Saturday, July 22, 2017

Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch
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The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.

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Sanctuary City
The Feds stepped in when southern states didn't enforce de-segregation laws... Can't they step in now to enforce these important security laws?

Days after Judicial Watch exposed a new policy banning Phoenix police from contacting the feds after arresting illegal aliens, alarming pressure on the city council and chief of police has forced officials in Arizona’s largest city to postpone the order. Crafted at a Hispanic advisory committee that promotes open borders, the policy also prohibits officers from asking about suspects’ immigration status. The new policy’s two principle measures violate key provisions of a state law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and leave the city vulnerable to costly lawsuits.

In the aftermath of Judicial Watch’s story, which included a copy of the Phoenix sanctuary Immigration Procedures, police management is backing off and reconsidering the ramifications. Sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Judicial Watch that Phoenix Police Department brass is worried about getting sued under an Arizona law that states the following: “No official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”

The measure also states this: “If an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States is convicted of a violation of state or local law, on discharge from imprisonment or on the assessment of any monetary obligation that is imposed, the United States immigration and customs enforcement or the United States customs and border protection shall be immediately notified.”

Following Judicial Watch’s initial report, the chief of the Phoenix Police Department, Jeri Williams, issued an unusual and unprecedented Employee Notification System (ENS) delaying the new sanctuary order. The ENS was titled “Operations Order 4.48 Revision” and states the following: “Operations Order 4.48, which provides direction regarding immigration related issues, is still being reviewed and revised.  The anticipated effective date, July 10th, 2017, is no longer achievable. The final revisions should be completed within the coming weeks.  A new effective date will be shared once the policy has been finalized.”

Williams is Phoenix’s first female police chief and agency sources tell Judicial Watch she tried to quietly implement the sanctuary measures, perhaps hoping they’d go unnoticed. Earlier this year the chief, who was hired last summer, alluded to her stance on immigration enforcement in a local newspaper article questioning whether Arizona’s 325,000 illegal aliens trust the police. Chief Williams is quoted saying this: “We maintain open communication with our diverse residents and want to ensure that our crime victims and witnesses feel comfortable and confident when reporting crimes to our officers. As your chief, I commit to you that racial profiling will not be tolerated.”

The Phoenix Police Department has about 3,000 officers that were permitted to use “sound judgement” at any time under the agency’s longtime immigration enforcement policy. That allowed front-line officers to directly contact federal immigration officials involving criminal illegal immigrants. Under the revised policy, all contact with federal immigration partners must be funneled through a single Violent Crimes Bureau (VCB) desk sergeant who will document all immigration related data and give authority to call ICE. “This will bottle-neck the process,” according to a veteran Phoenix law enforcement official who added that the new policy was generated without any input from rank-and-file. Arizona law enforcement sources also told Judicial Watch that no other restrictions of this kind and magnitude regarding a federal crime are found in Phoenix Police Department policy. Officers continue to have the discretion to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Postal Inspectors, U.S. Marshalls and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) without fear of violating department policy.

If an illegal alien is arrested for a state crime, officers in Phoenix would no longer be allowed to take them directly to ICE for deportation and document the crime in a report if the sanctuary measures get adopted. Taxpayers must fund a mandated booking into county jail under the new rules, which state; “if there is a federal criminal charge and the person is under arrest for a state and/or local charge/s…the person will be booked into the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office…” Keep in mind that Maricopa Sheriff Paul Penzone doesn’t like honoring ICE holds on jailed aliens and considers illegal immigrants “guests.” The new Phoenix Police Department rules also eliminate a table showing state immigration enforcement laws as well as documentation of police contacts with verified and/or suspected illegal aliens, a troublesome change that omits valuable city crime statistics.

Besides forbidding questioning suspects regarding place of birth, country of citizenship and legal status in the United States, the postponed Phoenix policy says that transportation of illegal aliens to ICE by officers has been eliminated for civil immigration violations unless the illegal alien “consents to a transport.” Both restrictions violate key provisions of a 2010 Arizona law known as Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB1070). Open borders and civil rights groups fought the law in federal court and succeeded in getting rid of many of its mandates but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two key clauses in Section 2 of the measure.

The first, requires law enforcement officers to determine a suspects’ immigration status if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally. This grants officers the discretion that has just been stripped in Phoenix. The other clause in Section 2 allows state law enforcement officers to transport illegal immigrants directly to federal custody. The new Phoenix sanctuary measure, also replace the term “illegal alien” with “a person unlawfully present.”

Judicial Watch will continue investigating Phoenix’s efforts to provide illegal immigrants sanctuary and has filed public records requests for the police department’s communications with third-party groups pushing for the now-paused policy change.

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PR Firm
"So, are you are telling me non of this donation is going to reach the children?"

A Democrat Florida state lawmaker helped pass a bill that allocated $1.5 million to a nonprofit that she founded and pays her a six-figure salary and the state’s Republican governor approved it. The legislator, state Senator Lauren Book, represents south Florida’s Broward county and in 2007 she founded a charity called Lauren’s Kids to educate adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through school curricula, awareness campaigns and speaking engagements.

