by Tom Fitton –
The DC Establishment hopes if you drag out disclosure about a scandal long enough, it loses a bit of its “wow factor” along the way. That would seem to be the view of the Obama administration regarding many of its wanton acts of mismanagement. Among a long list that ranges from embarrassing stumbles to a flagrant disregard for the rule of law is the disaster that occurred at our Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya. Adding insult to injury (and death) are the lies that were told and the foot-dragging that continues in an effort to minimize the true accountability that this administration and its alumni (such as Hillary Clinton) so justly deserve. Well, this stalling game may work on a media (which is often a co-conspirator in cover-up) and on a hapless Congress. But it doesn’t work on Judicial Watch.
In our two-years’ of court battles (which include at least eight federal lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act), Judicial Watch has had yet another victory. We released this week hundreds of pages of documents about the military response to the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack.
It is extraordinary that we had to wait for over two years and had to force the release of documents that provide the first glimpse into the military response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi. Where has Congress been? We are happy to do the work of independent oversight of the government on behalf of the American people, but one has to ask why the rest of Washington has broken down in providing citizens accountable government.
Altogether, the Pentagon produced a total of 486 pages to us in response to a federal court order in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. This particular lawsuit was filed back on September 4, 2014, and you are seeing the results of that effort today. Almost all of the documents had been previously classified as secret. Much of the withheld information, we are told, concerns “military plans and operations,” “intelligence” activities, and other legitimate exemptions.
The documents, which are heavily blacked out, confirm that, after the attack on Benghazi, the U.S. Military, through its U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) drafted orders for a military response, specifically “to protect vital naval and national assets.” Specifically, JW obtained an extraordinary draft document dated September 13, 2012, “US Africa Command Request for Forces,” which sought an “immediate” response from the Joint Chiefs of Staff for “additional forces” for the mission to “provide limited duration military and expeditionary antiterrorism and security forces in support of USAFRICOM commander in order to protect vital naval and national assets.” The planning document was approved by “VADM [Charles] Joseph Leidig, Deputy CDR, Africa Command.” The name of the military’s Benghazi operation was Jukebox Lotus.
But, in a questionable withholding of information, the Obama administration blacked out the specific mission information in the final deployment orders for Operation Jukebox Lotus. The orders (EXORD) detail that several components of the military, including Special Operations Forces, were deployed to support limited security and evacuation operations in Libya, including support for “BPT” (Be Prepared To) from the U.S. Army in Africa: “BPT support with mortuary affairs.” The Pentagon has previously released other orders with virtually no redactions, including an operation in Libya in 2004 and an Obama administration operation to attack Muammar Gaddafi’s government forces in Libya in 2011. So why not now?
Other documents show that, early on September 12, 2012, the day after the attack, top Pentagon leadership received intelligence briefing slides reporting that a June 6, 2012, attack on the Benghazi Special Mission Compound was tied to a group promoting an Islamic state in Libya and “came in response to the 5 June  drone strike on al-Qaida senior leader Abu-Yahya al-libi.”
The documents also confirm that the military used a photo from a Twitter post to try to ascertain the status of Ambassador Stevens. By the way, the use of Twitter for intelligence on Ambassador Stevens seems the only intelligence about the attack that the Obama Pentagon released to us under law!
Nowhere in the documents is the word “video” to be found. And the records show no communications or direction from the Obama State Department, then run by Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith both lost their lives. Mere hours later, a second terrorist strike targeted another facility not far away. CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed and 10 others were injured in that attack.
The records do show that the military, contrary to public comments by President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary, was keenly aware of the terrorist threat in Libya. “The DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] terrorism threat level for Libya is significant,” one email message says. “The DOS [Department of State] residential criminal threat level for Libya is high and the non-residential criminal threat level is high. The political violence threat level for Libya is critical.”
