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From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit to Obtain Documents Related to Jailed Border Patrol Agents
Two former Border Patrol agents will spend more than a decade in prison based in part on the testimony of an alleged Mexican drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was given immunity by the U.S. government for his testimony. Did the Mexican government try to pressure the U.S. to prosecute the two agents?
On March 16, Judicial Watch filed a new open records
lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State seeking documents related to the use of controversial prosecution. Among other things, we want to know what, if any, deals were brokered between the U.S. and Mexico following the shooting incident, which occurred in 2005.
You may have already heard about the plight
of U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Joe Alonso Compean. The two agents were jailed in January 2007 after shooting and wounding Aldrete-Davis, who was allegedly attempting to smuggle 750 pounds of marijuana into the United States.
Following the incident, U.S. government officials actually traveled to Mexico to offer Aldrete-Davis immunity if he would testify against the two agents. The government also paid for his medical care. This special treatment for Aldrete-Davila has upset many Americans and more than a few members of Congress. Our open records Freedom of Information Act may shed some light on any back-room deal making with Aldrete-Davila and Mexico.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed on March 16, 2007 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to compel the government agencies to comply with Judicial Watch’s January 24, 2007 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The agencies have thus far failed to produce any documents. If any documents are coughed up, I’ll be sure to let you know…
Judicial Watch Uncovers 2005 Cheroff “Implementation Memo” on Security and Prosperity Partnership
The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) is a hot topic in the news media of late, thanks to a comprehensive Judicial Watch investigation. Earlier this week I made a special appearance on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio program (and some other programs) to talk about new SPP documents uncovered by Judicial Watch.
The records, obtained from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the Freedom of Information Act, include a September 22, 2005 Security and Prosperity “implementation memo” signed by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.
It reads, in part: “The [Security and Prosperity Partnership] has, in addition to identifying a number of new action items, comprehensively rolled up most of our existing homeland security-related policy initiatives with Canada and Mexico, and ongoing action and reporting in the various U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico working groups led by DHS [Department of Homeland Security] should now be driven by a single agenda: the SPP.”
The records we uncovered also contained an information paper that describes ten “Prosperity Pillar Working Groups,” and the organization of the “US-Mexico Critical Infrastructure Protection Work Group.” Unlike other records we received from other agencies in regards to the partnership (which have been relatively complete), the Homeland Security records are heavily redacted to withhold the names of the U.S., Mexican and Canadian government officials carrying out the partnership’s agenda.
Another record reviewed and released by Homeland Security is a 10-page chart listing 36 “SPP Security High-Level Working Groups” that include the “Mexico-US Repatriation Technical WG,” the “Mexico-US Intelligence and Information Sharing WG,” and the “Canada-US Cross Border Crime Forum,” among others.
Just in case anybody had any doubt, these new records certainly prove the Security and Prosperity Partnership is being directed by officials at the very highest levels of the United States government. The partnership is a core policy initiative for many agencies in our government, including the Department of Homeland Security, and the American people need to know the details.
On March 23, 2005, heads of government Vincente Fox, George W. Bush, and Paul Martin launched the North American partnership at a meeting in Waco, Texas, with the expressed goal of “a safer, more prosperous North America.” Since then, except for some on radio and on the Internet, the SPP has marched forward with virtually no scrutiny. This is changing – as our work now brings some much needed sunlight to the SPP.
Judicial Watch Receives Documents from D.C. Police Department in Response to Illegal Immigration Policy Lawsuit
This week, Judicial Watch received an eye-opening response to our open records lawsuit filed against Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department over the department’s illegal immigration policies and procedures. Consider this excerpt from a statement signed by the former D.C. Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey:
“MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] policy with respect to the enforcement of civil immigration laws is very clear: MPD officers are strictly prohibited from making inquiries into citizenship or residency status for the purpose of determining whether an individual has violated the civil immigration laws or for the purpose of enforcing those laws. In other words, the MPD is not in the business of inquiring about the residency status of the people we serve and is not in the business of enforcing civil immigration laws.” This policy seems to fly in the face of federal law which clearly states that a “state, or local government or entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict” communications with the feds about an individual’s immigration status.
The newly released documents, turned over only after we filed a lawsuit to obtain them, also talk about the “limited” and infrequent support the department begrudgingly offers to federal immigration officials. Local police departments do not have a free pass to violate and undermine federal immigration law. Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department is no exception. Our nation’s capital, of all places, should not undermine federal immigration law, but rather set an example for other cities in the U.S.
