June News Reports 2012

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on June 2, 2012

Featured Weekly Commentary

 

Richard Nixon 1974Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought

By Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, June 8, 2012.

As Sen. Sam Ervin completed his 20-year Senate career in 1974 and issued his final report as chairman of the Senate Watergate committee, he posed the question: “What was Watergate?” Countless answers have been offered in the 40 years since June 17, 1972, when a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building iRichard Nixonn Washington. Another answer has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the coverup was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions.

Today, much more than when we first covered this story as young Washington Post reporters, an abundant record provides unambiguous answers and evidence about Watergate and its meaning. This record has expanded continuously over the decades with the transcription of hundreds of hours of Nixon’s secret tapes, adding detail and context to the hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives; the trials and guilty pleas of some 40 Nixon aides and associates who went to jail; and the memoirs of Nixon and his deputies. Such documentation makes it possible to trace the president’s personal dominance over a massive campaign of political espionage, sabotage and other illegal activities against his real or perceived opponents....The Watergate that we wrote about in The Washington Post from 1972 to 1974 is not Watergate as we know it today. It was only a glimpse into something far worse. By the time he was forced to resign, Nixon had turned his White House, to a remarkable extent, into a criminal enterprise.

 

Nixon is shown above left in April 1974, and then at right in August after resigning the Presidency. Read more here.


Editor's Choice: Click below for the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for June 2012.

 

 

June 30

FireDogLake, FDL Book Salon Welcomes Sibel Edmonds, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story – A Memoir, Kevin Gosztola, June 30, 2012 . Classified Woman: A Memoir is a stirring book that takes us through the injustice Edmonds has endured starting during the Bush Administration. In her job as a language specialist, she finds out the FBI has been covering up information related to the September 11th attacks. She figures out the FBI has been penetrated by a Turkish translator named Melek Can Dickerson and her husband, who have engaged in illegal transactions that involve shielding potential targets from intelligence operations. She realizes any investigation of Dickerson would “shine a light on major cover-ups initiated by the State Department ” and expose crimes committed by “high-placed US officials.” She feels uneasy but knows she cannot turn back. And so she decides to pursue appropriate channels to let the proper people know all this but is forced to choose between having a career and pursuing accountability.

Nation of Change, Mitt Romney and the New Gilded Age, Robert Reich, June 30, 2012. The election of 2012 raises two perplexing questions. The first is how the GOP could put up someone for president who so brazenly epitomizes the excesses of casino capitalism that have nearly destroyed the economy and overwhelmed our democracy. The second is why the Democrats have failed to point this out. The White House has criticized Mitt Romney for his years at the helm of Bain Capital, pointing to a deal that led to the bankruptcy of GS Technologies, a Bain investment in Kansas City that went belly up in 2001 at the cost of 750 jobs. But the White House hasn’t connected Romney’s Bain to the larger scourge of casino capitalism.

June 29

Washington Post / Bloomberg, GOP’s big shift on health care, Ezra Klein, June 29, 2012. Today, Mitt Romney touts a health-care plan, to the extent he has one, that would almost certainly lead to reduced insurance coverage. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cutting loose 31 million Americans who are expected to gain coverage under the law. Then he wants to drastically cut Medicaid spending by turning it over to the states and capping the growth of federal contributions. The Urban Institute estimates that such a policy would cause 14 million to 19 million Americans to lose Medicaid coverage.  This, perhaps, is one of the clearest differences between the Republicans and Democrats in this election: health insurance for 45 million to 50 million people.

Washington Post, Chief Justice John Roberts’s health-care ruling gets plenty second-guessing, Robert Barnes and Del Quentin Wilber, June 29, 2012. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., under intense scrutiny for his decision upholding President Obama’s health-care law, is headed for an overseas teaching gig in Malta. Back in Washington, the legal and political worlds are trying to digest the stunning news that one of the court’s most consistent conservatives had pulled Obama’s signature domestic achievement from the brink.  Court specialists analyzed Thursday’s 5-to-4 opinion for clues, wondering whether Roberts might have switched his vote from invalidating the law to upholding it largely unscathed.

Independent (United Kingdom), Ireland Sells its Voting Machines, €54m voting machines scrapped for €9 each, Paul Melia and Luke Byrne, June 29, 2012. The Government has sold the infamous €54m e-voting machines for scrap -- for €9.30 each. A huge fleet of trucks will begin removing the 7,500 machines from 14 locations on Monday. They will be taken to a Co Offaly recycling company, KMK Metals Recycling Ltd in Tullamore, where they will be stripped down and shredded. Scrapping the machines brings to an end the embarrassing e-voting debacle which has cost the taxpayer more than €54m since it emerged the expensive equipment was faulty. They could not be guaranteed to be safe from tampering. And they could not produce a printout so that votes/results could be double-checked. But last night the man who first proposed using them washed his hands of the affair.

 

Huffington Post, Roberts Raises the Election Year Stakes, Bruce Ackerman, June 29, 2012. John Roberts' decision on health care places the country at a constitutional crossroads. On the one hand, his majority opinion upholds the greatest expansion of the welfare state since the 1960s. On the other, it undermines the constitutional underpinnings of big government. This makes the current presidential election into a constitutional turning point -- the next judicial appointments will determine the path which the nation will follow for the next generation. Roberts decided the case all by himself. The four liberals found him too conservative on one key issue; the four conservatives found him too liberal on the other. Though nobody agreed with him on both, he cast the decisive fifth vote on each. This is why the next Supreme Court appointments will tip the balance beyond the Chief Justice's control.

Bloomberg News, TV-Newspaper Ownership Limits Left Intact By High Court, Greg Stohr and Todd Shields on June 29, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court left intact decades-old limits on ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers, refusing to hear media-industry appeals that might have led to a wave of acquisitions. Tribune Co. and other media companies argued that the Federal Communications Commission rules, some of which date to 1941, don’t make sense in an age of cable television and the Internet. The companies challenged the rules on free-speech grounds.  “It was a long shot,” Shaun Sheehan, a vice president of Chicago-based Tribune, said in an interview. “We knew it was a long shot. We’ll pursue relief from this antiquated restriction in any venue we can find.” The court didn’t comment as it turned away the companies, including Media General Inc. (MEG) (MEG), which owns daily newspapers and a television station in the Tampa, Florida, area after selling 63 newspapers to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/B) (B) Some companies own a broadcast station and daily newspaper in the same city under exceptions to the rules established in 1975.  The FCC, which must periodically review media-ownership regulations, has proposed keeping some limits in a rulemaking begun in December.  “We look forward to prompt consideration” by the agency, Ray Kozakewicz, a spokesman for Richmond, Virginia-based Media General, said in an e-mailed statement. “Consumers in markets of all sizes are better served by the higher-quality local news and content achievable through common ownership of media properties.” The rules limit local broadcasters’ ability to compete with cable and satellite-TV companies, and broadcasters are disappointed with the high court’s action, Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group, said in an e-mailed statement. The cases are Media General v. FCC, 11-691; Tribune Co. v. FCC, 11-696, and National Association of Broadcasters v. FCC, 11-698.

June 28

AFP, Does the US have a case against Julian Assange? Dan De Luce, June 28, 2012. If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange ever ends up in a US courtroom, prosecutors could face an uphill struggle trying to convict him, given America's legal safeguards for publishers, analysts say. Citing fears of prosecution in the United States, Assange remained holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London on Saturday, defying a British police order to turn himself in for extradition to Sweden. Assange faces sexual assault allegations in Sweden but has refused to set foot there, saying he runs the risk of extradition to the United States, which he insists is intent on charging him with espionage or other serious crimes for releasing troves of once-secret files to the public. Assange's lawyers and supporters say his concerns are justified and not driven by paranoia.

Harper's / No Comment, Our Politicized Judiciary, Scott Horton, June 28, 2012. The Supreme Court has held the news spotlight this week as at no other time in recent memory. The Court’s 5–4 ruling on this year’s cornerstone case, addressing challenges to the constitutionality of Obama’s health-care-reform legislation, proved anticlimactic: it upheld the law, though on somewhat different grounds than most constitutional-law scholars had anticipated before oral argument. Instead of validating the mandate to purchase insurance under the commerce clause, Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion called the mandate a tax. But earlier in the week, in a ruling that may prove equally important, the Court expanded upon its 2010 ruling in Citizens United, striking down Montana’s efforts to impose campaign-finance restrictions on corporate giving. And in another ruling, the Court upheld challenges to an Alabama law that mandated life sentences for certain classes of juvenile offenders, finding that this punishment was “cruel and unusual.” Each of the three rulings contained some remarkably intemperate and partisan language—evidence of an increase in the political temperature within the high court. Lawyers are trained to avoid challenging the impartiality and integrity of courts. The perception of impartiality is essential to the successful functioning of a judicial system, after all. Nevertheless, the claim of impartiality is becoming threadbare. There are 874 federal judgeships in the United States. Many of these judges strive to uphold ethical standards, suppressing their partisan instincts and applying the law as they read it. Others are proudly partisan—and the Supreme Court, led by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, is now home to the most striking examples of partisanship.

Brad DeLong, Did Nino Scalia Firmly Think He Had His "Constitutional Moment", and His Majority? Brad DeLong, June 28, 2012. Sure sounds like he did not search-and-replace his text to correct it when Roberts peeled off. Successfully electing George W. Bush 5-4 was not enough for him. He thought he had repealed the ACA 5-4 as well. Scalia refers to Ginsburg's concurrence--agreeing with the Court that the mandate stands, but for different reasons than the opinion of the Court expresses--not as a concurrence, but as a "dissent."

FireDogLake, Chief Justice Roberts May Have Switched Health Care Vote at Last Minute, David Dayen, June 28, 2012. Was there a late-game shift in the thinking of the Supreme Court on their Affordable Care Act ruling? That’s certainly the implication from this catch by Brad DeLong. Repeatedly in his opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia refers to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring opinion as a “dissent.” An example, which is littered throughout the text: "Our test’s premise of regulated activity is not invented out of whole cloth, but rests upon the Constitution’s requirement that it be commerce which is regulated. If all inactivity affecting commerce is commerce, commerce is everything. Ultimately the dissent is driven to saying that there is really no difference between action and inaction, ante, at 26, a proposition that has never recommended itself, neither to the law nor to common sense…"[emphasis added."  As I said, this happens over and over, nine times in the text. Now maybe this is just typical Scalia dismissiveness, but it’s also completely plausible that Ginsburg’s opinion WAS a dissent at one point, and Scalia’s concurring dissent originally the majority opinion.

Washington Post, Roberts’s health-care decision stuns many but is in line with his outlook, Dan Eggen, June 28, 2012. The umpire took center stage Thursday as the Republican chief justice who upheld President Obama’s health-care law, delighting liberals who have long despised him and enraging conservatives who considered him one of their own. The decision stunned legal observers on both sides and made Roberts the focus of heated invective from conservative activists and some Republican members of Congress, who derided him as a “traitor.” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) talked about the possibility of removing Roberts and other justices from the bench. But many of those familiar with Roberts’s thinking say the calibrated decision is fully in keeping with the outlook of a studious former Catholic schoolboy who made his way to be first in his class at Harvard — conservative in his views but also reverent toward institutions.

Washington Post, Why Roberts did it, Charles Krauthammer, June 28, 2012.Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political….National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’s concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president. Result? The law stands, thus obviating any charge that a partisan court overturned duly passed legislation. And yet at the same time the commerce clause is reined in. By denying that it could justify the imposition of an individual mandate, Roberts draws the line against the inexorable decades-old expansion of congressional power under the commerce clause fig leaf. Law upheld, Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.

Huffington Post, Mitt Romney On Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: We Must 'Replace President Obama,' (VIDEO) Amanda Terkel, June 28, 2012. Speaking on Capitol Hill shortly after the Supreme Court's historic decision, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the fact that health care reform was upheld as constitutional on Thursday makes it more urgent than ever for the American people to vote President Barack Obama out of office in November. "If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have to replace President Obama," Romney said. Romney said he agreed with the four dissenting justices, who ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act should be thrown out.

Barack ObamaHuffington Post, Obama Responds To Supreme Court Health Care Ruling, (VIDEO), Sam Stein, June 28, 2012. President Barack Obama praised the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that his signature health care law was constitutional Thursday, calling the ruling "a victory for people all over this country." "The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law," he said, speaking to cameras in the East Room of the White House. "With today's announcement it is time for us to move forward, to implement and when necessary improve on this law." The ruling is a huge win and a big relief for the administration, which spent 18 months and heavy political capital pushing health care reform through Congress. The president has had other achievements on the domestic and foreign policy fronts, but it's fair to say that the passage of the Affordable Care Act was at the top of his list of accomplishments. That the court upheld the law's constitutionality was almost as momentous as the law's passage in the first place.

SCOTUSblog, The Roberts Court is Born, Adam Winkler, June 28, 2012.  Chief Justice John Roberts was the surprising swing vote in today’s Obamacare decision. Although he agreed with the four conservative justices, including Kennedy, that the individual mandate was not a regulation of interstate commerce, he voted with the Court’s moderates to hold that it was justified as a tax. Because people who don’t obtain insurance pay a tax to the IRS, the mandate was within Congress’s power to raise taxes for the general welfare. As a result, the Affordable Care Act was upheld. With this deft ruling, Roberts avoided what was certain to be a cascade of criticism of the high court. No Supreme Court has struck down a president’s signature piece of legislation in over 75 years. Had Obamacare been voided, it would have inevitably led to charges of aggressive judicial activism.  Roberts peered over the abyss and decided he didn’t want to go there.

Harpers No Comment, Our Politicized Judiciary, Scott Horton, June 28, 2012. The Supreme Court has held the news spotlight this week as at no other time in recent memory. The Court’s ruling (6–3 on the legality of the mandate, 5–4 on other aspects) on this year’s cornerstone case, addressing challenges to the constitutionality of Obama’s health-care-reform legislation, proved anticlimactic: it upheld the law, though on somewhat different grounds than most constitutional-law scholars had anticipated before oral argument. Instead of validating the mandate to purchase insurance under the commerce clause, Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion called the mandate a tax. But earlier in the week, in a ruling that may prove equally important, the Court expanded upon its 2010 ruling in Citizens United, striking down Montana’s efforts to impose campaign-finance restrictions on corporate giving. And in another ruling, the Court upheld challenges to an Alabama law that mandated life sentences for certain classes of juvenile offenders, finding that this punishment was “cruel and unusual.” Each of the three rulings contained some remarkably intemperate and partisan language—evidence of an increase in the political temperature within the high court.  The Supreme Court reminds us this week that it is one of the three co-equal branches of government and that it has the power to make policy and law as forcefully as the others, but also that it will sometimes defer to the political branches, even when they enact legislation it obviously does not like. Yet it reminds us, too, that it is every bit as partisan as the other two branches. As the only branch now in the hands of the G.O.P., the Roberts Court has used its power to give its party an advantage on the electoral battleground, thanks to the Citizens United and Montana rulings, which together ensure Mitt Romney an enormous funding advantage in the coming battle. That’s hardly the way the Founders conceived the federal judiciary, but it is what the system they created permits.

USA Today, Supreme Court upholds Obama health care law, David Jackson, June 28, 2012. The Supreme Court upheld President Obama's health care law today in a splintered, complex opinion that gives Obama a major election-year victory. Basically, the justices said that the individual mandate -- the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine -- is constitutional as a tax. Chief Justice John Roberts -- a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush -- provided a key vote to preserve the landmark health care law, which figures to be a major issue in Obama's re-election bid against Republican opponent Mitt Romney. Obama is expected to comment on the decision within the next two hours.

Huffington Post, Health Care Dissent: Here's What The Conservative Wing Wanted To Happen, Ryan Grim, June 28, 2012. Mitt Romney, reacting to the Supreme Court's health care ruling Thursday, said, "I agree with the dissent." The dissent tosses out the entire health care law, dismissing the case for it as "feeble" and a "vast judicial overreach." It argues that "against a mountain of evidence," its backers offer only the "flimsiest of indications to the contrary."  Four of the five Republican appointees on the Court agreed with this interpretation, and it would have carried the day if Chief Justice John Roberts had joined them. Had he done so, the "entire statute" -- meaning the entire law, from beginning to end -- would have been invalidated, including provisions that had already gone into effect. Strangely, the dissenting justices argue that even constitutional provisions must be ruled unconstitutional because "the Act’s other provisions would not have been enacted without" it central elements, the mandate and the Medicaid provision.

