by Tom Fitton –
Judicial Watch is proving itself the most resourceful and impactful educational organizations in the nation. No other media outlet, no congressional committee, and no other non-governmental organization can match JW’s successes in ferreting out what the government doesn’t want you know. On the issue of terrorism and the border, JW’s journalism this week had an international impact. On April 14, our Corruption Chronicles published the following extraordinary report on ISIS operations in Mexico and in the United States:
ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.
The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm.
During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.
Law enforcement and intelligence sources report the area around Anapra is dominated by the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Cartel (“Juárez Cartel”), La Línea (the enforcement arm of the cartel) and the Barrio Azteca (a gang originally formed in the jails of El Paso). Cartel control of the Anapra area make it an extremely dangerous and hostile operating environment for Mexican Army and Federal Police operations.
According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.
Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.
The international reaction to this report was almost instantaneous. The Mexican government, unsurprisingly, “categorically denied” our report. The left-wing “Politifact” smeared JW by calling our report false? On what basis? No government agency would back us up. I’m happy to put our credibility up against the Benghazi-cover-up crowd in the Obama administration any day.
And I can tell you that our military, congressional and other government security contacts have been quite positive and grateful for our reporting. We seem to be hearing every week about ISIS supporters arrested or an ISIS terror plot thwarted here in the United States. Twenty-five ISIS supporters are being prosecuted by Obama’s Justice Department. Two female ISIS supporters were just arrested in New York for wanting to build a bomb. And there were ISIS-related arrests both in Ohio and in Kansas just in the past seven days!
So, we have ISIS supporters being arrested all over America but we are supposed to believe that ISIS won’t take advantage of the anarchy in the areas just south of our border controlled by the Mexican drug cartels?
And, as with Benghazi, the Obama administration’s response was to go into cover-up mode. The FBI, which has a terrible record of not only ignoring terrorist threats but actually using terrorists as informants, held a key meeting in Mexico in response to our report. But the meeting wasn’t to follow our leads, but to suppress the truth. Again, from our Corruption Chronicles blog:
Responding to Judicial Watch’s report earlier this week of ISIS activity along the Mexican border, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) supervisors called a “special” meeting at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.
A high-level intelligence source, who must remain anonymous for safety reasons, confirmed that the meeting was convened specifically to address a press strategy to deny Judicial Watch’s accurate reporting and identify who is providing information to JW. FBI supervisory personnel met with Mexican Army officers and Mexican Federal Police officials, according to JW’s intelligence source. The FBI liaison officers regularly assigned to Mexico were not present at the meeting and conspicuously absent were representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It’s not clear why DHS did not participate.
Publicly, U.S. and Mexico have denied that Islamic terrorists are operating in the southern border region, but the rapid deployment of FBI brass in the aftermath of
JW’s report seems to indicate otherwise.
Deroy Murdock, a well-known columnist at National Review, gets it right. He highlights the Obama administration’s duplicity in putting politics above national security, even if doing so puts human lives at risk. The full piece is worth reading, but he includes the JW revelations this week in his analysis here:
When the Islamic State first emerged, it traversed Iraqi and Syrian deserts in pick-up trucks. A few days of relentless bombing would have reduced these maggots to cinders. Instead, Obama’s daintiness let them seize territory the size of Great Britain. The group now has infiltrated Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen, sealed an alliance with Boko Haram in Nigeria, and much more.
Judicial Watch reports that the Islamic State operates a training camp just eight miles below America’s southern “border.” The conservative watchdogs cite Mexican military and police sources who say that they have discovered – near Ciudad Juarez – Muslim prayer rugs, documents in Arabic and Urdu, and “plans” of Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CBS’s 60 Minutes that at least 40 Americans who fought with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have come home. Half-comfortingly, Johnson said that “we have systems in place to track these individuals. But you can’t know everything.”
That’s life, as America’s lethally unserious “leader” pretends to fight radical Islamic terrorism.
Trust Judicial Watch to stay on the important issue of the terrorist threat from our open and unsecured border with Mexico. You should check in regularly at www.JudicialWatch.org for any updates on the fast-moving investigation.
