If you are wondering if there was any lie about the Obama Justice Department so absurd that even New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams wouldn't push it, today is the day to eat some crow.
In an op-ed in The Washington Examiner, the rightwing activist cites as an example of "bizarre cases have come out of the Holder Civil Rights Division" that "DOJ stopped the debut of the Amazon Kindle because it was not in Braille." Problem 1 with this claim: the Kindle debuted in 2007, during the Bush administration. Problem 2: DOJ didn't block the Kindle's debut.
Adams seems to have a lot of trouble getting the facts right on this; back in August 2010, he offered the similarly false claim that Amazon "tried to sell a talking Kindle reader, but Justice said it couldn't because the button to make the Kindle talk didn't have Braille."
Here's what actually happened: In June 2009, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind filed suit against Arizona State University on behalf of a bind student after the university announced plans to participate in a pilot program to use the Kindle DX in the classroom. ASU was one of several universities to participate in this program. According to NFB, the program was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because:
The Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that can read textbooks aloud to blind students. The menus of the device are not accessible to the blind, however, making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX.
The advocacy groups also filed complaints with DOJ, which began an investigation of the use of Kindle in classrooms. The impact of these efforts was swift and positive for the blind. Under pressure, Amazon began improving the Kindle to be more accessible to the blind. In January 2010, the groups -- joined by DOJ -- settled with ASU, citing "making improvements to and progress in the accessibility of e-book readers" and the university's agreement that they would "strive to use devices that are accessible to the blind.
I'm sure you are shocked to read this, but J. Christian Adams, the former DOJ attorney and Republican activist who has been the prime mover of the New Black Panther Party conspiracy theory, is not moving on with his life now that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence of wrongdoing in the DOJ's handling of the case. Instead, Adams is using his platform at the right-wing blog Pajamas Media to continue his attacks.
In an appearance yesterday on PJTV, Adams claimed that the report showed "there's more amazing things that the taxpayers would be shocked that this is how the Justice Department runs law enforcement." Specifically, Adams highlighted that Steve Rosenbaum, a senior DOJ attorney who called for the trial team to be overruled and the case be narrowed, suggested that the trail team "should go out in the community, the investigators should talk to people, 'What do you think about the Black Panthers? What's their reputation? Do you kind of know them?'" Adams added, "It was this crazy, 'You didn't do enough investigation because you didn't see what people's feelings were.'"
Adams is carefully extracting what he apparently considers a laughable idea from Rosenbaum's extremely damning criticism of the trial team's failure to adequately investigate the case. From the report, regarding Rosenbaum's review of the trial team's J Memo as of May 14, 2009:
Rosenbaum said that, in his opinion, the information in the J Memo reflected an incomplete factual investigation. Rosenbaum Transcript at 307. He was surprised at the absence of basic information about the specifics of what transpired at 1221 Fairmount Avenue on election day, such as how long the NBPP members were present or what Jackson did or said after Samir Shabazz left. Id. at 306, 308. Rosenbaum said he expected a memorandum that described the NBPP team's efforts to contact witnesses, such as contacting both the Republican and Democratic officials who may have been present; interviewing all of the poll watchers and poll workers to determine what they saw or heard; interviewing people who lived or worked in the building, to determine if they had witnessed the incident, or if Jackson and Samir Shabazz were known in the community and how they were regarded. Id. at 307-09. Rosenbaum said the NBPP team also could have accessed the voter list to try to contact voters who may have witnessed the incident, particularly if they were able to identify individuals who voted in the morning. Id. At 308-09. Instead, Rosenbaum noted, it appeared that the factual investigation was based largely on talking only to Republican party members who - were in Philadelphia or at the polling place, without including the accounts of Democratic party officials or other people who were present at the polls that day. [emphasis added]
I can see why Adams wants to talk about Rosenblum's alleged excessive attention to "people's feelings" rather than his criticisms of the trial team's failure to even attempt to find an intimidated voter for their voter intimidation case, or the coincidental way all the poll watchers and poll workers they interviewed happened to be Republicans.
That said, Adams' criticism of Rosenbaum makes no sense in and of itself.