Huffington Post, 'The Broccoli Horrible': Ginsburg Shreds Roberts, Geoffrey R. Stone, June 28, 2012. In its decision today upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court, by a five-to-four vote, held that the individual mandate provision (requiring uninsured individuals who can afford to buy health insurance to do so) was justified by the Congress' power to tax, but not by its power to regulate interstate commerce. Only one justice thought the Act was constitutional under the taxing power but not the commerce power -- Chief Justice Roberts. The other eight justices thought the Act was either constitutional (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan) or unconstitutional (Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito) under both provisions....Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan were right about the constitutionality of the Act under the Commerce Clause (even though they lost five-to-four on that issue).

CNN, What the Supreme Court's decision means for you, Josh Levs, June 28, 2012. CNN's analysis of decision highlights.

Guardian (United Kingdom), Rupert Murdoch snubs Britain and says he will invest his billions in the US, Dominic Rushe, June 29 2012.  Rupert Murdoch appears to have turned his back on Britain following his humiliation over the phone-hacking scandal. In an interview with the Fox Business channel on Thursday following New Corporation's confirmation that it was splitting into two companies, entertainment and publishing, Murdoch said he would be "a lot more reluctant" to invest in Britain now, compared to the US.  The News Corp chairman and chief executive also told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto it was "highly unlikely" that his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, would run the new newspaper, book publishing and education company. Once Britain's most powerful media figure, Murdoch has seen his bid for broadcaster BSkyB blocked and his reputation dragged through the mud following the phone-hacking revelations. Last month a parliamentary committee said he was not a fit and proper person to run a major corporation. Now he looks set to retaliate by taking his money elsewhere.

WLEA / Canisto Valley News (Hornell, New York), Massa Supporters Trying To Clear Former Congressman's Name, Staff Report, June 28, 2012. Sources Accuse Racalto Of Framing Massa In 2010, June 28, 2012. Some people are eager to clear former Congressman Eric Massa’s name. Massa resigned in disgrace in 2010 amid allegations of sexual harassment by his chief of staff, Hornell native Joe Racalto. But numerous sources maintain that Racalto framed Massa, and created a paper trail of lies to make Massa look like a sexual predator, and then instigated a house-investigation about Massa and leaking news of this investigation to the media at the same time. Massa’s account can be found in House legal documents in which attorneys describe Racalto as lying, possessive, jealous and controlling of Massa. So far, Congress has not made the House’s final conclusions in the Racalto sexual harassment claim public. Massa and Racalto are awaiting a trial case in Rochester in which Massa claims Racalto improperly got himself a check for $40,000 for alleged campaign work. Massa is seeking to recover that money.

June 27

Republic Report, NY Attorney General Probing U.S. Chamber of Commerce For Allegedly Laundering AIG Money For Lobbying, Political Commercials, Mehrad Yazdi June 27,2012.  New York state will investigate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for unfair corporate influence in elections. Yesterday, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena targeting a foundation affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for illegally funneling $18 million to the Chamber for its political campaigning and lobbying efforts.
The New York Times reports: The investigation is also looking at connections between the chamber’s foundation, the National Chamber Foundation, and another philanthropy, the Starr Foundation, which made large grants to the chamber foundation in 2003 and 2004. During the same period, the National Chamber Foundation lent the chamber $18 million, most of it for what was described as a capital campaign. Watchdog groups claim that the grants given to the National Chamber Foundation from the Starr Foundation had subsequently been loaned to the Chamber of Commerce to be used to finance lobbying in Congress and run issue advertising in the 2004 presidential and Congressional elections. Schneiderman’s investigation is significant because it targets the use of tax-exempt groups that funnel money into politics while hiding donors: The biggest such groups, including Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which was founded by Karl Rove and other Republican strategists, are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars this year on issue advertisements against candidates to sway the outcome of the presidential and Congressional elections. By targeting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Schneiderman is striking at one of the largest political players in the country. In 2011 alone, the Chamber spent $66 million on lobbying and has promised to spend at least $50 million on issue ads on the upcoming elections.

Washington Post, Agent who started ‘Fast and Furious’ defends gunrunning operation, Sari Horwitz, June 27, 2012. The “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation has been widely condemned by Republicans, Democrats and even top officials at the Justice Department as a failed sting. The case has led to the ouster of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix, President Obama’s first use of executive privilege and a probable vote of contempt Thursday against the attorney general. But in the eyes of the man who started and oversaw Fast and ­Furious, the operation remains an example of smart law enforcement — an approach that has simply been misunderstood. “It was the only way to dismantle an entire firearms-trafficking ring and stop the thousands of guns flowing to Mexico,” said William D. Newell, a veteran federal agent who spent five years as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix.

Washington Post, Justice Scalia’s partisan discredit to the court, Editorial Board, June 27, 2012.  In dissenting from a court ruling that struck down all but one part of Arizona’s law on illegal immigrants, Justice Scalia strayed far from the case at hand to deliver animadversions on President Obama’s recent executive order barring the deportation of people who entered the country illegally as children. Based on nothing more than news reports, Justice Scalia opined that this policy would divert federal resources from immigration enforcement, thus creating “the specter” of a “Federal Government that does not want to enforce the immigration laws as written, and leaves the States’ borders unprotected against immigrants whom those laws would exclude.”

Las Vegas Sun, Judge refuses to block Florida voter purge, Associated Press, June 27, 2012. A federal judge has refused to stop Florida from removing potentially non-U.S. citizens from its voter rolls. The U.S. Department of Justice sued the state to halt the purge, arguing it was going on too close to a federal election. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said Wednesday that there was nothing in federal voting laws that prevent the state from identifying non-U.S. citizens even if it comes less than 90 days before the Aug. 14 election. Hinkle ruled that federal laws are designed to block states from removing eligible voters close to an election. He said they are not designed to stop states from blocking voters who should have never been allowed to cast ballots in the first place. Gov. Rick Scott praised Hinkle's decision, saying "irreparable harm will result if non-citizens are allowed to vote."

Washington Post, Justice Scalia must resign, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 27, 2012. Antonin Scalia needs to resign from the Supreme Court. He’d have a lot of things to do. He’s a fine public speaker and teacher. He’d be a heck of a columnist and blogger. But he really seems to aspire to being a politician — and that’s the problem. So often, Scalia has chosen to ignore the obligation of a Supreme Court justice to be, and appear to be, impartial. He’s turned “judicial restraint” into an oxymoronic phrase. But what he did this week, when the court announced its decision on the Arizona immigration law, should be the end of the line. Not content with issuing a fiery written dissent, Scalia offered a bench statement questioning President Obama’s decision to allow some immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay.  But if the 76-year-old justice wants to dispute this, he is perfectly free as a citizen to join the political fray and take on the president. But he cannot be a blatantly political actor and a justice at the same time.

Salon, CNN journalist: Don’t be nosy. A self-mocking column has real value: it expresses the predominant attitude of America's media class toward secrecy
Glenn Greenwald, June 27, 2012.
LZ Granderson is a regular CNN columnist and contributor, and has written a column this week that — no joke — urges Americans to stop being so “nosy” about all the bad things the U.S. Government does. You just have to read it to believe it: "We are a nosy country...." etc., etc. This was written by a journalist and published by a media outlet. And this is plainly not satire. What prompted his paean to the virtues of minding our own business was the Congressional investigation into the DOJ’s Fast and Furious gun-running program into Mexico — one that resulted in the deaths of numerous people, including a U.S. agent — but he finds many other examples where we should just stay out of the Government’s way. I trust not much needs to be said about this. It mocks itself. The authoritarianism on display is just cringe-inducing. I suppose the only thing surprising about it is that someone who works in journalism, and a media corporation that claims to do journalism, would publish something that admits to thinking this way. The reason I note this is not the entertainment value of marveling at something so inane (at least not primarily). It’s because this is a very common mindset in the journalist class, among media personalities with much more influential platforms than Granderson’s. Recall that The Washington Post‘s Richard Cohen condemned the investigation into the Plame leak on the ground that “as with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off.” The heralded tough-guy journalist Tim Russert said that all of his conversations with government officials are presumptively off the record, and he feels free to report them only if they give him explicit permission (“when I talk to senior government officials on the phone, it’s my own policy our conversations are confidential. If I want to use anything from that conversation, then I will ask permission“). Worse, you can count on one hand the number of establishment American journalists who have vocally denounced Obama’s war on whistleblowers.

Los Angeles Times, Did Justice Antonin Scalia go too far this time? David G. Savage, June 27, 2012. Some say the tone of Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent targeting President Obama and illegal immigrants was too strident and partisan, even for the high court's longtime conservative firebrand. Some say it was highly unusual, and perhaps out of line, for Justice Antonin Scalia, pictured in October, to use his dissent on Arizona’s immigration law to attack President Obama’s reprieve for young illegal immigrants. Justice Antonin Scalia has never been shy about saying what he thinks and never reluctant to criticize those he disagrees with. His targets Monday included illegal immigrants and President Obama. Dispensing with what he called the "dry legalities" of the Arizona immigration case, he spoke of its citizens being "under siege" and states feeling "helpless before those evil effects of illegal immigration."

Washington Post, For SCOTUSblog, one goal: ‘Beat everybody’ and break news of health-care ruling, Sarah Kliff, June 27, 2012.  Lyle Denniston is an 81-year-old retiree with six grandchildren, two sailboats and one ambitious goal: breaking the news of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the health-care law, possibly to the president himself. Denniston is a reporter for SCOTUSblog, a small Web site dedicated to covering the Supreme Court. He regularly live-blogs the release of Supreme Court opinions for a following of about 1,500 lawyers, maybe 3,000 on a good day.

June 26

TEDxTalks/You Tube, Wrongful convictions: Rob Warden at TEDxMidwest, June 26, 2012 (video). Rob Warden examines the phenomena of false confessions and how they can be attributed to half of all murder cases. His plan to eradicate them from the legal system has the potential to revolutionize the justice system as we know it. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Wall Street Journal, IRS Probes Political Group Tied to Rove, Brody Mullins and Jacob Gershman, June 26, 2021. The Internal Revenue Service is taking initial steps to examine whether Crossroads GPS, a pro-Republican group affiliated with Karl Rove, and similar political entities are violating their tax-exempt status by spending too much on partisan activities. The review, which could last for years and is unlikely to be concluded before the November election, could ultimately force many of the political groups to disclose the names of their donors for the first time. At issue is whether political entities set up as 501(c)4 organizations are violating their tax-exempt status by spending too much on partisan politics rather than promoting a benefit.

Wall Street Journal, IRS Probes Political Group Tied to Rove, Brody Mullins and Jacob Gershman, June 26, 2021. The Internal Revenue Service is taking initial steps to examine whether Crossroads GPS, a pro-Republican group affiliated with Karl Rove, and similar political entities are violating their tax-exempt status by spending too much on partisan activities. The review, which could last for years and is unlikely to be concluded before the November election, could ultimately force many of the political groups to disclose the names of their donors for the first time. At issue is whether political entities set up as 501(c)4 organizations are violating their tax-exempt status by spending too much on partisan politics rather than promoting a benefit.

Washington Post, Robed Politicans, Harold Meyerson, June 26, 2012. On the eve of the Supreme Court’s much anticipated ruling on Obamacare, here is a simple test for detecting the politics behind a decision: When reading the rulings, look for the double standards and answers to questions not posed by the cases themselves. By those measures, the Supreme Court’s record in the past week fairly reeks of the justices’ politics. Exhibit A is Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000....
Alito’s ruling struck at the heart of American unionism....The club champion for double standards, however, is not Alito but Antonin Scalia. Dissenting from this week’s decision striking down major provisions in Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, he argued that Arizona has the sovereign rights of a nation in protecting its borders — a right he gleans through such a bizarre reading of the Constitution that not one of his fellow conservatives signed on to his dissent. Yet the same day, Scalia signed on to a Gang of Five decision declining to hear Montana’s case that its century-old law banning corporate contributions to political campaigns should take precedence over Citizens United. In the world according to Nino, Arizona has the rights of a nation-state, but Montana must submit to the Gang of Five. You’re sovereign when Scalia agrees with you; you’re nothing when he doesn’t.

Washington Post, Cruel and Usual, George F. Will, June 26, 2012. The Eighth Amendment, ratified in 1791, forbids “cruel and unusual punishments.” Originalism holds that the Constitution’s language should be construed to mean what the words meant at the time to those who wrote and ratified the Constitution. On Monday, a Supreme Court ruling about punishment vexed the four justices (John G. Roberts Jr., Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.) most sympathetic to originalism, who dissented. The majority held that sentencing laws that mandate life imprisonment without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders violate the Eighth Amendment.

FireDogLake, Chaos Lurks in Potential SCOTUS Rulings on Obamacare, David Dayen, June 26, 2012. I do want, at some point, to get into what the world will look like after the Supreme Court ruling on health care, and the implications for where progressives go – and where the political class will be willing to be taken – in the aftermath. But I do want to highlight just what a mess this could turn out to be if the Court tries for the maximal decision, and invalidates the entire Affordable Care Act because of the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Because of the lack of a standard severability clause in the law, and the desire on the part of at least some of the conservative faction to bury the law entirely, including good elements like the Medicaid expansion and funding for community health centers, this is entirely possible. And it would provoke utter chaos.  The thing is, some standard health-related policies were reauthorized or changed inside the Affordable Care Act. So if it all goes down, Congress would have to scramble quickly.

The Hill, AG Holder decries 'political' vote, vows to go back to work, Justin Sink, June 28, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder blasted the House's vote to hold him in contempt and vowed to stay focused on his work at the Department of Justice. Speaking at a press conference Thursday shortly after the vote concluded, Holder said Republicans and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, held a "politically-motivated" vote.  "Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided – and politically motivated – investigation during an election year. By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety," he said. The Republican-controlled House voted 255-67 to hold the attorney general in contempt, the first time in American history that the head of the Justice Department has faced such a sanction. Seventeen Democrats joined the GOP in voting for the resolution.

June 25

Huffington Post, Supreme Court Reversed Anti-Citizens United Ruling From Montana, Mike Sacks, June 25, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Montana's century-old limits on corporate political spending, putting an end to the state's resistance to Citizens United and effectively expanding that controversial ruling to the state and local elections. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, decided in January 2010, struck down federal limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions as violations of the First Amendment. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, reached the bold conclusion that "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," and therefore "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations." In December 2011, the Montana Supreme Court disagreed. It found that the state's Gilded Age history of business-driven corruption was sufficient to justify the state's Corrupt Practices Act. Passed by voter referendum in 1912, the law decrees that a "corporation may not make ... an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political party that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party."

Washington Post, How Republicans made it possible for the Supreme Court to rule against the mandate, Ezra Klein, June 25, 2012.  Over the past two years, the Republican Party has slowly been building a permission structure for the five Republicans on the Supreme Court to feel comfortable doing something nobody thought they could do: Violate the existing understanding of the Commerce Clause and, in perhaps the most significant moment of judicial activism since the New Deal, overturn either all or part of the Affordable Care Act. The first step was, perhaps, the hardest: The Republican Party had to take an official and unanimous stand against the wisdom and constitutionality of the individual mandate. Typically, it’s not that difficult for the opposition party to oppose the least popular element in the majority party’s largest initiative. But the individual mandate was a policy idea Republicans had thought of in the late-1980s and supported for two decades. They had, in effect, to convince every Republican to say that the policy they had been supporting was an unconstitutional assault on liberty. But they succeeded.

Huffington Post, Arizona Immigration Law Ruling: Supreme Court Delivered Split Ruling, Mike Sacks, June 25, 2012. The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a split decision in the Obama administration's challenge to Arizona's aggressive immigration law, striking multiple provisions but upholding the "papers please" provision. Civil rights groups argue the latter measure, a centerpiece of S.B. 1070, invites racial profiling. Monday's decision on "papers please" rested on the more technical issue of whether the law unconstitutionally invaded the federal government's exclusive prerogative to set immigration policy. The justices found that it was not clear whether Arizona was supplanting or supporting federal policy by requiring state law enforcement to demand immigration papers from anyone stopped, detained or arrested in the state who officers reasonably suspect is in the country without authorization. The provision that was upheld -- at least for now -- also commands police to check all arrestees' immigration status with the federal government before they are released. The court gave the Obama administration a victory by striking three other challenged provisions as stepping on federal prerogatives. Two of them made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be present and to seek employment in Arizona, while a third authorized police officers to make warrantless arrests of anyone they had probable cause to believe had committed a deportable offense.

