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Topic: Frank Wolf

Obami’s Anti-Terror Policies Necessitate Stonewalling

One has to marvel at the opening graph of this Politico story:

Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay.

Yes, reality is complicating the Obama administration’s war on terror policies. It must be maddening to the Obami that they are presented once again with inconvenient evidence that their insistence on emptying Guantanamo of dangerous people is mind-bogglingly inane. It is not surprising that Republicans were quick to point this out:

“Yesterday just highlights the fact that sending this many people back—or any people back—to Yemen right now is a really bad idea,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s just dumb….If you made a list of what the three dumbest countries would be to send people back to, Yemen would be on all the lists.” “I think it’s a major mistake,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said about prisoner releases to Yemen. “I don’t think Guantanamo should be closed, but if we’re going to close it I don’t believe we should be sending people to Yemen where prisoners have managed to escape in the past….Obviously, if [Abdulmutallab] did get training and direction from Yemen, it just adds to what is already a dangerous situation.”

Moreover this suggests that together with the domestic terror attack by Major Nadal Hassan, the Obama team will be hard pressed to make the claim that its policy of moral preening — closing Guantanamo, giving up on enhanced interrogation techniques, attacking the CIA, and giving KSM a public forum — is appropriate in the midst of daily evidence that our enemies are unimpressed with such gestures and are motivated not by objections to our military tribunals or incarceration policies but rather by their battle against western civilization itself.

And the Obami’s response is predictable. King and Hoeskstra, as have many of their colleagues (e.g., Rep. Frank Wolf on Yemen releases, Sen. Pete Sessions on the Uighurs), are running into a stone wall in attempting to get basic information from an administration whose first instinct is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:

 As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Perhaps if the Obami’s anti-terror policies were more in sync with public opinion and reality, they would be more forthcoming. But the public will have only one question: are we safer because of the Obama administration’s policies? So far, there is reason to think we are not.

One has to marvel at the opening graph of this Politico story:

Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay.

Yes, reality is complicating the Obama administration’s war on terror policies. It must be maddening to the Obami that they are presented once again with inconvenient evidence that their insistence on emptying Guantanamo of dangerous people is mind-bogglingly inane. It is not surprising that Republicans were quick to point this out:

“Yesterday just highlights the fact that sending this many people back—or any people back—to Yemen right now is a really bad idea,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s just dumb….If you made a list of what the three dumbest countries would be to send people back to, Yemen would be on all the lists.” “I think it’s a major mistake,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said about prisoner releases to Yemen. “I don’t think Guantanamo should be closed, but if we’re going to close it I don’t believe we should be sending people to Yemen where prisoners have managed to escape in the past….Obviously, if [Abdulmutallab] did get training and direction from Yemen, it just adds to what is already a dangerous situation.”

Moreover this suggests that together with the domestic terror attack by Major Nadal Hassan, the Obama team will be hard pressed to make the claim that its policy of moral preening — closing Guantanamo, giving up on enhanced interrogation techniques, attacking the CIA, and giving KSM a public forum — is appropriate in the midst of daily evidence that our enemies are unimpressed with such gestures and are motivated not by objections to our military tribunals or incarceration policies but rather by their battle against western civilization itself.

And the Obami’s response is predictable. King and Hoeskstra, as have many of their colleagues (e.g., Rep. Frank Wolf on Yemen releases, Sen. Pete Sessions on the Uighurs), are running into a stone wall in attempting to get basic information from an administration whose first instinct is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:

 As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Perhaps if the Obami’s anti-terror policies were more in sync with public opinion and reality, they would be more forthcoming. But the public will have only one question: are we safer because of the Obama administration’s policies? So far, there is reason to think we are not.

