Judicial Watch

White House told Susan Rice to blame Benghazi on a YouTube video

This is a pretty big “get” by Judicial Watch. The conservative watchdog organization filed suit in last summer to gain access to documents related to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. Those emails were released by the organization on Tuesday.

Among the 41 documents obtained by Judicial Watch is an email from then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to other prominent White House officials that focused on goals tailored around a very specific narrative: blame Benghazi on a video and not policy failures:

The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line:  “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.”  The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.

IRS inappropriately asked for conservative groups’ donor lists for a so-called “secret research project”

There’s a long-standing legal precedent that prevents the federal government from accessing information that belongs to private organizations. In 1958, the Supreme Court, ruled that the State of Alabama violated the rights of NAACP members when it demanded information from the civil rights organization, including its membership list.

“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association,” wrote Justice John Harlan in the unanimous opinion. “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.”

The Internal Revenue Service, however, doesn’t care. Or, at the very least, the powerful tax agency didn’t care when it was scrutinizing nonprofit organizations, the bulk of which had conservative leanings. Judicial Watch has obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2013 in which IRS officials say that donor lists were needed for a unexplained “secret research project”:

Here’s more evidence the IRS really doesn’t want Congress to know what Lois Lerner may have been doing

Judicial Watch just keeps on uncovering more information about the Internal Revenue Service’s actions both before and after its targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge.

The conservative watchdog group managed to get the Justice Department to admit that the missing emails, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist on a backup system. Now, via National Review, Judicial Watch has discovered that the IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry, after — yes, after — Congress began looking into the targeting scandal, and didn’t bother to save any of the information on it:

According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.

Justice Department confirms the Lois Lerner emails still exist, proving that IRS officials are a pack of liars

Well, look at that. The Justice Department has confirmed to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch that the emails of several IRS officials, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist, despite claims that they’d been lost due to hard drive crashes and destroyed backup tapes:

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Justice Department lawyers informed him that the federal government keeps a back-up copy of every email and record in the event of a government-wide catastrophe.

The back-up system includes the IRS emails, too.

“So, the emails may inconvenient to access, but they are not gone with the [broken] hard drive,” Judicial Watch spokeswoman Jill Farrell told the Washington Examiner.

Judicial Watch is now seeking the release of the emails, which Justice Department lawyers say would be hard to find because of the significant size of the backup system.

Yeah, Judicial Watch is probably the least of the Justice Department and IRS’s concerns. The House Oversight and Government Reform and House Ways and Means committees, both of which are investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, aren’t going to care how difficult of a task it will be to recover these emails.

Lois Lerner’s awful, terrible, really bad week

Lois Lerner's Saga Continues

Lois Lerner really has been having a very bad week - actually, just a couple days.

First, yesterday U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled that the IRS has 30 days to file a declaration that explains exactly what happened to the computers that supposedly lost what could be incriminating emails from and to Lois Lerner.

Then, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman filed a resolution calling for the House Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest Lerner.

Finally, today U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ordered the Obama administration lawyers to provide information on precisely what happened to Lerner’s hard drive, that supposedly crashed and was recycled in 2011.

What does all of this mean?

Well, the court rulings are admittedly more important than the House resolution, but what it means is that the Legislative branch isn’t the only one interested in getting to the bottom of what Lerner was doing at the IRS anymore. More importantly, unlike the pleas from the House, the Department of Justice isn’t going to find it very easy to just ignore this situation anymore.

Yes, there are a lot of “friendly” judges out there for DOJ to depend on, but that number could reasonably decrease if they choose to ignore what is going on at the IRS. It’s not unreasonable to assume that there will be more talk about calling in a special prosecutor to investigate the situation. This time it will be more meaningful, because it will be coming from the Judicial branch.

Obama’s IRS stalling on release of emails between officials and Democratic senators

The Internal Revenue Service has stalled for nearly a year on a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee seeking all correspondence between agency officials and 13 Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and several vulnerable incuments up for reelection this year:

On May 21, 2013 the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent the IRS a Freedom of Information Act request asking for “any and all documents or records, including but not limited to electronic documents, e-mails, paper documents, photographs (electronic or hard copy), or audio files,” related to correspondence from January 1, 2009 and May 21, 2013 between thirteen different Democrat members of Congress and top IRS officials. Those officials include former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, former Commissioner Steven Miller, senior IRS official Joseph Grant and former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner. Members of Congress named in the request include Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Reid (D-NV), DSCC Chair Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Begich (D-AK), Sen. Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Franken (D-MN), Sen. Warner (D-VA), Rep. Braley and Rep. Peters (D-MI).

Since that request was received by the IRS nearly one year ago, IRS Tax Law Specialists Robert Thomas and Denise Higley have asked for more time to fulfill the request six times.

Emails reveal IRS, Justice Department sought to prosecute tax-exempt groups

The IRS scandal just got a little bigger. The powerful tax agency and the Justice Department sought to prosecute tax-exempt groups that were suspected of engaging in political activity, according to emails obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

The emails released by Judicial Watch reveal that Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries into the scandal, received a phone call from a Justice Department official who wanted to look into prosecuting tax-exempt groups for making “false statements.” That idea, they note, was floated by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The email exchange took place between May 8 and May 9, 2013. Lerner revealed that the IRS had scrutinized groups seeking nonprofit status on May 10, setting off a political firestorm for the Obama administration and the IRS, one that continues today.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Judicial Watch obtained emails dating back to March and April 2013. In an email dated March, 27, 2013, for example, Lerner explains that “several groups of folks from the FEC world” were looking to shutdown groups with tax-exempt status, adding that ”[o]ne IRS prosecution would make an impact.”

Defense Department training docs: Individual liberty is an “extremist” view

Do you believe in individual liberty or federalism? If so, the Department of Defense (DOD) says you’re an “extremist,” according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch.

The documents were part of training guides used by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in 2011 and 2013 to educate Air Force employees and/or recruits on extremism in the United States. It uses the far-left group the Southern Poverty Law Center, which frequently smears conservatives and libertarians, as a source for determining extremist groups.

There are valid as aspects to the report, such as raising awareness toward groups that are supremacist in nature or advocate violence as a means to a desired political end. But Judicial Watch notes that there is no mention Islamic extremism in the report, though it does passively discuss radical religious ideologies and cults. It also briefly mentions eco-terrorism, which comes from the far-left.

But other parts are incredibly concerning, such as how it broadly paints limited government advocates as racists and supremacists.

“The standard hate message has not changed, but it has been packaged differently. Modern extremist groups run the gamut from the politically astute and subtle to the openly violent,” says the report on page 45. “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”

Judicial Watch Puts “Joe the Plumber” in the News Again

The group, Judicial Watch, has filed charges on behalf of Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, alleging that Ohio state officials conducted investigations into his past after his tête-à-tête with then Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

MSNBC-According to a subsequent investigation by the Ohio Inspector General, on October 16, 2008, just four days after Mr. Wurzelbacher questioned Obama, Jones-Kelley, Williams and Thompson held a meeting and specifically discussed “Joe the Plumber.” Following the meeting the defendants authorized and instructed agency personnel to search confidential office databases to retrieve information about Mr. Wurzelbacher. All three defendants are believed to have been supporters of Obama’s presidential campaign.


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