The VIP for this week is Matthew G. Whitaker. He was appointed on November 7, 2018, to be the Acting Attorney General after serving as chief of staff to now-ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Since Whitaker is “acting” in his new position, his promotion does not need Senate confirmation, which Democrats promised to deny. His background seems to qualify him for the job no matter how long it may last.
Prior to becoming Acting Attorney General, Mr. Whitaker served as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He was appointed as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa on June 15, 2004, by President George W. Bush. While U.S. Attorney, he served on the Controlled Substances and Asset Forfeiture Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and was a member of both the White Collar Crime Subcommittee and the Violent and Organized Crime Committee. Previously, Whitaker was a managing partner of Des Moines based law firm, Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP. He was also the Executive Director for FACT, The Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust, between 2014 and 2017.
Mr. Whitaker graduated with a Master of Business Administration, Juris Doctor, and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa.
Democrats did not want Whitaker in the position because of his outspoken criticism for the investigation by Robert Mueller into the Russian involvement in U.S. politics, for which he now has oversight. Whitaker may be the Democrats worst nightmare, and their fear of him may propel President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General through the Senate hearings.
Trump announced on Friday that he intended to nominate William P. Barr, attorney general during the George H. W. Bush administration (1991-1993), to be the head of the Justice Department. The Senate hearings for Barr will demonstrate which man the Democrats fear most in the position, Barr or Whitaker. The longer the Senators take to confirm Barr, the longer Whitaker sits in the position.
An article by Josh Meyer shares one reason why the Democrats dislike Whitaker. It seems that the Obama administration threw some roadblocks in the path of law enforcement agents who were following the money trail to the terrorist group known as Hezb’allah. Under Trump and Whitaker the roadblocks were removed.
The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.
Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and other through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way….
The roadblocks – or at least some of them – were apparently removed by Trump and Whitaker because an announcement was made on December 6, 2018, by Whitaker and several other law enforcement agents about a Lebanese businessman tied to Project Cassandra.
Kassim Tajideen, the operator of a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa whom the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated as an important financial supporter to the Hezbollah terror organization, pleaded guilty today to charges associated with evading U.S. sanctions imposed on him….
Tajideen, 63, of Beirut, Lebanon, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in furtherance of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Tajideen was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in May 2009 as a result of his provision of significant financial support to Hezbollah, which was named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State. This designation prohibited Tajideen from being involved in, or benefiting from transactions, involving U.S. persons or companies without a license form the Department of the Treasury.
The announcement said, “This Department of Justice has put a target on Hezbollah.” It also said, “We are going to keep targeting Hezbollah and other terrorist groups and their supporters, and we are going to keep winning.”
Tajideen was extradited to the United States in March 2017 after being arrested overseas. His sentencing is scheduled for January 18, 2019. The announcement added, “Tajideen’s case falls under DEA’s Project Cassandra, which targets Hezbollah’s global criminal support network.”
There is much more information in the announcement, but this writer is satisfied to say that Trump and Whitaker are taking steps clear up yet another problem created by the corruption in the Obama administration.