Posted tagged ‘Obama administration transparency’

Susan Rice skates again

June 20, 2017

Susan Rice skates again, American ThinkerMonica Showalter, June 20, 2017

It’s pretty astonishing what President Obama’s Deep State Dead Enders will do to protect their self-claimed ‘right’ to break the law with impunity.

From Breitbart News:

The National Security Council cannot hand over records relating to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s surveillance of Americans, because they have been moved to the Obama presidential library and may be sealed for as may as five years, conservative watchdog Judicial Watch announced Monday.

The NSC informed Judicial Watch in a letter dated May 23 that materials related to Rice’s requests to know the identities of Americans swept up in surveillance of foreign targets, including any Trump campaign or transition officials, have been moved to the library.

That’s certainly convenient for Rice, whose role in illegally ‘unmasking’ Americans caught up in spy surveillance dragnets and then leaking what she learned for partisan political purposes is explicitly forbidden by law. Well, with this sudden move of all the evidence of her crime to the Obama library, looks like she skates again.

Deep State knows how to protect itself.

It’s appalling because these laws were put on the books precisely to prevent the sort of scenarios we have seen in the last six months: that of angry political partisans, embittered about the 2016 election, attempting to use U.S. intelligence resources to get back at their political enemies.  Susan Rice and her tag-teamer in Benghazi talking points, former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes (who never got a security clearance) and other denizens of the National Security Council have all apparently been involved in the illegally ordered ‘unmasking’ of U.S. citizens caught up in the intelligence dragnets of mass surveillance. Rice has been caught red-handed demanding to know the names of these Americans, something the law provides explicit protections for with the ‘unmasking’ of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who spoke with the Russian ambassador- followed by a flood of news leaks from Rhodes’ little buddies in what he called his “echo chamber” media.

It’s an abuse of power and a miscarriage of justice if there ever was one.

In their by-any-means-necessary minds, U.S. spy resources were their resources, not the state’s, to use as they pleased. And since they feel they have a right to rule, any abuse of power is acceptable, provided it supports their leftist president’s political fortunes and his now-rejected values.

Will she ever be sanctioned or scrutinized now? Not with a five-year wait on the black hole of Obama administration presidential library files.

On that front, it’s a good guess that the files themselves are likely to be raked through and scoured with “bleachbit” or whatever the favored erasure is, by Obama partisans in a bid to ensure that Rice’s role never sees the light of day – and Rice never faces the music. Just the example of former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger stuffing documents from the National Archives down his pants in a bid to alter the historic record is sign enough of that.

That they could do this legally signals a problem. Congress should act to stop this travesty of justice. Obama shouldn’t own any of those files – those files are evidence as well as historic record and in either case, belong solely to the American people who paid for them.

Tom Fitton discusses Shocking, New Clinton Emails, Soros Lawsuit, Clean Elections, & Immigration

June 2, 2017

Tom Fitton discusses Shocking, New Clinton Emails, Soros Lawsuit, Clean Elections, & Immigration, Judicial Watch via YouTube, June 2, 2017

 

Jeff Sessions Slams Top Immigration Official for Suppressing Reports of Refugee Terrorism, Crime

October 1, 2016

Jeff Sessions Slams Top Immigration Official for Suppressing Reports of Refugee Terrorism, Crime, BreitbartKatie Mchugh, October 1, 2016

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 19: on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 19: on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions is going after a top immigration official who earlier admitted the U.S. government has invited future terrorists into American communities, the Obama administration’s much-touted “vetting process” aside.

“The fact is—anybody that understands the challenge they face to do this vetting. You cannot vet people from Syria, because there’s no way, and we have no plans to send anybody into Syria to verify anything that they say,” Sessions told León Rodríguez during his testimony before a Senate panel.

“That’s the problem, fundamentally,” the Republican continued. “Are you not aware that I have written four letters to the Department, asking for information on how many refugees have been convicted of criminal and terrorist activities?”

