Editor's note: This column is the second part of a series that began on July 16.
Reporters face a daunting challenge if they seek to cover the CIA, NSA, and the nation's dozens of other intelligence bodies.
Everyone knows the history of the Washington Post's Watergate reporting. Here is another side to government news coverage during that era. The snapshots below illustrate the tight and largely hidden ties between the Post, news outlets like it, and the powerful United States intelligence community.
A month after President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963, former President Harry Truman published an op-ed in the Washington Post complaining that the CIA had grown too powerful. The op-ed disappeared without explanation from the Post's later editions even though Truman had created the CIA and its super-secret sister, the National Security Agency (NSA), in cooperation with Congress.
The Truman column's disappearance from the Post parallelled the London Observer's spike of a 2013 column based on documents provided by former NSA analyst Wayne Madsen showing secret surveillance of European nations. The first part of this series described the Observer's mysterious removal of that front-page story after one edition.
The 1976 experience of Washington Post reporter Scott Armstrong illustrates even more clearly the difficulties that aggressive reporters can encounter covering the agency.
Armstrong sought to question James J. Angleton, left, the retired former CIA chief of counterintelligence from 1954 until 1975. The topic was a major murder mystery in Washington.
Armstrong wanted to follow up on a 1976 revelation that Newsweek's Washington Bureau Chief Benjamin Bradlee in 1964 had given Angleton the diary of Mary Pinchot Meyer, Bradlee's sister-in-law, shortly after her fatal shooting while she was walking on a secluded canal path in Georgetown.
Meyer had been a well-regarded artist and an articulate advocate -- in private Georgetown circles -- for a more peaceful world.
A striking beauty, she had published poetry in the New Yorker at age 18, and married the best-selling author, Yale grad, war hero, and world-famous peace advocate Cord Meyer shortly after World War II. But she divorced him in the 1950s after he began work for the then-new CIA. He occupied himself with secret duties as the agency's top executive responsible for influencing important news stories important to the agency in its ever-expanding global role.
Several years after the divorce, she became the lover of President John F. Kennedy, who had flirted with her in the 1930s when she was in her mid-teens and attending private school.
Mary Meyer's sister, Antoinette "Tony" Bradlee, was married to Bradlee, a friend of Kennedy and Angelton. Bradlee gave Angleton Mary Meyer's diary after her murder to help keep secret the Kennedy-Meyer romance, which Bradlee regarded as a private matter unsuitable for any news coverage. In 1965, Bradlee became a top editor of Newsweek's parent company, the Washington Post.
Bradlee continued as the Post's executive editor until 1991, and still maintains a position on the masthead.
Bradlee had been a secret CIA operative early in his career when he was a former State Department staffer in Paris, according to a document reproduced in Mary's Mosaic, a book published in 2012 about the Mary Meyer murder. The author was Peter Janney, who had researched the case for decades. Janney's late father had been a high-ranking CIA executive and Mary Meyer was the fondly remembered mother of Janney's best friend as a child.
Years ago, Bradlee denied secretly working for the CIA. Bradlee no longer gives substantive interviews because of his advanced age.
More generally, Janney argued in the book that Mary Meyer's affair with JFK was historically important because she helped influence the president to back away from the Cold War policies he favored early in his presidency, thereby irritating Cold Warriors in government. He argued also that the CIA was responsible for the murder, an argument that help deter coverage of the book and its other research. Authorities arrested near the scene Raymond Crump, Jr., a day laborer who had been drinking during a tryst in the park with a married lover. But Crump won acquittal at trial, and the case is listed as unsolved.
Uncontested is that the paper's top editor, Bradlee, had a close, mutually supportive relationship with his newspaper's publisher, Katharine Graham. Graham's memoir, Personal History, disclosed that she had had other close CIA contacts for many years. Author Tom Kelly dug deeper in his 1983 study of her newspaper, The Imperial Post. Kelly wrote that Katharine Graham enjoyed weekly dinners in a quartet that included her husband, Phillip; Frank Wisner, the CIA's most powerful covert operations leader; and Wisner's wife, Polly.
In sum, Armstrong was taking a professional risk because of such CIA connections among his bosses when he visited the Angleton's Virginia home that evening in 1976 without an appointment in hopes of an interview.
Virginia Hospitality from America's Greatest Master Spy
Here's what happened next, according to Armstrong's account to author Nina Burleigh for her 1998 book about Mary Meyer's murder, A Very Private Woman.
