The White House said Wednesday it withheld an email from Congress and the media regarding Susan Rice’s infamous “talking points” about the terrorist attack in Benghazi because the memo did not deal directly with the attack.
“This document was explicitly not about Benghazi, but about the general dynamic in the Muslim world at the time,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
A government watchdog group obtained an email this week that reveals direct White House involvement in steering the administration’s message about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, toward that of a spontaneous anti-U.S. protest that never occurred in that city. Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The internal email on Sept. 14, 2012, was to White House press officials from Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s assistant and deputy national security adviser. In the email, Mr. Rhodes listed as a “goal” the White House desire “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
The email was titled, “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET” and covered White House involvement in preparing Ms. Rice, then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for her upcoming appearance on Sunday television talk shows.
That email and others provide the clearest evidence to date that top presidential aides sought to use anti-American protests sweeping across the Middle East in 2012 — as well as the aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attack — to push an image of President Obama’s foreign policy as “steady and statesmanlike,” just weeks before his re-election.
“The overall issue of unrest in the Muslim world and the danger posed by these protests … was very much a topic in the news,” Mr. Carney said. At the time, protests in Egypt and elsewhere were directed at the U.S. over an anti-Muslim video produced in America.
Under the heading “Goals” for Ms. Rice’s appearance on five Sunday talk shows, Mr. Rhodes wrote to other White House communications officials that a main objective of Ms. Rice’s interviews should be to “reinforce the president and the administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
A second goal was to link the Benghazi attack — and those on other diplomatic sites across the Middle East — to an obscure anti-Muslim video and to insist that the protests were not “rooted” in a “broader failure of [administration] policy.”
theodore miraldi It's what happens when you build a narrative about something you are responsible for, and lie, or blame someone, or something else. Here are a bunch of government workers being paid by the American public lying to us, and lying under oath to Congress. How clever to submit documents to an oversight committee redacting the most important information that would have cleared the mess up a long time ago. This administration has no respect for the Constitution, for the citizens of this nation, or the jobs they occupy. Just examine the behaviors being displayed and supported by major players in Obama's crime syndicate. Directors of the IRS, DOJ, EPA HHS, NLB and many others. This has gone too far. We need to clear out a few jail cells for these criminals. Why are these rug rats untouchable? While Americans suffer the worst economic collapse in modern history, this government spends money like drunken sailors on shore leave. Benghazi has been a cover-up since Sept.11, 2012. It was a cover-up that won an election...period. It was purposeful and intentional came from the top. Anyone who can't follow the evidence needs to go to therapy. This is a sad day in American History. Four brave young men died for their country, and their bosses don't have the necessary integrity to tell us the truth!
June 13, 2012: Job seekers have their resumes reviewed at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif.AP
WASHINGTON – The U.S. economy slowed to an anemic pace in the first quarter of the year, according to new Commerce Department estimates, renewing Republican claims that Obama administration policies are slamming the brakes on the recovery.
The department estimated that growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate between January and March. That was the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and was down from a 2.6 percent rate in the previous quarter.
"This report is more than a low number; it is a reflection of the real economic despair that persists in the sixth year of the Obama presidency," said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.
The slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather. The White House pointed to "historically severe winter weather" as a factor, and noted that these figures are subject to revision.
But Republicans, who even before the report was released were hammering the administration over policies they claim are holding back job growth, said weather is not the only factor. They've long argued that a heavy regulatory hand, and various mandates attached to the Affordable Care Act, are hurting the economy.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said "the only people doing well in this recovery are those who have benefited from the Federal Reserve's continued monetary morphine that has juiced profits on Wall Street, while family incomes have stagnated."
He, like other Republicans and some moderate Democrats, pushed again for the approval of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone pipeline, which the administration has so far declined to make a decision on.
Boehner's office also used the low GDP number to argue against a federal minimum wage increase. A Senate bill to gradually raise the $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over 30 months came up for a test vote early Wednesday afternoon, but failed to advance.
"This news should reinforce that we need a new approach for jobs," Buck said.
