September 2015 News Reports
Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative September 2015 news and views
Pope Francis addresses the crowd assembled on the mall below the Speaker's Balcony of the U.S. Capitol following a Joint Meeting of Congress, Sept. 24, 2015. Standing with him are from left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other dignitaries. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
The Vatican, Pontifical Address to Joint Session of Congress, Pope Francis, Sept. 24, 2015. I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility.
Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society.
The Atlantic, Washington Ideas Forum: Newsmakers Speak to Year's Most Pressing Issues and Ideas of Consequence, Staff report, Sept. 30, 2015. Al Gore, Theo Padnos, Madeleine Albright, Lonnie Bunch, Jeff Weiner, Stanley Nelson, and others to participate in two-day summit. It's a time of landmark change and challenge: the Supreme Court has secured the future of the Affordable Care Act and gay marriage is now the law of the land. While the U.S. tests new relationships with old foes, from Cuba to Iran, the brutality of ISIS continues to stun the world and perplex policymakers. At home, a gripping debate has been revived on race and justice in American society. Such pressing issues and ideas of consequence will define the seventh annual Washington Ideas Forum, presented by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute on September 30 and October 1, 2015. The two-day program, to be held at the Harman Center for the Arts, will play host to speakers shaping dialogue around politics, business, education, culture, media, science, art, and technology. Tickets are available now.
"There is something very powerful about what unfolds on stage at Washington Ideas," said Margaret Low Smith, president of AtlanticLIVE. "Some of this country's leading thinkers and doers open up and talk about issues and ideas in a very candid way. We have a fascinating line up this year and expect two memorable days." Journalist Theo Padnos, who was held hostage in Syria for almost two years by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, will discuss his experiences for the first time in a live forum setting. Padnos' mother Nancy Curtis and cousin Amy Rosen, who both worked to secure his release, will join the conversation, along with Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who recently authored a detailed account of the private efforts of families to rescue loved ones from Syria. The Atlantic's editor-in-chief James Bennet will moderate the discussion.
Washington Ideas Forum will also feature conversations with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who now chairs the Albright Stonebridge Group; Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture; former Vice President and Chairman of Generation Investment Management Al Gore; Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson; DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar; Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics and founder of Sirius XM, who is transgender and the country's highest paid female CEO; and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn.
The Atlantic, Mitt Romney Surveys the 2016 Field, Molly Ball, Sept. 30, 2015. The former Republican nominee on his would-be heirs, including Donald Trump. As he looks back on 2012, Mitt Romney has some regrets. “I wish I could do it again,” he told The Atlantic's James Bennet on Wednesday during an interview at the Washington Ideas Forum. “You learn from your experience.” Bennet interjected, “You could!” Romney reiterated that he’s not considering getting into the current presidential race. But, he said, “There’s some things I’d do differently.”
Washington Post, Russian airstrikes in Syria underway, Andrew Roth, Brian Murphy and Missy Ryan, Sept. 30, 2015. Russian warplanes began airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, adding an unpredictable new element to a four-year-old war that has already drawn in the United States and allies, fueled a refugee crisis and expanded the reach of the Islamic State. In Washington, the dramatic escalation of Russia’s military involvement was viewed as an affront just two days after President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down to discuss means for negotiating the deep differences in their countries’ approaches to the conflict in Syria. The strikes sharply increase tensions with Russia as U.S. officials dispute Moscow’s claim that its aircraft targeted the Islamic State, the brutal extremist group that controls much of Syria and Iraq. Instead, U.S. officials said the strikes appeared to target opponents of Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, a key Russian ally. Those hit include U.S.-backed units that were trained and armed by the CIA, officials said.
Daily Beast, Did Russia Send an Anti-U.S. Force to Syria? David Axe, Sept. 30, 2015. Putin just deployed an array of jets and missiles to the Middle East. But they’re not the kind of weapons he’d need to fight ISIS. They’re built for countering another major power. Seemingly out of nowhere on Sept. 21, they appeared at an air base in Latakia, a regime stronghold in western Syria — 28 of the Russian air force’s best warplanes, including four Su-30 fighters and a number of Su-25 attack planes and Su-24 bombers. Many of them don’t seem to be well-suited to fighting ISIS. They’re built to battle adversaries like the United States.
Washington Post, Secret Service official wanted to embarrass congressman, Carol D. Leonnig and Jerry Markon, Sept. 30, 2015. An assistant director of the Secret Service urged that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a congressman critical of the service should be made public, according to a government watchdog report released Wednesday. “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.” Two days later, a news Web site reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected. That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private.
WAAY-TV 31 (Huntsville, AL), New documentary on former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman set for nationwide release, Debra Daniel, Sept. 30, 2015. Amazing life stories often become movies. That's the case for Alabama's last Democratic governor, now serving time in federal prison. Killing Atticus Finch, a new documentary on former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, is set to be released next year. Siegelman was one of the most popular politicians in Alabama, until he was brought up on bribery and other charges and convicted. The director of the new documentary says the feature length film will be released in theaters nationwide. He says its goal is to show the people of Alabama and the nation Siegelman should never have been charged, tried or convicted. But there are plenty of others, including the Department of Justice, who say he got what he deserved. "We have Martin Sheen that will host the documentary and I'm also producing this with Maria Florio and Mimi Kennedy. Maria happens to be an Academy Award winning documentarian," says director Steve Wimberly.
Reuters via Review-Journal, Judge dismisses 9/11 claims against Saudi Arabia, Nate Raymond, A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed claims against Saudi Arabia by families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who accused the country of providing material support to al Qaeda. U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said Saudi Arabia had sovereign immunity from damage claims by families of nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, and from insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses. The victims had sought to supplement their case with new allegations to avoid that result, including based on testimony they secured from Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al Qaeda operative imprisoned for his role in the attacks. Daniels said even if he allowed the plaintiffs to assert those new claims, doing so would be "futile, however, because the additional allegations do not strip defendants of sovereign immunity." The ruling came just over 14 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which airliners hijacked by al Qaeda militants brought death and destruction upon the United States.
Bradblog, Hand-Counting Paper Ballots in Columbia County, NY, Brad Friedman, Sept. 29, 2015. On today's BradCast: Our interview with Virginia Martin and Jason Nastke, the Democratic and Republican Election Commissioners (respectively) of Columbia County, NY, where they refuse to certify results until every hand-marked paper ballot is publicly counted by hand after each election. The two Commissioners joined me to respond to a recent Brennan Center study [PDF] warning that the nation's voting computers and tabulators are aging and failing and should be replaced as soon as possible with new computer systems. I agree with the first part of their findings, not so much with the second part, both of which we discussed in a recent BradCast with Lawrence Norden, co-author of that well-reported study. Martin and Nastke don't seem to agree either, finding that hand-marked paper ballots, publicly hand-counted by human beings, remain the best way to assure that every voter's intent is accurately and transparently tallied. "In reality, computing is maybe 50 years old," the Republican Nastke tells me on today's program. "We use paper ballots and paper is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. Historical documents continue to exist to this day. So, what we know is that when a voter votes on a paper ballot that there is an absolute way for the voter's intent to be determined, and properly counted."
Washington Post, Top NATO general: Russians starting to build air defense bubble over Syria, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Sept. 29, 2015. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove believes that Russia’s new presence in Syria is the first piece an intricate layer of defensive systems designed to hinder U.S. and coalition operations in the region. While Russia’s stated goal in moving into Syria is to fight the Islamic State, NATO’s top commander believes Russia’s new presence includes the first pieces of an intricate layer of defensive systems deployed to hinder U.S. and coalition operations in the region. “As we see the very capable air defense [systems] beginning to show up in Syria, we’re a little worried about another A2/AD bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Breedlove to an audience at the German Marshall Fund Monday.
Consortium News, Obama’s Self-Deceit, Joe Lauria, Sept. 29, 2015. Joe Lauria has covered the United Nations more than 20 years for major U.S. newspapers. President Obama, who has boasted of ordering military strikes on seven countries, chastised Russia and China for not abiding by the rules of international behavior, a breathtaking example of hypocrisy or self-deceit. There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a “return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that predate this institution.” These ancient rules included the “belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.”
Washington Post, Obama and Putin outline competing visions on Syria, Juliet Eilperin and Karen DeYoung, Sept. 28, 2015. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin laid out sharply competing visions Monday about how to tackle the ongoing conflict in Syria and elsewhere in the Mideast, with each blaming the other for the region’s turmoil even as they signaled a willingness to address it together. In speeches to the U.N. General Assembly less than two hours apart, each leader embraced a foreign policy approach that respects international norms that, they said, are essential to global stability. Later in the day, the two met privately to hash out their differences and see whether there was room for cooperation.
JIP Editor's Note: For the full text of Putin's first speech to the UN in a decade, click here. For text of Iran President Hassan Rohani's speech, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, click here.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry talk with President Vladimir Putin of Russia after a bilateral meeting at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 28, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
Sott.net, Syrian death toll exaggerated to generate Western public support for airstrikes and regime change, Niall Bradley and Joe Quinn, Sept. 28, 2015. In his recent interview for CBS' 60 Minutes, Putin flatly rejected Western media claims that the Syrian military commits war crimes, not least the incessantly repeated claim that the Syrian military is wantonly dropping 'barrel bombs' over civilian areas.Today Western media outlets throw around figures of 'over 320,000 dead.'
The primary source for these figures throughout the 'civil war' -- which is really a war of conquest by proxy mercenaries in the pay of Washington, Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- has been the 'Syrian Observatory for Human Rights', an opposition 'group' whose reports about what's happening in Syria have been taken at face value, despite its clear interest in portraying the Syrian government in the worst possible light. Routinely cited by every single Western media outlet, and its reports taken as gospel truth, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has effectively been inventing a narrative of what's happening in Syria that fits Western foreign policy interests.
With no real 'ears on the ground' in Syria, SOHR produces reports on troop movements, government policy, and public sentiment, all of which amount to so many lies that are uncritically swallowed and regurgitated by Western presstitutes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) consists of one Syrian expat -- Abdul Rahman, aka Rami Abdulrahman, aka Osama Suleiman -- and his 'team of four activists in Syria.' Rahman, a three-term convicted criminal in Syria, found refuge in the West, where he miraculously sees all in Syria from his two-bedroom house above a clothes shop in Coventry, England.
CBS News, 60 Minutes: Charlie Rose interviews Vladimir Putin, Sept. 27, 2015. Photo from interview, with Charlie Rose at left. Photo via Kremlin and CBS.
President Putin: We support the legitimate government of Syria. And it's my deep belief that any actions to the contrary in order to destroy the legitimate government will create a situation which you can witness now in the other countries of the region or in other regions, for instance in Libya where all the state institutions are disintegrated. We see a similar situation in Iraq. And there is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism. But, at the same time, urging them to engage in positive dialog with the rational [healthy part of] opposition and conduct reform.
Charlie Rose: As you know some of the coalition partners want to see President Assad go first before they will support.
President Putin: I'd like to recommend to them the following. They should send this message to the Syrian people. It's only the Syrian people [inside the country] who are entitled to decide who [and how] should govern their country and how.
Charlie Rose: President Assad, you support him. Do you support what he is doing in Syria and what is happening to those Syrian people, those many millions of refugees and the hundreds of thousands of people that have been killed, many by his own force?
President Putin: Well, tell me, what do you think about those who support the opposition and mainly the terrorist organizations only in order to oust Assad without thinking about what will happen to the country after all the government institutions have been demolished? Today, you have repeatedly said that Assad [the Syrian Army] is fighting against his own population [people]. But look at those who are in control of 60 percent of the territory in Syria. It's controlled by either ISIS or by others--
Charlie Rose: Al-Nusra?
President Putin: --such as al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations. They are recognized as terrorist organizations by the United States, by other states and by the United Nations.
Daily Howler, Forbidden Story: Bill Clinton speaks! Bob Somerby, Bill Clinton spoke this weekend on CNN and told a forbidden story again, as he does every few years. The former president's forbidden story began with this exchange:
Fareed Zakaria: Why do you think Hillary Clinton is having a tougher time than many imagined?
Clinton: The other party doesn’t want to run against her and if they do, they'd like her as mangled up as possible. And they know that if they leak things, say things, that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America. Or how are you going to get jobs into coal country, given how much they’ve lost in the last twenty years?
Washington Post,The Benghazi panel is a scandal of a committee, Richard Cohen, Sept. 28, 2015. I have a new hobby. I fashion myself as a modern-day Diogenes — he was the guy with the lantern who went around ancient Athens seeking an honest man — and so I go around asking people if they know what the Benghazi committee is looking for. Yesterday, I posed that question to a former White House aide, a lawyer, a fellow journalist, an artist, a retired chief executive and the head of a nonprofit. None of them knew. My hobby is not entirely whimsical. When a congressional committee has been in existence for more than a year, when it has subpoenaed witnesses and put them under oath, when it has compelled them to account for their e-mails and, in one case, invoke the Fifth Amendment, then maybe we ought to know what it is up to. A terrorist attack in Libya is no laughing matter. Neither is a congressional committee run amok.
WhoWhatWhy, Ben Carson Gets Boston Bombing Wrong, What His Statement on Tsarnaevs and Refugees Say About the Presidency, Russ Baker, Sept. 28, 2015. Ben Carson, now a leading candidate in the polls, has drawn criticism for some of his more extreme statements about foreigners — and, like so many of his fellow GOP candidates, has had to step back and declare he was misunderstood. But one thing he hasn’t taken flak for was a comment explaining why the United States should be wary of taking in Syrians and other Middle Eastern immigrants. His reason? He cited the Tsarnaevs and the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Ben Carson and Arapaho County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at Wake Up America event (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr)
Politico, Clinton camp: Clinton did not sign form on Abedin job change, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 27, 2015. Hillary Clinton's chief of staff -- and not Clinton herself -- signed a State Department form that helped another Clinton aide change to a job status that allowed broader private-sector employment, a Clinton campaign official said late Saturday. The Clinton camp's assertion that Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills signed paperwork key to Clinton aide Huma Abedin's 2012 change from a full-time role to a "special government employee" could clarify why the Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of state told an interviewer earlier this month that she was "not directly involved" in converting Abedin's role to a senior adviser and expert. The shift led to Abedin -- who had served as deputy chief of staff--continuing to advise Clinton on a variety of official matters while also taking on paid work from the Clinton Foundation and consulting firm Teneo Holdings. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has been investigating whether Abedin's simulatenous official and private roles led to an improper conflict of interest. Clinton and lawyers for Abedin have denied that and insist that the arrangement was approved by State ethics officials.
Clinton is also likely to face questions about the email controversy that has clouded her presidential aspirations since March. On Friday, the State Department disclosed that it obtained from the Defense Department email messages Clinton had not provided to State showing an exchange between Clinton and Army Gen. David Petraeus in January and February 2009. Some of the messages were sent to or from Clinton's clintonemail.com account, officials said, even though they were not among the 30,000 messages she turned over to her former agency at its request last December. Word of the undisclosed Petraeus messages triggered more questions about the completeness of the archive of emails Clinton provided. Clinton aides have explained the lack of emails from prior to March 18, 2009 by saying she used both Senate and campaign-related accounts during that period and no longer has access to any archive of those messages.
Washington's Blog, Why Saudi Ties to 9/11 Mean U.S. Ties to 9/11, Kevin Ryan, Sept. 27, 2015. Media interest in Saudi Arabian connections to the crimes of 9/11 has centered on calls for the release of the 28 missing pages from the Joint Congressional Inquiry’s report. However, those calls focus on the question of hijacker financing and omit the most interesting links between the 9/11 attacks and Saudi Arabia—links that implicate powerful people in the United States. Here are twenty examples.
New York Times, Russia Surprises U.S. With Accord on Battling ISIS, Michael R. Gordon, Sept. 27, 2015. For the second time this month, Russia moved to expand its political and military influence in the Syria conflict and left the United States scrambling, this time by reaching an understanding, announced on Sunday, with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence about the Islamic State. Like Russia’s earlier move to bolster the government of President Bashar al-Assad by deploying warplanes and tanks to a base near Latakia, Syria, the intelligence-sharing arrangement was sealed without notice to the United States. American officials knew that a group of Russian military officers were in Baghdad, but they were clearly surprised when the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command announced the intelligence sharing accord on Sunday. It was another sign that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was moving ahead with a sharply different tack from that of the Obama administration in battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, by assembling a rival coalition that includes Iran and the Syrian government.
