Saturday, October 22, 2016

Loretta lynch

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Judicial Watch

So much for the public’s (free) right to know about government decisions and actions—the Department of Justice (DOJ) has slapped Judicial Watch with a startling $50,000 bill to search for public records the agency claims don’t exist. That’s nearly the median annual income in the U.S., which is $53,000 according to census figures. Keep in mind that Judicial Watch is a nonprofit educational foundation dedicated to government transparency and accountability.

Last fall Judicial Watch requested records from the DOJ, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), related to the Obama administration’s involvement in a United Nation’s international law enforcement coalition called Strong Cities Network (SCN). The purported mission of this new global coalition is to build social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism. The DOJ masterminded the agreement and Americans found out about the U.S.’s participation when Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced it During a U.N. speech on September 29, 2015.

Lynch referred to SCN as a “truly groundbreaking endeavor” and assured the famously corrupt world body that the Obama administration is deeply committed to the new initiative. “The government of the United States is fully invested in this collaborative approach and we have seen the value of empowering local communities by promoting initiatives they design and lead themselves,” Lynch said.

Following the Attorney General’s fiery U.N. delivery, a New York newspaper reported that the city was joining a new global, terror-busting network to combat homegrown extremism. Civil rights groups quickly denounced the U.S. participation, expressing concerns about law enforcement abuses against Muslims.

In a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio 22 civil rights groups warned that other programs created to counter violent extremism stigmatized “Muslim communities as suspicious and in need of special monitoring.” The anti-terror initiatives have also made “the relationship between Muslims and schools and social service providers into security-based engagements,” the letter states. SCN assures however, that “violent extremism and prevention efforts should not be associated with any particular religion, nationality or ethnic group.” In a statement the DOJ also guaranteed that the SCN will safeguard the rights of local citizens and communities.

The State Department also put its weight behind SCN and earlier this year Secretary of State John Kerry hosted an event to promote it. Kerry referred to the new and untested U.N. initiative as “groundbreaking” and assured “we are already seeing results” though no evidence has been offered to back it.

Kerry proclaimed that SCN is absolutely essential, even without the challenge of violent extremism because “we ought to be doing these things to connect people to their community, to get people connected one to the other.” The Secretary of State added that a global law enforcement coalition like SCN would still be important “in terms of just keeping people out of trouble, out of jail, helping people find the right path for education and for a future.” Kerry ended by telling attendees that he couldn’t think of a more worthwhile mission.

In its mission to educate the public about the operations and activities of government, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the DOJ on October 15, 2015 for documents related to SCN. Specifically, Judicial Watch asked for legal opinions and analysis prepared by the DOJ relating to the U.S. involvement in the program, documents that form the foundation for the decision for the country to participate in SCN, all international agreements and related records involving the commitment of U.S. resources or personnel to SCN and records of communication between officials in the Office of the Attorney General relating to the initiative.

The request reminds the agency that, under the OPEN Government Act, Judicial Watch is entitled to a complete waiver of search and duplication fees if records aren’t produced within 20 business days.

On July 29, 2016, long after the deadline to produce the records, the DOJ sent Judicial Watch a $50,000 invoice for search fees, though not a single file was produced. The invoice, which lists Rashad Javaid as the DOJ official that “fulfilled” the request, doesn’t offer a breakdown and erroneously categorizes Judicial Watch as a “commercial” entity when in fact all government agencies know well that Judicial Watch is a nonprofit under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code. After all, Judicial Watch has been around for 22 years and all FOIA requests state clearly that it’s a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that by definition has no commercial purpose. Last week Judicial Watch appealed the preposterous DOJ invoice.

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There are a lot of questions and concerns about Hillary’s time at the State Department with scandals involving her home server, her emails and the Clinton Foundation.

The concerns are so numerous, Americans think the truth should be told to the public in order to make a wise vote in November. But the State Department thinks differently.

This may or may not have anything to do with Bill Clinton meeting with Loretta Lynch privately on her plane this week, but the State Department wants a delay.

On Thursday the Obama Administration moved to delay the release of over 14,000 pages of emails to the public. Citizens United sued the State Department over a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) and the courts decided all documents should be turned over no later than July 21, 2016, but the extension would push it back to October 2018.

The emails requested are between State Department officials and the Clinton Foundation. The request also covered emails sent to and from Teneco Consulting, a company with close ties to the Clintons.

On Thursday the Obama Administration asked the courts for a 27-month delay. They want to wait until October 2018.

The agency is blaming a miscalculation of time and an overwhelming number of FIOA requests.

The lawyers for the State Department had this to say, “State deeply regrets these errors, and is working diligently to correct them as quickly as possible.”

