News Reports

October 2015 News Reports

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on October 2, 2015

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2015 news and views

Oct. 31

Antiwar.com, Obama Puts US Boots in Syria – Where is Congress?  Daniel McAdams, Oct. 31, 2015. “I will not put US boots on the ground in Syria.” That was President Obama’s unequivocal statement to the American people just two years ago when he first planned to bomb Syria. He has repeated the statement several times, as he has also repeated his promise that he “will not pursue a long air campaign” in Syria and Iraq. Obama lied. And he lied again. And he lied again yesterday, when it was announced that he was putting US boots on the ground in Syria. This move encapsulates neocon-occupied Washington’s response to foreign policy failure: if an intervention is failing, escalate.

Washington Post, Obama’s choices on wars reflect a delicate balancing act, Greg Jaffe, Oct. 31, 2015. The new Syria deployments are a testament to the tug between the president’s war doctrine and his war reality: After vowing to end two wars, he now faces the prospect of leaving office with ground forces deployed in three combat zones.

Antiwar.com, Tell Us Why We’re At War in Iraq Again, Mr. President, Peter Van Buren, Oct. 31, 2015. Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.  When I was a kid, three presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie. In 2011 the president and his secretary of state told us we needed regime change in Libya, to protect us from an evil dictator. We believed. It was a lie. In August 2014 the same president told us we needed to intervene again in Iraq, on a humanitarian mission to save the Yazidis.

Oct. 30

The Intercept, U.S. to Send Special Operations Forces to Syria, Nick Turse, Oct. 30, 2015. President Obama has authorized the deployment of a small contingent of elite U.S. troops to northern Syria as part of the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL. While portrayed by the administration as an intensification of the current strategy and enhancing “efforts that are already working,” the deployment of forces represents a clear escalation of the conflict for the president who has previously said, “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria.” The use of special operations forces is increasingly seen as a preferable alternative to heavy-footprint, large-scale military missions and occupations of the sort carried out in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Washington Post, Obama to send small Special Operations force to Syria, Greg Jaffe, Oct. 30, 2015. The mission will involve less than 50 Special Operations advisers who will be working with resistance forces in northern Syria, but will not be engaging in direct combat, administration officials said. The move, which was recommended late last week by the president’s national security team, represents a significant escalation of the American role in Syria. It also reflects growing dissatisfaction with the halting progress against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The troops main focus will be advising Syria Arab and Kurdish forces who are expected to mount a military offensive on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in the region in the near future. The push against Raqqa, if it yields results, would mark a major victory for the forces battling the Islamic State.

Kristen Breitwasser coverHuffington Post, Condi Rice: Here's Your 9/11 Smoking Gun, Kristen Breitweiser, Oct. 30, 2015. Kristen Breitweiser, shown on the cover of her memoir, is 9/11 widow and activist.

Dear Condi: I'm going to keep this really simple. In response to your comment that you could personally "plead guilty" to not having imagined terrorists would use passenger aircraft as weapons → please stop lying.

9/11 Commission Report coverAs proof, I provide the "Iron Man" documents from the Asymmetrical Threats Division of Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC), also known as DO5, whose task it was to track UBL from mid 1998-mid 2001. I would first note that you were National Security Advisor to the President of the United States -- that means that you had pretty much access to anything and everything available regarding terrorist threats from groups like Al Qaeda.

Fourteen years later, everyone now knows about the summer of 2001 and the more than one dozen intelligence reports blinking red about an impending Al Qaeda terrorist attack. So please Ms. Rice -- with all due respect -- stand down and stop spouting lies like, "The idea the president of the United States was warned that Al-Qaeda was going to attack the United States and did nothing about it. Really? Do you think any president of the United States, if he had even an inkling there was going to be an attack, they wouldn't have moved heaven and earth to try to stop it?"

Because neither you nor President Bush nor DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] George Tenet, nor Vice President Dick Cheney, nor Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, nor FBI Director Robert Mueller stopped these terrorists from killing 3,000 people. READ THE DOCUMENTS. KNOW THE FACTS. 3,000 PEOPLE WERE KILLED. NOT ONE PERSON HAS BEEN HELD ACCOUNTABLE. STOP THE LIES.

WhoWhatWhy, US Tax Dollars up in Smoke Over Afghanistan, Jeff Schechtman, Oct. 30, 2015. Want to meet a government official who tells the truth — in spades? Then you will definitely want to set aside time to hear of the stunning findings of the top US investigator for spending in Afghanistan. The biggest problem is not theft, but waste, he says. For example, the $500 million spent on airplanes that no one could fly, and that ultimately had to be scrapped, a process that cost yet more thousands of dollars. Or the gift of soybeans, which the Afghans will not eat and will not grow. Or how about the creation of a navy for Afghanistan — a country that is landlocked?The biggest source of the problem is the lack of accountability, he says. But that is changing.

Wasting billions of dollars in taxes is standard operating procedure for the US government. It has spent more on Afghanistan than on the entire Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. Where are these staggering amounts going? In this strikingly candid interview, John Sopko, a former federal prosecutor and currently the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction lets loose an amazing commentary on what he and his inspectors are finding. This is a must-listen. Even the most jaded will be astonished to hear.

Antiwar.com, The Revolt Against 'Democracy,' Justin Raimondo, Oct. 30, 2015. It’s election time in the U.S., and people are talking about subjects generally ignored in the woof and warp of everyday life. Insulated from the public, smugly ensconced in their own certitude, the “mainstream” media has routinely set the narrative of every election in modern times – but not anymore. Their reign effectively ended with the rise of the Internet and the explosion of independent outlets, like the Drudge Report – and, yes, Antiwar.com – which have left them in the dust.

Yet the “legacy media” has stubbornly clung to their privileged position, mostly by their dominance of television – their last redoubt. But the time has passed when they could set the agenda, as Fox News and now CNBC have discovered. The rise of the GOP outsiders – Trump and Carson, who together have nearly half of the GOP electorate’s support in the polls – is in large part a revolt against the media, as well as the Republican Establishment.

I seem to recall a time when the news media was respected, and seen as the people’s shield against government abuse and corruption. Those days are long gone, as the revolving door between official Washington and the press corps keeps swinging and the two sectors meet and merge socially and ideologically. The Iraq war was the final nail in the legacy media’s coffin, as the New York Times and other major outlets played a key role in ginning up that disaster, acting as a transmission belt for the Bush administration’s lies about Saddam’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction. When the public becomes convinced that the “news” is simply propaganda, then trust goes out the window and all bets are off.

The revolt against the Establishment is manifested in the rise of Donald Trump, whose political demise has been gleefully predicted by pundits and journalists with clocklike regularity – even as his poll numbers soar to new heights. And the mandarins of Establishment wisdom are angry about it: GOP consultant Rick Wilson, a longtime  sycophant of the “donor class,” has called on Republican party bigwigs to “put a bullet in Trump,” and it’s not at all clear to me he meant this only figuratively. Trump, for his part, has called for Secret Service protection, and has so far not gotten it.

The American Conservative, Mainstreaming Assassination: Endorsing a program of targeted killing opens the door for perilous reciprocation, Philip Giraldi, Oct. 30, 2015. The media are reporting a rare “success” in Washington’s ongoing war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. According to confidential, anonymous government sources, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been engaged in a secret program to assassinate designated “high-value targets,” which means terrorist leaders and other prominent figures, particularly those engaged in propaganda and enticing Western Muslims to join ISIS. The program, which began in the spring, has reportedly killed four individuals, including ISIS number two Haji Mutazz.

The White House believes that killing the ISIS leadership is legal under the Authorization for Use of Military Force as it is a Salafist-type terrorist group. That may be true from a U.S. perspective, but endorsing a program of targeted killing opens the door for those being targeted to start reciprocating, aggressively going after coalition government leaders and other high-level officials Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

New York Times, Paul Singer, Influential Billionaire, Throws Support to Marco Rubio for President, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Confessore, Oct. 30, 2015. One of the wealthiest and most influential Republican donors in the country is throwing his support to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a decision that could swing millions of dollars in contributions behind Mr. Rubio at a critical point in the Republican nominating battle. The decision by the donor, Paul Singer, a billionaire New York investor, is a signal victory for Mr. Rubio in his battle with his rival Jeb Bush for the affections of major Republican patrons and the party’s business wing. It comes as a major blow to Mr. Bush, who is seeing his once vigorous campaign imperiled by doubts among supporters, and whose early dominance of the race was driven by his financial muscle. Mr. Bush and several other candidates, including Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, had competed fiercely for Mr. Singer’s blessing.

Washington Spectator, The GOP Circus: Truth-Defying Feats, Rick Perlstein, Oct. 30, 2015. A reporter friend writes me to ask a question about my exposés of grifting and deception as the warp and weft of the conservative movement. He tells me he’s trying to write about that story, instead of the clichéd horse-race one about “GOP IN DISARRAY.” But aren’t they the same story? An institution built on a fabric of untruth is not a sustainable institution. And when it comes to that grander narrative, the metastasizing saga of Dr. Carson and His Magic Cancer-Curing Bark Elixir is only the circus’s sideshow. Let’s take a look inside the tent.

Oct. 29

The Alex Jones Show, Interview of Wayne Madsen on his exclusive report on slain 9/11 investigator's research on secret Arizona "boneyard" airport for CIA planes, Alex Jones, Oct. 29 2015.

Consortium News, GOP and the Rise of Anti-Knowledge, Mike Lofgren, Oct. 29, 2015. Ben Carson’s rise to the top of the Republican presidential field shows that many Republicans, especially Christian fundamentalists, have decoupled from the real world — and are proud of it. The more that GOP candidates embrace “anti-knowledge” the more popular they become, as Mike Lofgren explains.

Reuters, Sandusky move for new trial puts Pennsylvania AG Kane in spotlight, David DeKok, Oct. 29, 2015. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was ordered Thursday to turn over evidence that she says proves that a judge had leaked secret information to a reporter about a grand jury investigating Jerry Sandusky for child sex abuse. The order came during a hearing into defense moves to win a new trial for Sandusky, the former assistant football coach at Penn State University, who was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 boys over 15 years. Sandusky lawyer Alexander Lindsay maintains that the grand jury initially heard from only two victims and the case was falling apart, but the judge's leaks generated publicity that prompted other victims to come forward and helped prosecutors shore up their case and win indictments. Sandusky, 71, is serving 30 to 60 years in the state's "Supermax" prison in Waynesburg. Wearing a red prison jumpsuit, his wrists cuffed in front, he was escorted from a van into Centre County Court, where his wife Dottie sat near the front of the courtroom.

Radar, Famed Attorney Acknowledges He Cannot Rule Out ‘Possibility’ Bill Clinton Was Involved In Orgy Island Sex Romp, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2015. Clinton is accused of frolicking with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's harem: Bill Clinton Jeffrey Epstein Orgy Island Alan Dershowitz Deposition. Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign is about to be rocked by yet another bombshell thanks to her horndog husband, Bill: RadarOnline.com has learned that high-powered attorney Alan Dershowitz has acknowledged in a sworn deposition that he cannot rule out the “possibility” the former president took part in a depraved sex romp with under-age girls on pedophile Jeffrey Epstein‘s orgy island!

Epstein’s alleged sex slave Virginia Roberts first accused Clinton of visiting Epstein’s notorious island near St. Thomas in an affidavit filed in January. She’s suing the US Justice Department for how they handled Epstein’s plea deal. Her attorneys are suing Dershowitz for defamation, and now, Dershowitz is addressing the claims head-on in his own deposition in that case, taken on October 16.

According to a deposition transcript reviewed by Radar, Dershowitz recalled that Roberts had previously “described in great detail a dinner with Bill Clinton and two underaged Russian women who were offered to Bill Clinton for sex,” an incident she said occurred in 2002. And while he insisted that he believed that to be a “lie,” he acknowledged that he can’t prove it.

“There is the possibility, which I don’t personally believe to be true, that he was on the island,” Dershowitz said. “There was the possibility, which I don’t believe to be true, that he was on the island when orgies were taking place. There was the possibility that he was on the island and observed an orgy, and there was the possibility that he was on the island and participated in an orgy.”

Dershowitz said he’s doing everything he can to find out the truth about what really happened. “My attorney in New York, Louis Freeh, the former head of the FBI, has made a FOIA request for all information that would conclusively prove that Bill Clinton was never on Jeffrey Epstein’s island …,” he revealed.

The Guardian, Edward Snowden praises EU parliament vote against US extradition, Staff report, Oct. 29, 2015. Edward Snowden on Thursday hailed as “extraordinary” and a “game-changer” a vote in the European parliament calling on member states to prevent his extradition to the US. The parliament voted 285-281 to pass a largely symbolic measure, a resolution that called on European Union member states to “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender.”

Snowden has lived in exile in Russia since revealing secret US government surveillance programs in June 2013. The European parliament is a directly elected legislature with members from all 28 EU member states. Its legislative authority is limited. The resolution amounted to a request that member states reject attempts by the US to arrest and prosecute Snowden.
“This is not a blow against the US government, but an open hand extended by friends,” Snowden tweeted. “It is a chance to move forward.”

Oct. 28

Dennis Hastert C-SPAN

Former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, sharing his views on C-SPAN pre-indictment

Associated Press via Huffington Post, Dennis Hastert Pleads Guilty In Hush-Money Case, Staff report, Oct. 28, 2015. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded guilty in a hush-money case, in a deal with prosecutors that calls for him to serve up to six months in prison. Hastert pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The plea marks the fall from grace of a politician who rose from obscurity in rural Illinois to become second in the line of succession to the presidency. An indictment issued in May says the 73-year-old Republican agreed to pay someone referred to only as "Individual A" $3.5 million to hide past misconduct by Hastert. The Associated Press and other media have cited anonymous sources in reporting the payments were to conceal claims of sexual misconduct.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: The Wayne Madsen Report, published by author and former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen, published a four-part series in the fall of 2006 exposing Hastert as a gay pedophile who had abused his position as a high school wrestling coach to target vulnerable young men and then continued his depredations in Congress, facilitated by his overseas junkets to Pacific-region sex trafficking locales at taxpayer expense. The mainstream media ignored the 2006 reporting and examined the situation only after a federal indictment last May. Even then, the mainstream reports have consistently understated the scope of the corruption and the Hastert defense team's ability to limit revelations, as in the AP report here.

