November 2013 News Reports

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on November 4, 2013

Featured Commentary

 

New York Times, Photographers Protest White House Restrictions, Mark Landler, Nov. 21, 2013. A mutiny has erupted among photographers who cover President Obama over what they say is the White Barack Obama Malala Yousafzaip Malia 10_11_13 1.jpgHouse’s increasing practice of excluding them from events involving the president and then releasing its own photos or video.  A complaint has been filed with the press secretary, Jay Carney, over the increasing practice of excluding press photographers from events. On Thursday (Nov. 21), the White House Correspondents’ Association and 37 news organizations submitted a letter to the press secretary, Jay Carney, protesting what photographers said amounted to the establishment of the White House’s own Soviet-style news service, which gets privileged access to Mr. Obama at the expense of journalists who cover the president. The Obama administration has embraced social media as a way to get its message to the public beyond the traditional news media. Senior officials post tweets and blog items, while the chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, posts photos of the president on Facebook, Flickr and Instagram, often minutes after they are taken.

The letter cited seven recent examples of newsworthy events from which photographers were banned, including an outdoor lunch for Mr. Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, and a session in the Oval Office at which Malala Yousafzai, at right, a young Pakistani human rights campaigner, spoke with Mr. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their daughter Malia. Administration officials have said these were private meetings.

But in all of the cases, a White House photographer recorded the event and posted the pictures on Flickr or other social media sites. Major news organizations regularly publish the photos. “They’re excluding photographers from events at the White House, which is a problem in and of itself,” said Steve Thomma, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “But now they’re sending in their photographers and video crews and then releasing the photos and video. That sets up their own media operation.”  “The way they exclude us is to say that this is a very private moment,” said Doug Mills, a photographer for The New York Times who has covered the White House since the Reagan administration. “But they’re making private moments very public.” In a tense meeting late last month with Mr. Carney, Mr. Mills and other board members of the White House Correspondents’ Association showed a stack of photos that they said illustrated the problem.  “I said, ‘Jay, this is just like Tass,’ ” Mr. Mills said, referring to the Soviet state news agency. “It’s like government-controlled use of the public image of the president.” 

Editor's Choice: Scroll below to read the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for November 2013 

Other JIP Clips:

Nov. 30

Boiling Frogs, ‘Book Review -- Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney & Their Masters’ by Andrew Kreig, by Mark Mondalek, Nov. 30, 2013. The Enthralling Connections That Make “Viable” Presidency Candidates. I was in college when I first read President Obama’s 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father. It was just a little over a year after his inauguration and the book had been curiously assigned in an advanced nonfiction reading course featuring the works of Mark Twain, James Baldwin and George Orwell. A natural aversion to political memoirs undoubtedly left several literary-minded classmates feeling skeptical over the selected reading material, myself included. Not only was the 2008 election still very fresh in our minds, but we were additionally attending classes in Chicago at the time, the very city that had launched it. Many of us had been present for the beginning and the end of Obama’s historical march to the American throne, swept up into a frenzy of youthful optimism and “hope” as we lined the streets outside Grant Park for what seemed like miles on end just for the chance to hear him speak that previous November.

Nov. 29

Paul WarburgITimothy Geithnernstitute for Political Economy, The Money Changers Serenade: A New Plot Hatches, Paul Craig Roberts, Nov. 29, 2013. Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, right, a protege of Treasury Secretaries Rubin and Summers, has received his reward for continuing the Rubin-Summers-Paulson policy of supporting the “banks too big to fail” at the expense of the economy and American people. For his service to the handful of gigantic banks, whose existence attests to the fact that the Anti-Trust Act is a dead-letter law, Geithner has been appointed president and managing director of the private equity firm, Warburg Pincus and is on his way to his fortune. A Warburg in-law financed Woodrow Wilson’s presidential campaign. Part of the reward was Wilson’s appointment of Paul Warburg, left, to the first Federal Reserve Board. The symbiotic relationship between presidents and bankers has continued ever since. The same small clique continues to wield financial power. Geithner’s career is illustrative. In the 1980s, Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates. In the mid to late 1990s, Geithner served as a deputy assistant Treasury secretary. Under Rubin and Summers he moved up to undersecretary of the Treasury. From the Treasury he went to the Council on Foreign Relations and from there to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). From there he was appointed president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he worked to make banks more profitable by allowing higher ratios of debt to capital, thus contributing to the financial crisis. Geithner arranged the sale of the failed Wall Street firm of Bear Stearns, helped with the taxpayer bailout of AIG, and rejected saving Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy in order to create the crisis atmosphere needed to more fully subordinate US economic policy to the needs of the few large banks.

Huffington Post, Obama: 'Sasha Will Have A Big Say In Where We Are' After Leaving The White House, Paige Lavender, Nov. 29, 2013. President Barack Obama said his daughter Sasha will have a big say on where the family lives after leaving the White House in 2016. Sasha, the president's youngest daughter, will be a sophomore in high school in 2016. Obama said the family would take her education into account before deciding whether to stay in Washington, D.C. or move back to Chicago, where they previously lived. "You know we gotta make sure that she's doing well... until she goes off to college,” Obama told ABC's Barbara Walters. “Sasha will have a big say in where we are.” The president and First Lady Michelle Obama sat down with Walters for an interview airing Friday on "20/20." In their first joint interview this year, the couple opened up about life in the White House, including the security provided by the Secret Service 50 years after President John F. Kennedy's death.

Nov. 26

Barack Obama Departs for Seattle Nov. 25, 2013Barack Obama and White House at May 2, 2011 observation of Bin Laden RaidWashington Post, Is the Obama White House airbrushing history? Dana Milbank, Nov. 26, 2013. It was a hallmark of the Stalin era: Fallen Soviet leaders vanished from official photographs. Nobody accuses President Obama of such subterfuge (well, nobody except for those who believe he forged his birth certificate), but a change in longtime practice in the White House has raised questions about the integrity of images Americans see of their president. The White House has increasingly excluded news photographers from Obama’s official events and is instead releasing images taken by in-house photographers, who are government employees. These photos often appear online and in newspapers, even though they lack the same standards of authenticity that govern those taken by photojournalists.

Editor's Note:  The issue represents a serious job threat to financially pressed news organizations and their staffs who increasingly compete with taxpayer-funded news photos and distribution, such as the photo at left available on the White House site with this caption:  "On a foggy morning, President Barack Obama waves from Air Force One as he gets ready to depart Seattle, Wash., Nov. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)." Above right is a White House photo of May 2, 2011 announced as showing top administration officials observing a video of a raid killing Osama bin Laden. Press photographers would not ordinarily be invited to such a gathering but line-drawing short of that remains an issue. By contrast, see the extent of photos taken by private media sources during 1960 assassination coverage of the Kennedys, for example: Boston Globe, Photos of Robert F. Kennedy, Nov. 24, 2013.

Huffington Post, Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit 'Radicalizers,' Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher and Ryan Grim, Nov. 26, 2013. The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, right, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority. The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues. Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

Boston Globe, A ruling on terrorism that throttles civil liberties, Harvey Silverglate and Juliana DeVries, Nov. 26, 2013. On November 13th the United States Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed the conviction of young Sudbury pharmacology student Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna was convicted on charges of rendering “material support” to terrorism – a dangerously broad and vague provision of the Patriot Act – though nothing Mehanna did came close to posing actual danger. In our op-ed for the Boston Globe, my paralegal Juliana DeVries and I argue that the tragic Mehanna verdict was made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The Humanitarian Law Project decision opened the door for federal prosecutors to criminalize a wide range of previously protected expressive activities, such as those in which Mehanna engaged.

Stone Zone, Why Did Dan Rather Lie About JFK's Assassination, Nov. 26, 2013. Dan Rather, a fixture as head anchor on the CBS Evening News for many years, was not invited to participate in CBS News' 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination broadcast on Nov. 22. CBS has was right to keep their distance from Rather, the affective media figure responsible for the most counterfactual news report in the hours after the Kennedy assassination. Rather, at the time a green newscaster who worked at a Texas television station, earned his stripes with the Kennedy assassination but did so at the price of the truth. Rather was the only reporter to view the Zapruder film the day after the assassination. In this situation, he was an all-important set of eyes from the fourth estate, a voice the public could trust. He issued an erroneous, purposely falsified statement concerning the film. Following the final shot, the head of Kennedy in Rather's angled report "went forward with considerable violence," a description that anyone with eyesight in the fifty years following the assassination would find to be a blatant lie.

Richard Charnin JFK Blog Posts, JFK Witness Deaths: Graphical Proof of a Conspiracy, Richard Charnin, Oct. 14 updated Nov. 26, 2013. This post is updated for the latest data, analysis and graphics from the JFK Calc Spreadsheet/database of Unnatural and Suspicious Deaths. Mortality rates used for expected deaths and probabilities are from InfoPlease.com. Assuming that 1400+ material witnesses were connected to the assassination, then based on annual mortality rates for major causes of death, 214 deaths were expected in the 1964-78 period (196 natural and 18 unnatural). But there were at least 85 unnatural deaths (50 homicides, 8 suicides, 24 accidents, 3 unknown). The probability of these unnatural deaths is E-73 (1 in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion). The probability is still ZERO (E-61) assuming 78 official unnatural deaths.

Atlantic.Live, Washington Ideas Forum, Staff video, Published Nov. 26, 2013 regarding two-day event Nov. 13-14.  In a partnership between the Atlantic, the Aspen Institute, and the Newseum, the fifth annual Washington Ideas Forum gathered an audience of over 1,400 across two and half days of distinctive social events, main stage plenary sessions, and curated breakout meetings, further cementing its distinct reputation as DC's destination for fostering creative thinking about critical issues by some of the most newsworthy figures of our day. To watch highlights of the event and read coverage of the program's conversations, visit theAtlantic.com's dedicated Special Report, excerpted below in an opening session featuring United States Trade Representative Michael Froman with the Atlantic’s James Fallows.

Memory Hole, Jeremy Scahill Attacks Alex Jones, James F. Tracy, Nov. 26, 2013. Progressive-left media icon Jeremy Scahill told a caller to C-SPAN’s Book TV that Austin Texas talk show host Alex Jones is a “lunatic” and a significant detriment to “real journalism that journalists are doing.” Scahill was asked who he thought represented “the most legimate … form of journalism” – Jones or Amy Goodman. The writer then proceeded to call Jones an “absolute, die-hard lunatic, and to even mention him in the same sentence as Amy Goodman is an incredible insult to Amy Goodman [sic].”  The progressive author’s outburst begs the question, What exactly is “real journalism”? What are the characteristics of “alternative media”? Who has a legitimate claim to that mantle? And, what broader interests do attacks like these serve? This arguably has far less to do with journalistic legitimacy and a sincere regard for truth than it does with the less-apparent forces that seek to define political debate – and division.

