Gates, Washington Post

 

Huffington Post  Rachel Maddow Presents New Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Theory, Ashley Alman, Jan. 9, 2014. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday presented a new theory why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may have wanted to close George Washington Bridge lanes -- a festering feud between the governor and Democrats over state Supreme Court nominees. As the story stands, Christie's deputy chief of staff called for George Washington Bridge access lane closures that created a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee for four days in September -- a move that many have written off as political retribution for Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's refusal to endorse the Republican governor's reelection. Maddow on Thursday presented an alternate theory, saying Sokolich's endorsement "wasn't that important." Instead, she suggested the political payback was motivated by a tiff between New Jersey state Senate Democrats and the governor. Maddow took viewers back to 2010, when Christie declined to reappoint a New Jersey Supreme Court justice, John E. Wallace Jr., for another term. The move left state Senate Democrats "absolutely outraged," Maddow explained, and they refused to confirm any Christie's nominees for Wallace's seat.

CIA LogoFireDogLake, Former Top CIA Lawyer John Rizzo Hails Agency’s ‘Special Relationship’ with Hollywood Figures, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 10, 2014. The film, Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatized the hunt for Osama bin Laden that ended in his execution by SEAL Team 6, made it apparent how valuable Hollywood could be for the CIA. Declassified memos showed the CIA valuing the film written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow because, although it was a fiction+alized version of true events, it would “help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Laden operation.” The agency even successfully pressured Boal to edit an interrogation scene and a scene of CIA officers engaged in objectionable behavior during a rooftop party in Islamabad. In a new book, Company Man, from former top CIA lawyer, John Rizzo, who worked in the agency for thirty-four years, he describes the attitude of the CIA toward Hollywood and why it is so valued.

Consortium News, Robert Gates' narcissistic "Duty," Melvin A. Goodman, Jan. 9, 2014. The Inside-the-Beltway acclaim bestowed on Robert Gates is perhaps the clearest evidence of the failure of Washington’s media/political elite to recognize reality and impose accountability on incompetent or corrupt government officials, a point addressed by ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman. "Since I have known Bob Gates for nearly 50 years, working with him for more than a decade; working for him for five years; and testifying against him before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1991, I believe that I have some warnings about the author as well as the leading
lights of the mainstream media, such as David Brooks of the Times" and Walter Pincus of the Post, who believe that Gates made major contributions to the national security policy of the United States. Nothing
could be further from the truth."

Christian Science Monitor, Chris Christie is learning who his friends are. And his enemies, Peter Grier, Jan. 9, 2014. Gov. Chris Christie's George Washington Bridge scandal is not taking a toll, so far, on his political support among establishment Republicans or even moderates. But the 2016 presidential race is just ramping up. The George Washington Bridge scandal is a big problem for Chris Christie, obviously. It’s damaging his reputation as a take-charge administrator and has made him the subject of days of pointed political jokes. If it turns out he had any foreknowledge that his aides were creating traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J., by blocking bridge access lanes, his electoral career may be dry and crumbly toast. (He says he had no idea what was happening, and there’s no hard evidence indicating otherwise.)

Americans seek a sense of decency, balance, equilibrium and stability in their presidents. This was Ronald Reagan’s great strength. He was affable, balanced, slow to anger and never regarded his political opponents with hate. John F. Kennedy was also famously magnanimous to his political opponents, slow to anger and unfailingly easy going.. In a sense, Obama also displays this cool presidential persona. The American people do not want an angry, emotional hot head as their President. Neither do they want a prick.

In response to this claim, some have pointed to the election of my mentor, Richard Nixon. In fact, that Nixon persona was temporarily erased in 1968 when he re-packaged himself as the “New Nixon”. Gone, we are told, was the partisan slasher of the 50’s. Nixon convinced the American people that he was more introspective, relaxed and measured and that he had had time to reflect on the great issues facing America. He was no longer the “angry young man” he had been a Vice President. Nixon skillfully used TV to look calmer, less up-tight and more confident.

Nixon was successful in continuing to portray this image for the first three years of his presidency.. It was not until the Watergate tapes revealed Nixon’s partisan, spiteful, vindictive side that Nixon lost his governing majority. While I am on record as admiring Nixon’s drive, intellect, resilience and big picture thinking, it was this rancor, this need for retribution that destroyed his presidency “The American people will not elect a man they think is angry”, Nixon would tell me long after his own fall in Watergate.

This is the lesson of Watergate. It’s a lesson that as a member of Nixon 1972 re-election staff, I learned the hard way.

Even before “Bridgegate” I was among those who questioned whether Christie’s “in- your- face” persona could work outside New Jersey. If I were working for one of his 2016 opponents, I would take the footage of a hulking Christie holding a dripping ice cream cone on the Atlantic City boardwalk and yelling at a constituent who had the temerity to ask his governor a question and make it into a 30 sec TV spot. Is this the man you want with finger on the nuclear button?

