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Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

CRT at West Point! Judicial Watch Sues!

Judicial Watch Senior Attorneys Testify before Congress on Election Integrity and Reform
Judicial Watch Sues for Records of Critical Race Theory Training at West Point
New VA Records Document CRT Wording in Vaccine Plan
‘Temporary’ Reprieve Extended for Five Groups of Illegal Immigrants
Border Patrol Agent Helps Smuggle Illegal Immigrant, Drugs Through Texas Checkpoint

Judicial Watch Senior Attorneys Testify before Congress on Election Integrity and Reform

Judicial Watch is and has been a national leader in defending the rule of law – especially in election integrity. This leadership is evident in the remarkable news that, this week, two of our voting law experts testified to both House and Senate committees on pending legislation that could gut free and fair elections.

Senior Attorney Robert Popper testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties during a hearing titled “The Implications of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Potential Legislative Responses.” Bob leads our election law efforts and his fully prepared statement is available on our website. You can watch the hearing here.

Senior Attorney T. Russell Nobile testified on the same topic before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution in a hearing titled “Restoring the Voting Rights Act after Brnovich and Shelby County.” His remarks are available here and you can watch the testimony here.

The ostensible purpose of that hearings was to consider whether congressional action is called for in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2013 landmark ruling in Shelby County v. Holder (570 U.S. 529) and its recent ruling in Mark Brnovich, Attorney General of Arizona, et al. v. Democratic National Committee, et al. (Nos. 19-1257 & 1258).

In Shelby, the court rejected forcing states to be under the thumb of the DOJ based upon voting/race data from the 1960s. The court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which provided the “coverage formula” that determines which states and local governments are subject to a preclearance requirement under Section 5. Section 4(b) required certain states and local governments to obtain a predetermination by the United States Attorney General or a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia affirming that changes to their voting laws or practices do not “deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group” before those changes could be enforced.

In Brnovich, the court considered two Arizona election policies, one outlawing ballot harvesting and the other banning out-of-precinct voting. The court ruled that neither of these election policies violated the Voting Rights Act nor had a racially discriminatory purpose. We joined with Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) to file an amici curiae (friends of the court) brief in this case, arguing that the parties challenging Arizona’s clean election laws “utterly failed” to show that the challenged voting procedure caused minorities to have less opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. The court agreed.

Reacting to the court’s ruling in Brnovich, I called the court’s decision “a home run for cleaner elections, reaffirming that states may take action to prevent election fraud without waiting for it to occur within their own borders. This new decision rightly rejects the race-baiting of the leftist partisans who pretend that neutral provisions to combat voter fraud (such as voter ID and bans on ballot harvesting) are presumptively racist. The decision also destroys the foundation of the Biden administration’s recent attack on Georgia’s election reform laws.”

For more than 25 years, we have been known for our aggressive, leading-edge use of public records laws and lawsuits, as well as taxpayer, civil rights and whistleblower protection litigation to fight government corruption. We are a national leader in voting integrity and voting rights. As part of this effort, we assembled a team of highly experienced voting rights attorneys who have fought gerrymandering in Maryland, stopped discriminatory elections in Hawaii, and cleaned up voter rolls in California, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, among other achievements.

In his prepared remarks, Popper notes:

One hears—and large news outlets dutifully report—that there is a “tsunami” of legislation “restricting the right to vote,” that states reforming their mail-in voting laws as COVID retreats are engaged in “voter suppression,” and even that these actions represent “the new Jim Crow.”  These claims are preposterous. At best, they reveal a startling historical ignorance. The grandfather laws, absurd literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation and terroristic violence of the Jim Crow era have nothing whatever to do with, say, Ohio’s restriction of early voting from 35 to 29 days, or with limiting same-day registration. Nor do they have anything to do with regulating absentee ballots, out-of-precinct voting, or voter ID requirements, all reasonable electoral integrity measures approved by the Carter-Baker Commission.

At worst, these statements reveal a startling cynicism, driven by a desire to inflame passions—and to raise funds.  Those who talk this way are being irresponsible.

In his testimony, Nobile provided historical evidence:

Data, not pop culture nor hyperbole from those that oppose race-neutral election integrity laws, tells the true story of ballot access in America. To objectively evaluate whether racial minorities have an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process, you must look at racial registration and turnout data. Looking at the most recent data, the opportunity to participate is exponentially better now than it was in 1965. Based on this data, it is hard to contend that Section 5 needs to be expanded as proposed in H.R. 4. Registration. 

