Justice Integrity Project

9/11 Commission's Forum Shows How DC 'Works'

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on July 24, 2014


Members of 9/11 Commission this week leveraged the 10th anniversary of their report to announce a dozen recommendations focused primarily on improving the nation's security against terrorists.

James Clapper (Andrew Kreig Photo)The former commissioners called for strong spending on counter-terrorism intelligence and more centralized oversight by fewer congressional committees.

Speakers minimized divisive issues regarding past mysteries, and presented the proposals as reforms. News coverage reflected that positive interpretation.

"Many Americans think that the terrorist threat is waning -- that, as a country, we can begin turning back to other concerns. They are wrong," said the commissioners' new report, which was unveiled during a July 22 forum at the Newseum in downtown Washington, DC organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center. "The threat remains grave and the trend lines in many parts of the world are pointing in the wrong direction."

The eloquent, personable and well-credentialed experts from the top ranks of both major parties stressed at the forum and in congressional statements later in the week that the public should fear terrorism and support the recommendations for vigorous counter-terrorism measures.

This column explores the financial and career incentives that shaped that message, as well as the commission's procedures to determine the facts of the 9/11 terror attacks.

As a featured segment in the forum, the Obama Administration's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper urged the audience -- including those watching via five video crews -- to fight for strong spending against threats of terrorism. My photo above shows Clapper from a vantage point a few feet from the podium. Clapper, who joined the Army in 1963, has headed White House intelligence operations for nearly four years.

Michael McCaulClapper's message was reiterated by a bipartisan solid front that included eight of the 10 former commission members, and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, right. McCaulis  Republican representing Texans in a 10th district stretching from Austin to the Houston suburbs.

The positioning is a rare achievement in Washington these days. Partisan fights are stagnating action through much of the capital. As a finale to the forum, commission leaders shared their tips for success.

Left unspoken but a necessary part of this story, however, is that money, power and media savvy influence are pivotal to such Washington outcomes.

The commission's leaders, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, and most commission members have strong ties to the intelligence community -- and to the federal contractors, Wall Street financial houses and other institutions that prosper from counter-terrorism spending and related efforts. Naturally, the beneficiaries cycle back part of their revenue from taxpayers to supportive lawmakers, thought leaders, and their organizations. 

President Bush and advisor Andy CardThus, the former commissioners' recommendations raise the possibility of self-interest along with civic service. Furthermore, because the commission abstains from the challenging task of addressing lingering mysteries surrounding the 9/11 tragedy the question remains whether any other group in congress or elsewhere dares seek answers.

The drama and mystery of these issues was captured in part, for example, by a photo showing White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informing the president at 9:04 a.m. that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center and "America is under attack."

At the time, Bush and several of his top aides including Karl Rove were in a second-grade classroom in Florida where the president was reading the children's story "My Pet Goat" while military personnel were scrambling defenses against three other hijacked planes. However, a presidential order was and is required to shoot down civilian aircraft.

The details in the investigation's history have been forgotten for the most part, but are worth recalling at least on anniversaries.

President Bush and his aides opposed the 9/11 probe, attempted to stack it with loyalists, and vigorously fought its requests for information both from White House staff and from relevant agencies.

In response, commission members maintained a near-unanimous public front of accommodation for the most part. These days, the inside story regarding conflicts receives scant attention. Below, we start with the news and move to the background.

Sunday's Washington Post: A Case Study In Slanted News?

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on July 21, 2014

 

Three columns in the Washington Post's July 20 Sunday print edition raise red flags as potential examples of government propaganda disguised as news.

The Post presented them as the most prominent articles on its front page, its weekly Outlook opinion section, and its Sunday magazine.

Ronald Reagan The placement strongly implied endorsement by the newspaper, which remains Washington's most influential news organization.

But closer examination raises serious questions. You be the judge regarding these Post articles and their presentation:

  • The front-page lead story with a five-column headline was Russia supplied missile launchers to separatists, U.S. official says. Problem: Traditional journalistic practice has been to identify by name the top officials who make major announcements. The Post did not name the official here, thereby granting a pass if the opinion proves wrong.
  • The lead right-hand column in the Sunday Outlook section was Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans. Potential Problem: The column by a former State Department employee, John Napier Tye, appears to make a whistle-blower style disclosure in the public interest against President Reagan and his administration's National Security Agency (NSA), a super-secret unit within the Department of Defense. However, the column's circumstances raise the possibility that the article is part of an intelligence operation to channel dissent into controlled organizations such as Tye's new employer, Avaaz, a global website for citizen activists.
  • The magazine cover story was Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Lonely Crusade. Problem: The article flatly stated without attribution or qualification that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered President John F. Kennedy in 1963. That finding by the Warren Commission in 1964 remains highly controversial among experts and the public. This week's Post coverage continued the paper's practice of avoiding or trivializing evidence disputing the commission or implicating other players.