The White House, though, continued to voice support for the minimum wage bill, saying it would "benefit more than 28 million hardworking Americans nationwide."
The White House claims despite the extra cost, businesses would benefit from "increased worker productivity and reduced turnover," and the economy would benefit from workers having more money in their pockets.
Many economists said the government's first estimate of growth in the January-March quarter was skewed by weak figures early in the quarter. They noted that several sectors -- from retail sales to manufacturing output -- rebounded in March. That strength should provide momentum for the rest of the year.
And on Friday, economists expect the government to report a solid 200,000-plus job gain for April.
"While quarter one was weak, many measures of sentiment and output improved in March and April, suggesting that the quarter ended better than it began," said Dan Greenhaus, chief investment strategist at global financial services firm BTIG.
Still, the anemic growth last quarter is surely a topic for discussion at the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, which ends Wednesday afternoon. No major changes are expected in a statement the Fed will release. But it will likely announce a fourth reduction in its monthly bond purchases because of the gains the economy has been making. The Fed's bond purchases have been intended to keep long-term loan rates low.
In its report Wednesday, the government said consumer spending grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter. But that gain was dominated by a 4.4 percent rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills. Spending on goods barely rose. Also dampening growth were a drop in business investment, a rise in the trade deficit and a fall in housing construction.
The scant 0.1 percent growth rate in the gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, was well below the 1.1 percent rise economists had predicted. The last time a quarterly growth rate was so slow was in the final three months of 2012, when it was also 0.1 percent.
A variety of factors held back first-quarter growth. Business investment fell at a 2.1 percent rate, with spending on equipment plunging at a 5.5 percent annual rate. Residential construction fell at a 5.7 percent rate. Housing was hit by winter weather and by other factors such as higher home prices and a shortage of available houses.
A widening of the trade deficit, thanks to a sharp fall in exports, shaved growth by 0.8 percentage point in the first quarter. Businesses also slowed their restocking, with a slowdown in inventory rebuilding reducing growth by nearly 0.6 percentage point.
Also holding back growth: A cutback in spending by state and local governments. That pullback offset a rebound in federal activity after the 16-day partial government shutdown last year.
Economists say most of the factors that held back growth in the first quarter have already begun to reverse. Most expect a strong rebound in growth in the April-June quarter.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is gradually coming down. A group of economists surveyed this month by The Associated Press said they expected unemployment to fall to 6.2 percent by the end of this year from 6.7 percent in March.
All that spin from Obama apologists, gone in an instant. All those questions about the original of the false “video protest” narrative pushed by the White House to save Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, answered at a stroke. Yes, it was all a lie, and the White House knew it. They ordered it, for blatantly political purposes, and kept the proof secret until Judicial Watch finally managed to uncover some long-suppressed correspondence with a Freedom of Information Act request. Remember when our gigantic, well-funded mainstream media organizations used to conduct that kind of investigation, instead of just obediently passing along the President’s talking points?
None of these documents are exactly “shocking,” because they buttress exactly what critics of the Administration have been saying all along. It’s another great example of Obama’s strategy for political survival by “winning,” or at least enduring, one news cycle at a time. Bombshell revelations lose their explosive force over time. Emails that would have ended the 2012 presidential campaign are now a historical footnote. The Obama-friendly mainstream press is unlikely to bring the story they’ve been trying to bury for the past two years back to the front pages, just to inform their readers that all of spin they previously delivered was invalid. Critics of President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were 100 percent right all along… but as the latter so memorably put it, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”
Judicial Watch announced today that on April 18, 2014, it obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.” Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack,” a possible kidnap attempt.
Precisely as we always expected. The Administration had to deceive us about what happened in Benghazi, because to admit the truth would have burned Obama’s national security credibility away to ashes, right in the middle of his re-election campaign. He didn’t want stories about how al-Qaeda was alive and kicking, how the State Department unbelievably dropped the ball on security in a terrorist hot zone… or for that matter, the simple fact that parts of Libya are terrorist hot zones. The American people, and the families of the Benghazi dead, were lied to, for the most crass political reasons imaginable.