Do they know there is an election this fall? Obviously so, or they wouldn’t be trying to delay everything until after the election.

The Republican National Committee has a FOIA request currently with the State Department to look into the emails between some of Hillary’s staffers and aides. The State Department has estimated that request will take around 75 years to complete.

How ridiculous is this? A couple of staffers sent emails back and forth for a couple of years and it will take the State Department 75 years to go through the emails and fulfill the request? Everyone involved will most likely be dead at that point.

Every single day there is a new wrinkle or a new scandal involving the Clintons and now we can’t get the details for another 27 months. The courts have not officially approved the request yet, but it is expected to pass.

Meanwhile Hillary continues running for president and the public stays in the dark.

Should we have to wait another 27-months for the release of Hillary’s emails? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Law Enforcement

From the Ferguson Police Department’s first public statement about the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014, the town of Ferguson, Missouri was doomed. Like Newton’s First Law of Motion, the shooting started a cascading series of events that continues a year and a half later.  The rounds of looting, rioting, protesting and media circuses, has morphed into a massive lawsuit filed against the small suburban town by the U.S. Department of Justice.

If one accepts the allegations in Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s lawsuit, Ferguson is nothing but a teeming hotbed of racial hatred and official incompetence; the only solution for which is federal control.  In the government’s eyes, the town has no regard whatsoever for the Constitution and laws of this country, and has engaged in widespread and systemic violation of civil rights.  Tough stuff, indeed; but the Department’s approach reflects more an example of how to address a manageable problem with a wrecking ball than a tool kit.

Tragic as it was, there was nothing so remarkable or unique about the shooting of Brown that justifies this action by the Justice Department. The aggressive and authoritarian manner in which the Department has hounded the Ferguson Police Department over the past 18-months is far different from the way in which previous presidents and federal prosecutors, including myself, dealt with incidents in which law enforcement officers or departments violated individuals’ civil rights. By vigorously prosecuting such cases individually as warranted, prosecutors and the Department of Justice itself were able to hold the officer or officers accountable; and without attacking entire departments or needlessly imposing federal government control over local government responsibilities.

For U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice, however, control – not justice – is the real goal; and Ferguson has become ground zero for its crusade to scrutinize and punish law enforcement officers and departments for perceived racial injustices. In effect, the Department is seeking to implement its own form of “Common Core” for Law Enforcement, wherein local control is stripped away in favor of federal policing standards that have been packaged into what may be “politically correct” on the surface, but have little actual impact on the troubling issues that linger in the criminal justice system.

To an Administration obsessed with “optics” more than genuine reform, this façade may fulfill its objectives. However, for those who genuinely care about individual liberty and constitutional conduct within the justice system, they actually are poisoning public debate about criminal justice reform and exacerbating the already strained tensions between citizens, police and the federal government.

By showing that it cares about civil liberties by attacking police, the Obama Administration is making it harder to protect civil liberties.

For the first time in decades, for example, we have an opportunity to achieve substantial and lasting criminal justice reform through federal legislation. Reforms that would help restore civil liberties to the criminal prosecution process while providing much-needed relief to an overcrowded and costly prison system, currently are pending in the Congress. These measures enjoy strong bipartisan support, including among policy organizations ranging from the leftist Center for American Progress to conservative FreedomWorks. It is one of those rare scenarios in which Democrats, Republicansand the President are in at least partial agreement on an issue that actually strengthens civil liberties.

Unfortunately, without Administration support and in the absence of public demand for passing these reforms, the pending bills have languished without votes to send them to the President for signature.  Ironically, the Justice Department’s highly visible crusade against Ferguson (and other police departments) is much to blame for this failure.

By antagonizing police departments and politicizing police-involved shootings of minorities, the Obama Administration has turned the conversation about “justice reform” into a false dichotomy between support of police on the one hand, or social justice groups like “Black Lives Matter” on the other. In such a polarized environment, real efforts at reform, such as those pending in Congress, are given nary a thought, much less active support from those members of Congress who can help win their passage. Meanwhile, individual Democrats and Republicans who oppose such efforts are undermining the bills before they ever reach the floor.

The clock is ticking on criminal justice reform, and an opportunity such as this for genuine, lasting reform is truly once-in-a-lifetime. If Obama cares to salvage at least a sliver of a notable legacy, he should abandon his shortsighted and misguided drive to place local police departments under Uncle Sam’s thumb, and help shift the public conversation back to substantive reforms that really matter.


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justice department

Coinciding with the mass release of federal inmates, the Obama administration is spending $1.7 million on a “re-entry program” to ease the transition from prison and ordering public housing facilities not to reject tenants with criminal records.

