Weekly Update: Benghazi Stonewall Crumbles
JUNE 21, 2013
Amnesty Debate Update – Judicial Watch Work Cited on Historic Senate Debate
In May, the so-called bi-partisan “Gang of Eight’s” immigration reform bill, which provides massive instant amnesty and a path to citizenship for tens of millions of illegal aliens, passed a procedural hurdle in the United States Senate and moved to full Senate consideration.
And now the debate is underway and expected to last through the month of June. Proponents of the amnesty plan in the Senate pretend to be confident the mammoth bill – which weighs 24 pounds – will pass, with a few “tweaks.” Per Yahoo News:
Two pragmatic Senate Republicans are working furiously with Senate immigration reformers to strike a compromise on a package of amendments to the bipartisan reform bill, offering up the Senate’s most realistic chance of passing a reform bill with the slew of GOP votes that the bill’s authors have long coveted.
“We have some people on our side of the aisle that aren’t going to support the immigration bill, period,” says Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee, who along with Sen. John Hoeven (R) of North Dakota are working on the GOP’s amendment package.
Yet “there are a number of people on our side of the aisle that if we can just get it tailored a little bit with a few other amendments, [they] might be willing to send it over to the House,” Senator Corker says.
So that’s the “pragmatic” Republican Senate solution. Tweak this fatally flawed legislation by tacking a few fig leaf amendments to it, hoping it comes back from the House with the amnesty plan still intact. Why? Not to protect the country, secure our borders, protect the public safety or uphold the rule of law – but to win more votes from Hispanics.
And on this point, I have to give Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) (another Senate Republican “pragmatist”) points for honesty. He explained quite clearly on Meet the Press, why he feels Republicans need to support this bill: “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Did Senator Graham just admit some Republican Senators are willing to craft laws to get votes? I believe he just did. These are the sort of frank admissions that typically only happen with the doors closed and the blinds shut.
Despite the best efforts of Corker and Graham, among others, don’t count Republican Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) among those likely to be converted. During his comments on the Senate floor, which was broadcast nationally via CSPAN-2, Senator Sessions referenced a Judicial Watch investigation clearly demonstrating the Obama administration has no credibility on the subject of border security.
Senator Sessions cited documents uncovered by Judicial Watch which show the Obama Department of Homeland Security has abandoned background checks on illegal aliens. This discovery proves false the Obama administration’s claim that only “law-abiding” illegal aliens will benefit from illegal immigration amnesty.
“Public safety threats or national security threats require that we do background checks,” said Senator Sessions. “So in effect…we’re moving many people without background checks that are criminals, [and] may be connected to terrorist organizations, from the shadows to broad daylight with absolute protection of legal immigrant status.”
Instead of thoroughly doing background checks, as the law requires, the Obama DHS adopted costly “lean and lite” procedures in an effort to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications spurred by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive, which grants illegal aliens a two-year deferment from deportation. This DACA program is one of Obama’s lawless amnesty programs through which he unilaterally is ignoring existing law and allowing these illegal aliens to avoid deportation.
Now, as Senator Corker pointed out, the next step, once the Senate finishes slapping lipstick on this pig of a bill, is to send it over to the House of Representatives.
Since Republicans are in the majority in the House, if Boehner sticks to this plan, the bill would seem to be DOA. But it remains to be seen whether the House Republican leadership, which controls what legislation can move onto the floor of the House, are more principled (and less pragmatic) than their Senate Republican colleagues.
While all of this was going on in the U.S. Congress, another branch of the federal government further highlighted the importance of secure borders and the crisis to our polity caused by the illegal alien invasion. The Supreme Court struck down an effort by Arizona to ensure that only citizens were registering to vote.
Judicial Watch had filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the driving force behind Prop 200, also known as the Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Projection Act. (You can read more about that here.) I personally monitored oral arguments in the case with Senator Pearce and thought that we might win. But we (“we” meaning Americans who believe in the fundamental principles of the Constitution, federalism, and election integrity) didn’t.
Here’s the statement I offered to the press: “The integrity of our nation’s elections suffered a blow today from the Supreme Court. This issue takes on increasing urgency with the prospect of 11 million illegal immigrants being given amnesty. It is essential that our elections be secured by ensuring that only citizens register to vote.”
Proposition 200, passed in 2004 with 56% of the vote. It provided that state election officials “shall reject any application for registration that is not accompanied by satisfactory evidence of United States citizenship.” Such evidence could have included a driver’s license, a photocopy of a birth certificate or passport, naturalization documents, or “other documents that are meant as proof that [may be] established pursuant to” federal immigration laws.
In somewhat of a surprising development, conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for the High Court’s 7-2 majority. Justices Thomas and Alito dissented, with Justice Alito noting the Court’s ruling “seriously undermines” the state’s interest in preserving the integrity of elections. There are silver linings in the majority opinion, which rejects the view of the Left that the Feds can run roughshod over the constitutional rights of the states to conduct elections. But in the short term, elections will be less secure in Arizona and other states that had similar proof of citizenship requirements.
So what are the action items for activist patriots? Call the U.S. Senate at 202-544-3121 to let your representatives know how you feel about the Gang of Eight amnesty bill. There are too few moments when citizens can play a decisive role in the outcome of legislative debates in Washington. This is one of those moments.