We also got to enjoy a tortured discussions about how the American commitment to freedom of speech might have to be curtailed, to avoid further “spontaneous video protests” – including an address from President Obama to the United Nations – for no good reason at all. We went through all that because Obama’s political operation couldn’t admit one of our ambassadors was killed in a planned terrorist strike.
The star document obtained by Judicial Watch is an email from White House spinmeister Ben Rhodes to numerous Administration communications officials, listing one of its crucial goals as “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” They make a big deal about the importance of shoring up the Spontaneous Video Protest narrative and denouncing the scapegoat video in the strongest possible terms: “[W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.”
There’s a lot of garbage about the importance of convincing the American people that Obama “provides leadership that is steady and statesmanlike.” The actual truth, which these people knew, was a severe impediment to that goal.
And yes, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was very much in on the deception. She wasn’t some hapless dupe. The emails obtained by Judicial Watch make it clear she was told that the consulate in Benghazi was hit by a coordinated attack – she was told that during the attack - but she marched onto every single Sunday talk show to claim it was a “spontaneous” protest inspired by protests against the hated video in Cairo.
Imagine these emails had been revealed during the 2012 election – say, right after “moderator” Candy Crowley saved Obama’s bacon during the second presidential debate. Imagine the American people knew then what we know now.
Imagine these emails had been handed over to congressional investigators during their Benghazi hearings, back when the White House was bragging about its full cooperation and transparency. The Administration and its shills invested a great deal of effort during those hearings to deny exactly what these emails demonstrate. Apparently that wasn’t a news cycle they thought they could afford to “lose,” either.
Or, if you like, compare the disaster Obama’s foreign policy has made of the entire world since the 2012 election to the email conversation between his media operatives in the days after September 11, 2012. There’s a certain consistency running from Susan Rice’s talking points, through Obama’s “red line” embarrassment in Syria, to the Administration’s belief that a Twitter hashtag might shame the Russians into leaving Ukraine alone. They keep trying to reshape the world with media manipulation, but that doesn’t work outside of the media environment provided to them by domestic “journalists.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton summed up his organizations’ new findings: “Now we know the Obama White House’s chief concern about the Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good. And these documents undermine the Obama administration’s narrative that it thought the Benghazi attack had something to do with protests or an Internet video. Given the explosive material in these documents, it is no surprise that we had to go to federal court to pry them loose from the Obama State Department.”
Not to detract from your achievement in any way, Mr. Fitton, but I find myself wondering why you had to go to federal court to get these documents from the Obama State Department.
Update: Here’s White House Spokesman Jay Carney claiming, in May 2013, that the White House only made one change to the Benghazi talking points. Carney was on the distribution list of the emails Judicial Watch just uncovered.
Update: Roger L. Simon at PJ Media thinks these new emails have “made a full investigation with an impeachment trial necessary for the protection of our Republic.”
“The levels of criminality involved in this are mind-boggling,” adds Simon. ”Everyone from Ben Rhodes to Hillary Clinton to Jay Carney to Susan Rice to Mike Morell to Barack Obama and on and on must explain themselves minute-by-minute. American ‘liberals’ and their media consorts should search their souls. People died here.”
I suspect the White House spin shop would prove to be Barack Obama’s last line of defense against impeachment – he’ll claim he only repeated what they told him, and he didn’t personally supervise what his media people were doing. A few of them would probably have to fall on their swords to protect him. Is this level of deception a criminal offense? That would depend on how many statements made under oath by Obama’s team could now be prosecuted as perjury. Jay Carney’s lying into a camera in the clip above, but he’s not under oath. I suspect various committees will soon be reviewing their transcripts to see how the statements of people on Ben Rhodes’ distribution list line up with their testimony.
US astronauts should use trampolines to get into space
A Russian official angered over new sanctions that the United States imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis is suggesting that American astronauts get to the International Space Station by using trampolines instead of rockets.
"The United States introduced sanctions against our space industry... We warned them, we will reply to statements with statements, to actions with actions," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who heads Russia's defense industry, said on Twitter, according to Reuters.
