Exclusive: Imprisoned Former Alabama Gov. Siegelman Backs Jailed Blogger, Denounces Corruption
Editor's Note: Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003), now imprisoned in Louisiana, sent the Justice Integrity Project the guest column below that opposes the jailing of Alabama reporter/blogger Roger Shuler on contempt of court charges arising out of a defamation suit in Shelby County. Since 2007, Shuler has been in the national forefront in documenting corruption in Alabama's court system. He was arrested at his home Oct. 23, and his shown at right in his mug shot with his face puffy after what he described as a beating and MACE attack by deputy sheriffs during the arrest. Without a lawyer, he remains jailed without bond for failing to spike columns alleging that Robert Riley, the son of two-term GOP ex-governor Bob Riley, had an affair with a lobbyist. The younger Riley and the lobbyist denied Shuler allegations in libel suits in July that Shuler recently reported. The judge, specially brought out from retirement to handle this case, sealed the court record to prevent other reporting. Alabama's major consortium of newspapers editorialized Nov. 8 -- in We must dare to defend Roger Shuler's rights, too -- that the judge's actions appeared to be illegal.
Beginning in 1999, Republicans sought to imprison Siegelman, the state's leading Democrat. The Justice Integrity Project, Shuler, fellow Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson, and many other critics have described the prosecution as unwarranted. The corruption behind the Siegelman prosecution played a major role in this editor's new book, Presidential Puppetry , which documents similar political intrigues nationally. The two photos below of Siegelman are from a 2008 CBS 60 Minutes broadcast that documented gross irregularities in his prosecution. Separately, Fox Business News host Neil Cavuto interviewed on Nov. 7 Siegelman's new attorney, Gregory Craig, the first White House counsel in the Obama Administration. Craig described Siegelman's final appeal in the courts. The former governor continues a 78-month sentence on corruption charges stemming from 1999 actions that did not constitute a crime, according to an unprecedented -- but unsuccessful -- "friend of the court" filing to the U.S. Supreme Court by 113 former state attorneys general from more than 40 states.
By Don Siegelman
Roger Shuler has written time and time again exposing Rob Riley, the former governor's son's insidious and sinister connections to money making schemes. Rob Riley, as Shuler told the story, was one of the powers behind the scenes working with Karl Rove and my prosecutor's husband.
It was Rob Riley who confidentially confessed to a Republican insider, Dana Jill Simpson, to their manipulation of the Department of Justice to secure an indictment against me so his father could win his race against me for governor. "It was Rob Riley," according to Ms. Simpson, "who arranged for Siegelman and Scrushy to get a 'hanging judge.'"
It was Shuler who explained why it was so important to Rob Riley to damage my re-election chances, not only for his father to win but also so that Rob Riley could make millions off a conviction of my co-defendant, Richard Scrushy.
Shuler exposed the fact that Rob Riley had weaseled his way into a group of lawyers who were suing Richard Scrushy and his company, HealthSouth. If Scrushy could be convicted criminally it would make the civil case against Scrushy and HealthSouth much more vulnerable and make the civil case more profitable.
It was important to his father's election that I be damaged by the prosecution and it was imperative that we be convicted so the Rileys could profit from Rob's suit against Scrushy and HealthSouth.
Now that Rob Riley has set his sights on running Congress, Shuler would not let up or shut up. Even though he and his wife were themselves personally in jeopardy, Roger was not intimidated by Rob Riley's threats of suing Roger. Riley upped the ante by having Roger Shuler arrested and jailed.
I call on my friends to send the Roger and Carol Shuler money for their legal defense and support. Roger is a courageous journalist with deep-seated beliefs in freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It is our time to show that we too have the same commitment to the First Amendment and human rights.
People with means like George Soros and Michael Moore, please dig deep to help this embattled family.
The rest of us, all of us, please do whatever you can to provide financial support. Also give spiritual support by writing letters to the editor of the Shelby County News.
Let them hear from you until Roger is freed and these charges are dropped.
Do this for Roger and Carol, do it for the First Amendment, do it for yourself and your family. They have been the advocates for justice. It's time for us to be their advocates.
Editor's Note: The plaintiffs in the libel case have confined their statements to legal filings, which deny Shuler's allegations of an affair and an abortion. Available major filings from the sealed case are linked below. An important comment forum on the column above is available on OpEd News, which republished the column and features dialogs between readers. Also, Alabama Media Group, a consortium of mainstream Alabama newspapers, published an opinion column, We must dare to defend Roger Shuler's rights, too, which has a reader comment section.
Siegelman's recent filing renewed his argument that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery erred by failing to allow evidence on whether a biased prosecutor had actually recused as claimed. Leura Canary, shown at right in a file photo, was the Bush Administration's U.S. attorney for Alabama's middle district from 2001 to mid-2010 (after being continued by the Obama administration). Also, she was married to Business Council of Alabama President William Canary, a friend of Karl Rove and the campaign manager for Siegelman's 2002 GOP rival Bob Riley. Siegelman's appeal to the federal appeals court in Atlanta additionally claims that Fuller wrongly increased Siegelman's prison time by citing allegations that failed to win conviction in the 2006 jury trial. Siegelman's prosecution is one of the nation's most controversial of the decade.
Fox Business News Host and Vice President Neil Cavuto interviewed Gregory Craig, Don Siegelman's lawyer on Nov 7. Siegelman's children, Dana and Joseph Siegelman, commented to supporters before the show:
"This is the first time he (Craig) will have appeared publicly regarding Dad's case. Neil Cavuto, Vice President of Fox Business, is one of the many prominent Republicans who have recognized the injustice of Dad's trial and sought to have it corrected. Greg Craig is leading our last charge in the courts, and we'll be discussing this final effort tonight. Thank you so much for your support!"
Fox Business News, Former Ala. Gov. Don Siegelman seeks appeal of bribery conviction, Neil Cavuto, Nov. 7, 2013. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s attorney Gregory Craig on efforts to overturn Gov. Siegelman’s conviction on bribery charge.
In related news, longtime Siegelman supporter Pam Miles wrote on her "That's Politics" listserve the following appeal on Nov. 10. Miles, a resident of Madison in Alabama, began her newsletter more than a decade ago to provide news coverage of the unrelenting pressure from authorities to find grounds to imprison the state's leading Democrat. With the state's print media increasingly hostile to Siegelman, Shuler began his blog in 2007 to report irregularities in the case. The commentary by Pam Miles was:
After serving over 25 years as an elected official for the state of Alabama, Former Governor Don Siegelman is not allowed to receive any retirement from the state. To add to the injustice his wife, Lori, had to pay back the Social Security benefits he received when he was released to work on an appeal. She has also had to pay other debts incurred over the years as the three trials dragged on and little to no income coming in. It takes 19 hours, round trip for her to visit Don in federal prison in Louisiana.
After his conviction in 2006, his license to practice law was revoked and his ability to earn money was reduced, even as legal bills climbed into the millions of dollars. Don’s crime was that he was a Democrat in the state of Alabama. He has five and a half more years to go on the sentence. Five and one half years is a long, long time. It takes 19 hours, round-trip for Lori Siegelman to visit her husband in federal prison in Louisiana.
Please help Lori as she struggles to keep body and soul together while he’s gone. His legal fund cannot be used to pay the mortgage, insurance, taxes, worn-out heating/cooling systems, a bad roof, lawn maintenance, and the never-ending jobs that need to be done around a house. Of course, Don has nothing to contribute. Please send any amount you can to:
Lori Allen Siegelman
P.O. Box 430116
Birmingham, AL 35243
Legal Filings in Riley v. Shuler and Duke v. Shuler
Riley -- Order on Injunction, 10/4/13
Riley -- Petition for Contempt, 10/4/13
Riley -- Motion to Seal, 7/23/13
Riley -- Proposed Order on Contempt, 10/7/13
Riley -- Order on Contempt, 10/7/13
Riley -- Shuler Motion to Quash, filed 10/16
News Coverage of Shuler Case and Jailing
Justice Integrity Project, Alabama Kangaroo Court Parades Liberal Commentator in Chains, Continues Indefinite Jailing, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 15, 2013. Alabama authorities paraded a shackled liberal pundit into court, where he was denounced Nov. 14 for recent news coverage about his jailing. The defendant was Roger Shuler, a 56-year-old commentator jailed on contempt of court charges Oct. 23 for publishing columns about a politically powerful GOP attorney. Shuler reports on Deep South legal affairs via several nationally prominent blog sites such as his own Legal Schnauzer. Salon, OpEd News, and FireDogLake frequently reprint the stories. Shuler specializes in political muckraking about scandals in the Deep South legal community. The reports often focus on claims that ordinary litigants are being unfairly treated in the courts. Also, he writes about financial corruption involving taxpayer dollars, illicit sex among conspirators and their minions, and cover-up to uphold family values image necessary for election success. Most but far from all of the wrongdoers in his columns are Republicans.
Justice Integrity Project, Corruption-Fighting Reporter Arrested, Beaten, Jailed In Alabama As Deputies Seek Wife's Arrest, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 25, 2013. The prominent investigative blogger Roger Shuler was arrested and beaten by Shelby County sheriff's deputies at his Alabama garage upon returning home Oct. 23. Shuler faces a resisting arrest charge stemming from his refusal to obey a judge's order to stop writing adversely about Robert Riley Jr., a well-connected attorney who is part of Alabama's most prominent political family.
Al.com, We must dare to defend Roger Shuler's rights, too, Mike Marshall, Nov. 8, 2013. Mike Marshall is director of statewide commentary the Alabama Media Group. Roger Shuler might be a wingnut conspiracy theorist and a crackpot. He might unfairly besmirch conservative Alabama politicians with little or no evidence to back up outlandish accusations. But he is certainly an American. As such, he certainly has a constitutional right to free speech, and that right certainly has been trampled by a judge in an Alabama circuit court.
It is hard to feel sorry for Shuler: Earlier this year, he began writing about Rob Riley on his political blog Legal Schnauzer, accusing the attorney of scandalous behavior in his personal life. Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, sued Shuler, asking a Shelby County judge for an injunction to stop Shuler from making such attacks. Shuler failed to show up for the hearing, then ignored a judge's order to make a court appearance. He even threw the court's papers out of his car window as he cursed the officers who were trying to serve them.
But Judge Neilson violated Shuler's right to free speech when he ordered him not to publish anything further about Riley. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that you cannot muzzle an American citizen; you cannot prohibit libels anticipated in the future, an excess known as "prior restraint."
HuffPost Live! Roger Shuler: Journalist Beaten & Arrested, Interview of Carol Shuler and Andrew Kreig by Freedom Watch Zone host Alyona Minkovski, right, 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.
Legal Schnauzer, PayPal Donations Support the Continuing Fight for Justice in the Legal Schnauzer First Amendment Case, Carol Shuler, Nov. 6, 2013. Since Roger's brutal beating and unlawful arrest on Oct 23, we have been gratified by the chorus of folks we've heard from who wanted to help us and offered to lend their support in a variety of ways in our fight for justice. Many of those people have chosen to support this fight by way of the Legal Schnauzer PayPal donation button, which can be found in the upper right-hand corner of the blog.
Legal Schnauzer, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Writes Letter to Court in Support of Legal Schnauzer, Carol Shuler, Nov. 7, 2013. This is Carol, Roger's wife. So many organizations have stepped forward to lend their support to Legal Schnauzer's ongoing fight for justice against this travesty against our constitutional rights and civil liberties.
Legal Schnauzer, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama Intervenes in Legal Schnauzer First Amendment Case, Carol Shuler, Nov. 5, 2013. We have been heartened by the loud outcry of concerned citizens all over the world regarding Roger Shuler's brutal beating and unlawful arrest on Oct. 23. People everywhere, including scores of media outlets, have stepped forward to help shine a spotlight on this outrageous display of police brutality, as well as, suppression of free speech and freedom of the press. Our civil liberties are under assault and people are saying, "Enough!" Thanks to this outpouring of effort by so many, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama has graciously agreed to step in and lend their assistance by filing motions in Roger's case. These motions were filed on Nov. 1.
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.