The goal is to reduce barriers to public housing, employment and educational opportunities by promoting rehabilitation and reintegration for the formerly incarcerated, the feds explain in an announcement. A key component of the program is a joint venture between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help public housing residents expunge or seal their criminal records. The administration considers these “Americans who’ve paid their debt to society” and need the government’s help to “rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities.”

A criminal record severely limits a person’s ability to seek higher education, find good employment, qualify for credit and secure affordable housing, the administration states in its announcement. This creates unnecessary barriers to economic opportunity and productivity for the convicts after they leave jail and President Obama is determined to ensure those returning from prison become “productive, law-abiding citizens.” His Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, says the DOJ is “committed to giving formerly incarcerated individuals the tools they need to become productive members of society.”

For starters, the cons must find a place to live after getting released from jail so the administration has issued updated rules for taxpayer-subsidized housing essentially prohibiting the exclusion of tenants who have been arrested or criminally convicted. “…arrest records may not be the basis for denying admission, terminating assistance or evicting tenants…,” the new rules say, adding that HUD does not require the adoption or enforcement of “one-strike rules that deny admission to anyone with a criminal record or that require automatic eviction any time a household member engages in criminal activity in violation of their lease.” The message from the administration to federally-assisted housing facilities appears to be to condone criminal behavior.

This is part of Obama’s broader effort to reform the nation’s criminal justice system as a way of ending racial discrimination. Back in 2010 the president signed a measure that for the first time in decades relaxed drug-crime sentences he claimed discriminated against poor and minority offenders. This severely weakened a decades-old law enacted during the infamous crack cocaine epidemic that ravaged urban communities nationwide in the 1980s. As part of the movement the U.S. Sentencing Commission lowered maximum sentences for drug offenders and made it retroactive.

This month the administration began releasing 6,000 drug convicts it claims are “non-violent” offenders whose sentences were too long under the old guidelines. News reports have already surfaced contradicting the administration’s assessment that the newly released convicts are not violent. Among them is the leader of a multi-million dollar operation that smuggled drugs from Canada to Maine. Prosecutors refer to the 29-year-old con as a “drug kingpin” who was one of “America’s Most Wanted.”

Shortly before the administration’s mass release of drug convicts, federal prosecutors warned that drug trafficking is inherently violent and therefore the phrase “non-violent drug offenders” is a misnomer. The nation’s prosecutors also cautioned that reducing prison sentences for drug offenders will weaken their ability to bring dangerous drug traffickers to justice.

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As Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, languishes in Senate confirmation limbo, her supporters led by “Rev.” Al Sharpton have launched a “hunger strike” of sorts that will continue until she is confirmed by the Senate.

While experts disagree about how much weight Sharpton needs to loose, the do agree that he could be waiting weeks for his next Big Mac if the “Hunger Strike” is real and Republicans follow through on their threat to hold up Lynch’s confirmation until certain confirmation preconditions are met.

These preconditions include issues related to Lynch’s confirmation testimony, abortion funding language in a sex trafficking bill and President Obama’s end run around the Senate’s right to “advise and consent” on the Iran nuclear deal before it can take effect.

These are big issues that could add months to Lynch’s five month wait to become the nation’s top cop.

So says Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) who warned Wednesday that the Senate could bypass a sex trafficking bill and postpone a vote on Lynch’s nomination to free up time to review the Iran nuclear deal reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a unanimous bipartisan vote on Tuesday. Cornyn told reporters that:

“Iran is a special case. So I’m not suggesting we hold up Iran for this”…“but I am suggesting we come back to it after Iran, particularly if [Democrats] want to release Eric Holder so they can let him make a lot of money in the private sector.”

The “Rev.” Al Sharpton is having none of it. In fact, he is so serious about standing on principal that he will abstain from food on “alternate days” until Lynch is confirmed to replace Eric Holder at the Justice Department.

Dubbed “Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast,” Sharpton’s stunt means to mirror the actions of true civil rights leaders that include Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi organizers said.

Sharpton said in a statement that:

“As long as the Senate refuses to take fifteen minutes to confirm someone for Attorney General that they have already confirmed twice for U.S. Attorney,” National Action Network and its allies “will do everything in our power to draw attention to this completely unfair and unnecessary delay to vote to confirm Loretta Lynch.”

National Action Network executive director Janaye Ingram, added:

“We stand with Loretta Lynch and are so in support of this cause that we are willing to sacrifice our daily meals to impress upon the U.S. Senate that it’s time to call a vote.”

Sharpton’s “every other day” hunger strike stunt is part of a wider campaign to “pressure” Republican leaders to send Lynch’s nomination to the floor for an up or down vote – a vote stuck in limbo since her confirmation was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.