American astronauts depend on Russian rockets to get to the ISS, but after the U.S. imposed sanctions – which deny export licenses for high-tech items that could aid Russia’s military -- Rogozin offered up a different idea.
"I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline," he said.
But analysts told Reuters that Russia is unlikely to suspend its shuttle service to the ISS, as NASA provides essential financing for the effort, paying more than $60 million per person to get them into space.
Still, Russia is expected to be hit hard by the sanctions, and five upcoming commercial satellite launches -- contracted by foreign clients at a Russian space center -- could be at risk.
Earlier this month, NASA was also banned from contacting the Russian government.
"This is a very sensitive issue since our defense industry was completely unprepared for such developments," Sergei Oznobishchev, the director at the Institute for Strategic Assessments think tank in Moscow, told Reuters. "Both sides will suffer but Russia will lose out more in terms of technology transfer."
Analysts say Russia lags behind in production of high-tech electronic equipment, such as microchips for satellites, and is reliant on imports from Western nations.
Outgoing Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius is now refusing to testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, a Senate aide told The Daily Caller Tuesday.
Sebelius had originally been set to testify before the subcommittee about the department’s 2015 $70 billion budget request on April 2.
According to another aide, however, several weeks after confirming the hearing date, she requested a date switch with the National Institutes of Health budget hearing on May 7. The committee accommodated her request.
Now, after announcing her resignation on April 11, she is refusing to testify according to the two aides, even though she is still the sitting secretary — remaining at the post until her successor, OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell is confirmed.
“It appears that Sec. Sebelius has unilaterally decided that she is no longer accountable to Congress,” the first aide said.
The other aide explained that HHS has not given the committee any reason for her refusal and that Sebelius has not suggested anyone to testify in her place.
That same aide noted subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin planned to call Sebelius Tuesday about the hearing.
The last time Sebelius appeared in front of a committee was April 10, before news of her resignation broke. She testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the HHS budget.
When asked about Sebelius’ refusal to testify, an HHS spokeswoman responded that the department is in communication with the committee.
“Nothing is confirmed at this time, but we intend to find a mutually agreeable arrangement,” she said in a statement to TheDC.
Fox host suggests BLM's land grab from Bundy would provide big return in dollars
Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro is asserting the federal Bureau of Land Management’s surge of interest in land used by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to graze his cattle has more to do with dollars and power projects than any interest in protecting a tortoise that also lives on the land.
In a special commentary on her “Justice with Jeanine” program, she said the man she now calls “Dirty Harry” Reid, the majority leader in the U.S. Senate and a Nevada Democrat, may have had an ulterior motive for the attempted land grab from Bundy: energy projects.
She said if a solar energy project is expected to impact thousands of acres of desert land in the state, federal rules would require a mitigation zone, where animals that may be protected or endangered could be moved from the project site.
As WND reported, the BLM has mentioned Bundy’s cattle and the grazing land he uses in connected with solar power projects.
Pirro said “Dirty Harry” had been watching federal land being transferred and used for shopping malls and other projects for years until the “armed military type agents came in like stormtroopers.”
“You need snipers to move cows, Harry? Really?” she asked.
Pirro explained a solar project proposed on nearby land by a Chinese company with links to Reid would require that mitigation area.
“The BLM actually posted documents designating the mitigation area so that the solar power project can move forward,” she reported. “Unfortunately, that designated mitigation area has cattle on it.
“Harry, in my other life, I did investigations. I presented cases to grand juries,” she said. “Oh, to be a prosecutor again. Oh, to present this to a grand jury. Oh, to put ‘Dirty Harry’ under oath on the witness stand,” she continued.
WND reported a $5 billion solar-power project in the area proposed by the Chinese government and ENN Group had been proposed but was withdrawn.
But there are a multitude of projects still in development, said Fay Andersen, spokeswoman for NV Energy.
“Nevada has one of the highest Renewable Portfolio Standards in the country, determined as a percent of retail energy sales, and requiring the company to achieve 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025,” she explained to WND.