Kuntrell JacksonBritish Broadcasting Corp., US Supreme Court bans life-without-parole for youths, June 25, 2012. The court threw out a life sentence that was handed to Kuntrell Jackson, left. Mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders violate the US constitution, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court on Monday threw out the life sentences of two men convicted as boys of murders in Arkansas and Alabama. In both cases, state law mandated judges to impose life without parole. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled mandatory life sentences for juvenile convicts violated the constitution's bar on "cruel and unusual punishment". "By making youth (and all that accompanies it) irrelevant to imposition of that harshest prison sentence, such a scheme poses too great a risk of disproportionate punishment," Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court. Justice Kagan was joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, who are considered the court's liberal wing, along with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is typically seen as a swing vote. In 1999, Kuntrell Jackson, then 14, and other boys were trying to rob a video store in the state of Arkansas when another boy shot and killed a clerk. Evan Miller was 14 in 2003 when he and another boy in Alabama beat a man with a baseball bat and set his trailer on fire, killing him. He was convicted of murder in the course of arson and received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.British Broadcasting Corp., US Supreme Court bans life-without-parole for youths, June 25, 2012. The court threw out a life sentence that was handed to Kuntrell Jackson.

Salon, Collapsing U.S. credibility, Glenn Greenwald, June 25, 2012. Condemning foreign governments for abusive acts while ignoring one's own is easy. But the U.S. leads the way. Two Op-Eds in The New York Times this morning both warn of the precipitous decline of American credibility on matters of human rights and peace ushered in by the Obama presidency. Taken together, they explain much of why I’ve been writing what I’ve been writing over the last three years. The first is from Columbia Professor and cyber expert Misha Glenny, who explains the significance of the first ever deployment of cyberwarfare — by the U.S. (first under Bush and accelerated under Obama), along with Israel, against Iran: "The decision by the United States and Israel to develop and then deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against an Iranian nuclear facility late in George W. Bush’s presidency marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet. Washington has begun to cross the Rubicon. If it continues, contemporary warfare will change fundamentally as we move into hazardous and uncharted territory." The second is from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an actually meritorious Nobel Peace Prize winner, who describes the record of his fellow Nobel laureate, the current President, in an Op-Ed entitled “A Cruel and Unusual Record.“ Carter writes: "Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues. . . . . It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the [Declaration on Human Rights'] 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

June 24

Jimmy CarterNew York Times, A Cruel and Unusual Record, Jimmy Carter, left, June 24, 2012. The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights. Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

Washington Post, For Obama, a tough year at the high court, Robert Barnes, June 24, 2012. The Supreme Court this week will conclude its term by handing down much-anticipated rulings on health care and immigration, President Obama’s remaining priorities before the justices. It is a finale that cannot come quickly enough for the administration, which has had a long year at the high court. In a string of cases — as obscure as the federal government’s relationships with Indian tribes and as significant as enforcement of the Clean Water Act — the court rejected the administration’s legal arguments with lopsided votes and sometimes biting commentary.

Washington Post, High-Level Talks, then Changes to Holdings, Kimberly Kindy, Scott Higham, Davis S. Fallis and Dan Keating, June 23, 2012. Legislators traded million in stocks they could impact. In January 2008, President George W. Bush was scrambling to bolster the American economy. The subprime mortgage industry was collapsing, and the Dow Jones industrial average had lost more than 2,000 points in less than three months.  House Minority Leader John A. Boehner became the Bush administration’s point person on Capitol Hill to negotiate a $150 billion stimulus package.  Boehner is one of 34 members of Congress who took steps to recast their financial portfolios during the financial crisis. The period covered by The Post analysis was a grim one for the U.S. economy, and many people rushed to reconfigure their investment portfolios. The financial moves by the members of Congress are permitted under congressional ethics rules, but some ethics experts said they should refrain from taking actions in their financial portfolios when they might know more than the public.  “They shouldn’t be making these trades when they know what they are going to do,” said Richard W. Painter, who was chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “And what they are going to do is then going to influence the market. If this was going on in the private sector or it was going on in the executive branch, I think the SEC would be investigating.”

OpEd News, Unanswered Question Remains about Sandusky Case, Michael Collins, June 24, 2012. Sandusky behaved as if he were immune from punishment for his swaggering displays of deviance. Why else would he tempt the fates with the shower rapes unless he knew that fate wasn’t involved; unless he knew that he had enough power to defy the most powerful people at the university, including Coach Joe Paterno?

FireDoglake / Dissenter, Targeted Killings: Obama’s Pragmatic Solution to Failing to Close Guantanamo,  Kevin Gosztola, June 24, 2012.  When President Barack Obama was elected president, he and his administration planned to overhaul Bush detention policies and repair America’s image in the world. This specifically included ending torture, ensuring terror suspects were given due process and no longer indefinitely detained, and closing the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. However, the politics of pushing for reforms to counterterrorism policies, which would ensure America was abiding by the rule of law, were detestable to Republicans. The Obama administration had no political will to create a counter-narrative to fear mongering by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The options for closing Guantanamo became limited and people the administration knew to be innocent remained imprisoned at Guantanamo.  Daniel Klaidman’s book, Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency, tells this story. While sections of the book that reveal how the Obama administration uses drones for targeted killings have received focus in the media, the thread, which runs throughout the book, is the Obama administration’s failure to close Guantanamo. It is this thread that makes the book the most compelling because the failure ultimately leads to Obama’s pragmatic solution to expand the use of a “kill list” to execute terror suspects abroad.

Roll Call, Street Talk: Lobby Shop Ogilvy Now Faces Uncertain Future, Kate Ackley, June 24, 2012. The old Federalist Group had a certain MOD squad charm about it. The all-Republican lobby shop’s clients included gun, liquor and tobacco interests. And its partners, some with a folksy Southern drawl and all with impeccable connections, might just as easily talk huntin’ as leadership races on Capitol Hill.

Robert Keith Gray

New York Post, Air apparent:The unfair advantage of the president’s plane, Robert Keith Gray, June 24, 2012. The seated president has such a huge advantage over his opponents that it almost seems like an exercise in futility to hold the election. With the trappings of office, the taxpayer has unwittingly provided the incumbent with a virtual lock on term two. And no advantage is greater than that of Air Force One. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s airplane, the Columbine, cost a little more than $3 million. Today’s Air Force One and its twin for backup purposes — known as “the Wannabe” — cost the taxpayers $640 million. With 26 crew members and five full-time chefs, Air Force One and “Wannabe” are the most luxurious airplanes in the world. No reasonable citizen would suggest a president campaigning for re-election should be denied the comforts and perks of Air Force One, particularly because of the security it provides. But stricter rules about what constitutes a political trip — and a better way to assess costs — would help level the playing field of an incumbent against a challenger. It only seems fair — especially when the president boasts of a billion-dollar campaign war chest. Robert Keith Gray has served in multiple administrations, starting as a secretary of the cabinet for Eisenhower. He is the author of “Presidential Perks Gone Royal.”

Pixiq (The Photo World in Focus), Austin Man Facing 10 Years in Prison After Photographing Cops Making Arrest, Carlos Miller, June 24, 2012 (Video). It was just after midnight on New Year’s Day when Antonio Buehler spotted a pair of Austin cops manhandling a woman at a gas station during a DUI investigation. So, he pulled out his cell phone and began taking photos. That, of course, prompted one of the cops to storm up to him and accuse him of interfering with the investigation. Austin police officer Pat Oborski shoved Buehler against his truck before handcuffing him. He later claimed in his arrest report that Buehler had spit in his face. Buehler was charged with resisting arrest and felony harassment on a public servant, the latter punishable by up to 10 years in prison. After spending 16 hours in jail, Buehler began seeking witnesses to the incident.

June 23

Washington Post, Legislators traded million in stocks they could impact, Dan Keating, Davis S. Fallis, Kimberly Kindy, and Scott Higham, June 23, 2012. One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, a Washington Post analysis has found.  The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010.  Almost one in every eight trades — 5,531 — intersected with legislation. The 130 lawmakers traded stocks or bonds in companies as bills passed through their committees or while Congress was still considering the legislation. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, 68 to 62.

Washington Post, Obama’s legal tactics seen as possibly hurting chances to save health-care law, Peter Wallsten, June 23, 2012. Some prominent legal scholars say a series of tactical decisions by President Obama’s legal team may have hurt the chances of saving his landmark health-care legislation from being gutted by Supreme Court conservatives. The warnings are a preview of the finger-pointing certain to ensue if the law is overturned. That could come sometime this week, when the justices are expected to decide on the constitutionality of the health-care law and its centerpiece provision mandating that all Americans purchase insurance or pay a penalty.  Obama, a former constitutional law instructor, and White House lawyers helped shape a legal strategy essentially portraying health care as a unique marketplace that Congress, under the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, could regulate by imposing the requirement that consumers buy insurance before receiving treatment or pay a penalty.

Washington Post, The fate of health care shouldn’t come down to 9 justices, Jonathan Turley, June 23, 2012. It could all be in the hands of just one justice. After a 14-month fight in Congress and an unprecedented challenge by states to the power of the federal government, the fate of health care in this country is likely to be decided by a 5-4 vote. The same may be true when the court rules on Arizona’s immigration law and a sweeping free speech case. The power of the Supreme Court will always be controversial because of the fact that the justices are the final word in legal disputes. A national poll this month showed that the public overwhelmingly opposes how the court functions. Only 44 percent of citizens approved of how the court is doing its job, and 60 percent thought that appointing Supreme Court justices for life is a “bad thing” because it “gives them too much power.”  Many people started looking critically at the court’s structure after the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 — and the power that case gave to just five unelected individuals. One of the most disturbing aspects of the case was not simply that some justices appeared to depart from prior legal views but that the court insisted that its opinion could not be used as precedent and was “limited to the present circumstances.” Five justices did not want their reasoning used for anything other than selecting the next president of the United States.

June 22

Harper’s No Comment, The Art of Intelligence: Six Questions for Henry Crumpton, Scott Horton, June 22, 2012.  Henry Crumpton spent twenty-four years in the CIA’s clandestine service. His work put him at the forefront of the agency’s counterterrorism efforts, and on the front lines as America took on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan following 9/11. His recently published recollections offer an exceptionally deep glimpse into the CIA’s counterterrorism operations in the last decade of the twentieth century. I put six questions to Crumpton about his bestselling book, The Art of Intelligence.

June 21

Washington Post, The high cost of Justice’s bad decisions, Abbe D. Lowell, June 21, 2012. Some might say the system ultimately worked because the Edwards and Clemens juries fixed the problem. But before the juries spoke, the government had wasted enormous resources that could have been directed toward serious crimes — not to mention the time, money and emotion spent by defendants and their families. Even if the government had obtained convictions of Edwards and Clemens, would an objective review have concluded that exposing an admitted adulterer and an alleged cheater to federal prison had been worth the effort or was a good use of taxpayer dollars?

Salon, Assange asks Ecuador for asylum; The WikiLeaks founder is motivated by one thing: a desire to avoid extradition to the U.S. Can anyone blame him? Glenn Greenwald, June 19, 2012. Julian Assange was scheduled within days to turn himself over to British authorities for extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case in which he has never been charged. Instead, Assange earlier today went to the Embassy of Ecuador in London and sought asylum from that country under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Washington Post, White House, GOP dig in for battle over Holder probe, David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe, June 21, 2012. A day after a congressional committee recommended that the House hold the nation’s attorney general in contempt in connection with an investigation of a botched federal gun-running operation, the White House and its Republican rivals sought to position themselves as the principled parties in a high-stakes game of election-year brinkmanship. The White House suggested Thursday that it would abandon negotiations over the release of documents related to the operation until GOP lawmakers stop trying to embarrass President Obama. And Republican leaders insisted that they are prepared to move forward with a contempt vote in the House next week in an effort to get to “the truth for the American people,” said Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio).

OpEd News, Election Fraud in Egypt, Michael Collins, June 21, 2012. The Egyptian presidential election was rigged to produce a winner that the military could manipulate.  After removing the two leaders from the ballot, the military engineered an election that had only 15% turnout and no legitimacy.  It is an example of pure election fraud. One goal of Egypt's 2010 union inspired Tahrir Square protests was fulfilled during the December, 2011 parliamentary elections. Nearly 65% of the nation's fifty million eligible voters turned out to vote. Turnout for the June 16 and 17, 2012 presidential election dropped to an estimated 15%* according to local and press observers. What happened?  Three factors contributed to the exponential decline in voting. Egypt's courts took leading candidates off of the final presidential ballot. The disappeared candidates had the support of 68% of the electorate according to a major preelection poll in early May. Egyptian courts also disqualified one third of the recently elected parliament. Just a day before the election, military commander Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced that the constitution had been annexed. This was a nice way of saying that the military was assuming most of the powers of the presidency, leaving the newly elected chief executive with little to do. The entire foundation of the election vanished in plain sight. There was no point in voting. The preelection actions by the courts and military represented the most fundamental form of election fraud by making the elections meaningless.

Houston Chronicle / Chron.com, Air Force base commander removed amid sex scandal, Sig Christenson, June 21, 2012. The Air Force on Wednesday relieved the commander of a basic training squadron in which three instructors have been accused of illicit sexual contact with recruits.  Lt. Col. Mike Paquette lost his position as commander of the 331st Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. An Air Force lawyer said the decision by Col. Eric Axelbank, commander of the 37th Training Wing, wasn't driven by disciplinary violations or misconduct allegations. "Col. Axelbank, based upon a whole bunch of factors, has lost confidence in (Paquette's) ability to lead that squadron, and he has removed him," said Col. Polly Kenny, staff judge advocate for the 2nd Air Force. The dismissal of Paquette, who did not respond to requests for comment, is the latest development in a growing sex scandal involving instructors on the base. Four instructors  have been accused of improper sexual contact with recruits in basic and technical training. One of the four, Staff Sgt. Luis A. Walker, accused of having sexual contact with 10 women and raping one of them, could face life in prison.  A former staff sergeant, Peter Vega-Maldonado, admitted that he had sexual contact with 10 women.

Huffington Post, Bob Bauer, Obama Campaign's Top Lawyer, Demands Retraction From Karl Rove, Sam Stein June 21, 2012. The Obama campaign's top lawyer fired off a letter to Karl Rove Thursday, demanding a retraction of a "mystifying" comment Rove made and raising questions about his upcoming appearance at a Mitt Romney campaign event. The letter is the second that Bob Bauer has sent to Rove this week. The first argued that Rove could no longer insist that his advocacy group, Crossroads GPS, was policy oriented -- a distinction that allowed it to shield the names of its donors. The follow-up letter, obtained by The Huffington Post, makes that same point, arguing that there is no "social welfare" component to the group's operations. But it also challenges Rove in more direct terms. Bauer hints that Rove, the chief strategist to former President George W. Bush, is colluding with Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, by homing in on Rove's presence at a Romney retreat in Utah this upcoming weekend. He also expands the scope of his complaint to Rove's role with American Crossroads, the super PAC arm of Crossroads GPS.

Huffington Post, Nancy Pelosi Says Contempt Vote Against Eric Holder Is Really About Voter Suppression, Jennifer Bendery, June 21, 2012. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a bold accusation on Thursday about what is driving Republicans to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress: a desire to suppress Democratic voters in November. "It is no accident, it is no coincidence, that the attorney general of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country," Pelosi said at her weekly briefing. "These very same people [who] are holding the contempt [vote] are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote. They're closely allied with those who are suffocating the system: unlimited special interest secret money." The Democratic leader said it is "really important" to note the connection between the GOP push for a contempt vote and voter suppression efforts, particularly since, she said, the whole point is to distract from the fact that congressional Republicans aren't focused on substantive issues. She noted that the House is lining up a vote next week to hold the attorney general in contempt at a time when there are only nine days left to pass a bill to keep transportation projects funded and a bill to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling.

CNN, New Louisiana law: Sex offenders must list status on Facebook, other social media, Michael Martinez, June 21, 2012. A new Louisiana law requires sex offenders and child predators to state their criminal status on their Facebook or other social networking page, with the law's author saying the bill is the first of its kind in the nation. State Rep. Jeff Thompson, a Republican from Bossier City, Louisiana, says his new law, effective August 1, will stand up to constitutional challenge because it expands sex offender registration requirements, common in many states, to include a disclosure on the convicted criminal's social networking sites as well. The new law, signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal earlier this month, builds upon existing sex offender registration laws, in which the offender must notify immediate neighbors and a school district of his or her residency near them, Thompson said. The law states that sex offenders and child predators "shall include in his profile for the networking website an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics... and his residential address."

