By Andrew Kreig / Director's Blog
The Republican House leadership is moving vigorously on separate fronts to hire lobbyists to staff congressional offices and to investigate Democratic wrongdoing. The separate initiatives are underscored in two Washington Post news stories published March 18. One is Lobbyists flock to Capitol Hill jobs. The other is: Sulaimon Brown’s allegations prompt House oversight committee probe into Vincent Gray campaign. The latter probe is being led by the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, left, a Republican from California's 49th District just north of San Diego who announced last summer that he was gearing up for a series of hard-hitting investigations if Republicans prevailed in November. Meanwhile, Democrats under then-Chairman Edolphus Towns of Brooklyn, NY were doing little to probe rampant abuses that have been festering for years in government.
Meanwhile, embattled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange confronted the prime minister of his native Australia in a surprise television question-and-answer format enabled by remote technology from the United Kingdom, where Assange is being held without bond pending an extradition hearing to Sweden. These and other news reports collected below from alternative news sources illustrate the continuing mystery and drama of his case.
The Washington Post story on lobbyists reported, “New tallies indicate that nearly half of the roughly 150 former lobbyists working in top policy jobs for members of Congress or House committees have been hired in the past few months. And many are working on legislative issues of interest to their former employers.” It indicated that most of the former staffers were being hired by Republicans empowered by their new majority won in the November elections. Further, it said, “But experts say there are no limits on lawmakers hiring K street employees and letting them write legislation in sync with the policies they advocated for hire.”
Separately, the Post reports, “A congressional committee has launched an official probe into allegations by Sulaimon Brown, the fired D.C. government employee and former mayoral candidate who says that Mayor Vincent C. Gray promised him a job and that he received payments from two members of Gray’s campaign for attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty last year.”
The Issa probe is significant for several reasons. First, Gray defeated incumbent Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary in September on a reform platform, which also ousted the District’s controversial Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee, a protégé of Fenty. For Gray to be exposed in what appears to be a major scandal during his first weeks in office indicates the depth of corruption in the District, as many places. Second, the incoming Republicans in Congress are showing a commendable desire to dig deeper than the District might otherwise prefer into the intrigue. Finally, however, such investigative powers have true legitimacy only when they are used in even-handed fashion to probe potential scandal, not simply in a city controlled by Democrats. This is especially true when the Executive Branch and Congress alike systematically thwarted efforts to enable the many proposals to enable District representatives to elect federal representatives with full voting rights.
Washington Post, Lobbyists flock to Capitol Hill jobs, R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen, March 17, 2011. A surge of lobbyists has left K Street this year to fill jobs as high-ranking staffers on Capitol Hill, focusing new attention on the dearth of rules governing what paid advocates can do after moving into the legislative world.
Washington Post, Sulaimon Brown’s allegations prompt House oversight committee probe into Vincent Gray campaign, Nikita Stewart, March 17, 2011. A congressional committee has launched an official probe into allegations by Sulaimon Brown, the fired D.C. government employee and former mayoral candidate who says that Mayor Vincent C. Gray promised him a job and that he received payments from two members of Gray’s campaign for attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty last year.
Salon Unclaimed Territory, Obama on presidential war-making powers, Glenn Greenwald, March 18, 2011. I will simply never understand the view that the Constitution allows the President unilaterally to commit the nation to prolonged military conflict in another country -- especially in non-emergency matters having little to do with self-defense -- but just consider what candidate Barack Obama said about this matter when -- during the campaign -- he responded in writing to a series of questions regarding executive power from Charlie Savage, then of The Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Leaksource, Assange Confronts Gillard on ABC’s Q&A, March 16, 2011 (video). Appearing via Internet on ABC’s Q&A program, Julian Assange surprised Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, asking her about allegations of inquiries by the ASIO into himself and other WikiLeaks staff, and that information being provided to the U.S. in response to requests through intelligence liaison channels.
Crikey, Grey areas reshape the Assange debate, Guy Rundle, March 17, 2011. A popular new social movement in Sweden, dedicated to exploring the “grey areas” of sexual life, has been accused of being a campaign directed at Julian Assange, with tweets between the organizers talking of naming the movement after one of his accusers, and coaching each other to “keep the story close to the Assange situation.” The tweets seem to contradict claims by the organizers that the movement was only inspired by the Assange situation, and had no focus on it, and the leading figures are all well-connected friends of Assange case complainant Anna Ardin.
Daddys Blogg, Was it a CIA honeytrap after all? March 17, 2011. N
ew information released by Australian newspaper The Age raises questions about CIA and ASIO (Australian spy organization), and whether the sex charges against Julian Assange was in fact a so-called "honeytrap" to smear his name and possibly deliver him into the hands of the US government.
Prime PR Seminar, 15 Minutes Summary: Post-Election Seminar, Oct. 8, 2010 (video). This is a quarter-long summary of Prime PR’s post-election seminar following Sweden's re-election of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate Party. Former White House strategist Karl Rove's website lists the Moderate Party as a client. Aside from Rove, participants in the seminar include several executives friendly with Rove at Prime, Sweden's leading public relations company, and the prominent conservative think tank Timbro Media Institute, among others. Among those appearing in the video, aside from Rove, are: Fredrik Andersson, Niklas Nordström, Åsa Linderborg, Thomas Mattsson, David Mark, Carl Melin, Billy McCormac, Andrew Ward, Nisha Beshara, Roland Poirier Martinsson, Jenny Madestam, Markus Uvell and Matti Kataja.
Guardian (United Kingdom), Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media, Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain, March 17, 2011. The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organizations to do the same.
Legal Schnauzer, Anthony Weiner Joins the Effort to Disbar Clarence Thomas, Roger Shuler, March 17, 2011. We recently reported on a watchdog group's call for the disbarment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and a group of Congressional Democrats are said to be drafting demands that Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas be disbarred in Missouri for perjury, and investigated by the Department of Justice for bribery, according to House Judiciary Committee aides."
Legal Schnauzer, Key Figure in Abramoff Case Gives New Meaning to the Term "Dirt Bag," Roger Shuler, March 11, 2011. Reviewers have noted that Michael Scanlon is portrayed as being even more corrupt than Jack Abramoff in the new film Casino Jack, which stars Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey. For those of us in Alabama, that has special meaning. After all, Scanlon was the one-time press secretary for our former Republican Governor, Bob Riley.
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