 
Democrats have long argued that Christie is a political bully masquerading as a straight talker (Buono said Christie runs a "paramilitary organization" on MSNBC Thursday) and that there are many more episodes of political intimidation out there.  Are there? We all know about Christie's famous/infamous confrontations with reporters and teachers but will something new come to light that shows the sort of tactics on display in bridge-gate were closer to standard operating procedure than the exception to the rule? Every media organization in the country is currently looking into past decisions made by the Christie Administration to answer that question.

 

WhoWhatWhy, Still Unfolding: Astounding Stories from 2013, Milicent Cranor, Jan. 7, 2014. As one of the editors bringing WhoWhatWhy to you week after week, I recently found myself looking back at some of the stories from 2013, and found plenty of reason to remain a pessimist. And yet, within this harvest of horrors, I also found reason for hope. Knowledge, no matter how disturbing, can lead to understanding and even, occasionally, wisdom. Examples: 

Officer Collier Shooting “Rosebud” Moment of the Boston Bombing? The Contradictions Keep Coming, Russ Baker, May 23, 2013.  If there is one thing that seemed to cement the guilt of the Tsarnaev brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing, it was the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier. To students of history, this had a familiar ring.  Half a century ago, another traumatic event took place: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The big break in that case came when a police officer was shot and killed. Soon after, Lee Harvey Oswald, was connected to both events. Like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, he had recently spent time in Russia. Like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, he had been under scrutiny by the FBI before the crime. In both cases, it was the killing of a police officer that convinced the public the police had the right man. For other stories on the bombing, go here, here, here, and here.

Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev a Double Agent Recruited by the FBI? Peter Dale Scott, May 23, 2013. If Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a double agent, he would be one of thousands to have been coerced by the FBI into a dangerous career as an informant. The Bureau has a long history of recruiting vulnerable individuals and, in some cases, encouraging them to commit violent acts. One example: the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, with an FBI undercover informant at the core of the plot.

Huffington Post, Chris Christie Denies Knowledge Of Bridge Payback Scheme, Amanda Terkel, Jan. 8, 2014. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) denied any involvement in a political payback scheme carried out by some of his top aides on Wednesday, saying the whole thing was "inappropriate and unsanctioned." The emails released Wednesday showed that Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, deliberately plotted to wreak havoc on Fort Lee, N.J., once it became clear that the borough's mayor, Democrat Mark Sokolich, wasn't going to publicly back Christie in his reelection bid.

TPM Livewire, N.J. Senate Majority Leader Says Criminal Charges May Come In Bridge Scandal, Hunter Walker, Jan. 8, 2014. New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) said Wednesday she thinks criminal charges may come in the growing scandal over last September's lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Weinberg's comments came after TPM and other news outlets obtained emails and other communications that showed one of Gov. Chris Christie's (R) closest aides was involved in the discussions of the lane closures weeks before they took place. Democrats, including Weinberg, have alleged that the closures were ordered in an effort to snarl traffic in nearby Fort Lee, N.J. in retaliation for the Democratic mayor there not endorsing Christie's reelection bid. When asked if she thought criminal charges were possible based on the new revelations, Weinberg replied: "Yes."

Chris ChristieHuffington Post, New Jersey Lane Closures Delayed Emergency Response To 91-Year-Ol d Woman Who Later Died: Report, Mollie Reilly, Jan. 8, 2014. Emergency response teams were reportedly delayed in traffic caused by lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, including one vehicle responding to a 91-year-old woman in cardiac arrest who later died. The lane closures and its resulting gridlock, which created major problems for New Jersey commuters, have become a political headache for Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has maintained that he had nothing to do with the decision to close the lanes. According to a letter from EMS coordinator Paul Favia to Fort Lee, N.J. Mayor Mark Sokolich obtained by The Bergen Record, at least four emergency vehicles were stuck in traffic caused by the unannounced lane closures, doubling response time in at least two of the cases.

FireDogLake, The CIA, Amazon, Bezos and the Washington Post: An Exchange with Executive Editor Martin Baron, Norman Solomon, Jan. 8, 2014. Washington Post’s Martin Baron says owner Jeff Bezos ‘[n]ever will be involved in our coverage of the intelligence community.” A basic principle of journalism is to acknowledge when the owner of a media outlet has a major financial relationship with the subject of coverage. We strongly urge the Washington Post to be fully candid with its readers about the fact that the newspaper’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon — and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.”  The petition includes cogent comments by many of the people who signed it. I hope that you can set aside perhaps 10 minutes on Jan. 14 or 15 for the purpose of receiving the petition and hearing a summary of its signers’ concerns.

