Sources: FBI reviewing secret recording from Novi judge’s chambers

By John Wisely and L.L. Brasier
Detroit Free Press Staff Writers

With his docket already under scrutiny by a higher court, Novi District Judge Brian MacKenzie’s troubles may be deepening with the FBI now reviewing a case in which a drunken-driving suspect was Tasered by police and then later pressured to drop a related lawsuit, the Free Press has learned.

According to sources close to the case, the FBI has obtained a copy of an audio recording, made secretly in MacKenzie’s chambers four years ago, in which the judge can be heard telling defense attorney Timothy Corr to “give up the civil suit and I can get you something decent.”

Several legal experts, who either listened to the audio recording from MacKenzie’s chambers or reviewed a transcript of it, say what MacKenzie did was improper because judges are supposed to remain neutral.

■ ListenSecret recording of Judge MacKenzie and defense attorney discussing case

■ Related: Novi judge accused of pressuring defendant to drop police brutality lawsuit

“It’s the lawyer’s job to represent the client,” said professor Steven Lubet, who teaches legal ethics at Northwestern University. “A judge should not be taking sides and certainly lenient treatment in a sentence should not be dependent on giving up a civil right.”

Corr was representing a man contemplating suing police for civil rights violations after an officer Tasered him for no apparent reason, following a drunken-driving arrest.

Corr said he made the recording after a previous meeting in which he said the judge offered to waive jail time for his client, Marquin Stanley of Redford, if he agreed not to sue Walled Lake police.

Corr provided a copy of the secret audio recording to the Free Press. The FBI also sought and obtained a recording from Corr late last month, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

Jeff Downey, supervisor of the Troy office of the FBI, told the Free Press he could neither confirm nor deny his office was investigating the handling of the Marquin Stanley case.

MacKenzie has denied any wrongdoing.

The tape is the latest in a string of troubles for MacKenzie.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brienbegan supervising part of MacKenzie’s docketin February after prosecutors complained he was running a rogue court, handing down illegal sentences and making backroom deals with defense attorneys without notifying prosecutors.

O’Brien ruled that MacKenzie had violated the law in at least eight instances, including a domestic violence case that he dismissed without consulting the victim or prosecutor, then sealed in violation of state law.

He has also come under scrutiny for a nonprofit group he heads, a statewide organization of drug court professionals, which pays his wife almost $40,000 a year to work part-time from home. Corporate sponsors of the group include private drug and alcohol testing companies that MacKenzie routinely orders defendants to use.

Booking room video

The Free Press first reported on the Stanley case in February, after he contacted reporters and said MacKenzie had tried to force him to give up the police brutality suit in 2010. Stanley said MacKenzie jailed him when he refused to drop the lawsuit, which Corr eventually settled in federal court when police agreed to pay Stanley $150,000.

In the booking room video from January 2010, an officer can be seen Tasering Stanley from behind as he empties out his pockets, sending him crashing into a bench, then to the floor.

■ Watch the video: Booking room video (graphic content)

As Stanley convulses on the floor, the officer kicks him. Stanley required medical treatment for head and back injuries.

MacKenzie told the Free Press in February that he never pressured Corr or Stanley to drop the lawsuit. He also denied ever having conversations with Walled Lake police in his chambers over the Tasering or the pending police brutality suit.

Following MacKenzie’s public denial, Corr provided the audio recording to the Free Press. It records MacKenzie having a 14-minute discussion in chambers with Corr, Walled Lake police, and an Oakland County assistant prosecutor. At various times, the judge can be heard telling Corr to get Stanley to agree not to sue in exchange for his freedom.

“Give up the civil suit,” MacKenzie can be heard saying to Corr. “Give up the civil suit. Give up the civil suit and I can get you something decent.”

Later on the recording, MacKenzie said he wants the suit dropped to spare the police and city of Walled Lake the “hassle” and expense of a lawsuit, and offers to release Stanley from jail that day if he’ll agree. He consults with Walled Lake Police Detective Paul Schneider and Wixom Police Sgt. Shannon Luther, who were present in his chambers.

“This guy gave you trouble, right?” MacKenzie asks Schneider, referring to Stanley.

“Right,” Schneider said.