Was Benghazi avoidable? I have no doubt. Was it caused by demonstrators outraged by a third-rate video? Most definitely not. Among the things we do know is the fact that not one scrap of evidence has been found that anyone in the Obama administration, the State Department or the Department of Defense thought the video excuse had any foundation in reality, even as the lie was being told and retold to the American people. All these answers, frankly, are documented best by Judicial Watch’s investigative lawsuits. Not Congress. And the only large media entity pursuing this is Fox News, which is another reason why the network is hated so much by President Obama and his leftist allies.
There is no doubt that the military considered this to be a terrorist attack tied to a group allied with al Qaeda. Why does the Obama administration continue to black out history in these military documents? If there were no embarrassing facts, there would be nothing to hide. This lack of transparency is an insult to those in the military and other deployed U.S. government personnel whose morale has been decimated by the breach of trust caused by President Obama’s Benghazi lies and failures.
That is why your Judicial Watch will remain vigilant in our pursuit of all of the facts that can possibly be pried from the grasp of this administration about Benghazi.
In the meantime, we’ve also posted the Vaughn index, which describes why the documents have been withheld. Feel free to pass this all along to Congress and the media and ask if they have any interest in following Judicial Watch’s lead in getting the truth.
Obama Loses Big in Court
Just a few days ago, Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a highly consequential ruling that temporarily halts President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit from 26 states. The operative word here is temporary since President Obama’s White House has said that it will appeal, but this is a ruling that has real teeth. For starters, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will need to call off its planned rollout of the president’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and parts of his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; at least for now.
The 123-page opinion is worth reading. You will learn about standing (and, as we know all too well, how difficult it can be to challenge the government in court!), and you will learn the dirty amnesty secrets of this administration. This decision is also your guidebook to Obama’s illegal immigration acts that the lying media won’t talk about.
Judge Hanen calls out President Obama for making substantive changes to the law that are beyond his powers as president under law. Many in Washington have grown accustomed to this administration’s refusal to uphold laws. But Judge Hanen was willing to do the brave work of upholding the rule of law.
Obama’s “unprecedented” executive action on immigration is “actually affirmative action rather than inaction,” the judge held since the DAPA program would confer benefits to illegal aliens they would not otherwise be in a position to receive. Obama, through Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson, bestows a “legal presence to individuals Congress has deemed deportable or removable, as well as the ability to obtain Social Security numbers, work authorization permits, and the ability to travel,” Hanen wrote.
There is also the question of standing.
Since the states that brought suit will be forced to absorb additional costs connected with the issuing of drivers’ licenses, there’s no question that they will be directly impacted if the plan goes forward, according to the ruling. The states would “suffer irreparable harm,” Hanen argued, since there would be no way for them to recoup these expenditures once the program went forward.
The court stopped Obama’s core amnesty program in its tracks by ruling, in a narrow fashion, that the administration’s rewriting the law from “scratch” required it to follow the Administrative Procedures Act, a law that requires the Executive Branch to provide the necessary notice and publication of federal regulations so the public can have notice and provide comment as part of the democratic process. The Obama administration tried to pretend that the wholesale amnesty for untold millions of illegal aliens was only “guidance,” not subject to the public notice requirements of federal law. The court used President Obama’s words to expose this lie:
What is perhaps most perplexing about the [Obama administration’s claim] that DAPA is merely “guidance” is the President’s own labeling of the program. In formally announcing DAPA to the nation for the first time, President Obama stated, “I just took an action to change the law.” He then made a “deal” with potential candidates of DAPA: “if you have children who are American citizens . . . if you’ve taken responsibility, you’ve registered, undergone a background check, you’re paying taxes, you’ve been here for five years, you’ve got roots in the community – you’re not going to be deported . . . . If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows . . . .”
The court then notes that “the President’s description of the DHS Directive is that it changes the law.”
The court doesn’t confront the constitutionality of Obama’s actions, but its conclusion is that Obama’s agency’s remaking of immigration law is in violation of the basic accountability and transparency law (the Administrative Procedure Act) is enough for the issuance of an injunction.