As WND reported, bloggers also made a connection between the Bureau of Land Management’s raid on Bundy’s land and a solar-energy project in southern Nevada financed by the communist Chinese energy firm ENN. It was to be the largest solar farm in the U.S.
Reid had lobbied heavily for the company’s business, even traveling to China. Reid’s son, Rory Reid, formerly a Clark County commissioner, became a lobbyist for ENN while Sen. Reid’s former senior adviser, Neil Kornze, now leads the BLM.
The project died last year, but the BLM’s library of renewable energy projects revealed it was only one of more than 50 solar, wind and geothermal projects planned for Nevada, California, Arizona and other Western states.
The plan to convert an increasingly large share of Nevada’s public land to renewable-energy projects appears to have been a key motivation for Reid to run a war against coal-burning electric power in Nevada that began during the second term of President George W. Bush.
On March 21, Nevada Business published a photograph showing Reid breaking ground on a project with representatives of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, executives with First Solar Inc. and representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The 250 megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is planned to deliver renewable energy to the city of Los Angeles for the next 24 years.
Jonathan Magaziner is the son of Ira Magaziner, who served President Bill Clinton in the White House as senior policy adviser for policy development from 1993 through 1998, and is now the chief executive officer and vice chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative and chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative. He also is a board member of the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative.
According to research conducted by investigator reporter Christine Lakatos, First Solar Inc. was an early green investment funded by Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment banking firm that ranked as a top $1 million contributor to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Lakota also documented that First Solar investors include bundlers Bruce Heyman and David Heller, two Goldman Sachs executives who sat on Obama’s 2008 Finance Committee.
Peter Schweizer, on pages 91-92 of his 2011 book “Throw Them All Out,” also lists Michael Ahearn, First Solar’s chief executive officer, as having given generously and exclusively to Democrats. He also pointed out that billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, another Obama bundler, owns a major stake in First Solar.
In March 2012, the Washington Examiner reported First Solar, an Arizona-based manufacturer of solar panels, received in 2010 a $16.3 million subsidy to expand its factory in Ohio. The grant came after a $455.7 million taxpayer-funded loan guarantee awarded by the Export-Import Bank to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two solar firms in Canada.
One of the Canadian firms, St. Clair Solar, was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar, so when First Solar was shipping its solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing the “export,” the Examiner said.
In 2012, NV Energy rebuffed pressure by Reid to get behind the $5 billion solar project that ENN Group wanted to build near Laughlin, Nev. Steve Tetreault noted in the Las Vegas Journal-Review in July 2012 that Reid said the envisioned ambitious complex “would start tomorrow if NV Energy would purchase the power,” but the company “has not been willing to work on this and that’s a shame.”
Tetreault said the Senate majority leader’s remarks were the linkage between the Nevada utility and the clean energy project.
Previously, he wrote, the project was aimed at serving utilities in California, but state officials there said they had no interest in importing power from other sources.
“NV Energy is a regulated monopoly,” Reid said, according to Tetreault’s report. “They control 95 percent of all the electricity that is produced in Nevada and they should go along with this.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal further reported that in response to Reid, an NV Energy spokeswoman said the utility was not in the market for more renewable energy, having exceeded the state’s requirement that 15 percent of its portfolio originate from clean sources.
Tetreault noted Reid has a personal stake in pushing NV Energy to use more solar power. Reid had teamed up with the Chinese firm to invest $8 billion in the U.S. on renewable energy projects in the coming decade. Also, Reid had invited ENN Group’s chairman, Wang Yusuo, to speak at the senator’s clean-energy summit in Las Vegas during the summer 2011.
Chinese pull the plug
In April 2012, Bloomberg reported the Reid-sponsored deal to have ENN Group invest $5 billion in a solar plant and energy-generating farm in Laughlin, Nevada, was on the ropes because Reid and ENN were unable to find a utility company willing to buy the solar energy.
According to Bloomberg, Reid never stopped pressuring California, evidently concerned he would need an alternative if NV Energy could not be convinced.
