Tag: Used

Corruption Update: Hillary’s Top State Department Aides Used Private Emails Too (Video)

Hillary’s Top Two Aides Used Personal Email At State Department – Weekly Standard

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Stephen F. Hayes reported on Fox News that Hillary Clinton’s top two aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, used personal emails while working for the secretary of state at the State Department:

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“Two of Hillary Clinton’s top aides used personal email while they were employed at the State Department, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff. The State Department has evidence of this.

“And the question I think become: were they emailing with Hillary Clinton from their personal email addresses to her personal email address about State Department business, about Benghazi, including sensitive classified information?Those are questions that I think that Trey Gowdy and the House Benghazi committee is going to want to look at very carefully.”

Hayes went on to explain, “This is the key point. Yesterday, she said look, when I was doing State Department business I was emailing to people who on the receiving end of her emails had .gov email addresses and therefore the emails, the documents would have been retained. What this suggests is that others were using non-.gov emails, their personal emails, and if they communicated with her in that manner those emails with her will be lost unless they’re compelled to provide them.”

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Infernal Revenue Service Destroyed Hard Drive Lois Lerner Used At Time Of Tea Party Targeting

IRS Destroyed Hard Drive Lois Lerner Used At Time Of Tea Party Targeting – Daily Signal

Lois Lerner’s missing emails are likely gone forever because the Internal Revenue Service destroyed the hard drive she used at the time tea party groups were targeted, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

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“We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told Politico. Two other sources confirmed Hatch’s account.

The news brought a swift response from Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform. In a statement late last night, Issa said:

If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination, this is proof their whole line about ‘losing’ emails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception. Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.

The latest revelation sets the stage for what is expected to be a contentious hearing Friday when IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is scheduled to appear before the committee. In March, the commissioner assured the Oversight and Government Reform Committee the IRS would comply with the request to turn over the emails as congressional investigators probed Lerner’s involvement in the scandal.

>>> IRS in March: ‘We’re Working Very Hard to Get You the Lois Lerner Emails’

As part of Issa’s latest subpoena, he asked the IRS to turn over “all hard drives, external drives, thumb drives and computers” and “all electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner.”

Lerner, who was held in contempt of Congress for her refusal to cooperate, was director of the IRS’ tax-exempt office at the time tea party groups faced delays and additional scrutiny in their applications to the IRS. Last week, the IRS revealed it had “lost” an email messages from a period between January 2009 through April 2011 because of a computer crash.

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Obama Regime Illegally Used DoD Communications Systems To Disseminate Political Message

Illegal Use Of DoD Communications Systems By Obama Administration – American Spectator

The American Spectator has been provided with the text of a political message sent on Saturday evening, using Department of Defense communications systems, on behalf of President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel.

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It is addressed to “all US government employees” and further specified by the DoD sender to go to “all subordinate commands,” in compliance with Hagel’s call for “the widest possible distribution.”

The message contains standard presidential lauding of public service, but goes on to attack the current government shutdown by specifically castigating the House of Representatives, saying that the House – which is unsubtle code for Republicans – should “follow the Senate’s lead…without trying to attach…partisan measures in the process.”

I am not an attorney and do not play one on TV, but my assessment is that the sending of this message via government-owned communications systems is a violation of at least one federal law and at least one military regulation.

To wit:

The Secretary of Defense, as a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee falls into a class of federal employees considered “further restricted.”

According to a Department of Defense ethics document (describing the application of the Hatch Act to further restricted employees), “political activity is defined as an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office or partisan political group.”

A message which specifically criticizes part of the government which is under the control of a particular political party of “partisan” activities is, on its face, a partisan message aimed at harming a political party, and therefore fits the Hatch Act definition of “political activity.”

One of the specific prohibitions of the Hatch Act is “participating in political activity while on-duty or in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed by DoD.” Clearly this message was sent by someone who was “on-duty” and almost certainly while in a building in which Chuck Hagel and the direct sender, the DoD Executive Secretary, perform their official duties.

In short, I believe this message constitutes a violation of the Hatch Act.