MacKenzie tells Corr, “The issue is whether they are going to go through the hassle of it, and whether the city of Walled Lake is going to have to put up with the cost of the attorney.

“The offer on the table is, if he agrees that he’s not going to sue the police department over the R&O, (resisting and obstructing) they are willing to dismiss the R&O. I think that’s a quite a good offer.”

At the time of the recording, Stanley was serving 93 days for violating probation.

“He can get out today,” MacKenzie says on tape.

Stanley and Corr refused the deal and Stanley remained jailed three more weeks.

The Free Press provided MacKenzie with a transcript of the recording.

MacKenzie would not answer questions attempting to reconcile his previous denials with the contents of the tape.

He did release a statement through his attorney, Louis Porter. The transcript makes clear “that Judge MacKenzie’s motivation in telling Mr. Stanley’s counsel that Mr. Stanley should consider agreeing to forego a potential civil suit was based on his desire to place Mr. Stanley in sobriety court,” Porter wrote. “Being placed in sobriety court would not only have allowed him to avoid further jail time on three new pending charges but would also would have given him to have a meaningful opportunity to achieve sobriety.”

Stunning move

Corr said he made the recording because he was stunned by MacKenzie’s conduct in a previous private in-chambers meeting during which MacKenzie did the same thing.

“I felt like I had to take this step because, how else to get to the truth of it?” Corr said. “Somebody has got to stand up for what’s right and that’s what I did here.”

The recording raises new questions not only about MacKenzie, but also police and an assistant prosecutor, Peter Menna, who were present when it was made. It also offers a look at the sometimes messy world of plea negotiations, which typically happen out of sight. And it is not clear what, if any, consequences MacKenzie might face.

Experts on civil rights violations and judicial ethics say that if MacKenzie was indeed lobbying on behalf of the city and police to avoid a lawsuit, he was violating judicial canons that dictate how judges behave.

“I think the judge’s pitching the prosecution’s offer is too close to the line for me,” said Michael Martin, a professor at Fordham Law School and an expert on judicial ethics and police brutality. “I think judges should avoid the appearance of partiality and err on relying on the defense lawyer to counsel the client properly without such a heavy judicial hand.”

Martin said it was not clear what the FBI might be pursuing in the case, but that MacKenzie has broad protections as a sitting judge.

“Judges generally have absolute immunity from civil liability when they act in a judicial capacity, even when their actions violate the constitution,” Martin said.

Martin also viewed the video of Stanley being Tasered.

“I am not privy to all of the circumstances, but there is no doubt that a reasonable jury could find, based on the video alone, that the Tasering was unreasonable given the victim does not appear to pose any immediate threat to the officers and the victim does not appear to be actively resisting arrest,” Martin said in an e-mail to the Free Press.

Video contradicts police

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said she decided early on that that Stanley would not face resisting and obstructing charges — a felony charge the police were seeking — after seeing the Taser video.

Yet, her assistant prosecutor, on the audio recording, appears to be siding with MacKenzie and police in urging Stanley to not sue in exchange for not facing felony resisting and obstructing charges.

“They (police) want to make sure … if we’re going to get sued, we want to press this to the fullest extent, obviously, because we want ourselves protected and I can understand their position,” Menna can be heard on the recording, telling Corr in the hallway. “On the other hand, if we’re not going to get sued, we’re willing to work a deal with this guy.”

Menna declined to comment and referred questions to Cooper’s office. Cooper reviewed a transcript of the audio recording earlier this month and said she was disappointed in Menna, but chocked it up to inexperience.

“I was not pleased with some of the recorded statements of my young assistant prosecutor,” she said in a written response, noting that her office would never negotiate a criminal charge in an attempt to get a defendant to drop a civil suit. “But once again, he did as he was trained to do and brought it back to his supervisors who informed him that neither the police nor the office would pursue an additional charge of resisting and obstructing.”

And Cooper, a former circuit court and appellate judge had strong words for MacKenzie: “The black robe doesn’t vest someone with intelligence but it should vest them with humility and respect for the people who come before them,” she said.

For police, the video recording in the booking room directly contradicts their written reports, which stated that Stanley “squared off” and threatened Walled Lake Police Officer Jason Tront, prompting the Tasering.

