice. Let’s review.

First, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the 9/11 terrorists would be tried in a New York civilian court, leading to a massive public backlash and a near revolt in Congress. Then, in January 2010, came press reports indicating the Obama administration had abandoned this ridiculous idea given the “wave of protests” from citizens of New York. A month later The Washington Post was reporting that President Obama had frozen Holder out of the process and would indeed find an appropriate place for a civilian trial (as if there is such a thing).

Flip, flop, flip. But at least in the end, it appears they got it right.

In a stunning reversal this week, on the same day Obama official launched his reelection bid, the Obama Justice Department announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will, in fact, be tried by a military commission and not by a civil court in New York City, as the Obama administration had originally planned.

Here’s the statement I offered to the press in response:

It is no coincidence that this stunning reversal comes on the day that President Obama announced his reelection campaign. We are grateful that the opposition of the American people beat back the “terrorist lobby” in the Obama administration to keep the KSM trial in Gitmo, where it belongs. The mishandling of the KSM trial is another blow to Attorney General Eric Holder, who should have been replaced long ago. Mr. Holder has demonstrated that he is incapable of providing the leadership necessary for the fair and competent administration of justice at DOJ.

KSM long ago pled guilty to the charges initially brought against him in military commission proceedings. That he still walks the face of the Earth highlights the moral and strategic failure of the Obama administration’s approach to the terrorist detention issue. We hope this political decision will begin to undo the damage done to our nation’s security by the Obama administration’s ideological attack on Gitmo.

Ah yes, the decision to shut down Gitmo — another Obama administration national security disaster. Obama seems intent on keeping his ill-informed campaign promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay and release the enemy combatants there despite deep divisions within his administration. (Defense Secretary Gates said the chances of shutting down Gitmo were “very very low.” CIA Director Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee that if bin Laden himself were captured he’d be headed to Gitmo.)

There’s no doubt shutting down the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay will harm national security and put lives at risk.

(Our educational panel this week, “Politics and the Holder Justice Department: Rule of Law at Risk?”, coincidentally covered national security and featured Debra Burlingame, the sister of Charles F. “Chic” Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. She is co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, and helped lead the way, against long odds, opposing the outrage of granting KSM a civilian trial.)

Judicial Watch recently obtained documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) detailing the significant risks of releasing “enemy combatants” detained at Gitmo. Judicial Watch also obtained documents from the Obama DOD detailing a deliberate campaign by al-Qaida and other extremist groups to recruit juveniles and launch terrorist attacks against children. The records consist of two Joint Task Force Intelligence Information Reports from debriefs of detainees at the U.S. terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. (In other words, without Gitmo, we might not have been able to extract this critical information.)

In 2009, Judicial Watch released a CIA report entitled, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al Qa’ida, which documented the information gained by interrogations of Mohammed: “KSM’s decade-long career as a terrorist, during which he met with a broad range of Islamic extremists from around the world, has made him a key source of information on numerous al-Qaida operatives and other mujahidin. He has provided intelligence that has led directly to the capture of operatives or fleshed out our understanding of the activities of important detainees, which in turn assisted in the debriefings of these individuals.”

Would KSM have been so forthcoming had he been read his Miranda rights and allowed to lawyer up right away? Not likely.

In short, the enemy combatants housed at Gitmo are dangerous. They intend to destroy our country. And they have valuable information that could save lives. They belong in a secure facility outside the United States and in the hands of the U.S. military.

Regarding the military tribunal system, Judicial Watch Litigation Director Paul Orfanedes visited Guantanamo Bay in 2008 at the invitation of the Pentagon to monitor military commission proceedings against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top 9/11 conspirators. Judicial Watch’s presence provided some balance to the ACLU and other radical groups advocating for the terrorist detainees.

(Following his visit to Guantanamo Bay, Mr. Orfanedes said he witnessed a “deep commitment” to justice on the part of military lawyers. We had a brief interview with Mr. Orfanedes that appeared in this space. Feel free to check it out to see Mr. Orfanedes’ other observations regarding the military tribunal process.)

