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AROUND THE WATCHDOGS: Judicial Watch sues for Fast and Furious docs

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Photo - Judicial Watch has sued in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act seeking Fast and Furious scandal documents Attorney General Eric Holder refused to give Congress after President Obama invoked executive privilege to protect them. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
Judicial Watch has sued in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act seeking Fast and Furious scandal documents Attorney General Eric Holder refused to give Congress after President Obama invoked executive privilege to protect them. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
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Earlier this year, President Obama invoked executive privilege to deny Congress access to thousands of documents generated at the Department of Justice concerning the Fast and Furious program. Shortly thereafter, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for defying a congressional subpoena for the documents.

Those actions got the big headlines, but yesterday Judicial Watch, the non-profit activist group that uses the Freedom of Information Act to increase government transparency and accountability, filed an FOIA lawsuit that could break the deadlock between the two branches regarding Fast and Furious documents.

Judicial Watch filed the suit and asked a federal court to direct the government to produce "all records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012, as referenced in the letter of Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to the Honorable Darrell E. Issa, Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives, dated June 20, 2012. More specifically, the records requested herein are those records described by Deputy Attorney General Cole in his June 20, 2012 letter as 'the relevant post-February, 2011, documents' over which 'the President has asserted executive privilege.'"

The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. You can read the suit here.

OpenSecrets.org unveils new profiles:

OpenSecrets.org, the website of the Center for Responsive Politics, has unveiled a cool new feature under its "Influence & Lobbying" tab. It's called "Organizations" and it offers comprehensive profiles of more than 20,000 groups vying to shape the course of public policy in the nation's capital.

Open Secrets has been collecting and publishing information and data about corporations, PACs, unions, non-profits, trade groups and political parties for decades, but Organizations is the site's first time for bringing together in one profile all of the material on each group.

"Not only do the new organizational profiles collect all the relevant bits of information we offer to help you better understand an organization's influence in Washington, they also include rankings so you can see just where a particular group falls on the spectrum," Open Secrets explains. "And they offer new analysis and angles on data that has always been on our site, but has never been mashed up in this way."

But wait, there's more!

"For instance, not only does a profile show the basics of an organization's lobbying activities (lobbying expenses and issues lobbied); it also, for the first time, displays which bill was the subject of the greatest amount of lobbying by the entity, and which lobbyists the organization employed that have spun through the revolving door. Previously, users would have had to go to a separate page for each of those pieces of information," according to Open Secrets.

Go here for more on this important new data and information source.

F-22 probe complicated by campaign contributions:

Nobody doubts the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter is the world's most capable aircraft, but the extraordinary plane has had some nagging problems since its deployment to active service in December 2005.

Most notable among those problems have been pilots suffering disorientation associated with oxygen deprivation during extreme maneuvers of which the F-22 is uniquely capable of executing. The Air Force has traced the malady to the oxygen system and claims to be implementing a fix, but Congress remains concerned about the aircraft's suitability.

One of the problems facing Congress in addressing problems like those with the F-22 lies in the fact the aircraft's prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, is also among the most prolific contributors to congressional campaigns, according to the Project on Government Oversight. A key House subcommittee that looked at the F-22 issues this week illustrates the problem:

"On average, members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces have received $6,130 this election cycle from Lockheed employees or political action committees," POGO said in a special report it released this week.

"They weren't alone. Of the House's 435 voting members, 386 received such Lockheed-related contributions, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. However, the average for the subcommittee members exceeded the $4,211 average for all House members by about 46 percent," POGO said in its report.

Check the POGO web site for more from the special report.

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