I’ve joined many others, including the President of the United States, in being locked out of Twitter for posing a tweet about hydroxychloroquine that I posted time and time again and that Twitter had already found to be in compliance with its rules. Without warning, Twitter told me that not only did I have to take it down but that even if I did I’d be locked out for seven days.
Judicial Watch’s Twitter account was purged of nearly 200,000 followers, and I’ve lost over 10 percent of my followers. Fair-minded Americans are concerned that our civil liberties, especially the God-given right of free speech, are being censored by these private actors that have this unique role in our nation’s public life and that control our ability to communicate.
No one would say Big Tech can keep people off because of their race, so why can they keep people off because of their political beliefs?
I “appealed” the Twitter lockout but Twitter has ignored my appeal which is no surprise because we all know that this is not about HCQ, it is about finding a pretext to silence another leading conservative voice. Facebook/Instagram is also targeting conservatives and Judicial Watch will be at risk for more suppression from the leftists controlling Big Tech.
I suggest you pop over to our website (https://www.judicialwatch.org/petitions/sign-up/) and share your postal and email addresses so Judicial Watch can keep in direct contact with you about our essential work to uncover and stop government corruption. Our heavy lifting will intensify for the rule of law despite the censorship — with your support!
You can see our work is needed more than ever as the Pelosi House abused President Trump with a baseless and malicious second impeachment of President Trump!
The latest Trump impeachment is a violation (again) of due process and undermines the rule of law. There is no evidence President Trump incited violence or insurrection. A summary, snap impeachment imposed without any hearing, any evidence, or providing President Trump the ability to defend himself is fundamentally unjust.
The Left once again has rolled over the civil rights of President Trump to score political points.
But this abuse of power is “bipartisan,” as ten Republicans signed onto to an impeachment that would have the effect of criminalizing core political speech that has nothing to do with violence or insurrection.
This impeachment is meant to criminalize opposition to their agenda. Never let a crisis go to waste, Democrats, allied media, and Big Tech have attacked the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Again, we have had mass censorship and purges on Twitter, the destruction of Parler, and outright bans on conservative speech related to the election debates. This impeachment seeks to effectively outlaw support for election integrity reform.
The Senate should summarily dispose of this sham impeachment as soon as possible.
BLM “Racial Justice” Riots Result in Record Domestic Terrorism Cases
The violence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington is being used by the Left and its media allies to distract from the increasing leftist political violence and insurrection that has plagued cities across the nation, particularly Washington DC. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the details.
A record number of domestic terrorism cases were filed by federal prosecutors last year with the largest concentration in Oregon thanks to the ongoing riots there inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its leftist supporters. For the past seven months, Portland has been like a war zone with anarchists breaking into buildings, rioters setting fires in the streets, and smashing the windows of local businesses. One area news report recently quoted Portland’s mayor comparing the perpetrators to a “flash mob.” There seems to be no end in sight to the mayhem. Just a few days ago about 100 protestors vandalized businesses and police headquarters in the Portland suburb of Tigard.
The ongoing violence has earned Oregon the distinction of having the largest arsenal of criminally charged domestic terrorists during a record-breaking year for homegrown terrorism in the U.S. In fact, in 2020 the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated more domestic terrorism cases than any other year in the last decade and a half, according to figures provided by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research center at Syracuse University. The records published by TRAC show that U.S. attorneys around the country filed 183 domestic terrorism cases in 2020, most of them related to nightly protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death during an arrest by Minneapolis Police. Seventy-eight of the cases were brought in Oregon, ground zero of leftist rioting. It marks the highest total of such cases since government tracking began a quarter of a century ago, TRAC confirms. “This compares with 69 such prosecutions in fiscal 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, 63 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2018, and 90 such prosecutions during FY 2019,” the research group writes in its report.
The government categorizes domestic terrorism to include assault, resisting or impeding officers or law enforcement employees, threats against the president, entering or remaining in restricted buildings or grounds, importing, or storing explosives, civil disorders, and making threatening communications. Back in September Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, announced that his office was committed to charging those who impede or assault law enforcement officers, damage federal property, and set buildings on fire. “Those who commit violence in the name of protest will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” Williams writes in the announcement. Days later dozens got charged in Oregon with assault on a federal officer, destruction of government property, arson of federal property, and violating national defense airspace. The cases all stem from nightly protests outside Portland’s federal courthouse after Floyd’s death 1,700 miles away.