New Orleans Advocate, Battle of spies: Private eye who found alleged Vitter prostitute was at Newell Normand breakfast meeting while Vitter's spy watched, Tyler Bridges, Oct. 28, 2015. It was “Spy vs. Spy” David Vitter— for real. When U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s gumshoe, Robert Frenzel, staked out the Royal Blend coffee shop in Old Metairie the morning before Saturday’s gubernatorial primary, one of the men he wound up spying on was a PI himself, who had been hired to dig up dirt on Vitter. In a state that’s nearly bankrupt, the first week of the runoff campaign has been dominated by a circuslike sideshow, as Vitter (shown in an official photo) and his foes argue over the meaning of an explosion of espionage that feels a bit like a miniature Cold War being fought in Jefferson Parish and New Orleans. Vitter, a Republican, will face Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in a Nov. 21 runoff.

Defense News, JLENS Spy Blimp on the Ground After Journey Over Pennsylvania, Jen Judson, Oct. 28, 2015. A tethered U.S. Army aerostat called the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) that broke free Wednesday from its mooring station near Baltimore and took a three-hour jaunt through the skies of Pennsylvania finally landed in the north-central part of the state. The Raytheon-made JLENS system consists of both a fire-control system aerostat and a surveillance aerostat, and is undergoing a three-year operational exercise at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. It can "see" all the way from Norfolk, Virginia, into Boston.

The exercise is meant to decide JLENS' fate — whether that is keep the system permanently moored in Maryland and whether the Army decides to buy more than just two systems it now has. JLENS, which cost nearly $2 billion to develop and was originally destined for deployment in the Central Command area of operation, was nearly canceled a few years ago when the Army cut its planned buy from 16 systems to two. The move was projected to save the Army $2 billion. The other system is in storage. In September 2010, a different type of aerostat broke free from its tether during bad weather and crashed into a JLENS aerostat at a manufacturing and test facility in North Carolina. The Army and Raytheon sat on the information until InsideDefense.com reported the incident six months later when a reference to the crash appeared in a Government Accountability Office report. That crash ended up costing the Army $168 million.

Foreign Policy, Democrats Aren’t on Board With Hillary’s No-Fly-Zone Plan, Dan De Luce, Oct. 28, 2015. Hillary Clinton is trying to distance herself from Obama on Syria, but members of her own party oppose greater U.S. military involvement. Hillary Clinton has a plan for how to save hundreds of thousands of Syrians from Bashar al-Assad’s war machine. Unfortunately for the Democratic presidential front-runner, leaders of her own party don’t like it. On the campaign trail, in interviews, and in the first Democratic debate, Clinton has called for the establishment of a “no-fly zone” in Syria which would be patrolled by American warplanes tasked with preventing Assad from using his helicopter gunships and jets to bomb his own people. If necessary, the U.S. warplanes would have the authority to shoot down Syrian aircraft.

Clinton’s tougher line, however, also sets up a potential public feud with party heavyweight Joe Biden. The vice president recently ruled out a possible bid for the Democratic nomination, but Biden has vowed to speak out in defense of the administration’s policies, and Clinton’s criticism of the White House’s handling of Syria could prompt him to fire back.

It also leaves her clearly at odds with many of the Democratic lawmakers she’d rely on for support during the primaries this fall and the actual presidential vote in a year’s time. Democrats in Congress see a no-fly zone as a risky step that could draw the United States into a large-scale military commitment and possibly into direct conflict with Russia, which has launched an air war against rebels opposing the Assad regime. Some lawmakers worry that U.S. pilots would eventually find themselves squaring off against Russian fighter jets over Syria.

Oct. 27

NBC News, Ashton Carter: U.S. to Begin 'Direct Action on the Ground' in Iraq, Syria, Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube, Oct. 27, 2015. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. will begin "direct action on the ground" against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against them remains elusive. "We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," Carter said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee, using an alternative name for the militant group. Carter pointed to last week's rescue operation with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to free hostages held by ISIS.

Washington Post, Speech code backers at UC, including its president, want tough criticism of Israel labeled ‘anti-Semitism,’ Sarah Kaplan, Oct. 27, 2015. As clashes between Israelis and Palestinians heat up overseas, a war over the words used to talk about the conflict is unfolding at the University of California. The debate, which took over a school forum in Los Angeles on Monday, is as much about campus culture as it is about Israel, and it touches on all the topics that have made colleges the target of discussion and derision in recent months: diversity, tolerance, censorship.

On one side are supporters of a new policy that would broaden the university system’s “speech code” definition of anti-Semitism to include denials of Israel’s right to exist and blaming Israel for the hostilities in the region. On the other side are people who say that a proposed new definition of anti-Semitism, which is borrowed from the State Department, amounts to censorship.

Huffington Post via Gawker, Former St. Louis Prosecutor Admits to Covering Up Police Beating of Handcuffed Man, Chris Thompson,  Oct. 27, 2015.A former St. Louis prosecutor has pled guilty to misprision of a felony for covering up the vicious beating of a handcuffed suspect by a veteran St. Louis cop.

New York Times, Maureen Dowd: ‘The Column Is Accurate,’  Margaret Sullivan, Oct. 27, 2015. Margaret Sullivan is the fifth public editor appointed by the New York Times. I heard from many readers Monday asking me to look into claims that a column last summer was wrong or even fabricated. Their concerns followed remarks made by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on “60 Minutes,” in which he countered the idea that his son Beau had, in a dramatic moment as he lay on his deathbed, pushed him to run for president. Maureen Dowd’s column — which did say that Beau Biden wanted his father to run — quickly became the subject of news coverage, including a front-page article in the New York Times. As I read it, it was the later news coverage, not the column itself, that created the deathbed scenario.

I asked Ms. Dowd to respond. Her email to me is as follows: "The column is accurate....I never reported a last-minute deathbed scene where Beau grabbed his father’s hand. In fact, my column recounted a conversation they had seated at a table after Beau knew his prognosis was bad. He was terminally ill for some time...." A re-reading of the column (and a second look at the vice president’s words on CBS) bear her out. There is no mention in the column of a deathbed conversation or hand-grabbing, and there is mention of father and son sitting at a table. However, a news story in The Times took Ms. Dowd’s column a step further — in fact, a step too far. In my view, that warrants a correction. As public editor, I have no role in appending corrections to news stories, but I’ve suggested that the standards desk consider doing so.

New York Times, Senate Approves a Cybersecurity Bill Long in the Works and Largely Dated, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, Oct. 27, 2015. After four years of false starts and strife over privacy protections, the Senate passed legislation by a vote of 74 to 21 on Tuesday that would help companies battle a daily onslaught of cyberattacks. But there is one problem with the legislation, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA: In the years that Congress was debating it, computer attackers have grown so much more sophisticated — in many cases, backed by state sponsors from Shanghai to Tehran — that the central feature of the legislation, agreements allowing companies and the government to share information, seems almost quaint. Still, the lesson of the much-debated cybersecurity legislation, which was opposed by technology companies and supported by financial services firms that demanded liability protection in case they shared data that infringed on a customer’s privacy, is that cyberthreats move at digital speeds and Congress moves at, well, congressional speed.

WhoWhatWhy, What Both Hillary and the GOP Are Covering Up About Libya, Russ Baker, Oct. 27, 2015. It Was Never About Security or Human Rightsongressional Republicans were desperate to score political points in the Benghazi saga. So desperate that they finally decided to masquerade as … peaceniks. During the recent grilling of Hillary Clinton, the Republicans — who have rarely seen a war they didn’t like — actually criticized the former Secretary of State for ignoring the difficulty of successful regime change. (No mention was made of how well George W. Bush’s regime change has gone in Iraq.) Further, they claimed that she had run roughshod over her own experts, who warned that US involvement in a 2011 air campaign in support of rebels would lead, at best, to new problems, and that they (the Republicans) had anticipated the chaos that marks Libya today.

Oct. 26

Washington Post, Obama weighs moving troops closer to front lines in Syria, Iraq, Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe, Oct. 26, 2015. His advisers’ recommendations signal the mounting dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State. If Obama presses ahead, the changes would mean a significant escalation of America's role. President Obama’s most senior national security advisers have recommended measures that would move U.S. troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria, a sign of mounting White House dissatisfaction with progress against the Islamic State and a renewed Pentagon push to expand military involvement in long-running conflicts overseas.

Ashton CarterThe debate over the proposed steps, which would for the first time position a limited number of Special Operations forces on the ground in Syria and put U.S. advisers closer to the firefights in Iraq, comes as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter (shown in an official photo) presses the military to deliver new options for greater military involvement in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The changes would represent a significant escalation of the American role in Iraq and Syria. They still require formal approval from Obama. See also Post report on scaled-back assistance to train rebels.

Global Research, Netanyahu’s Latest Ethnic Cleansing Scheme: Forcibly Displacing East Jerusalem Arab Residents, Stephen Lendman, Oct. 26, 2015. Israeli media report he may revoke the longtime Arab population’s permanent residency status, his scheme for curbing Israeli initiated violence, a sure-fire way to increase it exponentially throughout the Occupied Territories. The fate of over 370,000 East Jerusalemites hangs in the balance. Where will this huge population go if forcibly expelled? Israel’s Channel 2 news said the scheme was discussed during a weekly security meeting earlier in October. Netanyahu was quoted saying: “We need to examine the possibility of canceling their residency. There needs to be a discussion about it.”

Daily Howler, Ugly episode gets a lot worse! Bob Somerby, Oct. 26, 2015. Nothing like that ever happened, Biden finally says. Last night, on CBS "60 Minutes," Norah O’Donnell interviewed Vice President Biden about his decision not to run for president. At one point, a remarkable exchange occurred. O’Donnell asked about the melodramatic “deathbed” story which got its start in an unsourced, highly novelistic column by Maureen Dowd. In the story, Biden’s dying son, with his last few nouns, begs Biden (shown in an official photo) to try to keep the Clintons out of the White House. The Clinton-hating melodrama was ugly and over the top even by the standards established by Dowd down through these many long years. Last night, O’Donnell asked Biden about this widely-repeated story. “Nothing like that ever, ever happened,” Joe BidenBiden said. O’Donnell left several questions unasked.

This extends and complicates an episode which is truly disgraceful. Let’s start with a basic point. We can’t assume that Biden’s statement to O’Donnell is accurate. He is now contradicting a story he left uncorrected for almost three months. No one can say, with perfect certainty, what the ultimate truth is. Still, Biden is contradicting a highly dramatic claim by the Times’ most famous columnist. In a standard bit of professional courtesy, O’Donnell failed to mention Dowd’s name on the program last night.

Matters quickly got worse at Dowd’s horrible newspaper when her column appeared. On that same day — in that same Sunday edition — the Times ran a front-page news report by the always ludicrous Amy Chozick. Chozick took Dowd’s unsourced claims and used them as the source. In this strange way, Dowd’s unsourced claims were instantly put to use in a front-page news report.

With his last few nouns, the dying man rose from his bed to trash the Clintons one last time! By now, he could barely speak, but he was still valiantly trying to keep them out of the White House! After Dowd injected the story with this trademark venom, the moribund story took off. “Nothing like that ever happened,” Biden has now finally said, revealing a rather large hole in his own basic character.

The Washington Post, At a gathering of Bushes, the focus turns to Rubio as a key opponent, Sean Sullivan, Oct. 26, 2015. Amid the Jeb Bush buttons and appearances by three generations of his family Bush Family, from left, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush(shown in a previous file photo), there was a subtle but unmistakable focus on another candidate for president at a two-day donor summit here: Sen. Marco Rubio.

American Progress, More Money, More Problems, Fleeting Victories for Diversity on the Bench, Michele L. Jawando and Billy Corriher, Oct. 26, 2015. While the role of the federal judiciary and the decisions it metes out are often examined, far less focus and study is directed to the role of state courts and their impact and influence on ordinary citizens. Even less is known about who sits on these courts and their backgrounds, both personal and professional. In many states, the judges do not look like the defendants and plaintiffs who stand in front of them. According to the Reflective Democracy Campaign and its new database of more than 42,000 elected officials, whites and white men dominate elected offices. Women and people of color are vastly underrepresented. This report examines one of the myriad reasons for that discrepancy by looking at how judicial elections and the rising costs of judicial campaigns keep individuals of color off the bench. Just as importantly, this report also examines how that glaring lack of diversity calls into question the overall fairness of our justice system.


October 26, 2015

Robert Parry

Nieman Foundation, Robert Parry Receives I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, Oct. 26, 2015. On Oct. 22, Consortiumnews Editor Robert Parry (shown in a portrait) received the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence from Harvard’s Nieman Foundation. Stone was an iconoclastic journalist who published I.F. Stone’s Weekly during the McCarthy era and the Vietnam War, setting a standard for independence that Parry has tried to follow. After reporting on the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, Robert Parry founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as an independent online magazine. Journalist Robert Parry first discovered the work of I.F. Stone in high school, admiring the investigative reporter’s independent journalism and relentless pursuit of the truth. When he attended Colby College, Parry lobbied the school library to subscribe to Stone’s weekly newsletters, where Stone was challenging government claims about the war in Vietnam by printing documents that the government itself had produced but would not make public. Parry’s Speech at I.F. Stone Award ceremony.

ABA Journal, This law school had a 30% bar pass rate; do lower standards presage troubled times for law grads? Debra Cassens Weiss, Oct. 26, 2015. The Arizona Summit Law School has posted a dismal bar passage rate despite its offer of $5,000 to poorly performing students who delay taking the bar exam. Only 30.6 percent of first-time test takers from the law school passed the July 2015 bar exam, report Above the Law and an Atlantic article by University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos. The law school is owned by InfiLaw, a for-profit subsidiary of the private equity firm Sterling Partners. All of its law schools began slashing admissions standards in 2012, and now their students are paying the price. Arizona Summit’s 30.6 percent bar passage rate is down from 75 percent; Florida Coastal School of Law has a bar passage rate of 59 percent, down from 76 percent; and Charlotte School of Law’s bar passage rate is 47 percent, down from 78 percent.