Alex Jones / Prison Planet.com, Is Scahill aiming to impress the mainstream media? Paul Joseph Watson, Nov. 26, 2013. Journalist Jeremy Scahill’s attempt to ingratiate himself with the foundation-funded left-wing establishment betrayed itself in an ugly fashion during an appearance on C-SPAN when Scahill labeled Alex Jones “an absolute diehard insane lunatic.” Accusing Jones of peddling “outrageous and ridiculous conspiracy theories,” Scahill charged that Jones was, “pushing outright lies and propaganda on a regular basis,” that served to subvert “real journalism.” Scahill even found time to throw in a “tinfoil hat” jibe as he appeared visibly angry. Is Scahill trying for a job with the mainstream media? The journalist’s ad hominem slurs against Jones sound incredibly familiar – probably because you’ve heard them a million times before being parroted by the likes of MSNBC and CNN, networks on which Scahill is increasingly appearing as a guest.

Nov. 25

Boston Globe, Troves of files on JFK assassination remain secret, Bryan Bender, Nov. 25, 2013. As the nation marks the anniversary of JFK’s murder, there is a new push, including lawsuits filed under the Freedom of Information Act, to shake loose these and other classified materials that may shed light on one of the most unsettled debates of modern history: Was the murder of the nation’s 35th president the work of a lone assassin or a conspiracy, and did elements of the US government know about it, or cover it up, or knowingly destroy evidence to prevent other dirty laundry from being aired? “A lot of questions remain,” said John R. Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota who chaired the Assassination Records Review Board, which oversaw the review and disclosure of some five million records related to the JFK assassination in the 1990s. “We only put a few pieces of the puzzle together. Lots of the jigsaw is missing.” The National Archives and Records Administration, which is tasked with working with the agencies that originally generated the files, reports that some 1,100 distinct documents that Tunheim and his team did not have access to remain shielded from public view.

Talking Points Memo, Watching the Kennedy Assassination, Josh Marshall, Nov. 25, 2013. I'm almost 45. So I've been watching Kennedy Assassination commemorations my whole life. 50th is a big anniversary -- certainly the last big symbolic number when any of the players in the drama will still be alive. But this one was entirely different and unique for me in a way I did not at all expect and in a way that was not entirely tied to the significance of the 50th anniversary milestone itself.  For people like me (and the great majority of the population), the Kennedy assassination is part of the landscape of our public memory. There was never a time when it didn't happen. It's a given as much as the Civil War or the air.

Washington Post, Afghan accord near collapse due to new demands, Tim Craig and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 25, 2013. Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of all U.S. forces at the end of 2014.

Washington Post, Julian Assange unlikely to face U.S. charges over publishing classified documents, Sari Horwitz, Nov. 25, 2013. The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.

Washington Post, Among U.S. workers, unprecedented anxiety, Tankersley and Scott Clement, Nov. 25, 2013. Fears about jobs and the economy are high, a poll shows, especially among lower-income Americans.

Washington Post, CIA remains behind most drone strikes, despite effort to shift campaign to Defense, Greg Miller, Nov. 25, 2013. The White House vision of shifting responsibility for the drone strikes to the military remains a distant goal.

WhoWhatWhy, In Jailhouse Interview, Alabama Blogger Says He Won't Budge, David J. Krajicek, Nov. 25, 2013. In his first press interview since he was jailed a month ago, Alabama journalist Roger Shuler tells WhoWhatWhy that he will stay put behind bars rather than give in to a judge's "unlawful" order that he scrub his blog of unseemly stories about a former governor's son. Shuler called the court proceedings "worse than a joke." A day later, he got indirect support from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote in a withering dissent that "Alabama stands alone" with its highly politicized judiciary.

Johnn F. Kennedy Looking UpVoice of Russia, JFK: One fact is true, the Warren Commission got it wrong, John Robles interview of Andrew Kreig, Nov. 21, 2013 (Published Nov. 25). People who knew Lee Harvey Oswald and even Oswald himself, maintain to this day that he was just the fall guy for the Kennedy assassination. Although the Warren Commission concluded that the assassination was carried out by a lone shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, all of the evidence points to at least three. Even the fact that the three shots in six seconds came from different locations and that the bolt action rifle Oswald had had a defective sight and could not have physically been reloaded fast enough to fire three shots in six seconds did not stop the Warren Commission from blaming Oswald. One fact that all scholars and investigators seem to be able to agree on [from the community critical of the Warren Commission] is that some aspects or actors in all of the possible theories may have worked together to assassinate JFK. Just a few moments ago I met Judyth Baker. She is here at this conference. It's interesting that if you dig down people like his widow and Judyth Baker and his mother before she died, they believe he was a patsy just like he said.

WMR, Zero mainstream media coverage of Oswald memorial service, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 25, 2013. (Subscription required. Excerpted with permission.) On a gray and bitterly cold Sunday afternoon, a group of about twenty John F. Kennedy assassination researchers joined Judyth Varyn Baker, the girlfriend of CIA and FBI informant Lee Harvey Oswald, framed for the assassination of Kennedy, at Rose Hill Memorial Cemetery in Fort Worth for a brief service. November 25 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Oswald by the mob and CIA-connected Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby while under law enforcement escort at the Dallas police station.

Boston Globe, Troves of files on JFK assassination remain secret, Nov. 25, 2013. Judge John R. Tunheim served as chairman of the US Assassination Records Review Board, an independent federal agency in charge of declassifying government records of the Kennedy assassination. US District Court District of Minnesota Judge John R. Tunheim served as chairman of the US Assassination Records Review Board, an independent federal agency in charge of declassifying government records of the Kennedy assassination.

Nov. 24

Barack Obama, John Kerry, Susan Rice, Phil Gordon Nov. 22, 2013Washington Post, Iran, world powers reach historic nuclear deal, Anne Gearan and Joby Warrick, Nov. 24, 2013. The agreement halts progress at Iran’s major nuclear facilities, eases some sanctions. At left, President Obama discusses foreign affairs with Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice as aide Phil Gordon looks on (White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Huffington Post, Filibuster Reform: The Stakes for 2014, Robert Kuttner, Nov. 24, 2013. The Senate Democrats' long-deferred success in reforming the filibuster rule for executive branch and judicial appointments will have reverberations that are only gradually being appreciated. Not only will 76 long-blocked appointments -- a record -- now go forward in short order. Obama, if he chooses, will be able to appoint more robust progressives. One of the best pieces of news in the filibuster story was the report that Obama personally got into the act, working the phones to help enlist the last few Democratic votes for reform. This may bode well for more hands-on leadership by a president whose trademark has been reticence.

Washington Post, More military surplus equipment going to local police, Michael Virtanen, Nov. 24, 2013. ACLU fears local law enforcements are becoming too militarized; officers say gear helps to protect their forces.

Boston Globe, Robert F. Kennedy saw conspiracy in JFK’s assassination, Bryan Bender and Neil Swidey, Nov. 24, 2013. Robert F. Kennedy took on some of the Kennedy Administration’s hardest tasks, ones that created dangerous foes, and after the assassination, RFK wondered if one of them had done it. In the five years between his brother’s murder and his own assassination in 1968, Bobby Kennedy voiced public support for the findings of the Warren Commission, namely that a pathetic, attention-seeking gunman had alone been responsible for the murder of President Kennedy. Privately, though, Bobby was dismissive of the commission, seeing it, in the words of his former press secretary, as a public relations tool aimed at placating a rattled populace. When the chairman of the commission, Chief Justice Earl Warren, personally wrote to the attorney general, asking for any information to suggest that a “domestic or foreign conspiracy” was behind his brother’s assassination, Bobby scrawled a note to an aide, asking, “What do I do?” Then, after stalling for two months, he sent along a legalistic reply saying there was nothing in the Justice Department files to suggest a conspiracy. He made no mention of the hunches that appeared to be rattling around in his own mind. See also: Boston Globe, Photos of Robert F. Kennedy, Nov. 24, 2013.

National Press Club, The Stress, Doubts and Resolve of Covering the Kennedy Assassination, Gil Klein, Nov. 24, 2013. Dan Rather, a young reporter for CBS News, was the first to report that President Dan Rather and Marvin Kalb at National Press Club (Noel St. John Photo)John F. Kennedy was dead. Through the prism of a half-century since President Kennedy’s assassination, two veteran CBS correspondents who were reporting that day –- Rather in Dallas and Marvin Kalb in Washington –- examined Friday on “The Kalb Report” what happened that day and its impact on the nation. The program took place on the actual anniversary of the assassination, and hundreds of people crowded into the ballroom to watch. Kalb, right in the photo by Noel St. John, noted that while CBS Radio News ran with Rather’s report, CBS Television News and Walter Cronkite waited 12 or 15 minutes for the official report before announcing it to the nation. Despite all of the books, movies and television shows that have conjured conspiracy theories about the assassination, both Rather and Kalb believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy. “No one has convinced me there was a conspiracy,” Rather said. “This is America. We love to doubt as well as to know. My own belief is that beyond a reasonable doubt, there was one shooter and one gun. I think Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter.” But what was the first thought that popped in your mind when Jack Ruby shot Oswald? Kalb asked. “Incredible, almost unbelievable that the assassin has been assassinated in the police department; you couldn’t make this up,” Rather said. “I understand the doubts about Ruby. He was a local nightclub operator known to police. He had some Mafia connections. “But if the Mafia were looking for a hit man, I would suggest that Ruby would be one of the last people,” he said. “But there are hundreds of books that take a different view.”

Nov. 22

At right, President and First Lady Kennedy are shown driving through downtown Dallas 50 years previously in their fatal motorcade on Nov. 22 fifty years previously. (Photo by Walt Cisco via Creative JFK with Jackie in car Creative Commons from Walt CiscoCommons license and Wikipedia.)