Angleton spotted Armstrong near his greenhouse. The retired spymaster graciously invited the reporter inside his home, and lavished upon Armstrong many hard drinks and riveting stories about confidential CIA lore. The reporter, overjoyed at his good fortune in unlocking secrets from one of America's most experienced and powerful master spies, tried his best to remember highlights by writing notes in ink on his leg whenever Angleton turned his back to fix more drinks.
Armstrong, drunk and with his head buzzing after an evening of exciting revelations about the CIA, finally returned to his desk at the Post. But Angleton had called Graham to warn that a drunken reporter had intruded upon Angleton home while he was gardening, and had tried to obtain confirmation of wild, crazy stories about the CIA -- the same stories Angelton had spun.
Armstrong was barely able to save his job after being thus discredited, and none of his "scoops" from Angleton were published. "Angleton delighted," Burleigh wrote, "in rope-a-doping reporters like that."
Later, Armstrong was able to get back on a successful track at the Post. He co-authored with Bob Woodward the national best-seller about the Supreme Court, The Brethren, and directed the National Security Archive at George Washington University for years before his retirement.
If that's what trying to cover security agencies could be like at a major news organization, however, imagine the difficulties of a reporter at a smaller paper, or the lonely road of a freelancer.
Actually, we do not need to tax our imaginations too much. Former CBS News reporter Kristina Borjesson collected 19 accounts of suppressed stories for her award-winning 2002 book, Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press. The book, right, collects from experienced journalists many unreported or under-reported stories, several of them about CIA activities. The publisher summarized one chapter, for example, as: "CBS's Dan Rather describes in chilling terms how pressure to go patriotic compelled him and other journalists to censor themselves."
My book this month, Presidential Puppetry, connects the dots between many similar, little-known tales.
I cited, as one example, freelance authors Susan and Joseph Trento, to whom the CIA's Angelton bestowed his papers. I retell from their account how one of Washington's most influential public relations executives, Hill and Knowlton Chairman Robert Keith Gray, shaped political and business coverage for decades in Washington in part by his threat to expose reporters who were on the CIA payroll or otherwise compromised as being too close to the CIA for the public to understand.
The Trentos wrote that Gray knew about reporters' hidden relationships with the CIA because he had worked closely for many years with the agency and White House. He knew precisely which writers were vulnerable to pressure on behalf of his clients and political allies. The stakes in some of these matters were high. The Trentos and Harper's Magazine Publisher John MacArthur separately allege that Gray rouse American public opinion for an Iraq war to save his client Kuwait by concocting phony testimony before Congress that Saddam Hussein's troops were killing Kuwaiti infants in their incubators.
More recently, the hacktivist group Anonymous disclosed in 2011 a chilling plot by government contractors to target Glenn Greenwald and other bloggers to destroy their reputations in a plot to be funded by major corporations willing to pay anonymous bloggers $250 an hour to descredit those journalists regarded as unfriendly. Anonymous documented the plot with stolen emails from conspirators, as I recounted in this 2011 column, Plot Exposed Against Bloggers, Rights Advocates. That plot has virtually disappeared from view or any follow up, unlike the trivia that often fills the media these days.
The bottom line is that the intelligence services have always been difficult for reporters to cover. But the growth in power of the secret agencies long ago outstripped the desires of even those who created the CIA, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, the nation's leaders who had also been instrumental in winning both World War II and setting in place the policies to win the Cold War years later after the economic collapse of the Soviet Union.
In his 1961 Farewell Address, Eisenhower warned against a "Military-Industrial Complex" as a threat to democracy. The CIA has been transformed into a paramilitary operation that fights secret wars and the vast, unaccountable spending and surveillance of such operations as the Homeland Security Department and National Security Agency. The modern version of Eisenhower's term would be something like "Intelligence-Industrial Complex."
Many thoughtful reporters believe this vast, unaccountable sector and its foreign entanglements are becoming off-limits to independent reporting. This represents exactly the threat to democracy that the nation's two geratest warrior presidents, George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower, feared most in their Farewell Addresses to the nation following their service.
Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
Justice Integrity Project, DOJ Curtails Spy Charges Against Reporters; But Do Smears Continue? Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2013. The Obama Justice Department has announced that it will not assert spy charges against reporters during leak investigations except in special circumstances. The statement by Attorney Gen. Eric Holder July 12 reduces the tension between prosecutors and the mainstream media. Meanwhile, a smear campaign against freelance investigative reporter Wayne Madsen raises new questions about the longstanding practice of intelligence agencies in the United States and United Kingdom, as elsewhere, of trying to shape public opinion via news organizations, quasi-academic non-profits, and other outlets that influence civic perceptions. (Part one of a three-part series.)
Justice Integrity Project, The Intelligence Community and the DC Media: A Brief Introduction, Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2013. Reporters face a daunting challenge if they seek to cover the CIA, NSA, and the nation's dozens of other intelligence bodies. Everyone knows the history of the Washington Post's Watergate reporting. Here is another side to government news coverage during that era. The snapshots below illustrate the tight and largely hidden ties between the Post, news outlets like it, and the powerful United States intelligence community. (Part two of a three-part series.)
Justice Integrity Project, Beware of Wikipedia, CNN -- and Many More, Andrew Kreig, July 22, 2013. (Part three of a three-part series.)
Related News Coverage
Surveillance In Europe
Guardian, New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies; Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France and Italy, Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, June 30, 2013. Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics. US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as "targets."
Der Spiegel, Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid and Holger Stark, June 29, 2013.America's NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to Spiegel information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington.
Observer, Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America, Jamie Dowden, June 29, 2013. Germany 'among countries offering intelligence' according to new claims by former US defense analyst. 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." Editor's Note: The Observer pulled this front page story from its website June 30 pending what it's brief notice called further investigation. Sources indicated that the concern was that Madsen had reported on other controversial topics.
Defending Wayne Madsen
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.
By Wayne Madsen
WMR, UK D-Notice resulted in web attack on WMR editor, Wayne Madsen, right, July 15, 2013. British intelligence sources have informed WMR that a British Defense Ministry "D-Notice" issued on June 7 to British media organizations, including The Guardian and The Observer, both owned by the same company, served as a pretext to conduct the smear attack on WMR's editor on both sides of the Atlantic. A Confidential D-Notice was issued to the media organizations as a "DA-Notice 03," which was issued pursuant to media reports on "ciphers and secure communications" operations of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain's National Security Agency partner. The DA-3 Notice was authorized by Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, who has responsibility for GCHQ and Britain's MI-6 foreign intelligence service.
Wayne Madsen Report, Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, and the Naval War College, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 22, 2013 (Subscription required). President Obama has played a cruel joke on critics of National Security Agency surveillance by naming to his Review Committee on NSA Programs his former chief of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein. Also known as Obama's "information czar," Sunstein, who is married to UN ambassador Samantha Power, left the administration to return to Harvard Law School. Sunstein also works out of the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. Sunstein is an advocate of using sock puppets and infiltrators to disrupt what he calls "conspiracy" websites critical of the U.S. government and its policies. However, what constitutes a "conspiracy" website is open to interpretation in Sunstein's world. In 2009, the U.S. Air Force initiated a program to counter bloggers and websites that were critical of the Obama administration and the Air Force. Some of the 27 teams under the U.S. Cyber Command, NSA's collateral activity and also headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, employs offensive bloggers who can employ multiple screen names and identities to post government propaganda and personal s mear articles on blogs and comments sections of news websites. Palantir Technologies, the firm that is believed to have developed the PRISM meta-data collection program for NSA, also developed persona management software and other offensive information warfare programs for use by the government and private sector. It now appears that the U.S. Navy has also joined the government's cognitive dissonance, social engineering, and counter-blogging program by permitting such operations to be centered at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. There, a professor on staff named John Schindler and who operates as "20 Committee" on Twitter with his Naval War College affiliation on clear display, is at the center of a smear campaign that targets journalists who have exposed various facets of NSA surveillance. Schindler's targets range from Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald and author James Bamford to McClatchy's Jonathan Landay and this editor.This weekend's news featured federal spying, media management, and preparations for a potential new U.S. war in Syria.