President Barack Obama looks at a display outside the office of Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. The display refers to a campaign launched by Power Sept. 1 that raises awareness and highlights cases of twenty women political prisoners and other prisoners of concern from around the world, and calls for their release. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
BBC, Syria crisis: US-trained rebels give equipment to al-Qaeda affiliate, Sept. 26, 2015. A group of US-trained Syrian rebels has handed over their vehicles and ammunition to fighters linked to al-Qaeda, the US military has admitted. It said one rebel unit had surrendered six pick-up trucks and ammunition to the al-Nusra Front this week -- apparently to gain safe passage. Congress has approved $500m (£323m) to train and equip about 5,000 rebels to fight against Islamic State militants. But the first 54 graduates were routed by al-Nusra Front, the military said. The surrendered vehicles and ammunition amounted to roughly 25% of the equipment issued to the unit.
Huffington Post, Bill Clinton Blames GOP, Media For Hillary Email Uproar, Daniel Marans, Sept. 26, 2015. Former President Bill Clinton faulted congressional Republicans and a pliant news media for the fallout over Hillary Clinton’s private email server, arguing that the attention given to the emails has been unwarranted. “I have never seen so much expended on so little,” Clinton says in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that is scheduled to air Sunday. Republicans have made an issue out of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Bill said, to undermine her presidential candidacy. “The other party doesn't want to run against her,” the former president told Zakaria. “And if they do, they'd like her as mangled up as possible. And they know that if they leak things and say things that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about what's your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns in rural America, or how you're going to get jobs into coal country given how much they've lost in the last 20 years.” Bill Clinton compared the Republicans’ efforts to the protracted, partisan investigations he endured as president. “We're seeing history repeat itself,” Clinton said. He noted that the Whitewater investigation, which exhausted $70 million over eight years investigating some of his financial deals in Arkansas, found he had done nothing wrong but allowed Republicans to erode his reputation.
New York Times, House Speaker Boehner to Quit in October, Aides Say, Jennifer Steinhauer, Sept. 25, 2015. Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, will resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown. Mr. Boehner made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.
The Ohio representative had struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members. Most recently, Mr. Boehner was trying to craft a solution to keep the government open through the rest of the year, but was under pressure from a growing base of conservatives who told him that they would not vote for a bill that did not defund Planned Parenthood. Several of those members were on a path to remove Mr. Boehner as speaker, though their ability to do so was far from certain. Mr. Boehner’s surprise announcement came just a day after Pope Francis visited the Capitol, the fulfillment of a 20-year dream for Mr. Boehner of having a pontiff address Congress. He had a private audience with Francis before the pope’s address to a joint meeting of Congress.
John Boehner Announces Resignation (CNN Photo)
CNN via KTLA (Channel 5, Los Angeles), House Speaker John Boehner to Resign From Congress at End of October, CNN staff, Sept. 25, 2015. John Boehner, the Ohio Republican who steered his party to an overwhelming House majority in 2010, said in a news conference Friday afternoon he had decided only that morning to announce his plans to resign from Congress. “Last night I started thinking about this and this morning I woke up and I said my prayers — as I always do — and I decided today’s the day I’m going to do this. As simple as that,” Boehner said during an emotional Capitol Hill press conference. He will step down as Speaker and leave Congress at the end of October.
Boehner said he didn’t want to put his fellow members through another vote to challenge his leadership. Boehner, who has presided over the House since 2011, explained during a closed-door meeting with Republicans Friday morning that he had only planned to serve two terms as speaker but decided to hold onto his post after then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his seat during a primary last year. Boehner also told the lawmakers that Pope Francis’ visit to Congress the day before was a crystallizing moment. Boehner then read the prayer of St. Francis to the conference.
WMR, Is the Pope a conspiracy believer? Wayne Madsen, Sept. 25, 2015 (Subscription required for full column). In his September 24 address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis I named four "great Americans" who he believes had a significant impact upon the world: Abraham Lincoln; Martin Luther King, Jr.; social activist Dorothy Day; and Thomas Merton. Most people have heard of the first three. But who was Thomas Merton? Merton was a Trappist monk who advocated interfaith dialogue. However, it is Merton's coining of the phrase "The Unspeakable" that should have perked up the ears of those who do not believe the official theories about the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Reverend King -- who the Pope cited as one of his four greatest Americans -- and Robert F. Kennedy.
New York Post, Woman threatens to throw shoe at pope on floor of Congress, David K. Li, Sept. 25, 2015. Despite all the heavy Secret Service and Swiss Guard security around him, Pope Francis came this close to getting a shoe hurled at him as he headed to the floor of Congress. As CNN’s cameras awaited the pope’s entry, a woman in the crowd, with a noticeable Southern accent, could be heard saying that she planned to “take my shoe off and throw it at his head.”
International Business Times, CJ Pearson Claims President Obama Blocked Him On Twitter, White House Denies Tussle With Teen Conservative Star, Julia Glum, Sept. 24 2015. 13-year-old conservative YouTube star drew the attention of national news outlets and the White House Wednesday night when he asserted that President Barack Obama blocked him on Twitter. C.J. Pearson, known for his outspoken videos criticizing Democratic policies, said the block came after he denounced Obama's previous tweet inviting Texas 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed to visit the White House. But the Obama administration has denied it, the Hill reported. C.J. has more than 74,000 fans on Facebook and about 16,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he regularly posts videos with titles like "Why I'm Proud to Be a Republican," "Sorry, Islam. You're not Taking Away My Liberty!" and "President Obama: Do You Really Love America?" After seeing Obama support Ahmed, who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock that allegedly looked like a bomb to school last week, C.J. recorded another clip calling out the president.
JIP Editor's Note: A source usually well-informed on GOP political operations told the Justice Integrity Project that Pearson has been coached and promoted by senior Republican operatives to besmirch Democrats in advance of the 2016 elections.
Visalia Times (CA), History of Secret Muslim U.S. Presidents, Stephen Prothero, Sept. 24, 2015. Stephen Prothero is a Boston University religion professor. Today, it is easy to imagine that Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to be accused of being a Muslim. But that honor actually belongs to Thomas Jefferson. In the election of 1800, Federalist partisans of John Adams denounced Jefferson principally because of his unorthodox faith, which ran more toward deism and Unitarianism. The Connecticut Courant complained that no one seemed to know “whether Mr. Jefferson believes in the heathen mythology or in the alcoran (Quran); whether he is a Jew or a Christian; whether he believes in one God, or in many; or in none.” There was talk at the founding of turning America into an officially Protestant nation, and during constitutional debates, some raised the specter of a Catholic, “infidel,” or “Turk” (an epithet for “Muslim”) holding office. But the founders wisely decided on a godless Constitution with no religious tests for national office.
Daily Mail Online, Prostitutes, Viagra-fueled sex parties and a $750k fund to bribe German MPs: How latest emissions scandal shows VW has learned nothing from its murky past, Allan Hall, Sept. 24, 2015. Volkswagen has been mired in scandal and bribery claims for past 30 years. Car giant laid on prostitutes at sex parties for German MPs to bypass employment practices that truncated production. Set aside £500,000 'honeytrap' slush fund to lure union bosses into compromising positions and weaken their power. Paid £1.2million in illegal 'sweeteners' to fund orgies and pay for luxury five-star hotels for supervisors.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama introduces Pope Francis to their family pets Bo and Sunny in the Blue Room following the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post, Donald Trump: Real-life manifestation of Stephen Colbert’s alter ego? Amber Phillips, Sept. 23, 2015. After continually being the butt of late night jokes, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump isn't afraid to go on late night shows. Trump's most recent late night appearance, on Stephen Colbert's new "Late Show," was an interesting glimpse into how Trump might be handling the national (and global) ridicule surrounding his surreal presidential run.
Daily Howler, Chuck Todd rolls over and dies for Trump! Bob Somerby, Sept. 23, 2015. On a major morning show — Morning Joe — an utterly naked propaganda campaign is being waged against Candidate Clinton. At the same time, the press corps is giving remarkably wide berth to the statements of other candidates. As an example of what we mean, consider the way Chuck Todd rolled over and died on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Todd was speaking with Candidate Trump, who tosses off howlers in much the way other alleged people breathe.
Boiling Frogs, Two Delays & Tight-Lipped Negotiations Point to Graymail & Blackmail Tactics by Hastert’s Legal Team, Sibel Edmonds, Sept. 23, 2015. Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has again asked a federal judge to delay the deadline for pre-trial motions in his criminal hush-money case. Here are some likely grounds that are being exploited by Hastert’s legal team to get the charges dropped. Based on previous government surveillance and evidence files on Hastert (shown in file photo) and past court cases directly related to the Hastert case, the defense may be utilizing the legal tactic commonly known as graymail. It is used as a defense tactic, forcing the government to drop a case to avoid revealing national secrets.
Hastert’s team has leverage to argue that the recent criminal investigation against Hastert was the extension and or continuation of previous operations that were targeting and surveilling Hastert during his tenure in the U.S. Congress. Based on this they could ask for all files and documents gathered on him dating back to 1996. Hastert’s attorneys can easily point to the multi-page exposé by Vanity Fair Magazine on Hastert published in September 2005. The article was published based on disclosures from several credible witnesses from the FBI and DOJ regarding criminal evidence obtained on Hastert based on the FBI’s counterintelligence investigations from their Chicago and Washington D.C. Field Offices.
Mint Press News via Shadowproof, Former CIA Agent John Kiriakou Takes Us Inside The Saudi Terror Factory, Mnar Muhawesh, Sept. 23, 2015. CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou returns to join Mnar Muhawesh on “Behind the Headline,” going into greater depth on Saudi Arabia’s role in manufacturing terrorism by re-writing the entire religious history of Islam and engineering hadeeth to serve its own political & oil interests. The effects of these efforts to re-write the history of the faith of over 1.5 billion people to suit the Saudi political agenda to limit women’s rights, promote radicalism and tyrannical leadership are rippling across the region and the world, through radical groups like ISIS and the Nusra Front.
Info Wars, Majority Of Americans Don’t Want ANY Syrian Refugees Allowed In; Even 40 percent of Democrats reject Obama's plan to resettle 10,000, Steve Watson, Sept. 23, 2015. A poll conducted by Rasmussen has found that a majority of Americans do not want to allow ANY Syrian refugees into the country, while only one fifth support Obama’s decision to allow 10,000 refugees to resettle in the US. The survey reveals that 49 percent of Americans believe that not a single Syrian refugee should be allowed into the country, nor should any asylum seekers from any Middle Eastern country. Just 20 percent support the current plan of integrating 10,000 refugees, while only a further 22 percent believe that even more refugees should be settled in the US. Within that 22 percent, only 7 percent favor resettling 100,000 or more. The president announced a plan this week to increase the total number of worldwide refugees accepted into the US to 100,000 by 2017, up from 70,000. Rasmussen notes that 72% of voters have cited a national security risk as a concern regarding taking in Syrian refugees. Indeed, 47% said they are “Very Concerned,” while only 10% are “Not At All Concerned.”
Washington Post, Republicans are blaming Hillary Clinton for the ‘birther’ movement. That’s wishful thinking, David Weigel, Sept. 23, 2015. Donald Trump no longer wants to be America's birther-in-chief. In a Monday interview with Fox News — which might have been his last — Trump said that questions about President Obama's citizenship "began" with Hillary Clinton, "when she was running against him." On Wednesday, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump emphasized that Clinton was "the original birther" and "the one who started that whole thing." This is simply not true. Clinton's campaign, one of the most thoroughly dissected in modern history, never raised questions about the future president's citizenship. The idea that it did is based largely on a series of disconnected actions by supporters of Clinton, mostly in the months between Obama's reaction to the Jeremiah Wright story and the Democratic National Convention. I know, because I spent/wasted quite a lot of time covering this stuff.
OpEdNews, Democracy Has Departed The West, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), Sept. 22, 2015. In the UK, the military brass has declared its hold on the reins of power. Jeremy Corbyn is the first Labourite to lead the Labour Party in a long time. Considering the stupidity and immorality of the Tories, Corbyn could become prime minister of Britain. Should this occur, Corbyn would shift the budget priorities away from supporting Washington's wars toward refurbishing the social welfare state that made life for ordinary Britishers more secure and less stressful. A senior serving general of the British army said that the army would not allow the people to "put a maverick in charge of the country's security. The Army just wouldn't stand for it and would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent that." In other words, a democratic outcome unacceptable to the English military will be overthrown. Just like in Egypt. Here we have the incongruity of Washington and London bringing democracy to others through what Vladimir Putin calls "airstrike democracy," while tolerating a democracy deficit themselves. The safest conclusion is that democracy is a cloak for an aggressive agenda, not a value in itself to the US and UK elites, who rule and who intend to continue to rule these countries for their personal benefit.
Telegraph (UK), US-trained Division 30 rebels 'betrayed US and hand weapons over to al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria,' Nabih Bulos, Sept. 22, 2015. Pentagon-trained rebels in Syria are reported to have betrayed their American backers and handed their weapons over to al-Qaeda in Syria immediately after re-entering the country. Fighters with Division 30, the “moderate” rebel division favored by the United States, surrendered to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, a raft of sources claimed on Monday night. Division 30 was the first faction whose fighters graduated from a US-led training program in Turkey which aims to forge a force on the ground in Syria to fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A statement on Twitter by a man calling himself Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, a member of al-Qaeda’s local affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, read: "A strong slap for America....the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage.
The latest disaster, if true, will be the second to befall the program. Last month, after the first group of fighters re-entered, the militia was attacked and routed by Jabhat al-Nusra, which stormed its headquarters and kidnapped a number of its members. At the weekend, the group’s chief of staff also resigned, saying the training program was “not serious.” The latest developments have only added to the scorn heaped on the much-criticized $500 million (£320m) program, which aimed to forge a 5,400-strong force of “moderate” rebels to combat ISIL.
Voice of America, 70 More 'New Syrian Force' Fighters Enter Syria, Carla Babb, Sept. 22, 2015. Approximately 70 more active fighters for the New Syrian Force, the rebel paramilitary group sanctioned by the United States, have entered Syria to fight Islamic State militants. That brings the total number of NSF fighters in Syria to about 80. A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which overseas U.S. operations in the Middle East, told VOA Tuesday the fighters entered Syria from its northern border with Turkey. All of the new fighters successfully completed the counter-Islamic State train and equip program before entering Syria.
Politico, Petraeus apologizes, then rips Obama’s Middle East strategy, Austin Wright, Sept. 22, 2015. Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus’s return to the public spotlight Tuesday began with an apology on Capitol Hill for the mistakes that led to his resignation as CIA director and ended with a blistering attack on the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East. “It was a violation of the trust placed in me and a breach of the values to which I had been committed throughout my life,” Petraeus (shown in a photo from his time as CIA director) told the Senate Armed Services Committee, which invited him to testify on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Petraeus, who was the architect in 2007 of the so-called “surge” in Iraq that helped stabilize the country, launched a full-on attack on President Barack Obama’s handling of the situations in Iraq and Syria, urging a more muscular approach in both countries and blaming U.S. “inaction” for some of the chaos in Syria. He offered specific steps for increasing U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Syria.
Washington Post, Among the ersatz Syrians are Algerian drug dealers and ISIS sympathizers, Souad Mekhennet and William Booth, Sept. 22, 2015. Migrants are disguising themselves as Syrians to enter Europe.
Reuters Canada, Russia starts Syria drone surveillance missions: U.S. officials, Phil Stewart, Sept. 22, 2015. Russia has started flying drone aircraft on surveillance missions in Syria, U.S. officials said on Monday, in what appeared to be Moscow's first military air operations there since staging a rapid buildup at a Syrian air base. The beginning of Russian drone flights underscored the risks of U.S.-led coalition planes and Russian aircraft operating within Syria's limited airspace, without agreeing on coordination or objectives in Syria's civil war.
WhoWhatWhy, Will Your Vote Be Counted? Aging Machines Imperil Election Fairness, Klaus Marre, Sept. 22, 2015. Imagine the outcry if air traffic controllers were using obsolete equipment that broke all the time? And had no tech support. The problem would likely be fixed, pronto. But what happens when it is the levers of democracy — literally — that are at stake? That is a real issue. In many American cities and towns, next year’s election will be held with hardware and software that has become obsolete. In some cases, the equipment used is so outdated that replacement parts or tech support for the technology simply no longer exist.
For example, the software used to run many election machines is Windows 2000, an operating system that has long been discontinued and for which Microsoft has not offered tech support since 2010. On the other hand, hackers use ever-improving, state-of-the-art equipment and methods. For them, hacking into these old machines would be child’s play. The Brennan Center for Justice released a comprehensive report last week which details some of the problems that jurisdictions all across the US are facing in the upcoming elections.
