Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears
CNN and Newsweek recently launched dubious tirades against what they called "conspiracy theories."
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal published U.N. Considers Reopening Probe into 1961 Crash that Killed Dag Hammarskjöld, a report that broached the possibility that the United States may have been involved in the death of the secretary-general, who is shown in a file photo.
As a way to understand such varied messages, I urge readers to evaluate evidence with an open mind -- and regard with special suspicion those commentators who slant their coverage with the loaded smear words "conspiracy theory" without citing specific evidence.
No one has time to investigate everything without preconceptions. For efficiency, we rely in part on slanted commentary by our favorite sources. But if the stakes are high and we want to be honest we should admit (at least to ourselves) that our preliminary conclusions should be subject to change based on new data.
My suggestions follow the spirit of the Justice Integrity Project's JFK Assassination "Readers Guide" last fall. That multi-part series began with a catalog of books, archives, reports and videos. Then it proceeded to assess various theories of President Kennedy's 1963 murder.
By now, we know from declassified documents that the CIA undertook a massive secret campaign to smear critics of the Warren Commission with the label "conspiracy theorist."
The campaign used members of mainstream media friendly to the CIA, for example, to discredit New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, shown below in a photo by Lynn Pelham. Garrison was prosecuting New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw in what Garrison alleged was a conspiracy to murder Kennedy. Shaw, an OSS liaison to high-ranking British officials during World War II, founded a major regional trade mart in New Orleans shortly after the war. Garrison alleged that Shaw met with rightist opponents of JFK to plan the death.
A 50-page CIA memo, known as "CIA Dispatch 1035-960," instructed agents to contact their media contacts and disparage those, like Garrison, criticizing the Warren Commission findings that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and acted alone. The 1967 document is here in the original, and here in reformatted text of its summary.
Minutes of CIA meeting that same year indicated fear that Garrison would win a conviction.
But a jury promptly acquitted Shaw following more than a dozen deaths (including suicide) of potential witnesses and an intense smear campaign against Garrison by the national media. NBC News hired former high-ranking Justice Department official Walter Sheridan, who had been an early recruit to the super-secret NSA in the 1950s. Publicly an investigative reporter, Sheridan was involved also in operational efforts to undermine Garrison.
More generally, Operation Mockingbird was the CIA's secret program to plant stories in the nation's most prestigious news outlets.
"With this [CIA] memo and the CIA’s influence in the media," author Peter Janney wrote in a guest column on our site last fall, "the concept of 'conspiracy theorist' was engendered and infused into our political lexicon and became what it is today: a term to smear, denounce, ridicule, and defame anyone who dares to speak about any crime committed by the state, military or intelligence services."
Janney, whose late father Wistar Janney had been a high-ranking CIA executive, continued: "People who want to pretend that conspiracies don’t exist -- when in fact they are among the most common modus operandi of significant historical change throughout the world and in our country -- become furious when their naive illusion is challenged."
After that background, let's look at more recent uses of the term by the mainstream media to discredit those who suggest government complicity in notorious events.
CNN, Newsweek Lash Out Against Government Critics
Last week, CNN's Jake Tapper engaged in little more than name-calling in his segment 'Truthers' to protest 9/11 Museum. Tapper brought in a like-minded guest, Slate columnist Emily Bazelon, who relied on the same kind of seat-of-the-pants speculation to denounce protesters.
Another example of selective analysis was a Newsweek cover story May 15, The Plots to Destroy America, written by Kurt Eichenwald. Oddly, Newsweek's sensationalistic title itself implied a conspiracy -- that the diverse government critics on the right and left whom the magazine attacked intended to "destroy" the nation with their "plots."
I recognized the pattern. Three years ago, I hosted author Jonathan Kay on my weekly public affair radio show, Washington Update. Kay, a Canadian newspaper editor and law school graduate, had authored Among the Truthers, a 340-page book. Upon reading it, however, I saw that it raised alarm and mocked critics of 9/11 official accounts but did not analyze their arguments.
Similarly, Eichenwald cited as authority a handful of establishment "experts" who mocked those who criticize government or other establishment institutions.
Among the experts the Newsweek author repeatedly quoted was Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor, author of the recent book Conspiracy Theories, and a former high-ranking Obama administration official. During the Obama first term, Sunstein in effect oversaw all federal regulation at the White House's Office of Management and Budget.
A White House photo shows Sunstein wiith his wife, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, when Vice President Joe Biden swore her into office last summer. Her appointment followed her high-level work in national security at the White House and State Department during Obama's first term. As noted in my book, Presidential Puppetry, she is a leading proponent for regime change and military intervention globally on the grounds of humanitarian principles.
Also last summer, Obama appointed Sunstein along with four others to the president's review commission for a response to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations of massive illegal spying on the American public.
Eichenwald glosses over this heavy national security background and the rhetoric needed to foster public support for global interventions.
Even more relevant is that Eichenwald failed to note that Sunstein co-authored in 2008 what has become a notorious paper advocating propaganda techniques.
In the paper "Conspiracy Theories," Sunstein advocated that the government secretly hire academics and journalists to thwart the dissemination of what federal authorities might regard as dangerous beliefs held by millions of voters, such as suggestion that officials were complicit in 9/11 or a cover-up.
Sunstein's own proposal sounds, in other words, like the kind of plot government critics most fear as a violation of constitutional rights by an Orwellian, Big Brother state.
Yet Eichenwald argued that "not a scintilla of evidence" exists for the theories he disparaged. He called them "unsubstantiated nonsense." But he failed, like most with his mind-set, to refute the best arguments of his targets.
Instead, he repeatedly cited well-credential experts, who applauded government officials for the most part and trivialized the concerns of complainers.
Such elitist, slanted reporting by Newsweek and CNN suggests why their audiences are plunging and the outlets find themselves focused on half-truths important to someone, but not audiences. The Internet provides alternative news sources.
In 2010, the Washington Post sold Newsweek for just $1 and assumption of debts. The Post announced that it wanted to place the publication into the hands of a like-minded publisher. This was Sidney Harman, the husband of Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA), a Harvard Law grad and prominent advocate of the intelligence-military complex. Newsweek, much like CNN, retains only a shell of its former clout and has twice been sold since Sidney Harman died.
That said, most of us still rely heavily on the mainstream media to complement our information from other sources.
A striking example last week was a bold, exclusive report by Joe Lauria, the Wall Street Journal's United Nations correspondent.
Lauria (shown in a file photo) drew on his years on the beat to report for the Journal that the United Nations may reactivate on the basis of new evidence its dormant inquiry on whether its late leader, Hammarskjöld, was intentionally killed during his 1961 peace-keeping mission.
As a former stringer for the Journal for two years earlier in my career, I can imagine how much research the reporter must have produced before such a story would make it into print. His achievement is especially striking at a Murdoch-owned paper, whose owner is better known for benefiting from high-level intrigues than exposing them.
And what if the United Nations proceeds -- and finds that the secretary-general died from foul play?
For one thing, that would not be good news for those who deny conspiracies. But they would surely find a way to avoid in-depth reporting.
Analytic Sources 'Conspiracy Theorist' Smear Against Critics of Government Abuses
OpEdNews, Rethinking Conspiracy, Shawn Hamilton, Sept. 14, 2014. The terms "conspiracy theorist" and "conspiracy nut" are used frequently to discredit a perceived adversary using emotional, rather than logical, appeals. Too many people smugly chide "conspiracy theories" as if they imagine that such a derisive characterization reflects superior intellect--whether or not they know anything about the issue in question. It's a pitiful display of ego inflation and intellectual dishonesty, yet it appears to be a common approach preferred by those short on information and critical thinking skills. Here are a few examples of past "conspiracy theories" that were commonly derided at the time of their occurrence but were later determined to be credible.
NBC News via You Tube, Jim Garrison Video Interview on JFK Murder Charge, July 15, 1967 (27:05 min.). On July 15, 1967, NBC allowed New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to respond to an NBC program that was highly critical of Garrison's pursuit of alleged Kennedy assassination conspirators in New Orleans. Garrison made an eloquent argument in favor of evidence and against mere name-calling.
National Archives via YouTube, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas, Lecture by Cass R. Sunstein, Sept. 8, 2014 (video: 1 hour, six miinutes). Cass Susntein is a Harvard Law Professor, former top White House staffer in the Obama Administration and author of Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas. Sunstein served Obama as his administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Sunstein's wife is Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador at the United Nations.
As reported by longtime journalist Louis Wolf:
Sunstein's largely vague but self-serving analysis of history and contemporary social thought revolves around his favorite recent subject -- conspiracy theories. He spoke briefly about some "true conspiracy theories" -- the ones he has had to accept as valid which he danced around largely without specifying which. Be sure to watch his eyes and his body language closely in the online video of the event. He built his conspiracy theories case on about what he called an "informational cascade" and an "reputational cascade."
He then asserted that groups that have conspiracy theories "which are most dangerous and threatening to the United States" flow from these two 'cascades' [hear at: 28:35]. He said "we need to correct the record." This reference alludes to the mostly secret operations around the world of the National Endowment for Democracy. He also alluded to people he termed "conspiracy entrepreneurs."
Louis Wolf's comments and Sunstein's answer can be heard at: 42:32-48:01 min. George Ripley's comments and Sunstein's answer at: 57:43-1:02:17.
In the wake of the explosive disclosures by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Obama chose Sunstein to be part of a five-person advisory group of intelligence and legal experts, several of whom have long connections to Obama, Two other members are Richard A. Clarke, who served in the Clinton administration and both Bush administrations and has become an expert on digital conflict; Michael J. Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA.
The Justice Integrity Project (JIP) researches official misconduct
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New York Times, Dismayed by Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg Will Endorse Hillary Clinton, Alexander Burns, July 24, 2016. Michael R. Bloomberg, who bypassed his own run for the presidency this election cycle, will endorse Hillary Clinton in a prime-time address at the Democratic convention and make the case for Mrs. Clinton as the best choice for moderate voters in 2016, an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg said.
The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg (shown in a file photo), who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent. But it reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated.
Mrs. Clinton is seeking to reach out to middle-of-the-road swing voters and even moderate Republicans uneasy about Mr. Trump. Polls show that significant numbers of Republicans remain wary of Mr. Trump, and question his fitness for the presidency. Mr. Bloomberg will vouch for Mrs. Clinton “from the perspective of a business leader and an independent,” said Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Mr. Bloomberg.
“As the nation’s leading independent and a pragmatic business leader, Mike has supported candidates from both sides of the aisle,” Mr. Wolfson said. “This week in Philadelphia he will make a strong case that the clear choice in this election is Hillary Clinton.” Mr. Bloomberg, who has been sharply critical of Mr. Trump’s views on immigration and the economy, may fortify Mrs. Clinton’s appeal to the political center.
And with the Republican nominee basing his campaign on his background as a businessman, Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire media executive and philanthropist, may help counter the Trump sales pitch. It is unusual, but not unheard of, for a speaker who is not a member of a political party to address that party’s convention. Mr. Bloomberg is expected to speak on Wednesday, the same evening as President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Huffington Post, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns As Democratic Party Chair, Marina Fang, July 24, 2016. The Florida congresswoman had faced calls to resign for months, after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his supporters accused her of rigging the Democratic primaries against him. After mounting pressure from party officials, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation on Sunday, sending the party into turmoil ahead of its convention this week.
In a statement, the Florida congresswoman said that she will step down immediately after the convention. Donna Brazile, the DNC’s vice chair, will serve as interim chair through the election, the DNC communications director announced. She is shown in a file photo by the Medill DC News service.
Wasserman Schultz faced criticisms and calls to resign for months, spurred by a series of controversies involving the party’s handling of the insurgent presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But she had insisted that she would remain as chair until after the general election in November.
The final push to derail her came from an email leak last week, which revealed that DNC staffers actively tried to obstruct Sanders’ primary campaign against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. In response to the leak, party officials announced that Wasserman Schultz would play a minimal role in this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
However, according to her statement, she will address and chair the convention. Wasserman Schultz’s exit sends the party into a state of uncertainty. After the bruising and contentious primary battle between Clinton and Sanders, the party tried to put on a united front for the convention and general election, including granting concessions to Sanders’ campaign. Clinton also adopted some parts of his progressive policy platform to attempt to woo his supporters, and Sanders put aside his differences and endorsed her.
President Barack Obama expressed gratitude for her work in a statement. “For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back,” he wrote. In addition to her controversial tenure as party chair, back home in Florida, Wasserman Schultz faces a primary challenge from progressive candidate Tim Canova, whom Sanders endorsed earlier this year.
Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz was photographed by investigative reporter Wayne Madsen at center outside one of the VIP suites at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
CNN, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz under pressure to resign, Jeff Zeleny and Eric Bradner, July 24, 2016. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not have a major speaking role or preside over daily convention proceedings this week, a decision reached by party officials Saturday after emails surfaced raising questions about the committee's impartiality during the Democratic primary.
The DNC Rules Committee has named Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as permanent chair of the convention, according to a DNC source. She will gavel each session to order and will gavel each session closed.
Wasserman Schultz faced intense pressure Sunday to resign her post as head of the DNC, several party leaders told CNN, urging her to quell a growing controversy threatening to disrupt Hillary Clinton's nominating convention.
David Axelrod, a former top adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaigns and a CNN senior political commentator, said Wasserman Schultz should resign. "I would ask her to step aside. I would ask her to step aside because she's a distraction in a week that is Hillary Clinton's week," Axelrod told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
One close Clinton ally said the hope is that Wasserman Schultz would get the message and leave her position before the convention kicks off Monday. "But she is stubborn," the Clinton ally said. Wasserman Schultz reluctantly agreed to relinquish her speaking role at the convention here, a sign of her politically fragile standing. But party leaders are now urging the Florida congresswoman to vacate her position as head of the party entirely in the wake of leaked emails suggesting the DNC favored Clinton during the primary and tried to take down Bernie Sanders by questioning his religion.
Democratic leaders are scrambling to keep the party united, but two officials familiar with the discussions said Wasserman Schultz was digging in and not eager to vacate her post until after the November elections.
Washington Post, The most damaging things in the DNC’s leaked emails, Aaron Blake, July 24, 2016. Among the details in the nearly 20,000 emails was Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling one of Bernie Sanders’s top aides a “damn liar” and officials appearing to conspire about how to target his religion.
Washington Post, Emails show how Democrats used Obama to entice wealthy donors, Matea Gold, July 24, 2016. At times, DNC staffers used language in their pitches to backers that went beyond what lawyers said was permissible under White House policy designed to curtail the perception that special interests have access.
Washington Post, Democrats’ neglected institution becomes a public embarrassment, Dan Balz, July 24, 2016. The Democratic National Committee has been one of the party’s weakest elements under President Obama, and the email debacle confirms that it has been largely isolated from key parts of the party.
Washington Post, Clinton aide: Russians leaked Democrats’ emails to help Trump, Amber Phillips, July 24, 2016. "There's evidence Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole those emails, and there are experts saying they are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump," campaign manager Robby Mook said. "It's no coincidence these emails were released on the eve of the convention."
However they got released, some of the emails could be damaging to the Democratic Party's attempts to unify at its convention in Philadelphia this week. The DNC is supposed to be neutral throughout the primary process, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spent much of it accusing the DNC and its chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), of supporting Clinton behind the scenes. Wasserman Schultz will not speak at the convention, CNN reported.
On Sunday, Sanders repeated his call for Wasserman Schultz to resign. Mook did not go that far in his interviews on Sunday, instead saying, "I'm going to leave that to the DNC because I don't have all the facts." Wasserman Schultz will not speak at the convention, CNN reported. On Sunday, Sanders repeated his call for Wasserman Schultz to resign. Mook did not go that far in his interviews on Sunday, instead saying, "I'm going to leave that to the DNC because I don't have all the facts."
Washington Post, Donald Trump defends ousted Fox News executive Roger Ailes, Jenna Johnson, July 24, 2016. The GOP nominee seemed skeptical of accusations by at least two dozen women that they had been sexually harassed by his longtime friend: "Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them."
Washington Post, At least 80 dead, over 230 hurt in blast during protest in Kabul, Sayed Salahuddin and Pamela Constable, July 23, 2016. The explosion shattered a square packed with peaceful demonstrators, mostly from the Shiite ethnic Hazara minority. The death toll of the suicide bombing, claimed by the Islamic State, was the highest for any terrorist attack in the Afghan capital after more than a decade of fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan and NATO forces.
Washington Post, Clinton: ‘Kaine is everything Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not,’ Abby Phillip, July 23, 2016. As the Democratic ticket debuted, the presumptive vice-presidential nominee thrilled a crowd in Miami by using Spanish throughout his remarks. The newly formed Democratic ticket took the stage together for the first time in Miami, showing off a partnership that prizes steadiness over flashiness.
The two launched their political marriage here to a crowd of more than 5,000 at Florida International University, a campus that is two-thirds Hispanic. The diverse audience waved American flags and Puerto Rican flags as they waited — in some cases for hours — for Clinton and Kaine to take the stage.
Kaine had long been a front-runner for the job. He was passed over by President Obama for the vice-presidential job in 2008, but in the intervening years, Kaine beefed up his resume, winning a Senate seat in a key swing state, serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to accrue foreign policy experience and establishing himself as a well-liked pragmatist.
U.S Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia
Washington Post, Why Tim Kaine can be enormously valuable for Hillary Clinton, Larry J. Sabato, July 22, 2016. Larry J. Sabato (shown below in a file photo) is director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and author of “The Kennedy Half-Century.” Vice-presidential candidates can be divided into two categories: political choices selected for what they can deliver on Election Day and governing picks who can do some heavy lifting in the White House. By choosing Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton will get both.
Clinton has been the favorite to win in Virginia since the Republicans chose Donald Trump, whose backing in heavily populated suburbs such as Northern Virginia should lag behind the previous three Republican presidential candidates. But with Kaine on the ticket, Virginia can probably retire its swing-state jersey for this year. A good-size Democratic victory in this once-reliable GOP state should be expected, likely larger than President Obama’s 3.9 point margin in 2012. Recent studies have suggested that a solid running mate can add two to three percentage points in his or her home state.
Washington Post, Sen. Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia chosen as Hillary Clinton’s VP, Anne Gearan and John Wagner, July 22, 2016. Hillary Clinton has chosen Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (Va.) as her vice-presidential running mate, completing a Democratic ticket that prizes experience and traditional notions of public service in a political year dominated by Republican rival Donald Trump’s unorthodox, highly personal brand of leadership.
Kaine, 58, a former Virginia governor, Richmond mayor and Democratic National Committee chairman, was chosen after a search that included riskier and more unconventional candidates who offered greater appeal to the party’s liberal base.
He was a longtime favorite to become Clinton’s running mate, however, in part because of the political and personal attributes she considers well-suited to the governing partnership she seeks — and in part because of the calculation that the experience of a Clinton-Kaine ticket would outgun Trump’s outsider bombast.
Washington Post, “A Pope Francis Catholic”: If Clinton picks Tim Kaine, will his faith matter? Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer, July 22, 2016. Many of the most circulated names for Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick are Catholic – a fact that both says a lot about the influence of America’s huge Catholic population, but also reveals, when you look more closely, how far the country has moved away from basic religious tribalism.
Rumors heated up Friday that Clinton would pick U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former missionary who personally opposes abortion and who pleased anti-abortion advocates earlier in his political career by saying he would aim to reduce the number of abortions by promoting adoption and abstinence education.
Washington Post, Kaine’s acceptance of gifts in Va. could create opening for GOP, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 22, 2016. In his home state, Timothy Kaine followed gift laws — and that could create problems on the campaign trail.
Washington Post, Fox News was a ‘locker room’ for Roger Ailes. Now women are telling their stories, Manuel Roig-Franzia, Scott Higham, Paul Farhi and Krissah Thompson, July 22, 2016.
Although many longtime confidants have come out in support of him, sexual-harassment claims against the former chairman of Fox News date to the 1960s.
Washington Post, Nominee declares that he alone has the leadership to secure the homeland, Philip Rucker and David A. Fahrenthold, July 22, 2016. Trump portrays a nation in peril. Donald Trump painted a dire portrait of a lawless, terrorized nation as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination here Thursday night, delivering a sweeping indictment of a feckless political and corporate class that he argued was thrusting the United States into a perilous decline.
Declaring that he alone has the leadership strength to secure the homeland and rejuvenate the economy, the billionaire real estate mogul offered himself as a “law and order” candidate and made a direct appeal to blue-collar Americans who have felt left behind in the 21st century.
“The forgotten men and women of our country — people who work hard but no longer have a voice: I am your voice,” Trump said in a long address to fired-up delegates on the closing night of the Republican National Convention.
Rather than pivoting to the political middle with an uplifting address, Trump punctuated the turbulent four-day convention with a heavy speech with simple declarations. And he focused intensively on the alleged dangers posed by immigrants and refugees, showing that on the biggest stage of his campaign he would not shy away from rhetoric that many minority voters find repulsive.
Trump spoke with so much gusto it sounded much of the time as though he were screaming, and by the end his face was notably red and glistening with sweat. The address lasted an extraordinary 76 minutes, with balloons falling in Quicken Loans Arena and fireworks shooting over Lake Erie nearly an hour after scheduled.
Trump described the country as beset by illegal immigrants, some of them killers. The crowd chanted back at him, “Send them home,” and “Build the wall.” And Trump decried an increase in homicides in some cities.
Washington Post, At least 8 killed in Munich shooting, sparking manhunt, Souad Mekhennet, Brian Murphy and William Branigin, July 22, 2016. A rampage in a busy shopping area of the southern German city has sparked a manhunt for as many as three gunmen who fled the scene after carrying out an act of “suspected terrorism,” authorities said.
Washington Post, Virginia court rejects Gov. McAuliffe’s attempt to restore voting rights for felons, Fenit Nirappil and Jenna Portnoy, July 22, 2016. The state’s highest court ruled 4 to 3 that the governor overstepped his clemency powers by issuing an order in April restoring rights to all ex-offenders who are no longer incarcerated, on probation or parole.
Intercept, DNC Staffers Mocked the Bernie Sanders Campaign, Leaked Emails Show, Zaid Jilani, July 22, 2016. A new trove of internal Democratic National Committee emails, stretching back to April 2016, released by Wikileaks show that the organization’s senior staff chafed at Bernie Sanders’s continued presence in the presidential primary. Staffers were also irritated by criticism that they were biased towards Hillary Clinton. In May, chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (DWS) reacted to an MSNBC anchor criticizing her treatment of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary by trying to force her to apologize.
Intercept, New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him, Sam Biddle, July 22, 2016. Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.
The email was sent to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. It’s unclear who the “someone” in this message could be — though a member of the press seems like a safe bet. A request for comment sent to Marshall was not immediately returned. It is also unclear why the Democratic National Committee, which isn’t supposed to favor one Democratic candidate over another until they receive a nomination, would have attempted to subvert the Sanders campaign on the grounds that “he is an atheist.”
