Tag: Requests

Leftist Corruption Update: Federal Judge Orders IRS To Disclose White House Requests For Taxpayer Information

Federal Judge Orders IRS To Disclose WH Requests For Taxpayer Info – Washington Free Beacon

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A federal judge on Friday ordered the Internal Revenue Service to reveal White House requests for taxpayers’ private information, advancing a probe into whether administration officials targeted political opponents by revealing such information.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the IRS’s argument that a law designed to protect the confidentiality of such information protected the public disclosure of such communications with the White House.

The law, 26 U.S. Code § 6103, was passed after the Watergate scandal to protect citizens from retribution by federal officials. Jackson scoffed at the administration’s claims that the statute could be used to shield investigations into whether private tax information had been used in such a manner.

“The Court is unwilling to stretch the statute so far, and it cannot conclude that section 6103 may be used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit,” Jackson wrote in her order.

The decision was a victory for Cause of Action, the legal watchdog group that sued the IRS in 2013 seeking records of its communications with the White House and potential disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

The group called the decision “a significant victory for transparency advocates” in a Friday statement

“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing,” said Dan Epstein, the group’s executive director. “No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point.”

The lawsuit came after Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, the IRS’s official watchdog agency, revealed that it was investigating whether Austan Goolsbee, the White House’s former chief economist, illegally accessed or revealed confidential tax information related to Koch Industries.

The corporation’s owners, Charles and David Koch, are prominent funders of conservative and libertarian groups that often oppose the White House’s policy priorities.

Goolsbee “used Koch Industries as an example when discussing an issue noted in the [President’s Economic Recovery Board] report that half of business income goes to companies that do not pay corporate income tax because they are pass-through entities and that many of them are quite large,” the White House said in 2010.

His apparent knowledge of Koch’s tax history, detailed during a conference call with reporters, “implies direct knowledge of Koch’s legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation” of federal law, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the time.

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VA Employees Destroyed Veterans’ Medical Records To Cancel Backlogged Exam Requests (Audio)

Department Of Veterans Affairs Employees Destroyed Veterans’ Medical Records To Cancel Backlogged Exam Requests – Daily Caller

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.

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Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.

“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.

“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”

By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.

VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.

Audio from a November 2008 meeting obtained by TheDC depicts VA Greater Los Angeles officials plotting to cancel backlogged exam requests.

“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” said a male official in the meeting.

“Anything over a year old should be canceled,” replied a female official.

“Canceled or scheduled?” asked the male official.

“Canceled… Your backlog should start at April ’07,” the female official replied, later adding, ”a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery… died, don’t live in the state… It’s ridiculous.”

Listen:

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El-Saden, according to Mitchell, was “the person who said destroy the records.” And her plan was actually carried out during the Obama administration’s management of VA.

“That actually happened,” Mitchell said. “We had that discussion in November 2008 and then in March 2009 they started to delete the exams. Once you cancel or delete an order it automatically cancels out that record” so that no record of the exam requests remained.

Mitchell tried to blow the whistle on the scheme and ended up being transferred out of his department and eventually losing his job.

“I actually filed a complaint with the VA [Inspector General] IG and the office of special counsel. The IG requested if I had any documentation. They wanted names. I gave them [about] a thousand names,” Mitchell said. ”The list I turned into the IG went all the way back to 1997.”

“I filed the initial complaint with the IG… The IG instead of doing their own investigation just gave it to the facility and made them aware of my complaint.”

Mitchell eventually wrote to Congress about the issue in January 2011. Two months later, in March 2011, he was fired.

Mitchell received an April 30, 2013 letter from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel stating that OIG found in November 2009 that “all imaging services across the country were instructed to mass purge all outstanding imaging orders for studies older than six months, where the procedure was no longer needed” and that “patient imaging requests found to still be valid were scheduled… Approval was granted for this process by the MEC [Medical Executive Committee], and in collaboration with the Service Chiefs and/or Careline Directors within the health-care system.”

But Mitchell said that in Los Angeles, exam requests that were found to still be needed were “definitely” destroyed.