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The Black Panther Case’s January Deadlines

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, I am informed, will be moving forward on two fronts with its investigation of the dismissal by the Obama Justice Department of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. Responses to the commission’s document requests and interrogatories are due on January 11. On January 15, the commission will meet and is expected to vote to schedule a February hearing in which it can begin to gather evidence and attempt to unearth what occurred behind the shuttered doors of the Obama Justice Department. At a hearing, one can expect witness testimony about the underlying incident, which took place on Election Day 2008 in Philadelphia; there will also be evidence presented concerning the intervention of Obama political appointees — at least to the extent that the Obama DOJ has complied with the written discovery requests.

As for the depositions of DOJ employees, sources tell me that unless an accommodation can quickly be reached with the Justice Department, the depositions will be reset in January. And those subpoenaed employees may then have ample opportunity to, if they desire, go to court seeking clarification as to whether a DOJ regulation invoked by the Obama administration to block their appearance (but which appears to apply to court proceedings, not to those of an independent body like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) bars their compliance with a subpoena issued pursuant to the commission’s statutory authority.

Meanwhile, Congress may also have something to say in January. The resolution of inquiry introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf has a clock ticking. The House Judiciary Committee must consider the resolution that calls for the Justice Department to provide information to Congress concerning the dismissal of the case. A Wolf adviser informed me: “We suspect that it will either be the last week of January or first week of February — they have 14 legislative days to consider, so it depends on the House schedule for January.” If the requisite number of committee members demand it, there will be a roll-call vote. Wolf’s adviser observed, “I suspect that the committee Republicans will call for and receive a roll-call vote.” We can expect that Democrats will vote it down on a straight party-line vote, but the debate is likely to be informative and provide the first chance for Congress to exercise any oversight responsibility in a serious matter of voter intimidation.

The mystery, however, continues for now: why did the Justice Department yank the case, and what is it now trying to hide? We may finally get some preliminary answers in January.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, I am informed, will be moving forward on two fronts with its investigation of the dismissal by the Obama Justice Department of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. Responses to the commission’s document requests and interrogatories are due on January 11. On January 15, the commission will meet and is expected to vote to schedule a February hearing in which it can begin to gather evidence and attempt to unearth what occurred behind the shuttered doors of the Obama Justice Department. At a hearing, one can expect witness testimony about the underlying incident, which took place on Election Day 2008 in Philadelphia; there will also be evidence presented concerning the intervention of Obama political appointees — at least to the extent that the Obama DOJ has complied with the written discovery requests.

As for the depositions of DOJ employees, sources tell me that unless an accommodation can quickly be reached with the Justice Department, the depositions will be reset in January. And those subpoenaed employees may then have ample opportunity to, if they desire, go to court seeking clarification as to whether a DOJ regulation invoked by the Obama administration to block their appearance (but which appears to apply to court proceedings, not to those of an independent body like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) bars their compliance with a subpoena issued pursuant to the commission’s statutory authority.

Meanwhile, Congress may also have something to say in January. The resolution of inquiry introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf has a clock ticking. The House Judiciary Committee must consider the resolution that calls for the Justice Department to provide information to Congress concerning the dismissal of the case. A Wolf adviser informed me: “We suspect that it will either be the last week of January or first week of February — they have 14 legislative days to consider, so it depends on the House schedule for January.” If the requisite number of committee members demand it, there will be a roll-call vote. Wolf’s adviser observed, “I suspect that the committee Republicans will call for and receive a roll-call vote.” We can expect that Democrats will vote it down on a straight party-line vote, but the debate is likely to be informative and provide the first chance for Congress to exercise any oversight responsibility in a serious matter of voter intimidation.

The mystery, however, continues for now: why did the Justice Department yank the case, and what is it now trying to hide? We may finally get some preliminary answers in January.

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Wolf Turns Up the Heat on Black Panther Case

Rep. Frank Wolf turned up the heat on the Justice Department yesterday, introducing a Resolution of Inquiry that recounts the degree to which the Justice Department has stonewalled on efforts to find out why a serious case of voter intimidation was dismissed. Wolf wants the attorney general to hand over to the House all information relating to the dismissal of the case United States v. New Black Panther Party, the egregious voter-intimidation case that was captured on videotape. Wolf ‘s resolution explains:

This case was inexplicably dismissed earlier this year — over the ardent objections of the career attorneys overseeing the case as well as the department’s own appeal office.  I regret that Congress must resort to oversight resolutions as a means to receive information about the dismissal of this case, but the Congress and the American people have a right to know why this case was not prosecuted.

