President Obama's Hidden History

My journey to publishing Presidential Puppetry began in February 2009 with an eye-opening discovery about President Obama at the National Archives a month after his first Inauguration.

Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, right, a former Navy Intelligence officer I had met at the National Press Club, invited me to visit the Archives with him so he could teach me how to search for declassified CIA documents. Wayne’s two decades of computer security expertise included a year at the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA).

Among those papers, I saw my first clues to one of the great mysteries of the Obama presidency. 

Over the next four years, I pursued the research, resulting in publication announced July 10 of Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. This book answers, among other things, the riddle of why we know so little about a two-term president, his work, and his family except superficial impressions. Those impressions are, for most in the public, woefully incomplete or outright erroneous even after the mainstram media's coverage of him during two successful presidential campaigns.

No modern president has had such an exotic background marred by gaps in his background caused by lost or suppressed records, vicious enemies, and a protective and timid media. The president himself plays a huge role in this confusion. He has not only suppressed records and encouraged colleagues to remain silent. He has fostered vagueness and deceptions himself. A notable part of this is his memoir, Dreams From My Father, which was un-footnoted, un-indexed, episodic, reliant in part on composite figures -- and, I would argue, half-truths in certain key parts.

My conclusion, concurring with Wayne's tip and his own extensive research resulting in his book last year, The Manufacturing of a President:

Obama and his family on both parental sides had significant relationships with intelligence agencies as well as elite foundations, businesses, and academic institutions that for decades have maintained largely secret interconnections. The right-wing "Birther" story has turned up some useful research, but is ultimately wrong. Obama was born in Hawaii.

The real story, and one that we should all care about even if the president does not want to discuss it, is what he has been hiding about his family past. There are many fascinating aspects to this, but the most central are the career paths of the future president's mother, anthropologist Ann Dunham; the future president's grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham; and Obama himself, famed worldwide as a community organizer and law professor in his younger days.

This inquiry is important because Obama withheld key parts of his biography from his memoir and elsewhere. The omissions have continued throughout his career, and have kept voters in the dark about his goals and loyalties. Descrepancies between his campaign platform and his policies are becoming increasingly apparent as he reaches a crucial juncture of his second-term. If he cannot accomplish anything significant in the next month Washington will adjudge him as having lost momentum from his re-election and on his way to lame-duck status.

Is his lack of success in implementing his platform just his bad luck and the work of his Republican opponents? Or is it part of his payback to powerful sponsors?

Far from being a radical or even a community organizer at heart, Obama implements the goals of a hidden government of in the private sector that largely controls the presidents, Cabinet members, senators, Supreme Court justices, and other top officials of both major parties.

My Inquiry Begins

Let's go back to the Archives in 2009 at the beginning of my research. I tried out the archival system by looking up Colonel J. Caldwell King, a high-ranking CIA executive who had oscillated between Wall Street and leadership of the agency’s covert operations in the Western Hemisphere. King’s career path of Wall Street, law, and foreign affairs resembled that of longtime CIA Director Allen Dulles and many other U.S. foreign affairs leaders for at least a century.

My late mother, Margaret Kreig, shown at left on the cover of her natural remedies book, Green Medicine, had described King to me as her primary secret CIA liaison when she was a globetrotting author/editor who occasionally briefed the agency about her observations beginning in the 1960s. Her research on natural remedies enabled her to arrange an invitation from Communist leaders in China to tour the nation’s medical facilities as a VIP guest in early 1972, during a period when nearly all Americans were forbidden to enter the country.

She is shown at right on the rear cover of her 1967 book, Black Market Medicine, investigating  an explosive tale of mob infiltration into producing counterfeit prescription drugs for the United States consumer market. For current purposes, the most significant aspect of her bio there is that she, not unlike say, Ann Dunham, for example, was a known as a researcher who cobbled together a career that involved grants, jungle exploration and other work with little hint of secret government ties. Maybe that is because secrets are intended to secrets.