Wayne Madsen Report, Libel bloggers rally again after attacking Dan Rather and Helen Thomas, Wayne Madsen, July 5, 2013 (Subscription required). Fortunately, WMR has no corporate board of directors and management staff. Otherwise, like former CBS News anchorman Dan Rather and Hearst newspapers columnist Helen Thomas, this editor would be shown the door. Rather and Thomas, two experienced journalists, were unable to survive the incessant Internet barrage launched by a small group of dedicated social media and web bloggers who do not fall into the category of either "liberal" or "conservative." Instead, these individuals are known as "libel bloggers," since their stock in trade is spreading libelous and defamatory information on their "targets of the day" to as many websites as possible. These "libel bloggers" also seek to silence any news carried by the so-called "mainstream media" that falls outside the prescribed pabulum that passes for news that is pre-selected for airing and publication in a few newsrooms in New York, Washington, and London.
WMR, Menwith Hill….Largest NSA base outside the United States, Wayne Madsen, July 18, 2013 (Subscription only). In the middle of the Yorkshire moors near Harrogate, England sits the largest National Security Agency facility outside the United States. Known officially as Royal Air Force Station Menwith Hill, the eavesdropping station employs more Americans than British nationals.
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."
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 (Suscription required). 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.
CNN, Sneak peek at this Sunday's show, Elizabeth Cherneff, July 5, 2013. Guest host John Avlon will analyze the various media angles. Later in the show, we’ll talk to Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s Michael Moynihan about The Observer publishing, then pulling, a poorly-sourced NSA story – but not before several other news organizations picked it up.
CNN Reliable Sources, The Crash of Flight 214; Social Media Explodes in Crash Aftermath; Reporters Under Fire, John Avlon, Host, Transcripts, July 7, 2013. Ahead on Reliable Sources, Britain's "Observer" publishes an alleged scoop about the NSA that went viral before it had to be retracted. So, here's the question, why did the paper base its report on single unreliable source?
Daily Howler, Howard Kurtz leaves CNN with a bang! Bob Somerby, July 1, 2013. Yesterday morning, Howard Kurtz hosted his final edition on CNN’s Reliable Sources, the program “where we turn a critical lens on the media.” . Each Sunday, he has asked a group of mainstream pundits to come on TV and pretend to critique their own guild. Now, he’s been hired away by Fox. We were struck, for the ten millionth time, by the clownish way the pundit corps actually works, especially when it pretends to be critiquing itself.
Daily Howler, At CNN, Howard Kurtz will call it a day! Bob Somerby, June 24, 2013. One of the strangest shows ever. Next Sunday, Howard Kurtz will end a 15-year run as host of the weekly CNN program, Reliable Sources. Kurtz will be going over to Fox, where he will start hosting the weekly program, Fox News Watch. What made this long-running program so odd? Just this: On Reliable Sources, Kurtz claimed, week after week, to be conducting a show “which trains a critical lens on the media.” But here’s how CNN did that: First, they hired Kurtz, a member of the upper-end press corps, to host the weekly program. And then, each week, they would assemble a panel of three or four other press corps members to help him conduct his discussions. Could any other industry even dream of presenting a program like this? Can you imagine a weekly show about health care in which a hospital executive served as host, with three or four other hospital executives serving as his panel? In any other industry, a show like that would be known as an infomercial. We first posted this obvious point in 1999. Have you ever seen even one of your favorite liberals second this obvious point? Your favorite stars want to get on TV. Toward that end, they may not tell you the obvious things they are thinking.
Debating the Snowden Disclosues
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.”
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.
Huffington Post Live, Valerie Plame: Edward Snowden Deserves Thanks, 'Will Be Abused,' Clapper Should Resign (VIDEO), Danny Shea, June 19, 2013. Former CIA agent Valerie Plame said Wednesday that she views NSA leaker Edward Snowden as neither a hero nor a traitor, but that Americans should be grateful that he brought the conversation about liberty and security to the national forefront. "I don't think [Snowden's] a hero, I don't condone what he did. At the same time he's certainly not a traitor as he was called by Dick Cheney," Plame told HuffPost Live host Mike Sacks.
Atlantic, 3 Former NSA Employees Praise Edward Snowden, Corroborate Key Claims, Conor Friedersdorf,June 18, 2013. The men, all whistleblowers, say he succeeded where they failed. USA Today has published an extraordinary interview with three former NSA employees who praise Edward Snowden's leaks, corroborate some of his claims, and warn about unlawful government acts. Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe each protested the NSA in their own rights. "For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens," the newspaper reports. "They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media." In other words, they blew the whistle in the way Snowden's critics suggest he should have done. Their method didn't get through to the members of Congress who are saying, in the wake of the Snowden leak, that they had no idea what was going on. But they are nonetheless owed thanks.