Judge Hanen’s ruling highlights what most Americans and even many members of Congress understand: that Obama’s unilateral amnesty is no more legal than aiding and abetting any other criminal activity. Now there is no excuse for any politician on the Hill to fund this illicit amnesty. The court’s ruling confirms concerns first raised by Judicial Watch last week that the Obama administration’s misuse of tax dollars to fund this illegal amnesty program violates the Anti-Deficiency Act, which carries potential criminal and civil sanctions.
Judicial Watch has highlighted the Obama administration’s lawlessness on immigration for years. And now a federal judicial ruling, which I see as factually unassailable, confirms Obama’s absolute abdication of his duty to uphold the law.
We will keep up the fight, challenging the attack on the rule on immigration. Just today, we called out the Obama administration’s failure to follow the court’s order. Our Corruption Chronicles exclusively reported:
Though a federal court has blocked President Obama’s amnesty order the administration continues working behind the scenes to quickly award multi-million-dollar contracts to firms that can expeditiously process millions of illegal immigrants, a government source has alerted Judicial Watch.
The complex deal is being rushed through at a “full-throttle pace” extremely rare for such a huge venture that’s sure to radically change the current system, according to JW’s source, who has worked for decades as a contract expert at the highest levels of government. The Request For Proposal (RFP) was recently posted in the government’s official database for federal procurement opportunities and comes from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency charged with processing visa and naturalization petitions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The RFP estimates that the population of potential requesters for the president’s deferred action will be “approximately four million people” and that USCIS anticipates the initial filing of “approximately five to six million forms” related to the amnesty order which also covers the illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. The work is to begin in mid-March, the document reveals, and the contractor will operate out of a new center in Arlington, Virginia because there is no current facility with available space or staff to accommodate the “additional volume of work.” The center will be dedicated to processing deferred action for illegal immigrant parents of citizens, employment authorization and correspondence management.
The pricing spreadsheets are astounding and list tens of thousands of work hours-for tasks such as program management, file operations and maintenance as well as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) scanning-that will undoubtedly end up costing American taxpayers enormous sums. The contractor that lands this monstrous government deal must also be able to respond on short notice to growth in volume due to urgent events and requirements. “The growth is more than normal overtime and cannot be completed with overtime,” the government documents state.
A little over four hours after we highlighted this contempt for the law, the agency posted a notice that it was withdrawing its Request for Proposal. Coincidence? Of course not. Once again, it was your JW that caught the Obama administration red-handed in illegality!
Both the court’s historic ruling and Obama gang’s contempt for it shows the challenge this presidency presents to our republican form of government. And it also shows, as does our success in forcing accountability, that this challenge can be met by honorable public officials and independent citizen oversight by groups such as your Judicial Watch.
Hawaii on the Racial Chopping Block
Can we finally get away from racial categorizations and the balkanization that comes with it here in the 21st Century? Apparently not in Hawaii where the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission (NHRC) is doing its best to divide us rather than unite us. Just a few days ago, we filed an Application For An Order Allowing Inspection of Public Records that would allow us to inspect public records against the NHRC and Clyde W. Namuo, its executive director. We are looking to obtain records regarding the enrollment list of “Native” Hawaiians created pursuant to the Kana’iolowalu, the NHRC’s controversial racial registration campaign.
With taxpayer funding from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the NHRC launched the Kana’iolowalu campaign, opening a registration process for Native Hawaiians who desired to vote for a new race-based sovereign government. But they didn’t receive the kind of results that suggest this initiative benefits from broad support. When the registration process closed in January 2014 – after a long and expensive marketing effort – only 40,000 Native Hawaiians had registered.
