Category Archive 'Justice Department'
02 Aug 2017

Apparently, Some People Are Going to be Loved a Lot Less

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“March of Resilience” protesting Christakises’s calls for Free Speech at Yale.

Bill Jacobson reports that the Trump Justice Department may be about to start making colleges resume admitting people on the basis of the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.

Chief Justice Roberts had it right: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

If a report in the NY Times is accurate, the Trump administration is getting ready to take on the most precious of liberal dogmas, the institutionalized racial discrimination in college admissions, aka affirmative action.

The Times reaches the conclusion that affirmative action will be under attack, even though the documents it has obtained for its reporting don’t actually say that. The Times reports, Justice Dept. to Take On Affirmative Action in College Admissions:

    The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

    The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

    The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

    The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

There is the predictable freak out, particularly from virtue-signaling white liberals.

The Left is going to have a cow.

RTWT

20 Nov 2016

“Sessions Pick as AG Could Spark Exodus from Civil Rights Division”

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jeffsessions

Politico is sending a message from the Left.

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general is being met with alarm at the Justice Department’s civil rights division and could trigger an exodus there, former officials said Friday.

Longtime lawyers in the unit that enforces voting rights laws, conducts investigations into alleged police abuses and prosecutes hate crimes were already on edge about what Trump’s victory would mean for their mission, but the selection of Sessions pushed those fears to another level, former officials said.

“If there was a level above DEFCON One, it would be that,” said Sam Bagenstos, who was the civil rights division’s No. 2 official from 2009 to 2011. “Jeff Sessions has a unique and uniquely troubled history with the civil rights division. … From the perspective of the work of the enforcement of civil rights, I think the Sessions pick is a particularly troublesome one — more than anyone else you can think of.”

I’d like to think that the Sessions appointment is leading to not only firings, but explicit reversals of Obama “Second Reconstruction Era” policies, in particular the disavowal of Russlynn Ali’s “Dear Colleague” Letter and a new proclamation warning universities that this administration will withhold federal funding unless all the Sexual Harassment Star Chambers set up in compliance with Russlynn Ali’s edict are shut down and sexual harassment witch-hunting is suspended forthwith.

Then, the Sessions Justice Department should turn to finding out whether it is possible to prosecute some of that department’s previous officials.

03 Feb 2012

DOJ Taking the Fifth on Fast & Furious

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Mike McDaniel:

On December 8, 2011, appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder baldly asserted that he had no idea who authorized the deadly Fast and Furious debacle and added that he would be “surprised” if any evidence about it could ever be found.

Put aside, for the moment, Holder’s lack of transparency which has become standard operating procedure for the most transparent administration in history, and consider that Mr. Holder is correct for two primary and likely reasons: he knows who is responsible for every facet of Fast and Furious and has no intention of ever revealing that information, and he has the most important, powerful ace any corrupt bureaucrat or politician could possibly have up his sleeve, but more on this later.

According to Fox News, on January 19, Patrick J. Cunningham, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division for Arizona, through his attorneys, has notified Rep. Darrell Issa’s Committee that he will not testify before the committee as requested and that if subpoenaed, will take the Fifth and refuse to testify to avoid incriminating himself.

10 Jun 2011

Next Week’s News: The BATF Operation That Flooded Mexico With Assault Rifles

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Fox News predicts that things are going to get very interesting for the Justice Department and BATF next week, when Congressional hearings put the spotlight on some amazingly botched efforts at gun control.

Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.

Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.

Only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died did ATF Agent John Dodson blow the whistle and expose the scandal.

“What people don’t understand is how long we will be dealing with this,” Dodson told Fox News back in March. “Those guns are gone. You can’t just give the order and get them back. There is no telling how many crimes will be committed before we retrieve them.”

But now the casualties are coming in.

Mexican officials estimate 150 of their people have been shot by Fast and Furious guns. Police have recovered roughly 700 guns at crime scenes, 250 in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico, including five AK-47s found at a cartel warehouse in Juarez last month.

A high-powered sniper rifle was used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter. Two other Romanian-made AK-47s were found in a shoot-out that left 11 dead in the state of Jalisco three weeks ago.