Rodríguez, who directs citizenship and immigration Services for the Department of Homeland Security, said he wasn’t. “I confess Chairman, I am not. I will certainly make sure to follow up on those correspondence—”

“This is absolutely breathtaking,” Sessions cut in. “It is a total disrespect to this body, who is in charge of giving you money to run your business. We should quit giving you money if you don’t respond and you don’t know basic things.”

Sessions, who who chairs the Senate’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, listed the letters he sent to the Department of Homeland Security, along with one sent directly to the president demanding to know how many refugees were convicted on criminal or terrorism charges in the U.S. “So do you think we’re entitled to know this?” he asked.

“I will—of course you’re entitled to answers to your questions. I will follow up, sir,” Rodríguez said.

“Well, to me, it indicates the determination to promote an agenda without listening to the American people, without listening to their elected representatives, and to downplay and to misrepresent, really, the danger that this program presents,” Sessions said. “And we’re not having terrorists from a lot of areas, but some areas we’re having terrorists that threaten this country in a whole lot of ways.”

Sessions added that he had sent the letters to Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson, and would take it as an “absolute refusal” to respond to legitimate requests to Congress if no one in the department brought them to Johnson’s or Rodríguez’s attention.

Rodríguez also tried to clarify “our operations are fee-funded, not tax-funded. They’re not funded by the taxpayers.”

“So you’re not funded by the taxpayers. And so you don’t have any responsibility to the taxpayers?” the Alabama senator asked.

“No, we have a responsibility to the taxpayers,” Rodríguez backtracked, “and the American people to do our job the right way. That’s not the point I was making.”

“You don’t get any fees that Congress hasn’t authorized, isn’t that true?” Sessions asked.

“That’s certainly true,” Rodríguez admitted.

Sessions’ office found in June that of the 580 people convicted of terrorism-related offenses between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2014—which does not include the terrorist Muslims who carried the 9/11 attacks—380 were foreign-born, with 24 of those brought in as refugees.

Adding to the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration scandals, an audit revealed over 1,811 aliens from terrorist countries under final deportation orders were granted U.S. citizenship—giving them the right to vote and gain security clearances—with the Obama administration shutting down the program that uncovered the rampant fraud.

Another Obama administration official refused to say how many Syrian refugees specifically the government plans to ship to American neighborhoods. The outgoing Obama administration wants to ship 110,000 refugees altogether to the U.S. in fiscal year 2017, which begins October 1.

Obama operatives stripped Judicial Watch of ‘media’ status, overcharged for FOIA requests

September 30, 2016

Obama operatives stripped Judicial Watch of ‘media’ status, overcharged for FOIA requests, Washington Times

(But how could that be?

Oh well. — DM)

 

tomfitton_c0-46-1253-776_s885x516“This is what we put up all the time from the agencies,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. (Associated Press)

Political operatives within the Obama administration wrongly punished conservative legal group Judicial Watch, stripping it of “media” status and trying to force it to pay higher fees for its open records requests, the General Services Administration inspector general said in a letter released Thursday.

The GSA botched several high-profile open records requests, delaying them for months while political appointees got involved, Inspector General Carol F. Ochoa said. The findings were released while the administration was facing charges of slow-walking open records requests for Hillary Clinton’s emails, as well as other requests.

In the case of Judicial Watch, the order to strip it of media status came from political operatives with long ties to Democratic causes — and even from the White House.

The inspector general said the decision came at the behest of Gregory Mecher, a former Democratic campaign fundraiser who at the time was liaison to the White House. He is married to Jen Psaki, a longtime spokeswoman with the Obama administration and its election campaigns.

Ms. Ochoa said stripping Judicial Watch of media status violated several agency policies and things got worse when the GSA denied an appeal by the group.

The same person who ruled on the initial request also ruled on the appeal, “contrary to GSA procedures,” the inspector general said.

Judicial Watch ended up suing over the request, the agency finally agreed to waive all fees and even ended up paying Judicial Watch $750 as part of the settlement.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, questioned the agency’s decision to fight a losing case that ended up costing it money.

“It’s outrageous but not surprising. Welcome to our world. This is what we put up with all the time from the agencies,” he said.

President Obama promised an era of transparency when it came to open records requests under the Freedom of Information Act, which is the chief way for Americans to pry loose data from the federal government.