The problems go beyond what are (at least arguably) lapses in basic journalistic rules typically used for news, features and analysis stories (although not necessarily for editorials or blogs).

Each matter involves a major controversy in which the nation's intelligence agencies and the Washington Post have shared agendas and other secret ties that extend back decades to the earliest years of CIA and its Wall Street allies, according to the findings of my research and that of many others. As we have previously reported here, the CIA strengthened those ties last fall by awarding a $600 million contract to Amazon.com, the wealth source for the Post's new owner, Jeffrey Bezos.

We have recently published here several columns about scandals and other shortcomings in the mainstream media failings. Those columns are cited in an appendix below. So, I was reluctant to focus here once again on the Post. Many other national and global issues require attention.

But the stakes are high and the Post's performance is vital not simply for its readers, but for its influence on politics, books, television and other thought-leadership, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. And so we proceed with the questions here, well knowing that the analysis is necessarily a snapshot in time because new information is constantly arising -- in newspaper news sections and elsewhere.   

Craven, Conflicted Media Enable Puppet Masters' Political Agendas

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on July 18, 2014


Washington's watchdog institutions -- including its timid, corporate-controlled media -- are failing to protect the public.

That was my lecture theme July 11 at the National Press Club as I presented reasons why mainstream news organizations under-report or ignore certain major stories about domestic and foreign affairs.

Presidential Puppetry by Andrew KreigFormer CBS and NBC news editor John Kelly organized the invitation-only dinner lecture, which focused on recent developments illustrating themes from my book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. The book reveals and documents via 1,100 endnotes Wall Street's use of the CIA and NSA to influence elections and government extending back decades and affecting all Americans.

Among other examples, I described prominent government officials in the Obama administration, including President Obama, who have successfully hidden key parts of their past. Suppressed information protects and empowers "puppet masters" in the private sector.

They profit from -- if not orchestrate -- elections, revolts and financial panics, as well as their more routine fare of looting the treasury via lucrative government contracts and plutocrat-friendly tax laws and regulations.

Profiteers operate via minions in government and the media, most of whom are so ambitious that they rarely inquire into sensitive areas.

A lifelong exception to the go-along, get-along spirit is John Kelly, shown in a file photo. He is the last surviving reporter who reported 1960 election results from the Hyannis Port family compound of winner John F. Kennedy.

Kelly's impressive career includes service as a CIA officer, stepping forward to Jack Anderson as a taxpayer advocate. Anderson quoted him as saying that the leading American victims of the war were GIs and taxpayers. Kelly then returned to journalism, and covered Watergate for CBS News. Kelly is a founding director of the Justice Integrity Project, which operates the non-partisan investigative service you are reading here.

John KellyIn introducing me last week to a dinner audience, Kelly spoke of the harm to the public that occurs when slanted or entertainment news squeezes out hard news. He said those newscasters who began their careers in public relations often drive agendas to "soft" news that pleases the powerful and foster advancement for amenable journalists, their organizations and affiliated companies. 

The topic remains in this news this week in multiple ways, including Glenn Greenwald's report today, NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children. The fatal crash of a Malaysian airline in the Ukraine represents another reporting challenge to overcome bias and intrigue, as indicted by a July 17 forum by the think tank CSIS and moderated by CBS News Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

Appended below to this column are previous columns on these themes. They quote other experienced journalists, public officials and other commentators who decry the loss of a free press, and related rights such as free speech, privacy and due process.

Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, other senior advisors, May 27, 2014In Press Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks,'  for example, I reported in 2012 how the nation’s two leading press clubs convened experts on national security for a gripping, historically important assessment of the Obama administration’s shocking prosecutions of government news sources.

One panelist was New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jailing for refusing to reveal his government sources.

“The fundamental issue,” said Risen, author of the path-breaking 2006 book, State of War, “is whether you can have a democracy without aggressive reporting. I don’t think you can.”

In my remarks July 11, I noted that Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a consummate insider, that morning had described Obama national security aide Benjamin Rhodes as in effect the president's "chief strategist." Rhodes is shown at the president's immediate left during a staff meeting two months ago in the Oval Office.

Ignatius failed to mention that the aide's brother, David Rhodes, is president of CBS News.