The District of Columbia ranks second with 16 domestic terrorism cases, according to TRAC figures obtained from the government. Ohio is third with six followed by Utah with five. The nonpartisan university research conglomerate points out that many U.S. Attorneys’ offices failed to charge perpetrators with domestic terrorism, even in states where violent BLM protests made international headlines. Among them is the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington, which has jurisdiction over Seattle, a city with BLM protests just as violent as those in nearby Portland. In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Seattle became a war zone with daily vandalism and violence as well as the occupation of a neighborhood—in the name of racial justice—that was finally dismantled by the city after two fatal shootings. Protestors managed to convince lawmakers to drastically cut police funding even as Seattle experiences the highest murder rate in 26 years.
Federal prosecutors in Washington may have chosen to look the other way as domestic terrorists trashed their largest city, but the numbers nationally are still unsettling. Data provided by TRAC reveals that the homegrown extremists—mostly violent leftists claiming to be fighting for racial justice—greatly outnumber the 21 international terrorism cases filed by feds last year. “Federal prosecutors also labeled as terrorism prosecutions some cases brought to safeguard critical infrastructure to protect national security, terrorism-related financing offenses, and terrorism-related export enforcement,” TRAC writes in its report. “They also categorized others as internal security offenses. But despite the diversity of categories, the 183 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2020 accounted for the majority. Prosecutions under the broad terrorism/internal security label altogether totaled 301.”
Judicial Watch Obtains Footage of Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp
In the early morning hours of March 12, 2020, 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp, a student and software developer, was shot and killed by police in his Potomac, Maryland, home during the execution of a “no-knock” search warrant.
The family and police have different versions of the event. SWAT team members there are not required to wear bodycams, which might have cleared up the discrepancies. After the shooting, another officer who did have bodycams came onto the scene.
We just obtained three videos of body cam footage from the Montgomery County, MD, Police Department (MCPD). The videos show the covered body of Mr. Lemp, detained individuals in the house, and various weapons found at the scene. We blurred images of occupants of the house who appear in the video to protect their privacy.
According to the Montgomery County attorney who emailed the footage to us, “These videos comprise the totality of any body-worn camera footage in existence from this event.”
We obtained the footage in response to a Public Information Act lawsuit against MCPD for all body-worn camera videos relating to the raid on, and resulting death of Duncan Lemp (Judicial Watch v. Montgomery County Police Department (No. V482964)).
The video shows a gun propped up at the head on the bed of the room in which Mr. Lemp’s body is lying covered. An officer states off-camera “that was the weapon that he (Lemp) had that was underneath him at the door leading into the rest of the main house. It got moved as medical treatment was being done on him.” The officer also states: “He (Lemp) was blocking the door with the gun directly underneath him as we were trying to come through that (same) door.” (Lemp had fallen against the door after being shot through his bedroom window by another officer after Lemp allegedly raised and pointed the weapon at the officer.)
In the video, the same officer also points out a shotgun shell rigged with a tripwire to fire in the face of anyone who opened the door. The video also details several other guns, including a handgun and other weapons hanging on a wall, under a couch, and in a closet. The Maryland SWAT officer who killed Lemp was cleared of any wrongdoing in December 2020. A prosecutors’ report concluded:
[T]he actions of the shooting officer on March 12, 2020, were reasonable under the circumstances. The threat caused by Duncan Lemp retrieving a rifle and pointing it at the officer, coupled with Lemp’s apparent refusal to obey lawful commands, justified the shooting officer’s use of deadly force.
The report also states:
Once the house was secured, it appears that a police officer, using body-worn camera equipment, entered the house and went from room to room in order to document the scene. Investigators determined that very little evidentiary value could be obtained from this recording as it was conducted after the raid was over.
It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit and nine months to get these limited videos of the aftermath of the shooting death of Duncan Lemp. The videos may raise additional questions for the public while settling others.
Here are the issues in contention.
Lemp’s family reportedly said that Lemp and his family were asleep “when police besieged the residence from the front of the house” and the family was “awakened by shots fired through Duncan’s bedroom window followed by the sound of flash-bangs.”