Book launched the south Florida-based group because her female nanny sexually abused her for years and she wants to prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness. The politician also wants to help survivors heal with guidance and support. “Armed with the knowledge that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, Lauren has worked to turn her horrific personal experience into a vehicle to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help other survivors heal,” according to the charity’s website. Lauren’s Kids has helped advocate for the passage of nearly two dozen laws to support survivors and protect children from predators, the group’s website further claims.

It’s not just a labor of love for the Florida legislator, who got elected in 2016. As chief executive officer of her charity Book receives a generous $135,000 annual salary, according to a nonprofit investigative journalism conglomerate that broke the story about this outrageous conflict of interest. Since 2012 Lauren’s Kids has received north of $10 million in taxpayer money because the senator’s father, Ron Book, is a prominent lobbyist who happens to be the group’s chairman. In just a few years Lauren’s Kids has “become one of the Florida Legislature’s most favored private charities,” the news article states. Governor Rick Scott, who is in his second term, went along with the $1.5 million appropriation for Book’s charity when he signed Florida’s $83 billion budget recently.

As if this weren’t enraging enough, Lauren’s Kids used a chunk of the taxpayer funds it has received to pay a Tallahassee public relations firm millions of dollars, accounting for 28% of its expenses. A follow-up story by the same investigative journalism outlet reveals that the senator’s charity paid Sachs Media Group $3.1 million between 2012 and 2015 as well as a yet-to-be-disclosed amount in 2016. “Millions of taxpayer dollars flowed through the nonprofit to Sachs Media as it both promoted Lauren’s Kids and cultivated Sen. Book’s public persona as a survivor of child sex abuse,” the article states. “Critics say the domination of Lauren’s Kids by the senator and her lobbyist-father raises concerns that the work Sachs Media does is more about making her look good, not raising awareness about unreported cases of child sex abuse.” The founder of the nation’s premier charity watchdog says in the story that “nonprofit money is supposed to be used for a public benefit and not to enhance the aspirations of the charity’s officers.”

A huge lapse in Florida’s senate ethics rules allowed Book to vote for legislation that essentially enriched her. The same “loophole” let her keep the conflict from the public, the news stories point out. Here’s the broader explanation from the news outlet: “Senators are forbidden by ethics rules from voting on any matter in which they or an immediate family member would privately gain – except when it comes to votes on the annual General Appropriations Act. Abstaining senators must also disclose the nature of their interest in the matter, according to the 335-page Florida Senate Rules and Manual.” That means lawmakers can vote on issues that can benefit their profession, though it’s downright sleazy when taxpayer dollars go to an entity that the elected official actually controls and makes money from. Millions of dollars earmarked to prevent child sexual abuse going to a public relations firm is in a class of its own.

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Classic Corruption
Ain't nothing like a little corruption to bring the two parties together.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to force the state’s largest health insurance company to dole out $300 million for a drug addiction treatment program for the poor, an egregious cash grab that media outlets call a “shake down” and “extortion.” Judicial Watch has launched an investigation into the Republican governor’s outrageous targeting of a nonprofit healthcare provider, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, that functions as a tax-paying health services corporation with nearly 4 million policyholders.

Here’s some background before getting into the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request filed by Judicial Watch last week; months ago, Christie launched a peculiar campaign to dig into Horizon’s multi-billion-dollar surplus to fund addiction programs as part of an effort to crack down on the state’s opioid epidemic. The unusual plan has encountered fierce opposition from a multitude of sources, including Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Horizon and the insurance industry in general. Christie has kept pushing, insisting that legislation be introduced to force Horizon to fund his dubious addiction experiment. A local newspaper reported that New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto refuses to support such a measure, calling it a “bad bill”

The same newspaper article said that “Christie’s push to get some money from Horizon included a news conference on Wednesday to spotlight $15.5 million in citations against Horizon over its Medicaid contract compliance with the state, which the governor says predates his effort to use their surplus. He said the citations show that his proposal, which also includes adding board members and requiring the insurer to post information online, is needed.” However, Christie refused to reveal the citations and when the media tried to obtain them through the Open Public Records Act, the governor’s office asserted that “contractual obligations” prevented the release of the documents. Information involving the mysterious multi-million-dollar fine levied against Horizon is among the records Judicial Watch has requested from the Office of the Governor.

When disclosing the citations didn’t work, Christie threatened to withhold school funding unless state lawmakers pushed through legislation giving him $300 million from Horizon and power to add four political appointees to its board of directors. A local news report said Christie threw “an 11th-hour grenade” into state budget negotiations and called his Horizon cash grab a “raid.” This week a state Senate committee voted to allow the governor to control how much surplus Horizon may keep. “The state could require this extraordinary amount of control because Horizon’s charter would be changed to say it “shall have a charitable mission … to fulfill its obligation as an insurer of last resort in this state,” a local newspaper article states. The Assembly would still have to approve the measure and that seems unlikely according to the speaker’s public comments.