Tront is no longer with Walled Lake police and didn’t respond to requests for an interview made to his new employer, Redford Township police. Detective Schneider retired from the department and didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Judicial integrity

Legal ethics experts said MacKenize’s conduct can make him appear to be an advocate for the police and the city of Walled Lake, a position that strikes at the integrity of the criminal justice system, the neutrality of the judge.

“In a plea bargain or any type of settlement, you don’t want the judge’s coercive authority involved. Then the judge become another prosecutor and you lose the neutrality of the court that is the whole basis of the criminal justice system,” said Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at Wayne State University, who listened to the tape and reviewed a transcript.

Henning said he doubted MacKenzie’s actions were illegal, but said the state’s Judicial Tenure Commission is likely to review them.

“The standard for judges is the appearance of impropriety,” Henning said.

Prosecutors have declined to say whether they have complained to the Judicial Tenure Commission about MacKenzie. Investigations by the commission are not public record until a formal complaint is filed.

Judges often encourage settlement of cases, sometimes by pushing, said professor Charles Gardner Geyh, an ethics expert at Indiana University Law School.

“The judge may think in this case, cooperation means dropping your beef with them and we’ll drop our beef with you,” he said. “It’s not a slam dunk. I’m not willing to say it’s obviously wrong, but it makes me very uneasy.”

Geyh said that judges are obligated to always conduct themselves in a way that promotes confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

The first paragraph of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct notes that judges “should personally observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.”

Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or Contact L.L. Brasier:248-858-2262 or

FBI sting shows San Francisco Chinatown underworld

FBI sting shows San Francisco Chinatown underworld
Associated Press By GARANCE BURKE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Beneath the strings of red paper lanterns and narrow alleyways of the nation’s oldest Chinatown lies a sinister underworld, according to an FBI criminal complaint that has stunned even those familiar with the neighborhood’s history of gambling houses, opium dens and occasional gangland-style murders.

The federal charges, which allege a California lawmaker accepted money and campaign donations in exchange for providing official favors and helping broker an arms deal, cast harsh light on Chinatown’s tight-knit network of fraternal organizations and one of its most shadowy characters, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who appeared in federal court on Friday in handcuffs and shackles.

Investigators say Chow is the leader — the dragonhead — of one of the most powerful Asian gangs in North America. Chow’s gang is said to have lured state Sen. Leland Yee into its clutches through money and campaign contributions in exchange for legislative help, as Yee sought to build his campaign coffers to run for California secretary of state.

In court Friday, Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Falk told a judge that Chow would have to find other legal representation. She cited potential conflicts of interest involving previous cases, but did not elaborate. Chow did not enter a plea, and the hearing was continued until Monday.

Born in Hong Kong in 1960, Chow came to the United States at 16 and was reportedly nicknamed “Shrimp Boy” by his grandmother, in part due to his small stature.

After dropping out of high school, Chow rose within the ranks of the local Hop Sing Tong gang after he and his crew survived a 1977 shooting at a Chinatown restaurant that left five dead and about a dozen injured.

Chow then spent a few years inside San Quentin Prison for a robbery conviction, and after his release, started working with the Hong Kong-based Wo Hop To triad, one of numerous Chinese underground societies linked to organized crime. Chow has acknowledged that as a gang leader, he ran prostitution rings, smuggled drugs and extorted thousands of dollars from business owners in the 1980s.

“He was given like an unofficial position of being a leader, but to say he was sophisticated, no. He was more like a forceful brute,” said Ignatius Chinn, a former California Department of Justice agent who spent years investigating Chow in the early 1990s. “If he didn’t get his way, he would just beat the door down and that was how we put cases on him.”

Although he ultimately was convicted of gun charges and sentenced to 25 years to life in the 1990s, Chow cut a deal to win release and returned to Chinatown several years ago, pledging to stay straight. His work with at-risk youth soon won accolades from prominent politicians. But the complaint alleges that Chow used his position heading the Ghee Kung Tong to launder money, receive and transport stolen property and traffic in contraband cigarettes during a FBI sting.

Longtime residents and observers said the startling allegations revealed the continued presence of organized crime in the popular tourist attraction, home to one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia.