Furthermore, a 2012 memo from the Secretary of the Army “remind(s) the Army community that the use of government information systems and websites for partisan political activities is prohibited.” No doubt all military services have similar prohibitions. See these examples of the US Navy and US Air Force prohibitions against the use of their communications systems for partisan political activity.

The Air Force document linked above puts it clearly: “Military and civilian employees of the federal government are absolutely prohibited from using government supplies, equipment, communication systems and facilities in any political activity.”

In short, I believe this message constitutes a violation of multiple military service regulations.

While I hope the existence of this illegal message, and the reprehensible hyper-partisan behavior of the Obama administration will become known, it is difficult to be optimistic that a lawless group such as Team Obama will be curtailed. After all, the Eric Holder-led Department of Justice has become nothing more than a thuggish enforcer of Alinskyite dogma and tactics, and a defender rather than prosecutor of executive branch malfeasance. The fox is guarding the henhouse.

But that doesn’t mean the American public shouldn’t be reminded as often as possible the true nature of our government, and their brazen willingness to ignore and violate black-letter law.

Separately, one has to wonder whether the Obama administration thinks that military recipients of this message will react kindly to being discussed in the same context as employees of the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. And one has to wonder whether Obama really wants to remind members of the military about a government which found a way to deny the death gratuity to the families of those who lost children, parents, and spouses in battle, and whose Secretary of Defense Hagel just went for the first time to Dover Air Force base to participate in the returning home of the body of an American soldier killed overseas.

UNCLASSIFIED//
UNCLAS SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
TO ALDODACT
CN=AL ALDODACT(UC)
INFO SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
OU=USAITA(UC)
PASSED FOR ACTION REROUTE DETECTED
IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS
QQQQ
SUBJ: MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ALL U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
UNCLASSIFIED/ O 011328Z OCT 13 FM SECDEF WASHINGTON DC TO ALDODACT UNCLAS

SUBJ: MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ALL U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ALDODACT
17/13 ADDRESSEES PASS TO ALL SUBORDINATE COMMANDS

1. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL FORWARDS THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ALL U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES. PLEASE ENSURE THE WIDEST DISTRIBUTION:

TO THE DEDICATED AND HARD-WORKING EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT:

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS AMERICA’S LARGEST EMPLOYER, WITH MORE THAN 2 MILLION CIVILIAN WORKERS AND 1.4 MILLION ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY WHO SERVE IN ALL 50 STATES AND AROUND THE WORLD. BUT CONGRESS HAS FAILED TO MEET ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS A BUDGET BEFORE THE FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGINS TODAY. AND THAT MEANS MUCH OF OUR GOVERNMENT MUST SHUT DOWN EFFECTIVE TODAY.

I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I WILL KEEP WORKING TO GET CONGRESS TO REOPEN THE GOVERNMENT, RESTART VITAL SERVICES THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DEPEND ON, AND ALLOW PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO HAVE BEEN SENT HOME TO RETURN TO WORK. AT MY DIRECTION, YOUR AGENCIES SHOULD HAVE REACHED OUT TO YOU BY NOW ABOUT WHAT A SHUTDOWN MEANS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES.

TODAY, I WANTED TO TAKE A MOMENT TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU MEAN TO ME-AND TO OUR COUNTRY.

THAT BEGINS BY SAYING THANK YOU FOR THE WORK YOU DO EVERY DAY-WORK THAT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY AND TO AMERICAN FAMILIES’ ECONOMIC SECURITY. YOU DEFEND OUR COUNTRY OVERSEAS AND ENSURE THAT OUR TROOPS RECEIVE THE BENEFITS THEY DESERVE WHEN THEY COME HOME. YOU GUARD OUR BORDERS AND PROTECT OUR CIVIL RIGHTS. YOU HELP SMALL BUSINESSES EXPAND AND GAIN NEW FOOTHOLDS IN OVERSEAS MARKETS. YOU GUIDE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EACH DAY THROUGH THE GLORY OF AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS AND MONUMENTS, FROM YOSEMITE TO THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. AND MUCH MORE.