Many wonder what is really driving this issue for Christie. Why is the governor hitting a nonprofit healthcare provider with an excellent rating and modest reserves? Sources with firsthand knowledge of the situation tell Judicial Watch that the real story involves New Jersey insurance magnate George E. Norcross, who is chairman of the board of Cooper University Hospital in Camden and owns a piece of AmeriHealth, a small money-losing New Jersey insurer. Norcross is also Executive Chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, one of the nation’s premier insurance, risk management and employee benefits brokerage and consulting firms. He’s been trying to force Horizon to buy the ailing AmeriHealth firm, sources tell Judicial Watch, but Horizon has refused.

Christie’s former chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, works for Norcross at Cooper University Hospital. His official title is senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Judicial Watch’s public-records request asks for all communications between Christie, his current chief of staff, Amy Cradic, Norcross and O’Dowd concerning Horizon from June 2016 to date. This includes records regarding, concerning, or related to the following: The activities, operations, and/or management of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc; The activities, operations, and/or management of AmeriHealth Insurance Company of New Jersey, Inc; The activities, operations, and/or management of Cooper University Hospital and/or Cooper University Health Care; The activities, operations, and/or management of Conner Strong & Buckelew; The $15.5 million fine recently levied against Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc; Any proposed legislative or regulatory changes that would significantly impact Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc.’s operations. This includes, but is not limited to, the proposals to alter the composition of the company’s board of directors and to reallocate a portion of the company’s financial reserves for public use.

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dreadlocks
I knew these dreadlocks would payoff one day!

A private business is paying tens of thousands of dollars to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the Obama administration on behalf of a male cook with long, matted and knotted hair required to practice an “Afrocentric” religion in which followers also smoke marijuana (“the spiritual use of cannabis”). Judicial Watch wrote about the outrageous taxpayer-funded lawsuit last summer, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws. Under Obama the EEOC spiraled out of control to push through the administration’s leftist agenda in the public and private workplace, filing record numbers of discrimination lawsuits in federal courts nationwide.

In this case the administration accused a Florida company of religious discrimination for ordering a prep cook to cut his dreadlocks because it didn’t comply with the company’s appearance standards. The Orlando company, Hospitality Staff, provides workers for central Florida’s huge hospitality industry and the cook (Courtney Joseph) worked at one of Walt Disney’s resorts. Disney complained about the employee’s hair and Hospitality Staff management told Joseph to cut it if he wanted to return to work. The cook explained that he couldn’t because he was a practicing Rastafarian and his dreadlocks were part of his religious beliefs and the company terminated him.

Hospitality Staff violated federal law by firing Joseph over his Rastafarian religious practices, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed last summer. “Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs so long as this does not pose an undue hardship to the business,” according to an agency announcement. The EEOC asked a federal court to grant a permanent injunction enjoining Hospitality Staff from further engaging in any employment practice that discriminates against workers because of their religious beliefs and requiring the company to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of employees in the future. The suit also asked the court to order Hospitality Staff to reinstate Joseph, grant back pay, provide compensatory and punitive damages and award any other relief the court deems necessary and proper.

This month, the EEOC announced that Hospitality Staff settled the case by paying the Rastafari cook $30,000 for violating his religious rights and implementing a company-wide accommodation policy. Under the decree the company’s employee handbook and policy manual will be amended to include a clear policy for religious-based requests. Training for managers and human resources personnel will also be conducted under the terms of the settlement and the firm will provide information to the EEOC involving its handling of religious discrimination complaints for three years. “Rastafarians wear dreadlocks as part of their sincerely held religious belief, and making an employment decision because of such a religious practice violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the EEOC writes in its announcement.

There is no formal, organized leadership in Rastafarianism which makes it difficult to accept as an official religion protected by federal law. It was born in the slums of Jamaica and followers must have dreadlocks, long clumps of ungroomed hair symbolizing the mane of the Lion of Judah. Rastafarians believe Haile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia, is God and that he’ll help blacks living in exile as a result of the slave trade return to Africa.

Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley, who died in Miami in 1981, was among the best known Rastafarians and more recently a famous rapper known as Snoop Dogg became Rastafari and changed his name to Snoop Lion, according to a mainstream news report. “A key belief for Rastas is the notion of death to all white and black oppressors,” the story says, adding that “the most common outward expressions of Rastafari are Rastas’ dreadlocks, penchant for smoking marijuana and vegetarian diets.”

Before asserting that a dreadlock ban constitutes religious discrimination in the workplace, the Obama administration claimed it was racially discriminatory in a separate federal lawsuit. That case involved a black woman ordered by an Alabama insurance claims processing company to cut her dreadlocks because it violated its grooming policy. The EEOC sued the company, Catastrophe Management Solutions, for racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Obama administration said the lawsuit wasn’t meant to attack policies requiring employees to maintain hair in a professional, neat or conservative manner but rather focus “on the racial bias that may occur when specific hair constructs and styles are singled out for different treatment because they do not conform to normative standers for other races.”

