NSA slapped with $20 billion class-action suit

The National Security Agency surveillance scandal could now cost the federal government and its corporate cronies a cool $20 billion or more.

The NSA, Department of Justice, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and the 12 companies allegedly collaborating with the government to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens are all named defendants in a class action lawsuit brought by former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch.

“Government dishonesty and tyranny against the people have reached historic proportions,” Klayman said in a statement. “The time has come for ‘We the People’ to rise up and reclaim control of our nation.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks $20 billion in damages, a “cease and desist” order, expunction of all phone and communication records collected by the government through its PRISM surveillance program and “full disclosure and complete accounting” of what the named companies have allowed the DOJ and NSA to do.

The companies named in the suit include the following: Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype, YouTube, Apple, PalTalk, AOL and Yahoo. Combined with Verizon, which has been named in a separate class action lawsuit, the users and subscribers of these companies reportedly comprise a majority of the U.S. citizenry, thus positioning the lawsuit to pit the American people against their government and its corporate collaborators.

“This and the Verizon class action will serve to unify all political and social persuasions in our great nation to wage a second American revolution, one that is peaceful and legal – but pursued with great resolve and force,” Klayman asserted. “If not, the government will control us, and this will mark the end of individual liberties.

Read more here.

Does Obama Have The Power To Kill Indiscriminately?

Obama’s DOJ: It Is Legal For Us To Kill American Citizens

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director. Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”

But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

Read more here .

DOJ Suggests Criticism of Islam Could Be Criminalized

In refusing to rule out a future law that would criminalize criticism of religion as racist hate speech, the Department of Justice has left the door open to the prospect of Shariah-style law in the United States that would forbid criticism of Islam.

During a House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz) questioned Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez on whether the Justice Department would ever consider banning free speech critical of religion.

“Will you tell us here today simply that this Administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?” asked Franks.

Perez replied by asking for context before Franks repeated the question, adding, “That’s not a hard question.”

Perez then tried to add the context of “when you make threats against someone,” but Franks stuck to his original question and repeated it for a third time.

Read more here.

Federal Court: Obama Appointees Interfered With Prosecution in New Black Panther Voter Intimidation Case

A federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled last week that a number of President Obama’s political appointees within the U.S. Department of Justice did in fact interfere with the prosecution of two New Black Panther party members who were videotaped holding a night stick and intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia voting station back in 2008.

Thus far, both Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department have denied the involvement of political leadership in the case, something that is now being called into question.

The conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch previously sued the DOJ in federal court regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests pertaining to information surrounding the New Black Panthers case. As a result of the lawsuit, the group was able to obtain a number of withheld documents and are now suing the DOJ for attorney’s fees, the Washington Examiner reports. More importantly, as a result of their motion, a federal judge ruled against the DOJ.

Read more here.

DOJ drops sexual abuse civil rights investigation citing ‘conflict of interest’

A Freedom of Information Act request last week showed that the Department of Justice dropped a sexual abuse civil rights investigation the day after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, citing “conflict of interest.”

In 2009, Herman Thomas, a black Democratic judge who had been elected numerous times in an Alabama county with predominantly white and Republican population, saw what had been a promising career come to an abrupt halt after he was indicted on charges of sodomy, kidnapping, sex abuse, extortion, assault and ethics violations. According to the indictment, Thomas was accused of sexually abusing male inmates in exchange for leniency.

According to information received in the FOIA request by Lagniappe, a bi-weekly Mobile, Ala.-based alternative newspaper, an order was sent on Jan. 21, 2009, to drop the investigation citing an undisclosed “conflict of interest.” Ten of 11 pages were withheld in the returned FOIA request.

Though evidence against Thomas was strong, including one of the alleged victims’ semen being found on his office’s carpet, the Mobile County District Attorney’s office did not secure a full guilty verdict. The jury acquitted Thomas on major counts, and was gridlocked on others.

Despite the gridlocked charges, the trial judge directed a verdict on all counts in favor of Thomas.

But that finding did not mean Thomas had been fully cleared of the federal charges he could be facing on civil rights counts — at least that’s what the public thought at the time.

But as it turned out, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama had dropped their investigation, even before the local trial had taken place.