OpEdNews, The Kennedy Assassination 50 Years Later, Paul Craig Roberts, Nov. 22, 2013.The true story of JFK's murder has never been officially admitted, although the conclusion that JFK was murdered by a plot involving the Secret Service, the CIA,nd the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been well established by years of research, such as that provided by James W. Douglass in his book, JFK And The Unspeakable, published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. Ignore Douglass' interest in the Trappist monk Thomas Merton and Merton's prediction and focus on the heavily documented research that Douglass provides. Or just turn to the contemporary films, taken by tourists watching JFK's motorcade that are available on YouTube, which show clearly the Secret Service pulled from President Kennedy's limo just prior to his assassination, and the Zapruder film that shows the killing shot to have come from President Kennedy's right front, blowing off the back of his head, not from the rear as postulated in the Warren Commission Report, which would have pushed his head forward, not rearward. I am not going to write about the assassination to the extent that the massive information permits. Those who want to know already know. Those who cannot face the music will never be able to confront the facts regardless of what I or anyone else writes or reveals.

The Real News Network, Vietnam and the Legacy of the JFK Presidency, Paul Jay, Nov. 22, 2013. November 22 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We’re going to take a look at the significance of his presidency, his accomplishments, and/or lack thereof. Joining us to kick off our discussion about Kennedy is Peter Kuznick. He’s a professor of history and director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. He’s cowriter of the ten-part Showtime series called Untold History of the United States with Oliver Stone.

Boston Review, Exit Strategy: In 1963, JFK ordered a complete withdrawal from Vietnam, James K. Galbraith, Nov. 22, 2013. Forty years have passed since November 22, 1963, yet painful mysteries remain. What, at the moment of his death, was John F. Kennedy's policy toward Vietnam? It's one of the big questions, alternately evaded and disputed over four decades of historical writing. It bears on Kennedy's reputation, of course, though not in an unambiguous way. And today, larger issues are at stake as the United States faces another indefinite military commitment that might have been avoided and that, perhaps, also cannot be won. The story of Vietnam in 1963 illustrates for us the struggle with policy failure. More deeply, appreciating those distant events tests our capacity as a country to look the reality of our own history in the eye.

JFK Executive Committee Meeting, Cuban Missile Crisis, Oct. 29, 1962, Wikimedia CommonsHarvard Political Review, All The President’s Wise Men, Wright Smith, November 22, 2013. President Kennedy meets with the Executive Committee during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Photo: Wikipedia Commons). David Halberstam opened his seminal work on the policy debate of the Vietnam War, The Best and the Brightest, with a description of a small meeting held by President-Elect Kennedy with Republican business executive Robert Lovett. Lovett, who had served as Secretary of Defense to President Truman, recommended the names of several people to Kennedy. This group included Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and McGeorge Bundy, the men who would become the chief foreign policy advisers to the new President. This meeting was the first overture by Kennedy to the nebulous group of mainly East Coast financiers, lawyers, and diplomats who had dominated American Cold War foreign policy. The group, which has been famously called “The Establishment,” included some of the foremost Cold Warriors, such as President Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and Ambassadors Averell Harriman, Charles Bohlen, and George Kennan. In The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas describe them as diverse of opinion, but sharing a broad commitment to internationalism, American leadership, and containment of communism. It was a bipartisan group, comprising Republicans such as Lovett and Democrats such as Harriman.

Nov. 21

Forbes, 4 Essential Books On JFK's Assassination, Cedric Muhammad, Nov. 21, 2013. For over 20 years I have studied the assassination and have come to believe that the American electorate’s persistent majority belief in more than one shooter and in a conspiracy is rooted as much in a gnawing sense that the President of the United States is not the supreme authority in the land (no matter how many insist on calling POTUS ‘the must powerful man in the world,’) as anything else. It is this sense that unseen persons and powers operate above and outside of elected authority which undergirds the passionate insistence that more than one shooter is responsible for what happened on November 22, 1963. That such ‘outlaw’ elite authorities are apolitical and never abusive of their unbridled power is nonsense, the electorate is sure. In that light there are 4 books that I have found to be essential in order to better understand this phenomenon:

No. 1: Understanding Special Operations And Their Impact On The Vietnam War Era. This book is an in-depth 1989 interview of L. Fletcher Prouty compiled by David T. Ratcliffe. It is extremely difficult to locate with rare versions costing in the hundreds of dollars so it is wonderful that an easy-to-read free online version  is available. The book with painstaking detail documents the period between 1941 to 1963 – essential to understanding the relationship between the military and intelligence communities.

Washington Post, A plaza called Dealey: The birthplace of the JFK mystery that will never die, Joel Achenbach, Nov. 21, 2013. The official story, first promulgated by the Warren Commission, describes the assassination as the act of one man. The Oswald-acting-alone narrative is a small one, and kind of meaningless. The assassination, in this telling of events, was an unlucky alignment of the stars. Which suggests that history can pivot more or less randomly. There is a special terror in that — the notion that huge things can happen for no good reason.

Nov. 20

At left, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Clinton at JFK Gravesite on Nov. 20, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary at JFK gravesite Nov. 20, 2013

Info Wars, JFK 50th Anniversary: Fight For Free Speech, City of Dallas attempts to crush First Amendment, Paul Joseph Watson, Nov. 20, 2013. Authorities in Dallas, Texas are attempting to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy by censoring the First Amendment, cordoning off huge areas of the city and prohibiting anyone who disagrees with the official narrative from entering Dealy Plaza. The city banned filming and the display of signs in the Dealy Plaza area, but under threat of lawsuits by groups such as COPA, authorities have caved to numerous concessions like allowing the handing out of leaflets and t-shirts, and hanging banners, although only in designated areas.

Rolling Stone, John F. Kennedy's Vision of Peace, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Nov. 20, 2013. On the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, his nephew recalls the fallen president's attempts to halt the war machine, Today it's fashionable to view the quagmire of Vietnam as a continuum beginning under Eisenhower and steadily escalating through the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. But JFK was wary of the conflict from the outset and determined to end U.S. involvement at the time of his death. In JFK's first months in office, the Pentagon asked him to deploy ground troops into Vietnam. JFK agreed to send another 500 advisers, under the assumption that South Vietnam had a large army and would be able to defend itself against communist aggression. He refused to send ground troops but would eventually commit 16,500 advisers – fewer troops than he sent to Mississippi to integrate Ole Miss – who were technically forbidden from engaging in combat missions. He told New York Times columnist Arthur Krock in 1961 that the United States should not involve itself "in civil disturbances created by guerrillas." On November 24th, 1963, two days after JFK died, Lyndon Johnson met with South Vietnam Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, whom JFK had been on the verge of firing. LBJ told Lodge, "I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the president who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went." Over the next decade, nearly 3 million Americans, including many of my friends, would enter the paddies of Vietnam, and 58,000, including my cousin George Skakel, would never return. Dulles, fired by JFK after the Bay of Pigs, returned to public service when LBJ appointed him to the Warren Commission, where he systematically concealed the agency's involvement in various assassination schemes and its ties to organized crime. To a young writer, he revealed his continued resentment against JFK: "That little Kennedy . . . he thought he was a god."

FireDogLake, Competence Matters Above All Else, Jon Walker, Nov. 20, 2013. It was simply unrealistic to put the success of Obamacare in the hands of GOP governors who opposed it. What is more important than ideology, good ideas or smart plans in a leader is basic competence. This is why the terrible roll out of the Affordable Care Act has been so damaging to President Obama. Democrats had free reign to write any health care law without needing to make any concession to Republicans. The Obama administration then had over three years to work on implementing their plan. Yet they failed miserably. Obama is either such a bad manager he really didn’t bother to learn about these problems with his signature law until after it launched or he knowingly lied to the American people about the Healthcare.gov being ready. Neither looks good. Some Democrats have tried to shift the blame to Republican governors for not helping Obama implement his law, but even that is an indirect admission of Obama’s incompetence. Republicans made it very clear in 2010 that they adamantly opposed the law.

Huffington Post, GOP Congressman Trey Radel Sentenced To 1-Year Probation For Cocaine Possession, Ryan Reilly, Nov. 20, 2013.Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on Wednesday and was sentenced to one-year probation. In a covert operation on Oct. 29, an undercover police officer sold Radel 3.5 grams of cocaine for $250 at an unidentified restaurant near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. Radel was targeted after confidential sources informed officers that Radel had purchased cocaine on several occasions, and that he sometimes would provide cocaine to others.

Washington Review of Books, The Kennedy Library (Part I), Ronald Goldfarb, Nov. 20, 2013. Today's commentary is the first of two parts in Ronald Goldfarb’s review of the vast Kennedy literature prompted by the 50th anniversary of his death. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was president for less than one term, but more books have been written (along with documentaries and movies) about him, his wife, his father, his brothers, his family, his lovers, than any other president in U.S. history except for Abraham Lincoln. (One estimate – 40,000.) And not only are there shelves of books about all parts of his life, an expansive library of books examine his tragic death in Dallas. Since 2013 is the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, every publisher seems to have some book to commemorate JFK in November.  This edition of CapitaLetters will discuss some of the many books on JFK’s life and career. Next week, I will review more of the assassination literature.

DeSmog Blog via FireDogLake, Fracking Lobby’s Tax Forms: Big Bucks to Media, “Other ALECs,” Democratic PR Firms, Steve Horn, Nov. 20, 2013.  1America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA)- the public relations arm of the oil and gas fracking industry – has released its2012 Internal Revenue Services (IRS) 990 form, and it’s rich with eye-opening revelations, some of which we report here for the first time.

Nov. 19

Shelby CourthouseLegal Schnauzer, Nov. 14 Court Hearing in Legal Schnauzer First Amendment Case Results in "Final Order," Carol Shuler, Nov. 19, 2013. The Nov. 14 "Permanent Injunction" hearing in the Legal Schnauzer first amendment case was carried out under murky circumstances and held at a secretive location, which served to keep it from the disapproving eyes of a concerned public. However the telephone interview with Roger Shuler filled in many details of what transpired during this kangaroo court proceeding. This bizarre hearing subsequently resulted in a "Final Order" that we received in the U.S. mail sometime over the weekend. Ironically, this "Final Order" proves that we could not have possibly been expected to be in attendance at the Petitions for Preliminary Injunctions as the hearing itself was also held on September 29, 2013. This was the exact same day as the bogus traffic stop where Officer DeHart testified under oath that our unlawful so-called service of the civil suit took place. This traffic stop was in the parking lot of the Shelby County Library on September 29, 2013, and yet the hearing for the Preliminary Injunction was also held on September 29, 2013 per this court's "final order" which states as follows: "Just as it did at the September 29, 2013 hearing on the Petitions for Preliminary Injunction, the Court finds that Petitioners have demonstrated that the Respondents have published false, defamatory and libelous statements concerning Petitioners on Respondents' website, Legal Schnauzer." The "final order" also grants the Petitioners exorbitant attorney's fees in the amounts of $24,425 for Riley and $9,450 for Duke. Pretty steep attorney's fees for a case that only lasted a grand total of six weeks!