“The IG’s report said this was a nationwide issue, but I know when we were having our meeting we weren’t talking nationwide – we were talking about our department,” Mitchell said.

“It is the general policy of OSC not to transmit an allegation of wrongdoing to the head of the agency involved, where the agency’s OIG or its delegate, is currently investigating or has investigated, the same allegations. Consequently, this office will take no further action concerning this allegation,” according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel letter.

“That was an excuse” and part of a “cover-up,” Mitchell said.

“I’ve actually filed a lawsuit against them” for wrongful termination and another complaint, Mitchell said. “I filed it in district court in August of last year. It was accepted in September. The court dismissed it and wants me to amend the complaint with additional facts. I’m turning that in this week.”

VA did not return repeated requests for comment. The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System did not return a request for comment and for an interview with Dr. El-Saden.

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Department Of Homeland Security Halted Background Checks To Meet Flood Of Amnesty Requests

Report: DHS Halted Background Checks To Meet Flood Of Amnesty Requests – Big Government

In advance of his successful reelection, President Obama took executive action to defer, for two years, deportation for illegal immigrants who entered the country as children. The result was a flood of requests to the immigration service for the temporary amnesty. As a result of this demand, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, the Department of Homeland Security cut back on the legally-required criminal background checks of these immigrants. The revelation raises questions of how the agency could handle a blanket amnesty of all illegal immigrants.

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In October 2012, Judicial Watch, acting on a tip from a whistleblower, filed a FOIA request with DHS for “all communications, memoranda, emails, policy guidance, directives, initiatives, and any other correspondence respecting the scope and extent of background checks to be performed (or not) on aliens applying to the Obama administration’s DACA program.” [DACA is the acronym for Obama’s temporary amnesty directive.]

Memos and emails obtained through the FOIA reveal that the agency suspended conducting full criminal background checks on illegals applying for the program and, instead, instituted a “lean and lite” process, which allowed the applicant to continue moving through the system.

DHS staff were even informed that that an immigrant’s failure to produce valid identification should not be a reason to delay their application for amnesty. In an October 3 memo, agents were told “Biometric processing should not be refused solely because an applicant does not present an acceptable ID.”

Interestingly, on November 9th, three days after President Obama won reelection, DHS staff were told to stop taking applications for the temporary amnesty. It was somehow no longer necessary to expedient the granting of temporary amnesty.

“The Obama administration seems to be throwing public safety and national security out the door in implementing its illicit and unilateral amnesty program for illegal aliens. The costs and security lapses of this program show that this administration can’t be trusted to implement any of the new security measures in the amnesty bill in the Senate,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement.

Supporters of the Senate amnesty bill promise that no illegal immigrants will be placed on the path to citizenship without being a full criminal background check. If the agency couldn’t handle applications from several hundred thousand immigrants, how can it handle the 11 million would will be legalized after the bill passes?

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FBI Requests For Records Under Patriot Act Have Increased 1,000% In Just Four Years

FBI Requests For Records Under Patriot Act Have Increased 1,000% In Just Four Years; Update: Data-Mining Goes Deeper Than Thought? – Hot Air

It’s not just the number of requests, it’s the scope of them. They’re not demanding records related to particular investigations anymore, they’re demanding huge troves of records on random Americans for data-mining purposes, the same thing Patriot Act co-author Jim Sensenbrenner complained about a few days ago but somehow didn’t foresee in 2001.

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Like I said, you might want to re-poll Bush’s numbers.

“That they were using this (provision) to do mass collection of data is definitely the biggest surprise,” said Robert Chesney, a top national security lawyer at the University of Texas Law School. “Most people who followed this closely were not aware they were doing this. We’ve gone from producing records for a particular investigation to the production of all records for a massive pre-collection database. It’s incredibly sweeping.”…

[I]n the years since [2003], the FBI’s use of Section 215 quietly exploded, with virtually no public notice or debate. In 2009, as part of an annual report to Congress, the Justice Department reported there had been 21 applications for business records to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) under Section 215 – all of which were granted, though nine were modified by the court. (The reports do not explain how or why the orders were modified.)