The guns were traced to the Lone Wolf Gun Store in Glendale, Ariz., and were sold only after the store employees were told to do so by the ATF.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone but yourself. However, ATF’s own documents show it allowed just 15 men to buy 1,725 guns, and 1,318 of those were after the purchasers officially became targets of investigation.

If I could have my personal choice of one federal agency to defund or entirely abolish, I know which one it would be. I subscribe to the viewpoint that “Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms” ought to be the contents of the sign in the window of my local convenience store, not the name of a federal agency.

18 Jul 2010

Decrying Panthergate

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Abigail Thernstrom, nearly two weeks ago in National Review Online, pooh-pooh-ed the scandal of Eric Holder’s Justice Department overruling prosecutors in order to quash the voter intimidation case against Philadelphia Black Panthers, describing it as insignificant by comparison to the (more abstract, and less sexy) issue of the Department of Justice requiring racially gerrymandered election districts.

Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation — the charge — are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

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Nothing gratifies the left’s commentariat like a conservative come to Lenin, so Thernstrom’s characterization of the Philadelphia Panther affair as small potatoes was shouted from the rooftops.

Ben Smith, at Politico, treated it as headline news.

Adam Serwer, at American Prospect, gloatingly announced that Thernstrom’s comments exploded a conservative conspiracy to bring down Eric Holder and damage Barack Obama.

And Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon, was today hastening to admire Adam Serwer’s intelligence in the course of performing damage control. It turns out that the Washington Post, unlike the New York Times, really does have an Ombudsman representing the public’s interest in journalistic evenhandedness and objectivity.

The Philadelphia Panther Polling Place Intimidation story has been receiving coverage from Fox News and developing legs as a story and provoking public interest, causing Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander to criticize the Post’s delay in covering it.

Walsh lays down the law in response to Alexander:

[I]t really is hard, with limited news room resources, to decide whether and how to cover the insane narrative of rumors, half-truths and lies being peddled by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, not to mention Fox News “reporters” like Megyn Kelly. By covering them (as Salon readers frequently remind us) we risk spreading lies and delusion beyond the right-wing smogosphere. But by ignoring the ones that gain political currency, we risk letting them acquire more influence than they deserve.

Let me state, for the record, that the New Black Panther Party is a despicable, deluded, crackpot fringe group, whose members’ insane anti-white rhetoric sometimes makes me wonder if they’re still on the payroll of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, that 60s-era project in which righty provocateurs infiltrated left-wing groups, including the Black Panthers, and egged on some of the worst violence (not that the old Panthers weren’t capable of violence and thuggishness all on their own, along with the breakfast programs their lefty admirers like to remember).

But the right wing needs the thuggish but miniscule and derided NBBP to matter, and to tie the crazy group to our black president, in order to advance their narrative of lies about Obama’s “racism,” tyranny and illegitimacy to be president. If they can convince enough people that Obama was elected thanks to intimidation by the NBPP, and “voter fraud” by the now-defunct ACORN, they won’t even need the crazy Birthers to prove he’s not legitimately president, even though he won with a bigger mandate than any first-term president since Lyndon Johnson (who of course had become president after the Kennedy assassination.) …

It’s the job of editors at big papers like the Post to expose those lies, and the movement behind them – not to flagellate themselves for not saying “How high?” when right-wing media watchdogs say “Jump!”

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The left’s arguments as to why the Department of Justice blocking prosecution of the Philadelphia Black Panther standing in front of the Fairmont Avenue polling station brandishing a nightstick is a non-story run like this:

J. Christian Adams, the former Justice Department voting rights attorney who resigned and later testified before the the U.S. Commission on Civil Right in connection with Eric Holder’s Justice Department’s handling of the Philadelphia case, is a Republican who was hired by another Republican attorney they dislike.

No one has proven that Eric Holder or Barack Obama personally interfered.

The New Black Panther Party is a small, unrepresentative fringe group that simply does not matter.

No one has produced voters testifying that they were prevented from voting by the Panthers.