Stone Zone, Robert Caro Sins By Omission, Roger Stone, Nov. 19, 2013. I have been asked again and again how Lyndon Johnson's definitive biographer Robert Caro could have missed LBJ's role in an assassination plot. Author Robert Caro wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning four-volume biography of Johnson. In this masterful work, Caro accurately depicts LBJ as an amoral psychopath. Caro's vivid portrait of Johnson shows LBJ's corruption to be of biblical proportions and correctly portrays Johnson as crude, vicious, vindictive, unprincipled, abusive, promiscuous and usually drunk. Yet, Caro's masterful biography is flawed. There were two enormous scandals surrounding LBJ in the fall of 1963. One involved Secretary of the Senate, Bobby Baker, once described by Johnson as "my strong right arm" and the other involved the Texas wheeler-dealer, Billie Sol Estes. A review of news coverage of both scandals reveals substantially more column inches dedicated to coverage of the Billy Sol Estes scandal, yet nowhere in his biography does Caro even mention Sol Estes. Then there is the question of Malcolm Mac Wallace, described by Madeleine Brown as LBJ's "hatchet man". Like Lee Harvey Oswald Malcolm Wallace is a Marine marksman. Robert Caro knows of Malcolm 'Mac' Wallace, and knows his ties to LBJ's sister. He knows the Kinser murder involved a man, John Douglas Kinser, who was blackmailing LBJ with things he learned from the future president's sister, with whom Kinser enjoyed an intimate relationship. Caro knows Wallace worked at a USDA patronage job arranged by LBJ when he murdered Kinser. Caro also knows LBJ camped out at a nearby hotel awaiting Wallace's trial, and that Wallace was convicted of murder and sentenced to a 5 year suspended sentence. Caro knows every other person convicted of murder in that year 1952 in Texas went to the electric chair. Caro has been a paid consultant to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas as has "Historians" Robert Dallek, Douglas Brinkley and Doris Kearns Goodwin -- a stunning literary conflict of interest for an objective biographer. Shame!  If Caro accurately reported this he would not have a Pulitzer, could not cash the checks for the millions his four-volume bio has generated, not be invited to the best cocktail parties in Manhattan and not have his ass kissed by The New York Times. Sadly, Caro chose fame and fortune over truth; he should be stripped of his Pulitzer Prize.

Nov. 18

New York Times, Alabama Judges Retain the Right to Override Juries in Capital Sentencing, Adam Liptak, Nov 18, 2013. The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to an unusual Alabama capital-sentencing practice that has sent 95 defendants to death row despite jury determinations calling for life sentences. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined for the most part by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, issued a 17-page dissent of the court’s refusal to hear the case. Alabama now stands alone, she said, in routinely allowing judges to override determinations from capital juries calling for leniency.  The case, Woodward v. Alabama, No. 13-5380, concerned Mario D. Woodward, who was convicted of killing Keith Houts, a police officer. By an 8-to-4 vote, the jury recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The trial judge rejected the recommendation and condemned Mr. Woodward to death.

Shelby Country Sheriff Logo

Legal Schnauzer, Legal Schnauzer Discusses his First Amendment Case from Jail and the Bizarre Nov. 14 Court Hearing, Nov. 18, 2013. On Friday, we provided a brief update on the Nov. 14 hearing on "permanent injunctions" in the Legal Schnauzer first amendment case. And not surprisingly, it was indeed a kangaroo court, though possibly even worse than we had anticipated. We reported that Shelby County Courthouse officials turned away the majority of the people who attempted to appear at the mysterious and strange proceedings by claiming it was closed to the public. However, some supporters were able to gain access to the previously undisclosed location. I was not present at this hearing, but I did interview Roger Shuler by phone who revealed some alarming details. Some key highlights are as follows:

1. Roger Shuler--shackled at the ankles, waist and wrist--was led by four sheriff deputies from the jail to the courthouse. Once in the courtroom, he remained shackled throughout the duration of the hearing even when speaking and attempting to question the opposing counsel who was under oath.
2. The court and the other side were livid about the widespread media coverage of their unconstitutional courtroom circus and shenanigans. Apparently, they believe they have total control of the press all over the entire world and not just here at Legal Schnauzer. They should be free to break the law with reckless abandon and trample the U.S. Constitution without shame and all global media outlets should simply turn a blind eye to their misdeeds.
3. The court and the other side blamed me, Mrs. Schnauzer, for the media coverage and threatened me with arrest.
4. Roger Shuler told the court he had no way to remove anything from the blog while still in jail in order to comply with their unconstitutional injunction. The court simply said that was his problem and in essence that he would be in jail indefinitely.
5. The court and the other side threatened us with monetary sanctions.
6. The other side never requested a struck jury upon the filing of the underlying alleged "defamation" case. This means it is a bench trial and the final outcome will be decided by the judge only.
7. The other side filed a motion to remove the seal on the underlying alleged "defamation" case.

Huffington Post, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, JFK's Niece, Questions If Lee Harvey Oswald Acted Alone, Paige Lavender, Nov. 17, 2013. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor and niece of the late President John F. Kennedy, admitted she doesn't know if Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Townsend appeared on Fox News Sunday with Patrick Kennedy to discuss the anniversary of JFK's assassination and their memories of the late president. "I don't know, I don't know," Kennedy Townsend said when asked if Oswald acted alone. "I think, I don't know." Kennedy Townsend isn't the first to express skepticism over the true story behind Kennedy's assassination. Though he's now refusing to talk about the conspiracy, Secretary of State John Kerry has said he has "serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone." But belief in a conspiracy over who killed the president is slipping. According to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, a clear majority of Americans still suspect there was a conspiracy behind Kennedy's assassination, but the percentage who believe accused shooter Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone is at its highest level since the mid-1960s.

FireDogLake, The Obamacare Disaster and the Poison of Party Loyalty, Norman Solomon, Nov. 18, 2013. Four years ago, countless Democratic leaders and allies pushed for passage of Barack Obama’s complex healthcare act while arguing that his entire presidency was at stake. The party hierarchy whipped the Congressional Progressive Caucus into line, while MoveOn and other loyal groups stayed in step along with many liberal pundits. Today, in terms of healthcare policy, the merits and downsides of Obamacare deserve progressive debate. But at this point there’s no doubt it’s a disaster in political terms — igniting the Mad Hatter Tea Party’s phony populism, heightening prospects for major right-wing electoral gains next year and propagating the rancid notion that the government should stay out of healthcare. At this pivotal, historic, teachable moment, progressives should not leave the messaging battle about the ACA to right wingers and Obama loyalists. While critiquing the law for its entanglement with the profit-voracious insurance industry, we should fight for quality healthcare for everyone — definitely including the people who live in states where right-wing officials are blocking expansion of Medicaid coverage.

National Press Club, Steinem Urges Audience to 'Get Mad,' Vote, Read, and Have Fun, Lorna Aldrich, Nov. 18, 2013.  Feminist Gloria Steinem, co-founder of New York and MS. magazines urged the audience at a Nov. 18 National Press Club Luncheon to "get mad" about continuing social inequities, vote -- particularly for state legislators, educate themselves by reading feminist books and have fun while they're doing all of it. If at the "end of the revolution" the women's movement wants to have "dancing, laughter and friendship and work that we love" those things have to come along the way, she said. Steinem, the first woman Luncheon speaker after women were admitted to the Club in 1971 does not "have the faintest idea" what she did with the man's tie she received as a gift afterward and "doesn't care," but said it made her feel "free to say outrageous things."

Nov. 16

OpEdNews, Alabama Kangaroo Court Parades Blogger in Chains, Continues Indefinite Jailing, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 16, 2013. Alabama authorities last week paraded in shackles the liberal pundit Roger Shuler into a secret court. There he was denounced for the scattered news coverage that reported about his jailing for contempt of court in a libel case. The court forced defendant Roger Shuler, 56, to listen to the diatribe and argue his defense while handcuffed and shackled at his ankles and waist, according to an account by his wife.

Boston Globe, 50 years later: Wound is still fresh from JFK assassination, Katharine Whittemore, Nov. 16, 2013. "Some 40,000 books [are] out there about John F. Kennedy, plus a new bunch tied to the 50th anniversary of his assassination." This 50th anniversary, of course, has brought forth yet more new books about Oswald. Dallas, 1963 (Twelve, 2013) fascinated me most, because it showcases an extremism all too relevant to our time. Authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis give us a city that voted against JFK 2 to 1, a place the president called “nut country,” where the far-right “National Indignation Convention” had just been held, and visitors like Adlai Stevenson, LBJ, and Ladybird had been encircled and attacked by mobs weeks before the Kennedys landed at Love Field.

Washington Post, Health-care law has changed game for Democrats in 2014, Ed O’Keefe and Paul Kane, Nov. 16, 2013. The party had hoped to capitalize on the political fallout for Republicans from the government shutdown, but the health-care law has taken center stage.

Barack Obama and Health CEOsAt left, President Barack Obama holds an Affordable Care Act meeting with health insurance company CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Washington Post, 1 in 5 may not be able to enroll on HealthCare.gov, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, Nov. 16, 2013. The administration is hoping 80 percent of people going to HealthCare.gov will manage to enroll electronically by a Nov. 30 deadline for fixing the Web site.

Washington Post, Game over? Obama’s health-care fumble could be decisive, Nov. 16, 2013. There may well be enough time to salvage Obamacare.  But on the broader question of whether Obama can rebuild an effective presidency after this debacle, it’s starting to look as if it may be game over.

Washington Post, Geithner to join private equity firm Warburg Pincus, David Koenig, Nov. 16, 2013. Former Treasury secretary, who led U.S. response to the financial crisis, will advise firm on strategy, investing.  Former U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, who played a central role in the government’s response to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, is joining private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The firm announced Saturday that Geithner will become its president and managing director starting March 1.

Washington Post, Turkey confronts policy missteps on Syria with rise of al-Qaeda across the border, Liz Sly, Nov. 16, 2013. Turkey turned a blind eye to foreign fighters traveling to Syria. Now it is facing the consequences.

Washington Post, Security pact indefinitely extending U.S. presence heads to Afghan council, Karen DeYoung, Anne Gearan and Ernesto Londoño, Nov. 16, 2013.  U.S. will have exclusive jurisdiction over its military and civilian workers.

