President Obama's prospective nominee to lead the FBI for a 10-year term deserves rigorous review for his civil rights record -- scrutiny he is unlikely to receive.
The White House leaked to friendly reporters last week its plan to nominate James Comey, right, former deputy attorney general during the Bush administration. A Republican, Comey was second in command during a period of flagrant civil rights abuses at the Justice Department.
He personifies prosecution, Wall Street, and military power. This combination is disturbing in view of the pattern of rights violations under the Bush administration enshrined into near-settled law under Obama.
My forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry, describes why the president is a willing tool of these power centers. Rob Kall further amplified the theme in a June 1 column on OpEdNews, Time For Holder to Resign/Be Fired. The Obama administration and many others in the Washington establishment are complicit to abuses by authorities in recent years, as further documented in many reports here at the Justice Integrity Project site, among other places. Top elected officials seem to support law enforcement abuses and cover-ups.
Update: The Justice Integrity Project published on June 16: Backgrounder on Obama's Big Data Domestic Spying System. The purpose was to resolve conflicting claims about recent revelations about the Obama-Bush domestic spying program.
Comey worked after leaving the Bush Justice Department in August 2005 as a high-ranking executive at the defense contractor Lockheed Martin and at the $75 billion hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. Such funds avoid normal regulation, thereby allowing major players to try to outplay the market on investments. Hiring executives such as Comey draws on their expert knowledge of law enforcement and developing events, and also allows Wall Street barons to reward financially their favorite regulators after and before they rotate between government posts.
Since February, Comey has been a researcher at Columbia University Law School, a board member of HSBC Holdings in London, and a member of the Defense Legal Policy Board, whose advisers for the Department of Defense have included former Defense Secretaries and such other prominent former officials as Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle.
To be sure, nearly all U.S. senators and mainstream commentators weighing Comey's nomination are going to regard his posts as exemplary credentials for the job succeeding Robert Mueller III, left, a fellow Republican who is expected to step down next fall after 12 years leading the FBI.
Comey, 52, is further immunized from in-depth scrutiny by what is said to be his affable nature, the drumbeat of anti-terror crackdowns by the federal government since 9/11, and Comey's now-famous support for then-Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft when the Bush White House sought to persuade an ailing Ashcroft to authorize arguably illegal surveillance.
Comey, standing at 6-foot 8, rushed to Ashcroft's hospital bedside in a show of strength for his boss upon learning that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and Counsel Alberto Gonzales were pressuring a dazed Ashcroft to sign an illegal order.
That impressive action by Comey, however, should not foreclose close scrutiny of the rest of his record and what it means for the country.
Political party distinctions mean little in practice when both parties have been cracking down on traditional civil liberties. Yet much of the voting public thinks a distinction exist, and that a presidential victory should enable the victor to select like-minded appointees.
Comey's appointment would lock in yet another Republican for a post that Democrats almost never hold, as indicated by a chart. The FBI's first director, J. Edgar Hoover, held the job for 47 years. Bill Clinton appointed Republican Louis Freeh, who fought president bitterly on several key issues during Freeh's seven years in office. Obama's choice would promote into the slot a key official during the Karl Rove-orchestrated political takeover of the Justice Department that succeeded on many levels aside from the Ashcroft hospital visit.
Mainstream Coverage -- and Missing Stories
The mainstream media is focused on whether Obama picked a Republican out of weakness or from the bipartisanship that the most powerful pundits advocate. The nomination follows weeks of controversy, often described as "scandal," regarding over-reaching by the Obama DOJ on surveillance of reporters, and the IRS on requests for tax exempt status by conservative groups arguing that they are educational, not political. Most of the news reports in an the appendix focus on Comey's illustrious record and how Obama seeks by the nomination to build bridges with his GOP opponents.
On June 2, some Republicans floated the concept of perjury charges against Attorney General Eric Holder, and forcing his resignation. This tough talk is just typical partisan sparring, however, not the kind of truly scorched-earth political warfare that could occur.
Instead of these faked dramas, the public's main focus should be on the refusal of any party leaders to demand accountability from either Bush or Obama officials for massive violations of civil rights that go far beyond reporter surveillance and IRS procedures.
Many of these problems have their roots during the years from 2003 to when Comey served as second-in-command to the DOJ's Ashcroft and Gonzales, who succeeded Ashcroft in 2005 as DOJ's top executive.
The abuses included the DOJ's efforts to exceed the provisions of the Patriot Act with massive illegal surveillance of the public, to destroy the careers of such internal whistleblowers as ethics adviser Jesselyn Radack, to create political limus tests for new hires at the Justice Department to transform politically the career staff, and to mount a series of political prosecutions against Democratic targets.
One such political prosecution was the long-running federal investigation and first trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in 2004 on corruption charges. U.W. Clemon, the federal judge overseeing that case, later described it as the most baseless he had seen in nearly three decades on the bench. The Justice Department then dropped charges, and arranged a secret indictment to place the case before a more compliant judge, Mark Fuller, appointed by Bush.
Siegelman was then convicted and imprisoned for reappointing to an unpaid state board in 1999 a donor to a non-profit that was advocating for increased funding for public schools in Alabama. On that basis, virtually any senator might be subject to prosecution and the kind of imprisonment that Siegelman is scheduled to endure for at least five more years.
Siegelman's prosecution was marred by secret and horrific involvement by the nation's military, raising further questions about Comey's background and that of watchdog institutions. Our reporting for the Project has demonstrated that a major cause of the Bush DOJ's prosecution of Siegelman was the behind-the-scenes desire by prominent Republicans to steer a $35 billion Air Force mid-air tanker contract from the traditional supplier Boeing to Europe-based Airbus, with a reassembly plant to be built in Alabama to help sugarcoat the loss of American high-tech jobs.
Furthermore, the Bush Justice Department secured Siegelman's conviction at a second trial only by threatening a witness, Nick Bailey, with sexual blackmail during up to 70 secret interrogations at a Maxwell-Gunter Air Force base not disclosed to the defense as required. Also, the DOJ obtained a vast number of absurdly pro-prosecution rulings from the second judge, Mark Fuller, who secretly received a $300 million defense contract for a privately held company he secretly controlled with up to 44 percent of the shares.
The Senate's Rubber-Stamp
Longtime Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, right, a Democrat from Vermont, and the rest of the committee never questioned Fuller for a single moment during his 2002 confirmation hearing about his conflict of interest in secretly controlling a defense contractor, Doss Aviation, dependent on the Defense Department for such services as refueling Air Force tankers and training Air Force pilots.
In the Judiciary Committee chairman, the public has a courtly and incurious overseer regarding dereliction of duty at the Justice Department or FBI. Although Leahy presided over inconclusive oversight hearings following the U.S. attorney firing scandal in 2007, Leahy never called witnesses about any of the flagrant misconduct in the Siegelman case, or regarding similar frame-ups. The committee gives scant attention to any other such abuses, including the tens of millions of dollars the Bush Justice Department sent to Ashcroft, left, in sweetheart, no-bid contracts after he left office.
