Justice Integrity Project
A Republican presidential contender is talking up U.S. complicity in the rise of Al Qaeda and its more radical successor ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (shown in a photo) alleged during an interview on MSNBC. “And most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], which would have made ISIS's job even easier," he continued. "They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved — they loved [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it."
Separately, a 2012 memo released by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) suggests that the federal government at a minimum predicted that a group such as ISIS would arise in the Middle East.
Some critics go farther and argue that the memo suggests a sinister secret plan by a well-positioned authorities to create chaos in the Middle East by fostering ISIS. Why? To foster hidden foreign policy goals such as toppling Assad, hurting Iran, relieving threats to Israel, opening the way for a Qatar gas pipeline to Europe, and increasing U.S. arms sales and other military goals.
Meanwhile, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said he did not know who U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona met in the adjoining photo, taken when McCain traveled to Syria in 2013. Morell was responding to question by the Justice Integrity Project at his news conference May 11 to promote his memoir The Great War of Our Time, which analyzes the war against Islamic militants.
McCain, now chairman of the U.S. Armed Services Committee, was seeking then and now to boost U.S. military support for those opposing Assad's government. McCain has denied that he met ISIS leaders, as alleged by critics who have published the collage at right claiming that the man circled in red would become the top ISIS leader, "Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Morell is a 33-year veteran of the CIA who retired in 2013 after serving as deputy director and twice holding the temporary post of director. He is urrently the senior intelligence analyst at CBS News among other his other pursuits. He is shown at right in our photo from the session.
The public is left clueless when someone of his credentials punts on a tough question, as he did several times in his news conference broadcast by C-SPAN.
For example, the near-certainty of informed researchers (reflected also in public opinion polls) that the Warren Commission performed a cover-up of the full facts of President Kennedy's murder illuminates the dangerous possibilities within current disputes.
Attendees are primarily those with left and academic perspectives. Yet our project's research is non-partisan and prompts at least as many invitations from conservative broadcasters and audiences as from the left because every citizen needs better tools these days to understand the confusion widely disseminated on the biggest national issues.
For such reasons, this column continues is overview of current mysteries by quoting sources from the right, left and center below.
The U.S. foreign policy advocated by leaders of both major parties is experiencing serious setbacks in multiple nations, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Recent military losses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen exemplify a joint Obama/Bush foreign policy disaster with no easy solutions.
Peace advocate Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who gave daily security briefings to two presidents, published a call to action this week in his column How to Honor Memorial Day, illustrated by the adjoining photo of Arlington National Cemetery (Sebastian Fuss photo via flickr).
Iraq deserves special attention because its rationale was controversial from the start. Authorities sold their policy to the public with doctored intelligence and other systematic deceptions, such as the claim that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) threatening the United States.
Of all the recent wars, Iraq created the greatest loss of both American lives and Iraqi civilian deaths. Additionally, the war has drained the U.S. treasury, destabilized the entire region, and has diminished U.S. and allied moral authority and other stature. President George W. Bush is shown in a file photo of his iconic "Mission Accomplished" photo shoot in 2003 aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln, a premature victory celebration.
Professor Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, last year published 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity. The former CBS 60 Minutes producer showed more than 900 deceptions used by the Bush administration to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq. In compelling fashion, he charted the war as part of a larger American decline that includes the foreign policy establishment and watchdog institutions.
As a political angle, Jeb Bush and other war-backers claim "mistakes were made" because of "faulty intelligence" and Democratic failures to send more U.S. fighting forces and arms to the region.
That's bogus and not just because war-mongers doctored the intelligence themselves to stifle the truth. Additionally, wars built on deception never should have been started or continued for so long, especially especially in league with despotic regimes with goals incompatible with America's ideals.
Yet thought-leaders in the nation's capital -- including both parties, academia, media and of course the "Beltway Bandits" that profit from war contracts -- are overwhelmingly in favor of interventions abroad and more arms supplies. Many seek also renewed deployment of troops and mercenaries recruited from former military personnel.
On the ground, a series of military disasters have unfolded, as illustrated by such Washington Post headlines as Fall of Ramadi raises new questions about U.S. strategy in Iraq and Militants storm upscale area in Kabul, describing an attack on Afghanistan's capital city as the latest chapter in the longest war in U.S. history, begun in 2001.
A federal appeals court last week rejected former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s latest appeal, thus inflicting a devastating defeat upon those who seek a rule of law in the United States.
The misguided but unanimous ruling announced May 20 by the Atlanta-based court requires new and more aggressive political priorities by justice seekers nationwide who have long been appalled by one of America’s worst human rights abuses.
We need to recognize more publicly that the vaunted U.S. system can inflict injustice repeatedly with utter ruthlessness and impunity in selective political prosecutions and cover-ups.
Redress must go beyond polite court filings that omit the most important and sensitive allegations for fear of antagonizing already biased judges. For similar reasons, petition drives are fine but are likely to remain ineffective when relevant officials are determined to protect their peers' reputations by continuing to wreak injustice.