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Most Americans do not agree that testimony coming from Republicans, even from conservative Republicans, of bias and improper conduct can be impeached successfully simply by identifying the witness’s politics. An obviously greater number of Americans trust the reliability of Fox News more that they trust other networks, the New York Times or the Washington Post, and more Americans believe that conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh are reasonably fair-minded than would say the same thing of Salon.

The unavailability of evidence of participation of senior officials in a far-from-thoroughly-investigated scandal is not per se exculpatory evidence.

The Fairmont Avenue nightstick-carrying Panther incident is known from a few very short videos which were posted on YouTube. A University of Pennsylvania student tried filming and interviewing the Panthers. He found them hostile and evasive. In the immediate aftermath of that confrontation, he or a Republican poll observer summoned the police. The Panther carrying the nightstick was persuaded by Philadelphia police to leave. His associate produced identification as a poll watcher, and was (despite his paramilitary get up) permitted to remain.

A Fox News reporter, Rick Leventhal, interviewed the Republican poll observer, who told him that the Panthers had tried to intimidate him when he tried to enter. The observer was also subjected to racial remarks. He says that he then phoned the police.

The police intervened after two Panthers, one armed with a nightstick, had been standing in front of the Fairmont Avenue polling place door for about an hour. It’s true that this specific incident involved two people and a fairly limited amount of time. But it was clearly a case of intimidation.

Is the fringiness of the intimidators some kind of legal defence?

What would Ms. Thermstrom, Mr. Serwer, or Ms. Walsh say about two people in paramilitary uniforms, brandishing a club and making hostile racially-charged remarks having probable discouraging impact in detering black or Jewish voters or observers from entering a polling place? Under the proposed insignificance rule, Nazis or Ku Klux Klansmen could police certain polling stations at will, as long as they remained basically few in number and intimidated only a few people. And, of course, if they succeeded in scaring people away from testifying about what had happened, that would be all the better, since it would prove that no one had been intimidated at all.

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Let my readers decide for themselves. Here are the videos.

1:21 University of Pennsylvania student films Panthers at 1221 Fairmount Avenue polling place video

1:00 video Philadelphia police intervene. The Panther with the bill club is ordered to leave. The other Panther is allowed to stay because he is a registered poll watcher!

Departing billy club wielder: “that’s why you’re going to be ruled by a black man.” 0:05 video

4:05 Fox News video from 2008 with Rick Leventhal.

Who was holding that billy club? Samir Shabaz 0:51 video

Addtional evidence of denial of entry and election fraud in Philadelphia appeared in a couple of other videos:

Poll watcher denied entry to polling place on 6125 Market Street. 2:53 video

This black voter in Overbrook Park tells CNN he voted “a coupla times.” 0:41 video

Earlier postings

21 Mar 2010

DOJ vs. CIA

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Bill Gertz, in the Washington Times last Monday (March 15), revealed a major behind-the-scenes conflict between the CIA and prominent officials of Eric Holder’s Justice Department.

The CIA wants the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act enforced at the expense of attorneys from the John Adams Project, a joint initiative of the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who allegedly supplied photographs of CIA interrogators to attorneys defending al Qaeda terrorists held at Guantánamo Bay, who then showed them to their clients.

The CIA believes providing terrorists access to those photographs compromised the agency’s ongoing operations and could potentially lead to reprisals against the interrogators. The Justice Department was resistant to CIA demands for investigation and prosecutions, not surprisingly, since a number of prominent DOJ officials these days have themselves been part of the Al Qaeda Bar Association, and are a lot more in favor of prosecuting CIA interrogators and Bush Administration officials for “torture” and war crimes.

[A] senior Justice Department national security official removed himself from [a] counterintelligence probe last week after opposing CIA security worries.

Donald Vieira, a former Democratic counsel on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who in September became chief of staff at the Justice Department’s National Security Division, recused himself from the counterintelligence investigation into the recent discovery of photographs of CIA interrogators in the possession of defense lawyers at the prison in Cuba.

