President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal, according to public records obtained by Judicial Watch.
The information is part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) “Vaughn index” detailing records about the gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious. JW had to sue the agency for the records after the Obama administration failed to provide them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A federal court ordered the DOJ to provide the records over the agency’s objections. Yesterday JW reported on the broad information in the records, including that Obama asserted executive privilege for Holder’s wife as part of the administration’s efforts to cover up the scandal.
Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the once-secret program that allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.
The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sheryl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.
This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.
The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.” Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.
Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.
In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.
Our data comes from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Its large number of observations (32,800 in 2008 and 55,400 in 2010) provide sufficient samples of the non-immigrant sub-population, with 339 non-citizen respondents in 2008 and 489 in 2010. For the 2008 CCES, we also attempted to match respondents to voter files so that we could verify whether they actually voted.
How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.
Estimated Voter Turnout by Non-Citizens 2008 2010 Self reported and/or verified 38 (11.3%) 13 (3.5%) Self reported and verified 5 (1.5%) N.A. Adjusted estimate 21 (6.4%) 8 (2.2%)
Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.
The Obama administration is claiming executive privilege over more than 15,000 documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, including correspondence between Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife, according to records received Wednesday night by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Last month, a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to release to Judicial Watch the list of documents, known as a “Vaughn index,” that it is withholding from the public, calling its requests for further delays “unconvincing.”
The 1,307-page Vaughn index lists 15,662 documents related to Operation Fast and Furious that the Obama administration is asserting executive privilege over—the first time that full list and description of the records has been released.
According to Judicial Watch, the withheld documents include communications between top officials at the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), as well as with the United States Ambassador to Mexico.
The Obama administration is also asserting executive privilege over nearly 20 emails between Holder and his wife Sharon Malone.
“Obama’s executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. “There is no precedent for President Obama’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder’s emails to his wife about Fast and Furious.”
Judicial Watch also says the Justice Department is asserting privilege over publicly available press clips, letters from Congress, and inter-agency communications that would normally be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
Health authorities and pharmaceutical companies are planning to test several new vaccines to prevent Ebola infection over the next few months, including one that is taken as a tablet, making it easier to deploy in West Africa.
The plans signify that a response to the Ebola outbreak is finally gathering steam. It is still unclear if any of these vaccines will work, however, and even if they do, they may not be ready in time to help stem the current epidemic.
Starting in January, two vaccines will be tested in large studies in the West African countries most affected by the outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. At least three other vaccines will begin safety testing in healthy volunteers outside the outbreak zone in the first quarter of 2015.
One of those three is actually a combination of two inoculations being developed by Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic, a Danish company.
Johnson & Johnson announced early Wednesday that it was committing $200 million to the program, including making an equity investment of about $43 million in Bavarian Nordic to help pay for that company’s part in the project. It says it plans to begin safety trials in January and hopes to produce one million doses in 2015, with 250,000 available for broad application in clinical trials by May.
The CIA is still fighting for creative control of its most anticipated 21st century work: the Torture Report. Long before it got involved in the ongoing redaction battle, it was spying on those putting the report together, namely Senators and Senate staffers. Hands were wrung, apologies were made and it was medically determined that Sen. Dianne Feinstein doesn’t have an ironic bone in her body.
The Torture Report’s final cut now seemingly lies in the hands of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough — a rather strange place for it to be considering the administration has no shortage of officials willing to offer their input on national security issues. But McDonough’s ill-fitting position as go-between to the Senate and the CIA isn’t the most interesting part of the story, although it appears he’s trying to keep the “hanging” of CIA director John Brennan from being a foregone conclusion. Neither he nor the White House have suggested a replacement scapegoat, so Brennan may end up paying the price despite having the administration’s full support. You can’t just drop something as damaging as the Torture Report on the American public and simply walk away from it. A symbolic sacrifice still needs to be made, even if the underlying problems continue to be ignored.
No, the most interesting part of the latest Torture Report details almost falls off the end of the page over at The Huffington Post. It’s more hints of CIA spying, ones that go a bit further than previously covered.
According to sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report that details the alleged abuses by agency officials, CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers in order to gain access to Senate communications and drafts of the Intelligence Committee investigation. These sources requested anonymity because the details of the agency’s inspector general report remain classified.
“If people knew the details of what they actually did to hack into the Senate computers to go search for the torture document, jaws would drop. It’s straight out of a movie,” said one Senate source familiar with the document.
Impersonating staff to gain access to Senate Torture Report work material would be straight-up espionage.
A decorated soldier who participated in the Somalia battle immortalized by Hollywood blockbuster “Black Hawk Down” was reportedly found dead in his Georgia home earlier this month.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Gallagher, 52, died of natural causes as a result of a heart condition, the Army Times reports. He served as the command sergeant major for the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program, but had extensive experience in major combat operations, including Operation Just Cause in Panama and with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia, which was later made famous by the 2001 film.
“You know, I don’t say this lightly, but Bob is probably one of, probably the best soldier I ever served with, retired Col. Greg Gadson told the newspaper. “That man really cared about soldiers.”
Born in Bayonne, N.J., Gallagher joined the Army in 1981 and later earned several awards and decorations, including a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. He earned the Silver Star in 2002 during Operation Iraqi Freedom as troops advanced from Kuwait to Baghdad, when he suffered a leg wound but continued to direct his men.
“The best day and worst day of my life was when I served in Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 3, 1993, as part of Task Force Ranger,” Gallagher said in 2010. “It was the worst day, because we lost 18 soldiers and 84 others, including myself, were wounded. It was the best day of my life because it showed the incredible performance of our warriors in long-protracted battle under extraordinary circumstances in an urban environment. Throughout it all, the warriors that fought that day performed in a manner that was consistent with the values of our nation, and I was very proud of that.”