Back at the archives while I was learning more about King, Wayne looked up Business International Corporation (BIC). This was a New York-based research company that had been President Obama’s first employer after his 1983 graduation with a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.

The search produced from CIA files a New York Times article published in 1977, “CIA established many links to journalists at home and abroad.”

The article stated that Elliott Haynes, a co-founder, said BIC had provided cover for four CIA employees in the late 1950s. Other evidence suggests that BIC remained so prominent in working with Western leaders that it seems likely that its intelligence connections continued until its purchase in 1986 by the UK’s Economist Group.

The Secret Team

Others have used different names than my term, “puppet masters.” President Eisenhower, the World War II Allied commander in Europe, called an overlapping group, “The Military-Industrial Complex” in his 1961 Farewell Address warning against the cabal’s threat to democracy. Contemporary experts have adjusted Eisenhower’s term to “The Intelligence-Industrial Complex” because of several developments the past decade.

Among them are the growth of the CIA into a military force and the NSA into domestic spying, with all such government agencies increasingly reliant on private contractors in the intelligence field.

Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty, the top liaison at the Joint Chiefs of Staff between the CIA and Defense Department for covert activities in the late 1950s and early 1960s, coined the term, “The Secret Team” in his pioneering 1973 book by that name published by Prentice-Hall.

That said, my brief blog here about Obama is not the place to try to resolve all historical issues. It's just the start of the trail of clues that would result in Presidential Puppetry. The trail leads right to today's personnel, secrets, and decision-making. The White House photo at right of the president and a national security advvisor last month suggests, somewhat evocatively, the isolation of decision-makers.

But we in the public have a right to know at least the backgrounds to those invested with such awesome power. 



Coming next: The Obama Family Saga: Hidden Evidence In Plain Sight

 

 

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Privacy Surgeon, The withdrawal of an NSA newspaper story -- and an ethical quagmire for the Observer, Simon Davies, left, July 7, 2013. Simon Davies is the Founder and for 22 years was Director-General of the influential watchdog group Privacy International, which has been at the forefront of almost every major sphere of privacy, from CCTV and identity systems to border surveillance and biometrics policy. He is also an academic, consultant, journalist and author. He has been a Visiting Fellow in Law at both the University of Greenwich and the University of Essex, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at George Washington University and for 14 years until 2011 was appointed to the London School of Economics, where he taught the groundbreaking MSc Masters course in “Privacy & Data Protection” He is also co-director of the LSE’s Policy Engagement Network  and is currently a project director with the LSE.

Privacy Surgeon, The withdrawal of an NSA newspaper story -- and an ethical quagmire for the Observer, Simon Davies, July 7, 2013. Simon Davies is the Founder and for 22 years was Director-General of the influential watchdog group Privacy International, which has been at the forefront of almost every major sphere of privacy, from CCTV and identity systems to border surveillance and biometrics policy. He is also an academic, consultant, journalist and author. He has been a Visiting Fellow in Law at both the University of Greenwich and the University of Essex, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at George Washington University and for 14 years until 2011 was appointed to the London School of Economics, where he taught the groundbreaking MSc Masters course in “Privacy & Data Protection” He is also co-director of the LSE’s Policy Engagement Network  and is currently a project director with the LSE.

Huffington Post, Sequestration Pushes Head Start Families To The Precipice, Sam Stein, July 9, 2013. Sequestration went into effect on March 1, 2013, after lawmakers failed to agree on a replacement. In Washington, the conventional wisdom has sometimes held that sequestration's harms were oversold. Dire warnings of massive job loss never came true, while government programs used budget gimmickry to keep operating. Outside the Beltway, the perception of sequestration is sharply, viscerally different. Budget cuts have resulted in fewer meals for seniors, less financial aid for scientific research, poorer natural disaster preparedness and more expensive treatments for cancer patients. The Huffington Post set out to tell the story of another slice of sequestration: the damage being done to Head Start. The 5.27 percent reduction to the $8 billion program is having a devastating effect on families with children in the program, according to interviews with parents across the country. Not everyone has experienced the loss of a child's Head Start slot or a teary living room conversation. But parents have been left fearful and scrambling, worried that the cuts are shredding an already frayed social safety net upon which they depend.