According to the family’s attorney, an eyewitness said Lemp was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside the house.
Police disputed that account. The MCPD said in a March 2020 statement that SWAT team officers were acting on an anonymous tip that Lemp was in possession of firearms that he was prohibited from having “due to his criminal history as a juvenile.”
The MCPD maintains that, upon making contact with Lemp, officers identified themselves as the police and gave Lemp multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer’s commands to get on the ground. It also reportedly maintains that Lemp refused to comply with the officer’s commands and proceeded towards an interior bedroom door where other officers were located.
The MCPD statement said Lemp was out of bed and standing “directly in front of the interior bedroom door” holding a rifle “he slept with” each night as officers “made entry into the bedroom.”
According to the Lemp family attorneys, SWAT officers shot Lemp multiple times. They also reported that an eyewitness “told investigators that police never made verbal commands upon either her or Duncan until after Duncan was shot and lay bleeding on the floor. Multiple eyewitnesses told investigators that the police only forced entry into the home after Duncan was shot. According to those eyewitnesses, the police had no contact with any family members until after Duncan was shot.”
The prosecutor’s report concluded that Lemp ignored orders to “don’t move” or “don’t do it” is pointing a weapon at the officer outside his bedroom window and that the officer, in fear for his life, shot Lemp after other SWAT officers had entered the home.
Most Illegal Aliens Arrested in 2020 Had Average of Four Criminal Convictions
With the assumption that the Biden Administration will significantly loosen the rules on immigration, it might be instructive to see what we’ll be getting. The best and brightest aren’t coming over the border for us to take care of. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.
The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants arrested by federal authorities in 2020 had an average of four criminal convictions or charges, according to a year-end report published by the government. In the document Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveals it arrested 103,603 illegal aliens last fiscal year with a total of more than 374,000 convictions and charges. Driving under the influence was the most popular conviction or charge at 74,000, followed by drug crimes (67,000), assaults (37,000), sex offenses (10,000), robberies (3,800), homicides (1,900), and kidnappings (1,600).
It doesn’t end there. An additional 185,884 illegal immigrants were deported by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in 2020 and most of them—64%—had criminal convictions or pending charges. In fact, they had a total of 399,235 criminal convictions and pending charges, according to statistics provided by the Homeland Security agency. Those removed from the country include 4,276 gang members, 675 of them from the famously violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and 31 terrorists. ICE reports that 350 were considered “high-profile removals.” Among them is a Bosnian named Saudin Agani who provided material support to a terrorist organization and has ties to the suspect who attacked two New York City police officers in 2020. “ERO Removal Division’s ICE Air Charter Operations coordinated a record-breaking 76 Special High-Risk Charters to 61 countries, six of which were new countries it had not previously visited,” the report says. Those countries include Jordan, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, and Mongolia, effectuating 3,278 removals. “This is a 160% increase in total removals via Special High-Risk Charter flights compared to FY 2019,” according to ICE.
The agency also issued 122,233 detainers last year with local law enforcement agencies nationwide for illegal immigrants with criminal histories. More than 1,900 committed homicide-related offenses, 3,600 robberies, 42,800 assaults, and 11,900 sex crimes. The detainers are issued as part of a federal-local partnership known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally so they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. A growing number of leftist officials running local governments around the country refuse to participate in the program, but 150 still do and federal immigration authorities credit them with significantly improving public safety. ICE says when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. Judicial Watch has reported extensively on some of the culprits, providing outrageous examples that include elected law enforcement officials freeing child sex offenders, major counties releasing numerous violent convicts, and a state—North Carolina—that discharged nearly 500 illegal immigrant criminals from custody in a year.
The problem continues as more local police departments refuse to comply with 287(g). In the recently issued report, ICE discloses that a two-month program known as Operation Cross Check XI helped arrest more than 2,700 at-large individuals living illegally in the U.S. with pending charges or convictions for crimes involving victims. That means the offenders were likely protected by sanctuary policies. “Of the arrests conducted during Operation Cross Check XI, there were more than 5,800 criminal convictions and more than 3,200 pending charges associated with those arrests,” the ICE report states. “The aliens who were the subjects of these arrests had criminal histories including, but not limited to, the following charges and convictions: more than 1,500 assaults, more than 340 sex crimes, nearly 200 weapon offenses, more than 50 robberies, and 31 homicide offenses.”
