… Department of Justice involved in the decision to spike the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense (NBPP).
In his ruling awarding JW attorney’s fees for the DOJ’s stonewalling, federal Judge Reggie B. Walton stated that the evidence provided by Judicial Watch “would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in the decision.” Did Holder Lie Under Oath About Black Panther Scandal?
Well this week, I’d like to address another very important follow-up question: Did Attorney General Eric Holder also provide false testimony under oath regarding the Black Panther case?
Let’s step back to March 1, 2011, when Holder testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Here’s what he said about the decision to drop the lawsuit (see page 66 of the transcript – or 2:49:00 of the video):
The decisions made in the New Black Panther Party case were made by career attorneys in the department. And beyond that, you know, if we’re going to look at the record, let’s look at it in its totality.
Yes, let’s do that. Let’s look at the record “in its totality.”
Judge Walton’s court reviewed documents that included a series of e-mails between two political appointees: former Democratic election lawyer and current Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli. Both DOJ officials were involved in detailed discussions regarding the NBPP decision. For example, in one April 30, 2009, e-mail from Hirsch to Perrelli, with the subject title “Fw: New Black Panther Party Update,” Hirsch writes:
I need to discuss this with you tomorrow morning. I’ll send you another email on this shortly.
If you want to discuss it this evening, please let me know which number to call and when.
These e-mails were put into further context by an updated Vaughn index obtained by Judicial Watch, describing NBPP documents that the Obama DOJ continues to withhold. These documents, which were attached to the DOJ’s Motion for Summary Judgment filing in the lawsuit, include a description of a May 13 e-mail chain that seems to suggest political appointee Sam Hirsch may have been orchestrating the NBPP decision.
Acting DAAG [Steven Rosenbaum] advising his supervising Acting AAG [Loretta King] of DASG’s [Hirsch’s] request for a memorandum by the Acting DAAG reviewing various options, legal strategies, and different proposals of relief as related to each separate defendant. Acting DAAG forwarding emails from Appellate Section Chief’s and Appellate Attorney’s with their detailed legal analyses including the application of constitutional provisions and judicial precedent to strategies and relief under consideration in the ongoing NBPP litigation, as well as an assessment of the strength of potential legal arguments, and presenting different possible scenarios in the litigation. [Emphasis added.]
In fact, political appointee Sam Hirsch sent an April 30, 2009, e-mail to Steven Rosenbaum (then-Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights in charge of voting rights) thanking Rosenbaum for “doing everything you’re doing to make sure that this case is properly resolved.” The next day, the DOJ began to reverse course on its NBPP voter intimidation lawsuit.
These individuals – Sam Hirsch and Thomas Perelli – are by no means low-level “career attorneys” as Eric Holder suggested.
Regarding the Attorney General’s personal knowledge of the NBPP decision, Judicial Watch previously obtained two e-mail reports sent by former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Loretta King to Holder.
The first report, entitled “Weekly Report for the Week ending May 8, 2009,” sent on May 12, 2009, notes: “On May 15, 2009, pursuant to court order, the Department will file a motion for default judgment against at least some of the defendants” in the NBPP lawsuit. The report further notes that the NBPP “has been identified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the founders and members of the original Black Panther Party.”
The second report, entitled “Weekly Report for the Week ending May 15, 2009,” sent on May 18, 2009, demonstrates that the DOJ did an abrupt reversal on the NBPP issue: “On May 15, 2009, the Department voluntarily dismissed its claims” against the NBPP and two of the defendants, the report noted. The DOJ moved for default judgment against only one defendant.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the leadership of the DOJ, including Attorney General Holder, has a problem with truth. There needs to be an independent investigation into whether Holder and Perez committed perjury in testifying about the Black Panther controversy.
We are pleased that a court has already seen through the false narrative presented to it by the DOJ. Obviously, we can’t have our nation’s top law enforcement officers playing fast and loose with the truth.
Obama White House Blesses GSA
Decision Not to Arrest Occupy Protestors
Barack Obama found himself in hot water when he told a group of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors, “Families like yours, young people like the ones here today – including the ones who were just chanting at me – you’re the reason that I ran for office in the first place.”
The president was harshly criticized for essentially giving a “shout out” to a movement plagued by accusations of criminal and violent behavior. But Judicial Watch recently uncovered evidence suggesting that Obama White House support for the OWS crowd was not limited to rhetoric.
This week we released records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicating that the General Services Administration (GSA), with the approval of the Obama White House, instructed law enforcement officers to “stand down” and not arrest “Occupy Portland” protestors who were in violation of the law.
You read that correctly.
The records, which we obtained pursuant to a November 11, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, include internal DHS correspondence. And one November 6, 2011, e-mail exchange between DHS/National Protection and Programs Directorate Chief of Staff Caitlin Durkovich and GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck (who has since been fired) specifically related to Occupy Portland protests taking place on federal property in Portland.