The investigation has been under way for many months, but was given new urgency after the discovery last month of additional photographs of interrogators at Guantanamo showing CIA officers and contractors who have carried out interrogations of detainees, according to three officials familiar with the investigation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Findings of the investigation to date produced some signs that the senior al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo gained intelligence on CIA interrogators through their lawyers that could be used in future legal proceedings.

CIA counterintelligence officials have “serious concerns” that the information will leak out and lead to the terrorists targeting the officers and their families, if the identities are disseminated to terrorists or sympathizers still at large, said one official.

“They have put the lives of CIA officers and their families in danger,” said a senior U.S. official about the detainees’ lawyers.

The case is being pressed by the counterspies who only recently were able to alert senior agency, Justice Department and White House officials to their concerns. …

According to the officials, the dispute centered on discussions for a interagency memorandum that was to be used in briefing President Obama and senior administration officials on the photographs found in Cuba.

Justice officials did not share the CIA’s security concerns about the risks posed to CIA interrogators and opposed language on the matter that was contained in the draft memorandum. The memo was being prepared for White House National Security Council aide John Brennan, who was to use it to brief the president.

The CIA insisted on keeping its language describing the case and wanted the memorandum sent forward in that form.

That resulted in the meeting and ultimately to Mr. Vieira withdrawing from the probe.

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and his chief of staff, Jeremy Bash, a former chief counsel for the House intelligence committee, at first were unaware of both the scope and seriousness of the case.

However, both officials began addressing the matter after inquiries were made from members of Congress. Since then, Mr. Panetta and Mr. Bash are getting regular updates on the dispute, said the officials.

The legal underpinnings of the counterintelligence probe stem from the 1982 law that makes it illegal to disclose the identity of clandestine CIA and other intelligence officers. The law was passed after CIA defector Philip Agee in the 1970s disclosed the identity of Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Greece, who was assassinated in 1975 after the disclosure. …

The Pentagon also is involved in the investigation in the photographs compromising CIA officers’ identities at Guantanamo because the military provided the lawyers currently representing some detainees. A Pentagon spokeswoman in charge of detainee affairs had no immediate comment and said she was unaware of the case.

The officials said the photographs of the CIA officers found recently at Guantanamo were obtained by a joint program of the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers called the John Adams Project.

The project, according to a Washington Post report in August, hired contractors to photograph CIA officers who were thought to have carried out terrorist interrogations. Those photographs were then to be provided to defense lawyers representing some of the Guantanamo detainees as part of an effort to identify the interrogators, for possible use as witnesses in military or civilian trials.

Joshua Dratel, a lawyer representing the John Adams Project, declined to comment directly on whether his group hired investigators to photograph CIA officers and supply them to military defense lawyers.

However, Mr. Dratel said in an interview that “none of the John Adams Project lawyers have done anything inappropriate or contrary to the protective order or any other rules that apply” to the prisoners.

ACLU spokesman John Kennedy also declined to comment on whether the project obtained photographs of CIA officers. However, he said none of the John Adams Project lawyers disclosed the identities of CIA officers to detainees held at Guantanamo.

Details about the investigation into the photographs remain closely held, but one official said CIA counterintelligence and security officials were alarmed by the discovery at the prison.

“What it says is that somebody is going out and finding these agents, taking their pictures, and taking them back to Gitmo, trying to get these guys at Gitmo to confirm who they are and where they are from,” one U.S. intelligence official said. “CIA is afraid this information will become public and jeopardize the lives of the agents.”

A second source said the probe also has heightened an ongoing political dispute among CIA, Justice and White House officials over the issue of terrorism detainees.

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Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn discuss the CIA-DOJ donnybrook.

14 Mar 2010

Like Saul Alinsky, Not John Adams

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Neal Katyal celebrates the decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Andrew C. McCarthy rebuts misleading editorial claims that certain attorneys now employed by the Department of Justice were “only doing their job” and following the conventional ethical obligations of the Bar in pursuing various kinds of innovative litigation on behalf of War on Terror detainees.

The fictional premise of these wayward complaints is that the Justice Department’s al Qaeda lawyers stand in the same shoes as criminal-defense lawyers. The latter must represent even unsavory characters because the Constitution guarantees counsel to those charged with crimes.