“Chinatown is a very safe place and usually the crime you hear about there is just robberies and people being taken advantage of,” said Joseph Leung, editor for the San Francisco edition of The Sing Tao Daily, the largest circulation Chinese newspaper in the U.S.

The pre-dawn FBI raid Wednesday at the Ghee Kung Tong’s office, next to a massage parlor and across from a benevolent society where elderly people play mahjong, also brought into focus its centuries-old history. The tong was founded in the late 1800s to support immigrants from the Pearl Delta region.

Amid morning rain showers, federal agents and fire crews stormed the building armed with a circular saw and Jaws of Life to crack a safe that authorities say was at least a century old.

The organization is among dozens of active tongs, or family associations, in Chinatown. Chow assumed control when its former president, Allen Leung, was shot to death at his import-export store in 2006, said David Lee, director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee.

“He kind of became like a gangster celebrity. He was on parole, he had an ankle bracelet and he became a fixture at political events for a while,” said Lee, who also teaches political science at San Francisco State University.

The 137-page complaint, whose many twists are reminiscent of “American Hustle,” does not reveal whether Yee had ties to Chow before the FBI got involved.

Yee, a progressive Democrat born in China, built his political fortune partly through Chinatown connections and had never lost a race until his failed bid for San Francisco mayor in 2011.

A few years before that, Chow’s own political star began rising. Around 2008, he began talking to youth about how to stay on the straight and narrow, said Rudy Corpuz Jr., executive director of the youth-led violence prevention organization United Playaz.

“When he had that life, he was somebody you wouldn’t mess with. And he’s little so people were like, ‘Damn, that little guy had that much power?” said Corpuz Jr., who said Chow’s redemption story helped change hundreds of young lives for the good.

Soon, the awards started coming. Chow was lauded by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for his community work. He posted pictures of himself on Facebook with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

All the while he was running a criminal operation, according to documents.

Several years ago, undercover FBI agents assigned to Chow infiltrated the organization, and ultimately snared Yee and his campaign consultant Keith Jackson. Jackson also appeared in court Friday, but did not enter a plea.

“Sometimes cases like this start with a big noise and end quietly,” Jackson’s attorney, Jim Brosnahan, said in a statement Friday.

The three were arrested during Wednesday’s raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area, which also netted additional tong members.

Yee, free on $500,000 bail, withdrew Thursday from the race for secretary of state, and on Friday, fellow senators voted to suspend him. Chow was denied bail because he was deemed a flight risk and a danger to the public. Jackson was denied bail, too.

Yee’s allies questioned why the senator had been targeted in the elaborate sting and cautioned that he was innocent until proven guilty.

“Leland always told me to be careful about taking money from the family associations, because you never know where the money is coming from. This kind of flies in the face of what he has told me,” said Wayne Lee, a Yee protege who is mayor of the nearby suburb of Millbrae. “He’s always been a champion for the downtrodden. I am hoping that he will be vindicated.”

Obamacare: “Not a Single State Appears to be Completely Ready”

Obamacare: “Not a Single State Appears to be Completely Ready”
Guy Benson on

Who’s excited for October 1st?  That’s when the majority of the president’s healthcare law will come on line — his previous assurances that the implementation process is already over for 90 percent of Americans notwithstanding.  We’ve already seen strands of evidence in places like Coloradoand Oregon that the process will be bumpy and fraught with problems.  Indeed, experts have been predicting as much for months.  As the moment of truth approaches, another major player is warning Americans to prepare for a choppy ride ahead:

Obamacare is likely to have a “rocky” enrollment start on October 1 in some U.S. states, because of ongoing technology challenges facing new online health insurance exchanges, a leading expert told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday.  “At this moment, not a single state appears to be completely ready,” W. Brett Graham of the Salt Lake City-based consulting firm Leavitt Partners said in testimony…He said states should be capable of providing “baseline functionality” when enrollment begins in three weeks. But he cautioned about the potential for delays: “Most, if not all, exchanges will experience a rocky enrollment period as they work to overcome both known and unknown operational challenges.”  Leavitt Partners has been involved in the design and development of some state exchanges and tracks exchange progress nationwide