The public can expect more such back-scratching, log-rolling, and posturing during the Comey hearing. The news media are scarcely better, with virtually no mainstream publication daring to print anything about the military holdings of Siegelman's trial judge, Mark Fuller, even after whistleblowers exposed all the documentation in sworn testimony available for anyone to see. Beyond the Siegelman case, Fuller was accused by one litigant of trying to defraud the State of Alabama of $330,000, with sworn evidence hand-delivered to Leahy and every member of his committee in 2003. In a divorce action last year, Fuller's wife accused the judge of a long-running affair with a married court clerk in the federal courthouse in Montgomery he supervised as chief federal judge, and of unspecified drug and alcohol abuse.
Leahy's committee has never investigated any of it, even after the matters have been brought specifically to its attention. When asked for comment, a Leahy spokeswoman told me that all of his actions are standard operation procedure. So, there is no reason to believe Leahy or his colleagues will provide anything more than their usual deferential treatment for Comey.
Leahy is far from alone. The ranking Republican on his committee, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, has been a major proponent of the Airbus deal and the judicial appointment of Fuller. So has fellow Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who vowed in February 2009 to place a hold on every nomination by the newly installed President Obama unless the European company was given what Shelby considered fair consideration for the contract.
On the Democratic side, similar conflicts of interests involving billions of dollars of taxpayer holdings exist -- all perfectly legal, of course. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband's company holds the exclusive contract to sell billions of dollars of post offices around the nation for a 6 percent commission. One of the more thorough descriptions has been by radio host Thom Hartmann in February, Post Office properties to be privatized by crony capitalists; Sen. Feinstein's husband profiteers again, It drew from Andrew Ross in SF Gate, Grim outlook for post office buildings, who noted Feinstein's denial of a conflict.Those denials cited a blind trust for her investments, for example.
Yet a blind trust for her wealth would hardly shelter her from knowledge of her husband's money-making. Beyond that are larger questions about lawmaker anti-government privatization efforts that help ensure cronyism. First are the special pension rules that lawmakers imposed on the Postal Service to drive it to near-bankruptcy. Second is the decision to bypass the General Services Administration and use private brokers like Blum.
This type of Washington decision-making is pervasive, as is the deference that the mainstream media accords its favorites among the powerful. One of the few articles about the postal controversy by a newspaper or broadcaster, aside from the SF Gate column was a March New York Times feature article. In it, the newspaper managed not to avoid any mention Feinstein or her husband, Richard C. Blum, in the report, Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price.
I described Feinstein's tight control of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a column last summer on how virtually of its hearings were secret. Three-term Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon claimed he had no power whatsoever to call a witness even on what he regarded as a pressing issue, the erosion of the Constitutional right to privacy in the face of massive government surveillance. As recounted in, Senator’s Lonely Battle For Public’s Privacy Rights, Wyden deferred to Feinstein's tight control of intelligence issues and was far from objecting, even in view of his privacy concerns.
The larger lesson for the Comey nomination is that the Senators are skilled in law enforcement and anti-terror rhetoric, and crafty about protecting their prerogatives, especially in trying to capture federal dollars. As for undertaking in-depth investigations regarding the most powerful institutions and their leaders, such a task is demonstrably far beyond the senators' interest.
Comey: Above Reproach?
Comey's supporters can point to many career highlights, as does my friend Michael Collins, in a positive profile in The Agonist, a leftish-leaning public affairs blog, James Comey: Evidence of a Crime. As for criticism, Comey can hide behind bureaucratic excuses to disclaim responsibility for any misdeeds during his watch unless questioned by knowledgeable and aggressive senators. The Justice Department has more than 100,000 employees, plus traditions of secrecy and internal loyalties that make it difficult for any outsider to affix responsibility.
Yet the unique position of the FBI in a government that obtains surveillance data on all phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications of all Americans makes senators or any public official vulnerable for reprisal. Independent reporting has established that during the Bush years all electronic communications to or from the House of Representatives, at a minimum, were funnelled to a web of Republican political activists, including the late Michael Connell, whose firm held the contract to devise the House communications system, along with many other communications systems of government, political, and business bodies via his two high-tech consultanties.
That was only a small part of the information retrieval system that puts on notice any thoughtful public official, other news source, reporter, or civic leader. After two presidential election victories Democrats have the ability to develop similar systems, although less is publicly known about their methods.
What we can say for certain is that the congruence of investigative, Wall Street, and military-security clout exemplified by a Comey appointment for a decade is especially dangerous. It is not unique, as indicated by last week's appointment of disgraced former CIA Director and CENTCOM Commander David Petraeus, left, to lead KKR Global Institute, a hedge fund under the $64 billion parent buyout firm, KKR (Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts).
Wall Street's direct liaison with top former government officials is particularly troublesome given the immense surveillance and paramilitary power of such enforcement agencies as the FBI and CIA in modern times, as well as the Congress and the news media as watchdog institutions.
The Senate and House have avoided investigating the massive surveillance of Americans that includes interception, storage and retrieval capabilities, as we have often reported. This program begun illegally under the Bush administration has been continued by President Obama, who voted in 2008 to provide immunity for telecom companies after securing the Democratic nomination and switching his campaign position. Every American should be frightened at the possibilities but the mainstream media is primarily concerned over revelations that authorities monitor them, not innocent members of the public never suspected or accused of anything.
The conventional media has been eroded by the Internet's destruction of its advertising financial base, as well as by the growing servitude of its key representatives, whether to government news sources or regulators. the government spying on the Associated Press and Fox News have created headlines recently.
But most in the mainstream media could not have cared less when the Bush and Obama administrations unveiled harsh crackdowns on alternative media, whistleblowers, and other free speech advocates at such venues as campaign speeches.
Part of the media's apathy towards the eroding freedoms of others can be attributed to a self-centered view that defines journalism and similar freedoms as only practiced by those who report within a corporate structure. This means that most could not care less if the government tests new limits of the law by draconian measures against such sources as Pfc. Bradley Manning or independent journalists and authors, including former Col. Anthony Shaffer,
Part of the problem, however, is that those corporations increasingly need financing from Wall Street and, at least occasionally, favorable treatment from such regulators as the Federal Communications Commission, which recently issued a controversial decision allowing a waiver from cross-ownership regulations for the broadcasting and newspaper properties of nationwide Tribune conglomerate. This paves the way for a potential sale to the Koch Brothers or Rupert Murdoch, among other suitors who have expressed interest in adding to their empires.
Exemplifying the financial crunch, the Chicago Sun-Times on May 30 fired all 28 members of its full-time photography staff.
As a larger lesson big-city tabloid that cannot afford photographers is hardly like either to spend money and goodwill either investigating the accuracy of leaks by anonymous law enforcement authorities shaping news coverage. Virtually every news organization, reader and viewer is hurt by the reduced clout of the media compared to the law enforcement and national security agencies they cover. Reporters and publications must stay in the good graces of law enforcers -- and indeed remain nearly subservient -- in order to receive government-generated news in a timely fashion. When I began in the news business in the 1970s, reporters and their editors were far more independent. Standing instructions at the Hartford Courant when I worked there was part of our job was to investigate law enforcers' motivations, especially if they tried to smear someone by leaking a secret dossier of vile information instead of bringing charges and trying to prove them in open court.