Paul WarburgWashington Post, Timothy Geithner to join the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, David Koenig, Nov. 16, 2013. Former U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, who played a central role in the government’s response to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, is joining private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The firm announced Saturday that Geithner will become its president and managing director starting March 1. Geithner led the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for more than five years before being becoming Treasury secretary in 2009. By that time, the economy had sunk into a deep recession. Few Treasury secretaries received as much scrutiny. Supporters credited Geithner with helping prevent the recession from spiraling into a second Great Depression, but critics said he was too cozy with Wall Street. The founder of the firm, Paul Warburg, is shown at left.

Nov. 15

Broward Bulldog.org via Miami Herald, A Miami police informant, a prophetic racist and fresh questions about JFK’s death, Dan Christensen, Nov. 15, 2013. At 94, former Miami Beach mayor and still active Miami-Dade Senior Judge Seymour Gelber is among the few who remember Miami police informant No. 88, Willie Augustus Somersett. Somersett has been dead 43 years. But in the half-century of assassination lore that’s grown up around the murder of President John F. Kennedy, Somersett has attained a kind of immortality as the man who heard about it first. Thirteen days before that dark day in Dallas, Somersett elicited a chilling, police tape-recorded threat from a right-wing racist who talked of how the president would soon be shot “from an office building with a high-powered rifle” and how “they’ll pick up somebody within hours after… just to throw the public off.” Extremist Joseph A. Milteer, of Quitman, Ga., made the threat in the kitchen of Somersett’s small apartment in downtown Miami.

Washington Post, Health-care site contractor tied to firm that botched other IT projects, Jerry Markon and Alice Crites, Nov. 15, 2013. More than 100 of the main contractor’s employees and executives once worked at a company with a history of problems with at least 20 government projects.

Harvey SilverglateForbes, David Koch And The WGBH Controversy: Pledging Allegiance To The Flag Of The Day, Harvey Silverglate, left, Nov. 15, 2013. Despite our constitutionally guaranteed liberties, we Americans have always suffered pressure to conform to the perceived truths of the day. A contretemps currently taking place at Boston’s public broadcasting network WGBH is one of the more recent examples of pressure applied by interest groups to enforce ideological conformity. This latest such controversy involves billionaire industrialist and philanthropist David Koch, who sits on the WGBH board. Climate change activists are calling for his dismissal from that post. Without any evidence that Koch – who donates generously to the station – has attempted to influence, much less actually influenced and corrupted the network’s programming, these voices believe that he has no place serving as a board member on account of his minority-held views on the nature of climate shift. A loud and very public campaign, including picket lines outside of the network’s headquarters in Boston, is taking place. In my recent piece for Forbes.com, I explain the stunted logic of this kind of campaign. 

Washington Post, Justice is reviewing criminal cases that used surveillance evidence gathered under FISA, Sari Horwitz, Nov. 15, 2013. The Justice Department is conducting a comprehensive review of all criminal cases in which the government has used evidence gathered through its warrantless surveillance program and will be notifying defendants in some of those cases, according to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “We have a review underway now,” Holder said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We will be examining cases that are in a variety of stages, and we will be, where appropriate, providing defendants with information that they should have so they can make their own determinations about how they want to react to it.” In the wide-ranging interview on Thursday, Holder also discussed the prosecution of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, efforts to bring former NSA contractor Edward Snowden back to the United States, leak investigations and some of his plans.

Huffington Post, Jeremy Hammond Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison, Matt Sledge and Alyona Minkovski, Nov. 15, 2013. Convicted hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for stealing internal emails from the global intelligence firm Stratfor. Shuffling into courtroom with long, wavy hair and a wide smile, Hammond shouted "what's up, my brothers" to a courtroom packed with scores of supporters. When it was his turn to speak to the court, he claimed in a defiant sentencing statement that his acts were meant to expose the truth and that he hacked foreign government.

Atlanta Business Chronicle, Government watchdog in Atlanta CEO’s corner, Dave Williams, Nov 15, 2013, Michael Daugherty: Says we can’t have feds making things up in a rear-view mirror. An Atlanta business owner waging a three-year battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is getting help from a Washington, D.C.-based government accountability organization.

Legal Schnauzer, Bizarre Nov. 14 Hearing on "Permanent Injunctions" in Legal Schnauzer First Amendment Case, Carol Shuler, Nov. 15, 2013. Here is a brief update regarding the Nov. 14 hearing on "permanent injunctions." As expected, it was indeed a kangaroo court. The officials at the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana, Alabama, turned away large numbers of concerned citizens claiming the mysterious and nefarious proceedings were closed to the public. This was done in an effort to hold the court's actions away from the glaring and disapproving spotlight of public opinion. However, several people did manage to gain access to the courtroom. We have talked to them at length regarding the bizarre proceedings and will report more in coming days as further information comes to light. Although I was not present at this hearing, conversations with Roger Shuler and others reveal a number of very alarming and mystifying key points.

Nov. 14

AP via Huffington Post, Whitey Bulger Sentenced To Pair Of Life Terms Plus Five Years In Prison, Denise Lavoie, Nov. 12, 2013. Former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for his murderous reign of terror in the 1970s and '80s, bringing to a close a case that exposed FBI corruption so deep that many people across the city thought he would never be brought to justice. Bulger, 84, was defiant to the end, calling his trial on racketeering charges a sham and refusing to testify or provide information to probation officials preparing a sentencing report for the judge. A jury convicted Bulger in August in a broad racketeering indictment that included murder, extortion, money-laundering and weapons charges. The jury convicted Bulger in 11 of the 19 killings he was charged with participating in but acquitted him of seven and could not reach a conclusion on an eighth.

Barack Obama and Kathleen SebeliusFireDogLake, Obama Basically Admits He Never Really Understood His Own Health Care Law, Jon Walker, Nov. 14, 2013. President Obama delivered a very apologetic presser today on the problems with the Affordable Care Act, but the most remarkable moment was when Obama basically admitted he never really understood how his signature law would actually work. He claims to have only realized in the past few weeks that buying insurance on an exchange is an inherently complicated and often confusing process. One of Obama’s big promises in selling his law to the public was that it would make buying insurance insanely easy. It is a promise he repeated all the time and seemed to really believe.

At right, President Barack Obama, with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, listen as enrollees in the Affordable Care Act tell their stories in the Oval Office, Oct. 1, 2013. The enrollees later joined the President for a statement in the Rose Garden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Wayne Madsen Report, The Kafka courts of Alabama, Nov. 14, 2013 (Subscription required.) Journalism is now a crime punishable by indefinite jailing in Alabama. Secret courts and trials, star chambers, and illegal detention may be the stuff of a Franz Kafka trial but in Alabama the court proceedings against an investigative journalist have reached and surpassed Kafkaesque dimensions.

Nov. 13

Larry SabatoWashington Post, Five myths about John F. Kennedy, Larry J. Sabato, left, Nov. 13, 2013. Larry J. Sabato is director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. His latest book is “The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy.”  Myth: Fifty years later, we know everything we’ll ever know about Kennedy’s assassination. Even a half-century later, we don’t have the complete story. This is because many government documents remain classified and hidden. Reputable groups and individuals have estimated that there are 1,171 unreleased CIA documents concerning Nov. 22, 1963. The Center for Effective Government has even claimed that there may be more than 1 million unseen CIA records related to Kennedy’s assassination. No one can close the book on this subject without examining them. The Assassination Records Collection Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, requires that all remaining documents about the Kennedy assassination be released by Oct. 26, 2017. The next president will rule on any requests from the CIA and other agencies that materials be withheld or redacted after 2017. Under the law, the president can do so only if there is “identifiable harm to military, defense, intelligence operations, or conduct of foreign relations, and the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

Popehat, Update On Prior Restraint of Alabama Blogger Roger Shuler, Ken White, Nov. 13, 2013. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Roger Shuler, an Alabama blogger. There are two significant developments in the case: one good, one bad. The Good: Mrs. Shuler reports that the ACLU has sought leave to file an amicus brief questioning the preliminary injunction, and has submitted a proposed brief. The ACLU's point is a good one: the fact that Shuler is saying nasty and potentially defamatory things is not an "extraordinary circumstance" justifying the Alabama court's decision to disregard the imposing wall of precedent against prior restraint. It's not an extraordinary circumstance, in part, because the marketplace of ideas provides pre-trial remedies in the form of response speech.

Nov. 12

Alyona MinkovskiLegal Schnauzer, Media Coverage of Legal Schnauzer First Amendment Case Gains Traction with HuffPost Live! Interview, Staff report, Nov. 12, 2013. The media coverage of Roger Shuler's beating and unlawful arrest on Oct. 23 gained some major traction recently with an insightful video interview with Alyona Minkovski, left, of HuffPost Live! The host of the daily Freedom Watch Zone broadcast of The Huffington Post interviewed me and Andrew Kreig of the Justice Integrity Project of Washington, D.C. Minkovski asked why the media had not provided more coverage to such a remarkable attack on the free press. Kreig emphasized that the state of Alabama's "kangaroo" court proceedings and bizarre actions grossly violate well-established national constitutional law both on free speech and freedom of the press, as well as, the rights to due process that any litigant deserves in court. Kreig further noted that many mainstream media organizations face daunting financial pressures and have reduced staff as a result. The remaining employees are fearful of controversy and the risk of possible job loss and thus are typically very reluctant to report in any aggressive or adverse way on public officials and their wrongdoings. Also in the interview with Minkovski, I had the opportunity to describe exactly what happened to Roger on the evening of Oct. 23 when he was assaulted by four Shelby County sheriff's deputies in our garage and badly beaten and unlawfully arrested. At no time, was he ever told by any of these deputies that he was under arrest, being charged with anything, shown or even told about a warrant of any kind nor ever read his rights! He was merely attacked inside the four walls of our home, beaten up and abducted into the night.

Huffington Post, Life In Prison For A Grain Of Cocaine: The Rise Of Extreme Sentences, Saki Knafo and Ryan Reilly, Nov. 12, 2013. These 32 People Are Spending Their Lives In Prison For Nonviolent Crimes  

Huffington Post, Patrick Leahy Slams GOP For Blocking Another Nominee, Demands Filibuster Reform, Jennifer Bendery, Nov. 12, 2013. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday tore into Republicans for filibustering another one of President Barack Obama's judicial picks, and warned that Democrats are dangerously close to changing Senate rules to strip the minority of the power to block certain nominees. "If the Republican caucus continues to abuse the filibuster rule and obstruct the president's fine nominees to the D.C. Circuit, then I believe ... a rules change should be in order," Leahy said on the Senate floor, just before Republicans blocked Nina Pillard's confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  "That is not a change that I've wanted to see happen," he continued. "But if Republican senators are going to hold nominees hostage without consideration of a nominee's individual merits, drastic measures may be warranted."