The news wasn’t all bad this week. According to Virginia’s Times Community newspaper, “On Tuesday, March 13, the Herndon Town Council voted [unanimously] to make Herndon the first incorporated town in America to allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to train and empower local officers to enforce federal immigration law.” (Given the developments in Herndon, perhaps the D.C. police would do well to look to their neighbors for an example.)
Judicial Watch uncovered documents about the training program, called 287(g), which embarrassed local officials in Herndon to take advantage of it.
The Clinton Presidential Library: “Little Rock’s Fort Knox”
As Weekly Update readers will recall, Judicial Watch is leading the effort to obtain the release of documents from the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Now that Hillary is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, and with Bill Clinton throwing his weight around the world’s stage, historical records from the first Clinton administration, including the various Clinton scandals, are as relevant than ever. The problem? A slow process caused in large measure by a Bush executive order which allows the Clintons to obstruct the release of potentially embarrassing documents.
Take a moment and read this article by Glen Thrush of New York Newsday. It talks about the legal obstacles to obtaining documents from the Clinton Presidential Library or, as Thrush calls it, “Little Rock’s Fort Knox.”
Until next week…
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Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation's public life.
DOJ document shows prosecutors don't bring charges until 6th arrest
March 23, 2007
It generally takes six arrests before U.S. prosecutors are willing to
bring criminal charges against illegal immigrants caught crossing the
border, according to documents released in the controversy about eight
fired U.S. attorneys.
The prosecution guidelines were disclosed in a heavily redacted
Department of Justice memo from late 2005, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The paper said DOJ officials declined to say yesterday whether the
department had made any changes since the memo was written, citing "law
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told the
Chronicle border agents are frustrated with the prosecution guidelines,
noting smugglers have figured out the criteria by trial and error.
"It's devastating on morale," Bonner said. "Our agents are risking their
lives out there, and then they're told, 'Sorry, that doesn't meet the
The memo said the federal court and detention system lacks the resources
to prosecute every illegal entry. The Border Patrol makes about 1
million arrests annually, and the DOJ must prioritize the most serious
offense and repeated offenders, the memo states.
The memo was a response to DOJ inquiries at five U.S. attorney offices
across the southern border, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego, Phoenix and
Albuquerque, the Chronicle reported.
DOJ spokesman Brian Roehrkasse issued a statement, the Houston paper
said, saying the agency sent 30 prosecutors to districts along the
Southwest border last year, permitting them "to adjust their guidelines
and take in more cases."
FREEDOM ABOVE FORTUNE NEWS
FORMER IRS SPECIAL AGENT ON INCOME TAX PANEL
The We The People Foundation For Constitutional Education has published an announcement
about the addition of an “Income Tax Panel” at the Give Me Liberty 2007 Conference to
which I have been invited.
I have included the text of the announcement below but since my emailed newsletters do not
forward the “clickable” links, I urge you to visit the following link to gain access to
all of the available information:
Income Tax Panel Added to GML 2007
On March 3rd we posted an article titled “Judiciary vs. Judiciary,” which introduced you
to Shreveport, Louisiana attorney Tommy Cryer. The article began with this sentence:
“If all attorneys are officers of the courts that make up the judicial branch of the
government, then the government now has one of its best and brightest members challenging
the legality of the operation and enforcement of the federal income tax system on
constitutional and statutory grounds.”
Mark our words, Tom Cryer is going to make a positive difference in the People’s quest for
the truth regarding the fraudulent origin and illegal operation of the federal income tax
system. He has a lot going for him.
First and foremost is his legal training and experience in researching the law and writing
legal briefs, and he is a seasoned trial attorney in civil and criminal cases. Completely
on his own, and over a two-year period of time, without any connection whatsoever to any
of the personalities and organizations in the Tax Honesty movement, Cryer researched the
subject and found the enforcement of the current direct, un-apportioned tax on labor to be
patently unconstitutional. Cryer undertook the research for no other reason than to keep a
friend of his who had decided to stop filing a tax return from “getting into trouble.”
In addition, Cryer’s communication skills are far above par, with an abundance of wit and
humor that can be very disarming.
Finally, Cryer appears to be a born leader. Determined and courageous, he has purposely
put himself in harm’s way in order to have “standing” as a party in an administrative,
civil or criminal action.