The EEOC’s district director pointed out that “generally, there are racial distinctions in the natural texture of black and non-black hair. The EEOC will not tolerate employment discrimination against African-American employees because they choose to wear and display the natural texture of their hair, manage and style their hair in a manner amenable to it, or manage and style their hair in a manner differently from non-blacks.” A federal judge in Alabama ruled against the government’s outlandish assertions, the Obama administration appealed and a federal appellate court upheld the Alabama judge’s decision, rejecting the woman’s right to keep the dreadlocks.

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Driving Crazy
"Well, Bruce, it looks like you were going 87mph in a school zone"

The famously corrupt local government surrounding the nation’s capital is offering gender-neutral driver’s licenses, even though it violates federal law. Beginning next week residents in Washington D.C. can obtain the gender-neutral licenses, according to a local news report that quotes the D.C. councilwoman behind the measure proclaiming “you have the right to make a choice between male and female.” In the article the lawmaker, Brianne Nadeau, is referred to as a gender-neutral “council member.”

Residents will have an array of gender choices that include “non-binary” and “undesignated,” according to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Depending on what option is chosen, an “X” will appear on the card in the place of an “M” for male or “F” for female. Councilwoman Nadeau, who represents Ward 1, is sponsoring a bill to make the gender-neutral licenses part of the permanent city code. She’s concerned that the gender-neutral license program can be revoked by a new administration in D.C. government.

“The District has always sought to be a safe and welcoming place for our LGBTQ community, and today we are continuing to deliver on that legacy,” the councilwoman said in a statement posted on her official website. “Gender is a spectrum and some of our residents do not identify as male or female. Current licenses force residents to conform to genders that don’t accurately reflect their identity. This has not only a practical impact but also a deeply negative emotional and mental health impact. This bill changes District identification documents so they can accurately reflect the needs of our residents.”

D.C. is the nation’s second jurisdiction to offer gender-neutral licenses. Oregon was the first, allowing residents to mark gender as “not specified” on applications for learner’s permits, identity cards and driver’s licenses. Beginning next month, the state is also allowing residents to change the “sex designation” on existing licenses or ID cards. “The information you provide to DMV when changing your gender designation will be kept confidential,” according to the Oregon DMV website.

Not surprisingly, California is also working to pass a similar measure and the state’s Senate has already approved a bill (Gender Recognition Act), that also includes gender-neutral birth certificates. The California bill states that “every person deserves full legal recognition and equal treatment under the law” and the legislation aims to “ensure that intersex, transgender, and nonbinary people have state-issued identification documents that provide full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity.”

The problem with all this is that it’s at odds with federal law, at least the driver’s license portion. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks specifically requires gender on each driver’s license and identification card issued to a person by a state. The law was enacted in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s license and ID cards. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards that do not meet these standards.

Title II of the act specifically states that “features on each driver’s license and identification card issued to a person by the State” must include: The person’s full legal name; the person’s date of birth; the person’s gender; the person’s driver’s license or identification card number; a digital photograph of the person; the person’s address of principle residence; the person’s signature; physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes; a common machine-readable technology with defined minimum data elements.

Under the Real ID Act federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses or ID cards from noncompliant states for official purposes, including boarding an aircraft, accessing federal facilities and entering nuclear power plants.

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Activist Judges
"Your Honor, you are supposed to uphold existing laws, not legislate from the bench..."

An Obama-appointed federal judge in Virginia ordered an illegal immigrant member of a violent street gang released from prison because immigration authorities supposedly violated his rights when he entered the U.S. illegally through Mexico. The Honduran teen crossed the Rio Grande during the influx of illegal alien minors a few years ago and turned himself into the U.S Border Patrol, according to a lengthy mainstream newspaper article, after acknowledging his gang history. The feds held him without a hearing in Virginia because he’s also a known drug dealer, but this month he was freed by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon. The judge ruled that, by holding the illegal alien gangbanger without a hearing, the government violated his rights to due process and family unity.

Here’s an excerpt from the newspaper article, which refers to the release as remarkable: “For immigration advocates, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon’s June 1 order was a major legal victory over the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the federal agency charged with caring for children apprehended at the border without their parents. The decision could lead to the release of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of long-detained unaccompanied minors, they said.

The teen’s release was remarkable for another reason: Before coming to the United States, he had sold drugs and witnessed murders as a member of MS-13. The violent street gang is on the rise in the United States, fueled, in part, by the surge in unaccompanied minors. MS-13 has been linked to dozens of recent killings, from the Washington area to Long Island, Boston and Houston. President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have voiced alarm about MS-13 and the way it has taken advantage of the U.S. immigration system.”