Washington Post, Walker, his campaign mired in debt, saw one option: To quit, Matea Gold, Jenna Johnson and Dan Balz, Sept. 22, 2015. After the Republican’s exit from the presidential race, allies criticize his financial strategy.
Buzzfeed News, Ben Carson: Big Bang A Fairy Tale, Theory Of Evolution Encouraged By The Devil, Andrew Kaczynski, Sept. 22, 2015. In a speech delivered in 2012, Ben Carson (shown in a file photo) said the big bang theory was part of the “fairy tales” pushed by “high-faluting scientists” as a story of creation. Similarly, Carson, a noted creationist, said he believed the theory of evolution was encouraged by the devil. “Now what about the big bang theory,” said Carson at speech to fellow Seventh-day Adventists titled “Celebration of Creation,” about the theory for the origin of the universe. “I find the big bang, really quite fascinating. I mean, here you have all these high-faluting scientists and they’re saying it was this gigantic explosion and everything came into perfect order. Now these are the same scientists that go around touting the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, which says that things move toward a state of disorganization.
Washington Post, State Dept. account of e-mail request differs from Clinton’s, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 22, 2015. Officials said their request for records from the former secretary and her predecessors stemmed from their realization that she had exclusively used a private e-mail account.
The Washington Post, These new satellite images show how Russia is expanding its military presence in Syria, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Sept. 22, 2015. Russia is continuing to expand its military presence in Syria according to new satellite images released Tuesday. The images, distributed by IHS Janes, a defense analysis organization, show that Russia is placing equipment at two facilities north of a newly-established Russian airbase in Latakia. One new facility, located outside the small town of Al-Sanobar, shows Russian activity in the form of newly-arrived vehicles, tents while the other, at the Istamo weapons storage complex, shows signs of freshly paved surfaces.
Washington Post, Scott Walker suspends presidential campaign, Jenna Johnson, Dan Balz and Robert Costa, Sept. 21, 2015. The Wisconsin governor, who tumbled from top-tier status amid tepid debate performances, had pulled back from other early-voting states in favor of a heavy focus on Iowa, where he once led the field. (He is shown in a file photo.) See also: How Donald Trump destroyed Scott Walker’s presidential chances, Chris Cillizza, Sept. 21, 2015.
OpEdNews, All Republican Presidential Candidates Stand For War, Paul Craig Roberts, Sept. 21, 2015. The conservative scholar Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former associated editor of the Wall Street Journal, was deputy Treasury Secretary during the Reagan administration. There is not a peaceful person among the Republican candidates. Even the female is heartless. Carly Fiorina (shown in a file photo) positioned herself alongside the macho men as a warmonger. She let the military/security complex know that she, too, was for sale. Alas, the only message U.S. politicians want to send to the Russians is a war message. If any of the Republicans are elected, or for that matter any of the Democrats, war will be the result. There is no point worrying that both parties intend to take away your Social Security, Medicare, and private pensions -- because you won't be here to collect them.
Washington Post, Why the pro-life Fiorina’s ascent should terrify Democrats, Marc A. Thiessen, Sept. 21, 2015. In the wake of her stellar performance at the CNN debate, Carly Fiorina has shot to second place in the polls, and her ascent raises a possibility that should terrify Democrats: The GOP might just nominate a passionate, articulate pro-life woman as its standard-bearer in 2016. If that happens, Democrats can say goodbye to their beloved “war on women” rhetoric.
Tax Wall Street Party, GOP Candidate Carly Fiorina Unmasked As Top Spook, Pathological Liar, Protegée Of NSA/CIA Boss Michael Hayden, Webster Tarpley, Sept. 21, 2015. Carly Fiorina, whose birth name is Cara Carleton Sneed, claims that she started as a secretary and heroically rose to become a CEO of Hewlett Packard. Republican candidates seeking to dupe their gullible supporters and mask their dubious personal backgrounds often tout this typical Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story. Carly Fiorina is no exception to this pattern. However, her personality is saturated with this lie and many others as well as exhibiting signs of insanity that only comes from being attached at the hip to the intelligence establishment. After dropping out of law school at UCLA and she moved on to business school and then to her well publicized career as an asset stripper and wrecker of companies like Lucent and Hewlett-Packard.
It was allegedly only after the board of directors at Hewlett-Packard fired her that Carly came into the orbit of the intelligence community, but some are skeptical. She had previously provided services for the Pentagon through an unpaid position on the Defense Business Board. But her breakthrough came when she was picked by the infamous war criminal Michael Hayden to lead the CIA’s External Advisory Board.
Washington Post, U.S. sees opportunity for military gains against ISIS in Syria, Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe, Sept. 21, 2015. In what would be an important shift in strategy, the administration is considering providing arms and ammunition to a wider array of rebel groups in Syria.
Washington Post, In Chris Christie’s militia, flab and cronyism trigger mutiny in the ranks, Craig Whitlock, Sept. 21, 2015. The governor's first pick to lead the N.J. National Guard lost his job for having an affair. The second was reprimanded by the Pentagon for his waistline.
Global Research, Down the Memory Hole: NYT Erases CIA’s Efforts to Overthrow Syria’s Government, Adam Johnson, Sept. 21, 2015. FAIR has noted before how America’s well-documented clandestine activities in Syria have been routinely ignored when the corporate media discuss the Obama administration’s “hands-off” approach to the four-and-a-half-year-long conflict. This past week, two pieces — one in the New York Times detailing the “finger pointing” over Obama’s “failed” Syria policy, and a Vox “explainer” of the Syrian civil war — did one better: They didn’t just omit the fact that the CIA has been arming, training and funding rebels since 2012, they heavily implied they had never done so.
First, let’s establish what we do know. Based on multiple reports over the past three-and-a-half years, we know that the Central Intelligence Agency set up a secret program of arming, funding and training anti-Assad forces. This has been reported by major outlets, including the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and, most recently, the Washington Post, which — partly thanks to the Snowden revelations — detailed a program that trained approximately 10,000 rebel fighters at a cost of $1 billion a year, or roughly 1/15th of the CIA’s official annual budget. In addition to the CIA’s efforts, there is a much more scrutinized and far more publicized program by the Department of Defense to train “moderate rebels,” of which only a few dozen actually saw battle. The Pentagon program, which began earlier this year and is charged with fighting ISIS (rather than Syrian government forces), is separate from the covert CIA operation. It has, by all accounts, been an abysmal failure.
CNN, Netanyahu visits Putin amid concerns about Russian involvement in Syria, Holly Yan, Oren Liebermann and Greg Botelho, Sept. 21, 2015. With Russia apparently beefing up its military presence in Syria, some countries are getting nervous about what could happen -- including Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss "the Middle East peace process and the fight against the global terrorist threat," the Kremlin said. But in a rare move, Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) brought several top Israeli military and security officials with him to Moscow.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, IDF Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Hertzi HaLevi and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen accompanied the Prime Minster, Netanyahu's office said. The meeting, which was closed to the media, came after satellite pictures showed a rapid buildup of an air force base in Syria, with loads of Russian military equipment moving in. Among the Russian equipment are advanced Russian Sukhoi Flanker fighter jets.
Washington Post, Secret Service chief apologizes after cancer patients were ejected from park near White House, Dana Hedgpeth and Fredrick Kunkle, Sept. 21, 2015. Organizers of CureFest for Childhood Cancer said that about 700 parents and children were twice kicked out of Lafayette Square.
Legal Schnauzer, By focusing on Mark Fuller's private misconduct, are judicial elites covering for his actions on the bench? Roger Shuler, Sept. 21, 2015. Are judicial elites trying to cover for Mark Fuller's corrupt actions from the bench? Judicial investigators announced last week that disgraced federal judge Mark Fuller engaged in "reprehensible conduct," which included physically abusing his wife at least eight times, and lied under oath to the committee investigating his behavior. The Judicial Conference of the United States stated in a letter to Congress that the severity of Fuller's actions, plus its finding of perjury, might merit impeachment proceedings--even though he resigned from the bench in August. Legal experts have said that the conference's findings against Fuller, best known for overseeing the trial of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, represent a tough stance against judges who bring disrepute to the judiciary. But is that really the case? Is the judicial hierarchy, by focusing on Fuller's private behavior while largely ignoring his dubious actions on the bench, actually conducting a cover-up and trying to protect its own reputation.
Editor's Note: The Judicial Conference of the United States also submitted a letter to House Judiciary Committee leaders suggesting that impeachment may be warranted even after Fuller's resignation. See Bradblog, Judicial Panel Finds Federal Judge Mark Fuller 'Physically Abused' Second Wife 'At Least Eight Times', Committed Perjury During Probe; Impeachment of now-resigned jurist recommended, Brad Friedman, Sept. 21, 2015. "Impeachment of former United States District Judge Mark E. Fuller [Middle District, Alabama] may be warranted," according to the Special Committee to the Judicial Council of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court. While Fuller has already resigned from his lifetime appointment in the wake of his wife-beating scandal, the panel of federal judges found "the severity of the misconduct" by the former jurist so "reprehensible", they believe impeachment may be appropriate nonetheless.
AP via New York Times, Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania Attorney General, Is Suspended From Practicing Law, Staff report, Sept. 21, 2015. A court suspended of the law license of Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, a step that could set up a Senate vote to remove her as she faces criminal charges. The unanimous order by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could also prompt a legal challenge from Ms. Kane (shown in a file photo), a first-term Democrat and the first woman to be Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor. In the meantime, the order has created the complication of leaving the state’s top law enforcement official, who is in charge of a 750-employee office and a $93 million budget, without the ability to act as a lawyer, at least temporarily. The court said its action should not be construed as removing Ms. Kane from office. Her office said it was reviewing the decision and offered no immediate comment. Her personal lawyers had no immediate comment.
Washington Post, U.S. gives $419 million more to aid Syrian refugees, Carol Morello, Sept. 21, 2015. The latest donation brings total U.S. aid over four years to $4.5 billion, more than any other country. During a press briefing on Sept. 21, White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced that the United States will give $419 million more in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. This brings the total U.S. aid contribution to $4.5 billion since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011. (AP) The United States will give $419 million more in humanitarian aid to assist Syrian refugees and the countries that are hosting them, administration officials said Monday. The new aid brings the total U.S. donation since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 to $4.5 billion, more than any other country. It was announced a day after Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the United States would raise its annual refugee resettlement cap from 70,000 this fiscal year to 85,000 next year and 100,000 in 2017. The United States has been the single largest donor of humanitarian aid to Syrians who have been displaced within their war-torn country or who have become refugees. But the administration has been criticized for not admitting more Syrians to the United States in the face of an epic wave of people fleeing the war zone.
Zero Hedge, Senior UK General Vows Coup If Labour Chief Elected British Prime Minister, Tyler Corbin, Sept. 21, 2015. The ascension of Jeremy Corbyn to the head of Britain's Labour party has led at least one senior serving general to predict that a Corbyn government would face the very real possibility of a military "mutiny." Here's more from The Independent: The unnamed general said members of the armed forces would begin directly and publicly challenging the Labour leader if he tried to scrap Trident, pull out of NATO or announce “any plans to emasculate and shrink the size of the armed forces.” He told the Sunday Times: “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security. There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”
The general, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, said he and many soldiers were sickened by Mr Corbyn’s refusal to condemn the IRA, which killed 730 troops and injured 7,000 more during the conflict. His shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, was forced to apologise when it was revealed he had called for IRA members, including hunger striker Bobby Sands, to be honoured by the British government. The general said: “Many soldiers are disgusted by the comments of Corbyn and John McDonnell [about] the IRA — men who have not only murdered British soldiers but also hundreds of members of their own community.” Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense is not happy, and neither, apparently, are Corbyn's political opponents who seemingly would prefer to live with a Corbyn government than see Britain relegated to the status of a mid-20th century South American banana republic. Here's The Independent again: “You can’t have serving officers effectively threatening a coup against an elected government,” they said. “This general seems to have forgotten that we live in a democracy.” A Ministry of Defence source said it was unacceptable for a serving officer to make political comments about a potential “future government.”
Of course the thing about military coups is that they don't, by definition, depend upon whether politicians think they are "idiotic."
Columbus Free Press.com (OH), Why it Could be President Bush & VP Kasich, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Sept. 20, 2015. Get ready: the Republicans may not know it, but they’ve all but certified their ticket for 2016, and they will probably win. The saturation bloviation that followed this week’s Republican presidential debates missed some monumental moments, including:
- There was one (and ONLY one) candidate on the stage that had anything meaningful to say. It was Rand Paul. What he said about war and marijuana were of serious significance.
- The GOP hard core on the stage and in the audience certified their obeisance to a free pass for the horrific presidency of George W. Bush, thereby opening the door for his brother, who can almost certainly win if he runs with the guy from Ohio.
New York Times, U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys, Joseph Goldstein, Sept. 20, 2015. The American military’s policy has been to look the other way on “boy play” by Afghan commanders. One Marine’s father believes it was a factor in his son’s death. In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base. “At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.
Daily MailOnline, Was FBI agent involved in missing fortune of murdered heiress? Mia De Graaf, Sept. 20, 2015. Investigator claims agency is covering up gruesome death of grocery-chain recluse who lived with $15 million stuffed in bags around her home. Marjorie Jackson was shot dead in burglary at Indiana home in 1977. Widow of $25m grocery magnate kept up to $15m cash stashed at home. Two burglars were caught after buying around 6 cars with cash. One was charged with murder, the other with burglary and arson. However, investigation did not account for around $1.6m of stolen cash. Now, a reporter claims to have evidence the FBI agent responsible for finding the cash had put millions in a Swiss bank account soon after.
WND, Soviet-bloc defector sheds light on new JFK document, CIA releases presidential briefing on Oswald's visit to embassy, Jerome R. Corsi, Sept. 20, 2015. The CIA’s release Wednesday of a Presidential Daily Briefing given to President Lyndon B. Johnson four days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has renewed controversy over a trip Lee Harvey Oswald made to Mexico two months before the assassination. The key paragraph confirmed press stories reporting Oswald visited both the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City on Sept. 8, 1963, in an attempt to arrange a visa to travel to the Soviet Union by way of Havana, Cuba. The CIA has insisted since the assassination that Oswald visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City in September 1963, but the agency has never been able to produce photographic evidence, even though the building was under photo surveillance at the time.
Antiwar.com, ISIS Leader Fought for US as Late as 2013, Brad Hoff, Sept. 19, 2015. Abu Omar al-Shishani, the red-bearded face of ISIS terror lately described in such headlines as ‘Star pupil’: Pied piper of ISIS recruits was trained by U.S. for the fact that he received American military training as part of an elite Georgian army unit in 2006 and after, did not stop playing for “team America” once he left his home country in the Caucuses. He actually enjoyed US backing and American taxpayer largesse as late as 2013, soon after entering Syria with his band of Chechen jihadists. A new book about ISIS chronicles the terror group’s earliest successes when it first made a name for itself on the Syrian battlefield by tipping the scales in favor of rebels in Northern Aleppo who had spent nearly a total of two years attempting to conquer the Syrian government’s seemingly impenetrable Menagh Airbase.
OpEdNews, Brennan Center for Justice Panel, Press Club, 9/17: "America's Voting Technology Crisis," Marta Steele, Sept. 19, 2015. The Brennan Center's held a stimulating event, America's Voting Technology Crisis, at the National Press Club announcing a September 15 report published by the Center. Panelists: NPR correspondent and elections specialist Pam Fessler; Edgardo Cortes, Commissioner of Elections, Virginia Department of Elections; Neal Kelley (via Skype), Registrar of Voters, Orange County, California; and Doug Lewis, recently retired, long-time executive director of The Election Center, an umbrella organization that educates, trains, and brings together election officials from throughout the country.
Consortium News, Obama’s Fateful Syrian Choice, Robert Parry (shown in file photo), Sept. 18, 2015. President Obama faces a choice that could define his legacy and the future of the American Republic: He can either work with Russia’s President Putin to stabilize Syria or he can opt for a confrontation that could lead to an open-ended war with grave risks of escalation.