As ranking Republican member of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, I take oversight of the department very seriously. … Time and again over the last year, the department has stonewalled any effort to learn about the decision to dismiss this case. I have written Attorney General Holder on six occasions asking for an explanation for the dismissal of this case. To date, I have received no response from him.

Wolf recounts his efforts to get answers — from the DOJ inspector general, who passed the buck, to the Office of Professional Responsibility, supervised by the attorney general. He notes that he has written to OPR, but the office not only refused to share information but also provided an incomplete and inaccurate response from a legislative-affairs staff member. He also chides the inadequate congressional oversight of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and notes that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, also rebuffed, has been forced to resort to issuing subpoenas. Confirming press accounts, Wolf asserts that “the attorney general has instructed his department to ignore these subpoenas,” giving his employees the choice between obeying the law and complying with the attorney general’s obstruction, regardless of his standing as the nation’s chief law enforcer.

Wolf implores the House not to turn a “blind eye” to the attorney general’s obstruction. He also urges the attorney general to answer the commission’s inquiries. The resolution must be voted on by the Judiciary Committee and will likely be defeated in a party-line vote. But the issue is slowly and surely getting some visibility.

Perhaps more important, Wolf inserted in the appropriation bill for the Justice Department language that directs Justice to report back on the findings of the inquiry by the Office of Professional Responsibility and to advise Congress of its ensuing recommendations for action.

It seems as though the Obami’s plan to conceal the Black Panther case under the radar screen is being thwarted. As one Capitol Hill source told me of the Obama Justice Department, “They will HATE this … there is no dodging this now.” At the very least, we may find out why Obama political appointees subverted the efforts of career attorneys.

Rep. Frank Wolf turned up the heat on the Justice Department yesterday, introducing a Resolution of Inquiry that recounts the degree to which the Justice Department has stonewalled on efforts to find out why a serious case of voter intimidation was dismissed. Wolf wants the attorney general to hand over to the House all information relating to the dismissal of the case United States v. New Black Panther Party, the egregious voter-intimidation case that was captured on videotape. Wolf ‘s resolution explains:

This case was inexplicably dismissed earlier this year — over the ardent objections of the career attorneys overseeing the case as well as the department’s own appeal office.  I regret that Congress must resort to oversight resolutions as a means to receive information about the dismissal of this case, but the Congress and the American people have a right to know why this case was not prosecuted.

As ranking Republican member of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, I take oversight of the department very seriously. … Time and again over the last year, the department has stonewalled any effort to learn about the decision to dismiss this case. I have written Attorney General Holder on six occasions asking for an explanation for the dismissal of this case. To date, I have received no response from him.

Wolf recounts his efforts to get answers — from the DOJ inspector general, who passed the buck, to the Office of Professional Responsibility, supervised by the attorney general. He notes that he has written to OPR, but the office not only refused to share information but also provided an incomplete and inaccurate response from a legislative-affairs staff member. He also chides the inadequate congressional oversight of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and notes that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, also rebuffed, has been forced to resort to issuing subpoenas. Confirming press accounts, Wolf asserts that “the attorney general has instructed his department to ignore these subpoenas,” giving his employees the choice between obeying the law and complying with the attorney general’s obstruction, regardless of his standing as the nation’s chief law enforcer.

Wolf implores the House not to turn a “blind eye” to the attorney general’s obstruction. He also urges the attorney general to answer the commission’s inquiries. The resolution must be voted on by the Judiciary Committee and will likely be defeated in a party-line vote. But the issue is slowly and surely getting some visibility.

Perhaps more important, Wolf inserted in the appropriation bill for the Justice Department language that directs Justice to report back on the findings of the inquiry by the Office of Professional Responsibility and to advise Congress of its ensuing recommendations for action.

