Archive for the ‘ATF’ 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 top deputy to Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation on Thursday amid revelations that Operation Fast and Furious scandal guns were used to harm Americans in Phoenix in 2013, a development top congressional Republicans say President Obama’s administration sought to cover up.
Documents released by conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch—and put forward by Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)—show that an assault rifle purchased as part of Fast and Furious was used in a Phoenix-area crime in July 2013 that left two people wounded.
Part of a police report shows the rifle’s serial number, 1977DX1654. Judicial Watch obtained the documents from a lawsuit it filed against the city of Phoenix, Judicial Watch v. City of Phoenix, to get officials to release the documents. Judicial Watch had filed an Aug. 5, 2014, public records request with the city, which it ignored, forcing Judicial Watch to file the lawsuit on Oct. 2.
“Thanks to our lawsuit, Congress has been able to confirm what Judicial Watch already reported—that a Fast and Furious weapon was used in yet another violent crime that terrorized and injured residents of Phoenix,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a Thursday statement:
Our lawsuit against Phoenix exposed how the Obama cover-up of Fast and Furious is ongoing. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is a mess. It has endangered the public and is engaged in an ongoing cover-up of its insanely reckless Fast and Furious gun-running operation. Judicial Watch appreciates the refreshing diligence of Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa in pursuing the truth about Fast and Furious.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton says he has “no doubt” that a Sept. 23 federal court order requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to turn over an index of documents relating to the Fast and Furious scandal by October 22 prompted the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder two days later.
“There’s no doubt the writing was on the wall between Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal circling around the Justice Department. He did not want to be a person of interest in Washington discussions when more information about Fast and Furious came out,” Fitton told CNSNews.com.
“And the Washington way is that [when] bad things happen, get out of Dodge and hope everyone forgets.”
The U.S.Commission on Civil Rights conducted a year-long investigation into the matter shortly after the dismissal. Despite being compelled by statute to cooperate fully with commission investigations, DOJ
refused to answer 18 separate interrogatories,
refused to respond to 22 separate requests for production of documents,
barred two key DOJ attorneys from testifying (both of the attorneys defied DOJ and testified at considerable risk to their careers),
refused to provide witness statements for twelve key witnesses,
invoked specious privileges in order to withhold critical information,
failed to provide a privilege log,
and failed to provide requested e-mails between Civil Rights Division personnel and other DOJ officials regarding the dismissal of the NBPP lawsuit (some of the e-mails later were revealed pursuant to court order in a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch)
A high-ranking DOJ political appointee gave instructions that the Voting Section was not going to bring cases “against black defendants or for the benefit of white victims.”
A high-ranking DOJ political appointee explicitly told the entire Voting Section “that this administration would not be enforcing Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act.” (The purpose of section 8 of the NVRA is to ensure that persons ineligible to vote are not permitted to vote.)
DOJ refuses to enforce Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act on behalf of white victims.
There exists within DOJ pervasive hostility to the race-neutral enforcement of civil-rights laws.
The commission’s 262-page report to congress contains much more evidence that, under Holder, DOJ did not enforce the nation’s civil-rights laws in a color-blind manner. Something to consider while reading the next obtuse editorial extolling Mr. Holder’s record on civil rights.
The surprise resignation of Eric Holder, the first Attorney General ever to be held in contempt of Congress, exploded in the news today. Holder has been under unrelenting assault for the most egregious politicization and abuse of power in the Department of Justice in history—exceeding that of John Mitchell and Alberto Gonzalez. He has made the Department of Obstructing Justice notorious. Federal judges are stepping in to end his stone walling of Congressional and other investigations on several fronts, and now he’s on the run.
Why now? What is about to blow up?
This week in Washington federal district judge John D. Bates denied the Department’s motion for further delay and ordered DOJ to produce an index identifying each of the documents it had withheld in the lawsuit by Judicial Watch to obtain the Fast and Furious documents; identifying the statutory exemption claimed; and explaining how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. The deadline looms just four weeks away on October 22nd.
Reality being far different from the President’s remarkable praise of his dear friend at today’s photo-friendly press conference, Mr. Holder lost all credibility with Congress upon his abominable handling of the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme with Mexican drug dealers, which caused untold numbers of deaths. He refused to produce documents demanded by federal legislators—prompting historic contempt charges.