Legal Schnauzer, Improper Actions Of Prosecutor And District Judge Are Focus Of New Appeal In Don Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, Aug. 26, 2013. There is something fundamentally wrong with our judiciary when this nation can readily justify sending men and women into war zones claiming for reasons to provide others their freedoms and rights, yet here, especially within our own state that many have been, are consciously being denied those same freedoms and rights.
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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly roundup of July 2014 news
Washington Post, CIA admits improper Senate computer search, Greg Miller, July 31, 2014. CIA Director John O. Brennan (shown in photo) has apologized to leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an agency investigation determined that its employees improperly searched computers used by committee staff to review classified files on interrogations of prisoners. The embarrassing admission by the agency follows a dispute that erupted earlier this year when the CIA and the committee traded accusations of snooping on one another’s computer systems, prompting a public feud between Brennan and senior lawmakers.
Medill School of Journalism National Security Journalism Initiative via Cryptome, How to avoid legal trouble over sources and secrets, Josh Meyer, July 2014. This presentation Is based on a forum in March 2014 in New York City co-sponsored by the New York Times.
In a White House photo, President Obama talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice as a communication aide looks on.
FireDogLake, Obama Admin Condemns Attack on UN School in Gaza But Refuses to Assign Blame, Restocks Israel’s Ammunition, DS Wright, July 31, 2014. In a bizarre public denouncement, the Obama Administration condemned the attack on a UN school in Gaza Wednesday without blaming anyone for it. The odd blameless condemnation comes despite there being little to no doubt that the devastation at the UN school was a result of Israeli shelling. The IDF itself has acknowledged it fired ordinance in the area, allegedly in response to mortar fire. So almost everyone, including Israel to a limited degree, agrees the attack on the UN School was done by Israel. Stranger still, the condemnation came as the US agreed to resupply Israel with ammunition to carry out more attacks on Gaza – like the one that occurred at the UN school.
FireDogLake, Admiral Poindexter Took Total Information Awareness Program to Singapore, DS Wright, July 31, 2014. Retired US Navy Admiral John Poindexter came to the public’s attention during the Iran-Contra scandal where he was convicted of lying to Congress about the operation, though the conviction was overturned on appeal. Upon leaving the military Poindexter worked as a defense contractor but was ultimately brought back into government by President George Bush in 2001 where, in the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Poindexter took the surveillance society to its ultimate end with the concept and policy framework of Total Information Awareness (TIA).
FireDogLake, US Imposes Travel Ban on Officials From Venezuela, DS Wright, July 31, 2014. After getting caught in the attempted coup and murder of President Hugo Chavez, the US government backed off Venezuela a bit. The Obama Administration has now imposed travel bans on officials serving in the freely elected Venezuelan government. The ban follows the response from the government to violent right wing rioters who have been killing police officers and journalists in an attempt to destabilize the government after losing an election. Some of the organizations involved in the riots received funds from the US government in a familiar pattern of using the cover of providing aid to help foment political instability.
Strategic Culture Foundation, Theresa May Raises an Old and Discredited Canard, Wayne Madsen, July 31, 2013. British Home Secretary Theresa May, who has found herself in the middle of a huge pedophilia cover-up scandal involving top leaders of her Conservative Party, has found time to raise an old canard: the death by radiation poisoning of international ne’er-do-well and former Soviet and Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, arrived in Britain in 2000 and immediately began associating himself with anti-Russian oligarchs based in London and Israel. In November 2006, Litvinenko died from polonium 210 poisoning. The Russian government generally and President Vladimir Putin particularly were immediately blamed for sending secret agens to London to kill Litvinenko, shown in a file photo. Editor's note: See, for a contrasting approach, Wall Street Journal, Russia's Polonium Widow, Sohrab Ahmari, July 25, 2014.
AP via Guardian, CIA initially 'kept Colin Powell in the dark' about torture practices, Staff report, July 30, 2014. A Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks concludes that the agency initially kept Secretary of State Colin Powell (shown in a file photo) and some US ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons, according to a document circulating among White House staff. The still-classified report also says some ambassadors who were informed about interrogations of al-Qaida detainees at so-called black sites in their countries were instructed not to tell their superiors at the State Department, the document says. The 6,300-page Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation program has been years in the making. The findings are expected to reveal additional details about the CIA’s program and renew criticisms that the US engaged in torture as it questioned terrorism suspects after the 2001 attacks. A former senior CIA official said Powell eventually was informed about the program.
Washington, Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle: A case where no one won, Dan Lamothe, July 30, 2014. Jesse Ventura just walked away from a defamation lawsuit against late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle with $1.845 million. But the former Minnesota governor and WWE Hall of Famer is clearly walking away with some damage to his reputation as well. A Minnesota jury decided Tuesday that Ventura had been defamed when Kyle alleged he had punched Ventura in a bar in 2006 over comments he made. The sniper claimed Ventura disparaged Navy SEALs and said that they “deserved to lose some” for their actions in the war. Ventura, in turn, insisted the whole event never happened, and the majority of the jury — it was an unusual split 8-2 decision — appeared to agree with him.
Guardian, New York Times net income drops 54%, Roy Greenslade, July 30, 2014. The New York Times company suffered a reverse in the second quarter this year with net income down by 54% and profit slipping by 21%. The company blamed a decline in print advertising along with increased investment in digital products as it pursues a strategy of digital transformation. Although the number of digital subscribers increased by 32,000 in the quarter (taking the total to 831,000), audience growth for its website and its core mobile app appears to have flagged.
Washington Post, Review finds 2 decades of FBI forensic errors, Spencer S. Hsu, July 29, 2014. Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the agency and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation into lab problems has included flawed forensic testimony, government officials said.
Lawfare, Senator Leahy’s NSA Reform Bill: A Quick and Dirty Summary, Jodie Liu and Benjamin Wittes, July 29, 2014. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (shown in photo) unveiled his version of the NSA reform bill today. It represents a compromise between the intelligence community, the administration more generally, civil liberties groups, industry, and fairly wide range of senators. And it will be the legislative vehicle that’s going to move forward with the sometimes nose-holding support of most of the major parties. It thus warrants close attention.
Jewish Daily Forward, Security at a Cost, Staff report, July 29, 2014. The Department of Homeland Security allocated to Jewish institutions $12 million, or 94 percent, of $13 million in funds for securing nonprofits. The Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office director, William Daroff, said Tuesday that the allocation made sense particularly in light of an intensification of threats on Jewish community targets in the United States and overseas. The allocations, announced July 25, are based on applications that are then assessed for threat by local and federal law enforcement officials. The $13 million disbursed last week brings to $151 million the amount disbursed since the program started in 2005, most of it to Jewish institutions. Leading the lobbying for the program have been the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America. The JFNA thanked DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson as well as lawmakers for championing the funds, among them Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and Reps. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), John Carter (R-Texas) and David Price (D-N.C.).
Truthout, An Inquiry Into the 9/11 Commission's 10th Anniversary Report: How to Read a Government Commission Report, Mike Lofgren, July 29, 2014. One of the many things I learned in government is that the investigative commissions which inquire into a scandal, disaster or atrocity are usually intended to bury the real causes of the incident and trumpet other circumstantial or irrelevant details as if they are shocking or novel. In other words, commissions are cover-ups pretending to be exposés. This is not always the case, but as the stakes rise, it becomes the accepted practice.
Washington Post, New U.S. help arrives for Syrian rebels as government, extremists gain, Liz Sly, July 27, 2014. A U.S.-backed effort to arm the moderate Syrian opposition is finally ramping up along the Turkey-Syria border, but it may come too late to save the rebels from defeats on two fronts, by President Bashar al-Assad’s government and by the extremists seeking to carve out an Islamic state.
Former Soviet spy Alexander Litvinenko is shown in a file photo during his poisoning illness in London.
Wall Street Journal, Russia's Polonium Widow, Sohrab Ahmari, July 25, 2014. Marina Litvinenko thinks her husband was poisoned in London by the Kremlin's agents. This week Britain reopened the case. When they first met in Moscow in the summer of 1993, Marina Litvinenko was struck by Alexander Litvinenko's youthfulness. "I found Sasha a very easygoing guy, very funny and very protective," Ms. Litvinenko tells me, using the diminutive form of her late husband's first name. Thirteen years later, on Nov. 1, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned at a London hotel bar where he had met an ex-officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, and an FSB-linked businessman. Litvinenko had served in the FSB for more than a decade before being ousted for exposing official malfeasance that reached the highest levels of the state. He fell ill soon after the meeting, and over the next three weeks his condition worsened. He had been poisoned, investigators later determined, by highly radioactive polonium-210 that had been slipped into his tea at the hotel that day. The poison caused his hair to fall out and his digestive system to fail; doctors fed him through a tube until, at age 43, he finally succumbed. Editor's note: See, for a contrasting approach, Strategic Culture Foundation, Theresa May Raises an Old and Discredited Canard, Wayne Madsen, July 31, 2013.
OpEdNews, Rebuilding National Intelligence -- A 12-Step Plan, Robert David Steele Vivas, July 26, 2014. As we begin the final two years of the Obama-Biden Administration, a great deal is going wrong all at once. I trace this collapse of America's viability as a world power to the failure of national intelligence and the loss of national integrity. In this overview of the present state of the country's intelligence services, I begin with context, offer an agency-by-agency catalog of malfeasance -- the tip of the iceberg -- and conclude with my own 12-point prescription for what Joe Biden, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel could do to help Barack Obama leave office with at least some semblance of a legacy. Virtually all serious work about intelligence reform has been ignored for the simple reason that such work focuses on creating a prosperous America at peace for the 99% instead of a world at war profitable only to the 1%.
President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah met at the White House on June 29, 2010, as shown in a White House Photo. The president's remarks are here.
First Look / Intercept via OpEdNews,The NSA's New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia's Brutal State Police, Glenn Greenwald with Murtaza Hussain, July 26, 204. The National Security Agency last year significantly expanded its cooperative relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, one of the world's most repressive and abusive government agencies. An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency's plans "to provide direct analytic and technical support" to the Saudis on "internal security" matters. The Saudi Ministry of Interior -- referred to in the document as MOI -- has been condemned for years as one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. In 2013, the U.S. State Department reported that "Ministry of Interior officials sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical abuse," specifically mentioning a 2011 episode in which MOI agents allegedly "poured an antiseptic cleaning liquid down [the] throat" of one human rights activist. The report also notes the MOI's use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents. But as the State Department publicly cataloged those very abuses, the NSA worked to provide increased surveillance assistance to the ministry that perpetrated them. The move is part of the Obama Administration's increasingly close ties with the Saudi regime; beyond the new cooperation with the MOI, the memo describes "a period of rejuvenation" for the NSA's relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Defense.
Editor's note: A Gallup Poll this spring assessed differing views regarding the United States role in the crisis. The response "Mostly positive" about the United States ranged from 59 percent in the west down to 3 percent in Crimea and 17 percent in the separatist east.
Washington Post, Will Eastern Ukraine turn into Northern Ireland? Serhiy Kudelia July 26, 2014. Political scientist Serhiy Kudelia is based at Baylor University. Since the downing of MH-17 the Ukrainian government has intensified its military campaign against the separatists in Ukraine’s east. This came at a cost of at least 100 civilians and Ukrainian soldiers killed over the last week. Given the complexity of urban warfare and Ukraine’s reliance on Grad rockets, taking these densely populated insurgent strongholds without collateral damage is next to impossible. This, in turn, could produce an upsurge of new revenge-seeking rebel recruits. There are at least five reasons why reliance on military force may not necessarily lead to a quick settlement of the conflict.
JFK Facts.org, Fifty one years later, federal judge upholds the CIA’s right to keep JFK secrets, Jefferson Morley, July 25, 2014. Author and former Washington Post reporter, is the moderator of JFK Facts and plaintiff in the lawsuit, Morley v. CIA, seeking release of long-secret JFK records. Ten years ago I filed a lawsuit seeking the records of a deceased CIA officer involved in the events leading up to the assassination of President Kennedy and its confusing investigatory aftermath. This week a federal judge ruled that the CIA did not have pay court costs associated with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation because the lawsuit had created “little, if any public benefit.” The decision, by Judge Richard Leon exemplifies the extraordinary deference that the CIA enjoys in the federal courts. Leon (shown at right) dismissed extensive newspaper coverage of the lawsuit and ignored the coverage of a key document it uncovered. He affirmed that the CIA’s conduct in keeping JFK assassination-related records secrets in 2014 was “reasonable.” His narrow decision studiously avoids grappling with the untold story of CIA operations around accused presidential assassin Lee Oswald in the summer of 1963 and the agency’s subsequent obstruction of a congressional investigation in 1978. The story of the late George Joannides [a CIA liaison to congressional investigators who failed to disclose that he had worked with Oswald prior to the assassination] is obviously relevant to the JFK story.