The "leak" of the Comey nomination is a more routine matter. NBC's Justice Department reporter received one of the first scoops. Leaks regarding crime news create special problems, however because the FBI can shape the entire narrative with hardly anyone taking responsibility for the facts until far down the road, if ever.
The Boston Marathon bombing story is a prime example. So are lingering questions about President Kennedy's assassination 50 years after his death.
By now, most people have at least a vague notion of how authorities blamed two immigrant brothers for the Boston Marathon bombings, but many of the vital details have been withheld or leaked anonymously to reporters regarded as friendly to the Justice Department, FBI or other law enforcement agencies.
Investigative reporters Russ Baker and Wayne Madsen are among those in the alternative media who have dared raise obvious questions totally avoided by the mainstream media, or the Senate and House for that matter. Baker wrote of the issue May 31 in, New York Times, Warning: Trust Authorities on Boston Bombing, or You’re Nuts. Madsen, a blogger, author, and former Navy intelligence officer, wrote that the bombing suspects had national security ties that are not uncommon in that field, but are highly embarrassing to the relevant agencies for obvious reasons when fatalities occur.
Some civil rights organizations have raised questions about Comey's background. But they have little clout in Washington, and are likely to be overwhelmed by his support from the establishment and former colleagues. Among the latter is Comey's close friend, former Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a former special counsel in the DOJ's probe identifying Lewis "Scooter" Libby as the White House aide who outed CIA covert operative Valerie Plame Wilson, right, to punish her family for her husband's unwillingness to falsify his view of WMD evidence.
Comey is a 1982 graduate of the College of William and Mary, and of the 1985 class at the University of Chicago Law School. He clerked for a federal judge in Manhattan, was an associate in New York for a major law firm, and then worked from 1987 to 1993 in the U.S. attorney's office for Manhattan. His major cases include prosecution of the Gambino crime family. He was a leader from 1996 to 2001 in the U.S. Attorney's office based in Richmond, Virginia.
He became the presidentially appointed U.S. attorney in Manhattan after the Bush administration took office in 2001. Among his successes there was the conviction of Martha Stewart, who was suspected of offenses arising out of insider trading. That case is usually considered simply a triumph for Comey and the justice system. Yet longtime defense attorney Harvey Silverglate described the charges as unprecedented and the result unjust in an iconic book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.
Silverglate's analysis illustrates, among other things, the enormous power of prosecutors to coerce a guilty plea even from such wealthy and powerful defendants as Stewart, with scant meaningful public scrutiny even in a well-known case. Silverglate's book, featured at a Cato Institute seminar in 2009 along with like-minded criminal law experts, represented a pivotal juncture for me and my research.
Until that time, my researches about injustices by the Bush Justice Department had tended to focus on individual outrages such as the Siegelman frame-up or the DOJ's jihad against the eminent Pennsylvania county coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht, left, as they tried to imprison the defendant on 43 felony charges of sending a personal fax on his county fax machine during his 20 years of part-time work.
Wecht is the author and co-author of more than 40 books, and 550 professional articles drawing on his work as a consultant, medical school professor, and member of the editorial boards of more than 20 publications. The prosecution illustrated that the Justice Department and FBI could terrorize almost anyone since the same theory of prosecution could have been used against government employees using a phone or computer for personal messages.
Silverglate's book and the favorable reception it received from other experts opened my eyes to the potential for vast and systemic abuse. I was not a novice at the time. I had covered the Justice Department full-time for five years as a newspaper reporter, then obtained law degrees from both Chicago and Yale, and worked as a law clerk to an eminent federal judge. I, like most in that field, was too busy with deadlines to probe deeper into some cases that so secret that they are rarely if ever revealed in court or the media. The victims could be under either party or even from the law enforcement community, as I saw in the bipartisan unfairness visited upon former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
Dallas Intrigue Still Unsolved?
Over recent years, however, my book and Justice Integrity Project research have revealed serious questions about the FBI and CIA cover-up if not complicity in the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. Especially interesting are several relatively recent books. In 1996, JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy was published by Fletcher Prouty, the former chief of staff of special operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy years. Prouty, a retired Air Force colonel and World War II combat veteran with a long career in government, described the assassination as a coup d-etat by an unnamed "High Cabal" of powerful figures in and out of government disturbed by Kennedy's disillusionment with Cold War military and covert intelligence actions.
Prouty made remarkably specific and general allegations about certain things. He did not, however, mention the super-secret Joint Chiefs-approved plan "Operation Northwoods," presumably because the operation was still classified in 1996. Via his job, Prouty would have known about the "false flag" maneuver whereby the U.S. government would kill or pretend to kill U.S. civilians such by hijacking an airliner in the Caribbean. These atrocities could then be blamed on the Cuban government, thereby justifying a U.S. invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro and re-establish United States commercial interests.
Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense vetoed the secret plan, thereby angering the Joint Chiefs, according to author James Bamford, who broke the story in his 2001 national best-seller, Body of Secrets, a 700-page book about the ultra-secret National Security Agency (NSA).
Among other recent important books touching on the assassination and law enforcement role are Dead Wrong by Richard Belzer and David Wayne; and JFK and the Speakable by James Douglass. The latter provides extensive evidence rarely examined by the mainstream media.
One major claim is that the murdered accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine, had been induced by authorities to undertake suspicious activities as a defector to Russia and infiltrator of left-wing causes. The photo at left is from his arrest in New Orleans leading a pro-Castro protest for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which he organized.
The FBI was secretly paying Oswald $200 a month up until the time of the JFK killing, as Warren Commission data showed. Other researchers described the situation more fully. Douglass, for example, wrote that Oswald kept in close contact with his reputed handler, retired FBI agent Guy Bannister, whose undercover operation was located in New Orleans near the city's FBI and CIA offices. Ruth Paine, an actual or ostensible left-winger like Oswald, housed Oswald and his wife, and arranged for Oswald to obtain a job at the Texas Book Depository five weeks before JFK's motorcade would pass. Paine's sister worked at the CIA, a detail not considered important except to later independent investigators.
"I didn't shoot anybody," Oswald shouted as he was being led past reporters. "They've taken me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union. I'm just a patsy!" Later, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby murdered Oswald while the defendant was in police custody.
For those new to the controversies in this 50th anniversary of the assassination, the Warren Commission determined that Oswald killed JFK as a lone assassin. Former CIA Director Allen Dulles, right, who had been fired by JFK in 1962, was the commission's most influential member. This was because his investigative background as the CIA's longest-serving leader, combined with his powerful connections as a former Wall Street lawyer, who like his brother John Foster Dulles, handled investments for some of the nation's most influential families.
Such studies obviously cannot be resolved in a few paragraphs here, especially since the 26-volume Warren Commission report has been supplemented by more than 250 books by independent authors. Many point to evidence of multiple shots, tampered evidence, and indications that FBI and CIA-related handlers and suspected handlers helped Oswald in the year leading to the killing.
The enduring mysteries suggests valuable follow ups in other directions.
One is whether Wecht's status as a prominent critic of the Warren Commission and in many other disputes with law enforcement as an independent-minded coroner might have led to the trumped up federal charges against him during the Bush administration. These cost Wecht $8.6 million in defense costs in two trials. Finally, Wecht was able to obtain an honest judge, who forced a seemingly unwilling Obama administration in 2009 to drop a case that must have cost taxpayers at least as much as Wecht.
