Department of Justice
When have you heard something like this before?
President Obama says that he has “complete confidence” in Attorney General Eric Holder.
Yup, just before the coach in which the owner expresses “complete confidence” finds himself applying for unemployment. Is Eric Holder about to be thrown under the bus?
Well you might conclude that when you read Mark Theissen’s article in the Washington Post in which he lays out how much of an “asset” Holder has been for the Obama administration.
There’s Guantanamo, Fast and Furious, his mishandling of the Christmas Bomber case, his attempt to get Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in New York, his attempt to reduce the war against terrorists to “lawfare” and, of course, the decision not to prosecute the New Black Panthers for obvious (on video) voter intimidation among a myriad of other things.
Theissen points out that most of Holder’s problems, although certainly not all of them, stem from incompetence. The lack of due diligence in a job that demands that as a prerequisite to serving:
Many of these debacles stem from Holder’s failure to do due diligence: He failed to consult the intelligence community before giving the Christmas bomber a Miranda warning; he failed to read the memos in which career prosecutors explained why CIA prosecutions were a legal dead end; he failed to consult New York officials about trying Mohammed in their city; he failed to conduct even a cursory review before pushing Obama to announce the closure of Guantanamo; he failed to read the Arizona immigration law before publicly opposing it. One such failure is a mistake; this many is a pattern of gross incompetence.
Couldn’t agree more. And James Carville has already recommended chucking him as a way of Obama gaining some leadership cred (something he’s badly lacking). With Darrel Issa on the Fast and Furious track, it may be time to unload this guy.
Is that the bus I hear warming up?
Right now it seems that the Mexican/ATF gun running scheme has blown up in the face of the administration and, unless the media tries to ignore it, has the potential of being a very damaging scandal. The NY Post gives a good summary:
The ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.
In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.
"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.
"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."
That’s the key to this mess — and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be the biggest Washington scandal since Iran-Contra.
If all of this is true, then yes, it should be. Melson had been prohibited by AG Eric Holder from appearing before Congress in his official capacity. But Holder can’t prohibit private citizen Melson from appearing and that’s how Melson is appearing. He obviously knows a bad op when he sees one and is refusing to be the fall guy.
The ostensible purpose of “Fast and Furious” was to identify the “higher ups” in the Mexican gun trafficking circles. But here’s the problem:
As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information — theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies — "then ATF might have known that gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ had already been identified."
In fact, inter-agency coordination – something the 9/11 reorganization was supposed to fix – should have revealed those names the ATF sought. So if that isn’t really the reason for the operation, what is?
Well that’s where the speculation occurs, and the administration doesn’t help itself by stonewalling Congress.
Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak — loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice."
So what’s the purpose of the operation then? If the higher-ups were already known, what is the possible reason for doing this? Then NY Post throws out a possibility:
Law-abiding gun owners and dealers think they already know. With the Obama administration wedded to the fiction that 90 percent of the guns Mexican cartels use originate here — they don’t — many suspect that "Fast and Furious" was a backdoor attempt to smear domestic gun aficionados as part of its stealth efforts on gun control by executive fiat.
"I just want you to know that we’re working on it," Obama was quoted as saying to gun-control advocate Sarah Brady in March. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."
Unfortunately for the administration, this one’s out in the open now.
Now you may be saying, come on, isn’t that a little far fetched? Not really. This is an administration that talks out of both sides of their mouth so anything they’ve said in the past supporting gun rights has to be taken with a grain of salt. And, you have to remember this is an administration that comes from the Chicago tradition of politics. So combined with the DoJ stonewalling and refusal to turn over documents to Congress (you know, the “transparent administration), one has to suspect there may be some fire causing the smoke.
Maybe there’s a better answer – but I haven’t heard it yet. I can understand something like passing traceable funds/"marked bills" to suspects to help expose networks, and even temporarily allowing those suspects freedom of movement to facilitate that. But this – the transfer of weapons – is another matter entirely. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence is an axiom especially true of government work, but in this case it’s hard to imagine someone that incompetent. That’s obviously a factor, along with stupidity, ignorance, hubris and a host of other character flaws Americans can only tolerate to a certain extent in government officials (a vague line well crossed here) – but even all of those flaws combined fail to describe motive.