IRS Scandal Continues
If the Tea Party and other conservative groups had been fully active in the critical months leading up to the 2012 election, would Mitt Romney be president today? We will, of course, never know for certain. But we do now know that President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted right-leaning organizations applying for tax-exempt status and prevented them from entering the fray during that period.
This is how you can steal an election in plain sight.
In May 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released an audit report confirming that the IRS used “inappropriate” criteria to identify Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that had expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s policy agenda during his re-election bid. In May 2014, Lois Lerner, the former Director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Unit, was held in contempt of Congress after refusing to testify at a congressional hearing about the agency’s actions. As I reported to you last week, the Obama Justice Department is playing mob lawyer for the IRS, rather than independent prosecutor.
So Lois Lerner gets away with contempt and there is no detectable criminal investigation.
So it again falls to Judicial Watch to do the job of Congress, the Justice Department, and the rest of the media.
That is why we just filed yet another Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama IRS, this time seeking “any and all records” related to the selection of both individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications filed requesting nonprofit tax status.
The Judicial Watch lawsuit was filed after the IRS failed to comply with two FOIA requests submitted on October 10, 2014. The first sought:
Any and all records concerning, regarding or relating to the selection of individuals for IRS audits based on information submitted in organizations’ applications for 501(c )(4) tax-exempt status, 501 (c)(4) donor lists, or IRS Form 990s. [Emphasis added]
The second request sought:
Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the selection of 501(c)(4) tax-exemption organizations for IRS audits based on information submitted in applications for tax-exempt status or IRS Form 990s.
After our request was filed, we went through the usual song and dance with Obama administration appointees and bureaucrats.
In a letter dated November 14, 2014, acknowledging receipt of the FOIA requests, the IRS advised Judicial Watch that it had “extended the statutory response date to December 2, 2014.” The letter then informed us that the IRS “will still be unable to locate and consider release of the requested records by December 2, 2014.” In other words, “You’ll get nothing from us.” Next, the IRS informed Judicial Watch that it was extending its response dates in both FOIA requests into late February and advised us that if we didn’t like it, “you may file suit.”
And that, of course, is precisely what we have done. In our FOIA lawsuit, we are asking the Court to order the IRS to:
• Conduct a search for any and all records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA requests.
• Produce, by a certain date, any and all non-exempt records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA requests and a Vaughn index of any responsive records withheld under claim of exemption.
• Enjoin the [IRS] from continuing to withhold any and all non-exempt records responsive to the Plaintiff’s FOIA requests.
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit for records about targeting of individuals for audit in November 2013. In that litigation, the IRS had refused to search any email systems, including those related to Lerner. So now, on these issues of potentially illegal IRS audits, we are fighting an Obama IRS cover-up in two federal lawsuits!
As regular Weekly Update readers know, we have been fighting to expose the malfeasance and stonewalling within the IRS for some quite time now. In September 2014, a separate JW FOIA lawsuit forced the release of documents detailing that the IRS sought, obtained and maintained the names of donors to Tea Party and other conservative groups. IRS officials acknowledged in these documents that “such information was not needed.” The documents also show that the donor names were being used for a “secret research project.”
The House Ways and Means Committee announced at a May 7, 2014, hearing that, after scores of conservative groups provided donor information “to the IRS, nearly one in ten donors were subject to audit.” In 2011, as many as five donors to the conservative 501 (c)(4) organization Freedom’s Watch were audited, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bradley Blakeman, Freedom’s Watch’s former president, also alleges he was “personally targeted” by the IRS.
And back in February 2014, then-Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) detailed improper IRS targeting of existing conservative groups:
Additionally, we now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s. At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83 percent were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100 percent were right-leaning.
This targeting of donors and other established right-leaning groups is intriguing in light of a new Lerner email we released just last week. The email discloses that the IRS audited tax-exempt political groups using a separate investigation arm (under Lerner’s control), the Review of Operations Unit. Lerner wrote:
Also, we often use the ROO [Review of Operations Unit] to do initial research (.) Before starting audits-they don’t touch taxpayers, but can look at publicly available info about orgs.