His upcoming criminal tax trial may well be the first time a well-seasoned, practicing
licensed attorney has stood in defiance of the Department of Justice and IRS, ready to
defend himself against criminal charges based on Constitutional and statutory grounds.
Embedded in our March 3rd article was a link to a brilliant 104-page Motion to Dismiss by
Cryer. Since then, there have been several additional filings in the case including: the
Government's Response; Cryer's Reply; Cryer's Trial Brief; Cryer's Proposed Jury
Instructions; and Cryer's Proposed Voir Dire Questions. (ed note: -- several of these
files are almost 1 MB in size. Please RIGHT-click to save the .pdf target file to your
computer before attempting to open it)
At the very least, Cryer’s upcoming trial promises to be a troublesome prosecution for the
Government. If Cryer is successful in convincing his jury about the true state of the
Law, the Tax Honesty movement will have scored a significant victory against the
Government’s persecution of those that have sought -- and discovered -- the truth.
Due to the shifting circumstances, we have modified our Give Me Liberty 2007 agenda by
adding a panel discussion regarding the Income Tax fraud.
Because of the large number of current events documenting the relentless attacks on the
Constitution and Bill of Rights, we originally had deferred addressing the federal income
tax question at the conference, pending a prior decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the DC Circuit in our lawsuit regarding the First Amendment Right to Petition.
It now appears that the Court’s decision will be delayed until after the conference.
We then learned about and researched the matter of attorney Tom Cryer. We had no choice
but to add Cryer to the agenda due to the compelling need to share his story with the
People in person. Having made the decision to add a session to the agenda on the Income
Tax vs. the Constitution, we also decided to invite Joe Banister to speak at the session
to briefly retell his equally courageous story, and to bring people up to date on his
situation following his acquittal on felony tax charges last year by a jury of his peers.
Finally, we decided to introduce to our constituency three other leaders of the Tax
Honesty movement who have not yet directly participated in prior WTP events, but who, in
their own ways, have been trying to force the Government to answer questions about the
legal authority and operation of the federal income tax system by assisting those under
government attack “in the trenches:” Pete Hendrickson, Steve Hempfling and Peymon
We trust that all conference attendees and Pay-Per-View participants will find this panel
of accomplished income tax fraud fighters of considerable interest and value.
Watch the Live Conference PPV!
Watch the 3-day conference LIVE via PPV! watch the Give Me Liberty 2007 conference starting next Thursday morning, March
We urge everyone to complete their purchase ASAP not only to minimize any potential system
delays on their end during the days of the conference, but to help WTP use these funds
right now to help meet the enormous costs of hosting this most important event in defense
-For those who have received this message as a forward from someone
else, you can sign up to receive these messages directly by visiting
www.freedomabovefortune.com and clicking on "Mailing List".
-For those who are unfamiliar with what has transpired to date in this
case, especially the recent acquittal on all charges leveled against
me, please visit http://www.ninehundred.net/banister/ ,
www.joebanister.blogspot.com and www.freedomabovefortune.com (click on
"IRS LOCKOUT UPDATE"). You can also find archives of informative radio
shows at www.hearliberty.com .
-Prayers in support of this effort are always welcomed and encouraged.
Contributions to my legal defense fund are also welcomed due to the
significant costs of defending against multiple and continuing IRS
attacks. Checks or money orders are gratefully accepted and can be made
payable to "Joseph Banister Legal Defense Fund", and mailed to 1805 N.
Carson Street, Suite C, Carson City, Nevada 89701. Money orders may
provide a greater degree of privacy to the donor than checks so use your
own discretion based on the degree of privacy you desire.
-Visit http://www.ninehundred.net/banister for more information as to
how you can obtain information about my recent trial and contribute to
my legal defense fund at the same time.
-My sincere thanks to those who have prayed for the success of our
efforts and/or contributed to my legal defense fund. Your continued
support is enabling me to illustrate, in detail and in a very public
manner, that the IRS does not prevail against citizens because the agency
adheres to the rule of law, but that the IRS prevails against citizens
because the agency ignores the law, twists the meaning of the law, and
overwhelms the citizen with economic and legal burdens. In a school
yard, such tactics are called "BULLYING". In a government setting, such
tactics are called "TYRANNY". This effort is the equivalent of ganging up
on the bully and sending him to reform school where he belongs.