More broadly, the potential appointment of Comey for a decade is not the time for the Senate or anyone else to applaud his collection of guilty verdicts.
Instead, this is the time for a deep probe of all major FBI secrets, especially those on his watch during his rise to the top. We must ensure that he is using his powers wisely in the future in service of all the public, not just those at the White House and Wall Street, and in the defense industry and federal law enforcement who are advocating his assumption of powers that are nearly unique in our society because of their scope and secrecy.
Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
WBAI FM (New York), Doubting Obama’s Resolve To Do Right: Ray McGovern, Interview of former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern by Michael Smith and Michael Ratner, June 3, 2013. We continue our discussion on killing people using drone warfare with returning guest Ray McGovern. When President Obama delivered a major speech on counter-terrorism, he announced a shift in his administration’s use of drones. The Obama Administration has conducted hundreds of drone strikes in several countries, killing civilians and so far reported, four US citizens. Critics point out that as the Obama Administration assassinates its’ suspects, it also avoids the legal complications of detention. London based bureau for investigative journalism estimates that about 830 civilians including women and children may have been killed by drone attacks in Pakistan. 138 in Yemen, and 57 in Somalia.
Guest Raymond L. McGovern, right, is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents in the past 27 years. Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad. His website writings are posted first on consortiumnews.com, and are usually carried on other websites as well. He has debated at the Oxford Forum and appeared on Charlie Rose, The Newshour, CNN, and numerous other TV & radio programs and documentaries. Ray has lectured to a wide variety of audiences here and abroad. Ray studied theology and philosophy (as well as his major, Russian) at Fordham University, from which he holds two degrees. He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University.
It [the recent Obama speech] was a masterpiece of oratory and rhetoric, but it was deceptive through and through. Those of us who had been watching this know he lied through his teeth on many occasions. He has the power as we all know to release 86 prisoners (Guantanamo) in the next hour. Why would he do all that? Why would he be afraid to take the drones away from the CIA? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s afraid. He’s afraid of what happened Martin Luther King Jr. At a small dinner with progressive supporters – after these progressive supporters were banging on Obama before the election . . . Why don’t you do the things we thought you stood for? Obama turned sharply and said Don’t you remember what happened to Martin Luther King Jr.? I’m convinced the President of the United States is afraid of the CIA. Does he have any reason to fear the CIA? Well he sure as heck does. For those of your listeners who have not read James Douglas’ JFK and the Unspeakable, you need to read that, because it’s coming up on 50 years. John Kennedy signed 2 executive orders just a month or so before he was killed. One of them said we’re pulling out a 1000 troops from South Vietnam. The other said we’re pulling out the bulk of the troops by 1965, we’re finished in Vietnam. I think he’s just afraid and he shouldn’t have run for president if he was going to be this much of a wuss.
Law & Disorder, a groundbreaking radio program that among many things, encourages listeners to get involved with and understand the legal issues eroding all of our civil liberties -- set in the new reality of homeland security. Law & Disorder examines the police-state measures of U.S. foreign policy as a permanent global feature and the subsequent rollback of democratic rights. Four program hosts will analyze and discuss the laws that corrode our freedom of speech, equal protection and due process of the law.
Related News Coverage
New York Times, Obama To Pick James Comey As FBI Head, Michael S. Schmidt, May 29, 2013. President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to two people with knowledge. By choosing Mr. Comey, a Republican, Mr. Obama made a strong statement about bipartisanship at a time when he faces renewed criticism from Republicans in Congress and has had difficulty winning confirmation of some important nominees. At the same time, Mr. Comey’s role in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Bush administration — in which he refused to acquiesce to White House aides and reauthorize a program for eavesdropping without warrants when he was serving as acting attorney general — should make him an acceptable choice to Democrats. It is not clear when Mr. Obama will announce the nomination. Senior F.B.I. officials have been concerned that if the president does not name a new director by the beginning of June, it will be difficult to get the nominee confirmed by the beginning of September, when Mr. Mueller by law must leave his post.
The Agonist, James Comey: Evidence of a Crime, Michael Collins, May 29, 2013. Former Deputy Attorney General (2003-2005) James Comey played a central role in frustrating the Bush White House attempt to get Justice Department approval for illegal wiretapping from then Attorney General John Ashcroft as Ashcroft lay suffering, semi-conscious in his hospital bed suffering from a severe case of Gallstone Pancreatitis. Comey was the acting attorney general and refused a DOJ sign off as to the legality of the program (as he and Ashcroft had agreed just before Ashcroft’s hospitalization). Comey acted with the highest integrity that day. It’s a fascinating story. This 2007 article, Comey's Evidence of a Crime, outlines the events showing that integrity truly matters in the selection of a public servant.
Lawfare, Readings: Jim Comey on “Intelligence Under the Law,” Benjamin Wittes, May 31, 2013. In light of Jim Comey’s reported selection as FBI director, this 2005 speech — published later in the Green Bag—is a matter of inherent interest. It’s one of the things I’ll be reading over the next few days on a long series of long-haul flights to and from the PACOM/MILOPS Conference — from which I hope to do some blogging and podcasting. Hat tip to Garrett M. Graff, author of this related oped in the Washington Post, for reminding me that it exists.
New York Times, Bush Terrorism Fight May Be Fodder in F.B.I. Confirmation, Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, May 30, 2013. The pending nomination of James B. Comey to be director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will probably shine a fresh light on some controversial chapters in George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, with Republicans more likely than Democrats to question his role in the Bush Justice Department. But senior Senate aides said no immediate red flags were raised on Capitol Hill to indicate a bruising confirmation fight when President Obama makes his choice official. The White House said nothing publicly about the nomination on Thursday, and according to officials, the F.B.I. had not begun a formal background check on Mr. Comey when news broke on Wednesday evening that Mr. Obama had settled on him as the nominee. Mr. Comey, 52, a Republican and former deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, received a muted response from Congress, since lawmakers are away for the Memorial Day recess. But there is little recent precedent for a confirmation battle. The five F.B.I. directors confirmed since the 1972 death of J. Edgar Hoover (shown at right) all sailed through the Senate. As for Mr. Comey, many of the policy disputes in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had already faded by the end of Mr. Bush’s second term.
Washington Post, Civil liberties groups criticize Comey, but colleagues praise him, Jerry Markon and Sari Horwitz, May 30, 2013. The pending nomination of James B. Comey to be FBI director began on Thursday to reopen old debates over George W. Bush-era national security policies. And despite Comey’s well-publicized role in challenging some of the controversial practices, he has come under attack from civil liberties advocates. One day after President Obama’s plan to nominate the former senior Justice Department official to run the FBI became public, the American Civil Liberties Union became the second civil liberties group to raise questions about Comey’s involvement in the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism tactics, such as warrantless surveillance and tough interrogations.