I am sorry to be emailing you on a Sunday night, but wanted to let you know our Press Shop has received a couple of calls from Portland media outlets about a group of 11 protesters who again set up camp at Terry Shrunk Plaza in Portland last night. They have chained themselves to a large drum filled with concrete. GSA controls the permits and has asked FPS [Federal Protective Services] not to enforce the curfew at park and the prohibition on overnight encampments. Reporters have asked if we will be arresting the protestors as FPS did last week.
Our FPS Commander in Portland says they are standing down and following GSA’s request to only intervene if there is a threat to public safety.
Caitlin: yes, that is our position; it’s been vetted with our Administrator and Michael Robertson, our chief of staff, and we have communicated with the WH [White House], which has afforded us the discretion to fashion our approach to Occupy issues…The arrests last week were carried out despite our request that the protesters be allowed to remain and to camp overnight…
Given the history of the OWS movement and its “members,” the decision to ignore their crimes is incredibly irresponsible.
From its inception, the OWS movement has been beset with accusations of “crimes and dangerous behavior” during its protests. Here’s a partial list of accusations levied against OWS protestors: sexual assault, destruction of property, drug use, assaulting a police officer, and petty theft, to name just a few.
And it doesn’t seem to matter where these protests take place, whether it’s New York City or Portland, Oregon.
According to the Oregonian, the week before the above email exchange, on October 30, 2011, “Twenty-five Occupy Portland demonstrators were arrested…after refusing to leave Jamison Square. The arrests capped an intense hours-long standoff between police and dozens of protesters who refused to leave the Pearl District park after it was declared closed at midnight. Officers, some in riot gear and others on horses, faced off with protesters who remained in the square, despite being ordered to leave.” The protestors were reportedly arrested on accusations of “trespassing, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct for the noise complaints from neighbors.”
And what happened after the Obama administration told law enforcement to stand down?
According to Fox News: “The most serious incident [of Occupy violence] was reported in downtown Portland last night [November 8, 2011] — cops responded to calls of a Molotov cocktail being set off near the city’s World Trade Center. Authorities had received unconfirmed information a week earlier that people within the Occupy Portland encampment were constructing the crudely made bomb, which is normally fashioned from a glass bottle filled with gas and a soaked rag or cloth sticking out of the opening as a wick.”
The Obama administration cannot hide behind the disclaimer that they only allowed protestors to violate curfew so long as there was no threat to public safety. First, the law is the law and it must be enforced in a consistent fashion. And, second, when you condone characters who have reportedly demonstrated a penchant for violence, you are inviting chaos. There is simply no excuse for giving OWS special treatment.
The name Robert Peck, the GSA official involved in the email exchange, may be familiar to you. Peck was at the center of a scandal involving the GSA in 2010, where the agency spent $823,000 on a lavish Las Vegas “training conference” that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception. And he got fired for it.
Peck, who has donated thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates, including Barack Obama, was also previously implicated in an unrelated GSA scandal for reportedly brokering a controversial lease deal for a Democratic donor and friend of former Vice President Al Gore. Per The Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott: “In Peck’s first go-round at GSA, controversy was sparked when it was learned that excessively high rent was being paid by the FCC to the owner of a building who also happened to be a Democratic donor. Peck was the official who made the deal possible.”
Peck was deposed by Judicial Watch on Tuesday in a separate lawsuit on behalf of Linda Shenwick, a GSA whistleblower. Ms. Shenwick was allegedly subjected to retaliation from Peck and others because of her opposition to wasteful spending, including the infamous GSA parties that have now caused so much controversy.
And now we have a new GSA scandal – one that involves the Obama White House. These documents clearly show that federal agencies colluded with the Obama White House to allow the Occupy Wall Street protestors to violate the law with impunity. These documents tell us that the GSA and DHS can’t be relied upon to protect federal workers or property.
Incredibly, responding to the media crush of interest in this Judicial Watch find, the Obama administration is now saying that the public shouldn’t believe the Obama administration documents and that Peck’s email is “incorrect.” Despite the sad attempt to throw Peck under the bus, the documents speak for themselves and detail, in black and white – high level communications within the Obama administration. If there are additional documents that show these Obama administration documents are false, they should be produced by the Obama administration.
While we wait for that to happen, to view the entire production of records obtained by Judicial Watch, click here.
JW Sues Obama Administration for Records about
the Failure of Scandal-Ridden Bankrupt MF Global Holdings Ltd.
Our battles against the Obama administration over documents related to the government’s hysterical and unprecedented response to the financial crisis continues.
This week we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) seeking records related to internal discussions involving the bankrupt company MF Global Holdings Ltd.
