Who’s Behind the Ground Zero Mosque?
August 13, 2010
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Ground Zero Mosque Gains Traction behind Radical Imam
A major controversy has erupted over plans to construct a mammoth mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. The outfit called The Cordoba Initiative, which seeks to build the mosque, is led by a radical Islamic extremist, who blames America for the terrorist attacks that murdered 3,000 innocents on American soil. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more likely that the mosque is going to be built.
According to AFP: “The [mosque] project on August 3 got the unanimous backing from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which said the 1850s building on Park Street it is to replace was not a protected historical landmark.”
As AFP points out, the mosque has some powerful backers, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who claims the project will provide a symbol of religious freedom and “build a bridge between the West and the Muslim world.”
And who’s going to lead this new symbol of religious tolerance? Radical Islamic extremist Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Here’s what Rauf said during a 60 Minutes interview about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as reported by CNS News: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
He didn’t stop there.
When CBS’s Ed Bradley then asked, “You say that we’re an accessory—how?” Feisal replied: “Because we have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.”
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(Human Events has an excellent summary of some of Rauf’s other radical statements. Click here to read more.)
The more I look into this, the clearer it seems that this “center” is no peace-building measure. It is an effort by radical Islamists to build a triumphal monument on the site of the 9/11 atrocity.
As you might expect, the majority of Americans are opposed to the Ground Zero mosque. But where does the Obama White House stand on the issue? No straight answers yet. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs deflected the question recently when he said the mosque is “rightly a matter for New York City.”
Still, we do know something about how the Obama administration feels about Rauf. According to The Associated Press:
The imam behind controversial plans for a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks is being sent by the State Department on a religious outreach trip to the Middle East, officials said Tuesday, in a move that drew criticism from conservative lawmakers.
The department is sponsoring Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s visit to Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, where he will discuss Muslim life in America and promote religious tolerance, spokesman P.J. Crowley said. He said the imam had been on two similar trips and that plans for the upcoming tour predated the mosque controversy.
Remember, just two weeks ago I told you Judicial Watch had uncovered documents detailing meetings between Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and radical Islamic extremists. So are we really surprised to learn that the Obama administration is bankrolling a “good will” international tour for a terrorist apologizer?
Regarding the Ground Zero mosque, Judicial Watch has launched a full investigation and sent a detailed open records request to Mayor Bloomberg’s office for his contacts with Islamic radicals pushing this outrage. I will be sure to keep you posted on any further developments.
Judicial Watch Probes Phoenix Police Chief’s Involvement in Obama Legal Attack on Arizona Law
Why did the Phoenix Chief of Police voluntarily sign a declaration in support of the Obama administration’s lawsuit challenging SB 1070, the new illegal immigration law in Arizona? That’s what we’re trying to find out.
We filed a new lawsuit August 4 under the Arizona Public Records Law against the City of Phoenix to obtain records of Chief Jack Harris’s attempt to try throw out Arizona’s efforts to better enforce the rule of law.
And here’s exactly what we’re after:
Any and all records concerning or relating to the preparation or submission of the Declaration of Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, dated June 25, 2010, in the matter captioned United States of America v. State of Arizona, Case No. 2:10-cv-01413-SRB (D. District of Arizona)…
We also want all documents regarding communications between Harris and the Obama administration, including the Department of Justice. (On July 6, Justice attached Chief Harris’ declaration to its motion for a preliminary injunction.)
So far, no luck. The Phoenix PD received our request on July 13, 2010, but has failed to produce any documents or even indicate when documents are forthcoming.
Now a sworn declaration by the City’s Chief of Police blocking an effort to enforce immigration law is bad enough, but what makes this worse is the fact that Harris is apparently acting in a manner at odds with official City of Phoenix policy regarding this lawsuit.
The Phoenix City Council made the decision in May 2010 to stay neutral in the legal battle between the State of Arizona and the federal government over SB 1070. According to the Arizona Daily Star, in response to a threat by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon to challenge the new illegal immigration law, “Phoenix City Attorney Gary Verburg said only the City Council has the power to authorize lawsuits.”
Moreover, the City of Phoenix Administrative Regulation (AR) 2.16, governing the behavior of City employees, like Chief Harris, specifically states: “It is the public policy of the City, reflected in this AR, that…Employees not engage in activities that are inconsistent, incompatible, in conflict with, or are harmful to their duties as City employees.”
Chief Harris’ behavior would certainly seem to be inconsistent, incompatible and harmful to his official duties. Perhaps this is exactly what we might expect from a Police Chief who is allegedly double dipping into the City’s taxpayer-funded coffers.
