by Tom Fitton –
If you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, you know that Judicial Watch has been the leading force in uncovering the suspicious and dangerous connections between Obama administration officials and radical leftist special interest groups on a host of issues, from stealth amnesty to voter fraud to reverse discrimination. (See our most recent find, the outrageous videos we uncovered from the USDA, as a disturbing example of just how radical this behavior has become.)
On March 27, 2013, our effort to root out these connections continued as we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (DOE) on behalf of the Family Research Council (FRC). FRC is a leading conservative advocacy group that seeks to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.
Here’s what we want to know: To what extent did the DOJ or DOE cooperate and coordinate with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) in their lawsuit again the Anoka-Hennepin School District of Minnesota.
Now, there is no doubt that this controversy in Minnesota involved an extraordinary intervention by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, run by Thomas E. Perez, President’s Obama’s current nominee for Secretary of Labor and a key figure in a host of DOJ scandals (beginning with the New Black Panther Party). JW and FRC just want to know how extraordinary. And we want the details.
On April 24, 2012, FRC submitted a FOIA request to the DOJ and DOE requesting the following information dating back to June 1, 2011:
A. Any and all records concerning, regarding, or relating to the anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies of the Anoka-Hennepin School District which culminated in the Anoka-Hennepin Consent Decree;
B. Any and all communications between and/or among the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and/or the National Center for Lesbian Rights concerning, regarding, or relating to the anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies of the Anoka-Hennepin School District which culminated in the Anoka-Hennepin Consent Decree;
C. Any and all communications between the Department of Education and/or U.S. Department of Justice and any third parties not named in #2 (above), concerning, regarding, or relating to the anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies of the Anoka-Hennepin School District which culminated in the Anoka-Hennepin Consent Decree.
In short, we are getting the runaround from both agencies.
In a letter dated August 31, 2012, the Civil Rights Division, a component of DOJ, informed FRC that it was denying access to all responsive records involving its role in the Anoka-Hennepin affair. On September 28, 2012, FRC appealed the DOJ’s decision. Though the DOJ acknowledged receiving the appeal on October 25, it has failed to provide a response to the appeal, which was due by November 1, 2012.
In a letter dated May 30, 2012, the DOJ’s Office for Civil Rights informed FRC that it had located 7,453 pages responsive to FRC’s FOIA request, but was withholding 7,159 pages in their entirety. On June 29, 2012, FRC appealed the DOE decision. According to the U.S. Postal Service, DOE received the appeal on July 5, 2012, but has failed to provide a response to the appeal, which was due by August 3, 2012.
We are asking the District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit to simply order the Obama DOJ and DOE to conduct searches for all records responsive to the FRC FOIA request and to “produce, by a certain date, any and all non-exempt records,” along with indices of all records the departments continue to declare exempt.
I feel like it should go without saying that it is not the proper role of the United States Departments of Justice or Education to collude with radical leftwing organizations like the SPLC in order to impose their political agenda on parents or the American people generally. And the fact that both departments are intent to cover up their collusion makes this court fight more important.
For a bit of background, in July, 2011, the SPLC joined with the NCLR to sue the Anoka-Hennepin School District to overturn the district’s policy requiring its teachers to remain neutral on the subject of homosexuality. In apparent coordination with those groups, the Obama DOJ, after what it termed “an extensive investigation into sex-based harassment,” compelled the school district to sign a 61-page Consent Agreement on March 5, 2012.
Not content with simply forcing its agenda on the school district, the Holder Justice Department added insult to injury.
In July 2012, a group of DOJ employees, led by Holder, joined with the SPLC to honor the Anoka-Hennepin School District students involved in the lawsuit to force the district to endorse homosexual conduct. Five of the students received an award at DOJ’s annual LGBT Pride Month program in the Great Hall of the Main Justice Building.
As I say, this is not the first example of the DOJ’s collusion with the radical left. And it won’t be the last.
In fact, specifically related to SPLC, JW obtained nearly two dozen pages of emails from the DOJ Civil Rights and Tax Divisions revealing questionable behavior by agency personnel while negotiating for SPLC co-founder Morris Dees to appear as the featured speaker at a July 31, 2012, “Diversity Training Event.”