There are other factors in play as well.

During her confirmation hearing, Lynch raised eyebrows when she said President Obama’s Executive Amnesty for illegal aliens was constitutionally sound… did not violate the separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches of government… and that she would support it at Attorney General.

Some Senators are also holding up a vote on Lynch because President Obama has said he will veto a bill to battle the scourge of sex trafficking if it excluded funding for abortion – language similar to the Hyde Amendment the prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) repeated earlier this week that the Senate would not vote on Lynch until it resolves the abortion-funding dispute over the bill. McConnell said:

“Democrats couldn’t possibly justify voting for Hyde language in order to help doctors, as they did hours ago, but then look an abused victim in the eye and tell her she’s not worth it…” “All that’s needed now are a couple more Democrats willing to show the same level of compassion to enslaved victims they offered to doctors just a few hours ago (on an unrelated Medicare bill).”

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In the opening statement of her U.S. Senate Confirmation hearing, Attorney General-nominee Loretta Lynch spoke of many things — her mother’s struggle for a college education, her father’s principles as a Baptist preacher, her work as an attorney, and her drive to bring justice to criminals and victims. Lynch’s autobiographic presentation was eloquent; “excellent and powerful” as Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham gushed. Were her confirmation based solely on the caliber of her personal story, Obama’s nominee would be a shoo-in.

But is a moving self-portrayal, honest as it might be, all it takes to be confirmed as the most important law enforcement official in the United States? Should it be? Is an outstanding record as an attorney sufficient to qualify a man or woman to serve as Attorney General? Or is there more to it?

It is axiomatic that the Attorney General of the United States is the top lawyer in the country. The occupant of that office is responsible for the thousands of attorneys within the Department of Justice and the 94 U.S. Attorney offices across the country. In addition, the Attorney General oversees the FBI, the DEA, and numerous other federal investigative and police agencies. It is a powerful post, and the person who sits atop that department is far more than just the nation’s top lawyer.

The Attorney General opines officially on questions involving the very constitutionality of actions undertaken – or not undertaken – by the President and top officials throughout the Executive Branch. He or she can provide a golden “get out of jail free” card to federal officials who have undertaken, or propose to undertake actions of questionable legality or constitutionality; making it difficult if not impossible for those individuals subsequently to be prosecuted for violating the law.

Unique among all cabinet officers, the Attorney General of the United States sets a tone of respect for, or disrespect of, the rule of law by the President he or she serves. The policies thus established either keep America on a Constitutional Road or, as with the current Administration, move us to a constitutional detour.

In a very real sense, this is what was so disturbing in Lynch’s initial confirmation hearing — the way in which she so easily defended Obama’s flouting and undermining of the laws as passed by the Congress. The fact that even as she claimed to be her own woman – “not Eric Holder” – Lynch was echoing Holder’s unswerving defense of everything Obama; including the President’s standing above the law.

Even though some of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee did mildly press Lynch on her views; as is typical for the manner in which the GOP handles controversial confirmations, those concerns took a back seat to playing verbal pat-a-cake with the nominee. For example,when Graham broached the topic of Lynch’s 2006 amicus brief supporting Planned Parenthood’s opposition to a partial-birth abortion ban, he stated naively, “[t]he only reason I mentioned that is that if there’s a Republican president in the future, an attorney general nominee takes an opposite view on an issue like abortion, I hope our friends on the other side will acknowledge it’s OK to be an advocate for a cause, as their lawyer.”

Graham’s gobbledygook reflects a mindset that political ramifications are more important than substance when considering a nominee’s suitability for high office. In this way, nominations move forward despite misgivings, simply to maintain a “senatorial” image. Advocates of this “happy face” strategy apparently hope to immunize the GOP from Democrats playing hardball with Republican nominees in the future. Unfortunately, no matter how many times they play this scenario out, the GOP comes out on the short end; and in this case, so will the country.

Regardless of how fine an attorney Lynch may be, and no matter how heart-warming is her personal story, Senators should base their vote on real substance — whether she will uphold the law and the Constitution; whether she truly understands she represents the People of the United States and not the President who nominated her; and whether she fully and openly answers all questions put to her. On these three principles, from what we have seen thus far, this nominee falls short.

While some Republican may argue that confirming Lynch is preferable to leaving Holder in office; this is not the case. The two lawyers are cut from the same philosophical and political cloth. Moreover, as Attorney General, Lynch would possess something Holder does not — that she would have been confirmed by a Republican Senate; thereby greatly strengthening her hand in the future, and placing her largely beyond their reach.



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