Editor's Note: In 1981, the CIA secretly awarded Joannides a medal for his work, as Morley documented. Joannides (shown in a file photo) was a CIA psychological warfare expert who had met Oswald before the 1963 assassination and then worked in the 1970s as the CIA's liaison to House investigators of the killing without disclosing his relationship with Oswald. Judge Richard Leon is a Harvard Law School graduate named by President George W. Bush in 2002 to the federal bench presiding over cases in the District of Columbia. Leon, a Republican, worked for government and the private sector before his appointment. The former Justice Department prosecutor also had held posts that included working for House Republicans defending against the Iran-Contra scandal implicating Republicans in the Reagan Administration and for the special prosecutor during the Whitewater investigation of the Clinton family. Leon has repeatedly ruled in favor of the CIA in long-running litigation described below to force disclosure of CIA records pertaining to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
President Obama met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier this year (White House photo)
Global Research, Collapse of Ukraine Government: Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Resigns amidst Pressures Exerted by the IMF, Michel Chossudovsky, July 24, 2014. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation in the Rada (Parliament) and that of the entire Cabinet on Thursday, July 24. This decision was taken following the withdrawal of two parties from the coalition government and the non-adoption of two important pieces of legislation, which had been demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The resignation of the Prime Minister signifies the collapse of the government and the resignation of the entire cabinet. The entire country is in an impasse. No money will be forthcoming from the IMF until this legislation is adopted. In the meantime, Ukraine remains on the blacklist of its external creditors. The two parties that left the coalition are the Neo-Nazi Svoboda party and the Center Right Ukraine Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) Party led by former champion boxer Vitali Klitschko. President Petro Poroshenko has intimated that the parliamentary process is slated to become defunct. The 2014 budget project demanded by the IMF includes massive cuts in social spending coupled with increased allocations to the Armed Forces. Its adoption will contribute to impoverishment.
Washington Post, Ukraine’s prime minister resigns as coalition falls apart, Carol Morello and Michael Birnbaum, July 24, 2014. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation Thursday, creating new uncertainty in his nation at a crucial moment in its military offensive against pro-Russian rebels in the east. The move was sure to distract Ukrainian politicians even as leaders from around the world push for unfettered access to the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down deep inside rebel-held territory. Yatsenyuk’s surprise resignation came after two major parties said they were withdrawing from the governing coalition.
Washington Post, European court finds Poland complicit in CIA ‘torture,’ Adam Goldman, July 24, 2014. The human rights court says that Poland facilitated the creation of a secret prison on its territory.
National Press Club, Drone journalism raises legal, safety, ethical issues, Lorna Aldrich, July 24, 2014. Matt Waite, a University of Nebraska journalism professor (shown in a photo by Noel St. John), and attorney Chuck Tobin described July 23 the advantages of using small drone aircraft for journalism -- and the issues. "Drone journalism is an evolving area," Tobin said, because it involves so many legal, safety and ethical issues. He explained the legal uncertainties that have arisen because the Federal Aviation Administration has not completed the process of creating and implementing regulations for drones, also known as UAVs -- unpiloted aerial vehicles. In the absence of enforceable drone regulations, the FAA has relied on a combination of regulations and laws devised for airplanes and hobbyists. Essentially, until the regulations are developed, commercial use of a drone is considered illegal.
Boston Globe, Jury finds ex-probation chief ran sweeping criminal enterprise, Milton J. Valencia, July 24, 2014. Former probation Commissioner John J. O’Brien and his two top aides today were convicted of racketeering conspiracy by a U.S. District Court jury, which found that they ran the state agency like a criminal enterprise. O’Brien and top deputy, Elizabeth V. Tavares, were also convicted of four counts of mail fraud and one count of racketeering. They were both acquitted of four counts of mail fraud.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Lessons for all as the Probation Department Saga Ends, by Harvey Silverglate & Daniel Schneider, July 24, 2014. The trial of former Probation Department head John J. O'Brien and his two deputies finally came to a conclusion. This was a malicious prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston [led by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, shown in a file photo.] Few are prepared to defend the political patronage practices highlighted at the trial. The fine legal issue at hand was whether the job allocation arrangement, if any, between legislative leaders and Probation Department officials constituted a form of federal bribery, or racketeering, or any other awful-sounding sobriquet.
Institute for Political Economy, US Intelligence: No Evidence Russia Did It, Paul Craig Roberts, July 23, 2014. After days of placing blame on Russia for the downing of the Malaysian airliner, the White House permitted US intelligence officials to tell reporters that there is no evidence of the Russian government’s involvement. If the White House had any evidence of Russian complicity, it would have released it to great fanfare days ago. We are fortunate that the analytical side of the CIA, in contrast with the black ops side, retains analysts with integrity even after the purge of the agency ordered by Dick Cheney, shown in a file photo during his vice presidency. Incensed that the CIA did not immediately fall in line with all of the Bush regime’s war lies, Cheney had the agency purged. The black ops side of the agency is a different story. Many believe that it should be defunded and abolished as this part of the CIA operates in violation of statutory US law. Don’t hold your breath until Washington abolishes black-ops operations or the Obama regime apologizes.
First Look / Intercept, The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, July 23, 2014. The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
Washington Post, For White House interviews, it’s never one-on-one, Paul Farhi, July 23, 2014. A press staffer almost always attends when reporters sit down with administration officials.
Daily Howler, New Kids on the Lawn: And the culture they're choosing to join! Bob Somerby, July 23, 2014. Journalism’s “worst generation” is hobbling off the stage. As the various Sam-and-Cokies depart, they are largely being replaced by bright young 20-somethings from Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Sometimes, the big news orgs are willing to slum. They’ll hire a youngster from Brown. For ourselves, we’re constantly struck by the horrible work these “new kids on the lawn” are producing. Given their stardom at the finest schools, we’re often struck by their lack of technical skill. Beyond that, we’re struck by their lack of “fierce independence” — by the ease with which they assume established roles within their establishment news orgs. In fairness, these young achievers came of age during a terrible time for journalism. Their elders have left them a terrible legacy — and this is the only type of national journalism these rather unimpressive young people have ever known.
FireDogLake, Wall Street Journal Runs Op-Ed Claiming All Palestinians Are Worthy Of Death, DS Wright, July 22, 2014. While it is no secret that American mainstream media coverage is heavily biased in favor of Israel, rarely does the establishment media side with those advocating the genocide of the Palestinians. And yet, the Wall Street Journal decided to run an op-ed written by Thane Rosenbaum that claims all those in Gaza have lost their status as civilians because Hamas was elected. That the over 560 Palestinians in Gaza that have died so far had it coming. Rosenbuam is a professor of law at New York University and has written a book celebrating vengeance as virtuous. So it is not particularly surprising that he would find no fault in Israel striking targets in Gaza, but openly lusting for Palestinian blood is beyond the point where even the most hardline Zionists are willing to go.
Washington Post, 9/11 Commission report authors warn of cyberattack trend, Adam Goldman, July 22, 2014. In a reflection of the 10th anniversary of the report, authors say terrorism threat has not waned. The authors also urge the government to declassify materials related to the commission’s previous work. Those records include interview summaries and other documents held by the National Archives and Records Administration. “Ten years after the Commission closed its doors, scholars and the general public should be given broad access to these documents, absent a compelling national security justification for withholding a given record,” the authors wrote.
Brookings Institute, Obamacare Ruling: Congress’s Dysfunction Hands Power to the Courts, David Wessel, July 22, 2014. David Wessel joined Brookings in December 2013 after 30 years on the Wall Street Journal where, most recently, he was economics editor and wrote the weekly Capital column. The appellate court ruling on Obamacare underscores an increasingly important side effect of today’s congressional dysfunction and gridlock: The rising power of the courts, particularly the U.S. Supreme Court. Congress, unable to agree on almost anything, is incapable of responding to court interpretations of often-vague statutes even when the Court invites a response. That’s a big change. “Polarization already is leading to an increase in the power of the [Supreme] Court against Congress, whether or not the justices affirmatively seek that additional power,” Richard Hasen, a University of California at Irvine law professor noted in a 2012 law review article. In the past two decades, the rate of congressional overriding of Supreme Court statutory decisions has plummeted, he found, from an average of 12 in each two-year congressional term during the 1975-1990 period to an average of 5.8 overrides for each term from 1991-2000 and to 2.8 average number of overrides for each term from 2001-2012.
Washington Post, Appeals courts split on Obamacare subsidies, Sandhya Somashekhar and Amy Goldstein, July 22, 2014. Two federal appellate courts handed down contradictory rulings Tuesday on the legality of a central part of the Affordable Care Act that provides insurance subsidies to millions of Americans in three dozen states. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the subsidies available under the 2010 health-care law may be provided only to residents of states that set up their own health insurance marketplaces. Less than two hours later, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the subsidies, ruling in a separate case that the law’s language was ambiguous, giving the Obama administration the authority to allow the subsidies nationwide. The divergent rulings increase the likelihood that the question will be decided by the Supreme Court. If the subsidies ultimately are struck down for states that did not set up their own marketplaces, it would be a crippling blow to the federal program, dramatically reducing the ability of low- and middle-income Americans to pay for health insurance, which is now mandatory for most people.
See also, Cato Institute, Live Q&A on What the Latest Obamacare Ruling Means, Featuring Michael F. Cannon, Cato Director of Health Policy Studies. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the Internal Revenue Service regulation authorizing tax credits in federal exchanges was invalid. The case, Halbig v. Burwell, was spurred by an article by Jonathan H. Adler and Cato scholar Michael F. Cannon, who describes what to expect next.
Washington Post, U.S. discloses intelligence on downing of Malaysian jet, Greg Miller, July 22, 2014. The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack. One senior U.S. official noted that American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Ukraine had no antiaircraft missile system within range of the Malaysian flight at the time it was struck. The official was one of three senior U.S. intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity during a briefing arranged for reporters in Washington to provide more detailed information on the assertions made by administration officials in recent days, as well as to rebut Russian claims.
OpEdNews, The Russian Military Finally Speaks, Michael Collins, July 22, 2014. The Russian Military held an extraordinary press conference regarding the downing of the Malaysian civilian airliner over Ukraine. The U.S.-NATO media/steno pool followed the lead of President Barack Obama and ignored the stunning claims. The Russians presented evidence that they claim shows: A Ukrainian aircraft was near the downed plane just before it was hit. This is a major shift in the battle for information about the disaster.
Huffington Post, AIPAC Is the Only Explanation for America's Morally Bankrupt Israel Policy, Stephen Walt, July 22, 2104. Israel is using weapons provided by U.S. taxpayers to bombard the captive and impoverished Palestinians in Gaza, where the death toll now exceeds 500. As usual, the U.S. government is siding with Israel, even though most American leaders understand Israel instigated the latest round of iolence, is not acting with restraint, and that its actions make Washington look callous and hypocritical in the eyes of most of the world. This Orwellian situation is eloquent testimony to the continued political clout of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the other hardline elements of the Israel lobby. There is no other plausible explanation for the supine behavior of the U.S. Congress--including some of its most "progressive" members -- or the shallow hypocrisy of the Obama administration, especially those officials known for their purported commitment to human rights.
New York Times, Israel Is Facing Difficult Choice in Gaza Conflict, Jodi Rudoren, July 21, 2014. Israeli leaders have stressed two points in selling their Gaza Strip ground invasion internationally and at home: that they embraced all cease-fire proposals and that troops are targeting tunnels used by Palestinian militants to infiltrate their territory. Now, with the lopsided death toll mounting on both sides — more than 550 Gazans, 25 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians — world leaders are demanding an immediate halt to the hostilities.