To the contrary, the Justice Department’s al Qaeda lawyers were volunteers, just as Mr. Holder volunteered in the Heller case. Unlike the British soldiers represented by John Adams, the Gitmo detainees are not entitled to counsel. They are not criminal defendants. They are plaintiffs in offensive lawsuits, filed under the rubric of habeas corpus, challenging their detention as war prisoners. The nation is at war, and the detainees are unprivileged alien enemy combatants. By contrast, the United States was not at war with England at the time of the Boston Massacre, and the British soldiers were lawful police, not nonuniformed terrorists.

There is no right to counsel in habeas corpus cases. Thousands of American inmates must represent themselves in such suits—there is no parade of white-shoe law firms at their beck and call. Until 2004, moreover, enemy prisoners were not permitted to challenge their detention at all. The Supreme Court rejected such claims in the 1950 Eisentrager case, precisely because they damage the national war effort. Yes, left-leaning lawyers have convinced the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc to ignore precedent and permit Gitmo habeas petitions. That neither makes these suits less damaging, nor endows the enemy with a right to counsel.

Advocating for the enemy is a modern anomaly, not a proud tradition. Defense lawyers representing accused criminals perform a constitutionally required function. Not so the Department of Justice’s Gitmo volunteers. They represented al Qaeda operatives because they wanted to, not because they had to. The suggestion that they served a vital constitutional function is self-adulating myth. Their motive was to move the law in a particular direction.

Ironically, a number of Republican and conservative lawyers have written editorials and signed letters expressing the same specious analysis that equates the proactive defense of the enemy by the members of the treasonous community of fashion with the conventional acceptance of an assigned duty to provide representation to an unpopular or controversial client. You do not find Mr. Katyal, Mr. Holder, or certain representatives of Shearman & Sterling volunteering to defend the marines charged with murder or the Navy seals who gave the leader of a mob that murdered and mutilated Americans a fat lip.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, I suppose, deserve some special appreciation for their highmindedness and inclination to bend over backward in order to refrain from pointing fingers at members of their own profession in the opposing camp, but their insistence on placing the best interpretation on the motives of opponents seems more than a little naive in a world in which the democrat party left endeavors to criminalize policy differences as frequently as possible.

There is the difference between Republicans and democrats, between the American right and the American left in a nutshell. Mukasey and Olson are found hastening to defend Neal Katyal’s efforts to utilize American law for the benefit of those making war against it and the Geneva Convention to protect illegal combatants who routinely flout it, while the left is enthusiastically trying to claim that Bush Administration attorneys deserve prosecution for violations of international law as well as sanctions for professional misconduct.

What we have here is the successful application by the left of Saul Alinsky’s radical technique of “making your opponent obey his own rules” on two levels. Leftwing attorneys have successfully compelled the United States government to accord constitutional protections and the privileges of domestic legal process to armed enemies captured overseas and effectively contrived to have the Supreme Court enforce Article 75 of Protocol I (1977) of the Geneva Convention which the United States never signed. Meanwhile, the left accuses and makes strong efforts to punish Republican attorneys for legal and ethical violations on the basis of ultra-partisan and highly strained interpretations. Yet, prominent Republican legal figures shrink from criticizing, even from accurately identifying, enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of the enemy in time of war as what it really is.

04 Mar 2010

How Many Attorneys Formerly Representing Detainees Are Now Employed By the Justice Department?

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Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made a particular effort to find out how many of the Obama Administration’s new hires in the Justice Department had previously been involved in representing terrorist detainees in court battles with the Bush Administration. Senator Grassley noted the possibility of a “conflict of interest in putting the same people in charge of prosecution who had recently been defending these kinds of people.

In response to a letter from Grassley, last month, Holder admitted that there were nine such attorneys, but refused to identify seven not already publicly known.

Attorney General Eric Holder says nine Obama appointees in the Justice Department have represented or advocated for terrorist detainees before joining the Justice Department. But he does not reveal any names beyond the two officials whose work has already been publicly reported. And all the lawyers, according to Holder, are eligible to work on general detainee matters, even if there are specific parts of some cases they cannot be involved in.