Current data shows that black registration has completely rebounded and, in some instances, exceeds White registration rates. In fact, the data shows that eight years after Shelby County, registration disparities in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi – all previously covered (in whole or part) by Section 5 – are all below the national average. In fact, black registration in Mississippi is 4.3% higher than White registration. Registration disparities in these former Section 5 states are lower than the disparities in California, New York, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, and Virginia. In fact, the four biggest registration disparities, i.e., where White registration most exceeds black registration, are found in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Colorado, all of which President Biden won in 2020. 

The specifics of the legislation aside, the Left and its partisan allies are engaged in a cynical, race-baiting assault on free and fair elections. Judicial Watch is in federal court, in the public square – and before Congress – to educate and litigate on your behalf to protect our election system from this dangerous assault.

Judicial Watch Sues for Records of Critical Race Theory Training at West Point

Our military classrooms are being invaded by Marxist nonsense. And we’re taking action. We just filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Defense for all records related to diversity, inclusion, and equity training for first-year cadets entering West Point (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:21-cv-01795)).

We sued after the United States Military Academy failed to respond to an April 6, 2021, FOIA request seeking:

    • Copies of all diversity, inclusion, and equity training materials for first-year Cadets entering West Point. This includes lists of reading materials and presentation materials that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity for first-year Cadets.
    • Copies of all contracts between the U.S Military Academy and any organization or company responsible for coordinating and implementing diversity, inclusion, and equity programs and training for Cadets at the United States Military Academy.

In April, Congressman Mike Waltz (R-Fl), a West Point graduate, made public “examples of Corps of Cadets being mandated to attend seminars and presentations on critical race theory that included inflammatory lessons and presentations that are detrimental to the mission and morale of the U.S. Army.”

In a public letter to the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Waltz demanding information about the mandated critical race theory training for cadets:

Information has recently come to my attention from unsettled soldiers, cadets, and families that raises serious concerns about the U.S. Army’s introduction of elements of critical race theory into cadet instruction…In February this year, I understand the U.S. Military Academy under your leadership required cadets to attend a mandatory seminar on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” According to the schedule I received, cadets ‘MUST attend at least one of the seminars.

I was provided a presentation slide from one of the workshops with the title of ‘White Power at West Point’ and ‘Racist Dog Whistles at West Point.’ Additionally, another presentation slide shared with me depicted a lecture by Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University with the title “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”

Critical race theory is racist, anti-American, and repackaged Marxism. It has no place in our military, let alone the storied heights of West Point. The Pentagon needs to immediately follow the FOIA law so the American people can fully understand and stop the extremist indoctrination of the U.S. Army’s rising leadership at West Point.

New VA Records Document CRT Wording in Vaccine Plan

Critical race theory has also crept into the healthcare our veterans receive, we’ve learned. 

This disturbing find is in 75 pages of records from the Department of Veterans Affairs that included a section focused entirely on race titled “Addressing health inequities.”

The documents also detail the adverse reactions veterans had to the COVID-19 vaccines. As of April 2021, Veteran’s Health Services reported 895 serious reactions which included: 20 cardiac arrests, 36 strokes, 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis, 10 heart attacks, and 19 pulmonary embolisms. They also reported over 26,000 less serious reactions. The agency withheld individual report details, citing alleged privacy and related issues. To be clear, the fact that an adverse event is reported does not necessarily mean there is a causal link between a vaccine and the reported adverse event.

The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on April 14, 2021, for:

  • All reports related to any adverse reaction to any COVID-19 vaccine administered at any Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility. This request includes, but is not limited to, any such reports transmitted to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).
  • All policies, regulations, or other guidance documents regarding the reporting and/or tracking of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.

A document titled “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting” includes multiple charts documenting what the VA describes as serious and non-serious reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. There have been 895 reports of serious events. These events include “Events where Death, hospitalization, and/or Life-Threatening Event is marked as an outcome.” There were 24,585 non-serious events. You can see the chart details here.

  • A total of 20 cardiac arrests, 36 strokes, 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis, 10 heart attacks, and 19 pulmonary embolisms were reported for employees and veterans who took one of the three vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine adverse event reports include five cerebrovascular accidents, four cases of deep vein thrombosis and three pulmonary embolisms for veteran patients.

  • Moderna vaccine adverse event reports include 15 cardiac arrests, 16 cerebrovascular accidents, five cases of deep vein thrombosis, five myocardial infarctions and seven pulmonary embolisms for veteran patients. Employees who took the vaccine reportedly suffered five cerebrovascular accidents, four cases of deep vein thrombosis, two myocardial infarctions and two pulmonary embolisms.
  • Pfizer vaccine adverse event reports include five cardiac arrests, 10 cerebrovascular accidents, one case of deep vein thrombosis, three myocardial infarctions and seven pulmonary embolisms for veteran patients. There was one case of deep vein thrombosis in an employee.