As if all this information was not enraging enough, the document also reveals that the government spent a ghastly $315 million on healthcare for illegal immigrants in custody last year. That includes comprehensive medical, dental, and public health services. In 2020 the feds delivered health care to nearly 100,000 detainees at 20 facilities nationwide that have in-house ICE Health Services Corps (IHSC) and oversaw health care for more than 169,000 additional detainees housed in facilities without IHSC. This includes 99,219 intake screenings, 3,048 emergency room visits,15,571 dental visits,19,367 urgent care visits, 123,936 sick calls, 68,985 mental health interventions, 270,222 filled prescriptions and 52,278 physical exams. Adding to the expenses, when COVID-19 hit, ICE created a working group of medical professionals, disease control specialists, and other experts to minimize the spread of the virus.
I’m sure the Democrats will want them to vote.
Violent Crime Surged in 2020: More to Come?
The rule of law protects us and keeps us safe in our person and property. And when politicians reject the rule of law to pursue radical policies to undermine enforcement of criminal laws, public safety suffers. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has more from a hotbed of leftist anarchy, New York City, in Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin.
2021 started with a bang in New York City—literally. Two hours into the new year, the city had already recorded eight people shot in six separate incidents, including triple shooting steps away from Borough Hall in Queens.
Of course, the past is prologue. 2020, wrote the New York Daily News, saw a “crime surge straight out of hell: a 97 percent jump in shootings and a nearly 45 percent surge in murders.” And as New York went, so went much of urban America. The Christian Science Monitor reported that “51 cities of various sizes across the U.S. saw an average thirty-five percent jump in murder from 2019 to 2020.” Gun assaults are up 10 percent nationally over 2019, according to a study cited by the Monitor.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blames the pandemic for rising crime, but the facts speak otherwise. Mayhem was trending upward in urban America long before Covid-19 hit our shores. Judicial Watch warned in 2019 that New York and other urban centers were slipping toward a crisis of crime and disorder. In early 2020, pre-pandemic, we reported that the Left’s experiments with criminal justice reform in New York were emptying jails and driving up crime rates.
In 2020, the coronavirus influenced at least three areas of crime in New York: transit crime—subways and buses; small business crime, particularly crimes against the city’s ubiquitous 24-hour bodegas; and hate crime, particularly crimes against Asian-Americans.
Transit crimes—assaults, theft, quality of life infractions like public drinking, public urination, and turnstile jumping—are down. But that’s largely because pandemic-era ridership is down.
Crimes against bodegas are sharply up. The convenience stories are lifelines in many communities. But they’re easy targets, particularly when the entire population is wearing masks. The New York Times reports that police data for the first eight months of the pandemic show a 63 percent increase in bodega shootings, a 222 percent jump in bodega burglaries, and a ten percent rise in robberies. “Six people have been killed in or just outside the stores,” the Times noted.
Hate crimes, in general, are down, but crimes against Asian-Americans are up. The NYPD is tracking more than two dozen hate crimes against Asian-Americans with a coronavirus-connection—usually physical or verbal assaults blaming them for bringing the virus into the country. Anecdotal reports from around the city indicate the number is higher, but that many incidents go unreported. Crimes against Asians are “definitely higher than normal” in every borough of the city, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said in August.
What will 2021 bring? Covid-19 seems certain to be vanquished—a triumph history may look on very differently from the widespread carping these days about delays and defeats. But America’s cities have lurched left in recent years, entrenching a new generation of radical activists in municipal and criminal justice posts. The Manhattan Institute’s Steven Malanga warned in 2019 that nationwide, the Left is “pulling back on enforcement of quality-of-life infractions, ceding public space again to the homeless and drug users, undermining public school discipline, and releasing violent criminals back into communities or refusing to prosecute them in the first place.”
Our plague year didn’t change those trends. In fact, the Left grew more powerful in urban America while the virus raged. How powerful? 2021 will tell us a lot about that.