Al.com, President Obama's former White House counsel visits Don Siegelman, working on his appeal, Mike Cason, July 9, 2013. President Barack Obama's former White House counsel visited Don Siegelman in prison in the last few weeks, and the law firm he works for is taking over part of the former governor's appeal of his bribery conviction. Gregory B. Craig, who was White House counsel from January 2009 to January 2010, visited Siegelman at the federal detention center in Oakdale, La., according to Siegelman's son, Joseph Siegelman, and Peter Sissman, who has worked on the former governor's case for four years. On June 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted Sissman's motion to withdraw from the case because of illness. The court also granted Sissman's motion to extend by 60 days a deadline to file a brief and records for Siegelman's appeal. Sissman said the extension was needed to give Siegelman's new lawyers time to prepare.

Media Attacks on Snowden, Journalists Covering NSA

Lawfare, The Snowden Conspiracy (?), Paul Rosenzweig, July 9, 2013. Walter Pincus of the Washington Post has an excellent analysis today in is “Fine Print” column. Though he has been portrayed as a classic “Lone Wolf, it appears likely that Snowden actually had support from an extended group of ideological soul mates.  As Pincus’ analysis shows, Snowden began his coordination with the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, and the Post’s Barton Gellman, and Lauren Poitras in February 2013 – before he actually got a job at Booz Allen in March.  Indeed, as Pincus notes, Snowden, in an unguarded moment, said that he sought the Booz Allen job precisely because it afforded him access to highly classified NSA materials. For me this emphasizes a point that I’ve been concerned about for some time — an effect I call the democratization of conflict.  Cyberspace is an immensely leveling tool that allows individuals and/or small self-organized groups to compete directly with nations.  Seen in this light, the Snowden affair was a highly effective information operation by a small cadre of individuals.  All of which makes me wonder if our obsession with preparation for cyber war against China isn’t a case of refighting the last war in a new domain, instead of understanding the paradigm shift that comes from the capabilities that the new domain enables.

Washington Post, Questions for Snowden, Walter Pincus, July 8, 2013. Did Edward Snowden decide on his own to seek out journalists and then a job at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Hawaii facility as an IT systems administrator to gather classified documents about the National Security Agency’s worldwide surveillance activities? Snowden told the South China Post in June that he took the Booz Allen job in late March or early April because it “granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked.”
 
FireDogLake, CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou, in Letter, Describes Breaking Finger in Prison & Being Denied Treatment, Kevin Gosztola, July 9, 2013. Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is serving a thirty-month sentence in the federal correctional institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, has written a third letter from the prison. Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the administration of President George W. Bush. He was convicted in October of last year of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter and sentenced in January of this year. He reported to prison on February 28 (which was also the day that Pfc. Bradley Manning pled guilty to some offenses and read a statement in military court at Fort Meade). This is the third letter to be published byFiredoglake since Kiriakou went to prison. Kiriakou did not directly provide it to Firedoglake. He sent it to his attorney, Jesselyn Radack, of the Government Accountability Project.

Salon, Meet the “Journalists Against Journalism” club! David Sirota, July 2, 2013. The clique of media figures outraged when news outlets challenge power has a new member: Washington Post higher-ups. From David Gregory to Andrew Ross Sorkin to David Brooks, the ranks of Washington’s hottest new club continues to swell. Call it Journalists Against Journalism — a group of reporters and pundits who are outraged that whistle-blowers and news organizations are colluding to expose illegal government surveillance. To this club, the best journalism is not the kind that challenges power or even merely sheds light on the inner workings of government; it is about protecting power and keeping the lights off.

