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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

Arizona Legal Battle Has Just Begun

July 30, 2010

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Arizona Legal Battle Has Just Begun

Just hours before Arizona’s tough new illegal immigration law was scheduled to go into effect, a federal judge put the brakes on some of its provisions — at least for now.

According to The Associated Press:

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the crackdown.

The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws.

The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places. In addition, the judge blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

While some provisions of the law were put on the shelf, other provisions did go into effect as scheduled on Thursday. “As the case is litigated, Arizona will be able to block state officials from so-called ‘sanctuary city’ policies limiting enforcement of federal law; require that state officials work with federal officials on illegal immigration; allow civil suits over sanctuary cities; and to make it a crime to pick up day laborers,” Fox News reported.

It is a great victory that SB 1070’s banning of “sanctuary” polices survived the Obama legal attack and is now the law in Arizona. And, as importantly, SB 1070 also gives Arizona residents the opporunity to sue “sanctuary cities” that violate federal immigration law. You can be sure Judicial Watch will seek to enforce this provision in the courts, too!

Still, with this ruling the Obama administration can claim at least a partial victory in its dangerous and lawless campaign to prevent immigration laws from being enforced in Arizona and, by extension, every state in the country.

Here’s a link to U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling. And Fox News has a quick and dirty summary of the key points in her decision. This excerpt gives you the gist:

The court by no means disregards Arizona’s interests in controlling illegal immigration and addressing the concurrent problems with crime including the trafficking of humans, drugs, guns, and money….Even though Arizona’s interests may be consistent with those of the federal government, it is not in the public interest for Arizona to enforce preempted laws.

We don’t agree that — regardless of how miserably the government fails to protect the border — the state of Arizona should be forbidden to take sensible action based on federal law to protect its citizens.

But as Judicial Watch noted in a memorandum filed last week on behalf of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the author of the immigration law:

The law of this Circuit is clear. In 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that nothing in federal law precludes a city from enforcing the criminal provisions of immigration law. Gonzalez v. City of Peoria, 722 F.2d 468, 476 (9th Cir. 1983). By enacting Senate Bill 1070, as amended by House Bill 2162 (“SB 1070”), the Arizona legislature simply codified already existing enforcement provisions of federal law that has been the law of the land in some regard for more than fifty years.

For those of us who are fighting to enforce all of our nation’s immigration laws, this week was a temporary setback. Judge Bolton put some key provisions of the Arizona law on hold, but only until the court system can more fully determine if they are constitutional.

Judicial Watch will work with SB 1070 author Arizona State Sen. Pearce to continue to defend this law in the courts. And “sanctuary cities” in Arizona should know that they will be subject to lawsuits if they don’t start complying with federal law.

Make no mistake about it — the Obama administration is oblivious to the danger to the public safety caused by its failure to secure the borders and enforce the law.

Even if Judge Bolton did tip her hand as to how she might ultimately rule, this lawsuit will be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court no matter which side wins in the lower courts. Governor Brewer has said as much. In fact, she has already filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to lift the injunction. We plan to participate on behalf of Sen. Pearce in this appeals process.

This battle is just getting started.

And Judicial Watch is right in the middle of it. We have every intention of doing all we can to protect the rule of law in Arizona and to pave the way for the many other states struggling rampant illegal immigration to take action.

I asked you yesterday for a special gift in support of our work. Many of you responded positively, and we’ve been thrilled by the enthusiasm for our work in Arizona. I encourage you to support all of our essential work with a special contribution today.

Accountability for Rangel? The Jury is Still Out

After years of virtual irrelevance, it appears the House Ethics Committee may have just done something right regarding Charlie Rangel.

After an overly long and conflicted investigation, the House Ethics Committee finally presented ethics charges against Rangel during a public hearing yesterday. There are 13 of them overall, including failure to report rental income from vacation property in the Dominican Republic and failing to report more than $600,000 of income on his congressional financial disclosure statements. Rangel also was nabbed for using congressional stationary to raise funds for a center that would bear his name and for accepting a rent stabilized apartment in Manhattan, among other charges.

All this should be old news to longtime Judicial Watch fans. After all, it was with good reason that Rangel made Judicial Watch’s list of “Washington’s Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for two years in a row.

There is no question that Rangel is in deep trouble. Before you count him out let’s remember this: Charlie Rangel is a 40-year veteran of Congress and he will not go down without a fight.

Remember when he tried to bribe the House Ethics Committee with campaign contributions? Obviously that didn’t work so now Rangel is trying a different approach. He’s trying to negotiate. And according to The Associated Press, Rangel’s lawyers may be closing in on a deal: “People familiar with the talks say representatives of New York Democrat Charles Rangel and lawyers for the House ethics committee have reached a plea deal in his ethics case. However, committee members have not agreed to the settlement.”

If a deal is to be made, Rangel will need to find an advocate on the other side of the aisle. The House Ethics Committee is comprised of five Democrats and five Republicans, and Rangel needs a majority. At least one Republican will need to cross over.

Republicans see a potent political angle in torturing Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats over their broken promises to “drain the swamp” of congressional corruption when they took control in 2006. Of course, no Republican had bothered to file an ethics complaint against Rangel; so much of their concern is posturing.

