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Obama admin pushes back hard on right's charge that it's not protecting military voters

Have you heard the right wing's latest attack on the Obama Justice Department? It goes like this: The department is "ignoring" a new law designed to protect the voting rights of overseas members of the military.

But I've gotten a hold of a letter the Justice Department has now sent to a Republican Senator pushing this claim -- and the letter effectively demolishes the right's attack.

This latest attack, which was first reported "exclusively" by Fox News, is based largely on claims made by former DOJ lawyer J. Christian Adams, who is also behind the claim that the department improperly narrowed the case against the New Black Panthers because it wanted to protect minorities. Anyone notice a pattern here?

Fox reported that DOJ is encouraging states to use waivers to bypass the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which requires states to send absentee ballots to military personnel overseas at least 45 days before elections. Fox warned this could mean that "thousands of soldiers' ballots will arrive too late to be counted."

Other right wing outlets picked up the claim, and Senator John Cornyn sent a letter to DOJ demanding an explanation.

Now DOJ has responded to Cornyn with a letter of its own. And it lays out the reasons why this latest attack is bogus:

* The DOJ letter points out that the waiver process is built into the MOVE law. It notes that states have the right to request a waiver if they are unable for whatever reason to meet the requirement, and that it's the responsibility of the Department of Defense, in consultation with DOJ, to determine whether to grant those waivers.

* DOJ's letter points out that a central piece of evidence supporting this latest attack -- that a DOJ official supposedly suggested the MOVE law is ambiguous -- was ripped out of context and that DOJ has actively taken steps to inforce the law as is. It notes that DOJ has formed a "team of attorneys to monitor state compliance with the Act's requirements" and is "fully prepared to file suit against states that do not come into compliance."

"The Department of Justice is firmly committed to ensuring that our men and women serving in the uniformed services and living overseas have the opportunity to vote and to have their votes counted," the DOJ letter says. "Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue."

The thing about this latest attack is that it's part of a pattern. The idea is to suggest not mere negligence on the part of DOJ, but rather that the Obama administration is actively using the machinery of justice to deprive select groups -- white voters, members of the military -- of their rights as Americans. The Justice Department appears to be redoubling its efforts to shoot down these attacks, though it's unclear if the facts will do anything to stop them from continuing.

UPDATE, 12:00 a.m.: This post wrongly asserted that the letter said no states had requested waivers yet. In fact, DOJ has made no decisions on wavers. I've edited the above to reflect this.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 2, 2010; 10:55 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans  
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Comments

There's another pattern here, and it's very clear.

The Bush Administration, and particularly Karl Rove, purposefully politicized the DOJ by hiring extremely ideological attorneys and using the Dept (under Gonzo, political flunky) to pursue political, ideological ends. The DOJ had, under pretty much every other admin, been kept free to function outside such a politicized regimen.

Rove and others deny it, but the evidence is everywhere. And now they are accusing the Obama admin of doing what they did, even when they're not.

This is Rove 101: accuse the other side of doing what you did because your precedent makes it a phenomenon that can be used as evidence.

"We did it (unless we're under oath, in which case we didn't), so they're doing it."

And watch the media chime in with "both sides do it."

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 2, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Are you saying there is a coordinated Republican strategy to piss off white voters and turn them all against this Admin and ultimately Democrats?

NO WAYZ!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 2, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

From CNN:

"Palin said on "Fox News Sunday" that Arizona's female Republican governor has "the cojones that our president does not""


Wow: Palin tells the world that Governor Jan Brewer has large Testicles, and yet she complains about her own privacy being invaded.

Time for Ms. Jan Brewer to erect a fifteen foot fence around her genitalia, to keep Pervy Palin from spying on them!

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Fox News will NEVER stop.

They are engaged in a propaganda war while the rest of the world deals with reality.

It literally couldn't be more anti-American to launch a false attack on the President for political gain. For the right wing it is a DAILY occurrence.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 2, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I still can't get over how the WHCP Ed Henry supported having FOX up front.

The network is out to de-legitimize CNN and every other news organization as in the tank for the President and redefine neutrality into what they report which is far from it.

In some aspects, Fox is succeeding if any of the pulling that comes out occasionally has any truth to it in regards to who reports fairly. If every other news org knew what was good for this country and the role journalism plays in keeping our Govn't honest, they would push back on the claims made by the Fox propaganda network.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 2, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Mike, Ed Henry has Stockholm Syndrome.

Posted by: BGinCHI | August 2, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

Is there any chance we can get a post examing the fact that the media has often reported on the claims made by the GOP that Pres. Obama is destroying America and the Constitution...but never notes that in the matter of a year, the GOP has come out in favor of repealing TWO Constitutional Amendments - the right to vote for US Senators, and the right to natural born citizenship.