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.
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.
Surveillance Court and Homeland Security
AP via Huffington Post, Vehicle Records Taken By Law Enforcement Agencies Across America: ACLU, Anne Flaherty and Calvin Woodward, July 17, 2013. You can drive, but you can't hide. A rapidly growing network of police cameras is capturing, storing and sharing data on license plates, making it possible to stitch together people's movements whether they are stuck in a commute, making tracks to the beach or up to no good. For the first time, the number of license tag captures has reached the millions, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union based on information from hundreds of law enforcement agencies. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely, saying they can be crucial in tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts, finding abducted children and more. Attached to police cars, bridges or buildings – and sometimes merely as an app on a police officer's smartphone – scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and pinpoint their locations, uploading that information into police databases. Over time, it's unlikely many vehicles in a covered area escape notice. And with some of the information going into regional databases encompassing multiple jurisdictions, it's becoming easier to build a record of where someone has been and when, over a large area.
Washington Post, Lawmakers see deceptive pattern on surveillance, Peter Wallsten, July 10, 2013. Members of Congress say oversight of government surveillance has been hurt by officials’ misleading testimony, which suggested spying was narrowly tailored. Lawmakers tasked with overseeing national security policy say a pattern of misleading testimony by senior Obama administration officials has weakened Congress’s ability to rein in government surveillance. Members of Congress say officials have either denied the existence of a broad program that collects data on millions of Americans or, more commonly, made statements that left some lawmakers with the impression that the government was conducting only narrow, targeted surveillance operations.
Bradley Manning and John Kiriakou Cases
FireDogLake, The Evolution & State of Journalism Becomes a Key Focus in Bradley Manning’s Trial, Kevin Gosztola, July 11, 2013. The defense in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s trial was able to successfully qualify Professor Yochai Benkler of Harvard University as an expert on the “networked Fourth Estate,” who could discuss research he had done on WikiLeaks and how it fit into the “networked Fourth Estate.” What this meant was the defense could present testimony on how WikiLeaks is, in fact, a legitimate journalistic organization and not some kind of criminal enterprise worthy of the wide government investigation, which the United States Justice Department launched into the organization after it released the information Manning is charged with disclosing. It was incredibly significant as it gave the defense the ability to explicitly challenge the charge of “aiding the enemy”—that Manning would have known when he provided information to WikiLeaks that he was giving information to the enemy. The defense was also able to challenge another charge—that he “wantonly “caused “to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the United States government, having knowledge that intelligence published on the internet is accessible to the enemy.” If WikiLeaks was a legitimate journalistic organization, as Benkler testified in thorough detail, it would not have been “wantonly” to provide information to the organization.
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.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
The Huffington Post, Senators Trying To 'Narrow' Definition Of Journalist In Media Shield Law, Jack Mirkinson, Aug. 2, 2013. In the wake of the many different scandals surrounding the government's surveillance of journalists, senators are attempting to craft a new federal shield law that would ramp up some of the protections for reporters. But, as McClatchy reported on Thursday night, the politicians have hit a bit of a snag: they can't agree on who is a journalist and who isn't. McClatchy sat in on a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where senators argued about who, exactly, they were trying to help: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Feinstein suggested that the definition comprise only journalists who make salaries, saying it should be applied just to "real reporters." The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was against that idea, since there are bloggers and others in the Internet age who don’t necessarily receive salaries.
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.
Washington Post, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stepping down to run UC system, Philip Rucker and Sari Horwitz, June 12, 2013. Janet Napolitano, left, who as President Obama’s homeland security secretary has one of the broadest and most challenging portfolios of any Cabinet member, announced Friday that she is stepping down to become president of the University of California system. Napolitano has been a central figure in the debates over immigration and counterterrorism policies while also managing the government’s response to tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Huffington Post, Reflections on the FISA Court, Geoffrey R. Stone, July 5, 2013. Before 1978, the federal government assumed that agencies like the NSA and the FBI could legally carry out wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States without any prior judicial approval. In 1978, as a result of disclosures about Nixon-era abuses uncovered by the Church Committee, Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which, among other things, created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. The FISA court today consists of 11 federal district court judges, appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States. Each member of the court has to be approved for a security clearance and each serves a seven year term. Over the past 10 years, the FISA court has reviewed an average of approximately 2,000 requests annually for FISA warrants.