Legal Schnauzer, Former AG Michael Mukasey endorsed a political prosecution of Hillary Clinton, Roger Shuler, July 22, 2016. Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general under George W. Bush, more or less stated (when taken in light of his past actions) that he believes in prosecuting people for political reasons, especially if that person's name is Hillary Clinton.
The main point behind Mukasey's convention speech was to trash Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, and whine about the Justice Department's recent decision not to prosecute her for using a private e-mail server while acting as U.S. Secretary of State -- the same thing Republican secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice had done. The gist of Mukasey's harangue can be summed up from this report at Politico, which holds the appropriate headline "Mukasey slams Clinton on email, but blocked classified leak probe in 2008."
Vox.com, Trump just held one of his weirdest, Cruz-bashing, JFK conspiracy theorizing rallies ever, Dylan Matthews, July 22, 2016. Two days after Ted Cruz pointedly refused to endorse Donald Trump in primetime at the Republican National Convention, Trump addressed the matter at a campaign event in Cleveland, extending an olive branch to Cruz and saying he hoped to eventually earn the Texas senator’s support. LOL, who am I kidding, no he didn’t. Instead Trump revived an attack, last seen the day he beat Cruz in Indiana and forced him out of the race, claiming that Cruz’s father fraternized with Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK’s assassin:
TRUMP: His father. I don't know his father, I met him once. I think he's a lovely guy. I think he's a lovely guy. All I did was point out that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, "Donald Trump!" — I had nothing to do with it!
Politico, Trump revives rumor linking Cruz's father to JFK assassination, Dan Spinelli, July 22, 2016. A day after accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for president, Donald Trump rehashed a conspiracy theory that claims the man who killed President John F. Kennedy once cavorted with Ted Cruz’s father. “I don't know his father. I met him once. I think he's a lovely guy,” Trump said at a morning-after rally in Cleveland. “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.”
Trump invoked Cruz’s father during an extended screed against the Texas senator for failing to endorse him during the convention. While Trump and Cruz were primary rivals in May, Trump initially pointed out an Enquirer story which featured Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald while handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963.
More known for its sordid tales of celebrity affairs and alien invasion cover-ups, the National Enquirer has famously broken two major stories: John Edwards’ love child during the 2008 presidential campaign and some early aspects of O.J. Simpson’s 1994 murder trial, exceptions Trump gleefully pointed out on Friday.
CBS News, Donald Trump defends linking Ted Cruz's father to Lee Harvey Oswald, Sopan Deb and Jack Turman with wires, July 22, 2016. Donald Trump's restraint on the topic of Ted Cruz Thursday gave way to more expansive remarks Friday that ranged from his own comments earlier this year linking Cruz's father to Lee Harvey Oswald to Cruz's failure to endorse him. Trump responded to Cruz's rationale for denying him an endorsement at the convention -- specifically that he had said during the primary campaign that Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, had associated with Lee Harvey Oswald before President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
"There was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility," Trump said to a room of volunteers and staffers in Cleveland, adding that the tabloid "should be very respected." In May, Trump had said to Fox News, "You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being -- you know, shot....Right prior to his [Kennedy's] being shot, and nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don't even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it." The story Trump referenced had appeared in the National Enquirer and was immediately debunked. The Washington Post said Trump had made "a ridiculous claim." Politifact concurred, saying that the photograph was "too degraded to offer much confidence," and experts it consulted "consider Trump's claim implausible at best and ridiculous at worst." Trump also said Friday that Ted Cruz never verified that that the photo didn't depict his father.
White House Chronicle, The ‘Formula’ That Made Roger Ailes and Fox, Llewellyn King, July 22, 2016. In the beginning, there was Rupert Murdoch. He created the formula. Then he met Roger Ailes (shown in a file photo) and installed him as head of what would become America’s most successful cable news channel, Fox News Channel, also known as Fox News. And so the formula of conservatism and sex, pioneered on a newspaper in Britain, came to television and the rest, as they say, is history.
I visited with Ailes when Fox News was just beginning its ascent. He was thrilled with the fact that it had just drawn slightly ahead of CNN Headline News. I do not think he realized then how potent the formula would be and what heights his creation would reach.
Washington Post, Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy, Editorial board, July 22, 2016. He is unfit for the presidency and cannot be endorsed. Donald J. Trump, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome.
The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.
Intercept, Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying Historical Alarm Bells, Jon Schwarz, July 21, 2016. Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for president will probably go down as one of the most frightening pieces of political rhetoric in U.S. history. Even for people who believe the danger of genuine authoritarianism on the U.S. right is often exaggerated, it’s impossible not to hear in Trump’s speech echoes of the words and strategies of the world’s worst leaders. Trump had just one message for Americans: Be afraid. You are under terrible threats from forces inside and outside your country, and he’s the only person who can save us.
The scariest part is how Trump subtly but clearly has begun melding together violence against U.S. police and terrorism: “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities,” he said, “threaten our very way of life.” This is the favorite and most dangerous message of demagogues across all space and time. After all, if we know our external enemies are deeply evil, and our internal enemies are somehow their allies, we can feel justified in doing anything at all to our internal enemies. That’s just logic.
Roll Call, Trump's Coronation Completes GOP's Transformation, John T. Bennett, July 21, 2016. Nominee vows to 'restore law and order,' fix 'third-world' infrastructure. With these words Thursday night, “I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States,” Donald Trump completed his takeover, and makeover, of the Republican Party .
Gone, for at least the next three months — and maybe four years or more — is the party of Ronald Reagan , free trade, big business and global interventionism.
The party that once stood by those principles is now officially led by a presidential candidate who is staunchly opposed to massive trade deals , deeply skeptical of both war and a global U.S. military presence, and who did not mention the name of the 40th U.S. president, a GOP icon and father of a modern conservative era that ended Thursday night in Cleveland.
A party run by those from the country-club and designer-necktie crew who presented detailed policy proposals has been taken over by voters more likely to wear their camouflage “Make America Great Again” ball caps to a NASCAR track — and who care little about wonky plans. That collective disinterest was indicative in Trump's bold-but-vague Republican National Convention acceptance speech, which ran 1 hour and 16 minutes.
Washington Post, Trump portrays a nation in peril, Dan Zak, July 21, 2016. Everyone had a right to be on edge: cops after Dallas, street revelers after Nice, minorities after yet another shooting of an unarmed black man. But as the convention approached its climax, everyone seemed to be reveling in the good vibes and knocking on wood.
Washington Post, Cruz defends decision not to endorse Trump, Karen Tumulty, Sean Sullivan and Jose A. DelReal, July 21, 2016. The capstone last night was supposed to be a speech by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the newly named vice-presidential nominee. But the more riveting moment came earlier, when Sen. Ted Cruz pointedly refused to endorse Trump, urged Republicans to “vote your conscience,” and was roundly booed off the stage.
RealClearPolitics, Cruz Speech Upstages Pence's Big Night, Rebecca Berg, Caitlin Huey-Burns and James Arkin, July 21, 2016. A night designed to celebrate and introduce Donald Trump’s running mate to the nation was instead colored by bitter divisions among Republicans, which played out for a national audience during a speech by a formal rival, Sen. Ted Cruz.
Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (shown in an official photo) as his running mate in part to promote unity among Republicans. Pence, formerly the fourth-ranking House GOP leader with credibility among conservatives, is well respected by a broad swath of party loyalists in Washington, D.C., and nationwide, who last week greeted his selection with praise.
New York Post, Male escorts are making crazy money at the RNC, Alexandra Klausner, July 21, 2016. It's been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland. Male prostitutes contacted by The Post said business is booming and Republican National Convention attendees — most of them married — are clamoring for their services.
Daily Howler, Melania watch: Costa finds the greatness in Trump! Bob Somerby, July 21, 2016. In today's editions, the Washington Post and the New York Times both downplay this awkward fact. But only Costa was able to turn this embarrassment into a sign of Trump's greatness.
Huffington Post, Ted Cruz Didn’t Endorse Trump At Trump’s Own Convention, Sam Stein, July 20, 2016. Over the course of the week at the Republican National Convention, one of the more entertaining side shows has been the battle among Republican elites to position themselves for the 2020 election. The assumption that Donald Trump is likely to lose this November is so widespread that much of the jockeying isn’t discreet.
No politician has been on the receiving end of more of that 2020 chatter ― facilitated, in part, by his top adviser ― than Ted Cruz. The Texas senator is naturally positioned to emerge from the wake of a Trump electoral defeat. He won the second most delegates during the 2016 primary, and as the most high-profile conservative in the party, he gives GOP voters a chance to move on from a Trump loss without moving ideologically to the middle.
In his speech before the convention on Wednesday night, Cruz fed the chatter by notably not including an endorsement of Trump. He gave Trump a perfunctory congratulations for winning the nomination. But after that line, Abraham Lincoln received more mentions in his speech (one). He didn’t give an explicit endorsement for a reason.
Part of it, naturally, is that the Trump campaign treated him like hell during the primary, mocking his wife, suggesting he had engaged in multiple affairs, and saying his father hobnobbed with Lee Harvey Oswald. But part of it is also because he wants to emerge as the candidate regretful Republicans turn to after the fall.
Huffington Post, Melania Trump Speechwriter Takes Blame For Plagiarizing Michelle Obama's Speech, Daniel Marans, July 20, 2016. A speechwriter for the Trump family took responsibility on Wednesday for plagiarizing portions of Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech from a 2008 address by first lady Michelle Obama.
New York Times, Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, July 20, 2016. Donald J. Trump, on the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, said Wednesday that if he were elected, he would not pressure Turkey or other authoritarian allies about conducting purges of their political adversaries or cracking down on civil liberties. The United States, he said, has to “fix our own mess” before trying to alter the behavior of other nations.
“I don’t think we have a right to lecture,” Mr. Trump said in a wide-ranging interview in his suite in a downtown hotel here while keeping an eye on television broadcasts from the Republican National Convention. “Look at what is happening in our country,” he said. “How are we going to lecture when people are shooting policemen in cold blood?”
During a 45-minute conversation, he explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance. Mr. Trump re-emphasized the hard-line nationalist approach that has marked his improbable candidacy, describing how he would force allies to shoulder defense costs that the United States has borne for decades, cancel longstanding treaties he views as unfavorable, and redefine what it means to be a partner of the United States.
He said the rest of the world would learn to adjust to his approach. “I would prefer to be able to continue” existing agreements, he said, but only if allies stopped taking advantage of what he called an era of American largess that was no longer affordable.
Giving a preview of his address to the convention on Thursday night, he said that he would press the theme of “America First,” his rallying cry for the past four months, and that he was prepared to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada if he could not negotiate radically better terms.
He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.
Daily Beast, Donald Trump’s Thugs: Execute Hillary Clinton for ‘Treason,’ Tim Mak, July 20, 2016. As if RNC 2016 wasn’t ugly enough. Now Donald Trump partisans are screaming that Hillary Clinton “should be shot.”It is not enough to simply beat Hillary Clinton, an adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign said. She must be killed.
The theme of the last two nights has been less 'Make America Safe Again' or 'Make America Work Again' and more 'Lock Her Up.' But some of Trump's most diehard supporters want to go further -- they want her to be executed. "Anyone that commits treason should be shot," Al Baldasaro, an adviser to the Trump campaign for veterans issues, he told the Daily Beast. "I believe Hillary Clinton committed treason. She put people in danger. When people take confidential material off a server, you're sharing information with the enemy. That's treason."
Baldasaro was expanding on a violent call he made Tuesday, when he called for Clinton to be "put in the firing line" over her mishandling of classified emails. He made these remarks on the Jeff Kuhner Show, Buzzfeed reported. But Trump’s adviser, who is also a state representative in New Hampshire, is not the only one at the convention who believes that Clinton should be executed for treasonous acts.
West Virginia lawmaker Michael Folk said earlier this week that Hillary Clinton should be "hung on the mall in Washington DC" for treason. And on the campaign trail, reports show that Trump supporters have repeatedly called for her death.
The mood at the Republican National Convention has turned decidedly ugly -- on stage, primetime speaker Chris Christie conducted a mock trial of Clinton, playing to the crowd to convict her, and the crowd repeatedly called for her to be put in jail. Ben Carson tried to tie Clinton to Lucifer in his Tuesday night address.
Baldasaro called for Clinton should be sent directly to the afterlife. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he argued, a conviction for treason could result in execution. “I'm a military man. Any person who gives up information on an unclassified server, you're putting Americans at risk,” he told the Daily Beast. “If you're the commander in chief or you're the secretary of state, you're dealing with the military. What makes her any better than people in the military? What makes her above the law?”
RT, ‘Bloody massacres’: Syria appeals to UN after French & US airstrikes ‘kill over 140 civilians,’ Staff report, July 20, 2016. Syria is demanding the UN take action after it says French war planes killed more than 120 civilians during airstrikes on Tuesday near the Turkish-Syrian border. The deaths came just a day after US air assaults killed a further 20 people in Manbij. The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent letters to the UN secretary general and to the president of the UN Security Council, which at present is Japan.
Damascus wants the organization to look into atrocities committed by France, which is a member of the US-led international coalition, after it targeted the village of Toukhan Al-Kubra, located near the Turkish-Syrian border and the city of Manbij.
Reporters Without Borders, Well-known journalist killed by car bomb, Staff report, July 20, 2016. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is deeply shocked to learn that the well-known journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed at around 7:45 a.m. today by the blast from a bomb placed under the driver’s seat of the car he was driving in central Kiev.
South Front, Syrian War Report: US-backed Rebels Beheaded Kid, 11, Staff report, July 20, 2016. (Link to extremely graphic video.) The US-backed ‘moderate rebels’ from the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki captured a Palestinian kid, accused him of being a “spy” of Palestinian pro-government militia, Liwa al-Quds, and beheaded him for this. The event was in the militant-controlled refugee camp “Handarat Camp” in northern Aleppo. Nour al-Din al-Zenki operates in the area of Aleppo city and receives financial aid from the United States, in a CIA-run program to support the so-called “moderate rebel groups.”
Nour al-Din al-Zenki is affiliated to the Supreme Military Command (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and as major part of FSA units collaborates with various Jihadist groups, including the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Al Nusra. Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department, Mark Toner, told reporters at a daily briefing Tuesday that the US may reconsider assistance to the group if reports of beheaded boy are confirmed. Toner refused to provide any information about the expected US reaction.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, Is the Saudi 9/11 Story Part Of The Deception? Paul Craig Roberts, July 20, 2016. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (shown at left) was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.
James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA counterintelligence for three decades, long ago explained to me that intelligence services create stories inside stories, each with its carefully constructed trail of evidence, in order to create false trails as diversions....Angleton (shown in a file photo at right) said that intelligence services protect their necessary misdeeds by burying the misdeed in competing explanations. Watching the expert craftsmanship of the “Saudis did 9/11” story, I have been wondering if the Saudi story is what Angleton described as a story within a story.
The official 9/11 story has taken too many hits to remain standing. The collapse of Building 7, which, if memory serves, was not mentioned at all in the 9/11 Commission Report, has been proven to have been a controlled demolition. Building 7 collapsed at free fall acceleration, which can only be achieved with controlled demolition. Over 100 firemen, policemen, and building maintenance personnel who were inside the two towers prior to their collapse report hearing and experiencing multiple explosions. According to William Rodriguez, a maintenance employee in the north tower, there were explosions in the sub-basements of the tower prior to the time airplanes are said to have hit the towers.
An international team of scientists found in the dust of the towers both reacted and unreacted residues of explosives and substances capable of instantly producing the extreme temperatures that cut steel. A large number of pilots, both commercial and military, have questioned the ability of alleged hijackers with substandard flight skills to conduct the maneuvers required by the flight paths. 2,500 architects and engineers have called for an independent investigation of the failure of the towers that were certified to be capable of withstanding a hit by airplanes.
The revelation that the 9/11 attack was financed by the Saudi government has the effect of bolstering the sagging official story while simultaneously satisfying the growing recognition that something is wrong with the official story.
Daily Howler, Fact-check watch: Clinton lied about her own name! Bob Somerby, July 20, 2016. In the past two days, our "news orgs" have been beating the bushes, desperately trying to solve the riddle of Melaniagate.
It isn't that our glorious orgs shouldn't try to figure this out. It's just annoying when you see how many major matters have been thrown around in the past few days — major matters the nation's "news orgs" have never even tried to report or resolve. These unresolved matters have often been used in fact-challenged attacks on Candidate Clinton. According to the intelligence community, what was the motive behind the Benghazi attack? Clinton is being attacked as a liar on this score. What's the actual state of the facts?
Did Donald Trump ever oppose the war in Iraq at all? On Sunday's 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl seemed to vouch, two separate times, for the bogus claim that he did. Where are the 25 reports he said he could show us? Like a range of big TV stars before her, Stahl forgot to ask!
SouthFront, Turkey Fires 21,000 Teachers, Demands Suspension of Every University Dean after Failed Military Coup Attempt, Staff report, July 20, 2016. 21,000 teachers were fired and all the country’s university deans were told they faced suspension in Turkey on Tuesday. Over 15,000 employees at the education ministry were sacked. The state-run higher education council demanded the resignation of 1,577 university deans. The purge followed the failed attempt of military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara says Fethullah Gülen, who wields enormous influence in Turkey through loyalists in various parts of the state as well as a private school network, masterminded the attempt from his home in Pennsylvania.
New York Magazine, Sources: Megyn Kelly Told Murdoch Investigators That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Her, Gabriel Sherman, July 19, 2016. As a chorus of prominent Fox News women have gone public defending Roger Ailes against the wave of sexual-harassment allegations sparked by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit, the network’s biggest star, Megyn Kelly, has been conspicuously silent. Kelly’s refusal to join in Ailes’s orchestrated defense has led to speculation about why.
Now we have the answer. According to two sources briefed on parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside probe of the Fox News executive, led by New York–based law firm Paul, Weiss, Kelly (shown in a file photo) has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox. Kelly, according to the sources, has described her harassment by Ailes in detail.
Kelly’s comments to investigators might explain why the Murdochs are moving so quickly to oust Ailes. As New York reported yesterday, Rupert and sons James and Lachlan, the three top executives at 21st Century Fox, have, according to multiple sources, decided that Ailes needs to be removed. Kelly, who has become something of a feminist icon thanks to her tangles with GOP nominee Donald Trump, is seen by many inside Fox as the future of the network. She’s currently in contract negotiations, and given that Bill O’Reilly has said he’s considering retirement, Fox can’t afford to lose her.
According to two sources, Monday afternoon lawyers for 21st Century Fox gave Ailes a deadline of August 1 to resign or face being fired for cause. Ailes’s legal team — which now includes Susan Estrich, former campaign manager for Michael Dukakis — has yet to respond to the offer. Ailes has also received advice on strategy from Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, sources say. Note: Roger Ailes’ Days Running Fox News May Be Numbered, according to a report July 18.
BBC, Syria conflict: Rebels 'filmed beheading boy' in Aleppo, Staff report, July 19, 2016.Videos have emerged online that appear to show Syrian rebels taunting and then beheading a boy they say is a captured Palestinian pro-government fighter. One video shows five men posing with the frightened child, who could be as young as 10, in the back of a truck. One of the men grips him by the hair. The same man is later filmed apparently cutting the boy's head off.
Enab Baladi, a pro-opposition news website, said the boy was captured in Handarat by members of a local rebel group, the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement. The group is reported to have benefited from financial and military support from the US, UK, France, Turkey, Qatar and other Gulf Arab states in the past.
The incident is reported to have taken place in Handarat, north of Aleppo, where there has been heavy fighting. The area is the location of the unofficial Palestinian refugee camp of Ein El Tal, which was home to some 7,000 people before they were displaced by armed groups in 2013.
Video of purported U.S.-based "moderates" beheading child as pro-Assad. Warning: Extremely graphic.
U.S. News & World Report, Lies, Damned Lies and Plagiarism, Robert Schlesinger, July 19, 2016. The Trump campaign's spin about Melania Trump's plagiarism is just absurd. The lie: Melania Trump's appropriation of lines from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.
The damned lie came this morning when Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's senior campaign official, went before the press and claimed, with a straight face, that Mrs. Trump had done nothing of the kind and that it was all a creation of Hillary Clinton's campaign. And the statistics – 2016's version of the "47 percent" from 2012 – have been floated by Trump spinners suggesting that since only 7 percent of her speech was lifted from elsewhere it's not plagiarism.
Washington Post, Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations, Karen Tumulty, Philip Rucker and Jose DelReal, July 19, 2016. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign faced new scrutiny after it became apparent that part of Melania Trump’s prime-time address bore conspicuous similarities to a speech delivered by Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic convention.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign came under new scrutiny Tuesday after it became apparent that part of Melania Trump’s primetime address Monday night at the Republican National Convention bore conspicuous similarities to a speech delivered by first lady Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic convention.
The plagiarism charges have cast a shadow over Trump and his campaign on the second day of the convention here in Cleveland, where Republicans are making the case to a skeptical country that the celebrity billionaire —the most unconventional and impulsive major-party standard-bearer in modern history — could be a credible and steadfast leader at a time of terrorist threats abroad and senseless tragedies at home.
“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” wrote senior communications advisor Jason Miller in a statement Tuesday morning. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Melania Trump had previously indicated that she wrote the speech herself.
New York Times, Melania Trump in ’16 Sounded Like Mrs. Obama in ’08, Maggie Haberman, Alan Rappaport, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin, July 19, 2016. Parts of Melania Trump’s convention speech bore striking similarities to a speech by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic convention.
Politico, Melania Trump's prime-time speech was strikingly similar to Michelle Obama's, Nick Gass, July 19, 2016. A passage of Melania Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention on Monday night bore a striking resemblance to the speech delivered nearly eight years ago by another first lady hopeful, Michelle Obama. As journalist Jarrett Hill flagged on Twitter a portion of Trump's speech in which she discussed the values instilled in her by her parents appeared to be largely the same words uttered by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect," Melania Trump said in her speech. "They taught and showed me morals in their daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to many generations to follow because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
Michelle Obama's speech contained largely the same sentiment and arrangement of words.
"... Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them," Obama said, according to a transcript. "And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
In a statement emailed by the Trump campaign early Tuesday morning, senior communications adviser Jason Miller wrote that Melania Trump's speech "in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking."
"In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking," Miller said. "Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Formally Nominated For President, Christina Wilkie, July 19, 2016. Businessman Donald Trump was formally nominated by the Republican Party on Tuesday evening, ending the candidate’s year-long campaign to face off against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. Trump earned the 1,237 bound delegates necessary to secure the party’s nomination in early June. The chairs of each state delegation expressed their vote totals and support for Trump in a roll call vote during the second day of the Republican National Convention.
