Written by Tom Fitton
Right Side News brings this week's updates from Judicial Watch
Wouldn’t it be nice if American citizens could depend on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to actually enforce the law? It really doesn’t seem like much to ask of the nation’s top law enforcement agency. And yet, when it comes to a wide range of issues, perhaps most notably election integrity, the DOJ is much worse than a bystander. Under this president, the DOJ has become a partisan tool to undermine the rule of law.
And that’s why Judicial Watch is now in court in North Carolina. We are defending a client who has a very simple mission: to ensure that every vote cast is legitimate. (Unfortunately this mission is at odds with the DOJ’s seeming mandate to ensure that the electoral process remains mired in fraud and chaos.)
JW recently filed a Motion for Intervention with our client Christina Kelley Gallegos-Merrill to defend North Carolina against a DOJ lawsuit. The DOJ seeks to prevent enforcement of HB 589, which requires, among other election integrity measures, that voters present a photo ID before casting a ballot. (Yes, the DOJ is actively fighting in court to “prevent enforcement” of the law.)
In addition to representing Judicial Watch members in North Carolina, the Intervention seeks to protect the interests of Ms. Gallegos-Merrill, a former Republican candidate for local office in North Carolina who likely lost her race because of voting irregularities that would be addressed by the HB 589.
Here’Here’s a squib from Judicial Watch’s motion, which argues that by failing to enforce Voter ID laws and other election integrity measures “impairs or impedes” fair elections:
In 2012, [Gallegos-Merrill] ran for County Commissioner of Buncombe County and lost a very close election. She alleges that this loss was due to same-day registration during early voting and to improperly cast ballots…. Merrill has made concrete plans to run again for that office in 2014 and has taken steps to make that happen…. Any ruling from this Court reversing the repeal of same-day registration during early voting or enjoining the enforcement of North Carolina’s photo ID law, would “impair or impede” Merrill’s interests including her immediate electoral prospects for 2014.
Let’s review the timeline of how we ended up in court on behalf of both our members and Ms. Gallegos-Merrill.
On July 25, 2013, both houses of the North Carolina Legislature passed the Voter Information Verification Act (HB 589), popularly known as the “voter ID law,” overhauling the state’s election laws. The bill’s provisions require photo identification for in-person voting; eliminate same-day registration during early voting; reduce the number of days of early voting; and require provisional ballots to be cast in the proper precinct.
All sensible election integrity measures, wouldn’t you say? Not to Attorney General Holder and his DOJ.
On the day the bill passed, Holder said in a speech to the National Urban League concerning the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby Co. v. Holder, which effectively eliminated a major barrier for election integrity measures in the state, that a DOJ voting rights lawsuit against Texas, “is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last.”
This statement was widely seen as a reference to a potential lawsuit against North Carolina over its new photo ID law. Indeed, former Holder spokesman, Matt Miller, said the next day: “From everything I’ve read, the writing’s on the wall that the North Carolina law is going to draw a DOJ challenge.”
On July 29, 2013, a group of political activists were granted an audience at the White House with Attorney General Holder, Labor Secretary (and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights) Tom Perez, and President Obama. The meeting attendance list represented a “who’s who” of voter fraud apologists and unofficial Obama administration “policy consultants,” including the ACLU, the NAACP, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton subsequently told MSNBC that, based upon what he heard at the “unprecedented” meeting, he expected action regarding North Carolina “when this governor signs the bill.” And he was right.
When HB 589 was signed into law on August 12, 2013, two private lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court. A complaint by the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) alleged violations of the 14th and 15th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act (VRA). A complaint by the League of Women Voters also alleged violations of the 14th Amendment and the VRA. On September 30, the DOJ filed its complaint, asking the court to require federal pre-clearance before the state could enforce the HB 589 provisions. On November 26, the DOJ moved to consolidate all three cases.
In our Motion for Intervention, we argue that the negative impact of voter fraud extends beyond the candidates themselves to the voters of North Carolina:
The photo ID law at issue seeks, among other things, to prevent voter fraud. Where there is such fraud, North Carolina voters are harmed by having their votes diluted. In considering Indiana’s photo ID law, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit noted that “[t]he purpose of the Indiana law is to reduce voting fraud, and voting fraud impairs the right of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes – dilution being recognized to be an impairment of the right to vote.”… North Carolina’s voters, including Merrill, are threatened with the same kind of injury.