The energy plant “will generate the electricity California must have in just a few years,” Reid said in March, referring to a state mandate requiring 33 percent of a utility’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. “This project is close to California. It’s within walking distance.”
Reid’s spokeswoman, Kristen Orthman, said the senator was working on introducing ENN to utilities.
Laughlin officials were getting calls every week from investors, job seekers and local business owners wanting to know the status.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” [Clark County Commissioner] Steve Sisolak said at the time. “Everybody is so anxious and wants this project to move forward.”
Then, on June 17, 2013, the Associated Press reported ENN Group dropped its plans to build the $5 billion solar project. ENN officials informed Clark County officials the company was terminating its agreement to purchase 9,000 acres because it was unable to sign up public utilities in either Nevada or California to agree to purchase the solar energy generated.
On June 14, 2013, a Clark County commissioner explained to the Las Vegas Sun: “Alternative energies are still more expensive than fossil fuels and they [ENN] couldn’t get (the costs) down to a point where they could sell any of the power. Even if we had given them an extension for a year or two, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”
The document currently serves as a blueprint for the federal government to “mitigate” the potential environmental impact of the planned Solar Energy Zones, or SEZs.
The government seeks to transform thousands of acres throughout six Southwestern states into alternative habitats to relocate endangered species from private land sold to accommodate renewable-energy projects.
The Dry Lake SEZ, about 15 miles northeast of Las Vegas, encompasses approximately 5,717 acres under management of the Clark County BLM office.
A BLM map identifying the “Bundy Cattle Tresspass Overview,” the area designated by black diagonal lines, also shows cattle from the Bundy Ranch ranging on public land adjoining the Moapa Indian Reservation, site of the previously referenced First Solar project.
Page removed from BLM website on the Bundy Ranch "cattle trespass"
That means the grazing of Bundy’s cattle on federal lands in the Gold Butte area is not compatible with moving the endangered tortoises there as part of the “mitigation strategy” planned for the Dry Lake SEZ.
Lets stand arrests of 'anyone viewed as a troublemaker'
BOB UNRUH A decision from the U.S. Supreme Court means the federal government now has an open door to “detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker,” critics of the high court’s ruling said.
Officials with William J. Olson, P.C., a firm that filed an amicus brief asking the court to step in, noted that not a single justice dissented from the denial of certiorari.
“The court ducked, having no appetite to confront both political parties in order to protect the citizens from military detention,” the legal team told WND. “The government has won, creating a tragic moment for the people – and what will someday be viewed as an embarrassment for the court.”
The controversial provision authorizes the military, under presidential authority, to arrest, kidnap, detain without trial and hold indefinitely American citizens thought to “represent an enduring security threat to the United States.”
Journalist Chris Hedges was among the plaintiffs charging the law could be used to target journalists who report on terror-related issues.
A friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case stated: “The central question now before this court is whether the federal judiciary will stand idly by while Congress and the president establish the legal framework for the establishment of a police state and the subjugation of the American citizenry through the threat of indefinite military arrest and detention, without the right to counsel, the right to confront one’s accusers, or the right to trial.”
The brief was submitted to the Supreme Court by attorneys with the U.S. Justice Foundation of Ramona, California; Friedman Harfenist Kraut & Perlstein of Lake Success, New York; and William J. Olson, P.C. of Vienna, Virginia.
The attorneys are Michael Connelly, Steven J. Harfenist, William J. Olson, Herbert W. Titus, John S. Miles, Jeremiah L. Morgan and Robert J. Olson.
They were adding their voices to the chorus asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to challenge the law adopted by Congress.
The brief was on behalf of U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, Virginia Sen. Dick Black, the U.S. Justice Foundation, Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Center for Media & Democracy, Downsize DC Foundation, Downsize DC.org, Free Speech Defense & Education Fund, Free Speech Coalition, Western Journalism Center, The Lincoln Institute, Institute on the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln Foundation and Conservative Legal Defense & Education Fund.
Journalist Chris Hedges, who is suing the government over a controversial provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, is seen here addressing a crowd in New York's Zuccotti Park.