Holder’s admission comes in the form of an answer to a question posed last November by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. Noting that one Obama appointee, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, formerly represented Osama bin Laden’s driver, and another appointee, Jennifer Daskal, previously advocated for detainees at Human Rights Watch.

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And there may have been more than nine:

It is possible that there are more than nine political appointees who worked for detainees. Holder tells Grassley that he did not survey the Justice Department as a whole but instead canvassed several large offices within the organization.

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Liz Cheney’s group Keep America Safe made some trouble for Eric Holder by demanding in a recent video that he identify an additional seven attorneys

0:48 video

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Prompted by the Keep America Safe video, Fox News investigated and uncovered the identities of the other seven.

Before joining the Justice Department, Jonathan Cedarbaum, now an official with the Office of Legal Counsel, was part of a “firm-wide effort” to represent six Bosnian-Algerian detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, according to the web site of the firm WilmerHale.

That effort brought the case Boumediene v. Bush to the Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the right of detainees to challenge their detention.

But, according to a review by Fox News, Cedarbaum’s name appears only once in court records of detainee-related cases. Specifically, he’s named as part of the WilmerHale legal team in a 2007 filing with the Supreme Court, and he was joined in that filing by Eric Columbus, a former WilmerHale attorney who is now senior counsel in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Alongside Cedarbaum in the Office of Legal Counsel now is Karl Thompson, who while working for the firm O’Melveny & Myers became one of seven attorneys to represent Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

But, according to court documents, Thompson was only part of Khadr’s defense team for seven months, from October 2008 to May 2009.

More than five years before that, Joseph Guerra, now Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, was one of five lawyers from the firm Sidley Austin to help three civil liberties groups, including the self-described “conservative” Rutherford Institute, file a detainee-related brief with the Supreme Court.

The brief urged the justices to hear the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was held as an “enemy combatant” before the Bush Administration decided in 2006 to prosecute him in a civilian court..

Similarly, in November 2006, Tali Farhadian, now an official in the Office of the Attorney General, was an attorney with the firm Debevoise & Plimpton when she helped file a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, urging the federal appeals court to hear the case of Ali al-Marri, the only “enemy combatant” at the time being held on U.S. soil.

In addition, Beth Brinkmann, now Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Civil Division, was a partner with the firm Morrison & Foerster when she helped compile at least two Supreme Court briefs dealing with Guantanamo Bay detainees.

In 2007, she and others co-signed a Supreme Court brief by 20 former federal judges calling for further protection of detainees’ rights, and the next year she co-signed a brief by two advocacy groups, including The Rutherford Institite, urging the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from al-Marri.

The most extensive detainee-related work by a current Justice Department official, though, may have been done by Tony West, the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

For several years, while working in Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office, West represented “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh, a move that was hotly debated after West was nominated to the Justice Department in January 2009. West wasn’t confirmed until April 2009.

But Holder’s search was obviously less than exhaustive and he was hardly motivated to inquire closely. Chances are good that even more examples of such potential conflicts will turn up.

16 Dec 2009

Panthergate: Justice Department Stonewalls Investigation

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The Washington Times reports that Eric Holder’s Justice Department is again roadblocking federal efforts to investigate incidents of voter intimidation in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election by Black Panthers costumed as security guards and brandishing billy clubs.

The systematic efforts by the Obama Administration to protect their own partisans from prosecution are outrageous and have every possibility of developing into a serious scandal capable of inflicting major harm on a presidency already in serious trouble.

The Justice Department has told the federal attorneys who filed a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party for disrupting a Philadelphia polling place last year not to cooperate with an investigation of the incident by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The commission last week subpoenaed at least two Justice Department lawyers and sought documents from the department to explain why the complaint was dismissed just as a federal judge was about to punish the New Black Panther Party and three of its members for intimidating voters.

07 Dec 2009

DOJ Resignations Related to Panther Coverup?

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The Washington Times wonders aloud: Is Eric Holder’s Department of Justice experiencing major in-house fighting and a rash of resignations connected with a top-level decision to avoid prosecuting the 2008 voter intimidation by Black Panthers in Philadelphia seen everywhere on YouTube video?