The NHRC then reopened registration in March and again in August of 2014. During this period, the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs transferred government lists of “Native Hawaiians” who had previously registered their “ancestry” with the State agency to the Kana’iolowalu campaign. At least 87,000 names were transferred to the NHRC’s enrollment list. Individuals who object to being added to the race-based voter roll without their permission must file a form to have their names removed.
A little background is in order here.
This enrollment list is being created under Act 195, the 2011 Hawaii law that authorizes the NHRC to create a list of “Native Hawaiians” who would be eligible to vote on issues concerning the sovereignty of the “Native Hawaiian people.” Act 195 defines a “Native Hawaiian” as any person whom the government determines to be a direct descendant of the State’s aboriginal peoples. A person may register for the Kana’iolowalu if, besides meeting the law’s racial requirements, that individual has “maintained a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community” and “wishes to participate” in organizing an anticipated “Native Hawaiian governing entity.” NHRC defines Kana’iolowalu as “the din that is being created by the mass of people who are coming together and moving forward to strive and achieve and recognize the un-relinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people …”
The good news is that we are not alone in exposing this initiative. We have partnered with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which is an independent state think tank that has had longstanding concerns that Hawaii’s efforts to form and gain federal recognition of a race-based, sovereign nation are not in the best interest of either Native Hawaiians or the general population.
The racial gamesmanship is part of an effort to allocate political power and government benefits in a manner that does not exactly square with the principle of equality. Government officials in Hawaii and Washington D.C. are playing the race card to undermine the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s sovereignty.
The NHRC has not exactly been forthcoming and responsive to our request.
On August 8, 2014, after the NHRC roll had reportedly exceeded 125,000 registrants, we asked that the NHRC to provide us with “the complete enrollment list of Native Hawaiians, known as the Kana’iolowalu.” On September 4, Clyde Namuo, on behalf of the NHRC, refused to produce the list, claiming that the NHRC’s work “is continuing and the complete enrollment list of Native Hawaiians you requested does not exist at this time.” Okay, there’s more than one way to skin that cat.
On September 5, 2014, we rephrased our request to ask for copies of the “enrollment list of Native Hawaiians, known as the Kana’iolowalu, as it existed at any one point in time following your receipt of this request.” We also asked for copies of “all documents discussing the decision to reopen, in or August 2014, registration for the Kana’iolowalu.” On September 25, 2014, Namuo again refused production of the requested documents on the grounds that “our registration work is ongoing and a certified enrollment list of Native Hawaiians does not exist at this time,” and that “Kana’iolowalu have never ceased” and “there is no need for documentation to administratively reopen the registration roll.”
This sort of government of double-talk shows you the hoops we have to go through just to get a straight “no” in answer to our freedom of information requests!
As your JW pointed out in its court Application to enforce Hawaii’s open records law (the Uniform Information Practices Act):
We twice asked for the enrollment list as it exists along with documents regarding the reopening of registration, while NHRC irrationally responds that no such “certified” list exists and there is no “need” for documentation. We never asked for a “certified” list – just the list as it exists.
Barack Obama, through his administration, is of course, cheering along the deconstruction of his home state of Hawaii and is willing to take actions with no authority to advance this cause. With justification, the Obama gang has been criticized for taking executive action towards “the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community.”
Our court action highlights the scandal of a state agency harvesting names of citizens and then refusing to follow the law in disclosing its records.
“We are pleased to have a new ally,” President Keli’i Akina said. “The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is proud to work with Judicial Watch to ensure that Hawaiian groups and the public can hold the state agency OHA and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission accountable. We also are seeking, through a separate request, a full and accurate accounting of the financial transactions of the Roll Commission.”
This issue has national security implications. A report in The Washington Free Beacon last week details that Red China is using the discord created by the Hawaiian “independence” movement to threaten us:
China has suggested arming Hawaii’s independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and recently threatened to challenge American sovereignty by making legal claims to the Pacific islands as its territory.
So the stakes high as JW opens a new front on behalf of accountable and transparent government.
Tom Fitton – President