It seems as though the Obami’s plan to conceal the Black Panther case under the radar screen is being thwarted. As one Capitol Hill source told me of the Obama Justice Department, “They will HATE this … there is no dodging this now.” At the very least, we may find out why Obama political appointees subverted the efforts of career attorneys.

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Must We Aid Them?

This report on Anwar al-Aulaqi, Major Nidal Hasan’s e-mail pal and the former imam of a northern Virginia mosque, explains:

The Yemeni American cleric at the center of investigations into last month’s massacre of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., became more openly radical in Yemen, following a path taken by other extremists in this failing Middle East nation with a growing al-Qaeda presence, according to relatives, friends and associates in Yemen.

Why was it, then, that we dumped a number of Guantanamo detainees into Yemen? We did, a move that Congressman Frank Wolf decried after the Fort Hood terror attack. It seems not to have been very wise.

And the story also makes clear the power of such figures to recruit and spread the message of Islamic jihadism:

By 2006, Aulaqi’s influence had widened into the world of terrorism through his Web site and Facebook page, even though most Yemenis had never heard of him. Starting that year, investigators have found Aulaqi’s sermons downloaded on the computers of suspects in nearly a dozen terrorism cases in Britain and Canada.

In mid-2006, Yemeni authorities arrested him. Aulaqi was accused of inciting attacks against a man over a tribal matter involving a woman. Aulaqi denied the allegations in an interview with Begg last year and accused the U.S. government of pressuring Yemen to keep him locked up.

Yet we are prepared to give KSM a public forum and nonstop cable and Internet coverage in a New York courtroom to do the same.

It does at times appear that the Obami have divorced themselves from reality. They seem blissfully unaware or unconcerned that their own policies may actually aid fanatics in their effort to spread the message of Islamic fundamentalism. When the Obami stop releasing detainees to hotbeds of Islamic fanaticism and providing free publicity for terrorists, we’ll know that the administration is finally clued in to the nature of our enemy and the requirements of fighting a war against religious fanatics.

This report on Anwar al-Aulaqi, Major Nidal Hasan’s e-mail pal and the former imam of a northern Virginia mosque, explains:

The Yemeni American cleric at the center of investigations into last month’s massacre of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., became more openly radical in Yemen, following a path taken by other extremists in this failing Middle East nation with a growing al-Qaeda presence, according to relatives, friends and associates in Yemen.

Why was it, then, that we dumped a number of Guantanamo detainees into Yemen? We did, a move that Congressman Frank Wolf decried after the Fort Hood terror attack. It seems not to have been very wise.

And the story also makes clear the power of such figures to recruit and spread the message of Islamic jihadism:

By 2006, Aulaqi’s influence had widened into the world of terrorism through his Web site and Facebook page, even though most Yemenis had never heard of him. Starting that year, investigators have found Aulaqi’s sermons downloaded on the computers of suspects in nearly a dozen terrorism cases in Britain and Canada.

In mid-2006, Yemeni authorities arrested him. Aulaqi was accused of inciting attacks against a man over a tribal matter involving a woman. Aulaqi denied the allegations in an interview with Begg last year and accused the U.S. government of pressuring Yemen to keep him locked up.

Yet we are prepared to give KSM a public forum and nonstop cable and Internet coverage in a New York courtroom to do the same.

It does at times appear that the Obami have divorced themselves from reality. They seem blissfully unaware or unconcerned that their own policies may actually aid fanatics in their effort to spread the message of Islamic fundamentalism. When the Obami stop releasing detainees to hotbeds of Islamic fanaticism and providing free publicity for terrorists, we’ll know that the administration is finally clued in to the nature of our enemy and the requirements of fighting a war against religious fanatics.

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To Yemen?