J. Christian Adams and Hans Von Spakovsky, the chief proponents of the New Black Panther Party manufactured scandal, have branded as "uber-political" "militant leftist partisan[s]," "hyper-Democratic loyalist[s]," and "liberal ideologues" those who disagree with their interpretation of the Justice Department's handling of the case. This is ironic given their own partisan and ideological records.
The Washington Times editorial board writes today:
The Justice Department continues to do its best to whitewash its involvement in the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. The department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) wrote Tuesday to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar S. Smith to say it found no "misconduct" in Obama administration political appointees overruling career attorneys in dropping most charges and penalties against the individuals who stood menacingly outside a polling place in military-style uniforms, holding nightsticks.
The text of OPR's report, which took 19 months to complete, remains under wraps. That's not surprising considering the office has long been a hotbed for liberal attorneys.
Two weeks ago, former DOJ attorney and GOP activist J. Christian Adams wrote :
The New Black Panther fix is in. I have learned through sources inside and outside the Department of Justice that the long-awaited internal report on the New Black Panther voter intimidation dismissal is done, and sensible Americans aren't going to be happy. In essence, it will adopt the outrageous position of Attorney General Eric Holder when he testified to Congressman Frank Wolf's Appropriations subcommittee a few weeks ago: all this fuss about the New Black Panther dismissal does a disservice to his people, or to quote the attorney general at the hearing, "my people."
Technically, reports produced by OPR are never released to the public. If the report is leaked, it will be a sure sign the fix is in.
So let me get this straight. Two weeks ago, proponents of the absurd theory that the decision by senior career attorneys at DOJ to drop charges against several of the defendants in the New Black Panther Party case was motivated by race were claiming that if the OPR report was leaked, it would be evidence of liberal bias at DOJ. Now that the report hasn't been released, the fabulists are claiming that that is evidence of liberal bias at DOJ.
This is just getting sad.
Earlier this month, GOP activist and New Black Panther Party provocateur J. Christian Adams took to Pajamas Media to breathlessly report that he had "learned through sources inside and outside the Department of Justice that the long-awaited internal report on the New Black Panther voter intimidation dismissal is done, and sensible Americans aren't going to be happy." Based on those "sources," Adams wrote of the then-pending report from Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (emphasis added):
What does the OPR report conclude? Indications are that it will conclude that nobody did anything improper in dismissing the case. But it apparently goes even further and concludes that the case was brought because of racial bias, or at least with an insensitivity to Mr. Holder's "people." In doing so, signs are that the authors of the report are perfectly willing to adopt some of the favorite lines of the extreme left-wing blogosphere about people who worked on the case and the principle of equally enforcing the law.
Americans know a whitewash when they see it, especially a racially unfair one.
That's right, Adams' DOJ sources were supposedly telling Adams that a branch of the federal government was about to officially brand him as a racist. I guess that's the sort of thing you can believe when you spend your time peddling the fantasy that DOJ is engaged in pattern of racially-charged corruption.
J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky have a problem. For some time now, these right-wing operatives and former Justice Department lawyers have been beating the drum over the Obama Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panthers pseudoscandal. With that manufactured controversy continuing to fall apart, they are now desperately lashing out at perceived enemies in a frantic attempt to salvage it.
According to them, the decision by senior career lawyers at DOJ to drop charges against some of the defendants in the case demonstrates racially biased corruption. These claims never stood up to scrutiny, and now, according to Adams' DOJ sources, the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is preparing to issue a report that will find that the attorneys who overruled Adams and his trial team did not act improperly.
Adams and von Spakovsky are responding by declaring that "the fix is in" and that the report is a "whitewash" (yes, they both use the exact same language). They are also attacking OPR and its head as "partisan." The irony is thick.
Media Matters' Simon Maloy details below how the Fox Cycle -- in which right-wing attacks go mainstream with the help of the network before being inevitably debunked -- bore fruit this morning as Republican members of Congress questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the Fox-pushed New Black Panthers Party phony scandal.
But that same congressional hearing also saw the birth of a new transmission belt for conservative attacks. I'll call this one the Adams Cycle, after its propagator J. Christian Adams, the GOP operative and former DOJ attorney who started the New Black Panthers Party fabrication.