Despite the president’s exhortations, the government is increasingly fighting requests, forcing the public to file lawsuits to look at information.

Last year, the administration spent $31.3 million to fight FOIA cases — more than twice the $15.4 million the administration spent in 2008, the final year under President George W. Bush.

The GSA has not been one of the major offenders, reporting no FOIA legal spending in 2015 and just $11,000 a year in 2014 and 2013, when it faced Judicial Watch’s lawsuit and paid the $750 settlement.

That doesn’t mean the agency has been operating cleanly. In a 2010 letter, a previous inspector general said the agency botched a request seeking information about GSA communications with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and two other Democrats.

White House officials got involved and further delayed the request, the inspector general said.

Ms. Ochoa said in her letter that she found three bungled cases in the five years since that 2010 investigation. A 2013 request for records mentioning Donald Trump — now the Republican presidential nominee — took 242 days, five times the average. A 2012 request seeking information on GSA bonuses was blocked for 515 days.

The Judicial Watch request, though, was the most striking.

The group was trying to get a look at a goofy video produced by the agency’s New York office on company time and using company resources. The GSA at the time was facing fierce criticism from Capitol Hill for having wasted money on lavish conferences with questionable team-building activities such as the video.

Judicial Watch asked to be treated similar to a member of the media, which would mean an exemption from fees. Two weeks earlier, Judicial Watch was approved for the media exemption.

But ahead of the GSA request, Mr. Mecher, the political appointee with ties to the White House, requested that Judicial Watch’s status be re-examined, investigators said. Elliot Mincberg, a lawyer with deep Democratic ties who was on loan to the GSA at the time, issued a determination rejecting Judicial Watch as a media requester.

Ms. Ochoa said the justification for that was weak — a page from a Justice Department guide that predated the current law governing the definition of media. Mr. Mincberg “did not conduct any independent legal research” about the 2007 law, and that “shows a lack of due diligence,” Ms. Ochoa concluded.

The GSA then failed to follow its own procedures in its denial letter — despite internal misgivings — and again in mishandling the appeal, Ms. Ochoa wrote.

“Why are White House liaisons involved in our FOIA request?” said Mr. Fitton, the Judicial Watch president.

Mr. Mecher, who is now a top congressional staffer in the office of Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, did not respond to an email seeking comment on his role.

Mr. Mincberg said in an email that he “performed a relatively minor task” at Mr. Mecher’s request but declined to elaborate, saying he was acting at the time as an attorney for the agency and would need its approval to speak more.

Mr. Mincberg had been lent to the GSA as a FOIA troubleshooter — though his arrival was met with skepticism. Ms. Ochoa reported that one senior lawyer emailed a colleague saying, “This will not end well.”

Later, Mr. Mincberg would run into trouble at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he was a senior attorney.

In 2014, that department’s inspector general cited him for obstructing an investigation into the deputy secretary. Mr. Mincberg was accused of withholding information from investigators, appearing to coach witnesses and, during one interview, threatening to bring charges against the investigators themselves.

GSA spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn did not respond to specific questions about Mr. Mincberg or Mr. Mecher, but insisted that her agency had improved its handling of FOIA requests. She said the agency has a new tracking system and increased training and coordination.

“With these improvements, GSA accelerated its processing time from an average of 21 days for simple requests and 63 days for complex requests in fiscal year 2013 to 12 days for simple requests and 46 days for complex requests last fiscal year,” she said.

Judicial Watch is fighting a series of court cases to get a look at Mrs. Clinton’s emails from the State Department and has other cases pending against the CIA, the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the IRS.

A case against the Homeland Security Department, in which Judicial Watch argued that the department regularly obstructed its requests, was dismissed Thursday.

Judge Richard J. Leon, sitting in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled that delays for Judicial Watch’s requests weren’t enough to prove that Homeland Security was violating its policies.

Judicial Watch points to no fact or statement to establish why the requests were delayed or how the delays were the result of an either formal or informal DHS policy or practice to violate FOIA’s requirements, rather than an inevitable but unintended delay attributable to a lack of resources,” the judge wrote.