The Judicial Watch FOIA request was prompted by the terrorist shooting at the FRC headquarters in August, 2012. On the SPLC’s website, which the shooter used to get a list of targets, the SPLC lists FRC’s headquarters on a “hate map.” The SPLC refuses to take FRC off the “hate map” even after the organization was connected in court to the shooting.
JW also uncovered records indicating that the DOJ worked hand-in-hand with the American Civil Liberties Union to attack Arizona over the state’s tough illegal immigration enforcement law, SB 1070. Judicial Watch released records detailing the cooperation between the ACORN-connected Project Vote to attack states, such as Florida, for implementing voter integrity measures, such as Voter ID laws. Judicial Watch also probed the role that the NAACP played in the controversial DOJ dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation lawsuit.
Judicial Watch Sues Labor Department for Records Detailing Visit of Obama Labor Secretary to CASA de Maryland Training Centers for Illegal Aliens
Speaking of the Obama administration and its penchant for partnering with extreme left-wing organizations, on March 14, 2013, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Department of Labor (DOL) seeking records detailing the May 30, 2012, visit of then-Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to CASA de Maryland’s Langley Park training center.
The organization CASA de Maryland should ring a bell. JW has been involved in a number of high-stakes legal battles against this group, which is fighting for a host of “rights” for illegal aliens, including discounted in-state tuition. But don’t accept my characterization of its mission. CASA names in recent IRS filings its chief goal: helping all people “participate and benefit fully” in American society, “regardless of their immigration status.”
This is also the group that received financial support from the late Communist dictator Hugo Chavez. And race-baiting Department of Justice (DOJ) official Thomas Perez, President Obama’s current nominee for Labor Secretary, previously served as CASA’s president of the board. (Have you notice how often Perez’s name has found its way into this weekly catalog of corruption?)
Now, regarding Solis, in taking part in a roundtable discussion at the center, the former Labor Secretary reportedly told CASA center graduates to report their employers for wage and hour violations,regardless of the workers’ immigration status. “[Barack Obama] knows very well that it is very important to preserve the rights of the Hispanic community and of other communities in any area where they are working,” Solis was quoted as saying. “The federal laws are clear and protect all workers equally, whether or not they have papers.”
(Federal laws are indeed clear regarding illegal immigration. Unfortunately, the Obama administration continues to ignore them, go around them and replace them via executive fiat!)
Our main purpose with this investigation is to get all of the details regarding Solis’s visit to CASA. And so, on June 1, 2012, we sent a FOIA request to the DOL seeking access to the following information:
a. Documentation of funding to Casa de Maryland, directly or through its affiliation with Prince George’s and Montgomery County Colleges;
b. Talking points, briefing books, or any other internal memoranda (in any language) developed in preparation for Secretary Solis’s visit to Casa de Maryland this week;
c. Documentation of transportation, meals, and security associated with Secretary Solis’s visit to Casa de Maryland this week, including invoices, reimbursement authorizations, and check requisitions; and,
d. Notes, agendas, minutes, and any other communications relating to Secretary Solis’s visit to Casa de Maryland this week, including video, audio and e-mail contact with the press and third-party organizations before and after the event.
Under federal law, DOL was required to respond to the Judicial Watch FOIA request by June 29, 2012. According to the Judicial Watch March 14 lawsuit, DOL has “failed to make a determination about whether it will comply … or notify [Judicial Watch] of its right to appeal any adverse determination … Nor has [DOL] produced any records responsive to the request, indicated when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrated that responsive records are exempt from production.”
The Judicial Watch lawsuit asks the District Court to order the DOL to conduct a search for all responsive records to the original FOIA request, produce all non-exempt records, enjoin the DOL from continuing to withhold non-exempt records, and grant Judicial Watch attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
Now ask yourself, why would the Obama administration stonewall such a basic request? Certainly there are no national security or privacy considerations. I think the answer is obvious. The stonewalling strongly suggests that the administration is covering up connections and policies that most Americans would find objectionable.
As I say, this is not our first scrape with CASA.
In February 2012, Judicial Watch and its client, MDPetitions.com, scored a major court victory over CASA when the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County ruled against its attempt to block a referendum vote on whether Maryland should provide taxpayer dollar subsidies for the college tuition of certain illegal aliens through the so-called “Maryland Dream Act.”
On March 19, 2013, we also cited the illicit activities of CASA in a statement raising concerns about the nomination of the Perez DOL nomination.