Some 150,000 Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC)—mostly from Central America—entered the U.S. through the Mexican border under the Obama administration and this disturbing case out of Virginia is one of many illustrating the threat they represent to the American public. Judicial Watch has covered and investigated the UAC influx for years and has obtained public records from the various government agencies responsible for relocating the illegal alien minors throughout the country.

From the moment the UACs began arriving in 2014, sources in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told Judicial Watch that the nation’s most violent street gangs—including the MS-13—were actively recruiting new members at U.S. shelters housing the illegal immigrant minors and that they used Red Cross phones to communicate. Both the MS-13 and the 18th Street gangs embarked on a recruiting frenzy at the various facilities housing the newly arrived illegal aliens, according to Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources. The UACs also brought in dangerous diseases— including swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis—and occupied the nation’s military bases as shelters.

The MS-13 is a feared street gang of mostly Central American illegal immigrants that’s spread throughout the U.S. and is renowned for drug distribution, murder, rape, robbery, home invasions, kidnappings, vandalism and other violent crimes. The Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) says criminal street gangs like the MS-13 are responsible for the majority of violent crimes in the U.S. and are the primary distributors of most illicit drugs. A year after the Obama administration began allowing droves of UACs to remain in the U.S., the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed that the MS-13 emerged as a top tier gang in the Lone Star State thanks to the influx of illegal alien gang members that crossed into the state the previous year. In an alarming 19-page report, the agency writes that the number of MS-13 members encountered by U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley sector increased each year, accelerating in 2014 and coinciding with increased illegal immigration from Central America during the same period. This clearly refers to the UAC crisis that saw thousands of illegal immigrants—many with criminal histories—storm into the U.S. in a matter of months.

Authorities in Texas predict the problem will only get worse. “Gang members from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador could be destined for locations in Texas with large Central American communities, including the Houston and Dallas areas,” the Texas Department of Safety writes in its report. Even if that doesn’t materialize, the state already has a serious gang crisis. “Reports of increased MS-13 gang activity have already surfaced in the Houston area,” the Department of Safety confirms. “MS-13 gang members are known for highly violent crimes, including brutal murders and dismemberments. Several recent crimes in Texas illustrate the criminal threat associated with MS-13.”

Here are some gruesome examples included in the agency’s report: “On September 15, 2014, the mutilated body of a 14-year-old middle school student was discovered in the woods near Houston after he was murdered with a machete.  Initial information from the investigation indicates the victim was a U.S. citizen and an MS-13 member who was murdered after trying to leave the gang. In October 2014, a 14-year-old and three adult males were arrested and charged with murder in this case. The adult males are from El Salvador, and at least two are documented MS-13 gang members.  In mid-August 2014, a 29-year-old 18th Street gang member was stabbed to death in Houston by a 16-year-old El Salvadoran member of MS-13. The victim suffered multiple stab wounds outside of a bar and was discovered a few days later in a bayou. According to investigators, the juvenile suspect revealed he illegally crossed into the U.S. in March 2014.”

Another huge concern is the relationship between street gangs and Mexican drug cartels, the report says, because it’s a very profitable partnership. “These groups pose the greatest gang threat to Texas due to their relationships with Mexican cartels, high levels of transnational criminal activity, level of violence, and overall statewide presence.” The lucrative gang/cartel business endeavors are also expanding into human smuggling and gambling, the Texas Department of Safety reveals in its report.

The recently freed MS-13 member will live with relatives in Kentucky, the news story says, further revealing that it’s not the only case of a UAC with gang ties being released by the feds. The mainstream media won’t identify the gangbanger because he’s 17-years-old and they want to protect his “safety.” The article quotes Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirming this: “If they come as undocumented minors, the federal government transports them wherever in the interior they say they’d like to go. The bad guys know how this system works, and they have exploited it.”

Just last week the same newspaper, Washington D.C.’s largest, published a piece titled “MS-13 gains recruits and power in U.S. as teens surge across border” that analyzes dozens of court cases and includes startling anecdotes of UACs with gang ties. “In the Washington region alone, at least 42 young people who crossed into the United States by themselves have been involved in MS-13 violence over the past three years,” the article states. “That includes 19 charged in connection with slayings or attempted slayings and four who were killed.” After years of relative quiet, the MS-13 has made a comeback, the news probe discovered, and it’s been fueled by the recent influx of illegal alien teens. “The rise in violence has hit especially hard on Long Island and in Boston, Houston and the D.C. area, with authorities linking dozens of killings to the gang,” the article says.

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Comey Deleted
When will Trump start calling this guy "Shady James Comey"

Judicial Watch today announced it sent Acting FBI Director Andrew G. McCabe a warning letter concerning the FBI’s legal responsibility under the Federal Records Act (FRA) to recover records, including memos Comey subsequently leaked to the media, unlawfully removed from the Bureau by former Director James Comey. The June 14 letter from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton states:

As you are well aware, former FBI Director James Comey gave sworn testimony last week before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Among other things, Mr. Comey confirmed that, while in office, he created various memoranda regarding his meetings with President Trump. Mr. Comey also confirmed that, after his departure from the FBI, he provided at least some of these memoranda to a third party, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, for the purpose of leaking them to the press. Various media outlets now have reported that Professor Richman has provided these memoranda to the FBI. It is unclear whether he still retains copies of the memoranda.