Al.com, Former judge Mark Fuller's conduct reprehensible investigators tell Congress, Staff report, Sept. 18, 2015. Judicial investigators told Congress this week that a former federal judge — arrested last year on a domestic violence charge — had demonstrated "reprehensible conduct" and there was evidence that he abused his wife several times and made false statements to the committee reviewing his behavior. The Judicial Conference of the United States, in a report to Congress this week, said former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Alabama (shown in a file photo) brought disrepute to the federal judiciary and that his conduct might have warranted impeachment if he had not resigned this summer. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, the Judicial Conference noted Fuller's resignation, but said the severity of Fuller's misconduct and its finding of perjury led it to turn the information over to Congress for whatever action lawmakers deem necessary.
WND, Trump panic: GOP establishment floats Romney 3rd-party candidacy; Former G. W. Bush aide envisions 'New Republican Party,' Garth Kant, Sept. 18, 2015. Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News." The Empire strikes back? First, the Republican Party made Donald Trump sign an oath of loyalty by pledging to support its eventual presidential nominee and not run as a third-party candidate. Now, the establishment GOP may be planning to do the very thing it made Trump promise not to do: bolt from the Republican party and run a third-party campaign. Mark McKinnon, former President George W. Bush’s chief media strategist, suggested a scenario to NPR the GOP elite might follow if it looks like Trump will win the party’s presidential nomination. “The Republican establishment completely freaks out. They get together and say, this is unacceptable, but it looks like it’s going to happen. So we go off, and we create a new Republican Party as an Independent candidacy and draft somebody who’s tanned, rested and ready to go and with a lot of money, somebody like Mitt Romney,” speculated McKinnon.
Migrants in Tovarnik, Croatia, line up Friday morning for coaches to registration centers. Thousands of migrants broke through Croatian police lines at Tovarnik and Bezdan, overwhelming the border patrol units who refrained from using non-lethal force, such as water cannons or tear gas.
WND, 35 million Muslim migrants may set sights on Europe; Congress mobilizing votes to stop all resettlement in U.S., Leo Hohmann, Sept. 18, 2015. A Hungarian government official made an astounding prediction Friday that up to 35 million migrants could flood into Europe as part of a historic population shift, as yet another European country felt the pain. The comment from Hungary’s foreign minister came as Republicans in Congress have started signing on to a bill that would close the U.S. off to refugees for the foreseeable future, a direct counter-punch to President Obama’s plan to bring in 85,000 foreign refugees next year, including 10,000 from ISIS controlled territory in Syria. But time is running out for Europe, where the days of debating policy in a crisis-free environment are over. First Serbia and Hungary, then Germany and now Croatia have watched what many are now calling an invasion of migrants bullying their way across sovereign borders, many of them young men carrying false identification or no identification at all. Major media outlets such as the BBC, CNN and NBC continue to paint the crisis as a spontaneous event caused by people “fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” as the BBC reported. But those conflicts have been going on for years and the war-refugee narrative was refuted by a former Egyptian military officer in an interview with WND earlier this week.
Meanwhile, in the United States, a bill introduced recently by Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, calling for a halt of all refugee resettlement until the full impact of the program can be studied, has picked up 10 co-sponsors in the last few days. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, became the latest co-sponsor of HR 3314 or the Refugee Accountability National Security Act, joining Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., among others. Notable by his absence from the list of co-sponsors so far is Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House subcommittee on immigration and border security and who also has had an uprising among constituents in his own home district who are unhappy about being selected as a location for Syrian refugees.
New York Times, U.S. to Begin Military Talks With Russia on Syria, Michael R. Gordon, Sept. 18, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that the United States was prepared to engage in military-to-military talks with Russia concerning Syria. The initial purpose of the talks with Russia, said Kerry (shown in a file photo), will be to help “define some of the different options that are available to us as we consider next steps in Syria.” But though the administration has long said that President Bashar al-Assad must go for there to be a durable solution to the Syria crisis, Kerry seemed on Friday to allow for the possibility that Assad might remain in power in the short term.
Washington Post, How Trump tried — and failed — to open a casino in Florida, Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 18, 2015. The mogul-turned-presidential candidate had pressed for years to change state law, despite denying it this week during the Republican debate. Trump allies say his recollection of the casino issue in Florida was accurate. Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, said the business “never asked Jeb Bush personally to approve casino gambling.” Roger Stone, a Trump confidante and former campaign adviser, told Fox News this week that Trump has tried to get casino gambling under Bush’s Democratic predecessor, Lawton Chiles, but his efforts “ceased” with Bush’s 1998 election, given Bush’s “well known” opposition to expanding gambling.
Film Director Oliver Stone, Wall Street Journal United Nations Reporter Joe Lauria (James Reinl Photo for Middle East Eye)
Middle East Eye, Oliver Stone's American history: 'We’re not under threat. We are the threat,' James Reinl (shown in file photo), Sept. 17, 2015. As he launches his new TV series offering a critical view of US overseas exploits, the film director tells Middle East Eye he didn’t always see it that way. Oliver Stone speaks at a press conference to launch his new book on American history (MEE/James Reinl). American controversies are Oliver Stone’s forte. The Hollywood movie director has turned his cameras on the assassination of John F Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 attacks. But, when researching his television series, The Untold History of the United States, it was American exploits in the Middle East that left him with the most lasting impression, he told Middle East Eye on Wednesday. “When I studied the untold history, one thing that really hit me hard was the history of our involvement in the Middle East,” Stone said. “It was a nefarious involvement.”
Stone traces Washington’s hand in the region back to the 1930s, but he says it reached a peak when President George H.W. Bush sent hundreds of thousands of US troops to liberate Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion of 1990. “We never got out of there. Once we were in, we’re in forever,” Stone said. “We’ve destabilized the entire region, created chaos. And then we blame ISIS for the chaos we created,” he added, referring to the Islamic State (IS) group that now rules swathes of Iraq and Syria. Stone researched and wrote the series and book with Peter Kuznick, a scholar at the American University who specializes in the US nuclear strikes on Japan that ended the Second World War.
Newsmax, Trump Is Runaway Debate Winner in Newsmax Poll, Cathy Burke, Sept. 17, 2015. The GOP presidential debate winner Wednesday night was dominant front-runner Donald Trump, a Newsmax Poll finds. In results from a poll of Newsmax TV viewers, the billionaire businessman logged 46 percent support, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina came in second, with 20 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came in third with 9 percent. Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who's been surging in national polls since his first debate appearance on Aug. 6 — and pulled into a virtual tie with Trump in a recent poll — didn't fare as well with Newsmax TV viewers, logging only 9 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in at just over 5 percent.
CNN Reagan Library Republican Presidential Debate September 16, 2015. (Image by DonkeyHotey via DMCA)
OpEdNews, Drudge Poll Results: Trump Kills, Fiorina Builds, Five or six die. Pundits Fail, Rob Kall, Sept. 17, 2015. DrudgeReport.com has a poll running that has over 600,000 votes cast at the time of this writing. Keep in mind that most of the polls we see are based on 450 to 1500 people. It's not a scientific sample. But DrudgeReport is the most popular site for conservatives. Carly Fiorina came in a distant second with 21 percent. Cruz and Rubio each pulled 6 percent. The poll shows that Donald Trump crushed the competition, pulling 53 percent of the votes.
Daily Mail Online, Bizarre moment 6-ft-3 inch Jeb Bush towers over Trump by craftily standing on his TIPTOES for group photo, Chris Spargo, Sept. 17, 2015. Jeb Bush was caught standing on his tiptoes during the group photo at Wednesday's Republican debate. The 6'3" Bush did it multiple times, despite being the tallest candidate on the stage. He also stretched out his arms, taking up more space than anyone else in the photos. Bush said in an interview Thursday morning he was doing this to try and find his wife in the crowd.
Talking Points Memo, After The Second Debate, Jeb Bush Is Still Stuck In Donald Trump's Mud, Tierney Sneed, Sept. 17, 2015. With his polling in the single digits and his frontrunner status a thing of the distant past, Jeb Bush had one thing to prove at the second GOP debate: that he was the mainstream candidate to take on Donald Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo at the 2015 CPAC conference). But Bush’s performance Wednesday night did not do much to calm the GOP donor class’s concerns that they bet on him too early. While his rivals for establishment support landed their punches on Trump, Bush was wobbly and at times overrun by the brazen billionaire.
Prior to Trump’s emergence, the former governor of Florida -- an early favorite among Republican donors -- was expected to be batting down challenges from less well-financed candidates. That narrative was completely upended by Trump’s unexpectedly deep and persistent appeal among Republican voters. Wednesday's debate was yet another performance in which Bush was trying to claw his way back on to the pedestal and failing to get any traction.
His demand that Trump apologize to his wife, who was in the audience, for previously attacking her Mexican heritage were easily dismissed by Trump, who said "I won't do that because I said nothing wrong." Trump also was able to turn Bush's attempt to defend his record on women's health back to his suggestion that the federal government was spending too much on health care. "You said you're going to cut funding for women's health. You said it," Trump said, ending the discussion. Bush's inability to best Trump or to emerge as the clear alternative to the real estate magnate’s combustible campaign could be summed in the moment where Bush low-fived Trump after making a joke about Trump's reliable barb on Bush's “low energy.” This is The Donald’s presidential primary; Jeb Bush is just living in it.
Washington Post, From 2010, an ad that could sink Carly Fiorina’s campaign, Chris Cillizza, Sept. 17, 2015. The commercial, aired during a Senate campaign against her, says Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers at HP while her salary tripled and she bought a yacht and corporate jets. It effectively ended her chances.
Politico, Appeals court steps into abortion-video fray, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 17, 2015. A federal appeals court has stepped into the legal fray over undercover videos that anti-abortion groups say demonstrate the sale of aborted fetuses. On July 31, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued a temporary restraining order barring the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos of National Abortion Federation meetings and from identifying any federation members by name. He's extended the order several times, despite requests from CMP to lift it. On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit granted the anti-abortion video maker's request to block Orrick from converting the temporary restraining order into a longer-term preliminary injunction. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted an amicus brief earlier this month warning that such a precedent could expose news organizations to a gag order any time there is a dispute over the circumstances under which a video was recorded.
Guardian, Nick Merrill: the man who may unlock the secrecy of the FBI's controversial subpoenas, Spencer Ackerman, Sept. 17, 2015. For over a decade, Nick Merrill could say nothing about the FBI subpoena he received in 2004 – not to his wife, his ailing father nor his closest friends. Merrill didn’t even know if consulting an attorney about it would land him in a jail cell. But now, after more than a decade of court challenges, Merrill is on the verge of revealing an unprecedented amount of detail about what the FBI and its partner agencies believe they can obtain without a warrant, using a controversial form of nonjudicial subpoena called a national security letter (NSL). Unless the US Justice Department challenges a federal judge’s order that was kept secret until Monday, 27 November will be a landmark date for transparency in the post-9/11 era. The black bars obscuring the specific kinds of data the FBI sought from Merrill in 2004 will lift, revealing categories of information the bureau seeks to acquire outside the normal warrant process.
New York Times, Penalty for G.M.’s Deadly Defect Leaves Many Cold, Danielle Ivory and Bill Vlasic, Sept. 17, 2015. Many victims were disappointed by a $900 million settlement with General Motors, in which no individual employees were charged, and the Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution of the automaker for three years.
Global Research, Insider Trading on 9/11: Speculative Trade in “Put Options;” The Financial Facts Laid Bare, Lars Schall, Sept. 17, 2015. There can be no dispute that speculative trade in put options – where a party bets that a stock will drop abruptly in value – spiked in the days around September 11, 2001 – even if the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the 9/11 Commission will not say so. More than a few people must have had advance warning of the terror attacks, and they cashed in to the tune of millions of dollars. Is there any truth in the allegations that informed circles made substantial profits in the financial markets in connection to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, on the United States? Arguably, the best place to start is by examining put options, which occurred around Tuesday, September 11, 2001, to an abnormal extent, and at the beginning via software that played a key role: the Prosecutor’s Management Information System, abbreviated as PROMIS. PROMIS is a software program that seems to be fitted with almost „magical“ abilities. Furthermore, it is the subject of a decades-long dispute between its inventor, Bill Hamilton, and various people/institutions associated with intelligence agencies, military and security consultancy firms.
New York Times, Republicans Use Second Debate to Go After Trump, Jonathan :Martin and Patrick Healy, Sept. 16, 2015. Several candidates showed new aggressiveness in lacing into Donald J. Trump, using the latest debate to shame, criticize and mock him.
CIA, Brennan Delivers Keynote at President's Daily Brief Public Release Event, John O. Brennan, Sept. 16, 2015. Remarks as Prepared for Delivery CIA Director John O. Brennan at the President’s Daily Brief Public Release, LBJ Library in Austin, Texas. I want to thank Mark [Updegrove, LBJ Library Director] and his excellent staff for hosting today’s event. When President Johnson dedicated this library, he said, “It is all here… the story of our time with the bark off.” You can’t get much further below the bark than Top Secret intelligence reports, so I think President Johnson would approve of today’s proceedings."
National Security Archive, President's Daily Briefs from Kennedy and Johnson Finally Released (Eight Years After Archive, Professor Larry Berman Lawsuit), Thomas S. Blanton (shown in a file photo) and Lauren Harper, Sept. 16, 2016. Today the CIA and the LBJ Library are releasing online a collection of 2,500 declassified President's Daily Briefs (PDBs) from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The PDBs are Top Secret documents containing the most current and significant intelligence information that the CIA believes that the President needs to know, and are records that CIA Director George Tenet once claimed could never be released for publication "no matter how old or historically significant it may be," and that White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer described as "the most highly sensitized classified document in the government."
The release of this collection of PDBs comes eight years after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the National Security Archive and Professor Larry Berman, then a professor of political science at University of California Davis, now based at George State University, in his efforts to obtain the disclosure of two Presidential Daily Briefs written for President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s. Professor Berman and the Archive were represented by Thomas R. Burke and Duffy Carolan of the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in San Francisco, CA. In its ruling, the Court noted -- without viewing the documents -- that their disclosure could "reveal protected intelligence sources and methods." The Court rejected, however, the CIA's "attempt to create a per se status exemption for PDBs." Today the National Security Archive is proud to post a compilation of our ongoing work to shed light on these important documents. The collection is comprised of dozens of records and the Ninth Circuit Court ruling, which paved the way for today's disclosure.
JIP Editor's Note: Release of the CIA documents inevitably sparks controversial commentary, some of it generated by reporters on deadline and advocacy commentators. One such topic already focuses upon a CIA PDB that asserts, “Press stories to the effect that Lee Harvey Oswald recently visited Mexico City are true, according to our information. Oswald (shown in a file photo) visited both the Cuban and the Soviet embassies on 28 September. He was trying, we are told, to arrange for visas so that he could travel to the USSR via Havana. He returned to the US on 3 October.” This and other newly released PDB materials may be accessed at the Mary Ferrell Foundation site, as well as via the National Security Archive, which is based at George Washington University.
As indicated below, the Washington Times has headlined the CIA's 1963 assertion in the PDB that Oswald was in Mexico City seeking access to Cuba. The conventional wisdom of the era generated by official bodies was that Oswald was a malcontent sympathetic to Communists. We excerpt the Times story but also link to more nuanced if not contrary research by former Washington Post reporter Jeff Morley, whose major career focus has been the JFK assassination, culminating in a book on the CIA’s station chief Winfield Scott n Mexico City during the JFK assassination. Morley quotes scholar John Newman as opining that Oswald never went to Mexico. Newman’s background includes 20 years as an Army intelligence officer, rising to become the top assistant to NSA's director. Newman has written three books about Oswald, JFK, and the CIA, and has taught history at the university level for more than 20 years.
Washington Times, CIA confirmed Oswald contacted Cubans, Soviets before assassination, memo shows, Kellan Howell, Sept. 16, 2016. Three days after John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, U.S. intelligence officials told President Lyndon B. Johnson that they had confirmed that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had recently traveled to Mexico City to visit both the Cuban and Soviet embassies, according to a half-century old briefing memo declassified on Wednesday. Oswald’s travel plans were revealed in an unprecedented declassification and release by the CIA of thousands of presidential daily briefings from the 1960s. Though the memos are decades old, about a fifth of their content was still redacted to protect sources and methods. According to the Nov. 25, 1963 briefing, Oswald — a former U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 — visited both the Cuban and Soviet embassies on Sept. 28, 1963.
JFK Facts.org, Did the CIA track Oswald before JFK was killed? Jefferson Morley, Feb. 4, 2014. Yes, closely and constantly. This is one of the biggest JFK revelations of the past 20 years, and one that we need talk up in social and news media on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. While the CIA assured Congress in the 1970s that its interest in Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK was killed was “routine,” the newest documents tell a very different story: Oswald was monitored closely and constantly by an super-secret office within the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff from 1959 to 1963, known as the Special Investigations Group. The documents show that the CIA officers most knowledgeable about Oswald reported to two of the most powerful men in the agency: deputy director Richard Helms and counterintelligence chief James Angleton, both of whom thought JFK’s policy toward Cuba was weak and misguided.