Joseph R. (Joe) Banister
Former IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent
Plan to let Mexican trucks deep in U.S. stalls
WASHINGTON -- Mexican trucks could have to wait longer than anticipated to haul freight deep into the United States.
The Bush administration in February announced that it would soon allow 100 Mexican trucking companies to travel beyond the current 20-mile limit for a one-year pilot project.
But a Senate panel on Thursday voted to delay the plan by requiring the administration to publish details about it and giving the public time to comment on it. The action came as part of a supplemental spending bill to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The administration is rushing to open the border to Mexican-domiciled trucks without assuring their safety and enforcement of the law of the U.S.," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "They can't go rushing forward in opening the border without having explained what their pilot project is."
The Transportation Department said it is committed to moving forward with the program and will work with lawmakers to address their concerns.
"The Mexican trucking demonstration program will bring real benefits and real dollars to the American economy while maintaining all U.S. safety and security standards," the department said in a statement.
Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Dianne Feinstein of California and Patty Murray of Washington sponsored the amendment. "There still remain very significant safety issues," Dorgan said.
He also criticized the Bush administration for opening the border to Mexican trucks before Mexico opened the border to U.S. trucks. "They were going to implement these plans for Mexican long-haul trucks in a way that was at odds with how the Mexicans were going to treat American truckers," Dorgan said.
The move to delay the administration plan was welcomed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
"This is an important first step in our fight to ensure the safety and security of America's highways," said Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope.
Access to all U.S. highways was promised by 2000 under the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, as was access through Mexico for U.S. carriers.
That aspect of NAFTA, however, was stalled by lawsuits and disagreements between the two countries, though Canadian and U.S. trucks travel freely across the northern border.
The Bush pilot project will let Mexican truck companies travel from Mexico throughout the United States and back. No hazardous material shipments will be permitted.
Injured Soldiers in Limbo
By Michael Gilbert
The News Tribune
Sunday 25 March 2007
Cases go on while new rules in works.
The Army is rethinking the way it evaluates wounded and injured soldiers who are no longer fit for duty because of post-traumatic stress disorder and certain other conditions.
But a board at Fort Lewis continues to move soldiers with those medical problems through the Army's disability assessment system, even though the new guidelines have yet to be published, according to attorneys who represent soldiers.
In effect, soldiers must argue their case without knowing the rules by which the board will size up their injuries, say the three Army lawyers who represent soldiers before the Fort Lewis Physical Evaluation Board, or PEB.
Attorneys from the Office of Soldiers' Legal Counsel stated their objections in a Monday letter to the PEB president, Col. John O'Sullivan.
"A soldier's statutory right to a full and fair hearing is fundamentally violated if they are not provided the standards upon which they are to be judged in advance of the hearing," they wrote.
Meanwhile, in a letter sent after visiting Fort Lewis several weeks ago, the Army's top civilian lawyer raised concerns about a possible "Wal-Mart greeter test" in determining whether soldiers are well enough to be denied benefits.
The PEB decides whether wounded and injured soldiers from across the Western United States should receive retired pay and military benefits such as health care coverage and base privileges, or one-time severance payments with no benefits, or no compensation at all.
The three attorneys who wrote the MMonday letter are Maj. Damon D. Gulick, Lt. Col. Ronda W. Sutton and Steven E. Engle, a civilian who is the chief of office.
They said that until the new rules are distributed, the soldiers and their lawyers "do not know what evidence to gather, marshal and present that will be most relevant" to the board's decision-making in each case.
A board official and an Army Human Resources Command spokesman declined to comment Friday.
Fresh Look at PTSD Guidelines
The Army's Physical Disability Agency is in the midst of a rewrite of the guidelines for rating the severity of injuries such as PTSD; lost range of motion in joints such as the neck and shoulders; sleep apnea; and other conditions.
The revisions are apparently in response to complaints that have come to light in the wake of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal last month. Since then, soldiers and their advocates have raised questions about the fairness of the Army's system for determining whether wounded and injured soldiers are fit for duty, and if they're not, how to compensate them for their disabilities.
Fort Lewis is home to one of three Physical Evaluation Boards in the Army. The others are at Walter Reed in Washington, D.C., and at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. A fourth, mobile board is occasionally convened to address case backlogs around the country.
Each PEB is made up of a senior line officer, a doctor and a personnel expert. If they find a soldier isn't fit to return to duty, they decide if the disability is related to his or her service in the Army, and if it is, the board sets a percentage rating to the disability.