Three-plus years after passage, ‘not a single state appears to be completely ready’ — perhaps because the Obama administration was caught off guardwhen most states opted not to set up their own exchanges.  The competency just oozes from this crowd, doesn’t it?  No worries, they’re only totally transforming your healthcare system, with the IRS’ help.  Obamacare is killing jobs, and driving a disheartening trend toward part-time hiring.  More than 1,000 workers in Michigan and part-time workers at Sea World are its latest victims, as Big Labor debates stepping up the stridency of its opposition to the new law:

Some Obamacare supporters have already begun highlighting a few of the law’s shortcomings, such as the fact that despite all its exorbitant costs, the law still leaves tens of millions of Americans uninsured.  And so begins the entirely predictable shift to advocating for single-payer healthcare as “fairest” way to improve the president’s unpopular law.  Harry Reid has already admitted that the law is an unsustainable placeholder.  What we really need, they’ll say, is evenmore government.  If Obamacare fails to launch, expect to hear a lot more of this, coupled with a heavy dose of blaming Republicans for a law none of them supported.  I’ll leave you with more cheery news about the people being hired with taxpayer dollars to help average Americans navigate the new system:

Read more from Guy on

AFL-CIO Realizes They Can’t Keep Their Union Healthcare Plans Under Obamacare

AFL-CIO Realizes They Can’t Keep Their Union Healthcare Plans Under Obamacare
By Katie Pavlich on Sep 12, 2013

The AFL-CIO is finally realizing one thing: When President Obama said “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” he wasn’t telling the truth. In the case of union worker healthcare plans, without a fix, Obamacare will make current coverage unaffordable and therefore unavailable. Late Wednesday, the AFL-CIO passed another scathing resolution criticizing President Obama’s signature legislation.

The AFL-CIO approved a resolution saying that President Obama’s health care overhaul will drive up the costs of union-sponsored health plans to the point that workers and employers are forced to abandon them.

In a strongly worded resolution released Wednesday, the federation said that labor unions still support the Affordable Care Act’s overall goals of reducing health costs and bringing coverage to all Americans, but added that the law is being implemented in a way that is “highly disruptive” to union health care plans.

Some individual unions have complained about the law’s impact for months, but the resolution marks the first time the nation’s largest labor federation has gone on record embracing that view. Unions were among the most enthusiastic backers of the law when it passed in 2010.

Back in August, AFL-CIO Nevada passed a resolution to openly criticizeObamacare. Two weeks ago, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who has been an honored guest of Obama’s at many Washington events, openly admitted mistakes were made with Obamacare and that the legislation needs to be “tweeked.

“It still needs to be tweaked,” said Trumka, who pointed to the possibility that union members will lose their health insurance because of the inability of some union plans to qualify for federal tax subsidies.

But the AFL-CIO isn’t alone in their concerns. The Teamsters, UFCW and UNITE-HERE sent a letter to lawmakers and the White House in July demanding the legislation be fixed before it destroys the 40 hour work week.

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blindly followed Obama’s lead for political reasons and now he’s dealing with the consequences of doing so. Instead of being concerned about AFL-CIO workers, Trumka was concerned about getting invited to cocktail parties and fancy events with Obama.

As a reminder:

Colorado Senators Recalled

Firm suppressed Colorado recall poll
By Jonathan Easley on 09/11/13 02:43 PM ET

Public Policy Polling (PPP) sparked controversy Wednesday after the left-leaning firm declined to release a survey it conducted last weekend that accurately forecasted the successful recall of a Democratic state senator from Colorado.

The survey PPP conducted, but did not release, showed Colorado District 3 Sen. Angela Giron (D) would be recalled by a 54 percent to 42 percent margin.

“In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll,” Director Tom Jensen wrote in a post on the firm’s website. “It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers because she was indeed recalled by 12 points.”

Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight blog at TheNew York Times accurately predicted every state in the 2012 presidential election, criticized the firm over Twitter.

Read the rest of the story & Tweets on

PPP fired back, saying Silver has in the past admitted to withholding data that he wasn’t comfortable with.