The story was first documented in John Newman’s 1995 book Oswald and the CIA. Newman is a former intelligence officer turned academic historian. Newman, who taught at the University of Maryland, traced how the CIA intercepted Oswald’s correspondence when he was living in the Soviet Union 1959 to 1962. He showed how the CIA’s own records document growing interest in Oswald in the course of 1963, culminating in October 1963 when a group of senior CIA officials collaborated on a four-page cable assessing Oswald as a security risk. These officials assured colleagues in the CIA and the FBI that Oswald was “maturing” and thus becoming less of a threat. This happened just six weeks before JFK was killed. The many anomalies in the story convinced Newman and other JFK authors that Oswald had been impersonated while in Mexico City. In custody, Oswald denied going to Mexico City and some researchers believe that he never went at all.
Politico, 13 newly released CIA presidential briefs from the 1960s you'll want to read, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 16, 2015.The briefings detail the evolution of the war in Vietnam and responses to such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Six-Day War in the Middle East. After decades of stiff resistance, the CIA on Wednesday released about 2,500 President’s Daily Briefs and similar reports delivered to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson during a nearly eight-year span in the 1960s. The briefings detail the evolution of the war in Vietnam and responses to such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Six-Day War in the Middle East. The mass release Wednesday came despite past vows from the CIA to fiercely defend the secrecy of PDBs. Then-CIA Director George Tenet declared in 2000 that no PDB should be released “no matter how old or historically significant it may be."
Washington Post, A $500 million U.S. plan to boost the Syrian opposition has yielded ‘four or five’ fighters, Karen DeYoung, Sept. 16, 2015. The Obama administration is searching for new ways to aid the country's rebels after acknowledging the failure of the current approach. The Obama administration is moving toward major changes in its military train-and-equip program for the Syrian opposition after the acknowledged failure of efforts to create a new force of rebel fighters to combat the Islamic State there. In comments that appeared to shock even many of those involved in Syria policy elsewhere in the government, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the U.S. Central Command, told Congress on Wednesday that only “four or five” trainees from the program, a $500 million plan officially launched in December to prepare as many as 5,400 fighters this year, have ended up “in the fight” inside Syria.
Smirking Chimp, Ben Carson May Be Just As Wacky, If Not Wackier, Than The Donald, Bill Berkowitz (shown in file photo), Sept. 16, 2015. Dr. Ben Carson has nearly pulled even with Donald Trump in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. According to The New York Times, “The proportion of Republican voters favoring Mr. Carson rose to 23 percent from 6 percent in the previous CBS News poll, which was taken just before the first televised Republican debate in early August. Over that same period, Mr. Trump made modest gains, to 27 percent from 24 percent.”
Vigorously opposed to Obamacare, calling it "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery?" Check. Think America is "very much like Nazi Germany?" Check. Think Michael Brown may have caused his own murder? Check. If you need an opinion or a controversial remark from an African American conservative, Dr. Ben Carson has a quiver full, and he delivers them with a slight smile on his face and a soft-spoken manner. Capitalizing on his outsider message and turning the volume way, way down, Carson, who has been the darling of the Fox News Channel, is apparently ready for prime time, or so his supporters hope. And come Wednesday, Carson has garnered a coveted podium right next to Donald Trump on the debate stage.
Judicial Watch, New State Department Documents Reveal Hillary Clinton Email Gap, Tom Fitton (shown in file photo), Sept. 14, 2015. Judicial Watch today released newly obtained Department of State documents showing a nearly five-month total gap in the emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to return to the State Department late last year. The documents also show that one key State Department official did not want a written record of issues about the Clinton emails. The documents also raise new questions about the accuracy of representations made to Judicial Watch, the courts, Congress, and the public by the Obama administration and Clinton.
The documents were produced under court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit Judicial Watch filed on May 6, 2013 (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State). The lawsuit was filed after the Obama State Department violated federal law and failed to respond to two separate FOIA requests, including a request for records about the actual production of the emails records by Clinton to the State Department.
Associated Press via YNet News, Putin defends Russia's military assistance to Syrian regime, Sept. 15, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday strongly defended Moscow's military assistance to the Syrian government, saying it's impossible to defeat the Islamic State group without cooperating with Damascus. Putin's statement comes amid the signs of an ongoing Russian military buildup in Syria, which the US says signals Moscow's intention to set up an air base there. Speaking at a meeting of heads of states at a Moscow-dominated security alliance of ex-Soviet nations in Tajikistan, Putin urged other nations to follow Russia's example and offer military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
Let’s try democracy, What if Americans Had Known in 2013 that U.S. rejected Syria Deal in 2012? David, Swanson, Sept. 15, 2015. In the United States it is considered fashionable to maintain a steadfast ignorance of rejected peace offers, and to believe that all the wars launched by the U.S. government are matters of "last resort." The Guardian reported on Tuesday that the former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, who had been involved in negotiations in 2012, said that in 2012 Russia had proposed a process of peace settlement between the Syrian government and its opponents that would have included President Bashar al-Assad stepping down. But, according to Ahtisaari, the United States was so confident that Assad would soon be violently overthrown that it rejected the proposal.
The catastrophic Syrian civil war since 2012 has followed U.S. adherence to actual U.S. policy in which peaceful compromise is usually the last resort. Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000 Wesley Clark claims that in 2001, Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld put out a memo proposing to take over seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. The basic outline of this plan was confirmed by none other than former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in 2010 pinned it on former Vice President Dick Cheney.
New York Magazine, Interview: Former Romney Adviser Stuart Stevens on Loss, the GOP’s Race Problem, and Why Trump Won’t Win, Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 15, 2015. Question: So what if Donald Trump becomes president? Schmidt: [Laughs.] He’s not. He’s not! This goes down to, how am going to play in the next Super Bowl? It’s not going to happen. For Donald Trump to win, everything we know about politics has to be wrong. And I don’t think it is. The timing of when it falls apart is always more difficult to know than inevitably that it will.
Legal Schnauzer, Missouri deputies break my wife's arm and aim an assault rifle at me during violent, terrifying "eviction," Roger Shuler, Sept. 15, 2015. Sheriff deputies broke my wife's arm and aimed what appeared to be an assault weapon at me during an "eviction" last Wednesday at the apartment where we've been living for the past year in Springfield, Mo. Doctors told my wife, Carol, that the large bone in her upper left arm was broken when Greene County deputies assaulted her as she tried to retrieve some of our belongings from inside the apartment. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning--and we are told it will be a five- or six-hour procedure--although it already has been postponed twice. Shuler: This looks a lot like the assault rifle that was pointed at me. It's called a BERYL 96.
American Bazaar, US government to retry case against Alabama cop Eric Parker in assault of Sureshbhai Patel, Raif Karerat, Sept. 15, 2015. A federal judge in Alabama has declared a mistrial in the case of a police officer who slammed an elderly Indian grandfather to the ground, leaving him partially paralyzed, after jurors were unable to break a deadlock and reach a decision. During the course of deliberations, the 12-person jury informed U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala they could not reach a verdict – which must be unanimous. Ultimately, the jury told the judge on four different occasions they could not reach a verdict. According to the Alabama Media Group, Prosecutor Robert Posey said the U.S. government will try the case against Officer Eric Parker again, who was charged with violating the civil rights under color of law of Sureshbhai Patel.
Boston Globe, Leaders critical of regime in charge of JFK Library, Jim O’Sullivan, Sept. 15, 2015. The director of the John F. Kennedy Library has resigned, the most prominent in a long line of recent departures from the iconic institution, triggering a new round of rancor among longtime library figures. Thomas J. Putnam, a federal employee who joined the library in 1999 and became its fifth director in 2007, notified colleagues on Tuesday morning that, under his current plan, he would stay on only until Thanksgiving. The library has seen a mass exodus of employees — more than one-third of the staff has left voluntarily or been terminated — over the past year and a half since Heather Campion became chief executive of the foundation that works in tandem with federal archives officials to run the library.
Reuters, Russia positioning tanks at Syria airfield: U.S. officials, Phil Stewart, Sept. 14, 2015. Russia has positioned about a half dozen tanks at an airfield at the center of a military buildup in Syria, two U.S. officials said on Monday, adding that the intentions of Moscow's latest deployment of heavy military equipment were unclear. Moscow has come under increased international pressure in recent days to explain its moves in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a 4-1/2-year war. See also: BBC, Russia 'plans forward air operating base' in Syria: US, Barbara Plett Usher, Sept. 14, 2015. Russia says military equipment is being sent to Syria to help the government combat the so-called Islamic State.
Guardian, Australian leader Tony Abbott ousted by Malcolm Turnbull after party vote Malcolm Turnbull after party vote, Daniel Hurst, Sept. 14, 2015. The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, has been ousted after losing a dramatic late-night party ballot to his communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull. The move, capping a tumultuous period in the nation’s political life, means that Turnbull is now set to be sworn in as Australia’s fifth prime minister in five years. Turnbull secured 54 votes from his parliamentary colleagues, giving him a narrow edge over Abbott’s 44 votes, after promising a new style of leadership that respected voters’ intelligence and restored traditional cabinet government.
WGBH News (Boston), School Busing And Same-Sex Marriage: Same Solution, Harvey Silverglate, Sept. 14, 2015. Much drama has accompanied the case of Kim Davis, the once-jailed Kentucky County Clerk who refused to comply with a federal court order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a right recently guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision. After being found in contempt of court by the presiding federal judge, David L. Bunning, Davis was jailed and promptly thrust into the national spotlight, garnering significant local support, and prompting presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, in a flourish of perhaps predictable hyperbole, to declare her case the "criminalization of Christianity." This whole episode begs the question: Was the “martyrdom” of Davis inevitable, or, for that matter, wise? No, it was neither. Bostonians of a certain age are in a particularly good position to exercise a bit of historical perspective to understand why.
Washington Post, Scott Walker’s race to the bottom, Paul Waldman, Sept. 14, 2015. Scott Walker wants to take his fight against organized labor national. Today he released a plan for a new war not just on union representation, but on worker rights in general. It’s quite a document, one we might call Scott Walker’s Race to the Bottom. I have no doubt that Walker is sincere in his desire to see every labor union crushed and every vestige of workers’ power banished — or, in his lingo, “flexibility.” I’d also be surprised if any of the other candidates objected to any part of it. So the plan is worth understanding if you want to grasp what today’s GOP is offering today’s workers. While he doesn’t say so explicitly, what Walker seems to hope for is really a world without any labor unions at all, or at the very least a world where unions are so weakened that they are unable to advocate for anyone.
A Just Cause, Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik Should Be Given Second Chance at Public Service, Says Advocacy Group, Staff report, Sept. 14, 2015. In a September 2015 letter to President Obama, the advocacy organization A Just Cause makes their case as to why they believe Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard (Bernie) Kerik, who received a felony conviction, should be the next Director of the Bureau of Prisons. In 2010, Kerik was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison primarily related to false statements and tax charges surrounding payments to his children's nanny. Federal law currently prohibits convicted felons from ever voting or holding public office. Kerik was recently interviewed on A Just Cause's radio program. Lamont Banks, executive director of A Just Cause wrote the letter to Obama.
Washington Post, Leftist Jeremy Corbyn elected leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Griff Witte, Sept. 12, 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning transformation from perennial leftist rebel to leader of Britain’s Labour Party upended British politics Saturday and delivered a striking message worldwide: At this anti-establishment moment, parties of the left are just as vulnerable to populist takeovers as parties of the right. The candidate (shown in a file photo) had been a long shot only months ago but won by electrifying the party’s grass roots.
World Trade Center photo by Cliff1066 via DMCA
OpEdNews, 9/11 Fourteen Years Later, Paul Craig Roberts, Sept. 11, 2015. Millions of refugees from Washington's wars are currently over-running Europe. Washington's 14-year and ongoing slaughter of Muslims and destruction of their countries are war crimes for which the US government's official 9/11 conspiracy theory was the catalyst. Factual evidence and science do not support Washington's conspiracy theory. The 9/11 Commission did not conduct an investigation. It was not permitted to investigate. The Commission sat and listened to the government's story and wrote it down. Afterwards, the chairman and co-chairman of the Commission said that the Commission "was set up to fail." For a factual explanation of 9/11, watch this film. Here is a presentation by Pilots For 9/11 Truth. Here is an extensive examination of many of the aspects of 9/11.
Boston Herald, Lynch: Release 9/11 documents, Rep backs families’ lawsuit, Joe Dwinell, Bob McGovern, Sept. 11, 2015. Firefighters from Ladder 17 and Engine 7 on Columbus Ave pause for a moment of silence in memory of the September 11, 2001 anniversary. Chief Michael Feely, second from right, and firefighter Keith Condry, far right, join their fellow firefighters outside the station while an unseen colleague lowers the flag to half staff. Friday, September 11, 2015. Staff photo by Ted Fitzgerald U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said it’s “an embarrassment” the full story of 9/11 has not been told all these years later — including possible terrorist links to Saudi Arabia, as a lingering federal lawsuit brought by the victims’ families alleges.
CBS, Alleged terror plot aimed at 9/11 anniversary foiled, Jeff Pegues, Sept. 11, 2015. A Florida man is charged with plotting to set off an explosion at a 9/11 event. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested 20-year-old Joshua Ryne Goldberg Thursday in Florida. Prosecutors say he told an online informant how to make the bomb he wanted. It turns out Goldberg was in the U.S., in a home near Jacksonville, where he was taken into custody. He shares the home in Orange Park with his parents. According to court documents, he had set his sights on bombing a 9/11 memorial event -- the Kansas City Stair Climb.
Guardian, US spy chief's 'highly unusual' reported contact with military official raises concerns, Spencer Ackerman, Sept. 11, 2015. James Clapper said to have frequent communication with military official who is said to be implicated in a Pentagon inquiry into manipulated intelligence. Barack Obama’s intelligence chief is said to be in frequent and unusual contact with a military intelligence officer at the center of a growing scandal over rosy portrayals of the war against the Islamic State, the Guardian has learned. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, is said to talk nearly every day with the head of US Central Command’s intelligence wing, Army Major General Steven Grove – “which is highly, highly unusual”, according to a former intelligence official. Grove is said to be implicated in a Pentagon inquiry into manipulated war intelligence. In communications, Clapper, who is far more senior than Grove, is said to tell Grove how the war looks from his vantage point, and question Grove about Central Command’s assessments. Such a situation could place inherent pressure on a subordinate, sources said.
Washington Post, The GOP’s Donald Trump nightmare may soon get a whole lot worse, Greg Sargent, Sept. 11, 2015. Another very ripe opportunity for Trump to make his GOP rivals even more miserable may be lurking right around the corner, and it could expose the same sort of schism between GOP elites and GOP voters that Trump’s forays into immigration policy have. I’m talking about the massive global trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Some time in the next six months — in late 2015 or in early 2016 — the participating nations may finally reach a deal on the TPP. That may well come just when the GOP primaries are heating up. Virtually all of the major GOP presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio, all support the TPP, as do Republican Congressional leaders. But, in a little noticed move a few days ago, Trump signaled that he might be headed in a very different direction on the TPP soon enough. The coming debate over the TPP gives Trump the perfect opportunity to do what he’s already been doing to great effect: test the true nature of opinion among rank-and-file Republican voters, by forcing real debates out into the open on issues that had previously remained deliberately vague or walled off from real discussion by GOP orthodoxy.
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, China, the Donald, and a new Nationalism, Patrick J. Buchanan, Sept. 11, 2015. Pat Buchanan looks at the sinking Chinese economy, the new world order, and Donald Trump. Since China devalued its currency three percent, global markets have gone into a tailspin. Why should this be? The crisis in world markets seems related not only to a sinking Chinese economy, but also to what Beijing is saying to the world; i.e., China will save herself first even if it means throwing others out of the life boat. Disbelievers in New World Order mythology have long recognized that this new China is fiercely nationalistic. Indeed, with Marxism-Leninism dead, nationalism is the Communist Party's fallback faith. Enter the Donald. If there is a single theme behind his message, it would seem to be a call for a New Nationalism or New Patriotism.