I am writing to you on behalf of Judicial Watch, Inc., a not-for-profit educational organization that seeks to promote transparency, accountability, and integrity in government and fidelity to the rule of law. In furtherance of its public interest mission, Judicial Watch regularly requests access to the records of the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and disseminates its findings to the public. In fact, on May 16, 2017, Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request seeking these specific memoranda removed from the FBI by Mr. Comey. Judicial Watch also has pending FOIA lawsuits in which the memoranda may be at issue.

These memoranda were created by Mr. Comey while serving as FBI director, were written on his FBI laptop, and concerned official government business. As such, they indisputably are records subject to the Federal Records Act. 44 U.S.C. §§ 2101-18, 2901-09, 3101-07, and 3301-14. The fact that Mr. Comey removed these memoranda from the FBI upon his departure, apparently for the purpose of subsequently leaking them to the press, confirms the FBI’s failure to retain and properly manage its records in accordance with the Federal Records Act. Even if Mr. Comey no longer has possession of these particular memoranda, as he now claims, some or all of these memoranda may still be in possession of a third party, such as Professor Richman, and must be recovered. Mr. Comey’s removal of these memoranda also suggests that other records may have been removed by Mr. Comey and may remain in his possession or in the possession of others. If so, these records must be recovered by the FBI as well.

As you may be aware, the Federal Records Act imposes a direct responsibility on you to take steps to recover any records unlawfully removed from the FBI. Specifically, upon learning of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction of records in the custody of the agency,” you must notify the Archivist of the United States. 44 U.S.C. § 3106. Upon learning that records have been unlawfully removed from the FBI, you then are required to initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records. Id.

In the event you fail to take these steps, you should be aware that Judicial Watch is authorized under the law to file a lawsuit in federal district court seeking that you be compelled to comply with the law. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Kerry, 844 F.3d 952, 955 (D.C. Cir. 2016); Armstrong v. Bush, 924 F.2d 282,296 (D.C. Cir. 1991). Please advise us no later than June 26, 2017 if you intend to take the action required under the law. If we do not hear from you by that date, we will assume that you do not intend to take any action. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

“Mr. Comey took government records and the FBI and Justice Department are obligated to get them back,” added Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “The former FBI director isn’t above the law and current leadership of the FBI should stop protecting him and take action.”

Judicial Watch is pursuing a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s failure to take any action to recover emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other employees unlawfully removed from the agency seeks to force State Department compliance with the Federal Records Act (FRA).  Judicial Watch argues the State Department and FBI never bothered to do a full search for Hillary Clinton’s government emails. This is one of several of Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuits seeking government records and information about the non-government email system used by Clinton.

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Terrorist Cell
What could possibly go wrong with open borders? #RefugeesWelcome!

One of the terrorists who carried out the deadly London Bridge attack in England this month fought in an affiliate of Senator John McCain’s beloved Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Libya, supporting the U.S.-backed effort to topple Muammar Gaddafi. His name is Rachid Redouane and, after fighting in the Libyan revolution with the Tripoli-based group Liwa al Ummah, he joined a militia that deployed jihadist fighters to Syria.

The unit fought alongside Al-Qaeda extremists in Syria, according to a British newspaper story that says Redouane’s plea for asylum in the United Kingdom was rejected in 2009 though he continued living in the country. The Liwa al Ummah was formed by a deputy of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former emir of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, according to a think tank that studies British foreign policy. In 2012, the Liwa al Ummah in Syria merged with the FSA, which was formed in August 2011 by Turkish-based army deserters aiming to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Liwa al Ummah was considered an FSA unit in Syria and sometimes it teamed up with Al Qaeda’s official Syrian branch, Al-Nusra.

Redouane’s connection to the FSA is yet another damaging piece of evidence showing that opposition forces in Syria are run by Islamic terrorists. This has not deterred McCain’s ardent support for the Syrian rebels, especially the FSA. The Arizona Republican, also chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, has worked closely with a “Syria expert” who was the political director of a Syrian Islamist organization that helped define and steer policy in the Obama White House as well as Congress. Judicial Watch has reported on this for years and back in 2013 published a piece on the so-called expert, Elizabeth O’Bagy, who somehow convinced the president, secretary of state and some federal lawmakers that Syrian rebels are mostly moderates and not terrorists who deserve U.S. support.

McCain was so smitten by O’Bagy that he read a chunk of her Wall Street Journal opinion piece—touting the FSA as a moderate opposition force—during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. In it O’Bagy makes a case for U.S. military intervention in Syria by asserting that concerns about Al-Qaeda terrorists running the rebel operations are unfounded. After all, the United States doesn’t want to support the very jihadists that want to murder its citizens. Here is a portion of the excerpt that McCain read at the hearing: “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards.