It think his point is well taken. At the moment, it is the most plausible explanation given the facts we have. With the fact that the names were known within the law enforcement community, it is up to the administration to explain why doing such a stupid thing. And as Greyhawk mentions, it is hard just to write this off to incompetence, unless you believe in total incompetence and, in fact, stupidity, all up and down the line of those who would have to approve an operation like that.
So it’s up to the administration to explain this fiasco. The “plausible” explanation is out there. And right now it is as good an explanation as any. If that’s the case, as Confederate Yankee explains, the consequences could be dire:
If it is confirmed that the worst suspicions are true—that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to narco-terrorists, in order to undermine U.S gun laws—there will not be a stonewall big enough for them to hide behind, and both impeachment and jail time must not be just possible, but probable for those involved. They are, after all, accessories before the fact who aided and abetted the murders of two U.S. federal agents, and an estimated 150 law enforcement officers and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, in Mexico.
We’ll see what the administration can come forward with a better one, but I think this scandal has the potential to really shake up this bunch and expose the DoJ for the travesty it has become.
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House Judiciary Committee to investigate DoJ issues surrounding New Black Panther voter intimidation case
Jennifer Rubin reports that the House Judiciary Committee under new Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has issued its first oversight letter to the Department of Justice. Subject? The New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case as race based enforcement guidelines within the DoJ.
"Allegations that the Civil Rights Division has engaged in a practice of race-biased enforcement of voting rights law must be investigated by the Committee."
Indeed. He gives Holder and DoJ until the 21st to respond to a list of questions including whether Julie Fernandez of DoJ "explicitly or implicitly direct Voting Section staff not to enforce any section of any federal rights statute" or "not to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act." This question stems from the claim by J. Christian Adams that Fernandez directed DoJ attorneys "not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims."
With an all Democratic Congress, DoJ was able to weather the storm these revelations brought as Democrats successfully blocked any attempts to look into the matter officially. That has obviously changed.
Rubin makes some observations about the letter:
The letter is noteworthy on a number of levels. First, administration flacks and liberal bloggers have insisted that the New Black Panther Party case is much to do about nothing. But as Smith has correctly discerned, the issue of enforcement or non-enforcement of civil rights laws based on a non-colorblind view of those laws is serious and a potentially explosive issue for this administration. Second, Holder’s strategy of stonewalling during the first two years of Obama’s term may have backfired. Had he been forthcoming while Democrats were in the majority, he might have been able to soften the blows; Smith is not about to pull his punches. And finally, Smith is demonstrating the sort of restraint and big-picture focus that is essential for the Republicans if they are to remain credible and demonstrate their capacity for governance.
Bingo on all three. A worthy issue to investigate, a worthy reason to investigate and it will indeed play to the benefit of Republicans and detriment of Democrats – particularly Holder – but also those who tried to wave it away as “no big deal”.
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Well. It looks like the Nevada senate race between Harry Reid and Sharon Angle might have just gotten a little more interesting:
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, FoxNews.com has learned.
Diana Tejada, Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, admitted to receiving payment for “some of her expenses” in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, strictly so he could obtain permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents.
I note the following with keen interest:
Tejada, now 28, was never charged for her role in the crime.
“We did not charge the woman, and of course we don’t discuss the reasons we don’t charge people,” said Bob Troester, spokesman for the Western District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, which began as an FBI investigation out of the Oklahoma City Joint Terrorism Task Force.
But of course she wasn’t charged. She is, after all, an aide to the Senate Majority Leader. We can’t expect the law to apply to her.
Perhaps we should amend the Constitution to allow patents of nobility, then simply immunize their lordships from prosecution. That would at least have the virtue of being honest, unlike the “Equal Justice Under Law” tomfoolery that we spout.
