June 6, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Obama and Corruption
It appears Barack Obama has finally dragged himself across the finish line for the Democratic presidential nomination, with Hillary Clinton wrapped tightly around his ankles. It is amazing that Senator Obama beat back the corrupt Clinton machine to claim his historic victory.
Unfortunately, there are signs that Obama has a whiff of Clintonism about him. Now that Barack Obama is the presumptive nominee, let’s review what we’ve learned so far about his ethical record.
- In echoes of Whitewater, Obama was involved in a questionable real estate deal with Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a political fundraiser who was just convicted Wednesday on fraud and money laundering charges. (Rezko now faces up to 20 years in prison.) The long and the short of it is that Obama approached Rezko with the idea to simultaneously purchase adjoining lots in Southside Chicago. Rezko obliged. Obama obtained his lot for a reduced price. Rezko later sold a portion of his property to Obama (at a highly inflated price). All of this took place while Rezko was the subject of corruption investigations.
- Obama was indirectly referenced in court documents involving the Illinois senator’s “bagman,” Antoin “Tony” Rezko and his suspicious relationship with corrupt Iraqi businessman Nadhmi Auchi. Rezko, a key fundraiser for Obama, allegedly received a $3.5 million payout from Auchi’s company.
- Obama was subsequently forced to give to charity $150,000 in Rezko-tainted donations.
- According to the New York Times, “Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies which had as major investors some of his biggest political donors. One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.”
- Obama either never kept or he destroyed documents from his days as an Illinois State Senator, leaving no paper trail of his work there. When questioned about it by the press, Obama couldn’t get his story straight. A Judicial Watch investigation continues.
It was also disturbing to see that Obama is drawing from a stable of Clintonites to advise him on important matters. Eric Holder, a former top Clinton Justice Department official, was named this week to Obama’s vice-presidential search team. Holder has quite the record, to put it charitably, and it includes pushing along the corrupt Marc Rich pardon in the final days of the Clinton administration. Also on the search committee is Jim Johnson, who is associated with the Fannie Mae accounting scandal (a scandal that makes Enron seem like tiddlywinks.)
To get a feel for how the mainstream liberal media will treat questions about Obama’s ethical judgment, note the lack of media interest in the conviction of Obama’s political godfather and real estate partner, Rezko.
But you can be sure Judicial Watch will continue investigating both Senator Obama and Senator McCain (see our FEC complaint concerning McCain here), and I will be sure to report our findings to you in this space. (Of course, we’ll never take our eyes off of Hillary, who will remain a power here in Washington no matter the outcome of the November election.)
Judicial Watch Monitors Terrorist Arraignments at Guantanamo Bay
Five terrorist prisoners allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks were arraigned on June 5 at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a testament to our strong reputation, Judicial Watch was selected by the Pentagon to be one of the few NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) to monitor the proceedings. Judicial Watch provides an alternative viewpoint to the ACLU and other left-wing groups attacking virtually any attempt by the government to bring terrorists to justice and keep them from committing more terrorist acts. Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes flew to Guantanamo to attend the arraignments, and I should have a full report in this space next week.
The United States seeks the death penalty for all five defendants including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to masterminding the 9/11 attacks.
(Judicial Watch has significant work on the terrorism issue – for details, click here.)
For more background, here’s some interesting information about Guantanamo Bay prison that is too often ignored in the media.
Local Police Fail to Notify Feds about Possible Terror Suspects
Over the last few weeks, I’ve provided you with important updates on Judicial Watch’s campaign to end illegal alien sanctuary policies. In Phoenix, Arizona, for example, the chief of police recently announced a new policy that will make it easier for Phoenix police officers to communicate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Judicial Watch helped prompt this policy change through pressure from an investigation and a threatened lawsuit.
Judicial Watch also filed important new briefs in its legal effort to stop “Special Order 40,” the LAPD’s sanctuary policy for illegals. We also launched an investigation of Culver City, California’s sanctuary policies following the murder of high school student Jamiel Shaw by an illegal alien gang member who had been released from a Culver City jail the day before the incident.
This week, we were reminded yet again (as if we needed it) as to why it is so important for local police officers to have free and unfettered communication with federal officials in matters involving law enforcement, immigration and national security. Consider this from the June 3rd edition of USA Today:
“State and local police officers fail to notify federal authorities about encounters with possible terror suspects up to 10 times a day, a senior FBI official said. The rate of failure represents missed opportunities to verify possible matches to suspects on the government’s terrorist watch list or to remove the names of innocent individuals. Leonard Boyle, director of the bureau’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), said in an interview.”
If you do some quick math that means approximately 3,500 terror alerts are ignored by local and federal police officers each year. And many of these officers are no doubt operating under sanctuary policies that frustrate and even prohibit cooperation with federal officials.
While the article notes the difficulty in determining whether or not these missed reports will lead to terrorist incidents, the argument for compliance is not entirely theoretical. Consider this: “Two of the (9/11) hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, were sought by federal investigators for more than a year before the attacks. Both went undetected, even though Oklahoma authorities had stopped Alhazmi and cited him for speeding five months before the attacks in 2001.”
Of course, illegal alien advocates (such as the ACLU) essentially argue that matters such as immigration enforcement (which are directly related to our national security) are purely federal affairs, and that state and local officials are legally prohibited from getting involved. We’ve put the lie to that argument many times over. (In fact, Judicial Watch took a lead role in a promoting a federal program, known as 287g, which specifically trains local police officers in immigration enforcement techniques.)
But here’s yet another counter, as reported by USA Today: “Police are asked to contact the (Terrorism Screening) Center when routine computerized background checks on individuals – who may have violated traffic rules or been involved in a domestic disturbance – trigger electronic alerts from the TSC.”
Yes, national security is a federal obligation. Just like the federal government is charged with protecting our borders. But local police officers are being asked to assist. And preventing another 9/11 may depend on whether they do so.
Today (June 6) is the anniversary of D-Day, the 1944 invasion of France by the U.S. and the Allies that led to the defeat of the Nazis. Judicial Watch has a large number of supporters who are veterans and I’m sure that more than a few of them helped achieve that historic military victory. Thank you to every one of the heroes who sacrificed for our freedom that day!
Until next week…
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.