The Clintons' War on Gun Rights

What kind of president will Sen. Hillary Clinton make? Giving her ethical failings, I realize this is a disturbing thought, but we must consider it as Clinton remains the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

The way I figure it, with the Clintons, past is prologue. Bill Clinton’s unfinished illicit business as president will be Hillary’s to take up if elected. That’s why Judicial Watch’s investigations team has been inspecting the newly released Clinton Presidential Library records. (We don’t endorse or oppose candidates, but it is part of educational and corruption-fighting mission to see the Clintons held accountable.)

Recently, our investigations team uncovered documents that provide some interesting, and troubling, details about the Clintons’ plan to destroy the gun industry, a la “Big Tobacco.” Here’s just a sample of what we discovered:

  • A memorandum from former Clinton Advisor Sidney Blumenthal to Bruce Reed, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, dated November 9, 1998, which reads: "I’ve enclosed an article and a press release about the new effort to file class action suits against gun manufacturers. I think this is a very promising idea. Let’s talk about it soon." The press release, from the Office of the Mayor of New Orleans, was in draft form, suggesting the Mayor coordinated the strategy with the Clinton White House.
  • The "promising idea" identified by Blumenthal involved filing massive product liability and negligence lawsuits against major handgun makers, "the opening salvo in a campaign against the gun industry by an alliance of anti-tobacco attorneys and local governments," wrote The Los Angeles Times. According to one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuits: "We are going to do to [the gun industry] what we did to tobacco. It’s going to be a very large war."
  • Our investigators also uncovered a March 6, 2000 letter from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer with a handwritten note at the top from Bill Clinton to then-White House Deputy Counsel Bruce Lindsey, which reads: "Bruce, See me re: this…has some good ideas for future." Among the "good ideas" — denying gun manufacturers the right to sell guns to the military and law enforcement unless they sign an anti-gun "code of conduct" that would cripple the industry.

Clinton and the anti-gun rights crowd used this extortive litigation strategy to strong-arm gun manufacturer Smith and Wesson into adopting some of their policies. President Bush put an end to the federal abuse of the gun industry in 2000. Will a “President Hillary” revert back to government extortion of the gun industry?

Judge: Jefferson Raid Legal

I was pleased to see this week that U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan ruled that an FBI raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D.-La.) congressional office was constitutional.

Jefferson is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help broker high-tech business deals abroad. He allegedly was caught on tape discussing the deals, and an FBI search of his home uncovered massive quantities of cash stuffed in his freezer. FBI agents raided his congressional office on May 10 in search of further evidence, eliciting shrill opposition from a number of members of Congress who claim the raid violated the separation of powers. Republican and Democratic leaders put their differences aside to argue for Jefferson’s side in the court battle over the raid. Interesting how both parties’ leaders rallied around the dubious principle that members of the House would be immune from the sort of searches to which most every other American would be subject.

Jefferson’s legal team argued that the search violated the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which can protect speech and documents related to legislative activity from being used against a congressman in criminal proceeding. Judge Hogan rejected this argument in a 28-page opinion, in which he wrote:

“Congressman Jefferson’s interpretation of the Speech or Debate privilege would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime. Such a result is not supported by the Constitution or judicial precedent and will not be adopted here.”

This is a big victory for open and honest government. Can you imagine what mischief would ensue if members of Congress were allowed to use their congressional offices to conceal criminal activity?

JW Forces Secret Service to Release More Abramoff Docs

Last Friday, July 7, the United States Secret Service released to Judicial Watch new documents detailing six appointments between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Bush administration officials in 2001. In case you’re counting, that brings the total documented number of Abramoff White House visits to seven, including an appointment in January 2004 previously uncovered by Judicial Watch.

The Secret Service waited until late afternoon to release the documents in an apparent effort to avoid piquing the interest of the media. It didn’t work. Judicial Watch staff quickly churned out a news release, worked the phones and generated at least 116 news stories on the Abramoff documents in print and on the Internet. (Here is The Washington Post article.)

As you might expect, the Secret Service did not release these documents willingly. Judicial Watch was forced to file a “motion to compel” with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 17 after the Secret Service failed to comply with a court order to release all official logs detailing the Abramoff visits without redaction by May 10. It took no more than a quick review to figure out that the documents originally obtained by Judicial Watch were not “official” and contained incomplete information.

We’re still in the process of analyzing the new documents. However, they appear to document six Abramoff appointments on the following dates: March 1, 2006; March 6, 2001; April 20, 2001; May 9, 2001; May 17, 2001; and December 10, 2001. (If you want to review the docs for yourself, click here. Check out pages 47 and 52 for the clearest presentation of the visits.)

As I’ve said from the beginning, I have no idea of the exact nature of all the business Jack Abramoff had with the Bush administration. But given the fact that Abramoff is an admitted felon, we thought the American people at least deserved to have more of the facts about his visits to the White House.

Halliburton off the Army’s Payroll

According to The Washington Post, the Army is discontinuing its controversial and very expensive contract with oil giant Halliburton for work in Iraq. The Pentagon will now hire three companies to handle the workload, while a fourth company will monitor quality control. (Halliburton will still be able to bid on projects.)

Judicial Watch, you may recall, has been investigating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s no-bid contract with Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary. In June 2004 we uncovered emails indicating that the deal was coordinated with Vice President Cheney’s office. (The vice president previously served as CEO for Halliburton, suggesting a potential conflict of interest.) Just a few weeks ago, Judicial Watch uncovered documents that suggest a contradiction within the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) with respect to the involvement of the Vice President’s office in awarding the contract.

In addition to Judicial Watch’s investigation, which received significant media exposure, there were multiple reports of fraud and abuse associated with the Halliburton contract. Clearly, all of this negative publicity factored into the Army’s recent decision.

In describing the new Pentagon strategy, according to The Washington Post, one Army official said, “multiple contractors will give them better prices, more accountability and greater protection if one contractor fails to perform.” I have but one question: If this is true today, why was it not true in 2003 when the Army’s multi-billion dollar, no bid contract was signed with Halliburton? Or in 2004? Or in 2005?

Next week, I will provide an update on Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department over “Special Order 40,” a policy that prevents police officers from enforcing our nation’s immigration laws. In the meantime, be sure to check out Judicial Watch’s recently released special report, “New Fronts in the Immigration Battle.”