NBC, Obama to appoint Comey to head FBI: Sources, Pete Williams, May 29, 2013. President Barack Obama intends to nominate former deputy attorney general James Comey to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI Director, sources familiar with the decision told NBC News on Wednesday. Comey, a Republican who served under President George W. Bush, would take over after Mueller steps down in September. Mueller, who has previously made public his long-term plans to step down in the coming months, has spent 12 years as head of the FBI. He has recently faced some scrutiny over the agency's failure to more thoroughly investigate Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after being alerted by foreign agencies. Mueller took over the FBI just one week before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Washington Post, Stewing in his own juices, Dana Milbank, May 31, 2013. Eric Holder is in a mess of his own making. Now House Republicans are talking about perjury, and it would seem that they have, well, probable cause. As a legal matter, this isn’t a worry for Holder. His Justice Department isn’t going to prosecute him for perjury, just as it didn’t prosecute him when lawmakers held him in contempt of Congress. But the controversy left Holder with a serious credibility problem at a time when many Republicans want him out and Democrats are not eager to defend the Obama administration’s intrusions into the First Amendment with its obsessive leak investigations. Holder managed to make the situation even worse this week when he arranged to have a series of meetings with news organizations but then decreed that the sessions would be off the record.
Huffington Post, David Petraeus To Head Private Equity Firm KKR's New Global Institute, Tom Murphy, May 30, 2013. Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus will take a new job with investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. as he attempts to rebuild his reputation after an extramarital affair with a biographer triggered his resignation as CIA director last fall. Petraeus, 60, will serve as chairman of the New York firm's newly created KKR Global Institute. He was CIA director from September 2011 until last November. Before that, Petraeus served more than 37 years in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of four-star general. Petraeus served as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan and also commanded forces in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, when violence in that country dropped following a surge in military forces.
Investigative Background of Selected Articles Referenced Above
Huffington Post Live, Richard Scrushy, Karl Rove's 'Political Prisoner,' Speaks Out On Siegelman Case, Alyona Minkovski, May 7, 2013. Richard Scrushy provides his first on-camera interview since serving six years in prison for allegedly bribing Gov Don Siegelman. We'll learn why Scrushy believes Siegelman is innocent and the victim of a political prosecution motivated by Karl Rove.
Connecticut Watchdog, Inside Story on DoD’s Boeing Air Force Tanker Deal, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 25, 2011. The Department of Defense Feb. 24 announced its choice of Boeing for a $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s next generation of mid-air refueling tankers. Boeing’s selection, subject to any challenge by the losing bidder EADS, could end a decade-long, scandal-ridden process that became one of the controversial and important in modern U.S. procurement history.
OpEd News, What Federal Judge Fuller's Ugly Divorce Has to Do with Don Siegelman, (Interview of Andrew Kreig by Joan Brunwasser), May 25, 2012. The government's frame-up of Siegelman, right, Alabama's most popular Democrat, was the culmination of a two-decade plan by Karl Rove and his business allies to transform Alabama state politics and courts from historically Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican. Parallel developments occurred also in Mississippi and Louisiana, but it was most dramatic in Alabama, where Rove and the Bush family have longstanding ties and where the historically Democratic black population is the smallest of any Deep South state. This rout of Democrats has left the party so enfeebled that the national party has in effect ceded to Republicans much of the control over the justice system in these regions, as otherwise in the guts of government. For example, the Obama administration left in office until last spring the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney who helped frame Siegelman, and then named as her successor a man who as a defense attorney represented the chief witness against Siegelman. This created a perverse incentive to keep a lid on the scandals. Further, Congress is abandoning its watchdog role except in a few partisan matters.
Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, Andrew Kreig, May 21, 2009. One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.
Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income. These are the opinions of Missouri attorney Paul B. Weeks, who is speaking out publicly for the first time since his effort in 2003 to obtain the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery on Doss Aviation-related allegations. (The rarely photographed Fuller invited photographer Phil Fleming to take the portrait at right, helping to commemorate the Siegelman guilty verdict reached a few minutes earlier after prolonged deliberations and a split verdict reject most of the prosecution's charges.)
WhoWhatWhy, Senator’s Lonely Battle For Public’s Privacy Rights, Andrew Kreig on Aug. 6, 2012. During the Bush administration, it seemed that nary a Republican—and just a handful of Democrats in Congress—spoke out about the government’s crackdown on civil liberties. Since a Democrat took power, the silence has spread. One notable exception is Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wyden continues a lonely battle to generate discussion and accountability where there is virtually none. Among his concerns are how Executive Branch officials resist providing meaningful estimates of whether it is only a few Americans–or vast numbers—who are being monitored without warrants. For example, while the public is generally aware that judges authorize limited numbers of wiretaps each year, it remains largely in the dark about newer and far more prevalent techniques, such as the routine use of cell phones as sophisticated tracking devices. Wyden’s most recent effort involves placing a “hold” on the Senate’s reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court system—until he is able to learn more about how, post-9/11, the Executive Branch is using its powers.
New York Times, Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price, Robin Pogrebin, March 7, 2013. The Santa Monica post office, with its distinctive PWA Moderne style, is one of about 200 post offices around the country, dozens of them architecturally distinctive buildings, that the Postal Service has indicated it may choose to sell in coming years because of its financial problems.
Huffington Post, Mark Udall 'Extremely Concerned' About Warrantless Email Searches, Matt Sledge, May 9, 2013. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), right, said Thursday he was "extremely concerned" over revelations that the FBI continues to believe it can conduct warrantless email searches despite a federal appeals court's ruling that they are unconstitutional. Using a public records request, the American Civil Liberties Union received a set of FBI documents Wednesday. An internal June 2012 department guide included among the documents shows that the FBI believes it can obtain the contents of emails without a warrant if the email was sent or received through a third-party service. In at least one case before that guide was written, however, a federal court disagreed: In a 2010 decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that emailers using cloud services have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are protected by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution's warrant requirement.
New York Daily News, Former NYPD boss Bernard Kerik released from federal prison, heads home to N.J., Barry Paddock, Greg B. Smith and Larry Mcshane, May 28, 2013. The former top cop was sentenced to four years in 2010. He may serve out the rest of his sentence under an unusual home-confinement arrangement. See background also in: Justice Integrity Project, Court Slams Kerik Appeal….But Seeing Is Believing, Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. New York's federal appeals court last week rejected former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik’s claims of unfairness when his judge sentenced him to four years in prison for tax and related charges. But I was an eye-witness to the unfairness to Kerik during his sentencing in New York on Feb. 18, 2010.
Wall Street Journal, For JFK Authors, the Truth Is, Conspiracy Theories Sell Lots of Books; 50th Anniversary of Assassination Prompts Torrent of Words, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, June 2, 2013. When it comes to President John F. Kennedy's assassination, no word has been left unturned. As the 50th anniversary draws near, some might think there is little left to say. That turns out not to be the case. Skyhorse Publishing is issuing eight new titles, flanked by 17 reprints. The publisher started the year with 12 JFK-related titles, which means it will have 37 by year's end. Bowker's Books In Print says nearly 1,400 titles related to President Kennedy, including his assassination, conspiracy works, biographies and speeches, have been published in the U.S. over the past five decades. By comparison, the company says there were more than 3,300 titles related to Abraham Lincoln published during the same period, and nearly 800 about the Titanic. Many of the Skyhorse works have vivid titles, among them Mark North's "Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the Assassination of President Kennedy" and Patrick Nolan's "CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys."