But despite having won the primary outright, many of the party’s leading figures have refused to endorse him. All four of the GOP’s most recent presidents and presidential nominees are absent from the convention, as are scores of the party’s senators.
Washington Post, On first night of convention, Republicans offer an apocalyptic vision of America, Eugene Robinson, July 19, 2016. The opening night of the Republican National Convention presented perhaps the darkest, most dystopian vision of America that either of our major political parties has offered in our lifetimes. It sounded as if we lived in some destabilized banana republic sliding rapidly into lawlessness and anarchy.
The reality is quite the opposite. Crime rates are historically low, the economy remains in recovery, stock markets are at or near record highs, unemployment has fallen to 4.9 percent and the United States, in terms of peace and prosperity, is the envy of the world. None of this was acknowledged Monday night in Cleveland. Speaker after speaker warned urgently of impending doom.
Most apocalyptic of all was the speech by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (shown in an official photo). On a scale of 1 to 10, he cranked the volume up to 11 and the hair-on-fire rhetoric all the way up to 25 or so. At one point, he warned the assembled GOP delegates that they could not afford to wait for the next election. “There’s no next election,” he thundered. “This is it!”
Giuliani’s mad soliloquy was apparently well-received inside the hall. On television, however, it came across as almost unhinged. Put it this way: If you were on a plane sitting next to a guy who was talking that way, you’d alert the flight attendants.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)
South Front: Opinion: Initial Thoughts about Failed coup in Turkey, The Saker, July 19, 2016. When I first heard that a coup was in progress in Turkey my first thought was that it was the USA’s way to punish Erdogan for his sudden apology to Russia. Now let’s look at the cui bono [Who benefits?] angle.
Some, including Fethullah Gulen, have suggested that this coup was an a false flag operation by Erdogan himself. And it is true that he declared that this coup was a “”gift from God… because this will be a reason to cleanse our army." But the reality is that this coup is a huge embarrassment for Erdogan, who had already purged the Turkish armed forces many times over and who could not take the risk of having a planned “false flag” turn into the real thing: even General Bekir Ercan Van, the commander of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase, has been detained by Turkish authorities accused of complicity in the attempted coup.
So not only did this coup show that Erdogan was hated at the very top level of the Turkish armed forces, but the failure of the coup has now resulted in a huge purge which will tremendously weaken the Turkish armed forces who are involved, not only in Syria but also in a bloody civil war against the Kurds. So the notion that Erdogan triggered this coup himself appears very far-fetched to me.
Then, of course, there is Russia. And while I wholeheartedly agree that Russia will immensely benefit from this failed coup, I also am convinced that the Russians never had anywhere near the means needed to trigger a coup in Turkey. Neither the Kemalists nor the supporters of Gulen are pro-Russian, and Russia simply does not have the kind of access in this major NATO country to trigger military coups.
As for the USA, had the coup succeeded, they could have placed a compliant, and probably far more reliable, military leader at the helm of power in Turkey. Now that the coup failed and now that Erdogan appears to be furious at the USA, the USA is the big loser in this outcome.
Al Jazeera, Syria: Coalition bombing kills at least 56 civilians, Staff report, July 19, 2016. At least 56 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led air strikes against areas in Syria held by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a monitoring group said. Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washinton, said that at least one town near the city of Manbij was allegedly hit by a coalition strike and that many of the casualties were reportedly women and children.
Mirror, Germany train axe attack: 18 injured after teenage refugee shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and hacked passengers, Natalie Evans, Richard Wheatstone, John Shammas, July 19, 2016. Armed police swarmed the area soon after receiving reports that a man hacked at passengers on board a train close to Wurzburg in southern Germany. Police have confirmed that 18 people have been injured in the horrifying attack - which began in a train this evening. A 17-year-old Afghan refugee believed to be behind the attack was shot dead by police as he reportedly charged at them following the incident at Würzburg-Heidingsfeld station. The boy is reported to have shouted "Allahu Akbar" before the attack.
Politico, Mukasey slams Clinton on email, but blocked classified leak probe in 2008, Josh Gerstein, July 19, 2016. Ex-Attorney General Michael Mukasey used his Republican National Convention speaking slot Tuesday night to blast Hillary Clinton over her carelessness with classified information, but Mukasey helped throw a major roadblock in the path of an investigation into improper leaking of such information less than a decade ago.
USA Today, The week ahead at the Republican National Convention, Susan Page, July 18, 2016. Welcome to Day One of the Republican National Convention, kicking off a week in which the Grand Old Party is expected to nominate one of the most unusual candidates for president, perhaps ever. Despite the efforts of the #NeverTrump movement, including an unsuccessful push just days ago to change convention rules so delegates could vote for someone else, Republicans are poised to nominate Donald Trump.
The New York real estate developer and reality television star has promised to put “showbiz” into the convention, “otherwise people are going to fall asleep.” Here’s what’s happening today:
Monday’s Theme is “Make America Safe Again,” and the primetime lineup does feature some atypical speakers for a political convention. Slated for primetime speaking slots are soap opera actor and model Anthony Sabato Jr., of The Bold and The Beautiful and General Hospital, and Scott Baio, known for his role as Chachi on Happy Days.
The evening’s schedule also features survivors of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi as well as immigration activists whose relatives were killed by immigrants living in the United States illegally. Rounding out the program will be former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Monday will also be when Trump’s wife, Melania, addresses the convention. And who would want to miss that? Oh, and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson? He’ll be speaking, too.
This is essentially a four-day-long celebration on behalf of the party where the nominee becomes official and people get together and decide what they want to stand for going into the election. Last week, the platform committee met and decided on an extremely conservative platform (which is interesting, considering Trump is actually more central on some of the issues), and this week there will be a vote to adopt it.
New Yorker, Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All, Jane Mayer, July 19, 2016 (July 25 print edition). The Art of the Deal made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it. “I put lipstick on a pig,” Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter, says. He feels “deep remorse.”
Last June, as dusk fell outside Tony Schwartz’s sprawling house, on a leafy back road in Riverdale, New York, he pulled out his laptop and caught up with the day’s big news: Donald J. Trump had declared his candidacy for President. As Schwartz watched a video of the speech, he began to feel personally implicated.
Trump, facing a crowd that had gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue, laid out his qualifications, saying, “We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal. ” If that was so, Schwartz thought, then he, not Trump, should be running. Schwartz dashed off a tweet: “Many thanks Donald Trump for suggesting I run for President, based on the fact that I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’ ”
Schwartz had ghostwritten Trump’s 1987 breakthrough memoir, earning a joint byline on the cover, half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance, and half of the royalties. The book was a phenomenal success, spending forty-eight weeks on the Times best-seller list, thirteen of them at No. 1.
“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “.”
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Floats Gross New Conspiracy Theory About Barack Obama, Staff report, July 18, 2016. “You just look at the body language and there’s something going on,” the presumptive GOP nominee said. Donald Trump has moved on from the birther movement to float another equally reckless conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama. After three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the president said that “there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None.” He made similar comments after five officers were killed in Dallas on July 7, calling the attack “vicious, calculated and despicable.” He also flew to Dallas on Tuesday to speak at a memorial for the fallen officers.
Still, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s grief and concern. “I watched the president, and sometimes the words are okay. But you just look at the body language and there’s something going on. Look, there’s something going on,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “There’s just bad feeling,” he said. Trump was responding to the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association’s claim that Obama “has blood on his hands” because he also condemned the police shootings of two African-American men.
NBC News, Baton Rouge Police Ambush: Cop Killer Didn't Make 911 Call, Gabe Gutierrez and F. Brinley Bruton, July 18, 2016. The gunman who killed three Baton Rouge police officers did not lure them to their deaths on Sunday but instead carried out the ambush after a member of the public called 911, an official told NBC News. Police do not think that tipster was the attacker or an accomplice, Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said.
"It was someone who was calling in," he said, adding that there "was no indication" that the initial call was "trying to lure someone here." Edmonson added: "'A guy with a gun' — that's all [the 911 caller] said."
The shooter was identified as Gavin Long, 29, of Kansas City, Missouri.
Edmonson said Long had been in Baton Rouge for days before he carried out the attack. Investigators are now looking for people who saw or spoke with him during that time. Long was also apparently in Dallas after five officers were shot and killed there last week, according to a video posted on a Twitter account that a senior law enforcement official said belonged to the suspect. The video, posted on July 10 — three days after the attack in that city — was titled: "My body-cam footage of me in Dallas out in them streets educating our people."
Huffington Post, Roger Ailes’ Days Running Fox News May Be Numbered, Michael Calderone, July 18, 2016. The Murdochs have reportedly agreed to remove the network’s CEO in response to a sexual harassment investigation. The Murdochs are having daily conversations about what they should do about Fox’s Rodger Ailes, according to the New York Times. Roger Ailes, the political and media mastermind who launched Fox News with Rupert Murdoch two decades ago, may soon lose his position atop the cable news giant amid sexual harassment accusations.
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, the author of a critical 2014 biography of Ailes, reported Monday that Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James ― the top executives at parent company 21st Century Fox ― “have settled on removing” Ailes in light of an ongoing investigation into charges leveled by former “Fox & Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson. Given that Ailes created Fox News in his image, it’s hard to imagine the network without him. The former political operative, who advised three Republican presidents, built the conservative cable network into a media powerhouse, with revenue in excess of $1 billion and ratings long exceeding its rivals. Though 76, Ailes has continued to wield power and has not groomed a successor.
Over the last year, the Murdoch brothers have been modernizing the media empire built by their father ― with the notable exception of Fox News. Though they had tensions with Ailes, The New York Times reported Sunday they’ve left the network alone because of its continued ratings dominance and because the Fox News CEO “has little interest in corporate oversight.”
Washington Post, Former Marine turned his online advocacy of bloodshed into reality, Amy Brittain and William Wan, July 18, 2016. Gavin Long (shown in a social media photo) was known to some as a young entrepreneur with a holistic pitch. But the 29-year-old also appeared in search of an identity, declaring himself a sovereign citizen and interacting with Internet conspiracy forums and “alpha-male” types.
Washington Post, Baltimore officer acquitted of all charges in Freddie Gray case, Derek Hawkins and Lynh Bui, July 18, 2016. Baltimore police Lt. Brian Rice has been acquitted of all charges in the death and arrest of Freddie Gray. He was the highest-ranking officer charged in the case.
Alex Jones Show via YouTube, Karl Rove and Alex Jones, July 18, 2016. Conservative broadcast commentator Alex Jones (shown in a file photo) rudely confronts GOP strategist Karl Rove at airports in Texas and Cleveland during chance encounters en route to the Republican National Convention. As portrayed by an Infowars camera crew also traveling, Jones greets Rove as "Turd blossom," a nickname bestowed on Rove by his mentor and former boss George W. Bush. Rove tells Jones to get his hand off his shoulder and at one point seeks police protection.
Washington Post, 3 officers dead, 3 hurt in Baton Rouge, Peter Holley and Wesley Lowery, July 17, 2016. Authorities said that one suspect has been killed, and the sheriff’s office said two other suspects might be at large. he shooting site at a gas station was about a mile from police headquarters. "Right now we are trying to get our arms around everything," a local official said. The White House has offered assistance.
Washington Post, Police union calls for open carry gun ban as fears of violence mount ahead of GOP convention, Peter Holley, July 17, 2016. With fears of impending violence mounting, the head of Cleveland’s largest police union called for a temporary ban on Ohio’s open carry gun laws as crowds of protesters and politicians arrived in town before the Republican National Convention. In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Kasich (shown in an official photo) said the governor could not suspend open carry at the convention.
Guardian (UK), Rebels fear Assad victory in Syria as noose tightens around Aleppo, Martin Chulov, July 17, 2016. Opposition groups brace for onslaught as US and Russia agree to cooperate, and Ankara sends peace feelers to Moscow and Damascus. The encirclement of Aleppo is a significant moment in a war that has led to more unrestrained savagery, international repercussions and unlikely alliances than most others in modern times. Another emerged last week, as Hezbollah and Syrian troops were beating back the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra from farmlands to the north of the city. As that battle raged, the US was drafting a deal with Russia that would create a joint operations centre to coordinate attacks on al-Nusra and Islamic State.
Washington Post, Turkey detains 6,000 linked to failed coup, Hugh Naylor and Erin Cunningham, July 17, 2016. The commanding officer and 10 other soldiers at Incirlik airbase — a major NATO installation that hosts U.S. forces — were caught in the sweeping arrests. The crackdown against opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government targeted renegade military officers and others suspected in the coup plot.
Among those arrested was the commander at Incirlik Air Base, which is used by U.S. forces to launch raids against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, a senior Turkish official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Gen. Bekir Ercan Van was detained along with 10 other soldiers on Sunday. The facility is a major NATO installation hosting U.S. forces that control a stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Independent (UK) via Unz Review, Erdogan Is Using This Failed Coup to Get Rid of Secularists in Turkey, Patrick Cockburn, July 17, 2016. The sweeping purge of soldiers and officials in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey is likely to be conducted with extra vigor because a number of close associates of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the 265 dead. The number of people detained so far is at 6,000 including soldiers, and around 3,000 judges and legal officials who are unlikely to have been connected to the attempted military takeover.
The coup plotters clearly saw the importance of detaining or eliminating Erdogan but were unable to find him at the holiday resort of Marmaris, in south west Turkey, where he was staying, as is shown by the film of shootings there.
The failed coup is serving as an excuse for a massive round-up of members of the judiciary and army officers, far greater than anything seen in Turkey for years, and is presumably a bid to secure Erdogan’s grip on the Turkish state. So numerous are those detained that a sports stadium is being used to hold some of them, a development that has ominous similarities with mass arrests in South American coups in the last century. Some 140 out of 387 judges in the Court of Appeal have been detained along with 48 out of 156 from the Council of State.
The late Sydney Schanberg, right, and the late Dith Pran (Photo via Wikipedia)
Unz Review, American Pravda, Ron Unz, July 17, 2016. Last week America suffered the loss of Sydney Schanberg, widely regarded as one of the greatest journalists of his generation. Yet as I’d previously noted, when I read his long and glowing obituary in the New York Times, I was shocked to see that it included not a single word concerning the greatest story of his career, which had been the primary focus of the last quarter century of his research and writing.
The cynical abandonment of hundreds of American POWs at the end of the Vietnam War must surely rank as one of the most monumental scandals of modern times, and the determined effort of the mainstream media to maintain this enormous governmental cover-up for over four decades raises serious doubts about whether we can believe what our newspapers report about anything else.
As someone who was just a child during the Vietnam War and had no familial connection to the conflict, I’d paid little attention to the history. During the late 1970s and afterward, the newspapers had gradually informed me of the POW activists, with their wild talk of Americans still held for years after the war in secret prisons of Communist Vietnam and the dark accusations they made of government conspiracies working to suppress that truth.
Naturally, I’d discounted such claims as the most obvious lunacy, on a par with UFO abductions, and never doubted that the advocates were exactly the sort of rightwing crackpots the media had always suggested.
But perhaps it is exactly that past ignorance and disinterest in the Vietnam War and the ensuing POW controversy that affords me some reasonable objectivity on the issue, allowing me to analyze the facts much as I would a historical puzzle from Ancient Greece. And once I finally encountered both sides of the story in late 2008, the evidence in favor of the reality of the POWs seemed absolutely overwhelming.
Washington Post, Donald Trump’s most enduring — and unbefitting — trait, Allan Sloan, July 16, 2016. I’ve been covering Donald Trump off and on for more than 25 years, and what has always struck me is his lack of impulse control. It was his biggest problem when I first started dealing with him in the 1980s, and it’s his biggest problem now.
Plenty of financial and real estate players got carried away in the go-go 1980s. But Trump was in a class by himself. He ended up presiding over six — count ’em, six — bankruptcies because he kept making business decisions with his gut rather than with his brain.
Washington Post, Turkey foils bloody coup attempt, closes in on remnants of renegade forces, Erin Cunningham, Liz Sly and Zeynep Karatas, July 16, 2016. Turkey’s government defeated a coup attempt by a renegade faction of the military that pummeled government and security institutions overnight with fighter jets, reasserting control on Saturday after hours of chaos and clashes that killed at least 265 people and plunged the already troubled country into further uncertainty.
More than 100 coup plotters are now dead, acting military chief Gen. Umit Dundar said on live TV, while another 161 people — including civilians and police were killed as ordinary Turks poured into the streets to confront tanks amid pitched battles in urban areas. At least 1,440 were wounded, officials said.
“The situation is completely under control,” Prime Minister Benali Yildirim announced early afternoon on Saturday, adding that more than 2,800 Turkish members of the military have been arrested and calling the attempt “a dark stain for Turkish democracy.”
The move by rogue officers and their supporters was the most significant challenge to the country's stability in decades, and raised fears that a close U.S. ally could be destined for a prolonged period of civil strife.
Washington Post, Fethullah Gulen: The Islamic scholar Turkey blames for the failed coup, Valerie Strauss, July 16, 2016. The Islamic scholar lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania. Learn about the international charter school network said to be inspired by him.
Middle East Eye, Turkish Coup Live Blog Summaries, Staff reports, July 16, 2016:
- Government says attempted coup by group within military has failed
- Turkish parliament holds extraordinary session on Saturday morning
- 2,839 rebel soldiers arrested across Turkey, official says
- At least 265 people killed, including rebel soldiers and civilians
- Turkish Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar rescued in operation at Akinci air base
- Soldiers opened fire on protesters on Istanbul's Bosphorus bridges, but later surrendered
- Officials say coup was instigated by a group within military, rather than the military itself
- President Erdogan ordered supporters on streets in TV address made via iPhone
- Erdogan says coup attempt is 'treason', and tells supporters to remain on streets
- US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen denies any role in Turkish coup plot
Egypt blocks UN resolution supporting Turkish government, Middle East Eye July 16, 2016:
Egypt on Saturday blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution backed by the United States condemning the attempted coup d'etat in Turkey, diplomats said. he United States, following consultations with officials from key NATO ally Turkey, had proposed a draft statement calling on "all parties in Turkey to respect the democratically elected government of Turkey."
But Egypt, currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council, objected. Its relations with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been particularly tense. Erdogan supports the Muslim Brotherhood of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed by the Egyptian army in 2013.
The Turkish leader has denounced that move as a "coup d'etat," drawing the wrath of the Egyptian general behind the ouster, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is now president. During the UN debate, Egypt argued that it was "not for the Security Council to decide whether the government is democratically elected," and it demanded that the relevant language be deleted, a diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Despite US insistence, Egypt would not budge. Turkey and several Security Council members including the United States worried the statement would have been too weak without wording explicitly supporting the Turkish government. "So there won't be any statement," the diplomat said.
US suspends strikes against IS group from Turkey base, Middle East Eye, July 16, 2016:
The US military has suspended air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq from a base in southern Turkey, a US official said. Operations from the Incirlik air base were suspended because of the closure of the airspace used by the missions, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.
US forces "were adjusting flight operations in the counter-ISIL campaign to minimize any effects on the campaign," he said, apparently suggesting missions against the Islamic State (IS) group -- also known as ISIL -- could launch from other locations. The Turkish authorities imposed a security lockdown at Incirlik on Saturday following the attempted coup d'etat by military officers overnight. US forces use Incirlik to launch bombing missions against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq. They have notably deployed drones, Prowler electronic warplanes and A-10 ground attack aircraft from the base.
Wall Street Journal, U.S., Russia Agree on Steps Designed to End War in Syria, but Details Sketchy, Felicia Schwartz, July 16, 2016. Washington initially offered military coordination, but terms of agreement not divulged after two days of meeting. U.S. and Russian officials said Friday they have reached an agreement on steps designed to pave the way for an end to the civil war in Syria, but top officials declined to detail the specific measures involved.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, without elaborating, said implementing the steps could address two key problems: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime’s disregard of a February cease-fire agreement, and attempts by some extremists to cloak their attacks by intermingling with opposition groups supported by the U.S. The talks were the latest in two days of meetings in Moscow, aimed at salvaging what little remains of the tattered cease-fire.
At the start of the talks Thursday, Mr. Kerry presented a proposal for closer military cooperation in Syria that would include joint strikes against militant group Nusra Front. In exchange, Russia would agree to use its influence to ground Syria’s air force, which has continued to pound civilian population centers But it was unclear late Friday which elements of the proposal were part of the agreement reached in Moscow. After more than 10 hours of talks Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two sides had reached “a common understanding with regard to joint steps.” However, Mr. Kerry said they still had “homework to do.”
Reflector.com (Greenville, NC), Jones commends release of 28 pages of 9/11 report, Staff and wire reports, July 16, 2016. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (shown in an official photo) said newly declassified pages from a congressional report into 9/11 will give victims' families and the American public more insight into the tragedy. Congress released the last chapter of the congressional inquiry that has been kept under wraps for more than 13 years, stored in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol. Lawmakers and relatives of victims of the attacks, who believe that Saudi links to the attackers were not thoroughly investigated, campaigned for years to get the pages released, the Associated Press reported.
"I'm just delighted for the 9/11 families and the American people that they can see this part of 9/11 and make some decisions for themselves," Jones said. "I said all along that America's strength is when the American people know the truth about a tragedy like 9/11, one of the most horrendous things to happen to America."
Earlier this month Jones was joined by U.S. Reps. Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts and Thomas Massie of Kentucky at a news conference calling on the House Intelligence Committee to publish the 28 classified pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001.
The pages were initially classified by President George W. Bush. They remained classified under President Barack Obama who on several occasions urged House leaders to release the documents.
Washington Post, Trump had a problem with women voters. Pence could make it even worse, Katie Zezima, July 16, 2016. Mike Pence has endorsed controversial legislation on abortion and Planned Parenthood
Los Angeles Times, Donald Trump's new campaign logo was mocked so much that it got quickly replaced, Melanie Mason, July 16, 2016. Has the much-mocked Donald Trump-Mike Pence campaign logo been reimagined? On Friday, the Trump team released a logo touting the vice-presidential pick (shown at right). But some observers noted that the interlocking letters of the design were inadvertently [sexuallly] suggestive.
Washington Post, Both Clinton and Trump would bring a war-time posture to the White House, Sean Sullivan, Abby Phillip, David Weigel, July 16, 2016. Amid voter fears in the wake of the attack in Nice, both presidential candidates promised to destroy the Islamic State.
Newswire, Tornado Sirens Send Clinton, Blair and Bush into Hiding in a School Basement, Dragana Todorovic, July 16, 2016. Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush attended a ceremony at Little Rock's Central High School when the storm struck. They took refuge in the school basement. Disrupting the speeches held by former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (shown in a recent file photo), the host of the event informed everyone present that they are experiencing a serious storm and need to clear the auditorium. ''Good luck... and god speed,'' he said.
It wasn't known where Bush, Clinton and Blair were taken as sirens started sounding, but was later revealed that security guards evacuated the trio of former world leaders into the school basement. All others attendees were moved to the lower level of the high school.