YOU DO ALL THIS IN A POLITICAL CLIMATE THAT, TOO OFTEN IN RECENT YEARS, HAS TREATED YOU LIKE A PUNCHING BAG. YOU HAVE ENDURED THREE YEARS OF A FEDERAL PAY FREEZE, HARMFUL SEQUESTER CUTS, AND NOW, A SHUTDOWN OF OUR GOVERNMENT. AND YET, YOU PERSEVERE, CONTINUING TO SERVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH PASSION, PROFESSIONALISM, AND SKILL.

NONE OF THIS IS FAIR TO YOU. AND SHOULD IT CONTINUE, IT WILL MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO KEEP ATTRACTING THE KIND OF DRIVEN, PATRIOTIC, IDEALISTIC AMERICANS TO PUBLIC SERVICE THAT OUR CITIZENS DESERVE AND THAT OUR SYSTEM OF SELF-GOVERNMENT DEMANDS.

PUBLIC SERVICE IS NOBLE. PUBLIC SERVICE IS IMPORTANT. AND BY CHOOSING PUBLIC SERVICE, YOU CARRY ON A PROUD TRADITION AT THE HEART OF SOME OF THIS COUNTRY’S GREATEST AND MOST LASTING ACHIEVEMENTS. IN FACT, MORE THAN 50 CURRENT OR FORMER FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HAVE RECEIVED THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR THEIR EFFORTS. IT WAS GRANTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY THAT HELPED BUSINESSES UNLOCK NEW SOURCES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY, AND FROM THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION THAT HELPED ENTREPRENEURS LIKE THE FOUNDERS OF GOOGLE CHANGE THE WORLD. IT IS YOUR EFFORTS THAT WILL HELP THIS COUNTRY MEET THE GREAT CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME-REBUILDING AN ECONOMY WHERE ALL WHO WORK HARD CAN GET AHEAD.

SO WHILE THE BUDGET FIGHTS IN WASHINGTON ARE TOO OFTEN PARTISAN, YOUR SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY MUST NEVER BE. AS ONE OF MY PREDECESSORS, PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH, ONCE SAID, “THERE IS NOTHING MORE FULFILLING THAN TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND TO DO IT WELL. AND THAT IS WHAT OUR SYSTEM OF SELF-GOVERNMENT DEPENDS ON.”

THIS SHUTDOWN WAS COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CAN END IT AS SOON AS IT FOLLOWS THE SENATE’S LEAD, AND FUNDS YOUR WORK IN THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WITHOUT TRYING TO ATTACH HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL AND PARTISAN MEASURES IN THE PROCESS.

HOPEFULLY, WE WILL RESOLVE THIS QUICKLY. IN THE MEANTIME, I WANT YOU TO KNOW-WHETHER YOU ARE A YOUNG PERSON WHO JUST JOINED PUBLIC SERVICE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, OR A CAREER EMPLOYEE WHO HAS DEDICATED YOUR LIFE TO THAT PURSUIT-YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES REMAIN AT THE FRONT OF MY MIND. YOUR AGENCY LEADERS AND I WILL CONTINUE TO DEFEND YOUR WORK AT A TIME WHEN THAT WORK HAS RARELY BEEN MORE IMPORTANT. WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH YOUR AGENCIES TO KEEP YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES APPRISED AND INFORMED OF WHAT IS HAPPENING. AND I WILL CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO GET THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO ALLOW OUR GOVERNMENT TO REOPEN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, AND MAKE SURE YOU RECEIVE THE PAY THAT YOU HAVE EARNED.

THANK YOU, AGAIN, FOR YOUR SERVICE, YOUR SACRIFICE, AND EVERYTHING YOU DO EVERY DAY FOR THIS COUNTRY WE LOVE SO MUCH.

RELEASED BY: MICHAEL L. BRUHN, DOD EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

BT
#1024
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UNCLASSIFIED//

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ObamaNazis At DEA Directing Agents To Cover Up Program Used To Illegally Investigate Americans

Exclusive: U.S. Directs Agents To Cover Up Program Used To Investigate Americans – Reuters

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

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The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”

THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.

“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”

A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.

But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.

A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.

