… into the scandals behind the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their role in helping trigger the global financial crisis. A key component of this investigation involves the role political corruption played in the failure of adequate congressional oversight and the catastrophic collapse of these "government sponsored entities" in 2008. That's why we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama administration to get hold of documents related to Fannie and Freddie's campaign contributions over the last several election cycles.
We figure since American taxpayers are on the hook for trillions of dollars, potentially including $400 billion alone for Fannie and Freddie, we deserve to know how and why this financial collapse occurred and who in Washington, D.C. is responsible.
Unfortunately the Obama administration disagrees.
Just last month the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the agency responsible for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, responded to our FOIA lawsuit by telling us that all of the documents we seek are not "FOIA-able"!
Here's the exact language the Obama agency used in its recent court filing: "…Any records created by or held in the custody of the Enterprises reflecting their political campaign contributions or policies, stipulations and requirements concerning campaign contributions necessarily are private corporate documents. They are not 'agency records' subject to disclosure under FOIA."
So there you have it. You and I are paying the tab for the collapse of Fannie and Freddie, but we are not allowed to ask any questions about why it happened. The Obama administration is saying, in effect, "None of your business."
This is an outrage!
Obama administration officials and their lawyers can argue until they are blue in the face that Fannie and Freddie are not federal agencies. But their reasoning is straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Remember how all of this went down?
Here's how The Washington Post described the government's "deal" to prop up Fannie and Freddie back in September 2008 when the sky was falling: "The government has formulated a plan to put troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under federal control, dismiss their top executives and prop them up financially…" [emphasis added]
I don't see anything ambiguous about the government's relationship with Fannie and Freddie. The two agencies are now completely owned and operated by the federal government and are therefore subject to FOIA law.
Now, let's stop and think for a second. Why would the Obama administration be so intent on keeping records related to Fannie and Freddie's campaign contributions secret? Well, take a look at this list of the top recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions from 1989 through 2008 and I think you'll have a pretty good idea. President Obama is second on the list sandwiched between Democratic heavyweights Senator Chris Dodd (first) and Senator John Kerry (third). And the president rocketed to the near-top of the chart with only four years under his belt in the U.S. Senate!
The truth is no one in Washington wants the American people to know all the sordid details regarding Fannie and Freddie, Obama included. If you take a look at that list again, you'll see a lot of "R's" and "D's" on it. It seems politicians of every stripe were on the take from Fannie and Freddie. And now we're all paying for it, literally. This whole scandal blows out of the water any notion that Obama is keeping his promises on transparency.
Our effort to open up Fannie and Freddie to public scrutiny as the law requires is not just about political corruption — it also about accountability. Largely through Freddie and Fannie, the Obama administration has essentially taken government control of the United States mortgage market and its attendant liabilities — which mean you, me, our children, and grandchildren are on the hook for trillions of dollars. This unprecedented takeover of the private sector is being done by government entities that the Obama administration says are not subject to any open records request. This lawlessness should not stand.
Frankly, our FOIA lawsuit is the only litigation I know of that stands against this massive government abuse and secrecy. (As always, we do this much-needed work with your help. Please do me a personal favor and show your commitment this litigation and all our watchdog work by making a donation now. Thank you.)
Do Terrorists Have the "Right to Remain Silent?"
In a recent blog for The Hill newspaper, I argued that President Obama's national security policies have made us less safe. You can read the article for yourself here, but here's the gist: Obama has placed the American people at great risk by treating terrorism as a criminal act, rather than an act of war. This irresponsible policy not only sends a message to our enemies around the world that the U.S. is soft on terrorism, but it also allows war criminals access to the U.S. court system providing them the same legal rights as United States citizens.
Case in point, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka the Christmas bomber, who attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight by detonating a bomb he had crammed in his underwear.
According to The Washington Post: "The 23-year-old Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day was read his Miranda rights nine hours after his arrest, according to a detailed chronology released…by senior administration officials."
When you take a close look at the Obama administration's self-serving "official timeline," you'll see that Abdulmutallab was interrogated for 50 minutes following the incident. Doctors halted the questioning after Abdulmutallab's medical condition reportedly deteriorated. Five hours later, FBI agents attempted to interrogate Abdulmuttallab again without success. After a conference call with officials from four Obama administration agencies (but still not consulting the top national security officials), they gave up and read the terrorist his Miranda rights.
And then, of course, he stopped talking altogether.
Now the administration claims that Abdulmutallab was "Mirandized" only after he had decided not to continue cooperating with the FBI. But this completely misses the point. When you have a terrorist in custody you do what you can within the bounds of ethics and the law to extract information, you don't immediately give him the option to stop talking and let him lawyer up.
And Obama's official position regarding the timing notwithstanding, we know this: Before Abdulmutallab was read his Miranda rights he was talking.
Abdulmutallab told the FBI during his initial questioning that he trained as a suicide bomber in Yemen with other English-speaking terrorists who, at present, remain at large. Important information, wouldn't you say? As one FBI official put it: Abdulmutallab is "not the only bullet in the chamber for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." There are others. And U.S. intelligence officials have an obligation to the American people to find out where they're hiding.
Reports just this week suggest Abdulmutallab is finally talking again, but as Missouri Senator Kit Bond, the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "There's no changing the fact that Mirandizing Abdulmutallab gave terrorists a six-week head start to cover their tracks. We will never know what life-saving information on co-conspirators and future plots we missed out on."
Intelligence officials are not releasing details regarding the "good intelligence" Abdulmutallab is now giving up after weeks of exercising his legal rights. But, there's no question it would have been better to receive this information earlier rather than later.
Vice President Biden admitted on Wednesday that he is "very concerned" about an individual carrying out a terrorist attack in the U.S., just like the Christmas bomber. He should be, especially considering the Obama-Biden lax approach to terrorism.
Judicial Watch Goes to CPAC
Following up on our key participation in the National Tea Party Convention last week in Nashville, this week, Judicial Watch is once again a significant presence at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. As many of you know, CPAC is the year's largest gathering of influential conservatives in the country. Guest speakers include George Will, Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney and Ann Coulter, to name just a few.
Today, I am moderating a panel discussion entitled, "Obamanomics: The Left and Corporate America." Now that the federal government has decided to gobble up huge chunks of the private sector (including GM), this is a particularly sensitive and important topic. Panelists include Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner; Michael Cannon, Cato Institute and former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer.
On Thursday afternoon, Judicial Watch's Director of Research of Investigation Chris Farrell educated CPAC attendees on the open records process in a workshop entitled, "Fighting Obama Secrecy — How to Get Records the Government is Hiding." Given the Obama administration's addiction to stonewalling and secrecy (see story above) this shining the light on government activity is needed now more than ever. And Judicial Watch, the nation's leading expert on the open records process, is in the best possible position to provide training on the subject. (For those unable to attend the workshop, much of the key information can be found in our recently updated FOIA handbook.)
Of course, as a co-sponsor of the event, Judicial Watch has an educational booth in the exhibit hall, so if you're at the CPAC conference, please feel free to drop by and say hello.
Tom Fitton – President
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation's public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts and to access the embedded links please go to: www.JudicialWatch.org