And be sure support Judicial Watch’s election integrity efforts. Our litigation in this area will help ensure only that eligible voters (and not illegal or legal aliens) vote in our nation’s elections.
Judicial Watch Obtains First Photos from State Department Depicting Carnage at Benghazi Consulate
In yet another victory this week, Judicial Watch recently caused the first break in the Obama administration’s stonewall over the Benghazi attacks and related cover-up.
We forced the release of the first seven photos from the Department of State depicting the aftermath of the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya. We force release of the photos on June 6, 2013, pursuant to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on February 25, 2013. These are the first Benghazi photos released by the State Department.
The photos obtained by Judicial Watch seem to depict portions of the so-called “Special Mission Compound” in Benghazi, including: what appears to be a burned and ransacked building; at least two burned vehicles; and Arabic graffiti with militant Islamist slogans. You can view the photos here. They are not graphic but, given that they depict the aftermath of this terrible atrocity against our nation, upsetting and stark.
Now, to be sure, we’re after far more than these seven photos. In fact, here’s the full breadth of what we’re seeking pursuant to a FOIA request first filed last December with the Obama State Department:
Any and all videos and photographs depicting U.S. Consulate facilities in Benghazi, Libya (including the Special Mission Compound and the Annex) between September 10, 2012, and September 13, 2012, that were provided to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi and/or to any individual member of the ARB.
Judicial Watch became aware that the documents existed when they were referenced by the ARB in issuing its final report on December 31, 2012. According to ARB Chairman Ambassador Tom Pickering, the Board “reviewed thousands of documents and watched hours of video” during the course of its investigation. The Obama administration also reportedly shared Benghazi videos with certain members of Congress.
We figured if the Obama administration was sharing this material with Congress, the American people should also have the chance to have a look. State Department officials instead attempted to keep these records secret and did not release any photos or videos until we forced them to relent.
The fact that it took six months and a federal lawsuit to release these few photos tells you all you need to know about the Obama administration’s Benghazi stonewall. We now know that every video or photo, along with every additional piece of information we uncover, will tell us more about Benghazi – in contrast to the continued lies and spin coming out of the Obama administration about this atrocity.
While we continue to pursue photo and video evidence of the Benghazi attacks, Judicial Watch has three pending FOIA lawsuits against the Obama administration for documents about the Benghazi attack, 14 FOIA requests and one Mandatory Declassification Review Request.
In a FOIA lawsuit filed against the Obama State Department in February, 2013, Judicial Watch sought access to records concerning a contract totaling nearly $400,000 that was awarded to a foreign firm for “Security Guards and Patrol Services” at the Benghazi Consulate prior to the Benghazi attacks. And here’s why.
According to Breitbart.com, when first questioned about foreign Benghazi security guards on Friday, September 14, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically denied that State had hired any private firm to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi.
However, on September 17, 2012, WIRED magazine broke the story that Nuland had provided false information in her September 14 press conference, saying: “Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that ‘at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,’ the department inked a contract for ‘security guards and patrol services’ on May 3, 2012, for $387,413.68.”
In her daily press briefing on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, Nuland admitted that she had made an “error” concerning the State Department’s hiring of foreign security firms in Benghazi. “There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya,” Nuland said. Breitbart.com later broke the story that Blue Mountain was specifically selected for the Benghazi security operation because it was willing to sign the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya prohibiting guards from carrying weapons with live ammunition.
In another FOIA lawsuit filed in February 2013, this one against the Obama Administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, JW seeks access to a controversial “speaking points” memo seeming to suggest that intelligence officials believed from the outset that al Qaeda was behind the attack despite public statements to the contrary issued by Obama administration officials, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice (now Obama’s appointee to serve as National Security Advisor) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The basis for the FOIA request was confirmed in early May, when an explosive story in the Weekly Standard revealed that, contrary to the Obama administration’s denials, the State Department’s own internal emails explicitly pointed to al Qaeda involvement in the deadly attack.
As you may recall, in an attempt to get beyond the lies and spin coming from the Obama administration, in January Judicial Watch issued an independent interim report on Benghazi entitled “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent.” The special report relied on the expertise of Raymond Fournier, a recently retired Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent with more than 30 years of experience managing security for a host U.S. Embassies, including our posts in Israel and Afghanistan.
As I say, these photos are a good start, but just a drop in the bucket considering the records the Obama administration keeps under lock and key. We will continue to pressure the administration through FOIA requests and lawsuits, when necessary, to get to the truth behind this scandal and cover-up.
By the way, we have a great op-ed on an underreported aspect of the Benghazi story – the role of Clintonite cover-up artist, Cheryl Mills. The Daily Caller title says it all (click on it for the link): “Cheryl Mills, Clinton cover-up expert, strikes again.” This is one piece of investigative journalism you should spread far and wide.
If you were not able to catch the national television premier of our documentary District of Corruption on AXS TV, you’re in luck. The movie will air again tomorrow on AXS TV at 2:30 p.m. ET. The feedback on the movie has been phenomenal, so you won’t want to miss it. You can alert your friends and family to watch it, too. District of Corruption is based on my New York Times best-seller, The Corruption Chronicles. The movie covers the gamut of corruption and secrecy from the Clinton years through the Bush years to the present crisis under Barack Obama. This movie is essential to understanding our times and is a revelation on how Washington really works.
Until next week…