Cabinet & Agencies

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  • Fox pushes yet another phony voting rights story

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Fox News' Dave Briggs attacked the Department of Justice for asking election officials in Ohio to print ballots in Spanish, which he claimed would not be "a proper use of funds." But the Justice Department reportedly says the ballots are needed to obey federal law, which prohibits making a person educated in a Spanish-language school in Puerto Rico understand English in order to vote.

  • Another Fox News voting rights story collapses

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Fox News has harped on a waiver provision in noncontroversial legislation protecting military and overseas voters in order to suggest that the Obama administration would use that waiver process as a "political move" to help Democrats win elections, citing concerns among "some Democratic strategists" about the November midterm elections -- specifically pointing to Senate races in Colorado and Wisconsin:

    Today, that story completely collapsed as the Defense Department denied the waiver requests of four states, including Wisconsin and Colorado.

  • Savage butchers Gates speech to claim Obama "would eliminate the Marine Corps"

    Blog ››› ››› SEAN EASTER

    In a recent attempt to paint Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a puppet for a president who "would eliminate the Marine Corps," radio host Michael Savage used all manner of deceptive editing and omission to make his case. Savage attacked Gates, calling him a "Stepford wife" and a "traitor," and repeatedly edited out relevant comments by the defense chief that directly refute Savage's misrepresentations.

    In his full comments (available on video here), Gates made clear that he sees the Marine Corps as a crucial asset to our national defense in current conflicts and in the future.

  • GOP civil rights commissioner: Race-based charge against DOJ is "simply impossible to believe"

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    The phony-right wing accusation that the Justice Department has "a hostility" to pursuing voting rights cases on behalf of white voters against black defendants has always maintained a tenuous relationship with reality. After all, the very voter intimidation case underlying the charade involved the Obama Justice Department successfully obtaining an injunction against a member of the New Black Panther Party for carrying a nightstick outside a Philadelphia polling station, whereas the main source of the allegations is a longtime GOP activist who has acknowledged lacking firsthand knowledge of the claims he made to support his accusations. According to transcript of the August 13 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights meeting that Media Matters has obtained, Republican vice chairwoman Abigail Thernstrom further exposed the absurdity of the charges against the department, calling a key allegation supporting the bogus charges "simply impossible to believe."

    Advancing his unsubstantiated allegations before the commission in July, GOP activist J. Christian Adams accused Julie Fernandes, a Justice Department lawyer, of saying that "cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims." Adams made clear during his testimony that he had no firsthand knowledge of Fernandes actually saying that. The next day, Adams took his accusations to Fox News' Megy Kelly, as Kelly and Adams pushed the notion that Fernandes handed down "a mandate" that "the law not be enforced" because she believed it would "not encourage turnout." Kelly added that, if true, Fernandes would be "sanctioning voter fraud" in order to "encourage minority turnout."

    Kelly -- a driving force behind Fox News' promotion of the trumped up scandal -- again trumpeted Adams' allegations during a July 8 appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, saying Adams "said that it is well-known that if the DOJ would let these other attorneys within the voting rights section talk, they would confirm that she has instructed lawyers within the voting rights section not to bring a voter intimidation case or a voting rights case if the defendant is black and the victim is white" (via Nexis). Former DOJ official Hans von Spakovsy also forwarded the allegations in a July 21 blog post, where Spakovsky cited "sworn testimony" that 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."

    However, during the August 13 Civil Rights Commission hearing Thernstrom said: "It is simply impossible to believe that Julie Fernandes said anything remotely like 'We are not going to enforce civil rights laws when blacks are defendants.' " Thernstrom has previously said that the commission's inquiry "doesn't have to do with the Black Panthers" and that conservatives on the commission wanted to use the case to "topple the administration"

    From the transcript obtained by Media Matters:

    VICE CHAIR THERNSTROM: It is simply impossible to believe that Julie Fernandes said anything remotely like "We are not going to enforce civil rights laws when blacks are defendants."

    I mean, she cannot have said that. Maybe she said something that some people interpreted as saying that. But she surely didn't announce that. I mean, unless she is some sort of moron - and she certainly could not have been speaking for the Department if she was a moron.

  • Fox News strains to revive its phony New Black Panthers scandal

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    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.

  • Megyn Kelly sure loves "allegations" against the DOJ

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    On her Fox News show this afternoon, Megyn Kelly continued her innuendo campaign against the Obama Justice Department, promoting a discredited 11-day-old "accusation" by Republican activists that the DOJ isn't enforcing a law on military voting. Kelly introduced the topic by saying, "Well, two former DOJ attorneys now alleging that the Department of Justice is not enforcing the law that protects the voting rights of military men and women serving overseas. The DOJ denies that accusation, but Senator John Cornyn of Texas is demanding answers and is set to meet with officials from the Department of Justice about the matter this week."

    This is totally in character for Kelly. She was the No. 1 promoter of the phony "scandal" created by J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney who left the DOJ to press his ridiculous allegation that race motivated the Obama administration to take it easy on New Black Panther Party members accused of intimidating white voters.

    The accusation about military voting is being made by Adams and Eric Eversole, former DOJ attorney and adviser to the McCain campaign. They claim that the Justice Department is encouraging states to ask for a waiver of a rule that requires states to ship ballots to troops overseas at least 45 days before an election.

    And that's it. That's the entirety of the evidence. Two GOP activists say that that's what the Justice Department is doing, so that's what Megyn Kelly says. (In fact, the Department of Defense must also approve waivers for delays in ballot delivery, not just the DOJ.)

  • Drudge again launches bizarre (and false) attack on Napolitano over body scans

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    A headline posted on Drudge yesterday and today claims that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano "admits storing naked body scans":

    Drudge headline

    But the article Drudge links to doesn't say that Napolitano or the Department of Homeland Security is "storing naked body scans." It says:

    For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they're viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded."

    Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.

    So it's the U.S. Marshals Service that allegedly stored images from a courthouse checkpoint, not DHS or its TSA, which is using these scanners in airports. The Marshals Service isn't part of the Department of Homeland Security, nor is it under the direction of Napolitano. So she "admitted" to no such thing. In fact, the same article notes:

    TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz told CNET on Wednesday that the agency's scanners are delivered to airports with the image recording functions turned off. "We're not recording them," she said. "I'm reiterating that to the public. We are not ever activating those capabilities at the airport."

    If Drudge's beef is with the Marshals Service, why is he targeting Napolitano? Given that Drudge used this same image in January, with the headline, "Big sis wants to see under your clothes," it seems reasonable to ask, what exactly is Drudge trying to say about Napolitano? And why?

  • Spakovsky hopes hearsay and conjecture will breathe new life into completely discredited DOJ smear job

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    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.

  • Breitbart flounders as his Sherrod story collapses

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    As his story about former Obama administration official Shirley Sherrod has disintegrated, Andrew Breitbart has desperately tried to maintain his credibility. Media Matters chronicles Breitbart's shifting stories, lies, and attempts to spin the story and pass the blame to others.