Washington Post, Rick Perry suspends his 2016 campaign for president, David Weigel, Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Sept. 11, 2015. The former Texas governor, who sought political redemption after a humiliating campaign four years ago, became the first casualty in the crowded Republican field. Former Texas governor Rick Perry, who sought political redemption after a humiliating campaign for the White House four years ago, announced Friday that he was suspending his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination, becoming the first casualty in the combustible and crowded contest. Perry served for 14 years as governor of the Lone Star State — longer than anyone else in history — and he governed during a time of robust job growth in Texas. He entered the 2016 race hoping that the country’s voters would give him a second chance. But he bowed out 101 days after announcing his second candidacy. (Photo courtesy of Noel St. John.)
Judicial Watch, 9/11 Comm. Chair “Embarrassed” That U.S. Still Keeps Most Records Secret, Staff report, Sept. 11, 2015. Fourteen years after 9/11, the U.S. government maintains a robust “stonewall of official secrecy” to hide droves of documents that would likely expose incompetence inside the nation’s intelligence agencies and deceptive relations with foreign governments. A key portion of the information that was withheld by President George W. Bush has been kept hidden by President Obama so this is not a partisan issue, but rather an ongoing effort by the government to keep the truth from the public.
The alarming details are provided in a hard-hitting news article published by a nonprofit journalism watchdog, Florida Bulldog, on the 14th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Among the information that long ago should have been made public are 28 blanked-out pages in Congress’s 2002 inquiry into the attacks regarding “foreign support for the hijackers” – read Saudi Arabia. Additionally thousands of significant records that should be available to the public after all these years remain off limits, including information that was provided to the 9/11 Commission for its 585-page report on the attacks that killed thousands.
The Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton, was quoted in the story saying that he was “surprised and disappointed” that the documents remain hidden. “I assumed, incorrectly, that our records would be public,” Hamilton said. “All of them, everything. I want those documents declassified. I’m embarrassed to be associated with a work product that is secret.”
Judicial Watch: San Francisco Crime Surge – Homicide Arrests up 55%, Rapes Arrests up 370% Sept. 10, 2015, Tom Fitton, Sept. 11, 2015. Kathryn Steinle was the 32 year-old woman who was walking with her father on a pier in San Francisco on July 1 just before she was gunned down by an illegal alien criminal knowingly released by San Francisco authorities under that city's sanctuary policies.. We live in a cruel, dangerous world riddled with crime. That's the hard reality. But certainly, elected officials could move decisively if they wanted to against "Sanctuary Cities" and the dangerous criminal aliens who fly under the law. Criminal illegal alien may sound redundant; that's how your government describes illegal aliens who have committed serious offenses on top of their immigration violation.
Brookings Institution, How Russia and America make the same mistakes in Syria, Pavel K. Baev and Jeremy Shapiro, Sept. 11, 2015. Russia’s apparent escalation in Syria is less dramatic than it seems, but it still represents another depressing development in the ongoing nightmare of the Syrian civil war. While it appears no Russian troops are engaged in fighting, the volume of military cargo delivered from Russia to Syria by sea and air has significantly increased in the last couple of weeks. Ironically, this strategy is nearly a mirror image of the equally flawed American plan for Syria.
WhoWhatWhy, Visas for Al-Qaeda, Part 2: Treachery, J. Michael Springmann, Sept. 11, 2015. In this remarkable first-hand account, a former US consular official describes a pipeline created by the CIA that enabled terrorists to slip into the US with ease. Among them were the mujahideen of Afghanistan — who later became al-Qaeda. Authentic and mind-blowing.
Florida Bulldog, A stonewall of secrecy hides many 9-11 records on 14th anniversary of terrorist attacks, Dan Christianson (shown in file photo), Sept. 10, 2015. Seven weeks after the end of the massive cleanup at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan in 2002, a legal investigator for the families of 9/11 victims requested a copy of an arrest warrant issued by Interpol for fugitive al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Here’s the reply she got from the Justice Department’s Interpol-U.S. National Central Bureau: “Release of information about a living person without that person’s consent generally constitutes an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.”
The Justice Department’s assertion of privacy rights for bin Laden is a small rock in the stonewall of official secrecy that continues to hide 9/11 documents held by the FBI, CIA and other government entities on the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Lately, the public focus has been on the 28 blanked-out pages in Congress’s 2002 Joint Inquiry into the attacks regarding “foreign support for the hijackers” – read Saudi Arabia. The pages, withheld by President George W. Bush and kept hidden by President Obama, have been the subject of recent stories in The New Yorker, The New York Times and others. On Capitol Hill, pending bills in the House and Senate seek to open those pages to the public. Yet hundreds, likely thousands, of significant records about what the 9/11 Commission called “a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States” remain off limits in whole or significant part. The result: an incomplete public understanding of events behind the attacks, and a denial of evidence to 9/11 victims still seeking a measure of justice in the courts.
Washington Post, Senate Democrats block GOP effort to scuttle Iran deal, Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 9, 2015. Though House Republicans pledge to continue to fight the deal, the vote is a major victory for the president.
New York Times, Netanyahu Makes Quick Pivot From Loss on Iran Deal, Jodi Rudoren, Sept. 10, 2015. In the week since it became clear that Congress would not block the Iranian nuclear deal he loathes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has largely toned down his rhetoric on the issue and pivoted to others. He did not utter the name of his nation’s nemesis in a pre-New Year’s toast to his office and the national security council on Monday, nor at the induction of his new military secretary on Tuesday. In a brief public statement before meeting with his British counterpart in London on Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) did mention Iran — but not in the usual context of its nuclear program posing an existential threat to Israel, only as a leader of “militant Shiites.” And even that was ticked off between two other priorities: Mr. Netanyahu reiterated his readiness to restart negotiations with the Palestinians.
WhoWhatWhy, Visas for Al-Qaeda, Part 3: Backstabbing, J. Michael Springmann, Sept. 10, 2015. In this remarkable first-hand account, a former US consular official describes a pipeline created by the CIA that enabled terrorists to slip into the US with ease. Among them were the mujahideen of Afghanistan — who later became al-Qaeda. Authentic and mind-blowing.
New York Times, ‘Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,’ by Michael D’Antonio, James B. Stewart, Sept. 10, 2015. As pure entertainment, the race for the Republican presidential nomination has been a resounding success. Donald Trump, the star, has been by turns witty, provocative, outrageous — and always telegenic. He helped draw an estimated 24 million viewers to the first televised Republican debate, a record, and a ratings bonanza for Fox News, with which he nonetheless publicly feuded. Blithely flouting all conventions of presidential debate and decorum, Trump indulged in the name-calling, personal attacks and one-liners that have vaulted him to the top of the polls.
Much of the media is treating the contest as just another reality show, in which any day we’re going to tune in to watch Trump get voted off. But in the aptly titled and perfectly timed “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,” Michael D’Antonio, a former Newsday reporter and author of over a dozen books, places Trump’s life and career in a context that helps explain why his emergence at the top of Republican presidential polls was not only plausible but inevitable. In the self-absorption and self-promotion he has practiced all his life, “Donald Trump is not a man apart,” D’Antonio contends. “He is, instead, merely one of us writ large.” “Never Enough” is an admirably straightforward, evenhanded but nonetheless damning account of Trump’s life, including his failed marriages and businesses and his emergence as a reality television star and presidential contender. Trump provided some access before cutting off D’Antonio and his research assistant after they dared to interview someone on his long list of enemies.
WhoWhatWhy, Visas for Al-Qaeda, Part 1: A Sordid Tale, J. Michael Springmann, Sept. 9, 2015. In this remarkable first-hand account, a former US consular official describes a pipeline created by the CIA that enabled terrorists to slip into the US with ease. Among them were the mujahideen of Afghanistan — who later became al-Qaeda. Authentic and mind-blowing.
Middle East Eye, Why the US and Iran aren’t cooperating against IS, Gareth Porter, Sept. 9, 2015. Gareth Porter is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. By the logic of geopolitics, the United States and Iran ought to be cooperating to contain and weaken the Islamic State (IS). Both countries have declared that the group is a very serious threat to their own security and to the security of the entire Middle East. But that logical development isn’t happening, contrary to the fears of some and hopes of others, and it isn’t likely to happen any time soon. It isn’t the Iranian side of the equation that is failing to follow the geopolitical logic.
The interests of the Pentagon, the CIA and the NSA have become tightly intertwined with those of the anti-Iran coalition in the Middle East. A set of mutually reinforcing bureaucratic interests now binds US policy to an alliance structure and military and intelligence program in the Middle East that have come to replace objective analysis of regional realities in determining US policy. The first is the imperative for the US military of holding on to US air, naval and land bases in the region, all but one of which are located in states that are part of the anti-Iran coalition. Similarly, arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf sheikhdoms and Israel are a primary interest of the Pentagon, its arms contractor partners and its congressional allies. And the determination of that same set of domestic interests to continue the bonanza or research-and-development spending on a missile defense system requires a continued identification of Iran as primary regional adversary and threat. Finally, the US national security state has never given up its ambition to regain primary influence in Iraq, despite the political legacy of the Iraq war and a Shia-dominated regime in the country. That quite unrealistic interest reduces still further the space for any cooperation with Iran in the region.
New Republic, Donald Trump's Biggest Conservative Enemies Helped Create Him, Brian Beutler, Sept. 9, 2015. Donald Trump’s durable lead in Republican primary polls, and improving approval ratings, continue to befuddle people who ought to have better insight into the state of the conservative mind. Sept. 8
Australian National Review, Home JFK autopsy report may have been faked, Gabriela Motroc, Sept. 8, 2015. After supposedly killing the United States’ 35th president, Lee Harvey Oswald became one of the most hated people on Earth. However, recent revelations show the ‘bullet fragment’ X-ray used to prosecute the man may have been faked. According to investigative journalist Jim Marrs, new study of JFK’s autopsy reveals the falsification of X-ray, Natural News reported. The New York Times best-selling author claims that the famous bullet fragment depicted in the autopsy X-ray has been reportedly found to be a faked artefact superimposed on the X-ray after JFK’s autopsy. The X-ray fabrication, which could not have been done without the knowledge of high-level federal officials, was the topic of a recept paper by Dr. David Mantik (shown in a file photo) published in Medical Research Archives, an international journal with a focus on new research. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s commission led by Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren identified Oswald, a former Marine who had tried to defect to Russia in 1959, as the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy. It was concluded that the killer had used a 6.5mm Italian World War II carbine to shoot the president from the sixth floor of a building in downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963. However, five years later, the U.S. Justice Department chose four prominent medical experts to review the autopsy evidence. The panels’ report concluded that the major findings of the Warren Commission had been correct, but claimed some issues remained in question, such as the location of JFK’s head wound.
Huffington Post, Shocker: The CIA Isn't Sorry For Torture, Ali Watkins, Sept. 8, 2015. "We were fully transparent and deceived no one." More than a year after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify its massive study on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program -- and nearly 10 months after its gruesome executive summary was publicly released -- the CIA’s George W. Bush-era guard is still bitter. And unsurprisingly, the former spies aren’t sorry.
In a volume to be released later this week, former CIA leaders Porter Goss (shown in a file photo), Jose Rodriguez and George Tenet, along with several other CIA leaders and lawyers, accuse the Intelligence panel’s now-minority Democrats of compiling a slanted report, and unequivocally defend the use of torture against high-level terror suspects.ed defense of the agency's actions. “We were fully transparent and deceived no one,” writes Tenet, who led the agency in the early days of the torture program. “The Senate Committee’s majority staff issued a report that has left the American people with an outrageously false impression that a rogue organization lied to the President, the Attorney General, and the [National Security Council] and that the United States derived no value from its program of detention and interrogation.”
Daily Beast, 50 Spies Say ISIS Intel Is Cooked, Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef, Sept. 9, 2015. It’s being called a ‘revolt’ by intelligence pros who are paid to give their honest assessment of the ISIS war—but are instead seeing their reports turned into happy talk. More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned. The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence. “The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said. Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.
Politico, Kerry names State Department email and transparency czar, Staff report, Sept. 8, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry has named a new czar to improve transparency at the State Department as the agency struggles to overcome archaic recordkeeping practices and glacial handling of public records requests -- shortcomings exposed by the continuing furor over Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account as America's top diplomat. Ambassador Janice Jacobs will assume the newly created position of "transparency coordinator," Kerry said in a statement Tuesday.
Huffington Post, Stop Trump? Start Mitt! Richard Brodsky, Sept. 8, 2015. There is a comic streak to the uproar among rich Republicans about Donald Trump. He must be stopped, sayeth the corporate/Club for Growth/austerity wing. Do a quick review of the 17 candidates and you get a sense of how deep the problem is. There is an interesting alternative. Sitting on the sideline is a perfectly pleasant and experienced man who wants the job: Mitt Romney. He's a proven vote-getter in blue and purple states. He has high name recognition. Swing voters are available to him. He was competitive in a general election. He fell on his sword to the hard right four years ago. He's rich. And his persona is the anti-Trump.
Did Facebook Influence Verdict in Tsarnaev Trial? James Henry, Sept. 8, 2015. Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers filed a motion last month requesting a new trial, at a different venue. Media superficially covering the filing glossed over an important defense claim: evidence Tsarnaev’s team says shows at least some of the jurors were exposed to “inflammatory” information on their social media feeds.
AP via U.S. News & World Report, Connecticut woman adjusting to modern society after 27 years in prison on murder conviction, David Collins, Sept. 7, 2015. Since Bonnie Jean Cook's release on a rare grant of clemency, after 27 years in prison, she has been acclimating slowly to modern society with bingo games at her apartment building and outings to browse thrift stores. Cook, convicted of murder in the shooting death of a pregnant woman in 1986 when her name was Bonnie Foreshaw, won early release in 2013 following a lengthy campaign by author Wally Lamb and others who felt she was treated too harshly by the criminal justice system. She argued she shot the woman by accident, a claim rejected by prosecutors. Life on the outside brought a new set of challenges. How people cling to their cellphones, how information is easily available online and the way money looks have all thrown Cook for a loop.
Washington Post, An American family saved their son from joining the Islamic State. Now he might go to prison, Adam Goldman, Sept. 6, 2015. Asher Abid Khan sat in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and considered his next move — forward to Syria and enlistment in the Islamic State, the militant group that had drawn him to the possibility of dying for Allah, or home to Texas and his bewildered family whose imploring messages were filling his voice mail. The 19-year-old pulled out his phone and dialed. “I want to come home,” Khan told his father. Hours later, without ever leaving the airport, Khan boarded a plane and flew home to this Houston suburb. His family had saved him from an uncertain fate in Syria, but not legal jeopardy in the United States. Fifteen months later, in May 2015, the FBI charged Khan with conspiracy and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. Instead of life inside the caliphate, Khan, now faces up to 30 years in prison.
National Public Radio, Harvard professor crowdfunds $1 million, launches presidential bid, Staff report, Sept. 6, 2015. Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig met his self-imposed goal of crowd-funding $1 million by Labor Day, and Sunday on ABC announced he's running for the Democratic nomination for President. Lessig, an activist with a grassroots following among some progressives, says he's running on a singular platform — the Citizen Equality Act of 2017. It would expand voting access, ban gerrymandering and institute campaign finance reform. "I think I'm running to get people to acknowledge the elephant in the room," Lessig said Sunday on ABC. "This stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn't work. And we have to find a way to elevate the debate to focus on the changes that would actually get us a government that could work again, that is not captured by the tiniest fraction of the one percent who fund campaigns."
Lessig's presidential bid —and campaign strategy — seems to be a long shot. This latest entrant brings the number of candidates on the Democratic side up to six. Should Lessig beat the odds and win the White House, he would not be there very long, if things go according to his plan. Once the Citizen Equality Act is signed into law, he's vowed to vacate the Oval Office and hand over power to his vice president. Visitors to Lessig's website can vote on a number of people they'd like to see as his running mate (and, in theory, eventual president), including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Lessig would need to reach 1 percent in national polls in order to make it to the party's first debate next month.
Center for Public Integrity, Here are nine things to know about Lessig's financial and political background, Dave Levinthal and Jared Bennett (as part of a continuing series on 2016 candidates), Sept. 6, 2015. Larry Lessig has donated at least $52,000 to federal candidates and committees over the years. Almost all are Democratic. Among the recipients of Lessig’s campaign contributions: President Barack Obama; Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John Edwards and Al Franken; and ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. At least one Republican got cash from Lessig — 2012 presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, who only took donations of $100 or less. Lessig once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who vehemently supported the court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision.