KPBX (Spokane), Ricin Case Brings Up Disregard for Criminal Evidence Rule, Tom Bacon, Dec. 14, 2013. A former Spokane Valley man sentenced a decade ago for making and intending to use the deadly poison ricin has failed again in his bid to overturn his sentence. But Kenneth R. Olsen's conviction aroused the wrath of five dissenting judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who lashed out at prosecutors and judges who ignore the basic rules of justice. Most judicial dissents are couched in mild, respectful language. But not this one, written by 9th Circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski, joined by four other appeals judges. They charged that US prosecutors in Spokane ignored a well-settled requirement that evidence favorable to a criminal defendant be turned over to defense lawyers. It's called the Brady rule, after a case heard years ago by the US Supreme Court. The dissenting judges wrote "some prosecutors don't care about Brady because courts don't make them care." They said that federal prosecutors in Spokane behaved with "casual disregard for their own constitutional obligations and for Olsen's rights. Worse, they Philip Jessup, Jr.

Weather Channel, America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy, Jan. 4, 2014. http://www.weather.com/news/america-burning-yarnel-hill-tragedy-20131230 "I Told Them Daddy Had an Accident' On June 30, 2013, 19 firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed battling a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona.  Huge questions remain about the last moments of their lives. Why did they move out of a safe area in their final minutes of life? Why did the fire move so quickly? Could their deaths have been prevented? The tragedy also raises a crucial environmental issue: Has the very act of fighting wildfires made our forests more dangerous? Weather.com investigates in this original documentary

 
 
 
 
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

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Robert GatesWashington Post, Gates issues harsh Obama critique in book, Bob Woodward, Jan. 7, 2014. Robert Gates, former defense secretary, offers harsh critique of Obama’s leadership in ‘Duty’ The former defense secretary describes a contentious relationship between the president and his top aides about Afghanistan war strategy and policies.

Robert MenenezForeign Policy, Obama Admin Blasts Senators for Blocking Iraq Arms Sales, Yochi Dreazen and John Hudson, Jan. 7, 2014. The Obama administration slammed a powerful Senate panel for blocking the sale of advanced weaponry to Iraq, accusing the lawmakers of denying Baghdad the armaments it needs to defeat the al Qaeda militants who have conquered the key city of Fallujah. The intensifying fighting in Fallujah, the scene of some of the bloodiest combat of the Iraq War, has highlighted a bitter disagreement between the White House and the Democratic-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee about what types of weaponry to provide to the Iraqi government. The panel, along with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, needs to approve all arms sales to foreign countries. Baghdad desperately wants dozens of Apache attack helicopters, which would make it easier for the Iraqi military to find and destroy military targets inside Fallujah and prevent al Qaeda from sending reinforcements to the city. Iraq has been pushing for the helicopters for years, but Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, right, of New Jersey has bucked the White House and barred Baghdad from obtaining the Apaches. On Tuesday, the administration derided that move as shortsighted and dangerous.

FireDogLake, Chris Christie’s Deputy Chief Of Staff Implicated In Bridgegate, DSWright, Another massive shoe drops in the investigation of the unscheduled lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. The closures were initially claimed to be part of a “traffic study” and caused a massive traffic jam on the nation’s busiest bridge. But that claim has been cast into serious doubt as the closures now appear to be the result of a coordinated effort by officials appointed by Governor Chris Christie, right, at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Christie’s personal and campaign staff to retaliate against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey by causing debilitating traffic in his town.

Star-Ledger & NJ.com, Timeline of Port Authority's George Washington Bridge controversy, Christopher Baxter, Jan. 8, 2013. The controversy over the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September ramped up today with the revelation that a top aide to Gov. Chris Christie was involved in the decision. Here's a timeline of how the scandal has unfolded: Sept. 6: The Port Authority's director of interstate capital projects, David Wildstein, orders the bridge's general manager to carry out the closures. Sept. 9: The Port Authority closes two of three local access lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge, the nation's busiest crossing, bringing traffic to a halt and turning borough streets into a parking lot....

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Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

WhoWhatWhy,Still Unfolding: Astounding Stories from 2013, Milicent Cranor, Jan. 7, 2014. As one of the editors bringing WhoWhatWhy to you week after week, I recently found myself looking back at some of the stories from 2013, and found plenty of reason to remain a pessimist. And yet, within this harvest of horrors, I also found reason for hope. Knowledge, no matter how disturbing, can lead to understanding and even, occasionally, wisdom. Examples: 

Officer Collier Shooting “Rosebud” Moment of the Boston Bombing? The Contradictions Keep Coming, Russ Baker, May 23, 2013.  If there is one thing that seemed to cement the guilt of the Tsarnaev brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing, it was the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier. To students of history, this had a familiar ring.  Half a century ago, another traumatic event took place: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The big break in that case came when a police officer was shot and killed. Soon after, Lee Harvey Oswald, was connected to both events. Like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, he had recently spent time in Russia. Like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, he had been under scrutiny by the FBI before the crime. In both cases, it was the killing of a police officer that convinced the public the police had the right man. For other stories on the bombing, go here, here, here, and here.

Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev a Double Agent Recruited by the FBI? Peter Dale Scott, May 23, 2013. If Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a double agent, he would be one of thousands to have been coerced by the FBI into a dangerous career as an informant. The Bureau has a long history of recruiting vulnerable individuals and, in some cases, encouraging them to commit violent acts. One example: the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, with an FBI undercover informant at the core of the plot.