Huffington Post, Media's Edward Snowden Haters Club Keeps Growing, Jack Mirkinson, June 17, 2013. In trashing NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday, CBS's Bob Schieffer joined a fast-growing club of establishment pundits who have derided his actions and questioned his character. It has seemed sometimes that commentators have been trying to compete for who can come up with the most sneering description of Snowden. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen seemed likely to win the contest when he confusingly dubbed Snowden a "cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood." (Huh?) Schieffer might have managed to trump all of those rivals, though, when he lamented that Snowden did not live up to the likes of Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King. While it's definitely true that Snowden will probably not leave a legacy on the same scale as Rosa Parks, it's a bit of a strange test to match him against two of the greatest people in human history. Judged against them, most people would fail. For now, though, Schieffer is in first place in the anti-Snowden contest.

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Guardian, Distractions about my past and personal life have emerged – an inevitable side effect for those who challenge the US government, Glenn Greenwald, June 26, 2013. When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming. As a result, I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the New York Daily News informing me that he had been "reviewing some old lawsuits" in which I was involved – "old" as in: more than a decade ago – and that "the paper wants to do a story on this for tomorrow." He asked that I call him right away to discuss this, apologizing for the very small window he gave me to comment.

Washington Post, The Guardian: Small British paper makes big impact with NSA stories. Paul Farhi, July 1, 2013. The NSA stories, in particular, raised the Guardian’s profile to an Everest-like peak. Its video interview with Snowden, conducted by its star American columnist Glenn Greenwald, attracted nearly 7 million unique views worldwide in one day. The total was a record for the paper’s Web site, which is already one of the world’s most heavily trafficked news sites with a high of 41 million unique monthly visitors. The NSA and WikiLeaks revelations also raise a question: Why is a London-based news organization revealing so many secrets about the American government?

Wayne Madsen Report, SPECIAL REPORT. NSA's meta-data email surveillance program exposed, Wayne Madsen, left, Feb. 4, 2009 (Suscription required.) WMR has learned details of one of the most important components of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program code named "STELLAR WIND." The highly-classified STELLAR WIND program was initiated by the George W. Bush administration with the cooperation of major U.S. telecommunications carriers, including AT&T and Verizon. The system is linked to a number of meta-databases that contain e-mail, faxes, and text messages of hundreds of millions of people around the world and in the United States. Informed sources have revealed to WMR that PINWALE can search these meta-databases using various parameters like date-time group, natural language, IP address, sender and recipients, operating system, and other information embedded in the header. When an NSA analyst is looking for Farsi or Arabic e-mails, the sender and recepients are normally foreign nationals, who are not covered by restrictions on eavesdropping on U.S. "persons" once imposed on NSA by United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18). However, STELLAR WIND and PINWALE negated both USSID 18 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 by permitting NSA analysts to read the e-mails, faxes, and text messages of U.S. persons when PINWALE search parameters included searches of e-mails in English. When English language text communications are retrieved, analysts read the text message content to determine whether it contains anything to do with terrorism. However, rather than being deleted, the messages are returned to the meta-databases. Text message records in PINWALE, a system developed by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, are contained in three major meta-databases code-named LIONHEART, LIONROAR, and LIONFUSION. Not only are text communications between U.S. persons in the United States and recipients abroad contained in the PINWALE meta-databases but text messages between U.S. persons within the United States are also held in the databases. WMR reported on May 10, 2005, that Booz Allen is also the major contractor for an NSA database code named "FIRSTFRUITS" that tracked not only the articles of journalists but contained intercepts of their communications, ". . . part of the upkeep of the [FIRSTFRUITS] system has been outsourced to outside contractors such as Booz Allen." The involvement of the telecommunications companies in STELLAR WIND and PINWALE was revealed when former AT&T technician Mark Klein leaked AT&T documents on the program 2006. AT&T's interception entailed NSA snooping equipment being placed within AT&T centers in San Francisco; Bridgeton, Missouri; San Diego; San Jose; Atlanta; Seattle; and Los Angeles.