Huffington Post, JFK at 49: What We Know for Sure, Jefferson Morley, Nov. 22, 2012. November 22 marks the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The memory of the tragedy in Dallas seems to be fading in America's collective consciousness. Few people younger than myself (I'm 54) have any memory of the day it actually happened. 9/11 has certainly replaced 11/22 as the time stamp of American catastrophic angst. Yet the JFK story still acts as a gravitational vortex in America's pop culture galaxy. In this media spectacle, the Internet is a mixed blessing. The Web keeps the JFK story alive by providing a platform and audience for ever more fantastical theories about the death of the 35th president. More constructively, the Web has made the government's troubling records about JFK's death available for the first time to millions people outside of Washington and the federal government. I believe this diffusion of knowledge is slowly clarifying the JFK story for everybody.
Coalition on Political Assassinations, Notes on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012, Vincent Salandria, Nov. 8, 2012. On January 4, 2012 at 11:25 a.m. I arrived at the Oyster House restaurant in Philadelphia for a meeting with former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. He had called me a week or so earlier and suggested we have lunch. We met, shook hands, and seated ourselves at a table. I thanked him for suggesting having lunch with me.....Coalition Editor's Note: This thoughtful and provocative piece comes from an early and brilliant Warren Commission critic and lawyer Vincent Salandria, author of False Mystery. He has taken the position for years that the visible facts in the case were transparent from the start, without ever being officially confirmed. In his view, we already know who killed President Kennedy and why, but to admit that to ourselves would lead to an imperative for action with unknown consequences. He continues these themes in this recent piece sent to us for public consumption. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania passed away recently after a long battle with cancer and never recanted his conclusions about the single bullet theory he propounded for the Warren Commission to explain multiple wounds in President Kennedy and John Connally on November 22, 1963.
WhoWhatWhy / OpEd News, Dallas Diminishes JFK, His Legacy, And Those Who Care About Democracy, Russ Baker, Nov. 26, 2012. Welcome to the JFK Assassination Cover-up, Chapter 20. The Dallas Morning News, notoriously uninterested in real journalism about the most infamous event ever to take place in its city, recently ran a JFK-related piece in its entertainment section. One of a flood of stories purporting to provide insight into the event as we head toward the 50th anniversary, it was headlined: "Looking for fiction about the JFK assassination? Choose carefully." Now, why would we need fiction about the JFK assassination, when most of the purported "fact" put out by the establishment is, as any serious researcher will tell you, straight from someone's imagination?
Boston Marathon Bombing
WhoWhatWhy, Bombing Story Mysteries,” Russ Baker, May 14, 2013. While most everyone else in the media figures the Boston bombing story is settled, we’re just beginning to ask questions. Here are some early ones.
WhoWhatWhy, New York Times, Warning: Trust Authorities on Boston Bombing, or You’re Nuts, Russ Baker, May 31, 2013. A huge story can set off alarm bells everywhere, but somehow, with ever increasing frequency, we note the silence of the mainstream media. Having avoided doing its job, it then protects its flank by denigrating those who call for inquiries. A recent example is this Times article : “Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories.”
The essay, by Times magazine columnist Maggie Koerth-Baker, implicitly suggests the public should immediately halt speculation once law enforcement officials “leak” information intended to shape our perceptions. No matter that these leaks are not the same thing as evidence presented at trial, that the leaks themselves serve an agenda, and that law enforcement has a long history of attempting to persuade the public of false narratives. No matter that the latter is a practice repeatedly, if often belatedly, chronicled by the Times itself. For example, when the Tsarnaevs were first identified by the public from video footage released by the FBI, the Bureau told us the Tsarnaevs were previously unknown to it. Then the Bureau was forced by the Russians to admit it had known the brothers for quite some time. In fact, the Russians had briefed the Bureau on its concerns several years ago, and at that time, in response to the Russian information, the FBI had begun interacting with the Tsarnaev clan.
Anyone who has ever written for outfits like the Times knows that sucking up to authority will always serve one well professionally. Consider the eagerly establishment-pleasing Koerth-Baker, a “science editor” who scrupulously follows the journalism-school rules of the road: She dredges up the perennial “academic” so that it appears that her reporting has no agenda—she’s just sharing what some “expert” thinks.
WhoWhatWhy, The Marathon Bombing: What the Media Didn't Warn You About, Russ Baker, April 19, 2013. During a meeting on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, a well-meaning person asked me whether I thought we could assume that the usual suspects were behind the mayhem, or whether there was “more to it.” When I explained doubts about the conventional rush to judgment—and where those doubts came from—I was told I was on dangerous ground. With the bombing story, emotions ran high, of course. The media understand this, and while they talk in reassuring tones and routinely issue sober disclaimers, almost everything they do plays to our irrational sides. Two elements predominate: danger and reassurance. Some of the talking heads are there to warn about danger, others to reassure us. Some do both. We wouldn’t want just one or the other—it would be too hard to take. But together, they represent, psychologically, an ineluctable offering. As long as they appear in tandem, we will sit, immobilized, and let the networks’ pronouncements wash over us. We become so anaesthetized to critical thinking that we fail to consider whether we are getting any information of use at all.
WhoWhatWhy, Official Story has Odd Wrinkles: A Pack of Questions about the Boston Bombing Backpacks, Dave Lindorff, May 20, 2013. The horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon, to hear the FBI and the Boston Police tell it, is solved: One bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is dead, gunned down by police and then run over for good measure by his fleeing brother Dzhokhar, who was captured a day later in a citywide manhunt, after being hit by a fusillade of police bullets fired into a trailered pleasure boat he was hiding in.
Paul Craig Roberts, Boston Marathon Bombing, Paul Craig Roberts, April 19, 2013. While driving (April 19) I listened to a NPR program on the Boston bombing and was disheartened by the absence of hard questions and any thought. Alex Jones has made a definitive statement that I lack the information to verify or contest. The video shows numerous military type guys on the scene prior to the explosion in identical garb–black baseball hats with white insignia, black shirts or jackets, tan pants and combat boots with cell phones in their hands. All have identical backpacks. The backpack straps match those on the remains of an exploded backpack, which the media has attributed to the backpack of one of the two brothers who are alleged to have committed the bombing. What strikes me about the event is the ease with which authorities were able to lockdown entire metropolitan areas, preventing US citizens from leaving their homes in order to go to their jobs, to doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store, or to walk their dogs. This is a precedent. It sets the stage for martial law, although it is not being called that, and for daylight curfews.