Defense Department to Release Al Qaeda Terrorist with Ties to 9/1
For decades a detained Al Qaeda terrorist was labeled a “forever prisoner” by the Pentagon because he was simply too dangerous to release. Now the military’s parole board has changed its mind for seemingly feeble reasons. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports:
While the nation was preoccupied with holiday celebrations, an Al Qaeda operative incarcerated at the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a “forever prisoner” was cleared to be released. His name is Said Salih Said Nashir and a Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash and trained at the infamous al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan, and inside the U.S. The document labels Nashir a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. and of high intelligence value. He has been locked up at the compound on the U.S. naval station in southeast Cuba for nearly two decades. A few years ago the Office of Military Commission’s parole board denied the Yemen national release, determining that “continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”
The ruling was issued because his terrorist connections run deep. Nashir, who is in his 40s, served in the 55th Arab Brigade under the leadership of Al Qaeda commander Nashwan Abd al-Razzaq Abd al-Baqi, his DOD file reveals. He was deployed with other Al Qaeda personnel to attack U.S. and coalition forces and has admitted training and living at Al Qaeda facilities. An Al Qaeda facilitator named Marwan Mughil recruited Nashir to train in Afghanistan for two months then return to Yemen. “Detainee gave Mughil his passport and sometime later, Mughil sent detainee to Sanaa, YM to meet Mughil’s associate, Abu Muad,” the military file states. In June 2001 Nashir traveled to an Al Qaeda safe house in Kandahar known as the al-Nibras Guesthouse via the United Arab Emirates and Karachi with three other men from Yemen. Al Qaeda leadership at al-Nibras “issued detainee an AK-47 assault rifle and deployed him to guard an airport located 30 minutes south of Kandahar,” the U.S. military document says. After completing his terrorist training at al-Faruq, Nashir returned to the al-Nibras Guesthouse where he remained until September 2001.
Once considered too dangerous to ever be released, the Gitmo “forever prisoner” also hid in caves along with fellow jihadists in an Afghan valley for 10 days and received $1,000 from an Al Qaeda official before trying to head back to Yemen via Iran. However, Nashir returned to Karachi because he was afraid Iranian police would capture him. He was arrested in 2002 when police and intelligence agencies in Pakistan raided three Al Qaeda residences in Karachi. After a lengthy “firefight” with Pakistani security forces five Arabs—including Nashir—were captured. All were members of a special terrorist team deployed to attack targets in Karachi, including hotels frequented by American soldiers. The terrorists were turned over to U.S. forces at the Karachi Airport before being transferred to Bagram Airfield, the largest American base in Afghanistan. The reasons listed for Nashir’s transfer to Guantanamo are to provide information on the al-Faruq camp where he trained for several months, various safe houses in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, and Al Qaeda recruiter Marwan Mughil. The file also reveals that a laptop hard drive recovered from the safe house that Nashir shared with other terrorists “contained information that could have been used in targeting aircraft, to support hijacking and other terrorist operations.”
Nashir’s extensive record explains why the Military Commission’s parole board, known as the Periodic Review Secretariat (PRS), refused his release appeal a few years ago. In a document posted on the commission’s website, the PRS writes this: “In making this determination, the Board considered the detainee’s past ties with al-Qaida’s external operations planners and senior leadership, including 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash.” The PRS also lists the detainee’s lack of credibility, candor, and inconsistency in responses. “His recent expressions of continued support for jihad against legitimate military or government targets and his statements celebrating the idea of Muslims killing invaders, including a continued interest in seeing footage of past al Qaida attacks, were also considered by the Board, as well as his lack of detail regarding a plan for the future and his susceptibility to recruitment.”
It is not clear what changed in the last few years while the Al Qaeda fighter sat in a maximum-security cell at Gitmo, but the PRS did an about-face. In the latest assessment granting Nashir release, the military parole board writes that continued detention is no longer necessary to protect against the significant threat he once posed to the security of the United States. Here is why: “Detainee’s low level of training and lack of leadership in Al Qaeda or the Taliban” as well as “his efforts to improve himself while in detention, to include taking numerous courses at Guantanamo.” The panel also found that Nashir has family support and a “credible plan for supporting himself in the event of a transfer.” The board recommends “robust security assurances to include monitoring, travel restrictions and integration support.” That is unlikely. Judicial Watch has for years reported on the long list of prisoners released from Gitmo who return to terrorist causes. Among them is an Al Qaeda leader that the U.S. government put on a global terrorist list with a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts after releasing him.
Until next week,