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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

FBI Files and the Obama White House

October 23, 2009

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Iran, China Lead the World in Stealing U.S. Military Equipment and Technology According to Justice Department Documents Uncovered by Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch has launched an investigation regarding covert efforts by foreign nations to violate our export control laws. And here’s what we’ve found out so far: Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Iran and China lead the world in stealing sensitive U.S. military equipment and technology according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The documents include a report entitled, “Significant Export Control Cases Since September 2001,” prepared by the Counter Espionage Section (CES), which includes the charges, investigative agency, defendants and disposition of each case.

According to this report, which was originally labeled “For Official Use Only,” Iran and China were cited for 31 and 20 violations respectively between September 29, 2001 and May 16, 2008.

And here are just a few of the “significant” cases listed by the CES:

  • U.S. v. Eugene Hsu, et al. (9/21/01): Eugene Hsu, David Chang and Wing Chang were charged with “Conspiracy and an attempt to export military encryption units to China through Singapore.” All received guilty verdicts however Wing Chang is still listed as a fugitive.
  • U.S. v. Avassapian (12/03): Sherzhik Avassapian was a Tehran-based broker working for the Iranian Ministry of Defense when he attempted to “solicit and inspect F-14 fighter components, military helicopters and C-130 aircraft which he intended to ship to Iran via Italy.” Avassapian pleaded guilty to issuing false statements.
  • U.S. v. Kwonhwan Park (11/04): Kwonhwan Park was charged with “Exporting Black Hawk engine parts and other military items to China.” Pleaded guilty and sentenced to 32 months in prison.
  • U.S. v. Ghassemi, et al. (10/06): Iranian national Jamshid Ghassemi and Aurel Fratila were charged with “Conspiracy to export munition list items &emdash; including accelerometers and gyroscopes for missiles and spacecraft &emdash; to Iran without a license.” Ghassemi and Fratila are at large in Thailand and Romania respectively. Justice is currently seeking their deportation.

(By the way, in taking a look at the sentences given to those who are caught, the relatively light punishments do not seem to fit the serious crimes, which is one reason why this problem is getting worse. Just 32 months in prison for trying to steal military equipment and send it to a nation hostile to the United States?)

Lest anyone think this data is historical in nature and does not reflect today’s reality, in October 2008, the Department of Justice announced that criminal charges had been issued against more than 145 defendants in the previous fiscal year. And approximately 43% of these new cases involved munitions or other restricted technology bound for Iran or China.

A Justice Department press release included in our materials noted: “The illegal exports bound for Iran have involved such items as missile guidance systems, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) components, military aircraft parts, night vision systems and other materials. The illegal exports to China have involved rocket launch data, Space Shuttle technology, missile technology, naval warship data, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or ‘drone’ technology, thermal imaging systems, military night vision systems and other materials.”

The bottom line here: These documents show that Iran and China have concerted efforts to obtain U.S. military technology in violation of our laws. And the Obama administration needs to maintain vigilance against the illegal efforts of enemies such as Iran to obtain our sensitive technologies.

And this new information is a useful reality check as to the intentions of Iran as this administration continues to kow-tow to Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Judicial Watch Pushes for Victory in Filegate Lawsuit

If there is one legal case that exemplifies the “never-give-up” attitude of Judicial Watch and its attorneys it is the Filegate lawsuit, which was filed 13 years ago when Bill and Hillary Clinton still occupied The White House. As long-time readers of the Weekly Update know, over the years, Judicial Watch has continued to aggressively pursue justice in this matter, earning some key victories along the way (like the discovery of the hidden White House emails, to name just one example).

And just this week, on October 19, we filed a “Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment,” asking the U.S. District Court to rule in favor of two Filegate victims, Cara Leslie Alexander and Joseph P. Duggan [Cara Leslie Alexander, et al. v. FBI, et al., C.A. No. 96-2123 (RCL)].

At its core, Judicial Watch’s Filegate lawsuit is the Clinton White House’s illegal maintenance of the private FBI files of hundreds of former Reagan and Bush officials.

Specifically with respect to Judicial Watch’s clients, the Clinton White House procured their private FBI files in 1993 and 1994 respectively by claiming the two individuals required access to the Clinton White House. One problem. Neither individual worked for the White House any longer and therefore did not require access. This was simply a ruse by Clinton officials to get their hands on the files, something they did with regularity. In fact, one FBI official testified they made 488 such requests based on the bogus claim of “access” in a single year!

And to make matters worse, not only did the Clinton White House misstate the facts to get the private FBI files, it held on to them for almost three years!

Now, after 13 years of pushing the same tired justification for this illegal handling of private information, the FBI and the Obama White House (defending corruption in the Clinton White House) have asked the court to rule in its favor by filing a “Motion for Summary Judgment.” (A “summary judgment” is granted when there is no genuine issue of material fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.) We filed our own Cross Motion for Summary Judgment in reply, and here is our basic argument:

Over the long and complex history of this matter, certain key facts have remained irrefutable. First, FBI background investigation files are perhaps some of the most sensitive records that the federal government maintains on individuals.