Campos alleges that the admissions process at InfiLaw schools “is now close to a fully open-enrollment system, that inevitably matriculates many people who have little chance of ever passing a bar exam.” A new report by Law School Transparency sees troubled times ahead for graduates of many law schools because more students are being admitted with lower scores on the Law School Admission Test. The LSAT is the best predictor, before law school, of bar passage, Law School Transparency says. A New York Times editorial points to bar pass results in an article that accuses for-profit law schools of “vacuuming up hordes of young people, charging them outrageously high tuition and, after many of the students fail to become lawyers, sticking taxpayers with the tab for their loan defaults.” An increasing number of nonprofit law schools are following the same playbook, according to the Times, which blames the federal Direct PLUS Loan program for providing money to graduate students, no matter how high their tuition and living expenses.

 Tony Blair CNN Interview Oct. 25, 2015Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in CNN Interview Oct. 25, 2015

Daily Mail (United Kingdom), 'I'm sorry': Historic moment Tony Blair FINALLY apologizes for Iraq War and admits in TV interview the conflict caused the rise of ISIS, Simon Walters, Glen Owen, Martin Beckford and Daniel Bates, updated Oct. 25 and first published Oct. 24, 2015. Tony Blair has finally said sorry for the Iraq War – and admitted he could be partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State. The extraordinary confession by the former Prime Minister comes after 12 years in which he refused to apologize for the conflict. Blair makes his dramatic 'mea culpa' during a TV interview about the 'hell' caused by his and George Bush's decision to oust Saddam Hussein. Tony Blair, who has finally said sorry for the Iraq War during an interview on CNN, which is due to be broadcast today (Oct. 25).

In the exchange, Blair repeatedly says sorry for his conduct and even refers to claims that the invasion was a war 'crime' – while denying he committed one. Blair is asked bluntly in the CNN interview, 'Was the Iraq War a mistake?'

He replies: 'I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. 'I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.' Challenged that the Iraq War was 'the principal cause' of the rise of Islamic State, he said: 'I think there are elements of truth in that. 'Of course you can't say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.'

In the 'trial by TV', respected US political broadcaster Fareed Zakaria accuses him of being President Bush's 'poodle' over the conflict. Blair's confession comes a week after The Mail on Sunday published a bombshell White House memo revealing for the first time how Blair and Bush agreed a 'deal in blood' a year before the invasion.

Washington's Blog, Tony Blair Is Sorry, A Little, David Swanson, Oct. 25, 2015. While George W. Bush is apparently proud of everything he’s ever done, Tony Blair came dangerously close to facing reality this weekend when he admitted there were “elements of truth” in the view that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the principle cause of the rise of ISIS (among other catastrophic results of that invasion). At the same time, Blair lied that the war was an honest mistake based on bad “intelligence,” and claimed there was no clearly superior alternative anyway: But, one might ask, how can the West just stand by as brutal governments abuse their people? Well, the West never does just stand by. Occasionally it overthrows those governments, making everyone even worse off. Far more often it arms, funds, and supports those governments — as in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the new Iraq, etc. — keeping everyone in their current state of suffering.

New York Times, Bush at 91: Irritated and Invigorated by ’16 Race, Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer, Oct. 25, 2015. The senior President Bush finds himself straining to understand today’s political climate. But if he is frustrated, the 91-year-old is also immersed. Former President George Bush, 91 and frail, is straining to understand an election season that has, for his son and the Republican Party, lurched sharply and stunningly off script. And he is often bewildered by what he sees. “I’m getting old,” he tells friends, appraising today’s politics, “at just the right time.” These are confounding days for the Bush family and the network of advisers, donors and supporters who have helped sustain a political dynasty that began with the Senate victory by Prescott Bush, the older Mr. Bush’s father, in Connecticut 63 years ago. They have watched the rise of Donald J. Trump with alarm, and seen how Jeb Bush, the onetime Florida governor, has languished despite early advantages of political pedigree and campaign money.

OpEdNews, Prostitution: Being Raped for a Living, Chris Hedges, Oct. 25, 2015. This column includes material from Chris Hedges' interview of Rachel Moran on teleSUR's "Days of Revolt," presented via therealnews.com. Prostitution abolition activist Moran is a former prostitute and a writer, blogger and founding member of SPACE International, an organization for survivors of prostitution. The reduction of another human being to an object and the glorification of male violence, whether in war or prostitution, are romanticized by popular culture. It is difficult to challenge the lies disseminated about "sex work" and "military virtues." Those who counter the dominant narrative, even if they speak from long personal experience, are drowned out. Speaking the truth about war or the truth about prostitution is lonely and often futile.

Rachel Moran, who was a prostituted woman in Ireland for seven years, has done in her book Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution what I attempted to do in my book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning about the reality of war. And she has endured very similar responses.

OpEdNews, Hillary Clinton Speech at Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner, Oct. 24 (published Oct. 25), 2015, Video above. At the Iowa Democrats' Jefferson Jackson dinner, Hillary Clinton calls out Republicans for attacking big government, while using it against women's rights. Bernie Sanders Speech at Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, At the same dinner, regarded as a major event leading to the nation's first official state candidate selections for the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders denounces "a rigged economy that is held in place by a corrupt political system."

War Is A Crime, How a High Dollar Speech Sends a former Israeli Prime Minister to US Federal Court on Claims of War Crimes, Ann Wright, Oct. 25, 2015. Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a passenger on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and on the 2011 and 2015 flotillas. Serving legal documents on high visibility persons who have been involved in international criminal acts is very difficult. However, the temptation of large honoraria for speeches in the United States tripped up a former Israeli Prime Minister who has been accused of war crimes for his involvement in the murders of ten passengers (nine were killed immediately and a seriously wounded passenger died after being in a coma for several years) on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Oct. 24

Institute for Political Economy, Presstitutes At Their Work, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 24, 2015. The pinpoint accuracy of the Russian cruise missiles and air attacks has the Pentagon shaking in its boots. But according to the Western presstitutes the Russian missiles fell out of the sky over Iran and never made it to their ISIS targets. The other tool used by presstitutes is to discuss a problem with no reference to its causes. The hordes overrunning Europe just suddenly decided to go there. It has nothing to do with Washington’s 14 years of destruction of seven countries, enabled by the dumbship Europeans themselves, who provided cover for the war crimes under such monikers as the “coalition of the willing,” a “NATO operation,” “bringing freedom and democracy.” From the Western presstitute media you would never know that the millions fleeing into Europe are fleeing American and European bombs that have indiscriminately slaughtered and dislocated millions of Muslim peoples. A majority of Americans live in a fake world created by propaganda. They are disconnected from reality.

Independent (United Kingdom), Benghazi: Hillary Clinton Is Guilty But Not As Charged, Patrick Cockburn, Oct. 24, 2015. There is a strong case against Clinton’s actions in Libya, but they relate to her support for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and not the death of Christopher Stevens in 2012. There is no doubt that she played a crucial role, along with President Barack Obama’s advisers Samantha Power and Susan Rice, in the decision by the US to intervene on the side of the anti-Gaddafi rebels. Although France and the UK played a more public role, the US termed its strategy as “leading from behind.” Clinton was proud of her action, proclaiming in October 2011 after the killing of Gaddafi: “We came, we saw, he died.” She said during the recent Democratic presidential candidates’ debate that what she did in Libya was “smart power at its best.” Neither Clinton nor the Republican Congressmen showed much interest in the present calamitous state of Libya, which is divided into fiefdoms ruled by criminalized warlords reliant on terror and torture.

Benghazi is partly in ruins and is fought over by rival factions, while Islamic State has carved out enclaves where it decapitates Egyptian Copts and Ethiopian Christians. NATO’s military intervention in 2011 was justified by the claim that Gaddafi was about to massacre the people of Benghazi, which cannot be proved or disproved because it never happened. What is more certain is that, if the old regime was still in power, several thousand migrants from north and west Africa would have jobs on Libyan building sites instead of sailing from Libyan beaches and drowning in the Mediterranean.

Oct. 23

Washington Post, For police, deadly consequences while on duty and under fire, Amy Brittain, Oct. 23, 2015. The vast majority of people shot and killed by police this year were armed with guns and killed after attacking officers or civilians or making other threats. In one case, a Wisconsin trooper died facing down a gunman who planned to go out fighting. Stopped in his patrol cruiser, Trooper Trevor Casper searched for a gray Toyota Corolla on a busy stretch of Highway 41. Behind the wheel was Steven Timothy Snyder, a bank robber and killer on the run. When Casper spotted Snyder about 5:30 p.m., he eased his cruiser into southbound traffic, following the Corolla at a distance, keeping his lights and siren off. Snyder’s killing, as documented in interviews and police reports, is among the 800 fatal shootings by police so far this year. As the tally continues to grow, so does public debate and criticism over police use of deadly force.

Washington Post, We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel, Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl, Oct. 23, 2015. Steven Levitsky is a professor of government at Harvard University. Glen Weyl is an assistant professor of economics and law at the University of Chicago. Permanent and expanding West Bank settlements threaten the Jewish state’s long-term survival.

 

Palestine Maps

 

CounterPunch, MSNBC, Martin Fletcher Disavow Image of Palestine Being Wiped Off the Map, Alison Weir, Oct. 23, 2015. A recent sequence of events reveals what happens when U.S. media depart from the pro-Israel narrative. Following an unusually honest report on Israel-Palestine, MSNBC Live backpedaled to Israeli talking points that were both illogical and uninformed. Let us look at what happened.

During its Thursday, Oct. 15th news broadcast, MSNBC Live broadcast an accurate and revealing image of four maps entitled “Palestinian loss of land 1946 – present.” Host Kate Snow commented that the maps showed “that the land where the Palestinians live has grown increasingly smaller.” NBC’s longtime correspondent for the area, Martin Fletcher, agreed, saying: “Absolutely, this is what it’s all about; it’s about the land. What this map shows you, and it’s pretty shocking when you present it in this way, what it clearly shows is that if there is no peace agreement between Palestinians and Israel, more of those green areas, more of that Palestinian land, will be eaten up by Jewish settlements.” There was an immediate onslaught against the show by Israelis and Israel partisans, including Israeli media and such pro-Israel organizations as “Honest Reporting” and Mediate.

Washington Post, Benghazi irrelevance; The Benghazi Committee fails to deliver, Dana Milbank, Oct. 23, 2015. The House Select Committee on Blumenthal, as some are now calling it, came to order at 10 a.m. Lawmakers didn’t finish questioning Hillary Clinton until 11 hours later — just after the Democratic presidential candidate succumbed to a coughing fit. In that period of time, the name of Sidney Blumenthal was invoked more than 75 times, and scores of questions were asked about the longtime Clinton friend. By lunchtime, Blumenthal had been invoked 49 times — exactly the number of mentions of J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya whose death in Benghazi is the supposed subject of the congressional probe. The other three Americans slain in Benghazi — Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods — got seven or eight mentions apiece, then-CIA director David Petraeus and former defense secretary Robert Gates each got two, and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had none.

Institute for Political Economy, Americans Stand Naked Before Injustice, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 23, 2015. In 2000, Larry Stratton and I published The Tyranny of Good Intentions, the story of how Americans lost the protection of law. In 2008, Random House published a new edition. In the 15 years that the book has been in print, only 23,000 Americans were interested to learn that law is no longer a shield of the people but a weapon in the hands of the state. The percentage of Americans who have even the slightest comprehension of their loss of liberty is so tiny that the American people have no prospect of regaining their liberty. Defense attorney Harvey Silverglate has captured a central part of our book in one short article. As Americans are too absorbed with reality shows and spectator sports to see their rights disappearing before their eyes and one short book is too much distraction from what is important to them, perhaps they can work their way through this one short article. Read it below:.

President Barack Obama greets Camden County N.J. Police Chief J. Scott Thomson

President Barack Obama greets Camden County N.J. Police Chief J. Scott Thomson following a panel discussion on criminal justice reform with law enforcement leaders in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, Oct. 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WGBH (Boston), Would Obama Recognize Criminal Justice Reform If It Stuck Him In The Eye? Harvey Silverglate, Oct. 23, 2015. The Marshall Project's Bill Keller (former editor of the New York Times) had a golden opportunity — and he blew it. Today's panel on criminal justice reform, filmed at the White House and live-streamed on The Marshall Project's website, had the potential to inform the public of the real and hidden problems that plague our state and federal justice systems. But the wrong people were invited to join Keller and the President, and the conversation suffered for it.

The panel only briefly touched upon the toxic plea bargaining culture that has developed throughout the country. The White House discussion also failed to address the kinds of crimes such as "conspiracy," violation of "national security," or "fraud" — that are not defined with sufficient clarity so that a typical citizen can discern what conduct is allowed and what is prohibited. Once during the discussion U.S. Attorney Walsh complimented the President on his vast command of the issues in this sprawling area of law and life. Chief Beck reiterated the compliment.

But in reality, none of the panelists, nor the host of the panel for that matter, really appeared to understand the deeper ills of our state and federal criminal justice systems. We not only incarcerate too many defendants for too-long periods, but we convict and incarcerate a vast and largely unknown number of individuals who are in fact innocent of crime properly understood. The system is broken, yes, but in many more ways than we heard about today.

Politico, Benghazi hearing floods Clinton campaign coffers with cash, Annie Karni, Oct. 23, 2015. Donations have been flooding into campaign coffers over the past 13 hours since her testimony in front of the House Benghazi committee wrapped late Thursday night, thrilling Clinton fundraisers on the eve of a weekend-long finance committee meeting that couldn’t have come at a better time. According to communications director Jennifer Palmieri, the hour between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. last night was their best fundraising hour of the campaign to date.

Rallying in Virginia Friday, Clinton said her campaign had broken the 500,000 donor mark, meaning she has gotten over 100,000 new contributors in October alone. The campaign then added that over half of the donations it received on Thursday were from new contributors, and that 99% of them were less than $250.