WMR, Firing back, Wayne Madsen, July 1, 2013, After a very stormy weekend, this should be perfectly clear to those who would practice amateur psychiatry while, at the same time, purporting to be "journalists." I do not suffer fools easily. I'll start with the events that led up to The Observer of Britain and its sister paper, The Guardian, dropping the story on my not-so-new revelations concerning the National Security Agency's use of "Third Parties" like Germany and France, now up in arms about NSA-British GCHQ spying on their citizens, to conduct mass eavesdropping on satellite and undersea cable communications. The Observer, which ran a front page story in its Sunday June 30 edition featuring yours truly's picture on the front page, was responding to my interview with Simon Davies, the former director general of Privacy International and now the editor of The Privacy Surgeon.

Wayne Madsen Report, NSA's joint operations with European nations, Wayne Madsen, Updated to July 2, 2013. The Observer of the UK interviewed the editor on the National Security Agency's Second, Third, and Fourth Party agreements with other intelligence services that pointed out that German and French protestations about the NSA and British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) jointly tapping the transatlantic cable in Cornwall not withstanding, the NSA also cooperates with Berlin and Paris in collecting private information on European citizens. On June 29, after The Guardian ran the story prior to The Observer running it on its web site and featuring it as a splash in its June 30 print edition, the story was pulled by The Guardian and The Observer. The second print edition of The Observer also deleted the story but not before the first print run reached London area news agents, as well as those in other British and European cities. The decision appears to have been made after a well-coordinated campaign was launched by a number of web activists, including a Professor John Schindler who identifies himself as a professor with the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Schindler has been particularly critical of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who broke most of Snowden's revelations on NSA surveillance.

Poynter Institute, Observer pulls story about NSA deal based on Wayne Madsen conspiracy theory, Joshua Gillin, July 1, 2013. The U.K.’s Observer raised eyebrows Sunday for publishing a story alleging the United States had been working with European Union countries and Britain to collect personal communications data, based solely on the allegations of conspiracy theorist Wayne Madsen. The paper later pulled the story from its website, but not until after it ran in print — and The Daily Beast’s Michael Moynihan noticed the paper’s Jamie Doward hadn’t even interviewed Madsen. See also, Daily Beast / Newsweek, NSA Nutjob: Anatomy of a Fake ‘Observer’ Story, Michael Moynihan, July 1, 2013.

Craig Murray.org, All Law is Gone: Naked Power Remains, Craig Murray, July 3, 2013. Craig Murray, left, is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission. It has never been thought necessary to write down in a Treaty that Heads of State enjoy diplomatic immunity while engaged in diplomacy, as their representatives only enjoy diplomatic immunity as cyphers for their Head of State. But it is a hitherto unchallenged precept of customary international law, indeed arguably the oldest provision of international law. To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence. I can see no evidence that anyone in an official position has even noted the illegality of repeated Israeli air and missile strikes against Syria. Snowden, Manning and Assange all exposed illegality on a massive scale, and no action whatsoever has been taken against any of the criminals they exposed. Instead they are being hounded out of all meaningful life and ability to function in society. I have repeatedly posted, and have been saying in public speeches for ten years, that under the UK/US intelligence sharing agreements the NSA spies on UK citizens and GCHQ spies on US citizens and they swap the information. As they use a shared technological infrastructure, the division is simply a fiction to get round the law in each country restricting those agencies from spying on their own citizens.

I have also frequently remarked how extraordinary it is that the media keep this “secret,” which they have all known for years. The Guardian published the truth on 29 June: "At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America’s National Security Agency, who said the public should not be “kept in the dark.”  This article has been taken down pending an investigation...." Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US. I can give, and I would give on oath, an eye witness guarantee that from my direct personal experience of twenty years as a British diplomat the deleted information from Wayne Madsen was true.

Government Probes of Mainstream Journalists

National Press Club, AP CEO calls for new Justice Department guidelines to protect journalists, Robert Webb, June 19, 2013. The Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records has made it tougher for reporters to do their jobs, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said Wednesday, June 19 at a National Press Club luncheon. Pruitt, shown in a photo courtesy of Noel St. John, called for new Justice Department guidelines that include protections for journalists' email and text messages, and a federal shield law "with teeth." The Justice Department's seizure unsettled sources and chilled reporting, he said. "Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us -- even on stories unrelated to national security," Pruitt said. "Others are reluctant to meet in person. In one instance, our journalists could not get a law enforcement official to confirm a detail that had been reported elsewhere." AP is not the only media to suffer, he said. "Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me that has intimidated both official and non-official sources speaking to them as well," Pruitt said.

