In May 2009, the Obama/Holder Justice Department dropped charges in a voter intimidation case against Malik Shabazz, a leader of the New Black Panther Party, despite having already won a summary judgment against him, and his New Black Panther Party colleagues King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson who were video-taped outside polling place in Philadelphia intimidating voters as they arrived on election day, 2008. In July 2009, when Congress began looking into the matter, someone named Malik Shabazz visited the private residence at the White House.
When news of the visit was released under the auspices of transparency, the White House denied that the Malik Shabazz on the visitor’s log was the same Malik Shabazz involved in the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. According to Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, the records contained “a few “false positives” – names that make you think of a well-known person, but are actually someone else.” He specifically cited Malik Shabazz as an example of one of these “false positives”.
At the time, the media did not challenge the White House on the veracity of this claim. The White House’s position was, basically: “We’re being transparent, here are all the visitor logs, and this guy is not the guy you think he is, TRUST US.”
The great thing about transparency – when there is actual transparency – is that it renders trust unnecessary. We ask that the White House identify which Malik Shabazz visited the White House residence on July 25, 2009.
In July 2010, J. Christian Adams, former attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Dept. of Justice, testified before the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights that Obama Appointee Julie Fernandes, deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division in charge of voting matters, told DOJ attorneys charged with enforcing Voters’ Rights Law that the Obama administration would not file election-related cases against minority defendants — no matter the alleged violation of law.
According to Adams, that policy is what allowed Malik Shabazz and Jerry Jackson to walk away without punishment and weapon wielding King Samir Shabazz to receive a wrist-slap sentence that merely prohibits him from appearing at a polling place until after 2012.
Although the Administration has tried to ignore the New Black Panther scandal, their apologists have contended the story was nothing more than a conspiracy theory of the right-wing spun by a lone, partisan, disaffected lawyer looking for attention on Fox News. But today, Mr. Adams is joined by a fellow government whistle-blower, his former supervisor at the Dept. of Justice.
Today, Christopher Coates, former Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Dept. of Justice, has testified before the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights. His testimony corroborates J. Christian Adams’ testimony before the same commission in July. Mr. Coates had originally signed-off on Mr. Adams plan to go forward with the civil charges against Shabazz. He and Mr. Adams had been ordered by the DOJ not to testify before the commission, and he was subsequently transferred to South Carolina last Christmas.
Coates’ testimony calls into question the Justice Department’s earlier denials that the handling of the New Black Panther case was politically motivated. And their refusal to allow attorneys at Justice to testify under oath about this case recalls the same attitude toward transparency exemplified by the White House visitor’s log policy: “We didn’t drop the charges against the Black Panthers because of politics, TRUST US.”
Continuing to say you’re transparent does not mean you are transparent.
The idea that an individual named Malik Shabazz had a private meeting in the White House residence in July 2009 is highly relevant because throughout July, Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) were beginning to ask questions about to the dropped charges against the NBPP. So was the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Here is a timeline, according to Adams:
- July 8, Representative Frank Wolf sent a letter to Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Ranking Member Lamar Smith demanding hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.
- July 9, Ten members of the House sent a letter demanding the DOJ Inspector General open an investigation.
- July 13, The Dept. of Justice replied but their letter contained factual inaccuracies about the case
- July 17 Smith and Wolf send a swift and pointed rebuttal
- July 20, Low-level DOJ staffers were sent to the Hill to brief Wolf on the Panther story, but Wolf threw them out of his office claiming they weren’t being truthful to him.
- July 22, Wolf sent another letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers.
- July 24, Portia Robinson, intergovernmental liaison at DOJ, sent a letter to the Civil Rights Commission trying to deflect attention.
- July 25, a man named Malik Shabazz visited the exclusive, private residence in the White House.
- July 30, the Washington Times broke the news that top political appointee, Tom Perrelli (the #3 official at Justice) was involved in the dismissal of the case. Perrelli was also a top campaign bundler for Obama.
The White House has assured the American people that the Malik Shabazz that visited the White House at that time is not the same Malik Shabazz at the center of the New Black Panther story. But, the White House has not provided any information to verify its contention or who this “other” Malik Shabazz is.
We call on the White House to act in the spirit of their transparency policy and provide further information, sufficient to independently verify the identity of the person named Malik Shabazz who visited the White House private residence in July of 2009.
[Initially, this post was incorrectly posted under Larry O’Connor’s byline.]