You can see that JW is onto something.
Is there any remaining doubt now that the Obama IRS used Tea Party applications to do opposition research for punishing audits of individual citizens and groups opposed to President Obama’s policies? The IRS tactics used against Tea Party groups remains a growing scandal. Even as the administration continues its unending attempt to circumvent FOIA law, we will keep fighting. And you can expect more results.
In a little less than two weeks, on April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the extraordinary notion that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires a state to license or recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex. Your Judicial Watch is participating in this historic legal battle. The bold intervention of federal judges in remaking marriage is a challenge to self-government. That the U.S. Constitution would suddenly require states to change their marriage laws to keep up with the changing tastes of liberal elites is the antithesis of federalism and undermines the rule of law. (You can track the legal arguments and numerous briefs filed here.)
Earlier this month, we filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the rights of the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan (James Obergefell, et al. v. Richard Hodges, et al.(No. 14-556, -562, -571, -574)). Our brief makes the case for judicial restraint with respect to marriage. In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed district court rulings that would have imposed same-sex marriage on those four states. This ruling, which is quite sensible, is at odds with judicial activist rulings from other circuit courts that redefined marriage in Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. So now the Supreme Court may resolve the conflicts and rule, astonishingly, whether the American people can maintain the definition of marriage that goes back thousands of years.
In our brief, our legal team argues “the role of defining marriage and implementing laws in regard to it has always been primarily the province of the States,” and that the courts have continually reaffirmed that tradition. Reversing that trend would only create legal and political confusion:
Interference with the States’ sovereign sphere and ultimately, with the right of their citizens to engage in the democratic process, is contrary to our system of government and will result in dangerous constitutional conflicts.
JW also argues that denying recognition of out-of state marriages that conflict with state law is not a constitutional violation. Specifically, the courts have traditionally recognized marriage as an issue residing within the states’ sovereign sphere of authority:
While it is in within the federal government’s power to intervene in the sphere of marital relations, this Court has made it very clear that those interventions are to be infrequent, deferential to State authority, and always with the balance of federalism in mind.
We also remind the Supreme Court that history matters, and that a practice going back to the beginnings of our nation deserves respect under the First Amendment:
Marriage has, by definition, been the province of the States and has been traditionally defined as one man and one woman. This has been the case since the nation’s founding. There is no evidence that defining marriage in that way was viewed as discriminatory or in violation of any constitutional rights or principles.
Segments of society have begun to take a different perspective but this is hardly a sufficient reason to cast aside this “unique history” consistent with “centuries of national practice.” 463 U.S. at 790. “[I]t is not necessary to define the precise boundary of the Establishment Clause where history shows that the specific practice is permitted. Any test the Court adopts must acknowledge a practice that was accepted by the Framers and has withstood the critical scrutiny of time and political change.” Town of Greece at 1819. “From the founding of the Republic to 2003, every State defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, meaning the Fourteenth Amendment permits, though it does not require, States to define in that way.” DeBoer, 772 F.3d 388, 404; see also Town of Greece, 134 S. Ct. at 1818-1820.
Finally, we warn that requiring the recognition of out-of-state marriages conflicting with state law will inevitably lead to constitutional conflicts and lead to harmful consequences:
[F]orcing States to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages that conflict with state law would ostensibly open the door to forcing States to recognize all out-of-state marriages that conflict with state law regardless of the conflict. This would completely remove the States from the marital relations sphere or at the very least, make state laws worthless.
The bottom line is we need to get away from results-oriented jurisprudence that substitutes judicial activism and a political agenda for constitutional safeguards and responsible adjudication.
The Supreme Court should resist the temptation to impose its moral values on marriage through raw judicial power, as it did with abortion through Roe v. Wade.
The judicial branch is being asked to undertake a power grab unmoored from the Constitution, history, self-government, and judicial restraint.
Simply put, under our republican form of government, the Supreme Court has no power to invalidate laws protecting traditional marriage under the United States Constitution.
Tom Fitton – President