National Press Club, Club Talks With Attorney General Holder on Press Freedom Matters, Angela Greiling Keane, June 19, 2013. The National Press Club participated in the most recent small-group meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss our concerns about the Justice Department's recent subpoenas and search warrants issued against journalists.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Washington Post, Shadowy Pentagon ‘psy-ops’ missions becoming entangled on home front, Craig Whitlock, July 7, 2013. A case involving a Somali American shows how other parts of the U.S. government monitor online activity. In the past, psychological operations usually meant dropping leaflets or broadcasting propaganda on the battlefield. Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership. Much of the work is carried out by military information support teams that the Special Operations Command has deployed to 22 countries. The command, which is based in Tampa, also operates multilingual news Web sites tailored to specific regions.

Washington Post, Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S., Daniel Ellsberg, July 7, 2013. I was, like Snowden now, a “fugitive from justice.”  Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind. There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”). I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.

July 6,

Huffington Post, Snowden's Common Law Defense, Joe Lauria, right, July 6, 2013. The U.S. Senator who divulged the Pentagon Papers in Congress says Edward Snowden and other citizens with access to classified information should have the same immunity as members of Congress to make public secret documents exposing government wrongdoing. Before Daniel Ellsberg, American's most important whistleblower until Snowden, leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 to The New York Times and The Washington Post, he went to Congress to find a Senator willing to make the Papers public. Several turned him down, including George McGovern, who was worried what it would do to his presidential chances the next year. Eventually a freshman Senator, Mike Gravel of Alaska, agreed to take them. With publication in the Times and Post shut down by the Nixon Justice Department's prior restraint, Gravel read the top secret Papers in a Senate hearing on June 29, 1971. He did so on the basis of a clause in the Constitution granting immunity to members of Congress to legally reveal classified information. But when Gravel went to Beacon Press in Boston to publish the Papers as a book, Nixon sought his indictment. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld Gravel's right to reveal classified information in the Senate. I tell the full story in the book I authored with Senator Gravel, A Political Odyssey, published by Seven Stories Press, with a foreword by Ellsberg. It is relevant today because Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall on the Senate intelligence committee say they had concerns about the National Security Agency surveillance programs but couldn't go public with the classified details. Politicians seek power and businessmen profits, and Snowden is threatening both. That's why they are after him, not because of "national security." Since it is their interests that he is threatening, and not the nation's, the fear of terrorism is trumped up to falsely extend that interest to the entire population.

Huffington Post, General Warrants, NSA Spying, And America's Unappreciated Founding Father, James Otis, Jr., Radley Balko, Jully 4, 2013. Today is a day when we Americans reflect on the people and principles that led to our founding. I'd like to write a bit about one of my favorite founding fathers, an 18th-century Boston lawyer named James Otis, Jr. Because he did most of his important work well before the American Revolution, Otis is often overlooked. But no less than John Adams credited Otis' activism with laying the philosophical foundation for American independence. Moreover, the specific abuses by the British crown that most outraged Otis are particularly relevant given the recent revelations about warrantless NSA spying and data collection.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Huffington Post, Sequestration Pushes Head Start Families To The Precipice, Sam Stein, July 9, 2013. Sequestration went into effect on March 1, 2013, after lawmakers failed to agree on a replacement. In Washington, the conventional wisdom has sometimes held that sequestration's harms were oversold. Dire warnings of massive job loss never came true, while government programs used budget gimmickry to keep operating. Outside the Beltway, the perception of sequestration is sharply, viscerally different. Budget cuts have resulted in fewer meals for seniors, less financial aid for scientific research, poorer natural disaster preparedness and more expensive treatments for cancer patients. The Huffington Post set out to tell the story of another slice of sequestration: the damage being done to Head Start. The 5.27 percent reduction to the $8 billion program is having a devastating effect on families with children in the program, according to interviews with parents across the country. Not everyone has experienced the loss of a child's Head Start slot or a teary living room conversation. But parents have been left fearful and scrambling, worried that the cuts are shredding an already frayed social safety net upon which they depend.

