Written by Tom Fitton
This week's top stories from Judicial Watch
Last week I told you about videos we obtained that show a “Cultural Sensitivity Program” sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its employees.
In these videos, diversity awareness trainer and self-described “citizen of the world” Samuel Betances instructs USDA employees to chant in unison “The pilgrims were illegal aliens” while being instructed to no longer use the word “minorities,” but to replace it with “emerging majorities.”
This week we released additional excerpts from these videos, obtained via a May 18, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and believe it or not, it gets worse.
During the training, Betances urges federal employees to chant, “If we work for a federal agency, we’ve discriminated in the past.”
He also suggested that the United States “took over what used to be Mexico” and stated that schools are only interested in educating middle class children.
And get this: the seminar was given to USDA employees at least 16 times last year.
It’s stated purpose? To raise the “emotional intelligence” of the government attendees.
Take a look at some of these highlights and you tell me if you think Betances accomplished this mission.
The sensitivity training sessions, described as “a huge expense,” by Betances during the presentation, were held on USDA premises. As I mentioned last week, this diversity event is apparently part of what USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack described in a memo sent to all agency employees as “new era of Civil Rights” and “a broader effort towards cultural transformation at USDA.” In 2011 and 2012, the USDA paid Betances and his firm nearly $200,000 for their part in the “cultural transformation” program.
By continuing to follow the money trail our investigators reviewed federal contracts for Mr. Betances firm, Souder, Betances and Associates at www.USASpending.gov and they learned that the federal government gave the firm $3,313,244 in contracts over the last five years, $2.8 million of which was through the Department of Defense.
These videos were a well-kept secret until Judicial Watch got hold of them. And that was by design. USDA Training Administrator, Vincent Loran, in an October 10, 2011, email previously revealed by Judicial Watch, asked Betances for a copy of a training video, promising to keep it secret. “It will not be used for or show [sic] in any way shape or form,” Loran promised.
It is impossible to watch these videos and not be outraged by them. What a disgrace that American taxpayers are forced to pay for this ridiculous indoctrination program. This “cultural transformation” program has nothing to do with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the USDA workforce and everything to do with brainwashing federal employees. Federal agencies are wasting money and abusing employees through these left-wing and racially inflammatory indoctrination programs. I can tell that since these videos have aired on national TV, we have received many communications from former and current government employees who recount similar experiences with Betances or other “diversity” indoctrination programs.
As reported by Fox News in October 2012, Judicial Watch first broke the news of the USDA compulsory sensitivity training program based upon information it obtained in response to a FOIA request. That request was prompted by a tip from a USDA whistleblower.
Judicial Watch also previously uncovered information revealing that in April 2011 the USDA had treated 300 of its employees to a taxpayer-funded ‘tasty celebration’ of dishes from around the world, salsa dancing lessons from Vincent Loran, and a rap performance by a USDA employee who shared his feelings on human differences.
Here we are about to watch the Defense budget sliced down to dangerous levels due to sequestration and the USDA is sponsoring leftist, race-baiting indoctrination programs, rap performances and salsa dancing lessons. Clearly, the priorities in Washington are completely out of whack.
Thankfully, the media is taking notice. Just this week, we were again featured on Bill O’Reilly’s program on Fox News, and I flew to Dallas on Tuesday to appear on Glenn Beck’s television program. Even George Will referenced the videos on ABC’sThis Week program. Here is what he said:
Let me give you two examples this week, the Navy citing the sequester, delayed the deployment of the aircraft carrier Truman undermining our pledge to have two carrier groups in the Persian Gulf to keep pressure on Iran, citing the sequester.
You’re telling me the Navy can’t find other ways to economize without this flamboyant and provocative way of trying to pressure Congress?
Second, this week we learned the Agriculture Department has a diversity awareness program, doesn’t cost much money, in which they teach the bureaucrats in the agriculture department to refer to the pilgrims as illegal aliens and minorities as emerging majorities. It’s a small amount of money but a huge symptom of the utter contempt with which Washington treats taxpayers’ money.
Two good reasons right there to go ahead with the sequester.
One wonders if Congress will get on the ball. It might be helpful for you to call and ask. To reach your congressional representatives, call 202-225-3121 and ask for them.
We won’t wait for Congress. Judicial Watch is expanding its investigations into this burgeoning scandal and I should have more to report to you next week.
The more Obama administration officials talk about the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi the less we know. That’s because they are not interested in the truth. They are interested in self-protection.
But JW believes the American people must know key details about the Benghazi attacks, which took the lives of American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other heroic Americans. And that’s why we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on February 14, 2013, against the Obama Administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking records that could shed light on what Obama administration officials knew and when they knew it.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks a controversial “speaking points” memo that seems to suggest that intelligence officials believed from the outset that al Qaeda was behind the attack despite public statements to the contrary issued by Obama administration officials, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Here’s what we’re after:
Any and all memoranda, assessments, analyses, and/or talking points regarding the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and/or the killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence between September 11, 2012 and September 20, 2012. This request includes, but is not limited to, the “speaking points” memorandum referred to by Senator Dianne Feinstein during a televised interview on October 17, 2012…
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged receiving our request on October 19, 2012, and was required by law to respond by November 26, 2012. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the agency failed to produce any records responsive to the request, indicate when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrated that responsive records are exempt from production.