From an objective point of view, any plea deal at this point would be contrary to the public interest and would reward Rangel’s efforts to corrupt and stall the process.

While Rangel continues to work the levers of power inside Congress, he’s also managed to bring a tincture of corruption to his legal defense. According to The Examiner columnist Timothy Carney:

Every person accused of a crime or an ethics violation deserves a competent defense. Charlie Rangel’s legal defense, fittingly, comes from K Street.

Two of the three firms providing legal counsel to Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in his pending ethics cases are lobbying firms. In fact, one firm, Oldaker, Belair & Wittie, conducts much of Rangel’s political fundraising, while operating four different lobby shops.

But who’s ultimately paying Rangel’s legal bills? Mostly corporate and union political action committees along with individual lobbyists.

Carney goes on to note that three quarters of Rangel’s campaign spending in 2009 went to legal fees. So he’s got money.

Democrats, of course, are hoping Rangel will save them from a messy public trial in the lead up to the November elections by resigning. (Three Democrats have suggested Rangel should consider stepping down.) But if Rangel’s desperate gambit fails, that’s exactly what they’ll get.

Rangel should have been out of Congress a long time ago. The American people don’t need a political trial to know that Charlie Rangel is corrupt.

As I wrote for The Hill earlier this week:

The Ethics Committee’s slow-walking of the Rangel investigation is a scandal, but we’re pleased there might finally be some measure of accountability for the unapologetically corrupt Rangel. But Rangel may think he’s done no worse than many of the colleagues who will sit in judgment of him and may fight to the bitter end. At its heart, this is a political process. My guess is that Pelosi wants voters to forget that Congress is an ethics “swamp” and will prevail upon Rangel to retire in November as part of a “plea deal.” Of course, if Pelosi were truly concerned about corruption, Rangel would have been “retired” years ago.

I want to close by thanking Judicial Watch supporters for pushing the Ethics Committee to take action. We launched a petition drive to get the Committee to take action. I’m not aware of anyone else pushing the Committee as consistently and persistently to take strong action on Rangel.

For full details on the Committee’s work, click here.

Documents Uncovered by Judicial Watch Detail Meeting between DHS Secretary Napolitano and Controversial Islamic “Community Leaders”

In another disturbing example of political correctness run amok…

This week we uncovered documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that detail a two-day meeting on January 27 and 28, 2010, between DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian “community leaders.” The documents include a list of participating individuals and organizations, some with controversial radical ties.

Here are two examples:

  • Imad Hamad, Midwest Regional Director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. According to political journalist Debbie Schlussel, Hamad is connected to the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and has financially supported the Islamist terrorist group Hezbollah. In a television interview in 2002 on Fox’s Detroit affiliate, Hamad supported a Palestine Authority TV program that urged children to become suicide bombers, calling the program “patriotic.” (Schlussel points out that the Immigration and Nationalization Service attempted to deport Hamad for two decades because of his extremist connections.)
  • Salam Al-Marayati, Founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). According to press reports, Al-Mayarati has long been criticized for his extremist views and statements. In 1999 former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) withdrew his nomination of Al-Mayarati to the National Commission on Terrorism because of Al-Mayarati’s extremist politics. Al-Marayati once said, “When Patrick Henry said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ that statement epitomized jihad [Islamic holy war].” (Blogger Daniel Pipes has some excellent background information on Al-Marayat here.)

Moreover, one of the organizations that attended the meeting, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), was named as unindicted co-conspirator by the federal government in a plot by the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation to fund the terrorist group Hamas.

(You may recall that Judicial Watch documented the radical ties of so-called Islamic “charities,” including the ISNA, in a special report, which you can download for free here.)

In addition to the attendee list and biographies, Judicial Watch obtained some other interesting documents, including internal DHS email correspondence, talking points for Secretary Napolitano, and a meeting agenda.

Here are a few items that caught my eye:

  • A Thursday, February 4, 2010 email from David O’Leary, DHS Office of Legislative Affairs to David Gersten, Acting Deputy Officer for Programs and Compliance, DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: “Gordon Lederman of Sen. Lieberman’s Staff called me asking about the 2-day HSAC meeting last week with American Muslim and Arab groups. He was called by a reporter who told him MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council), ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) and Muslim American Society “rejected the ideas” of soliciting their help with countering violent extremism and were “angry and indignant.”
  • A Friday, January 29, 2010 email from Muslim Advocates Executive Director Khera Farhana to Arif Alikhan, DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy Development: “The commitments Secretary Napolitano made to these community leaders include…Regular quarterly meetings with the Secretary…An honest and full discussion of legitimate grievances from members of these communities about DHS policies that are ineffective and have a deleterious, humiliating impact on Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian American communities.”
  • An internal DHS “talking points” document entitled “Community Stakeholder Meeting” that states: “Communicate that DHS understands the need for enhanced partnership with the Muslim, Sikh, South Asian and Arab groups, including those present at the meeting…You should note the importance of sharing information from a policy perspective and on threats to specific Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities.”

As these documents show, the Obama administration is bending over backward to cater to radical Muslim activists and organizations in the name of political correctness. This is a dangerous political game that could put American citizens at risk. Some of these meeting participants have no business helping Janet Napolitano establish our homeland security policies.

I fail to see how consorting with radicals helps the DHS do its job to protect the United States.

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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