Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Justice Department’s list of withheld Fast and Furious documents: 1,323 pages long

From intrepid journalist Sharyl Attkisson, the latest on the Obama administration’s operation to run guns to Mexican drug cartels in order to motivate stricter gun regulations here in the USA.

Excerpt:

For the first time, the Department of Justice has provided a detailed description of 15,662 Fast and Furious-related documents it is withholding from Congress, the public and the press under executive privilege exerted by President Obama.

The description comes in the form of a so-called Vaughn index ordered by a federal court in a lawsuit filed against the Justice Department by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The Justice Department waited to provide the index, due yesterday, until 8:34 p.m.

The number of withheld documents is so extensive, that the list describing them is 1,323 pages long.

[...]Among the withheld communications is a March 8, 2011 email from a Mexico-based Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) official less than one week after federal agent John Dodson blew the whistle on Fast and Furious in an interview with me for CBS News. The email is described as “discussing response to [Mexico].”

Another withheld email sent in the same time period is from then-White House official Kevin O’Reilly. Dated March 10, 2011, it was sent to more than a dozen federal officials and is described as, “discussing draft press statement.”

More withheld emails “forwarding and discussing news items” have Attorney General Holder’s name on them. One series of such exchanges is dated July 26, 2011, the same day I reported the revelation that ATF had shared information about Fast and Furious with the White House.

[...]Other withheld documents are concerning Freedom of Information (FOI) requests I made in May of 2011. It’s unclear as to why the president would exert executive privilege to keep from turning over documents discussing “which office will respond” to my FOI requests. The Justice Department never properly responded to my requests.

Please see below for more on what Fast and Furious was all about. The mid-term elections are coming up. Don’t let Democrats shake this off!

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Results of the Bergdahl investigation will be covered up until after midterm elections

Investors Business Daily reports.

Excerpt:

The Army has completed its investigation into Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s abandonment of his Afghan post but will not release the report until after the midterm elections lest it embarrass the Obama administration.

[...]Bergdahl walked away from his army post during wartime in 2009 and was held in semi-captivity for five years until President Obama arranged a trade of five top Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo for Bergdahl’s release, initially on the grounds that Bergdahl’s physical condition was so grave that immediate action was necessary.

[...]As the San Antonio Express-News reported, the Army on Oct. 9 announced the completion of the investigation. The report, by Brig. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, however, will not be released, according to Army spokesman Wayne Hall, until the end of a review process that is likely to be conveniently lengthy.

[...]This review process is eerily reminiscent of that which took place regarding the Benghazi talking points. That process was designed to make the administration look good and less culpable. It, too, took place shortly before an election.

Certainly, a report that might say Bergdahl was in fact a deserter would not help an administration amid an election battle and awash in scandals and failures from ObamaCare to the IRS and now the bungling of the Ebola crisis.

We note how Obama tried to mute the Taliban trade by welcoming Bergdahl’s parents to the White House, where Bergdahl’s father uttered words in Arabic.

The White House sent national security adviser Susan Rice, of Benghazi-video-lie fame, to the talk shows to say Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”

Could it be that the report says otherwise — and that the trade of five Taliban commanders, the functional equivalents of four-star generals, was just a politically motivated mistake?

Every one of the men who served with Bergdahl or tried to find him and who have spoken out publicly has said he was clearly a deserter.

Indeed, the uncontestable fact is that Bergdahl walked away from his post in a time of war, leaving his weapon and gear behind. He was not out for a walk to relieve stress or clear his head.

“Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him,” former Sgt. Matt Vierkant told CNN. At least six soldiers died in operations looking for Bergdahl.

We lost 6 soldiers looking for this deserter/traitor and traded 5 Taliban commanders for his release. The report should recommend a court martial for desertion for Bergdahl. That’s what all the evidence we have about him would suggest. And that would be a disaster for the Democrats in these midterm elections. That’s why it has to be covered up, just like the details of the new Obamacare exchange health plans – it all has to wait until after people have voted.

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Judge orders DOJ to release Fast and Furious documents blocked by Obama

Katie Pavlich reports on it for Townhall.com.

Excerpt:

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit pursued against the Department of Justice by government watchdog Judicial Watch, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled documents being withheld from Congress under President Obama’s claim of executive privilege must be turned over. Obama made the claim on the same day Attorney General Eric Holder was voted in criminal and civil contempt of Congress in June 2012.

“This order forces the Obama DOJ, for the first time, to provide a detailed listing of all documents that it has withheld from Congress and the American people for years about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal,” Judicial Watch released in a statement.

The FOIA lawsuit has been ongoing for 16-months and is now proceeding after a lengthy delay. The Justice Department originally asked the court for an indefinite hold on a FOIA request from Judicial Watch, citing executive privilege and an ongoing investigation. That indefinite hold request was shot down more than a year ago.

The documentation DOJ is required to now turn over is a “Vaughn index” of “all requested Fast and Furious materials from a June 2012 Judicial Watch FOIA request.”

A Vaughn index must: (1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.” In ordering the DOJ to provide Judicial Watch the Vaughn index, the Court ruled, “In this circuit, when an agency is withholding documents under exemption claims, courts require that the agency provide a Vaughn index so that the FOIA requester – at a distinct informational disadvantage – may test the agency’s claims.”