But the operation has uncovered more tunnels than expected, officials said, and there were two more deadly incursions Monday, making many Israelis say they were reluctant to leave a job half-finished. That has Israel struggling with a more distilled version of the dilemma it has faced in repeated rounds against Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates Gaza. If it stops now, it faces the prospect of a newly embittered enemy retaining the capacity to attack. But if it stays the course, it is liable to kill many more civilians and face international condemnation.
OpEdNews, Guilt By Insinuation -- How American propaganda works, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), July 21, 2014. As there are a number of possible explanations, let's keep open minds and resist Washington's propaganda until facts and evidence are in. In the very least, Washington is guilty of using the incident to blame Russia in advance of the evidence. All Washington has shown us so far is accusations and insinuations. If that is all Washington continues to show us, we will know where the blame resides.
ABC News, PLO's Hanan Ashrawi: 'Deliberate Massacre' in Gaza, July 21, 2014. Video (5:49 min.) On "This Week," PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi on the impact of the Israeli ground offensive and airstrikes on Gaza.
Brookings Institution via Washington Post, Wolf: We need a global Anti-Corruption court, Mark L. Wolf, July 22, 2014. Mark L. Wolf, shown in a file photo, is a senior U.S. district judge for the District of Massachusetts. He was a special assistant to the U.S. attorney general from 1975 to 1977 and the chief federal public corruption prosecutor in Massachusetts from 1981 to 1985. Indignation at “grand corruption” — the abuse of public office for personal profit by a nation’s leaders — inspired many to topple President Viktor Yanukovych in February. In too many nations, corruption is endemic at the highest levels of government. Corruption is extraordinarily costly, consuming more than 5 percent of the global gross domestic product. Corrupt governments also often provide havens for international criminals, including drug lords in Mexico and terrorists in countries such as Afghanistan and Yemen. Similar circumstances concerning the evils of genocide and other intolerable human rights abuses led to the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002. An International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) is now equally necessary.
Guardian, Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots, Spencer Ackerman, July 21, 2014. Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says. Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist. The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots. Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions – 18% overall – are not for thwarted plots but for "material support" charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group.
Washington's Blog, High-Level NSA Whistleblower Says Blackmail Is a Huge – Unreported – Part of Mass Surveillance, Washington's Blog contributor, July 21, 2014. The Untold Story In the NSA Spying Scandal: Blackmail. It is well-documented that governments use information to blackmail and control people. In the Obama years, the first signs have appeared that NSA surveillance will use the information gathered to traffic in scandal, much as Hoover’s FBI once did. In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create “social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible…, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner.” The importance, and challenge, of controlling these local elites cannot be overstated. Whistleblower Edward Snowden has accused the NSA of actually conducting such surveillance. In a December 2013 letter to the Brazilian people, he wrote, “They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target’s reputation.”
Consortium News, What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine? Robert Parry (shown in file photo), July 21, 2014. What I’ve been told by one source is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms. The source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops were actually eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said. Instead of pressing for these kinds of details, the U.S. mainstream press has simply passed on the propaganda coming from the Ukrainian government and the U.S. State Department, including hyping the fact that the Buk system is “Russian-made,” a rather meaningless fact that gets endlessly repeated.
Itar-Tass, Kiev’s evidence of militia’s responsibility for airliner crash faked -- expert, July 20, 2014. A group of experts studied the tape and came to the conclusion that it was made up of numerous unrelated recordings. A tape posted by Ukrainian security services in the Internet and allegedly recording a talk between self-defense fighters about the destruction of a Malaysian airliner is a fake, experts said on Sunday. A group of experts studied the tape and came to the conclusion that it was made up of numerous unrelated recordings. “This audio recording is not an integral file and is made up of several fragments,” said Nikolai Popov, a reputable expert in sound and voice analysis.
Public Intelligence Blog via Linked In, HOPEX Conference in New York City: Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, Robert David Steele Vivas, July 22, 2014. YouTube video (1:23 min.) I was given a front row seat next to Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden’s parents. This is one of the most extraordinary conversations I have ever absorbed. I strongly recommend it in its entirety to every person, but most particularly to those who love the Constitution and the Republic but are concerned about the lack of integrity within the US Government. I talked for about fifteen minutes with Snowden’s parents. His father is a former senior C4I Program Manager for the US Coast Guard and a total patriot. On the basis of this event, my estimation of Snowden and the democratic importance of what he has done has increased from 70% to 90%. Here are the bottom lines and the complete embedded video:
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Treason is sitting idly by being complicit in crimes against humanity and the Constitution, day after day. We need for everyone to honor their oath to defend the Constitution against domestic enemies, not just foreign enemies.
EDWARD SNOWDEN: The entirety of the collection of documents still being harvested for public revelation demonstrate the central role of NSA in the destruction of every major element of the U.S. Constitution.
ELLSBERG & SNOWDEN TOGETHER: Secrecy is an administrative classification, not a legal mandate, and it is being used to criminalize democracy.
Washington Post, Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans, John Napier Tye, July 19, 2014. John Napier Tye served as section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department from January 2011 to April 2014. He is now a legal director of Avaaz, a global advocacy organization. Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.
OpEdNews, Ellsberg and Snowden Rock the House at Hacker Meet Up in NYC, Michael Collins, July 19, 2014. Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden spoke to overflowing conference halls at the Hope X (Hackers On Planet Earth) conference in New York City today. Sponsored by 2600, the hacker's quarterly magazine, the hot topics at this tenth annual conference concerned freedom of the press and fighting government intrusion into the lives of digital activists and the rest of us. (The two presentations will be available from the Hope X archives. I highly recommend the DVD, available from the 2600 website in 10-14 days.)
OpEdNews, What Happened to the Malaysian Airliner? Paul Craig Roberts, July 19, 2014. Contrast the US government's support for Israel's war crimes with the propaganda onslaught against Russia. We are living all over again "Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction," "Assad's use of chemical weapons," "Iranian nukes." Washington has lied for so long that it can't do anything else.
RT, It was Putin’s missile? Pepe Escobar, July 19, 2014. Why? Because the CIA said so. Because Anglo-American corporate media –- from CNN to Fox (who tried to buy Time Warner, which owns CNN) -– said so. Because the President of the United States (POTUS) said so. And mostly because Kiev had vociferously said so in the first place. It doesn’t matter that President Putin has stressed the MH17 tragedy must be investigated objectively. A simple search reveals that MH17 was in fact diverted 200km north from the usual flight path taken by Malaysian Airlines in the previous days – and plunged right in the middle of a war zone. Why? What sort of communication had MH17 received from the Kiev air control tower? Kiev has been mute about it. Yet the answer would be simple, had Kiev released the Air Traffic Control recording of the tower talking to flight MH17; Malaysia did it after flight MH370 disappeared forever.
President Barack Obama talks with Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and John Podesta, Counselor to the President, in the Outer Oval Office before delivering a statement on the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the situation in Ukraine, July 18, 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
Consortium News, Facts Needed on Malaysian Plane Shoot-Down, Ray McGovern, July 18, 2014. Exclusive: As usual, the mainstream U.S. media is rushing to judgment over the crash of a Malaysian airliner in war-torn eastern Ukraine, but the history of U.S. government’s deceptions might be reason to pause and let a careful investigation uncover the facts, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
RT, Malaysia MH17 crash: 10 questions Russia wants Ukraine to answer, July 18, 2014. Some Western states and Kiev rushed to find Russian involvement in the MH17 crash having no evidence to back their claims, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister told RT. He invited Ukraine to answer 10 questions to prove their commitment to an impartial probe. Speaking to RT, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov has criticized Western countries for jumping to conclusions just “24 hours after the crash” while there is no evidence.
Washington Post, Initial U.S. assessment: Pro-Russian rebels fired missile that downed Malaysia jet, Michael Birnbaum and Anthony Faiola, July 18, 2014. A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment indicates that a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine was shot down by an antiaircraft missile fired by pro-Russian separatists, U.S. officials said Friday. “Our assessment is that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.... was likely downed by an SA-11 missile, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine,” Samantha Power, shown in a photo and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council on Friday.
Zero Hedge, The Final Moments Of Flight MH-17: The Russian Side Of The Story, Tyler Durden, July 18, 2014. Yesterday, we laid out extensively what the official Ukrainian case was when it came to "proof" that Russian separatists had launched the Buk missile which allegedly took down flight MH-17; we also highlighted several glaring inconsistencies and questions that still remained open after the "incriminatory" YouTube clip release. So far, any international response has been muted to this hastily prepared evidence of Russian involvement, although the day is still young. So what about the Russian side? Below we present the key arguments made by Russia to suggest that not it, but Ukraine, was responsible for taking down the Malaysian Boeing.
Mediaite, NBC News Reverses Decision, Will Put Ayman Mohyeldin Back in Gaza, Matt Wilstein, July 18, 2014. On Thursday, NBC News reportedly pulled correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of the Gaza Strip citing “security concerns.” Meanwhile, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel was allowed to stay in the region. But now, it appears the network has reversed its decision and will be sending the reporter back to Gaza to continue his coverage as soon as possible.
Mediaite, Another RT Anchor Resigns: ‘I’m for the Truth,’ Tina Nguyen, July 18, 2014. Sara Firth, (shown in a photo) a London-based correspondent for RT, announced her resignation from the Kremlin-owned press outlet today via Twitter, while alleging that she had been, in her own words, “taking a paycheck” to spread Russian propaganda.
Intercept/First Look, NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children, Glenn Greenwald (shown in file photo), July 17, 2014. Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience. Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli planes of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. Mohyeldin was removed completely from reporting on Gaza by a top NBC executive, David Verdi, who ordered Mohyeldin to leave Gaza immediately. Over the last two weeks, Mohyeldin’s reporting has been far more balanced and even-handed than the standard pro-Israel coverage that dominates establishment American press coverage. As a result, neocon and “pro-Israel” websites have repeatedly attacked him.
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Schieffer Series: Iraq, Syria, and ISIS: A New Middle East? July 17, 2014 (video). CBS Chief Washington Correspondent and Anchor Bob Schieffer moderated a forum on the Mideast and Ukraine. It featured CSIS experts Heather Conley and Kathleen Hicks (sitting at far left and right, respectively), with Institute for the Study of War President Kimberly Kagan, whose family is prominent in recent war policies. Kagan's husband, Frederick Kagan and brother-in-law Robert Kagan, have long advocated United States war in Iraq to advance American interests. Robert Kagan's wife is U.S. Ambassador for the European Union Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the Ukraine's government change in February and the ongoing United States policies opposing Russia and dissenters.
Zero Hedge, Ukraine Releases YouTube Clip "Proving" Rebels Shot Down Malaysian Flight MH-17, Tyler Durden, July 17, 2014. Moments ago Ukraine released what may be just that missing "YouTube" link, when it unveiled a 2:23 minute video supposedly proving that "militants of 'Bes' group shot down with a Russian anti-aircraft missile a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 passenger jet heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur." In the clip, Ukraine presents what it alleges are several recorded conversations, first of all between a pro-Russian separatist and his coordinator Vasyl Geranin, who is said to be a colonel of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. If indeed all the participants in this YouTube are as they have been presented then surely this does put the pro-Russian rebel movement in a very unsavory light. And yet, something here smells very fishy. First, the Russian version of the clip, which was released in parallel, and shown below, there is a major discrepancy in the time stamp, with the English-dubbed version showing the conversation between Major and Grek taking place at 5:11 pm and 5:32 pm, while the original one has it at 4:33 pm, 5:14 pm and 5:32 pm.
Washington Post, Assad mocks the West as he starts new 7-year term in office, Liz Sly and Ahmed Ramadan, July 16, 2014. At his inauguration, the Syrian leader says events in the region prove him right about terrorism. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (shown in file photo) declared victory over those who had sought to overthrow him as he embarked on a third term in office, buoyed by a growing extremist threat to the region that has helped cement his hold on power. A confident Assad made it clear that he no longer perceives a challenge to his 14-year-old presidency, now extended by seven more years.