Boston Globe, Unrecorded testimony, Harvey Silverglate, left, May 11, 2013. Robel Phillipos has been charged with obstruction of justice.Those concerned with the survival of American civil liberties during the post-9/11 (and now post-Boston Marathon) “age of terror” most commonly fear the federal government’s technical ability to record and store virtually all telephonic and electronic communications. But a more immediate threat to liberty lies in what one particular agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, refuses to record, as Robel Phillipos is now learning the hard way. Phillipos is a 19-year-old Cambridge resident, former UMass Dartmouth student, and friend of alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He faces charges of making materially false statements during a series of interviews with FBI agents. If convicted, he could get up to eight years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Phillipos underwent four FBI interviews. He is not alleged to have had any advance knowledge of, much less role in, the bombing itself. The FBI was apparently trying to obtain his information and cooperation concerning the role and knowledge of Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, the two Kazakh students who allegedly found and disposed of Tsarnaev’s backpack and laptop after he was named a suspect in the bombings. The public and the media should withhold judgment not only as to what Phillipos did or did not do, but also as to what he did or did not say when questioned by FBI agents. Indeed, the public should look skeptically at the accuracy of any FBI claim regarding what transpires in the bureau’s infamous witness interviews. Here’s why.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Peter H. Stone, Huffington Post, Sheldon Adelson's Woes Mount With Grand Jury In Las Vegas Sands Money-Laundering Probe, June 5, 2013. The legal headaches besetting billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. now include a grand jury in Los Angeles, part of a federal money-laundering probe of his Nevada-based casinos, the Huffington Post has learned. The involvement of a federal grand jury, not previously reported, suggests an escalation of the money-laundering investigation into Sands and one of its executives, being led by the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles, according to a person with direct knowledge of the inquiry.
Investigators are probing whether Sands broke money-laundering laws by failing to report millions in potentially questionable transfers of money several years ago by two-high rollers at its casinos. Both men have separately been charged with other crimes and one has since been sentenced to jail for accepting illegal kickbacks. Adelson, CEO of the Sands, is shown at left in a photo via Wikipedia. The Wall Street Journal, in a lengthy story last summer, first disclosed that Sands was a subject of a federal money-laundering inquiry and that some of its executives were also under scrutiny. The Journal reported in October that possible settlement discussions with government officials were underway. Those talks were focused on a possible deal, which, to avoid charges, may have included a fine of $100 million or more and would've required Sands to institute new internal controls for customer deposits.
Politico, Opening Statements Paint Two Pictures Of Manning, Stephanie Gaskell, June 3, 2013. Prosecutors opened the Army’s court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning on Monday by charging that the former intelligence analyst knew full well the 700,000 classified documents he has admitted giving to WikiLeaks could fall into the hands of America’s enemies. During opening statements in the biggest leak case in U.S. military history, prosecutors said they have evidence that Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden asked for the WikiLeaks files after they were released and the information was found on computers inside his Pakistan compound when it was raided by Navy Seals two years ago.
Consortium News, Moral Imperative of Bradley Manning, Ray McGovern, June 3, 2013. Exclusive: Official Washington still glorifies George W. Bush’s “successful surge” in Iraq while ignoring the wanton slaughter inflicted on Iraqis. So, there remains a high-level desire to harshly punish Pvt. Bradley Manning for exposing the horrific truth about that and other war crimes, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. He writes: "Although we had to swelter in the Maryland sun on Saturday, I found the pre-trial rally at Ft. Meade to support Bradley Manning particularly spirit-filled. It seemed there was an unspoken but widely shared consciousness that Manning is as much Biblical prophet as Army private. I think Manning can be seen as a classic prophet in the Abrahamic tradition. Such prophets take risks to expose injustice and challenge the rest of us to do the same. They also are a very large pain to those who oppress – and a pain, as well, to those of us who would prefer not to have to bother about such things."
Zero Hedge, The Full List Of 2013's Bilderberg Attendees, Tyler Durden, June 3, 2013. Selected attendees from the 2013 annual Bilderberg conference in the United Kingdom, chaired this year by Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO of the AXA Group. Other attendees of special stature include Her Royal Highnesss Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands and J. Michael Evans, Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co., which reportedly helps funds the annual conference along with the BP [according to cables released by the hacker group Anonymous]. Among others convening for the secret policy discussions, listed here in alphabetical order, were: Washington Post Chairman and CEO Donald E. Graham; Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co.; Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.; Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Harvard Law School Lawrence Lessig, a prominent advocate of congressional reform; Richard N. Perle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Global Institute Chairman David H. Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Retired); Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations and former Secretary of the Treasury; and Peter A. Thiel, President, Thiel Capital and a leading funder of social media companies and political campaigns.
The Guardian, The week ahead: Bilderberg 2013 comes to … the Grove hotel, Watford, Charlie Skelton, June 2, 2013. The Bilderberg group's meeting will receive greater scrutiny than usual as journalists and bloggers converge on Watford. When you're picking a spot to hold the world's most powerful policy summit, there's really only one place that will do: Watford. On Thursday afternoon, a heady mix of politicians, bank bosses, billionaires, chief executives and European royalty will swoop up the elegant drive of the Grove hotel, north of Watford, to begin the annual Bilderberg conference It's a remarkable spectacle – one of nature's wonders – and the most exciting thing to happen to Watford since that roundabout on the A412 got traffic lights. The area round the hotel is in lockdown: locals are having to show their passports to get to their homes. It's exciting too for the delegates. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell will hop from his limo, delighted to be spending three solid days in policy talks with the head of HSBC, the president of Dow Chemical, his favourite European finance ministers and US intelligence chiefs. The conference is the highlight of every plutocrat's year and has been since 1954. The only time Bilderberg skipped a year was 1976, after the group's founding chairman, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, was caught taking bribes from Lockheed Martin.
Truthdig via OpEdNews, 'We Steal Secrets': State Agitprop, Chris Hedges, June 3, 2013. Alex Gibney's new film, We Steal Secrets, is about WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. It dutifully peddles the state's contention that WikiLeaks is not a legitimate publisher and that Bradley Manning, who allegedly passed half a million classified Pentagon and State Department documents to WikiLeaks, is not a legitimate whistle-blower. It interprets acts of conscience and heroism by Assange and Manning as misguided or criminal. It holds up the powerful -- who are responsible for the plethora of war crimes Manning and Assange exposed -- as, by comparison, trustworthy and reasonable. Manning is portrayed as a pitiful, naive and sexually confused young man. Assange, who created the WikiLeaks site so whistle-blowers could post information without fear of being traced, is presented as a paranoid, vindictive megalomaniac and a sexual deviant. "We Steal Secrets" is agitprop for the security and surveillance state.
OpEdNews, Time For Holder to Resign/Be Fired, Rob Kall, June 1, 2013. Eric Holder should resign. I say he should resign rather than be fired because it is totally obvious that Holder has been doing the work Obama has told him to do. Holder should resign to save his reputation. He should resign AND make it clear that he is resigning because he can no longer be Obama's "sin eater" as Jonathan Turley calls him in his USA Today article: "Fire Eric Holder." I don't expect Holder to resign, because he has already demonstrated that he is totally willing to prostitute his integrity in obedience to Obama-- as he's violated our rights. Turley says it well in the article, "His value to President Obama has been his absolute loyalty." For Obama, there has been no better sin-eater than Holder.
New York Times, Seeking a Fresh Start, Holder Finds a Fresh Set of Troubles, Peter Baker, Charlie Savage, Jonathan Weisman, June 2, 2013. At the end of last year, with the election decided and the Obama administration in office for four more years, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. considered stepping down. He decided against it. While the White House publicly backed Mr. Holder as he tried to smooth over the latest uproar amid new speculation about his future, some in the West Wing privately tell associates they wish he would step down, viewing him as politically maladroit. But the latest attacks may stiffen the administration’s resistance in the near term to a change for fear of emboldening critics. But that does not mitigate the frustration of some presidential aides. “The White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,” said a Democratic former government official who did not want to be identified while talking about friends. Some advisers to Mr. Obama believe that Mr. Holder does not manage or foresee problems, the former official said. “How hard would it be to anticipate that The A.P. would be unhappy?” the former official said. “And then they haven’t defended their position.”