Could it be that President Obama’s legal team is imploding due to a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party? …

First, a Web site called “Main Justice” reported on Wednesday (and we have since confirmed) that the Justice Department has, for now, ordered two key career attorneys not to comply with a subpoena about the case issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The commission, by law, has explicit power to issue subpoenas, and the law mandates that “all federal agencies shall cooperate fully with the commission.” The Justice Department, however, is citing internal regulations stemming from a 1951 case to support its order to ignore the subpoena. …

Second, that same day, the two Republican House members with top-ranking jurisdiction over the Justice Department, Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, issued a joint statement calling Justice Department delays “a cover-up,” and “a pretense to ignore inquiries from Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.” At a hearing on Thursday, Mr. Smith said that “continued silence by the Justice Department is an implied admission of guilt that the case was dropped for purely political reasons.”

Third, at the same hearing, Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, accused Justice Department Civil Rights Division chief Thomas Perez of not being “truthful” while under oath, to such an extent that “there are people who have gone to jail” for such a level of purported “dishonest[y].”

The disputed statement, from what appeared to be prepared remarks by Mr. Perez that he later repeated insistently, was that “the maximum penalty was sought and obtained” against the one Black Panther for whom the charges were not entirely dropped. The bizarrely weak penalty consisted of a mere injunction for the Black Panther not to brandish a weapon near a polling place, within Philadelphia, through Nov. 15, 2012. In short, he is prohibited, only within Philadelphia and only for four years, from doing something that is illegal anyway. …

As all of this was going on, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, the No. 2 man in the whole department, was announcing that very morning that he will resign after less than 10 months in office. Mr. Ogden – whose possible involvement in the Black Panther case had been specifically mentioned in the Civil Rights Commission’s subpoena – became the third high-ranking Obama legal official to announce a resignation in the last month. He was preceded by White House counsel Gregory Craig and deputy White House counsel Cassandra Butts.

20 Oct 2009

Another Fascinating Decision By Obama’s Justice Department

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“Of course he wants to vote the Democratic ticket!” (Harpers, 1876)

Party labels are essential in elections in order to assure black democrats win. If black democrats don’t win, and black Republicans should accidentally be elected, black voters are being deprived of their electoral will, according to Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.

Welcome to the post-racial America we were assured would come into being upon the election of America’s first black president.

Washington Times:

Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department’s ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their “candidates of choice” – identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters’ right to elect the candidates they want.

Several federal and local politicians would like the city to challenge the decision in court. They say voter apathy is the largest barrier to black voters’ election of candidates they prefer and that the Justice Department has gone too far in trying to influence election results here.

Stephen LaRoque, a former Republican state lawmaker who led the drive to end partisan local elections, called the Justice Department’s decision “racial as well as partisan.”

“On top of that, you have an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., overturning a valid election,” he said. “That is un-American.”

The decision, made by the same Justice official who ordered the dismissal of a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, has irritated other locals as well. They bristle at federal interference in this city of nearly 23,000 people, two-thirds of whom are black.

14 Sep 2009

Rule of Law Isn’t What It Used To Be Under Obama

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Andrew looks smug in his Atlantic logo illustration. It’s nice having friends in high places.

Remember George W. Bush?

We used to have a president so rigidly righteous that he actually refused to pardon Lewis Libby for defending his own administration and thus becoming the target of a special prosecutor and winding up convicted of perjury (in a case where no crime was really ever proven to have occurred) by a DC jury.

Now we have Barack Obama, who is not like that at all.

Intimidate voters, brandishing billy clubs in Philadelphia? You don’t get prosecuted if you were an Obama supporter. Eric Holder’s Justice Department will overrule career prosecutors for you.

Are you a governor or state official taking campaign contributions in exchange for contracts? If you’re a democrat, you are OK. Eric Holder’s Justice Department will drop the investigation.