Read the Tough Letter a U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Sent to Houston Mayor Regarding Sermon Subpoena: ‘A Chilling Effect’
The battle over subpoenas issued by the city of Houston for pastors’ speeches and other communications has taken yet another turn, with a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights penning a letter to Mayor Annise Parker, lambasting the information request.
Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, who opened his letter by noting that he was writing on his own accord and not on behalf of the entire commission, warned that the city’s pastoral requests “threaten to have a chilling effect on religious and political speech that is protected by the First Amendment.”
“Although non-parties to a lawsuit can be required to provide information that is reasonably likely to be relevant and admissible, these subpoenas are plainly overbroad,” Kirsanow wrote.
He continued, “A subpoena that requires a pastor to turn over an e-mail to his neighbor about the details of the Equal Rights Ordinance, or a draft book chapter on the Bible and homosexuality that discusses the Equal Rights Ordinance, is clearly overbroad. “
“Given that the recipients of these subpoenas are pastors, it is almost inevitable that their views on homosexuality and gender identity are informed by their faith, if not almost entirely rooted in their faith,” he continued. “Indeed, the views of many people on homosexuality and gender identity are rooted in their ultimate commitments.”
He also charged that the “discovery request impermissibly probes the religious beliefs of private citizens simply because they supported a political effort.”
Kirsanow concluded that the request is an “abuse of government power” and that it appears to punish pastors for sharing political views that are predicated upon their faith.
Read the letter in its entirety here.
Infected by politics: The public-health profession is more committed to social justice than to sound science
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Communities Program, for example, focuses on “unfair health differences closely linked with social, economic or environmental disadvantages that adversely affect groups of people.” CDC’s Healthy People 2020 project recognizes that “health inequities are tied to economics, exclusion, and discrimination that prevent groups from accessing resources to live healthy lives,” according to Harvard public-health professor Nancy Krieger. Krieger is herself a magnet for federal funding, which she uses to spread the message about America’s unjust treatment of women, minorities, and the poor. To study the genetic components of health is tantamount to “scientific racism,” in Krieger’s view, since doing so overlooks the “impact of discrimination” on health. And of course the idea of any genetic racial differences is anathema to Krieger and her left-wing colleagues.
Local public-health programs are just as committed to “social justice.” The National Association of County and City Health Officials promoted a seven-part PBS documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?, to trigger community dialogues about health equity. NACCHO’s Health Equity and Social Justice initiatives seek to “advance the capacity of local health departments to tackle the root causes of health inequities.”
During the height of the AIDS epidemic, the public-health profession abjured any focus on abstinence as a means of stopping the spread of the disease. This silence was contrary to decades of public-health response to venereal disease, which stressed individual responsibility, as well as contact tracing, to prevent further infections.
But I did learn a few important lessons:
- My mother’s life did not revolve around my whims.
- If I wanted something, it was up to me to make it.
- An orange a day can prevent scurvy.
Was my mother cruel? Was she lazy? Many of my friends’ parents thought so. My friends were jealous I could make myself dinner every night, especially because it was mac and cheese.
Fast forward to my early teen years, and my mother, who had expected me to complete minor tasks like making a sandwich in my toddler years or a microwave dinner in grade school had stepped up her game. I was practically running entire parts of the household solo. I handled some of the bills, balanced checkbooks. There were even a few credit cards that were in both of our names. Those credit cards were my responsibility: I charged to them, I paid them in full with my own money—earned babysitting and by doing chores—and was expected to do so on time. At restaurants, calculating the tip was left on my shoulders. At the doctor’s office and hospitals, giving medical history and insurance information was, as well. My mother’s friends told her that she was making me grow up too soon, that it was too much responsibility for a young girl to manage on her own with minimal supervision.
After my mother died, all of the lessons I was taught about balancing checkbooks, paying bills, and living as an adult went from supervised practice runs to reality. At 18 years old, I was living in a studio apartment alone in the Bronx, going to school and working, both on a full-time basis. I hit some bumps in the road in the beginning; my power was turned off once because I forgot to pay the bill. Overall, though, my first year on my own in the adult world, living hand-to-mouth in a cockroach-infested apartment in a seedy neighborhood, was fairly uneventful. I was able to keep my head above water with bills, time management, and cooking because my mother forced all of these responsibilities on me when I was “too young.”
My mother, thankfully, never believed in such a thing. Her philosophy was “if she’s able to do it, she’s not too young.” Parents might think that getting three healthy meals into their picky eaters a day is the best thing for their future health. But catering to a young child’s every demanding whim is unhealthy, no matter the calorie count of her dinner.
The pitch was intriguing: U.S. health officials wanted to fast-track trials for an Ebola vaccine and sounded the call for volunteers.
Charles Sullivan called up the hotline on a whim, figuring the National Institutes of Health already had filled its queue and wouldn’t need him. But he was accepted for three rounds of shots of a deactivated virus, a year’s worth of blood analysis and a $900 check for his trouble. The clinical trial went well, and the vaccine seemed promising.
A decade later, the country is still waiting for a vaccine amid a worldwide Ebola outbreak, and Mr. Sullivan is wondering what happened to the research conducted on him and 27 other test subjects in 2003.
“It seems like they’re fast-tracking the same thing they were fast-tracking a decade ago,” said Mr. Sullivan, a 51-year-old resident of Rockville, Maryland.
The latest outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa, infected Americans on U.S. soil for the first time, and left political leaders and health officials clamoring for a vaccine.
Treatment options for those who are infected are also limited. An experimental drug, ZMapp, was given to Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, American aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa. Yet supplies of the drug, derived from tobacco plants, have been exhausted and must be rebuilt.