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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

New Report on Border Terror Threat

New State Department Intel Confirms Arab Smuggling “Cells,” Al Qaeda Leader in Mexico
Congressional Travel Cover-Up at Pentagon
Judicial Watch Clinton Records Lawsuits Uncovers More Hidden Documents

New State Department Intel Confirms Arab Smuggling “Cells,” Al Qaeda Leader in Mexico

This week, Judicial Watch published another in our series of Pulitzer Prize-worthy reports the narco-terror threat, one of the many existential threats as a result of purposefully lax border security at the U.S.-Mexican border.  I reprint the chilling report below from you from our Corruption Chronicles blog:

For more than a decade the U.S. government has known that “Arab extremists” are entering the country through Mexico with the assistance of smuggling network “cells,” according to State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch that reveal among them was a top Al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI. Some Mexican smuggling networks actually specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States, the government documents say. The top Al Qaeda leader in Mexico was identified in the September 2004 cable from the American consulate in Ciudad Juárez as Adnan G. El Shurkrjumah. The cable was released to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act.

The new intelligence records were released as a result of an ongoing JW investigation into the critical national security threats on the southern border, specifically those created by Islamic terrorists teaming up with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate and attack the U.S. In response to JW’s reporting in the last two years the Obama administration—through various spokespeople, including FBI Director James Comey—has vehemently denied that Islamic terrorists are operating in Mexican towns near American cities or entering the U.S. through the famously porous southern border.

The State Department documents, which include substantial redactions supposedly to protect classified and personal information, contradict this. JW obtained them as part of an investigative series into Shukrijumah, an Al Qaeda operative also known as Javier Robles. In December, 2014 Shukrijumah was killed by the Pakistan Army in an intelligence-borne operation in South Waziristan. But before he died Shukrijumah helped plan several U.S. attacks, including plots to bomb Oprah Winfrey’s studio and detonate nuclear devices in multiple American cities. For years Shukrijumah appeared on the FBI’s most wanted list and, despite being sought by the agency, he crossed back and forth into the U.S. from Mexico to meet fellow militant Islamists in Texas. JW has reported that, as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, Shukrijumah piloted an aircraft into the Cielo Dorado airfield in Anthony, New Mexico.

The new State Department records show that U.S. authorities knew Shukrijumah was in Mexico because they say that the Regional Security Office (RSO) at the consulate in Ciudad Juárez used newspapers to distribute information throughout Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico about the Al Qaeda operative at the request of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in El Paso. This appears on page 17 of the documents, which are linked above in their entirety. Of interesting note is that the government uses an exemption that applies to classified information to continue to withhold some of the records when the entire file was already declassified back in September, 2014.

Information about Middle Eastern terrorists entering the U.S. through Mexico appears in a September 2, 2004 cable—declassified 10 years later—titled “CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT, A PROVEN CI TO USG IN THE PAST, REPORTS ARAB CELLS WITHIN MEXICO.” It explains that a reputable government informant went to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez and provided information pertaining to suspect Arab extremists who have been smuggled into the U.S. through the Mexican border. “The confidential source (SUBJECT) stated his family member, who is a human trafficker, knows the exact whereabouts of three Arabs who are currently being hidden in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico,” the State Department cable reads. “Although not absolutely positive, one of the three is likely Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, alleged to be a Saudi Arabian terrorist cell leader thought to be in Mexico. SUBJECT also provided information on two smuggling networks, “cells,” that specialize in providing logistical support for Arab individuals attempting to enter the United States.”

Many questions remain about the U.S. government’s relationship with Shukrijumah, but last spring JW obtained records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that indicate he was a Confidential Source/Informant for the government. Shukrijumah lived in South Florida’s Broward County and graduated from Broward Community College with a degree in computer engineering. Four months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks Shukrijumah fled the U.S. He was one of the suspected actors in a number of planned terror attacks in the U.S., including a plot to simultaneously detonate nuclear devices in several U.S. cities. Convicted terrorist Jose Padilla claimed to have trained with Shukrijumah to blow up U.S. apartment buildings using natural gas explosions.

In 2010 Shukrijumah was indicted in the Eastern District of New York for his role in a terrorist plot to attack targets in the United States—including New York City’s subway system—and the United Kingdom, according the FBI. The plot against New York City’s subway system was directed by senior Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, the FBI says, and was directly related to a scheme by Al Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United States.

A year earlier Shukrijumah helped plan a terrorist truck-bomb targeting Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago as well as the iconic Sears Tower. Two of his fellow conspirators—Emad Karakrah and Hector Pedroza Huerta—were arrested in 2014 for unrelated state crimes in different parts of the country. Karakrah got busted in Chicago on charges of making a false car bomb threat after leading police on a high-speed chase with an ISIS flag waving from his vehicle. Huerta, an illegal alien twice convicted for driving intoxicated, got nabbed in El Paso for drunk driving. Both Karakrah and Pedroza were released from custody in 2015 under highly unusual plea deals.