AP via Huffington Post, Whitey Bulger Sentenced To Pair Of Life Terms Plus Five Years In Prison, Denise Lavoie, Nov. 12, 2013. Former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for his murderous reign of terror in the 1970s and '80s, bringing to a close a case that exposed FBI corruption so deep that many people across the city thought he would never be brought to justice. Bulger, 84, was defiant to the end, calling his trial on racketeering charges a sham and refusing to testify or provide information to probation officials preparing a sentencing report for the judge. A jury convicted Bulger in August in a broad racketeering indictment that included murder, extortion, money-laundering and weapons charges. The jury convicted Bulger in 11 of the 19 killings he was charged with participating in but acquitted him of seven and could not reach a conclusion on an eighth.

Nov. 11

Jeremy HammondTruthDig.com, The Revolutionaries in Our Midst, Chris Hedges, Nov. 11, 2013. Jeremy Hammond, right, sat in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center last week in a small room reserved for visits from attorneys.  He spoke with the intensity and clarity one would expect from one of the nation’s most important political prisoners. On Friday the 28-year-old activist will appear for sentencing in the Southern District Court of New York in Manhattan. After having made a plea agreement, he faces the possibility of a 10-year sentence for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, which does work for the Homeland Security Department, the Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous corporations including Dow Chemical and Raytheon. Hammond turned the pilfered information over to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications. The 3 million email exchanges, once made public, exposed the private security firm’s infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, especially in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national security state. And, perhaps most important, the information provided chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations. Hammond sought no financial gain. He got none.

WhoWhatWhy, Gulag Justice? Alabama Blogger Jailed in Secretive Scandal, David J. Krajicek, Nov. 11, 2013. An Alabama journalist is jailed for contempt of court after revealing an alleged affair involving one of the state’s elite political families. A hand-picked judge takes the unprecedented steps of sealing all records related to a subsequent lawsuit and decreeing that the stories be scrubbed from the Internet. First Amendment advocates are stunned. WhoWhatWhy reports from Alabama.

Nov. 10

Huffington Post, John McCain: Keith Alexander Should Resign As NSA Head, Mollie Reilly, Nov. 10, 2013. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is calling on Keith Alexander, left, to resign as director of the National Security Agency. In an interview with Der Spiegel published Sunday, the senator and former Republican presidential candidate said the NSA head should be held accountable for the leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden, who obtained classified documents on the agency's surveillance programs.

OpEd News, How to Restrain US Intelligence Agencies, Rob Kall, Nov. 10, 2013. Let's start with the fact that their heads, James Clapper at the White House, right, and Keith Alexander, have lied to Congress, with the protection of the President and the heads of the intelligence committees.

OpEd News, Uncovering A Trove of Previously Secret JFK Data Through Decades of Successful FOIA Requests and Litigation, Jim Lesar, Nov. 10, 2013. An overview of the history of FOIA, how it is used, how it has been blocked, amended and improved, viewed through the lens of attempting to get secret or withheld information about the JFK assassination.

FireDogLake, 60 Minutes Benghazi Fiasco: There could have been so many more! Barry Lando, Nov. 10, 2013. The embarrassing flap resulting from the 60 Minutes report on Benghazi—broadcasting a sensational interview with a security officer, Dylan Davies, an apparently totally trustworthy, convincing source, who later turned out to be a con artist–makes me shudder. I recall the number of times during my thirty years as a producer with 60 Minutes when I only narrowly missed being caught in the same kind of devastating, career-shattering trap. Most investigative reports on 60 Minutes (or anywhere else) are usually told in terms of black and white, the bad guys vs. the good guys. The problem is most of life is played out in shades of grey.

OpEd News, President Kennedy's assassination was a coup d'etat (Book Review), Thomas Farrell, Nov. 10, 2013. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was a coup d'etat orchestrated by then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. But LBJ covered up the conspiracy. He and his co-conspirators set up Lee Harvey Oswald as the patsy to take the blame. Then they had Jack Ruby kill Oswald. Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro describe and explain the conspiracy in their book The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.

Nov. 9

Washington Post, Obama relying more on insurers to fix Web site, Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein, Nov. 9, 2013. Health insurance companies are helping to repair HealthCare.gov, the problem-ridden online marketplace, as the administration prioritizes consumers’ ability to buy plans directly from carriers.

Nov. 8

Digital Journal, JFK nephew names 'rogue CIA' in JFK assassination plot, Ralph Lopez, Nov. 8, 2013. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said, to virtually no media coverage, that his father Bobby believed that Oswald did not act alone, and neither does he. RFK Jr.'s comments mirror the conclusion of the 1976 official government commission on the assassination of the 35th president, which stated that: "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy." When prodded by television host Charlie Rose to discuss his feelings on likely perpetrators, RFK Jr. turns aside Rose's questions leading to a Mafia or Cuban connection, and says: "KENNEDY: I think my father was fairly convinced at the end of that that there had been involvement by somebody … ROSE: Organized crime, Cubans … KENNEDY: Or rogue CIA …"

Washington Post, What Obama forgot to apologize for, Kathleen Parker, Nov. 8, 2013. President Obama is sorry that some people have been inconvenienced by HealthCare.gov’s computer disaster. He’s sorry that some people have lost the policies he promised they could keep. He’s sorry that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) wasn’t adequately “crafted.” But is he sorry that he intentionally misled people? I must have missed that part.

New York Magazine, What’s at Stake in Senate Nuclear Showdown, Jonathan Chait, Nov. 8, 2013. Senate Republicans are provoking a different kind of showdown over judicial appointments. The proximate subject is the D.C. Circuit Court — a kind of mini–Supreme Court with sweeping authority over national policy, and whose composition will help shape the fate of Obama’s second term. But the constitutional question at stake looms larger still. The Senate has submitted another nominee, Patricia Millett, to one of the Court’s vacancies. Republicans are filibustering again. The question is whether Democrats back down, change the rules to stop judicial filibusters, or the parties work out another compromise. The importance of the struggle can be gleaned through this remarkable quote from Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley is defending a blanket filibuster on any nominee to the three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit.

FireDogLake, Barrett Brown’s Mother Sentenced to Six Months of Probation & Fined for Hiding Laptops, Kevin Gosztola, Nov. 8, 2013. The mother of Barrett Brown, a jailed journalist and activist who faces multiple charges, was sentenced to six months of probation and fined $1,000 today by a judge in Dallas. The Associated Press reported that Karen Lancaster McCutchin apologized Friday in Dallas federal court for hiding the laptops from agents during a March raid at their home. Her son faces three separate federal indictments and has gotten widespread attention among groups who believe he’s being unfairly prosecuted. The federal judge hearing her case declined to give her jail time. U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Stickney said McCutchin’s crime “does not warrant any jail sentence at all.”

Politico, Simon & Schuster pulling Benghazi book, Hadas Gold, Nov. 8, 2013. The publisher for Dylan Davies, the source of "60 Minutes" controversial Benghazi report, announced on Friday that they are pulling his book "in light of information" brought to their attention since its publication. Threshold Editions, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS, said in a statement they are notifying stores that copies of the book, titled The Embassy House, can be returned to the publisher. The book was released last week on Oct. 29. "In light of information that has been brought to our attention since the initial publication of The Embassy House, we have withdrawn from publication and sale all formats of this book, and are recommending that booksellers do the same," Threshold Edition spokesperson Jennifer Robinson said in a statement. CBS had already come under fire for not disclosing that the CBS owned Simon & Schuster was publishing a book by Davies about his Benghazi experience. Both Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and executive producer of "60 Minutes," and correspondent Lara Logan have said they regretted not including a disclosure.

John KerryDaily Mail, John Kerry doesn't believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot President Kennedy as he says the government investigation didn't 'get to the bottom' of the assassination, Meghan Keneally Nov. 8, 2013. John Kerry has revealed that he does not believe that President Kennedy's assassin worked alone as the government claimed in their official finding. The Secretary of State added more credibility to conspiracy theories surrounding the former president's death by becoming one of the highest-ranking politicians to openly admit to being suspicious of the official finding. 'To this day, I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone,' Kerry told NBC's Tom Brokaw in an interview timed with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death.

  •     Secretary of State John Kerry thinks that the shooter was influenced
  •     Suggests it has something to do with the time Oswald spent in the Soviet Union and his connections to communist sympathizers
  •     Does not support the 'grassy knoll' theory or the idea that the CIA was involved

Nov. 7

New York Times, C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data, Charlie Savage, Nov. 7, 2013. The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials. The C.I.A. (led by John Brennan, at right) supplies phone numbers of overseas terrorism suspects, and AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers. The program adds a new dimension to the debate over government spying and the privacy of communications records, which has been focused on National Security Agency programs in recent months. The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers. And it shows how agencies beyond the N.S.A. use metadata — logs of the date, duration and phone numbers involved in a call, but not the content — to analyze links between people through programs regulated by an inconsistent patchwork of legal standards, procedures and oversight.

Washington Post, White House considering civilian leadership at NSA, Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 7, 2013. Separating top jobs at Cyber Command and the NSA could tamp the furor over the spy agency’s powers, officials say. The Obama administration is considering ending a controversial policy that since 2010 has placed one military official (Keith Alexander, at left) at the head of both the nation’s largest spy agency and its cyber-operations command, U.S. officials said. National Security Council officials are scheduled to meet soon to discuss the issue of separating the leadership of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, a shift that some officials say would help avoid an undue concentration of power in one individual and separate entities with two fundamentally different missions: spying and conducting military attacks.

OpEdNews, "Citizen Koch" Fight to Tell Its Story, Joan Brunwasser, Nov. 7, 2013. My guest today is independent filmmaker, producer and director, Tia Lessin. We finished a documentary called "Citizen Koch." The film unravels the state-by-state campaign by wealthy extremists, led by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, to reshape democracy. Set against the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which unleashed unlimited campaign spending and helped fuel the rise of the Tea Party, three Wisconsin public employees' staunch Republican loyalty is challenged after their newly-elected Republican governor strips their union rights, while granting tax breaks to large corporations. "Citizen Koch" was greenlit by public television last year and premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. But then, because of billionaire David Koch's donations to PBS and his position on the board of one powerful PBS affiliate--WNET in New York--the film was censored. The public agency that funds and curates independent documentaries -- ITVS -- withdrew its financial support and its broadcast partnership for "Citizen Koch" to avoid offending WNET and its benefactor David Koch.