In the meantime, Holder can’t be pushed out of the DOJ soon enough.

ACORN Pleads Guilty — Gets Slap on the Wrist

In Nevada, one ACORN employee told authorities that the organization paid “lazy crack heads” and convicted felons to register voters in the 2008 elections. In fact, owing to this corrupt and criminal process, nearly the entire Dallas Cowboys football team registered to vote in Nevada that year. (A warrant to search ACORN’s facilities tells the full story.)

And what is the price ACORN will be forced to pay for violating our nation’s election laws so egregiously? Not more than $5,000. And no jail time for any ACORN leaders.

Our Corruption Chronicles blogger Irene Garcia reported:

The criminal enterprise that Obama’s Justice Department refuses to investigate despite extensive evidence of fraud and corruption is guilty of a felony in yet another state.

It marks the latest of many legal defeats for the Chicago-based community group known as ACORN, famous for illegal voter registration drives, embezzling federal funds and a tight knit relationship with the president. In fact, Obama once worked at ACORN and the group’s massive campaign drives helped him get elected in 2008.

Facing more than a dozen felony charges in Nevada, ACORN pleaded guilty to one count this week for illegally paying canvassers to register voters during the 2008 presidential campaign. The deal means that ACORN will avoid going to trial, which was scheduled for later this month in Las Vegas. A judge will determine the sentence on August 10, according to a spokeswoman for the Nevada Attorney General’s office, the prosecuting agency.

Since ACORN is a corporation, it will only be fined and there will be no prison term, the Attorney General’s spokeswoman told Judicial Watch. The fine is expected to be a maximum of $5,000. In November the ACORN supervisor overseeing the illicit Nevada voter registration scheme pleaded no contest to two counts of conspiracy.

ACORN has a long, sordid history of election fraud and questionable hiring and training practices. The group has been busted for forging voter registration applications in key battleground states and submitting falsified forms in more than half a dozen others. In 2007 ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington State after seven workers were caught submitting about 2,000 fake registration forms.

ACORN’s sordid record prompted California Representative Darrell Issa to label the group a “criminal enterprise.” (Rep. Issa is now Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.)

Last week I told you that one of our attorneys, Michael Bekesha, testified before the Pennsylvania State Government Committee on Voter Fraud about ACORN corruption in that state. In fact, as Michael noted, ACORN was found to have submitted tens of thousands of fraudulent registration forms in Philadelphia alone!

Judicial Watch obtained documents from a 2007 FBI investigation of ACORN voter fraud in St. Louis Missouri. According to the handwritten notes of one federal investigator, Project Vote (an ACORN affiliate) would pay for registration cards whether they were fake or not. The overall goal of this corrupt scheme, according to these notes, was to help Democrats: “ACORN HQ (Head Quarters) was wkg (working) for the Democratic Party.”

In March 2010, Judicial Watch obtained a separate batch of Federal Bureau of Investigation documents detailing federal investigations into alleged ACORN corruption and voter registration fraud in Connecticut. The FBI and Department of Justice initiated investigations. However, the Obama DOJ, while noting that ACORN had engaged in “questionable hiring and training practices,” closed down the investigation in March 2009, claiming ACORN broke no laws.

And on and on and on…

ACORN’s fraudulent activity is systemic. And, as I’ve said too many times to count, the Holder Justice Department ought to be investigating ACORN’s corrupt behavior and holding those responsible accountable. And I’m not talking about paltry $5,000 fines. I’m talking about real accountability. (Given Obama’s direct links to ACORN, which includes a stint working for Project Vote, it seems unlikely Holder will do the right thing. Can you imagine a conservative group submitting 400,000 fraudulent voter registration forms and not being subjected to systematic Justice Department scrutiny! But because the “president from ACORN” is in the Oval Office, ACORN gets a corrupt free pass from the Attorney General.)

ACORN is alive and well, splintered into hundreds of difficult to track local organizations around the country. In fact, very soon Judicial Watch will publish a special report exposing ACORN’s new network. This fight is not over. Stay tuned for that.

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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