Monday, July 24, 2017

Judicial Watch

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Freed Terrorist
"He's pointing a gun at us, is he an enemy combatant?" "I don't know. Quick! Convene a meeting to find out!"

In a bizarre move, the U.S. Military Commission held a lengthy hearing this month to determine if a convicted Al Qaeda operative who rejoined the terrorist group after the Obama administration released him from Guantanamo is an enemy belligerent. The hearing, held at the Fort Belvoir Army base in Virginia, was also supposed to determine if the convicted terrorist, Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, can be forced to serve more jail time though his exact whereabouts appear to be unknown. It may sound like a bad joke but it’s not and Judicial Watch was part of a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) approved by the Pentagon to cover the absurd proceeding.

Here’s some background on Al Qosi, a Sudanese national who spent more than eight years at the U.S. military compound in southeast Cuba that houses the world’s most dangerous terrorists, including 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. In 2010 Al Qosi pleaded guilty to conspiring with Al Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism. A military panel sentenced him to 14 years in confinement, but the Obama administration transferred him to his native Sudan two years later under a plea agreement that included three conditions, including that Al Qosi would not become involved in or support terrorism.

Al Qosi has since joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), U.S. officials confirm, and has proudly appeared in propaganda and recruitment videos that indicate he is one of the group’s leaders. Though U.S. military officials wouldn’t confirm Al Qosi’s whereabouts, it’s obvious that he’s not in U.S. custody and the ridiculous hearing—which included an army of taxpayer-funded lawyers—was held while he engages in terrorist activities.

To quote our commander-in-chief, Al Qosi is a “bad dude” who never should have been released. His Department of Defense (DOD) file is disturbing and recommends continued detention. “Detainee is an admitted al-Qaida operative and one of Usama Bin Laden’s (UBL) most trusted associates and veteran bodyguard,” the Pentagon file states. “Detainee was the accountant for UBL’s Taba Investment Company (TIC) in Sudan, which provided financial and logistical services for UBL and al-Qaida. Detainee served as a treasurer and courier for TIC. Detainee is associated with senior al-Qaida members and received advanced training. Detainee participated in hostilities against US and Coalition forces at Tora Bora, AF.” The intel file says that releasing Al Qosi is a high risk because he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies. “Detainee is an admitted veteran jihadist with combat experience beginning in 1990 and it is assessed he would engage in hostilities against US forces, if released.”

The Fort Belvoir spectacle was officially called a DuBay hearing, a seldom-used fact-finding session that’s unique to the military justice system. It was quite a production, with a packed gallery that included a large contingent from the various defense teams involved in the 9/11 trails, media and NGOs. Al Qosi was represented by three taxpayer-funded attorneys, including Michael Schwartz, a former military lawyer who has represented Guantanamo terrorists for more than five years.

Among the first issue addressed by the court was defense counsel’s ability to represent Al Qosi’s best interests because his original attorney, Navy Reserve Commander Suzanne Lachelier, claims a conflict of interest prevents her from representing him. Back when Al Qosi was sentenced after his 2010 convictions he instructed of his intent to appeal and, though he’s an Al Qaeda poster boy training future jihadists, an appeal was filed on his behalf.

Over the years Judicial Watch has repeatedly traveled to Guantanamo to cover the 9/11 trials and hearings as well as those of other terrorists, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who orchestrated the 2000 attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors and injured dozens of others. Judicial Watch has also covered every proceeding conducted by President Obama’s special Guantanamo Periodic Review Board (PRB) via live broadcasts at the Pentagon. Comprised of senior officials from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and State, the board reviews whether continued detention of certain individuals remains necessary to protect against significant threat to the security of the United States.

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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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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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Hillary

A federal judge has ordered the State Department to release information regarding what former President Barack Obama knew about the Benghazi attacks. The judge ordered that all previously redacted information in Hillary Clinton’s emails concerning the Obama administration be brought to light.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog announced U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s order on Friday. The group reported that Jackson has ordered the State Department to submit “eight identical paragraphs” of information that were extracted from two of Clinton’s emails on Sept. 13, 2012.

While, the subject line on the emails reads as: “FW: Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt.” The content of the emails is said to include the conservations that then-President Barack Obama had with leaders of Egypt and Libya two days after the attack that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Once the emails are released, they could shed light on what Clinton and Obama knew then.