As you may recall, in October 2009, Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the Phoenix Police Pension Board and Chief Harris to stop the illegal payment of pension benefits to Chief Harris valued at approximately $90,000 per year. Just last week, we served the City of Phoenix with a subpoena seeking documents related to this corrupt deal.
Regarding SB 1070, Chief Harris had no business sticking his nose in the middle of the federal government’s lawsuit against the State of Arizona. The City of Phoenix adopted a position of neutrality regarding the litigation. And as a City employee Police Chief Harris was required to stay out of it. The City of Phoenix has an obligation to shed light on Chief Harris’ declaration and it can start by releasing these records.
By the way, a federal judge may have blocked key parts of SB 1070 from taking effect until the courts rule on the issue of the law’s constitutionality, but the new measures which were put in place are already having exactly the impact that Judicial Watch client Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce intended when he crafted the law. According to The Arizona Republic, due to the state’s crackdown on illegal immigration: “Many [illegal alien day laborers] have left Arizona to look for work in other states, or they have given up and returned to Mexico.”
Now imagine what can be accomplished if and when the law is put into full force. Judicial Watch is doing everything in its power to see that this happens. If you want to read more about Judicial Watch’s legal work to help Senator Pearce both defend and enforce his law, click here.
Keeping a Sharp Eye on the Courts
Elena Kagan was sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court this week, joining the elite club of 112 people in American history who have had the privilege of serving on the High Court. If you’ve read this space at all over the last few months, you know exactly how I feel about Kagan’s credentials. She is unqualified, and I have no doubt she will join Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer in the liberal block of the Court for as long as she serves, providing a faithful leftist, activist voice.
(If you’ve missed my earlier posts on Kagan, feel free to check out this letter I sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting the nomination be recalled. You can also watch a video or read a transcript of an educational panel Judicial Watch hosted on the Kagan nomination.)
As NPR pointed out this week, Kagan’s ascension to the Supreme Court has come at a time when the federal courts are rising in importance:
This summer, federal judges have once again been horning in on issues of great interest and high stakes. Gay marriage. Immigration. The health care law. The post-BP moratorium on deepwater drilling. Each of these decisions will be reviewed by federal courts of appeal and ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But for that reason alone they will be generating news, inflaming public opinion and determining the direction of our politics, economics and culture.
Although most of the federal judiciary labors in lofty obscurity, at moments such as these one man or woman in a black robe can make an incalculable difference.
One California judge certainly made an “incalculable difference” last week, when he overruled the will of the voters in California and invalidated Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
According to MSNBC:
A federal judge overturned California’s gay marriage ban Wednesday with an unequivocal ruling that could eventually force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s strongly worded opinion in the landmark case — the first in a federal court to examine if states can lawfully limit marriage to a man and a woman — touched off a celebration outside the courthouse. Later in the day, a jubilant crowd marched through the city that has long been a haven for gays.
The battle is far from over. The lawsuit will likely move to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, with an almost certain future date with the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Walker’s decision was over the top. Even supporters of homosexual marriage are nervous that the decision was so activist and poorly reasoned that it will be dismissed with ease upon appeal.
As I’ve noted previously, the majority of Americans (57% according to a 2009 Gallup poll) are opposed to gay marriage. But this is of no concern to activist judges who use the courts to push an unpopular liberal political agenda through judicial fiat.
Will activist judges care that 77% of likely voters are opposed to illegal alien sanctuary policies? Will they care that 58% of American voters want to repeal Obamacare?
Not a chance.
President Obama is methodically packing the courts with radical judges who have no problem scrapping the U.S. Constitution in favor of Big Government (and liberal social) agenda.
The good news about the Kagan fight is that many, many Republicans voted against her (36). One Democrat, Bill Nelson of Florida, even voted against her confirmation. This is a high water mark for opposition to a liberal Supreme Court appointee. (To learn how your U.S. Senators voted on Kagan, click here for the roll call tally.) Pressure from Judicial Watch members certainly contributed to this strong “no” on Kagan.
Assuming conservatives increases their numbers in the U.S. Senate, it will be difficult for Obama to muscle through radicals like Kagan in the future.
Given the importance of federal judicial nominations and the dangers to the rule of law posed by liberal judicial activism, Judicial Watch has a new Judicial Nominations Project. We are targeting current and new resources on judicial nominations to the federal judiciary, and promoting judicial decision-making that is more about the rule of law than liberal politics.
Until next week…
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[Correction 8/16/10 — Sen. Bill Nelson was originally listed as being the Senator for Kansas. He is actually the Senator for Florida.]