The International Program – People’s Republic of China

At the invitation of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, through its host, the Institute of International Education (IIE), a meeting between a representative of Judicial Watch and five government and private lawyers from China went forward on August 26, 2011.

The U.S. Department of State’s country profile for the People’s Republic of China

reports

that “U.S. China policy has been consistent. For eight consecutive administrations, Democratic and Republican, U.S. policy has been to encourage China's opening and integration into the global system. As a result, China has moved from being a relatively isolated and poor country to one that is a key participant in international institutions and a major trading nation. . . .” The project for the visiting Chinese delegation was entitled “Legal Issues in the U.S.,” and the professional objectives for this project were, in part, to: • • Examine the underlying principles of the U.S. judicial system and their basis in the Constitution and the rule of law; and The role of nongovernmental organizations in the U.S. legal system.

As set forth in its Mission Statement, “through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.” The International Program is an integral part of its educational program. Judicial Watch was asked to provide an “overview of the Foundation

The International Program—People’s Republic of China
and [a] discussion of its programs directed at fighting corruption within U.S. government political and legal systems.” Mr. Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of research and investigation, met with the Chinese delegation at JW’s headquarters in the nation’s capital. Mr. Farrell provided a general overview of Judicial Watch’s mission in the promotion of transparency, integrity and accountability in government, politics, and the law—and how that mission was accomplished. In so doing, he touched on the main philosophical difference between China and the U.S., as articulated in the U.S. Constitution, which begins, “We the People.” Mr. Farrell stated, “The people are sovereign, the government is subject.” In accordance with this philosophy, open records laws have been enacted at every level of government: federal, state, and local. These laws provide a way for the American people to hold their elected representatives accountable. But because of the tendency of government toward secrecy and corruption, it often takes a powerful coalition to force government documents into the public domain. This is where Judicial Watch, as an agency independent of the government—with over 400,000 supporters nationwide—can and does make a difference. Further, Mr. Farrell told the delegates that as a government watchdog group, Judicial Watch is “fiercely” non-partisan and has sought documents from both Democratic and Republican administrations. The rule of law is the measure, and it applies equally to all. Open records laws are used to obtain information from government agencies when there is an appearance of impropriety or corruption. This was the case with former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, when documents produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed the former “Speaker’s military travel cost the USAF $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period.” Mr. Farrell informed the delegates that as a non-profit, Judicial Watch receives “charitable” donations from the American people. Its effectiveness as a top government watchdog comes from a talented staff of attorneys, investigators, and media who act in concert in uncovering and exposing misconduct; and, when necessary, referring violations of the law to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

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The International Program—People’s Republic of China
Significantly, during Q & A, the question was asked: “How do you do what you do?” And aside from the basic mechanics of FOIA law, Mr. Farrell responded that we do what we do and ask for whatever we want because in the end, “the worst they can do is say no.”

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