“PARALLEL CONSTRUCTION

After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”

The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”

A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.

“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.

Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.

A QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY

“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”

Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”

Lustberg and others said the government’s use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant’s identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.

“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”

Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.

“It’s a balancing act, and they’ve doing it this way for years,” Spelke said. “Do I think it’s a good way to do it? No, because now that I’m a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge.”

CONCEALING A TIP

One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.” The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.

A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.

The SOD’s role providing information to agents isn’t itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.

The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD’s role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don’t accidentally try to arrest each other.

SOD’S BIG SUCCESSES

The unit also played a major role in a 2008 DEA sting in Thailand against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; he was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The SOD also recently coordinated Project Synergy, a crackdown against manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of synthetic designer drugs that spanned 35 states and resulted in 227 arrests.

Since its inception, the SOD’s mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit’s annual budget. A recent LinkedIn posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.

Today, the SOD offers at least three services to federal, state and local law enforcement agents: coordinating international investigations such as the Bout case; distributing tips from overseas NSA intercepts, informants, foreign law enforcement partners and domestic wiretaps; and circulating tips from a massive database known as DICE.

The DICE database contains about 1 billion records, the senior DEA officials said. The majority of the records consist of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are kept for about a year and then purged, the DEA officials said.

About 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents have access to the DICE database, records show. They can query it to try to link otherwise disparate clues. Recently, one of the DEA officials said, DICE linked a man who tried to smuggle $100,000 over the U.S. southwest border to a major drug case on the East Coast.

“We use it to connect the dots,” the official said.

“AN AMAZING TOOL”

Wiretap tips forwarded by the SOD usually come from foreign governments, U.S. intelligence agencies or court-authorized domestic phone recordings. Because warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is illegal, tips from intelligence agencies are generally not forwarded to the SOD until a caller’s citizenship can be verified, according to one senior law enforcement official and one former U.S. military intelligence analyst.

“They do a pretty good job of screening, but it can be a struggle to know for sure whether the person on a wiretap is American,” the senior law enforcement official said.

Tips from domestic wiretaps typically occur when agents use information gleaned from a court-ordered wiretap in one case to start a second investigation.

As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don’t worry that SOD’s involvement will be exposed in court. That’s because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.

Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.

“It was an amazing tool,” said one recently retired federal agent. “Our big fear was that it wouldn’t stay secret.”

DEA officials said that the SOD process has been reviewed internally. They declined to provide Reuters with a copy of their most recent review.

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Obama Crimes Update: DOJ Unit Used Taxpayer Money To Organize And Support Zimmerman Protests In Florida

Documents: Little-Known Justice Department Unit Provided ‘Support For Protest Deployment In Florida’ During Initial Trayvon Martin Unrest – Daily Mail

Documents published online Wednesday by a conservative watchdog group show that the Community Relations Service, an arm of the U.S. Justice Department, spent taxpayer dollars to help organize and implement plans for the initial string of rallies in Sanford, Florida following the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

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Rev. Al Sharpton (C) spoke at a ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rally along with Tracy Martin (R) and Sybrina Fulton (2nd L), parents of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, on March 22, 2012. It appears the U.S. Justice Department provided support for similar rallies

The protests were openly hostile to George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watch organizer who killed Martin, 17, after a struggle. Zimmerman is currently on trial in a Florida courtroom, charged with second-degree murder.

The DOJ’s Community Relations Service first entered the Trayvon Martin controversy March 25-27, 2012 when, according to the documents, its personnel were ‘deployed to Sanford, FL, to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain.’

Days later, from March 30 through April 1, the agency reported that it ‘provide[d] support for protest deployment in Florida.’

Judicial Watch obtained the Justice Department documents in April 2012 and March 2013 through a Freedom of Information Act request, but released them Wednesday. A Judicial Watch official told MailOnline that a shortage of personnel to analyze thousands of pages of documents obtained under FOIA – not a desire for trial-related publicity – was responsible for the delay.

The DOJ describes its Community Relations Service as ‘the Department’s “peacemaker” for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin.’