In 2010, the number of requests jumped to 205 (all again granted, with 176 modified.) In the latest report filed on April 30, the department reported there had been 212 such requests in 2012 – all approved by the court, but 200 of them modified.

These sharp increase in the use of Section 215 has drawn little attention until now because the number of national security letters (NSLs) issued by the bureau has been so much greater – 15,229 in 2012. But FBI Director Mueller, in little-noticed written responses to Congress two years ago, explained that the bureau was encountering resistance from telecommunications companies in turning over “electronic communication transaction” records in response to national security letters.

Google, Facebook, and the gang started to resist NSLs on grounds that they were dubious legally, so Mueller shifted to Section 215 and got back to squeezing them for more and more and more data. Hence Google’s new move, announced just this afternoon: To take some of the heat off itself and push it back onto the feds where it belongs, the company’s lawyer is asking the DOJ to let it publish the number – and scope – of FBI requests for records it receives each year. Right now it’s forbidden to say because Section 215 imposes a gag order on the target of the record request. If Google can’t legally resist complying, at least it can soothe its critics by revealing just how much pressure it’s under from the Most Transparent Administration Ever.

Exit question: This WaPo story is nothing more than a textbook pro-Obama leak authorized by the White House to take some heat off of him and maybe show the virtues of aggressive cyberwarfare, right?

Update: What does this mean?

A leading Republican senator on Tuesday described controversial U.S. spy programs as looking far deeper into Americans’ phone records than the Obama administration has been willing to admit, fueling new privacy concerns as Congress sought to defend the surveillance systems.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC., says the U.S. intelligence surveillance of phone records allows analysts to monitor U.S. phone records for a pattern of calls, even if those numbers have no known connection to terrorism.

Graham says the National Security Agency then matches phone numbers against known terrorists. Graham helped draft the surveillance law that governs the surveillance program.

In other words, they’re looking for patterns among the general population that match the phone patterns of people they’ve already identified as terrorists? So they’re not limiting themselves to targeting specific terrorist-linked numbers anymore, but suspicious “patterns” too?

Parting thought:

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Congressional Republicans To Investigate EPA Freedom Of Information Requests Scandal

Lawmakers To Investigate EPA FOIA Scandal – Daily Caller

Republican lawmakers are launching an investigation into claims that the Environmental Protection Agency, while giving preferential treatment to environmental groups, made it harder for conservative groups to obtain government records.

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“According to documents obtained by the Committees, EPA readily granted FOIA fee waivers for environmental allies, effectively subsidizing them, while denying fee waivers and making the FOIA process more difficult for states and conservative groups,” wrote Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Darrell Issa and Sens. David Vitter, Chuck Grassley and Jim Inhofe in a letter to the EPA.

Citing a report by The Daily Caller News Foundation, Republicans are asking the EPA to hand over all Freedom of Information Act fee waiver requests, responses to requests, and FOIA officer training materials since the beginning of the Obama administration.

Lawmakers are also asking for all communications regarding FOIA fee waiver requests or appeals under the Obama administration.

The free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute obtained documents showing that since January 2012, the EPA granted fee waivers for 75 out of 82 FOIA requests from major environmental groups and only denied seven of them, giving green groups a 92 percent success rate.

At the same time, the EPA rejected or ignored 21 out of 26 fee waiver requests from conservative groups.

“The startling disparity in treatment strongly suggests EPA’s actions are possibly part of a broader effort to collude with groups that share the agency’s political agenda and discriminate against states and conservative organizations,” the lawmakers wrote. “This is a clear abuse of discretion.”

Republicans are tying the EPA to the broader controversy over the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups.

“We know the Obama EPA has completely mismanaged FOIA, but granting fee waivers for their friends in the far-left environmental community, while simultaneously blocking conservative leaning groups from gaining access to information is really no different than the IRS disaster,” said Vitter.

Acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe announced Thursday that he was asking the inspector general to look into the matter.

“I am going to get an independent look at all that information so I can get a determination,” said Perciasepe, adding that the agency’s shift to an online system often means that groups are not charged any fees even if they are not formally waived.

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