The White House shouldn’t expect the furor over Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality Van Jones to go away just because he’s resigned, says a former Obama Administration transition team member, because “the same problems that they created with Jones’s hiring are there for others and they don’t seem to care about the political damage these people may inflict.”
According to several White House sources, Jones was hired for his “green jobs czar” positions over concerns raised by the White House Counsel’s Office, after Jones’s background materials came back with several of what were termed “inconsistencies” in the Standard Form 86 Questionnaire for National Security Positions.
When confronted with the 2004 9/11 truther petition by the White House communications staff, Jones, according to sources, initially blamed his staff at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The petition was spun by the White House as Jones simply not having read the material closely. Within an hour of the White House statement with Jones’s apology, another document came to light indicating that Jones had helped organize a 2002 truther protest march in San Francisco. Jones, according to White House sources, denied any involvement. “It’s clear we [the White House] don’t know enough about him,” said a White House source in the Counsel’s office, who spoke on Saturday morning before Jones resigned, and did so anonymously in the hopes that information about concerns raised by the counsel’s office about Jones might push him out of the Administration.
The source inside the White House Counsel’s office says that their office had recently begun to look into whether Jones had recently had contact with this friends and former co-workers at Color for Change, the leftist group Jones helped to found, and which launched the advertiser boycott against Fox News host Glenn Beck. Color for Change ramped up its protest of Beck after he began attacking the Obama Administration’s “Czar” programs, including Jones. The White House legal office was also looking into the timing of a website that was launched late Friday, VanJones.net; earlier in the week the site had been “Under Construction.”
The counsel’s office places part of the blame on the Office for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, which is overseen by Obama Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Valerie Jarrett. Jones’s “czar” job was created by the OIAPE, and Jarrett interviewed Jones for the position. In speeches before far-left groups over the past five months, Jarrett touted Jones’s hiring, in part, because the groups, many of which count 9/11 truthers and radical environmentalists and anti-capitalists as members, were familiar with Jones’s brand of anti-Americanism and economic radicalism.
“This wasn’t simply Valerie Jarrett rubberstamping her guy,” says a White House source. “You don’t fill a position like this without his hire being approved at a couple of different levels at least.”
But Jarrett did view Jones as a critical member of the administration for her outreach efforts, in part, because he was so well known and respected in the radical-left world the administration is counting on to help with issues like health care and cap and tax, and, more importantly, campaign efforts in 2010.
Playing to those types is another reason Jarrett’s office approved the invitation of Jameel Jaffer, who runs the ACLU’s “national security project,” to the White House Ramadan dinner last week. Jaffer, a Canadian citizen, attended the dinner, which President Obama said was being held for American Muslims.
Jaffer is a cause célèbre to the far left for his career of litigating against the United States in support of terrorists and radical Islamists, and has proudly touted his awards from groups like CAIR.
“We had other names on the list for invitations, but Jarrett’s office wanted Jaffer in the room. We were told it was important,” says a White House source. “It was made clear that his presence was something senior folks here wanted to happen.”
Jaffer has filed lawsuits challenging the FBI’s “national security letter” authority, the constitutionality of warrantless wiretaps, and has been a leader in pushing for the shut down of Guantánamo Bay, and providing legal rights to terrorists held by the United States overseas in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan. His efforts enabled the leaking of “torture photos” out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and some sources inside the Central Intelligence Agency believe he was one of the lawyers who provided legal advice to the Department of Justice to pursue an investigation into enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA.
“Given the groups Jarrett cultivates and keeps engaged, she needs to be able to point to people like Jones and Jaffer to keep our base happy. You saw the response we got from Jones resignation, [MSNBC host Keith] Olbermann went nuts online and will probably cover this smear campaign for a week. That’s probably one of the best outcomes we could hope for,” explains the former transition aide. “What Valerie is doing is no different than what Rove used to do with conservatives. She’d dealing with our Norquists and Limbaughs.”
Jarrett’s office isn’t just about hiring anti-American presidential senior staff or inviting them to posh official dinners at the White House, though. Jarrett’s office, according to White House sources, was influential in advocating for the creation of a “chief diversity officer” (CDO) at the Federal Communications Commission, as well as numerous other senior positions on regulatory and advisory commissions within the federal government bureaucracy.
“One of the reasons they held off on nominating confirmable positions at agencies like the FCC was so the White House could look at the structure of those agencies and where they could create jobs more in line with the President’s thinking, so they create a post like diversity chief, and then we have a blueprint for the nominated chairs or staff directors to follow. That’s how we got [FCC CDO] Mark Lloyd,” explains a former Obama transition staffer.
Lloyd’s job is, in part, to look for ways to create more “diversity” in media ownership, a policy approach that is viewed as a backdoor way to put in place a kind of “Fairness Doctrine.”
“If you can’t get Congress to act on the Fairness Doctrine, the FCC can go it alone. So instead of having a conservative radio station and forcing it to give equal time, we have a diversity program that gives an African-American owner the chance to launch a station that might better represent the views of a community,” says the former transition aide.
Jarrett also had a hand in recruiting Obama friend Cass Sunstein, a former colleague of the president’s at the University of Chicago Law School, and now administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget. Known inside the White House as the “Regulation Czar,” Sunstein is tasked with developing regulations around the policies for environmental, healthcare, and safety issues.
According to administration sources, Sunstein’s office is looking for ways to impose through the regulatory process those Obama White House health care, environmental, and labor policies that do not survive the legislative process.
“The goal from this White House is to have as much nonspecific language passed by Congress in policy areas like health care and the environment and then use Sunstein’s office to put in place the regulatory language called for by Congress that gets us to where we want to be. It may very well be the most important job in this administration, given the lack of success we may have on Capitol Hill,” says a White House source.