You’ll note we reference Indiana in our motion. As I mentioned to you in October, JW and its client True the Vote are in court to force Indiana to clean up its dirty voter registration rolls. Our efforts there and in North Carolina are part of our continuing Election Integrity Project, which got a huge boost last month when former DOJ Deputy Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division Robert Popper joined the team. (Popper is the lead attorney in the North Carolina case, assisted by Christopher Coates, former Chief of the Voting Rights Section of the DOJ and local counsel Gene Johnson. As one election law observer noted, we brought the big guns to this legal fight.)
Our election integrity team certain has its work cut out. As JW has shown through a comprehensive nationwide investigation, many states appear to have problems with inaccurate voter registration lists, including: Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Alabama, and California. We’ve told election officials in no uncertain terms that they must maintain accurate voter registration lists consistent with Section 8 of the NVRA or face litigation to enforce the federal law. In addition to North Carolina and Indiana, we’ve already taken legal action in Ohio and Florida.
And rather than getting assistance from the nation’s top law enforcement agency, what do we get instead? Obstruction, interference and outright undermining of the law.
The Obama DOJ is clearly hostile to the idea of one person, one vote, one time. It is shameful that the DOJ is now in court trying to stop North Carolina from fulfilling its legal obligation to prevent ineligible voters from committing voter fraud. Candidates, such as our client Ms. Gallegos-Merrill, have a right to expect to compete in clean elections. And we look forward to defending the voting rights of our supporters in North Carolina and throughout the nation. Our work is essential as the rule of law and election integrity are under unprecedented attack from this highly politicized Justice Department and its liberal allies (such as the ACLU).
The Obama administration has a very simple flow chart for the release of government information. Does the information make the administration look good? If “yes,” then release. If “no” then keep secret and stonewall. This policy – certainly not Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the president’s many promises of transparency – provides the guiding principle for government bureaucrats responding to open records requests.
And this is why we are in federal court so often.
Take, for example, the Obama administration’s “role” in producing the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” This movie, directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, glowingly showed Obama as an in-command president during the bin Laden raid. The film was originally set to hit theaters just prior to the 2012 elections, ostensibly to aid the Obama re-election efforts, but the premiere was delayed after the filmmakers sustained heavy criticism for the apparent political timing of the film’s release.
Of course, the timing of the film aside, there was another key question that dogged the film. Just how did the filmmakers get “top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration”?
This question became the focal point of a JW investigation and was partially answered this week, when we released records from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including a previously unreleased CIA internal report confirming that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information at a June 24, 2011, bin Laden assault awards ceremony attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmaker Mark Boal.
The documents were produced in response to a June 21, 2013, FOIA lawsuit against the CIA.
Significantly, the entire transcript of the Panetta speech provided to Judicial Watch by the CIA is classified “Top Secret.” More than 90 lines are redacted for security reasons, further confirming that significant portions of the speech should not have been made in front of the filmmaker who lacked top security clearance.
At the conclusion his speech, the transcript shows Panetta told the audience at the ceremony, “You have made me proud of the CIA family. And you have made me proud as an Italian to know that bin Laden sleeps with the fishes.”
Now, during the speech, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report released earlier this year, “Director Panetta specifically recognized the unit that conducted the raid and identified the ground commander by name.” Subsequent to the ceremony, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said, “CIA was very sloppy and the administration was very sloppy in enforcing security procedures when it came to Hollywood. It almost seems as if they were star-struck.” Significantly, for some reason, the final IG report omitted any reference to Panetta’s disclosure of “TOP SECRET” and other sensitive information at an event.
Also, included in the documents provided to Judicial Watch is an October 22, 2012, internal “Review of UBL Awards Ceremony Attendance” written by the CIA Office of Security (OS) concluding that, “The Agency’s security policy and administrative procedures were not followed in allowing Mr. Boal, a member of the media, access to the classified bin Ladin Operation Award Ceremony.” The three-page review also states, “The review conducted by OS leads to the conclusion that the failure to follow stipulations in ARs [redacted] resulted in the disclosure of classified information to a member of the media, without benefit of any documentation to reflect a waiver to the above policies.”
Here are some other highlights from the records:
The inclusion of Boal at the CIA ceremony was not the only instance of the Obama administration apparently attempting to influence the production of the “Zero Dark Thirty” movie.
You may recall, in August 2012, Judicial Watch released records it obtained from the CIA and the Department of Defense pursuant to a FOIA lawsuit regarding meetings and communications between government agencies, Boal, and Bigelow, as they prepared to shoot “Zero Dark Thirty.” According to a June 15, 2011, email from Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, the Obama White House was intent on “trying to have visibility into the UBL [Usama bin Laden] projects and this is likely a high profile one.”