DeSmogBlog, Keystone XL Conflict of Interest: Obama Attorney’s Law Firm Represents TransCanada, Steve Horn, July 16, 2013. A recent DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Robert Bauer, former White House Counsel and President Obama’s personal attorney, works at the corporate law firm Perkins Coie LLP, which does legal work for TransCanada’s South Central Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project, formerly known as Alaska Gas Pipeline Project. These findings come in the immediate aftermath of a recent investigation revealing the contractor hired by Obama’s U.S. State Department to do the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline—Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) —lied on its June 2012 conflict-of interest filing. ERM Group checked the box on the form saying it had no current business ties to TransCanada. In fact, ERM—a member of the American Petroleum Institute, which has spent more than $22 million lobbying on tar sands and Keystone XL since 2008—does maintain business ties to TransCanada, the investigation revealed. On top of his job at Perkins Coie, Bauer (shown at right in a file photo in the Oval Office during a meeting with President Obama) served as general counsel to President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. He also serves as general counsel to the Democratic National Committee and did electoral law work for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. His wife, Anita Dunn is the co-owner of SDKnickerbocker, and former Obama Communications Director, was senior advisor for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and is the former communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee under then-Senator Kerry. She’s met with top Obama administration officials more than 100 times since leaving in 2009, according to a recent New York Times investigation. Dunn currently does public relations work on behalf of TransCanada and freight rail industry lobbying group, American Association of Railroads. The tar sands pipeline boom comes alongside a freight rail boom to carry tar sands crude and fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale.
Legal Schnauzer, Federal Judge Henry Wingate Doesn't Make An Effort To Apply The Law Correctly In Paul Minor Civil Case, Paul Minor, one of the most successful plaintiffs' lawyers in Mississippi history, has been released from prison on his Bush-era conviction for "crimes" that do not exist under actual law. Minor's legal problems, however, are far from over. With U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate still in charge of his fate, things could go from bad to worse for Paul Minor. How could Wingate, a black Republican who apparently qualifies as Mississippi's version of Clarence Thomas, still be in charge of Minor's fate? After all, Wingate presided over multiple criminal trials in the Minor matter; how could he possibly serve as an impartial arbiter in a related civil matter? The answer is, "He can't, but he's doing it anyway--in what's left of our so-called U.S. justice system." As part of the fallout from the criminal case, insurance giant USF&G sued Minor and his one-time client, Peoples Bank of Biloxi, Mississippi. The basic claim is that Minor and the bank benefited from actions that were found to be unlawful. The civil case was filed in 2003, but it was put on hold pending the criminal matter. When Minor was released from prison earlier this year, the civil case kicked into high gear.
Daily Howler, Are pundits inventing an all-white jury? Bob Somerby, July 17, 2013. Is this an emerging fact: Fake facts emerge over time as pundits agree on what they should say within their Standard Group Narratives. In the past few days, we have started to wonder: Are we seeing the emergence of a new fake fact? Are we seeing the invention of a new claim—the claim of an all-white jury? A lynch mob is running through the streets, declaring the need for a new, all-improved second trial. The story gets a whole lot better if that was an all-white jury!
Time, Australians Are Joining Syria’s Rebels in Surprising Numbers, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, July 16, 2013. As many as 6,000 foreign fighters from nearly 50 nations have now joined the brutal 2½-year civil war to unseat President Bashar Assad of Syria. The vast majority are veterans from the the Arab Springs of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Islamist volunteers from Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and a few former Soviet republics bolster their ranks. And then there are the Aussies. Surprising estimates suggest that Australians now make up the largest contingent from any developed nation in the Syrian rebel forces. There are around 120 French fighters in Syria, about 100 Britons and a handful of Americans — but there are at least 200 Australians, according to a public statement made by David Irvine, director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The total may appear small, but it is growing rapidly, having doubled since the end of last year — and when looked at as a proportion of the Muslim population of Australia, the figure is startling. The Australian contingent is drawn from a Muslim population of just 500,000, and is causing concern to a government that fears the homecoming of a battle-hardened group of radicalized Islamists when the conflict ends. Part of the explanation for the Australian presence in Syria, some believe, is sheer opportunism. Nick Kaldas, an Egyptian-born counterterrorism expert who now serves as the NSW deputy police commissioner agrees that there are “people involved in crime who are using the conflict in Syria as an excuse or pretext to carry out more criminal acts.”