Weekly Standard, Retiring Dem: 'The People Have Gotten Dumber,' Daniel Halpers, June 21, 2012. Retiring congressman Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York, reflects on his time in Congress. "Congressman Ackerman, you’ve been here 30 years. Can you define comity as it existed when you arrived versus how it exists now?," Bloomberg Businessweek asks. Ackerman responds: " Your premise is that comity exists now. It may not be entirely accurate. It used to be you had real friends on the other side of the aisle. It’s not like that anymore. Society has changed. The public is to blame as well. I think the people have gotten dumber. I don’t know that I would’ve said that out loud pre-my announcement that I was going to be leaving. [Laughter] But I think that’s true. I mean everything has changed. The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game."

June 20

AlterNet, Outrageous: Security Agency Won't Release Number of Americans It Spied On Because it Would "Violate Their Privacy, Alyssa Figueroa, June 20, 2012. Last month, Democratic Senators Ron Wydon and Mark Udall asked the National Security Agency how many U.S. residents were spied on under Bush’s 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allowed for warrantless eavesdropping. But on Monday, the agency told the Senators that they couldn't know how many Americans it spied on because that kind of oversight would violate people’s privacy. Wired.com acquired Charles McCullough’s response to the two senators, who are members of the Senate’s Intelligence Oversight Committee. McCullough, Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, wrote that the NSA “agreed that an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.” Wyden said that he and Udall simply wanted a “ballpark estimate” of the number.  But McCullough wrote that the agency was incapable of providing such a number, and an attempt to calculate the number would hamper intelligence missions.

Dan Froomkin, Karl Rove: Too Clever For His Own Good With Crossroads GPS Secrecy? Huffington Post, June 20, 2012. Measures that secretive political groups keep coming up with to avoid disclosing donors may eventually backfire, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Wednesday. "These organizations are doing all sorts of gymnastics to try to prevent voters from knowing the sources of their funding," Van Hollen said at a conference on "Shadow Money" hosted by the Center for Responsive Politics. "I think they're already becoming too clever for their own good."

Washington Post, Committee calls for contempt vote on Holder, Sari Horwitz, Peter Wallsten and Ed O’Keefe, June 20, 2012. A congressional committee voted Wednesday to recommend that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. be held in contempt after the Obama administration, citing executive privilege for the first time, refused to turn over documents pertaining to a botched gun-trafficking operation. The party-line vote at a marathon session of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee intensified a feud between the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers and dealt an embarrassing blow to the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official. In a statement, Holder called the vote “an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch.”

Washington Post, Republicans’ attempt to hold Holder in contempt is uphill battle, Dana Milbank, June 20, 2012. There is something charmingly futile about House Republicans’ move to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Even if the full House follows the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s vote Wednesday to hold him in contempt, the decision about whether to prosecute him will be left to a Justice Department run by . . . Eric Holder. In deciding whether to prosecute himself, Holder would have to consider whether there are enough prison cells to incarcerate all the other people who are contemptuous of Congress in a country. Washington Post, Eric Holder asks President Obama to assert executive privilege, Chris Cillizza, June 20, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday became the first Obama administration official to be held in contempt by a congressional panel.

June 19

 

Salon, Assange asks Ecuador for asylum, Glenn Greenwald, June 19, 2012. The WikiLeaks founder is motivated by one thing: a desire to avoid extradition to the U.S. Can anyone blame him? Julian Assange was scheduled within days to turn himself over to British authorities for extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case in which he has never been charged. Instead, Assange earlier today went to the Embassy of Ecuador in London and sought asylum from that country under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden for a year-and-a-half now, during which time he has been under house arrest. He has never been charged with any crime in Sweden, but a prosecutor from that country is seeking his extradition to question him. After the British High Court ruled against him by a 5-2 vote earlier this month, and then refused to re-hear the case last week, his appeals in Britain contesting the extradition are exhausted. Assange’s resolve to avoid extradition to Sweden has nothing to do with a reluctance to face possible sex assault charges there. His concern all along has been that once he’s in Swedish custody, he will far more easily be extradited to the U.S.

Jersey Journal, Accusations against GOP nominee need full scrutiny, Editorial board, June 19, 2012. Last month, Gov. Chris Christie nominated former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley for a Superior Court judgeship. The problem is that the FBI's informant in the major Operation Bid Rig III sting in 2009, Solomon Dwek, says he received favors from the nominee when Oxley was sheriff. In an FBI document, Dwek said he was given advance notice of property foreclosure sales by Oxley to allow the informant to get a head start in making favorable deals for himself. Christie and Oxley are Republicans. The sheriff was also head of the Monmouth County GOP. Dwek claimed he met with Republicans in Monmouth County, but the majority of arrests and indictments were of Democrats in Hudson County. Although Dwek's meetings with Republican officials were summarized in an 2006 FBI report, when Christie was the U.S. attorney, federal officials said they could not find more evidence to corroborate Dwek's claims against Oxley and other GOP officials....It's late, but is it time to question those motives?

Washington Post, U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts, officials say, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected critical intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage attacks aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.

Legal Scnauzer, Two Stupid Neighbors, Plus One Gun, Equals Death In "Stand Your Ground" Case, Roger Shuler, June 19, 2012.  Texas man was convicted of murder last week in a case that has been portrayed as a defeat for "stand your ground" laws. The case in Houston, however, stands as a poor companion to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. In Texas, the key issue really had nothing to do with anyone standing his ground. It was about two neighbors behaving stupidly--one while possessing a gun, the other while apparently having had too much to drink.  As a result, Kelly Danaher, a married father of one, is dead, and 44-year-old Raul Rodriguez faces a possible sentence of life in prison. Stories such as this have special resonance here. Mrs. Schnauzer and I have endured a 12-year legal nightmare that started because of a troublesome neighbor named Mike McGarity, a guy with a lengthy criminal record. Anyone who must deal with a thoughtless individual living nearby has my deepest empathy. But both neighbors in the Texas story acted like blockheads, and when a gun and alcohol are added to the equation, we should not be surprised that tragedy ensued. Texas has no statute for "criminal stupidity," but that's probably what Rodriquez should have been charged with. Barring that, some form of manslaughter might have been appropriate. It's hard to see how a murder conviction is going to hold up on appeal. But it seems clear that a jury wanted to hold Rodriguez accountable in some way for a death that never should have happened. Video here.

New York Times, Obama’s Lawyer Demands Information on Group’s Donors, Michael D. Shear, June 19, 2012,  The lawyer for President Obama demanded on Tuesday that Crossroads GPS disclose its donors, saying in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that the group is plainly a “political committee” subject to federal reporting requirements. In the complaint, obtained by The New York Times, Robert F. Bauer, the campaign’s chief counsel, writes that the group — founded by Karl Rove, among others — can no longer shield the identity of its donors by defining itself as a “social welfare” organization.

Washington Post, Obama campaign asks Crossroads GPS to disclose donors, Amy Gardner, June 19, 2012. President Obama’s reelection campaign is demanding that Crossroads GPS, the independent Republican group spending millions to defeat the incumbent Democrat, disclose who its donors are. In a letter to Crossroads — and a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission — the president’s lawyer, Robert F. Bauer, demanded that Crossroads divulge its donors because it is a political committee and not, as it calls itself, a “social welfare” organization.

June 18

Louis ManzoJersey City Independent, Lou Manzo Campaigns to “Set the Record Straight” on FBI Sting, Matt Hunger, June 18, 2012. Not all 15 of the Jersey City officials – and 44 total – charged in the 2009 FBI sting known as Operation Bid Rig III were found guilty. Of them all, only former Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Lou Manzo, at left, had his case dismissed – twice. First charged with violation of the Hobbs Act, his case was thrown out when Judge Jose Lineras said the wrong charges were brought. Also charged with violating the Travel Act and two counts of failing to report others taking bribes, he was again let go when the judge said there was no evidence of illegal activity. Manzo began documenting his ordeal when he first landed in prison because, he says, he realized that if he could be an innocent man in jail, so could others. And now, nearly finished with a book on what he says will “set the record straight” on the sting, he is sharing his story. What has gone under-reported, at least in the eyes of Manzo, a Democrat, is what he calls the “political motivation” behind some of the charges. The headlines from these cases – most who were charged plead guilty or were convicted – were see as pivotal in helping catapult the career of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who headed the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the state at the time. And beginning with the U.S. Attorney’s office, Manzo says he is determined to prove that some of the charges levied at those caught in the FBI sting – namely, that action was promised in exchange for political favors – could be charged against some of the prosecutors. “Most people, what they read about in the Bid Rig 3, all they got were soundbites,” Manzo says. “I’m going to show how everyone who is a voter in Jersey City had their rights violated by the federal government.”
 
Legal Schnauzer, Sandusky Trial Brings the Horrors of Child Sexual Abuse Into Our Living Rooms, Roger Shuler, June 18, 2012.  We had cases of child sexual abuse before Jerry Sandusky became known to more than just hard-core Penn State football fans. But I don't recall another case where the nauseating details have been brought to so many newspaper pages, TV newscasts, and computer screens. As I checked for updates each day at pennlive.com and espn.com, I was tempted to make sure I had a vomit bag nearby. Maureen Dowd, of The New York Times, provides a sobering summary in a piece titled "American Horror Story." It provides deep insights into the methods that abusers use to manipulate their victims: "The prosecution charges that Mr. Sandusky used his charity for disadvantaged kids, Second Mile, as a perverted recruiting tool, putting asterisks next to the names of boys who were fatherless and blond, making up weird contracts for boys to sign, giving them money, ostensibly for doing good schoolwork, but really as a way to keep them from fleeing -- and telling."
 
FireDogLake, Holder’s DoJ Must Focus on Real Criminals Now, Teddy Partridge, June 18, 2012. Bank looters, pension stealers, and widow robbers run rampant through our Republic. So one hopes Eric Holder’s Justice Department will now focus its attention on the real crimes ruining America. They aren’t committed by baseball players lying to Congress — coals to Newcastle if ever I heard of it! — or heiresses paying hush money to a Presidential candidate’s mistress. These aren’t crimes; they are E! Entertainment News and Entertainment Tonight! fodder, not crimes worthy of federal resources ladled upon them in the millions of dollars. Enough with the circuses!  Utter lawlessness abounds throughout the land — in voter disenfranchisement, mortgage securitization and foreclosure fraud, depradation of our precious natural world, and utter bribery of public officials by faceless forces of wealth.Will Eric Holder please direct the efforts of his many attorneys to real problems plaguing real American people?
 
Eric HolderLegal Times, Holder Seeks Meeting with Congressional Leaders to Avert Contempt Vote, June 18, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. wants to meet with congressional leaders tomorrow, the day before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on whether he is in contempt of Congress. In a letter sent today to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Holder again agreed to meet personally with Issa and others who say the Department of Justice has not turned over key documents subpoenaed as part of an inquiry into the botched Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation. Holder said DOJ will provide some documents, and then make an “extraordinary accommodation” of holding a briefing with the lawmakers. “The Department has offered a serious, good faith proposal to bring this matter to an amicable resolution in the form of a briefing based on documents that the Committee could retain,” Holder said.

 

Huffington Post, Occupy Protesters' Rights Must Be Protected, U.N. Says; U.S. Says Nothing, Dan Froomkin, June 18, 2012. Federal officials have yet to respond to two United Nations human rights envoys who formally requested that the U.S. government protect Occupy protesters against excessive force by law enforcement officials. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two envoys called on U.S. officials to "explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall" and expressed concern that excessive use of force "could have been related to [the protesters'] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The envoys also reminded the U.S. government of its international obligations to "take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of all peaceful protesters be respected." The letter, from Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. special rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Maina Kiai, the special rapporteur for freedom of peaceful assembly, was sent in December 2011.
Star-Ledger (Newark), Solomon Dwek says Christie's nominee is corrupt; that merits testimony, Editorial Board, June 18, 2012. Solomon Dwek, the key informant in New Jersey’s big federal corruption sting, has implicated a man nominated by Gov. Chris Christie for a judgeship as corrupt. Or maybe he’s not, and Dwek is lying. Either way, we need to know more. Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), a member of the judiciary committee, is right to call for testimony from Dwek. Bring him in with this nominee, former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, to answer questions from legislators. Oxley, an attorney and outgoing Republican chairman, was nominated last month to Superior Court and has never faced any criminal charges. Yet in a hearing to confirm a judge, integrity should not even be in question. And we can only determine that after a closer look.
 
Huffington Post, Roberto Unger, Obama's Former Harvard Law School Professor, Says The President 'Must Be Defeated,' Bonnie Kavoussi, June 16, 2012. One of President Barack Obama's former professors appears to have turned against him, according to a recent YouTube video. "President Obama must be defeated in the coming election," Roberto Unger, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School who taught Obama, said in a video posted on May 22. "He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States." Unger said that Obama must lose the election in order for "the voice of democratic prophecy to speak once again in American life." He acknowledged that if a Republican wins the presidency, "there will be a cost ... in judicial and administrative appointments." But he said that "the risk of military adventurism" would be no worse under a Republican than under Obama, and that "the Democratic Party proposes no new direction." "Give the bond markets what they want, bail out the reckless so long as they are also rich, use fiscal and monetary stimulus to make up for the absence of any consequential broadening of economic and educational opportunity, sweeten the pill of disempowerment with a touch of tax fairness, even though the effect of any such tax reform is sure to be modest," he said. "This is less a project than it is an abdication." The professor went on to list his complaints:

June 17

MetroWest Daily (Massachusetts), Hacking the vote, Rick Holmes, June 17, 2012. Many questions hang over the 2012 election. What will the unemployment rate be, and will it hurt Barack Obama’s prospects? How will Mitt Romney hold up in one-on-one debates? ....Here’s one Democrats are asking: Will new state actions requiring photo IDs for voters, purging voter rolls and restricting voter registration drives hurt their candidates? And here’s one almost no one wants to think about: Will the private companies who build and handle voting machines steal the election? A few people are trying to sound the alarm. Computer experts warn that touch-screen and optical scan voting systems can be easily hacked. Journalists point to irregularities in past elections. Academics analyze voting tallies and exit polls. Activists probe the policies and the politics of the companies to which America has outsourced its elections. Here in Massachusetts, Mike Ferriter and Sally Castleman try to get the attention of elected officials, without much luck. They bring videos, expert studies and serious concerns that U.S. elections could be — and may have been — rigged, and get nothing but shrugs.

 

Star-Ledger, Dwek fundraising claims under the microscope, Auditor, June 17, 2012. The Auditor can’t verify the claim of FBI informant Solomon Dwek in recently unearthed files that he raised $28,000 for former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, but there are some interesting donations made to Oxley’s account at the time. Two months after Dwek and his wife donated $3,600 to Oxley in September 2000, Eli and Esther Seruya of Brooklyn each donated $1,800. Years later, Dwek claimed to have paid off Eli Seruya, comptroller of his uncle’s business, to facilitate fraudulent deals through the company. Seruya denied the allegations at the time. A message left at his home last week was not returned. Dwek made the fundraising claim about Oxley in a 2006 FBI document, along with accusations that Oxley tipped him off to foreclosure sales before they were published. Gov. Chris Christie, who oversaw the investigation as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, nominated Oxley to a Superior Court judgeship last month.

 

 

Washington Post, Who had the worst week in Washington? Attorney General Eric Holder, Chris Cillizza, June 17, 2012. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spent the week in the Washington hot seat — and there’s little evidence that his perch is going to get cooler anytime soon. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spent the week in the Washington hot seat — and there’s little evidence that his perch is going to get cooler anytime soon. Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to answer for a number of recent national security leaks. At issue? The fact that Holder has refused to appoint a special counsel to look into the leaking of sensitive information to reporters, instead putting two U.S. attorneys in charge of the investigation. “There are clearly people around the president leaking stories that involve highly classified information” that paints the president in a positive light, accused Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

 
June 16
New York Times, As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives, A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems, Sam Dolnick, June 16, 2012. A company with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie dominates New Jersey’s system of large halfway houses. There has been little state oversight, despite widespread problems, The New York Times found. After decades of tough criminal justice policies, states have been grappling with crowded prisons that are straining budgets. In response to those pressures, New Jersey has become a leader in a national movement to save money by diverting inmates to a new kind of privately run halfway house. At the heart of the system is a company with deep connections to politicians of both parties, most notably Gov. Chris Christie. Many of these halfway houses are as big as prisons, with several hundred beds, and bear little resemblance to the neighborhood halfway houses of the past, where small groups of low-level offenders were sent to straighten up. New Jersey officials have called these large facilities an innovative example of privatization and have promoted the approach all the way to the Obama White House. Yet with little oversight, the state’s halfway houses have mutated into a shadow corrections network, where drugs, gang activity and violence, including sexual assaults, often go unchecked, according to a 10-month investigation by The New York Times. Perhaps the most unsettling sign of the chaos within is inmates’ ease in getting out. Since 2005, roughly 5,100 inmates have escaped from the state’s privately run halfway houses, including at least 1,300 in the 29 months since Governor Christie took office, according to an analysis by The Times.
 