AP via Elmira Star-Gazette (NY), Battle over Kane’s hold on office brings up questions, Marc Levy, Sept. 5, 2015. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is making her case to Pennsylvania’s highest court to keep her law license. The accelerating effort to dislodge Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office and her heels-dug-in determination to keep her hold on it are drawing in every branch of Pennsylvania government and could plow new legal ground. Already facing criminal charges, Kane is making her case to Pennsylvania’s highest court about why she should keep her law license. Meanwhile, Senate lawyers are searching for precedent under a little-known state constitutional provision that allows two-thirds of the chamber’s members and the governor to remove certain elected officials. The most immediate threat to Kane’s hold on office is the potential that the Supreme Court suspends her law license, a decision that could come within days.
Political discontent with Kane (shown in her jail mugshot) snowballed after she was charged criminally on Aug. 6, capping a tumultuous, 18-month stretch for the former Lackawanna County prosecutor. Montgomery County authorities accused her of leaking secret grand jury information to a newspaper to embarrass a rival former state prosecutor and then lying about her actions. Numerous public officials, including fellow Democrats Gov. Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, have called on Kane to resign. Kane, whose term is up in 2017, has refused and maintained that she did nothing wrong. More established processes that could lead to her removal could take over a year. On Friday, Kane filed a 107-page argument to the high court, in response to state ethics lawyers who are using an emergency process to seek the suspension of her license. In her filing, Kane contended that suspending her law license while she is contesting allegations in the criminal case against her would violate her constitutional rights to due process and circumvent constitutional provisions for removing her from office.
JIP Editor's Note: Kane's supporters are planning a rally Sept. 9 at the state capital in Harrisburg. Kane and many supporters believe she was targeted for investigating the Sandusky pederast scandal at Penn State University too aggressively in ways that discovered materials embarrassing prominent Pennsylvania judges and prosecutors in both parties, and potentially implicating other VIPs. Details: Pennsylvania top prosecutor says charges tied to porn emails. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, a Republican based in the Philadelphia suburbs, charged Kane with leaking grand jury information to a newspaper reporter in an attempt to embarrass a former prosecutor she believed made her look bad, and then lying about her actions under oath.
WFMZ-TV (Channel 69, Allentown, PA), Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane argues against law license suspension, Staff and AP reports, Sept. 4, 2015. Lawyers for Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane are arguing to the state's highest court that her law license shouldn't many of whom believe she was targeted for investigating the pederast scandal at Penn State University too aggressively in ways that embarrass prominent Pennsylvania judges and prosecutors in both parties,be suspended on an emergency basis. Her lawyers made the case in a 107-page filing Friday. Kane (shown in a file photo) was asked to respond last week to a confidential petition from state lawyers who enforce the court's ethics rules. The petition was filed three weeks after Montgomery County authorities charged her with leaking secret grand jury information and lying about her actions.
Gulf News Europe, I am Aylan: Death of Syrian boy, 3, horrifies world, Sept. 4, 2015. Refugee crisis has claimed thousands of lives this year. He was afraid as his tiny hands encircled his father’s fingers. His mother had dressed him in bright clothes — blue shorts and a red T-shirt. Tomorrow was going to be a good day. No more hiding when bombs exploded, no more running from the rattle of machine guns, the earth wouldn’t shake any more. It was dark and there were a lot of people on the beach. His parents were tense, but he was going to be brave. He was three years old. As Aylan Kurdi was carried on-board a tiny dinghy that would take him along with his parents and five-year-old brother Galip across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, he hugged his father tight. It was a short distance of 3.4 kilometers. The water was quiet. Nobody expected trouble. They had each paid about $1,000 (Dh3,672) per person to the smugglers. Everybody had said it was an easy way to get across to Kos, Greece.
It was a lot of money for the Kurdi family, but the only option after their application for asylum was rejected by the Canadian government. Turkish newspaper reports said there were many dinghies while international news agencies said there were two boats, weighed down by way too many people — 23 to be precise. Each of them designed to carry a few, but the smugglers were trying to take across many more than that — at least 10 to 13 people per dinghy. Aylan had never been out at sea before. He was from Kobani, a tiny landlocked town in Syria, close to the southern border of Turkey. It has come under repeated attack by Daesh, forcing people to either flee across the border or die at the hands of the terrorists.
AL.com, Alabama needs answers: Where is Gov. Bentley's ex-protector Wendell Ray Lewis? John Archibald, Sept. 4, 2015. If Alabamians really want to know how Gov. Robert Bentley conducted himself around his staff members, there is one man to talk to: Wendell Ray Lewis, the former head of Bentley's protection detail. Only Lewis is not talking. I wrote about Lewis at length last year, how he traveled the globe with Bentley, piling up overtime that could have paid for a whole other person. How he was promoted over more qualified people. How he was Bentley's pet and his pal and his confidante, and how his rise to power drove away good people. And now – now that Bentley is under fire – what Lewis knows matters more than ever. It is clear that what Lewis knows matters more than ever. It is clear what he knows is more valuable than ever. To the state. To the people. And -- depending on what the truth is -- maybe even to Robert Bentley himself.
Washington Post, Critics call it evangelical propaganda. Can the Museum of the Bible convert them? Noah Charney, Sept. 4, 2015. In Washington, separation of church and state isn’t just a principle of governance, it’s an architectural and geographic rule as well. Pierre L’Enfant envisioned a national church on Eighth Street. A patent office was built on the site instead. More than 100 years later, the city finally got its National Cathedral — far from Capitol Hill, in the upper northwest corner of town. The downtown skyline is dominated by monuments to men; the Holocaust Museum and altarpieces in the National Gallery of Art are the closest things to religion you’ll find on the Mall. Washington, of course, has its believers, but they practice too many faiths to fit under one roof.
Now, though, the Good Book is coming to town in a big way. The Museum of the Bible — backed by the evangelical owners of the craft store Hobby Lobby, who famously took their objections to contraception and Obamacare to the Supreme Court — is set to open in 2017, just off the Mall. The proximity of the museum to the world-class Smithsonian and the Capitol has raised eyebrows. How will it fit in among the venerable institutions lining the Mall?
Ring of Fire, Pulitzer Prize Reporter Exposes Trump’s Lack of Wealth, Mob Ties, Failure to Support Charity, and Much More, K.J. McElrath, Sept. 4, 2015. Most progressives and liberals have long suspected Donald Trump is a fraud. Thanks to an investigative reporter who has been dogging the Trumpster for over a quarter of a century, there is documentation of his numerous fraudulent acts and behaviors. In addition, there are a number of questions that the media should be asking that would doubtless prove that Donald Trump without a question is a total fraud. David Cay Johnston is an author, lecturer, and investigative reporter who has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting who has presided over the board of the non-profit organization Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. His areas of expertise include tax law, accounting, economics, business and finance. He is also an outspoken Progressive whose thoughts and ideas echo those of Bernie Sanders. Since 1988, Johnston has been watching Trump closely. Recently, he came up with a list of questions that would reveal much about the GOP’s “Golden Boy” – assuming Trump would provide frank and forthcoming answers, as he claims to do.
Buzzflash at Truthout, Will Evangelicals Embrace Trump? Bill Berkowitz, Sept, 4, 2015. Despite being Biblically challenged; despite his divorces and remarriages; despite his past support for abortion rights Trump is doing reasonably well with Christian evangelicals. Last week, during an interview with Bloomberg News’ John Heilemann, Donald Trump was uncharacteristically dumbstruck when asked about the Bible, his favorite book. Heilemann asked Trump if he would name his favorite verse: "Well,” a puzzled Trump replied, “I wouldn't want to get into it because to me that's very personal. You know, when I talk about the Bible it's very personal." Heilemann then asked which he prefers more, the Old Testament or the New Testament. Trump’s response: "Uh, probably equal. I think it's just an incredible -- the whole Bible is an incredible -- I joke, very much so, they always hold up The Art of the Deal, [Trump’s book] I say it's my second-favorite book of all time. But, uh, I just think the Bible is just something very special." Trump is [clearly] not well versed in the Bible or the language of the religious right, which remains a core GOP constituency. To remedy that, Trump intends to make friends and influence religious right leaders on September 28, by hosting – and praying with -- more than two-dozen evangelical Christian leaders at Manhattan’s Trump Towers.
Guardian, Father of drowned boy Aylan Kurdi plans to return to Syria, Jessica Elgot, Sept. 3, 2015. Abdullah Kurdi (shown in a Reuters photo) says he no longer wants to continue on to Europe and will take the bodies of his two sons and wife to be buried in home town of Kobani. Abdullah Kurdi describes the moment when the boat he was traveling on with his family suddenly capsized. The father of the drowned Syrian boy who was photographed lying lifeless on a Turkish beach has said he is preparing to take the bodies of his two sons and wife to be buried in his home town of Kobani. Abdullah Kurdi, a Kurdish Syrian who has been in Turkey for three years and previously lived in Damascus,said he no longer had any desire to continue on to Europe. Speaking outside the mortuary where the bodies of his two sons were being held, Kurdi said: “I just want to see my children for the last time and stay forever with them.”
WMR, Who's responsible for 3-year old Aylan Kurdi's death? Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), Sept. 3, 2015 (subscription required and excerpt used with permission). The world is in angst over an photograph of a dead Syrian Kurdish boy who washed ashore after the boat transporting the baby boy capsized while en route from Turkey's Bodrum peninsula to the Greek isle of Kos. Four other children, including Aylan's 5-year old brother and their mother, also drowned. Fingers of blame are being pointed at European countries that have objected to having to bear the brunt of dealing with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Some neo-conservatives, always eager to avoid blame for their own failed policies, are blaming Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran's government, and even Chinese President Xi Jinping for the refugee crisis. Those responsible for Aylan's body washing ashore on a Turkish beach are not Assad's or Putin's governments but the nations that have encouraged the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and their allies to bring death and destruction to Syria's Kurds, Shias, Alawites, Christians, and Sunni tribes who oppose Salafism and Saudi Wahhabism.
Washington Post, Why I tweeted the photo of the dead Syrian toddler, Liz Sly, Sept. 3, 2015. Liz Sly is the Post's Beirut bureau chief. He looks as though he is asleep — perhaps taking a nap before running off to play with his friends. But he’s not asleep. He’s dead. He died because of a war the world can’t or won’t solve and immigration policies that say: We don’t care. The photograph of the drowned little Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach (the image is not included in this post) has gone viral on social media, turning him into a symbol of the suffering of Syrians and their desperate scramble to escape. "We want the whole world to see this....so they can prevent the same from happening to others," according to the father of Aylan Kurdi.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Finian Cunningham, Sept. 3, 2015. Europe is suffering a refugee crisis of Europe’s own making. By mindlessly and immorally supporting for 14 years Washington’s illegal and unjustified wars in the Middle East and North Africa that have murdered and displaced millions of peoples, European governments have created a flood of refugees into Europe. Instead of accepting their responsibility for peoples whose lives Europe has helped to ruin, European governments are employing fences and violence to keep out the hordes of peoples displaced by Washington’s violence and the violence that Washington’s violence unleashed. Those who escaped the Americans are now being murdered by ISIS.
Ronald Reagan meets mujahideen leaders at White House (Reagan Library)
Global Research, Twenty-six Things About the Islamic State (ISIL) that Obama Does Not Want You to Know About, Michel Chossudovsky, Sept. 3, 2015 (originally published Nov. 18, 2014). Recent developments confirm what is known and documented: Washington is behind the Islamic State (ISIS) and at the same time it is behind the moderate Al Qaeda terrorists, which the Obama administration is supporting as part of America’s campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). And they expect us to believe that they are committed to waging a campaign against terrorists. The Islamic State (ISIS) was until 2014 called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Al Nusra is an al Qaeda affiliate which has committed countless atrocities in Syria. The endgame is “regime change” in Syria and the fragmentation of Iraq.
Politico, Four Seasons rolls out the red carpet for King Salman, Kate Bennett, Sept. 3, 2105. In anticipation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia’s stay, the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown has done some redecorating — literally rolling out red carpets in order to accommodate the royal’s luxurious taste. Eyewitnesses at the property have seen crates of gilded furniture and accessories being wheeled into the posh hotel over the past several days, culminating in a home-away-from-home fit for the billionaire Saudi monarch, shown in a file photo and who is in Washington for his first White House meeting with President Barack Obama tomorrow. “Everything is gold,” says one Four Seasons regular, who spied the deliveries arriving at the hotel. “Gold mirrors, gold end tables, gold lamps, even gold hat racks.” Red carpets have been laid down in hallways and even in the lower parking garage, so the king and his family never have to touch asphalt when departing their custom Mercedes caravan.
The guests staying at the 222-room hotel for the next couple of days are all part of the 79-year-old king’s entourage of Saudi diplomats, family members and assistants, one source said; a full buyout of the entire property was reserved for the visit. Guests who had booked to stay at the Four Seasons during the royal visit have apparently been moved to other luxury hotels in town. A call to the Four Seasons confirmed the hotel is sold out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. King Salman, who ascended the throne in January, has a habit of displacing commoners for his own comforts; this summer, during a sojourn to the French Riviera, his eight-day stay forced the closure of a popular beach, enraging locals. Salman rolls deep, with a reported 1,000-person delegation joining him for his seaside August vacation.
Intrepid Report, Human Rights Watch is not about human rights, Dave Alpert, Sept. 3, 2015. Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents. Human Rights Watch (HRW) . . . a name that evokes thoughts of an organization that claims to defend and protect the rights of people around the globe. If that’s the case, how would one explain why HRW’s actions and policies appear to be a reflection and support of U.S. policies, rather than an organization that offers an independent critique of U.S. actions? There is no other country that has violated international laws and human rights more than the U.S. And still, HRW remains silent. There seems to be a contradiction between HRW’s stated mission and their actual functioning. An example: In 2009, President Obama announced that the U.S. will continue its “rendition” program, a program in which “terrorist” suspects were kidnapped and sent to allied countries to be interrogated and tortured. Tom Malinowski, one of HRW’s executives stated, “Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place for renditions, and encouraged patience: They want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured,” he said, “but designing that system is going to take some time.” Is he joking . . . HRW justifying rendition and torture?
In 2013, HRW focused its attention on Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, stating that his country was unfit to serve on the UN’s Human Rights Council because it did not meet the acceptable standards of human rights protection. The U.S. served on the same council, yet HRW accepted that the U.S.’s human rights record was acceptable. After all, all “we” did was invade Iraq and Afghanistan without cause, send drones into Pakistan to fire missiles at suspected terrorists killing hundreds of innocent people, establish weekly meetings of Obama and his military advisors to determine who to kill that week, using drones in any country they chose (“kill list”).
Tom Malinowski who was once the Washington Director of HRW is an interesting person and one whose selection to lead HRW was surprising. He was a speechwriter for Secretary of State Madeline Albright, renowned for her famous response to a question asked by a reporter regarding the deaths of approximately 500,000 Iraqi children during the U.S. blockade of Iraq. The questioner asked, “Was it worth it?” And, Madeline responded, without any hesitation, “Yes, it was.” So much for human rights. Mr. Malinowski also served, from 1994 to 1998, as a speechwriter for Secretary of State Warren Christopher. During his Senate confirmation hearing for assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor on September 24, 2014, Malinowski promised to “deepen the bipartisan consensus for America’s defense of liberty around the world,” and assured the Foreign Relations Committee that no matter where the U.S. debate on Syria led, “the mere fact that we are having it marks our nation as exceptional.” He also served as senior director on the National Security Council Does anyone continue to see HRW as an independent organization protecting the rights and the dignity of peoples around the world? Mr. Malinowski is far from being independent of U.S. influence. Instead, he is deeply involved in and part of the U.S. establishment.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Signs Pledge Not To Mount Independent White House Bid, Sam Levine, Sept. 3, 2015. Trump had refused to rule out a third-party run during the Aug. 6 Republican debate. Donald Trump signed a pledge on Thursday to back the Republican presidential nominee and not to run as an independent should he not win the party's nomination. Trump, who is leading the Republican field, refused to rule out a third-party bid during the Aug. 6 Republican debate, but has been telling party brass that he would not run as an independent, The Huffington Post reported last week. He would have been required to sign a similar pledge if he wanted to appear on the ballot in the Republican primary in South Carolina, one of the first in the country.
Huffington Post, Kentucky Clerk Who Won't Give Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples Is Going To Jail, Dana Liebelson, Sept. 3, 2015. Kim Davis says she's listening to "God's authority." A federal judge on Thursday ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be jailed for contempt of court. She has waged a personal war against the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Davis first defied an order by Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear (D) for clerks to follow the law. After she was sued in federal court for her noncompliance and ordered to issue marriage licenses, Davis refused again. She sought a delay of that order and lost, so she brought her plea all the way to the Supreme Court, which this week effectively required her to comply. She has since continued to defy the order, citing "God's authority." The Guardian reported that U.S. District Judge David Bunning said during a court hearing Thursday that Davis would be jailed until she complied with his order to issue licenses. She was led from the courtroom by U.S. marshals.