The 2014 NDAA was fast-tracked through the U.S. Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments, while most Americans were distracted by the scandal surrounding A&E’s troubles with “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson.
Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and others filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the Obama administration to challenge the legality of an earlier version of the NDAA.
It is Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA, and its successors, that drew a lawsuit by Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Jennifer Bolen, Noam Chomsky, Alex O’Brien, Kai Warg All, Brigitta Jonsottir and the group U.S. Day of Rage. Many of the plaintiffs are authors or reporters who stated that the threat of indefinite detention by the U.S. military already had altered their activities.
“It’s clearly unconstitutional,” Hedges said of the bill. “It is a huge and egregious assault against our democracy. It overturns over 200 years of law, which has kept the military out of domestic policing.”
Hedges is a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times and was part of a team of reporters awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism.
The friend-of-the-court brief warned the precedent “leaves American citizens vulnerable to arrest and detention, without the protection of the Bill of Rights, under either the plaintiff’s or the government’s theory of the case.
“The judiciary must not await subsequent litigation to resolve this issue, as the nature of military detention is that American citizens then would have no adequate legal remedy,” the brief explained.
“Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court has shown itself to be an advocate for the government, no matter how illegal its action, rather than a champion of the Constitution and, by extension, the American people,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
“No matter what the Obama administration may say to the contrary, actions speak louder than words, and history shows that the U.S. government is not averse to locking up its own citizens for its own purposes. What the NDAA does is open the door for the government to detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker.
“According to government guidelines for identifying domestic extremists – a word used interchangeably with terrorists, that technically applies to anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in order to criticize the government,” he said.
It’s not like rounding up innocent U.S. citizens and stuffing them into prison camps hasn’t already happened.
In 1944, the government rounded up thousands of Japanese Americans and locked them up, under the approval of the high court in its Korematsu v. United States decision.
The newest authorizes the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to jail those “suspected” of helping terrorists.
The Obama administration had claimed in court that the NDAA does not apply to American citizens, but Rutherford attorneys said the language of the law “is so unconstitutionally broad and vague as to open the door to arrest and indefinite detentions for speech and political activity that might be critical of the government.”
The law specifically allows for the arrests of those who “associate” or “substantially support” terror groups.
“These terms, however, are not defined in the statute, and the government itself is unable to say who exactly is subject to indefinite detention based upon these terms, leaving them open to wide ranging interpretations which threaten those engaging in legitimate First Amendment activities,” Rutherford officials reported.
At the trial court level, on Sept. 12, 2012, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District Court of New York ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and placed a permanent injunction on the indefinite detention provision.
Obama then appealed, and his judges on the 2nd Circuit authorized the government detention program.
Since the fight started, multiple states have passed laws banning its enforcement inside those states. Herb Titus, a constitutional expert, previously told WND Forrest’s ruling underscored “the arrogance of the current regime, in that they will not answer questions that they ought to answer to a judge because they don’t think they have to.”
The judge explained that the plaintiffs alleged paragraph 1021 is “constitutionally infirm, violating both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the 1st Amendment as well due process rights guaranteed by the 5th Amendment.”
She noted the government “did not call any witnesses, submit any documentary evidence or file any declarations.”
“It must be said that it would have been a rather simple matter for the government to have stated that as to these plaintiffs and the conduct as to which they would testify, that [paragraph] 1021 did not and would not apply, if indeed it did or would not,” she wrote.
Instead, the administration only responded with, “I’m not authorized to make specific representations regarding specific people.”
“The court’s attempt to avoid having to deal with the constitutional aspects of the challenge was by providing the government with prompt notice in the form of declarations and depositions of the … conduct in which plaintiffs are involved and which they claim places them in fear of military detention,” she wrote. “To put it bluntly, to eliminate these plaintiffs’ standing simply by representing that their conduct does not fall within the scope of 1021 would have been simple. The government chose not to do so – thereby ensuring standing and requiring this court to reach the merits of the instant motion.
“Plaintiffs have stated a more than plausible claim that the statute inappropriately encroaches on their rights under the 1st Amendment,” she wrote.