The men formed part of a sophisticated narco-terror ring, exposed in a JW investigative series, with connections running from El Paso to Chicago to New York City. The operation includes an all-star lineup of logistics and transportation operatives for militant Islamists in the United State, drug and weapons smugglers for the Juarez drug cartel in Mexico, an FBI confidential informant gone rogue and two of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists. Shukrijumah was one of them and, though he’s dead, he is an important part of the puzzle and extremely relevant when connecting the dots in the narco-terror ring.

The crisis at the Mexican border – and the government’s lies about the worsening Islamist terror threat – could result in a terrorist attack calamity for the United States.  But you can see that we can make a difference – as I’m convinced JW’s reporting flushed the al Qaeda operative out of Mexico and resulted in his demise in Mexico.

Congressional Travel Cover-Up at Pentagon

It is only Barack Obama that deserves scrutiny for abuse of taxpayer-funded travel.  Your Judicial Watch is the leader (or the only one in DC) investigating and litigating for information on the cost of Barack Obama lavish travels. The known total expense to the American taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel is now $70,880,035.78.  But the Air Force luxury planes are used for more than Barack Obama and his Executive Branch entourage.  These planes are also at the beck and call of Congress who loves using the planes to fly all over the world.

On the case of the Legislative Branch’s abuse of the military and taxpayer, we just filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking records concerning travel costs for members of Congress.  The lawsuit includes records about official congressional delegation travel (CODELS), which often use Air Force luxury jets and support personnel, authorized by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate.  Again, not one junket takes off without the approval of Republican leaders.

The lawsuit was filed after the U.S. Air Force – a component of the Department of Defense – ignored our modest August 14, 2015, request for congressional travel records, including:

All records regarding mission taskings of flights escorting members of Congress

All records concerning transportation costs for transporting members of Congress

All passenger manifests (DD-2131) for transporting members of Congress

All weekly travel reports for members of Congress

The recent history of congressional travel is rife with corruption and abuse.  Former Speaker John Boehner reportedly retaliated against Republican members opposed to some of his policies by refusing approval for them to travel on CODELS.  Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are two reported victims of this abuse.  Abusing the service of the Air Force to punish your enemies is downright contemptible and is one of the myriad reasons Boehner was forced out of the Speaker’s office.

Boehner, of course, replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who, thanks to JW, had a travel scandal named after her – “Air Pelosi.”  Beginning in 2009, after the media failed to follow up on concerns raised about Nancy Pelosi’s use of luxury Air Force jets to travel between her congressional district and DC, Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information act requests exposed her abuse of this travel perk.  Judicial Watch uncovered that Pelosi’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.

JW also uncovered internal Defense emails detailing attempts by Defense Department staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft, as well as Pelosi’s last minute cancellations and changes.  Pelosi’s office treated the Air Force like a taxi service.

Other documents show the Pentagon sent “heads up” emails to members of Congress providing them with planned responses to FOIA requests about their travel filed by Judicial Watch, The Wall Street Journal, Congressional Quarterly, and Roll Call, among other organizations.  What happened was we would ask for travel records from the Pentagon.  The Pentagon would find such records that might mention a senator or congressman.  Rather than give us these records first, the Pentagon would then send a warning letter and the specific records to these Capitol Hill politicians a full week before the Pentagon would give it to us as the law requires!

Judicial Watch’s work exposing Pelosi’s travel abuses resulted in her successor John Boehner, in a fit of ethics, declining to use Air Force luxury jets to travel to his Ohio congressional district.  Last week, a spokesperson for new House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirmed to us that Speaker Ryan has also declined to use Air Force jets to travel between his congressional district and Washington, DC.  It nice to see that the reform resulting from JW’s work continues to hold!

More information on Department of Defense support for travel by members and employees of Congress and Department of Defense support for congressional funerals can be found here and here. But the corruption of congressional travel isn’t just about flying on luxury jets the Air Force is forced to maintain and staff – it’s also about stealing cash.

In March 2010, Judicial Watch also pressured the House and the Senate Ethics Committees after the Wall Street Journal reported an astonishing story that members of both the Senate and House did not account for and improperly pocketed cash travel “per diem” advances.

Can you imagine simply pocketing a cash advance for business travel or not bothering to turn in receipts for use of the money?  You’d be either fired or arrested.

But Congress considered the scandal no big deal.

In December 2010, the House Ethics Committee refused to take action despite admitted violations of the rules regarding the use of taxpayer funds by members. And in June 2011, over a year after Judicial Watch’s complaint, the Senate Ethics Committee responded to us by merely reminding all members and staff to follow all of the rules regarding travel “per diems,” especially the rule requiring that unused cash be returned to taxpayers.