Former Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, a Democrat whose office was behind the original indictment of Thomas, had looked for federal authorities to handle some of the heavy lifting, specifically the civil rights violations. He said federal authorities “promised me several things over the course of a year,” but they were never delivered throughout the whole ordeal.

“The U.S. Department of Justice in Washington took over and they too promised me things and then they, for unknown reasons, stopped what they were doing,” Tyson told Lagniappe. “In my view, it was a U.S. Department of Justice case from the beginning. They had prosecuted, in north Alabama, a district attorney for exactly the same kinds of activities and concluded it within a year before this one. I do not understand to this day why they recused themselves or why they refused to go forward on what I thought were cases they should handle. I had a clear expectation three times before they recused themselves that something would happen on a federal level and I had expectations as many as two times they were going to do something on a national level.”

Read more here.

Dept. of Justice Referred Him to Media Matters Over Fast & Furious Inquiry

A reporter for the Washington Free Beacon said Friday the Department of Justice referred him to the left-leaning Media Matters in response to an inquiry about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.

CJ Ciaramella was inquiring about claims in a new book by conservative commentator Katie Pavlich suggesting an FBI cover-up of a weapon found at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s death.

The email Ciaramella said he received in reply from a Department of Justice spokeswoman stated she “was told to direct your questions to the FBI, and also to provide you with a link to this story: http://mediamatters.org/research/201204190011.”

Read more here.

Holder Pulls Out Race Card

Attorney General Eric Holder accused his growing chorus of critics of racist motivations in a Sunday interview published in the New York Times. When reached by The Daily Caller Monday morning, the Department of Justice provided no evidence to support the attorney general’s claims.

Holder said some unspecified faction — what he refers to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the “more extreme segment.”

“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

The White House hasn’t returned requests for comment on whether President Barack Obama agrees with his top law enforcement officer’s allegations of racial motivations.

Holder’s accusations come as resignation calls mount from a growing list of 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors, spurred on by the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.

Additionally, seventy-five congressmen have signed onto a House resolution for a vote of “no confidence” in Holder as attorney general. Between the two lists, there are 86 total in the House who no longer trust Holder to head the Department of Justice.

It’s not the first time the race card has come into play in efforts to protect Holder from criticism.

Most recently, during a December 8 House Judiciary Committee hearing into Fast and Furious where Holder was testifying, Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson argued that Fast and Furious wasn’t that big of a scandal because “white supremacists,” among others he described, were able to purchase weapons at “gun shows.” Johnson, who was concerned Guam may “tip over and capsize” if more military personnel are sent there, later told TheDC that he thinks the tea party movement and the National Rifle Association “manufactured” Fast and Furious as a scandal to try to attack the president.

Read more here.

Issa demands answers from Holder deputy about Fast and Furious ‘lie’

House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa has demanded an explanation from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich for a false statement he made to Congress in a February 4, 2011 letter. Weich is a deputy to Attorney General Eric Holder, who has become embroiled in the scandal stemming from the failed “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-walking program.

In his February 4 letter to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, Weich wrote that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives “makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, conceded in Senate testimony Tuesday that the statement in that letter was false, and that he knew it was false long before the letter was written.

Breuer has not said whether he had a hand in drafting that letter, but he waited more than nine months to correct the record.

Weich and Holder have refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for information about who prepared the letter and who reviewed it before it went out. Even so, Issa has renewed his demand for information that would prove who inserted the false information.

“Mr. Weich, as you are well aware, it is a crime to knowingly make false statements to Congress,” Issa wrote in a letter released Wednesday. “As the Department’s principal liaison to Congress, we rely on you to be straight with the facts. You have not been, and so your credibility on this issue has been seriously eroded.”

“Whether it is the case that you were fed a lie and faithfully repeated it in a letter to Congress, or whether it is the case that you took the initiative to lie to Congress yourself, you are responsible for the contents of letters that bear your signature,” Issa continued. “The buck stops with you.”

Issa’s letter demanded Weich “provide a complete list of individuals who helped” him draft the February 4 letter, along with “all communications, including emails, referring or relating to the development of DOJ’s response to Senator Grassley’s January 27, 2011, request for information.”