This is one of a vast number of such conflicts and omissions harming public discourse. Such omissions enable powerful private sector players to impose their agendas with little scrutiny from government or other supposedly independent watchdogs. Many of those watchdogs in the media, politics, courts and elsewhere are mere faithful servants for the powerful, not protectors of the public.

What follows is a summary of last week's discussion, which was covered also by an interview in the New Cambridge Observer in 'Presidential Puppetry,' New Book on Intelligence/Media Ties.

Former CIA Analyst: Washington Post, Newsweek, New York Times Suppressed Stories

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on July 7, 2014

 

The mainstream media have kept the American public ignorant of vital news in deference to top political and military-intelligence officials, according to former CIA analyst Raymond L. McGovern.

McGovern, shown below, spoke July 2 to the Sarah McClendon News Group at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Ray McGovern"Never has it been so bad in the 50 years I've been in this town," said McGovern, 74, a peace advocate following a quarter century in the military and CIA, including five years overseas and daily briefing duties for White House staff of two presidents.

"There's one change that dwarfs all the others," he continued at the dinner lecture. "We no longer have a free media. That's big. It does not get any bigger than that."

Among his examples were self-censorship on what could have been significant stories by the Washington Post, its former subsidiary Newsweek, and the New York Times.

McGovern's appraisal matches that of other media critics. The factors he described prompted me to found the Justice Integrity Project, for example, and then assemble a narrative of unreported and under-reported major stories into my recent book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.

On June 24, longtime DC-based investigative editor Charles Lewis described a similar journey at CBS News in his memoir 935 Lies. Lewis said that "lying" by government officials has become standard operating procedure tolerated by many timid reporters and their bosses. Lewis, a former network news producer, resigned from CBS 60 Minutes in 1989 over disappointment from watered-down coverage he saw. He founded the non-profit Center for Public Integrity and launched his book at the center's 25th anniversary last month, as we reported here two weeks ago. 

McGovern came to Washington in 1962 as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst from the administration of John F. Kennedy until 1990, that of George H. W. Bush. His CIA duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President's Daily Briefing, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan's most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.

Among McGovern's examples of suppressed stories:

Truth PatrolFormer Bush administration NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden last October joked during a forum organized by the Washington Post that President Obama should put Snowden on President Obama's "kill list" of those to be assassinated by presidential order, McGovern said. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) concurred. McGovern noted that the Post failed to report the Mafia-style repartee at its own newsmaker forum.

More generally, McGovern said the media are keeping the public in the dark about central facts regarding recent deaths and fighting in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine.

McGovern said that only Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey's last-minute intercession with President Obama prevented the United States from launching bombing attacks on Syria based on bogus claims that Syria President Bashar Al-Assad had used chemical weapons to kill more than a thousand persons Aug. 21 in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.

John KerrySecretary of State John Kerry said 35 times, "We know" that Assad's government killed the victims, McGovern continued. "He [Kerry] didn't know. He was lying through his teeth."

"It was the rebels who did it," McGovern said of the sarin killings, whose victims included many children. "They wanted to mousetrap us into a war."

Former Navy Intelligence officer Wayne Madsen and I broke that story separately last September. Madsen published it on Sept. 1 in, Obama caved under last-minute pressure from Dempsey.

Based on similar sourcing, I published two days later Did America's Top General Save Nation From Open-Ended War in Syria? Also, my Presidential Puppetry reported Dempsey's role in persuading Obama to over-rule White House and State Department advisors urging a bombing attack without congressional approval.

July 4 Festivities Contrast With Cruel Toll From Global Wars

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on July 6, 2014


As the United States celebrated on July 4 its 1776 independence movement, terrified residents of the world's current trouble spots struggled to survive war and misery.

TFireworks July 4, 2014he picnic-like atmosphere on the Washington Mall before a huge evening fireworks display contrasted sharply with the horrors of a new war in the Ukraine between separatists and the United States-backed new government. 

From the rooftop of my office on Pennsylvania Avenue, I took the photo at left of the capital city's elaborate fireworks display. The Washington Monument is faintly visible at the left of the display, which the federal government organizes annually to commemorate the colonists' Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The Washington Post headlined part of its July 5 print edition "Capital knows how to party" to capture the festive mood on the mall.

Meanwhile, the United States and its onetime enemy, the United Kingdom, have been closely allied in fostering revolutions against existing governments worldwide, including the Mideast, Africa and South America.