The jihadists pouring into Syria from countries like Iraq and Lebanon are not flocking to the front lines. Instead they are concentrating their efforts on consolidating control in the northern, rebel-held areas of the country. “Moderate opposition forces—a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army—continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime. While traveling with some of these Free Syrian Army battalions, I’ve watched them defend Alawi and Christian villages from government forces and extremist groups. They’ve demonstrated a willingness to submit to civilian authority, working closely with local administrative councils. And they have struggled to ensure that their fight against Assad will pave the way for a flourishing civil society.”

A year later Judicial Watch reported on an embarrassing outburst that McCain, who is hell-bent on arming jihadist opposition forces in Syria, had during a meeting with Syrian Christian leaders touring Capitol Hill. The delegation of Syrian clergy went to Washington to raise awareness among lawmakers of the growing crisis among the region’s minority Christian community.

Christians make up about 10% of the Syrian population and they are being targeted and ruthlessly murdered by radical elements of the rebel forces, according to the visiting church officials. Churches have been destroyed or burned, children killed, nuns abducted and countless others abducted by Islamic fighters, the Syrian delegation revealed during the D.C. jaunt.

McCain, refused to hear the negative stories about the rebels he’s working to arm and stormed out of a closed-door meeting with the Syrian clergy officials. Held in the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room, the reunion also included senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.”

While this veteran senator continues supporting the FSA, a number of domestic and international media outlets have confirmed that terrorists—mainly Al Qaeda—are running opposition forces in Syria. For instance the New York Times published a piece that reveals Islamist rebels—including the most extreme groups in the notorious Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-aligned force—are running the show in Syria. “The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion,” the story says. “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” A British newspaper confirmed that in Syria “jihadists” are “now the largest and best armed faction in the opposition.” The report goes on to say that the “more moderate elements have become progressively weaker through a lack of supplies and defection of members.”

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france isis

Surprise, surprise, another inmate released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been arrested for reengaging in terrorism. His name is Sabir Mahfouz Lahmar and his Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has links to “multiple terrorist plots” and as a member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) plotted with Al Qaeda to attack the United States Embassy in Sarajevo.

“Detainee advocated hostilities against US forces and the international community in Bosnia, and is linked to multiple terrorist plots and criminal related activity,” according to Lahmar’s DOD file. “Detainee had intentions to travel to Afghanistan and Iran, and is reported as doing so prior to his capture. Detainee has demonstrated a commitment to jihad, and would likely engage in anti-US activities if released.” Lahmar ended up at Gitmo in 2002 because the Algerian government refused to take him into custody after Bosnian authorities exhausted the legal limits for detention. The Pentagon recommended continued detention and determined that he was a high risk that posed a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies. Lahmar was also labeled a “high threat” from a detention perspective and of high intelligence value.

Also of note in the DOD file is that Lahmar was on Saudi Arabia’s payroll as an employee of the Saudi High Commission for Relief (SHCR), a non-governmental organization (NGO). He was arrested and convicted in 1997 for assaulting an American Citizen in Bosnia but was released, “after the SHCR intervened on his behalf,” the military file states. “After his release, detainee returned to work for the SHCR in Sarajevo.” Authorities in Croatia believe Lahmar was involved in the 1997 bombings in Travnik and Mostar and that he served in the el-Mujahid Brigade conducting training for acts of terrorism in the 1990s. Other reports link Lahmar to car theft and document forgery and indicate he’s wanted in Belgium and France for his involvement in violent activities, the military file says.

Despite his disturbing Pentagon document, the Obama administration released Lahmar from the top security compound at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba in 2009 after France agreed to take him. This week he was arrested in Bordeaux as part of a terrorist cell that operated a recruiting network for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A British newspaper report says Lahmar was one of six people—four men and two women—captured as part of an aggressive crackdown on a jihadist recruiting network in the European nation that’s been rocked by multiple terrorist attacks in recent years. Just a few years ago a former Gitmo captive, 46-year-old Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien, was arrested in Spain for operating a sophisticated recruitment network for the Syrian and Iraqi-based terror group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Like Lahmar and Ikassreien, many of the captives released from Gitmo have predictably returned to terrorist causes and it has long been documented in military and intelligence assessments. Just last year a report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) showed that of the 161 Gitmo detainees released by the Obama administration, nine were confirmed to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities” and that 113 of the 532 Gitmo captives released during the George W. Bush administration have engaged in terrorist activities. “Based on trends identified during the past eleven years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” according to the ODNI, which is composed of more than a dozen spy agencies, including Air Force, Army, Navy, Treasury and Coast Guard intelligence as well as the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The agency also stated in its report that “former GTMO detainees routinely communicate with each other, families of other former detainees, and previous associates who are members of terrorist organizations. The reasons for communication span from the mundane (reminiscing about shared experiences) to the nefarious (planning terrorist operations). We assess that some GTMO detainees transferred in the future also will communicate with other former GTMO detainees and persons in terrorist organizations.”