When the storm passed, the three former leaders left the basement, and together with the presidential scholars, went to the Clinton Presidential Center at Little Rock, for dinner.July 15
Guardian, Lawsuit accuses DoJ of ‘failure by design’ through use of decades-old system, Sam Thielman, July 16, 2016. Justice department 'uses aged computer system to frustrate Foia requests.' A new lawsuit alleges that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) intentionally conducts inadequate searches of its records using a decades-old computer system when queried by citizens looking for records that should be available to the public. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) researcher Ryan Shapiro alleges “failure by design” in the DoJ’s protocols for responding to public requests. The Foia law states that agencies must “make reasonable efforts to search for the records in electronic form or format.”
In an effort to demonstrate that the DoJ does not comply with this provision, Shapiro requested records of his own requests and ran up against the same roadblocks that stymied his progress in previous inquiries. A judge ruled in January that the FBI had acted in a manner “fundamentally at odds with the statute”.
Now, armed with that ruling, Shapiro hopes to change policy across the entire department. Shapiro filed his suit on the 50th anniversary of Foia’s passage this month. Foia requests to the FBI are processed by searching the Automated Case Support system (ACS), a software program that celebrates its 21st birthday this year.
Huffington Post, After Attempted Coup, Erdogan Vows Retribution, Sophia Jones, Charlotte Alfred, Jessica Schulberg, July 15, 2016. He called the military uprising a “gift from God,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport Saturday morning and declared the attempted coup against his government to be a failure, but also a “gift from God.”
The uprising was “an act of treason” carried out by a minority within the military, Erdogan said. He vowed to “clean up” the armed forces and “eradicate” those who had operated aerial forces against his government. ”Turkey has a democratically elected government and president. We are in charge and we will continue exercising our powers until the end,” Erdogan said.
“We will not abandon our country to these invaders. It will end well.” Turkish military forces had declared a takeover of the country late Friday, but government leaders quickly insisted that the coup attempt would not succeed. Tanks rolled through the streets and the sound of gunfire and explosions rang out in Istanbul and Ankara, sparking fear and confusion about who was in control. Later, crowds of people poured into the streets in protest.
"Turkish soldiers block both bridges on the Bosphorus in Istanbul and jets flying low in Ankara. Reason not clear yet": Report and photo by BBC's Selin Girit via Twitter (July 15, 2016)
BBC, Turkey army group announces takeover on TV, Staff report, July 15, 2016. An army group in Turkey says it has taken control of the country, with bridges closed in Istanbul and aircraft flying low over Ankara. CNN Turk reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "safe" but did not elaborate. A statement from the military group read out on NTV television said: "The power in the country has been seized in its entirety." Who represents the group remains uncertain.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoğanTayyip Erdoğan (File Photo), who has sought to expand his powers and crack down on democratic, religious and other human rights to advance a pro-Muslim agenda
Haaretz (Israel), Turkish Military Says It Has Seized Control From Ankara Government, News wires and staff, July 15, 2016. A group within Turkey's military has attempted to overthrow the government and security forces have been called in to "do what is necessary," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday.
"Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command," Yildirim said in comments broadcast by private channel NTV. "The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so." Those behind the attempted coup would pay the highest price, he added.
Turkish prime minister says attempted military coup underway; military jets and helicopters seen flying low over Ankara and tanks reported in the streets; two major bridges in Istanbul are closed to traffic.
The Turkish military released a statement that it had taken over in the name of democratic order, adding that all existing foreign relations will continue and human rights will remain.
New York Times, Congress Releases Secret 9/11 Document Detailing Possible Saudi Ties to Al Qaeda, Mark Mazzetti, July 15, 2016. Congress on Friday made public a long-classified document detailing possible connections between the Saudi government and the Sept. 11 terrorist plot.
The 28-page document is a wide-ranging catalog of possible links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives. It details contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers and describes the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda operative’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
The document, a section of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks, had been kept secret out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Its release marks the end of a yearslong fight by lawmakers and families of the Sept. 11 victims to make public any evidence that the kingdom might have played a role in the attacks.
The majority of the facts surrounding the attacks are not in serious dispute, but the enduring controversy over what role — if any — Saudi officials played is a reminder that some mysteries linger even as the 15th anniversary of the attacks approaches.
The Obama administration sent a declassified version of the document, with some redactions, to the congressional leadership on Friday. It was released hours later on the website of the House Intelligence Committee.
Much of the push over more than a decade to get the document declassified was led by former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who was one of the co-chairmen of the congressional inquiry. Mr. Graham has long said that releasing it would provide compelling evidence that the Saudi government had a direct hand in the terrorist plot.
Washington Post, Congress releases long-classified '28 pages' on alleged Saudi ties to 9/11, Karen DeYoung, Karoun Demirjian and Adam Goldman, July 15, 2016. A long-classified document, detailing suspected connections between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 2001 attacks, was released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee after being redacted by U.S. intelligence. The document, referred to as the “28-pages” throughout a years-long battle over whether it should be made public, had taken on a near-mythic status. Victim families and some lawmakers had pushed for the release, charging that the government had tried to cover up possible Saudi links to the attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
But the pages, part of a 2002 joint inquiry by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees into the al-Qaeda plot, do not appear to add significantly to information collected in subsequent investigations, including the 9/11 Commission report, published in 2004, and numerous other documents that have since been made public.
Washington Post, White House says 28 pages of 9/11 report show no evidence of Saudi role, Josh Earnest (White House spokesman), video, July 15, 2016. U.S. intelligence officials have finished reviewing 28 classified pages of the official report on the Sept. 11 attacks and they show no evidence of Saudi complicity, says White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. (Reuters)
Florida Bulldog, The release of the 28 pages isn’t the last word in the search for who was behind 9/11, Dan Christensen (shown at right), July 15, 2016. It took 13 1/2 years and enormous public and political pressure to force President Obama to order today’s release of the suppressed chapter from Congress’s Joint Inquiry report about apparent Saudi support for the 9/11 suicide hijackers.
The pages, however, were not released in full. Nearly every page is speckled with black marks where information was redacted. In some cases, those deletions are of entire paragraphs, almost certainly meaning that controversy about the 28 pages will continue.
Those 28 pages, however, aren’t nearly the last word about the people and events behind 9/11. Tens of thousands, likely hundreds of thousands, of additional U.S. government investigative documents about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks remain classified.
“I hope the 28 pages are the cork in the bottle and that all that other material will now be released,” said former Florida Sen. Bob Graham. Graham (shown at left in a file photo) co-chaired the Joint Inquiry and has long advocated for the public release of the chapter that was withheld from publication at the direction of President George W. Bush.
Washington Post, The mystery surrounding 28 pages said to show links between 9/11 plotters and Saudi Arabia, Adam Taylor, July 15, 2016. What is the official line on the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks? Of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia. They were all affiliated with al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden, the scion of a wealthy and connected Saudi family. The Saudi royal family also has been accused of tolerating extremist clerics within the kingdom in exchange for domestic stability and political support.
MadCowNews, Saudis bribed their way into the heart of U.S. Government, Daniel Hopsicker (shown in a file photo and author of Welcome To Terrorland), July 15, 2016. Leading up to today’s release of the redacted 28 pages from the Intelligence Committee Report on the 9/11 Attack, national security officials have beat out a steady drumbeat proclaiming “conspiracy theorists” would be sorely disappointed by the “inconclusive evidence” long-rumored to implicate Saudi Arabian government officials in the 9/11 attack.
Nothing, as it happens, could be further from the truth.
And no bigger Big Lie in recent memory has issued from the mouth of an official representative of the U. S. Government as that which White House press secretary Josh Earnest uttered today.
“The release doesn’t shed any new light or change any of the conclusions about responsibilities for the 9/11 attacks,” Earnest dissembled. “It should put to rest longtime speculation that the Saudi government had a role.”
Were that in any way true, the pages would not have been slipped out the door late on a Friday afternoon. And certainly not in the middle of summer, days before the two parties begin holding their conventions.
Whistling past the graveyard has long part part of any White House press secretary’s role. But Earnest’s performance today — given the tremendous loss of life America suffered that fateful day — seems particularly shameless.
New York Times, Congress Releases Secret 9/11 Document Detailing Possible Saudi Ties to Al Qaeda, Mark Mazzetti, July 15, 2016. Congress on Friday made public a long-classified document detailing possible connections between the Saudi government and the Sept. 11 terrorist plot.
The 28-page document is a wide-ranging catalog of possible links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives. It details contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers and describes the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda operative’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan (shown below), then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
The document, a section of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks, had been kept secret out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Its release marks the end of a yearslong fight by lawmakers and families of the Sept. 11 victims to make public any evidence that the kingdom might have played a role in the attacks.
The majority of the facts surrounding the attacks are not in serious dispute, but the enduring controversy over what role — if any — Saudi officials played is a reminder that some mysteries linger even as the 15th anniversary of the attacks approaches.
The Obama administration sent a declassified version of the document, with some redactions, to the congressional leadership on Friday. It was released hours later on the website of the House Intelligence Committee.
Much of the push over more than a decade to get the document declassified was led by former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who was one of the co-chairmen of the congressional inquiry. Mr. Graham has long said that releasing it would provide compelling evidence that the Saudi government had a direct hand in the terrorist plot.
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) is shown with Congressman Steve Lynch (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) advocating on Capitol Hill for release of a 28-page report that Graham co-authored in 2002 identifying who funded the 9/11 attacks on the United States (Justice Integrity Project Photo).
The Bush administration suppressed the report, and Congress has refused to release it to 9/11 families and the rest of the public. Ostensibly on national security grounds, members of Congress will be imprisoned if they describe the contents of who funded the attacks prompting 15 years of wars in the Middle East.
Washington Post, Tunisian-born man at wheel in deadly truck rampage in Nice, police say, Michael Birnbaum, July 15, 2016. A Tunisian-born émigré with a record of petty crime was behind the wheel of a truck that barreled into Bastille Day revelers and claimed at least 84 lives over a mile-long path of horror, a police official said Friday, as investigators explored possible links to Islamist militant networks.
The driver was identified as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, whose identity documents, cellphone and bank card were found inside the 19-ton truck used in Thursday’s mayhem along a palm-dotted French Riviera corniche in Nice, according to police official in the city. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of a formal announcement.
French media reported that Bouhlel had no apparent previous links to extremism. But the probe has shifted quickly to determine whether Bouhlel acted alone, or if he had connections and a support network that could be plotting further violence.
See also: Washington Post, Hollande: Attack’s ‘terrorist nature cannot be denied,’ Death toll climbs to 84 after truck barrels through Bastille Day revelers in Nice, Michael Birnbaum, July 15, 2016. The driver also opened fire on the crowd in the French Riviera city before he was shot to death by police, French officials said.
NBC News, It's Official: Trump Announces Mike Pence as VP Pick, Kelly O'Donnell, July 15, 2016. The choice of Pence, who served as a congressman for 12 years before being elected governor of Indiana, is squarely aimed at assuaging the concerns of traditional conservatives who are still wary of Trump's inexperience and frequent lack of adherence to some traditional GOP policy proposals.
Minutes after Trump published his decision on Twitter, Pence, who had been running for re-election as governor, formally withdrew from the ballot as a gubernatorial candidate. Indiana law prohibits an individual from appearing on the ballot for both a state and federal office.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign said Friday that the selection of Pence shows that Trump has "doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families."
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Formally Announces Indiana Gov. Mike Pence As VP Pick, Sam Levine, July 15, 2016. Donald Trump announced Friday in a tweet that he had selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (shown below in an official photo) as his running mate. Pence beat out former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with whom Trump reportedly had a tense conversation on Thursday. Trump was reportedly upset that news of his announcement had leaked early.
Pence was elected Indiana’s governor in 2013 after serving 12 years in Congress. He has consistently attacked reproductive rights, is an unapologetic defender of the war in Iraq and came under fire last year for signing an Indiana law that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT Americans. In December, he also criticized Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, tweeting that it was “offensive and unconstitutional.
Many GOP delegates who spoke with HuffPost in Cleveland this week described Pence as a reassuring choice whose background and experience could help bring conservative holdouts into the fold. Their reactions toward Pence, however, were relatively muted when compared to the prospect of Gingrich, a respected figure among the party whom they spoke about enthusiastically.
Washington Post, Gingrich wants to ‘test’ every Muslim in the U.S., deport sharia believers, Melissa Etehad, July 15, 2016. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich's proposal would violate scores of First Amendment-based Supreme Court rulings as well as civil rights laws. Following the attack in Nice that killed at least 84 people, former House speaker Newt Gingrich has called for deporting everyone in America with a Muslim background who believes in sharia law. Newt Gingrich photo by Gage Skidmore.
“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “Sharia is incompatible with western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up sharia — glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door,” he added. Further, he said: “Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felony. It should be closed down immediately.”
Washington Post, Chris Christie’s tour of Donald Trump-related indignities ends with one final snub, Aaron Blake, July 15, 2016. You can't say the New Jersey governor didn't give it a shot. Nobody went through more to try to land the job than Christie.
New York Times, Chris Christie Lost Out on the Job He Wanted. And His Bad Year Got Worse, Kate Zernicke, July 15, 2016. “Black Thursday,” one of Gov. Chris Christie’s least favorite local newspaper columnists called it, under a headline that declared it his “worst day ever.” At the least, it was the New Jersey governor’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
On Thursday morning, one of his closest confidants pleaded guilty to a felony charge of abusing power at the agency that Mr. Christie tapped him to lead. By that afternoon, federal prosecutors had charged a former cabinet official in connection with the same case, which spun out of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that has dogged Mr. Christie (shown in an official photo) for nearly three years.
Then he did not get the job he had been publicly pining for, and on which he had pinned his hopes of political resuscitation. Donald J. Trump, who is expected to become the Republican nominee for president next week, picked someone else as his running mate, despite an endorsement that dragged Mr. Christie’s poll numbers to record lows at home and alienated him from moderate Republicans he once called friends.
Washington Post, Former Chris Christie ally pleads guilty in bribery case involving United flight, Renae Merle, July 15, 2016. Airline escapes serious punishment after agreeing to $2.25 million fine. During a 2011 dinner in New York, David Samson, then the chairman of the Port Authority of New Jersey, asked United Airlines executives for a favor: Would the company look into reviving a direct flight from Newark to Columbia, S.C., where he owned a vacation home?
A United executive said they would, but the idea was quickly rejected, according to court documents. The route was unprofitable, a United lobbyist allegedly told Samson, a close ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Samson, on Thursday, pleaded guilty to bribery charges and faces two years in prison, a major victory for prosecutors. Jamie Fox, the United lobbyist allegedly involved in the discussions, has been charged with conspiring to commit bribery; he has denied wrongdoing.
Al Jazeera, Syria's deadly spillover, James Denselow, July 15, 2016. The wildfires of Syria's war will continue to spread across the region if more imaginative measures aren't taken. With an estimated 2,000 Jordanians, 2,000 Turks and 1,000 Lebanese fighting alongside ISIL in Syria and Iraq there is the potential for many fighters returning home if ISIL continues to lose its urban areas following Ramadi and Fallujah's fall and pressure increasing on Raqqa and Mosul.
SouthFront, Ahrar Al-Sham admits they have no chance in Northern Aleppo and Syrian War Report: ISIS Shot Down Government Aircraft, Staff reports, July 15, 2016.
Alabama Political Reporter, Gov. Bentley Among Those Testifying at Montgomery Special Grand Jury, Bill Britt, July 14, 2016. At 8:39 am, Wednesday, Gov. Robert Bentley (shown in an official photo) walked into the Special Grand Jury being held in Montgomery County. The prosecution was comprised of Attorney General Luther Strange. The special grand jury was impaneled on Monday, July 11.
Washington Post, Fox News commentator who feds say faked a CIA career sentenced to 33 months in prison, Rachel Weiner, July 15, 2016. Wayne Simmons was a professional football player, a drug trafficker, a nightclub doorman, a Fox News guest analyst and an intelligence adviser in Afghanistan. What Simmons, 62, was not, according to all available evidence, was a CIA agent. In federal court in Virginia on Friday, just before he was sentenced to 33 months in prison, he apologized for lying about his security clearance, his criminal history and his finances.
Simmons persuaded a woman with whom he had a relationship to give him $125,000 for a fake real estate investment. When his promises did not materialize, she went to authorities, telling the government she had trusted Simmons in part because of his Fox News appearances and purported CIA career. Simmons will have to pay $175,000 in restitution to the government and to the woman, who came to court Friday but declined to speak publicly.
The Federalist, Hillary Managed Her Emails Like Criminals I’ve Known, Henry Scanlon, July 12, 2016. 'There’s no evidence’ is the last refuge of a brazen criminal. I know, because two employees scammed me before destroying all the evidence, and it nearly got them off.
Guardian, Reports: 80 dead, 50 wounded after truck hits Bastille Day crowd in Nice, French officials say – live updates, Kevin Rawlinson (earlier) and Bonnie Malkin (now), July 14, 2016. Vehicle reportedly mounts curb and hits people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice. Christian Estrosi, president of the region, says the truck in Nice was loaded with arms and grenades, according to AP. Donald Trump delays announcing running mate due to Nice attack. Driver of the lorry is dead.
NBC News, NBC's Bill Neely speaks with President Bashar Al-Assad, published July 14, 2016 (44:24 min.). This interview was filmed by the Presidential press office of Bashar al-Assad.
Huffington Post, Syria’s Bashar Assad Blames Journalist Marie Colvin For Her Own Death, Sophia Jones, July 14, 2016. Less than a week after the family of renowned American journalist Marie Colvin sued the Syrian government for her death, Syria’s Bashar Assad shot back with his own version: It was all her fault. “It’s a war and she came illegally to Syria, she worked with the terrorists, and because she came illegally, she’s been responsible of everything that befall on her,” the embattled president said in an exclusive interview with NBC News in Damascus published Wednesday.
Colvin, a veteran conflict reporter for The Sunday Times of London, died alongside French photographer Remi Ochlik in a February 2012 rocket attack on a makeshift media center in the besieged, rebel-held city of Homs, western Syria. Her family maintains that the Syrian government ordered her killing “as part of its effort to crush political opposition.” Colvin knew the risks associated with reporting in war zones, but she determined that such an important and under-reported story must be told.
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) is shown with Congressman Steve Lynch (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) advocating on Capitol Hill for release of a 28-page report that Graham co-authored in 2002 identifying who funded the 9/11 attacks on the United States (Justice Integrity Project Photo).
The Bush administration suppressed the report, and Congress has refused to release it to 9/11 families and the rest of the public. Ostensibly on national security grounds, members of Congress will be imprisoned if they describe the contents of who funded the attacks prompting 15 years of wars in the Middle East.
South Front, British Parliament: Gulf States Financing ISIS Militants, Staff report, July 14, 2016. According to a report of the British House of Commons, people and families from the Gulf States are financing the terrorist militia ISIS. Obviously the Arab royal houses have approved financing. Saudi Arabia is the closest ally of the US and the EU in the Middle East. A British parliamentary report, which was published on Tuesday, concluded to have “historical evidence” for the financing of the terrorist militia ISIS by the Arab Gulf States. The British Foreign Office reported that individuals and families, who are linked to the royal family in Saudi Arabia, are actively involved in the financing of ISIS.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the British parliament calls in a final evaluation of the financing of ISIS for the need of “tough questions to be asked of close friends”, when it comes to check how donations to ISIS have been made in Iraq and Syria. However, the Foreign Ministry in London points out that the ISIS-financing was not encouraged or supported by governments in the region. The donors in the region were individuals.
However, evidently the Saudi intelligence also played a major role in the expansion of ISIS. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former ambassador to Washington and former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia, is have to played a leading role in the “from ISIS led Sunni rebellion”, according to The Independent News. In addition, no donations to ISIS from Saudi Arabia would just flow spontaneously. Without a blessing of the Saudi royal family donations would not be possible to the terrorist militia.
South Front, Operations in Mallah Farms: 250 Militants Killed, Including 25 Field Commanders, Staff report, July 14, 2016. Two hundred and forty militants, including 25 field commanders, were killed during the Syrian government forces’ anti-terrorist operations in al-Malaah region in Northern Aleppo, the FARS news agency reported Wednesday, citing unnamed army sources. According to the report, many militants also were wounded.
"Almost the entire offensives of the terrorist groups of al-Nusra Front, Nouralddeen al-Zinki and Mountain’s Hawks were repelled by the Syrian pro-government forces,” the sources said.
They also added that the terrorist groups left behind their military equipment in Kafr Hamra and fled towards Idlib’s Eastern border. “Most of the terrorists consider attacks on government forces’ positions in al-Malaah and al-Lairamoun industrial region as suicide. Rift among the terrorist groups has been widening in the recent days due to their differences over way of battling the government forces,” the sources pointed out.
On Tuesday, the Russian and Syrian fighter jets hit terrorist groups in different districts of Aleppo city, resulting in dozens of killed and injured militants. Concentration centers of the militants in al-Lairamoun industrial region, Bani Zeid neighborhood and Castillo highway, were also bombed by the Syrian and Russian aircraft. Many militants were killed and their military movements down were slowed.
National Press Club, U.S. needs 'broad dialog' on use of cyber, says NSA chief Rogers, Wesley G. Pippert, July 14, 2016. Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, called at a National Press Club luncheon Thursday for a "broad dialogue" about when and how the United States should use cyber in a way that is "coherent and legal." But he refused numerous times to go into detail beyond saying: "How we do our mission should be in a way that engenders confidence and trust."
Resplendent in the Navy's summer whites, Rogers added: "We always obey the law. We acknowledge mistakes. We don't take short cuts." Rogers, who also is commander of the Cyber Command, said at the start of his remarks that he anticipated he would be asked, "Can't you give us more details?"
"No," he said in a tone that was both affable and firm. Later, in answer to a question from the sold-out audience of about 250, he added: "I'm willing to talk in broad terms about what we do." When President Thomas Burr led off questioning by asking in a couple of ways how successful NSA had been against ISIS (Islam State), Rogers refused to answer. "Keep asking," he said, "but I'm not going to answer."
When Burr asked whether cyber should be used as a "first-strike weapon," Rogers replied: "First strike is a policy question. That's not my role. You need to come up with a better question." "Cyber is a tool that should be made available to policymakers and should be used in a coherent and legal framework."
Washington Post, Trump allies signal Pence is likely running mate, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, July 14, 2016. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence emerged Thursday as Donald Trump’s likely running mate, with allies of Pence and Trump sending increasingly strong signals that Pence would join the GOP ticket and Republican leaders saying they have been told to stand by for an announcement.
But less than 24 hours before Trump was set to reveal his vice-presidential choice at an event in New York, Trump had not made a formal offer, according Republicans familiar with the discussions who spoke mid-afternoon Thursday on the condition of anonymity because the ongoing talks were confidential.