Regarding the “speaking points” memorandum requested by Judicial Watch, let’s take a look at what Feinstein said, according to the CBS affiliate in San Francisco: “When asked by CBS 5 if there was an intelligence flaw, the senior California senator [Feinstein] who hails from San Francisco replied: ‘I think what happened was the director of intelligence…put out some speaking points on the initial intelligence assessment. I think that was possibly a mistake.’”
Former CIA Director General David Petraeus reportedly testified before Congress that the initial speaking points produced by the CIA “stated there were indications the attack was linked to al Qaeda,” and suggested the terrorism reference was removed sometime during an interagency review process.
He says this because in the days and weeks following the Benghazi attacks, the Obama administration blamed the incident on a rudimentary Internet video deemed offensive to Muslims. This false claim was repeated by both Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton in multiple public statements and press interviews.
For example, at a September 14, 2012, event honoring the four victims of the Benghazi attack, then-Secretary of State Clinton made the following statement: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen the rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful video that we had nothing to do with.”
Did Hillary Clinton know this was a lie when she said it? She certainly was in no mood to talk about it during her testimony before Congress.
When asked about the alleged discrepancy between the intelligence community’s assessment and the Obama administration’s public statements during congressional testimony, Ms. Clinton shouted, “What difference does it make?” “I personally was not focused on talking points.”
Hillary Clinton would rather leave it at that. But we’re not content. With all of the Benghazi lies coming out of the Obama administration, the only way to get at the truth is to release these records immediately. The Obama administration’s lawless Benghazi cover-up is a disgrace and an insult to the victims of the attacks and their families. The Obama Benghazi scandal makes Iran-Contra seem like patty-cake by comparison.
Someone inside the administration scrubbed the al Qaeda link to the attacks out of the intelligence talking points that were used to lie to the American people.
If you are interested in getting the facts about Benghazi, as far as we know them right now, please check out our special report, “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent.” The report closely examined the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the assault, as well as the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.
Our new report contains in-depth analysis, conducted exclusively for Judicial Watch by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier. It examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials.
Now Congress also seeks answers from the Obama administration on Benghazi. But there are two main problems with these congressional investigations. First, they are too often cut short by backroom “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” deals. Or, second, they are tainted by charges of political opportunism.
The latter course is likely for Senate Republicans who have indicated they plan to put a hold on the nomination of John O. Brennan, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism – and President Obama’s pick to serve as Director of the CIA – until the Obama White House releases more details on the Benghazi attacks, including the speaking points memos. They will be portrayed as holding a nominee hostage to score political points against the president, no matter their true intentions.
This is why Judicial Watch’s independent work is so vital, and so much more effective. If you would like to support our Benghazi investigation, or any of our other important corruption-fighting work, please consider making a tax deductible donation today.
I was passing the federal courthouse here in DC in a cab earlier this week and I noticed that there were many television trucks parked out front. I asked the cab driver what was going on and he said that former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) was probably in court. But for another appointment, I would have hopped out right there to watch in person the disgraced congressman plead guilty to stealing campaign cash.
To say that Jackson is in a world of trouble is an understatement. As you may recall, JW identified Jackson as one of Washington’s Ten Most Wanted corrupt politicians earlier this year. But now, with his guilty plea in court, Jackson has much more to worry about than the inglorious distinction of making our “most wanted” list. Now he will face prison time.
According to the CBS affiliate in Chicago:
An emotional former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds…
…CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Jackson was subdued but spoke in a clear voice, telling U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins that he accepts responsibility for his actions. He formally pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.
During his plea hearing, Jackson wiped his eyes several times, trying to hold back tears and smile.
“I am guilty, your honor,” Jackson said, surrounded by family members, including his parents, who sat in the front row during the hearing.
Guilty of what?
The former congressman and his wife “routinely used campaign credit cards to make purchases for personal expenses and directed that campaign funds be used to pay the credit card bills for those purchases.” (Jackson’s wife Sandy pled guilty to tax fraud after filing six year’s worth of false tax returns.)
Jackson also reportedly covered up their criminality with false campaign expense reports and instructed one of their assistants to cook the books by failing to itemize personal expenditures, which included a $43,000 gold-plated Rolex watch, Michael Jackson memorabilia, personal airfare, children’s furniture, vacations, electronics, home appliances, groceries, clothing and a $26,000 home renovation, according to CBS.
And get this: Jackson reportedly spent $7,000 in campaign funds to buy two stuffed elk heads, later selling the elk heads for cash. Unfortunately for Jackson the buyer turned out to be an FBI agent.
Now, while all of this is certainly reason enough to send Jackson away for a long time, there’s another black mark on his record that was not even considered by the court. As we noted in our Ten Most Wanted dossier on Jackson, the former Illinois congressman was alleged to have attempted to bribe fellow felon and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in order to secure Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat. Blago was tasked with selecting Obama’s replacement when the former Illinois senator assumed his seat in the Oval Office. Now the former governor-turned-reality star-turned-felon is sitting in a federal prison serving a 14-year sentence.
Seriously…is there a city in America more corrupt than President Obama’s hometown of Chicago? Maybe Washington, DC, but it’s a close call.
At any rate, Jackson’s judgment Day is July 1, 2013. Sentencing guidelines could send him away to prison for more than four years. Let’s hope Jackson gets what he deserves and is held accountable for his crimes. In my view, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s criminal activities tell you more about what really goes on day-to-day in this corrupt city than any policy debate on which the political class is pretending to be focused.
Until next week
Tom Fitton, President
Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation's public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people.
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