Last week, Judicial Watch and its client Tiffany Hartley jacked up the heat on the Obama administration to provide some answers related to the murder of Mrs. Hartley’s husband, David, who was gunned down in September 2010, apparently at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel. Mr. and Mrs. Hartley were driving jet skis on Falcon Lake, which sits on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, when gunmen opened fire from a nearby boat striking Mr. Hartley in the head.
The Obama administration, for its part, seems to have ended its participation in the murder investigation and is now giving Mrs. Hartley the stiff arm regarding her request for information.
That’s where we come in.
On September 16, Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the Department of State, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to obtain all government records pertaining to the September shooting, including Obama administration communications with Mexican law enforcement officials, military authorities, and other Mexican officials.
CNN’s Justice Blog had the story:
Almost a year has passed since Tiffany Hartley’s husband was shot and killed while on a personal watercraft on Falcon Lake, which sits on the border and is shared between Texas and Mexico.
Now she has sued the State Department, the Justice Department and the FBI in an attempt to get answers about what happened that day and why no one has been brought to justice in the killing of David Hartley.
It is believed that he was shot by members of the Zetas drug cartel, but no one has been arrested or even named as a suspect in his death.
With the help of Judicial Watch, an organization dedicated to investigating corruption, Tiffany Hartley filed the three Freedom of Information Act lawsuits Friday.
Mrs. Hartley also testified Monday before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in a field forum on border issues held in Brownsville, Texas. Members in attendance included: Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX); Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI); and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX).
The hearing captured widespread attention from the press not only in Texas, but around the country, including The Associated Press, which identified Mrs. Hartley as the hearing’s “highest profile witness.”
Mrs. Hartley’s mission is simple. She wants justice and accountability. And if Obama officials don’t want to pursue an investigation of their own, they certainly have an obligation under FOIA law to turn over records related to what they know about the incident. But so far, they’re not cooperating.
As I told The Associated Press in an interview, the Obama administration has political reasons for not wanting to make too much of this case. Highlighting the fact that a murder took place at a tourist destination on our border runs against the narrative that the administration is trying to put out that the border is safe.
Of course, we know this is a bald faced lie. Mexico is a war zone making our border dangerous. This isn’t helped by the Obama administration’s shocking lack of interest in securing the border or enforcing immigration laws.
Remember the Mexican government incursion reports we previously uncovered through the FOIA? They detail hundreds of violent incidents on the border, including shots fired on both sides of the border, unmarked helicopters invading U.S. airspace, drug smuggling, and confrontations between U.S. Border Patrol agents and members of the Mexican military.
Now we have Mexican drug pirates picking off innocent tourists out on a lake for a day of recreation. This is a massive national security problem, as Mrs. Hartley emphasized in her remarks: “The men who murdered David live right across the river, they aren’t over in Afghanistan, they’re not in Iraq, they’re right in our backyard…The cartel members are taking over Mexico and they’re killing anyone in their way.”
I tweeted yesterday an excellent and disturbing report by Houston television station KPRC that details how the out-of-control border even threatens our food supply. In my tweet, I suggested all the presidential candidates should read this piece. And I mean the challengers and the incumbent. Reporting like this (by KPRC’s Robert Arnold) ought to get our nation’s attention:
Local 2 spoke with several farmers and ranchers who declined to speak on-camera for fear of retaliation. However, several said the threats from drug smugglers have increased to the point they no longer question strangers on their property.
“We just walk the other way,” said one farmer who asked not to be identified.
The attacks are not only happening in the rural parts of the border.
“The shots ricocheted off this wall,” said Othal Brand, president and general manager of Hidalgo County Water Improvement District No. 3. “Hit within 18 inches of each man.”
Brand said water district employees were fired on while working to repair an intake line at the pumping station on the Rio Grande River. Brand said the shots came from Mexico’s side of the border.
“They wanted to bring something across, and they didn’t want anybody around,” Brand said. “We haven’t seen this since the days of Pancho Villa.”
The day after the attack, Brand gave his workers permission to carry guns.
“Because nobody is going to stand out here and protect my men on the embankment of the river, nobody,” said Brand.
“Did you every [sic] think you would reach a point where you would tell employees of a municipal water district that it’s OK to arm themselves?” Arnold asked.
“Never, never, but we’re next to a country that’s at war, a civil war, and make no mistake, it is a war,” said Brand.
I just want to close by thanking the members of Congress who listened to Mrs. Hartley. In addition to the members of Congress who presided over the border event, Mrs. Hartley recently received support from Governor Rick Perry (R-TX). And as I’ve previously detailed in this space, Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) have all sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging them to help gain “closure and justice” for Tiffany Hartley.
All should be commended for joining the bipartisan effort to bring attention to Mrs. Hartley’s plight and border violence. Let’s hope the calls for justice grow so loud they finally gain the attention of the Obama White House.