WorldNetDaily

Emma Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # 1363741-000
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records relating to or mentioning WorldNetDaily AKA WND.com, which is an online publication founded and run by Joseph Farah that claims to pursue truth, justice and liberty. But in fact, its pages are devoted to manipulative fear-mongering and outright fabrications designed to further the paranoid, gay-hating, conspiratorial and apocalyptic visions of Farah and his hand-picked contributors from the fringes of the far-right and fundamentalist worlds.

WorldNetDaily is a 15-year-old online publication founded and edited by Joseph Farah with the stated goal of "seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty." Serving up a daily dose of conspiracy theories, apocalyptic alerts and anti-gay rhetoric, WND was ranked by Alexa in 2012 as the 1,832nd most popular website in the world and the 423rd in the U.S. That ranks just above Nickelodeon and a few spots below Victoria’s Secret.

Fear-mongering is WorldNetDaily's specialty. It regularly publishes paranoid fantasies billed as fact, such as a baseless six-part series claiming that soybean consumption causes homosexuality. It has heavily promoted The Pink Swastika, a wretched opus by gay-basher Scott Lively that claims gay men orchestrated the Holocaust. WND also fingered Satan as the first leftist, and trumpeted a secret 20-point Muslim plan “for conquering the United States by 2020.” Another secret plan WND has warned about concerns international elites’ alleged intention to create a “North American Union” that merges Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Theories about when and how the government — and the world — will collapse are regular WND fodder. It seems to bother no one on the staff that most of these theories are conflicting. WND repeatedly uncovers (manufactures is a better word) sinister government plots, trumpeting them with scare headlines such as "Feds Accused of Fomenting Blood in Our Streets" — standard fodder for adherents and sympathizers of the conspiracy-oriented, antigovernment “Patriot” movement. As the government allegedly prepares to turn on the citizenry and intern them in already built secret camps, WND’s readers are advised in breathless advertisements to invest all their assets in gold and buy as many guns as they can.

"How do authoritarians and totalitarians usually gain power?" asked Farah in a February 2013 column. "One of the tried-and-true methods is to foment social chaos. It happened in the Bolshevik revolution. It happened in Adolf Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. It happened in Mao’s 'cultural revolution.' It’s important to understand – and this is hard for most of us – that crime and mayhem and lawlessness are actual goals of transformational socialists."

One of WND's longest running "controversies" concerns whether President Obama is a “natural-born” U.S. citizen, originally stirred up by WND columnist Jerome Corsi. Long after the president’s “long-form” birth certificate was released, Corsi continued to pursue the “birther” nonsense. Corsi, incidentally, was also the architect of the “Swift boating” of John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.

In addition to Corsi, WND columnists comprise a cross-section of reactionaries and fringe wingnuts, including arch-conservative Alan Keyes; actor and mud-slinger Chuck Norris; failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum; race-baiting and homophobic ex-Major Leaguer John Rocker; radio hothead Rush Limbaugh; and white nationalist writer Pat Buchanan, who was named WND's 2012 Man of the Year. (Trumping that honor was libertarian U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who was named WND's Man of the Decade.)

Santorum is one of the newer WND columnists, following his failed bid for the GOP nomination. His weekly column began in December 2012, kicking off with a familiar refrain: his controversial opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Bottom line: Santorum has a disabled daughter, but argued that the treaty is wrong because it cedes "our sovereignty" to the United Nations. To the surprise of many, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the treaty soon afterwards, with 38 Republicans voting no.

As a career politician who still harbors presidential ambitions, Santorum is more cautious than some of his WND stablemates. Inane guitar slinger and gun nut Ted Nugent stirred up a hornet's nest of criticism after he wrote a WND column opposing the use of government drones. The topic is fair game, except he took things to an extreme by theorizing what would happen if a Republican president were to authorize drone attacks on U.S. citizens: "Jesse Jackson and Al Not-So-Sharpton would be lisping their ebonic mumbo-jumbo that the policy and the president are racist and bigoted. They would organize protest marches in front of the White House, where they would burn effigies of the president."

Nugent subsequently was invited to attend Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address as the guest of Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman.

Like many large websites, in addition to selling online ads, WND also profits through book and merchandise sales.