It is also be noted that the State Department had claimed that the emails deserved a “deliberative process” Freedom of Information Act exemption. However, when Jackson completed her personal review of the documents, she said that the documents in fact did not meet the criteria for the exemption. The State Department went on to request Jackson to reconsider her order, and argued that the emails were mistakenly claimed under the exemption and should be ruled under the classified information exemption.

The Judicial Watch argued back that there was no mistake in the exemption status, but was much rather an attempt by the State Department to protect Clinton by “avoiding identifying emails on Clinton’s unofficial, non-secure email server as classified.”

Judicial Watch stated, “An agency’s deliberate withholding of a FOIA claim, either to gain a tactical advantage or, as appears to be the case here, to protect the agency’s interests and those of its former head, is ‘a motive undoubtedly inconsistent with FOIA’s broad remedial purpose’ …”

In a statement, Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch made an appeal to President Trump and questioned whether he knew that his State Department is still trying to protect Clinton.

He said, “Does President Trump know his State and Justice Departments are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?” Fitton said. “An extraordinary court ruling that could result in key answers about the Benghazi outrage is being opposed by the Trump administration.”

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Oops! We missed these. Sorry America.

Judicial Watch announced today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported to a U.S. District Court that it located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to a 2015 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit about the Obama IRS targeting scandal. The FOIA lawsuit at issue sought records about the IRS selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting non-profit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).

These newly identified records are presumably not records that were contained in the “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IRS scandal.

The IRS is unwilling to commit to a timeframe in which the new documents will be made public:

At this time, the Service is unable to provide an estimate regarding when it will complete its review of the potentially responsive documents. The Service will begin producing any non-exempt, responsive documents by March 10, 2017, and, if necessary, continue to produce non-responsive records on a bi-weekly basis.

“The corruption at the IRS is astounding.  Our attorneys knew that there were more records to be searched but the Obama IRS ignored this issue for years,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “President Trump needs to clean house at the IRS as quickly as possible.”

In July 2015, Judicial Watch released Obama IRS documents confirming that the agency used donor lists of tax-exempt organizations to target those donors for audits.  The documents also show IRS officials specifically highlighted how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may come under “high scrutiny” from the IRS.

In September 2014, another Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit forced the release of documents detailing that the IRS sought, obtained and maintained the names of donors to Tea Party and other conservative groups. IRS officials acknowledged in these documents that “such information was not needed.” The documents also show that the donor names were being used for a “secret research project.”

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Going after the Deep State

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the United States Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury regarding records related to the investigation of retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michel Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency et al. (No.1:17-cv-00397)).  (The National Security Agency refused to confirm or deny the existence of intelligence records about communications between Gen. Flynn and Amb Kislyak.)

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agencies failed to respond to a January 25, 2017, FOIA request seeking:

Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the investigation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak between October 1, 2016 and the present.

This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all related warrants, affidavits, declarations, or similar records regarding the aforementioned investigation.

For purposes of clarification, please find enclosed a CNN report regarding the investigation, which cites information that was provided to CNN by members of the Intelligence Community.

In its complaint Judicial Watch asks the court to order the agencies to search for all records responsive to its FOIA requests and demonstrate that they employed reasonable search methods; order the agencies to produce by a specific date all non-exempt records and a Vaughn index of all withheld records; and instruct the agencies to cease withholding all non-exempt records.

On January 23, 2017, CNN reported that the government was investigating Flynn, former national security adviser to President Trump:

The calls were captured by routine US eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats, according to the intelligence and law enforcement officials. But the officials said some of the content of the conversation raised enough potential concerns that investigators are still looking into the discussions, amid a broader concern about Russian intelligence-gathering activities in the United States.

The officials all stressed that so far there has been no determination of any wrongdoing.

FBI and intelligence officials briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Barack Obama left office about the Flynn calls to the Russian ambassador, sources said.

“President Trump is on to something. The Obama-connected wiretapping and illegal leaks of classified material concerning President Trump and General Flynn are a scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch aims to get to the truth about these crimes and we hope the Trump administration stands with us in the fight for transparency.”

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