97 House Republicans Join Latest Mob Attack on African-American Obama Appointee

Van Jones

Eric Holder

Valerie Jarrett

Shirley Sherrod

And now, Susan Rice.

Republicans are orchestrating yet another mob attack on one of President Obama’s African-American appointees. In this case, 97 House Republicans have signed a letter imploring Obama not to nominate Rice to replace Hillary Clinton. Yet they don’t raise any of the possibly legitimate reasons to oppose Rice’s appointment–her troubling record on Africa, her closeness to Obama.


These 97 Republicans don’t even try to make this look like legitimate opposition. Instead, they rehash a Benghazi attack that hearings last week debunked.

Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American people in the Benghazi matter. Her actions plausibly give the U.S. (and rivals) abroad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed.

They don’t know what the problem with Rice is, this mob of frothing Republicans. But if she’s black, they seem to be saying, she must be either incompetent or deceitful.

This frothing mob includes such leading lights of the racist right as Steve King, Ted Poe, Louie Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, and Tim Griffin, and such discredited hacks as Scott DesJarlais and Joe Wilson.

While Alan West signed the letter, along with several Latinos, the letter largely pits a bunch of white radicals against a single black woman whom they claim is not credible because she read talking points developed by the CIA.

This is not the act of reasoned legislators. It’s a mob attack. A mob attack, like so many others, targeted blindly at an African-American professional appointed by our nation’s first African-American President.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

The Shirley Sherrod Complaint Against Andrew Breitbart

As many readers already know, Shirley Sherrod has filed a lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart over his statements, and the doctored and manipulated video he published, that resulted in her to losing her job at the US Department of Agriculture. Although Ms. Sherrod was not technically fired by the Obama Administration, she was ordered to resign immediately. Ms. Sherrod promised in late July of 2010 that she would sue Breitbart, and now she has done so, with the added ironic addition of effecting service of the summons and complaint on him at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

What no one has seen yet is the actual complaint filed in the matter. Here it is in all its 42 page glory.

The first thing you will note is that the complaint is filed against not just Andrew Breitbart, but Breitbart associate, writer and putative producer of BreitbartTV, Larry O’Connor, as well as the “John Doe” from Georgia Breitbart claims originally forwarded the video.

The second thing you will note is the complaint is framed in terms of “defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress” and was filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court. The choice of DC Superior Court is fascinating; at first glance, it appears the complaint could have been filed either in Georgia District or DC District federal courts, perhaps even a Georgia state court (although that seems more problematic). Why exactly did the plaintiff choose DC Superior Court? I have already made inquiry of Ms. Sherrod’s attorney on this question but, until a formal answer is received, I think it a safe assumption they considered it the most favorable venue for convenience, procedure and potential jury composition. And I think that is pretty smart lawyering by the way.

The complaint is long, and very well composed, but the gist of the case is contained here:

3. Although the defamatory blog post authored by Defendant Breitbart purported to show “video proof” that Mrs. Sherrod exhibited “racism” in the performance of her USDA job responsibilities, the short two-minute thirty-six (2:36) second video clip that Defendants embedded in the blog post as alleged “proof” of this defamatory accusation was, in truth, an edited excerpt from a much longer speech by Mrs. Sherrod that demonstrated exactly the opposite. In sharp contrast to the deliberately false depiction that Defendants presented in the defamatory blog post, the unabridged speech describes how, in 1986, working for a non-profit group that helped poor farmers, Mrs. Sherrod provided concern and service to a white farmer who, without her help, would almost certainly have lost his farm in rural Georgia.

4. Specifically, Defendants defamed Mrs. Sherrod by editing and publishing an intentionally false and misleading clip of Mrs. Sherrod’s speech and added the Read more

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.