Grassroots Activists Take Home Major Second Amendment Victory in Colorado, Recall Two Anti-Gun Senators
First Senators in Colorado history to be recalled
Bloomberg funded to keep Senators in office, failed

Katie Pavlich on

UPDATE 12:04 am: Colorado State Senator Angela Giron has also been recalled for her gun control votes. Giron and Morse are the first Senators in Colorado history to be recalled. Both Giron and Morse have officially conceded. Both areas formerly represented by Giron and Morse are deep blue.

DWS: Colorado Senators Were Only Recalled Because of Voter Suppression, Or Something
by Katie Pavlich on Sep 11, 2013

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is so upset about anti-gun Colorado Senators Angela Giron and John Morse being recalled last night that she’s making stuff up.
Click to view the tweet

Oh, and the evil NRA and Koch brothers too! Even though NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg outspent everyone 7-1.
Click to view the Tweet
Really? When will DWS find a new argument. Not to mention, it was her side of the aisle (allegedly) assaulting journalists working outside of polling places this week.

Read the rest of Katie’s article on

State Department Still Refusing to Allow Oversight Committee Interviews of Benghazi Witnesses

State Department Still Refusing to Allow Oversight Committee Interviews of Benghazi Witnesses
By Katie Pavlich on Sep 11, 2013

The State Department, under the direction of Secretary of State John Kerry, is still refusing to provide requested Benghazi eyewitnesses to the House Oversight Committee for interviews about what happened one year ago today.

Yesterday, Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter to Kerry stressing the only people who can provide a full picture of the 9/11 terror attack are witnesses who survived.

“The survivors of the attacks are the only people who can give testimony to the Committee about what happened on the ground in Benghazi,” Issa wrote in the letter. “Details provided by the survivors will not only help the Committee determine what took place during the attack, but will also help the Committee and other interested parties determine ways to prevent future tragedies.”

A request was made by the Oversight Committee on August 14, 2013 for transcribed interviews with Benghazi survivors. The State Department responded on August 23 by saying it was “not prepared to provide witnesses for those interviews.” The Accountability Review Board [ARB] has interviewed Benghazi witnesses Issa is requesting.

“The ARB considered the surviving eyewitnesses to the attack to be part of a ‘core group’ of witnesses,” Issa said. “Furthermore, the ARB recommended that the Department establish a panel of outside independent experts to identify best practices and evaluate security issues at diplomatic posts around the world. That panel, chaired by former U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, enjoyed the Department’s full support, with unfettered access to documents and personnel. The panel met with over 200 people, including at least one individual whom the Department is now refusing to make available to the Committee.”

It is suspected the State Department has allowed witnesses to speak to the media for interviews. Issa’s letter cites a recent article in Vanity Fair in which great details are described regarding the Benghazi attack, including “details that only persons who survived the attack could possibly know.” Fox News has also been able to get in contact with some of the witnesses.

“The State Department has further restricted the Committee’s access to these witnesses, claiming that they must be insulated from congressional investigators as they ‘would very likely be witnesses in any criminal proceedings relating to the Benghazi attacks,'” Issa said. “The Department’s claims that it needs to ‘insulate’ witnesses ‘from any perception of political accountability in fulfilling their responsibilities’ actually creates the impression that the Department is exerting its own political influence to prevent survivors from speaking to Congress.”

President Obama pledged to cooperate with Congress after the attack as did Secretary Kerry.

“The State Department has not lived up to these unequivocal commitments to ‘provide answers.’ Instead, the Department has attempted to limit the Committee’s access to important documents and information, including witnesses such as the Benghazi survivors.”

Issa is demanding Kerry provide interviews with witnesses by September 24 or be issued subpoenas.