Other examples of recidivism among Gitmo captives include dozens who have rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen, the country where the 2009 Christmas Day airline bomber proudly trained, and a number of high-ranking Al Qaeda militants in Yemen involved in a sophisticated scheme to send bombs on a U.S.-bound cargo plane. A few years ago, a Gitmo alum named Mullah Abdul Rauf, who once led a Taliban unit, established the first ISIS base in Afghanistan. In 2014, Judicial Watch uncovered an embarrassing gaffe involving an Al Qaeda operative liberated from Gitmo years earlier. Turns out the U.S. government put him on a global terrorist list and offered $5 million for information on his whereabouts!

As far back as 2010 former president Barack Obama’s National Intelligence Director confirmed that one in four inmates released from Gitmo resume terrorist activities against the United States. A year earlier the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, which gathers foreign military intelligence, disclosed that the number of Gitmo prisoners who returned to the fight since their release had nearly doubled in a short time. The assessment was made by using data such as fingerprints, pictures and other intelligence reports to confirm the high rate of recidivism among the released prisoners.

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prosecutor
What do you want me to do, prosecute criminals?

After committing two crimes state prosecutors agreed to reduced charges against the African immigrant who recently murdered two Massachusetts doctors, allowing him to dodge deportation. This crucial information is being ignored by the mainstream media but a Boston newspaper exposed it this week and it’s especially alarming because it appears to be part of a movement by local officials nationwide to help illegal immigrants avoid removal. Earlier this month Judicial Watch reported that state prosecutors in two major U.S. cities have ordered staff not to charge illegal immigrants with certain crimes because it could get the offenders deported. It’s an effort to help alien criminals avert “collateral immigration consequences,” and the fallout could be catastrophic.

In the recent massacre, an immigrant from Guinea-Bissau, on the west coast of Africa, slashed the throats of two local doctors, 49-year-old Richard Field and 38-year-old Lina Bolaños, inside the south Boston condo they shared. The crime scene was gruesome, according to local news reports, and the doctors’ bodies were bound at the hands. The walls were covered in blood and the assailant, Bampumim Teixeira, wrote a message of retribution on the wall.

Teixeira’s ex-girlfriend told a local media outlet that he had been released from a “house of correction” just weeks before he murdered the doctors. Several media reports included Teixeira’s criminal history and that he had pleaded guilty to larceny, but extremely relevant information has been withheld.

It turns out that prosecutors in Suffolk County, where the crimes occurred, went along with a plea deal that allowed Teixeira to avoid deportation. The local newspaper that broke the story got ahold of an audio recording of the hearing in which Teixeira’s attorney and a state prosecutor presented a joint motion to reduce the charges against him. At that point, Teixeira had been charged with two counts of unarmed robbery and the backdoor deal let him get off easy with a charge of larceny from a person. Last summer the African immigrant was arrested for robbing a Boston bank that he also admitted robbing back in 2014.

Here’s an excerpt from the news article: “The prosecution and defense also recommended Teixeira serve 364 days in jail — nine months to serve, credit for 78 days already served, and the balance suspended for three years. They also recommended his first robbery case be marked “guilty filed,” a resolution that exempted him from immigration penalties.”

Under federal law legal U.S. residents can be deported if they commit an aggravated felony with a prison term of at least 12 months. Under the deal, Suffolk County prosecutors cut with Teixeira, he got a 364-day sentence, which was a day short. Immigrants with green cards can also get deported if they’re convicted of crimes involving “moral turpitude,” the news article points out, but Teixeira’s 2014 robbery case was resolved as “guilty filed,” which allows a judge, with prosecutor and defense consent, to forgo imposing a sentence on a defendant. The official statement from the Suffolk District Attorney’s office is to deny that this thug received any sort of leniency to prevent him from suffering immigration consequences, though the facts sure seem to contradict it.

It appears to be part of a broad effort by local prosecutors around the country to shield illegal immigrants who commit crimes from federal authorities. Judicial Watch’s report just a few weeks ago focused on new policies implemented by the Brooklyn, New York District Attorney’s office and the Baltimore, Maryland State Attorney’s office. Both local prosecutors issued orders directing lawyers in their office to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with crimes because it could get them deported. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, elected to uphold and enforce criminal laws, wrote in his order that the goal is “minimizing collateral immigration consequences of criminal convictions” and avoiding “disproportionate collateral consequences, such as deportation, while maintaining public safety.”

In a similar directive Baltimore Chief Deputy State Attorney Michael Schatzow told his staff to think twice before charging illegal aliens with petty crimes because President Trump’s deportation efforts “have increased the potential collateral consequences to certain immigrants of minor, non-violent criminal conduct.”

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