Huffington Post, Obama's Iran Deal Will Survive As 34th Senator Announces Support, Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel, Sept. 2, 2015. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) gives the president the votes he needs to beat back legislation to kill the deal. A nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers that promises to fundamentally alter the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East and beyond will not die in the U.S. Congress.
TPM, The Iran Deal's Latest Hurdle: Big Donors, Robert Naiman, Sept. 2, 2015. If passed, the Iran Deal will be the biggest diplomatic achievement of the Obama presidency. Painstakingly negotiated over the course of two years between the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Germany, the U.S., and Iran, the deal prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from financial sanctions that have crippled its economy. Unanimously ratified by the UN Security Council, the deal imposes the strictest inspections system ever established. The deal ensures UN inspectors have 24/7 access to nuclear facilities. It requires Iran to dissolve 98 percent of its nuclear stockpile, and mandates surveillance over every step of the process. Negotiators have left no stone unturned to block Iran’s pathway to a nuclear bomb. Despite this, there is still one barrier that Congress is struggling to overcome before the voting even begins: their reelections. Big donors aren’t as favorable toward the Iran Deal as others. This small group of individuals is trying to influence foreign policy that doesn’t just have implications for 319 million Americans but global effects for the other 7 billion people living everywhere else in the world.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at a Sept. 2, 2015 at National Press Club, with President John Hughes in background (Photo/Image with permission by Noel St. John)
National Press Club, SC Gov. Haley Says GOP Must Change Approach, Scolds Trump for Getting Mad, Lawrence Feinberg, Sept. 3, 2015. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who described herself a conservative Republican, said her party must “change our approach” to blacks and other minorities by listening carefully to their concerns and trying hard to meet them. At a National Press Club luncheon Wednesday, Haley said the Republican approach “often appears cold and unwelcoming” to minorities even though Republican policies on jobs, education, and healthcare are aimed at “lifting up all people.” “That is shameful,” she continued, adding, “It’s on us to communicate … in ways that wipe away the clutter of prejudices.” Responding to a question about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Haley said it “accomplishes nothing to get mad at people who criticize you.” Haley, who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, said she would not have been elected governor if South Carolina was “a racially intolerant place” and “if [Republicans] were a racially intolerant party.”
Huffington Post, His Town, Ryan Grim and Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Sept. 2, 2015. Yousef Al-Otaiba is the most charming man in Washington: He's slick, he's savvy and he throws one hell of a party. And if he has his way, our Middle East policy is going to get a lot more aggressive. Last September, as Islamic State militants rampaged through Syria and Iraq, the Pentagon hosted a top-secret meeting to debate strategy. At the invitation of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the secretary of defense, a small group of foreign policy eminences, including former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, gathered in a conference room in the E-ring of the building. The assembled experts were trying to make sense of a Middle East in greater turmoil than it had been since World War I. The policymakers were split between those who wanted to intervene aggressively in Syria in support of moderate rebels against Assad, and those who hewed more closely to President Barack Obama's position that there is no military solution to the conflict. There was one proponent, however, for wiping Assad off the map entirely. He made a curious participant at a private gathering on U.S. strategy, as one of only two foreign officials at the meeting (the other, predictably, was the British ambassador). Yousef Al-Otaiba, the ambassador for the United Arab Emirates, was known to be a forceful advocate for an aggressive U.S. military intervention in Syria. A bald, handsome 40-year-old with an extravagant air of self-assurance, he argued that the hands-off approach had only emboldened ISIS and other extremist groups.
But Otaiba was prepared to help the U.S with its predicament. At another private meeting with Wendy Sherman, a top State Department official, he struck a dramatic tone. "Our F16 is ready, Madame Sherman. Tell us what time you need them," he said, according to one participant and confirmed by others briefed on the meeting. Within days of the Pentagon gathering, a photogenic female Emirati fighter pilot, Major Mariam Al Mansouri, led a UAE bombing strike on ISIS, in coordination with U.S. forces. It was the perfect PR move. "That's awesome," said Joe Scarborough when Otaiba appeared on "Morning Joe" to confirm the pilot’s identity. "You can't do this without us, and we can't do this without you," Otaiba replied, referring to the anti-ISIS effort. “I love it. I absolutely love it," Scarborough replied.
Talking Points Memo, TPM Interview: Roger Stone May Be Off The Campaign, But He Still Has Trump's Ear, Catherine Thompson, Sept. 2, 2015. The Gist: It’s been nearly a month since longtime Republican operative Roger Stone resigned from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (or was fired, to hear Trump tell it.) But the two old friends haven’t stopped talking politics. It's been nearly a month since longtime Republican operative Roger Stone resigned from Donald Trump's presidential campaign (or was fired, to hear Trump tell it.) But the two old friends haven't stopped talking politics. "We’re on cordial terms. We talk. I have not signed on with any super PAC so I have no prohibition," Stone told TPM in a phone interview. "Trump has been my friend for 35 years. He’s still my friend." Stone may be on the outside of the real estate mogul's campaign now, but he's still one of its most visible and vocal surrogates. In recent weeks, cable news bookers and newspaper reporters (as well as TPM) have turned to Stone to unpack the allure of Trump's candidacy, since the former Nixon operative spent so much time inside TrumpWorld and is now free of the constraints of the campaign.
TPM caught up with Stone, who said he was running out for a coffee after a night without any sleep, Tuesday morning. "I have a book coming out on the Clintons and the manuscript had to be in at 9 o' clock this morning so I was up all night," he said. "But it’s in." Here is a transcript of the wide-ranging conversation, which touches on everything from the rising tide of white supremacist support for Trump to Stone's own U.S. Senate aspirations, that has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Excerpt from Stone: I think the entire system is broken. I worked as a lobbyist. I worked as a Senate staffer. I worked as a House staffer. I’ve seen American government up close. I’ve seen them making sausage. It’s not pretty. Everything is for sale. The special interests and the lobbyists and the billionaires and the super PACs control everything. Anything in Washington can be bought for the right amount of money. In my view, Trump has the financial independence and the boldness to challenge the entire system. When he says that 100 million dollars that Jeb [Bush] has raised has strings on it, he’s absolutely right.
Consortium News, US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War, Don North, Sept. 2, 2015. The U.S. government and NATO have entered the Brave New World of “strategic communications,” merging psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. in order to manage the perceptions of Americans and the world’s public, reports veteran war correspondent Don North. As reflected in a recent NATO conference in Latvia and in the Pentagon’s new “Law of War” manual, the U.S. government has come to view the control and manipulation of information as a “soft power” weapon, merging psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under the catch phrase “strategic communications.” This attitude has led to treating psy-ops – manipulative techniques for influencing a target population’s state of mind and surreptitiously shaping people’s perceptions – as just a normal part of U.S. and NATO’s information policy. “The NATO case and argument is that NATO’s approach to psy-ops is to treat it as an essentially open, truthful and benign activity and that, plus the elimination of any meaningful distinctions between domestic and foreign media institutions and social media, means that psy-ops and public affairs have effectively fused,” said British military historian, Dr. Stephen Badsey, one of the world’s leading authorities on war and the media. Badsey said NATO has largely abandoned the notion that there should be a clear distinction between psy-ops and public affairs, although NATO officially rules out the dissemination of “black propaganda,” knowingly false information designed to discredit an adversary.
Legal Schnauzer, Mason and her husband have made almost $1 million during the Robert Bentley administration, Roger Shuler, Sept. 2, 2015. Governor Robert Bentley's mistress and her husband have received almost $1 million in government-related payments since Bentley became Alabama governor in 2011. Rebekah Caldwell Mason, whose affair with the governor led to First Lady Dianne Bentley's divorce complaint last Friday, has been paid $426,978.43 via her Tuscaloosa-based company, RCM Consulting. The total expands considerably when you consider payments to Jon Mason, Rebekah's husband, in his role as director of the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Bentley appointed Jon Mason as director in 2011, and the office since has morphed into servealabama.gov. Jon Mason's total compensation during the Bentley years is $393,539.82. When you add that to Rebekah Mason's haul, you get a total of $982,089.92--and our sources say the official numbers do not represent all funds paid to the Mason family under Bentley.
JIP Editor's note: Roger Shuler, editor of the Legal Schnauzer blog, reported that he has been unable to obtain comment from the Bentley or Mason families. The major Alabama media have not as of this writing reported identities of suspects in an affair, although they have reported that the governor's wife of 50 years filed for a divorce and that a Bentley-appointed judge sealed the file from public view. Further, allegations have been reported of unusually large payments made to a gubernatorial security officer who traveled with the governor and his aide, Rebekah Mason.
Politico, Judge eager to re-enter NSA surveillance fight, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 1, 2015. Warning that the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans are being violated, a federal judge said Wednesday that he's eager to expedite a lawsuit seeking to shut down the National Security Agency's controversial program to collect data on large volumes of U.S. telephone calls. During an hour-long hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, Judge Richard Leon (shown in a file photo) repeatedly urged the conservative lawyer who brought the suit to take steps to allow the case to move forward quickly by asking a federal appeals court to formally relinquish control over an appeal in the case. Leon noted that the so-called bulk collection program is set to shut down on November 29 as part of a transition to a new system where queries will be sent to telephone companies rather than to a central database stored at the NSA. "The clock is running and there isn't much time between now and November 29," Leon told conservative gadfly Larry Klayman. "This court believes there are millions and millions of Americans whose constitutional rights have been and are being violated, but the window...for action is very small....It's time to move."
Washington Post, U.S. launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria, Greg Miller, Sept. 1, 2015. The CIA and U.S. Special Operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria as part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said. The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are flying drones over Syria in a collaboration responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said. Among those killed was a British militant thought to be an architect of the terrorist group’s effort to use social media to incite attacks in the United States, the officials said.
WhoWhatWhy, Whistleblowers File $100 Million Suit against NSA, FBI, Claim They Faced Retaliation for Reporting Waste, Klaus Marre, Sept. 1, 2015. L-R: J. Kirk Wiebe, Thomas Drake, William Binney Photo credit: J. Kirk Wiebe / Twitter, Slowking / Wikimedia, Rama / Wikimedia. In a $100 million lawsuit that has garnered virtually no public attention, five National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblowers are accusing the federal government of illegally retaliating against them for alerting the NSA and Congress to a waste of taxpayer funds that benefitted a well-connected contractor. The lawsuit tells the story of the infancy of the NSA’s efforts to surveil the Internet. Back then, there were two programs for the spying agency to choose from — and the first was called ThinThread. It had been developed internally, was comparatively inexpensive, had been tested and proven to be effective, and included safeguards preventing the spying on Americans without a court warrant. The other was called Trailblazer. It did not include such safeguards, had not yet been shown to be effective, and cost 1,000 times more than ThinThread. Instead of being developed internally, it was to be outsourced to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a politically connected contractor.
Legal Schnauzer, Robert Bentley's 2014 campaign paid more than $400,000 to company owned by governor's mistress, Roger Shuler, Sept. 1, 2015. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley paid more than $400,000 in campaign funds during the 2014 election cycle to a company that his mistress owns. Also, Bentley hired his mistress' husband for a state position that has paid more than $390,000 over the past five years. Rebekah Caldwell Mason owns RCM Communications Inc. of Tuscaloosa, which was handsomely compensated for its work in advertising and polling for Bentley's re-election campaign in 2014. First Lady Dianne Bentley filed for divorce last Friday after 50 years of marriage, and we reported yesterday that an extramarital affair with Mason was the primary source of friction in the governor's marriage.
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, USHCC Addresses Donald Trump on Immigration and Hispanic Issues, Press release via email, website here, Sept. 1, 2015. "At the request of the Trump campaign, USHCC President & CEO Javier Palomarez met privately with Donald Trump today in New York. At the USHCC, we believe it is important to confront issues head on. When it comes to immigration, we've repeatedly found ourselves in disagreement with Mr. Trump. His advisors stressed however, that our disagreement was based on the media's mischaracterization of his stances. We wanted to hear Mr. Trump clearly articulate his views, away from the public spectacle, the media, and the debate floor. The USHCC is a nonpartisan organization. As a general policy, candidates from both parties have been invited to participate in our presidential candidate Q&A series, including Mr. Trump. Following the private meeting, both parties have agreed to a public Q&A session on October 8th between Mr. Palomarez and Mr. Trump."
Politico, Subpoenas for reporters near in Petraeus leaks lawsuit, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 1, 2015. A First Amendment showdown may be looming with new indications that journalists are about to be pulled into litigation over leaks about the government investigation that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus and, ultimately, his conviction on a charge of mishandling classified information. Lawyers for Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who claims her privacy was violated by the FBI and Defense Department in the course of the probe, are signaling plans to subpoena reporters to appear at depositions to answer questions about their anonymous sources for stories about the inquiry. "Plaintiffs have indicated that they may seek to depose certain reporters in September and/or October," lawyers for Kelley and for the government said in a joint filing last week with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington.
Daily Mail, A family brutally murdered, secret police threats and deadly booby traps: Treasure hunter who spent 40 years searching for Nazi gold train reveals its dark secrets, Ed Wight, Sept. 1, 2015. An 85-year-old man who spent half his life searching for the missing Nazi gold train has revealed the murder, secret police intimidation and deathbed confession that led to its sensational discovery under a hillside in Poland. The sprightly pensioner, who has an unrivalled insight into the hunt for the train, added that not only does he know where the train is hidden, but he also knows the identity of the two men who two weeks ago claimed to have found it - as well as the man who is said to have given a deathbed confession about its location. As the world's press descend upon the small town of Walbrzych in southwest Poland, the country's equivalent of MI5, the Internal Security Service (ABW), have now moved into the area where the train is said to have disappeared 70 years ago, leading to speculation that secret Third Reich documents may be among its precious cargo.
Washington Post, How Trump became ‘The Donald,’ Amy Argetsinger, Sept. 1, 2015. The origins of the nickname go back to his long-divorced ex-wife, Ivana, and the long-defunct magazine that lived to mock him. In May 1989, Spy magazine published a sensational cover story on Ivana Trump. As a shoulder-padded bouffant blonde with a rich Czech accent, the future GOP front-runner’s then-wife cut nearly as flamboyant a profile as her husband in 1980s Manhattan. But the most delicious revelation was how she referred to her husband.
New York Times, Emails Show How Hillary Clinton Valued Input From Sidney Blumenthal, New York Times, Peter Baker, Sept. 1, 2015. As secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton had access to the latest information and analysis from the nation’s premier intelligence agencies, from a corps of seasoned diplomats reporting back from every corner of the world, from a range of foreign policy experts in and out of government. And from Sidney Blumenthal. A former journalist, White House official and longtime confidant of Mrs. Clinton’s, Mr. Blumenthal became a frequent correspondent and tipster during her time in President Obama’s cabinet, passing along news articles, inside information, political gossip, election polls, geopolitical advice and sheer speculation in a steady drumbeat of emails, according to documents released by the State Department.
Buzzflash via TruthOut, Koch Brother Claims He Is a Libertarian, but He Wants to Control a Lot of Our Choices, Bill Berkowitz, Sept. 1, 2015. David Koch’s claim that he is socially liberal is belied by the fact that his political entities have funneled millions of dollars to Christian Right organizations, including more that $375,000 to Family Research Council Action, formally headed by Josh Duggar. There was quite a bit of pomp when the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based so-called traditional values lobbying outfit, announced that Josh Duggar would become Executive Director of Family Research Council Action, a 501(c)(4) political and lobbying arm of the FRC. During his brief tenure with the FRC, the organization boasted about Duggar’s relationships with several prominent GOP politicians, listed him as a featured speaker at its annual pro-life conference called ProLifeCon, and touted its “Values Bus Tour,” which Josh, his parents, sisters, and brothers participated in. That was before revelations surfaced that Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar – stars of the now-cancelled reality television show, “19 Kids and Counting” – covered up their son’s sexual molestation of five young girls, including four of his younger sisters, while he was a teenager. But, as the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch recently reported in a story dated August 22, and titled “Josh Duggar-led Group Funded via Koch Brothers Freedom Partners Operation,” after Duggar arrived at FRCA, “funding from the money machine put together by the billionaire Koch Brothers made its way to that group.