The Adams Cycle goes as follows:
1. Sources at DOJ -- almost definitely conservative attorneys hired under the Bush administration's politicization of that department -- leak information or documents to Adams.
2. Adams attacks DOJ with bogus story based on leaked information.
3. Republican representative raises bogus story during House hearing, crediting Adams.
4. DOJ shoots down story.
The Fox Cycle may -- but does not necessarily have to -- kick in between steps 2 and 3 of the Adams Cycle.
Here's today's example.
From the February 12 coverage of CPAC 2011:
Loading the player reg...
Conservative wannabe-whistleblower J. Christian Adams is banging the (same) drum again, repeating claims that his former employers, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama's Department of Justice, are unwilling to protect the rights of white voters. Republicans sent him invitations to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he's scheduled to speak at CPAC, and now The Washington Times has provided him another opportunity to advance his fabrications, and therefore presumably his stature as a conservative icon, in his latest diatribe intended to promote the New Black Panther Party phony story.
The content of the latest Adams column is nothing new. He begins by claiming that scurrilous DOJ enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are sufficient to make the Act unconstitutional under a theory of unequal enforcement on the basis of race... if only the U.S. Supreme Court were made aware of what's going on at DOJ (guess where Adams comes in?).
Adams repeats the bogus claim that the Obama administration's actions in Noxubee County, MS, show that the DOJ engages in a racial double standard with regard to enforcing election laws. He opines in The Washington Times:
Eric H. Holder Jr.'s Justice Department has become notorious for enforcing election laws with a racial double standard. From the corrupt dismissal of the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case to the refusal to enforce voter integrity laws, Mr. Holder's tenure has been politicized and race-based.
The Supreme Court may be surprised to learn that the Justice Department refuses to conduct any analysis under Section 5 when the racial minority is white, as is the case in many towns and counties covered by Section 5.
This failure to enforce the law equally is not simply a theoretical problem. There are real victims.
During the George W. Bush years, the department brought and won a discrimination case in rural Noxubee County, Miss., against a black official who used fraud and lawlessness to discriminate against the white minority. Yet when a submission under Section 5 was made by this same wrongdoer to facilitate continued discrimination in 2010, the Holder Justice Department didn't even review the discriminatory proposal under Section 5.
Why not? Because Mr. Holder's Justice Department believes as a matter of policy that its resources should not be used to enforce Section 5 on behalf of white victims.
However, as we've noted, this is entirely inaccurate. What the DOJ actually did when the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee submitted their request was state that only the "Referee-Administrator" assigned during the Bush years had standing to make a determination. The Justice Department then asked the court to prohibit those plans from moving forward. DOJ stated that by submitting the request in the first place, the defendants were in violation of the Bush-era injunction, concluding:
The Defendants have violated the Remedial Order in this case in two ways. First, the Defendants have assumed electoral duties that this Court has exclusively reserved for the Referee-Administrator. Second, the evidence surrounding the Defendants' decision to implement this new party loyalty standard indicates that, like the party loyalty standard previously implemented by Defendants in Noxubee County, its genesis is one that is, at least in part, racially motivated.
DOJ also sought to extend the injunction against the NCDEC and their leader, Ike Brown, specifically citing potential harm to white voters. The DOJ filing read:
The current effort by the Defendants is a part of the same pattern of behavior described by the Court in its liability opinion, in which Mr. Brown was seen to combine partisan motives with underlying racial motives. In the liability opinion, the Court noted that the list of 174 voters Mr. Brown threatened to challenge on party loyalty grounds included only white voters, despite the presence of black voters who met the terms of his party loyalty standard. Brown, 494 F. Supp. 2d at 476. These facts established that Mr. Brown's actions were motivated in part by racial concerns.
The United States therefore respectfully requests that the Court enjoin the Defendants from making any attempt to enforce the provisions of their "Motion to close Democratic Primary."