Ithaca Voice, Editorial: Sentence against Ithaca drones protester is a farce and an outrage, Jeff Stein, July 16, 2014. An Ithaca, New York woman crossed the street and stood for a few minutes where she wasn’t supposed to stand. Then she crossed back to where it was OK to stand. Now she’s going to jail for a year. There are plenty of reasons to deplore the excessive jail sentence that DeWitt Town Justice David S. Gideon handed down last week to Mary Anne Grady Flores, a 58-year-old grandmother of three. Here are seven of them: 1 — Why the max? The Judge David Gideon (shown in a photo at right) won’t say. The probation department had recommended no jail time. Gideon instead threw the book at Grady Flores: a maximum sentence of one year in jail. In his five-page ruling, the judge wrote, “It is the opinion of this Court that this defendant would simply thumb her nose at the law once again if the Court would sentence her to either a Conditional Discharge or Probation…” Click to read more.
New York Times, Emerging Nations Bloc to Open Development Bank, Simon Romero, July 15, 2014. At a meeting in Brazil, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa announced on Tuesday that they were establishing a development bank to challenge the influence of venerable institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The New Development Bank, which will be based in Shanghai, will open with an initial capitalization of $50 billion. India will name the first president, according to a statement from the leaders of the so-called BRICS group of nations who have gathered in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, and Russia and Brazil will select other top officers. The five-nation bloc also said it would create a $100 billion fund of currency reserves for members to use during balance of payments crises. Pointing to concerns that the United States Federal Reserve was stepping back in its aggressive efforts to stimulate the American economy, possibly opening the way for interest rate increases in the United States, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said the fund could mitigate the volatility that could emerge from such shifts. Posing for a group photo were, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, President Xi Jinping of China and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Info Wars, U.S. Govt. Editing Wikipedia to Smear Independent Media Personalities? Paul Joseph Watson, July 15, 2014. Entry from IP traced to U.S. House of Representatives describes Alex Jones as 'Kremlin disinformation agent.' Edits to the Wikipedia profiles of Alex Jones and Abby Martin which malign the two alternative media personalities as Kremlin propagandists are linked to an IP address associated with the House of Representatives, prompting suggestions that the U.S. government is involved in an online smear campaign. Yesterday evening a Wikipedia user attempted to edit radio host Alex Jones’ profile to add the sentence, “Following his appearances on Russia Today, there were allegations that he was a disinformation agent with ties to the Kremlin.” A simple trace on the IP address that posted the entry reveals that the computer involved “is registered to Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives.” A separate edit describes RT host Abby Martin as a “Russian propagandist,” despite the fact that Martin made headlines back in March for publicly criticizing Russia’s involvement in Crimea on her own show. The IP address leads back to the same computer. The notion of governments and large institutions gaming websites in order to spread disinformation is a firmly established practice. According to journalist Glenn Greenwald, the objective of the program is to, “inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets.” Last month it emerged that the U.S. federal government was collaborating with Wikipedia editors to ‘improve’ Wikipedia entries related to government information.
Jonathan.Turley.com, Former Michigan Prosecutor Accused Of Murder For Hire Scheme To Kill Lawyer, Jonathan Turley (shown in file photo), July 15, 2014. Former prosecutor Clarence Gomery is in jail after a court imposed a $5 million bond for his release pending trial on charges that he tried to arrange to have attorney Christopher Cooke killed in a murder-for-hire scheme. The bad blood with Cooke is believed to stem from his representation of Gomery's former business client in a heated litigation.
Mother Jones, 2008 Obama Would Have Slammed 2014 Obama for This Case, Nick Baumann, July 14, 2014. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama hammered George W. Bush for expanding government secrecy. Obama promised that his would be the most transparent and open administration ever. In particular, Obama criticized the Bush administration's use of a legal loophole known as the state secrets privilege. After Obama took office, his attorney general, Eric Holder, promised to significantly limit the use of this controversial legal doctrine. Despite this promise, Obama continued to assert the privilege to squelch cases about Bush-era abuses. In one instance, the Justice Department scuttled a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he had been kidnapped by the CIA and had his penis and testicles cut with a scalpel in a Moroccan prison. And now Obama is broadening the use of this legal maneuver: In the past 18 months, the Obama administration has twice cited state secrets to prevent federal courts from considering lawsuits challenging its use of the no-fly list.
Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA), Little oversight as Nestle taps Morongo reservation water, Ian James, July 14, 2014. Among the windmills and creosote bushes of San Gorgonio Pass, a nondescript beige building stands flanked by water tanks. A sign at the entrance displays the logo of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, with water flowing from a snowy mountain. Semi-trucks rumble in and out through the gates, carrying load after load of bottled water.
Barack Obama and George W. Bush stroll on White House grounds in 2009 following Obama's election on a platform opposing Bush policies (White House Photo).
Politico, Cheney family sounds off after Iraq protests, Jonathan Topaz, July 14, 2014. Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, calling it “absolutely the right thing to do.” The Wyoming Republican made his comments at a Politico lunch conversation with his wife, Lynne, and daughter Liz at Washington’s Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, a lively event that featured jokes, a standing-room-only crowd and a few interruptions — protesters delayed the event twice, screaming at the former vice president for being a “war criminal.” The three Cheneys — who rarely appear together — struck a largely defiant tone on many of the major political and policy issues of the day, from national security to electoral politics. On one occasion, Liz Cheney was asked what the Republican Party should do on climate change. “Nothing,” she said.
National Journal, Nigeria's Girls Have Been Held Captive for Three Months, Emma Roller, July 14, 2014. The Nigerian government is practically telling them, "You're on your own."
New York Times, U.N. Council, in Unanimous Vote, Backs Aid Delivery to Syrians in Rebel Areas, Rick Gladstone, July 14, 2014. The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on Monday to authorize the delivery of cross-border aid to civilians in rebel-held areas without the Syrian government’s permission. Sylvie Lucas, the ambassador from Luxembourg, said the Syrian government’s denial of aid to rebel-held areas was the main reason for the resolution. Under the resolution, she said, “the consent of the Syrian government will no longer be necessary.” It was the third time that Russia and China had joined in a Syria resolution with the three other permanent members of the Council — Britain, France and the United States — which have strongly supported the moderate elements of Mr. Assad’s political opposition.
OpEdNews, 'Ukrainian Nazis crucify a baby and force mother to watch then murder her' -- The Saker, Michael Collins (shown in a file photo), July 14, 2014. On Saturday, I reported the stunning threat of reprisal killings by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko: Ukraine President Threatens Resistance with Nazi Style Reprisal Killings. This remarkable report by the highly traveled blog, Vineyard of the Saker, describes a chilling incident alleged to have taken place at the hands of Ukraine forces in the Donbass region of that country where citizens are under attack by their own government. The videos are provided without alteration. When will the Obama administration and Congress cut off the extremist, violence obsessed Ukraine central government?
Preamble to video below by Gleb Bazov: Considering the controversy this eyewitness account [by refugee Galina Pyshnyak] has already generated (and will continue to generate), it deserves a thorough review from the standpoint of legal and evidentiary rules. That review will be generated and provided over the next several days. For now, I can offer you my professional expertise, as a courtroom advocate with eight years of experience before all levels of Ontario courts and also the professional opinion of a forensic pediatrician with twenty years of experience investigating crimes against children. Both of us believe this account to be genuine, authentic and highly likely to be accepted as truth in court. Further reasoning can be gleaned from the following:
- Preamble to Galina Pyshnyak's First Interview;
- Preamble Pyshnyak's Second Interview;
- A reader's comment and response (Second Interview);
- Further commentary (Second Interview); and
- Fyodor Berezin's report on Ukrainian atrocities.
New York Times, Roberts’s Incremental Approach Frustrates Supreme Court Allies, Adam Liptak, July 14, 2014. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (shown in file photo) often ruled with the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, but without aggressively rejecting precedents, much to the chagrin of the right side of the court. When the Supreme Court term started last fall, it seemed that the legal landscape might soon be littered with corpses of overruled precedents. Briefs in at least eight cases asked that important decisions be overturned. Some June, though, all the precedents survived. Some were battered; some were teetering; and some were hollowed out. But all lived, at least in name. This was a disappointment to the court’s three most conservative justices, and it illuminated a fault line on the court’s right side. By my count, there were 13 unambiguous votes to overrule precedents last term. Eleven came from the court’s three most conservative members: five from Justice Clarence Thomas, four from Justice Antonin Scalia and two from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. (Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg pitched in with one vote each.)
Washington Post, From CNN host to speaking out against teacher tenure, Paul Farhi, July 14, 2014. Campbell Brown has left journalism for advocacy and is getting into the contentious public education battle. xxx
Politico, Cheney family sounds off after Iraq protests, Jonathan Topaz, July 14, 2014. Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, calling it “absolutely the right thing to do.” The Wyoming Republican said with regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, “I believed in it then, I look back on it now, it was absolutely the right thing to do.” Cheney made his comments at a Politico Playbook lunch conversation with his wife, Lynne, and daughter Liz at Washington’s Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, a lively event that featured jokes, a standing-room-only crowd and a few interruptions — protesters delayed the event twice, screaming at the former vice president for being a “war criminal.” One protester screamed before being escorted out, “You destroyed Iraq, DC! You destroyed Iraq!” The three Cheneys — who rarely appear together — struck a largely defiant tone on many of the major political and policy issues of the day, from national security to electoral politics. On one occasion, Liz Cheney was asked what the Republican Party should do on climate change. “Nothing,” she said.
Time Magazine, IRS to Rubber-Stamp Tax-Exempt Status for Most Charities After Scandal, Massimo Calabresi, July 13, 2014. Amid ongoing controversy over its scrutiny of nonprofits, the Internal Revenue Service has decided it will no longer screen approximately 80% of the organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status each year, a change that will ease the creation of small charities while doing away with a review intended to counter fraud and prevent political and other non-charitable groups from misusing the tax code. As of July 1, any group that pays a $400 fee and declares on a three-page online form that it has annual income of less than $50,000, total assets of less than $250,000 and is in compliance with the tax-code requirements of a charity will automatically be allowed to accept donations that are tax-deductible for the donors. Previously the groups had to fill out a detailed 26-page form, submit multiple supporting documents and provide a narrative description of their intended activities.
Guardian, Exclusive: Snowden Condems Brtain Emergency Surveillance Bill, Ewen MacAskill, July 13, 2014. The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned the new surveillance bill being pushed through the UK's parliament this week, expressing concern about the speed at which it is being done, lack of public debate, fear-mongering and what he described as increased powers of intrusion. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Moscow, Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war. "I mean we don't have bombs falling." He found the urgency with which the British government was moving extraordinary and said it mirrored a similar move in the US in 2007 when the Bush administration was forced to introduce legislation, the Protect America Act, citing the same concerns about terrorist threats and the NSA losing cooperation from telecom and internet companies. "I mean the NSA could have written this draft," he said. The interview with Snowden lasted seven hours. One of only a handful of interviews since he sought asylum in Russia a year ago, it was wide-ranging, from the impact of the global debate he unleashed on surveillance and privacy to fresh insights into life inside the NSA. The full interview will be published later this week. Snowden is shown in a file photo from a previous interview.
Washington Post, Russia warns Ukraine of ‘irreversible consequences’ after cross-border shelling, Karoun Demirjian and Michael Birnbaum July 13, 2014. Russia on Sunday accused Ukraine of lobbing a shell over the border and killing a Russian civilian and warned of “irreversible consequences,” in a sharp escalation of rhetoric that raised fears of a Russian invasion in Ukraine’s east. The accusation, which Ukrainian officials denied, set off furious denunciations in Russia, with one senior legislator calling for pinpoint airstrikes on Ukrainian soil of the sort he said Israel was making in the Gaza Strip.
New York Times, Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t, Walt Bogdanich, July 12, 2014. How One College Handled a Sexual Assault Complaint. She was 18 years old, a freshman, and had been on campus for just two weeks when one Saturday night last September her friends grew worried because she had been drinking and suddenly disappeared. In the early-morning hours on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York, a friend said, he found her — bent over a pool table as a football player appeared to be sexually assaulting her from behind in a darkened dance hall with six or seven people watching and laughing. Later, records show, a sexual-assault nurse offered this preliminary assessment: blunt force trauma within the last 24 hours indicating “intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.” It took the college just 12 days to investigate the rape report, hold a hearing and clear the football players. The football team went on to finish undefeated in its conference, while the woman was left, she said, to face the consequences — threats and harassment for accusing members of the most popular sports team on campus.