It's not a surprise to me...but this is pretty blatent, even for the beltway media.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 2, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of...

How in the world are Dems not jumping on this stuff? The GOP has come out in favor of removing the right to vote for US Senators. It's in the party platform of multiple states at this point.

Why doesn't the DNC have ads up promoting that fact?

Taking away people's right to vote seems like a "bit" of a winning campaign issue. Maybe I'm just naive...

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | August 2, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Ethan you have captured what disturbs me most about Fox and the right wing distortion machine...

"It literally couldn't be more anti-American to launch a false attack on the President for political gain. For the right wing it is a DAILY occurrence."

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 2, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The statements from the right are getting completely out there and sooner or later the ole you can fool some of the people some of the time..yadda yadda has got to come into play.

Limits are being established as I type. We know that the RNC doesn't mind having fun at strip clubs featuring...well featuring things that appeal to republicans...but even the RNC has limits! They have cancelled a fundraiser with Andrew Breitbart.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/01/rnc-cancels-breitbart-fundraiser/?fbid=4eKBP1lbdvA


The Republican National Committee has cancelled a fundraiser with conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is under fire for promoting an edited video that falsely portrays former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod as having boasted about discriminating against a white farmer looking for her assistance.

Breitbart was scheduled to appear with RNC Chairman Michael Steele at a reception later this month in Beverly Hills.


Even the RNC has limits on how much scum it will allow to float on their pond.

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 2, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Where are all the Right Wing Morality Police On this one: You know; all those Church Lady Types who get The Vapors, anytime someone on TV lets the F. word slip out.

Pervy Palin appeared on the Fox Network; and Compared President Obama's Genitalia to the Genitalia possessed by Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona.

How come none of those Right Wing Church Lady types had to be treated with smelling salts, after Pervy Palin spoke in such a crude and vulgar manner?

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Almost a year ago I spoke directly with a number of Secretaries of State about the MOVE Act (work related). I would be surprised if none of them seek a waiver as quite a few seemed inclined to do so at the time. It all depends on when their primary is. For late primary states like New York it is very difficult, logistically speaking, to meet the deadline because of the very short time window between the primary and general elections (NY's primary is 9/14, there is no way to finalize the results, then get a general election ballot out 45 days prior to the general).

Schumer and the others involved in writing this bill knew that, which is why the waiver clause was included. In future elections, we will likely see primaries moved up in order to comply, but when it was passed, the elections were already scheduled.

Obviously, the right-wing line on this is completely bunk. Hopefully, the above info can help those inclined to knock it down.

Posted by: jbossch | August 2, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think Greg has some facts wrong here. He writes: "DOJ's letter also notes that no states have requested such waivers for the November 2010 elections as of now, even though the deadline for such requests is August 4th."

That's NOT what the DoJ writes. They write that "No waiver request decisions have been issued."

They DO clearly state in their letter:

"...Some of these states have submitted waiver applications already, while other states are
expected to do so by August 4. Certain other states may choose not to seek a waiver and
we will determine whether further action is necessary as to them."

Posted by: sbj3 | August 2, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"Other right wing outlets picked up the claim, and Senator John Cornyn sent a letter to DOJ demanding an explanation."

Curious, this. Cornyn co-sponsored the Move Act, along with 58 other Senators. How come he's objecting now to the provisions of the legislation? How come he's not being called out on this bit of hypocrisy?

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:SN01415:@@@P

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 2, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I wonder how much of this, if any, is actually true. Probably just more blather from the journolist.

Posted by: TECWRITE | August 2, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

....But I've gotten a hold of a letter the Justice Department has now sent to a Republican Senator pushing this claim....

So who in the Justice Department is forwarding correspondence intended for Republican Senators to the journolist?

This needs to be investigated. I think it will be after the new congress is seated in January.

Posted by: TECWRITE | August 2, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Right Wingers sure love to hoist those premature: "Mission Accomplished" banners. The election is months away, and they are already claiming victory.

"Bring It On". LMAO.

Posted by: Liam-still | August 2, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Article: "The DOJ letter points out that the waiver process is built into the MOVE law. It notes that states have the right to request a waiver if they are unable for whatever reason to meet the requirement, and that it's the responsibility of the Department of Defense, in consultation with DOJ, to determine whether to grant those waivers."

the right to request a waiver if they are unable for whatever reason? Greg, this can't be right. I recall there being specific reasons why a state may request a waiver and the state must develop a plan to ensure the overseas voter has sufficient time to vote and return the ballot.

Posted by: aussie6 | August 2, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

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