Nov. 6

Peter Van Buren

FireDogLake, Over-Classification at the State Department, Peter Van Buren, left, Nov. 6, 2013. Over-classification in our government is real. Designed primarily to hide the actions of the peoples’ government from the people, federal agencies now routinely slap a classified label on just about everything; the Department of Defense recently classified a memo about over-classification. Obama even signed (albeit with his fingers crossed behind his back) the Reducing Over-Classification Act, which required various parts of the federal government to (you guessed it) reduce over-classification. As part of implementing this law, federal inspectors general are supposed to “evaluate” the classification policies of the organizations. As a public service to inspectors general, may I suggest you take a look over at the State Department?

Salon, JFK assassination: CIA and New York Times are still lying to us, David Talbot, Nov. 6, 2012. Fifty years later, a complicit media still covers up for the security state. We need to reclaim our history. We’ll never know, we’ll never know, we’ll never know. That’s the mocking-bird media refrain this season as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of America’s greatest mystery – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson hijacked a large chunk of her paper’s Sunday Book Review to ponder the Kennedy mystery. And after deliberating for page after page on the subject, she could only conclude that there was some “kind of void” at the center of the Kennedy story.

Esquire, The Big Problem With Calling People 'Conspiracy Theorists' : What happens when smart writers choose to simply fall in line? Josh Ozersky, Nov. 4, 2013. Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker's resident sage and polymath, dilated at some length on the cultural legacy of JFK's assassination. The piece was uncharacteristically lazy and weak-minded, a rare but complete relaxation of Gopnik's usually vigorous mind. Gopnik is about as smart as they come, but the piece is dumb, little more than one long scoff. Insofar as it engages in the debate over JFK's demise at all, it relies on a handful of weak debate points you've heard many times before. And there's a reason you've heard them before. They were all originally crafted for public use by the CIA.

Huffington Post, These Four Organizations Are Also Spying On You, And You Had No Idea, Cezary Jan Strusiewicz, Nov. 6, 2013. When Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency has been accessing phone and email records of American citizens, the news shook the world and changed the way many of us look at the issue of privacy in the modern age. For example, we’re no longer under the mistaken impression that it actually exists. Unfortunately, it turns out that the NSA scandal is just the tip of a spying iceberg that’s ready to collide with your sense of normality.

Huffington Post, '60 Minutes' Says It's 'Proud' Of Benghazi Report, Sidesteps Witness' Conflicting Accounts, Michael Calderone, Nov. 6, 2013. "60 Minutes" Executive Producer Jeff Fager said via email Wednesday that he’s “proud” of the program's reporting on Benghazi and “confident” the sources appearing on the Oct. 27 broadcast “told accurate versions of what happened that night.”

Nov. 5

images/B arack_Obama_Situation_Room_WH.jpgWashington Post, The sin of omission in Obamacare, Kathleen Parker, Nov. 5, 2013. How much dishonesty from a president is tolerable? Now the White House tells us that Obama always meant you could keep the insurance policy you like if it met the standards of the ACA.  To sum up, the American people were duped; the administration did not misspeak, as the New York Times editorialized. The administration knowingly misled with a false promise and a deliberate omission. Worse, it did so for your own good because you might be confused by the truth. Call it what you will.

Washington Post, A good case against the filibuster, Harold Meyerson, Nov. 5, 2013, The GOP is blocking qualified nominees to the Circuit Court.

Michael CollinsAgonist, Where were you when they told us the world as we know it is over? Michael Collins, right, Nov. 5, 2013. According to a leaked draft of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), the world as we know it is over.  The report presents substantial and well documented predictions of global suffering and massive social disruption resulting from the impact climate change on the water supply, food, and natural resources, and successively mounting human loss. Oddly enough, the recipient of the leak, the New York Times, acted like it was a story about the “food supply.” In fact, the totality of the draft makes it clear that we’ve gone too far for too long to avoid the dire consequences of man made climate change. The documented risks presented include: Food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability; Death injury and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones … due to sea level rise, coastal flooding and storm surges; and Severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding.

Nov. 4

NBC TV Today Show, 'Not about me being a victim': Ex-NYPD Chief Kerik defends his criticism of prisons, Eun Kyung Kim, Nov. 4, 2013. Appearing on NBC's Today Show, convicted felon and former Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik continued his criticism of "flawed" sentencing guidelines, while insisting he’s not trying to create public sympathy for himself. “It’s not about me being a victim of the system. I think the system is flawed. I think the system is supposed to punish. It’s not supposed to annihilate personally, professionally, financially,” he told Today's Matt Lauer, right, in the second of a two-part interview with the former nominee for Homeland Security secretary. “It’s not supposed to destroy families. The punishment must fit the crime. I was in prison with commercial fisherman that caught too many fish that spent three years in prison,” he said. “Their licenses were removed. They’re not going to be able to work in that industry for the rest of their lives. That’s a life sentence.” During an interview that aired last week, Kerik handed Lauer a nickel to demonstrate the amount of cocaine that sends an offender to prison. “I was with men sentenced to ten years in prison for five grams of cocaine. That's insane.” he said.

Esquire, The Big Problem With Calling People 'Conspiracy Theorists' What happens when smart writers choose to simply fall in line? Josh Ozersky, Nov. 4, 2013. Adam Gopnik, the New Yorker's resident sage and polymath, dilated at some length on the cultural legacy of JFK's assassination. The piece was uncharacteristically lazy and weak-minded, a rare but complete relaxation of Gopnik's usually vigorous mind. Gopnik is about as smart as they come, but the piece is dumb, little more than one long scoff. Insofar as it engages in the debate over JFK's demise at all, it relies on a handful of weak debate points you've heard many times before. And there's a reason you've heard them before. They were all originally crafted for public use by the CIA.

HuffPost Live! Alyona looks at the latest stories in political activism, including the Nov. 5th Million Mask March, Alyona Minkovski, Nov. 4, 2013. The host of Freedom Watch interviews Christine Ann Sands, a volunteer organizer of the Nov. 5 march in the nation's capital, part of similar events in 450 locales around the world. Sands is permit holder for the gathering at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC and operator of an "Anonomobile" to provide information. She described why she believes the protest should target political corruption as a top priority -- but that anyone was welcome to speak and otherwise help set the agenda.

NSA LogoWayne Madsen Report, NSA routinely intercepted Jimmy Carter's and Hillary Clinton's phone calls, Wayne Madsen, November 4, 2013 (Subscription required. Excerpted by permission.) Exclusive: The National Security Agency intercepted so many of the phone calls and other communications of former President Jimmy Carter and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, special internal procedures were established within NSA to handle the intercepts. According to declassified formerly "CONFIDENTIAL HANDLE VIA COMINT CHANNELS ONLY" memos issued by the NSA General Counsel's office,  Clinton was to be treated as any other U.S. government employee owing to her being the Chairperson of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform. An NSA memo dated December 15, 1994 states that intercepts of President Carter's phone calls pertaining to his efforts to bring about a peace agreement with Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic were to identify Carter as a "U.S. person" and not as a "former President." Transcripts of Carter's calls were only to refer to him as a "former U.S. President" if his status changed from private peace envoy to official U.S. government representative.

Huffington Post, The Value of Reginald Jackson, Child of My Church Shot to Death, Jeane Bishop, Nov. 4, 2013. It was the end of a board meeting at my church in downtown Chicago, the time for "new business." A staffer said she had sad news to announce. For a second time, a former student from the church's tutoring program had been shot to death. Reginald Jackson, age 22, was found with a bullet in his back in an alley on Chicago's West Side on October 10. His death barely made the news. For years, Jackson had participated in an after-school tutoring program at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, which for almost 50 years has been linking adult volunteer tutors with children from Chicago's poorest communities. to do so, please share this with others. My hope is that this young man's death will be noticed and his life will be remembered.   

Huffington Post, Oliver Stone: My JFK Assassination Theory 'Holds Up Very Well,' 

OpEd News, Ireland: Ground Zero for the Austerity-driven Asset Grab, Ellen Brown, Nov. 4, 2013. The Irish have a long history of being tyrannized. Today, Ireland is under a different sort of tyranny, one imposed by the banks and the troika -- the EU, ECB and IMF. The oppressors have demanded austerity and more austerity, forcing the public to pick up the tab for bills incurred by profligate private bankers. The official unemployment rate is 13.5%--up from 5% in 2006--and this figure does not take into account the mass emigration of Ireland's young people in search of better opportunities abroad. Job loss and a flood of foreclosures are leading to suicides. A raft of new taxes and charges has been sold as necessary to reduce the deficit, but they are simply a backdoor bailout of the banks.

Nov. 3

Bloomberg via Washington Post, IBM ends fight with Amazon over CIA cloud-computing deal, Bloomberg staff report, Nov. 3, 2013. International Business Machines abandoned its court fight with Amazon.com over a $600 million cloud-computing contract for the CIA, citing the government’s need to begin work on the project. IBM withdrew its bid for a stay of U.S. Court of Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler’s Oct. 8 ruling favoring Amazon after the Justice Department said in court papers that further delay would bring “harm to the United States” and create “significant challenges” for the CIA. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

FireDogLake, Coal Baron and Major Ken Cuccinelli Campaign Donor Sues Blogger for Defamation, Invasion of Privacy, Steve Horn, Nov. 3, 2013. Robert Murray, owner of the Ohio-based coal giant, Murray Energy Corporation, filed a defamation lawsuit against a prominent liberal blogger and the Huffington Post. Filed on Sept. 25 in Belmont County’s Court of Common Pleas, Murray’s complaint accuses Mike Stark, creator of FossilAgenda.com and Stark Reports, and the Huffington Post of defamation and invasion of privacy stemming from Stark’s Sept. 20 article, “Meet the Extremist Coal Baron Bankrolling Ken Cuccinelli’s Campaign.” Starkis represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and David Halperin, former Executive Director of the Center for American Progress’ Campus Progress (now Generation Progress). Stark seeks to dismiss charges. The dispute is during the Virginia gubernatorial race between Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Murray is one of Cuccinelli’s key campaign contributors. Murray Energy has given Cuccinelli $30,000. Also, Murray has called President Obama's impeachment.