There's no doubt that, as a career attorney and a conservative, the strength of Adams' personal brand depends upon the credibility of his Holder/DOJ attacks. Unfortunately for him, the DOJ's actions in the Noxubee case are in fact a "smoking gun" of proof that the administration is keeping a just and vigilant eye on the concerns of all U.S. voters, regardless of race.
For some reason, ever since Barack Obama became president of the United States, the right wing has been stumbling from one race-baiting claim to the next. But a blog post today pulls a number of those absurd strands together. J. Christian Adams - the ringleader of the right's phony New Black Panthers scandal - is linking that conspiracy to recent Pigford-Cobell settlements to black farmers and Native Americans as "controversial racialist policies of the Obama Administration."
And he's doing it at BigGovernment.com, the Andrew Breitbart website well-known for smearing former Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod as a racist.
Adam's link between the two is "leftist" Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli. According to Adams, Perelli is responsible for "a race-driven political payoff by the Obama Administration to a favored political constituency" in the form of "a $4.6 billion payout to American Indians and black farmers as part of a settlement of alleged race discrimination claims."
In reality, the bill recently passed by the Senate and the House funds settlements in the Pigford and Cobell cases. Pigford deals with well-documented discrimination against black farmers by the Agriculture Department. Cobell involves massive management malfeasance with regard to Indian trust accounts .
How "controversial" were those settlements? Their funding passed the Senate by voice vote. No senator was concerned enough about the settlements to even deny passage by unanimous consent. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has been a longtime champion of the Pigford settlement; on passage of the bill, the Cobell plaintiffs thanked Republican Sens. Grassley, John Barrasso, and Jon Kyl for their action. But it involves President Obama and minorities, so for people like Adams and Breitbart, it must be, as Rush Limbaugh puts it, "reparations."
Adams also paints Perelli as being "behind the dismissal of the already won DOJ case against the New Black Panthers who organized and ran an armed voter intimidation effort the day Obama was elected." He suggests that this was due to "the New Black Panther's endorsement of candidate Obama during the primaries," because surely every presidential candidate dreams of the cachet that comes with the endorsement of a fringe hate group.
In reality, the Justice Department successfully obtained default judgment against a member of the New Black Panther Party who was carrying a nightstick outside the Philadelphia polling center, but dropped civil charges against other defendants. No voter has ever emerged to state they were intimidated at the time.
Adams' evidence that Perelli played a "central role" in the case is that there were "emails between Perrelli and his top political lieutenants supervising the lawsuit" about the case. Adams' previous writings on this issue reveal that the most damning email he's uncovered from Perelli states simply, "Where are we on the Black Panther case?" This seems consistent with testimony from Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, who has said that "Whenever there is a decision involving a case that has attracted attention, we -- when the decision is made, we obviously communicate that up the chain." That seems pretty reasonable.
But as J. Christian Adams, GOP activist, knows well, you don't get booked on Fox News by making sense; you get booked by claiming that the Obama administration is racist.
Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott writes in an October 12 blog post: "Nobody knows with certainty how many illegal votes were cast in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, but odds are the total was in the millions, thanks to systematic vote fraud campaigns by leftist groups such as ACORN and mis-guided laws that allow individuals to register and vote on the same day."
Tapscott, however, offers no evidence of "systematic vote fraud" that resulted in "illegal votes" numbering "in the millions" -- perhaps because it didn't happen. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2008, election experts say that voter registration issues that had been associated with ACORN rarely result in fraudulent votes being cast because false and duplicate registrations are typically weeded out. The Chronicle goes on to state that "it's virtually impossible to pull off large-scale voter fraud without being discovered."
Tapscott's reference to ACORN is nothing more than yet another invocation of a right-wing bogeyman that has become so played out that it was getting tossed around indiscriminately; The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, for instance, insisted that one purported case involved people who allegedly "associated in the past with Acorn" that "may have" been involved in "advising" people "on how to perform" voter fraud, citing unnamed "local politicos." Scaremongering aside, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has pointed out that any actual vote fraud cases allegedly involving ACORN have been isolated.
Tapscott's baseless claim came in service to promoting Pajamas Media's "Voter Fraud Watch." He touted how one prominent name linked to Pajamas Media's project is "J. Christian Adams, the courageous former Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle on the Obama administration's craven cave-in to Political Correctness and left-wing ideology in the New Black Panthers Case."