June 15
Huffington Post, White House Leaks: Whistleblower Jesselyn Radack Expresses Concern About Investigations (VIDEO), Jack Mirkinson, June 15, 2012. As the investigation into possible White House leaks gets underway, one notable whistleblower said on Thursday that she worries about the consequences of the controversy. The fallout from the appearance of high-level security details in a number of New York Times stories has quickly grown, with Attorney General Eric Holder opening a probe and with Republicans and conservative pundits hammering the White House for what they say are calculated leaks. (The White House has vehemently denied this.) On Thursday's "Democracy Now," Jesselyn Radack, who exposed flaws in the interrogation of the so-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, spoke about the controversy. While she said that she thought the information had been leaked "for political gain," and that the Obama administration was guilty of "hypocrisy" for also waging an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, Raddack expressed concern about the investigations. "The answer is not to have even more leak investigations," she said. "The answer is to take a serious look at what the administration discloses, both good and bad, which should be out there for public debate."

Judicial Watch, JW and True the Vote Sue Indiana Election Officials for Failing to Maintain Clean Voter Registration Lists, Tom Fitton, June 15, 2012. Election officials in the State of Indiana failed to heed our warning forcing JW to take historic action in federal court. This week JW filed a lawsuit in partnership with True the Vote against election officials in the State of Indiana alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Specifically our lawsuit alleges that Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Indiana Elections Division Co-Directors J. Bradley King and Trent Deckard have failed to maintain clean voter registration lists and make records related to voter registration list maintenance available as required by Section 8 of the NVRA. (As a reminder, Judicial Watch's co-plaintiff, True the Vote, is a grassroots election integrity watchdog.)
 
Institute for Political Economy, Writing Off The Elderly, Paul Craig Roberts, June 15, 2012. When neoconservatives, politicians, and high ranking military officers speak of a 30-year war against terrorism, there is no discussion about its affordability or whether the one significant attack (September 11, 2001) that is attributed, perhaps incorrectly, to Muslim terrorists justifies an open-ended war against a dozen countries. There is no discussion of the burden on future generations of the massive increase in the public debt in order to finance today’s wars. Affordability and intergenerational burdens are topics reserved for the discussion of Social Security. Conservatives and libertarians constantly assert that Social Security is unaffordable and decry the intergenerational basis for Social Security retirement. What we have witnessed in the 21st century is a clear decision by political elites and the private interests that control them that gratuitous wars are more important than the elderly. In the budget deliberations it is not the trillion dollar annual budgets of the military/security complex that are seen as excessive. Instead, the focus is on cutting the sparse benefits for the elderly.

June 14

 

Salon, National Archives: No new JFK docs; Bowing to the CIA, the National Archives says it won't release 1,100 secret assassination documents in 2013, Jefferson Morley, June 14, 2012. Acquiescing to CIA demands for secrecy, the National Archives announced Wednesday that it will not release 1,171 top-secret Agency documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy in time for the 5oth anniversary of JFK’s death in November 2013. “Is the government holding back crucial JFK documents,” asked Russ Baker in a WhoWhatWhy piece that Salon published last month. The answer, unfortunately, is yes. In a letter released this week, Gary Stern, general counsel for the National Archives and Record Administration, said the Archives would not release the records as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing declassification campaign. Stern cited CIA claims that “substantial logistical requirements” prevented their disclosure next year.

Free Press, Wisconsin: None dare call it vote rigging, Bob Fitrakis, June 14, 2012. If vote-rigging prospers, none may call it vote-rigging. It simply becomes the new norm. Once again, the universal laws of statistics apply only outside U.S. borders. The recall vote in Wisconsin produced another significant 7% discrepancy between the unadjusted exit poll and the so-called "recorded vote." In actual social science, this level of discrepancy, with the results being so far outside the expected margin of error would not be accepted. When I took Ph.D. statistics to secure my doctorate in political science, we were taught to work through the rubric, sometime referred to as HISMISTER. The "H" stood for an explanation of the discrepancy rooted in some historical intervention, such as one of the candidates being caught in a public restroom with his pants down and a "wide stance" soliciting an undercover cop. The "I" that came next suggested we should check our instrumentation, that is, are the devices adequately reporting the data?  Here's where U.S. elections become laughable. A couple of private companies, count our votes with secret proprietary hardware and software, the most notable being ES&S. Every standard of election transparency is routinely violated in the U.S. electronic version of faith-based voting. How the corporate-dominated media deals with the issue is by "adjusting the exit polls." They simply assume the recorded vote on easily hacked and programmed private machines are correct and that the international gold standard for detecting election fraud – exit polls – must be wrong.

Asbury Park Press (New Jersey), Let Dwek testify on Oxley charge, Editorial board, June 14, 2012. Jailed con man and FBI snitch Solomon Dwek is the informer who keeps on giving.The recent release of a 6-year-old FBI document has revealed Dwek’s accusations of corruption against former and current officials — most notably former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, who was recently nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to become a Superior Court judge. The allegations are serious, and need to be addressed in a way devoid of politics. Dwek described himself as a “big fund-raiser” for Oxley, a former Middletown mayor who most recently served as Monmouth County’s Republican chairman. He claims Oxley gave him a list of foreclosed properties to be auctioned off two weeks before it became public. “This gives (Dwek) an opportunity to negotiate with the property owner before the auction and avoid competition and potentially higher prices,” the FBI report stated. These accusations need to be more fully investigated. The FBI said it found no wrongdoing in the matter, but one wonders whether politics may have played a part in the thoroughness (or lack thereof) of its investigation. Christie was the U.S. attorney at the time, and Oxley was a major player in the Republican Party in Monmouth County, which Christie often has credited with helping him win the governorship.

FireDogLake, Leaks Investigation Does Not Include Disclosures on Obama’s Drone Wars, Kevin Gosztola, June 14, 2012. Information shared by senior Obama administration officials with journalists on the “kill list” and drone wars in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen is not the subject of a leaks investigation being investigated by two US attorneys, according to Reuters. The investigation, which was launched as result of bipartisan concern about intelligence leaks, will focus on disclosures on a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen and the Stuxnet virus that was used to attack Iran.

BBC, Supreme court dismisses Assange appeal bid, June 14, 2012. The Supreme Court has dismissed a bid by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes. Seven judges of Britain's top court unanimously dismissed the move by Mr Assange as being "without merit." Two weeks ago the court rejected his argument that a European arrest warrant for extradition was invalid. His lawyers had argued that the decision was based on a legal point that had not been argued in court. Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former Wikileaks volunteers in mid-2010 but have not filed any charges. Mr Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, claims the sex was consensual and that the allegations against him are politically motivated.
 
Eric HolderLegal Schnauzer, Eric Holder Is Feeling the Heat He Deserves From Republicans On Capitol Hill, Roger Shuler, June 14, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder is under increasing fire from Congressional Republicans for a variety of alleged lapses. As a progressive blogger, I normally would come to the support of a relatively competent official in a Democratic administration. But Holder has been an abject failure as "the people's lawyer," and if right wingers can force him out, they have my full support. To put it in blunt terms, Holder is getting what he deserves for allowing a fiasco like the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to remain intact. For that matter, Holder's boss, President Obama, also is having a pretty horrific month of June--and he deserves it for failing to support investigations into gross justice-related abuses during the George W. Bush years.  Andrew Kreig, of the D.C.-based Justice-Integrity Project, puts it in perspective with a splendid piece titled "Obama, Holder Merit Scant Pity After GOP Attacks on DOJ."
 
Medill / Northwestern University / Poynter, What the future of news looks like in Alabama after Advance cuts staff by 400, Steve Myers, June 14, 2012. Most coverage of Advance’s decision to stop printing the four papers daily and cut staff has focused on The Times-Picayune. It’s easy to see why: New Orleans is a storied city, and its newspaper has told those stories well....What’s happening in Alabama looks like an extension of the strategy that the company spearheaded in Michigan. First it replaced The Ann Arbor News with AnnArbor.com and curtailed publishing, then it extended the approach to newspapers around the state and gave them one online home: Mlive.com. You can get a picture of what the Alabama Media Group will look like by seeing what was cut this week and what was left.  First, the numbers: The news staff in Birmingham has been cut from 102 to 41, according to lists included in Tuesday’s severance offers. (Chuck Clark, managing editor of the News, said in a comment that this figure is off; the true numbers, he said, are 47 left of 112). In Mobile’s newsroom, about 20 of 70 or so are left, according to a source there. (The original version of this story estimated it at about 16.) And in Huntsville, 15 people remain out of 53 in the newsroom, a 72 percent reduction. Overall in Huntsville, 102 of 149 people lost their jobs. Those cuts at the papers come after two rounds of buyouts already had thinned staff. (All sources asked to remain anonymous because they’re worried about keeping their severance or the jobs they were offered Tuesday.)
 
June 13
CNN, Feds drop remaining Edwards charges, Staff report, June 13, 2012. Federal prosecutors dropped the remaining charges against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday, less than two weeks after his corruption trial ended in an acquittal and mistrial. The Justice Department had accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to keep his pregnant mistress under wraps as he mounted a second presidential bid in 2008. But after more than 50 hours of deliberation, a North Carolina jury acquitted him on one of the six counts against him and deadlocked on the other five. Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said prosecutors respect the judgment of the jury and would not bring the case to trial again. Jurors wanted to hear from John Edwards John Edwards to launch new project "We knew that this case -- like all campaign finance cases -- would be challenging," Breuer said in a written statement on the decision. "But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime."

Star-Ledger (Newark), N.J. senator wants Solomon Dwek to appear before committee to explain foreclosure tipoff claims, Matt Friedman, June 13, 2012. A senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants federal informant Solomon Dwek to appear before the panel to discuss his claims that he was tipped off to potential real estate foreclosures by former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, who has been nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to become a Superior Court judge. State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) Tuesday said he suggested committee chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) seek subpoena power to compel Dwek to testify when Oxley comes before the committee for a confirmation hearing. Dwek, who is in federal prison in Philadelphia awaiting sentencing for a bank fraud conviction, could not voluntarily travel to Trenton. "Based on Dwek’s information, the U.S. Attorney’s Office raided (former Department of Community Affairs Commissioner) Joe Doria’s house shortly before Christie’s election," said Lesniak. "So obviously they thought that he had credibility in what he was stating."

British Broadcasting Corp., World cools towards Barack Obama – survey; Confidence in Barack Obama is still high in Europe but has dropped in China and Japan, Staff report, June 13, 2012. International approval of US President Barack Obama's foreign policy has dropped sharply during his term in office, a Pew Research survey suggests. Among the 21 countries surveyed, the largest drop in approval -- from 57% to 27% -- was seen in China, the Global Attitudes Project reveals. Most respondents in almost all countries opposed US drone strikes. Despite these numbers, confidence in Mr. Obama remains high among US allies, especially in Europe. "I think where you see the real disappointment is when you deal with specific policies," said Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. He added that the survey showed big gaps between expectation levels and action over Mr. Obama's policies on climate change and treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

June 12

Wired / Danger Room, US Military Wants Drones in South America, But Why? Spencer Ackerman, June 12, 2012. Flying, spying robots are addictive. Every military commander who has them wants more. Those who don’t have them covet their colleagues’ supply. And according to Air Force planning, they’re about to go to the military’s redheaded, drone-poor stepchild: the command overseeing South America. That’s according to Gen. Norton Schwartz, the outgoing Air Force chief of staff. As Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk drones start to leave the Afghanistan war behind, Schwartz told a Washington audience on Monday, they’ll go to “operational missions by previously underserved” regional commands — Pacific Command and Southern Command, per National Defense magazine. While US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia have loaded up on drones, they’ve largely been left out of the unmanned escalation. But South America? The list of obvious uses for drones by the US military in South America starts with spying on drug-runners … and ends there. (In case you’re wondering, US Southern Command doesn’t have anything to do with Mexico and its cartel chaos; that’s the province of US Northern Command.)

Associated Press / NOLA.com, Federal judge seeks records related to Danziger Bridge leaks probe, Staff report, June 12, 2012. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to turn over any documents that show it tried to determine whether somebody leaked confidential information about its probe of deadly police shootings on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Attorneys for five former police officers convicted of charges stemming from the shootings claim prosecutors ignored a different judge's call for an investigation after news reports in 2010 forecast a guilty plea by former Lt. Michael Lohman. The case against Lohman, who cooperated with investigators, was under seal at the time the reports were published. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt set a Tuesday afternoon deadline for prosecutors to give him any records related to a probe of the alleged leaks.

Star-Tribune, Petters consultant in N.Y. is target of $804,000 clawback, David Phelps, June 12, 2012. Bankruptcy trustee alleges that attorney Paul Traub was paid to help Tom Petters attract investors to a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. Paul Traub was named in a lawsuit filed late last week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis seeking to recover $804,000 that he allegedly received from Petters for providing "consulting services in assessment of new business opportunities" and "the capital needs of the [Petters] organization."  The suit is the latest of more than 200 lawsuits filed on behalf of the Petters corporate bankruptcy estate by trustee Doug Kelley seeking to "claw back" ill-gotten gains from the decade-long fraud. Kelley also is the federal receiver for Petters' personal estate, which launched the Traub complaint. Kelley also is seeking another $1.65 million from Traub that he received from Petters Group Worldwide in a separate bankruptcy lawsuit. In the most recent suit, Kelley alleges that Traub was one of a number of individuals Petters used to "create the essential air of success and wealth required to sustain the fraud as well as the expertise to maintain it." The lawsuit says Traub was paid "an astonishing" $125,000 a month as a consultant to Petters and received $2.46 million "directly, and sometimes secretly" from 2005 to 2008. "In essence, Traub gave Petters business credibility and access to new potential victims for his fraudulent schemes," the lawsuit states.

Twin Cities Business, Long Arm of the Claw, David Beal, January 2011. The 202 lawsuits filed as of October 10, 2010. As the trustee in the Petters bankruptcy, Doug Kelley has filed clawbacks against four target groups: investors, employees of Petters entities who got bonuses, charities, and banks. The four largest claims for interest from investors account for 56 percent of the $1.397 billion in interest he is seeking from inves tors. The $233 million that Kelley has recovered for creditors as of December 9 includes $120 million from the sale of Polaroid (a former Petters holding) and its related assets. At about the same time he was helping Petters "leverage his Rolodex to create new opportunities," according to the suit, Traub was a partner in the bankruptcy and reorganization firm Traub, Bonacquist & Fox, which ran into controversy in its representation of creditors in the eToys.com bankruptcy amid conflict-of-interest claims.

Californians United for a Responsible Budget, California Bill Would Lift Media Ban on Access to Prisons, Jean Casella and James Ridgeway, June 12, 2012. If legislation like this were passed in other states, as well as in California, it would go a long way toward exposing to the public the truth about supermax prisons and solitary confinement units--which are not only torture chambers, but also virtual domestic "black sites."

Roll Call, GOP Smells Blood, Bores In on Eric Holder, Jonathan Strong, June 12, 2012. A top Senate Republican called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign today, even as Holder said he was ready to make major concessions to Republicans investigating “Fast and Furious,” a botched gun-smuggling operation. Holder, saying he wanted to avoid an “impending constitutional crisis,” told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I am prepared to make compromises,” but “I’ve got to have a willing partner.” However, Republicans in both chambers were in no mood to give quarter. To start, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called on Holder to resign at the Senate Judiciary hearing. Citing the Fast and Furious scandal and recent national security leaks, Cornyn said, “It’s more with sorrow than with anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative then to join those that call upon you to resign your office.” Holder pushed back, saying a long statement by Cornyn of Holder’s faults was “breathtaking in its inaccuracy” and that “I don’t have any intention of resigning.” Holder said he’d done far more to stop the controversial tactics at issue in Fast and Furious than officials in the George W. Bush administration had.