Second, the FBI has never disputed that it sent literally hundreds of these files to the Office of Personnel Security (“OPS”), a component of Executive Office of the President (EOP), despite the fact that OPS’s requests for the records were, in the FBI’s own words, “without justification and served no official purpose.” Indeed, the FBI has admitted that it failed to “institute sufficient protections to effectively safeguard the records”…and that their handling of the matter resulted in “egregious violations of privacy.”

…There can be no genuine dispute that the FBI violated the Privacy Act by failing to establish appropriate administrative safeguards to insure the security and confidentiality of its background investigation files and that its failure to do so was in flagrant disregard for Plaintiffs’ rights under the Privacy Act.

Third, regardless of the circumstances under which OPS acquired the records at issue, there has never been any dispute that OPS continued to maintain them long after it was known that the persons who were the subjects of these records never worked at the Clinton White House and had no need for access to the Clinton White House.

As we further noted in our Cross Motion, even Bill Clinton himself has said his administration should be held accountable. Clinton told historian Taylor Branch in preparation for his recently published book, “those files did not belong at The White House,” and that they “should have been isolated and returned immediately.” According to Branch, Clinton said “[h]is administration should and would be held accountable.”

We agree.

But the Obama administration has taken the legal position that the Privacy Act does not apply to the Executive Office of the President and the Clinton FBI files scandal was not a scandal.

This will be worrying to those of us concerned about the Obama White House’s collecting “fishy” emails and compiling an enemies list of new organizations, radio hosts, businesses, and industry associations to attack and smear. Is the Obama defense of the FBI files scandal less about that Clinton scandal and more about what his White House is up to now?

Judicial Watch Unveils ACORN Affiliate Map

Another week. Another ACORN scandal story. You will recall a few weeks ago, two young conservative journalists caught ACORN workers red-handed trying to advise the undercover reporters on how to evade paying taxes, immigration, and child prostitution laws. Well, there’s another tape. This according to The Associated Press:

The new videotape shows filmmakers Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend, soliciting advice about a possible housing loan from workers in the Philadelphia office of ACORN Housing Corp…The Philadelphia visit is significant because of a dispute over statements ACORN has made defending what took place when Giles and O’Keefe visited the Philadelphia office last summer.

Supporters of O’Keefe and Giles said ACORN has lied about whether the two were thrown out of the Philadelphia office, how much time they spent there and whether they explicitly told ACORN workers that Giles was a prostitute….

Okay, so we all know about ACORN’s alleged corruption. We knew it when ACORN workers in Florida registered Mickey Mouse to vote in the last presidential election. We knew it when the New York Times reported that the ACORN founder’s brother embezzled almost a million dollars from the organization. We knew it when the Nevada Secretary of State told Fox News that the ACORN chapter in his state hired convicts still in prison for canvassing voters. A criminal prosecution of the organization is proceeding there. All this is why the U.S. Congress took steps to sever the group’s funding, the IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau severed ties with the group.

But as much as we know about ACORN corruption, we know so very little about how ACORN actually operates. The organization’s complicated structure has made it difficult to identify how many affiliates are associated with the organization. And that’s just the way ACORN likes it.

As Rep. Darrel Issa, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, put it in his detailed report on ACORN’s alleged criminal activity: “Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.”

Well, to help shed some light on ACORN and its operations, Judicial Watch has created a Google Earth map identifying 281 known ACORN branches and associated organizations. The idea is to compile and organize as much information as possible on ACORN-related organizations. You can check out the map for yourself here, but this is a brief summary of what ACORN organizations and affiliates the map includes:

  • ACORN – Founded in 1970, with national headquarters in New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC. ACORN has over 75 regional offices throughout the U.S., and works on issues including voter registration, raising minimum wage, improving education, and providing affordable housing to low-income members.
  • ACORN Housing Corporation – ACORN Housing is the most prominent offshoot of ACORN, and provides services to clients trying to obtain affordable housing. ACORN Housing was created in 1987, and receives funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • ACORN Affiliates – Judicial Watch created a category for all affiliates that are tied with ACORN, including the ACORN Institute, ACORN International, and ACORN Law for Education Representation & Training.
  • ACORN Housing Affiliates – This category specifies associates of ACORN Housing. Many of these housing companies, including ACORN Community Land Association, 385 Palmetto Street Housing Company, and MHANY 2003 HDFC, work closely with ACORN Housing and receive funds from them.
  • Other ACORN Affiliates – In addition to the numerous offices ACORN and ACORN Housing have throughout the U.S., there are additional organizations that are affiliated with ACORN, although their names might imply differently. These groups include Citizens Consulting Incorporated and Citizens Services Incorporated, both of which are responsible for organizing many of ACORN’s activities. Other known affiliates include the Affiliated Media Foundation Movement, the American Environmental Justice Project, AGAPE Broadcasting Foundation, the Working Families Organization, and the Hospitality Hotel and Restaurant Organizing Council.

This new research tool is just one component of Judicial Watch’s large-scale investigation of ACORN. As I’ve mentioned previously, Judicial Watch currently has over two dozen FOIA requests related to ACORN activities. Click here to find out more.

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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