OpEdNews, Obama administration drops investigation into CIA spying on US Senate, Patrick Martin, July 12, 2014. The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would not investigate charges that the CIA had spied on members of the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whitewashing the brazenly illegal actions of the US intelligence apparatus. The department will also not investigate countercharges by the CIA that Senate staffers had gained unauthorized access to CIA documents, effectively equating the two and prompting the corporate-controlled media (which have largely buried the story) to portray the action as a neutral, "hands-off" position in a murky dispute between the Senate and the CIA. Even the way the Justice Department announced its decision underscores the supremacy of the intelligence apparatus over the elected institutions that nominally hold sway in Washington. The department informed the CIA Wednesday that it would not investigate either criminal referral, but it waited to tell the Senate committee until Thursday. The response of leading Senate Democrats was a further demonstration of their prostration before the intelligence agencies. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared, "I think what the CIA did to my senators is wrong. I'm going to drop it at that."
Observer, Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA 'torture flights,' Jamie Doward and Ian Cobain, July 12, 2014. Police given crucial logs about Diego Garcia's role in rendition program when it was allegedly used as a secret prison. Crucial logs revealing flights to a British overseas territory when it was allegedly used as a secret US prison are in the possession of the police, the Observer has learned. Despite repeated demands, details of the flights have not been shared with lawyers and MPs, who for years have been investigating the role played by Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian ocean, in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
OpEd News, Ukraine- Kiev's Genocide: What's Happening in Slovyansk, George Eliason, July 2014. On July 5th the news coming from Slovyansk exceeded the horror we knew was coming when the militia departed. On the first day of the 'liberation' 116 people between 25-40 were killed without charge or trial. The executions are still going on in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. Crews with dogs search the apartments, and without even asking any questions shoot people in front of their families. One person that escaped reported seeing a six-year-old he knew nailed to a sign post, as the soldier laughing. The father ran out of the building and was shot as he begged for his child's life. Another child, just three-years-old was crucified on a bulletin board by Kiev Bandera and his mother was forced to watch. The mother was then dragged around by a tank. The woman was the wife of a militia member. Newly installed Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko (shown with President Obama in June) promised that 100 Russian militants would die for every national guardsman.
Tennessean (Nashville), John Seigenthaler, longtime Tennessean editor, dies at 86, July 12, 2014. John Seigenthaler, a legendary Tennessee journalist, intimate confidant to two near-presidents and fierce advocate for racial equality, died Friday. He was 86. Seigenthaler (shown in a portrait) passed away peacefully at home. "We celebrate his life — his devotion to social justice, his advocacy of human rights, and his enduring loyalty to friends and family," said his son, John Michael Seigenthaler. "He was proud of his hometown, Nashville, and grateful for the opportunity to share his energy and passion with this community."
Bergen Record, Sources: Port Authority pressed by Christie administration to hire gov's former law firm, Shawn Boburg, July 7, 2014. The Port Authority fast-tracked the hiring of a law firm with strong ties to Governor Christie and gave it millions of dollars in legal work after the Christie administration pressed officials to hire the firm in 2010, according to internal agency documents and two sources familiar with the firm’s selection. The firm, Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski, where Christie began his legal career and was a partner before becoming New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor in 2002, has earned at least $6.3 million from the Port Authority since 2010, records show. Two former agency officials with knowledge of the hiring said Christie administration officials in Trenton instructed the Port Authority to find work for the Cranford-based firm in 2010, the same year Christie came into office.
FireDogLake, CIA, Senate and a Constitutional Crisis Resolved (not in favor of the Constitution), Peter Van Buren, July 11, 2014. The DOJ won’t investigate Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s “grave concerns” the CIA “violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.” On July 10, 2014, DOJ released a short statement: “The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation.” There will be no reckoning of what the CIA did to conceal or influence the Senate report. Previously, in 2012, the Justice Department closed an inquiry into prosecuting low-level CIA practitioners of torture without bringing any charges. Sen. Dianne Feinstein appears to have made no comment on the DOJ decision despite her central role in all this and previous claims of unconstitutional actions by the Executive. As this is written, her most recent public remarks deal with immigration. The last reference found on her official website to the torture report is from April 2014. The CIA attacks on the Senate, designed to impede, alter or influence the outcome of a report on torture, coupled with a lack of concern from the White House and the Department of Justice, as well as apparently by the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee itself, are another example of our new world, a Post-Constitutional America where the old rules of an aging republic no longer apply.
First Look/Intercept, Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction, Glenn Greenwald, July 11, 2014. On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered the Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration—while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention—pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom. But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials— including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander—not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force the Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it. How many times do Obama administration officials have to be caught misleading the public before U.S. media outlets will stop assuming their claims to be true?
Huffington Post, Former New York City Police and Correction Commissioner, A Time for Criminal Justice Reform, Bernard Kerik, July 11, 2014. High school dropout. U.S. Army Military Police Officer. Highly decorated undercover cop and narcotics detective. New York City Department of Correction Commissioner. Police Commissioner of the City of New York. United States Secretary of Homeland Security Nominee. Convicted Felon. My life has been a series of highs and lows. But now I am embarking on the next chapter, and one I believe will define my legacy: Reformer. Today I want to use my unique set of criminal justice experiences -- from both sides of the prison wall -- to help end the mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent offenders.
OpEd News, Ukraine President Threatens Resistance with Nazi -Style Reprisal Killings, Michael Collins, July 11, 2014. Obama administration lapdog, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, threatened the Eastern Ukraine resistance with harsh punishment for defending themselves against his government's military assault on their towns and cities. Reuters reported the following promise of reprisal: "For every soldier's life, the militants will pay with scores and hundreds of their own. Not a single terrorist will avoid responsibility; each will get what they deserve." Poroshenko and his comrades were reacting to a major resistance victory against Ukraine's regular army. Somewhere between 20 and 40 Ukrainian troops were killed in an attack by resistance forces under the command of Igor Strelkov. Poroshenko failed to note that the missiles he claimed were used against Ukraine regulars are the same types of weapons the Kiev government used against cities and towns in the contested, densely populated Donbass region under attack.
Washington Post, Obama’s counterterrorism blueprint looks good, on paper, David Ignatius (shown in file photo), July 10, 2014. His counterterrorism blueprint looks good, on paper. Yet it hasn’t achieved its goals. In President Obama’s sometimes maddeningly cautious foreign policy, you can see him struggling to answer what may be the hardest question of his presidency: How should the United States project power in a disorderly world without making the same mistakes it did in Iraq and Afghanistan? Obama is emphatic about what he doesn’t want to do. He wants to avoid “boots on the ground” with U.S. troops; he wants to avoid unilateral actions that isolate the United States; he prefers quiet partnerships that shield America and its allies from domestic political criticism. He is willing to use what amounts to targeted killing. Instead of significant U.S. military intervention, Obama seeks a network of partnerships stretching from Morocco to South Asia. It’s a strategy in which Obama, despite his legalistic temperament, plays a role I’ve described as “covert commander in chief.” He relies on the two instruments of national power he most trusts: the CIA and its armed drones and “special activities,” overseen by Director John Brennan, one of his closest aides; and Special Operations Command’s “Global SOF Network,” developed by Adm. William McRaven the architect of the Osama bin Laden raid and perhaps Obama’s favorite military adviser." Editor's Note: William McRaven, born in 1955 and shown in a file photo, is a Navy admiral in the United States Navy who has commanded since 2011 the Tampa, Fl-based U.S. Special Operations Command.
Mediaite, ‘Do You Know Who the F*** I Am?’ -- FL Cop Pulls over the Wrong Guy, Josh Feldman, July 15, 2014. A Miami cop pulled someone over last month on a routine traffic stop, but the ensuing mess resulted in an internal investigation because it turns out the man this police officer pulled over was actually a higher-ranking officer in the same police department. Officer Marcel Jackson pulled over Lieutenant David Ramras and things got intense really quickly. In a video captured on Jackson’s GoPro camera, you can see them fighting and Jackson forcing Ramras to the ground. Other officers nearby run up to break the two of them up. Ramras angrily shouts, “Do you know who the fuck I am?” He then tells Jackson who he is. Needless to say, things haven’t turned out well for either of them. Jackson was relieved with pay, and Ramras has been reassigned. There is currently an investigation underway into the matter.
Daily Mail, Media Tech's Biggest Names Gather in Sun Valley, Ted Thornhill, July 9, 2014. The great and the good of the media and technology world have jetted into the picturesque Idahoan mountain resort of Sun Valley for the annual Allen & Company conference, where champagne sipping and deal-making are the order of the day. The airport 'parking lot' was congested with private and corporate aircraft as movers and shakers on such as Rupert Murdoch, Google’s Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, eBay’s John Donahoe, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Twitter's Dick Costolo, LinkedIn's Jeff Weiner and AOL's Tim Armstrong flew in for the exclusive affair, which is largely closed to media. It’s likely that the seeds of several major mergers will be sown at Sun Valley, with Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, the world’s second biggest media company, rumored to be considering a buyout of Time Warner.
FireDogLake, Chelsea Clinton Makes $900,000 for Doing Almost Nothing, Peter Van Buren (shown in file photo), July 9, 2014. A feature of oligarchy is the dynastic ascension of new leaders, children who rise to positions of power and wealth simply by the luck of birth. We welcome Chelsea Clinton to the club. Chelsea jumped more than a few rungs. Despite never having attended journalism school or otherwise having worked in the field, Chelsea was hired by NBC News to do feel-good stories as part of their “Making a Difference” series. Though the starting salary for such positions is already a chunky $100,000-200,000, Chelsea is being paid $600,000 a year for the same work. All told, in her almost three-year tenure at NBC, Chelsea has worked on all of 14 stories. NBC has an eye for talent, at least the talent of children of important politicians. In 2009, it hired George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna to serve as a correspondent on the Today” show. In 2011, it hired Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan as a contributor on MSNBC.
Al.com, Readers pick Don Siegelman as Alabama's worst governor since World War II, Mike Cason, July 8, 2014. A poll that rated President Obama as the worst U.S. president since World War II made lots of headlines last week. Thirty-three percent of respondents to the poll by Quinnipiac University rated Obama the worst, while 28 percent gave that distinction to George W. Bush. The votes are counted, and AL.com readers said Don Siegelman is Alabama's worst governor since World War II. A little more than 3,800 votes were cast, with 27 percent naming Siegelman the worst of the 13 governors since 1945. Gov. Robert Bentley nosed out four-termer George Wallace for second place, with both getting about 15 percent. Guy Hunt ran fourth with 13 percent, while Fob James was fifth with 10 percent. Familiarity was clearly a huge factor for poll respondents. The last seven governors to serve all ranked among the top seven in the poll. Earlier governors got only tiny percentages. Editor's Note: The Justice Integrity Project has published extensive evidence that Siegelman was framed for political reasons on corruption charges by the Bush Justice Department, with the Obama Justice Department covering up the government's misdeeds in an effort to foster support from the powerful forces that sought Siegelman's imprisonment. He remains imprisoned for 1999 actions that 113 former state attorneys general from more than 40 states describe as a non-crime: reappointing a donor to a state board.
President Barack Obama whistles along to the music as he shoots pool with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in Denver, Colorado on July 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza released July 9).
Institute for Political Economy, Washington’s Arrogance Will Destroy Its Empire, Paul Craig Roberts, July 9, 2014. Alone among the governments in the world, Washington requires sovereign governments to follow Washington’s laws even when Washington’s laws contradict the laws of sovereign countries. The examples are endless. The city upon the hill, the light unto the world, the “indispensable, exceptional government,” kidnapped Roman Seleznyov, the son of a Russian MP, in a foreign country, the Republic of the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Seleznyov was seized by Washington as he boarded a flight to Moscow and was spirited away on a private plane to US controlled territory where he was arrested on bogus fraud charges. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Washington of kidnapping a Russian citizen in “a new hostile move by Washington” against the Russian people. There is no doubt whatsoever that Seleznyov’s kidnapping is illegal. Seleznyov’s father, a member of the Russian legislative body, believes that Washington kidnapped his son in order to exchange him for Edward Snowden. Seleznyov was immediately, without any evidence, charged with imaginary offenses amounting to 30 years in prison.