As with most good intentions, the American’s With Disabilities Act has grown into something which in some cases obviously violates that initial intent. Designed to provide equal access to Americans with both physical and mental disabilities, the common sense side of such an endeavor has begun to fall to the more absurd and, frankly, selfish interpretations of the law.
The benign intent – equal access – has become a more authoritarian application and is resulting in penalizing the able.
The latest illustration of that comes to us from the world of academia. And the result is a bureaucratic ruling which delayed, if not destroyed, a great idea.
As we all know, college is an expensive proposition. So anything which helps reduce that cost is something which should be at least explored to see if its viable. A few schools were engaged in just such a project involving the Amazon Kindle – an e-book reader that users can download books onto. In this case the books were text books:
Last year, the schools — among them Princeton, Arizona State and Case Western Reserve — wanted to know if e-book readers would be more convenient and less costly than traditional textbooks. The environmentally conscious educators also wanted to reduce the huge amount of paper students use to print files from their laptops.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Reduced cost for text books. Reduced paper usage. It would seem a perfectly sensible project for schools to undertake. Well, it did until the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division stepped in based on a complaint from the National Federation of the Blind:
The Civil Rights Division informed the schools they were under investigation. In subsequent talks, the Justice Department demanded the universities stop distributing the Kindle; if blind students couldn’t use the device, then nobody could. The Federation made the same demand in a separate lawsuit against Arizona State.
In short the Federation is saying, “if we can’t use the Kindle, no one can”. Interestingly, there wasn’t a single blind student in any of the project courses.
The Kindle, of course, is speech capable. It will read to you. However, as it was configured then, it required a sighted person to get to that part of the menu. So while one can understand the complaint to a point, I don’t understand the reaction. Why must everyone be banned from this common sense approach to saving money and resources because a very small segment of the population couldn’t yet avail themselves of the technology? Key word – ‘yet’.
It goes to a premise that we see constantly espoused on the left – only government is capable of adjudicating and enforcing “fairness”, even when such an adjudication is absurd and, as it turns out, an over reaction.
School officials were a bit baffled by the ruling:
Given the speed of technological development and the reality of competition among technology companies — Apple products were already fully text-to-speech capable — wasn’t this a problem the market would solve?
Of course it would. And competition would drive it – such as Apple. But the Justice Department decided if the blind can’t have it, neither can the sighted.
In early 2010, after most of the courses were over, the Justice Department reached agreement with the schools, and the federation settled with Arizona State. The schools denied violating the ADA but agreed that until the Kindle was fully accessible, nobody would use it.
Kindle knew the idea for saving money through using e-text books was a good one. They also knew, given Apple’s entry, that they would lose out if it wasn’t accessible to the blind. So they developed a Kindle – the latest version – that is fully accessible to the blind. And, it was a project which had already been in the works prior to the intrusion of the government.
That, however, didn’t stop the Civil Rights Division from again warning educators:
But as Amazon was unveiling the new Kindle last week, Perez was sending a letter to educators warning them they must use technology "in a manner that is permissible under federal law."
So here we have a problem that was in the process of being solved by the market when the need was identified. In the mean time, as that problem was being solved, the project could have moved forward and eventually benefitted any number of students with lower cost text books and less paper usage. Instead, no one was able to use the technological tool, and now that the problem has been solved, the federal government is still warning schools about the use of such devices.
There are those who will claim, some in our comment section, that this would have never happened had it not been for government. That is simply not true. As noted, the revised Kindle that would accommodate the blind was already on the drawing board for the next revision. Instead what we saw is unnecessary government intervention. Instead of warning the schools off of the project, had the government checked with Amazon, they’d have discovered that the desired product was under development.
They didn’t. They instead decided to use the authoritarian approach and threaten the schools with the law. As one person said:
"As a blind person, I would never want to be associated with any movement that punished sighted students, particularly for nothing they had ever done," says Russell Redenbaugh, a California investor who lost his sight in a childhood accident and later served for 15 years on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "It’s a gross injustice to disadvantage one group, and it’s bad policy that breeds resentment, not compassion."