Washington Post, Obama’s ‘Kill List’ Is Unchecked Presidential Power, Katrina vanden Heuvel, June 12, 2012. A stunning report in the New York Times depicted President Obama poring over the equivalent of terrorist baseball cards, deciding who on a “kill list” would be targeted for elimination by drone attack. The revelations — as well as those in Daniel Klaidman’s recent book — sparked public outrage and calls for congressional inquiry.Obama needs to be held to account for his assassination program, says vanden Heuvel, arguing it's vital that Congress reassert its constitutional authority.  Yet bizarrely, the fury is targeted at the messengers, not the message. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed dismay that presidential aides were leaking national security information to bolster the president’s foreign policy credentials. (Shocking? Think gambling, Casablanca). Republican and Democratic senators joined in condemning the leaks. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — AWOL in the prosecution of rampant bank fraud — roused himself to name two prosecutors to track down the leakers.  Please. Al-Qaeda knows that U.S. drones are hunting them. The Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalis, Afghanis and others know the U.S. is behind the drones that strike suddenly from above. The only people aided by these revelations are the American people who have an overriding right and need to know.  The problem isn’t the leaks, it’s the policy. It’s the assertion of a presidential prerogative that the administration can target for death people it decides are terrorists — even American citizens — anywhere in the world, at any time, on secret evidence with no review.  "It is vital that Congress reassert its constitutional authority." It is a policy driven largely by the new technological capacity of pilotless aircraft. Drone strikes have rapidly expanded, becoming a centerpiece of the Obama strategy. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has carried out at least 239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush.

 

June 11

Leon PanettaSalon, Leon Panetta: Macho Renaissance man, Glenn Greenwald, June 11, 2012. Last night, 60 Minutes aired a profile by Scott Pelley of Obama’s Defense Secretary and former CIA chief Leon Panetta that is reverent as anything you’ll see, as pure as propaganda gets. Panetta is a top government official presiding over some of the most violent, legally dubious, controversial military and intelligence policies in the world, but there wasn’t a single word uttered about any of that. It was, instead, 13 uninterrupted minutes of drooling propaganda: Leon Panetta, (left) the tough-minded, patriotic renaissance man who kills Evil Men to protect us all, and does it all with a heart of gold. Pelley began by noting that Panetta, despite never having worked in intelligence before becoming CIA Director, “put a Navy SEAL in bin Laden’s bedroom.” According to Pelley, the job description of the American Pentagon Chief is this: “fighting three wars and stopping Iran from building an atom bomb.” Early in the interview, Pelley asked Panetta: “in how many countries are we currently engaged in a shooting war?” After a long pause, Panetta replied: “it’s a good question. I’ll have to stop and think about that,” followed by hearty laughter. After pondering, Panetta ultimately named Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa (Pelley later added that “American and its allies are waging war [on Iran] without sending thousands of troops”). At one point, Panetta, as though he were choosing a meal from a lunch menu, casually though emphatically vowed to go to war against Iran if they “proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.” None of these multiple wars or covert attacks or bellicose threats of aggression prompted any challenges or even real questions from Pelley.

Washington Post, Supreme Court declines Guantanamo detainee appeals, Robert Barnes, June 11, 2012. The Supreme Court yesterday signaled that it is not ready to intervene again in determining the legal rights of foreign nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay. The court declined to hear appeals from seven of the 169 men being held in the military prison at a U.S. naval base in Cuba. The action came four years after the court's controversial decision in Boumediene vs. Bush established that detainees had the right to turn to the American judicial system for a "meaningful opportunity" to challenge their confinement. Human rights lawyers representing the detainees have complained that conservative judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, designated to hear all cases from Guantanamo, have thwarted that promise. If the justices are upset, however, they have not shown it with their actions.

Harper's No Comment, Obama’s Intelligence Striptease, Scott Horton, June 11, 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced the appointment of two prosecutors to investigate recent leaks of classified intelligence. At issue are disclosures concerning the CIA’s drone war in Pakistan and Yemen and a covert cyberattack launched against Iran’s nuclear program....The debate triggered by the disclosures of the last two weeks is focused on the wrong questions. We should be asking why more of this information was not made available to the public earlier, and why issues surrounding the current military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nations do not feature more prominently in American political debate. The public does not need to know every tactical detail about current operations, but it does need a deeper understanding of the country’s strategic objectives and of the analyses driving proposed actions. Washington today floats in a sea of cognitive dissonance, of which no aspect is more disturbing than the secrecy conundrum. We have a system in which whistleblowers—frequently persons of high integrity who are serving a legitimate public purpose and ought to be shielded—are persecuted, while those who game the national-security system for political gain are rarely investigated. The Justice Department’s usual handling of these matters is an almost perfect inversion of its actual legal duties. The current secrecy regime, which has been in place for several decades, serves the agenda of politicians in both parties who want a public less engaged with, and less informed about, national-security affairs. It is a dagger pointed at the heart of American democracy.

 

 
Larry CraigThe Associated Press / Huffington Post, Larry Craig, Former Idaho GOP Senator, Sued By FEC Over Use Of Campaign Cash, John Miller, June, 11, 2012. Former Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was sued Monday by federal election regulators who contend he misused some $217,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense after his arrest in a 2007 airport bathroom sex sting. Federal Election Commission officials said in their complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that Craig should repay the money and pay a fine. The FEC contends the three-term U.S. senator's campaign account, Craig for U.S. Senate, paid at least $139,952 to the law firm Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan in Washington, D.C., and $77,032 to Kelly & Jacobson in Minnesota for legal services related to his guilty plea to disorderly conduct. Craig had been accused of soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. An undercover officer said Craig tapped his feet and signaled under a stall divider that he wanted sex. Regulators said the campaign money was converted to personal use because Craig's defense in Minnesota had no connection to his campaign for federal office. The commission, which voted 5-0 last month to pursue the lawsuit, is also seeking penalties of up to $6,500 from the former senator and his treasurer, Kaye O'Riordan.

Star-Ledger / NJ.com, Solomon Dwek alleges he received political favors from Monmouth County officials, Matt Friedman, June 11, 2012. The controversial federal informer behind the biggest corruption sting in state history told investigators he was tipped off to foreclosure sales before they were made public by former Monmouth County Sheriff Joseph Oxley, who last month was nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to be a state Superior Court judge. The claim, detailed in an FBI document recently made public, was made by informer Solomon Dwek while Christie was overseeing the case as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. Dwek also alleged that he met with and got political favors from Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, and that he gave Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) $10,000 worth of raffle tickets to a Deal Yeshiva event, "stacking the deck" so she could win a computer, the document shows. And he claimed politically connected attorney Jerry Zaro, who later became Gov. Jon Corzine’s economic "czar," was a "big help when certain approvals were needed."  None of the officials was charged with any wrongdoing, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in court papers it could not find evidence supporting any of Dwek’s claims. Oxley did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment. Reached tonight, Zaro declined comment. Kyrillos and Handlin flatly denied Dwek’s statements. The assertions by Dwek were never fleshed out in the courtroom, but were detailed in an August 2006 FBI report made public recently after former Assemblyman Louis Manzo (D-Hudson) unsuccessfully sued the U.S. Attorney’s Office for reimbursement of more than $100,000 in legal fees. Manzo had been arrested in July 2009 after a failed run for Jersey City mayor, but the charges were eventually dismissed. Manzo, who claims the U.S. Attorney’s Office engaged in selective prosecutions to advance Christie’s political career, is appealing the ruling on attorneys’ fees.

Main Justice, PolitiFact: Chris Christie’s Town Hall Speech Cites False Statistic, Matthew Volkov, June 11, 2012. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last week that during his time as the state’s U.S. Attorney he “wound up putting 10 percent of the state legislature in jail” over the course of his seven-year tenure. The statistic is unequivocally false, according to PolitiFact New Jersey, the factchecking arm of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger newspaper. The percentage is closer to 3 percent, according to the group’s analysis. During the Republican governor’s time as U.S. Attorney, from 2002 to the end of 2008, 185 people served — either in the Senate or Assembly — in the state legislature. Christie’s office charged five legislators: state Sens. Wayne Bryant, Joseph Coniglio and Sharpe James and Assemblymen Mims Hackett and Alfred Steele. All five Democrats spent time in jail. The federal investigation of two other state legislators began while Christie was U.S. Attorney, but they did not serve jail time until after he left office, according to PolitiFact. “The fact remains that Christie didn’t jail 10 percent of the state legislature during his time as U.S. Attorney,” according to the PolitiFact report. Christie’s spokesman brushed the report off, telling PolitiFact that the governor was “making a rhetorical point” about his record in combating public corruption and “not … citing … some baseball statistic.”  “The governor was emphasizing, conversationally, the gravity of the corruption which in those years reached into the highest levels of the legislature as well as high-ranking party bosses and operatives,” Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman said
 
Forbes, The John Edwards trial: The prosecutors' ball of steel wool predictably sinks, Harvey Silverglate, June 11, 2012. The day that I read the judge’s instructions to the jury in the John Edwards campaign financing criminal trial that ended May 31st with an acquittal on one count and a deadlocked jury on the other five, I turned to my paralegals – college graduates who have not yet attended law school – and predicted a deadlocked jury on all counts. I was close – the jury acquitted on one and “hung” on the rest. Why was I so certain that the jury would not convict Edwards, despite his being one of the least savory public figures in decades? Because nobody—including, apparently, the judge—could demonstrate a clear understanding of the dangerously vague federal laws under which Edwards was being tried. John Edwards made a mess of his life, as well as the lives of just about anyone unfortunate enough to have been in his orbit – family members, campaign aides, everyone. That is a sin for which he likely will be punished for the rest of his life (and, if one believes in a hereafter, beyond as well).
 
Reuters, What happens to Tribune after bankruptcy? Jack Shafer, June 11, 2012. Choking softly on the wad of debt “rescuer” Sam Zell fed it, Tribune Co checked into a Wilmington, Delaware, bankruptcy court at the end of 2008. Now newly slimmed, especially after the payment of $410 million in legal and other professional fees, the much diminished patient is about to be released and turned over to its new owners, a group of banks and hedge funds. How diminished? At the time Zell acquired control in 2007, Tribune Co’s newspapers, television stations, other media properties and Chicago Cubs baseball franchise were valued at $8.2 billion. Reporting from court filings, Chicago Tribune reporter Michael Oneal put Tribune Co’s current value at about $4.5 billion.  That’s not a haircut. That’s a beheading. Some of that loss in value represents the sale (for $845 million) of Tribune’s Chicago Cubs operation in 2009, but still.
 
June 10
Hudson Reporter, Not guilty, and not intimidated, Former sting defendant Lou Manzo warns the public about feds, E. Assata Wright, June 10, 2012. Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo says his political career is over. But he has found a new calling as a civil rights crusader. If Lou Manzo considers himself a ruined man, he sure doesn’t talk like it. The former insurance businessman, state assemblyman, perennial mayoral candidate, one-time defendant, and nemesis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark talks like a winning quarterback after a Super Bowl victory. As one of 44 public officials and religious leaders arrested on July 23, 2009, in a massive federal sting operation known as Operation Bid Rig III, Manzo was immediately tagged as another corrupt Hudson County pol. In the weeks and months following the arrests, a public narrative of the sting began to unfold. Several high profile officials pleaded guilty – after months of maintaining their innocence – admitting that they did indeed meet with a federal cooperating witness and took cash in exchange for political favors....But Manzo was different. From the outset he decided to fight the charges against him, a path few other Bid Rig defendants would take. And he took it a step further. Not only did he fight his case, but he was consistently vocal in his belief that the Bid Rig investigation was politically motivated and was specifically designed to clear a path to the governor’s mansion for Christopher Christie, who launched the sting before leaving his post as U.S. Attorney and was campaigning as the arrests took place.

OpED News, A Radioactive Nightmare, Michael Collins, June 10, 2011. As fallout from Fukushima heads our way, the government turns a blind eye. Millions of Southern Californians and tourists seek the region's famous beaches to cool off in the sea breeze and frolic in the surf. Those iconic breezes, however, may be delivering something hotter than the white sands along the Pacific. Buckyballs. According to a recent U.C. Davis study, uranium-filled nanospheres are created from the millions of tons of fresh and salt water used to try to cool down the three molten cores of the stricken reactors. The tiny and tough buckyballs are shaped like British Association Football soccer balls. Water hitting the incredibly hot and radioactive, primarily uranium-oxide fuel turns it into peroxide. In this goo buckyballs are formed, loaded with uranium and able to move quickly through water without disintegrating. High radiation readings in Santa Monica and Los Angeles air during a 42-day period from late December to late January strongly suggest that radiation is increasing in the region including along the coast in Ventura County. The radiation, detected by this reporter and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, separate from each other and using different procedures, does not appear to be natural in origin. The EPA's radiation station is high atop an undisclosed building in Los Angeles while this reporter's detection location is near the West L.A. boundary.

June 9

Huffington Post, Secret campaign money is making its big comeback in 2012, playing an important role in a presidential election for the first time since corporate titans flew into the nation's capital, Dan Froomkin, June 9, 2012.

Rod Rosenstein

FireDogLake, Holder Appoints Chain-of-Command US Attorneys to Investigate White House Leaks, Teddy Partridge, June 9, 2012.  Missing every lesson from Richard Nixon’s behavior during the Watergate investigation, Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two sitting United States Attorneys (one from Maryland, one from DC) to investigate the national security leaks that resulted in disclosures in the Paper of Record of America’s drone and assassination programs overseas. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has appointed the two U.S. attorneys from the District and Maryland to lead investigations into the possible leak of classified information by the White House to reporters, even as President Obama defended his administration against claims that it was complicit.  In a statement issued late Friday, Holder said that he has notified members of Congress that he has assigned the U.S. attorney for the District, Ronald C. Machen Jr., and his counterpart for Maryland, Rod J. Rosenstein, left, to lead criminal investigations into “possible unauthorized” leaks to reporters for several recent news articles and books.  As Karl Rove made very clear during the previous administration, United States Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. It is impossible for them to conduct an investigation that might involve direct White House subordinates or even the President himself. This is a sham investigation from the outset and it’s a shame who stands alone saying so:  Prominent members of Congress, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have pressured the White House to appoint a special counsel to investigate the matter. Late Friday, McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement that Holder’s move didn’t go far enough. “This investigation involves some of the most serious breaches of national security in recent memory and any investigation must be done in a manner free and clear of political considerations,” they said. “The recent decision of the Attorney General falls far short of what is needed and is not an adequate substitute for an outside special counsel.”  There needs to be serious bipartisan legislative pushback against Holder’s action. As long as only Gluehorse and his trusty sidekick speak out, this will appear to be partisan sniping. And it’s far from that — these leaks are serious and have gone on for a long time in order to burnish the president’s image as a resolute warrior for peace.

Eric HolderLos Angeles Times, Eric Holder grilled over Fast and Furious in Congress, Richard A. Serrano, June 7, 2012. Los Angeles Times, Eric Holder grilled over Fast and Furious in Congress, Richard A. Serrano, June 7, 2012. One at a time, Rep. Darrell Issa held up a thick wiretap application form and slammed it on his dais in the elaborate House Judiciary Committee hearing room. The packages were proof, Issa contended, that the Department of Justice in Washington and perhaps the Obama White House were aware of the flawed tactics in the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation in Arizona that allowed more than 2,000 firearms to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.Issa said he obtained the materials from “a furious group of whistle-blowers” who are angry with the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., left, for not providing more material to Issa’s investigation into Fast and Furious. The whistle-blowers, he told Holder at the hearing, “are tired of your stonewalling.”  Holder, under fire for more than a year now in the Fast and Furious case, said he had read the documents but told Issa the documents do not disclose the improper tactics. Exactly what the wiretap applications say, however, remains unclear. They have not been made public.

Huffington Post, White House Leaks: Eric Holder Appoints 2 Prosecutors To Lead Investigation, Pete Yost, June 9, 2012. Two U.S. attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama's re-election chances, a claim Obama calls "offensive" and "wrong." Recent news articles contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran's nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counterterrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally painted Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief. "The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It's wrong," Obama told reporters at a news conference Friday. "And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office."

Huffington Post, GOP Lawmakers Urge Justice Department To Investigate Alleged Harassment Of Bloggers, Nick Wing, June 8, 2012. Congressional Republicans are stepping up an effort to press the Department of Justice on alleged harassment of conservative bloggers through a practice known as "swatting." Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) signed on to the effort Thursday, sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing his concern about incidents in which police had been dispatched to the residences of prominent conservative bloggers after calls, ostensibly placed by the bloggers themselves from within their own households, reporting crimes.

 
June 8
ABA Journal, Poll Finds Declining Approval for Supreme Court, Opposition to Lifetime Tenure, Debra Cassens Weiss, June 8, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court is suffering from public perception problems, as a new poll shows declining public approval and opposition to lifetime tenure. Sixty percent of those surveyed by the New York Times and CBS News said they believe that appointing Supreme Court justices for life is a bad thing because it gives them too much power. Thirty-three percent, on the other hand, said lifetime appointments were a good thing because it keeps the justices independent. The poll (PDF) also showed declining approval for the Supreme Court. Only 44 percent of the respondents approve of the job being done by the U.S. Supreme Court, while 76 percent said they believe the justices sometimes let personal or political views influence their decisions.  Only 13 percent said the justices decide cases based on legal analysis, without regard to their personal or political views. Survey respondents had their own personal opinions on how the court should rule on the health care law. Forty-one percent said the court should overturn the entire law, and 27 percent said the court should strike down the health insurance mandate. The findings “are a fresh indication that the court’s standing with the public has slipped significantly in the past quarter-century,” according to the New York Times. A poll taken earlier this year by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press also found a low favorability rating for the court.

Salon, Media, drones and rank propaganda; Several items today relate to the issue of gross U.S. media propaganda and Obama’s national security policies, Glenn Greenwald, June 8, 2012. (1) I have an Op-Ed in The Guardian today on how the American media has been repeatedly and willingly coopted in the Obama administration’s propagandistic abuse of its secrecy powers, with a focus on the recent high-profile, Obama-flattering national security scoops from The New York Times. (2) In yesterday’s Guardian, the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer and Nathan Wessler have a superb Op-Ed on how the Obama administration — by simultaneously shielding its conduct from scrutiny through broad secrecy claims and then selectively leaking — is deliberately distorting the public understanding of its drone attacks (“First the ‘targeted killing’ campaign, then the targeted propaganda campaign”). (3) This morning, I witnessed one of the most flagrant and repellent examples of rank government propaganda masquerading as objective journalism that I have ever seen, when I saw on Andrew Sullivan’s blog this four-minute, sleek video produced by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, starring Newsweek reporter (and its former Managing Editor) Daniel Klaidman. It’s literally painful to watch, but please do your best to endure the full four minutes.
 
Guardian (United Kingdom), Supreme court will decide healthcare law with politics, Americans believe; A poll reveals that public confidence in the ability of the court to judge on the merits of the law in this and other cases is low, Chris McGreal, June 8, 2012. Most Americans believe the supreme court's judges will decide the constitutionality of the president's healthcare reforms based on their personal and political views and not the law. The findings, in a New York Times poll show that public confidence in the court has continued to decline amid the judicial battles over health reforms and a controversial immigration law. Three-quarters of Americans say supreme court decisions are influenced by the judges' political or personal views. The president has already laid the ground for a political fight if the decision on health reforms goes against him by warning that it would be wrong for the "unelected" supreme court to take the "unprecedented and extraordinary" step of striking down the legislation on the grounds that the requirement for most Americans to buy private health insurance is unconstitutional. Fifty-five percent of those polled said that the supreme court justices will decide the legality of the healthcare law "mainly based on personal or political views". Just 32% believe the ruling will be based on its legal merits. However, the same poll revealed that more than two-thirds want the supreme court to overturn all or part of the healthcare law.
 
Reuters, The great newspaper liquidation, Jack Shafer, June 5, 2012. In his 2004 book, The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age, Philip Meyer imagined “the final stages” of a “squeeze scenario” by a newspaper owner who wanted to exit the business but didn’t want to actually sell the title: He would start charging more for his newspaper and delivering less, commencing the “slow liquidation” of his property. This slow liquidation would not be immediately apparent to observers, Meyer wrote, because the asset “being converted to cash” would be “goodwill” – the newspaper’s standing in the community and the habit of advertisers and subscribers of giving it money. One reason an owner would want to extract a newspaper’s goodwill value before selling its physical assets – its real estate, presses, computers, trucks, paper, ink, etc. – is that traditionally, goodwill is where most of a newspaper’s value has resided. When Meyer asked two newspaper appraisers to estimate how much of a newspaper’s value was locked up in goodwill versus physical assets, both gave him the same answer: 80 percent goodwill, 20 percent physical assets.

Legal Schnauzer, Liberal Activist Brett Kimberlin Engages Right Wingers In a Battle of High-Stakes Hard Ball, Roger Shuler, June 8, 2012. Right-wing forces have launched a frenzied assault against blogger Brett Kimberlin, focusing mostly on his checkered past. Published reports indicate Kimberlin was convicted on charges related to drug trafficking and a series of bombings in the Midwest, dating to the 1970s. Conservative bloggers, writing mostly in a network founded by Andrew Breitbart, have every right to report on Kimberlin's criminal history. But court documents indicate they have gone beyond that, to stalking, harassing, and even inciting death threats against him. What's at the heart of the controversy? A FireDogLake blogger called DonkeyTale has been writing about it for some time and says the complex saga is "as densely peopled and subplotted as a 19th century Russian novel." That description is on target, but DonkeyTale still has managed to provide the best summary I've seen so far, at a post titled "Troll Wars 6.66."
June 7
Huffington Post, Private Prisons Profit From Immigration Crackdown, Federal And Local Law Enforcement Partnerships, Chris Kirkham, June 7, 2012. A routine traffic stop represents the front end of an increasingly lucrative commercial enterprise: the business of incarcerating immigrant detainees, the fastest-growing segment of the American prison population. In Washington, the industry's lobbyists have influenced policy to secure growing numbers of federal inmates in its facilities, while encouraging Congress to increase funding for detention bedspace. Here in this southern Arizona community, private prison companies share the spoils of their business with the local government, effectively giving area law enforcement an incentive to apprehend as many undocumented immigrants as they can. This confluence of forces has contributed to a doubling of the ranks of immigrant detainees, to about 400,000 a year. Nearly half are now held in private prisons, up from one-fourth a decade ago, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The two largest for-profit prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group, Inc., have more than doubled their revenues from the immigrant detention business since 2005, according to securities filings.

Bloomberg News, Voting-Rights Surprise At High Court May Foreshadow Health Care, Greg Stohr, June 7, 2012.  When U.S. Supreme Court justices picked apart the government’s arguments in defense of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, they buoyed the hopes of the law’s opponents that it would be ruled unconstitutional. A 2009 challenge to the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act offers a cautionary note. Skeptical questions from Chief Justice John Roberts, seen here, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, during arguments in March, suggested they may cast pivotal votes against the health law, Obama’s signature domestic achievement.  In both cases, the justices repeatedly interrupted as the administration made its case. They injected comments and posed questions that pointed toward a court-ordered upheaval. “It sounded like the justices were going to blow away Section 5,” recalled Theodore Olson, who was the top Supreme Court lawyer for President George W. Bush, referring to the part of the Voting Rights Act that requires some states to get federal clearance before changing their rules. Two months later, the court left the law intact on an 8-1 vote. The justices struck a compromise that let them avoid a direct ruling on the constitutional challenge to the measure. As the high court prepares to rule by the end of this month on health care, the voting rights case underscores the hazard of predicting the outcome of Supreme Court cases.
 
Millbrook Independent, DOJ Legal Team Sent Packing Once Again, Bob Martin, June 7, 2012. After a few months some of my law school learning hit me one day. It’s The Posse Comitatus Act I was trying to recall and it, in part, states simply: “Whoever....willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.” ongress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 to end military occupation in the Southern states during the Reconstruction period. Southern Democrats had complained bitterly about the oppressive use of the military in a policing role. The Act incorporates a founding American principle of keeping the nation's military forces separate from and subordinate to the "Civil Power” and that there should be a total separation of military from civil law enforcement. As one southern Senator stated during debates over the Act, "whenever you conclude that the Army can discharge those duties that belong to civil officers and to the citizens, then you have given up the character of your Government; it is no longer a government for liberty...it has become a government of force.'' So, was the United States Air Force aiding or abetting civil authorities in the prosecution of Siegelman and Scrushy by providing the Justice Department space and perhaps personnel in that effort?
 
Legal Schnauzer, Orkin Pest Control's Conduct Was "Reprehensible" In Fraud Against An Elderly, Black Woman, Roger Shuler, June 7, 2012. It takes a lot for a corporation's misconduct to make the conservative judges on the Alabama Supreme Court want to wretch. But Orkin Pest Control and parent company Rollins Inc. accomplished that rare feat with a massive con they pulled on Artie Mae Jeter, an elderly black woman from Macon County, Alabama, who had signed a lifetime contract for termite protection on her home.
 
Los Angeles Times, Eric Holder grilled over Fast and Furious in Congress, Richard A. Serrano, June 7, 2012. One at a time, Rep. Darrell Issa held up a thick wiretap application form and slammed it on his dais in the elaborate House Judiciary Committee hearing room. The packages were proof, Issa contended, that the Department of Justice in Washington and perhaps the Obama White House were aware of the flawed tactics in the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation in Arizona that allowed more than 2,000 firearms to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.Issa said he obtained the materials from “a furious group of whistle-blowers” who are angry with the Justice Department and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. for not providing more material to Issa’s investigation into Fast and Furious. The whistle-blowers, he told Holder at the hearing, “are tired of your stonewalling.” Holder, under fire for more than a year now in the Fast and Furious case, said he had read the documents but told Issa the documents do not disclose the improper tactics. Exactly what the wiretap applications say, however, remains unclear. They have not been made public.
 
June 6
Washington Post, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown resigns after he is charged with bank fraud, Del Quentin Wilber and Tim Craig, June 6, 2012. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown resigned from his seat Wednesday night, hours after he was charged with bank fraud, plunging the city government into a leadership crisis. “Because of the great respect that I have for the institution that is the Council of the District of Columbia, I have chosen the only honorable course in submitting my resignation at this time,” Brown wrote in a letter to the council secretary. “I simply will not hold this body, and its important work hostage to the resolution of my personal indiscretions.” Earlier in the day, prosecutors filed a three-page charging document in the District’s federal court accusing Brown (D) of falsifying records in applications to obtain a home loan and to buy a $50,000 powerboat. Brown inflated his income by “tens of thousands of dollars” in the two-year scheme that started in August 2005, federal prosecutors wrote.

Washington Post, Restrictive voting laws tied up in court, Krissah Thompson, June 6, 2012. Stricter ID laws and other controversial voting restrictions, passed this year by several Republican-controlled legislatures, are hitting legal roadblocks that could keep many of the measures from taking effect before the November elections. Curbs on early voting, new ID requirements and last-minute efforts to rid voter lists of noncitizens have been met with vigorous opposition from the Justice Department and civil rights groups, and in some cases, the provisions have been blocked by federal or state judges.
 
Main Justice, Berg: ‘I Stand By My Report,’ Elizabeth Murphy, June 6, 2012. The career Justice Department lawyer who disagreed with the official findings on who’s to blame for the failed Sen. Ted Stevens prosecution said at a congressional hearing Wednesday that he stands by his conclusions. Diverging from the conclusions of the department’s internal watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility, Terrence Berg told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the discovery lapses at Stevens’ trial were the result of team failures. Berg wrote a memo on the case as part of his work for the department’s Professional Misconduct Review Unit, which recommends punishment for prosecutors found to have committed reckless or intentional misconduct. Berg’s supervisor in the review unit, Kevin Ohlson, a trusted long-time aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, ultimately rejected Berg’s conclusions and upheld OPR findings that pinned blame on two Alaska Assistant U.S. Attorneys. When asked about the incident Wednesday by Main Justice, Berg said simply: “I stand by my report.” Berg’s comments came during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan.
 
Bob MartinWetumka Herald (Alabama), Was USAF aiding or abetting civil authorities? Bob Martin (right), June 6, 2012. If the U.S. Supreme Court decides this coming week not to take up Don Siegelman’s appeal, political contributions throughout the country, could be in jeopardy. (Editor’s Note: The Court did refuse to hear the appeal of Siegelman.) If Siegelman’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his appeal fails, that will likely be the end of the line for the former governor, except for a possible reduction in his sentence which still must be ruled on by the U.S. District Court in Montgomery. It also means the Justice Department can start cleaning out the 40,000 square foot building at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery which housed the “nerve center” for the federal prosecutors in the Siegelman and Richard Scrushy cases. I was given a tour of the building at Maxwell several years ago. Everything was left in tack after the trial, including the pencils and paper on the desks. I left the tour wondering how much the Air Force had charged the Justice Department for using this space on a U.S. Military Base for the prosecution of this civil trial...or if they had collected any rent at all. I asked but never got an answer. And I could never shake the thought that this intrusion, though minor, of the military into civil litigation just doesn’t sound right.
 
Republic Report, Romney Quietly Hires Consulting Firm With Sordid History Of Destroying Democratic Voter Registration Forms, Lee Fang, June 6, 2012. Republic Report has covered how political money can corrupt government by influencing the actions of elected representatives. But professional hacks can also disrupt democracy by interfering with the voting process itself. Late last year, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign began paying Nathan Sproul, a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms and manipulating ballot initiatives. Sproul, who changed his firm�s name from Sproul and Associates to Lincoln Strategies, has received over $70,000 from Romney's campaign. Much of the campaign coverage has focused on the rhetoric of surrogates and the role of high-priced television advertisements. But if Sproul continues to play a role in the campaign, and if his previous work is any guide, his firm may have an impact on key swing states.
 
June 5
DeKalb County Times-Journal (Alabama), Respectfully, Siegelman should be heard, Jared Felkins, June 5, 2012.  As Americans, we should have the utmost respect for the justices who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. So, respectfully, there are too many unanswered questions lingering for the top court in the land not to hear an appeal of former Gov. Don Siegelman’s bribery conviction.Several of those questions were raised right here in DeKalb County, and it was enough a few years ago for the House Judiciary Committee to step in and ask them. Democrats in 2007 began reviewing Siegelman's 2006 corruption conviction as part of a broader investigation into allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department by the Bush administration. The effort gained momentum after Republican lawyer Jill Simpson, of Rainsville, who had volunteered for Siegelman’s re-election opponent – former Republican Gov. Bob Riley – said she overheard conversations suggesting that former White House adviser Karl Rove was talking with Justice Department officials about Siegelman's prosecution. The case, now apparently over, will go back to a federal court in Montgomery, where U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller has ordered a new sentencing hearing for Siegelman. He’s currently free on bond after serving nine months of his original sentence of more than seven years. But it shouldn’t be over. After being dragged out for the past six years, we deserve some answers. Simpson’s testimony should be considered. This case deserves resolutions. At the very least, Siegelman’s new sentence should be time served. The guy’s been through quite enough for arguably something he didn’t do.
Disagree with me? Let’s argue it out and see what happens. At this point, what would it hurt? But to do nothing is, respectfully, the ultimate injustice.
 
Legal Schnauzer, SCOTUS' Refusal to Review Siegelman Case Will Forever Stand As a Reminder of Obama's Shame, Roger Shuler, June 5, 2012. The Obama Department of Justice, on multiple occasions, opposed U.S. Supreme Court review of the Don Siegelman case. The DOJ got its wish yesterday when the nation's highest court announced that it would not review what has come to be seen as the most notorious political prosecution in American history. One can only wonder why a Democratic administration would be unconcerned about the prosecution of a former Democratic governor in a heavily Republican state. The wonder turns to amazement when you consider that evidence in the Siegelman case, even if taken as true, did not amount to a crime, as described by the U.S. Code and relevant case law. 
But here is the most distressing part of the DOJ's actions in opposing certiorari review of the Siegelman case: A review of documents filed by government lawyers proves that even they do not believe the testimony of the key prosecution witness. Either that, or DOJ officials do not even bother to review documents they file in cases of national importance--and if that's the case, someone is committing professional negligence, misconduct or both. What are we talking about? Let's consider the government's opposition brief in Siegelman's bid for certiorari review. It apparently was written by DOJ lawyer John-Alex Romano and approved by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. (The full opposition brief can be read at the end of this post.)
 
June 4

Der Spiegel (Germany), Operation Samson: Israel's Deployment of Nuclear Missiles on Subs from Germany, Staff report, June 4, 2012. Many have wondered for years about the exact capabilities of the submarines Germany exports to Israel. Now, experts in Germany and Israel have confirmed that nuclear-tipped missiles have been deployed on the vessels. And the German government has long known about it. Deep in their interiors, on decks 2 and 3, the submarines contain a secret that even in Israel is only known to a few insiders: nuclear warheads, small enough to be mounted on a cruise missile, but explosive enough to execute a nuclear strike that would cause devastating results. This secret is considered one of the best kept in modern military history. Anyone who speaks openly about it in Israel runs the risk of being sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Research SPIEGEL has conducted in Germany, Israel and the United States, among current and past government ministers, military officials, defense engineers and intelligence agents, no longer leaves any room for doubt: With the help of German maritime technology, Israel has managed to create for itself a floating nuclear weapon arsenal: submarines equipped with nuclear capability.

