Archive for the ‘“Intelligence”’ Category
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.
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.
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.
The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the Obama administration to task Friday for its “irresponsible” plan to allow as many as 100,000 Haitians to immigrate to the U.S. without a visa.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the administration’s Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program — which will allow thousands of Haitians awaiting a U.S. visa to enter the country and legally apply for work permits — is “an irresponsible overreach of the executive branch’s authority.”
“Which countries are next on President Obama’s list?” Mr. Grassley said. “Will there by medical screenings before entry? Will work permits be granted automatically? How will this affect American workers?”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that handles immigration benefits cases, announced Friday the program to unite Haitians already living in the U.S. with family members abroad will ramp up in 2015.
At that time the State Department’s National Visa Center will begin notifying families who may be eligible to take part in the program. Those immigrants will allowed to apply for work permits while waiting for issuance of their permanent visas.
The agency said the program will expedite “safe, legal and orderly migration.”
The selection of Democratic political operative Ron Klain as Ebola czar is the latest example of President Obama “surround[ing] himself with loyalists” rather than qualified officials to deal with the nation’s crises, says Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.).
“One would think, faced with the prospect of an epidemic, the president would task an expert in epidemiology not an expert in political spin,” Sessions said in a statement on Friday. “The American people can have zero confidence in Ron Klain’s competence to carry out this critical role.”
Klain’s Democratic ties run deep: He previously served as chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, Gore’s general counsel on his recount committee in the 2000 election, and chief counsel during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s contentious confirmation hearings for conservative Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas.
Sessions said the “danger” of Ebola spreading is “profound,” and called for a ban on travel from Ebola-stricken countries, as well as increased security on the Mexico–U.S. border if the disease breaks out in Latin American.
It’s no secret that liberal Democrats want to turn 11 to 15 million illegal aliens into US citizens and registered Democrats. Barack Obama has been on the verge of using his executive powers to override Congress and grant amnesty and open the road to citizenship for the millions of illegals. I believe his whole purpose is to undermine traditional American patriotism and to secure millions of votes for his fellow Democrats throughout the country.
Evidently, one Department of Homeland Security official in the extremely liberal land of nuts, fruits and flakes, otherwise known as California, has taken Obama’s agenda to a new level. Mai Nhu Nguyen, who immigrated to the US from Vietnam and became a naturalized citizen the legal way works for the DHS’s Citizenship and Immigration Services division.
Nguyen was, as one person put it, holding a fire sale on US citizenship. She was caught selling citizenship and legal residency status papers to illegals for thousands of dollars. In one instance, she sold a coveted ‘green card’ or paperwork indicating that a person had legal immigrant status to a Vietnamese person for $1,000.
The FBI worked with the DHS Inspector General’s office on the case and found that Nguyen, 48 years old solicited bribes from Vietnamese immigrants resulting in her abusing her power to approve or deny applications for immigration status and benefits.
To avoid a lot of publicity, which would be very bad for Obama and California Democrats, the case against Nguyen was kept quiet and she agreed to a plea deal that could land her up to three years in prison.
So why don’t we have an Ebola vaccine now?
“The main reason is that up until the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, it was not a very high priority,” says Dr. Myron Levine, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He’s been working on vaccines — including one for Ebola — for 44 years.
“With limited resources to test vaccines, et cetera, one always has to pick and choose what are the highest priorities.”
And when stacked against everyday threats like cancer and the flu, there wasn’t a financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to put money into Ebola research. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the head of infectious diseases at the NIH.
“You have a company that says, ‘Let’s see, maybe I could make a pill that everybody takes every day, whatever it is, a lipid lowering agent, another kind of Viagra, what have you — they put a lot of money in to get that product, that wasn’t the case with Ebola,” Fauci says.
Top public health officials have collected $25 million in bonuses since 2007, carving out extra pay for themselves in tight federal budgetary times while blaming a lack of money for the Obama administration’s lackluster response to the Ebola outbreak.
U.S. taxpayers gave $6 billion in salaries and $25 million in bonuses to an elite corps of health care specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2007, according to data compiled by American Transparency’s OpenTheBooks.com, an online portal aggregating 1.3 billion lines of federal, state and local spending. The agency’s head count increased by 23 percent during that time, adding manpower and contributing to higher payrolls despite relatively flat funding.
From 2010 to 2013, all federal wages were frozen because of budgetary constraints, but CDC officials found a way to pay themselves through bonuses, overtime, within-grade increases and promotion pay raises.
Donald Shriber, deputy director of policy and communication at the CDC’s Center for Global Health, received the highest bonus in the six years analyzed — $62,895 in 2011 — netting $242,595 in take-home pay in a year when wages were supposed to be frozen.
Mr. Shriber was one of 54 employees governmentwide, and one of four in the Department of Health and Human Services, recognized with the Presidential Rank Award for his leadership abilities that year, which accounted for the bonus, said Donda Hansen, a media representative for the CDC.
The Centers for Disease Control told the incoming Obama administration in 2008 that it should establish 18 regional disease detection centers around the world to adequately safeguard the U.S. from emerging health threats like Ebola, according to an agency memo.
But six years later, as the government struggles to contain the fallout from a deadly Ebola outbreak at home and abroad, the CDC still has only 10 centers — and none of them operates in the western Africa region hardest hit by the deadly virus.
“The existing centers have already proven their effectiveness and impact on detecting and responding to outbreaks including avian influenza, aflatoxin poisoning, Rift Valley fever, Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks,” the CDC said in its memo to the Obama transition team, which The Washington Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
There had never been a case of Ebola in the U.S. until a few months ago. Since then, thousands of people have died of the disease in Africa, and millions upon millions of dollars have been spent treating Ebola patients in the U.S. who acquired it there, one of whom has died.
But the Obama administration refuses to impose a travel ban.
This summer, the U.S. government imposed a travel ban on Israel simply to pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu into accepting a ceasefire agreement. But we can’t put a travel restriction on countries where a contagious disease is raging.
It’s becoming increasingly clear this is just another platform for Obama to demonstrate that we are citizens of the world. The entire Ebola issue is being discussed — by our government, not the United Nations — as if Liberians are indistinguishable from Americans, and U.S. taxpayers should be willing to pay whatever it takes to save them.
Maybe we should give them the vote, too! If Ebola was concentrated in Finland and Norway — certainly Israel! — we’d have had a travel ban on Day One.
Naturally, Obama is sending troops from the 101st Airborne, the pride of our Army, to Liberia. Their general should resign in protest.
Quite obviously, the only way to protect Americans is to prevent Ebola from coming here in the first place. The problem isn’t that Ebola will leap across oceans to infect Americans; it’s that Obama doesn’t want to protect Americans.
At least he’s only putting expendable Americans on the frontlines of the Ebola epidemic — doctors, nurses, members of the 101st Airborne.