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George Zimmerman, shown in an evidence photo with injuries he sustained during the confrontation that ended Trayvon Martin’s life, is charged with second-degree murder

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Thousands of posters were printed demanding Zimmerman’s arrest for killing Martin. These signs were funded by the Service Employees International Union local 1199, a health care workers union

Its mandate includes ‘assist[ing] State and local units of government, private and public organizations, and community groups with preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders, and in restoring racial stability and harmony.’

Some of the Trayvon Martin protests, however, stoked racial animosity, with Black Panther Party members and the Rev. Al Sharpton suggesting that Zimmerman, a Latino man, was an example of white-on-black violence.

‘These documents detail the extraordinary intervention by the Justice Department in the pressure campaign leading to the prosecution of George Zimmerman,’ said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

‘My guess is that most Americans would rightly object to taxpayers paying government employees to help organize racially-charged demonstrations.’

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Judicial Watch’s document indicate that the DOJ spent at least $5,320 in hard costs to support the rallies, an amount that does not include the salaries of personnel tasked to intervene.

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Trayvon Martin supporters marched before a town hall meeting about the shooting on March 26, 2012. Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and NAACP president Benjamin Jealous all spoke at the event

The agency’s Florida activities did include providing ‘technical assistance’ to law enforcement and city managers in Sanford. But its apparent work to assist demonstrators indicates that it functioned less as a government entity and more as a partner to the protest organizers.

Judicial Watch also obtained an audio recording of an April 19, 2012 community meeting held at the Second Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

‘The meeting, which opens with a gospel hymn and organ music, is reported to have led to the official ouster of Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee,’ the group said in a press release.

‘A week earlier, a group calling themselves the “Dream Defenders” had barricaded the entrance to the police department demanding he be fired for failing to file murder charges against Zimmerman. The church meeting produced a nine-point plan, the main demand being the firing of Chief Lee.’

The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier in the same week that the DOJ’s Community Relations Service ‘helped set up a meeting between the local NAACP and elected officials that led to the temporary resignation of police Chief Bill Lee.’

‘They were there for us,’ Allen Chapel AME Church pastor Rev. Valarie Houston said at the time.

The Sentinel also reported that Community Relations Service employees arranged a 40-mile police escort for students calling for the police chief’s ouster who were traveling from Daytona Beach to Sanford.

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Many of the protests after Martin’s shooting were racially charged events, and some reportedly included the participation of New Black Panther Party members

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Obama Decides To Arm Al Qaeda-Loving “Rebels” In Syria After Concluding Assad Used Chemical Weapons

U.S.: Syria Used Chemical Weapons, Crossing “Red Line” – CBS News

The Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him and, in a major policy shift, President Obama has decided to supply military support to the rebels, the White House announced Thursday.

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“The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes told reporters.

President Obama has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons is a “red line” that, if crossed, would be a “game changer” for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

“The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States,” said Rhodes in a separate written statement.

“The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has,” he continued.

In terms of further response, Rhodes said, “we will make decisions on our own timeline” and that Congress and the international community would be consulted. Mr. Obama is heading to Northern Ireland Sunday for a meeting of the G8 group of nations; Rhodes indicated the president will consult with leaders of those countries.

“Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity,” Rhodes said.

To date, the U.S. policy on Syria has primarily focused on offering the rebels nonlethal assistance and humanitarian aid.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who met with the rebels last month and has been a vocal critic of the president’s Syria policy said in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: “We appreciate the President’s finding that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions. We also agree with the President that this fact must affect U.S. policy toward Syria. The President’s red line has been crossed. U.S. credibility is on the line. Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions.”

“A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the President will take this urgently needed step” they added. Former President Bill Clinton this week, at a private event with McCain, also ratcheted up pressure for the White House to increase its support to the rebels.

However, Rhodes would not detail the type of military support the administration intends on providing. He said helping the opposition improve their effectiveness as a fighting force means helping with “nonlethal assistance” such as communications equipment and transportation. “These are things that allow them to cohere as a unit,” he said.

He added, meanwhile, that no decision has been made about enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria. “A no-fly zone… would carry with it open-ended costs for the international community,” Rhodes said. “Furthermore, there’s not even a clear guarantee that it would dramatically improve the situation on the ground.”