You can see how Congress, under both Republicans and Democrats, has a long record of abusing taxpayers and the military with wasteful “official” travel. Judicial Watch is again in federal court because once again the Pentagon, especially under Barack Obama, is in cover-up mode and protecting Congress by hiding records about junkets from the American taxpayer.

Taxpayers will fairly conclude that the Republican-controlled Congress hasn’t reined in Obama’s abusive travel practices because Congress wants continued access to the same types of luxury jets – at taxpayers’ expense – that Obama and other top government officials use.  This is one issue on which Republicans and Democrats agree!

You might want to ask Hill Republicans (or Democrats who happily travel with them) how they justify and account for the taxpayer and military burdens of their travel junkets.

Judicial Watch Clinton Records Lawsuits Uncovers More Hidden Documents

As if the hidden Clinton email cache wasn’t enough, apparently, the Obama State Department recently found “thousands” of new records from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.  According to information provided to Judicial Watch by various Justice Department attorneys, the new documents appear to be “working” records in electronic format located on both “shared” and “individual” drives accessible to or used by persons identified as being relevant to Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits on the Benghazi scandal and controversies from Clinton’s term at State.  The State Department confirmed the new find in a court filing earlier this month as part of a FOIA lawsuit concerning records about Clinton aide Huma Abedin:

After State filed its motion for summary judgment in this case [on November 11, 2015], State located additional sources of documents that originated within the Office of the Secretary that are reasonably likely to contain records responsive to Plaintiff’s request.  State has informed Plaintiff that it intends to search these locations, produce non-exempt portions of any responsive records, and file a supplemental declaration in support of its motion for summary judgment (which is presently stayed).

This is how the Washington Free Beacon reported on JW’s find:

The watchdog group Judicial Watch has been suing the State Department for years to turn over public records related to Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation, the employment arrangements of Clinton’s top aides, and her response to the Benghazi attack. According to the State Department, the newly found records are likely to include information relevant to Judicial Watch’s requests. Officials said they would need until at least Feb. 1 to review the documents.

In another modified limited hangout, the State Department admitted in another JW court case that the new records include the files of two of Clinton’s top aides:

The newly identified files that need to be searched in this case consist of office files that were available to employees within the Office of the Secretary during former Secretary Clinton’s tenure as well as individual files belonging to Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

The notorious Mills was Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at State and Sullivan was her top policy advisor.  Both now work on her presidential campaign.  As best as I can tell, the Obama State Department is still withholding key facts.  We still don’t where exactly these newly identified records are located; why they were not identified and searched previously; and how and when they were just identified.

This is the statement we issued to the press about this new Clinton records scandal:

This latest find of Clinton records, at this late date, is astonishing.  The State Department waited to last possible moment, as it did with the Clinton emails, to tell Judicial Watch and the federal courts about thousands of records that haven’t been searched, as the law requires.  Who knew what – and when did they know it – about these new Clinton documents?

These newly recovered Clinton records are a potential game changer – and will be of interest to the courts, Congress, and the FBI’s criminal investigation.  It sure looks like more of the same in terms of Obama administration officials’ obstructing our FOIA requests, obstructing the courts, obstructing Congress, and obstructing justice.

Judicial Watch exposed this new cover up on the heels of a finding by State Department’s Inspector General that Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department thwarted specific Judicial Watch FOIA requests by lying about her email system with “inaccurate” and “incomplete” responses.

Despite this new obstruction, there was some success last week over our legal fight for all the emails of Huma Abedin, another Clinton State consigliere.  We forced the State Department to agree to review and release under FOIA at least 29,000 Abedin emails over the next year.  As Politico’s Josh Gerstein reported:

At a court hearing in September, a Justice Department attorney said State had no plans to process for release all of the emails submitted by Abedin and other top aides such as Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan.

However, a legal filing Monday in a lawsuit brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch indicated State has acceded to a request to process all the emails Abedin turned over, except for news articles and summaries.

“The parties have agreed that State will produce to Judicial Watch responsive, nonexempt records from within the recently received documents, excluding news clippings/briefings contained therein,” said the court filing (posted here).

The schedule the two sides agreed to has the disclosure of the records overlapping significantly with Clinton’s presidential campaign and will have the State Department ramping up release of Abedin’s private emails just as the agency winds down its disclosure of Clinton’s messages.

So now a court will supervise the release of records the Obama gang had previously opposed.  Though we all would have like to have the records released years ago, as opposed to within a year, you should know that the Obama operatives trying to protect Hillary Clinton’s quest for the presidency wanted us to wait three years!

Looking back over this week, it’s remarkable that JW’s numerous lawsuits continue to make waves on the Clinton records issue.  Mrs. Clinton is probably worrying about 150 FBI agents, investigating her potential crimes on her records scandal and her evident abuse of office to help out those funding the Clinton Foundation and her own bank accounts.  But as JW’s work first led to the disclosure of both these scandals, you can see how JW is the key driver of the effort to hold her accountable for her corruption.