The International Program – Tanzania

October 25, 2006

Guests:

Tanzania Delegation

The delegation of Tanzanian officials included the Deputy Minister and Ministers of State in the President’s Office of Public Service Management and the Prime Minister’s Office of Parliamentary Affairs, as well as Secretary and Speechwriter to the Minister of State in the President’s Office of Public Service Management. The delegation was hosted by Kilimanjaro International, a firm with offices in New York, Rwanda, and Tanzania, which provides “high quality technical assistance to government ministries, departments and agencies that seek to build institutional and people capacity to manage public sector transformation and private sector development.” The stated program objective was to “create a diverse range of experience sharing sessions” for the Tanzanian visitors with experts from various organizations to provide opportunities for media training. The Tanzanian ministers were interested in learning about Judicial Watch’s mission and its interaction with the media. Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of research and investigations, met with the delegation. He commenced the meeting by encouraging the visitors to be unabashed in asking questions. He assured them that all questions concerning Judicial Watch’s operation and mission were more than welcome. The Tanzanian ministers were informed that Judicial Watch was founded to help counter arrogant judges who were known to be operating outside the bounds of their authority. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—a federal law designed to make government agencies responsive to the electorate by providing access to government documents—was the tool that made Judicial Watch’s mission possible.

The International Program – Tanzania

Mr. Farrell provided the Tanzanian ministers with the following insider’s perspective regarding several high-profile cases litigated by Judicial Watch over the years—cases which received extensive media coverage. The first case which put Judicial Watch in the public eye was the litigation filed against Clinton’s Commerce Department in 1994—a case, but for its veracity, could have been taken right out of a John Clancy spy novel. Mr. Farrell provided the Tanzanians with a remarkable insider’s account of Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Commerce (four different actions) infamously known as “The Chinagate scandal.” JW’s investigation into the sale of seats on taxpayer funded trade missions led them to an investigation of John Huang—a former Indonesian Lippo Group employee, DNC fundraiser, and longtime acquaintance of Bill and Hillary Clinton during their years in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Huang’s meteoric rise to the rank of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Economic Affairs at Commerce during Clinton’s first presidential term marked the beginning of a story of high drama, beginning with Judicial Watch’s discovery through Commerce Department documents (released to JW through FOIA) of John Huang’s connection to high ranking communist Chinese officials and their visits to the Clinton White House. Then there was the discovery of “bags of cash”—illegal foreign campaign contributions to the DNC—followed by John Huang’s flight and overnight stay at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to avoid service of JW’s deposition subpoena. Although JW eventually succeeded in producing John Huang for deposition on five different occasions, information was not forthcoming. He invoked the Fifth Amendment over 2,000 times in his depositions. To illustrate Judicial Watch’s even-handed approach, Mr. Farrell then provided his insider’s perspective on another high-profile case, Judicial Watch, Inc. v. National Energy Policy Development Group. This time Judicial Watch was litigating against a Republican controlled White House—the Bush Administration—accused of being one of the most secret presidential administrations in recent history. Mr. Farrell plainly noted the intellectual dishonesty of this administration in its attempt to put together a Hillary-style task force (closed door meetings with private individuals) by executive fiat, otherwise known as unitary executive authority, effectively placing the executive branch “at the top of the law.” Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request to ascertain the

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The International Program – Tanzania
names of the individuals attending Vice President Cheney’s Task Force meetings, having learned through media reports that private individuals were participating in violation of a federal open meetings law (FACA)—the same law that successfully derailed Hillary’s Health Care Task Force. To confirm the Vice President’s claims that private individuals (top-level energy officials) were not members of the task force, Judicial Watch requested that a federal appeals court judge review task force meeting documents “in camera” to confirm the Vice President’s stated claim. The administration simply refused to comply. Judicial Watch filed suit to force compliance with the open meetings law, which made its way through several appeals, to the U.S. Supreme Court, to an en banc panel of the Court of Appeals— and back again to federal court in search of a remedy against an imperious and secretive Republican Administration. And throughout the Commerce Department and Cheney Energy Task Force cases, there was significant media coverage—nationally and internationally—by major news media groups. Elected and appointed officials were held accountable in the court of public opinion for unethical and questionable practices while holding a public trust. Mr. Farrell concluded the meeting with the Tanzanian ministers by reaffirming the intrinsic value of the media in meeting Judicial Watch’s mission objectives: to promote ethics and accountability in government, politics, and the law. The media has served as an invaluable conduit to the public-at-large in reporting information uncovered by Judicial Watch through the exercise of open records and open meetings laws—laws designed to keep government open and accountable to the people it serves.

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