Congress and Obama Administration Make Shocking, Arrogant Claims Before Two Separate Courts

Photo Credit: The Intercept

Photo Credit: The Intercept

By Lee Fang. In a little-noticed brief filed last summer, lawyers for the House of Representatives claimed that an SEC investigation of congressional insider trading should be blocked on principle, because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries given the nature of their work.

The legal team led by Kerry W. Kircher, who was appointed House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner in 2011, claimed that the insider trading probe violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch.

In 2012, members of Congress patted themselves on the back for passing the STOCK Act, a bill meant to curb insider trading for lawmakers and their staff. “We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, upon passage of the law.

But as the Securities and Exchange Commission made news with the first major investigation of political insider trading, Congress moved to block the inquiry.

The SEC investigation focused on how Brian Sutter, then a staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee, allegedly passed along information about an upcoming Medicare decision to a lobbyist, who then shared the tip with other firms. Leading hedge funds used the insider tip to trade on health insurance stocks that were affected by the soon-to-be announced Medicare decision. (Read more about Congress and Obama Administration making shocking judicial claims HERE)

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U.S. Government: We Can Classify Anything and Judges Can’t Stop Us

By Sam Sacks. At a hearing today on a lawsuit seeking to make videotapes of force-feedings at Guantánamo public, Justice Department attorneys argued that the courts cannot order evidence used in trial to be unsealed if it has been classified by the government. “We don’t think there is a First Amendment right to classified documents,” stated Justice Department lawyer Catherine Dorsey.

The judges at the D.C. Court of Appeals appeared skeptical. Chief Judge Merrick Garland characterized the government’s position as tantamount to claiming the court “has absolutely no authority” to unseal evidence even if it’s clear the government’s bid to keep it secret is based on “irrationality” or that it’s “hiding something.”

“That is our position,” Dorsey agreed. She added that a more appropriate tool to compel the release of the videos was through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Sixteen media organizations, including First Look Media, are seeking footage of Abu Wa’el Dhiab being repeatedly force-fed at Guantánamo. Dhiab was held by the U.S. for 12 years without charges or trial before being released to Uruguay last December.

“There is a public right at stake,” David Schultz told the panel of judges on behalf of the media outlets, adding that the videos depict “illegal conduct by government employees.” (Read more from this story HERE)

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