Naïve individuals believe the conventional wisdom that judicial and prosecutorial misconduct occurs only overseas, or else in isolated and corrupt U.S. localities.
Instead, certain prosecutions authorized at top federal levels are designed to ruin political enemies like Siegelman — his state’s most prominent Democrat during his 1999 to 2003 term and in the years shortly thereafter. An additional motive is to protect the reputations of important institutions, as in the cover-ups that have thwarted Siegelman, his co-defendants and many other victims around the nation.
As in the Siegelman case, opportunists within the Obama Justice Department illustrated their craven deference to the powerful by last week’s settlement announced by Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch of a criminal case against five major banks that bilked their customers of billions by manipulating trades. Details: Five big banks agree to pay more than $5 billion to settle regulatory charges.
For additional background, one need look no farther than the Obama administration's continued suppression of documents that could expose the real murderers of President Kennedy in 1963.
In 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison outlined that case with impressive logic that matched the common sense of the public then and now, as measured by public opinion polls showing majorities sometimes reaching 80 percent of those polled who have not believed the Warren Commission's finding that one man acting alone killed the president from behind. A look at Garrison's compelling video explanation here shows why the public is correct to disregard official statements about Kennedy's fate. Consider also how rare it is these days for court officials to address such vital topics candidly and courageously in the manner of Garrison.
In dozens of columns since 2009, this editor and the Justice Integrity Project have documented massive misconduct by the prosecution and judiciary in the Siegelman case alone, not counting similar patterns elsewhere.
Our revelations have also cited the comparable work by other researchers. Therefore, they comprise a mind-boggling record of legal misconduct and infliction of pseudo-legal suffering for political reasons on defendant families and their communities – all with scant corrective action by oversight institutions.
There is little point in repeating details, which can be found via the search function on this site and elsewhere, as well as via links below.
More important for now is to note in broad terms how the Obama and Bush Justice Departments and the federal court system have disgraced themselves. That harsh truth is a first step to the steps needed for reform.
What questions should reporters ask 2016 candidates?
The social media site “Linked in for Journalists” is posing that question to its 30,000 members about presidential candidates, but the concept is readily applicable to candidates seeking lower-level federal posts.
This exercise is worthwhile even though front-running candidates tend to avoid meaningful responses, especially given the ridicule prompted by the recent responses by Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio to inquiries about their views on Iraq.
Yet it’s useful for the rest of us to identify the best questions. We can then see, if nothing else, the gap between the typical campaign coverage and what really matters.
Bush and University of Nevada college student Ivy Ziedrich are shown after she challenged him during a campaign appearance in Reno last week. She made worldwide headlines by asking him about Iraq policy in ways few reporters have the gumption or opportunity to do.
My list below of suggested questions includes the usual core basics on jobs, health, war, and taxes.
Also, we should explore deeper historical and personal secrets, including those regarding a candidate’s taxes, health, religion, and money-making — all topics that candidates increasingly declare off-limits.
But with the stakes so high for the public, no one should be trusted who keeps secrets. Their silence becomes in effect a pledge of allegiance to their puppet masters — and not to voters.
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh continued his assault on the Obama administration's veracity this week with a 10,000-word column in the London Review of Books disputing major White House claims about a 2011 raid in Pakistan that purportedly killed Osama bin Laden.
The 42-month sentence imposed this week on former CIA case officer Jeffrey Sterling for leaking information to a New York Times reporter helps thwart public information about the powerful agency in a precedent extending beyond the CIA.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Alexandria, VA imposed the sentence May 11 on Sterling, 47, who was convicted at trial earlier this year of leaking information to reporter and author James Risen about the CIA plan "Operation Merlin" to send flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran. Sterling has denied leaking the information. The government won nine convictions at trial on a circumstantial case without Risen's testimony.
The Obama administration fought for years to convict Sterling of a spy charge. With convictions that included one for espionage, Sterling faced total potential penalties of nearly three centuries in prison, with the government urging a harsh sentence to deter future leakers. Realistically, the sentence would not likely have been more than twenty years at worst under sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender but prosecutors urged that Sterling's acts be considered multiple offenses.
Sterling's first public interview on the case can be seen in a video interview organized by Norman Solomon, executive director of ExposeFacts.org, entitled, The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower.
With seven spy prosecutions of officials and former officials who leaked to journalists, the administration has now indicted approximately double the number of leakers under the World War I-era law than all previous administrations combined, depending on whether the count begins with a World War II-era prosecution or, as most commentators calculate, with the prosecution of Vietnam War-era leaker Daniel Ellsberg. The difference, according to a Tampa Bay Times count, is 11 total prosecutions or 10, as reported here in CNN's Tapper: Obama has used Espionage Act more than all previous administrations.
Shown below is a round-up of news coverage and commentary.