The official announcement of Trump’s pick is expected Friday. It was not clear whether Pence had been told he was the pick. Allies cautioned that the celebrity mogul candidate could be prone to spring a surprise.
Associated Press via USA Today, Leaked proposal: US offering Russia military pact in Syria, Bradley Klapper, July 14, 2016. The United States is offering Russia a new military pact against the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria, according to a leaked U.S. proposal. If finalized, the arrangement could dramatically alter America’s role in the Arab country’s five-year civil war.
The document published by the Washington Post calls for joint bombing operations, a command-and-control headquarters and other synchronized efforts. U.S. and Russian officials with expertise in intelligence, targeting and air operations will “work together to defeat” the extremist groups, the eight-page paper states. Such a partnership would undercut months of U.S. criticism of Russia’s military intervention in Syria. And it would put the U.S. alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief international backer, despite years of American demands for Assad to leave power.
Chatham House, Boris Johnson’s Position on Syria Is a Problem for the UK, Tim Eaton, July 14, 2016. The new foreign secretary has publicly advocated that the UK should work with Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad against ISIS − at odds with current government policy. Newly appointed British Prime Minister Theresa May has moved quickly to announce Boris Johnson as her foreign secretary. As recently as two weeks ago, Johnson was seen as a leading contender for her job. Now he is to be the face of the UK government’s foreign policy. His appointment is likely to divide opinion, not least due to his penchant for bold statements and controversial positions. His position on Syria will challenge the UK’s credibility in the Middle East.
An article written by Johnson in December 2015 advocated that ‘Britain should do a deal with the Devil: we [Britain] should work with Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad in Syria’ to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).’ This puts Johnson (shown in a file photo) publicly at odds with the UK government’s position, which has been steadfast in its opposition of Assad and of the suggestion that he might play any role in a post-settlement Syria. Britain has thus far justifiably identified Assad as the primary cause of Syria’s descent into chaos and rejected the arguments of his regime’s international supporters that he is the only credible force that can defeat ISIS on the battlefield. Given Johnson’s dissenting view, questions immediately arise: Will Johnson recant his view? Is the UK government about to change its policy on Syria?
Wall Street Journal, Kerry, Putin Aim to Preserve Syria Cease-Fire, Coordinate Efforts, Felicia Schwartz, July 14, 2016. Secretary of State, Russian president discuss U.S. proposal to work more closely if Moscow grounds Assad's air force. Secretary of State John Kerry met late into the night on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to salvage cease-fire efforts in Syria by offering Russia greater U.S. military cooperation if Moscow agrees to ground the Syrian regime’s air force. The talks ended with U.S. officials unsure whether they will reach an agreement on the latest bid to rescue an eight-month effort to reach a cease-fire and hold talks on a leadership change, an effort that has largely failed. Talks will resume on Friday between Mr. Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Washington Post, He said it was consensual. She said she blacked out. U-Va. had to decide: Was it assault? T. Rees Shapiro, July 14, 2016. They met at a raucous, drunken party and ended up in a bathroom together. The case, in many ways typical of those on U.S. campuses, tore through both their lives.
Washington Post, You can’t carry a tennis ball near the GOP convention. But you can bring a gun, Editorial board, July 14, 2016. Many household objects will be banned from downtown Cleveland but, because of our irrational laws, guns are not.
Washington Post, David Margolis, mob prosecutor who was a senior Justice Department lawyer, dies at 76, Matt Schudel, July 14, 2016. In his 51 years at Justice, Mr. Margolis helped resolve high-profile RICO cases and sensitive matters with the White House and CIA.
Perspective: David Margolis, honored last year by the a national group of former prosecutors for 50 years of Justice Department work and shown at right in an early official photo, was profiled by the Washington Post last year:
Washington Post, David Margolis’s 50 years of quips and controversies at Justice Department, Ellen Nakashima, July 15, 2015. David Margolis, an associate deputy U.S. attorney general who has been with Justice Department for 50 years, has worked on some of the department’s most politically controversial issues in past 25 years. Margolis can still recall the thrill he felt almost 50 years ago. A newly minted federal prosecutor, he stood in the U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., and said these words: “Your Honor, this is David Margolis, and I’m representing the United States.”
And he can still recall the sting of the response.
“Now just remember, counselor,” the judge told the young and perhaps a bit arrogant assistant U.S. attorney. “You represent the United States. You’re not the United States yourself.” That admonition, said the now-75-year-old Margolis, has stuck in his mind. It has been a reminder that no matter how high he rose, he should never get too big for his bell-bottoms. (More on that later.)
Slate, David Margolis Is Wrong: The Justice Department's ethics investigation shouldn't leave John Yoo and Jay Bybee home freeThe Justice Department's ethics investigation shouldn't leave John Yoo and Jay Bybee home free, David Luban, Feb. 22, 2010. After more than a year's delay, the Department of Justice released the Office of Professional Responsibility's report on whether government lawyers who wrote two notorious torture memos violated professional ethics. OPR is the Justice Department's internal watchdog, and it has the authority to recommend referring errant DoJ lawyers for professional discipline or even criminal prosecution. The 260-page OPR report, plus two earlier drafts released at the same time, harshly condemn the torture memos and recommend discipline for the lawyers who wrote them.
But Friday's document dump also included a 69-page memo by David Margolis, the senior DoJ attorney who resolves challenges to negative OPR findings like this one. Margolis ripped into OPR and rejected the ethics office's recommendations that Jay S. Bybee (now a federal judge) and John Yoo (now a law professor) should be referred to their state bars for discipline. Margolis' decision means that Judge Bybee and Professor Yoo will be spared further ethics investigations. They are home free.
Of course, the best evidence of what the lawyers were thinking, who they were talking to, and what pressures they faced, might be their e-mail traffic. But the OPR report informs us that "most of Yoo's emails had been deleted and were not recoverable." The same is true of the e-mail of Patrick Philbin, another OLC lawyer who had read the Yoo-Bybee memo and advised Bybee to sign it. (This itself is troubling; I have been told by government lawyers that their deleted e-mails are always stored and recoverable.)
Without the e-mails, it is harder to know John Yoo's state of mind as he composed the torture memos. And yet the other evidence amply justifies OPR's conclusions. What does Margolis' rejection of OPR's finding of professional misconduct mean? In practical terms, very little. DoJ will not refer Bybee and Yoo for bar discipline, but state bar authorities are badly equipped to take on an ethics investigation of this magnitude. They tend to be cautious and politically timid, and experts have told me that the probability of action from either the D.C. bar counsel or his Pennsylvania counterpart was close to zero. (The Pennsylvania bar has already refused once to investigate John Yoo.) Even if Margolis had followed OPR's recommendation, the cases would almost certainly have wound up in the dead letter box. Nonetheless, this is a bitter outcome for those who think that torture devised at the highest levels of government disgraces us as a nation.
Harper's No Comment, The Margolis Memo, Scott Horton, Feb. 24, 2010. Legal ethicist David Luban delivers a coup de grâce to the Margolis memorandum in a piece at Slate entitled “David Margolis is Wrong”: "Margolis’ critique got Yoo and Bybee off the hook. So how strong is his position compared with OPR’s? The short answer: weak."
The Margolis memo simply doesn’t make sense as a discussion of legal ethics. It is a political document and has to be understood that way. It tells us that Department political interests trump ethics. Over the past two years, I have consistently been told by insiders at Justice that an elaborate game was played to try to slow down or block the OPR’s report. Efforts were made to pressure OPR to rewrite its report, to adopt softer standards, to allow Yoo and Bybee to respond internally, and to require OPR to address the responses. I was told that one man was consistently behind these tactics: David Margolis. So, far from being an objective and impartial analyst, Margolis became engaged in the process at least by the fall of 2008, as an advocate for Yoo and Bybee and opponent of OPR.
The first question is simple: Why is a career Justice Department official with well-documented sympathies being put in the position of final reviewer? Margolis not only lacks serious grounding in professional ethics rules; his prior decisions reflect an attitude that borders on overt contempt for them.
But a couple of further points are necessary. One is that Margolis’s own memorandum weirdly mirrors the torture memoranda. He uses what legal academics call the doctrine of legal indeterminacy as a shield for these lawyers. He argues that the law is unclear, riddled with ambiguities. Of course, this is the key weapon used by Yoo in the torture memo and a number of others—he claims that the legal standards are unclear and that in the face of such uncertainty, the power of the president as commander-in-chief cannot be limited. Margolis proceeds to demonstrate that he knows next to nothing (and apparently cares very little) about U.S. law of war doctrine. His arguments are clever and cute — about the sort of thing one would expect of a very aggressive defense counsel.
Washington Post, Why Mike Pence will be in trouble if Trump passes him over for vice president, James Hohmann, July 13, 2016. During their joint appearance outside Indianapolis, it felt at times like the governor (shown in an official photo) wanted to be rescued from having to stand for reelection this November.
Washington Post, Trump's vice presidential picks reveal their desperation — and his poor judgment, Editorial board, July 13, 2016. In every presidential election, politicians campaign to become their party’s vice presidential pick, often by heaping undeserved praise on their party’s presidential nominee. It is rarely more than mildly embarrassing. But when the presidential candidate is Donald Trump, the slobbering is repulsive.
The fact that Mr. Trump’s vice presidential shortlist contains two unpopular governors and a disgraced ex-speaker of the House shows that his judgment is as poor as it seems to be or, more likely, that only desperate, unprincipled panderers would consider joining his ticket.
Washington Post, Trump escalates feud with Justice Ginsburg: ‘Her mind is shot — resign!’ Robert Barnes, July 13, 2016. The unusual and apparently unprecedented battle of words between a justice of the Supreme Court and a presumptive presidential nominee continued Tuesday. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made clear that her criticism of Republican Donald Trump was not the result of an unguarded moment. She told a CNN analyst in an interview late Monday that Trump was a “faker” and said she was surprised the media has not pressed him more to release his tax returns.
Trump responded by telling a New York Times reporter that Ginsburg’s comments were “highly inappropriate” and she should leave her lifetime appointment sooner rather than later. Early Wednesday, a more pointed message was posted to his Twitter account: “Her mind is shot — resign!”
NBC News, Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad Speaks to NBC News, Bill Neely, July 13, 2016. Syria's president criticized the lack of experience in U.S. presidential politics, telling NBC News it is "dangerous" for the country. NBC News sat down with President Bashar al-Assad at his office on Wednesday for a wide-ranging interview on ISIS, Syria's civil war and the U.S. presidential election.
Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have traded blows over U.S. policy in Syria — with the former secretary of state a vocal advocate for Assad's removal while Trump has cited ISIS' defeat as a higher priority, amid withering critiques of his foreign-policy proposals. Syria's president made little distinction between the two candidates, however, when asked if he was worried about Trump's lack of foreign policy experience.
"Who had this experience before? Obama? Or George Bush? Or (Bill) Clinton before? None of them had any experience," he told NBC News. "This is the problem with the United States." He said a "few years" in Congress or foreign affairs doesn't count — and that having someone without experience in the White House "of course it is dangerous for the country generally."
Assad has clung to his grip on power for 16 years — the last six of which have been amidst a bloody civil war. More than 250,000 people have died in the conflict, though the U.N. stopped keeping track of the toll. The Syrian president has been accused of deliberately targeting civilians, executions, torture and crimes against humanity. However, Assad flatly rejected the suggestion he had blood on his hands — or was a brutal dictator.
"I hope that history will see me as the man who protected his country, from the terrorism and from the intervention, and saved its sovereignty," he told NBC News. "When you protect your country from the terrorists, and you kill terrorists, and you defeat terrorists, you're not brutal. You are a patriot." The full interview will air on MSNBC on Thursday.
Washington Post, Some consider U.S. plan to share Syrian intelligence a sellout to the Kremlin, Karen DeYoung, July 13, 2016. The U.S. proposal, which has not been made public, calls for the establishment of a “Joint Implementation Group” with Russia, through which the two countries would initially exchange intelligence and operational information.
South Front, Syrian War Report – July 13, 2016: Russian Strategic Bombers Strike ISIS, Staff report, July 13, 2016. Six Russian strategic bombers have conducted air strikes against a major ISIS camp and ammunition depots in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) reported on July 12. The strategic bombers passed through Iranian and Iraqi airspace and delivered concentrated high-explosive ammunition airstrikes on targets east of the towns of Palmyra and As Sukhnah, and the village of Arak. The MoD said a large militant field camp, three depots of arms and munitions, three tanks, four infantry combat vehicles and eight vehicles fitted with heavy machine guns were destroyed and a large number of ISIS fighters neutralized.
President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry talk with President Vladimir Putin of Russia after a bilateral meeting at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 28, 2015. (White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
AP via ABC News, To Seek Peace in Syria, US Offers to Cooperate With Russia, Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee, July 13, 2016. Frustrated by months of failure in Syria, the Obama administration is taking what might be its final offer to Moscow: Enhanced intelligence and military cooperation against the Islamic State and other extremist groups if Syria's Russian-backed president Bashar Assad upholds a ceasefire with U.S.-supported rebel groups and starts a political transition.
When Secretary of State John Kerry meets Russia's top diplomat and possibly President Vladimir Putin in Moscow later this week, Syria's civil war and Assad's future will top the agenda. Kerry is trying to reverse a trend in which he has hailed a series of agreements with the Russians only for them to fall short, according to officials with knowledge of internal American deliberations.
Kerry is making the trip "to try to resuscitate the cessation of hostilities," and get Russia's "buy-in on a process that can lead to a nationwide ceasefire," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday. "We haven't seen that thus far, but we're having another go at this."
Kerry will have to thread a needle. He's watched the Syrian military and Russian air force violate truce after truce in recent months. This time, the officials said, Kerry is dangling in front of the Kremlin Russia's long-sought requests for intelligence sharing and targeting assistance in return for Russia using its influence to end the fighting a
Huffington Post, Sandra Bland Died One Year Ago Today -- And since then, at least 810 people have lost their lives in jail, Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly, July 13, 2016. Over the past year, there have been so many stories of violence and injustice in America, and even the most well-known deserve to be revisited.
This is one: Last July, Sandra Bland was pulled over by a Texas state trooper for, he said, failing to signal when she changed lanes. After the 28-year-old questioned his instruction to put out her cigarette and refused to get out of the car, the trooper arrested her for assault of an officer. Bland didn’t have enough money for the $500 bail bondsman’s fee, and so she was held in jail. Within 65 hours of her arrest, she was dead. The coroner determined that she had hanged herself with a noose fashioned from a garbage bag.
What made Bland’s death so shocking — the reason that millions of people watched the dash-cam footage of her arrest or closely examined her mugshot — was the mystery at its heart. What had really happened inside the Waller County jail? If Bland had taken her own life, how could she have reached a state of irreversible despair so suddenly?
Deaths inside American jails frequently go unnoticed, sometimes even unrecorded. So we attempted to fill the gap.
Huffington Post reporters collected the names of people who have died in jail since the day of Bland’s death: July 13, 2015. We found evidence of 811 fatalities — an average of more than two per day. (By way of comparison, 178 unarmed people were killed by police during the same period, according to The Guardian.) And like so much else in this realm, the burden is not borne equally. Black people are more likely to die in jail because they are more likely to be arrested than any other racial group, for reasons that have as much to do with double standards in the justice system and historic oppression as they do with crime. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population and, on average, 32 percent of people who died in jail between 2000 and 2013, according to federal data.
Washington Post, Sanders Endorses Clinton, but questions linger over their unity, John Wagner, July 12, 2016. The senator from Vermont threw his support behind the presumptive Democratic nominee at a New Hampshire rally, effectively ending a contentious and drawn-out primary battle. But it was unclear whether the political marriage will actually work.
Washington Post, Congressmen ask U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate Clinton for perjury, Matt Zapotosky, July 12, 2016. Two Republican congressmen on Monday formally requested that the U.S. Attorney for the District investigate whether Hillary Clinton committed perjury when she testified before a congressional committee about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. The letter from U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) asserts that evidence collected by the FBI during its investigation involving Clinton’s email practices “appears to directly contradict several aspects of her sworn testimony” and asks federal authorities to “investigate and determine whether to prosecute Secretary Clinton for violating statutes that prohibit perjury and false statements to Congress, or any other relevant statutes.” It is addressed to U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and copied to FBI Director James B. Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Washington Post, Attorney general declines to provide any details on Clinton email investigation, Matt Zapotosky, July 12, 2016. Her responses made for a bizarre congressional hearing in which she referred questions about the matter to a man lower than her on the organizational chart.
ESPN,Testimony in documents allege Joe Paterno knew of child abuse in 1976, Josh Moyer, July 12, 2016. Joe Paterno was aware of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky as far back as 1976 and some assistant coaches knew in subsequent decades, according to alleged victims' depositions that were unsealed Tuesday. John Doe 150 said in a 2014 deposition that he informed Paterno the day after a 1976 incident that Sandusky stuck his finger in the then-14-year-old boy's rectum while he showered. The man said in 2014 that other boys in a shower heard him yell that Sandusky had just touched him sexually. He said he told several adults about it, then sought out Paterno.
"Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, 'I don't want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?'" a lawyer for Penn State's insurance carrier asked the man. "Specifically, yes," the man replied. "I was shocked, disappointed, offended, I was insulted," John Doe 150 testified. "I said, is that all you're going to do? You're not going to do anything else?" He said Paterno then "just walked away." Paterno told a grand jury in 2011 that he first learned in 2001 of inappropriate sexual contact by Sandusky involving young boys.
New York Times, James Stavridis, Retired Admiral, Is Being Vetted as Hillary Clinton’s Running Mate, Ashley Parker and Maggie Haerman, July 12, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is vetting James G. Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who served as the 16th supreme allied commander at NATO, as a possible running mate, according to a person with knowledge of the vetting process. Some close to Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state, say she was always likely to have someone with military experience on her vice-presidential shortlist, and Mr. Stavridis, currently the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, fits the description.
During his four years as NATO’s supreme allied commander, he oversaw operations in the Middle East — Afghanistan, Libya and Syria — as well as in the Balkans and piracy off the coast of Africa. The Clinton campaign declined requests for comment, and Mr. Stavridis declined to comment other than referring calls to the campaign. The person with knowledge of the vetting spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the process. nature of the process.
Washington Times, Obama admin. sent taxpayer money to campaign to oust Netanyahu, Stephen Dinan, July 12, 2016. The State Department paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers grants to an Israeli group that used the money to build a campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) in last year’s Israeli parliamentary elections, a congressional investigation concluded Tuesday.
Some $350,000 was sent to OneVoice, ostensibly to support the group’s efforts to back Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement negotiations. But OneVoice used the money to build a voter database, train activists and hire a political consulting firm with ties to President Obama’s campaign — all of which set the stage for an anti-Netanyahu campaign, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a bipartisan staff report. In one stunning finding, the subcommittee said OneVoice even told the State Department’s top diplomat in Jerusalem of its plans in an email, but the official, Consul General Michael Ratney, claims never to have seen them. He said he regularly deleted emails with large attachments — a striking violation of open-records laws for a department already reeling from former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s handling of official government records.
Mr. Netanyahu survived the election, and the U.S. spending was not deemed illegal because the State Department never put any conditions on the money. Investigators also said OneVoice didn’t turn explicitly political until days after the grant period ended. “The State Department ignored warnings signs and funded a politically active group in a politically sensitive environment with inadequate safeguards,” said Sen. Rob Portman, chairman of the investigative subcommittee. “It is completely unacceptable that U.S. taxpayer dollars were used to build a political campaign infrastructure that was deployed — immediately after the grant ended — against the leader of our closest ally in the Middle East. American resources should be used to help our allies in the region, not undermine them.”
Washington Post, The Supreme Court justice went to a place justices almost never do, and perhaps never have, for some very good reasons, Aaron Blake, July 11, 2016. It's a political cliche at this point to joke about moving to another country if a certain presidential candidate doesn't win. Gobs of Americans were headed to Canada if George W. Bush was reelected in 2004. A similar contingent threatened to flood across our northern border when Barack Obama was elected and reelected.
Generally, though, you don't hear a Supreme Court justice talking like this. In fact, you generally don't hear a Supreme Court justice talking at all — much less about the big political issues of the day. Most justices aren't Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though. And in a new New York Times interview, Ginsburg (shown in an official photo) doesn't hold a thing back when it comes to the 2016 election.
“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” Ginsburg told the Times' Adam Liptak. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), Theresa May to succeed Cameron as UK PM on Wednesday, Staff report, Theresa May is to become the UK's prime minister on Wednesday evening. David Cameron, PM since 2010, announced he would offer his resignation to the Queen on Wednesday afternoon at Buckingham Palace.
JIP Editor's Note: The rapid developments provide both for a stable British leadership, given the circumstances, but also mark an astonishing setback for the so-called "one percent" of Western global financial and military leadership, which regarded a strong European Union (including UK participation) as a convenient partner with the United States and NATO for a host of initiatives. Some pundits had even predicted (apparently in error) that the UK's leadership would stretch out the timetable for its departure from the EU in a way to reverse it.
Reuters via Huffington Post, Theresa May Set To Become U.K.'s Next Prime Minister, Staff report, July 10, 2016. Energy minister Andrea Leadsom abruptly withdrew from the contest to succeed David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister on Monday, leaving her rival Theresa May as the only candidate.
From Wikipedia: Theresa Mary May (née Brasier; born 1956) is a British politician who has been the Home Secretary since 2010, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead since 1997. A member of the Conservative Party, May identifies as a One-Nation Conservative and has been characterised as a liberal conservative. May is the presumptive successor to David Cameron as Leader of the Conservative Party and consequential Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Born in Eastbourne, Sussex, May studied geography at St. Hugh's College, Oxford. From 1977 to 1983, May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 at the Association for Payment Clearing Services, also serving as a councillor for the London Borough of Merton's Durnsford Ward. After unsuccessful attempts to get elected to the House of Commons in 1992 and 1994, she was elected MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. She went on to be appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party and be sworn of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council in 2002.
Al Jazeera, BDS is a war Israel can't win, Stanley L Cohen, July 11, 2016. Stanley L Cohen is an attorney and human rights activist who has done extensive work in the Middle East and Africa.Israel's apologists would call the BDS campaign "immoral," but the slander is laughably false.
Israeli think-tank fellow Yossi Klein Halevi, writing recently in the Los Angeles Times would have American readers believe that the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement is “immoral” and threatens the peace of "the region's only intact society," while simultaneously boasting it can't touch Israel's health and global economic integration.
Yet his reasoning from "morals" rings hollow, and amounts to little more than the shilling of the professional apologist industry deployed on Israel's behalf throughout the Western media, in the never-ending defense of the oppressive status quo in Palestine.
Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton (Karen Smith Murphy photo via Flickr)
Washington Post, Whitewater was no close call for prosecutors, David E. Kendall, July 10, 2016. David E. Kendall, an attorney at Williams & Connolly, represents Hillary Clinton. As a matter of historical fact, it may be correct, as the Post reported Sunday, that Whitewater prosecutors now say they came “close” to filing charges against then-first lady Hillary Clinton back in the 1990s. As a matter of legal and factual analysis, from one who observed this investigation at every step: Never . . . a . . . close . . . call . . . at . . . all.
Putting aside significant ethical questions about the propriety of prosecutors casually reminiscing, decades later, about the potential guilt of subjects who were never charged, the facts speak for themselves. While independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and his staff may have secretly hoped for and ruminated about the possibility of bringing a criminal case against Clinton, they never even presented an indictment to the many grand juries they used.
This was not for want of trying: The independent counsel investigation lasted eight years, generated more than 3,000 grand jury subpoenas, collected more than 10 million pages of documents and cost more than $70 million (unadjusted for inflation) — which dwarfed all other independent counsel investigations, including Iran-Contra, and exceeded the cost to the government of the failure of the savings and loan ostensibly under investigation. Clinton testified fully and truthfully under oath six times. If she had in fact given false testimony, there was an ample opportunity for prosecution.
Largely forgotten today is the origin of the Starr investigation, which was a failed $203,000 Arkansas land deal (Whitewater Development Corp.), in which the Clintons were passive investors. Notably, all loans and taxes were ultimately paid, and only the Clintons (and their partners, James B. and Susan McDougal) lost money. After the McDougals abandoned the project, it fell to Hillary Clinton to ensure that the project’s obligations were properly paid and accounted for, a role which led, many years later, to her minute scrutiny by the independent counsel.
Arkansas Times, Maggio asks appeals court to withdraw guilty plea in bribery case, Max Brantley, July 11, 2016. Former Circuit Judge Mike Maggio of Conway today filed his argument to withdraw his guilty plea to a bribery charge for reducing a $5.2 million verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million in return for campaign contributions. Maggio entered a plea bargain in the case, but later tried to withdraw his guilty plea. The request was denied by Judge Brian Miller, who handed down a 10-year sentence in March.
CT (Connecticut) Mirror, Fate of legislature’s investigative arm hangs on budget battle, Keith M. Phaneuf, July 11, 2016. The fate of the legislature’s chief investigative arm probably will be determined in the next few weeks as top leaders decide whether to impose a cut that would chop the nonpartisan agency in half.
Meanwhile, the House’s longest-serving current member, Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, insists House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey’s office assured her the planned reduction to the Program Review and Investigation Committee staff would be significantly muted — in exchange for her support for the new state budget. “How does silencing the state’s efficiency experts help the state adjust to less revenues and a leaner government?” Mushinsky wrote in a recent op-ed piece.
TPM, Jeb Bush: Trump Created 'Alternate Universe' That Won't Become Reality, Caitlin MacNeal, July 11, 2016. In a recent interview with NBC News set to air Monday night, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush described Donald Trump's campaign as an "alternative universe" that will leave Trump's supporters feeling "betrayed."
"The tragedy of this, though, is that there isn't going to be a wall built. And Mexico's not going to pay for it. And there's not going to be a ban on Muslims," Bush told NBC News in a clip released Monday afternoon. "This is all like a alternative universe that he created." "The reality is, that's not going to happen. And people are going to be deeply frustrated and the divides will grow in our country," he continued. "And this extraordinary country, still the greatest country on the face of the earth, will continue to stagger instead of soar. And that's the heartbreaking part of this, is I think people are really going to feel betrayed."
Bush also acknowledged that his former rival in the presidential race understands the media. "Trump, to his credit, was very smart at exploiting these kind of opportunities. He's a master at understanding how the media works — more than anybody I've ever seen in politics," Bush told NBC News. "Kudos for him, for kind of creating the environment and then manipulating the environment to his effect."
Huffington Post, Possible Trump VP Pick Actually Believes In Women’s Right To Choose, Arthur Delaney, July 10, 2016. A possible vice presidential running mate for Donald Trump said on Sunday that women should have the right to abortion. Retired Gen. Michael Flynn (shown in an official photo) seemed a struggle for an answer when ABC News’ Martha Raddatz asked for his position on abortion. But he made his position clear. “I think for women ― these are difficult issues ― I think women have to be able to choose what they ― sort of the right of choice,” Flynn told her on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
“I think that’s a difficult legal decision and I think that women are so important in that decision-making process,” he continued. “They are the ones that have to make the decision because they’re the ones that are gonna decide to bring up that child or not.” Flynn said he didn’t know if he was being vetted to be Trump’s running mate but he was honored to be part of the discussion.
Like with most issues, Trump’s position on abortion varies from day to day. He said in March that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions. He seemed to say in April that he didn’t favor overturning laws that make abortion legal. In May, he vowed to appoint anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court if he wins the presidency.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement that Flynn has “disqualified himself” from the vice presidency. “His pro-abortion position is unacceptable and would undermine the pro-life policy commitments that Mr. Trump has made throughout the campaign,” Dannenfelser said.
Reuters via Huffington Post, Protesters Flood Streets Around U.S After Week Of Bloodshed, Bryn Stole and David Bailey, July 9, 2016. Dozens of arrests were made across cities everywhere.
Washington Post, 'Gentle’ Georgia man accused of ambushing police officer with 911 call, Peter Holley, July 9, 2016. When police in Valdosta, Ga., received a report for a car break-in at a local apartment complex around 8 a.m. Friday, they thought it was a routine call. But as soon as Officer Randall Hancock stepped out of his patrol car, police said, someone started shooting at him.
At least two bullets struck Hancock in his protective vest, but a third struck him underneath it, “in the abdomen area,” according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Investigators would later determine that the man behind the trigger was the same man who called 911 to report the break-in. Police identified the caller as Stephen Paul Beck, a 22-year-old man that the Associated Press described as a “recovering drug addict.”
New York Magazine, Six More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them, Gabriel Sherman, July 9, 2016. Fox News host Gretchen Carlson may be the highest-profile woman to accuse Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, but she is not the first. In my 2014 biography of the Fox News chief, I included interviews with four women who told me Ailes had used his position of power to make either unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate sexual comments in the office.
And it appears she won’t be the last, either.
In recent days, more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey-based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period dating back to the 1960s when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. “These are women who have never told these stories until now,” Smith told me. “Some are in lot of pain.”
Taken together, these stories portray Ailes (shown in a file photo via Wikimedia) as a boss who spoke openly of expecting women to perform sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities. “He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work — everyone’s got their friend,” recalled Kellie Boyle, who says Ailes propositioned her in 1989, shortly after he helped George H.W. Bush become president, serving as his chief media strategist.
Six of the women agreed to speak with New York publicly for the first time. Two spoke on the record; the others requested anonymity for reasons that include shame and fear of retribution. “I didn’t tell my husband, it was so mortifying,” said Marsha Callahan, a former model who says Ailes harassed her in the late ‘60s, shortly before he became Richard Nixon’s media adviser.
Ailes is clearly trying to keep these stories out of the press and the courts. Ailes's outside counsel Barry Asen responded: "It has become obvious that Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue. The latest allegations, all 30 to 50 years old, are false."
Here are the women’s accounts:
Kellie Boyle, 54
Former Republican National Committee field adviser
This was back in 1989. I was 29 and living in New Jersey. My husband worked at CNBC and he said, ‘Roger Ailes is coming in to be interviewed, would you like to meet him?’ I said yes! I’d worked in political communications for the Republican National Committee; so Roger Ailes was like a God. I’d read his book, You Are the Message, and I used it for a lot of training I did for candidates....
Reuters via Huffington Post, Fox News’ Roger Ailes Demands Arbitration In Gretchen Carlson Harassment Case, Jonathan Stempel, July 9, 2016. Ailes’ lawyers said Carlson’s contract with Fox News had required her to arbitrate any employment disputes. Lawyers for Fox News chairman Roger Ailes on Friday asked a judge to halt anchor Gretchen Carlson’s “shameless publicity campaign” against her former boss, and send her sexual harassment lawsuit against him to arbitration in accordance with her employment contract.
The request came two days after Carlson sued Ailes in Superior Court in New Jersey, portraying him as a persistent harasser who demoted her and ultimately forced her from Fox News, her employer since 2005, after she rebuffed his advances. Ailes has forcefully denied Carlson’s allegations. Carlson’s lawyers, Nancy Erika Smith and Martin Hyman, said their client intends to pursue her right to a public jury trial.
Des Moines Register, Supreme Court ruling puts government up for sale, Editorial board, July 9, 2016. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to toss out the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is bound to have far-reaching consequences — none of them good. McDonnell was convicted of 11 counts of public corruption in 2015 after accepting $175,000 worth of gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams who was seeking favorable treatment from the state.
The federal law under which he was prosecuted prohibits public officials from personally accepting anything of value “in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.” He freely admitted that he and his wife accepted cash, loans and other gifts from Williams, who was seeking state support for a proposed dietary supplement. In return, McDonnell arranged for state officials to meet with Williams, sometimes in the governor’s mansion.
McDonnell’s lawyers successfully argued to the Supreme Court that granting special access cannot be considered an “official act,” and so no bribery took place. In the majority’s decision, Chief Justice John Roberts described the former governor’s actions as “distasteful” and “tawdry,” but not criminal. McDonnell was merely using his official government position to sell, and personally profit from, “access” to the halls of government, the court said.
“Merely arranging a meeting or hosting an event to discuss a matter does not count as a decision or action on that matter,” the court said, conveniently ignoring the fact that access is the single biggest obstacle to what it narrowly defines as a “a decision or action.”
The court also failed to address the other half of the transaction: McDonnell didn’t simply arrange meetings and events. He sold meetings and events. Williams was granted those meetings because he showered McDonnell with gifts and paid for $15,000 of expenses tied to the wedding of McDonnell’s daughter. That’s not how our system of government is supposed to work.
The corruption law doesn’t infringe on citizens’ ability to influence government or even demand special favors. It does however, make it a crime for public officials like McDonnell, who are on the receiving end of these requests, to place a price on access and then pocket the proceeds. The law recognizes that government, and access to it, isn’t the personal property of our elected and appointed representatives.
McDonnell wasn’t prosecuted because he did favors for people. He was prosecuted because he sold something that wasn’t his to sell, and rather than donate to the state treasury the $6,500 Rolex watch, the $5,000 bottle of cognac, or the use of a private jet, or the lodging at a vacation home, or the $20,000 shopping spree, or the $135,000 in cash and loans, he kept all of that for himself and his family.
In the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, this sort of thing is unseemly, but it’s perfectly legal because providing access — as McDonnell did when he asked subordinate state officials to meet with Williams at the governor’s mansion — may be an act, but it’s not an “official” act.
The court’s ruling will have more than a chilling effect on the prosecution of official bribery. In many cases, it’s likely to have a freezing effect, with prosecutors abandoning any effort to pursue charges against government officials who don’t have the power to make final decisions on matters but do have the power, and the audacity, to grease the skids in exchange for cash and other personal consideration.
But the most maddening element of the court’s decision is its assertion that criminalizing the sale of access might cause average citizens — the ones who can’t afford to dole out Rolexes and joyrides in Ferraris to government officials — to “shrink from participating in democratic discourse.”
That's a hoot. The court’s ruling all but guarantees such an outcome.
SouthFront, 11 Years of Merkel Democracy, Staff report, July 9, 2016 (Video).
RT via YouTube, A Second Stanford Study Shows Election Fraud, Lee Camp, July 9, 2016. Lee Camp reveals a new damning Stanford University study showing that major voting machine companies actually donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation AND produced non-verifiable electronic voting results that drastically favored Hillary in an absurd contrast to 337 pre-election polls.
WhoWhatWhy, Congress Kneecaps Vermont GMO Labeling Law, Matt Harvey, July 9, 2016. Congress again does the bidding of the GMO industry as it tries to nix a Vermont food labeling law.
The late Sydney Schanberg, right, and the late Dith Pran (Photo via Wikipedia)
New York Times, Sydney H. Schanberg Is Dead at 82; Former Times Correspondent Chronicled Terror of 1970s Cambodia, Robert D. McFadden, July 9, 2016. His death was confirmed by Charles Kaiser, a friend and former Times reporter, who said Mr. Schanberg had a heart attack on Tuesday. A restive, intense, Harvard-educated newspaperman with bulldog tenacity, Sydney Schanberg was a nearly ideal foreign correspondent: a risk-taking adventurer who distrusted officials, relied on himself in a war zone and wrote vividly of political and military tyrants and of the suffering and death of their victims with the passion of an eyewitness to history.
In the spring of 1975, as Pol Pot’s Communist guerrillas closed in on the capital, Phnom Penh, after five years of civil war in Cambodia, Mr. Schanberg and his assistant, Dith Pran, refused to heed directives from Times editors in New York to evacuate the city and remained behind as nearly all Western reporters, diplomats and senior officials of Cambodia’s American-backed Lon Nol government fled for their lives.
After moving Mr. Dith and his family to New York and helping him obtain a job as a photographer at The Times, Mr. Schanberg wrote “The Death and Life of Dith Pran,” a 1980 cover article for The New York Times Magazine, which was later published as a book. The story became the basis for Roland Joffé’s 1984 movie, “The Killing Fields,” starring Sam Waterston as Mr. Schanberg and Dr. Haing S. Ngor as Mr. Dith. Dr. Ngor, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor, was a physician who had also survived the Cambodian holocaust.
After his foreign assignments, Mr. Schanberg was The Times’s metropolitan editor from 1977 to 1980 and wrote a column twice a week, with a focus on New York, from 1981 to 1985. It was discontinued after he criticized the Times’s coverage of the proposed Westway highway in Manhattan.
The Times offered him another assignment, but he left the paper after 26 years to write a column for New York Newsday, where he remained for a decade.
JIP Editor's Note: The story of Schanberg's dismissal from his Times columnist post was the opening anecdote in this editor's 1987 book Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper because it illustrated the dire consequences for journalists who criticize their own outlets and industry on serious matters.
Dallas Morning News, 5 officers slain, 7 wounded, 1 suspect dead after shooting at Dallas rally, Claire Z. Cardona, July 8, 2016 (updated). Two snipers shot and killed four Dallas police officers and a DART officer Thursday night during a protest downtown.
Seven other officers and two civilians were wounded in a coordinated attack during the demonstration against recent shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. A man who exchanged gunfire with police in the El Centro College garage was reported dead shortly before 3 a.m.
The shooting was the deadliest day for law officers since Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers died, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Dallas Police Chief David Brown said snipers with rifles shot 11 officers and one bystander from elevated positions about 9 p.m. At 1:42 a.m., the Dallas Police Association tweeted that a fifth officer had died.
The names of the Dallas police officers have not been released, but DART identified the officer it lost as 43-year-old Brent Thompson, who joined the department in 2009. He had recently married a fellow officer, DART police Chief J.D. Spiller told WFAA. Brent Thompson, the 43-year-old DART officer killed Thursday night. Thompson is the first officer to be killed in the line of duty since DART formed a police department in 1989, spokesman Morgan Lyons said.
Micah X. Johnson (from Facebook)
Washington Post, What we know about the suspected shooter in Dallas, Matt Zapotosky and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 8, 2016. Micah X. Johnson, 25, a reservist working in carpentry and masonry who deployed to Afghanistan once in 2013, was currently a member of the Individual Ready Reserves, meaning he did not have to conduct regular training or drills but was technically available to be called into service, according to the records. He seems to have lived in Mesquite, a Dallas suburb, although efforts by Washington Post reporters to reach family members were unsuccessful Friday afternoon.
Washington Post, Nation’s officers on edge as deaths in Dallas bring yearly toll among police to 25, Kimberly Kindy, Scott Higham and Steven Rich, July 8, 2016. More than a third killed in ambush attacks but overall death rate is flat over the last decade. The sniper-style ambush killings of five police officers Thursday evening in Dallas is the deadliest mass shooting of law enforcement in 84 years.
The massacre brought the number of on-duty officers who have been shot and killed this year to 25 — up from 16 at this point last year. More than one-third of the slain officers this year, a total of 10, have died in ambush attacks, concealed or unexpected assaults designed to catch law enforcement off guard.
The killings in Dallas have a particular resonance within the Harford County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland. It has been five months since two deputies there were unexpectedly shot and killed after they responded to a call about a dangerous man seen at a Panera Bread in an Abingdon shopping mall.
Huffington Post, Micah Johnson Reportedly Identified As Dallas Shooting Suspect, Alana Horowitz Satlinm, July 8, 2016 Multiple media outlets have identified one of the suspects in Thursday night’s deadly ambush-style shooting of at least five Dallas police officers, which also left other cops and one civilian injured.
Washington Post, 509: Fatal Force, Kimberly Kindy, Wesley Lowery, Steven Rich, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins, July 8, 2016 (updated). More than 500 people shot and killed by police so far in 2016. In 2015, The Post created a database cataloging every fatal shooting nationwide by a police officer in the line of duty, collecting data on those who were killed and details of the shootings. The effort began because data compiled by the federal government was unreliable and incomplete. This database is based on news reports, public records, social media and other sources.
Washington Post, Obama calls Dallas shootings ‘calculated and despicable,’ Greg Jaffe and David Nakamura, July 8, 2016. The president's remarks came after an earlier, emotional speech that he delivered in response to the killings of black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana.
Washington Post, ‘This is one of our suspects’: Dallas police tweet picture of wrong man after ambush, Ben Guarino, July 8, 2016. As Thursday’s deadly attack unfolded in Texas, a man in a camouflage T-shirt briefly became one of the most sought individuals in the United States. Late Thursday, the Dallas Police Department sparked a manhunt for Mark Hughes though a Twitter post, writing, “This is one of our suspects. Please help us find him!”
He had displayed the rifle at the march in Dallas because, as an attorney would later say on his behalf, Hughes is a staunch believer in Second Amendment rights. His brother, a social activist and Black Lives Matter protest organizer, had planned to give a speech, according to Hughes’s Instagram account. Upon receiving a phone call that he was a person of interest, Mark Hughes said, he handed his rifle over to the police, who questioned him and then released him.
Los Angeles Times, Here are the top vice president picks for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Staff report, July 8, 2016. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are each vetting potential running mates as the White House hopefuls prepare for their national party conventions in late July. Here are some of the top contenders for vice president:
DONALD TRUMP: Newt Gingrich | Chris Christie | Mike Pence | Jeff Sessions | Mary Fallin | Tom Cotton
HILLARY CLINTON: Tim Kaine | Elizabeth Warren | Sherrod Brown | Julián Castro | Cory Booker | Tom Perez
Mike Hubbard, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives
AL.com, Former Alabama speaker Mike Hubbard sentenced to 4 years in prison, Mike Cason, July 8, 2016. Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has been sentenced to four years in prison, eight years on probation and ordered to pay a $210,000 fine on 12 felony ethics violations. Circuit Judge Jacob Walker handed down the sentence at a hearing in his Opelika courtroom.
A Lee County jury convicted Hubbard on June 10 on 12 felony violations of the state ethics law, finding that he used his powerful political office to illegally make $1.1 million in investments and income for his businesses.
In related news later in the day: Mike Hubbard's attorneys ask for investigation of juror misconduct.
News 4 (Jacksonville, FL), Corrine Brown defiant after pleading not guilty to 22 federal counts, Jim Piggott, Lynnsey Gardner, Vic Micolucci and Chris Parenteau, July 8, 2016. If convicted on all charges, congresswoman faces up to 357 years in prison. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida and her chief of staff pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple fraud charges and other federal offenses in a grand jury indictment unsealed after an investigation into what prosecutors call a phony charity turned into a personal slush fund.
Brown, 69, of Jacksonville faces 22 counts and her chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, 50, of Laurel, Maryland, faces 19 counts in an indictment unsealed after a months-long investigation into an unlicensed educational charity based in Virginia. Both are charged with participating in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, and concealing material facts on required financial disclosure forms. Simmons is charged with theft of government property. Brown is charged with obstruction of the due administration of the internal revenue laws and filing false tax returns.
Brown, who is running for re-election in her recently drastically re-drawn Congressional district, has fought off challenges over two decades in Congress and continues to insist she is innocent of all charges. According to the indictment, Brown (shown in an official photo) used money from her campaign to give to the charity, One Door for Education and, at times, deposited some of that money into her own personal bank account.
Brown stepped down late Friday as senior Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Prosecutors claim Brown and Simmons used money donated to the charity to buy plane tickets, repair their personal cars and to pay for luxury vacations in the Bahamas, Los Angeles and Miami Beach. The indictment said more than $200,000 from the charity was used to pay for Brown to host a golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, to pay for lavish receptions, a luxury box at a Beyonce concert and a box when the Jacksonville Jaguars played the Washington Redskins.
WhoWhatWhy, Political Dirty Tricks for the Digital Age, Jeff Schechtman, July 8, 2016. New ultra-precise mapping software is taking the practice of gerrymandering to levels never before imagined and, in so doing, is making elections irrelevant.
White House, President Obama on the Fatal Shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, Melanie Garunay, July 7, 2016. Today, President Obama posted a message on Facebook on the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
"All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who’ve suffered such a painful loss.
"Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.
"But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what's clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.
"To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.
"That's why, two years ago, I set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that convened police officers, community leaders, and activists. Together, they came up with detailed recommendations on how to improve community policing. So even as officials continue to look into this week's tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That's how we'll keep our communities safe. And that’s how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.
"In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling -- feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils. Michelle and I share those feelings. Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let’s reflect on what we can do better. Let’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter."
Reuters, Justice Department opens criminal probe into black Louisiana man's death, Edward Krudy, July 7, 2016. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the fatal police shooting of a black man in Louisiana's capital, the state's governor said on Thursday, as two deadly encounters between law enforcement and black men triggered protests in the United States. The probe comes as community leaders in Baton Rouge urged authorities to conduct a full-scale criminal probe of two white police officers over the slaying of Alton Sterling, 37, on Tuesday.
"I want you to know that a criminal investigation is under way. It is being led by the U.S. Department of Justice," Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards told hundreds of people at Living Faith Cathedral in Baton Rouge on Thursday evening. "We are going to come out of this tragedy stronger and more united than ever," he added. Sterling was pinned to the ground and fatally shot in the chest outside a convenience store after the officers responded to what police said was a call about a black man reported to have made threats with a gun.
NBC News, 'Appalled': Minnesota Governor Says Philando Castile Would Be Alive If He Were White, Alex Johnson, An "appalled" Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday that police wouldn't have shot and killed Philando Castile if he'd been white and called for justice "with the greatest sense of time urgency."
Castile, who was about to turn 33, was killed Wednesday during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb of the Twin Cities. He died at a hospital after the incident, which occurred about 9 p.m. (10 p.m. ET) Wednesday. His fiancée, Diamond Reynolds, recorded the aftermath of the incident on live video. She said Castile was shot five times as he sat at the steering wheel reaching into his back pocket for his ID. An autopsy was pending Thursday. Reynolds and her daughter, who was in the back seat, weren't hurt.
