A watchdog group is asking the Justice Department to turn over all internal documents related to its decision last month to launch an FBI probe into Israel's accidental killing of a Palestinian-American reporter.
The probe from the America First Legal Foundation, a conservative watchdog group, comes after the DOJ sent shockwaves through the American pro-Israel community and the Israeli government when it announced last month that it is conducting its own investigation into the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist who was shot by Israeli forces during a standoff with Palestinian terrorists. Israel conducted its own investigation in the matter with cooperation from the U.S. State Department and determined that Abu Akleh was accidentally killed by a stray bullet fired by Israeli soldiers. While the State Department said it was satisfied with Israel's probe, the DOJ decided to involve the FBI after a cadre of far-left lawmakers in Congress pressured it on the matter.
Pro-Israel organizations and lawmakers in Congress accused the DOJ of caving to anti-Israel political forces within the department, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) telling the Washington Free Beacon last month that he intends to launch his own probe into how the DOJ became involved in the case. Cruz said at the time that Attorney General Merrick Garland and "everyone involved in this disgraceful stunt" should be "investigated and then either fired or impeached." Congressional sources tracking the situation also said they are working to pinpoint exactly who in the Justice Department signed off on the investigation and whether it was motivated by a cadre of Biden-appointed political officials they believe are pushing anti-Israel priorities.
America First's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Beacon, is asking the DOJ to produce "all records" and internal communications related to the Abu Akleh issue and produced from Aug. 1, 2022, a month after the journalist was killed, to Nov. 15, the date the FOIA request was submitted. This includes communications between "all political appointees" in the attorney general's office, the legislative affairs office, and the deputy attorney general's office, according to the FOIA.
Reed D. Rubinstein, a former deputy associate attorney general who now serves as the America First Legal Foundation's senior counselor and director of oversight, told the Free Beacon that he expects the DOJ documents to shed light on extensive politicization under Garland.
"This underhanded and legally indefensible 'investigation' demonstrates, yet again, how thoroughly the Biden administration has corrupted and politicized the Department of Justice," Rubinstein said. "We will work with our friends in the Congress to expose the individuals responsible for this abuse. Attorney General Garland is seemingly nothing more than a figurehead at this point, but at the end of the day, he is responsible and must be held accountable."
Israeli officials have said they will not comply with the FBI probe into the situation.
"No one will investigate [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, and no one will preach to us about morals in warfare, certainly not Al Jazeera," outgoing Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid said last month after the DOJ probe came to light.
Al Jazeera also is pursuing the case. The news outlet, which is funded by Qatar, on Tuesday filed a claim with the International Criminal Court, which Israel has long boycotted due to its efforts to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes.