April News Reports 2016
Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative April 2016 news and views
Truthout, Why Are Evangelicals Fighting Over Ted Cruz's Religious Beliefs? Bill Berkowitz, April 20, 2016. The long and winding road to the Republican Party's presidential nomination is getting rockier for conservative Christian evangelical leaders as they continue to reckon with some major-league divisive issues.
When Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, endorsed Donald Trump, evangelical leaders Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Max Lucado, often described as "America's pastor," began speaking out against Trump. The editorial board at The Christian Post, so unnerved by the possibility of Trump heading the GOP's ticket, launched a major anti-Trump broadside.
The Indicter (Sweden and Italy), How To Understand Political Sex Scandal Allegations, Andrew Kreig, April 30, 2016 (republished from Justice Integrity Project). Claims of sex scandal are increasingly common regarding high officials and would-be officials. Scandals involving important government officials are often tied to efforts to disgrace them and their causes, or to blackmail them into favorable government actions. Government contracts or tax policies for favored businesses and foreign policy intrigues are often involved. These involve such high stakes that the costs of escorts and secret video equipment are relatively modest.
President Barack Obama greets Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq and the Iraqi delegation prior to a meeting in the Oval Office, April 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post, Protests in Baghdad throw administration’s Iraq plan into doubt, Greg Jaffe, April 30, 2016. President Obama’s plan for fighting the Islamic State is predicated on having a credible and effective Iraqi ally on the ground in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. And in recent days, the administration had been optimistic, despite the growing political unrest in Baghdad, about that critical partnership.
But that optimism — along with the administration’s strategy for battling the Islamic State in Iraq — was thrown into severe doubt after protesters stormed Iraq’s parliament on Saturday and a state of emergency was declared in Baghdad. The big question for White House officials is what happens if Abadi — a critical linchpin in the fight against the Islamic State — does not survive the turmoil that has swept over the Iraqi capital.
Guardian, Baghdad state of emergency declared after protesters storm parliament, Domnic Smith, April 30, 2016. Hundreds storm Green Zone changing ‘the cowards ran way’ after MPs fail to convene for vote on ministerial changes. A state of emergency has reportedly been declared in Baghdad after supporters of the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed the Green Zone and entered the parliament building.
New Yorker, The Saudi Royal Family Shakeup, Robin Wright, April 30, 2015. As Defense Minister, the new heir apparent, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, has led the Kingdom's counterterrorism efforts. The House of Saud, one of the world’s largest and richest royal families, experienced a quiet coup within its ranks shortly before dawn on Wednesday. King Salman canned his Crown Prince and appointed a tough security official as the new heir. He named as second-in-line to the throne a young son with limited experience. And he removed the world’s longest serving foreign minister, who was responsible for building the alliance between Riyadh and Washington under seven American Presidents since 1975.
Washington Post, Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman sent to solitary confinement, Robert Barnes, April 29, 2016. Former Alabama governor Don E. Siegelman was sent to solitary confinement this week at the Louisiana facility in which he is imprisoned on political corruption charges, according to his son Joseph Siegelman. Siegelman, 70, was quoted extensively in a Washington Post article this week on former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, whose 2014 conviction on public corruption charges was reviewed by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Siegelman was transferred to solitary confinement at the federal correctional institution at Oakdale, La., on Monday after the story was posted online, according to his son, who said he found the timing suspicious. But Bureau of Prison officials, who refused to confirm that the former governor was in solitary confinement, said that there was no link.
“The allegation that Mr. Siegelman was punished for talking to a reporter is false,” a spokesman for the bureau said in an emailed statement. “Due to confidentiality concerns, we cannot speak specifically about disciplinary matters of a particular inmate.” Joseph Siegelman said his father had told him he was being punished for three infractions: running a business from prison, misuse of the mail and a catch-all prohibition against behavior that is disruptive of prison operations.
An official at the prison said the incident report was about a T-shirt that Siegelman sold on eBay, which was mentioned in The Post article and had been reported on in Alabama media. An unknown bidder paid $4,500 for it, and the proceeds are supposed to go toward completing a documentary about Siegelman’s case called “Atticus vs. the Architect.” According to the note Siegelman posted during the eBay auction, the T-shirts can be purchased at the prison commissary. Alabama media also reported on the sale.
Huffington Post, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Endorses Ted Cruz For President, Sam Levine, April 29, 2016. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Friday gave a tepid endorsement to Sen. Ted Cruz’s bid for the presidency ahead of Tuesday’s primary in his state. A Cruz victory in Indiana is seen as crucial to block Donald Trump from getting enough delegates to secure the Republican presidential nomination. “I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary,” Pence said during a radio show on WIBC Friday afternoon.
Before he announced the endorsement, Pence went out of his way to praise Trump, whom he said has “given voice” to the frustrations of Americans. He also made sure to say that he “wasn’t against” any of the Republicans running for president and that he would “work his heart out” to support whoever becomes the nominee. Pence later added he was endorsing Cruz because the Texas senator has the “courage of his convictions,” will rein in federal spending and has a commitment to the “sanctity of life.” Cruz has been making a hard push in Indiana, where he announced on Wednesday that businesswoman Carly Fiorina would be his running mate if he earns the GOP nomination. Ohio Gov. John Kasich also agreed to pull resources out of Indiana so Cruz could campaign there more effectively.
Washington Post, Pentagon disciplines 16 but calls Afghan hospital strike accidental, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, April 29, 2016. An investigation into an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital that killed 30 found that the failures that led to the disaster did not amount to “a war crime” because they were not intentional, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel said.
World Net Daily (WND), Cruz's evangelist father re-emerges in Indiana; Christian vote looms large in 'last-hope' primary, Jerome R. Corsi (shown in file photo), April 29, 2016. After negative reporting of his religious views, the Christian evangelist father of Ted Cruz has returned to the campaign trail in an effort to win evangelical voters in Indiana, whose primary Tuesday is regarded by many as the Texas senator’s last hope to keep his bid for the Republican presidential nomination alive.
While the national media largely has been silent about Rafael Cruz’s re-emergence, local reporters in Indiana have covered his various appearances. WSBT-TV in Mishawaka, Indiana, reported Rafael Cruz created “a lot of excitement” by showing up as a guest of Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence at a Wednesday night fish fry dinner of Kosciusko County Republicans. On April 8, the Courier-Times in New Castle, Indiana, reported Rafael Cruz stopped by a local restaurant for an event that opened with a prayer from pastor Randy Gross and the singing of “God Bless America” by Christy Stutzman, the wife of Marlin Stutzman, a candidate for the Indiana state Senate.
Andrea Yaeter, reporting for the Courier-Times, noted Rafael Cruz discussed several “hot-button issues in the Republican party including education, gay marriage, abortion, states’ rights and the Supreme Court.” Rafael Cruz said Washington didn’t need someone who was willing to buy out people to get things done, referring to his son’s Republican rival, Donald Trump. At one point in his speech, Yaeter noted, Rafael Cruz discussed the four different ways for Christians to decide who to vote for in an election, stressing that to vet a candidate, the voter must look at the candidate’s record, whether he is an able man, a man of truth and if he hates covetousness. The organizer of the event, Andrew Phipps, a national radio minister, urged the more than 10 pastors from around central Indiana in attendance to endorse Cruz for president, as Phipps suggested he had already done.
Washington Post, Alabama’s top judge blames ‘atheists, homosexuals and transgender’ people for legal complaint, Niraj Chokshi, April 29, 2016. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, famous for his embrace of religion in the courtroom, says he’s under attack, again. Moore this week accused the civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center and “atheists, homosexuals and transgender individuals,” of filing politically motivated charges that he violated judicial ethics, AL.com reports.
“For months, I’ve sat back while complaint after complaint has been filed by persons and individuals and organizations which have mischaracterized and misstated my position,” Moore said at a Wednesday news conference recorded and uploaded by AL.com.
Wall Street Journal, Russia Says U.S. Buildup Violates Syrian Sovereignty; Planned increase of U.S. military personnel in Syria is illegal, deputy foreign minister says, Thomas Grove, April 29, 2016. Russia said Friday that U.S. plans to increase the number of its military personnel in Syria was illegal and violated the sovereignty of the war-torn country. “It is impossible for us to be not worried that such an action by the United States of America is being carried out without the agreement of the legal government of Syria,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “It is a violation of sovereignty,” the state news agency Tass reported him as saying.
Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington would boost the number of special operations forces in Syria to about 300 from 50. They will advise and assist local forces battling the extremist group Islamic State, he said.
Washington Post, U.S. ambassador’s confirmation came after backroom dealing with Rubio, Cruz, Carol Morello and Ed O'Keefe, April 29, 2016. The Senate confirmation of Roberta Jacobson as ambassador to Mexico came 11 months after her nomination by President Obama — and after two weeks of intense dealing involving GOP Sens. Rubio and Cruz.
Washington Post, Navy commander sentenced to 78 months in bribery scandal, Julie Watson, April 29, 2016. A Navy commander who fled Cambodia’s killing fields as a boy to grow up to become a decorated U.S. military officer was sentenced Friday to 78 months in prison for providing classified ship schedules in exchange for the services of prostitutes, theater tickets and other gifts from a Malaysian defense contractor. A federal judge in San Diego gave Captain-select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 48, the longest sentence handed out so far in one of the worst bribery scandals to rock the Navy. The contractor overbilled the Navy by more than $34 million.
Washington Post, Supreme Court declines to block Texas voter-ID law, for now, Robert Barnes, April 29, 2016. The justices indicate that they will intervene if a lower court does not resolve the issue by midsummer.
WhoWhatWhy, How Moral Differences Between Sanders and Clinton Were Obscured, Russ Baker (shown in file photo), April 28, 2016. Sanders promised to run a campaign that took the high road with no cheap shots. Russ Baker discusses how that admirable approach might have cost him a chance to be president.
WhoWhatWhy, How New York Times Helped Hillary Hide the Hawk, Russ Baker, April 28, 2016. If you wonder why Sanders had such a hard time, despite his wide appeal, look no further than the role of the media.
Washington Post, Cruz’s latest fights with fellow Republicans are a reminder: Many simply don’t like him, Sean Sullivan and Ed O'Keefe, April 28, 2019. Former House Speaker John Boehner labeled him “Lucifer in the flesh,” while a veteran strategist said Cruz was “the political version of liver and onions.” In the space of just seven minutes Thursday, Ted Cruz reminded fellow Republicans that he has few friends in the party.
First he tangled with former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH, and shown in an official photo), a longtime foe who so dislikes Cruz that he labeled him “Lucifer in the flesh.” Then Cruz undercut another Republican, fellow presidential candidate John Kasich, who had entered into an alliance with him to stop GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
“There is no alliance,” Cruz told reporters on Thursday, acting as if a pact announced by his own campaign days before had never happened. Minutes later, Kasich strategist John Weaver dispatched a cryptic tweet: “I can’t stand liars.”
For years, Cruz has angered fellow Republicans with his actions in the Senate. His push to shred the federal health-care law led to the 2013 government shutdown. He declined to endorse his GOP colleagues against insurgent primary challengers in 2014, despite holding a leadership position with the GOP committee responsible for reelecting them. He has refused to apologize for calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor — an extraordinary breach of decorum.
On Wednesday night, Boehner told a crowd at Stanford University that Cruz is “Lucifer in the flesh” and that he had “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” according to the Stanford Daily.
Huffington Post, Large Swaths Of The Pacific Ocean May Actually Suffocate In Just 15 Years, Chris D'Angelo, April 28, 2016 It should come as no surprise that human activity is causing the world’s oceans to warm, rise and acidify. But an equally troubling impact of climate change is that it is beginning to rob the oceans of oxygen. While ocean deoxygenation is well established, a new study led by Matthew Long, an oceanographer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, finds that climate change-driven oxygen loss is already detectable in certain swaths of ocean and will likely be “widespread” by 2030 or 2040. Ultimately, Long told the Huffington Post, oxygen-deprived oceans may have “significant impacts on marine ecosystems” and leave some areas of ocean all but uninhabitable for certain species.
Infowars, Trump Supporter Beaten Bloody By Protestors, Alex Jones, April 28, 2016. Protestors outside of a Trump rally in Costa Mesa, Ca. attack a Trump supporter and beat him until his face is covered in blood.
New York Post, Alleged Epstein madam sells $16M Manhattan townhouse, Jennifer Gould Keil, April 28, 2016. Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late disgraced press baron Robert Maxwell, has sold her townhouse at 116 E. 65th Street for $15 million. It was asking $18.99 million last year. Maxwell is best known for her friendship with Prince Andrew and her convicted sex offender ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein (shown in file photo) — and for her role as an alleged “madam” who procured underage girls for these men of privilege. Maxwell has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
The Hill, Will you be punished for revealing classified info? Depends who you are, Danielle Brian and Elizabeth Hempowicz, April 28, 2016. Brian is Project On Government Oversight Executive Director and Hempowicz is Project On Government Oversight Public Policy Associate. “There’s classified, and then there’s classified.” So said President Obama in a recent interview when asked about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Essentially, the president was saying it was no big deal, despite the findings that classified information was involved.
Yet, the Obama administration has brought more charges under the Espionage Act against officials for allegedly mishandling classified information than all other administrations combined since it was signed into law 99 years ago.
Contrast that with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General David Petraeus, who both leaked classified information with little or no consequences. Panetta disclosed “Top Secret” information and other sensitive details at an event attended by a “Hollywood executive” working on the movie Zero Dark Thirty. Panetta has never been punished and a Project On Government Oversight (POGO) investigation found that the Defense Department’s Inspector General -- who is supposed to act as an independent watchdog -- altered the findings of investigators to clear Panetta of any wrongdoing.
It might be argued that Panetta, or the head of any federal agency, should have the discretion to determine what information truly needs to be classified. But that’s not what the law says. A better solution than allowing Cabinet members to do this is a public interest balancing test. That is, having a court independently evaluate whether the disclosure of classified information best serves the national interest.
The Petraeus case indicates that favorable treatment hasn’t been limited to cabinet secretaries. Despite leaking classified information to his biographer and mistress -- and lying to the FBI unit investigating the lead -- General Petraeus was sentenced to a mere two years’ probation and fined $100,000.
This unequal application of the law politicizes national security and makes the entire process a sham. The Espionage Act makes no distinction regarding the reasons for disclosing classified information, nor does it distinguish between the levels of classification.
Special Olympics, Virginia Athlete Marks a Milestone for Congressional Fellowship, Christy Weir, April 29, 2016. Last night, at the U.S. Capitol, Special Olympics International Global Messenger David Egan was recognized and celebrated for his work serving as a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Public Policy Fellow from February 2015 to February 2016. This historic event marked the first time in 20 years, a person with an intellectual disability was selected to serve as a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Public Policy Fellow! In his remarks, David (shown speaking) thanked his employer CBRE who gave him a leave of absence to be a fellow and acknowledged his mentor and friend Greg Jones with whom he worked for the past 20 years.
David said, "Among us this evening, are many champions those with and without disabilities joining hands to improve our lives and our society. My heartfelt thanks to each one of you. You believed in me; you had expectations of me and trusted that I would not let you down. You supported me throughout my life and especially this past year, engaging me in meaningful public policy efforts."
The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare both early career and more seasoned leaders to assume leadership in the public policy arena in their home state and/or nationally. During his fellowship, David served as an aide to the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, working on the Committee on Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over benefits and support for people with disabilities. He supported the committee by helping inform the legislative process and be the voice for people with intellectual disabilities.
He also worked with the National Down Syndrome Society Public Policy Center (NDSS), leading the team effort in writing a resource guide for employers. "The NDSS and many others like me believe that we, people with Down syndrome, are valued, able and ready to work!" said David. "My dream is about improving the lives of people with disabilities. My dream came almost true with the fellowship. My dream is a dream of advocacy, following in the vision of Eunice Kennedy Shriver the founder of Special Olympics. She asked heads of states, legislators, influential people, athletes and fans like you to promote inclusion and dignity in our world. Her words and call for justice resonate in my heart, as I quote: “The right to play in any playing field, you have earned it; The right to have a job, you have earned it; The right to be anyone’s neighbor, you have earned it.”
Madcow News, The story of 9/11 is a story about Saudis in Florida, Daniel Hopsicker, April 28, 2016. “But isn’t all of this Outside job stuff just going to benefit the Neo Cons? GlobalCorp?” someone emailed. “Did the Saudis put the (alleged) Hijackers in Rudy's flight school? Give them Govt Credit cards? Schedule identical Drills the morning of 911? Tell Cheney to run the stand down? Operate the cover up? I don’t see anything coming from this. Shot over the bow of the kingdom by Economic hitmen…”
What I saw in Florida: The Saudis were running it. They were everywhere. In 1999, there were a handful of Arab flight students in SW Florida. In 2001 there were thousands. At a big AFB base in the Panhandle, a trainer told me, "It used to be Iranians. Now its all Saudis." Were they there by themselves? Hell no. Did the CIA know? Hell yes. I asked an old hand, in a highly irate tone of voice, how could the CIA not have known blah-di-blah blah. His answer was mild. Why, I’m sure that they did know. He said, “It would have been impossible for them not to.”
Venice and the surrounding region was teeming with spooks. The Sheriff in nearby Charlotte County — where Atta lived for a time, though you won’t find that in the 9/11 Commission Report — told me that, because of the 40-year history of covert activity that he had seen been run through Charlotte County, which he and everyone else in the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department had been powerless to stop, he believed the CIA was responsible for 9/11.
I drove 1000 miles in the dead of winter in a 15-year old car with a faulty heater to find and interview Mohamed Atta’s girlfriend. Nobody else knew he’d even had one. Except three tiny local newspapers in SW Florida. I posted the entire interview.
I discovered the most important secret that’s come out so far about the 9/11 attack. The owner of the flight school that trained Mohamed Atta had his Learjet busted just three weeks after Atta arrived, carrying 43 lbs. of heroin. Because of this, in 50 or 100 years, or maybe a thousand, depending on when the truth finally comes out, someone will be grateful that I did. That makes me feel good. I was, at least, useful. One of the reasons being put forward to release the 28 pages involves testimony from Z. Moussaoui.
In Welcome to TerrorLand there’s testimony from a cabbie who picked up Moussaoui in Venice, where no one else reports that he was. He's been visiting some of the boys at an apartment in Venice. The cabdriver (there’s only two in Venice) had been to that address a dozen times, taking Arab men to the airport in Orlando.
The cabdriver's asked to help carry luggage to the cab. He says okay. Its a trunk, and it weighs almost more than two people can carry. That’s all he knew. Later I asked an ex-NSA agent what could weigh that much. He answered without even pausing to think: “Gold.”
Washington Post, Ted Cruz just threw a Hail Mary named ‘Carly Fiorina,’ Chris Cillizza, April 27, 2016. So, why is Cruz picking Fiorina? And why is he announcing it now?
WhoWhatWhy, The Panama Papers, the 28 Pages, and More, Russ Baker, April 27, 2016. Sean Stone of RT International interviews Russ Baker on the Panama Papers, the suppressed 28 pages on Saudi-9/11 connections, the presidential race, and more.
Washington Post, Cruz announces Carly Fiorina as his running mate, Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa, April 26, 2016. Ted Cruz, in an apparent act of desperation, announced Wednesday that Carly Fiorina (shown in a file photo) will be his vice presidential running mate if he is the Republican nominee for president. Announcing a running mate is an unusual step that comes as he trails GOP front-runner Donald Trump by a wide margin and faces an increasingly narrow path to the Republican nomination. Cruz hopes to gain steam in what amounts to a must-win for him in Tuesday’s Indiana primary. A day before the announcement, Trump drubbed Cruz in five Eastern states and stretched his overall lead in delegates to the Republican convention to nearly 400.
Trump quickly responded to the news.
“After massive defeats in Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut and Maryland, (in addition to twenty other contests) and given the fact that Senator Cruz has millions of votes less than me and is being clobbered on the delegate front, this is a pure waste of time,” Trump said in a statement. “It reminds me very much of the already failed Kasich ‘collusion’ — a desperate attempt to save a failing campaign by an all talk, no action politician. The people of Indiana are very smart — they will see through this just like they saw through the already failed Kasich alliance. Cruz has no path to victory — he is only trying to stay relevant.”
Washington Post, Trump, Clinton dominate in East Coast primaries, Inside Trump adviser Manafort’s world of politics and global dealmaking, David A. Fahrenthold, April 26, 2016. The consultant has played a part in an array of transactions with billionaire oligarchs and other controversial investors that have at times spurred legal disputes. Donald Trump’s victories in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware illustrated his strength along the Eastern Seaboard. Sen. Bernie Sanders won in Rhode Island.
Washington Post, Cruz, Kasich form an unlikely alliance to stop Trump in 3 states, Sean Sullivan and David Weigel, April 25, 2016. GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and John Kasich released statements calling for Kasich to stop competing in the Indiana primary while Cruz backs off in New Mexico and Oregon. They called on allied third-party groups to do the same.
Trump issued a statement early Monday morning saying: "Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are."
Washington Post, As McDonnell awaits Supreme Court, another governor watches from prison, Robert Barnes, April 25, 2016. Along with the state officials and law professors who are happy that the Supreme Court this week is reviewing the corruption conviction of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, add inmate No. 24775-001 at the federal prison in Oakdale, La.
He is otherwise known as Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, whom many of those same people supported when the justices decided — twice — that his conviction did not warrant an extended review.
[Justice Integrity Project Editor's note: Siegelman, a Democrat, was convicted for 1999 actions before the corrupt federal trial judge Mark Fuller, a Republican who has since resigned from the federal bench in disgrace after beating his wife. Siegelman's co-defendant Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth, has said repeatedly that most media accounts of the case are based on misleading prosecution statements.]
“I’m not the slightest bit bitter about that at all,” Siegelman (shown in a file photo) said last week in a telephone interview from prison. “I’m delighted that the court has taken the McDonnell case, and I’m hopeful the court will clarify what constitutes political quid pro quo bribery.”
Most convicted politicians who ask the Supreme Court for relief — former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and former congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana being just recent examples — meet fates similar to Siegelman’s.
While the Supreme Court never accepted Siegelman’s case for full briefing, McDonnell (shown in a file photo with his wife and co-defendant Maureen) grabbed the brass ring twice.
Not only is the court reviewing his 2014 conviction in its last oral argument of the term Wednesday, but the justices intervened at the final hour last fall to keep McDonnell from having to report to prison while the legal drama played out. That was something the court had never done before, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices before they acted.
But McDonnell and his supporters said the circumstances of his conviction — he, his wife and family received $177,000 in luxury items, vacations and loans from businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., although there was no direct evidence McDonnell ordered state officials to take actions that Williams wanted — demanded high-court review.
Washington Post, Federal judge upholds North Carolina voter ID law, Sari Horwitz, April 25, 2016. Civil rights groups say the controversial law, which is among the strictest in the country, will discourage minorities from casting ballots in the upcoming presidential election.
ABC News, What the 250 Additional US Forces Will Do in Syria, Luis Martinez, April 25, 2016. President Obama has announced that an additional 250 military personnel will head to Syria to work with Syrian rebel forces fighting ISIS in the country. They will join a group of 50 special operations forces that have been doing that since earlier this year. ABC News explains how the additional forces being sent to Syria could help with plans to retake Raqqa, ISIS's de facto capital in central Syria.
Washington Post, Cruz dominates, Trump falls short again as more states pick delegates, Ed O'Keefe, April 24, 2016. Ted Cruz dominated the race for delegate seats at weekend Republican meetings nationwide, further positioning the senator from Texas to overtake Donald Trump in the race for the GOP presidential nomination if the contest is decided on later ballots at the Republican National Convention.
In some instances, Cruz supporters won delegate seats in states that Trump won, meaning that in most cases they will be required to vote for the businessman on a first ballot. But if Trump fails to win the nomination in the first round, those Cruz supporters could switch to the senator on subsequent ballots.
The Trump campaign has assured supporters that it would begin performing better in such settings, but it still seems more focused on winning most of the remaining 15 contests through June and securing the 1,237 delegates needed before the Cleveland convention.
Washington Post, Billionaire GOP donor Charles Koch says Clinton might be better than Trump or Cruz, Vanessa Williams, April 24, 2016. He stopped short of saying that he would support the former secretary of state if she becomes the Democratic nominee for the presidential election.
Washington Post, Former Dennis Hastert aides wonder if his secret affected his decisions, Matt Zapotosky, April 24, 2016. The ex-House speaker could be sentenced to prison Wednesday. In the Illinois town where Hastert coached and in the corridors of the U.S. Capitol where he once wrangled fellow legislators, the revelations about the purported sexual misdeeds have been met with shock, outrage and soul searching.
President Barack Obama concludes a National Security Council meeting in the Situation Room of the White House in advance of his trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Germany, April 19, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
BBC, Syria conflict: Obama rules out ground troops for Syria, Staff report, April 23, 2016. President Barack Obama has ruled out deploying US ground troops in Syria and says military efforts alone cannot solve the country's problems. "It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain... to send in ground troops and overthrow the [Bashar al-] Assad regime," he told the BBC.
He also said he did not think so-called Islamic State would be defeated in his last nine months of office. But he said: "We can slowly shrink the environment in which they operate." Mr Obama, who has been on a three-day visit to the UK, also warned that Britain could take up to 10 years to negotiate trade deals with the US if it votes to leave the EU in a June referendum. The US president later arrived in Hannover, Germany, where he hopes to boost support for the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal.
WhoWhatWhy, Arizona Voters Outraged by Barriers to Voting in 2016 Primary, Ben Huang, April 23, 2016 (with video). Primaries throughout the U.S. continue to be marred by election problems. Here is a closer look at what happened in Arizona. In this eye-opening video, Secretary of State Michele Reagan (shown in a photo) faces angry voters and unhappy lawmakers for two hours. She vows to find out what went wrong. But does that promise ring hollow in light of the shameful record of Arizona election officials so far?
Chicago Tribune, Letters in support of Dennis Hastert, Staff report, April 23, 2016. Forty-one of the 60 letters submitted in support of Dennis Hastert in advance of his sentencing on hush money charges were released on April 22, 2016. The former Illinois congressman is shown in a file photo from his days as House Speaker, an office third in line to the presidency that Hastert held longer than any other Republican in U.S. history.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, Letter from Europe, Anonymous letter conveyed by Paul Craig Roberts, April 23, 2016. Dear Sir: Inside of 25 years I’ve observed the shift of the mass-media in Europe from somehow different and somehow independent /original and free as much the official media can be in this “democracy-capitalism” to a “European Media” which is absolutely identical and absolutely uniformity qua content, being different only the name of that media and the country language.
WPXI (Pittsburgh), Wecht: Prince's death is likely drug-related, Staff report, April 23, 2016. Famed forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht said Prince’s death appears to have been the result of a drug overdose, NBC News reports. "I would give overwhelming odds that, tragically, this is a drug death," Dr. Cyril Wecht (shown in a file photo) told NBC's Today. He is not involved in Prince’s case. The 57-year-old superstar was found dead in an elevator at his estate in Minneapolis Thursday. Police said there were no signs of trauma.
"When you rule out foul play, when there is no history of any kind of significant disease … heart and lung … when you rule out any kind of intervention, anything of an environmental nature, you come down to an autopsy that is essentially negative … and that probably means drugs," added Wecht, whose worked on some of the nation's most high-profile autopsies. He is the former Allegheny County medical examiner.
Berkshire Eagle, Local investors buy The Berkshire Eagle; pledge return of quality journalism, William P. Densmore, April 23, 2016. On May 2, 2016, the 124-year-old Berkshire Eagle will return to local ownership, after 21 years of control by a series of newspaper chains. A judge, two bankers, and a retired publishing protégé and friend of financier Warren Buffett – three with either full- or part-time ties to the Berkshires – announced their purchase of The Berkshire Eagle to an enthusiastic audience at the Berkshire Museum on April 21.
The new owners are retired Judge Fredric Rutberg, banker Robert G. Wilmers, and venture capitalist John “Hans” Morris – all of Stockbridge – and retired Buffalo News publisher Stanford Lipsey. The following is a history of the Berkshire Eagle’s ownership, written by journalist Bill Densmore, who had prepared this document for the new ownership. A profile of the four new Eagle owners appears below.
Lee Harvey Oswald, front left, standing next to man never identified by the Warren Commission, center in white shirt, handing out leaflets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee taken outside the International Trade Mart in New Orleans on Aug. 16, 1963. The National Enquirer is now saying that they have determined through photo analysis that the man is Rafael B. Cruz, father of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz. (Archive photo b y the late Johann Rush/WSDU-TV)
McClatchy DC, Tabloid says it has proof: Ted Cruz’s father is mystery man in Lee Harvey Oswald photo, Maria Recio, April 22, 2016.
- National Enquirer claims photo is proof that Rafael B. Cruz was standing alongside JFK assassin;
- Cruz campaign dismisses allegation as ‘garbage;’
- Cruz’s father had been pro-Castro but had turned on him when Cuban leader said he was a communist.
The National Enquirer has published what it says is conclusive evidence that Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael B. Cruz, is the man photographed next to JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald distributing pro-Castro leaflets in 1963 in New Orleans. The Cruz presidential campaign fired back unequivocally. “This is another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage,” communications director Alice Stewart told McClatchy. “The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture.”
The explosive suggestion that Cruz’s father would have had any affiliation with Oswald is not corroborated in any other way. Cuban-born Rafael Cruz is now a fervent anti-communist, but there was a time he supported then-rebel leader Fidel Castro. His son, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, frequently relates his father’s arrest and torture by government officials and subsequent escape to the United States.
The elder Cruz ended up at the University of Texas at Austin and still supported Castro, who led the revolution that overthrew the Batista regime in 1959. Castro formally declared himself Marxist in 1961.
“The U.S. government was duped. The American people were duped. I was duped,” Rafael Cruz wrote in his book, A Time for Action, released in January. “When people ask me why I supported Castro in over-throwing the Cuban government, I readily admit that I didn’t realize he was a communist.”
There are photos of Rafael Cruz participating in a pro-Castro rally in 1959 and an article in the student newspaper where he describes his support for Castro. And one report questions the extent of the elder Cruz’s connections to Castro before fleeing Cuba.
JIP Editor's note: On April 7, 2016, this story was broken by investigative reporter Wayne Madsen on the Wayne Madsen Report in Was the father of presidential hopeful Cruz involved in the JFK assassination?
Consortium News, How CBS News Aided the JFK Cover-up, James DiEugenio, April 22, 2016. With the Warren Report on JFK’s assassination under attack in the mid-1960s, there was a chance to correct the errors and reassess the findings, but CBS News intervened to silence the critics, reports James DiEugenio. In the mid-1960s, amid growing skepticism about the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman findings on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there was a struggle inside CBS News about whether to allow the critics a fair public hearing at the then-dominant news network. Some CBS producers pushed for a debate between believers and doubters and one even submitted a proposal to put the Warren Report “on trial,” according to internal CBS documents.
Fox News, ISIS suspect reveals plans to open up route from Syria to U.S. through Mexico, Staff report, April 22, 2016. One of the American men accused in Minnesota of trying to join the Islamic State group wanted to open up routes from Syria to the U.S. through Mexico, prosecutors said. Gules Ali Omar told the ISIS members about the route so that it could be used to send members to America to carry out terrorist attacks, prosecutors alleged in a document filed this week.
Reuters, U.S. split deepens over Putin's intentions in Syria civil war, Jonathan Landay and Phil Stewart, April 22, 2016. Russia’s latest military moves in Syria have sharpened divisions within the U.S. administration over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin genuinely backs a U.N.-led initiative to end the civil war or is using the negotiations to mask renewed military support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia has repositioned artillery near the disputed city of Aleppo, several U.S. officials told Reuters. Despite withdrawing some fixed-wing aircraft in March, Russia has also bolstered its forces in Syria with advanced helicopter gunships, and renewed airstrikes against moderate opposition groups, said U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Russian reassertion of military backing has prompted some U.S. officials to warn that a failure to respond would be seen by Moscow as a fresh sign of American timidity. That, they say, could encourage Russia to escalate challenges to U.S. and allied militaries through more provocative Russian air and naval maneuvers. They also contend that a U.S. failure to respond would further damage Washington’s relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states seeking to oust Assad, and with Turkey, which has been firing artillery at Islamic State targets in Syria.
The answer, they argue, is stepped-up U.S. support for moderate Syrian rebel factions with more anti-tank missiles and grenade launchers sent through third countries. However, other officials, including National Security Advisor Susan Rice, have vetoed any significant escalation of U.S. involvement in Syria, the officials said.
OpEdNews, How Voter Suppression Efforts Are Threatening Our Democracy, Marta Steele, April 22, 2016. "It is democracy time!" were words that led into this historic congressional briefing, "How Voter Suppression Efforts Are Threatening Our Democracy." Sponsors were the National Election Defense Coalition and Transformative Justice Coalition. What does the dismal handling of the primaries and caucuses held so far bode for the U.S. Congress?
Consortium News, How CBS News Aided the JFK Cover-up, James DiEugenio, April 22, 2016. With the Warren Report on JFK’s assassination under attack in the mid-1960s, there was a chance to correct the errors and reassess the findings, but CBS News intervened to silence the critics. In the mid-1960s, amid growing skepticism about the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman findings on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there was a struggle inside CBS News about whether to allow the critics a fair public hearing at the then-dominant news network. Some CBS producers pushed for a debate between believers and doubters and one even submitted a proposal to put the Warren Report “on trial,” according to internal CBS documents.
But CBS executives, who were staunch supporters of the Warren findings and had personal ties to some commission members, spiked those plans and instead insisted on presenting a defense of the lone-gunman theory while dismissing doubts as baseless conspiracy theories, the documents show.
USA Today, Tom DeLay, ex-CIA director ask judge to go easy on Dennis Hastert, Staff report, April 22, 2016. Former House Speaker Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican shown in an official photo, recalled in his letter that Hastert started a Wednesday Bible study that the two men took part in. "So I know his heart and have seen it up close and personal," DeLay wrote. "We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn't deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can."
Former CIA Director Porter Goss, a former GOP House member from Florida, called also for mercy.
Four French Generals who tried to overthrow President Charles de Gaulle: Left to right: André Zeller, Edmond Jouhaud, Raoul Salan and Maurice Challe.
Photo credit: Unknown / Wikimedia
WhoWhatWhy, Anniversary of an Attempt to Overthrow France’s Charles De Gaulle. Did CIA Help? WhoWhatWhy Team, April 22, 2016. It seems like the far-fetched plot of a Hollywood movie: Top military leaders are conspiring to bring down a western democracy. But that is exactly what happened, just days after the Bay of Pigs.
In the post-World War II era, one week stands out as truly extraordinary. Just a couple of days after the failed US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, on April 21, 1961, a group of French generals launched a coup-d’etat, with the aim of taking down President Charles de Gaulle (shown during World War II). This week marks the 55th anniversary of this profound event, little-remembered today.
The conspirators managed to control Algiers, the capital of French Algeria, but failed to achieve their secondary objective of taking Paris. Lacking popular support and having lost momentum, the coup was put down within days. Evidence suggests that Allen Dulles, the US Director of the CIA, and his numerous contacts deep within the French government, helped orchestrate the plot.
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes President Barack Obama to 10 Downing Street in London, April 22, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post, Obama’s gulf gambit: More military aid to allies could ease regional rifts with Iran, Greg Jaffe and Juliet Eilperin, April 21, 2016. But Saudi Arabia and other partners remain uneasy about the nuclear deal with Iran. Saudi Arabia's King Salman is shown in a file photo.
OpEdNews, Fear and Loathing in the Arabian Nights, Pepe Escobar (shown in file photo), April 21, 2016. The burning issue of freezing all Saudi assets across the planet has come up with the US Congress considering a bill exposing the Saudi connection to 9/11. The declassification and release of those notorious 28 pages would do little to rewrite recent history; 9/11 -- with no serious investigation -- was blamed on "Islamic terror," and that justified the invasion of Afghanistan and the bombing/invasion/occupation of Iraq, which had no connection to 9-11 nor any weapons of mass destruction.
The 28 pages did intimidate the House of Saud and Saudi intelligence though. Especially because the odd sharp brain in Riyadh could make the connection; the 28 pages were being paraded around in Western corporate media before the OPEC meeting to keep the Saudis in line on the oil war against Russia. That may have been yet another Mafia-style "offer you can't refuse"; if the House of Saud cuts oil production, then it will be destroyed by the release of the 28 pages.
So we are now deep into Mutually Assured Threat (MAT) territory, more than Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).
No one really knows how much Saudi Arabia has tied up in US Treasuries -- except for a few insiders in both Riyadh and Washington, and they are not talking. What is known is that the US Treasury bundles Riyadh's holdings along with other GCC petrodollar monarchies. Together, that amounted to $281 billion two months ago.
Yet the Saudis are now saying they would get rid of a whopping $750 billion. A New York investment banker advances that "six trillion dollars would be more like it." Earlier this year, I revealed on Sputnik how the House of Saud was busy unloading at least $1 trillion in US securities on the market to balance its increasingly disastrous budget. The problem is no one was ever supposed to know about it.
WhoWhatWhy, DOJ Cites Bizarre Reason to Deny WhoWhatWhy Access to Tsarnaev Info, James Henry, April 21, 2016. Efforts to learn why Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being held “incommunicado” prompted this bizarre answer: the government can’t tell us, because of concerns for his “privacy.” On the grounds that it wants to protect the privacy of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has stymied attempts by WhoWhatWhy to find out if Tsarnaev (shown in a file photo) is still being held under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs are a repressive type of confinement that severely limits one’s ability to communicate with anybody outside of one’s prison cell.
DOJ claimed that without Tsarnaev’s consent, revealing such information about the prisoner’s status “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of [his] personal privacy.” This was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by WhoWhatWhy, seeking updated details of Tsarnaev’s confinement.
New York Post, Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘sex slave’ to question her ‘madam’ in court, Kaja Whitehouse, April 21, 2016. The ex-teen prostitute at the center of “sex slave” allegations against sex-offender mogul Jeffery Epstein will finally get to question the woman she’s accused of pimping her out, a judge has ruled. On Friday, Ghislane Maxwell, a British socialite and close friend of Epstein’s, will be questioned for the first time by lawyers for Virginia Giuffre, who has accused Maxwell of luring her into Epstein’s harem in 1999 when she was just a teen and known as Virginia Roberts.
Maxwell has denied the allegations, sparking Giuffre’s defamation suit against her, in Manhattan federal court last year. Giuffre nearly lost her chance to interrogate Maxwell this week when the socialite’s lawyers requested the court halt the proceedings entirely. In a memo to the judge, Maxwell’s lawyers expressed skepticism over Giuffre’s claims that law enforcement is also probing “sex slave” allegations, and they asked for evidence supporting the accusations. “In the event that the plaintiff continues to fail to reveal the information that she claims to have regarding some ‘ongoing criminal investigation,’ Ms. Maxwell moves to stay these proceedings,” the socialite’s lawyers wrote Monday. Manhattan federal judge Robert Sweet ruled at a hearing Thursday that the deposition will go forward as planned. Any confidential information about law enforcement probes will be revealed during that questioning behind closed doors, Sweet said.
The Young Turks, 2016: 1st Presidential Election w/o Voting Rights Protections in 50 Years, Staff report, April 21, 2016. Ari Berman, author of the new book Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, testified at a Congressional luncheon Briefing on the Threat of Voter Suppression April 21. Rev. Dr. William Barber, leader of the Moral Monday & Forward Together Movement served as the event's opening speaker.
Recent studies reveal that new state voter suppression could stop approximately 1.3 million from voting in competitive states. At the briefing, you will hear from the nation’s top experts on how scores of Americans are being denied the right to vote in states that have passed onerous voting laws. In Texas alone, half a million people lack the photo identification required to vote. Thirty-two states have promulgated new Jim Crow laws to combat the largely mythical "voter fraud." Sixteen of these states will see their plans go into effect for the first time in the crucial 2016 elections.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud receives President Barack Obama in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 20, 2016 (EPA/Saudi Press Agency)
Washington Post, Saudi government has vast network of PR, lobby firms in U.S., Catherine Ho, April 20, 2016. The Saudi government and its affiliates have spent millions of dollars on U.S. law, lobby and public relations firms to raise the country’s visibility in the United States and before the United Nations at a crucial time. And some of Washington’s premier law and lobby firms — including Podesta Group, BGR Government Affairs, DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop — have been tasked with the job, according to a review of Justice Department filings. Five lobby and PR firms were hired in 2015 alone, signaling a stepped-up focus on ties with Washington.
The firms have been coordinating meetings between Saudi officials and business leaders and U.S. media, and promoting foreign investment in the Saudi economy. Some have even been tasked with coming up with content for the embassy’s official Twitter and YouTube accounts. The Saudi government, embassy and government-owned entities have been contracting with U.S. consulting firms for more than 30 years. The work ranges from years-long agreements for legislative advice to one-time PR outreach efforts during “VIP visits” of Saudi leaders to Washington and New York.
For 12 days last June, for example, consultants at the PR firm Edelman handled the visit of Abdulaziz Al-Harbi, CEO of International Trust Construction, during the executive’s trip to New York, setting up meetings with business, government and media leaders and earning $10,000 for their efforts. In 2014, consultants at the PR firm Qorvis developed content for the Saudi Arabia embassy’s YouTube and Twitter pages, and ran the Twitter account for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.
“Saudi Arabia is consistently one of the bigger players when it comes to foreign influence in Washington,” said Josh Stewart, a spokesman for the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money and influence in politics. “That spans both what you’d call the inside game, which is lobbying and government relations, and the outside game, which is PR and other things that tend to reach a broader audience than just lobbying.”
Guardian, A mentor in shamelessness: the man who taught Trump the power of publicity, Michelle Dean, April 20, 2016. Roy Cohn, the lawyer who embraced infamy during the McCarthy hearings and Rosenberg trial, influenced Donald Trump to turn the tabloids into a soapbox. Donald Trump is a man who likes to think he has few equals. But once upon a time, he had a mentor: Roy Cohn, a notoriously harsh lawyer who rose to prominence in the mid-1950s alongside the communist-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy. His tactics would often land him in the papers, but Cohn was unafraid of being slimed by the press – he used it to his advantage. A devil-may-care-as-long-as-it-gets-a-headline attitude was Cohn’s trademark in life. Trump, in our time, has made it his.
His careful manipulation of negative attention is something that Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) noticed immediately when the two met in 1973. Trump and his father had just been sued for allegedly discriminating against black people in Trump’s built-and-managed houses in Brooklyn, and sought out Cohn’s counsel. Among other things, Cohn advised that Trump should “tell them to go to hell”. Cohn was hired, and one of his first acts as Trump’s new lawyer was to file a $100m countersuit that was quickly dismissed by the court. But it made the papers.
This was the beginning of a long and close relationship. Trump relied on Cohn for most of the legal matters during a particularly tricky decade. Cohn drew up the pre-nuptial contract between Donald and Ivana when they married in 1977 – a famously stingy contract that only gave Ivana $20,000 a year. Cohn also filed a suit brought by the United States Football League in 1984 against the NFL, seeking to break up the monopoly held over American football. Trump owned a USFL team and was widely seen as the force behind the suit; the initial press conference about it was a tag-team show performed by Cohn and Trump
Brookings Institution, The New York Primary: Why Trump’s win is worth more than Hillary’s win, Elaine Kamarck, April 20, 2016. Although Clinton and Trump both won about 60% of the vote in the New York primary, differences in the two parties’ delegate counting systems ultimately means it was a much bigger win for Donald Trump.
CNN, Saudis snub Obama on Riyadh arrival amid growing tensions, Nicole Gaouette, Kevin Liptak and Nic Robertson, April 20, 2016. President Barack Obama received a chilly reception from Saudi Arabia's leaders as he landed in Riyadh Wednesday, a clear sign of the cooling relations between once-close allies amid regional upheaval and dropping oil prices. When Obama touched down in Riyadh shortly after 1 p.m. local time, there were no kisses with the kingdom's ruler as President George W. Bush once exchanged.
The Saudi government dispatched the governor of Riyadh rather than a senior-level royal to shake Obama's hand, a departure from the scene at the airport earlier in the day when King Salman was shown on state television greeting the leaders of other Gulf nations on the tarmac.
Huffington Post, Michigan’s Top Attorney Charges 3 Officials With Crimes Over Flint Water Crisis, Dana Liebelson and Arthur Delaney, April 20, 2016. Michigan’s attorney general is charging three state and city officials with crimes for their involvement in the Flint water contamination crisis, where citizens were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead.
Steven Busch and Michael Prysby oversaw water issues for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, while Michael Glasgow was the utilities administrator for the city of Flint. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) said Wednesday that the charges against Glasgow stem from his handling of drinking-water test results that showed the city’s water to be safer than it really was. Prysby and Busch are charged with misconduct in office and conspiracy to tamper with evidence. Schuette also accused the state officials of misleading the federal Environmental Protection Agency about how Flint treated its water.
Wall Street Journal, Russia Moves Artillery to Northern Syria, U.S. Officials Say, Adam Entous and Gordon Lubold, April 20, 2016. Deployment is a sign Moscow and the Assad government are preparing for a return to full-scale fighting. Russia has been moving artillery units to areas of northern Syria where government forces have massed, raising U.S. concern the two allies may be preparing for a return to full-scale fighting as the current cease-fire falters, U.S. officials said.
The recent Russian redeployments of the units and the forces that operate them have been accompanied by the return of some Iranian army forces to government-controlled areas close to the front lines, according to officials briefed on the intelligence. Russia, Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah movement have been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main supporters in the conflict.
Underground Bunker, Disconnection, Miscavige style: How Scientology’s most powerful family came apart, Tony Ortega, April 20, 2016. “Disconnection” is a Scientology policy that has been getting a lot of attention lately. Many Scientology families have been torn apart by David Miscavige and his insistence that church members cut off all ties from people that have left the organization — even if it means splitting apart parent and child. What’s less well known is how disconnection has affected David Miscavige’s own family.
Scientology, disconnection, and the Miscavige family will be taking center stage on May 3 with the publication of a book by Ron Miscavige. Written with former Church of Scientology member Dan Koon, Ron’s book is titled Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me.
Ron will be talking to ABC’s Dan Harris as part of a full hour that 20/20 is dedicating to Scientology next Friday night, April 29. One of the things you’re likely to hear is that Ron decided to write his book specifically because of the way Scientology’s disconnection separated him from his daughters. We’ve learned about that from members of the family and close friends who have had to deal with the fallout of a dramatic series of events that have torn the Miscavige family apart.
National Enquirer, Ted Cruz’s Father — Caught With JFK Assassin, J.R. Taylor, April 20, 2016. Worked with Lee Harvey Oswald for Kennedy's worst enemy! Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s Cuban-born dad was caught on camera in New Orleans — alongside Lee Harvey Oswald — just three months before the assassin killed President John F. Kennedy! The shocking allegations are revealed in the latest bombshell world exclusive from The National Enquirer — on newsstands now! The Enquirer has the disturbing photographic evidence that was buried in secret U.S. government files, with Rafael Cruz, now 77, palling around with the man who murdered America’s 35th president!
Boing Boing, “Ted Cruz Father Linked to JFK Assassination!” and other tabloid stunners, Peter Sheridan, April 20, 2016. My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing.
All politics is showbusiness these days, so it’s no surprise that this week’s tabloids and celebrity magazines are knee-deep in matters of state, displaying their usual gifts for gravitas, balance and fairness.
Ted Cruz’s father is linked to JFK’s assassination, Michelle Obama is working to destroy Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie plans to run for Congress, and Hillary reveals that she likes Goldfish and hot sauce, we are told in what passes for political coverage.
Mediaite, Okay, National Enquirer Literally Linking Ted Cruz to JFK Assassination Now, Sam Reisman, April 20, 2016. The National Enquirer published a story on Ted Cruz‘s series of alleged sexual affairs (and inexplicably got the media and the candidates to take it even halfway seriously), which failed to derail his campaign. So now the tabloid is now literally connecting the Texas senator to the assassination of JFK.
The candidate’s father, Rafael Cruz, had a “bizarre meeting” in New Orleans with Lee Harvey Oswald, which was caught on camera, according to the Enquirer‘s breathless reporting. Unnamed but “[t]op D.C. insiders” have supposedly confirmed the elder Cruz is the man who appears in photographs “on newsstands now!” (Trump ally Roger Stone has not yet commented on the bombshell.)
Washington Post, U.S. launches ‘criminal investigation’ involving Panama Papers, Matt Zapotosky, April 20, 2016. A federal prosecutor in New York has opened a criminal investigation involving the Panama Papers — a trove of materials from a Panamanian law firm that show a massive, secretive world of offshore industry.
In a letter to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote that his office had “opened a criminal investigation regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant,” and he asked to speak with someone who had worked on the project. The Guardian newspaper, which was among those to analyze the materials, posted a copy of the letter on its website.
Washington Post, Trump, Clinton win big in home state, Abby Phillip, Jenna Johnson and Ed O'Keefe, April 19, 2016. Victories by large margins solidify their status as front-runners
The victory for Donald Trump (shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore) brings him closer to securing an outright majority of Republican delegates. Hillary Clinton's victory in the Democratic contest provides momentum after a blitz of recent wins for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Easily Wins Home State Of New York, Igor Bobic, April 19, 2016. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump notched a resounding victory in his home state of New York on Tuesday, giving the GOP front-runner some much-needed breathing room following a turbulent campaign shakeup and a bevy of primary victories by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. News networks projected the Manhattan real estate mogul won soon after polls closed across the state. His margin of victory won’t be clear until more votes are counted.
Trump needed to win more than 50 percent of the statewide vote, as well as more than half of the vote in each of the state’s congressional districts, in order to win all 95 of New York’s delegates. If Trump succeeds in winning nearly all of the available delegates, he will be more likely to win the GOP nomination on a first ballot at the convention in Cleveland — assuming he also wins coming primaries across the Northeast, where he is similarly popular among Republican voters.
TPM, Fox News Host Sean Hannity Blows Up At Ted Cruz On-Air: ‘You Gotta Stop!’ (AUDIO), Katherine Krueger, April 19, 2016. Conservative radio host and non-journalist Sean Hannity got testy with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during a Tuesday interview after the senator tried to dodge any talk about delegate wrangling in the Republican presidential race. Asked about jockeying for delegates in the lead-up to a possible brokered summer convention, Cruz replied: “Sean, with all respect, that’s not what people care about.”
Hannity came back at Cruz, saying when he engages with “millions of people” on social media, hundreds of radio stations, and on his Fox News show, he hears from people who want this question answered. “I’m asking you more than a process question, it’s an integrity of the election question, and everybody is asking me this question,” he said.
“Sean, the only people asking this question are the hardcare Donald Trump supporters,” Cruz fired back.
The answer clearly roiled the pundit.
“Why do you do this every single time –” Hannity began. “You gotta stop! Every time I have you on the air, and I ask a legitimate question, you try to throw this in my face. I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had you on more than any other candidate on radio and TV. So if I ask you a legitimate question to explain to the audience, why don’t you just answer it?” Cruz coolly responded, “Sean, can I answer your question without being interrupted?”
RT "Watching the Hawks," The Saudi 9/11 Ultimatum & Visas for Al Qaeda, April 18, 2016. (27:50 min.) Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace cover the shocking threats by the Saudi Arabian government that the U.S. might face economic fallout if Congress passes a 9/11 bill.
Huffington Post, Hardly Anyone Trusts The Media Anymore, People value accuracy, timeliness and clarity above all else, Nick Visser, Apri 18, 2016. Only 6 percent of people say they have a great deal of confidence in the press, about the same level of trust Americans have in Congress, according to a new survey released on Sunday. The study mirrors past reports that found the public’s trust in mass media has reached historic lows, according to data gathered by the Media Insight Project, a partnership between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute. The report found faith in the press was just slightly higher than the 4 percent of people who said they trusted Congress.
Alongside the dire findings, the report found respondents valued accuracy above all else, with 85 percent of people saying it was extremely important to avoid errors in coverage. Timeliness and clarity followed closely, with 76 percent and 72 percent respectively saying those attributes were imperative among media sources. “Over the last two decades, research shows the public has grown increasingly skeptical of the news industry,” the report reads. “The study reaffirms that consumers do value broad concepts of trust like fairness, balance, accuracy, and completeness. At least two-thirds of Americans cite each of these four general principles as very important to them.”
Yahoo News, Top Trump aide lobbied for Pakistani spy front, Michael Isikoff, April 18, 2016. For more than five years, Donald Trump’s new top campaign aide, Paul Manafort, lobbied for a Washington-based group that Justice Department prosecutors have charged operated as a front for Pakistan’s intelligence service, according to court and lobbying records reviewed by Yahoo News. Manafort’s work in the 1990s as a registered lobbyist for the Kashmiri American Council was only one part of a wide-ranging portfolio that, over several decades, included a gallery of controversial foreign clients ranging from Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Zaire’s brutal dictator Mobutu Sese Seko to an Angolan rebel leader accused by human rights groups of torture.
OpEdNews, How The American Neoconservatives Destroyed Mankind’s Hopes For Peace, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), April 18, 2016. When Ronald Reagan turned his back on the neoconservatives, fired them, and had some of them prosecuted, his administration was free of their evil influence, and President Reagan negotiated the end of the Cold War with Soviet President Gorbachev. The military/security complex, the CIA, and the neocons were very much against ending the Cold War as their budgets, power, and ideology were threatened by the prospect of peace between the two nuclear superpowers.
I know about this, because I was part of it. I helped Reagan create the economic base for bringing the threat of a new arms race to a failing Soviet economy in order to pressure the Soviets into agreement to end the Cold War, and I was appointed to a secret presidential committee with subpoena power over the CIA. The secret committee was authorized by President Reagan (shown in an official photo) to evaluate the CIA’s claim that the Soviets would prevail in an arms race. The secret committee concluded that this was the CIA’s way of perpetuating the Cold War and the CIA’s importance.
The George H. W. Bush administration and its Secretary of State James Baker kept Reagan’s promises to Gorbachev and achieved the reunification of Germany with promises that NATO would not move one inch to the East.
The corrupt Clintons, for whom the accumulation of riches seems to be their main purpose in life, violated the assurances given by the United States that had ended the Cold War. The two puppet presidents— George W. Bush and Obama — who followed the Clintons lost control of the US government to the neocons, who promptly restarted the Cold War, believing in their hubris and arrogance that History has chosen the US to exercise hegemony over the world.
The only achievements of the American neoconservatives are to destroy in war crimes millions of peoples in eight countries and to send the remnant populations fleeing into Europe as refugees, thus undermining the American puppet governments there, and to set back the chances of world peace and American leadership by creating a powerful strategic alliance between Russia and China.
Washington Post, Supreme Court majority appears elusive for Obama immigration actions, Robert Barnes, April 18, 2016. The administration needs to convince one of the conservative justices to save the program that would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. But in 90 minutes of arguments, the justices showed a common divide: conservatives supportive of the complaints of Texas and 25 other states that Obama’s executive action went too far, and the court’s four liberals saying it seemed like a power that other presidents have exercised.
It was another in the enduring battles in which the court must weigh Obama’s ambitious social agenda and Republican opposition to it
One important question in the case is Texas’ legal standing to sue. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen agreed with the state that, because it would face a financial cost in providing driver’s licenses to those covered by the new program, it had standing to challenge the initiative.
President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, April 18, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Gothamist, New York Voters Sue The State, Claiming Mass Voter Roll Purges, Nathan Tempey, April 18, 2016. Dozens of New York voters are suing the state, saying that their voter registration changed without their input, costing them the ability to vote in Tuesday's primary. The lawsuit, filed this afternoon in Long Island federal court by the group Election Justice USA, argues that the voters' alleged registration changes deny them equal protection under the constitution, and demands a blanket order allowing "tens of thousands" of potential plaintiffs to vote in tomorrow's presidential primary.
"Plaintiffs are in imminent harm of losing their right to vote," the suit reads. "They have beseeched the various Boards of Elections without result. Nothing can save their right to vote save an order from this Court." New York's primaries are closed, meaning only members of a given party can vote in that party's primary, and the deadline to change parties is more than six months before Primary Day, the earliest in the country. Those who signed onto the lawsuit say that their paperwork was in order, and in many cases they had voted repeatedly in Democratic primaries from the same address, but that recent checks of their voter registrations revealed that their party had been changed or could not be found at all. The accounts echo online reports of other spurned would-be voters.
"We were seeing an alarming number of voter affiliations changed without people's knowledge or consent, people who were registered listed as not registered," said Shyla Nelson, a spokeswoman for Election Justice USA. As the primary neared and the group solicited accounts of irregularities, reports poured in, she said: "What started as a trickle is now a river."
National Press Club, Commerce Secretary Pritzker defends Trans-Pacific trade pact at NPC luncheon, Lawrence Feinberg, April 18, 2016. Photo/Image: Noel St. John. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, strongly defending the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, predicted it would be ratified by Congress this year despite criticism from the leading contenders for both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.
“I think the window [for Congressional ratification] is this year," Pritzker said at a National Press Club luncheon April 18, adding "at the end of the day I think we will do the right thing.” She said support for the 12-nation agreement, signed by the Obama Administration in February, is “much stronger than reported in the press.” By cutting tariffs and harmonizing labor and environmental standards, the trade pact would expand American exports and increase American jobs, she said. Rejecting the TPP would cost $94 billion in U.S. economic output in one year, she added. To become effective, the agreement must be approved by a majority vote in both houses of Congress.
Since it was announced, the TPP has drawn criticism from Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders. The only remaining major party candidate to support it is Republican John Kasich. The critics contend the pact will do little to expand the sale of American products abroad while reducing jobs and worker pay in the U.S.
RT "Watching the Hawks," No More Visas for Al Qaeda, April 18, 2016. (11:22 min.) Hosts Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace interview Michael Springmann, former State Department Foreign Service Officer and author of the book Visas for Al Qaeda. He joins the Hawk’s Nest to discuss how the U.S. created Al Qaeda.
Washington Post, UC Berkeley student removed from Southwest flight after speaking Arabic on plane, Yanan Wang, April 18, 2016. Earlier this month, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi found himself at a gathering with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He had been invited to the dinner-and-lecture event in Los Angeles by a friend who works for the World Affairs Council, and he was thrilled.
The University of California, Berkeley senior is a double major, after all, in political science and Near Eastern studies. But the next day, April 6, the 26-year-old’s fortunes took a sharp turn. Makhzoomi had just settled into his seat on a Southwest Airlines flight when he pulled out his cellphone to call his uncle in Baghdad. His uncle is a political analyst, so Makhzoomi wanted to discuss last night’s event with him. He was speaking into the phone in Arabic when he noticed that the woman in the seat in front of him was turned with her neck craned in his direction, staring. Makhzoomi was then led off the plane to a hallway by the boarding gate, where three police officers were awaiting him. He said the Southwest employee appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and began speaking to him in Arabic. The employee told him he used to live in Dubai, and asked him where he was from. At Makhzoomi’s urging, the employee switched back to English.
“Why would you speak in Arabic on the airplane?” the employee asked him. “It’s dangerous. You know the environment around the airport. You understand what’s going on in this country.” The FBI agents took him into a separate room and began the questioning anew. Stories of Muslims being removed from commercial flights have become more common alongside an escalating fear of Islamic State terrorism.
CBS News, Donald Trump reorganizes campaign just before big state primaries, Major Garrett, April 18, 2016. Two senior Trump sources confirmed an extensive reorganization of the Trump campaign to CBS News on Monday. Paul Manafort, hired last week to be the convention manager, will now run the Trump campaign, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reduced to a role that amounts to body man and scheduler.
Los Angeles Times, Islamic State overruns parts of refugee camp in Syria where civilians face starvation, Nabih Bulos, April 18, 2016. Islamic State extremists in Syria dislodged other militant groups from a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus on Monday, even as the United Nations warned that weeks-long clashes have spurred horrendous conditions for thousands of civilians. Activists in the Yarmouk camp, southeast of the center of Damascus, the capital, reported that Islamic State had overrun parts of the camp after the withdrawal and surrender of fighters with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. Islamic State confirmed the attacks in a statement.
Reuters, Rebels launch attacks in western Syria, heavy government air raids: monitor, John Davison, April 18, 2016. Rebels launched a fierce attack against Syrian government forces in Latakia province on Monday and insurgents made separate advances nearby in Hama, a monitoring group reported, as violence escalated in the west of the country.
The fighting, which has also increased around the northern city of Aleppo and seen heavy government air strikes in Homs province, undermines a weeks-old ceasefire deal and threatens to derail U.N.-led peace talks. The fresh insurgent attacks came after rebel groups announced a new battle against government forces which they said was a response to violations of the truce.
Reuters via Huffington Post, Brazil’s President Is One Step Closer To Impeachment, Staff report, April 17, 2016. The lower house of Congress voted to impeach Rousseff. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff lost a decisive impeachment vote in the lower house of Congress on Sunday and appeared almost certain to be forced from office in a move that would end 13 years of leftist Workers’ Party rule.
As thousands of pro- and anti-impeachment protesters demonstrated outside Congress, the leader of the Workers Party in the lower house conceded defeat with the vote standing at 314 votes in favor to just 110 votes against sending Rousseff for trial in the Senate on charges of manipulating budget accounts. The surprisingly one-sided vote had a raucous atmosphere with opposition legislators crowding around the microphone and cheering every vote against the unpopular president. At least two deputies let off poppers full of confetti as they voted to impeach Rousseff.
Mint Press News via Global Research, BRICS Under Attack: The Empire Strikes Back In Brazil, Eric Draitser, April 18, 2016. First publishd by Mint Press and Global Research in March 2016, this incisive article provides an understanding of the soft coup in Brazil. Despite all the fancy anti-corruption rhetoric, the assault on President Rousseff’s leftist government is the result of a coordinated campaign by business interests tied to Washington and Wall Street.
The last decade has seen a remarkable coalescing of non-Western nations in both economic and political partnerships. These multilateral institutions have been championed as alternatives to Western organs of political and economic power such as NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.
But perhaps none of the emerging Global South international groupings has been more promising in terms of both public relations and real economic partnership than that of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
It should come as no surprise that major moves have been taken in the last 12 to 24 months to undermine each BRICS member nation and destabilize them through political and economic means. And it is no coincidence that those leaders shown smiling and shaking hands at recent BRICS summits are now either the targets of destabilization efforts and subversion – as in the cases of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa – or are a target of a military and political charm offensive, as in the case of India. In each case, the United States and its allies benefit significantly from the latest developments.
One of the U.S. empire’s tried and true methods of destabilizing a targeted country is through manufacturing and promoting political scandals and/or political movements that appear oppositional but whose interests, whether consciously or not, align with the ruling establishment in the West. Both of these elements are at play in Brazil, which has been moving toward increased economic, and consequently political, independence in recent years.
Washington Post, Alabama is no stranger to sex scandals. It just never expected one from this guy, Neely Tucker April 17, 2016. In the mortuary of disaster that is Alabama politics, it is important to note that Gov. Dr. Robert J. Bentley (shown in an official photo) is still in charge, for now. The 74-year-old balding grandfather and star of sexy phone chats to the senior political adviser three decades his junior is accused of being at the center of a complex web of deceit, betrayal and mendacity that falls somewhere between the better parts of the Old Testament and the steamy Southern plays of Tennessee Williams.April 16
Politico, Feds, Judicial Watch strike deal on Clinton email depositions Judicial Watch strike deal on Clinton email depositions, Josh Gerstein, April 16, 2016. The conservative group Judicial Watch and lawyers for the State Department have struck a deal to govern sworn depositions from three former aides to Hillary Clinton about the private email server and account she used during her tenure as secretary of state. Approval of the plan by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan could come next week.
Independent (London), Bernie Sanders publishes tax returns showing $205,000 earnings following Hillary Clinton's challenge, Matt Broomfield, April 16, 2016. Hillary Clinton was paid $675,000 for just three speeches by banking giant Goldman Sachs. Bernie Sanders has revealed he earns $205,000 dollars (£145,000) a year, after being challenged by Hillary Clinton to publish his tax returns. Mr Sanders' annual income, which is shared with his wife, is less than his multimillionaire rival made for three recent speeches delivered to Goldman Sachs employees.
The banking giant paid Ms Clinton $675,000 (£475,000) for the appearances. She and her husband have an estimated net worth of $110m (£77m), far surpassing the Sanders, who are worth around $300,000 (£210,000).
OpEdNews, Clinton School of Public Service Co-hosts Whistleblower Summit Lecture Series April 21-23, Michael McCray, April 16, 2016. On April 21-23 The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will co-host free lectures and events open to the public that celebrate the important role of whistleblowers and their advocates. The events, which will take place at the Clinton Presidential Library and other nearby locations, are cosponsored by the Whistleblower Summit for Civil & Human Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that will host its fifth annual event on Capitol Hill in July. The Arkansas mini-conference is the first in a series of smaller conferences the organization intends to host outside of the District of Columbia.
Conference organizer Michael McCray, a native Arkansan who moved to Washington, D.C. with the Clinton administration, says his hometown was selected to host the lecture series for a number of reasons including that its state legislature is expected to be the first to support a National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30.
ABC News, Ted Cruz Sweeps Wyoming GOP Convention, Ryan Struyk and Ines Delacuetara, April 16, 2016. Ted Cruz swept all 14 delegate slots at stake in today’s Wyoming state Republican Party convention, marking yet another state meeting where Cruz's ground game and local party leader support boosted his delegate pursuit of Donald Trump. The Texas senator’s success here means that 23 of the state's 29 delegates will be bound to Cruz on the first ballot. Trump has one, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has one and the other four are uncommitted.
USA Today, 9 Gitmo detainees sent to Saudi Arabia; 80 prisoners remain, Doug Stanglin, April 16, 2016. Nine Guantanamo detainees — all from Yemen —were transferred to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, lowering the remaining inmate population at the U.S. military detention facility in Cuba to 80, the U.S. Defense Department said in a statement.
Although the nine have family ties to Saudi Arabia, it was the first time the royal kingdom agreed to take in non-citizens from Guantanamo. None of the detainees had been charged but they could not be released earlier because of violence and political instability in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia. Eight were cleared for release from Gitmo since at least 2010, and one was approved for release by a review board last year.
President Obama and the late Saudi King Abdullah at the White House on June 29, 2010 (White House photo)
New York Times, Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill, Mark Mazzetti, April 15, 2016. Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.
Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.
“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and who is part of a group of victims’ family members pushing for the legislation.
President Obama will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday for meetings with King Salman and other Saudi officials. It is unclear whether the dispute over the Sept. 11 legislation will be on the agenda for the talks.
Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” But critics have noted that the commission’s narrow wording left open the possibility that less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role. Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot.
Washington Post, Histories that shouldn’t be secret, George F. Will (shown in a file photo), April 15, 2016. When President Obama departs for Saudi Arabia, an incubator of the 9/11 attacks, he will leave behind a dispute about government secrecy. The suppression of 28 pages, first from a public congressional inquiry and then from the 2004 report by the 9/11 Commission, has spared the Saudis embarrassment, which would be mild punishment for complicity in 2,977 murders.
When Obama returns, he should keep his promise to release the pages. Then he should further curtail senseless secrecy by countermanding the CIA’s refusal to release its official history of the 1961 Bay of Pigs debacle.
The nature of the 28 pages pertaining to 9/11 can be inferred from this carefully worded sentence in the commission’s report: “We have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded [al-Qaeda]” (emphases added). Together, those five italicized words constitute a loophole large enough to fly a hijacked airliner through.
On “Fox News Sunday” on April 10, Obama was asked if he could say that Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information on her private email server “did not jeopardize America’s secrets.” After waffling — saying Clinton would never “intentionally” jeopardize America — he intimated that many documents that are classified are not all that important to national security. He should apply this insight to documents pertaining to the disaster a decade-and-a-half ago and to the debacle 40 years before it.
New York Times, Criticizing Israel, Bernie Sanders Highlights Split Among Jewish Democrats, Jason Horowitz, April 15, 2016. It was the sort of question — Does Israel have a right to defend itself as it sees fit? — that had often caused candidates, especially those with designs on winning a primary in New York, to produce paeans to the strength of the Israeli-American relationship and a stream of pro-Israel orthodoxy.
But Senator Bernie Sanders dug in. “There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time,” Mr. Sanders said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, amid cheers from the crowd at Thursday’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn. He added: “All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.”
Jewish Democrats, like the rest of the party, have been struggling for years over the appropriate level of criticism when it comes to Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. But that debate burst onto a big national stage this week thanks to Mr. Sanders, the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in history.
Mr. Sanders’s comments, in the de facto capital of Jewish American politics, buoyed the liberal and increasingly vocal Democrats who believe that a frank discussion within the party has been muzzled by an older, more conservative Jewish leadership that is suspicious of criticism of Israel.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a progressive pro-Israel lobbying group whose more critical view of the Israeli government has gained influence on Capitol Hill, said Mr. Sanders’s comments were “very different from the stale talking points that have dominated those types of discussions before” and contributed to a “meaningful redefinition of what it means to be pro-Israel.”
But the comments, as measured as they were striking, worried more traditionally pro-Israel Jewish Democrats and Jewish organizations trying desperately to maintain bipartisan support for the Israeli government but watching it slowly being chipped away.
“I thought that Bernie Sanders’s comments were disgraceful and reprehensible, and I thought he was just over the top,” said Eliot Engel, a Jewish congressman from the Bronx who supports Hillary Clinton. He said that Mr. Sanders’s comments were irresponsible, giving radical left-wing elements in the party more license to attack Israel.
Washington Post, 50 donors give close to half of all super PAC money, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, April 15, 2016. The Washington Post found that the top 50 contributors together donated $248 million personally and through their privately held companies, or more than $4 out of every $10 raised by all super PACs. A small core of super-rich individuals are responsible for the record sums cascading into the coffers of super PACs for the 2016 elections, a dynamic that harks back to the financing of presidential campaigns in the Gilded Age.
Close to half of the money — 41 percent — raised by the groups by the end of February came from just 50 mega-donors and their relatives, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports. In all, donors this cycle have given more than $607 million to 2,300 super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. That means super PAC money is on track to surpass the $828 million that the Center for Responsive Politics found was raised by such groups for the 2012 elections.
CNN, Debate: New York fight night for Clinton and Sanders, MJ Lee, April 15, 2016 (video). Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders squared off Thursday night in the most heated and dramatic Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 cycle. The rivals battled it out at a two-hour prime-time event on CNN that exposed fundamental differences in their candidacies and campaign styles. Coming just five days ahead of the crucial New York contest Tuesday, the debate featured combative exchanges on issues including gun control, Israel and Wall Street reform. These policy disagreements were fueled by a broader clash: Sanders cast doubt on Clinton's judgment and credibility, while Clinton insisted that the Vermont senator lacked experience and pragmatism.
Real Clear Politics, Clinton, Sanders Let Loose in New York Debate, Caitlin Huey-Burns, April 15, 2016. With a critical primary contest just days away, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met on a Brooklyn stage Thursday night for what could be their final debate. And, unlike their first debate many months ago and others in between, the candidates did not pull a single punch, underscoring the high stakes for both of them: Clinton, wanting to wrap up the primary and focus her energy and resources on the general election; Sanders, hoping to prolong the race through the summer.
Al.com, Gov. Robert Bentley, Rebekah Mason flew to Vegas, attended Celine Dion show, John Archibald, April 15, 2016. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley Scandal Explained. On Nov. 17 of last year, Gov. Robert Bentley boarded a state airplane for Las Vegas, along with his former political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, communications director Jennifer Ardis, Deputy Chief of Staff Jon Barganier and his security detail.
They went to attend the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference. Oh. And to catch a show. They didn't have to think twice before going to the Colosseum at Caesar's Palace for an elaborate concert by Celine Dion.
Bentley went backstage and made Dion an honorary Alabamian. Bentley's staff argues that there is no foul. Ardis said Bentley himself paid for all the Celine Dion tickets, and the Republican Governors Association reimbursed the Bentley campaign for the cost of the conference and the flight.
The campaign reimbursed the state, and no taxpayer money was used, she said. She did provide a copy of a deposit to the state of Alabama in the amount of $11,641.35. It was dated March 25 of this year. It came almost 19 weeks after the trip. And it came 3 days after former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency chief Spencer Collier went public with claims that Bentley and Mason had been engaged in an affair, and that Bentley had been warned that using state or campaign assets to carry out an affair could be illegal.
Background below: WJHL (Johnson City, TN) - WKRG (Mobile, AL), 2 criminal investigations launched into Ala. Gov. Bentley’s relationship with adviser, Peter Albrecht, March 28, 2016. 14 times in 43 minutes, Gov. Robert Bentley tells Rebekah Mason that he loves her in the complete recorded phone conversation between the two from August, 2014. Last week the most sexually explicit moments of the recordings were released, but today the full recording was released by the website Yellowhammer.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Top Strategist Rebekah Mason and fired Alabama law enforcement chief Spencer Collier (Photos via WKRG-TV)
Legal Schnauzer, Robert Bentley's trip to Las Vegas with Rebekah Caldwell Mason helps prove the governor has been lying for months to the people of Alabama, Roger Shuler, April 15, 2016. Gov. Bentley .... goes on to blame his problems, for the most part, on bloggers. Considering that I was the blogger who broke the story of the Mason affair on August 31, 2015, it seems safe to say much of his vitriol is directed at me. It's also likely much of it is directed at attorney Donald Watkins, who has written extensively about the sex scandal at his Facebook page.
How despicable is Bentley's behavior? Well, we know that on November 17 of last year, he was trying to rearrange his security detail so he could get "personal time" with Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- in Las Vegas. Roughly five weeks later, the governor was telling the press "the rumors were untrue," and blaming others for the story getting out.
We now know the "rumors" were more than rumors. The posts that Watkins and I published were right on target -- a classic example of citizen journalism serving the public good, unearthing a story that the mainstream press, at the time, seemingly did not want to touch. We also know the Bentley/Mason coupling apparently went well beyond the borders of Alabama--with no expenses being spared in the process.
Washington Post, GOP foreign policy elites don’t know whether they’ll serve if Trump is president, Karen DeYoung, April 15, 2016. When the Republican foreign policy elite gets together these days, conversation quickly veers from challenges such as the Islamic State or North Korea to focus on two questions. How has Donald Trump come so close to becoming the party’s standard-bearer? If Trump were elected president, would any of them serve in his administration?
“It’s the only thing we can talk about,” said Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University and a former George W. Bush administration official. He’s answered the second question by spearheading an anti-Trump petition, which now has signatures of 121 GOP national security experts.
The Intercept, CIA Investing in Companies That Mine Posted Pics and Tweets, Lee Fang, April 14, 2016. Spy agency’s venture capital firm invested in a bunch of firms that monitor and mine social media. Anyone’s guess where this is all headed. Soft robots that can grasp delicate objects, computer algorithms designed to spot an “insider threat,” and artificial intelligence that will sift through large data sets — these are just a few of the technologies being pursued by companies with investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.
Yet among the 38 previously undisclosed companies receiving In-Q-Tel funding, the research focus that stands out is social media mining and surveillance; the portfolio document lists several tech companies pursuing work in this area, including Dataminr, Geofeedia, PATHAR, and TransVoyant. hose four firms, which provide unique tools to mine data from platforms such as Twitter, presented at a February “CEO Summit” in San Jose sponsored by the fund, along with other In-Q-Tel portfolio companies.
The investments appear to reflect the CIA’s increasing focus on monitoring social media. Last September, David Cohen, the CIA’s second-highest ranking official, spoke at length at Cornell University about a litany of challenges stemming from the new media landscape. The Islamic State’s “sophisticated use of Twitter and other social media platforms is a perfect example of the malign use of these technologies,” he said.
Over the last decade, In-Q-Tel has made a number of public investments in companies that specialize in scanning large sets of online data. In 2009, the fund partnered with Visible Technologies, which specializes in reputation management over the internet by identifying the influence of “positive” and “negative” authors on a range of platforms for a given subject. And six years ago, In-Q-Tel formed partnerships with NetBase, another social media analysis firm that touts its ability to scan “billions of sources in public and private online information,” and Recorded Future, a firm that monitors the web to predict events in the future.
Ruthless Ambition, The 2016 GOP Primary Saga: The End of the Line, Louis Manzo, April 14, 2016. Since the Wisconsin primary, the GOP establishment [party officials, insiders, lobbyist, financiers and their PACS, and operatives] have been fast afoot in their 100-day mission to destroy Donald Trump’s campaign for the GOP nomination. Judging from the primary results in Wisconsin and the results of the Colorado caucus, that plan is working.
So how will all this end? The rules for this year’s convention will be written by a yet to be named committee just prior to the convention. The establishment typically controls the goings on of this crucial committee, which will determine the rules and qualifications for the nomination on the first and subsequent ballots of the convention.
The average GOP voter will not understand the party rules, nor care to listen to excuses about why the leading vote getter and delegate collector — in an, at one time, more than ten-person candidate field — was denied the nomination. The average GOP voter will feel that Trump was screwed by their enemy as well — the GOP establishment. The party would implode!The prediction here is that Trump prevails by a whisker…or even less.
Legal Schnauzer, AL Supreme Court's recent ruling against VictoryLand provides an example of corruption that even Robert Bentley and Mike Hubbard cannot approach, Roger Shuler, April 14, 2016. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is the target of a federal investigation related to a sex scandal and possible misuse of public resources. House Speaker Mike Hubbard is under a 23-count indictment for alleged violations of state ethics laws. With that in mind, you might think the executive and legislative branches are the centers of sleaze in "The Heart of Dixie." But you could be wrong; that "distinction" might belong to the third prong of Alabama government: the judicial branch.
No matter how badly members of the executive and legislative branches might behave — and Bentley and Hubbard have proven they can behave pretty badly -- I don't think those "public servants" ever will be able to top their brethren in the judiciary when it comes to sleaze.
I was reminded of that sad fact recently when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled against the VictoryLand casino in a civil-forfeiture proceeding. The Macon County facility, owned by Milton McGregor, argued that a 2013 raid under the direction of Attorney General Luther Strange was illegal — and the casino's electronic-bingo machines, servers, cash, and other equipment were due to be returned. Trial-court judge William Shashy had ruled in VictoryLand's favor on equal-protection grounds — and that finding seemed unassailable since evidence tended to show that Strange had targeted VictoryLand, while similar facilities in other counties were allowed to continue operating.
But the Alabama Supreme Court, which has consistently ruled in the state's favor since former Gov. Bob Riley launched a crusade against non-Indian gaming facilities in 2008, continued along its dubious path.
WhoWhatWhy, Tsarnaev Judge Did Not Practice What He Preaches, Jill Vaglica, April 14, 2016. U.S. District Court judge who presided over the trial of convicted Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev seems to have forgotten crucial details about the jury pool he interviewed during voir dire. Why do I seem to remember more about this aspect of the trial than the presiding judge?
When I heard that Judge George O’Toole would be speaking at Boston College, I was intrigued, as the case against Tsarnaev (shown in a file photo) is still pending appeal. I wondered if he would reveal new details about the cases over which he presided. Instead, he spoke more generally, waxing poetic about the responsibility of the court to ensure defendants a fair trial.
In setting a high bar for trial judges, O’Toole said that the first requirement for fairness is a jury pool that represents a cross-section of the community. He asserted that randomly selecting jurors for voir dire — the part of the trial where prospective jurors are questioned by the judge and competing attorneys — is the best way to guarantee such a jury.
This immediately caught my attention. Because what actually happened at the Tsarnaev trial presents a very different picture from the ideal that O’Toole painted for the conference’s attendees. The almost all-white jury that O’Toole impaneled to render judgment on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev offered a stark contrast to the judge’s own prescription for fairness.
Washington Post, Cruz likely to block Trump on a second ballot at the GOP convention, Ed O'Keefe April 13, 20126. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is close to ensuring that Donald Trump cannot win the GOP nomination on a second ballot at the party’s July convention in Cleveland, scooping up scores of delegates who have pledged to vote for him instead of the front-runner if given the chance.
The push by Cruz means that it is more essential than ever for Trump to clinch the nomination by winning a majority of delegates to avoid a contested and drawn-out convention fight, which Trump seems almost certain to lose. Based on the delegate selections made by states and territories, Cruz is poised to pick up at least 130 more votes on a second ballot, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Politico, Obama administration mulls nixing lowest tier for classified info, Josh Gerstein, April 13, 2016.The Obama administration is mulling a proposal to eliminate the lowest of the three major tiers for classified information: the 'Confidential' designation for national security secrets deemed to require protection, but not considered as sensitive as "Secret" or "Top Secret" records.
About 96 percent of the email messages from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account that are now considered classified have been designated at the "Confidential" level. However, it appears at the moment that the administration's move towards eliminating that lowest classification level won't have any direct impact on her case or those records.
Associated Press via ABC News, Former Attorneys Generals Urge Pardon for Don Siegelman, Kim Chandler, April 13, 2016. A bipartisan group of more than 100 former state attorneys general has asked President Barack Obama to pardon ex-Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who is nearing the end of a six-year prison sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice. Former New York Attorney General Bob Abrams said they believe the Democrat's conviction nearly a decade ago was both unjust and tarnished by politics. The letter from the group, which also supported Siegelman's unsuccessful legal appeals, was delivered to the White House on Wednesday.
"Although nine years have passed, Gov. Siegelman's unjust conviction continues to eat away at the integrity of the justice system," the former attorneys general wrote. "Many legal scholars as well as the public at large believe that the prosecution of Gov. Siegelman was a perversion of justice." Presidential intervention in the form of a pardon or sentence commutation is likely Siegelman's final hope of getting his prison time reduced. Appellate courts have upheld his conviction. The 70-year-old ex-governor is serving a 6 ½ year sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice.
The attorneys general wrote that it was questionable if the evidence in the case supported a conviction and that Siegelman did not personally benefit from the transaction. There was no direct evidence of the two men verbalizing an agreement to swap the donation for the appointment. Prosecutors at trial relied on what the two men told their subordinates about the donation.
Huffington Post, How Dennis Hastert Demonized Gays as Predators While He Was the True ‘Super-Predator,’ Michelangelo Signorile, April 13, 2016. No, it wasn’t African-American young men of the ‘90s — supposedly feral, “fatherless” and “godless” urban youth hell-bent on murder and mayhem — who were “super-predators,” a myth since exposed and which was created by the Princeton political science professor John DiIulio (who later became George W. Bush’s first director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives) based on junk science.
Meanwhile, the true example of a “super-predator” appears to have been former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a man who prosecutors now say molested at least 4 boys, including a 14-year-old and one who years later took his own life. Since the statute of limitations on those crimes, which took place decades ago, has expired, Hastert will only receive up to six months in jail on charges stemming from bank withdrawals of large sums of cash in violation of federal law, in what prosecutors say was for the purpose of “hush money.” Worse yet, through the years, as he covered up the sexual assaults he committed as a wrestling coach back in Yorkville, Illinois, Hastert pushed policies and positions as a House member and as the Speaker of a far-right GOP majority from 1999 to 2007 that demonized gays in part by portraying gay men as sexual predators.
“We must continue to be proactive warding off pedophiles and other creeps who want to take advantage of our children,” the Illinois congressman stated in promoting a bill to stop exploitation of children online shortly before he became House Speaker. That was brought to light in a Politico report last year which revealed that Hastert had a file in his office labeled “Homosexuals,” which included the sexual predator smear against gay men.
Columbia Journalism Review, As local coverage wanes, residents become self-taught watchdogs, Miranda S. Spivack, April 13, 2016. Kevin Hemstock, the longtime editor of the Kent County News, took his paper’s watchdog role literally. From his office in downtown Chestertown, Maryland, he had a sweeping view of High Street, the main thoroughfare.
Since March 2012, when Hemstock was replaced by Daniel Divilio as editor, the paper has run few deeply reported accountability stories. Since early 2014, it has filed no complaints about closed government meetings, according to online newspaper archives and state records. Kent County residents and public officials say that reporters don’t make beat rounds or chat up community officials as often as they did in the past. Other potential watchdogs are also absent. The Baltimore Sun, now part of the Tribune Publishing Company, closed its Eastern Shore bureau several years ago. The Washington Post, never particularly attentive to the Eastern Shore, is emphasizing national and international news under new owner Jeff Bezos.
Such information gaps are increasingly the rule, not the exception. As news organizations shrink and shrink some more, a community’s problems may go unreported, sometimes festering into crises. As regional papers suffer, state and local muck gets raked less and less. When not tracked closely, issues such as the work of Michigan’s proliferating emergency managers can devolve into catastrophes like the lead-tainted water poisoning children in Flint.
The Hill, RNC chairman to Trump: 'Give us all a break,' Jesse Byrnes, April 13, 2016. Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus late Tuesday pushed back at criticism from GOP front-runner Donald Trump that the primary process is unfair. "Nomination process known for a year + beyond. It's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break," Priebus tweeted.
Amo Probos, Justice Thomas and My Supreme Court Application, Montgomery Blair Sibley, April 13, 2016. (Sibley the former lawyer for the late Jeane Palfrey, dubbed "The DC Madam" by the media and shown in a file photo.) Today, Justice Clarence Thomas -- apparently disagreeing with Chief Justice John Roberts' denial of my application -- has referred my application for determination by the entire Supreme Court at their conference on April 29th. At least all of the Justices will be on record as to whether they will continue the muzzling of my First Amendment political speech.
The Hill, Senate resolution would limit weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, Rebecca Kheel, April 13, 2016. A bipartisan pair of senators has introduced a resolution that would set conditions on sales of U.S. air-to-ground weapons to Saudi Arabia. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered the measure after reports emerged that the Saudis have used U.S. weapons in attacks in Yemen that killed civilians.
“Saudi Arabia is an important partner, but we must acknowledge when a friend’s actions aren’t in our national interest,” Murphy said in a written statement. Saudi Arabia is fighting a war in Yemen against Iran-backed Shiite rebels known as the Houthi. A human rights group said last week that U.S.-supplied bombs were used last month in an airstrike on a market that killed at least 119 people.
“For too long the Obama administration has not been holding countries receiving U.S. military munitions accountable in the Middle East,” Paul said in a written statement. “It is no secret that Saudi Arabia’s record on strictly targeting combatants and legitimate military targets in Yemen has been questionable.”
The Hill, Trump slams RNC chairman, calls 2016 process 'a disgrace,' Bob Cusack, April 12, 2016. Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), claiming the party's system for selecting its presidential nominee is a “scam” and a “disgrace.” During an exclusive interview with The Hill at Trump Tower, Trump said, “It's a disgrace for the party. And Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself. He should be ashamed of himself because he knows what's going on.”
Tampa Bay Times, Bob Graham gets call from White House and word that declassification of secret 9/11 documents is underway, Lucy Morgan, April 12, 2016. After years of pushing to gain public release of 28 secret pages of a report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said he got a call from the White House on Tuesday. Graham told the Tampa Bay Times that Brett Holmgren, a senior policy adviser to the assistant to the president for Homeland Security, told him the declassification review of the documents withheld from a report issued by a Joint Congressional Commission in 2003 will soon be completed.
Graham, who asked the president to declassify the records more than two years ago, said he asked how soon he could expect a decision and was told “one or two months.” Graham was co-chairman of a joint congressional committee that investigated the attacks.
The 28 pages were classified at the request of the FBI. Graham has been pushing for release of the documents since 2011 when he learned that the FBI had failed to disclose part of its investigation that included reports that high-ranking Saudi Arabian officials provided financial aid and other help to the 19 hijackers who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He says the FBI initially denied there were such reports but has since turned over 80,000 pages in a federal lawsuit seeking the release of all reports on the investigation.
Graham said he believes recent news reports on the secrecy surrounding the 28 pages, including a report Sunday on "60 Minutes," prompted the White House to react. “The decisionmakers at the White House have realized the public cares about it and there is an urgency to come to a decision,’’ Graham said.
Washington Post, Paul Ryan: ‘I do not want nor will I accept the nomination,’ Paul Kane, April 12, 2016. The House speaker sought to end speculation about the prospect that he could usurp the presidential nomination from the remaining Republican candidates. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday delivered a forceful statement rejecting calls from establishment Republicans who want him to usurp their party’s presidential nomination from the remaining contestants in that race.
Ryan, who has spent a couple months making these statements, to no avail, arranged a hastily called afternoon news conference inside the Republican National Committee headquarters, where he insisted — in his clearest terms yet — to the GOP’s big donor and lobbyist class that he will not attempt to claim the nomination at the July convention in Cleveland. With it looking increasingly likely that no GOP candidate will claim the 1,237 delegates required to claim the nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland, some establishment Republicans have conjured dreams of Ryan (shown in an official photo) jumping into the fray on the second, third and fourth ballots.
President Obama meets with Ukraine's then-newly installed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenuk in 2014 in the Oval Office (White House photo)
Consortium News, ‘Yats’ Is No Longer the Guy, Robert Parry, April 11, 2016. Exclusive: Several weeks before Ukraine’s 2014 coup, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nuland had already picked Arseniy Yatsenyuk to be the future leader, but now “Yats” is no longer the guy.
In reporting on the resignation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the major U.S. newspapers either ignored or distorted Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s infamous intercepted phone call before the 2014 coup in which she declared “Yats is the guy!”
Though Nuland’s phone call introduced many Americans to the previously obscure Yatsenyuk, its timing – a few weeks before the ouster of elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych – was never helpful to Washington’s desired narrative of the Ukrainian people rising up on their own to oust a corrupt leader.
(Nuland is shown with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and Secretary of State John Kerry, in the right background, welcoming Ukrainian President Petro Porenshenko to a conference in the months following the coup.)
New York Times, Goldman Sachs to Pay $5.1 Billion in Mortgage Settlement, Nathaniel Popper, April 11, 2016. Goldman Sachs has completed a $5.1 billion settlement with state and federal officials over the bank’s role in the subprime mortgage crisis. Goldman is the last of the big American banks to reach a settlement with the national working group that was set up in 2012 to investigate how Wall Street exacerbated the mortgage bubble and ensuing financial crisis. Goldman said in January that it had put aside money to cover a $5 billion settlement.
The final bill for Goldman is less than the settlements of mortgage giants like JPMorgan Chase, which paid $13.3 billion, and Bank of America, which paid $16.6 billion, but more than the $3.2 billion paid by Goldman’s closest competitor, Morgan Stanley. A number of foreign banks are still under investigation.
RealClearPolitics, As Race Moves East, Pressure Mounts on Kasich, Caitlin Huey-Burns, April 11, 2016. John Kasich’s campaign needs New York to stay alive. As the contest now moves east, the spotlight will be on Kasich to prove himself. The campaign has long insisted it is better equipped than Ted Cruz to keep delegates from Donald Trump in states like New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland, where Republican voters may be more in line with his brand than Cruz’s.
Washington Post, Plane rides and swag? Few limits on how candidates can woo delegates, Matea Gold and Ed O'Keefe, April 11, 2016. As the convention nears, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich can pursue a no-holds-barred effort. And that has left party activists unsettled.
Reuters, Netanyahu: Israel has carried out dozens of strikes in Syria, Jeffrey Heller, April 11, 2016. Israel has launched dozens of strikes in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, acknowledging for the first time such attacks against suspected arms transfers to Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas.
WTOP (Washington, DC), Ex-lawyer starts disclosing who called ‘D.C. Madam,’ Neal Augenstein, April 11, 2016. Montgomery Blair Sibley has started to identify those who called the escort service of his former client, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Saying he has “waited long enough,” the ex-lawyer of “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey has released some of the names of companies, government agencies and organizations that had called her escort service between 2000 and 2006. In a court filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia obtained by WTOP, Montgomery Blair Sibley included the names of 174 of the entities that had dialed Palfrey’s business, Pamela Martin & Associates.
No individuals’ names were listed. In 2007, as he mounted a defense in Palfrey’s racketeering case, Sibley sought, and was granted permission to identify 5,902 telephone numbers that showed up in Palfrey’s telephone records. In response to a subpoena, Verizon Wireless provided Sibley with a CD containing 817 account holders’ names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and home and business telephone numbers.
In April 2008, a federal jury in D.C. found Palfrey (shown in a file photo) guilty of racketeering, money laundering and mail fraud. Palfrey’s defense team never utilized — or shared — the information contained on the Verizon Wireless CD, because the judge eventually quashed the subpoena. Since February of this year, Sibley has been attempting to be released from a 2007 restraining order, which he says prevents him from releasing the records Palfrey entrusted to him in the early days of her defense against charges related to the escort service she ran in the nation’s capital from 1996 through 2007.
Sibley has said previously that information gleaned from the Verizon Wireless subpoena would “contain information relevant to the upcoming presidential election.” Sibley has not elaborated how the information might affect the 2016 election.
The list of released entities includes the following government agencies: Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, General Services Administration, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Internal Revenue Service, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Information Systems Command, Department of Commerce, Department of State, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Forest Service. Others listed in the filing include the Archdiocese of Washington, Embassy of Japan, Bethlehem Steel, Constellation Energy/BGE, Hewlett-Packard, Johns Hopkins University, Washington Gas and several large law firms.
Sibley’s license to practice law was suspended in 2008 for three years by the D.C. Court of Appeal. In addition, Sibley has sued the former chief judge and court clerk for $1 million each.
Washington Post, The fall of Edward Lin, the Navy officer accused of espionage and hiring a prostitute, Dan Lamothe, April 11, 2016. The lieutenant commander is one of a handful of active-duty service members to face espionage charges in the last few decades. Edward Lin faces charges of espionage, attempted espionage and patronizing a prostitute in a rare spying case involving an active-duty member of the U.S. military. It’s a steep fall for a lieutenant commander who has served on some of the Navy’s most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft.
A layer of secrecy shrouds Lin’s case: The Navy examined charges against him Friday during a preliminary hearing in Norfolk, Va., but provided little advance notice about it — aside from notice on a docket temporarily posted on a Navy website. The proceeding, known as an “Article 32” hearing, examines the facts of the case and is open to the public, but Navy officials have declined to comment on the case or identify Lin before or afterward, citing concerns about his privacy, said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a service spokesman.
Politico, Appeals court tosses 'Sister Wives' suit over Utah polygamy ban, Josh Gerstein, April 11, 2016. A federal appeals court has dismissed, on technical grounds, a closely-watched legal challenge to Utah's law against polygamous marriages. Some legal experts said the Supreme Court's decision last year finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would inexorably lead to a ruling striking down anti-polygamy laws. However, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision Monday that left that question for another day by ruling that the case before them was moot since the plaintiffs no longer faced a credible threat of prosecution under the law.
The suit was brought by Kody Brown and four women who say they are "sister wives" spiritually married to Brown, although only one is legally married to him. The case was filed after the family appeared on the reality series, 'Sister Wives," and a local prosecutor in Utah County, Utah opened an investigation. The prosecutor involved, Jeff Buhman, issued a new policy limiting prosecution to cases of deception or involving polygamy and some other crime, such as abuse.
NBC, Law Professor Challenges Cruz on Citizenship, Candidacy, Pete Williams, April 11, 2016. A Washington, D.C. law professor has come up with a new way to challenge the eligibility of Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada, to run for president. Victor Williams is running for president himself.
He says that should help him get over the first hurdle that has so far caused other challengers to stumble -- a lack of legal standing to sue. Williams, who teaches at the Catholic University law school, has registered to run as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination in nine states for the sole purpose of challenging the credentials of the man he calls "Canadian Cruz."
Williams attempted, but failed, to intervene in a Pennsylvania lawsuit on the citizenship issue. It was dismissed last week because the courts said the challenger in that case did not have standing to sue. Federal courts require that those going to court must show that they would suffer an injury that's concrete and particular to them. Suing simply on the basis of being a citizen and a taxpayer isn't enough. For the same reason, lower courts have rejected a lawsuit filed by a retired Utah lawyer, Walter Wagner, who says he has "a vested interest in insuring that all candidates for the position of president are legally qualified."
BBC, Syria conflict: IS retakes northern town of al-Rai from rebels, Staff report, April 11, 2016. Islamic State (IS) militants have retaken a strategically important town in northern Syria from rebel forces, activists and the jihadist group say.
New Yorker, The Assad Files, Ben Taub, April 11, 2016. Capturing the top-secret documents that tie the Syrian regime to mass torture and killings.
The Indicter, Swedish government helps finance Al-Qaida’s allies in Syria, Anders Romelsjö, April 11, 2016. The Swedish Cooperation Minister (minister for development and foreign aid) argue that Sweden’s 56 million SEK to the opposition-led development agency, Syrian Recovery Trust Fund is only humanitarian aid. But the Ministry’s own internal reports, which Proletären examined, tells that an important objective is to aid strengthening the inadequate popular support for the opposition coalition.
The Indicter, The Panama Papers – Oozing Slime, Robert Hunziker, April 10, 2016. The Panama Papers, a one-year investigation by over 100 reporters worldwide (The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism) of offshore money hiding/laundering/taxation avoidance, is a cause célèbre of underhandedness seldom, if ever, revealed to the world’s public. It is comparable to lifting a rotting log in the woods and finding an active nest of millipedes, red worms, and cockroaches scampering about to escape the bright sunlight. They can’t stand the sunlight because darkness is their life.
“It’s the biggest leak in history, dwarfing the data released by the Wikileaks organization in 2010. For context, if the amount of data released by Wikileaks was equivalent to the population of San Francisco, the amount of data released in the Panama Papers is the equivalent to that of India,” (BBC News, April 5th).
Remarkably, it may only be the tip of an iceberg, a big one, as the incident references the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. There are likely many more in the world of behind the scenes finance.
The Panama Papers, containing info on thousands of shell companies set up to avoid taxes and hide assets for over four decades from 1977 to 2015, are all about millionaires and billionaires and the politically connected “sticking it to” average citizens of the world by hiding money from fellow countrymen’s taxation policies and/or theft of state funds and laundering money. It is outrageously heinous and deserving of criminal incrimination and/or tarring and feathering whilst run out of town on a rail. It also begs the question of how many more rich pillagers are out there.
Washington Post, There will be no political influence in Clinton email probe, Obama says, Anne Gearan, April 10, 2016. President Obama defended his former secretary of state, even as he said that he had to be "careful" because of the ongoing investigation.
(Shown in a White House file photo), he strongly suggested that the mishandled classified documents that have come to light in a review of Clinton's unorthodox email system were not the nation's most highly guarded secrets. "There's classified and then there's classified," Obama told interviewer Chris Wallace with a smile.
"I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America's national security," the president said, though he noted that "there was a carelessness in terms of managing emails." Clinton has already acknowledged that.
The Washington Post, A portrait of Trump the donor: Free rounds of golf, but no personal cash, David A. Fahrenthold and Rosalind S. Helderman, April 10, 2016. Since the first day of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has said that he gave more than $102 million to charity in the past five years. To back up that claim, Trump’s campaign compiled a list of his contributions — 4,844 of them, filling 93 pages.
But, in that massive list, one thing was missing. Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump’s own money.
Advance Indiana, Investigative Journalist Ties Cruz' Father To Oswald In New Orleans, Gary R. Welsh (shown in file photo), April 10, 2016. Oswald in New Orleans in 1963 with a man Madsen claims is Rafael Cruz on his right. Anyone who has studied the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has understood the key role Cuban-Americans working for the CIA played in the intelligence community plot to kill Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963. Government disinformation agents immediately played up Lee Harvey Oswald's supposed ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans prior to Kennedy's assassination, which was supposedly a pro-Castro organization created by the Soviet Union.
More realistically, it was a CIA front group since most of the people associated with the organization in New Orleans, including Oswald, had all worked for the CIA in some capacity. Warren Commission records proving Oswald's ties to the CIA and FBI have remained sealed since the release of the Commission's widely-discredited report in 1964 claiming the assassination was the lone work of Oswald.
Reporters looking into the murky background of the Cuban-immigrant father of Sen. Ted Cruz have uncovered a number of inconsistencies in biographical claims in Sen. Cruz's book that his father had fled to the U.S. in 1957 as an insurgent fighting the Batista regime with only a $100 sewn into his underwear. Newly-reported information by independent investigator Wayne Madsen ties Rafael Bienvenido Cruz to Oswald's work for the supposedly pro-Castro group in New Orleans during the summer of 1963.
Madsen claims that one of the Cubans pictured with Oswald handing out pamphlets for Fair Play outside the International Trade Mart in August, 1963 is Rafael Cruz. The ITM's founder, Clay Shaw, worked for the CIA and was the only other man in the U.S. to face criminal charges in connection with the Kennedy assassination, when NOLA district attorney James Garrison brought charges in what he contended was a wide government conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. Shaw was acquitted of the charges and Garrison humiliated after federal agencies worked hand-in-hand with mainstream media to discredit his case.
Cruz's Cuban father, also named Rafael Cruz, operated an electronic business in Matanzas, Cuba tied to the American company, RCA. While reporters have been able to confirm an instance where the elder Cruz was arrested by Cuban police and brutally beaten, reporters have found no confirmation the arrest had anything to do with work for forces supporting Castro's efforts to overthrow the pro-American Batista regime. After arriving by a ferry boat from Cuba in Key West, Florida in 1957, Cruz' father made his way to Austin, Texas where he managed to enroll at the University of Texas and earn a degree in mathematics in 1961.
CNN, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to step down, Dana Ford and Victoria Butenko, April 10, 2016. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced Sunday that he will resign amid an ongoing political crisis. "We cannot let the government be destabilized when the country is at war," he said during a televised address. His formal resignation is expected Tuesday. Yatsenyuk called for the formation of a new government, and said on Twitter that politician Volodymyr Groysman had been nominated to replace him as Prime Minister.
Yatsenyuk became prime minister after Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was booted from office in February 2014 during the Maidan Revolution. Yatsenyuk led the opposition party called Batkivshchyna and sought a more "pro-European" direction for Ukraine. He rode a wave of popular support as Ukrainians marched into the streets demanding a dial back on Russian influence in the former Soviet republic.
But the euphoria was short-lived. The International Monetary Fund has agreed to provide a $17.5 billion emergency lifeline for Ukraine, demanding economic reforms in exchange for its money. But the reforms required by the IMF are hugely unpopular in Ukraine. Yatsenyuk, tasked with implementing them, saw his popularity suffer. In recent months, political divisions have deepened in Kiev. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had called for Yatsenyuk to step down in February On Sunday, the President released a statement, urging Parliament to form a new coalition and choose a new Prime Minister soon.
The Washington Post, Before he created billions in shareholder value, he had to master public speaking, Thomas Heath, April 10, 2016. Mike Daniels, an entrepreneur and board chairman at the management consultancy LMI, has had a hand in building some of the largest tech firms. Daniels is the former chairman and chief executive of Network Solutions, the Northern Virginia-based domain registration company that became a multibillion-dollar behemoth selling .com, .org and .net names.
Associated Press via Afro.com, Sotomayor: US High Court Needs More Diversity, in Many Ways, Jennifer Peltz, April 9, 2016. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the nation’s highest court needs more diversity of personal backgrounds and professional experience, speaking as a vacancy has refocused attention on the court’s makeup. During a talk Friday at Brooklyn Law School, Sotomayor (shown in an official photo) didn’t mention the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, who is highly respected but wouldn’t add racial, religious, or educational diversity to the high court. But Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina justice, said “it is important that we have greater diversity on the Supreme Court” and in the legal profession.
“I, for one, do think there is a disadvantage from having (five) Catholics, three Jews, everyone from an Ivy League school,” several justices from New York City and no one who practiced criminal defense law outside white-collar settings, Sotomayor told the law school audience. Sotomayor and some of her colleagues have said before that the high court could benefit from more diversity, but her remarks Friday come in the fraught context of a nomination in unusual limbo.
Since conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s January death left Democratic President Barack Obama with the chance to fill a seat that could shift the court’s ideological balance, Senate Republicans have said they will not consider confirming anyone named before the November presidential election.
Some liberal groups hoped Obama, who had previously tapped Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan, would nominate another woman or minority. Instead, he tapped Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Garland, 63, is a white, Jewish former prosecutor with an Ivy League background and a career in the capital — and a centrist reputation the White House may have hoped would put pressure on Republicans to consider him.
CBS 60 Minutes, Top secret "28 pages" may hold clues about Saudi support for 9/11 hijackers, Steve Kroft, April 8, 2016. Former Senator Bob Graham and others urge the Obama administration to declassify redacted pages of a report that holds 9/11 secrets
Current and former members of Congress, U.S. officials, 9/11 Commissioners and the families of the attack's victims want 28 top-secret pages of a congressional report released. Bob Graham, the former Florida governor, Democratic U.S. Senator and onetime chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says the key section of a top secret report he helped author should be declassified to shed light on possible Saudi support for some of the 9/11 hijackers. Graham was co-chair of Congress' bipartisan "Joint Inquiry" into intelligence failures surrounding the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that issued the report in 2003. Graham speaks to Steve Kroft for 60 Minutes report to be broadcast Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Graham and his Joint Inquiry co-chair in the House, former Representative Porter Goss (R-FL) -- who went on to be director of the CIA -- say the 28 pages were excised from their report by the Bush Administration in the interest of national security. Graham wouldn't discuss the classified contents, but says the 28 pages outline a network of people he believes supported hijackers in the U.S. He tells Kroft he believes the hijackers were "substantially" supported by Saudi Arabia. Asked if the support was from government, rich people or charities, the former senator replies, "all of the above."
"I think its implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn't speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many didn't have a high school education, could have carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States," says Graham.
Graham and others think the reason for classifying the pages was to protect the U.S. relationship with ally Saudi Arabia.
In addition to Graham and Goss, Kroft also speaks to former 9/11 Commission members U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Navy Secretary John Lehman; lawyers for family members of attack victims suing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and to Tim Roemer, former Democratic U.S. Representative from Indiana who was the only person to serve on both Congress' Joint Inquiry and the 9/11 Commission. All of the former U.S. officials have read the redacted pages. Roemer says it's time to let everyone know what's in the top secret documents.
"Look, the Saudis have even said they're for declassifying it. We should declassify it," he tells Kroft. "Is it sensitive...a bit of a can of worms or some snakes crawling out of there? Yes," says Roemer.
RealClearPolitics, Hillary Clinton: Republican "Fantasy" For Me To Be Handcuffed, "Not Even The Remotest Chance That Is Going To Happen," Ian Schwartz, April 8, 2016. Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is interview by Matt Lauer on Friday's edition of Today about her Democratic competitor Bernie Sanders, her private server, the upcoming New York primary, and the GOP candidates. Hillary Clinton says Republicans clinging to the hope (Lauer's words) that she will be led off in handcuffs over her private server is further proof that Republicans "live in a world of fantasy and hope."
Clinton wrote off the Justice Department investigation as just a "security review," something she says is "conducted in our government all the time." "The Republican's fondest wishes will not be fulfilled," Clinton promised.
MATT LAUER: Let me share some conversations I've had with Republicans. If I say to somebody on the Republican side, aren't you nervous about what's happening with this campaign and this division and what might happen at the convention, do you know what I hear a lot? They are clinging to the hope that the way they'll be able to deal with that is that at some point between now and the election -- and they say this -- that they will get to see Hillary Clinton in handcuffs.
HILLARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness.
LAUER: That there will be some kind of political perp walk based on your private e-mail server.
CLINTON: Well, Matt, I know they live in that world of fantasy and hope because they've got a mess on their hands on the Republican side. That is not going to happen. There is not even the remotest chance that it's going to happen.
Reuters, Defamation lawsuits involving U.S. lawyer Dershowitz end in settlement, David Ingram, April 8, 2016. Prominent U.S. lawyer Alan Dershowitz and two victims' rights attorneys on Friday withdrew claims from a Florida court that they defamed each other during a legal fight about a woman who said she was trafficked for sex as an underage girl.
"The parties believe it is time to take advantage of the new information that has come to light on both sides during the litigation and put these matters behind them," the three lawyers said in a joint statement on Friday. The defamation lawsuits stemmed from claims that the woman, Virginia Giuffre, made in another court in December 2014 that she was forced as a girl to have sex with Dershowitz, the UK's Prince Andrew, and other men. Dershowitz and Prince Andrew denied the allegations, and the allegations were later stricken from court records.
"Dershowitz completely denies any such misconduct, while not disputing Roberts’s [Giuffre] statements that the underlying alleged misconduct may have occurred with someone else," the three lawyers said in the statement.
Washington Post, Prosecutors offer details on Dennis Hastert’s alleged sexual abuse of teenagers, Matt Zapotosky, April 8, 2016. Federal prosecutors on Friday detailed some of the lurid allegations of sexual misconduct against former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert and asked a federal judge to subject the Illinois Republican to a sex offender evaluation. In a memo in advance of an April 27 sentencing hearing, prosecutors spelled out in graphic detail how Hastert sexually molested or inappropriately touched five teenagers who trusted him as their wrestling coach. And as Hastert rose to power, believing that his wrongdoing would never be made public, his victims struggled with the effects of the abuse, prosecutors wrote.
Hastert, 74, pleaded guilty last year to violating federal banking laws, admitting in a deal with prosecutors that he withdrew money from banks in increments low enough to avoid mandatory reporting requirements. That charge, though, always belied the case’s actual underpinnings. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had already agreed that federal sentencing guidelines in the case called for a prison term between zero and six months, and prosecutors recommended a term inside that range Friday, coupled with a sex offender assessment. A federal judge is not bound by that recommendation and could sentence Hastert to as much as five years in prison.
In their memo, prosecutors also spelled out for the first time how investigators came to learn of the abuse. In 2012, prosecutors wrote, a bank official noticed the former House speaker had made seven $50,000 cash withdrawals over a two-year stretch.
London Review of Books, All in It Together, Glen Newey, April 8, 2016. The ‘Panama Papers’ disclosed this week by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Guardian and others contain some 2.6 terabytes of data leaked by a whistleblower in the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. In their files, the usual telly faces, Tory party donors, oligarchs, sportspeople and surplus royals wash up; they’re all in it together. So was David Cameron’s late father, via the still-trading investment fund Blairmore Holdings Inc., which avoided UK tax entirely for a thirty year stretch.
From Cameron’s viewpoint (the prime minister is shown in a file photo), the doomsday scenario would be revelations like those that felled Iceland’s premier Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson when it emerged he’d set up a cash-sock company in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) for personal gain. For his part, Cameron’s handling of the issue has been remarkably inept. He’s met questions arising from the drip-feed of revelations this week with studied evasion and half-answers that have only fuelld suspicion. After first saying it was all private, and then carefully dodging when asked if he’s benefited from offshore vehicles in the past, he’s finally spilled that he had Blairmore shares between 1997 and 2010, which converts his earlier shiftiness into something more like outright duplicity.
You might think that austeritarian politics, fixated on the structural deficit, should be as worried about revenue as spending, and so bear down on big-ticket tax dodges. But as everyone knows, it doesn’t work like that. This rests on distributive principle as well as self-interest; the principle roughly being: from each according to his docility, to each according to his greed.
All of which leaves Cameron’s flank perilously exposed in the Brexit referendum. Discontent can be channeled into backing Leave, just as voters often use by-elections to whack the government.
Lawfare, Conference on "Intelligence in American Society" with Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, Robert Chesney and Steve Slick, Published April 8, 2016 March 30, 2016 panel). Last Wednesday, the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas-Austin hosted a conference on “Intelligence in American Society”. The conference focused on the supervision and oversight of U.S. intelligence activities. The luncheon keynote speaker was Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Morning and afternoon discussions involved current and former officials involved in intelligence oversight by all three branches of government, the media, and non-governmental organizations.
The Media's Responsibilities in National Security Reporting
Moderator: Suzanne Kelly (Publisher and CEO of The Cipher Brief)
William Harlow (former Director of Public Affairs at CIA)
Eric Schmitt (Senior Writer, Terrorism and National Security, The New York Times)
John Walcott (Professor, Georgetown University)
ABC News, US Navy Officer Charged With Espionage, Luis Martinez, April 8, 2016. A Navy officer assigned to a maritime reconnaissance unit has been charged with espionage and attempted espionage, according to charging documents. The officer was arrested approximately eight months ago, but the details of his case were first made public Friday at a preliminary court hearing that will determine whether the case will proceed to a court martial.
The unidentified officer is currently assigned to Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, a maritime patrol and reconnaissance unit in Norfolk that provides airborne anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance using P-8A Poseidon aircraft, P-3 Orion aircraft and MQ-4 unmanned aircraft. A U.S. official says the lieutenant commander has been in pre-trial confinement since being arrested approximately eight months ago at an airport in the U.S. Pacific Command region while bound for a foreign country. He is being held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI are still investigating details of this case.
Consortium News, Covering Up Hillary’s Libyan Fiasco, Jonathan Marshall, April 8, 2016. Exclusive: Despite Libya’s bloodshed and chaos, ex-Secretary of State Clinton still defends her key role in the 2011 “regime change,” but her reasons don’t withstand scrutiny.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, CIA’s Work With Filmmakers Puts All Media Workers at Risk, Adam Johnson, April 8, 2016. Vice’s Jason Leopold has uncovered documents showing the CIA had a role in producing up to 22 entertainment “projects,” including History Channel documentary Air America: The CIA’s Secret Airline, Bravo‘s Top Chef: Covert Cuisine, the USA Network series Covert Affairs and the BBC documentary The Secret War on Terror — along with two fictional feature films about the CIA that both came out in 2012.
The CIA’s involvement in the production of Zero Dark Thirty (effectively exchanging “insider” access for a two-hour-long torture commercial) has already been well-established, but the agency’s role in the production of Argo — which won the Best Picture Oscar for 2012 — was heretofore unknown. The extent of the CIA’s involvement in the projects is still largely classified, as Leopold notes, quoting an Agency audit report:
The CIA’s history of producing or helping to produce films goes back decades. The Agency, for example, secretly bought the rights to Animal Farm after Orwell’s death in 1950 and produce an animated adaptation centered on demonizing the Soviet Union rather than capturing Orwell’s broader critiques of power.
In such revelations, an important point is often overlooked: The CIA assisting or posing as filmmakers, journalists and other creative roles — a practice the Agency reserves the right to partake in to this day — puts actual filmmakers, journalists and other creators at risk overseas. It’s an important piece of context that’s rarely addressed by a pundit class who is (rightfully) outraged at American journalists and filmmakers being detained as spies overseas, but responds with praise or amusement when CIA takes on such roles as cover.
American media’s cozy relationship with the CIA and other intelligence agencies makes the possibility of overcompensation by Iran and other unfriendly governments that much more likely, and makes the pretense that legitimate journalists are suspected of espionage that much more plausible.
Washington Post, Cruz’s plan to ‘abolish the IRS’ would reward cheaters — and hurt honest taxpayers, Catherine Rampell, April 7, 2016. Who has benefited from the agency’s crippling? Those who play fast and loose with the law.
Real Clear Politics, Cruz Ventures Into the Bronx in Delegate Quest, Caitlin Huey-Burns, April 6, 2016. Fresh off a convincing victory in Wisconsin, Ted Cruz found himself in a “Chino-Latino” restaurant Wednesday in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx. It was no hero’s welcome for the Texas senator, who was greeted by a handful of protesters unhappy with his views on immigration, the policing of Muslim neighborhoods, and even climate change. “He’s not welcome here, it’s that simple,” said one activist.
But Cruz, who defeated Trump by 13 percentage points the night before, was undeterred. With New York’s primary ahead and delegates to be awarded by congressional district, the conservative lawmaker is determined to pick up every and any voter he can in his mission to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination.
Washington Post, From Ukraine to Trump Tower, Paul Manafort unafraid to take on controversial jobs, Catherine Ho, April 7, 2016. If anyone is capable of whipping the Trump campaign into a more organized, disciplined operation, it's Manafort.
Southfront, International Military Review – Syria, Staff report, Apr. 7, 2016. Up to 1,500 al-Nusra militants supported by 3 battle tanks and 20 automobiles with large-caliber machine guns attacked positions of Kurdish militia in Sheikh Maqsood from Ashrafiyah and al-Shababi. 18 civilians and 11 members of Kurdish units were killed. 36 were wounded. Russian warplanes hit positions of al-Nusra militants in suburbs of Aleppo and quelled their attempts for offensive.
Huffington Post, Bill Clinton Spars With Protesters Who Say He Destroyed Black Communities, Nick Wing, April 7, 2016. Former President Bill Clinton got into a heated exchange with protesters on Thursday, pushing back against charges that anti-crime legislation and welfare reform passed during his tenure had devastated black communities. A group of protesters interrupted the former president during a campaign appearance for his wife in Philadelphia. One person held up a sign that read, “Hillary is a murderer,” while another yelled that she should be tried for “crimes against humanity.”
The protesters were referencing Clinton’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Prevention Act, which is now widely accepted to have sparked a wave of mass incarceration, especially among people of color. Hillary Clinton has come under fire for her support of that legislation, as well as decades-old comments regarding a now-debunked myth about child “super-predators” who were supposedly responsible for crime. She’s since apologized for those words.
“I had an assault weapons ban in [my version of the bill],” the former president said Thursday in defense of the 1994 legislation. “I had money for inner-city kids, for out of school activities, we had 110,000 police officers so we could put people on the street, not in these military vehicles, and the police would look like the people they were policing.”
FiveThirtyEight.com, Ted Cruz, Not Paul Ryan, Would Probably Win A Contested Convention, Nate Silver, April 6, 2016. The ‘establishment’ might not like Cruz, but the delegates likely will. The rank-and-file delegates are into Ted Cruz — and they’re the ones who will have votes in Cleveland.
To recap a bit, the Republican presidential voting process is separate from the delegate selection process in most states. In South Carolina, for instance, most delegates are selected through a series of county, congressional district and state conventions. Although those delegates are bound to Trump (who won the state’s primary on Feb. 20) on the first ballot, they could peel off and vote for another candidate after that.
There are some states where delegates are selected directly on the ballot (as in Maryland, for instance) and others where slates are submitted by the candidates (as in New Hampshire) — these are a fairly small minority. Below, you’ll find a table showing the Republicans’ delegate selection method in all states and territories, according to the Republican Party’s rulebook.
Real Clear Politics, Wisconsin Win a Turning Point for Cruz? Rebecca Berg and Carl M. Cannon, April 6, 2016. For more than two months now, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has insisted he is the only realistic Republican alternative to Donald Trump. Now, however, after swamping the field in Wisconsin with more votes than Trump and Kasich combined, Cruz’s story line is finally falling into place.
Politico, Sanders: Clinton's not qualified to be president, 'Bernie Sanders, take back your words about Hillary Clinton,' her spokesman shot back, Hanna Trudo and Nick Gass, April 6, 2016. Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president, Bernie Sanders told a crowd of supporters packed into Temple University's arena, delivering his fiercest jab yet to the struggling Democratic front-runner. "Now the other day, I think, Secretary Clinton appeared to be getting a little bit nervous," he began. "We have won, we have won seven out of eight of the recent primaries and caucuses. And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote, not qualified to be president.
"Well let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don't believe that she is qualified if she is, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds," he said. "I don't think you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC."
Sanders then pivoted to her record on foreign policy, saying, "I don't think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. I don't think you are qualified if you've supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement, which has cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I don't think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed and which, as all of you know, has allowed corporations and wealthy people all over the world to avoid paying their taxes to their countries."
Clinton's camp fired back almost immediately — with great umbrage taken — as the Sanders operation shot out new fundraising appeals keying off the senator's comments.
Tax Wall Street Party, Trump Loses Wisconsin To Cruz By 20 Points, Webster G. Tarpley (shown in file photo), April 6, 2016. The Wisconsin primary has ended in defeat for Donald Trump, who is finishing more than 20 points behind Ted Cruz. Hillary Clinton is trailing Bernie Sanders by about 8 points. This is a stunning reversal for both Trump and Hillary.
The loudmouth Trump, usually long on braggadocio, could not muster the courage to deliver a concession speech, or indeed a speech of any kind. Reports have surfaced on NBC News about bitter factional clashes in the Trump camp between his thuggish campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (who advocates the “Let Trump be Trump” or “Anything Goes” strategy) on the one hand, and Trump family members (presumably daughter Ivanka), who want the candidate to attempt presidential gravitas and decorum.
To understand what may happen at the GOP convention in Cleveland in July, it is useful to review conventions that have split in the course of American history. The Daily Briefing is beginning a series that will examine some of the split conventions and party extinctions of U.S. history.
New York Times, Megamergers Face Deterrents in the United States, Michael J. de la Merced and Leslie Picker, April 6, 2016. The drug giant Pfizer wanted to cut its taxes through a $152 billion takeover of the Dublin-based maker of Botox. And Halliburton sought to buy a major rival in the business of selling equipment to oil drillers for nearly $35 billion.
But this week, the Obama administration took on both deals — and it has claimed at least one trophy so far. Pfizer walked away from its proposed merger with Allergan on Wednesday, complaining that new tax rules from the Treasury Department sharply curtailed the benefits of that deal. And the Justice Department sued Halliburton and Baker Hughes on Wednesday, arguing that putting the two together would cut competition in the oil field services industry to unacceptable levels. The two companies plan to fight the suit.
In both cases, the administration showed how it has been increasingly willing to challenge giant takeovers, reflecting a belief that the corporate world goes too far in its pursuit of megamergers.
Oregonian (Portland), Federal judge refuses to halt order to transfer Ammon Bundy, four co-defendants to Nevada, April 6, 2016. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown refused Wednesday to halt her order to have Ammon Bundy and four co-defendants transferred to Nevada on April 13 to face federal indictment there, leaving the matter before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should the higher court step in.
Brown said she believes the narrow tailoring of her order -- that Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier and Blaine Cooper be taken to Nevada to make their initial court appearances in Las Vegas and then return to Oregon by April 25 -- won't cause the defendants "irreparable harm.'' Defense lawyers had urged Brown to put a hold on her order until a higher court can hear their appeal, arguing that the transfer will impair their ability to effectively represent their clients and prepare for what's now shaping up to be a September trial in Oregon.
Reuters, Syrian army and allies launch attack south of Aleppo, Tom Perry, April 6, 2016. The Syrian army and its allies launched a major attack on insurgents south of Aleppo, described as the fiercest government assault in the area since an agreement to ease the fighting came into effect in February. Fighting south of Aleppo in recent days has put further strain on the already widely violated ceasefire deal brokered by the United States and Russia with the aim of launching a diplomatic process towards ending the five-year-long war. The indirect talks organized by the United Nations are struggling with no sign of compromise over the main issue dividing the sides: the future of President Bashar al-Assad. A second round of talks is due to begin on Monday in Geneva.
Lagniappe Weekly, Daphne man arrested for publishing expunged records, Eric Mann, April 6, 2016. When John Burtis Caylor, a self-described investigative reporter, turned himself in to Daphne police March 30 for publishing the expunged court records of a Mobile man on his website, he likely became the first person in Alabama charged with violating a 2014 state law that criminalized the publication of expunged court records.
The 2014 law banning the publishing of expunged allows persons charged with certain misdemeanor criminal offenses, traffic violations or municipal ordinance violations to have their record expunged. The law makes Alabama one of the few states that administers criminal penalties for such publication. In addition, the law also requires government employees queried about expunged records to declare that no record exists, even though expunged records are still held by the state and are simply not available to the public.
Update: Lagniappe Weekly, Man faces second expunged records publication arrest, Eric Mann, May 5, 2016. For the second time since March, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of investigative journalist John Caylor for publishing the expunged court records of a Mobile area attorney and federal court clerk.
Huffington Post, Bernie Sanders Wins Wisconsin Democratic Primary, Samantha Lachman, April 5, 2016. Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday in a reminder that the independent senator from Vermont has continued to win states, even as Clinton maintains her lead among delegates. Sanders had 56 percent of the vote early Wednesday, compared with Clinton’s 43 percent.
Huffington Post, Ted Cruz Wallops Donald Trump In Wisconsin’s GOP Primary, Igor Bobic, April 5, 2016. Good news for establishment forces hoping to stop Donald Trump in his tracks. Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz prevailed in Tuesday night’s GOP presidential primary in Wisconsin, notching his biggest victory over real estate mogul Donald Trump since the Iowa caucuses. Cruz had 48 percent of the vote, compared with 35 percent for Trump and 14 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, with 97 percent of precincts reporting.
NBC News, SCOTUS Denies Request from D.C. Madam's Attorney to Release Info, Staff report, April 5, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request from a lawyer who once represented a woman known as the "DC Madam" to release records from her famous escort service. Those records include such sensitive information as customer names, Social Security numbers and addresses— information the lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, has said could affect the 2016 presidential election. The so-called DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, ran a high-priced escort service in the Washington D.C.-area for a number of years before her eventual conviction. She died in 2008. Sibley wanted the Supreme Court to lift a lower court order, in place since 2007, that bars him from releasing any information about her records.
Deborah Jean Palfrey of Vallejo, Calif., right, accompanied by her attorney Montgomery Blair Sibley, left, leaves the federal court in Washington, DC, as portrayed on the cover of Sibley's book about the case, Why Just Her.
Washington Post, 9-year-old reporter breaks crime news, posts videos, fires back at critics, Tom Jackman, April 5, 2016. A 9-year-old reported about a murder in Selinsgrove, Pa., for her website. She responds to criticism she received online. Reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak got the tip early Saturday afternoon that there was heavy police activity on Ninth Street. She hustled over with her pen and camera, as any good reporter would, and soon she posted something short online, beating all her competitors. Then, working the neighbors and the cops, she nailed down her scoop with a full-length story and this headline: “EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!”
The online story not only beat the local daily paper, but she also included a short video from the crime scene, assuring viewers that “I’m working hard on this investigation.”
Then Monday came and Hilde had to go back to third grade. She is 9. As the editor and publisher of the Orange Street News, in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pa., about 50 miles north of Harrisburg, Lysiak is a dedicated multi-media journalist who loves going after crime stories.
Washington Post, How a federal spy case turned into a child pornography prosecution, April 5, 2016. FBI agents entered Keith Gartenlaub’s home in Southern California while he and his wife were visiting her relatives in Shanghai. Agents wearing gloves went through boxes, snapped pictures of documents and made copies of three computer hard drives before leaving as quietly as they had entered. The FBI had obtained a secret search warrant to enter the house, citing national security grounds. Instead, seven months later, he was charged with the possession and receipt of child pornography. He has denied the charges, but a jury convicted him in December.
Gartenlaub’s case highlights how exceptional powers given to the government in recent years to gather information about suspected terrorist or espionage threats without some of the traditional safeguards for a defendant’s rights are now leading to charges in more routine criminal cases. In Gartenlaub’s case, the government made sealed filings, so neither the defense nor the public was able to see them. Based on the secret filings, the judge held that the government had shown probable cause that the house to be searched belonged to “an agent of a foreign power” or a spy.
Politico, Trump campaign in disarray, Kenneth P. Vogel, Ben Schreckinger and Eli Stokols, April 5, 2016. Morale sinks as key battleground state staff laid off, including senior data operative. Donald Trump’s campaign is increasingly falling into disarray as the Manhattan billionaire braces for a loss in Wisconsin that could set him on course for an uncertain convention floor fight for the Republican presidential nomination. Since March, the campaign has been laying off field staff en masse around the country and has dismantled much of what existed of its organizations in general-election battlegrounds, including Florida and Ohio.
Washington Post, Islamist rebel fighters down Syrian aircraft near Aleppo battle front, Hugh Naylor, April 5, 2016. A missile apparently fired by Islamist rebels downed a Syrian reconnaissance plane Tuesday and fighters captured its pilot, Syria’s military and activists said, as a partial truce showed further signs of fraying amid escalating fighting.
New York Times, Public Editor's Column: Perfectly Reasonable Question: Why No Big Splash for ‘Panama Papers’? Margaret Sullivan, The “Panama Papers” are being called the largest ever leak of secret data, and articles about the offshore bank accounts of bigwigs worldwide — developed by a global consortium of journalists — began appearing Sunday afternoon. They burst into the Sunday afternoon news lull, getting huge play in media outlets around the world and in the United States.
By Monday, I had heard from many Times readers who wanted to know why The Times didn’t seem to be giving the news a big ride. The Times posted a wire-service article on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t until 9:15 p.m. that a staff-produced piece of moderate length went onto the website. It was not given prominent display; in Monday’s paper, the story did not make the front page. It ran at the top of Page A3.
Despite that, readers clearly were extremely interested. (And for good reason. Esquire’s Charles Pierce wrote Monday that the revelations raise the distinct possibility “that every political system in the world — even the nakedly authoritarian ones — is hopelessly rigged, and that the marvelous new world of the miraculous global economy is an even bigger thieves’ paradise than you, me, or even Jamie Dimon thought it was.”)
Quietly displayed and delayed as it was, the story nevertheless was among The Times’s 10 most widely read articles on Monday morning.
Strategic Culture Foundation, America's Insatiable Appetite for Foreign Bases, Wayne Madsen, April 4, 2016. Author and columnist Wayne Madsen, shown in a file photo, is a former Navy intelligence officer. The Obama administration will be remembered for the extension of American military bases to the most far-flung parts of the world in a manner not seen since the early days of the Cold War. The Pentagon, under Obama, drew up a plan for a worldwide network of military "hubs" with smaller dependent bases or "spokes" coordinating their activity with the hubs. One such hub is a large airbase being constructed by the United States in Erbil, in what is the all-but-declared independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Recently, it became clearer what "spoke" bases would be built in the Middle East that would coordinate their activities with the US Central Command installation in Erbil.
Taking advantage of the battlefield success of the Syrian Kurds, the US built an airbase in Rmeilan, which is now part of the embryonic Syrian Kurdish state known as the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava. The Rmeilan base is designed as one of the spokes from the Erbil hub. The United States justifies its military bases in the largely unrecognized Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) territory and Northern Syria-Rojava by claiming the bases are needed to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an organization of America’s making. However, anyone in the Middle East with common sense realizes that the new bases are to create zones of protection for US oil interests who want to exploit the oil reserves of both Iraq and Syria.
Another spoke for the Erbil hub is the not-so-secret US training base located in the northern Jordanian desert town of Safawi. At this base, US, Jordanian, British, French, and Turkish troops jointly trained Syrian rebel forces, many of which, when entering Syria, immediately defected to ISIL and its affiliates. Jordan’s King Abdullah, at a January 2016 meeting in Washington with congressional officials, bemoaned the fact that Turkey was aiding ISIL in Syria and that Jordanian Special Forces units were required to enter Syria to clean up the mess caused by the Turks. Obama, who continues to maintain his friendship with Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, canceled his previously scheduled meeting at the White House with Abdullah.
The Obama administration has had no desire to expose Erdoğan as a supporter of ISIL, primarily because Washington wants to maintain its large airbase at Incirlik. Again, the maintenance of bases by the United States trumps all other concerns, diplomatic and even counter-terrorism issues included.
RadarOnline, Ted Cruz Cheating Scandal Explodes! Presidential Hopeful Named In Murdered D.C. Madam’s Black Book, Investigators Charge, Staff report, April 4, 2016. New bombshell is set to rock the Wisconsin primary. Embattled White House candidate Ted Cruz‘s cheating scandal is set to explode wide-open, with fresh — and blockbuster — allegations that the married conservative senator was named in the black book of a notorious Washington D.C. madam who mysteriously died, RadarOnline.com has learned.
Montgomery Blair Sibley, a former lawyer for madam Deborah Palfrey, has filed a dramatic appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to publish her unconventional “black book,” which consists of some 15,000 pages of phone records and calls to clients, as well as their calls requesting the $300-an-hour services from her gaggle of beautiful hookers! Sibley told the National Enquirer that “time is of the essence” to release the list because one or more of the phone numbers would provide bombshell information that is “relevant to voters before they cast their ballot.”
He currently is barred by a lower court order from releasing the records or naming names.
But Radar has learned the National Enquirer will this week report its findings of yet another exhaustive and investigative probe that will quote journalist detectives who claim the mystery candidate almost certainly “has to be Cruz.” Investigator Wayne Madsen, who was on a team of reporters hired by Hustler Magazine’s boisterous owner Larry Flynt to investigate the madam, told the Enquirer that Cruz (shown in a file photo) should be concerned!
“If Montgomery Sibley has what he says he has, it has to be Cruz,” he said in an interview — an advance copy of which was provided to Radar. “Going on what I know about the other male candidates still in the race, it isn’t any of them, and Palfrey didn’t provide call boys, so it wasn’t Hillary.”
People Magazine, Ted Cruz Responds to Affair Allegations: 'I Have Always Been Faithful to My Wife,' Tierney McAfee April 4, 2015. GOP hopeful Ted Cruz on Monday responded to a recent National Enquirer report alleging he has had several extramarital affairs, telling Fox News' Megyn Kelly that he has "always been faithful" to wife Heidi Cruz (Shown on a screenshot via Fox News).
At a town hall in Madison, Wisconsin, moderator Kelly asked Cruz if he has ever committed adultery.
"I have not," the Texas senator replied. "That attack was complete and utter garbage. It was complete lies. And it came from Donald Trump and his henchmen. Those reports, they're not a little bit true, not slightly true."
Although Trump previously denied any involvement in the National Enquirer report published in late March, Cruz maintains that the billionaire businessman is to blame, adding on Monday that the Trump campaign has been circulating the report. "It's completely made-up nonsense. It's simply not true," Cruz said of the article.
"I have always been faithful to my wife. I love my wife. She's my best friend in the world. This is the kind of garbage the Trump campaign engages in. You know why? Because they can't debate substance."
Cruz added that the only person quoted in the report is Trump's former political adviser Roger Stone, who, Kelly pointed out, parted ways with the real estate mogul in August. Nevertheless, Cruz claims Stone is now "the campaign's attack dog, spreading lies and personal smears," Yahoo News reports.
[Editor's note: In 2001, Cruz married his wife Heidi Nelson Cruz, an American an American investment manager at Goldman Sachs. According to her a bio in Wikipedia: She served in the Bush White House as the economic director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, as the director of the Latin America Office at the U.S. Treasury Department, as Special Assistant to U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, and as economic policy advisor to the 2000 George W. Bush presidential campaign. Heidi Nelson met Ted Cruz while the two were working together on George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.]
WhoWhatWhy, Deep History and the Global Drug Connection, Part 1, Peter Dale Scott, April 4, 2016. Introduction by Russ Baker: To many, the anecdote described below will sound far-fetched, and logical minds may suspect that the Vietnam vet in the story created the “incident” himself. But as those who lived through that period may remember, representatives of the covert side of government did far worse — and often. Infiltration, intimidation, framing, and more were all part of the arsenal against the “disloyal.” No method was deemed too severe.
Today, we may find ourselves in a comparable period. Incidents covered by WhoWhatWhy such as the fiery death of journalist Michael Hastings and the open statements that Edward Snowden should be assassinated remind us to take nothing for granted. The essay below is by the father of “Deep Politics” analysis, Peter Dale Scott. It reminds us that, too often, it is not the wild-sounding that is the fiction — but the constant assurances that everything is a-ok, that our society operates on fundamental decency, and that we need to stay focused on the small things and leave the big problems to others. Below, Scott describes that phenomenon as “a great conspiracy/of organized denial.”
Seeking to reverse this organized denial, Scott, in the book introduction that follows, posits — based on his decades of research — powerful connections between militarism, vast illegal drug operations, and America’s intelligence agencies. Sound far-fetched? So does much of history itself.
This is Part 1 of a multi-part series. Excerpt from American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014):
Two Researchers Encounter a Deep Event
Peter Dale Scott (shown in a photo): If by terrorism we mean “the use of violence to intimidate,” then in September 1971 the historian Alfred McCoy and I witnessed a minor California terrorist incident.
A Vietnam veteran of Special Forces living in East Palo Alto who had seen opium loaded onto the CIA’s Air America airplanes in Asia agreed on my telephone to be interviewed by the two of us.
But when we arrived at his house the next morning, he had changed his mind. Motioning to us not to speak, he led us back down his front-door steps to his sports car, an MG. Overnight someone had warned him not to talk to us by burning a large hole in its steel door, with what he said could only have been a sophisticated implosion device, of the sort used by his old unit.
OpEdNews, Is the 2016 Election Already Being Stripped & Flipped? Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, April 3, 2016. Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection. Disturbing signs of the time-tested "Strip and Flip" strategy for stealing elections have already surfaced in 2016. Will they ultimately decide the outcome, as they have in too many recent elections?
The core approach is to STRIP citizens of their voting rights, then FLIP the electronic vote count if that's not enough to guarantee a win for the corporate 1%. Historically, "stripping" has been based on race. It's rooted in the divide-and-conquer strategies of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Today it centers on racist demands for photo ID and other scams designed to prevent blacks, Hispanics, the young, and the poor from voting.
"Flipping" is related to electronic voting machines, on which the vast majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all these machines were bought with money from the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which came after the theft of the 2000 presidential election. Virtually all these machines are 10 years old or more, and can easily be hacked. Swing states Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona, among others, have GOP governors and, except for Florida, secretaries of state who can easily flip the vote counts, once they are cast, without accountability or detection. Also, private partisan voting machine companies have unlimited access to the electronic poll books, voting machines, and central tabulators.
Those who dismiss such warnings as "conspiracy theory" might confront this simple question: "How will the electronic vote count in the 2016 election be verified?"
The answer is simple: "It can't be."
The National (Abu Dhabi), Turkey runs risk of losing control of southern border, Jesse Rosenfeld, April 3, 2016. In the Kurdish city of Nusaybin, on Turkey’s frontier with Syria, rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are leading an armed urban uprising against the Turkish government that is transforming a border region already gripped with strife. Hastily made barricades have left the streets bare of paving stones. Behind them, the guerrillas and the neighborhoods’ working-class occupants are the new front line of the reignited three-decade-old conflict between Turkey and its Kurdish minority.
Militias inspired by the Kurdish fight for autonomy in Syria launch incessant hit-and-run attacks on Turkish police and soldiers, while residents hang blankets on clotheslines to try to obstruct the line of fire from Turkish snipers. The irregular war engulfing the cities of south-east Turkey since the collapse of the peace process between Ankara and the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, threatens the entire stability of Turkey and especially the border that should separate it from the multifaceted war in Syria.
Ankara’s expanding war with the Kurdish rebels is obliterating the border and blurring the lines of conflict. Turkish Kurds have flowed into the ranks of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria since the 2014 battle for Kobane against ISIL. This fueled concern in Ankara that these fighters, who have been armed and aided by the US, will return to take up arms against Turkey. It seems that those fears have become reality.
New York Times, Panama Law Firm’s Leaked Files Detail Offshore Accounts Tied to World Leaders, Michael S. Schmidt and Steven Leer Myers, April 3, 2016. A group of news media outlets published articles on Sunday based on what they said were 11.5 million leaked documents from a Panama law firm that helped some of the world’s wealthiest people — including politicians, athletes and business moguls — establish offshore bank accounts.
The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said its reporters had obtained the documents from a confidential source. The newspaper then shared the files with other media organizations, like The Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In an article, the investigative journalism organization said the documents revealed the offshore accounts of 140 politicians and public officials, including a dozen current and former world leaders and several individuals with close ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The organization said reporters at 100 news media outlets working in 25 languages had used the documents to investigate the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, and its clients, including political figures in countries like Iceland, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Has An Ace To Play Against Fox News, Christina Wilkie, April 3, 2016. The GOP front-runner has information that could damage the cable news network if it were to be made public. When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump launched a crusade against Fox News and its star anchor, Megyn Kelly, last summer, many political insiders saw the move as the beginning of the end of Trump’s upstart campaign. But in a newly published article Sunday in New York Magazine, author and journalist Gabriel Sherman reveals how Trump came to possess ultra-insider information about Fox News and its founder, Roger Ailes, that could be damaging if it were ever to be made public.
New York Magazine, Inside Operation Trump, the Most Unorthodox Campaign in Political History, Gabriel Sherman, April 3, 2016. In 2014, Trump taped another season of The Apprentice that year, but he kept a political organization intact. His team at the time consisted of three advisers: Roger Stone (shown in a file photo), Michael Cohen, and Sam Nunberg. Stone is a veteran operative, known for his gleeful use of dirty tricks and for ending Eliot Spitzer’s political career by leaking his patronage of prostitutes to the FBI. Cohen is Trump’s longtime in-house attorney. And Nunberg is a lawyer wired into right-wing politics who has long looked up to “Mr. Trump,” as he calls him. “I first met him at WrestleMania when I was like 5 years old,” Nunberg told me.
Throughout 2014, the three fed Trump strategy memos and political intelligence. “I listened to thousands of hours of talk radio, and he was getting reports from me,” Nunberg recalled. What those reports said was that the GOP base was frothing over a handful of issues including immigration, Obamacare, and Common Core. Meanwhile, Trump used his wealth as a strategic tool to gather his own intelligence. When Citizens United president David Bossie or GOP chairman Reince Priebus called Trump for contributions, Trump used the conversations as opportunities to talk about 2016. “Reince called Trump thinking they were talking about donations, but Trump was asking him hard questions,” recalled Nunberg. From his conversations with Priebus, Trump learned that the 2016 field was likely to be crowded.
Which is how Trump’s scorched-earth strategy coalesced. To break out of the pack, he made what appears to be a deliberate decision to be provocative, even outrageous. “If I were totally presidential, I’d be one of the many people who are already out of the race,” Trump told me. And so, Trump openly stoked racial tensions and appealed to the latent misogyny of a base that thinks of Hillary as the world’s most horrible ballbuster.
It was also thanks to some information he had gathered that Trump was able to do something that no other Republican has done before: take on Fox News. An odd bit of coincidence had given him a card to play against Fox founder Roger Ailes. In 2014, I published a biography of Ailes, which upset the famously paranoid executive. Several months before it landed in stores, Ailes fired his longtime PR adviser Brian Lewis, accusing him of being a source. During Lewis’s severance negotiations, Lewis hired Judd Burstein, a powerhouse litigator, and claimed he had “bombs” that would destroy Ailes and Fox News. That’s when Trump got involved.
Washington Post, U.S.-led strikes putting a financial squeeze on the Islamic State, Joby Warrick and Liz Sly, April 2, 2016. The Islamic State is facing an unprecedented cash crunch in its home territory, U.S. counterterrorism officials say, as months of strikes on oil facilities and financial institutions take a deepening toll on the group’s ability to pay its fighters or carry out operations.
Washington Post, Turkey’s president helps celebrate opening of Turkish cultural center in Maryland, Hamil R. Harris, April 2, 2016. The $100 million Diyanet Center of America is designed to support and honor Turkish people and those of the Muslim faith living in the U.S. It includes a 20,236-square-foot mosque and a sports complex.
Two decades of praying, planning and building came to fruition Saturday as thousands from across the country and beyond gathered to celebrate the official opening of a $110 million facility in suburban Maryland designed to support and honor Turks and those of the Muslim faith living in the United States.
The Diyanet Center of America, which bills itself as the largest Islamic campus “in the Western Hemisphere,” welcomed Turkish immigrants from Canada and Muslims from the Washington region to the facility, which includes a 20,236-square-foot mosque, a cultural center, guest quarters and an underground sports complex.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a big backer of the cultural center, was the featured speaker. He spoke of the more than 20-year effort to complete the complex.
New York Times, Electoral Map Is a Reality Check to Donald Trump’s Bid, Jonathan Martin and Nate Cohn, April 2, 2016. Donald J. Trump is so negatively viewed, polls suggest, that he could turn otherwise safe Republican states into tight contests. In recent head-to-head polls with one Democrat whom Mr. Trump may face in the fall, Hillary Clinton, he trails in every key state, including Florida and Ohio, despite her soaring unpopularity ratings with swing voters.
Mr. Trump (shown in a photo above by Gage Skidmore) is so negatively viewed, polls suggest, that he could turn otherwise safe Republican states, usually political afterthoughts because of their strong conservative tilt, into tight contests. In Utah, his deep unpopularity with Mormon voters suggests that a state that has gone Republican every election for a half-century could wind up in play. Republicans there pointed to a much-discussed Deseret News poll last month, showing Mrs. Clinton with a narrow lead over Mr. Trump, to argue that the state would be difficult for him.
National Press Club, Determining homegrown terrorism 'who' easier than 'why, CNN analyst tells Book Rap,' Heather Forsgren Weaver, April 2, 2016. CNN Security Analyst Peter Bergen, author of United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, knows who becomes the typical homegrown jihadi terrorist but has not figured out the more complicated part of the puzzle -- why. “The average age is 29, a third of these people are married, a third of these people have kids, their average incomes are similar to the average incomes of average Americans," Bergen told a National Press Club Book Rap April 1.
Russian Prime Minister Michael Kasyanow and Vladimir Putin (October, 2000)
Daily Mail, Former Russian PM filmed in Moscow sex sting with scantily-clad British activist in apparent attempt to destroy his chances of rivaling Putin, Michael Stewart, April 2, 2016. One of Vladimir Putin's most prominent rivals has been filmed in a sex sting with a British woman who is also a leading opposition campaigner.
Grainy bedroom footage purports to show former Kremlin prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, 58 and prime minister from 2000-2004, with playwright and activist Natalya Pelevine, 39, in a Moscow apartment. The release by Kremlin-friendly television channel NTV is apparently aimed at destroying one of the few opposition leaders seen as remotely capable of being an alternative president to Putin.
It appeared to have been filmed by a hidden camera in a dressing table in the bedroom of a Moscow flat apparently used for covert liaisons between the couple. Who was behind the filming is unclear, but the purpose was evidently to embarrass the opposition figures who are also heard savaging other so-called allies in an anti-Putin front ahead of upcoming elections. [Kasyanov is a chairman of the People's Freedom Party, the leader of People's Democratic Union, and a critic of Putin.]
Pelevine (shown below in her Twitter photo) has been active in the Russian opposition for around a decade. Soviet-born, her parents emigrated to Britain before the collapse of the USSR when she was a child. She has appeared as a political commentator on has appeared as a political commentator on Al Jazeera, RTVi, PressTV, the BBC and other TV and radio channels.
Daily Mail, UK woman caught in Kremlin-inspired hotel sex sting accuses Putin of being behind leaking of footage of her with lover, Will Stewart and Martin Delgado, April 2, 2016. A woman who was caught in a Kremlin-inspired hotel sex sting has claimed the Russian state was behind the leaking of grainy monochrome footage showing her with lover Mikhail Kasyanov, 58, a leading opposition politician. Natalya Pelevine, 39, has vowed to take legal action after she was filmed in bed with married Kasyanov, Vladimir Putin’s former prime minister.
Ms. Pelevine, who came to the UK as a child and who has an art history degree from the University of East London, said that the broadcasting of the intimate images by pro-Kremlin television channel NTV appeared to be an attempt to discredit the former premier and finance minister, who is seen as one of the few credible potential challengers to President Putin.
In the broadcast, NTV claimed Ms. Pelevine travelled regularly to the US for meetings with former presidential candidate Senator John McCain and investment banker William Browder.
Byline, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale caught in prostitution scandal, Nick Mutch, April 1, 2016. (JIP Editor's note: John Whittingdale, shown in a screenshot from last year, regulates the United Kingdom's news media, among other responsibilities as culture minister in the Conservative Party administration of Prime Minister David Cameron. Byline is a crowd-funded journalism site launched in 2015 to report otherwise suppressed or under-reported news stories.)
Culture Secretary has questions to answer over whether he exposed himself to blackmail over his relationship with a dominatrix. Byline can reveal a year-long relationship between a senior figure in David Cameron’s government and a dominatrix which potentially jeopardized government security and left ministers open to blackmail. John Whittingdale, now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was involved in a long relationship between at least November 2013 and January 2015 with Olivia King, a well-known escort who specializes in domination and sado-masochistic practices. It is unknown whether the relationship continues.
During this period, Whittingdale was accompanied by her at locations including the MTV Awards in Amsterdam in November 2013, the SportBall, attended by Kate Middleton, also in December 2013, and a New Years Eve party at the House of Commons in 2014-15. The photos [with this story on the Byline site] were taken the night following the SportBall. During this period, his movements and private conversations with her were well known by the tabloid press, allowing photographs of the couple to be photographed at these locations.
Whittingdale’s relationship has been an open secret in Westminster and Fleet Street circles, and major tabloid and broadsheet papers, including The Mail on Sunday and The Independent, have undertaken extensive investigations and written stories, only to have the stories abandoned at the last minute. The editor of The Independent, Amol Rajan decided in October that he had made the decision to not run the story on ‘editorial grounds.’
However, the previous day, Rajan had met with Whittingdale and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the Society of Editors Conference in October 2015. When [Whittingdale] delivered the keynote address, he stated that he was minded not to implement a major recommendation of the Leveson inquiry and passed by Parliament as part of the Courts and Crimes Act.
We can also reveal that while she was involved with Whittingdale, Ms. King was also involved in a relationship with a member of the London underworld who has a previous firearms conviction. Whittingdale’s relationships with prostitutes are said to be well known in the London underworld and could potentially leave him exposed to blackmail considering his senior position in the government.
John Whittingdale has questions to answer over whether the possession of this story by a number of media publications ever influenced his political actions as Culture Secretary and when he was Chair of the Culture, Media and Sports Committee. This is the first installment of a developing story.
Jacobin, Who’s Afraid of BDS? Meet the organizations and mega-donors trying to suppress pro-Palestine activism, Mark Mondalek, April 1, 2016. The call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel approached its ten-year anniversary this past July, and despite humble beginnings the movement has gained significant global traction. Last June a “secret” anti-BDS summit was reportedly held in Las Vegas, while a Haaretz opinion column predicted that the “age of BDS” had officially begun.
The secretive closed-door summit was hosted by Sheldon Adelson — a billionaire casino magnate who once referred to Palestinians as “an invented people” — at his luxury hotel and casino, the Venetian. Early reports estimated the roughly two dozen mega-donors and fifty organizations in attendance raised at least $20 million.
The Vegas summit’s fundraising take is a fraction of what wealthy donors give to fight pro-Palestine organizing in the US and abroad. In an attempt to catalog such fundraising efforts, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) — a network of Jews “committed to struggles for human emancipation, of which the liberation of the Palestinian people and land is an indispensable part” — published a report last year entitled “The Business of Backlash: The Attack on the Palestinian Movement and Other Movements for Justice.”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), RSF condemns court ruling ordering Vice News journalist to hand over messaging with ISIS fighter, Staff report, April 1, 2016. On Thursday Reporters Without Borders (RSF) signed a joint letter with Canadian media and press freedom organizations condemning the Ontario Superior Court ruling ordering Vice News reporter Ben Makuch to hand over all communications between him and an ISIS fighter to the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP). The ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the independence of journalists and the protection of their sources.
Washington Post Hacker accused of exposing Clinton’s private email, Bush paintings appears in U.S. court, Matt Zapotosky, April 1, 2016. The international hacker who allegedly accessed personal emails and photographs belonging to the family of former president George W. Bush and whose cyber-mischief revealed that Hillary Clinton was using a private email address appeared in a U.S. court for the first time Friday.
Marcel Lehel Lazar — better known by the moniker “Guccifer” that he is said to have affixed to the materials he stole — is charged with cyber-stalking, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access of a protected computer in a nine-count indictment filed in 2014 in federal district court in Alexandria, Va. He was extradited to the United States recently from Romania, his home country, where he had been serving a sentence for hacking.
Buzzfeed, Trump Ally Roger Stone Says He’s Planning “Days Of Rage” At The Convention, Rosie Gray, April 1, 2016. The former Trump adviser says he’s planning protests and rallies in Cleveland — and street theater. Roger Stone, the longtime Republican political operative and current ally of Donald Trump, says he’s trying to organize protests at the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer to disrupt any effort by the party to “steal” the nomination from the front runner.
Stone (shown in a file photo) tweeted several times on Friday evening about his plans, announcing a “Stop the Steal March on Cleveland” and calling on supporters to get to Cleveland for the convention in July. It’s unclear how serious Stone is about his protest plans, but he is certainly stoking the flames of the idea that Trump is about to get the nomination stolen out from under him.
“The Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Romney, Ryan, McConnell faction has united and is moving into high gear to steal the nomination from Trump,” Stone wrote in a column for InfoWars earlier this week.
Washington Post, How the CIA managed to leave explosives on a special-needs school bus — without noticing, Moriah Balingit, Greg Miller and Emma Brown, April 1, 2016. Briar Woods High School, a half-hour drive from the CIA’s headquarters in Northern Virginia, might have provided an ideal training ground for the agency’s bomb-sniffing dogs. Its labyrinthine hallways and voluminous classrooms are home to something that can wreak havoc for the canines: polished floors, which cause dogs to slip and lose their focus as they hunt for explosives.
That was one reason the school, which educates nearly 1,700 students in Ashburn, played host to a CIA dog team for a training exercise while students were on spring break last week, according to the Loudoun County school system. But the choice to go to a public school for the quiet exercise has led to an only-in-Washington embarrassment for the elite spy agency, which left explosive material behind in the engine compartment of a school bus that then shuttled special-needs children for two days this week.
A mechanic discovered and removed the explosive putty — which county Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) said was the demolition explosive C-4 — during a routine bus maintenance check Wednesday. Until then, no one noticed that it was missing. That the CIA was using live explosives and lost track of them in a place where children and teachers spend their days has raised concerns among parents about the use of a school facility for such kinds of law enforcement training. It also illuminates the fact that local authorities and school systems feel obliged to prepare for scenarios that once seemed unthinkable, such as gunmen firing at schoolchildren and bombs hidden on buses.
DennisMichaelLynch.com, My visit with Ammon Bundy in jail, Dennis Michael Lynch, April 1, 2016. Today, I spent an hour with Ammon Bundy. To do such a thing required me to travel to Oregon. It also meant I had to check in at a maximum security jail. (Photo of jailed Ammon Bundy by Dennis Michael Lynch.)
I was on the front lines covering the “Nevada standoff” for Fox News in 2014 when the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] went nose to nose with the Bundy family and hundreds of their supporters. I used my footage to create a one-hour film called A Day At Bundy's, and in doing so I’ve become familiar with the Bundy family.
I understand how and why Ammon and his brothers felt they needed to travel to Oregon in December 2015 to defend the Hammond family.
Washington Post, Greece: We really will start sending refugees back to Turkey on Monday, William Booth, April 1, 2016. European officials said the first ferries are scheduled to take migrants back to Turkey next week, but aid organizations warn that the returns are being rushed and that people traumatized by war in Syria and Iraq may balk at being herded onto boats and sent to uncertain conditions.
South Front, International Military Review – Syria & Iraq, Staff report, April 1, 2016. The Syrian Arab Army’s engineering units have started repairing and reconstructing of Palmyra military airport in order to resume its routine activities and operations. The airport will likely become an important air base for the Syrian army’s military choppers and fighter jets, especially, in case of advances on Deir Ezzor and Raqqa. Meanwhile, Russian and Syrian warplanes continued air raids against ISIS positions at Al-Sukhnah and along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road.
Counter-Punch, How Hillary Clinton Bought the Loyalty of 33 State Democratic Parties, Margot Kidder, April 1, 2016. Margot Kidder is an actress and activist in Montana. Collusion between the Clinton campaign and the DNC allowed Hillary Clinton to buy the loyalty of 33 state Democratic parties last summer. Montana was one of those states. It sold itself for $64,100. The Super Delegates now defying democracy with their insistent refusal to change their votes to Sanders in spite of a handful of overwhelming Clinton primary losses in their own states, were arguably part of that deal.
In August 2015, at the Democratic Party convention in Minneapolis, 33 democratic state parties made deals with the Hillary Clinton campaign and a joint fundraising entity called the Hillary Victory Fund. The deal allowed many of her core billionaire and inner circle individual donors to run the maximum amounts of money allowed through those state parties to the Hillary Victory Fund in New York and the DNC in Washington.
The idea was to increase how much one could personally donate to Hillary by taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling 2014, McCutcheon v FEC, that knocked down a cap on aggregate limits as to how much a donor could give to a federal campaign in a year. It thus eliminated the ceiling on amounts spent by a single donor to a presidential candidate. In other words, a single donor, by giving 10,000 dollars a year to each signatory state could legally give an extra $330,000 a year for two years to the Hillary Victory Fund.