Dayton said Castile would be alive if he hadn't been black, adding that the shooting demonstrated a troubling pattern of racism among some Minnesota law enforcement officers.
New York Times, F.B.I. Director Testifies on Clinton Emails to Withering Criticism From G.O.P., Eric Lichtblau and Michael D. Shear, July 7, 2016. The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., defended himself Thursday against an onslaught of Republican criticism for ending the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but he also provided new details that could prove damaging to her just weeks before she is to be named the Democrats’ presidential nominee.
At a contentious hearing of the House oversight committee, Mr. Comey acknowledged under questioning that a number of key assertions that Mrs. Clinton made for months in defending her email system were contradicted by the F.B.I.’s investigation. Mr. Comey said that Mrs. Clinton had failed to return “thousands” of work-related emails to the State Department, despite her public insistence to the contrary, and that her lawyers may have destroyed classified material that the F.B.I. was unable to recover. He also described her handling of classified material as secretary of state as “negligent” — a legal term he avoided using when he announced on Tuesday that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against her.
The F.B.I. director repeatedly suggested that someone in the federal government who had done what Mrs. Clinton and her aides did would probably be subject to administrative sanctions.
But Mr. Comey, in response to Republican accusations that he had employed a “double standard” to spare Mrs. Clinton from criminal charges, insisted that she was not given special consideration by the F.B.I. nor held to a more lenient standard than a less prominent person would have been. Democrats on the House oversight committee attempted to respond to the new facts presented by Mr. Comey while accusing their Republican colleagues of conducting a partisan witch hunt in their attacks on him.
Guardian, Rape lawsuits against Donald Trump linked to former TV producer, Jon Swaine, July 7, 2016. Lawsuits accusing Donald Trump of sexually assaulting a child in the 1990s appear to have been orchestrated by an eccentric anti-Trump campaigner with a record of making outlandish claims about celebrities.
Norm Lubow, a former producer on the Jerry Springer TV show, has previously been involved with disputed allegations that OJ Simpson bought illegal drugs on the day Simpson’s wife was murdered, and that Kurt Cobain’s widow had the Nirvana frontman killed. Court filings in California and New York against Trump, purportedly on behalf of a woman using the name Katie Johnson, have in recent weeks alleged that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee raped Johnson when she was 13. Trump vehemently denies the allegations.
JIP Editor's Note: This Guardian story appears to debunk the allegations against Trump.
Reuters, Syrian army fire cuts only road into rebel-held Aleppo, Lisa Barrington and Tom Perry, July 7, 2016. Syrian government forces took a step toward completely encircling rebel-held parts of Aleppo on Thursday, capturing ground overlooking the only road into the opposition half of the city and effectively putting those areas under siege. Rebels said they were fighting to retake lost positions and re-secure the road. Its capture brings the Syrian government closer to its long-standing objective of encircling rebel-held areas of the northern city.
National Press Club, NPC Luncheon with Gary Johnson & William Weld, July 7, 2016 (video: 59:14 min.). The Libertarian Party presidential ticket – former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (shown at right in a photo by the Justice Integrity Project) and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld – outlined why they think a third-party effort may be more likely to succeed than in past elections at a July 7, 2016 National Press Club luncheon.
Johnson and Weld were nominated at the Libertarian convention in late May and are promoting an agenda of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. Voter discontent with the two presumptive major party choices – Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump – gives them a chance to break through, they argued.
WhoWhatWhy, Unsafe at Any Level? Dangerous Chemicals Everywhere, Part 2, Jonathan Latham, July 7, 2016. Part 1 of this series revealed the technical difficulties in assessing the potential harm from chemical additives like BPA. Part 2 focuses on the contamination of scientific review by money and politics, and why chemical regulatory systems are not only broken — they are unfixable.
Washington Post, Lynch: Justice Dept. formally closes Clinton email probe, Matt Zapotosky, July 6, 2016. The announcement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the investigation would close without charges makes official what the FBI director recommended Tuesday. The former secretary of state’s email practices are likely to remain a focal point on the campaign trail for the foreseeable future.
New York Times, 7-Year Iraq Inquiry Ends in Stinging Critique of Blair, Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle, July 6, 2016. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain (shown in a file photo) went to war alongside the U.S. in Iraq in 2003 on the basis of flawed intelligence that went unchallenged, a seven-year inquiry concluded.
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain went to war alongside the United States in Iraq in 2003 on the basis of flawed intelligence that went unchallenged, a shaky legal rationale, inadequate preparation and exaggerated public statements, an independent inquiry into the war concluded in a report published on Wednesday.
The long-awaited report by the Iraq Inquiry Committee, led by John Chilcot, takes up 12 volumes covering 2.6 million words, four times longer than “War and Peace,” and took seven years to complete, longer than Britain’s combat operations in Iraq. It concluded that Mr. Blair and the British government underestimated the difficulties and consequences of the war and overestimated the influence he would have over President George W. Bush.
The result amounts to a broad indictment of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war that overthrew Saddam Hussein and its aftermath, and it portrays Mr. Blair as trying without success to restrain Mr. Bush, push him to obtain full United Nations Security Council authorization and warn about the difficulties of the war — and deciding to go to war alongside Washington nonetheless.
Judging that Britain should stand by the United States, Mr. Blair told Mr. Bush in a private note as early as July 28, 2002, that “I will be with you, whatever.” Mr. Blair knew by January 2003 that Washington had decided to go to war to overthrow Mr. Hussein and accepted the American timetable for the military action by mid-March, pushing only for a second Security Council resolution that never came, “undermining the Security Council’s authority,” the report concludes.
The report is likely to underline in Britain the sense that Mr. Blair was “Washington’s poodle,” in the phrase widely used by Mr. Blair’s critics at the time. The report says the lessons from the British government’s conduct are that “all aspects” of military intervention “need to be calculated, debated and challenged with the utmost rigor,” and decisions, once made, “need to be implemented fully.”
Huffington Post, Former Fox News Host Gretchen Carlson Files Sexual Harassment Suit Against Roger Ailes, Staff report, Former "Fox & Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson alleged in an explosive lawsuit filed Wednesday that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes fired her for rebuffing his sexual advances and challenging a sexist newsroom culture.
Carlson, who spent 11 years at the network, described being ostracized and marginalized by Fox News for pushing back against condescending treatment. After seven and a half years as a co-host on “Fox & Friends,” the top-rated cable morning news show, Carlson was reassigned in 2013 to an early afternoon time slot. Fox News terminated her employment on June 23.
In the suit, Carlson (a former Miss America shown in a photo from her memoir) claims she tried addressing what she considered to be discriminatory treatment during a September 2015 meeting with Ailes, who allegedly responded that their problems could have been better solved if they had a sexual relationship. “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” Ailes told Carlson, according to the suit.
Ailes and Fox had no immediate comment.
Washington Post, Eric Trump: My father gives ‘millions’ to charity — but I won’t say more, David A. Fahrenthold, July 6, 2016. While reporting on Donald Trump’s charitable giving, The Post had made efforts to reach Eric Trump and his foundation. Today, the candidate’s son called The Post and denounced its reporting in forceful, profane terms.
Washington Post, Trump tops expectations, raises $51 million with GOP in June, Matea Gold, July 6, 2016. The Republican candidate’s numbers fall short of rival Hillary Clinton’s, but they are much better than he has done in the past.
Washington Post, Bob Corker withdraws as potential Trump running mate, Robert Costa, July 6, 2016. The senator from Tennessee (shown in an official photo) recently emerged as a finalist for the vice-presidential slot.
Center for Public Integrity, 9 things to know about Gary Johnson, Michael Beckel and lJared Bennett, July 6, 2016. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, is hoping to turn some voters’ dissatisfaction with Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton into electoral gold. Recent polls show Johnson — who was also the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, when he earned about 1 percent of the vote — garnering more than 7 percent of the vote nationally. If he can repeatedly break 15 percent, he may make it into the official presidential debates this fall.
Johnson (shon in a campaign photo at right with his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, in the red tie), is now courting voters who are fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. Four years ago, he raised about $2.8 million for his long-shot presidential bid and appeared on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma. This year, his supporters are hoping to top that — and qualify for the ballot in all 50 states. Johnson may be best known for supporting the legalization of marijuana.
Prior to entering the 2016 race, Johnson served as CEO of a publicly traded company called Cannabis Sativa, Inc., which, as Johnson once said, wants to be “the Dom Perignon” of marijuana. Time will tell if Johnson’s 2016 presidential bid gain traction, or just go up in smoke. In the meantime, here are nine key facts about Johnson’s current and past campaigns.
WhoWhatWhy, FBI Disparages Its Own 9/11 Report, James Henry, July 6, 2016. Florida Bulldog, the online news outlet that publicized explosive evidence of connections between the 9/11 hijackers and prominent Saudis, demands to know why the FBI is now disowning a provocative 9/11 report from one of its own agents.
Washington Post, FBI recommends no criminal charges in Clinton email probe, Matt Zapotosky, July 5, 2016. FBI Director James Comey said there is evidence Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” but said in referring the case to the Justice Department that the FBI is recommending no charges. “Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said.
Comey [a Republican nominated by President Obama to a 10-year term begun in 2013 and shown in an official photo] said the FBI investigations into thousands of emails by Clinton determined that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” The findings now go to the Justice Department.
The announcement — which came only about 72 hours after FBI agents interviewed Clinton — in some ways lifts the cloud that has been hanging over Clinton’s presidential campaign for months.
Editor's Note (via Wikipedia):James Comey was the United States Deputy Attorney General serving in President George W. Bush's administration. As Deputy Attorney General, Comey was the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and ran the day-to-day operations of the Department, serving in that office from December 2003 through August 2005. He was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York prior to becoming Deputy Attorney General.
Twitter, Donald Trump response via Twitter (@realDonaldTrump): FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is shown in a file photo of her House testimony last fall on the Benghazi deaths while she was Secretary of State
FBI, Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton's Use of a Personal E-Mail, Federal Bureau of Investigation, July 5, 2016..
Good morning. I'm here to give you an update on the FBI's investigation of Secretary Clinton's use of a personal e-mail system during her time .
This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.
FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).
From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.
In our system, the prosecutors make the decisions about whether charges are appropriate based on evidence the FBI has helped collect. Although we don’t normally make public our recommendations to the prosecutors, we frequently make recommendations and engage in productive conversations with prosecutors about what resolution may be appropriate, given the evidence. In this case, given the importance of the matter, I think unusual transparency is in order.
Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.
ABC News, Donald Trump Calls FBI's Email Recommendation on Hillary Clinton 'Very Unfair,' Staff report, July 5, 2016. FBI Director James Comey's recommendation that Justice Department prosecutors not pursue charges against Hillary Clinton for using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state is an example of a “rigged system," presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in a statement today.
“… Because of our rigged system that holds the American people to one standard and people like Hillary Clinton to another, it does not look like she will be facing the criminal charges that she deserves,” Trump said in the statement.
The statement continued: "It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time." (Clinton campaigns with President Barack Obama in North Carolina today -- their first campaign event together in 2016.)
Trump tweeted earlier today that he found Comey's recommendation to be "very unfair” and also repeated his oft-used comparison that former CIA director General David Petraeus "got in trouble for far less" than Clinton did for using a private email server.
Washington Post, FBI rebuke leaves a heavy cloud over Clinton, Philip Rucker, Abby Phillip and Anne Gearan, July 5, 2016. Even though he didn't recommend charges in the email probe, FBI Director James B. Comey’s explanation of his decision obliterated many of the key defenses Clinton and her advisers have used for her handling of emails.
Washington Post, Clinton was ‘extremely careless.’ That is not a crime, but she must do better in the future, Editorial board, July 5, 2016. First, A shout-out to the investigator: In examining the use of a private email server for official business by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, FBI Director James B. Comey appears to have navigated treacherous waters with the commitment to principle and rule of law that any citizen could wish for. The FBI investigated thoroughly. It came to its conclusion in time for voters to factor it into their deliberations. Mr. Comey leveled with the American people, reporting to them even before reporting to his own bosses.
And the conclusion he came to strikes us as being as sound as the process: Ms. Clinton was “extremely careless,” the FBI director said, but did not engage in the kind of intentional or willful mishandling of classified material that would warrant prosecution.
The director left no doubt of his belief that Ms. Clinton’s use of a private email server was entirely inappropriate for a Cabinet member with access to the nation’s highest-level secrets. Mr. Comey said “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position . . . should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.” The Clinton system had virtually no archiving; when servers were swapped out in 2013, “millions of email fragments” wound up being inadvertently tossed into the “slack space” of a decommissioned server. Much will be made by Ms. Clinton’s critics of the finding that eight chains of “top secret” emails were found, as well as several dozen chains of emails at lesser levels of classification; and that work emails were missed by her lawyers in their sorting from the personal; and that thousands of other emails were dislodged by investigators from other people’s accounts.
No doubt an FBI investigation of equal intensity would find carelessness on the part of many other high-ranking officials. But that does not excuse Ms. Clinton’s blithe disregard for procedure.
Politico, Judicial Watch blasts Comey for 'weak recommendation' on Clinton emails, Nolan D. McCaskill, July 5, 2016. Judicial Watch blasted FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday for his “weak” decision not to put recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of private email servers during her tenure as secretary of state. Comey told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that while evidence suggests Clinton and her State staff were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” there is no prior case to support bringing criminal charges.
Predicting political blowback from his announcement, Comey added that no outside influence of any kind affected the investigation.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton (shown in a file photo), however, suggested that politics were at play, citing “a disconnect” between Comey’s criticism of Clinton and his conclusion not to recommend charges.
“FBI Director James Comey detailed Hillary Clinton’s massive destruction of government records and grossly negligent handling of classified information,” Fitton said in a statement. “Frankly, there’s a disconnect between Comey’s devastating findings and his weak recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. Federal prosecutors, independent of politics, need to consider whether to pursue the potential violations of law confirmed by the FBI.”
The conservative watchdog group has been using the Freedom of Information Act to explore the former secretary of state’s use of a private email account and vowed to continue its own inquiry. “Judicial Watch helped break open the Clinton email scandal and, in the meantime, will independently continue its groundbreaking litigation and investigation,” Fitton said.
Media Matters via Salon, The George W. Bush email scandal the media has conveniently forgotten, Eric Boehlert, March 12, 2015. Back in 2007, the White House "lost" more than five million proviate emails. The story was barely covered.
Intercept, FBI Director Comey Preempts Justice Department by Advising No Charges for Hillary Clinton, Alex Emmons, July 5, 2016. FBI Director James Comey took the unprecedented step of publicly preempting a Justice Department prosecution when he declared at a press conference Tuesday that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server.
The FBI’s job is to investigate crimes; it is Justice Department prosecutors who are supposed to decide whether or not to move forward. But in a case that had enormous political implications, Comey decided the FBI would act on its own.
“Although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case,” he said. Prosecutors could technically still file criminal charges, but it would require them to publicly disagree with their own investigators.
One of Comey’s likely motivations was avoiding the appearance that Department of Justice lawyers had biased the investigation due to their desire to avoid prosecuting a major party’s presidential nominee. He repeatedly assured the audience that “no outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.” Comey’s announcement also satisfied the public’s desire for a resolution sooner rather than later.
But Matthew Miller, who was a spokesman for the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder, called Comey’s press conference an “absolutely unprecedented, appalling, and a flagrant violation of Justice Department regulations.” He told The Intercept: “The thing that’s so damaging about this is that the Department of Justice is supposed to reach conclusions and put them in court filings. There’s a certain amount of due process there.” Legal experts could not recall another time that the FBI had made its recommendation so publicly.
President Barack Obama walks from Marine One upon arrival on the White House South Lawn, July 5, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Politico, Trump: Who's paying for Obama's political trips? Nick Gass, July 5, 2016. Donald Trump on Tuesday ratcheted up his criticism of President Barack Obama's travel aboard Air Force One to help Hillary Clinton, ripping into the president for his campaign trip to North Carolina at taxpayers' expense. "Taxpayers are paying a fortune for the use of Air Force One on the campaign trail by President Obama and Crooked Hillary. A total disgrace!" Trump tweeted Tuesday, hours before Clinton and Obama are scheduled to fly from Joint Base Andrews to Charlotte, North Carolina, for their first joint appearance.
Clinton is scheduled to address the National Education Association's representative assembly Tuesday morning in Washington before the afternoon event. Trump first raised the question Monday evening, tweeting, "Why is President Obama allowed to use Air Force One on the campaign trail with Crooked Hillary? She is flying with him tomorrow. Who pays?"
As conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has uncovered, a typical trip aboard Air Force One costs upwards of $200,000 per hour. But under guidelines first adopted by the Reagan administration in 1982, and formalized by Congress in 2009, Clinton's campaign — or the Democratic National Committee — would be obligated to reimburse taxpayers for at least some portion of Obama's North Carolina trip, under a formula at the discretion of the White House.
The costs for some staff involved in such political trips, such as Secret Service agents who accompany the president wherever he goes, are always paid by the government.
White House Press Office, Remarks By President Obama, July 5, 2016 (Charlotte Convention Center). But I'm here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton. And I want you to help elect her to be the next President of the United States of America. That's why I'm here.
Charlotte Observer, 7 things to know about Tuesday’s Clinton-Obama rally in Charlotte, Jim Morrill and Tim Funk, July 4, 2016. President Barack Obama returns to Charlotte on Tuesday for his first campaign appearance with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. They’ll hold a rally at the Charlotte Convention Center – three short blocks from where, four years ago, Obama accepted his own renomination before a packed house at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The visit is Clinton’s second in two weeks to what’s expected once again to be a battleground state. It’s her first visit to Charlotte since a March 14 rally at Grady Cole Center, a day before she won the state’s primary. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, will be in Raleigh. Obama and Clinton will arrive in Charlotte together at 2:25 p.m. on Air Force One and travel to the Convention Center for the 3 p.m. event.
The “IRP 6,” six Denver businessmen convicted of fraud, are seeking clemency from President Obama, Left to right, they are Clinton A. Stewart, Demetrius K. Harper, David A. Banks, David A. Zirpolo, Kendrick Barnes and Gary L. Walker. (Photo via A Just Cause)
Washington Post, Judge who freed ‘Hurricane’ Carter now helping six imprisoned men, but only Obama can save them, Tom Jackman, July 5, 2016. The judge who freed famed boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter from prison after 19 years, saying his prosecution was based on “an appeal to racism rather than reason,” has taken on another long-shot case with racial overtones: the conviction of six Denver men, five of them black, who launched a software company to help federal, state and local law enforcement agencies communicate with each other after the failures preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
H. Lee Sarokin (shown in a file photo) is now retired from the federal bench and living in California, having gained renown not only for granting the federal appeal of Carter’s murder conviction but also for presiding over the first civil suit to find a tobacco company liable for a smoker’s death. Two years ago he was approached by a group advocating for the “IRP 6,” the six Denver men who were convicted in federal court in 2011 and received sentences of seven to 11 years in prison. Prosecutors argued that their software company, which built up $5 million in debt, was simply a scam. Their appeals are now exhausted, and their last remedy lies with a clemency petition pending before President Barack Obama.
Initially, Sarokin focused on a procedural argument the defendants had with their trial judge, and wrote about that for the Huffington Post. But soon, Sarokin became convinced of their innocence. And so he immersed himself in the facts of the case and in the backgrounds of the six men, who were all members of the same church, several of them military veterans, all with families and no criminal records. And then he wrote a play about the case, titled “The Race Card Face Up,” featuring actors speaking as five of the six defendants, and after it was staged last November at a playhouse outside San Diego, it was performed and filmed again in May and placed on YouTube.
The case went to trial in the fall of 2011. The jury agreed with the theory of Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Kirsch that the defendants committed mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy by hiring 42 different staffing companies and failing to pay them more than $5,000,000, lying to many of those companies that a contract was imminent. Each was then sentenced to at least seven years in prison and denied bail pending appeal by U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello.
“What amazed me about the case,” Sarokin said, “was the theory of the government, that this program they were developing was a scam. All of the proof in the case goes the opposite way.”
Sarokin noted that attempting to scam law enforcement agencies, as their sole customer, seems an unlikely target. The men all left their jobs to create the software, hired former FBI and immigration agents as consultants on the software, and made no profit from the scheme — each was paid about $50,000 per year for their work, Stewart said. “DHS doesn’t repeatedly call you if you’re running a scam,” Stewart said. He said he felt a corporate competitor interested in creating similar software pushed the feds to prosecute. “Our only crime,” one of Sarokin’s characters said, “was optimism.”
Al Jazeera, Amnesty: Syrian armed groups committing war crimes, Staff report, July 5, 2016. Five Syrian rebel groups have been accused of a "chilling" wave of torture, abductions and summary killings in the northern provinces of Idlib and parts of Aleppo. Amnesty International, a UK-based rights group, said on Tuesday that al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Nureddin Zinki, the Levant Front and Division 16 were committing "war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law with impunity.
"Many civilians live in constant fear of being abducted if they criticise the conduct of armed groups in power or fail to abide by the strict rules that some have imposed," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's director of the Middle East and North Africa Program. The report was based on interviews with about 70 individuals living or working in the northern provinces of Idlib and parts of Aleppo, areas controlled by rebels.
The abuses were committed over four years by five armed groups, including some backed by the US and other regional powers, Amnesty said. "While some civilians in areas controlled by armed opposition groups may at first have welcomed an escape from brutal Syrian government rule, hopes that these armed groups would respect rights have faded as they have increasingly taken the law into their own hands and committed serious abuses," said Luther.
Washington Post, Guardsman accused of plotting attack to support ISIS, Rachel Weiner and Joe Heim, July 5, 2016. A former member of the Army National Guard living in Sterling, Va., is accused of trying to plan a domestic terror attack on behalf of the Islamic State. Mohamad Bailor Jalloh was arrested Sunday and charged with attempting to provide material support to the terrorist organization, according to papers filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Jalloh, a native of Sierra Leone, is a U.S. citizen. He quit the National Guard after listening to the lectures of deceased radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to court documents, and became involved in planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
The Fourth of July fireworks are barely visible through the low-lining cloud cover as seen from the Truman Balcony of the White House, July 4, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
OpEdNews, America Destroyed, Paul Craig Roberts, July 4, 2016. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant Treasury Secretary during the Reagan administration shown in a file photo during an interview, is an author, scholar and journalist long associated with conservative organizations. His latest book is "The Neoconservative Threat To World Order." Over the weekend, he cited this news report -- Disabled cancer patient slammed to the ground by TSA guards, lawsuit claims -- and followed up with a July Fourth commentary:
When I was young, America still existed. No more.