New York Times, Justices Refuse to Hear Ex-Governor’s Appeal, John H. Cushman Jr., June 4 2012.  The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the appeals of former Gov. Don E. Siegelman of Alabama and the man convicted of bribing him, a case which has tested the murky limits of when a campaign donation can be considered corrupt. The two were convicted in 2006 on federal bribery charges after Richard M. Scrushy, the former chief executive of HealthSouth, contributed $500,000 to help pay off the debt of a 1999 referendum campaign for a state lottery favored by the governor, who in turn named Mr. Scrushy to a state hospital board. Mr. Scrushy is in prison and Mr. Siegelman has been out on bail as the case bounced around the courts, its status complicated by subsequent rulings of the Supreme Court involving corruption and campaign finance. Among other defenses, their lawyers have argued that Mr. Siegelman did not personally benefit from the payment and that there was no explicit quid pro quo to turn Mr. Scrushy’s campaign contribution into an illegal bribe. But the prosecution of Mr. Siegelman, begun during the Bush administration but carried on by the Obama administration as well, has provoked a considerably broader political and legal debate. His defenders claimed it began as a politically inspired attempt by Republicans to take down a rising Democrat, pushed through by overly zealous prosecutors on shaky legal grounds. Scores of former state attorneys general and legal scholars came to his defense, saying that there was a danger in allowing prosecutors too much discretion in making a crime out of political contributions. It is a question that has new salience in light of the recent trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards, and in a new era of enormous financial support for candidates from wealthy individuals supposedly operating independently from candidates.

Legal Schnauzer, What Is the Fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court's Refusal To Hear the Siegelman Appeal? Roger Shuler, June 4, 2012. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today ruled that citizens can be convicted of "crimes" that do not exist, based on jury instructions that do not mirror actual law. The Supreme Court also overturned the case that had served as precedent for more than 20 years in cases that allege bribery in the context of a campaign contribution. For good measure, the high court also provided overwhelming evidence that Barack Obama does not deserve a second term as president. And, by the way, criminal cases no longer have to be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."

SCOTUS did not make any of those decisions in the form of actual rulings. But those are essentially the take-home lessons from the court's decision this morning not to hear an appeal in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Perhaps the most important lesson is this: The nation's highest court proved beyond any doubt--and there really was no doubt in light of the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling -- that it is corrupt and our entire "justice system" needs a thorough cleansing from top to bottom.

Washington Post, Justices won't hear former governor's appeal, Robert Barnes, June 4, 2012. Supreme Court turns down appeal from Siegelman. The Supreme Court on Monday turned down former Alabama governor Don Siegelman’s attempt to challenge his public corruption conviction. Siegelman and former Alabama hospital executive Richard Scrushy were found guilty on charges Scrushy made $500,000 in political contributions to one of Siegelman’s favored causes so that the governor would name him to a state hospital board.

Dick CheneyHuffington Post, Supreme Court Finds Dick Cheney's Secret Service Agents Immune From Free Speech Lawsuit, Mike Sacks, June 4, 2012. Secret Service agents who arrested a man after he disparaged and then touched Dick Cheney cannot be sued for violating the man's free speech rights, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday morning. When then-Vice President Cheney visited a Colorado mall in 2006, Secret Service agent Dan Doyle overheard Steven Howards say that he was "going to ask [the vice president] how many kids he's killed today." Howards then got in line to meet Cheney and, when he reached the vice president, told him that his "policies in Iraq are disgusting." As Cheney moved along, Howards touched him on the shoulder, prompting the supervising Secret Service agent, Gus Reichle, to accost and arrest Howards for assault. After the charges were dismissed, Howards sued the agents, claiming they arrested him in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right to criticize Cheney. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in Howards' favor.

Boston Phoenix, Freedom Watch: DOMA bites the dust, Harvey Silverglate, June 4, 2012. The unanimous opinion of a panel of the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, striking down Congress' shameful "Defense of Marriage Act," may at first appear breathtaking. However, as some have noted, the scope of the decision is actually quite narrow ("painstakingly narrow," Matthew R. Segal, the new Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts put it). The three judges did not directly address Congress' 1993 apparently homophobic motives for decreeing that federal programs and benefits accorded married couples would apply only to "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." Instead, the court examined Congress' stated justification for enacting DOMA, most prominently "defending and nurturing the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage." It concluded that DOMA did not, in fact, have any impact on traditional marriages -- your gay marriage, in other words, does not dilute or diminish my straight marriage.

WWL-TV (New Orleans), Letten fires back after Broussard asks U.S. Attorney's office be removed from his case, Mike Perlstein, June 4, 2012. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has fired back at Aaron Broussard with a strongly worded response to the embattled former Jefferson Parish president’s request that the U.S. Attorney’s office be removed from his criminal case. The 21-page response contends that arguments for recusal by Broussard and his co-defendant, former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, are not supported by any evidence.

Wisconsin Citizens Media Coop via News from Underground, Meet Command Central, the People in Charge of Wisconsin Voting Machines, Barbara With, Marianne M. Moonhouse and John Washburn, May 22, 2012. Forty-six Wisconsin counties and 3,000 voting machines are being controlled by a two-person company operating out of a strip mall in Minnesota. Command Central is one of Wisconsin’s leading vendors of voting machines and election supplies. They are distributors for Dominion Voting Systems, a privately-owned electronic voting equipment company. Founded in Canada in 2002, Dominion is now based in Denver, CO, since their acquisitions of Premier Election Solutions, from Election Systems & Software (ES&S), and Sequoia Voting Systems. Command Central deals directly with Wisconsin county and municipal clerks and is closely involved in their selection of voting machines, ballots, and other election supplies. Command Central does all the maintenance on the voting machines and provides tech support throughout the year, with a special “hot line” should clerks need help with glitches, etc., on election day. In June 2011, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association held their annual summer conference in Ladysmith. Seventy-five county clerks from across the state came together to, among other things, “assist the legislators in developing sound legislation that affects county clerks and county government by providing accurate and useful information.” WCCA Legislation Committee chair at the time was Kathy Nickolaus. Last summer’s meeting featured a break-out session entitled, “Mastering Tough Questions from News Media, Directors and Other Audiences”: "Whether it’s a news event, a hostile public hearing or a difficult internal meeting, the knowledge and skills gained in this class will increase our ability and confidence to succeed as mastering the tough questions everyone fears. By understanding the anatomy of ‘tough questions’ you will gain power of them. Learn response techniques and model answers that you can apply to any situation."

Associated Press from Houston Chronicle, Texas aggressively purges voter registration files, June 4, 2012. More than 1.5 million Texans could be removed from the state's list of registered voters if they fail to vote or update their records in consecutive federal elections under an aggressive policy to keep files current. One in 10 voters has already their registration suspended under the scheme, and for people under 30, the number doubles to one in five, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

Northern Mississippi Commentor, Judge Wingate recounts the history of the Paul Minor prosecution, Tom Freeland, June 4, 2012. In federal district court in Jackson, Judge Henry Wingate is presiding over U.S.F.&G. v. the People’s Bank, a civil case arising out of the Paul Minor prosecution.  Judge Wingate has taken the opportunity of motions by the People’s Bank side that he recuse himself and a motion by U.S.F.&G. to disqualify Oliver Diaz as counsel for Paul Minor to set down his view of the facts in the Minor case(s).  The opinion is essentially a brief for the prosecution. As one might guess from this description, he denies recusal and grants disqualification. It’s possible to hold in ones mind the separate thoughts that there is something really wrong with secret loans (not required to be repaid) to judges guaranteed by a lawyer whose cases the judge decides and that the way these prosecutions went down looks quite political. This all began in 1998, when Paul Minor, representing the People’s Bank, sued U.S.F.&G. for failing an alleged duty to defend to other lawsuits.

June 3

Daniel KlaidmanMain Justice, New Book Sheds Light on Holder's Battles With Justice Department, Elizabeth Murphy, June 3, 2012.  A new book by a journalist close to Eric Holder details the pressures the attorney general was under critics both within the administering and from the political right, portraying him as depressed and close to quitting at one point, according to news accounts. Holder is painted as struggling to stay afloat as public pressure mounted over controversies like the failed attempt to prosecuten 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in federal court in New York. “Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency" is written by former Newsweek managing editor Daniel Klaidman, left.

June 2
Don Siegelman Los Angeles Times, When is a campaign donation a bribe? Supreme Court may decide, David G. Savage, June 2, 2012. Scores of former state attorneys general urge the justices to hear the appeal of convicted former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was charged with bribery and sent to prison because, prosecutors said, a wealthy hospital executive gave him $500,000 in exchange for appointing him to a state hospital planning board. But this half-million-dollar "bribe" did not enrich Siegelman. Instead, the disputed money was a contribution to help fund a statewide referendum on whether Alabama should have a state lottery to support education, a pet cause of the governor's. The Supreme Court is set to decide as soon as Monday whether to hear Siegelman's final appeal, which raises a far-reaching question: Is a campaign contribution a bribe if a politician agrees to do something in return, or is it to be expected that politicians will do favors for their biggest supporters? Prominent election law experts and more than 100 former state attorneys general have urged the justices to review Siegelman's case. They say the law in this area is hazy, with the result that aggressive prosecutors can bring charges against political enemies.

International Business Times via OpEd News, In Defiance Of US Justice Department, Florida To Continue Voter Purge, Ashley Portero, June 2, 2012. Florida state officials will continue their quest to purge purportedly ineligible people from voter-registration rolls, a representative of Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Saturday, in defiance of objections from the U.S. Justice Department and county officials who say the policy violates two federal voting laws. On Thursday, T. Christian Herren Jr., the head of the Justice Department's voting section, said the effort to remove voters appears to violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlaws discriminatory voting practices that disenfranchise minorities. On a list of almost 2,700 voters the state suspects are noncitizens, blacks and Latinos were disproportionately represented, according to an analysis by the Miami Herald, which concluded Democratic and independent voters are the most likely to be targeted. Florida state officials will continue their quest to purge purportedly ineligible people from voter-registration rolls, a representative of Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Saturday, in defiance of objections from the U.S. Justice Department and county officials who say the policy violates two federal voting laws.

Jersey Journal, Political Insider: The Jersey City comeback kid? Agustin C. Torres. June 2, 2012. The outspoken former Jersey City Assemblyman Lou Manzo, who has been living at the Jersey shore while successfully battling his federal indictment on corruption charges, is planning to take his show on the road -- or should I say back home.

BBC, The slow death of New Orleans newspaper, Produced by Anna Bressanin (Video), June 2, 2012. What next for coverage of one of America’s most colorful and corrupt cities?  The Times-Picayune -- the only daily newspaper in New Orleans -- has announced sweeping job cuts as part of a plan to abandon its print edition four days a week.  More than 200 members of staff were handed their notices on Tuesday, with 84 newsroom employees cut - virtually half the 169-strong journalism and production staff.  After the changes the 175-year-old award-winning newspaper will only survive in its traditional form on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with the remaining staff producing an enhanced online edition seven days a week.  The changes come after the Times-Picayune was hit by the economic downturn and subsequent fall in advertising revenue, as well as the long-term decline of newspaper sales. The Times-Picayune is following the lead of other big US city papers, which have either reduced their print run or shut down completely. The decision to cut the print run sparked a "Save the Times-Picayune" rally, and there are questions about whether the online paper can maintain its in-depth coverage of one of America's most colourful and corrupt cities.

June 1
Bill ClintonDaily Howler, Looting Watch: Nothing To look at, Bill Clinton said! Bob Somersby, June 1, 2012. There’s nothing to look at! Move on! Bill Clinton appeared on Piers Morgan last night. Morgan was in an undisclosed location. In his absence, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sat in for the fatuous host.  Eventually, Weinstein raised the question of Bain Capital. We were quite struck by Clinton’s response.According to Clinton, left, people can “invest in companies” two different ways: On the one hand, they “can invest in a company, run up the debt, loot it, sell all the assets, and force all the people to lose their retirement and fire them.”  (They can loot the company, Bill Clinton said! Loot it! Those were his words!)  On the other hand, people who invest in companies “can have cut-backs, try to make it more productive with the purpose of saving it.” No one would criticize the second approach. But what about that first approach? What about people who “loot a company, sell all the assets, and force all the people to lose their retirement?” Is that an honorable way to do business?  Gaze on the way our elites do their business! None of these folk will challenge the people who loot the pensions of working-class people! As we have told you, year after year: "Darlings! It just isn't done!" Your country is ruled by horrid elites—and slithering climbers want to get theirs.
 
Harper's No Comment, Traitor: Six Questions for Jesselyn Radack, Scott Horton, June 1, 2012. Jesselyn Radack came into the Justice Department through the Attorney General’s Honors Program and worked as an ethics adviser until she found herself embroiled in a scandal that arose because she dispensed advice senior political appointees didn’t want to hear. The scandal became aggravated when Justice officials made false statements about her advice in representations to a federal judge. Radack, a recipient of the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, is now the director of national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, where she counsels and represents whistleblowers. I put six questions to her about her book, Traitor, and her career battling for ethics compliance at a powerful institution that sometimes takes the low road to success.

Scott HortonHarper's No Comment,The Edwards Circus Leaves Town, Scott Horton, June 1, 2012. The case of United States v. John Edwards has come to an end. The jury acquitted Edwards on the principal charge of accepting an illegal campaign contribution from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in 2008, and deadlocked on the remaining charges; a mistrial was declared. The case continues the long string of embarrassing reversals for the Justice Department’s public-integrity prosecutors. The outcome is particularly striking because the circumstances could not have been more favorable to the prosecutors. They targeted a man who is probably the most reviled politician in America. The judge handling the case, Catherine Eagles, initially cautioned prosecutors against playing to the emotions of the jurors, then permitted them to do exactly that, allowing evidence of emotional confrontations between Edwards and the wife he had betrayed—evidence that could easily have fueled a daytime soap opera, but had no place in a federal courtroom. Judge Eagles also blocked Edwards from presenting expert evidence on the proper construction of election-finance laws, allowing federal prosecutors to proceed unchallenged on the issue. That ruling rested on the view that federal election law was so clear that any person of normal intelligence could read and understand it—a proposition that no one who knows anything about the subject would agree is correct. Clearly, the stage was laid for a conviction. The prosecutors failed to get one because their case was built on emotion and lacked substantive merit, which was ultimately clear to enough of the jurors to block it from going forward.
 
Wall Street Journal / Japan Edition, Japan’s Nuclear Industry: The CIA Link, Eleanor Warnock, June 1, 2012. In the 15 months since the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan’s relationship with nuclear power has changed dramatically. Once the world’s third-largest producer of nuclear energy, the country faces the prospect of electricity shortages this summer as all 50 of its plants remain offline. Restarting reactors — a step the government says is necessary to support the economy — is proving to be politically tricky as a skeptical public questions the safety of atomic energy. Rewind almost 60 years and the government had a similar problem: how to persuade the public to support its ambition to become a nuclear nation only nine years after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

According to one Japanese university professor, that ambition was achieved with help from an unlikely source: the CIA. Tetsuo Arima, a researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo, told JRT he discovered in the U.S. National Archives a trove of declassified CIA files that showed how one man, Matsutaro Shoriki, was instrumental in jumpstarting Japan’s nascent nuclear industry. Mr. Shoriki was many things: a Class A war criminal, the head of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan’s biggest-selling and most influential newspaper) and the founder of both the country’s first commercial broadcaster and the Tokyo Giants baseball team. Less well known, according to Mr. Arima, was that the media mogul worked with the CIA to promote nuclear power. In 1954, Japan saw widespread anti-U.S. and anti-nuclear demonstrations after Japanese fishermen were exposed to radiation due to the U.S.’s testing of a hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll.Mr. Shoriki, backed by the CIA, used his influence to publish articles in the Yomiuri that extolled the virtues of nuclear power, according to the documents found by Mr. Arima. Keen on remilitarizing Japan, Mr. Shoriki endorsed nuclear power in hopes its development would one day arm the country with the ability to make its own nuclear weapons, according to Mr. Arima. Mr. Shoriki’s behind-the-scenes push created a chain reaction in other media that eventually changed public opinion.