Washington Post via Stars and Stripes, Fox News commentator accused of lying about CIA work pleads not guilty, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 23, 2015. Wayne S. Simmons, a frequent Fox News commentator, pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he made up a decades-long career with the CIA to win jobs with government contractors. The Annapolis, Md., resident, 62, said little more than "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III scheduled his trial to begin Feb. 23. According to federal prosecutors, Simmons (shown below in a screenshot) lied on government documents about having a 27-year career with the CIA to get interim security clearances and jobs with government contractors, including BAE Systems. Simmons was a frequent, unpaid expert commentator on Fox News, and he served on the watchdog group Citizens' Commission on Benghazi with former military officials, at least one of whom said Simmons seemed to be knowledgeable about clandestine work.

Wayne Simmons

Washington Post, Bush campaign downsizes in the face of Trump strength, Philip Rucker, Ed O'Keefe and Sean Sullivan, Oct. 23, 2015. Jeb Bush acknowledged Friday what has been obvious for weeks: The rise of Donald Trump and other political outsiders has fundamentally reshaped the contours of the 2016 presidential race, forcing Bush to retrench with a major downsizing of his political operation and a Jeb Bush logoreassessment of how and where he will campaign. A week after reporting third-quarter fundraising results that only the Bush staff claimed were adequate, the onetime Republican front-runner who now lags in the polls detailed a series of substantial cutbacks and changes to his strategy. Bush ordered across-the-board pay cuts, chopped his headquarters staff and slashed spending on travel and consultants. The former Florida governor is husbanding his limited resources to spend on television advertisements and organizing efforts in the early-voting states, in particular New Hampshire. And he is revamping his schedule to spend more time meeting with voters there and in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

AP via Juno, FBI director: Viral video era affecting police work, Michael Tarm, Oct. 23, 2015. Police anxiety in the era of ever-present cellphone cameras and viral videos partly explains why violent crime has risen in several large U.S. cities this year, FBI Director James Comey said Friday. Comey told several hundred students during a forum at the University of Chicago Law School that it's critical to do more to address a James Comeywidening gulf between law enforcement and citizens in many communities, particularly African-Americans. He said while there likely are multiple factors behind the spike in violence in cities, including Chicago, officers and others nationwide have told him they see "the era of viral videos" as a link. A spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois, Ed Yohnka, said later Friday he disagreed with Comey's assessment. "Police officers who respect civilians and the law will only enhance the reputation of their departments when recorded by civilians," Yohnka said. "And officers should be trained to conduct themselves with professionalism regardless of whether a camera is recording them."

Huffington Post, FBI Doesn't Allow Huffington Post Reporter Into Director's Talk After Critical Article, Michael Calderone, Oct. 23, 2015. The FBI on Friday did not permit a Huffington Post reporter to attend director James Comey’s speech to members of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), which was the subject of a critical article the journalist wrote in August. Comey's talk wasn't off the record, as reporters from The Washington Post and USA Today attended and covered it. The FBI tweeted a photo of the director addressing the group. The reporter, Ali Watkins, responded on Twitter to another journalist attending the symposium and said the agency wouldn't let her in to the event. "We are disappointed that the FBI declined to allow o+ur reporter into a public forum that other journalists attended," said HuffPost senior politics editor Sam Stein. "Worse, they've provided no explanation for their refusal to do so. We encourage them to reconsider their policy on press access in the future."

While it's unclear exactly why the FBI refused to admit Watkins, the move comes two months after she reported that the HIG, an interagency group that was supposed to be comprised of elite interrogators, may not be living up to expectations. U.S. officials and outside critics have questioned the effectiveness and oversight of the interrogators, who are called upon to deal with high-level terrorist suspects, she wrote.

The Guardian, ACLU lawsuit against NSA mass surveillance dropped by federal court, Sam Thielman, Oct. 23, 2015. A federal district court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the National Security Agency. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the surveillance program was innately harmful, despite the NSA’s silence on it in court. “The NSA’s mass surveillance violates our clients’ constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, and it poses a grave threat to a free internet and a free society,” said Ashley Gorski, a staff attorney with the ACLU national security project. The judge in the case, TS Ellis III, said the suit relied on “the subjective fear of surveillance”, because the NSA did not admit to having collected any of the information it was alleged to have collected by the ACLU. Ellis is a former navy aviator who in 2006 dismissed a suit against the CIA brought by a German man who accused the agency of abducting and torturing him as part of the US “extraordinary rendition” program. Notably, Ellis dismissed the case not on merit, but on the grounds that a trial would risk national security.

Oct. 22

Guardian, Vladimir Putin accuses US of backing terrorism in Middle East, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2015. Russian president tells gathering of politicians that Washington is playing a ‘double game’ and acting in self-interest. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has launched a stinging attack on US policy in the Middle East, accusing Washington of backing terrorism and playing a “double game.” In a speech on Thursday at the annual gathering of the Valdai Club, a group of Russian and international analysts and politicians, Putin said the US had attempted to use terrorist groups as “a battering ram to overthrow regimes they don’t like.” He said: “It’s always hard to play a double game – to declare a fight against terrorists but at the same time try to use some of them to move the pieces on the Middle Eastern chessboard in your own favor. There’s no need to play with words and split terrorists into moderate and not moderate. I would like to know what the difference is.” Four Syrian hospitals bombed since Russian airstrikes began, doctors say. Putin received Assad at the Kremlin on Tuesday, and on Thursday he underlined that he considered the Syrian president and his government to be “fully legitimate.” He said the West was guilty of shortsightedness, focusing on the figure of Assad while ignoring the much greater threat of ISIS.

The President Hosts a Panel Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform (White House, Oct. 22, 2015)

New York Times, Challenging G.O.P. Critics, Clinton Urges ‘Statesmanship,'  Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 22, 2015. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she had not personally approved or denied requests for extra security for the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Representative Jim Jordan pressed Mrs. Clinton on whether a protest against an inflammatory anti-Islam video had led to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. "Where did the false narrative start?" Mr. Jordan said. "It started with you Madame Secretary."

Fox News, Clinton challenged at hearing over security at Benghazi outpost, Oct. 22, 2015. Gowdy to Clinton: Benghazi investigation is not about you. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was confronted Thursday with tough questions by Republicans over the slim diplomatic security in place at the Benghazi compound before the 2012 terror attacks -- and repeated unanswered requests by the late Ambassador Chris Stevens for more support -- as she testified before the congressional committee probing the attacks. She faced tough questions from Republicans even as Democratic panel members spent their time trying to discredit the work of the committee itself, describing it as a partisan outfit. But amid claims that the panel has focused too much on Clinton's personal email use, Republicans tried to focus Thursday on Benghazi.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., noted that the late Ambassador Chris Stevens asked "numerous times" for extra security in Libya and questioned whether he was able to ask Clinton directly. "I do not believe that he had my personal email," Clinton admitted, before adding that Stevens had a "direct line" to others. Clinton acknowledged some of his requests were approved, and others were not. She also testified that those requests were handled by security professionals in the department and not her. "I did not see them. I did not approve them. I did not deny them," she said.

Washington Post, Clinton at Benghazi hearing: ‘I’m here to honor those we lost,’ David A. Fahrenthold and Karen DeYoung, Oct. 22, 2015. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is answering questions from a House committee investigating the deaths of four Americans at diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Transcript: Chairman Trey Gowdy's opening statement.

Huffington Post, Elijah Cummings: Benghazi Panel Is An 'Abusive Effort To Derail' Hillary Clinton's Campaign, Mollie Reilly, Oct. 22, 2015. "It is time for Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition." Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, criticized his Republican colleagues for using the panel to attempt to "derail" former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, characterizing the committee as a "fishing expedition." Clinton, who was secretary of state during the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, faced hours of questioning Thursday from the committee, which Democrats have accused of being a blatantly political endeavor. Cummings continued with that line of criticism during his opening remarks, criticizing Republicans for using the panel and Thursday's hearing to hurt Clinton's 2016 presidential bid.

Washington Post, Benghazi committee reflects a broader breakdown of GOP, Dan Balz, Oct. 22, 2015. There are calls for the Benghazi committee to be disbanded. But that misses the larger point about what Trey Gowdythe hearing revealed. There was little new information revealed Thursday, so little that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the committee chairman shown in an official photo, could not immediately point to anything notable after the day ended. Certainly there was nothing likely to sway the majority of Americans or change the basic story of what happened as revealed by a series of previous investigations.

Washington Post, Paul Ryan declares his candidacy for House speaker, says he’s ‘ready and eager,’ Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis, Oct. 22, 2015. "I believe we are ready to move forward as one, united team," the 45-year-old Ways and Means chairman told colleagues.

American Zombie, David Vitter: Interview with Jeanette Maier, Jason Brad Perry, Oct. 22, 2015. In 2003, Jeanette Maier was indicted by federal prosecutors along with eleven other David Vitterwomen for operating a brothel on Canal Street here in New Orleans. The story made national news and although Maier produced a list of clients not a single man was indicted for their solicitation of the brothel's employees. In fact, Jeanette's notorious client list was sealed by Federal Judge Ivan Lemelle. While the client list remains sealed, Jeanette has since spoken about some of her more prestigious clients including now candidate for Lt. Governor, Billy Nungesser, and candidate for Governor, Sen. David Vitter (shown in an official photo). Maier suggested multiple times that Vitter was a "client" but it was unclear if he actually visited the Canal Street Brothel since she also admitted his name was not on her client list. I got the opportunity to interview her on camera this week. The first question I asked, "Exactly how did you service David Vitter?"

MondoWeiss via Information Clearing House, ‘Caught on Camera’: Extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, Annie Robbins, Oct. 22, 2015. A new report summarizing Israel’s Arbitrary Killings and its System of Structural Violence was released by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor at a press conference in Geneva on Friday. The release included the following video, “Caught on Camera: Israel’s extrajudicial killings,” illustrating the killings of Palestinian civilians involved in political protests during the last two weeks. The report follows Euro-Med Monitor‘s October 10th Call on International Community to hault Israel’s extrajudicial executions.

Antiwar.com, What Clinton Got Wrong About Snowden, John Kiriakou, Oct. 22, 2015. The former secretary of state attacked the NSA whistleblower without bothering to get her facts straight. The presidential candidate and former secretary of state insisted during the recent Democratic debate that Snowden should have remained in the United States to voice his concerns about government spying on U.S. citizens. Instead, she claimed, he “endangered US secrets by fleeing to Russia.” After accusing Snowden of stealing “very important information that has fallen into the wrong hands,” she added: “He should not be brought home without facing the music.” Clinton should stop rooting for Snowden’s incarceration and get her facts straight.

First, Snowden is a whistleblower, not a leaker. Whistleblowing is the act of bringing to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, lawbreaking, or dangers to public health or safety. Snowden did exactly that when he divulged proof that the National Security Agency was illegally snooping on all of us. Second, Snowden knew it was impossible to report this wrongdoing through his chain of command at the NSA, where he was working as a contractor employed by the consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton.

I’ve written previously about whistleblower Tom Drake, who went through his own chain of command to report an earlier illegal wiretapping scheme by the NSA. Drake went to his bosses, his office’s general counsel, the NSA’s inspector general, the Pentagon’s inspector general, and congressional oversight committees – only to be charged with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage. CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, who reported wrongdoing in a CIA operation related to the Iranian nuclear program through his chain of command, was similarly charged with multiple counts of espionage. Now he’s serving 42 months in prison.

The sad fact is that many national security chains of command are overtly hostile to people who report wrongdoing. I learned this firsthand when I spent nearly two years behind bars for denouncing the CIA’s use of torture years after I left the agency. And I didn’t go to any country club. I went to a real prison. Indeed, one of my former supervisors at the CIA called whistleblowing “institutionalized insubordination.” In other words, employees should just “follow orders,” even if those orders are illegal.

Montgomery Advertiser, Former AGs back Siegelman appeal to U.S. Supreme Court, Brian Lyman, Oct. 22, 2015. More than 100 former state attorneys general are asking the U.S. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman before his return to prisonSupreme Court to review the sentence of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who remains behind bars for his conviction in a government corruption case. The brief argued that former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who oversaw Siegelman’s case, improperly factored charges that a jury did not convict Siegelman on in handing down the sentence. The brief argues the jury had to determine that, and that without it, the jury became “a mere pass-through to punishment by the state.”

“It is one thing for a sentencing judge to make determinations about facts that a jury did not consider at all, such as the defendant’s lack of remorse, but it is another thing entirely to allow judges to find that conduct occurred by a preponderance of the evidence when the jury expressly acquitted the defendant of criminal charges based on that very conduct,” the brief states. The brief is signed by 116 former attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans.

Siegelman was convicted in 2006 on bribery and corruption charges. The jury acquitted the former governor of charges related to an allegation of a “pay for play” scheme. Fuller, at the prosecutors' request, considered the charge in determining Siegelman’s initial 78-month sentence in 2007. The attorneys general say that was improper and violated the Sixth Amendment’s guarantees of a jury trial.

“Because the judge-found facts used to increase Governor Siegelman’s Guidelines range resulted in a punishment that was not authorized by the jury’s verdict, those facts are elements of the offense that must be found by a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” the brief said. Currently incarcerated in Louisiana, the Federal Bureau of Prisons says Siegelman's release date is on Aug. 8, 2017. Fuller resigned earlier this year, a year after Atlanta police charged him with misdemeanor battery in an incident involving his wife. Fuller agreed to a pretrial diversion program that led to the expungement of his record. A report delivered to Congress in September concluded that Fuller physically abused his wife at least eight times and lied to a committee investigating the incident.

Washington Post, U.S., Kurdish forces raid ISIS prison, freeing 70 captives, Missy Ryan, Oct. 22, 2015. One U.S. service member and at least a dozen Islamic State fighters were killed during the operation near the northern Iraqi town of Hawijah, according to individuals familiar with the mission.