Rhodes laid out the intelligence assessment that led to the president’s decision saying the U.S. intelligence community determined “that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.”

Rhodes added that “the intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete.”

Although that is a small fraction of the more than 90,000 who have died in the civil war, Rhodes said “the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades.”

“We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons,” Rhodes continued. “We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.”

The conflict in Syria has raged on since March 2011 when Assad began cracking down on protesters inspired by the Arab Spring. The war has fallen along ethnic lines, between the Sunni rebels and Assad’s Alawite-dominated regime. Rhodes said today that the use of chemical weapons adds an element of urgency to the situation, as does the influx of foreign pro-Assad fighters from Hezbollah and Iran.

While Mr. Obama has said unequivocally that Assad must go, the administration has said it’s still aiming for his regime to engage with the opposition to reach a political settlement. In the absence of a political settlement, Rhodes said Syria would be left with “for all intents and purposes, a civil war” that Hezbollah and Iran would jump into. Syria’s position in the heart of the Middle East makes the scenario particularly unpredictable.

Rhodes further added that the end of the Assad regime should not have to necessitate the disillusionment in all elements of the state. “There is a future for those in the Assad regime who are willing to accept the end of Bashar Assad’s reign but are willing to work for a better future for Syria,” he said.

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Related article:

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Syrian Rebels Pledge Loyalty To Al-Qaeda – USA Today

A Syrian rebel group’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda’s replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group’s influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.

Lebanese Sheik Omar Bakri, a Salafist who says states must be governed by Muslim religious law, says al-Qaeda has assisted al Nusra for some time.

“They provided them early on with technical, military and financial support , especially when it came to setting up networks of foreign jihadis who were brought into Syria,” Bakri says. “There will certainly be greater coordination between the two groups.”

The United States, which supports the overthrow of Assad, designated al Nusra a terrorist entity in December. The Obama administration has said it wants to support only those insurgent groups that are not terrorist organizations.

Al Nusra and groups like it have seen some of the most significant victories against Syrian government forces in the course of the 2-year-old uprising in which Assad’s forces have killed about 80,000 people. Rebels not affiliated with al-Qaeda have pressed Washington for months to send weaponry that will allow them to match the heavy weapons of the Syrian army. They’ve urged the West to mount an air campaign against Assad’s mechanized forces.

President Obama refuses to provide any direct military aid. Foreign radical Islamists streaming into the fight from the Middle East and Europe are making headway with the Syrian population by providing services and gaining ground in battles.

Tamer Mouhieddine, spokesman for the Syrian Free Army, a force made up of Syrian soldiers who have defected, said the recent announcements would not change his group’s attitude toward al Nusra.

“The rebels in Syria have one common enemy – Bashar Assad – and they will collaborate with any faction allowing them to topple his regime,” he said.

He confirmed that al Nusra is generating loyalty in Aleppo, a region battling for months with Assad, by providing financial support as well as setting up charities.

Aaron Zelin at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington says al Nusra’s ability to provide security and basic needs such as bread and fuel to Syrian civilians, as well as to reopen shops and restart bus services, has won gratitude from people who would not usually adhere to its strict ideology.

Zelin says some Syrian people have criticized al Nusra for banning alcohol, forcing women to wear a full veil and whipping men who are seen with women in public.

“This illustrates the need for American leadership in the Syrian conflict, particularly with regard to helping non-Qaeda-aligned rebels contain the growth of (al Nusra) and similar groups,” he said. “Washington should also try to take advantage of cleavages within the rebellion and civilian population, since al Nusra is outside the mainstream and more concerned with establishing a transnational caliphate than maintaining the Syrian state.”

Groups such as the Islamic Liwaa al Tawhid, which collaborates with al Nusra on military operations, worried that Assad would use the announcement from al Nusra as evidence for his claim that he is fighting terrorists, not Syrian citizens who wish an end to his dictatorship, Mouhieddine said.

“We are willing to fight alongside any faction targeting the Assad regime, as long as it does not have a foreign agenda, which seems now the case” of al Nusra, he said.

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