It is bad policy, and as it was used in this case, bad law. Anyone who has made it into adulthood knows that life is not fair, never has been and will never be. We each, to some degree or another and in varying degrees of severity, have disabilities for which we have to compensate. Most of us have no problem with reasonable and common sense accommodations which enable those among us with more severe disabilities the chance to participate more fully. However, when you begin to penalize the able because the disabled don’t have the same opportunity to participate for whatever reason, then it is a level of intrusion that is both unwelcome and unwarranted. Unfortunately, though, it is all too common.
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William Jacobson over at Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion (a great blog and always a worthwhile read) lays out the probable outcome of the DoJ case against the AZ immigration law:
Based on reports of the hearing before the federal District Court Judge yesterday, it appears that the provision of the Arizona immigration law requiring law enforcement to verify immigration status is likely to survive, while other aspects creating independent state criminal sanctions will not.
This outcome — with the caveat that a Judge’s comments do not necessarily predict the outcome — makes sense legally. There is no interference with the federal administration of the immigration laws if the state, after confirming that a person is here illegally, merely turns the person over to federal authorities.
That means, essentially that the part of the law that will survive is that which requires all law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone of which have a reasonable suspicion may be here illegally. And if they’re determined to be here illegally, turn them over to federal authorities.
And that’s where the probable “nullification” may take place –i.e. the nullification of the intent of the AZ law which had at its foundation the apprehension, removal and deportation of illegals found in the state. As Jacobson says:
While the survival of this aspect of the Arizona immigration law would still outrage opponents, the practical effect would be to allow federal authorities to nullify the state law in practice by refusing to take custody of or prosecute those turned over by state authorities.
Indeed, this is what happens sometimes in Rhode Island, when the State Police notify federal authorities and there are no outstanding warrants on the person.
Willful disregard for the law.
Isn’t one of the foundational principles of our nation “the rule of law” and not the “rule of men”? Isn’t such willful disregard counter to that principle? How does one count on being equal with all other men before the law when the government can arbitrarily decide what it will and won’t enforce?
All questions I’d like to see asked in court of the Department of Justice. Put them on trial as well. Make them explain why they feel entitled to ignore some law and rigorously enforce others.
If we don’t like a law, think it is wrong and should be taken off the books, there are several methods on the books to allow that – the courts or Congress (at a federal level) to name two. But selective non-enforcement – at least in a country that purports to be governed by the “rule of law” – isn’t one of them. And it drives states, such as AZ, to understandably take matters into their own hands.
It is the DoJ and ICE that should be in the docket – not AZ.
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Based in the Constitution’s “supremacy law”, the Obama administration will argue that federal law is supreme to state law. In other words, the feds will argue that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsiblity.
But that’s the rub isn’t it – it may be their responsibility, but they’re not fulfilling that responsibility to anyone’s satisfaction, especially the state of Arizona. Consequently, Arizona has felt the need, based in public safety and budget concerns, to take matters into its own hands.
The preemption doctrine has been established in Supreme Court decisions, and some legal experts have said such a federal argument likely would persuade a judge to declare the law unconstitutional.
But lawyers who helped draft the Arizona legislation have expressed doubt that a preemption argument would prevail.
I’m not sure what those doubting whether the “preemption argument will prevail” mean. Of course it will “prevail” if it is applicable. It has law and precedent behind it. However, given the fact that the federal government has all but abandoned the enforcement of immigration law, and I think Arizona should be able to provide ample evidence of this, I’d suggest the preemption clause won’t be applicable since the laws aren’t being enforced.
In fact, I think Arizona can argue and make a pretty compelling case of federal nonfeasance concerning immigration laws.
In that case, this may very well blow up in the Obama administration’s face, and verify what most Americans already think – the government has no interest in enforcing the immigration laws on the books.
Not exactly the meme you want out there with midterms approaching. Regardless of how this turns out, I’m finding it hard to see a “win” in this for the administration.
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