BradBlog via Pacifica Radio Network, Caught on Tape: Election Officials Behaving Badly, Brad Friedman interviews guests who include New York county election commissioner Virginia Martin, Oct. 22, 2015.

BBC, CIA: Wikileaks emails release was 'malicious crime,' Staff report, Oct. 22, 2015. The CIA has condemned the hacking of director John Brennan's personal email account, describing it as a "crime" carried out with "malicious intent." Six documents taken from an old account belonging to Mr Brennan were published by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The CIA said there was "no indication" that anything classified John Brennanwas released. But the documents do include a draft security clearance application containing personal information. They appear to all date to 2009, when Mr. Brennan (shown in a file photo) was seeking security clearance while applying for a job as a White House counterterrorism adviser.

He was working in the private sector at the time, having already spent 25 years working for the CIA between 1980 and 2005. A high-school student claimed he was responsible for hacking the AOL account, telling the New York Post he was protesting against US foreign policy. The boy's Twitter account, which says he is 13, has published redacted images of what appears to be government information. The documents published by Wikileaks include a draft on national security challenges said to have been created in 2007. The final, unfinished paragraph is headed "Damaging Leaks of Classified Information."  

A 2008 letter about interrogation methods is also included, appearing to be from the vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to his fellow board members. Wikileaks said it would release more documents "over the coming days." The FBI and the Secret Service are investigating the hacking. The CIA stressed that none of the documents released so far were classified.

Oct. 21


President Barack Obama meets with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office prior to the Vice President announcing that he will not be a candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign, Oct. 21, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Huffington Post, Joe Biden Is Not Running For President In 2016; He finally made a decision! Mollie Reilly, Oct. 21, 2015. Vice President Joe Biden said he will not run for president in 2016. Biden, shown in an official photo, announced his Joe Bidendecision in a statement given from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination," Biden said. "While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent." He urged the Democratic candidates to run on President Barack Obama's accomplishments. "This party, our nation, will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy," he said.

Biden's decision comes after months of speculation over whether he would jump in the race. In May, Biden's son, Beau, died of brain cancer, devastating the vice president and his family. The death of his eldest son left the vice president questioning whether he had the stamina for a 2016 presidential bid. Biden said Wednesday his ongoing grief over his son's death "closed the window" on him running for president.

Politico, Inside Biden's final deliberations, Edward-Isaac Dovere and Glenn Thrush, Oct. 21, 2015. It went down to the wire. But in the end, the vice president decided it was too late to mount a credible campaign. In true Joe Biden form, the entire enterprise was always a little haphazard. Long after the will-he-won’t-he speculation reached full tilt, Biden asked his chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, to put together a briefing book on where Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and the other Democratic 2016 contenders stood on the issues. The vice president hadn’t been paying close attention to the campaign. He spent the last few weeks searching for the right feeling — within his family, within himself, within the crowds he was seeing. He waited until the last possible moment, once advisers told him Monday he needed to make a final decision. On Wednesday morning at around 9 a.m., Ricchetti was telling people he wasn’t sure what Biden would do.

New York Times, Biden Ran in the Invisible Primary, and Lost to Clinton, Nate Cohn, Oct. 21, 2015. Hillary Clinton’s recent run of dominance yields another triumph: Mr. Biden’s exit in a race he never officially entered. For all her struggles with poll numbers and the email investigation this year, Hillary Rodham Clinton has done one thing really well: dissuade mainstream opponents by dominating the invisible primary, the behind-the-scenes competition for elite support that often decides the nomination. Today, her dominance in the invisible primary yielded another victory. Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to stay out of the presidential race leaves Mrs. Clinton as the only viable mainstream candidate in the race. It gives her an opportunity to unite the coalition of moderate, nonwhite and older voters who traditionally have an edge over the white progressives who now support Bernie Sanders.

CNN, CIA Must Stop Illegal, Counterproductive War to Overthrow Assad, Wolf Blitzer interview on Oct 21, 2015 of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of Armed Services Committee. An Iraq war veteran, Tulsi explains why the US allying with Islamist extremists to overthrow Syrian President Assad is an illegal, counterproductive war that will cause even more human misery in the region and help ISIS and other Islamist extremists take over all of Syria. Instead of once again being distracted by trying to get rid of a secular dictator, Tulsi explains, the United States must stay out of counter productive wars and focus on defeating the Islamist extremists who have declared war on America.

 

Washington Post, Powerful admiral punishes suspected whistleblowers, still gets promotion, Craig Whitlock, Oct. 21, 2015. The U.S. Navy declined to discipline the SEAL commander despite five investigations into illegal reprisals. The Navy is poised to promote the admiral in charge of its elite SEAL teams and other commando units even though Pentagon investigators determined that he illegally retaliated against staff members who he mistakenly suspected were whistleblowers.

Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey was investigated five times by the Defense Department’s inspector general after subordinates complained that he had wrongly fired, demoted or punished them during a vengeful but fruitless hunt for the person who had anonymously reported him for a minor travel-policy infraction, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. After conducting separate, years-long investigations that involved more than 100 witnesses and 300,000 pages of e-mails, the inspector general upheld complaints from three of the five staff members. In each of those cases, it recommended that the Navy take action against Losey for violating whistleblower-protection laws, the documents show. The Navy, however, dismissed the findings this month and decided not to discipline Losey, a preeminent figure in the military’s secretive Special Operations forces who once commanded SEAL Team 6, the clandestine unit known for killing terrorist targets such as Osama bin Laden. He now leads the Naval Special Warfare Command and has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Panama, Bosnia, Somalia and other conflict zones.

Huffington Post, House Conservatives Not Sold On Paul Ryan For Speaker, Jennifer Bendery, To the delight of GOP leaders, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Paul Ryanhas finally come around and agreed to run for speaker -- as long as a few conditions are met. He wants the weekends with his family. He wants an endorsement from all major caucuses. And he wants the House to change its rules so disgruntled lawmakers can't easily remove him as speaker if they don't like the job he's doing. Party leaders and moderates, who see Ryan as the only one who can unify a GOP conference in disarray, say his terms are fine with them. But tea party lawmakers say he's asking for way too much -- especially for a guy who doesn't really want the job.

New York Review of Books, The Big Bush Question, Elizabeth Drew, Oct. 21, 2015. Poor Jeb. It’s unfathomable how he thought that he could run for the Republican nomination without having to wrestle with his brother’s record as president. While the war in Iraq is widely accepted to have been a disastrous mistake, another crucial event during the George W. Bush administration has long been considered unfit for political discussion: President Bush’s conduct, in the face of numerous warnings of a major terrorist plot, in the months leading up to September 11, 2001. The general consensus seems to have been that the 9/11 attacks were so horrible, so tragic, that to even suggest that the president at the time might bear any responsibility for not taking enough action to try to prevent them is to play “politics,” and to upset the public. And so we had a bipartisan commission examine the event and write a report; George W. Bushwe built memorials at the spots where the Twin Towers had come down and the Pentagon was attacked; and that was to be that.

And then along came Donald Trump, to whom “political correctness” is a relic of an antiquated, stuffy, political system he’s determined to overwhelm. In an interview on October 16, he violated the longstanding taboo by saying, “When you talk about George Bush — I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.” Trump’s comments set up a back and forth between him and Jeb Bush — who, as Trump undoubtedly anticipated, can’t let a blow against him by the frontrunner go by without response — but the real point is that with a simple declaration by Trump, there it was: the subject of George W. Bush’s handling of the warnings about the 9/11 attacks was out there. Jeb Bush had already left himself open to this charge by saying that his brother had “kept us safe.”

But that’s not the heart of the matter. The heretofore hushed-up public policy question that Trump stumbled into is: Did George W. Bush do what he could have to try to disrupt the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001? It’s not simply a question of whether he could have stopped the devastation—that’s unknowable. But did he do all he could given the various warnings that al-Qaeda was planning a major attack somewhere on US territory, most likely New York or Washington? The unpleasant, almost unbearable conclusion—one that was not to be discussed within the political realm—is that in the face of numerous warnings of an impending attack, Bush did nothing.

What is arguable about the events of 9/11 is whether they could have been stopped; what isn’t arguable is that George W. Bush didn’t try. Though Jeb Bush set out to run for president with the line, “I am my own man,” he has discovered that being George W’s brother is quite a burden.

Oct. 20

Washington Post, Canada’s Justin Trudeau leads a Liberal landslide in stunning election victory, Ishaan Tharoor, Oct. 20, 2015. On Tuesday morning, the Liberals woke up having captured 184 ridings, Canada's term for electoral districts -- an astonishing gain of 150 seats -- and a clear majority in Parliament. Much of the credit for the victory is being laid directly at Justin Trudeau's feet. He ran a disciplined, positive election campaign and withstood the attacks of his opponents, including the defeated Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who attempted to paint Trudeau as an inexperienced naif.

Legal Schnauzer, X-rays of my wife's shattered arm provide dramatic evidence of the trauma rogue cops can leave behind, Roger Shuler, Oct. 20, 2015. Since a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer fatally shot Michael Brown in August 2014, Americans have been inundated with stories about the victims of excessive force, police brutality, and other forms of law-enforcement misconduct. We are about to show you images of the physical wreckage thug cops can leave behind -- and we will do it in a dramatic form that I do not believe has been used at any other news site. Ironically, this also involves a Missouri style of police brutality, in Springfield (Greene County), in the southwest corner of the state. That's where some half dozen deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Department, including Sheriff Jim Arnott himself, conducted an unlawful eviction on September 9 that played out like an orchestrated terror attack.

My wife, Carol, and I had at least one assault rifle aimed at us, along with five or six handguns. We both were handcuffed, even though we were not alleged to have committed any crime, and the eviction itself was unlawfully scheduled during the 10-day post-judgment window when no such action can take place under Missouri law. On top of that, we had filed a Notice of Appeal and timely served attorneys for all parties, putting an automatic stay on the eviction. In other words, deputies had no lawful grounds to be on our rented property on September 9. But a veritable SWAT team invaded our residence anyway, and in the ensuing chaos, Carol's left arm was so badly broken that it required the expertise of Dr. Brian Buck, a trauma surgeon from Cox South Hospital in Springfield (and the University of Missouri) to piece it back together. Carol's caregivers have told her that the goal with such a serious break is to restore her arm to 95 percent use--and that would be a best-case scenario. The chances that her arm will return to normal appear slim.

Carol's recovery seems to be going about as well as we could hope. But the X-rays--even after surgery--give an idea of the kind of damage with which Dr. Buck and his team were faced. And they reflect the brutality with which an officer, who has the duty to "protect and serve," treated a 55-year-old woman who simply was trying to make sure our cat had a place to use the bathroom as the three of us stared homelessness in the face.

Washington's Blog, Trump: Bush Had “Advanced Notice” of 9/11, Oct. 20, 2015. Donald Trump says that George W. Bush knew 9/11 was coming and had “advanced knowledge” of the attack, but he failed to stop it. He’s right. Overwhelming evidence shows that 9/11 was foreseeable. Indeed, Al Qaeda crashing planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was itself foreseeable. Even the chair of the 9/11 Commission said that the attack was preventable. A top NSA whistleblower says that the NSA had all of the information it needed prior to 9/11 to stop the attacks. The only reason NSA didn’t share that information with other agencies is because of corruption … in an effort to consolidate power.

Truth In Media, Reality Check: Obama Pushes Perpetual War In Seven Countries, Ben Swann, Oct. 20, 2015. Both Republicans and Democrats are guiding our country into perpetual war in seven countries. Have we come to believe that war is the natural order of things? President Obama says that if the GOP had their way they would force him to conduct wars in seven different countries. Is that true? And is that something only the GOP wants? How many wars is President Obama conducting? “Right now, if I was taking the advice of some of the members of Congress who holler all the time, we’d be in, like, seven wars right now,” Obama said. “I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been counting.” When pressed by Yahoo News to explain the president’s remarks, a National Security Council spokesman listed Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen. The only problem is that Obama himself sent military forces in each one of these places.

Oct. 19

Huffington Post, Liberals Win Canadian Election, Ousting Harper, Randall Palmer and Rod Nickel, Oct. 19, 2015. Canada's Liberal party, led by Justin Trudeau, won a stunning election victory on Monday and toppled the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to unanimous projections by Canada's major television networks. The projected win ends the Conservatives' nine-year run in power and reflected a political shift away from Harper's brand of fiscal and cultural conservatism. The Conservatives were projected to become the official opposition in Parliament, with the left-leaning New Democratic Party in third.

Canada's Liberal leader Justin Trudeau rode a late campaign surge to a stunning election victory on Monday, toppling Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives with a promise of change and returning a touch of glamor, youth and charisma to Ottawa. Trudeau, 43, the photogenic son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, pledged to run a C$10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada's anemic economic growth. Trudeau has said he will repair Canada's cool relations with the Obama administration, withdraw Canada from the combat mission against Islamic State militants in favor of humanitarian aid and training, and tackle climate change.

The Guardian, British activist Jacky Sutton found dead in Istanbul airport, Alexandra Topping and Constanze Letsch, Oct. 19, 2015. Friends call for investigation and express disbelief about reports that former Jackie SuttonBBC producer appeared to have killed herself. A British woman who was working as the Iraq director for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has died in an Istanbul airport. Former BBC journalist Jacky Sutton, 50 (shown in a Facebook photo), is understood to have been found dead in a toilet at the city’s main airport.  Local media reported it appeared that Sutton, who was traveling to Irbil, northern Iraq, had killed herself after missing a flight connection, a claim colleagues said was unlikely. Sutton, who spoke five languages including basic Arabic, was the acting Iraq head of the London-based IWPR, which supports local journalism in countries affected by conflict and crisis. Its previous Iraq director, Ammar Al Shahbander, was killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad on 2 May and a memorial service was held for him in London last week.