Rep. Frank Wolf has sent a letter to the Justice Department and issued a press release questioning the release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, especially “in light of the recent tragedy at Fort Hood where the alleged shooter reportedly has ties to a radical cleric now living in Yemen.” Yes, that is correct. Wolf’s press release explains:

“The American people have a right to know who these detainees are and what acts of terror they were engaged in,” Wolf wrote. “If the public had this information, they would never tolerate the release of these men back to unstable countries with a sizeable al Qaeda presence.” …

“If the administration does not halt these pending releases immediately, it could be responsible for creating a new revolving door of terrorism that will cost American lives,” Wolf wrote today. “The security of the American people could be at risk because of the administration’s relentless pursuit of a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay by January 22, 2010.”

“Why has the administration made basic information about these dangerous detainees so highly classified that it cannot be shared with the American people or the media?” Wolf asked. “I have reviewed the materials. These are dangerous individuals. To release committed al Qaeda terrorists back to Yemen under these conditions would be an act of gross malfeasance that undermines the safety of the American people.”

In his statement, Wolf also raised the red flag about Anwar al-Aulaqi, “the radical cleric now living in Yemen who has ties to Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal M. Hasan and also mentored two of the 9/11 hijackers.” Wolf does not subscribe to the view that Hasan was simply suffering from post-traumatic stress:

“As the facts surrounding the Fort Hood attack have emerged, it is becoming clear that anyone who is cited in the 9/11 Commission Report — as al-Aulaqi was on page 221 — as a ‘significant’ contact for 9/11 terrorists Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar should be considered a ‘significant’ connection to Hasan,” Wolf wrote. “Al-Aulaqi has subsequently praised Hasan’s attack stating on his Web site: ‘Nidal Hassan is a hero. … Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal,’’’ according to a translation.

Really, if not for the appalling decision to move 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the U.S. for a trial — that will soon devolve into a three-ring circus in which the U.S. and its defenders are in the dock — the decision to export the Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, where they can hear the same pearls of wisdom that inspired Hasan, would be tops on the list of “most outrageous things” the Obama team has done recently. But there is always plenty of competition for that distinction.

Rep. Frank Wolf has sent a letter to the Justice Department and issued a press release questioning the release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, especially “in light of the recent tragedy at Fort Hood where the alleged shooter reportedly has ties to a radical cleric now living in Yemen.” Yes, that is correct. Wolf’s press release explains:

“The American people have a right to know who these detainees are and what acts of terror they were engaged in,” Wolf wrote. “If the public had this information, they would never tolerate the release of these men back to unstable countries with a sizeable al Qaeda presence.” …

“If the administration does not halt these pending releases immediately, it could be responsible for creating a new revolving door of terrorism that will cost American lives,” Wolf wrote today. “The security of the American people could be at risk because of the administration’s relentless pursuit of a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay by January 22, 2010.”

“Why has the administration made basic information about these dangerous detainees so highly classified that it cannot be shared with the American people or the media?” Wolf asked. “I have reviewed the materials. These are dangerous individuals. To release committed al Qaeda terrorists back to Yemen under these conditions would be an act of gross malfeasance that undermines the safety of the American people.”

In his statement, Wolf also raised the red flag about Anwar al-Aulaqi, “the radical cleric now living in Yemen who has ties to Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal M. Hasan and also mentored two of the 9/11 hijackers.” Wolf does not subscribe to the view that Hasan was simply suffering from post-traumatic stress:

“As the facts surrounding the Fort Hood attack have emerged, it is becoming clear that anyone who is cited in the 9/11 Commission Report — as al-Aulaqi was on page 221 — as a ‘significant’ contact for 9/11 terrorists Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar should be considered a ‘significant’ connection to Hasan,” Wolf wrote. “Al-Aulaqi has subsequently praised Hasan’s attack stating on his Web site: ‘Nidal Hassan is a hero. … Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal,’’’ according to a translation.

Really, if not for the appalling decision to move 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the U.S. for a trial — that will soon devolve into a three-ring circus in which the U.S. and its defenders are in the dock — the decision to export the Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, where they can hear the same pearls of wisdom that inspired Hasan, would be tops on the list of “most outrageous things” the Obama team has done recently. But there is always plenty of competition for that distinction.

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