Tom Dispatch via FireDogLake, Rebecca Gordon: A Nation of Cowards? Tom Engelhardt, July 10, 2014. It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke: a CIA agent and a U.S. Special Operations commando walked into a barbershop. The rest of this mysterious tale surfaced in the U.S. media in early May (only to disappear again shortly thereafter): according to unnamed “American officials,” two armed Yemeni civilians entered that barbershop with the intention of “kidnapping” the Americans, who shot and killed them and were then “whisked” out of the country with the approval of the Yemeni government. For today, set aside the mystery of what in the world was actually going on in that barbershop and just consider the fact that when “they” do it to “us,” there’s no question about what word to use. It’s kidnapping, plain and simple. When we do it to “them” (even when the they turn out to be innocent of any terror crimes), it’s got a far fancier and more comfortable name: “rendition” or “extraordinary rendition.” When they bust into a barbershop in a tony district in the capital city of Yemen, no question what they have in mind. When we do it in Milan, Benghazi, Tripoli, or other major cities, sometimes with the collusion of the local police, sometimes with the help of the local government, sometimes with no locals at all, we’re just “rendering” our victims to “justice.”
Poynter Institute, News Corp. rumored to be putting together a new bid for Tribune newspapers, Rick Edmonds, July 9, 2014. Rumor has it that News Corp — with a $2.5 billion cash kitty for acquisitions — may be mounting a new bid for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the six other Tribune newspapers. Rupert Murdoch and his company were first reported interested in the acquisition (in a story in the L.A. Times and elsewhere) when the papers were being shopped in late 2012 and early 2013.
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Letter urges President Obama to be more transparent, SPJ President David Cullier, July 8, 2014. The Society of Professional Journalists and 37 other journalism and open government groups today called on President Obama to stop practices in federal agencies that prevent important information from getting to the public. Cuiller is shown at right at a recent forum with Emily Richmond, public editor of the Education Writers Association at a recent event documenting the rapid growth of public relations officers controlling media contacts with government agencies. The letter is excerpted below:
Dear President Obama:
You recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government. You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in. Over the past two decades, public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees. This trend has been especially pronounced in the federal government. We consider these restrictions a form of censorship -- an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.
The stifling of free expression is happening despite your pledge on your first day in office to bring “a new era of openness” to federal government – and the subsequent executive orders and directives which were supposed to bring such openness about. Recent research has indicated the problem is getting worse throughout the nation, particularly at the federal level. Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations. Contact is often blocked completely. When public affairs officers speak, even about routine public matters, they often do so confidentially in spite of having the title “spokesperson.” Reporters seeking interviews are expected to seek permission, often providing questions in advance. Delays can stretch for days, longer than most deadlines allow. Public affairs officers might send their own written responses of slick non-answers. Agencies hold on-background press conferences with unnamed officials, on a not-for-attribution basis.
Professors' Blog, US State Department publicly endorses Ukraine’s “every right” to aerial bombing the ethnic-Russian population in Donbass, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, July 8, 2014. The following dialog took place during the US State Department’s Press briefing with journalists on July 7, 2014. A journalist takes up the issue of the civilians “killed in their homes and backyards,” and whether the US government would do anything to stop those war atrocities. “These [ethnic-Russian] people died by airstrikes ordered by Kiev, not by Russia and not by the separatists,” said the journalist. The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded, “The government of Ukraine is defending the country of Ukraine, and I think they have every right to do so, and also the international community.” The journalist replied, "And these [ethnic-Russian] people have the right to live, don’t they?" Psaki said, "The Ukrainian people have the right to live; without Russia-backed separatists attacking their homes and going to their buildings."
Dr. Ferrada de Noli, shown in a file photo, is a longtime professor of medicine and human rights activist based in Sweden and Italy. He commented in the blog post above: "The State Department spokesperson could very well have chosen to answer, for instance: “Yes, those people [the ethnic-Russian victims of the aerial bombardment] have the right to live – as every Ukrainian.” But instead Psaki chose to distinguish between 'The Ukrainian people' AND the 'Russia-backed separatists' thus giving clearly the impression of supporting the racial supremacist notion of the Ukrainian government: that in the Ukraine there are 'Ukrainians' with rights, and 'Russians' without."
OpEdNews, Virtual Economy's Phantom Job Gains Are Based on Statistical Fraud, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), July 7, 2014. What will the government do if a recession cannot be hidden? If years of unprecedented money printing and Keynesian fiscal deficits have not brought recovery, what will bring recovery? How far down will US living standards fall for the 99% in order that the 1% can become ever more mega-rich while Washington wastes our diminishing substance exercising hegemony over the world? Washington lies to you about jobs and economic recovery just as Washington lied to you about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Assad's use of chemical weapons, Russian invasion of Ukraine, Waco, and any number of false flag or nonexistent attacks such as Tonkin Gulf. Don't believe the spin that you are unemployed because you are shiftless and prefer government handouts to work. The government does not want you to know that you are unemployed because the corporations offshored American jobs to foreigners and because economic policy only serves the oversized banks and the one percent. Just as the jobs and inflation numbers are rigged and the financial markets are rigged, the corrupt Obama regime is now planning to rig US manufacturing and trade statistics in order to bury all evidence of offshoring's adverse impact on our economy.
CSR Wire.com, A Neo-Cold War Ground: Strange Bedfellows, John Perkins, July 7, 2014. A Neo-Cold War is brewing. We’ve witnessed it in Russia’s tense relationship with the United States over Ukraine and Crimea and in China’s determination to gain economic leverage in countries where Washington and Wall Street have ruled supreme for decades. To add to this situation, conflicts in the Middle East have escalated. Russia and China are flexing their muscles and challenging the superpower status of the US by forming agreements and organizations such as the BRICS Development Bank. In the midst of these shifts of power, there is a significant additional factor in the geopolitical equation. Islamic militants in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria right now, have beaten back history’s most well-financed and best-equipped military in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the moment, the animosity between Sunnis and Shi’ites is preventing a unified Islamic movement; nevertheless, the Islamists have established themselves as major players.
Time, An obscure private Ukrainian natural gas company has been hiring friends and family of Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, while seeking to influence Congress, Michael Scherer, July 7, 2014. When Vice President Joe Biden’s son, R. Hunter Biden, joined the board of a private Ukrainian oil and natural gas company this spring, he explained his new job as a legal one, disconnected from any effort to influence the Obama Administration. In a press release, the younger Biden, shown in a file photo, boasted of his abilities on issues like improving corporate transparency. But the company, Burisma Holdings, did not disclose at the time the scope of their plans for influencing the U.S. government. Recently released documents show that Biden’s hiring coincided with the launch of a new effort to lobby members of Congress about the role of the company in Ukraine and the country’s quest for energy independence. David Leiter, a former Senate chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed on to work as a lobbyist for Burisma on May 20, 2014, about a week after Biden announced he was joining the company, according to lobbying disclosures filed this month. Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company. Biden’s office referred questions to a Burisma spokesman, who says Biden has not been involved in contacting members of Congress or the Obama Administration about the company. But Burisma is contacting officials in Washington through Leiter’s lobbying firm, ML Strategies.
Al.com, It's decided then: AL.com readers choose Mitt Romney in online poll for the 2016 GOP nomination, Jim Stinson, July 7, 2014. The news that Republican Mitt Romney's poll numbers are better than President Barack Obama's -- while Obama's poll numbers are at new lows -- has apparently emboldened many former Mitt Romney supporters. Romney came in first in an online readers' poll. Not by a little, but by a lot. The readers' poll was based on findings from the Quinnipiac University poll, which surprised many. The Quinnipiac poll ranked Obama as the worst president since World War II. So we asked about his prospects in 2016. Mitt Romney ran away with it. He got 63.67 percent of the votes cast, or 936 votes. So he didn't get a plurality in a crowded field; he got a large majority. "Someone else" got 10.54 percent of the vote. Jeb Bush did poorly. The former Florida governor, brother of former President George W. Bush, came in third. Bush got 7.28 percent of the votes, or 107 votes. ll other named Republican candidates got less than 5 percent.
New York Times, The Next Act of the Neocons, Jacob Heilbrunn, July 5, 2014. The neoconservative movement is back, using the turmoil in Iraq and Ukraine to claim that it is President Obama, not the movement’s interventionist foreign policy that dominated early George W. Bush-era Washington, that bears responsibility for the current round of global crises. Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy. To be sure, the careers and reputations of the older generation of neocons — Paul D. Wolfowitz, L. Paul Bremer III, Douglas J. Feith, Richard N. Perle — are permanently buried in the sands of Iraq. And not all of them are eager to switch parties: In April, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, said that as president Mrs. Clinton would “be a dutiful chaperone of further American decline.” But others appear to envisage a different direction — one that might allow them to restore the neocon brand, at a time when their erstwhile home in the Republican Party is turning away from its traditional interventionist foreign policy. It’s not as outlandish as it may sound. Consider the historian Robert Kagan, the author of a recent, roundly praised article in the New Republic that amounted to a neo-neocon manifesto. He has not only avoided the vitriolic tone that has afflicted some of his intellectual brethren but also co-founded an influential bipartisan advisory group during Mrs. Clinton’s time at the State Department.
Washington Post, In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are, Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani, July 5, 2014. Files provided by Snowden show the extent ordinary Web users are caught in the net. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by the Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden (shown in a screen shot from a London television interview) provided in full to the Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but the Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.
Washington Post, Rebels flee Slovyansk as Ukrainian forces recapture key city, Karoun Demirjian, July 5, 2014. Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east were dealt a major setback Saturday when they were forced to flee a key stronghold city after days of battling government forces, Ukrainian officials and rebels said. Many of the rebels who had captured and held Slovyansk since April left the city, relocating their headquarters in nearby Kramatorsk, pro-Russian officials said. The recapture of Slovyansk is a significant step for Ukrainian forces, which have been trying to establish control over the area since a unilateral cease-fire expired earlier this week. President Petro Poroshenko ordered troops to raise the Ukrainian flag over the city, with jubilant officials trumpeting the rebels’ retreat as a major victory for the government. Rebel leaders said that pro-Russian forces retreated only to protect civilians.
Broward Bulldog via Miami Herald, New 9/11 records offer tantalizing puzzle pieces, Dan Christensen (shown in file photo) and Anthony Summers, July 5, 2014. An ongoing lawsuit has pried loose new records linked to a family of Sarasota Saudis who left home in a hurry just before 9/11. Just two weeks before the 9/11 hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, members of a Saudi family abruptly vacated their luxury home near Sarasota, leaving a brand new car in the driveway, a refrigerator full of food, fruit on the counter — and an open safe in a master bedroom.
Rutherford Institute, Tyranny Resurrected, John Whitehead, July 5, 2014. It is fashionable in some quarters to debunk the Founding Fathers who guaranteed Americans civil liberties with a Constitution. The debunkers have helped the New Tyrants destroy the Constitution. Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials. Imagine that in this very same country, you’re watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you on the off chance you’re doing something illegal. Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind while in this country, it may get you arrested and, in some circumstances, shot by police. If you’re thinking this sounds like America today, you wouldn’t be far wrong. However, the scenario described above took place more than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters.
Flashback: YouTube, Meaning of July 4th for the Negro -- Frederick Douglass Speech, Listen to and read text from The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro, written by abolitionist and former slave: Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass presented this speech on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, NY. This speech concludes with a poem, a peace prayer, written by William Lloyd Garrison.
CBS News via Crimesider, Calif. officer beating woman on roadside, Staff report, July 4, 2014. A cellphone video depicting a California Highway Patrol office punching a woman along the side of a freeway Tuesday evening has the agency investigating accusations of excessive force. In the video posted to YouTube, an officer is seen punching a woman [identified as a grandmother, Marlene Pinnock, 51] on the ground up to 15 times in the face as she walked along a highway in Santa Monica. She does not appear to resist, although what started the confrontation is unclear, reports CBS Los Angeles. Authorities said they are investigating.