Raw Story, Mississippi judge shrugs off innocent until proven guilty: People charged with crimes are criminals, Travis Gettys, Oct. 19, 2015. A Mississippi judge displayed a Marcus Gordon C-SPANstartling lack of concern with constitutional rights during a one-on-one interview. Circuit Court Judge Marcus D. Gordon (shown in a C-SPAN screenshot) agrees that suspects have a right under state law to an attorney as soon as an arrest warrant is issued, but he freely admits that he saves money by waiting to assign public defenders until suspects are formally indicted, reported Al Jazeera. However, defendants routinely wait in jail for months without speaking to an attorney because Mississippi doesn’t set a time limit for prosecutors to seek an indictment. Gordon, who is facing an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit for excessive pretrial detention and denial of counsel, told a reporter that he understands the system is flawed, but he said most criminal defendants were “con people” who probably deserved jail time. “Lady, people charged with crimes, they are criminals, and they say what meets their purpose,” Gordon said.

The Guardian, Homan Square revealed: how Chicago police 'disappeared' 7,000 people, Spencer Ackerman, Oct. 19, 2015. Exclusive: Guardian lawsuit exposes fullest scale yet of detentions at off-the-books interrogation warehouse, while attorneys describe find-your-client chase across Chicago as ‘something from a Bond movie.’  (Video: 2:46 min. by Philipp Batta and Mae Ryan.) From August 2004 to June 2015, nearly 6,000 of those held at the facility were black, which represents more than twice the proportion of the city’s population. But only 68 of those held were allowed access to attorneys or a public notice of their whereabouts, internal police records show.

The new disclosures, the result of an ongoing Guardian transparency lawsuit and investigation, provide the most detailed, full-scale portrait yet of the truth about Homan Square, a secretive facility that Chicago police have described as little more than a low-level narcotics crime outpost where the mayor has said police “follow all the rules.” According to an analysis of data disclosed to the Guardian in late September, police allowed lawyers access to Homan Square for only 0.94% of the 7,185 arrests logged over nearly 11 years. That percentage aligns with Chicago police’s broader practice of providing minimal access to attorneys during the crucial early interrogation stage, when an arrestee’s constitutional rights against self-incrimination are most vulnerable.

Washington Post, U.S. to require registration of recreational drones, Craig Whitlock, Oct. 19, 2015. Federal regulators said that they plan to require recreational drone users to register their aircraft with the government in an attempt to restore order to U.S. skies that have been invaded by rogue flying robots. Pilots of passenger planes and other aircraft are now reporting more than 100 sightings or close calls with rogue drones a month — an exponential increase just in the past year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

Zero Hedge, Peter Schiff’s Father Dies In Prison, Shackled To A Hospital Bed, Tyler Durden, Oct. 19, 2015. Most of you will be quite familiar with Peter Schiff. Fewer of you will know much about his father, Irwin Schiff, who was posthumously referred to as the “grandfather of the contemporary tax protest movement” in Forbes. Irwin was treated very poorly by his own country, particularly toward the end of his life when, despite being legally blind and dying of cancer, he was not permitted to die in peace amongst family members. His son Peter wrote the following as a tribute:

My father Irwin A. Schiff was born Feb. 23rd 1928, the 8th child and only son of Jewish immigrants, who had crossed the Atlantic twenty years earlier in search of freedom. As a result of their hope and courage my father was fortunate to have been born into the freest nation in the history of the world.  But when he passed away on Oct. 16th, 2015 at the age of 87, a political prisoner of that same nation, legally blind and shackled to a hospital bed in a guarded room in intensive care, the free nation he was born into had itself died years earlier.

My father had a life-long love affair with our nation’s founding principals and proudly served his country during the Korean War, for a while even having the less then honorable distinction of being the lowest ranking American soldier in Europe. While in college he became exposed to the principles of Austrian economics through the writings of Henry Hazlitt and Frederick Hayek. He first became active in politics during Barry Goldwater’s failed 1964 presidential bid. In 1976 his beliefs in free market economics, limited government, and strict interpretation of the Constitution led him to write his first book The Biggest Con: How the Government is Fleecing You, a blistering indictment of the post New Deal expansion of government in the United States. The book achieved accolades in the mainstream conservative world, receiving a stellar review in the Wall Street Journal, among other mainstream publications. 

But my father was most known for his staunch opposition to the Federal Income Tax, for which the Federal Government labeled him a “tax protester.” His crusade to force the government to obey the law earned him three prison sentences, the final one being a fourteen-year sentence that he began serving ten years ago, at the age of 77. That sentence turned into a life sentence, as my father failed to survive until his planned 2017 release date. I’d like to end this post on a lighter note, by sharing one of my favorite clips of Irwin, a man unappreciated by his country and left to die and elderly man, shackled to a cold hospital bed.

UK Independent, John F. Kennedy assassination: Photo showing Lee Harvey Oswald with same type of gun used to kill JFK 'authentic,' Adam Sherwin, Oct. 19, 2015. Oswald had claimed the photo had been Lee Harvey Oswald Life Magazine Cover Feb. 24, 1964faked when shown it by Dallas Police. Can the conspiracy theories finally be put to rest? An incriminating photograph which showed Lee Harvey Oswald in his backyard, holding the same type of rifle used to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, has been confirmed as authentic after an examination using the latest forensic techniques. Theories that the photo was a fake have been used to cast doubt on the evidence pointing to Oswald as the sole assassin of the President on November 22, 1963. Now researchers at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, have used a new digital image forensics technique and a 3-D model of Oswald, for the study, published in the Journal of Digital Forensics. JIP Editor's Note: This news report and professor's study are highly suspect, as indicated by reader comments. 

Democracy Now! Hosts Amy Goodman and Juan González interview for a three-part series David Talbot, author of the new book The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret David Talbot "The Devil's Chessboard" Dulles Book coverGovernment. Talbot is the founder and former CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon. He is also author of the best-seller, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years.

Introduction: It’s been more than 50 years since Allen Dulles resigned as director of the CIA, but his legacy lives on. Between 1953 and 1961, under his watch, the CIA overthrew the governments of Iran and Guatemala, invaded Cuba, and was tied to the killing of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected leader. We speak with David Talbot about how Dulles’ time at the CIA helped shape the current national security state.

The Rise of America's Secret Government: The Deadly Legacy of Ex-CIA Director Allen Dulles Pt. 1, Oct. 13, 2015.

The Rise of America’s Secret Government: The Deadly Legacy of Ex-CIA Director Allen Dulles, Pt. 2, Oct. 16, 2015.

A CIA Tie to JFK Assassination? Book on Ex-Director Allen Dulles Questions Agency's Role, Pt. 3, Oct. 19, 2015.

BBC, Syria conflict: 'Thousands flee Aleppo offensive,' Staff report, Oct. 19, 2015. At least 70,000 Syrians have fled a government offensive on rebel-held areas south of the city of Aleppo in the past three days, an activist says. Dr. Zaidoun al-Zoabi, head of the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations, told the BBC that several villages he had visited were empty. He saw thousands of people on the move, with no shelter or medical support. The government offensive is the latest of at least four launched with Russian air support in the past two weeks. More than 11 million Syrians have been driven from their homes since 2011. More than 4.18 million have fled abroad — 2.07 million of them to Turkey — with growing numbers now making the dangerous journey to Europe.

Daily Mail, A close shave? Terrified jihadists leave their BEARDS on the battlefield as they shave their faces en masse and dress as women to flee Syria, Sara Malm, Oct. 19, 2015. ISIS fighters are reportedly shaving their beards and dressing up as women in order to flee Syria, in the wake of Russia stepping up its military campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Pictures said to have been taken near Aleppo last week shows mounds of what looks like cut off facial hair, alongside discarded packets of razors. In order to cross the border to Turkey undetected, ISIS jihadists are said to be shaving and disguising themselves in niqabs — i  a veil covering all but the eyes worn by some muslim women.

Bloomberg, Why Donald Trump and Jeb Bush Are Fighting About 9/11, Sahil Kapur, Oct. 19, 2015. Fourteen years later, both Republicans seem to believe re-litigating the attacks benefits them in the presidential primary. If Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump wanted to bait Jeb Bush into spending the weekend defending his brother over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former Florida governor was happy to engage. The result was an intense brawl between the establishment favorite and the “outsider” front-runner that played out on the Sunday shows.

“Look, Jeb said we were safe with my brother — we were safe. Well, the World Trade Center just fell down. Now, am I trying to blame him? I’m not blaming anybody,” Trump said on Fox News Sunday. “But the World Trade Center came down. So when he said, we were safe, that’s not safe. We lost 3,000 people, it was one of the greatest—probably the greatest catastrophe ever in this country if you think about it.” Meanwhile on CNN's State of the Union, Bush defended his brother, saying he “united the country” after the attacks. “I don't know why he keeps bringing this up,” Bush said. “It doesn't show that he's a serious person as it relates to being commander in chief and being the architect of a foreign policy. Across the spectrum of foreign policy, Mr. Trump talks about things that—as though he's still on The Apprentice.”

Politico, Gowdy appears to accidentally release CIA source's name, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 19, 2015. Citing 'human error,' State Department acknowledges it failed to delete name when clearing email for disclosure. Trey GowdyHouse Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy appears to have accidentally released the name of a CIA source in the midst of a back-and-forth with Democrats about how sensitive the information was and whether its presence in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account constituted a security breach. Gowdy’s aides blamed the State Department for the disclosure, and the agency acknowledged Monday a “human error” led to a failure to delete a name from the email in question.

Oct. 18

Tony BlairDaily Mail, Leaked Memo Reveals Blair's 'Deal In Blood' With Bush Over Iraq War, William Lowther and Glen Owen, Oct. 18, 2015. A bombshell White House memo has revealed for the first time details of the ‘deal in blood’ forged in 2002 by Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (shown in a 2014 file photo) and George W. Bush over the Iraq War. The sensational leak of a document by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shows that Blair gave the United States an unqualified pledge to support the conflict a year before the invasion started. It flies in the face of the Labour prime minister’s public claims at the time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Blair told voters: ‘We’re not proposing military action’ — in direct contrast to what the secret email now reveals.

AP via Washingtgon Post, Leaked memo offers insight into Blair’s thinking before Iraq, Danica Kirka, Oct 18, 2015. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair supported military operations in Iraq about a year before the British Parliament approved such action, according to a 2002 memo written by then-U.S.Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Washington Post, Trump triples down on George W. Bush’s responsibility for 9/11, Karoun Demirjian October 18, 2015. Jeb Bush defends his brother against Trump Donald Trump says he George W. Bushdoesn’t flat out blame former president George W. Bush that the Sept. 11 terror attacks happened on his watch. But he can think of three reasons why one could hold Bush responsible. Jeb Bush retorted on Twitter, calling Trump’s comments “pathetic” and repeating an argument he used during the most recent Republican debate: that his brother “kept us safe.”

Bloomberg via Yahoo!, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Team Up on George W. Bush, Alison Elkin, Oct. 18, 2105. It's not every day that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders see eye-to-eye on an issue. But on Sunday the two candidates from opposing ends of the political spectrum stood in agreement that former President George W. Bush's Iraq invasion was a serious mistake. "I would say that the decision — Bush's decision to get us into a war in Iraq unilaterally — was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of the United States. It destabilized the entire region, and led us, in many respects, to where we are today," Sanders said, appearing on ABC's This Week on Sunday. Trump, meanwhile, took up a similar argument on Twitter.

 

Barack Obama, Bin Laden killing photo at White House

In 2011, the White House released a widely republished photo above showing President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other senior officials in the Situation Room watching what was announced as the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. personnel raiding a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

New York Times, What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death? Jonathan Mahler, Oct. 15 (published Oct. 18), 2015. The history of Obama’s most important foreign-policy victory is still being written. It’s hard to overstate the degree to which the killing of Osama bin Laden transformed American politics. From a purely practical standpoint, it enabled Obama to recast himself as a bold leader, as opposed to an overly cautious one, in advance of his 2012 re-election campaign. This had an undeniable impact on the outcome of that election. (‘‘Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,’’ Joe Biden was fond of boasting on the campaign trail.) Strategically, the death of bin Laden allowed Obama to declare victory over Al Qaeda, giving him the cover he needed to begin phasing U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. And it almost single-handedly redeemed the C.I.A., turning a decade-long failure of intelligence into one of the greatest triumphs in the history of the agency.

‘‘The story stunk from Day 1,’’ [Seymour] Hersh told me. Within days of the bin Laden raid, Hersh told me, ‘‘I knew there was a big story there.’’ He spent the next four years, on and off, trying to get it. What he wound up publishing, this May in the London Review of Books, was no incremental effort to poke a few holes in the administration’s story. It was a 10,000-word refutation of the entire official narrative, sourced largely to a retired U.S. senior intelligence official, with corroboration from two ‘‘longtime consultants to the Special Operations Command.’’ Hersh confidently walked readers through an alternate version of all the familiar plot points in a dispassionate, just-the-facts tone, turning a story of patient perseverance, careful planning and derring-do into one of luck (good and bad), damage control and opportunism.

Oct. 17

Institute for Political Economy, The Fall Of The Unipower, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 17, 2015. (The conservative scholar Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, shown in a file photo) has been assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan Paul Craig Robertsadministration, associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, and a research scholar at universities and think tanks.) The distinguished William Engdahl, in a superb statement here, has expressed the view I gave you that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech on September 28 at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations changed the balance of power in the world. It is clear that the neoconservatives are not sufficiently realistic to accept this change in the power balance and will resist it to the point of war. Until Putin’s speech, the world was intimidated by the Washington Bully. Resistance to Washington brought swift retribution. In the Middle East and Africa it brought economic sanctions and military invasions that destroyed entire countries.

Other countries felt powerless in the face of the arrogant hegemonic Unipower, which from time to time replied to noncompliance with threats, such as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage delivered to Pakistan, to bomb non-compliant countries “back to the stone age.” President Putin of Russia brought all that to end on September 28. Putin denounced Washington’s threat to the sovereignty -- and thereby the freedom -- of peoples and countries. He denounced the heartless criminality of Washington’s destruction of the lives of millions of peoples on the basis of nothing other than Washington’s own arrogance. He denouced the illegality of Washington’s assaults on the sovereignty of other peoples, and declared that Russia can no longer tolerate this state of affairs in the world.