Mission accomplished there.
Back to that flow chart. The Obama administration obviously thought that the bin Laden raid details – secret or not – would make them look good, so they released them. Clearly these new internal CIA documents show that CIA Director Panetta breeched national security in order to curry favor with Hollywood filmmakers who the Obama administration hoped would make a pro-Obama film.
And what is particularly infuriating is that, at the same time the administration was releasing these classified secrets to Hollywood, it was stonewalling a JW request for details regarding bin Laden’s burial at sea, as well as images of the raid. Obviously there is something in those records – which do not carry with them the same sensitivity as the identities of those who conducted the raid – that is embarrassing to the president. So “do not release” remains the official Obama policy. (The courts have thus far acquiesced to the administration with the Supreme Court mulling over our petition to hear the case.)
In our view, this new information we uncovered should provide the impetus for a criminal probe of this dangerous leak. But we’re not holding our breath. Our investigation continues, as well as our pursuit of the bin Laden raid records at the Supreme Court.
In the meantime, Americans might wonder why some leakers, such as Edward Snowden, are aggressively pursued for leaks by Obama’s Justice Department while high level political hacks such as Panetta skate by free and clear.
One of the great things about our work at Judicial Watch is that virtually everything we say is backed up by documents and facts. DC is full of fact-free opinion, but our analysis is backed up by documents from the government and other verifiable sources. Judicial Watch has produced a number of special reports over the years that add educational context to our investigations and litigation.
This Monday we released a new special report on a dangerous campaign of political correctness that is ongoing within the federal government that threatens our safety and national security. This report is entitled: “U.S. Government Purges of Law Enforcement Training Material Deemed ‘Offensive’ to Muslims: Documentation and Analysis of Islamist Active Measures and Influence Operations Targeting Anti-terrorism Training.”
At 26 pages, this special report includes a detailed chronology; identifies specific Islamic propaganda organizations; and identifies the five top “Islamist influence operators” associated with the Obama administration. More than 12 years of Judicial Watch work on national security issues is featured in the report, highlighting information from government documents exclusively obtained by JW.
In other words, you will not find this information anywhere else.
The report centers on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) purge of anti-terrorism training material and curricula deemed “offensive” to Muslims. The curricula purge – documented through a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in June 2013 – occurred following a February 8, 2012, meeting between FBI Director Robert Mueller and various Islamic organizations.
The purge was part of a “broader Islamist influence operation” designed to “influence the opinions and actions of persons, institutions, governments and the public at-large.” The report also documents incidents of “Islamic influence operations” at the Departments of Justice and State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Obama White House.
Check out some of the material deemed “offensive” and the reasons given by the FBI for purging the information:
So now our government is supposed to endorse the idea that the Qur’an is the “revealed word of God?” (This at a time when the U.S. military is banning Bibles and persecuting Christians for their beliefs.)
With respect to the “Chronology of Recent Developments in Influence Operations” the report details the following incidents, among others:
The report also shows how this purge campaign is possible: “The Obama administration has been penetrated by Islamist influence operators, seeking to advance an ideological agenda completely at odds with our constitutional system. The penetration is, in many cases, by the Obama administration’s invitation.” Some of the more public and controversial figures associated with the Obama administration have included:
The Report includes a riveting section on Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen and militant imam who has been described as the “spiritual leader” and inspiration of the 9/11 hijackers; the Fort Hood murderer, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan; and the 2009 Christmas Day (attempted) airline bomber, Umar Farouk Abudulmutallab of Nigeria, and others. Killed by a U.S. drone strike in September 2011, al-Aulaqi had been the subject of Judicial Watch litigation resulting in the release of more than 1,800 pages of records revealing a highly questionable relationship between the terrorist leader and the U.S. government.
Our report hit a nerve and your Judicial Watch was called a “hate group” by a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is one of the terrorist-front groups we further expose in our new report.
Rest assured we will continue to investigate, analyze and pursue additional lines of inquiry concerning Islamist influence operations targeting the law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the Defense Department and the media. This Report is a steppingstone for further inquiries by Congress, government watchdogs, and the media. The American people deserve complete, accurate, factual information concerning the threats of subversion and terror posed to our country. And that’s what we intend to provide.
In the meantime, please get the word out about this report and demand from your elected representatives that our federal national security establishment start dealing with the truth rather than politically-correct fantasies about the Islamic basis for the terrorist threat.
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. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.