Suppose you are a homosexual leftwing blogger, who also happens to be a non-US-citizen, in danger of getting into trouble with immigration if you are convicted of a misdemeanor for smoking marijuana on a Cape Cod Beach? You have a Get Out of Jail Free card, if you are, as Andrew Sullivan is, a faithful defender of Barack Obama and his policies. The US Attorney’s Office will go right on prosecuting non-Obama-supporting-bloggers coming before the court for the identical complaint, but will shock the court by giving you a special pass.

Andrew himself is declining to comment on the advice of counsel.

Boston Globe

Some News Agency

John Hinderaker has a comment.

30 May 2009

Justice Obama-Style: No Prosecution For Voter Intimidation By Black Panthers

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Billy-club wielding Black Panthers outside Philadelphia polling station

The 2008 Presidential election featured brazen acts of voting fraud and voter intimidation in favor of the democrat party candidates. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice just sent a message to its supporters assuring them crimes committed in support of democrats will not be punished.

Washington Times:

Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.

The incident – which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube – had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms.

Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as “the most blatant form of voter intimidation” that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.

The lawyers also had ascertained that one of the three men had gained access to the polling place by securing a credential as a Democratic poll watcher, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Washington Times.

The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.

A Justice Department spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the agency had dropped the case, dismissing two of the men from the lawsuit with no penalty and winning an order against the third man that simply prohibits him from bringing a weapon to a polling place in future elections.

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Original 1:21 video

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The same Washington Times ran the following editorial.

Imagine if Ku Klux Klan members had stood menacingly in military uniforms, with nightsticks, in front of a polling place. Add to it that they had hurled racial threats and insults at voters who tried to enter.

Now suppose that the government, backed by a nationally televised video of the event, had won a court case against the Klansmen except for the perfunctory filing of a single, simple document – but that an incoming Republican administration had moved to voluntarily dismiss the already-won case.

Surely that would have been front-page news, with a number of firings at the Justice Department.

The flip side of this scenario is occurring right now. The culprits weren’t Klansmen; they belonged to the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. One of the defendants, Jerry Jackson, is an elected member of Philadelphia’s 14th Ward Democratic Committee and was a credentialed poll watcher for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party when the violations occurred. Rather conveniently, the Obama administration has asked that the cases against Mr. Jackson, two other defendants and the party be dropped.

The Voting Rights Act is very clear. It prohibits any “attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce” any voter or those aiding voters.

The explanation for moving to dismiss the case is shocking. According to the Department of Justice: “These same Defendants have made no appearance and have filed no pleadings with the Court. Nor have they otherwise raised any other defenses to this action. Therefore, the United States has the right … to dismiss voluntarily this action against the Defendants.” In other words, because the defendants haven’t tried to defend themselves, the Justice Department won’t punish them.

By that logic, if a murderer doesn’t respond to the charges, he should be let free. That’s crazy.

10 Jan 2009

Another Great Obama Appointment

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The Wall Street Journal comments with astonishment on Obama’s choice of Dawn Johnsen, leading opponent of the Bush Administration’s defense of executive branch authority, as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which interprets the law for his entire administration.

One of the OLC’s main duties is to defend the Presidency against the inevitable encroachment of the judiciary and Congress on Constitutional authority, executive privilege, war powers, and so forth. Ms. Johnsen knows this, or should, having served as acting OLC head in the Clinton Administration between 1997 and 1998. The office has since become all the more central in a war on terror that has been “strangled by law,” to quote Jack Goldsmith, a former Bush OLC chief.

Yet Ms. Johnsen seems to think her job isn’t to defend the Presidency but to tie it down with even more legal ropes. She has written that “an essential source of constraint is often underappreciated and underestimated: legal advisors within the executive branch.” And in touting her qualifications, the Obama transition cited her recent law review articles “What’s a President to Do?: Interpreting the Constitution in the Wake of the Bush Administration’s Abuses”; and “Faithfully Executing the Laws: Internal Legal Constraints on Executive Power.”

In other words, Mr. Obama has nominated as his main executive branch lawyer someone who believes in diminishing the powers of the executive branch. This is akin to naming a conscientious objector as the head of the armed forces, or hiring your wife’s divorce lawyer to handle your side of the settlement too.

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