Washington Post, CIA employee’s quest to release information ‘destroyed my entire career,’ Greg Miller, July 4, 2014. A 19-year veteran of the CIA claims he was fired for trying to make hundreds of once-secret documents public. Jeffrey Scudder shares his story about how his career unraveled. His CIA career included assignments in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, but the most perilous posting for Jeffrey Scudder turned out to be a two-year stint in a sleepy office that looks after the agency’s historical files. It was there that Scudder discovered a stack of articles, hundreds of histories of long-dormant conflicts and operations that he concluded were still being stored in secret years after they should have been shared with the public. To get them released, Scudder submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act — a step that any citizen can take, but one that is highly unusual for a CIA employee. Four years later, the CIA has released some of those articles and withheld others. It also has forced Scudder out. His request set in motion a harrowing sequence. He was confronted by supervisors and accused of mishandling classified information while assembling his FOIA request. In an interview, Scudder, 51, cast his ordeal as a struggle against “mindless” bureaucracy. The case derailed his CIA career, produced no criminal charges from the FBI, and ended with no guarantee that many of the articles he sought will be in the public domain soon.
Associated Press via Washington Post, Ex-Illinois governor emerges, talks death penalty, Staff report, July 4, 2014. George Ryan, an ex-Illinois governor and now an ex-convict, says he’d like to re-engage with the cause he left behind when he went to prison in 2007 — campaigning for the end of the death penalty in the U.S. “Americans should come to their senses,” Ryan said this week in an hour-long interview at his kitchen table. Newly free to speak after a year of federal supervision that followed his more than five years in prison for corruption, Ryan (shown in a file photo) appeared to have recovered some of his old voice and feistiness, in contrast to the subdued figure that emerged a year ago from the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, and ducked briefly into a Chicago halfway house. At his home in Kankakee, south of Chicago, the 80-year-old Republican held forth on capital punishment, the state of American politics and the criminal justice system — though not the difficult details of his own corruption case.
Al Jazeera America, Prosecutorial integrity: Lawyer errors can mean prison for the innocent, Wilson Dizard, July 3, 2014. Reform advocates say making evidence available to both sides could help decrease frequency of legal mistakes. People accused of crimes have many worries, but they might not realize that incompetence can be a prosecutor's most dangerous weapon. Advocates pushing for reform of the justice system say that many U.S. states need to fix their laws to prevent prosecutorial misconduct, so that mistakes by district attorneys don’t send innocent people to prison. Misconduct often occurs when prosecutors fail to turn over evidence to the defense that could prove the suspect’s innocence. This can be merely accidental, with prosecutors failing to recognize the significance of certain evidence that the police and their own office have gathered in the case. "Nobody knows for sure how many wrongfully convicted people there have been,” said Everett Bartlett, president of the Center for Prosecutor Integrity, a nonprofit group pushing for change. “But estimates [suggest that] 3 to 5 percent of those convictions are wrongful,” he said. “So when you look at how many convictions occur each year, we’re really talking about tens of thousands of people who are wrongfully convicted.” Those wrongful convictions affect young African-American males more often than other groups, Bartlett said. And only about 2 percent of prosecutors ever face consequences for prosecutorial misconduct, he said.
OpEdNews, The U.S. Elite Run a Ukrainian Genocide While American Public Are Ignorant of It, Eric Zuesse, July 3, 2014. On July 2, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko resumed unlimited war against the residents of southeastern Ukraine, whom he calls "terrorists" for their wanting not to be killed by his troops. European leaders (especially Merkel of Germany, Hollande of France, and Putin of Russia) urged him not to resume his bombing campaign against the southeast, but the U.S. (specifically President Obama) supports the bombings, and that's enough for Poroshenko. As the U.S. State Department said, "he has a right to defend his country." Reuters reports that Poroshenko (shown in a file photo) gave as his reason for the resumption, "to rid Ukraine of 'parasites'." Adolf Hitler had given the same reason for ethnically cleansing his country.
Institute for Political Economy, Washington Murders Countries, the US Constitution, and the Presstitute Media Makes Americans Complicit, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), July 3, 2014. Thanks to Op-Ed News contributor Eric Zuesse, I can bring to your attention these photographs of what the government in Washington is doing to Ukrainians who protest the theft of their country. Before you wrap yourself in the flag this July 4th, realize that “your” government under Clinton, Bush, and Obama has destroyed in your name eight countries, murdering, maiming, and displacing millions of civilians -- and now is at work on Ukraine. Dr. Roberts, a conservative scholar, is a former Wall Street Journal associate editor and was assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan administration.
Institute for Political Economy, July 4th Militarist Bunkum, Paul Craig Roberts, July 3, 2014. Did you know that 85 to 90 percent of war’s casualties are non-combatant civilians? That is the conclusion reached by a nine-person research team in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The deaths of soldiers who are fighting the war are a small part of the human and economic cost. Clearly, wars do not protect the lives of civilians. The notion that soldiers are dying for us is false. Non-combatants are the main victims of war. Keep that in mind for July 4th, which is arriving tomorrow. July 4th is America’s most important national holiday celebrating American independence from Great Britain.
Associated Press via ABC News, Ukraine Claims Winning Ground in Rebellious East, David McHugh, July 3, 2014. Fighting n eastern Ukraine left at least nine Ukrainian soldiers dead Friday, as government troops pressed their offensive against pro-Russian insurgents using heavy artillery and combat jets and prospects of a truce appeared dim. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine was ready to conduct another round of talks between representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the rebels on Saturday, but didn't name their venue. Two previous rounds of such negotiations held during a 10-day cease-fire have yielded no visible progress, but they brought the warring parties together for the first time. The photo at right is via the Russian news agency RIA, which said the scene is after a bombing of civilians July 2 in a Ukraine village.
Guardian: NSA reformers dismayed after privacy board vindicates surveillance dragnet, Spencer Ackerman, July 2, 2014. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board endorses agency's so-called '702' powers, plus backdoor searches of Americans' information. Civil libertarians saw their hopes for curtailing the National Security Agency's massive digital surveillance program dimmed in the wake of a report from a US government privacy board vindicating much of the international communications dragnet. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) voted Wednesday to adopt a 200-page report on the NSA's so-called "702" powers, which include the widespread collection of foreign email, voice and text messages and Americans' international calls. The report largely vindicated the controversial surveillance, the scope of which was disclosed through reporting on documents provided by Edward Snowden, as both effective and legal.
Daily Howler, A portrait of nimble, self-seeking connivers on the greasy pole of advancement! Bob Somerby, July 2, 2104. The press corps does not discuss the press corps. If you hold a sinecure inside the guild, you do not discuss, explain or question the conduct of colleagues and friends. That very powerful code of silence is the reliable norm. But on the very rare occasion, someone with an inside view describes the people around him. You might call these people “anthropologists within.” As it turns out, the late Michael Hastings seems to have been one such scholar. Hastings, a young and iconoclastic reporter, died in a car accident last year. As it turns out, he was writing a novel, a lightly fictionalized account of his time at Newsweek at the start of the war in Iraq. At that time, Newsweek was still an important, influential weekly publication.
Washington Post, Colleges are slowly taking away your First Amendment rights, Robert Shibley, July 2, 2014. September 17 last year was a pretty bad day for the Constitution on our campuses. Robert Van Tuinen of Modesto Junior College in California was prevented from passing out copies of the Constitution outside of his college’s tiny “free speech zone.” These attempts to silence students are all in a day’s work for today’s college administrators. Thanks to the continuing menace of campus speech codes—rules restricting what students may say and where they may say it—these sorts of offenses happen every day on our nation’s college and university campuses. The nature of the lawsuits shows the authoritarian bent of campuses today, where every sector of a student’s life is festooned with regulations.
President Barack Obama and President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk June 4 after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland, as shown in a White House Photo.
Washington Post, Putin vows to defend Russian interests as Ukraine violence again escalates, Michael Birnbaum, July 1, 2014. Russia is involved in a historic effort to defend its civilization, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, vowing to protect the interests of the Russian community abroad as violence again escalated in Ukraine. Hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ended a ceasefire and renewed his assault against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s southeast, Putin compared Ukraine to Iraq, Syria and Libya and said that he could not stand by as a nation with close historical ties to Russia was taken over by people he dismissed as “neo-Nazis.” Putin made no specific commitment to increasing Russia’s involvement in the roiling southeast region of Ukraine, but he indicated that he would blame Poroshenko for any violence in Ukraine going forward. It was a hint that a stretch of conciliatory efforts from the Kremlin after Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election may be at an end.
Consortium News, The Risk of a Ukraine Bloodbath, Ray McGovern, July 2, 2014. Pressured by neocons and the mainstream U.S. media, the Obama administration is charting a dangerous course by seeking a military solution to Ukraine’s political crisis and possibly provoking Moscow to intervene to protect ethnic Russians, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern warns. Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years as a CIA analyst, he served as chief of CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch as well as preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – by thumbing his nose at the leaders of Russia, Germany and France as they repeatedly appealed to him to renew the fragile ceasefire in eastern Ukraine – has left himself and his U.S. patrons isolated, though that’s not the version of the story that you’ll read in the mainstream U.S. press. But the reality is that an unusual flurry of high-level conference calls last weekend from key European capitals failed to dissuade Poroshenko from launching major attacks on opposition forces in eastern Ukraine. Washington was alone in voicing support for Poroshenko’s decision, with a State Department spokeswoman saying “he has a right to defend his country.”
Columbia Journalism Review, Brick by brick, Michael Meyer, June 26, 2014 (Print edition on July1). After years of shrinking ambition at the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination. In April, six months after her family sold the newspaper it had controlled for eight decades to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth walked onstage in the paper’s auditorium to reverse what had been the signature strategy of her six years at the helm. Since she was named publisher in February 2008, a year the newspaper division of The Washington Post Company declared a loss of $193 million, Weymouth had sought to codify the Post’s identity as a paper “For and about Washington.” As a practical matter, “For and about Washington” meant the Post no longer covered stories beyond its circulation area unless they had a direct link to political Washington or a federal government interest. Exceptions were made for impossible-to-ignore events, like school shootings and other catastrophes, but all domestic bureaus were closed and correspondents were called home. Bezos is shown in a file photo courtesy of Creative Commons via Wikimedia.
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Call to Action
The Justice Integrity Project urges readers to sign the petition to President Obama for clemency for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (1999-2003), whom our research indicates was unjustly convicted in 2006 on politically motivated corruption charges. The petition is here. The goal is 100,000 signatures, with more than 50,000 already. Siegelman is shown above with his wife (at center), son and daughter. He was reimprisoned at age 67 in September 2012 for nearly six more years in Louisiana.
The Project has extensively documented injustice in the case. An unprecedented coalition of former law enforcers, scholars, and others has denounced the prosecution as selective punishment for a non-crime: As governor in 1999, Siegelman reappointed to an unpaid state board a donor to a non-profit foundation, with Siegelman receiving no money. For this, authorities destroyed his life with more than a dozen years of investigations costing taxpayers vast amounts. For background, see a site by his supporters and our recent column.
This is one of the most serious, detailed public interest books I have ever read, and I do read quite a bit.
I am in Afghanistan, with very little time to myself, and regret I have not been able to sit down with this book and give it the double read that it merits. As with any book that I consider a potential blockbuster, I started with the index, notes, and bibliography. All three are deep. This book is both a citizen's primer, and a reference work that will stand the test of time in helping future generations of students. It is a starting point for truth in the public interest.
I am one of those very few non-fiction reviewers that is also a former CIA clandestine case officer and a career intelligence officer. My reviews of over 300 books on intelligence are easily found (each review leading back to their Amazon home page) are easily found by searching for < Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most)> without the brackets.
Imagine my astonishment, then, when I get through the first part of the book and discover that Obama may be CIA's second wholly-owned president. Obama's parents appear clearly documented as non-official cover CIA officers (officers spy, agents are the people they recruit) responsible for spotting, assessing, and recruiting among the Islamic up and comers. This section alone makes this book priceless. Read More...