Huffington Post, Eric Holder Perjury Charge Weighed By Republicans, Arthur Delaney, June 2, 2013. Republicans in Congress are investigating whether U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder committed perjury when he said he had nothing to do with the "potential prosecution" of a journalist even though Holder himself reportedly approved of a search warrant in the case. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that Republicans are waiting for Holder's response to a letter about the apparent discrepancy between his sworn testimony and reports about his involvement in the near prosecution of Fox News reporter James Rosen. "It is fair to say we're investigating the conflict in his remarks, those remarks were made under oath, but we also think it’s very important that the attorney general be afforded the opportunity to respond, so we will wait to pass judgment on that until we receive his response," Goodlatte said.
AP via Chron.com, Chicago Sun-Times lays off photography staff, Carla Johnson, May 30, 2013. The Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire full-time photography staff Thursday, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, in a move that the newspaper's management said resulted from a need to shift toward more online video. The Newspaper Guild said 28 employees lost their jobs.
Huffington Post, Bob Schieffer: Obama Press Policy 'Hurting His Credibility And Shortchanging The Public' (VIDEO), Rebecca Shapiro, May 27, 2013. CBS News' Bob Schieffer tore into President Obama on Sunday's "Face The Nation," arguing that the administration's stringent communications policy was "hurting [the president's] credibility and shortchanging the public." In light of two government scandals involving the Department of Justice secretly monitoring the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen, Schieffer commented on additional ways the Obama administration's communications policy impacted journalism. He said:
It's reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera, from the lowest-level worker to a top White House official, I have to go through the White House press office.
If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment, as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode, then that's what we (and you, the taxpayer) get. And it usually isn't much.
Schieffer added that he was glad Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review the guidelines for Justice Department investigations that involve journalists. However, the CBS anchor argued against the president's requesting Holder as the person heading the review since the attorney general's department was so "deeply involved." Schieffer said, "That makes no sense to me."
FireDogLake, Imprisoned CIA Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou Pens “Letter from Loretto,” Brian Sonenstein, May 29, 2013. Former CIA agent John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the US government’s use of torture under the Bush administration, is currently serving a 30 month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Below is a letter he recently sent his attorney Jesselyn Radack, who shared it (with John’s permission) with Firedoglake based on a pre-existing arrangement.
The letter details his life in prison, including an incident in which prison officials attempted setup a confrontation between Kiriakou and a Muslim prisoner, telling Kiriakou he was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, when in reality the imam was in prison for refusing to testify in the Lackawanna Six case. Prison officials also lied to the Muslim prisoner, telling him that Kiriakou had called Washington after they met and had been ordered to kill him. This letter is the first part in a series inspired by dinner table discussions between Jane Hamsher, Jesselyn Radack and John Kiriakou (and others) before he went to prison. John wanted to have his letters published so that he could still communicate and share his story with the outside world.
Wall Street Journal, Romney Planning to Rejoin National Dialogue, Neil King Jr., May 30, 2013. He Will Host Event in Utah for 200 Friends and Campaign Supporters, More than half a year after his election loss, Mitt Romney is putting a tentative foot back onto the public stage. As a first step, the former Republican presidential nominee plans to welcome 200 friends and supporters to a three-day summit next week that he will host at a Utah mountain resort. He is considering writing a book and a series of opinion pieces, and has plans to campaign for 2014 candidates. But he is wary of overdoing it. "I'm not going to be bothering the airwaves with a constant series of speeches," he told The Wall Street Journal, speaking from his home in La Jolla, Calif. The Utah event, six months in the making, will be splashy, expensive and closed to outsiders and the press. The meeting will be "forward looking," as Mr. Romney describes it, but also nostalgic for a race that slipped away.
Time, Mitt Romney Inc.: The White House That Never Was, Zeke J. Miller, June 2, 2013. In the months before the 2012 election, a group of high-powered consultants and political operatives prepared a secret report for candidate Mitt Romney, explaining how he should take over and restructure the federal government should he win the presidency.
“The White House staff is similar to a holding company” read one PowerPoint slide, which would have been presented to President-elect Romney as part of an expansive briefing on the morning after Election Day. It went on to list three main divisions of the metaphorical firm: “Care & Feeding Offices,” like speechwriting, “Policy Offices,” like the National Security Council, and “Packaging & Selling Offices,” like the office of the press secretary. This was the view of the Presidency Romney would have brought with him to Washington, a glimpse of the White House that never was — and plan that never saw the light of day.
Legal Schnauzer, Alabama Isn't The Only State Where Crooked Judges Gather At Hunting Clubs To Commit Unlawful Acts, Roger Shuler, May 30, 2013. Alabama, it turns out, is not the only state where corrupt judges and lawyers gather at hunting clubs to commit unsavory acts. It also happens in western Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from Missouri. A courthouse drug scandal expanded Friday with charges alleging that a St. Clair County probation worker used cocaine repeatedly with two judges and provided the dose that killed one of them. James K. Fogarty, of the probation office’s investigative unit, told officials he bought cocaine and re-sold it to Associate Judge Joseph Christ and Circuit Judge Michael N. Cook the day before the two went to a hunting lodge where Christ died March 10. Fogarty, 45, was charged in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Earlier Friday, Cook, 43, appeared in the same courthouse to answer charges of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of heroin. One judge dies from a cocaine overdose, and another is arrested for illegally possessing heroin and a firearm?
Sparrow Project, Jeremy Hammond Pleads Guilty to Stratfor Leak, Faces Harsh Sentence for Online Protest, Administrator, May 28, 2013. In New York federal court, Internet activist Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty to publicizing internal emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor through Wikileaks. Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir reads a message of solidarity to Jeremy Hammond outside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Hammond pleaded guilty as part of a non-cooperating plea agreement to one violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which carries up to ten years in prison. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for September 6, 2013.
Guardian, Obama's terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see, Glenn Greenwald, May 27, 2013. Some eager-to-believe progressives heralded the speech as a momentous change, but Obama's actions are often quite different than his rhetoric. What Obama has specialized in from the beginning of his presidency is putting pretty packaging on ugly and discredited policies. The cosmopolitan, intellectualized flavor of his advocacy makes coastal elites and blue state progressives instinctively confident in the Goodness of whatever he's selling, much as George W. Bush's swaggering, evangelical cowboy routine did for red state conservatives.
The CIA presciently recognized this as a valuable asset back in 2008 when they correctly predicted that Obama's election would stem the tide of growing antiwar sentiment in western Europe by becoming the new, more attractive face of war, thereby converting hordes of his admirers from war opponents into war supporters. This dynamic has repeated itself over and over in other contexts, and has indeed been of great value to the guardians of the status quo in placating growing public discontent about their economic insecurity and increasingly unequal distribution of power and wealth.