The supposed "legal expertise" Adams intends to provide to "Voter Fraud Watch" doesn't exactly enhance the credibility of Pajamas Media's little project.
Right-wing activists J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky are looking to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal, claiming that emails between political appointees and career Justice attorneys are "stunning new developments in the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) voter-intimidation scandal" and "proof" that the "DOJ lied" and "may also have committed perjury before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights."
In fact, Justice Department officials have long made clear that political appointees were kept informed of the decision-making process as it developed -- a fact that is in no way at odds with the statement that career attorneys made the final decision.
At issue is an index of communications -- commonly referred to as a Vaughn index -- between Justice Department lawyers from April and May 2009, released in response to a public records request from Judicial Watch.
According to Judicial Watch, the emails "contradict testimony" given by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez before the Civil Rights Commission in May, specifically Perez's statements that the decision not to pursue additional charges in the case was made by career attorneys and that political leadership was not involved in the decision.
Fox News is attempting to breathe new life into the phony New Black Panthers scandal it mercilessly and intensely hyped throughout the summer. National correspondent Catherine Herridge reported today on what she herself called "a routine meeting" at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights where "what we anticipated is a status report on their investigation" and "a draft report of somewhere between 25 and 30 pages, with the final report" expected "several months down the road." Given the fact that the Republican vice chairwoman of the commission has said the investigation is nothing more than an effort by conservatives on the commission to "topple" the Obama administration, Fox News' continued coverage should be seen as nothing more than its political activism masquerading as journalism.
Herridge reported live outside the Civil Rights Commission and said the commissioners "opened the meeting with a brief update," and then "began to discuss a letter that was sent by the Justice Department on August 11 to the commission, about whether the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is even handed in its application of the law, in this particular area. And then, the meeting quickly began to spiral out of control." Herridge explained:
Well, there are a number of frustrations. Members of the panel want to speak to personnel within the Justice Department about the investigation, and the handling under Eric Holder, the Attorney General, of the particular case in Philadelphia in November of 2008. They would like to talk to members, what they have told each other at the meeting, also in a number of written communications, is that they are not getting good cooperation and they have issued subpoenas but those subpoenas have not been enforced to date.
Of course, members of the commission have spoken to personnel within the Justice Department about the "handling under Eric Holder" of the New Black Panther Party case.
After trumpeting GOP activist J. Christian Adams' fabricated New Black Panthers Party story, Fox News is now reporting his false claim the Department of Justice is "ignoring" a military voting law by allegedly "encourag[ing]" states to use waivers to bypass the law. In fact, the waiver process is built into the law, and Adams offered no specific evidence to support his claim that DOJ is "encourag[ing]" states to use those waivers.
In an effort to salvage the discredited allegations of racism in the Justice Department, Hans Von Spakovsky now claims that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigation is "no longer primarily about" the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. Instead, he claims, it's about "sworn testimony" that DOJ official Julie Fernandes "instructed Voting Section lawyers that no cases would be brought against any black or other minority defendants no matter how egregious their violations of the law."
Von Spakovsky did not say what "sworn testimony" established this, but in his testimony, DOJ activist and so-called "whistleblower" J. Christian Adams testified that he "was told by Voting Section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." Adams' accusation, however, is based entirely on conjecture and hearsay:
DAVID BLACKWOOD (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights general counsel): That is extremely important -- these instructions. Were you there when they were given?
ADAMS: I was -- I was present at one instance when the statement was made, and Mr. Coates gave me a recollection of a second time that instructions were given in a management situation.
BLACKWOOD: Okay. The first time, when you were present, who made the statement?
ADAMS: Okay. Two things. The statement was that we were in the business of doing traditional civil rights work, and, of course, everybody knows what that means, and helping minorities -- helping -- litigating on their behalf.
That statement was made by Julie Fernandes, who is the DAAG.
This is nowhere near establishing that Fernandes ever said that "cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." And in fact, the Obama Justice Department has twice pursued injunctions against black defendants for voting law violations.