In opposing the Perez nomination, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions (R-AL), described CASA, as “a fringe advocacy group that has instructed illegal immigrants on how to escape detection, and also promoted illegal labor sites and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.”
Senator Sessions is correct. For certain, most reasonable American citizens would characterize CASA as a “fringe group.” Unfortunately, the Obama administration doesn’t see it that way and continues to give organizations like this not only respect, but a seat at the table in terms of crafting government policy. Just shameful.
Judicial Watch Obtains FBI Records Detailing Banking Activity and Purchases Linking Anwar al-Aulaqi and 9/11 Hijackers
The more we learn about Anwar al Aulaqi, the U.S.-born terrorist assassinated at the direction of Barack Obama by a U.S. drone in Yemen on September 30, 2011, the more reason there is for concern. Not only are we unearthing details about al Aulaqi’s connections to the 9/11 attacks, but we are also learning of the government’s utter failure to recognize the threat he posed, prompting President Obama to ultimately issue the controversial order to take him out via drone.
To our latest find…
On March 4, 2013, Judicial Watch investigators received new records from the FBI that raise new questions about close ties between Anwar al Aulaqi and Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, two of the five hijackers who attacked the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. In the documents the FBI describes al Aulaqi as “The Spiritual Leader of the Hijackers.”
We got hold of these records in response to a June, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI and the U.S. Department of State. They are part of Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation of al Qaeda in the United States, including its current operations and support network.
Materials received by Judicial Watch reveal the following information that the FBI regarded as worthy of investigation in its probe of ties between al Aulaqi and the 9/11 hijackers:
An FBI report dated 9/20/2011 notes that al Aulaqi made purchases at a Texaco in La Mesa, California, “several times a month” over the preceding two years. Reportedly this is the station where hijacker Nawaf al Hazmi worked, as did probable 9/11 co-conspirator Mohdar Abdullah (whose close association with and material assistance to al Hazmi and al Mihdhar is well-documented in the 9/11 Commission’s report).
An undated FBI report indicates an individual received a check for $281.50 from al Aulaqi and wrote a check for $175 to al Hazmi on July 7, 2001. There is no additional information about the transactions. The FBI apparently found the transaction to be of investigative interest because, depending on the identity of the intermediary party, it could indicate direct assistance from al Aulaqi to al Hazmi.
On 9/13/2001, FBI agents took possession of and searched the vehicle al Aulaqi rented in San Diego on 9/8/2001 (which he kept for one day and drove only 37 miles). While there is no report regarding the results of the search, the action highlights the FBI’s interest in al Aulaqi and suspicions about his trip to San Diego, home to both al Hazmi and al Mihdhar leading up to the attacks.
An FBI report dated 10/24/2001 indicates that the Bureau became aware three days after the 9/11 attacks (9/14/2001) that al Aulaqi had rented a Mailboxes Etc. mail drop in Falls Church, VA. The mail box was the subject of a federal grand jury subpoena.
An earlier release of FBI documents obtained by a Judicial Watch FOIA and reported by Fox News suggest that the FBI was aware on September 27, 2001, that al Aulaqi had purchased airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta. Subsequent to the FBI’s discovery, al Aulaqi was detained and released by authorities at least twice and had been invited to dine at the Pentagon.
Through our investigation, we are learning more about the al Qaeda operational and support network still active in the United States and the massive failure of our national security apparatus. For example, how is it that al Aulaqi was invited to the Pentagon after 9/11 and then let go by the FBI despite warrants for his arrest?
In 2010, President Obama reportedly authorized the assassination of al Aulaqi, the first American citizen added to the government’s “capture or kill” list, describing the radical Muslim cleric as “chief of external operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” The Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department has reportedly determined that the targeting and killing of U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law.
Whatever your feelings are about these drone assassinations, this particular killing would not have been necessary if the FBI had simply done its job and kept this dangerous terrorist off the streets and in custody. What could they have learned by interrogating al Aulaqi, who was clearly a well-connected terrorist? Could American lives have been saved?
Given all the debates about the use of drones, it might do us well to investigate the truth about the most notorious targets of this assassination program. Congress won’t bother and much of the media is AWOL, so it once again falls to Judicial Watch to fill in this oversight gap.
Tom Fitton – President