Huffington Post, Texas' Restrictive Voter ID Law Stops A Former U.S. House Speaker From Getting A Voter ID Card, Ashley Alman, Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D-Texas) tried to get a voter identification card at a Texas Department of Public Safety office on Saturday. But the only photo identification cards Wright has -- an expired Texas driver's license and a Texas Christian University faculty identification card -- do not satisfy the requirements of the state's restrictive vote identification law, passed in 2011. Wright is 90 years old. “I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” Wright told the Star-Telegram on Saturday. “I think they will reduce the number to some extent.” According to the Star-Telegram, Wright will return to the office Monday to get a Texas personal identification card with a certified copy of his birth certificate. If Wright successfully obtains a personal ID card on Monday, he will be able to vote on Tuesday. But his assistant, Norma Ritchson, is worried other elderly citizens will face obstacles when trying to vote.

Voice of Russia, Citizen's Action for re-election of US govt,' Andrew Kreig to comment Live, Interview by Jay Johnson, Nov. 3, 2013. On the eve of the Nov. 5 Million Mask March global event there are efforts to disrupt it. The newly-emerged rogue breakaway "Citizen's Action" group has declared it is planning to "arrest" the United States President, Congress and US Supreme Court justices on criminal charges. Citizen's Action, now being disowned by members of the Anonymous movement, says they intend to hold Obama et al, "without bond until a full independent investigation and trial have been completed," adding that they "must re-elect our government within 90 days in order to stave off unrest." In an exclusive interview for the Voice of Russia Andrew Kreig, the Director of the Justice Integrity Project, talks about the upcoming march and its implications for the future of the US power system. Since Anonymous is a movement with no leaders, the event does not have an official web page or leaders. "Nobody is in charge: it's a movement, not an organization," states MillionMaskMarch.org.

Nov. 2

AP via Huffington Post, Climate Change Report Sees Violent, Sicker, Poorer Future, Seth Borenstein, Nov. 2, 2013. A leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts that man-made global warming likely will worsen already existing human tragedies of war, starvation, poverty, flooding, extreme weather and disease. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income. A leaked copy of a draft of the report's summary appeared online Friday. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.

Barack Obama Capital Liberland, Retired General Claims Some In The Military Want To ‘Take Out The President,’ Alan Colmes, Nov. 2, 2013. The former general is now with the conservative Family Research Council. He claims that some in the military want to stage a coup, but since our Constitution calls for a civilian government, they know that would be unconstitutional. “People I’ve spoken to would like to see the military ‘fulfill their constitutional duty and take out the president,’” retired Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin told World Net Daily, a website best known for pushing Obama “birther” conspiracy theories. “Our Constitution puts a civilian in charge of the military and as a result a coup would not be constitutional. You’re not going to see a coup in the military.” “I talk to a lot of folks who don’t support where Obama is taking the military, but in the military they can’t say anything,” Boykin said.

Washington Post, HealthCare.gov: How a start-up failed to launch, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, Nov. 2, 2013. Fear of political blowback and a lack of central oversight since 2010 have contributed to the troubled rollout of President Obama’s health-care plan.

Telegraph, The spying game: Europe accused of hypocrisy over US intelligence disclosures Amid growing outrage over US spying, Peter Foster and Raf Sanchez. Nov. 2, 2013. Some in Washington are sensing a hint of hypocrisy from the Europeans. The Eurocrats came to Washington by the luxury minibus-load last week — Greek Socialists, German Greens, Slovenian Liberals, Spanish Progressives and British Conservatives — all united (or so it first appeared) in an assault designed to wring answers and concessions from the United States about the surveillance practices of its intelligence agencies.

Washington Post, Gulf nations tire of waiting for U.S. to lead on Syria, Karen DeYoung and Bob Woodward, Nov. 2, 2013. Countries led by Saudi Arabia look to strengthen support for Syrian rebels, independent of the United States.

Nov. 1

Barack Obama and Helicopter Trip to BostonAt left, Marine One departs the South Lawn of the White House at the start of President Barack Obama's trip to Boston, Mass., Oct. 30, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy).

Liberland, We Address Why Roger Shuler Was Allegedly Beaten And Then Arrested And Jailed, Alan Colmes, Nov. 1, 2013. Roger Shuler is a journalist who worked for a daily newspaper for years and most recently has been blogging at legalschnauzer. He was recently jailed and not given a trial date or any other indication that he’ll be released any time soon. Journalist Andrew Kreig spoke to me on radio Thursday night about the case.

Dean BakerAlternet, Bill Moyers: The Corporate Plot That Obama and Corporate Lobbyists Don't Want You to Know About, Nov. 1, 2013. A US-led trade deal is currently being negotiated that could increase the price of prescription drugs, weaken financial regulations and even allow partner countries to challenge American laws. But few know its substance. The pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is deliberately shrouded in secrecy, a trade deal powerful people, including President Obama, don’t want you to know about. More than 130 members of Congress have asked the White House for greater transparency about the negotiations and were essentially told to go fly a kite. While most of us are in the dark about the contents of the deal, which Obama aims to seal by year end, corporate lobbyists are in the know about what it contains. And some vigilant independent watchdogs are tracking the negotiations with sources they trust, including Dean Baker, right in a file photo, and Yves Smith, who join Moyers & Company this week.

Reuters via Huffingtgon Post, British Accuse David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald's Partner, Of 'Terrorism,'  Mark Hosenball, Nov. 1, 2013. British authorities claimed the domestic partner of reporter Glenn Greenwald was involved in "terrorism" when he tried to carry documents from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden through a London airport in August, according to police and intelligence documents. Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained and questioned for nine hours by British authorities at Heathrow on Aug. 18, when he landed there from Berlin to change planes for a flight to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. British authorities have said in court that items seized from Miranda included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). In an email to Reuters, Greenwald condemned the British government for labeling his partner's actions "terrorism." "For all the lecturing it doles out to the world about press freedoms, the UK offers virtually none...They are absolutely and explicitly equating terrorism with journalism," he said.

FireDogLake, Another Way Obama Can Control Media Coverage of His Administration: Meetings with Elite Pundits, Kevin Gosztola, Nov. 1, 2013. President Barack Obama has been holding more frequent meetings with a coterie of United States pundits. The pundits are given access to the president and, in return, Obama expects his points of view will be represented in national opinion articles that are published on current issues or affairs of the day. All of these people are men. With the exception of Eugene Robinson, they are also all white.

OpEd News, How the Koch Brothers Did the Shutdown, Eric Zuesse, Nov. 1, 2013. I shall now describe the money-trail to Senator Ted Cruz, who directly headed the shutdown-effort in the U.S. Congress. The two chief contributors to Cruz's political career donated over a million dollars to it (and no other entity donated as much as $100,000 to it). As one of my earlier posts had noted, opensecrets.org  shows that the top sources of contributions to Mr. Cruz's political career were Club For Growth, and Senate Conservatives Fund, which together donated over a million dollars to it. Moreover, the #17 contributor to Cruz, Berkshire Hathaway (headed by a "Democrat," Warren Buffett, who prominently mouths against Republican policies), hired Baker Botts as their law firm, and BB was the #8 Cruz donor. So, as this example (BH) shows, Cruz actually had bipartisan support among the aristocracy.

HuffPost Live! Roger Shuler: Journalist Beaten & Arrested, Interview of Carol Shuler and Andrew Kreig by Freedom Watch Zone host Alyona Minkovski, Nov. 1, 2013. Alyona looks at the week in political activism, including the story of an investigative journalist who was beaten & arrested by police for his writing, Anonymous' Million Mask March & more! The prominent investigative blogger Roger Shuler was arrested and beaten by Shelby County sheriff's deputies in his Alabama garage upon returning home the evening of Oct. 23.

Washington Post, A new JFK conspiracy: Was book review unfair? Nov. 1, 2013. Letter to the Editor by Professor Larry Sabato.  David Greenberg’s review of my book “The Kennedy Half Century” in The Washington Post on Oct. 27 was highly inaccurate and misleading. While I don’t ordinarily respond to criticism, I am compelled to do so in this instance.A new JFK conspiracy: Was book review unfair? He opens by saying I “summarized” a recent poll by the eminent pollsters Peter Hart and Geoff Garin. In fact, I commissioned the poll as part of my research into JFK’s legacy — the central focus of my book — and it turned into one of the largest studies ever conducted on a public figure. The poll makes up an important chapter in the book (the entire study is posted on TheKennedyHalfCentury.com). Greenberg response: There was nothing inaccurate in my review, and Larry Sabato concedes as much by citing no specific errors. He just quarrels with my judgments and word choice. He protests that his long rehash of JFK’s presidency is “full of new material and insights” but mentions none.

Wayne Madsen Press TVWMR, Obama's old CIA company a model for firm in CIA thriller movie? Was Obama's Manhattan CIA front company Business International the model for Three Days of the Condor fictional New York think tank? Wayne Madsen, right, Nov. 1, 2013 (Subscription required, used here by permission). The CIA kept track of articles written about the 1975 thriller film Three Days of the Condor. One document discovered in the CIA archives is an article written for the Saturday Review of September 6, 1975 by Karl E. Meyer, a former Washington Post correspondent and New York Times editor. The article, once classified by the CIA, was not released until 2001. Titled "The Condor's Bite," Meyer poses the question of whether the CIA operated "think tank" front companies in New York City under "spurious names." In the movie, the "American Literary Historical Society" is a CIA front company that analyzes foreign books in search of coded messages. The operation runs afoul of the a cell within the CIA. The cell dispatches a rogue assassination team, operating under agency "plausible deniability" rules.

CNN, Report: Ethics troubles complicated Christie's chances for 2012 ticket, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Nov. 1, 2013. Ethics troubles complicated New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's chances of becoming Mitt Romney's running mate last year, the New York Times reports is in an upcoming chronicle of the 2012 presidential campaign. The Times reported that too many questions remained after Christie completed the vetting process and Romney had lingering concerns. The details come four days before New Jersey voters head to the polls to determine if Christie gets a second term. During a campaign stop Friday, he dismissed the report and told CNN that the authors are "just trying to sell books." Christie's challenges were first reported Thursday night by Times national political correspondent Johnathan Martin and based on details of the book, "Double Down: Game Change 2012." The highly anticipated book about the presidential election by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, is expected to be a juicy tell-all about the inner-workings of the presidential campaign.