Ignoring Government Transparency Rules

The following is a Judicial Watch Press Release dated November 1:

Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed lawsuits regarding the maintenance of text messages as federal records and for records of the audit of communications of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

After the FBI claimed that text messages are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Judicial Watch filed suit to ensure that text messages are being preserved. The new Administrative Procedure Act lawsuit against the FBI challenges the FBI failure to preserve FBI text messages as required by the Federal Records Act. (Judicial Watch v. FBI (No.1:18-cv-02316)).

In its lawsuit Judicial Watch points to a related case in which Michael G. Seidel, the assistant section chief of the Record/Information Dissemination Section in the FBI’s Information Management Division, stated: “text messages on [FBI]-issued devices are not automatically integrated into an FBI records system.” (Danik v. U.S. Department of Justice, (No. 1:17-cv-01792)).

Judicial Watch argued that the FBI “does not have a recordkeeping program in place that provides effective controls over the maintenance of electronic messages, including text messages.” Moreover, “The FBI relies upon its personnel to incorporate their text messages into a recordkeeping system. If FBI personnel do not actively incorporate their text messages into a recordkeeping system, the text messages are not preserved.”

Judicial Watch asked the court to declare the FBI’s failure to have a recordkeeping program for electronic messages to be “not in accordance with law” and that the court order the FBI “to establish and maintain a recordkeeping program that provides effective controls over the maintenance of electronic messages.”

If text messages are not preserved, then they may be deleted and never produced to Congress, criminal investigators, and to the American people under FOIA.

Judicial Watch also filed suit against the Justice Department after the DOJ failed to respond to an August 27, 2018, FOIA request seeking the FBI’s audit records of McCabe’s communications (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-02283)).

In 2015, a political action committee run by Terry McAuliffe, a close friend and political supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, donated nearly $500,000 to Andrew McCabe’s wife Jill, who was then running for the Virginia State Senate. Also, the Virginia Democratic Party, over which McAuliffe had significant influence, donated an additional $207,788 to the Jill McCabe campaign. In July 2015, Andrew McCabe was in charge of the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office, which provided personnel resources to the Clinton email probe.

In July 2017, Judicial Watch filed three FOIA lawsuits seeking communications between the FBI and McCabe concerning “ethical issues” involving his wife’s political campaign; McCabe’s communications with McAuliffe; and McCabe’s travel vouchers.

Following an Inspector General Report, a grand jury reportedly was impaneled recently to investigate McCabe’s possible role in leaks to the media “to advance his personal interests.”

The FBI has told Judicial Watch that it is under no legal obligation to produce any of Andrew McCabe’s text messages under FOIA, which has attracted criticism from President Trump.

“This lawsuit exposes a massive FBI cover-up of its text messages, which are government records and are, by the thousands, likely to have been deleted and lost by FBI employees,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And of course, this cover-up conveniently impacts the production of text messages to Judicial Watch and Congress of disgraced FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and James Comey.”

It is time to uncover the corruption in the FBI during the Obama administration. The FBI should be subject to FOIA requests.

About That Transparency Thing…

As anyone who regularly reads this blog is aware, I am involved in the fight against Common Core in North Carolina. There is a better plan, the North Carolina Education Plan, that would better suit the students of North Carolina–it will encourage critical thinking and improve both their reading and mathematics skills. Common Core is a one-size-fits-all group of standards that is heavily funded by the Bill Gates Foundation and supported by the political class in Washington, D.C. Bill Gates himself has stated, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”  The father of Common Core is the “No Child Left Behind” Law which moved a large part of education in America under the control of the federal government. Just for the record, the federal government does not have the Constitutional right to control local education. Well, No Child Left Behind has morphed into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now before Congress.

On Thursday, Truth In American Education posted an article about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The article stated:

Because the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) will be the largest piece of federal education legislation Congress will pass in over a decade, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) should allow the bill to be made publicly available for at least 60 days before the House considers it.

The bill is not scheduled to be made publicly available until November 30th. Thus, a vote should not be scheduled until late January. Currently, it is scheduled for December 2; two days is clearly not sufficient. House members will be forced to vote on a bill they haven’t read.

The American people expected a new style of leadership under Speaker Ryan, not more of the same. If he allows a bill of this magnitude to become law without adequately vetting its merits and faults, it will affirm that the same ills that plagued Congress under Speaker Boehner remain fully intact.

Transparency is obviously an issue here, but there are other issues.

The article further states:

What we have heard, but can’t confirm:

The new bill is hundreds of pages longer than either prior version.

It contains new programs that weren’t in either prior version.

There is a new competitive grant for pre-schools- think Race to the Top for Tots

Very complex language that is unclear. This means the US Depart of Education will have tremendous leeway to interpret it to the advantage of the federal government. Because it has discretion over how to administer the law, unclear language makes it easier for the US Department of Education to justify and make decisions to place requirements on the states through its rule-making authority.

Education needs to be under local control. Admittedly, every student in America needs to learn basic English and Mathematics, but different areas of the country have different educational needs beyond that. Americans are individuals, we need to have an education system that educates individuals. One size does not fit all.

One thing that could really help the federal budget would be to get rid of the Department of Education on the federal level. In 1953, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare became a cabinet-level agency of the U.S. government. In 1979, Jimmy Carter created the cabinet-level Department of Education. In 1979, the Office of Education had 3,000 employees and an annual budget of $12 billion. When the Department of Education was created, it had an annual budget of $14.2 billion and 17,000 employees. According to the government Budget Office, the U. S. Department of Education currently administers a budget of $67.1 billion in discretionary appropriations. I truly think it is time for them to go away.

I also think it is time for Speaker Paul Ryan to live up to his promises about transparency.