Not even the blather from the 4th of July can hide the obvious fact. The young do not know that they have lost their country because they are born into a time The Look of Silence has been hailed by critics and audiences around the world for bearing witness to the collapse of 50 years of state-sanctioned silence.
The film is the winner of more than 70 international awards. Like its predecessor, it is executive-produced by Werner Herzog, Errol Morris and André Singer. The POV broadcast also includes a conversation between legendary filmmaker/screenwriter Herzog (Aguirre, The Wrath of God; Grizzly Man) and Oppenheimer.
The documentary focuses on Adi Rukun, a determined yet mild-mannered optometrist from a family that survived the genocide. His older brother Ramli was murdered by Indonesian death squads unleashed against opponents of General Suharto, who came to power in 1965 by overthrowing President Sukarno and imprisoning, enslaving or murdering anybody associated with the Indonesian left, as well as the ethnic Chinese. Though initially this bloody dragnet allegedly targeted Communist Party members accused of destabilizing the country, it soon widened to include anyone likely to oppose the new government, including union members, intellectuals and women’s-rights activists. Many death squad leaders remain in power today—and some are Adi Rukun’s patients.
Associated Press via PBS, U.S. declassifies File 17, offering clues into secret pages of 9/11 report, Deb Riechmann, July 4, 2016. Amid the clamor a year ago to release 28 still-secret pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks, the government quietly declassified a little-known report listing more than three dozen people who piqued the interest of investigators probing possible Saudi connections to the hijackers.
The document, known as “File 17,” offers clues to what might be in the missing pages of the bipartisan report about 9/11.
“Much of the information upon which File 17 was written was based on what’s in the 28 pages,” said former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, co-chairman of the congressional inquiry. He believes the hijackers had an extensive Saudi support system while they were in the United States. “File 17 said, ‘Here are some additional unanswered questions and here is how we think the 9/11 Commission, the FBI and the CIA should go about finding the answers,’ ” Graham said.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir denies any allegations of Saudi complicity, telling reporters in Washington earlier this month that there is “no there there.”
Guardian, SEC document shows Trump was worth less than half of $10bn claim in 2012, Ben Jacobs, July 2, 2016. Statement filed by Wells Fargo Securities describes far lower worth. Claim to self-fund presidential campaign is central to image as outsider. On the 2016 campaign trail, Donald Trump has insisted that he is worth more than $10bn. However, a statement filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission by Wells Fargo Securities on Trump’s behalf in 2012 indicated that the real estate developer was then worth less than half that, with comparatively few of the liquid assets that may now finance his campaign for president.
While $250m is a large amount of money, it is nowhere near enough to finance a modern presidential campaign. Trump has already loaned between $43m and $50m to his campaign, raising questions about how much he can afford to continue to spend without selling off assets or taking on significant loans.
Trump has insisted that he has far more than $250m in liquid assets, last year telling Fox News anchor Sean Hannity he had $400m, all of which he was prepared to use.
New York Times, More Than 140 Dead in Terror Attack Claimed by ISIS, Falih Hassan and time Arango, July 2, 2016. As celebrations for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan stretched past midnight into Sunday in central Baghdad, where Iraqis had gathered to eat, shop and just be together, a minivan packed with explosives blew up and killed at least 143 people — the third mass slaughter across three countries in less than a week.
The attack was the deadliest in Baghdad in many years — at least since 2009 — and was among the worst Iraq has faced since the American invasion of 2003. The bombing came barely a week after Iraqi security forces, backed by American airstrikes, celebrated the liberation of Falluja from the Islamic State, which almost immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The scenes that unfolded across the city on Sunday were another brutal illustration of the paradox Iraq faces as its security forces —- and the American military, which is training the Iraqi Army and carrying out airstrikes and raids by Special Forces — make gains against the Islamic State. As more territory is won back, the group is reverting to its roots as a guerrilla insurgency, turning Baghdad again into an urban killing field.
Daily Mail, Unmasked: Gun-toting Jihadi 'bride-maker' who grooms British girls for ISIS fighters in Syria is student from London whose father is a successful businessman, Omar Wahid, Tom Wyke, and Nick Craven, July 3, 2016. Jihadi 'matchmaker' revealed as Tooba Gondal, 22, of East London. She encourages young girls to go to Syria to marry ISIS terrorists.
Reuters, Islamic State repels U.S.-backed forces in north Syria city: monitor, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, July 2, 2016. Islamic State militants on Saturday pushed back U.S.-backed forces trying to advance into their stronghold of Manbij for the first time since a major offensive to capture the city and cut off the militants' main strategic access route to Turkey, a monitoring group and Kurdish sources said. The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised of Kurdish and Arab fighters and backed by the air power of a U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State and aided by U.S. special forces, have been involved in the month-long Manbij operation aimed to seal off their last stretch of Syrian-Turkish frontier.
Associated Press via Washington Post, Syria’s new US-backed force stumbles in first test, Sarah El Deeb, July 3, 2016. U.S.-backed Syrian fighters announced they had taken over an air base outside a town held by the Islamic State group near the Iraqi border. “We are trapped. Pray for us,” a commander called into the operation room. Then communication was cut. The quick collapse of the offensive reflects the difficulties the U.S. faces in creating an effective Syrian force against IS, given the complex terrain, competing personal and tribal loyalties — and the extremists’ continued ability to fight on multiple fronts.
New York Times, F.B.I. Interviews Clinton Over Use of Private Email Server, Amy Chozick, July 2, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s campaign said she was interviewed for three and a half hours over her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, but no details were given on the substance of the interview. The F.B.I. interviewed Hillary Clinton on Saturday morning for its investigation into whether she or her aides broke the law by setting up a private email server for her use as secretary of state, her campaign said.
“Secretary Clinton gave a voluntary interview this morning about her email arrangements while she was secretary,” Nick Merrill, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion.”
The interview, which lasted about three and a half hours at F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington, largely focused on the Justice Department’s central question of whether Mrs. Clinton’s actions met the legal standard for handling classified information. Shortly after the meeting, two black S.U.V.s were seen returning to Mrs. Clinton’s house in the capital. The appointment had been weeks in the making as both law enforcement and Mrs. Clinton’s team coordinated their schedules.
Accompanying Mrs. Clinton were her lawyer David E. Kendall; Cheryl D. Mills and Heather Samuelson, longtime aides who are also lawyers; and two lawyers from Mr. Kendall’s firm, Williams & Connolly, Katherine Turner and Amy Saharia. Eight officials from the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice conducted the interview, according to a person who was familiar with the substance of the session but who declined to be named because the meeting was private. This person characterized the meeting as “civil” and “businesslike.” Neither the campaign nor the F.B.I. would elaborate on it.
Washington Post, American among 20 killed in Bangladesh, Ishaan Tharoor, July 1, 2016. Three U.S. college students were also reported killed after gunmen stormed a restaurant near multiple embassies in the capital of Dhaka during a siege that lasted 12 hours. The assault marks a dramatic new phase in Bangladesh's battle against jihadist militancy. A commando raid ended the 10-hour standoff at an upscale restaurant in the capital city’s diplomatic zone early Saturday. Six attackers were killed when troops stormed the cafe, a Bangladeshi military official said.
Donald Trump's Tweet, above, using a red Star of David to claim corruption by rival Hillary Clinton generated a storm of outrage July 2 on social media and was replaced with a red circle instead of star image
Washington Post, Trump tweet that blasts Clinton as corrupt includes the Star of David, Emily Flitter, July 2, 2016. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted an image of rival Hillary Clinton alongside $100 bills and a Jewish star bearing the words “most corrupt candidate ever!”, prompting outrage and bafflement on social media. Two hours after his initial tweet, Trump tweeted a similar image in which the six-pointed Star of David — which appears on Israel’s flag and which Jews were forced to wear on their clothing by the Nazis during the Holocaust — was replaced by a circle. The original tweet was deleted.
Note: Trump defenders say the six-sided star merely represented a traditional sheriff's star, minus the distinctive circles at the point of most sheriff star logos.
Disabled cancer patient Hannah Cohen, 18, arrested in Memphis by TSA June 30, 2015 (Shirley Cohen photo)
Guardian, Disabled cancer patient slammed to the ground by TSA guards, lawsuit claims, Matthew Teague, July 2, 2016. A disabled teenage cancer patient was injured during a violent arrest by security agents at Memphis international airport, her family has alleged in a lawsuit filed against the Transport Security Administration. Hannah Cohen, 18, at the time of her arrest on 30 June 2015, and her mother had been on their way home to Chattanooga from St Jude’s hospital in Memphis, where Hannah underwent her final treatment for a brain tumor. Hannah and her mother, Shirley, told the Guardian that the pair had made the trip hundreds of times, and knew the airport security routine well.
The TSA did not immediately return a request for comment. But a TSA spokeswoman, Sari Koshetz, said in a statement that “passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation”. “Why should I do that when we’ve been going through that airport for 17 years?” Shirley said.“These people think they are God. They think they can do anything they want,” she said. “Well, in this country we have the Americans with Disabilities Act. And if they will do this to a disabled girl, does that mean they’ll do it to an 80-year-old grandmother? It’s time for justice.”
WhoWhatWhy, Orlando — Huh? Russ Baker (shown in a file photo), July 2, 2016. What was the shooter doing for most of the three hours he was inside the club? I must be stupid. I cannot seem to understand, no matter how many articles and news reports I consume, what took place for most of the time that terror reigned at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
As far as I can tell, Omar Mateen entered the club after an initial exchange of fire with a security guard. With a semiautomatic rifle and pistol, Mateen methodically shot scores of people over the course of just minutes, at times weeding through bodies on the floor to finish off those he had wounded. He then entered bathrooms and, with a few exceptions, remained there for nearly three hours, while a large cluster of men and women were packed into just several stalls, hiding from him. He occasionally shot through the stall doors. He presumably could have shot open the door, and killed everyone inside, but did not, and some survived.
What strikes me, besides the fact that the media doesn’t seem to be answering these questions — or even asking them — is that we are left with this enormous, weird gap in the story.
If you have further information on what took place, please contact us at email@example.com. If you have thoughts or would like to ruminate on this, please comment below.
Global Research, The Orlando Shootings: Police SWAT Team Involved in the Killings, Michel Chossudovsky, July 2, 2016. The first reports of shots came at 2.03 am involving a confrontation between Omar Mateen (shown in photo) and a security guard at the entrance of the nightclub.
”An off-duty cop working as a security guard at the club returned fire, prompting Mateen to retreat further into the hotspot and take hostages, officials said.” (New York Post, June 12, 2016). According to police statements, there was, however, no “active shooter situation” at 2 am in the morning, requiring an immediate police response. Moreover, there was no firm evidence that killings of hostages had taken place.
YouTube, Donald J. Trump: The Long Road to the White House 1980-2015, July 2, 2016, Compilation of 35 years of video interviews (27:50 min.).
New York Times, Inside the Six Weeks When Trump Was a Nonstop ‘Birther,’ Ashley Parker and Steve Eder, July 2, 2016. Donald J. Trump’s foray into the falsehood that President Obama was born outside the United States gave him a base for the primaries and a template for upending political rules. Joseph Farah, a 61-year-old author, had long labored on the fringes of political life, publishing a six-part series claiming that soybeans caused homosexuality and fretting that “cultural Marxists” were plotting to destroy the country. But in early 2011, he received the first of several calls from a Manhattan real estate developer who wanted to take one of his theories mainstream.
That developer, Donald J. Trump, told Mr. Farah that he shared his suspicion that President Obama might have been born outside the United States and that he was looking for a way to prove it. “What can we do to get to the bottom of this?” Mr. Trump asked him. “What can we do to turn the tide?”
Mr. Trump’s eagerness to embrace the so-called birther idea — long debunked, and until then confined to right-wing conspiracy theorists — foreshadowed how, just five years later, Mr. Trump would bedevil his rivals in the Republican presidential primary race and upend the political system. In the birther movement, Mr. Trump recognized an opportunity to connect with the electorate over an issue many considered taboo: the discomfort, in some quarters of American society, with the election of the nation’s first black president. He harnessed it for political gain, beginning his connection with the largely white Republican base that, in his 2016 campaign, helped clinch his party’s nomination.
Unz Review, Turkey on the Ropes, The Saker, July 2, 2016. This has been an amazing week which saw the first clear sign of the collapse of the EU and Turkish President Erdogan presenting his excuses to Russia for the downing of a Russian SU-24 over Syria 7 month ago. While the latter event was largely eclipsed by the former, it might be the sign of something even more dramatic taking place: the collapse of Turkey.
The latest move to court Russia and Israel will not meaningfully improve the strategic situation for Turkey. At best, it will give the appearance of a pseudo-regional détente. But nothing else will change unless the Turkish state itself changes and that is something that the Turkish people do not seem to be willing to accept, at least not in the foreseeable future. What this all means is that it is in Russia’s strategic interest to have a responsible and trustworthy partner to deal with. Sadly, I don’t see that as very likely because, just as in the case of the Ukraine and Israel, the problem with Turkey is that this an artificial, illegitimate and fundamentally unsustainable country.
Does that seem like hyperbole? Let’s look again.
Washington Post, Obama retreats from Putin in Syria — again, Editorial Board, July 2, 2016. Russia destroys a cease-fire and is rewarded with a new U.S. concession.
Intercept, Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy, Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani, July 1, 2016. Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove (shown in a file photo), until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.
Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.
Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.
But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.
New York Times, When Friends Like Jordan Steal Weapons, Editorial Board, July 1, 2016. Skeptics of American efforts to arm anti-government rebels in Syria have long worried that weapons could be diverted to opposing forces or terrorists. But they did not expect diversion by members of Jordan’s vaunted intelligence service, which was working with the United States to train the rebels. Revelations, by The Times and Al Jazeera, of just such theft have shown how even a supposedly stalwart ally can undermine American interests and aid its enemies.
In a joint investigation, the news organizations found that Jordanian intelligence agents had systematically stolen and sold on the black market millions of dollars of weapons shipped into the country by the C.I.A. and Saudi Arabia for use by Syrian rebels. Some of the weapons were used in a shooting in November in which a Jordanian officer killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, they reported.
The news is shocking in part because the United States has long considered Jordan one of its closest allies in the region. The country has been an active partner in the American-led airstrikes against the Islamic State and has provided a critical staging ground for training, arming and coordinating rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. About 2,000 American forces were stationed in Jordan as of January.
The revelations obviously shred the credibility of the Jordanian government and its intelligence service when it comes to fighting corruption. Yet they are also an indictment of the C.I.A., which for three years has been responsible for training thousands of rebels considered moderates to use Kalashnikovs, mortars, guided antitank missiles and other weapons. President Obama at first resisted giving the rebels lethal weapons because of the risk that they would fall into the wrong hands. But in 2013, he authorized the covert program and charged the C.I.A. with vetting the rebels and controlling the flow of arms. The C.I.A. has failed in its oversight of the weapons.
This scandal should be a warning to those, including Hillary Clinton, who want to deepen American military involvement in Syria.
Washington Post, White House: Up to 116 civilians killed in counterterror strikes overseas under Obama, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, July 1, 2016. The United States has inadvertently killed between 64 and 116 non-combatant civilians in drone and other lethal attacks against terrorism suspects in places not considered active war zones, the Obama administration said Friday.
The unintentional deaths came in a total of 473 CIA and military counterterrorism strikes up to the end of 2015 that the administration said have taken between 2372 and 2581 militants permanently off the battlefield in countries where the United States is not at war, which would include Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
In releasing only aggregate figures that do not include when or where the strikes occurred, the administration sought to bolster government assertions about the accuracy and effectiveness of the program, even as it shielded those claims from meaningful public scrutiny.
President Obama with John O. Brennan in 2012. At the White House, Brennan, then deputy National Security Advisor and now CIA Director, managed the “kill lists” for drone strikes. White House Photo.
Judicial Watch, 2 Yrs., $7 Mil for 800-Page Benghazi Report Containing Old News, Tom Fitton, July 1, 2016. It took two years and a mind-boggling $7 million for House Republicans to finally complete an exhausting 800-page report on Benghazi that largely reiterates a lot of the information Judicial Watch has already released since the 2012 terrorist attacks on the Special Mission Compound in Libya. That amounts to a staggering $8,750 a page for material piled into an insufferable document that doesn’t even contain a smoking gun.
Nevertheless, members of the Benghazi Select Committee released the findings of their tiresome investigation this week with great fanfare, as if they had uncovered earth-shattering information during their lengthy probe. The reality is that most of the material had already been divulged to the public, much of it by Judicial Watch which has litigated in federal court to uncover the truth about Benghazi and published two special reports (read them here and here) on the attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The millions it cost to conduct this particular congressional probe could have been better spent. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media is having a field day pointing out that the two-year investigation produced no bombshells. One national newspaper editorial says that it’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of government resources.
Here’s the spark notes version of the report highlights for those who don’t have the stomach — or time — to go through hundreds of pages; the military was never deployed to help save the victims, the Special Mission Compound didn’t have adequate security and the Obama administration knowingly lied to the American people by claiming the attack was a spontaneous protest ignited by an obscure anti-Muslim internet video. All of this is old news that was unearthed and disseminated long ago. Before the first anniversary of the Benghazi attacks Judicial Watch had obtained records and reported that a group of approximately 150 heavily armed Islamist militia members attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission. Subsequent to that Judicial Watch got ahold of droves of government files showing that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama administration officials knew in real time that the Benghazi attackers were “armed extremists.”
Washington Post, Lynch pledges to ‘accept’ FBI and Justice findings in Clinton email probe, Brian Murphy and Ellen Nakashima, July 1, 2016. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (shown in an official photo) said she decided to clarify her role in the case after her meeting with Bill Clinton earlier this week raised questions about a conflict of interest. Of the meeting, she said, “I wouldn’t do it again."
By promising to abide by the recommendations, she directly addressed worries by critics that she — as an Obama administration appointee — could overrule the investigators.
Washington Post, Trump used money donated for charity to buy himself a Tim Tebow-signed football helmet, David A. Fahrenthold, July 1, 2016. Trump Foundation paid $12,000 for the helmet, which Donald Trump later posed with, at a Susan G. Komen auction. Did Donald Trump violate IRS rules, by using a charity's money to buy himself a signed football helmet?
Four years ago, at a charity fundraiser in Palm Beach, Donald Trump got into a bidding war at the evening's live auction. The items up for sale: A Denver Broncos helmet, autographed by then-star quarterback Tim Tebow, and a Tebow jersey. Trump won, eventually, with a bid of $12,000. Afterward, he posed with the helmet. His purchase made gossip-column news: a flourish of generosity, by a mogul with money to burn. "The Donald giveth, and The Donald payeth," wrote the Palm Beach Daily News. "Blessed be the name of The Donald."
But Trump didn't actually pay with his own money. Instead, the Susan G. Komen organization — the breast-cancer nonprofit that hosted the party — got a $12,000 payment from another nonprofit , the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Portage County Gazette via Assassination Arcihives and Research Center (AARC), Who’s the Savage? An Important Message from Professor David R. Wrone, Nathanael Enwald, July 1, 2016. Retired University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) history professor David R. Wrone (shown in a file photo) recently presented a lecture about the heinous mistreatment of Native Americans by frontiersmen and the American Government to the American Bar Association (ABA) during its annual Leadership Meeting held June 16 to 18 in Vancouver, Canada.
The ABA’s motto is to “defend liberty and protect freedom,” and it prides itself on championing social justice, so it invites speakers each year to sensitize its members to the historical issues connected to ethnic and racial groups. Last year, the ABA invited George Takei, best known for his role as Sulu on the original “Star Trek” series, to talk about the Japanese American relocation to camps during World War II.
This year, Wrone was invited to talk about the history of Native American tribes to remind its members of the darkness humans are capable of.
He titled his talk “Who’s the Savage?” – taken from his book Who’s the Savage? A Documentary History of the Mistreatment of the Native North Americans he co-authored with the late UWSP professor Russell S. Nelson Jr. The book was used in colleges throughout the country.
Over the years, Wrone said he’s read more than 40 history books used in schools, and not one mentions the atrocities against Native Americans. “Once in a while they’d give a sentence on Cherokee removal, but never really explained what happened. So I went to the original sources, and there we found the reality,” he said. Wrone said it is important for us to remember these deeds to ensure they don’t happen again.
“It is important for us to remember this is a part of our heritage as Americans and that we have this (in our history). It’s not just one institution, it was many institutions involved here – including religious, civilian and military – and that we have that element in us. We have to know it exists in order to define and prepare ourselves better for the future. We have to be honest,” he said.
Associated Press via ABC News, Newspaper Publisher Arrested After Open Records Request, Wire report, July 1, 2016. The publisher of a small, weekly north Georgia newspaper was jailed, along with his lawyer, after officials alleged his open records request for county checks written to two local judges included a criminal falsehood, and that a subpoena they issued constituted an attempt to commit identity fraud The charges have drawn condemnation from a state journalism organization, but the local prosecutor said they were justified.
The three-count indictment filed June 24 in Pickens County Superior Court, accuses Mark Thomason, publisher of the Fannin Focus newspaper, of making a false statement. It also charges him and his lawyer, Russell Stookey, with identity fraud and attempt to commit identity fraud. The two were arrested June 24 and have been released on bond.
The indictment says Thomason sent an open records request to the Pickens County Commission chairman asking for three years' worth of cleared checks from the county to Judge Brenda Weaver, chief judge of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and Judge Roger Bradley for the judges' quarterly operating expenses. The indictment says Thomason knowingly made a false statement in the request when he said some checks "appear to have not been deposited but cashed illegally."
Washington Post, The hypocrisy at the heart of Trump’s campaign, Lead strategist Paul Manafort wants to pretend Trump is not a member of the establishment, Dana Milbank, July 1, 2016. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, had a message to deliver. “Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the establishment; she’s been in power for 25 years,” he informed Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. When Trump, Manafort added, “says he’s going to bring real change to the country, voters believe him — unlike Mrs. Clinton, who has been saying that for 25 years and in those 25 years, the only changes that have happened have made people’s lives worse.”
But then, at the tail end of the interview, Manafort slipped when discussing evangelical Christians’ support for Trump. “In my 40 years in politics, I have never seen such a broad-based base of support within that community for one candidate.”
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Please ask President Obama to pardon Abraham Bolden, the first African American to serve on the White House detail guarding a president. Now 80, he was framed on corruption charges as he tried to warn the Warren Commission about security threats to President Kennedy, who had invited him to break the color barrier on the White House staff. Details of the injustice are in many places, including well-regarded historical books, his own 2008 memoir, The Echo from Dealey Plaza, and JIP coverage, which includes an update on his exemplary life since serving his harsh, unjustified five-year sentence under horrible conditions.
Emails on his behalf addressed to President Obama can be brief, and can be coordinated for delivery via the University Justice Coalition.
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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. Siegelman is shown above with his wife (at center), son and daughter. He was re-imprisoned at age 67 in September 2012 in Louisiana.