Two days later, he took over the war in Syria and began exterminating the Washington-financed and equipped Islamic State. Cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea hit ISIL targets with pinpoint accuracy and showed Washington’s EU vassals that Washington’s ABM system could not protect them if Europe permitted Washington to force Europe into conflict with Russia. Putin’s declaration of multi-polarity was seconded by the President of China, who said in his understated, mild way that every country must participate in shaping the future and not just follow the leadership of one.

The remaining danger is the crazed American neoconservatives. I know many of them. They are completely insane ideologues. This inhuman filth has controlled the foreign policy of every U.S. government since Clinton’s second term. They are a danger to all life on earth. Look at the destruction they have wreaked in the former Yugoslavia, in Ukraine, in Georgia and South Ossetia, in Africa, in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The American people were too brainwashed by lies and by political impotence to do anything about it, and Washington’s vassals in Europe, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan had to pretend that this policy of international murder was “bringing freedom and democracy.” The neoconsevatives must be removed from power, arrested, and put on international trial for their horrendous war crimes before they defend their hegemony with Armageddon.

NPR, We Ask Experts: Has The Situation In Syria Become A Proxy War? Eyder Peralta, Oct. 17, 2015. During a recent news conference, President Obama said he would not allow the current conflict in Syria to devolve into a proxy war between the United States and Russia. "That would be bad strategy on our part," he said. "This is a battle between Russia, Iran and [Syrian President Bashar Assad] against the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people." His comment came as Russia stepped up its military operations in the country with a bombing campaign that U.S. officials say has targeted CIA-backed rebels. That made us wonder: Is the situation in Syria already a proxy war, which is generally defined as a conflict between two countries that is fought on third-party soil? We took the question to three experts in the field, and they gave us three different answers.

Consortium News, Jeffrey Sterling’s Selective Prosecution, Chelsea Gilmour, Oct. 17, 2015. Exclusive: The leak conviction of ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling exposed a range of double standards, from how the spy agency treats African-Americans to how favored officials like Gen. David Petraeus get a pass while others get prison, an issue now before President Obama. Holly Sterling, the wife of a former CIA officer convicted of leaking details about a botched CIA plan to give flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran, has asked President Barack Obama to pardon her husband who was targeted for prosecution after accusing the CIA of racial discrimination and taking his concerns about the Iran scheme to congressional authorities. In a 14-page letter to President Obama, Holly Sterling recounted the personal nightmare of the U.S. government’s relentless pursuit of her husband, Jeffrey Sterling, an African-American, after an account of the Iran operation – codenamed Operation Merlin – appeared in State of War, a 2006 book by New York Times reporter James Risen.

The Japan Times, ‘Base Nation’ reveals the destructive tentacles of U.S. hegemony, Stephen Mansfield, Oct. 17, 2015.  People are often only aware of what is in their own backyard: the intrusiveness of a radar tower here, an ammunition dump there. David Vine’s new book, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, succeeds in shaking us out of our provincialism. The author begins his book on America’s global military installations with a description of the less-publicized side of the U.S. base in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. Here the quotidian hallmarks of middle-class suburbia — manicured gardens, barbecue grills, artificial turf, a roller-skating rink, outdoor movie theater, post office, beauty care shops, schools, a chapel and a McDonald’s — compete for visual attention with heavy-duty military vehicles and razor wire. The point is clear: The very ordinariness of bases around the world belies their lethal impact on the lives of proximate residents and the environment.

Vine writes that, astonishingly, the U.S. maintains around 800 bases worldwide, many in places you might never imagine, such as Bulgaria, Aruba and Burkina Faso. Few American citizens question the necessity of these bases or the staggering cost of building and maintaining them, which — despite the Pentagon’s efforts to obfuscate figures — costs American taxpayers something in the region of $100 billion annually. The financial costs pale against the human ones, with military personnel directly responsible for countless sexual assaults, a slew of minor criminal offenses and massive amounts of environmental and societal damage in the form of chemical, oil and fuel leakage, in addition to the discharge and burial of toxic materials, and the forced displacement of local populations.

And one further practice the author feels tarnish America’s international reputation: the government’s preference for bases in “undemocratic and often despotic states.” Niceties such as human rights are quietly ignored when collaborating with these types of regimes. According to the author, the military is keen to move many of its installations from Western Europe, where environmental regulations are strict, to more amenable and impoverished areas of Africa and Eastern Europe.

Oct. 16

Washington Post, Trump swam in mob-infested waters in early years as a developer in New York, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Oct. 16, 2015. Donald Trump was never accused of illegality, and observers of the time say that working with mob-related figures and politicos came with the territory. As billionaire developer Donald Trump became the toast of New York in the 1980s, he often attributed his rise to salesmanship Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionand verve. “Deals are my art form,” he wrote. But there is another aspect to his success that he doesn’t often discuss. Throughout his early career, Trump (shown in a photo by Gage Skidmore) routinely gave large campaign contributions to politicians who held sway over his projects and he worked with mob-controlled companies and unions to build them. A Washington Post review of court records, testimony by Trump and other accounts that have been out of the public eye for decades offers insights into his rise. He was never accused of illegality, and observers of the time say that working with the mob-related figures and politicos came with the territory. Trump declined repeated requests to comment.

Fox News, Source: FBI probe of Clinton email focused on ‘gross negligence’ provision, Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne, Oct. 16, 2015. Whistleblower calls out double standard in Clinton case. Three months after Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address and server while secretary of state was referred to the FBI, an intelligence source familiar with the investigation tells Fox News that the team is now focused on whether there were violations of an Espionage Act subsection pertaining to "gross negligence" in the safekeeping of national defense information. Under 18 USC 793 subsection F, the information does not have to be classified to count as a violation. The intelligence source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the ongoing probe, said the subsection requires the "lawful possession" of national defense information by a security clearance holder who "through gross negligence," such as the use of an unsecure computer network, permits the material to be removed or abstracted from its proper, secure location.

Subsection F also requires the clearance holder "to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer. "A failure to do so "shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both." The source said investigators are also focused on possible obstruction of justice. "If someone knows there is an ongoing investigation and takes action to impede an investigation, for example destruction of documents or threatening of witnesses, that could be a separate charge but still remain under a single case," the source said. Currently, the ongoing investigation is led by the Washington Field Office of the FBI.

Politico, Lawyer: Benghazi Defendant Slower To Get Info Than FOIA Requesters, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 16, 2015. A lawyer for a Libyan man charged with being a ringleader of the deadly 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi complained Friday that the government is turning over information about the attack in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits before providing it to the defense in the criminal case. The claim came at a court hearing in Washington Friday for Libyan national Ahmed Abu Khatallah, who is facing a slew of terrorism and murder charges in connection with the assault that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. "We still are able to find on the internet documents related to Benghazi" that have not been produced to the defense, assistant federal defender Mary Petras told U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper. She said the records had been turned over by the executive branch to groups like Judicial Watch or to Congress, while at least one U.S. government agency involved had yet to provide any information to the defense.

Ronald Reagan Washington Post, 7 mistakes in Bill O'Reilly's book about Ronald Reagan, Craig Shirley, Kiron K. Skinner, Paul Kengor and Steven F. Hayward, Oct. 16, 2015. Here's what Bill O'Reilly's new book about Ronald Reagan, "Killing Reagan," gets wrong—according to four Reagan scholars. The book Killing Reagan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is supposed to be a book of new scholarship on the Reagan presidency. Instead, it restates old claims and rumors, virtually all of which have been discredited by the historical record. In this best-selling book, there are no endnotes, no bibliography, no long list of interviewees and only a smattering of footnotes. There is a section titled “Sources,” but it is only two-and-a-half pages long. It includes about two dozen sources, but that is not adequate for a subject, Ronald Reagan, who has been the focus of thousands of books and articles and who was one of the most consequential political figures of the 20th century. The works of three of us are not noted at all, and between the four of us, we have written 19 books on Reagan, not to mention countless articles. The sources section does, however, reference long-questionable works, including the sensational 1991 attack by Kitty Kelley — which is clearly incorporated throughout the book — and the 1999 biography by Edmund Morris, roundly criticized for its intermingling of fact and fiction.

Bill O'Reilly 2010There are small and large mistakes throughout Killing Reagan. Repeatedly, Ronald Prescott Reagan is referred to as “Ron Jr,” a minor matter but a revealing one. The book states that Reagan’s radio broadcasts of the late 1970s were once a week, but they were delivered five times a week. There are dozens of Kelley-type references to horoscope readers, astrologers, an imperious Nancy running the country and generally a persistent, clueless and oblivious Ronald Reagan — addle-brained, out of touch, dangerously uninformed. The most common word used to describe Reagan is probably “confused.”

A large part of the storyline refers to the erroneous contention that there was serious consideration about removing Reagan from office via the 25th Amendment after John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate him in 1981. What’s so remarkable about the 11 days Reagan spent in the hospital recovering from his wounds is that beyond the standard discussion of temporary presidential disability among some of the president’s closest aides, none of these aides or cabinet members attempted to invoke the 25th Amendment or succession laws. Former Attorney General Ed Meese, who was not interviewed for this book but who served as Reagan’s closest aide and friend for many years, was dismissive of the allegation about the 25th Amendment as utterly and completely false. We four have interviewed Meese often, and some of us have talked to him about this book and its sourcing.

It speaks volumes that none of the hundreds of former Reagan White House staffers has stepped forward to corroborate the story. Reagan’s national security adviser, Richard V. Allen, told us flatly that “Killing Reagan” is “garbage.” Allen was also there the day Reagan was shot, but again, neither O’Reilly nor Dugard spoke to him. They list only four people interviewed, including Lesley Stahl — a CBS journalist who was not a primary source and who was always extremely dismissive of Reagan’s cognitive abilities.

Vanity Fair, There’s Just One Problem with Those Bin Laden Conspiracy Theories, Mark Bowden, Oct. 16, 2015. They have no factual basis, despite what you may have read in ​​The New York Times Magazine,​ argues the reporter who pieced together the story from dozens of on-the-record interviews. Without a shred of evidence, without contradicting a word that I wrote, Jonathan Mahler in The New York Times Magazine this week suggests that the “irresistible story” that I told about the killing of Osama bin Laden in my 2012 book, The Finish (excerpted in Vanity Fair), might well have been a fabrication — “another example of American mythmaking.” He presents an alternative version of the story written by Seymour Hersh as, effectively, a rival account, one that raises serious doubts about mine, which is all but dubbed “the official version.” It’s not meant kindly. Mahler’s think piece about the iffiness of reporting and the hazards of trying to shape history into a narrative is a great gift to conspiratorial thinkers everywhere. It’s not often that the most distinguished journalistic institution in America wades so fully into the crackpot world of Internet theorizing, where all information, no matter its source, is weightless and equal. Mahler is careful not to side with either Hersh or me, but allows that “Hersh’s version doesn’t require us to believe in the possibility of a government-wide conspiracy.”

New York Daily News, Trump implies Bush deserves some blame for 9/11: 'The World Trade Center came down during his reign,' Cameron Joseph, Corky Siemaszko, Oct. 16, 2015. Donald Trump stuck a shiv into the Republican establishment Friday by suggesting that former President George W. Bush bears some of the blame for the 9/11 attacks. “When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time," Trump said on Bloomberg TV.

Anchor Stephanie Ruhle appeared stunned by Trump’s remark. "Hold on, you can't blame George Bush for that," she said. "He was President, OK?” the GOP front-runner said. “Blame him, or don't blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign."

Trump’s crack sent shockwaves through the Republican ranks — and drew a swift response from Bush’s brother Jeb, who is also running for President. “How pathetic for @realdonaldtrump to criticize the president for 9/11,” Jeb Bush tweeted. “We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.”

Fox News, Huma testifies before Benghazi committee, ahead of Clinton appearance, Staff report, Oct. 16, 2015. Clinton confidante Huma Abedin testified on Capitol Hill Friday before the congressional Benghazi Trey Gowdycommittee, just days before the former secretary of state faces off with the panel she has called a political attack arm. The closed-door meeting came as committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (shown in a photo) combats accusations from both sides of the aisle that the panel is political in nature and bent on targeting Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. The decision by the GOP-led panel to question Abedin angered the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who argued that her knowledge of details at the time of the attacks is minimal. "She had no policy responsibilities, no operational responsibilities and was not with Secretary Clinton on the night of this phenomenal tragedy," Cummings told reporters.

OpEdNews, DNC Being Revealed as Un-democratic, Top-Down Authoritarian Election Rigging Fiefdom Run By Hillary Insiders, Rob Kall, Oct. 16, 2015. The Democratic party has long been a sham when it comes Debbie Wasserman-Schultzto grassroots determination of candidates. Super-delegates, that is, current and former US senators, a handful of of governors and leaders in the house have historically played a huge roll in choosing who the people get to vote for. Big players have historically included Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the current head of the DNC, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. This perversely top-down, anti-democratic approach to party politics has enabled the party's slide to the right, towards DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) policy and positions and candidates who are hard to differentiate from centrist Republicans. Two headlines today show growing evidence that the DNC -- the Democratic National Committee is not democratic, and not a committee. It is a authoritarian fiefdom being run by Hillary insiders, headed by serial liar Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (shown in a Twitter photo).

  •     Top Party Official Accuses Democratic National Chairwoman of Lying and Questions Her Leadership
  •     Democratic National Committeewoman says her party is 'clearing a path' for Hillary Clinton

Oct. 15

Dennis Hastert Gavel Wikipedia

Dennis Hastert, a former Illinois congressman who held the nation's third-ranking post longer than any Republican in history

Chicago Tribune, Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert reaches plea deal, to admit wrongdoing, Jason Meisner, Oct. 15, 2015. Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is accused of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance, then lying to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks. Lawyers for Dennis Hastert said Thursday that the former U.S. House speaker plans to plead guilty to an indictment that alleges he agreed to make $3.5 million in hush money payments to cover up wrongdoing from years ago. Hastert's attorney, John Gallo, told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin that a written plea agreement has been worked out in the case. Durkin set a hearing for Hastert to enter the guilty plea on Oct. 28 — five months to the day after the bombshell indictment against the powerhouse Republican was announced. The plea negotiations, first revealed in a hearing late last month, mean many of the details surrounding Hastert's prosecution might never be publicly aired, including the identity of Individual A, the mysterious figure who prosecutors say took cash from Hastert to keep quiet about a dark history with him.