Our FOIA lawsuit, filed on behalf of Vern McKinley, focuses specifically on an October 31, 2011, meeting of the Treasury Department’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), during which MF Global was reportedly discussed. (As a reminder, Vern McKinley is a former employee of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and author of Financing Failure: A Century of Bailouts.)
Here’s what we’re after from these agencies pursuant to our original April 24, 2012, FOIA requests:
…copies of any and all records concerning this update of MF Global, the discussion of the implications for the broader financial system, and any follow up contact and discussions on public statements. Such records include, but are not limited to, detailed meeting minutes, meeting notes, supporting memoranda, communications, and electronic messages and attachments.
The CFTC acknowledged receiving our FOIA request on April 25, 2012, and was required to issue a final response by May 23, 2012. To date, the CFTC has failed to respond to the request in accordance with FOIA law.
The SEC acknowledged receiving the FOIA request on April 25, 2012, and was required to issue a final response by May 23, 2012. To date, the SEC has failed to respond to the request in accordance with FOIA law. (The SEC indicated in an interim response on May 18, 2012, that it had uncovered a two-page document responsive to Judicial Watch’s request, but withheld the document in full.)
The FSOC was established under the disaster known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Council is charged with “identifying threats to the financial stability of the United States; promoting market discipline; and responding to emerging risks to the stability of the United States financial system.” It hasn’t worked.
Per Reuter’s, on October 31, 2011, the FSOC held a conference call to discuss MF Global Holdings Ltd. the same day the company filed for bankruptcy: “The Financial Stability Oversight Council, which is headed by the Treasury Department, received ‘a series of oral reports’ from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Reserve, the official said. No other details of the call were provided.”
So the FSOC decided to get on the case at MF Global the very day the company filed for bankruptcy. Not much of an advanced warning system is it? (For more information on the failure of the FSOC to anticipate the MF Global meltdown, see this op-ed I co-authored with Vern McKinley for Forbes back in July.)
While financial crisis has claimed larger victims, “for sheer speed and chutzpah, the actions of MF Global’s management may stand alone” in the “annals of Wall Street,” wrote Bloomberg.
MF Global was forced to file bankruptcy after what has been described as “one of the most egregious violations of trust on Wall Street.” The company allegedly stole $1.6 billion from customer accounts in an attempt to cover the company’s losses and lied to bondholders about the financial condition of the company.
Former U.S Senator and New Jersey Governor John Corzine, who is also a top Obama campaign bundler, was forced to resign in disgrace as CEO at MF Global for his alleged role in the improprieties at the company. Corzine, for his part, told a Senate panel he has absolutely no idea what happened to the $1.6 billion.
Opinions are split as to whether or not Corzine will face criminal charges. Filling Obama’s campaign war chest will certainly enhance his chances of escaping accountability. However, according to The New York Post, a recent report by MF Global’s Trustee James Giddens indicates that Corzine may have perjured himself in his congressional testimony.
Corzine’s ‘Sgt. Schultz’ defense at recent congressional hearings on the demise of MF Global and the looting of $1.6 billion from customer accounts seemed a brilliant way to avoid the embarrassment of taking the Fifth while also dodging any perjury trap.
By playing dumb on key questions, Corzine seemed to shield himself from the serious charge of lying under oath. But he did get specific about a few things – one of which is clearly contradicted by the recent trustee’s report on MF Global’s demise.
Here’s the issue. Corzine reportedly testified that after he drastically changed MF Global’s business model to one that favored riskier investments, he also “upgraded” the company’s compliance and control system.
Not true says the trustee report: “Notwithstanding the increased demands on global money management and liquidity, the firm’s Treasury Department, which was involved in implementing the transfers of funds, did not expand or modernize . . . technology for recording and tracking transactions and liquidity did not materially change. These critical functions remained essentially as they had been prior to Mr. Corzine’s arrival.”
The FSOC, which is supposed to be anticipating catastrophes in the financial sector, appears to be just another expensive bureaucratic boondoggle. Clearly it has failed to provide the financial stability and oversight promised by its congressional mandate. The American people deserve to know the truth about what FSOC officials knew about the epic failure of MF Global and when they knew it. But once again, the Obama administration refuses to provide basic information related to its supposed “oversight” of the private sector. I suspect it is because that this “oversight” is more about politics than about the public interest.
As you know, Judicial Watch has launched a comprehensive investigation to determine under what legal authorities and lawful rationales the federal government initiated the Wall Street bailouts and has filed a number of lawsuits on behalf of Mr. McKinley. Check it out.
And, of course, you can find more information on this investigation in my New York Times bestselling book, The Corruption Chronicles. (I won’t pretend to be shy about encouraging you to buy this great book. If you already have one, please buy more for your loved ones. If you don’t have a copy, please buy one or more quickly to keep the ball rolling for this important Judicial Watch educational effort. The nearly 400-page book is a relative bargain, going for about 16 bucks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at other retailers.)
Tom Fitton – President