A section titled “Addressing health inequities” reports that the COVID vaccine allocation was prioritized to persons of color, in part, because of “social injustices”:

National U.S. data show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected persons of color … This is attributed to social injustices that create a higher disease burden and shorter lifespan in this population … attributed this partly to the concept of “weathering,” that lifelong exposure to the stresses of racial disparity and injustice manifests in greater physical and psychological disease burden and less ready access to quality health care and health-related resources. In addition, persons of color are more likely to work and live in settings with higher exposure to SARS-CoV-2. That is, merely being Black or Hispanic or Native American does not cause one to more easily contract SARS-CoV-2. Rather, the lifetime social disadvantages experienced by persons of color make them more likely to have health problems that predispose them to contract SARS-CoV-2and more often suffer serious or fatal outcomes. Thus, these individuals, along with others who are at risk for suffering serious or fatal illness due to the presence of comorbidities, will be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine per the allocation plan as a consequence of risk factors.

The VA in a letter to us notes that “all COVID-19 vaccine reactions are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) via their FDA/CDC VAERS database. PBM advised that VAERS Data is available publicly on the Health and Human Services website at: VAERS – Data (hhs.gov). As the VAERS website notes:

When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.) 

Despite the censorship and suppression by the Biden administration and Big Tech, the American people benefit from more, not less, information about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. These new documents show that politics and a pernicious critical race theory approach infects VA decision-making on the allocation of health resources to veterans.

‘Temporary’ Reprieve Extended for Five Groups of Illegal Immigrants

Following in President Obama’s footsteps, President Biden is unnaturally eager to abuse immigration law on behalf of illegal immigrants, including those from a nation dubbed a “hotbed of terrorism.” Here are the details from our Corruption Chronicles blog.

In its short tenure, the Biden administration has extended a special reprieve for five different groups of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. The most recent was renewed a few days ago for thousands of people from Yemen, the Middle Eastern Islamic nation well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. Officially, the provisional amnesty is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian measure designed to shield undocumented aliens from deportation during emergencies. It is supposed to be a short-term solution for foreign nationals that do not qualify as refugees but cannot immediately return home because of difficulties caused by factors such as violence, natural disasters, or political and economic instability. TPS, which is typically granted in 18-month increments, not only protects foreign nationals from deportation it also allows them to work in the U.S.

The Obama administration went crazy with TPS, renewing it for tens of thousands of Hondurans and Nicaraguans more than a decade and a half after a hurricane hit the Central American nations, prolonging it for Africans two years after originally issuing it due to Ebola, and repeatedly restoring it for tens of thousands of Haitians years after an earthquake struck the island. During its two terms, the Obama administration never missed an opportunity to offer illegal immigrants reprieve, using inclement weather in the U.S., a virus, natural disasters and tainted water in an American city to extend the perk. Nationals of Yemen have been protected by both Democrats and Republicans, receiving TPS over “ongoing armed conflict” under Obama and two extensions under Trump. 

A few days ago, the Biden administration renewed the TPS for Yemenis yet again, protecting approximately 2,180 people. “Yemen continues to experience worsening humanitarian and economic conditions that prevent individuals from safely returning to their homes,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement announcing the “re-designation.” He added that the administration “will continue to protect and offer these individuals a place of residency temporarily in the United States.” The measure will protect Yemenis who previously benefitted from TPS through March 2023 and will allow about 480 additional Yemenis to qualify. It marks the fifth TPS extension issued by the Biden administration since taking office this year. In January TPS was extended for 6,700 Syrians and 1,800 additional Syrians were allowed to file applications for the 18-month reprieve. In early March 320,000 Venezuelans received TPS for 18 months and in mid-March, Burmese nationals got it for the same period after a military coup and security forces’ violence against civilians. Later in March, the administration extended TPS yet again for more than 100,000 Haitians over the economic crisis that persists more than a decade after the earthquake that provoked the original TPS.

Yemen was first designated for TPS by the Obama administration in 2015 after a northern opposition group called Houthis initiated a violent, territorial expansion across the country and forced Yemeni government leaders to exile in Saudi Arabia. When it expired, the Obama administration extended it another 18 months on the “dual bases of ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.” When that second extension expired, the Trump administration renewed it twice, first under Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in 2018 and again under acting Secretary Chad Wolf. The latest extension is warranted because, although it is in its seventh year, the protracted conflict has shown no sign of abating and fighting between Houthi and government forces continues, according to a Federal Register announcement issued this month.