Al.com, President Obama's former White House counsel visits Don Siegelman, working on his appeal, Mike Cason, July 9, 2013. President Barack Obama's former White House counsel visited Don Siegelman in prison in the last few weeks, and the law firm he works for is taking over part of the former governor's appeal of his bribery conviction. Gregory B. Craig, who was White House counsel from January 2009 to January 2010, visited Siegelman at the federal detention center in Oakdale, La., according to Siegelman's son, Joseph Siegelman, and Peter Sissman, who has worked on the former governor's case for four years. On June 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted Sissman's motion to withdraw from the case because of illness. The court also granted Sissman's motion to extend by 60 days a deadline to file a brief and records for Siegelman's appeal. Sissman said the extension was needed to give Siegelman's new lawyers time to prepare.

FireDogLake, State Department Admits It Doesn’t Know Keystone XL’s Exact Route, Steve Horn, July 8, 2013. The State Department’s decision to hand over control to the oil industry to evaluate its own environmental performance on the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has led to a colossal oversight. Neither Secretary of State John Kerry nor President Barack Obama could tell you the exact route that the pipeline would travel through countless neighborhoods, farms, waterways and scenic areas between Alberta’s tar sands and oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. A letter from the State Department denying an information request to a California man confirms that the exact route of the Keystone XL export pipeline remains a mystery, as DeSmog recently revealed.

Legal Schnauzer, Federal Court Cites Immunity In Granting Dismissal Of $25-Million Lawsuit Against Judge Robert Vance, Roger Shuler, July 8, 2013. A federal court has dismissed a $25-million lawsuit against Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance Jr. It appears, however, that U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn ignored binding Eleventh Circuit precedent in issuing the dismissal. The federal complaint grew out of a state case styled styled William B. Cashion and Western Steel Inc. v. Steven Mark Hayden, et al (Case No. CV-2012-209). At the heart of the controversy is William B. Cashion, an 84-year-old businessman who is co-founder of Bessemer-based Western Steel Inc. (WSI) and a shareholder in several other Alabama corporate entities. Vance issued four rulings in the Cashion case, even though the matter was not assigned to him. All four rulings were favorable to Cashion and his attorneys from the Birmingham firm Maynard Cooper & Gale (MCG), which has contributed heavily to Vance's election campaigns. Blackburn likely was grasping at any straw she could find to let a judicial colleague off the hook -- and she grabbed a straw that is stunningly weak and contrary to Eleventh Circuit precedent. A serious review of the relevant law leads to only one conclusion: Robert Vance Jr. acted outside his judicial capacity in Cashion, and he therefore is not protected by immunity.

New York Post, Who’s a journalist? Don’t let Uncle Sam decide, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, July 8, 2013. Sen. Dick Durbin thinks it’s time for Congress to decide who’s a real reporter. In the Chicago Sun-Times last week, he wrote: “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.” How do you decide who is a journalist? Essentially, he says, it’s someone who gets a paycheck from a media organization: “This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.”  Does it really? Every form? Durbin is a constitutional ignoramus if he thinks that when the Framers talked about freedom of the press, they were talking about freedom for the press as an institution. Journalism is indeed an activity, not a profession, and though we often refer to institutionalized media as “the press,” we should remember that James Madison talked about freedom of the press as “freedom in the use of the press” — that is, the freedom to publish, not simply freedom for media organizations. It was easy to be a pamphleteer in Madison’s time, and there was real influence in being such. The ability to publish inexpensively, and to reach potentially millions of people in seconds, has made it possible for people who’d never be able to — or even want to — be hired by the institutional press to nonetheless publish and influence the world, much like 18th century pamphleteers.

 

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