The WND Superstore, linked from the main website, offers “Unique Products for Discerning Minds.” Such minds apparently crave items like the NRA-endorsed Second Amendment Range Pack, designed to hold four pistols and 36 magazines in an attractive carry-all imprinted with the words of the Second Amendment. The superstore also offers 830 books on “history, theology, philosophy, political science, education, natural science, society, and family.” These are “thoroughly examined” by WND’s “review board” to “enlighten and empower you in your personal quest to protect your family, engage the culture, speak out against injustice, and fight for what is right.”

Discerning readers will want to pick up books such as Jerome Corsi's The Late Great USA, subtitled as "The North American Union and the Threat of a Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada." Another potboiler is Richard Wurmbrand’s Marx & Satan, hailed by Joseph Farah as “a book that changed my life and worldview,” which details how the young Karl Marx “received the rights of initiation” of a “secret Satanist church” and became the Devil’s “elect servant.”

Bestselling videos at the superstore include a Farah-produced documentary titled "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is There An Ancient Mystery That Foretells America's Future?," and "Dreams from My Real Father," a documentary purporting to explore the origins of President Obama's supposed Marxism.

WND’s “Taking America Back National Conference” (also the title of a book by Farah) was launched as an alternative to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which Farah boycotted because an LGBT Republican group was included. Far-right luminaries in the 2010 speaker lineup included U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Victoria Jackson, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), anti-gay hate group leader and Christian Reconstructionist theologian Gary DeMar, and R.C. Sproul Jr., a mover-and-shaker in the theocratic Christian “patriarchy” movement and a prominent homeschooling advocate.

As WND's publisher and editor-in-chief, Joseph Farah writes a daily column and stirs this toxic stew. After a checkered newspaper career, culminating in his ill-advised attempt as executive editor to turn the Sacramento Union into a fundamentalist Christian, anti-gay mouthpiece, Farah founded the Western Center for Journalism (WCJ) in 1991. A nonprofit entity whose purpose was “to encourage more philosophical diversity in the news media,” WCJ spawned WorldNetDaily in 1997. Two years later, WND became an independent for-profit company with $4.5 million from an unnamed investor.

Not surprisingly, WND’s board members are politically active in a variety of right-wing causes. In addition to Farah and his wife Elizabeth, the board includes Wayne Johnson, Norman Book, James Clark and Richard Botkin.

Johnson, who has been on WND’s board since 1999, is a Sacramento political consultant whose firm, according to TheRawStory, coordinated the campaign for California’s Proposition 8, which sought to outlaw same-sex marriage in that state. Until June 2002, he was a board member of the Chalcedon Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist outfit and anti-gay hate group.

Book, who joined the board in 2008, is WND’s executive vice president of finance and technology. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, he co-founded The Stanford Review, which according to his LinkedIn profile was a conservative student weekly meant to “add balance to Stanford’s stifling liberal atmosphere.”

Clark, a board member since 1999, was difficult to track down. Based on the address he listed on WND’s tax form, he appears to be a recently departed lobbyist for the American Bankers Association (ABA). According to his LinkedIn profile, he served as ABA liaison to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial and highly secretive group of far-right state legislators and business lobbyists that writes and pushes model bills and is funded by the far-right Koch brothers. One of those ALEC-backed bills was the pro-gun “Stand Your Ground” law that authorities cited as their reason for not immediately recommending charges against George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

Least noteworthy is Botkin, a Sacramento-area financial advisor and former Marine who has been on the board since 1999 and is an occasional contributor to conservative candidates. According to ConWebWatch, he worked with Farah in 2004 during a short-lived effort to revive the Sacramento Union as a magazine. His book about the Vietnam War was published by WND.

From 2000 to 2002, the board also included Robert Beale, an MIT grad who made his money in computers, served as the Minnesota campaign manager for televangelist Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential bid, and eventually came to sympathize with the radical antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement. In 2008, Beale was convicted of tax evasion, conspiracy, and fleeing authorites, charges he attempted to evade first by hiding from the law and then by conspiring to intimidate the judge — who, he said, God had commanded him to “destroy” — by filing fraudulent liens and issuing fake “arrest warrants” against her.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, 214 and 266 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIPARequest

Good afternoon,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

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From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A no responsive documents response.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the integrity of the search, based on but not limited to the failure to perform searches for ALL indices specified, the failure to search field offices as specified and the failure to perform the cross-reference searches requested using the ample information I provided in the original request.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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