The contempt of Congress case against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — the first sitting Cabinet member ever to face such a congressional rebuke — will continue even after his resignation takes effect, but it’s unlikely he will ever face personal punishment, legal analysts said Thursday.
Mr. Holder, is expected to announce his resignation later Thursday, and Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the timing is not accidental: A federal judge earlier this week ruled that the Justice Department will have to begin submitting documents next month related to the botched Fast and Furious gun operation in a case brought by Judicial Watch.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence he’s resigning as the courts are ruling the Fast and Furious information has to be released,” Mr. Fitton told The Washington Times.
Tear Gas Is A Banned Chemical Weapon, But US Lobbying Made It Okay For Domestic Use… And, Boy, Do We Use It
The Washington Post has a detailed look at how it’s being used in Ferguson, and how the police there seem to think it’s perfectly safe:
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson has defended the use of tear gas. “There are complaints about the response from some people,” he said, “but to me, nobody got hurt seriously, and I’m happy about that.”
But another report highlights that the negative health effects of tear gas are severely underestimated by law enforcement groups who use it. In an interview with Vox.com, Sven-Eric Jordt, a scientist who studies tear gas, warns that law enforcement has become too complacent with this narrative that tear gas is a harmless way of dispersing crowds:
I frankly think that we don’t know much about the long-term effects, especially in civilian exposure with kids or elderly or people in the street who might have some kind of lung disease already. There’s very few follow-up studies. These are very active chemicals that can cause quite significant injury, so I’m concerned about the increased use of these agents.
I’m very concerned that, as use has increased, tear gas has been normalized. The attitude now is like, this is safe and we can use it as much as we want.
Even as it’s been banned for use in war. Something seems… very, very wrong with this situation.
A federal judge ordered President Obama’s team to hand over some documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious and to provide a list of withheld documents.
Once House Republicans see the list of withheld documents, they will have a chance to challenge the withholding of particular documents.
“This Administration has been so intent on hiding the contents of these documents that it allowed Attorney General Holder to be held in contempt instead of just turning them over to Congress,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said of the ruling. “The privilege log will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.”
Holder was held in contempt in 2012 after he refused to produce 1,300 pages of documents subpoenaed by Issa’s committee. Obama said that the documents were shielded from congressional review by executive privilege.
“How can the president assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement?” Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said at the time. “How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?”
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson “signaled that under the ruling she would devise, DOJ would have to persuade her on each document as to why she should allow Holder to withhold it from Congress” when she heard the case in May, according to Breitbart’s Ken Klukowski.
In response to a lawsuit filed by government watchdog Judicial Watch, a federal court rejected legal arguments by the Obama administration and ordered the Justice Department to release certain information about “Fast and Furious” documents it is withholding from Congress and the public. Analysts and lawmakers have long argued that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the latter of whom is still in criminal contempt of Congress, are trying to cover-up details in the deadly “Fast and Furious” scandal, which saw the Obama administration put thousands of weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The latest order could finally shed some light on what the executive branch is trying to hide.
Under the order, issued last month by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Department of Justice is required to produce a so-called “Vaughn index” of all documents and materials sought by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The non-profit organization asked for all documents on Fast and Furious being withheld from Congress by the administration under claims of “executive privilege.” While the actual materials will not be released, DOJ will have to provide a detailed listing of all documents it is withholding by October 1, along with information on why the material is not being made available to the public or congressional investigators.
The Justice Department fought hard to block Judicial Watch’s demands, seeking an indefinite delay until the House of Representative’s lawsuit against the administration for the same information was resolved by the courts. The administration has also been battling Congress in an effort to stonewall congressional investigations. In the end, though, the U.S. District Court for D.C. rejected the DOJ’s implausible claims that releasing the information in the Vaughn index would somehow upset “the delicate balance of powers” between Congress and the executive branch.
In fact, the judge noted that Congress and the executive branch, by passing FOIA in 1966, had intended to create the balance that now exists. “To the extent DOJ argues that the mere production of the Vaughn index — not involving the release of any documents in dispute — would alter the historical balance of powers between the branches, any unbalancing would result from FOIA itself, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, and which this Court cannot ignore forever,” said the July 18 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Bates announced last week by Judicial Watch.