“Once again, Judicial Watch has beat Congress to the punch in getting key information about another Obama scandal – this time, the Fast and Furious outrage,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “A federal court has ordered the Obama administration to produce information that could, for the first time, provide specific details who in the administration is responsible for Fast and Furious lies to Congress and the American people. This is a battle that put Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, saw Nixonian assertions of executive privilege by Barack Obama, and a hapless Congress in face of all this lawlessness. Finally, we may get some accountability for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the countless others murdered as a result of the insanely reckless Obama administration program.”

Unfortunately, this is coming too late for Obama’s 2012 re-election contest, and the mainstream media is unlikely to report it, just like they failed to report the IRS scandal. But if we all share this story, it will help people to realize how lawless and corrupt this administration really is. It’s gangster government, as Michele Bachmann said. The crooks are in charge.

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After a year of stalling, IRS blames loss of e-mails on “hard drive crash”

Most ethical administration in history - not a smidge of corruption

Most ethical administration in history not a smidgeon of corruption

Sharryl Atkisson (formerly of CBS News) is has questions for the IRS about lost e-mails..

Excerpt:

According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS reports having “lost” former IRS manager Lois Lerner’s emails to and from other IRS employees sent between January of 2009 and April of 2011 due to a ‘computer crash.’

In light of the disclosure, these are some of the logical requests that should be made of the IRS:

  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
  • I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.

The Committee had requested the Lerner emails as part of its investigation into to the targeting of conservative non-profits by the IRS. The Obama administration has denied any corruption or intentional wrongdoing. Lerner took the Fifth when asked to testify to Congress. The House of Representatives subsequently held her in contempt. The lost materials are said to include any communications that may have occurred between Lerner and outside agencies or groups such as the White House, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission and the offices of Democrats.

House and Ways Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) says that along with providing news of the emails that have been lost, the IRS suggested in the same letter to Congress that it end its investigation.

The leftist Washington Post explains that the Democrats’ excuse of “computer crash” makes no sense, since e-mails are not stored on individual computers, but on servers that are protected from disasters.

Excerpt: (links removed)

On Friday afternoon, the IRS apparently informed the House Ways and Means Committee that it cannot produce any e-mail correspondence from January 2009 to April 2011 between Lois Lerner and anyone outside the IRS – e.g., the White House, the Department of Justice, the FEC or Democratic congressional offices.  According to the IRS, these 28 months of e-mails were wiped out by a “computer crash.”

Here is the commissioner of the IRS, testifying before Congress in March that the e-mails of employees such as Lerner are “stored in servers.”  Here is a PowerLine post arguing that the “computer crash” excuse is “implausible to anyone who understands how email systems work.”  And here is House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) calling for “an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”

The IRS is blaming a “hard drive” crash for the loss – as it the e-mails were stored on Lois Lerner’s computer. But as an IT professional with 15 years experience, this is a joke – on the order of the blaming of a terrorist attack on a Youtube video.

In enterprise IT systems, critical data (including e-mails) are replicated across multiple server clusters in multiple geographic locations. Large companies typically have disaster recovery exercises in order to ensure that even catastrophic situations will not result in data loss. You would think that the Democrats could have come up with a better story to cover up who was responsible for the persecution of Tea Party groups  in order to win the 2012 election, but alas, no. We truly have been governed by clowns since January 2009.

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House Republicans vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress

From CBS News.

Excerpt:

The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to hold former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions related to the agency’s undue scrutiny of certain tax-exempt groups.

The vote to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress was 231-187, with all Republicans voting in favor and all but a few Democrats voting against.

It’s now up to a local U.S. attorney to consider criminal charges against Lerner. The Justice Department, however, has ignored past contempt charges against executive branch officials, including contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder.

[...]Republicans maintain they are determined to get to the bottom of the scandal and find out why IRS officials, starting in 2010, unfairly targeted groups for their political activity.

[...]In addition to holding Lerner in contempt, the House also voted 250-168 to approve a resolution calling on Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting.

According to Hot Air, “Lerner could face fines up to $100,000 and even a up to a year of jail time”.

In other news, Trey Gowdy, who is heading the new select committee on Benghazi, is kicking some serious ass.

Transcript fragment:

MEGYN KELLY: I know you said you intend to subpoena her, that you want her to appear before your committee. However, and I say this respectfully, the last time she appeared before Congress what we had was a series of speeches from the lawmakers, without that many probing questions. I hear that from my viewers often when we look back on those hearings. What would be different this time?

TREY GOWDY: Well, what will be different is I’m not necessarily committing to hearing. I’m committing to the getting the answers and may be in the form of a deposition, which, as you know, Megyn, as a very good attorney, which you once were, that is the route that is most conducive with eliciting the truth. It’s not five minutes of pounding your chest in a committee room. It’s a deposition.

MEGYN KELLY: Can she get out of that?

TREY GOWDY: Well, if she can get out of a subpoena, she can get out of it. But I don’t send invitations to cocktail parties. We’re going to send subpoenas and we’re going to expect her to comply and if you don’t comply, she’ll suffer the same panoply of consequences that any of your viewers who don’t comply with a subpoena would suffer.

I was hoping they were going to pick him to lead the committee, and I believe we are finally going to get some answers on this scandal.

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