Soldiers whose disabilities are rated at 30 percent or more generally are entitled to be medically retired. They receive a percentage of their base pay each month and continue to receive benefits including health care coverage and base privileges.
Soldiers who are rated at less than 30 percent disabled generally receive a severance payment equal to two months pay for every year of service, up to 12 years. They're released from service with no further benefits.
In some cases, the boards find that a soldier's disability is due to a condition that existed before he or she joined the Army, in which case the soldier is entitled to no compensation.
Despite dramatic increases in the number of wounded and injured soldiers, the number receiving medical retirements from PEBs had dropped - from 642 in 2001 to 209 in 2005, according to recent reports in the Army Times.
The "Wal-Mart Greeter Test"?
Soldiers have complained that PEBs unfairly discount the impacts of injuries, often releasing them from the Army with modest severance payments, no military medical coverage and a disability that makes it difficult to find work as a civilian.
The Army's top civilian lawyer, Benedict S. Cohen, earlier this month wrote a memo to senior Army officials to report several complaints he heard from Fort Lewis staff "closely involved in the administration of the PEB process."
During a Fort Lewis visit several weeks ago, Cohen reported, staff members alleged that the PEB "routinely" misapplies Army regulations and Department of Defense instructions "to evade reaching the 30 percent disability threshold that triggers soldier eligibility" for medical retirement and benefits.
"It was claimed that PEBs employed a 'Wal-Mart greeter' test, whereby if an injured soldier could function as a Wal-Mart greeter he or she would receive a rating of 0 percent disability, as opposed to the outcome mandated" by Army and Defense Department regulations, Cohen wrote.
"The staff cited as evidence of misapplication of relevant standards the fact that despite the onset of the GWOT (global war on terrorism) and subsequent dramatic increase in the number and severity of injuries, findings of disability had held steady at 9 percent and more recently had even fallen below that average," he wrote.
Cohen sent his memo to the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, the Army Inspector General, and the Army Judge Advocate General. He wrote that he had no way of knowing whether the allegations were true, but that, "In my view, this information may warrant further assessment."
An official with the Fort Lewis PEB said Friday that he could not respond to News Tribune inquiries about cases before the board. He referred a reporter to the public affairs officer with the Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va., Lt. Col. Kevin Arata.
Arata did not return telephone and e-mail inquiries from The News Tribune, but instructed the Fort Lewis PEB official not to speak with the paper, the official said.
"He said we weren't to discuss the subject," said John Mills, the chief adjudicator with the Fort Lewis PEB. "We can't talk about it."
The lawyers who represent soldiers before the PEB wrote that it was unclear how the board would account for the new guidelines for PTSD and other conditions in the cases it is hearing while the rewrite is under way. The board hears up to four or five cases each workday.
It was unclear whether the new guidelines would be retroactive, or if soldiers would have the chance to argue their case in another hearing.
Soldier Will Fight Fort Lewis Board
Dennis Abitz, a retired Army Reserve sergeant major, has post-traumatic stress disorder and a metal plate in his neck.
He said the Physical Evaluation Board at Fort Lewis on Thursday reduced his disability rating from 30 percent to 10 percent, even though his injuries would appear to fall within the categories of cases the Army is now reviewing.
Abitz had been on temporary disability retirement the past year and had to appear last week for a reassessment of his status.
His neck injury was reduced from 20 percent to 0, and his PTSD held at 10 percent, he said.
"They weren't supposed to come up with a decision until after the new rules came out," said Abitz, 47, who belonged to an Army Reserve unit in Wisconsin. "The regulations make it clear they've got to give you a copy of what the new rules are so that you can make your case."
Abitz said he began to suffer PTSD after the Persian Gulf War, when he encountered the horrific remains of Iraqi troops obliterated by U.S. airstrikes as they tried to retreat from Kuwait.
The Army called him back up to active duty in December 2002 to return to Kuwait with his logistics unit to set up camps for the invasion of Iraq that would follow in four months.
He'd had neck surgery just a month earlier, but the Army cleared him for duty.
After several months, he said, an Army doctor in Kuwait diagnosed him with a fragmented disk, and he was sent home.
Since then, Abitz has been locking horns with the Army's medical and disability system. The Veterans Administration rated his injuries as a 70 percent disability, but he said he wants to receive the medical retirement status from the Army so his wife and his child will have medical insurance.
Abitz said he's going to appeal.
"I'm not yet willing to walk away," he said. Home