One Year Later, No Justice in Benghazi

One Year Later, No Justice in Benghazi

Guy Benson on Sep 11, 2013

Today, Americans commemorate two solemn anniversaries.  Twelve years ago, the United States sustained the deadliest terrorist attacks in our history, as nearly 3,000 of our countrymen were killed by jihadists.  Twelve months ago, the Christopher Stevens became the first US ambassador assassinated in the line of duty in more than three decades.  He was murdered along with three other Americans during a chaotic, hours-long terrorist raid on two US compounds in Benghazi, Libya.  Since that day, none of the terrorists responsible have beencaptured or killed, even though our intelligence services know where they are.  Not a single government official has been fired over the historic security failures.  And more than a dozen US diplomatic missions in “high risk” zones remain under-protected to this day.  Nine months ago, I posed twelve unanswered questionsabout the Benghazi massacre; as of this writing, ten of them have yet to be adequately answered.  The responses to the others reveal US incompetence and a politically-motivated cover up.  Chris Stephen, the left-wing UK Guardian’s Libya-based correspondent, has meticulously reviewed the record of what really happened in Benghazi on 9/11/12, and contrasted it with the Obama administration’s “official” story.  Here is the introduction from Stephen’s lengthy report:

The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was striking for a number of reasons: the date, 11 September, the toll – four diplomats killed, including an ambassador – and the knock-on effects on the careers of senior American politicians. But what is perhaps most striking is the inconsistencies: the US version of events compared with those of witnesses and the facts on the ground. The two do not tally. And so, a year later, there remain pressing questions about what happened that night – and what the Americans say happened

Read the whole thing.  It’s a harrowing account of terror and confusion, an indictment of the administration’s reckless ineptitude in the weeks leading up to the bloodshed, and an expose of the government’s numerous attempts at revisionism.  Meanwhile, why haven’t any of the perpetrators been brought to justice?  Part of the equation is the Obama administration’s dangerous obsession with treating these terrorists as common criminals.  They want to build legal cases against the attackers, then try them in civilian court.  Madness. But another element of the delay is the Libyan government’s ongoing efforts at obstruction, and the White House’s lack of urgency (via the New York Times):

A year after the attacks in Benghazi that killed the United States ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, the Justice Department has indicted suspects. Intelligence officials have a general idea of where they are hiding. And the military has a contingency plan to snatch them if that becomes necessary.  But the fledgling Libyan government, which has little to no control over significant parts of the country, like Benghazi and eastern Libya, has rebuffed the Obama administration’s efforts to arrest the suspects…Some military and law enforcement officials have grown frustrated with what they believe is the White House’s unwillingness to pressure the Libyan government to make the arrests or allow American forces to do so, according to current and former senior government officials. Mr. Obama acknowledged last month at a news conference that the suspects had been charged but were still on the loose.  “Whether he likes it or not, he is going to have to deal with this issue,” said a former senior American official, referring to Mr. Comey. “There’s a huge frustration on the issue among the agents about why nothing has happened to these guys who have killed Americans.” 

In fairness to the Libyan government, they can barely keep themselves safe, and wield virtually no sovereign control over much of their nation.  They live in constant fear of Islamist reprisals.  It’s also possible that the Libyans may stillharbor a grudge over the public humiliation they suffered at the hands of the Obama administration in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.  You may recall that Susan Rice’s false talking points directly contradicted the assessment of Libya’s president, prompting the Libyans to delay the arrival of US investigative teams at the attack site.  Most gallingly, American officials on the ground are venting frustration over their assessment that regardless of the Libyans’ posture, The White House isn’t applying much pressure or leadership to resolve the situation.  365 days have passed since four Americans were murdered by a gang of radical Islamists, and that outrage has gone unanswered.  No arrests, no military strikes, few (if any) lessons learned, no accountability — even of the token variety — and no justice.  Appalling.  I’ll leave you with two video clips.  The first features Hillary Clinton standing next to the Benghazi victims’ flag-draped coffins and blaming the attacks on an “awful internet video,” followed by President Obama vowing justice for the fallen.  The second clip is of Amb. Susan Rice disseminating information that the administration knew to be falsedays after the raid.  She has since been promoted.  Both spectacles speak for themselves:

Wisconsin’s public employees are leaving their unions in droves

After Walker Reforms, Wisconsin Workers Kick Government Unions to the Curb
Click to read Guy Benson on

When the Left celebrates “choice,” they’re generally talking about one macabre subject. They’re studiously anti-choice on a host of other issues, because liberty doesn’t always work out so well for them (via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):