Most prominent recently is the two nations' alliance via NATO in the Ukraine. They and Western powers orchestrated the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government in February following U.S-supported riots in the capital city of Kiev. The regime-change preparations became most visible via a leaked cable from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland, as recounted in Top U.S. Diplomat Caught On Tape In Profane Plot.

Then the West backed the new government against separatists who arose in the industrial eastern region, which is largely comprised of ethnic Russians.Ukraine couple Фото: Валерий Мельников Ria Novosti Valeriy Meinikov

On July 1, the recently elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko halted a 10-day ceasefire in the country’s east and ordered the Ukrainian National Guard to resume fighting rebels, who sought to create during the spring to create an independent country aligned with Russia.

The photo at right is from the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which reported that Ukraine's central government attacked on July 2 civilians in the village of Luganskaya and nearby.

Such images should be part of Western news accounts even if debate can occur, as often in a war zone, regarding the specific circumstances.

The Russian news agency asserted that the damage came from Kiev-backed artillery shelling of civilian targets. But the agency also quoted Kiev authorities as denying they caused the damage. Kiev officials attributed the horrors to self-inflicted harm by rebels, an assertion disputed by some of the civilians interviewed in the bombing zone.

Most United States mainstream media have ignored the photos, attributed to RIA's Valeriy Melnikov. Suppression helps keep news coverage focused on story lines advocated by the State Department, CIA and White House and those of like-minded news managers in other nations.

My recent book, Presidential Puppetry, argues that powerful entities exercise hidden controls over the media and government. The Washington Post, for example, has long had a close working relationship with the CIA and its Wall Street allies. The Post's new owner, Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos, illustrated that relationship last fall when Amazon.com won a $600 million contract from the CIA to handle the agency's cloud computing.

Fortunately, independent journalists are providing alternative information. What follows on the next page is a snapshot of such coverage involving the Ukraine. As a warning, at least one photo is too graphic for comfortable viewing.

Washington Reform Message Resonates In Connecticut

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on June 27, 2014

 

Connecticut's tradition of vigorous civic institutions remains intact as a force for reform, as I saw during my lecture tour there last week. 

This is good news for the rest of the country. Given the decline of the nation's watchdog institutions located in the capital, remedial action can only come "bottom up" from grassroots. Grassroots volunteerism is different from the phony "grasstop" organizations that special interests in Washington create whereby pseudo-populist groups manipulate public opinion.

Charles LewisMy Connecticut trip June 18-20 was to discuss Presidential Puppetry, the first book about the Obama administration's second term. The strong civic institutions I saw and their reaction revealed positive signs amid discouraging news about national officials and the mainstream media.

In a message similar to my own these days, the prominent investigative editor Charles Lewis, for example, told a National Press Club audience June 24 in Washington, DC that "lying" by government officials has become standard operating procedure. 

Lewis was announcing his memoir 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Integrity at the 25th anniversary of the Center for Public Integrity. In 1989, he founded the pioneering (and now Pulitzer-winning) non-partisan, non-profit group in a spare room of his house after he resigned in frustration from hidden corporate pressures he had experienced as a producer for the top-rated CBS News show "60 Minutes."

Asked about the "commonalities" he has observed since then as a reporter and journalism professor, Lewis, shown at left, responded, "Not to be glib, but the commonalities are that if you were listening to government officials they were usually lying, or at least being non-responsive and kicking the problem down the road."

Andy Thibault and James Herbert Smith (Robert Theisman Photo)man.jpgMy column today compares his expert observations over his three decades with what I observed in Connecticut, where I began my reporting career in 1970 with 14 years at the Hartford Courant, the state's largest newspaper.

I started by observing the annual awards luncheon of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information (CCFOI) and hearing how civic volunteers are fighting secrecy in government. I wanted to hear especially the award presentation for columnist Andy Thibault, a fierce fighter against injustice who also kindly volunteered to arrange my lectures.

Next, I participated in the process by lectures and interviews that drew from Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. The subtitle reflects its focus on what the mainstream media has missed about power brokers and such Republican officials as the Romney and Bush families, not just Democrats.

From these experiences, I share recommended measures for reform, as well as traps for the unwary. Some of these obstacles arise from masters of political intrigue who undertake despicable deeds with impunity because they can be confident that few are exposing their corruption in ways noticed by the public. 

The work of the freedom of information council, CCFOI, is a great place to start our discussion.

Council Chairman James Herbert Smith, a longtime editor at the Courant and several other Connecticut newspapers, is shown at right presenting to Thibault the group's annual award to a journalist whose work best fostered open government during the previous year.

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