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The White House/New Black Panther Party stonewall

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 27, 2010 10:36 AM

The Sestak scandal is just one piece of the Democratic culture of corruption puzzle — and the White House denials are just more thick pieces of the Great Stone Wall of Obama.

Case in point: I’ve covered DOJ/AG Eric Holder’s obstructionism in the New Black Panther Party case since June 2009. The indefatigable Judicial Watch continues to press for information. After repeated attempts to acquire documents through stymied FOIA requests, Judicial Watch is taking DOJ to court:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department to obtain documents related to the agency’s decision to dismiss the claims against several members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense who were accused of engaging in voter intimidation during the 2008 presidential campaign (U.S. v. New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense).

Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on May 29, 2009. The Justice Department acknowledged receiving the request on June 18, 2009, but then referred the request to the Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Civil Rights Division. On January 15, 2010, the OIP notified Judicial Watch that it would be responding to the request on behalf of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Legal Policy, and Intergovernmental and Public Liaison.

On January 15, the OIP also indicated that the Office of the Associate Attorney General found 135 pages of records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request, but that all records would be withheld in full. On January 26, the OIP advised Judicial Watch that the Office of Public Affairs and Office of Legal Policy completed their searches and found no responsive documents. On February 10, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated that after an extensive search it had located “numerous responsive records” but determined that “access to the majority of the records” should be denied. On March 26, the OIP indicated that the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison completed searches and found no documents.

Judicial Watch appealed the determinations of the Office of the Associate Attorney General and the Civil Rights Division. To date, Judicial Watch has received neither a response regarding searches conducted by the Offices of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, nor responses to its two administrative appeals prompting its lawsuit. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan unit of the federal government charged with investigating and reporting on civil rights issues, has also initiated a probe of the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit.

Related: DOJ Voting Rights attorney resigns over Black Panthers stonewalling

In his letter of resignation, J. Christian Adams said:

On the other hand, the events surrounding the dismissal of United States v. New Black Panther Party, et al., after the trial team sought and obtained an entry of default, has subjected me, Mr. Christopher Coates, and potentially at some point, all members of the team, to a subpoena from the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The subpoena is based on an explicit federal statute and seeks answers about why the case was dismissed.

I have incurred significant personal expense in retaining a number of separate attorneys and firms regarding this subpoena in order to protect my interests and advise me about my personal legal obligation to comply with the subpoena. Over the last few months, one of my attorneys has had multiple communications with Federal Programs regarding the subpoena. My attorney suggested to them that the Department should file a motion in district court to quash the subpoena and thereby resolve conclusively any question about my obligation to comply.

Months ago, my attorney advised the Department that a motion to quash would be welcome, and that I would assert no objection to the motion. Further, my attorney has explicitly sought to ascertain whether Executive Privilege has been invoked regarding the decisions of individuals not in the Voting Section to order the dismissal of the case. If Executive Privilege has been asserted, or will be, obviously I would not comply with the subpoena. These options would provide some conclusive legal certainly about the extent of my obligation to comply with a subpoena issued pursuant to a federal statute. Instead, we have been ordered not to comply with the subpoena, citing a federal regulation (emphasis mine).

As I said on FNC’s Hannity show last night, the Sestak story has to be viewed in the larger context of the Obama White House’s repeated pattern of delay, denial, and corruption. It is undermining our elections, our health, our economy, and our national security.

I repeat: Sunlight is the best disinfectant, but the ballot box is the ultimate sanitizer.

Remember in November.

***

Jennifer Rubin on Holder’s stonewall:

It’s about time the courts rule on the panoply of made-up defenses and fake privileges that Holder has cooked up to avoid turning over these documents. Let the courts decide if the Obama administration can have it both ways — declining to invoke executive privilege but relying on the privilege under other names (”deliberative privilege”).

A knowledgeable lawyer e-mails me: “Notice DOJ revealed nothing about the number of panther documents in the AG and deputy AG office. Even for the associate attorney general they revealed there were 135 but they weren’t going to turn them over. Failing to even name a number is extremely suspicious because those units can be searched quicker and easier for compliant documents. It leads one to conclude any number would be an embarrassment, and a high number would be a catastrophe. So, don’t reveal a number. Typical of this non-transparent operation.”

And now we’re going to see the administration’s true colors played out in open court. As a Judicial Watch spokesman said: “If there is nothing to hide, then Eric Holder should release this information as the law requires. And this is just one more example of how Obama’s promises of transparency are a big lie.”

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