Yemen is a hotbed of terrorism that serves as the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Nevertheless, shortly after getting elected President Biden revoked the terrorist designation of a Yemen-based militant group, a move that was followed by a fat “humanitarian assistance” check from American taxpayers. The Federal register bulletin announcing the group’s (Ansarallah, also known as Partisans of God) terrorist classification says it has committed or has attempted to commit, or poses a significant risk of committing, or has participated in training to commit, acts of terrorism that threaten the of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. The international community strongly opposed classifying Ansarallah as a terrorist entity, asserting it would come with repercussions for humanitarian operations. Days after rescinding the terrorist designation, the Biden administration gave Yemen $191 million in assistance

Border Patrol Agent Helps Smuggle Illegal Immigrant, Drugs Through Texas Checkpoint Border Patrol Agent Helps Smuggle Illegal Immigrant, Drugs Through Texas Checkpoint

Follow the money. That’s pretty much all you need to know about drug and people smuggling on our southern border. And – no surprise here – the risk of all this dirty money is that government officials are too often compromised. Our Corruption Chronicles blog tells one such story.

As if enough drugs and illegal immigrants are not already being trafficked into the U.S. through Mexico, a federal agent has been arrested and charged after helping smugglers pass cocaine and an undocumented alien through a Texas border crossing. His name is Oberlin Cortez Peña, and he works for the U.S. Border Patrol (BP), the frontline Homeland Security agency charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., protecting the American people, and safeguarding our borders. On two separate occasions, Peña took $1,000 in exchange for helping a vehicle carrying at least five kilograms of cocaine through the checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, federal prosecutors say. The crossing is situated in an area north of the Rio Grande River that federal authorities say is the nation’s busiest for “alien and narcotic traffic” Peña “utilized his knowledge as a BP agent in acting as a scout and providing information about the inspection lanes and which one to utilize,” according to a statement issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) this month.

The disgraced federal agent, who is 22 years old, also gave smugglers detailed instructions on how to conceal the drugs in a motor vehicle and tactics to distract the BP canine unit at the checkpoint. Authorities launched an investigation in the middle of June after receiving information that a BP agent was involved in human smuggling, according to a federal complaint. The feds set up a sting operation and had an informant contact Peña, who agreed to take money to provide the informant with advice. Peña said he would drive ahead on his way to work and communicate which checkpoint lane to smuggle the illegal immigrant, referred to as IA in the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas over the weekend. “PENA provided detailed instruction on when the smuggling had a highest rate of success, and instructions on how to conceal the IA,” the complaint states. Authorities say that the meeting occurred on June 21.

The following day, the agent met the cooperator at a mall in McAllen, Texas to discuss smuggling arrangements. The informant said he had five kilograms of cocaine to smuggle through the BP Falfurrias checkpoint and the corrupt agent agreed to be paid $1,000 for conducting countersurveillance, federal prosecutors write in the complaint. Peña also agreed to check the BP schedule to see which agents would be working on Friday, June 25, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. The agent “was willing to transport the 5 kilograms of cocaine if there were rookie agents working at the time,” the federal complaint states. He also told the cooperator to relay what type of compartment the cocaine would be in and the license plates of the load vehicle so that he could check the plates for any alerts. Peña received a photo of a Magellan backpack cooler where the cocaine would be hidden and advised that the drugs be hidden inside the cooler walls with the insulation.

Here is another scary tidbit involving this story. After checking the BP schedule Peña discouraged the operation on the originally planned date because the agents working that day “were good.” He suggested moving the smuggling to another day when the BP team on duty “sucks” and all the agents are “rookies.” After the cocaine passed through the checkpoint, the government source met Peña at a La Joya, Texas eatery and paid him $1,000. The men coordinated another cocaine shipment for later in the week and, once again, Peña agreed to check the BP work schedule, conduct surveillance, and find out if the vehicle’s license plate had been flagged. After that drug shipment made it through, the crooked federal agent met the informant at a gas station in Falfurrias and the informant paid him $1,000. Peña is charged with attempting to aid and abet possession with intent to distribute five or more kilos of cocaine and faces up to a decade in prison. Earlier in the year, Peña was arrested for driving under the influence, according to a local news report.

Between the start of the 2021 fiscal year in October and May Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has seized an astounding 92,000 pounds of drugs from vehicles at the Mexican border, according to agency figures cited in a national news article. Another piece reveals federal agents have seen a “staggering 4,000 percent increase in fentanyl seizures over the last three years,” but not at ports of entry. The fentanyl is being smuggled by brazen smugglers through the desert. A chief BP agent is quoted saying that “cartels are very creative” and that they ‘intimidate migrants and find ways to illegally have them transport that narcotic into the United States.” The last thing we need is an American federal agent like Peña helping them.

Until next week …


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