Wisconsin’s public employees are leaving their unions in droves, which should be no surprise: With passage of Act 10 in 2011, public unions in the Badger State lost many of their reasons for being. The “budget-repair bill” pushed through the Legislature by Republicans and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker limited bargaining to wages only, and then only up to the cost of living; it also required unions to recertify each year and barred the automatic collection of union dues. Relying on federal financial records, the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice found union membership has declined by 50% or more at some unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 48, which represents Milwaukee city and county workers. It has gone from more than 9,000 members and income exceeding $7 million in 2010 to about 3,500 members and a deep deficit by the end of last year. Walker inherited a budget mess from the administration of former Gov. Jim Doyle. He was facing a sizable deficit and entrenched public sector unions that had big political power bases that they used to protect their members. That often put them at odds with both good government and overburdened taxpayers.  It was necessary to ask more of public workers — to have them pay a larger portion of their benefits. In particular, Walker needed to get control of spiraling health care benefits.


Scott Walker’s actions left unions reeling
Bill Schulz, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Gov. Scott Walker talked with Journal Sentinel reporters and editors earlier this month.

Wisconsin’s public employees are leaving their unions in droves, which should be no surprise: With passage of Act 10 in 2011, public unions in the Badger State lost many of their reasons for being.

The “budget-repair bill” pushed through the Legislature by Republicans and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker limited bargaining to wages only, and then only up to the cost of living; it also required unions to recertify each year and barred the automatic collection of union dues.

Relying on federal financial records, the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice found union membership has declined by 50% or more at some unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 48, which represents Milwaukee city and county workers. It has gone from more than 9,000 members and income exceeding $7 million in 2010 to about 3,500 members and a deep deficit by the end of last year.

Walker inherited a budget mess from the administration of former Gov. Jim Doyle. He was facing a sizable deficit and entrenched public sector unions that had big political power bases that they used to protect their members. That often put them at odds with both good government and overburdened taxpayers.

Read more on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Obama nominee Alejandro Mayorkas faces investigation involving company run by brother of Hillary Clinton

DHS nominee under investigation for allegedly helping Hillary Clinton’s brother

Authorities are investigating the man President Obama tapped to take over the second highest spot at the Department of Homeland Security for allegedly using his position and power to unfairly obtain U.S. visas for foreign investors in a company run by Hillary Clinton’s brother, has confirmed.

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was named by Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s Office as a target in an investigation involving the foreign investor program run by USCIS, according to an email sent to lawmakers late Monday.

The investigation was opened in September 2012 following a referral from an FBI counterintelligence analyst. The probe was first reported by The Associated Press.

The investigation into Mayorkas is based on allegations he helped secure U.S. visas for Chinese businessmen after they had been denied by his own agency’s officials. The visas had been sought by Gulf Coast Funds Management, a financing company headed by then-Secretary of State Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, according to an aide to GOP Sen. Charles Grassley, who had received internal USCIS emails about the matter from a department whistle-blower.

According to an email sent to lawmakers Monday, the IG’s office said, “At this point in our investigation, we do not have any findings of criminal misconduct.” The email did not specify any criminal allegations it might be investigating.


Homeland Security official Alejandro Mayorkas probed
Click to read the Politico story

Obama nominee faces investigation involving company run by brother of Hillary Clinton
Click to read the NBC story

Another idea to fix some of the problems we have with politicians

A politician asks us to give them money to run, money for the government, to give them our votes, to campaign for them. They work for us, but yet they in too many cases end up being corrupt. The old saying power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is very true. But what can be done about it, there are already law on the books. Well we have extra punishments for “hate crimes”, so why not extra punishment for “crimes against the american people”.

I say if an “elected” official, one that has a position that is voted on by the people commits a crime then the punishment should be more. Not for any crime, but only crimes that are relate-able to the duties or power of the office they hold. So someone gets caught with pot or drunk driving, it is as if they are a normal citizen, no extra time. But an official who gets caught taking a bribe for a vote, bribing someone for a vote, or any other crime that relates to their position should have a sentence twice what the normal sentence for that crime is. Maybe this will discourage them.

And ANY politician that would not support a bill this should be thought of as being dirty, having something to hide.
National politician crimes since the 90′s
Virginia governor billed taxpayers for sunscreen, dog vitamins -report
Indiana Dem official sentenced to prison for ’08 ballot fraud in Obama-Clinton primary