Washington Times, Obama ignores generals’ advice on troop levels for unprecedented sixth time, Rowan Scarborough, Oct. 15, 2015. In the end, President Obama was forced to listen to his generals — not his political instincts — on Afghanistan troop levels, and he decided to split the difference. Mr. Obama is keeping 5,500 troops in Afghanistan beyond his presidency, about half the strength recommended by his top general in-country. It marks the sixth time he has rejected the advice of a ground commander on the force size in the long Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Military experts call that streak unprecedented for a commander in chief.

Press TV (Iran), The Debate – Targeting Terrorists in Syria, Waqar Rizvi, Oct. 15, 2015. (Video). Debating (via side-by-side but remote questions) the current U.S. strategies against ISIS/ISIL are former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and investigative reporter and author Wayne Madsen, a former U.S. Naval intellitgence officer and NSA analyst. 

Salon, “Every president has been manipulated by national security officials," Liam O'Donoghue, Oct 15, 2015. David Talbot exposes America’s “deep state” From World War II though JFK, "The Devil's Chessboard" explores how Allen Dulles used the CIA as a tool of elites. This year’s best spy thriller isn’t fiction – it’s history. David Talbot’s previous book, the bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the David Talbot "The Devil's Chessboard" Dulles Book coverKennedy Years explored Robert F. Kennedy’s search for the truth following his brother’s murder. His new work, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, zooms out from JFK’s murder to investigate the rise of the shadowy network that Talbot holds ultimately responsible for the president’s assassination.

This isn’t merely a whodunit story, though. Talbot’s ultimate goal is exploring how  the rise of the “deep state” has impacted the trajectory of America, and given our nation’s vast influence, the rest of the planet.  “To thoroughly and honestly analyze [former CIA director] Allen Dulles’s legacy is to analyze the current state of national security in America and how it undermines democracy,” Talbot told Salon. “To really grapple with what is in my book is not just to grapple with history. It is to grapple with our current problems.”

Fox News, Herridge: Whistleblowers Call Out Double Standard in Hillary's Email Scandal, Catherine Herridge, Oct. 15, 2015. Today, intel whistleblowers and the wife of an imprisoned whistleblower held a press conference to highlight the glaring double standards between their situations and Hillary Clinton’s server scandal. They claim they lost their careers and life savings for doing just a fraction of what Clinton did. Catherine Herridge reported on "Hannity" that CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced earlier this year to three and a half years in prison for violating the Espionage Act for giving information about Iran to a New York Times reporter. Herridge said that Sterling was also convicted on obstruction of justice charges because a single email was missing from his account. She added that former NSA official Thomas Drake was indicted in 2010 under the Espionage Act for sharing unclassified information with a Baltimore Sun reporter. "Compare that to the Clinton emails, more than 400 containing classified information on her personal, unsecured server," Herridge said. She noted that Clinton's go-to explanation is that nothing on her server was marked classified, but the Drake and Sterling cases show that's no excuse under the law. Herridge said it doesn't matter how emails are labeled. The content is what matters. "The question is, will the law be applied in a universal way, and that there's not a double standard, sort of a law for the common guy and then a law for the politically elite, like Mrs. Clinton?" Video below:

Huffington Post, Feds Arrest Fox News Commentator, Allege He Lied About CIA Past, Ryan J. Reilly, Oct. 15, 2015. Wayne Simmons allegedly claimed past criminal history was related to his work at the CIA. A regular guest commentator on Fox News who has been lying for years about working for the Central Intelligence Agency was arrested on Thursday and is being charged in connection with falsely claiming he worked as an “Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer” for the CIA for nearly three decades. Wayne Simmons, a 62-year-old who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, was arrested by federal authorities following his indictment by a federal grand jury for allegedly committing major fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government. Simmons claims to have worked for the CIA from 1973 to 2000, and "used that false claim in an attempt to obtain government security clearances and work as a defense contractor, including at one point successfully getting deployed overseas as an intelligence advisor to senior military personnel," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Intercept, The Drone Papers, Staff report including Jeremy Scahill, Oct. 15 2015. (Article 1 of 8.) From his first days as commander in chief, the drone has been President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice, used by the military and the CIA to hunt down and kill the people his administration has deemed — through secretive processes, without indictment or trial — worthy of execution. There has been intense focus on the technology of remote killing, but that often serves as a surrogate for what should be a broader examination of the state’s power over life and death.

Drones are a tool, not a policy. The policy is assassination. While every president since Gerald Ford has upheld an executive order banning assassinations by U.S. personnel, Congress has avoided legislating the issue or even defining the word “assassination.” This has allowed proponents of the drone wars to rebrand assassinations with more palatable characterizations, such as the term du jour, “targeted killings.”

When the Obama administration has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an “imminent” threat is present and there is “near certainty” that the intended target will be eliminated. Those terms, however, appear to have been bluntly redefined to bear almost no resemblance to their commonly understood meanings.

The first drone strike outside of a declared war zone was conducted more than 12 years ago, yet it was not until May 2013 that the White House released a set of standards and procedures for conducting such strikes.

Series Editor-in-Chief: Betsy Reed. Series Editor: Roger Hodge. Rubina Madan Fillion, Charlotte Greensit, Andrea Jones, Peter Maass. Research: Alleen Brown, John Thomason, Margot Williams, Spencer Woodman. Art Direction: Stephane Elbaz and Philipp Hubert. Development: Tom Conroy and Raby Yuson.

    1. The Assassination Complex, Jeremy Scahill, Oct. 15 2015.
    2. A Visual Glossary, Josh Begley Oct. 15 2015.
    3. The Kill Chain, Cora Currier, Oct. 15 2015.
    4. Find, Fix, Finish, Jeremy Scahill, Oct. 15 2015.
    5. Manhunting in the Hindu Kush, Ryan Devereux, Oct. 15, 2015.
    6. Firing Blind, Cora Currier, Peter Maass, Oct. 15, 2015.
    7. The Life and Death of Objective Peckham, Ryan Gallagher, Oct. 15, 2015. 
    8. Target Africaarget AfricaNick Turse, Oct. 15, 2015.

Huffington Post, Drone Leak: 90% Of Killed Weren't Targeted, (Excerpt of The Drone Papers by staff, including Jeremy Scahill), Oct. 15 2015.. Taken together, the secret documents lead to the conclusion that Washington’s 14-year high-value targeting campaign suffers from an over reliance on signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and — due to a preference for assassination rather than capture — an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects. They also highlight the futility of the war in Afghanistan by showing how the U.S. has poured vast resources into killing local insurgents, in the process exacerbating the very threat the U.S. is seeking to confront.

These secret slides help provide historical context to Washington’s ongoing wars, and are especially relevant today as the U.S. military intensifies its drone strikes and covert actions against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Those campaigns, like the ones detailed in these documents, are unconventional wars that employ special operations forces at the tip of the spear.

CNN, Report: Most killed in U.S. drone strikes are unintended targets, Jake Tapper interviews Jeremy Scahill, Oct. 15, 2015 (4:34 min.). From the author who helped publish Snowden documents, a new report claims the Pentagon's drone program killed nearly 90% of unintended targets.
 


RT International, Former Fox News ‘CIA & terrorism expert’ arrested for fraudulent career claims, RT’s Eunan O’Neil speaks with former CIA officer Ray McGovern, Oct. 16, 2015 (video). News broke Thursday that Wayne Simmons, who has been a regular panel expert for Fox News since 2004, and who claimed to have knowledge and experience as a CIA operative, had been arrested for lying about that very CIA experience on government documents. RT’s Eunan O’Neil speaks with former CIA Agent Ray McGovern about how the fallout will affect mainstream news and how agencies vet their people.

New York Times, Review: ‘The Last of the President’s Men,’ Wading Back Into the Watergate Swamp, Michiko Kakutani, Oct. 15 2015. President Richard M. Nixon’s decision to install a secret recording system in the White House and the decision of an aide named Alexander Butterfield to disclose its existence to the Senate Watergate committee on July 16, 1973, changed the course of history. The tapes — including the damning “smoking gun” conversation, days after the Watergate break-in, in which Nixon and his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, brazenly talked about ordering the C.I.A. to block further F.B.I. investigation — sealed the president’s fate, implicating him in the obstruction of justice. He resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.

In his slight but readable new book, The Last of the President’s Men,  Bob Woodward — who, with Carl Bernstein, broke the Watergate story for The Washington Post more than four decades ago — returns to the subject of President Nixon. Long famous for his inside sources, Mr. Woodward relies here largely on some 40 hours of interviews with Mr. Butterfield, a draft of an unpublished memoir by that former aide and a voluminous archive of documents that Mr. Butterfield — deputy to Haldeman, and near the very center of the president’s tiny solar system — took with him when he left the White House in 1973.

Readers might well suspect that there is not all that much new to learn about his toxic presidency. Mr. Woodward writes that on a secret document dated Jan. 3, 1972 (the day after Nixon gave an interview to Dan Rather, declaring that the bombing of North Vietnam had been “very, very effective”), the president scrawled a note to Mr. Kissinger: “K. We have had 10 years of total control of the air in Laos and V.Nam. The result=Zilch. There is something wrong with the strategy or the Air Force.” Despite this observation, Mr. Woodward continues, Nixon “ordered increased bombing and the U.S. military dropped 1.1 million tons in that year alone — more than in any single year” of the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency — bombing that Nixon knew was politically popular and would likely ensure his re-election.

Politico, Feds complain leak lawsuit spurred leaks, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 15, 2015. A flurry of improper leaks to the media is plaguing a lawsuit the FBI is facing over allegations it illegally leaked private information, the Justice Department complained Thursday. The government's move to turn the tables came in a suit brought by Florida residents Jill and Scott Kelley, who contend that their privacy was invaded when FBI and Defense Department officials leaked messages from their private email account after Jill Kelley told the FBI that she and high ranking government officials she knew were being stalked online.

David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell July 2011 afghanistanThe ensuing investigation exposed an extramarital affair then-CIA Director David Petraeus had with his biographer, Paula Broadwell [shown together in a file photo]. The disclosure led to Petraeus's resignation and eventually to his guilty plea earlier this year to a misdemeanor charge he mishandled classified information by storing it at his home and sharing it with Broadwell. In a court filing early Thursday (posted here ), the Justice Department pointed to stories on CNN's website and in Politico [FBI agent in sworn deposition: Petraeus lover accessed his emails, April 23, 2015] detailing aspects of a key FBI agent's deposition in the case. The motion seeking to limit questioning of FBI officials stopped just short of accusing the Kelleys or their attorneys of the leaks, but argued that the disclosures appeared to be part of an effort to abuse depositions in the case to fish for information on topics that government lawyers believe should be off limits.

Gen. John AllenThe DOJ filing argues that the Kelleys' attorneys are pursuing an "ulterior motive" by using the depositions to embarrass and harass witnesses and to seek information not related to the only surviving issue in the suit: whether the FBI or Defense Department leaked private information about the Kelleys to the media. Some press accounts after the probe became public suggested Jill Kelley had an affair with Gen. John Allen {shown in a file photo], something both parties deny. 

Reader Supported News, The Murder of JFK: Another Puzzle Piece Solved, Bill Simpich, Oct. 15, 2015. The mainstream media in America continually fails to understand that Americans are not interested in having a secret government. Former Salon editor David Talbot has a new book coming out this week, entitled The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. The book explores how Dulles targeted foreign leaders for assassination and then brought this practice back home with the murder of JFK. Tufts professor Michael Glennon released a book last year on the similarity in security policies of Bush and Obama entitled National Security and the Rise of Double Government. Glennon explains how the roles of the presidency, the Congress, and the courts are “largely illusory” compared to the powers of those safely situated in the back room.

What the mainstream media has not yet realized is that the JFK case is being solved, thanks largely to the brute force of the power of the Internet. As in most suppressed stories, the revelations come one piece at a time. The following story is illustrative of how social media is able to force long-hidden stories to break open. Just two years ago, the story of the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit on November 22, 1963, took a most unexpected twist.

A local TV newscast showed footage taken by the local ABC affiliate WFAA on that date more than 50 years ago. In the film, Dallas police captain Pinky Westbrook can be seen handling a wallet at the scene of Tippit’s murder. It appears to be the wallet of the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. What makes the footage remarkable is that the official story was that the wallet was not found until about an hour later, when Dallas police detective Paul Bentley removed it from Oswald’s back pocket shortly after taking him into custody at the Texas Theatre, several blocks away from where Tippit was gunned down. FBI agent Bob Barrett, who was at the scene of Tippit’s murder and is still alive in Pell City, Alabama, now calls Paul Bentley’s story “hogwash.” The wallet is important because its contents connected Oswald to the guns used in the murder of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit. Here’s the story insofar as it is known.

Marie Claire, A Blogger Claimed I Had an Affair with My Boss — and I Sued Him for $3.5 Million, Jessica Garrison, as told to Liz Welch, Oct. 15, 2015. Republican campaign manager Jessica Garrison found herself in the crosshairs of a liberal blogger with an agenda. This is her story of fighting back. My saga started in July 2013. A friend texted me, asking, "Do you know this guy, Roger Shuler?" I didn't, but quickly learned he was the political blogger behind the website Legal Schnauzer and author of a new post that would forever change my life: "AG Luther Strange Has a Messy Extra-Marital Affair with Ex-Campaign Aide Jessica Garrison."

That was my name in a headline, alleging I had had an affair with my friend and former boss, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. (I managed his 2010 campaign.) I was shocked—it was usually the politicians whose names were dragged through the mud, not mine. Honestly, it was so ludicrous that I did something like a proverbial shoulder shrug and tried to move on. And thankfully everyone who knows me knew it wasn't true, including my former boss's wife, Melissa—we wound up in tears on the phone together wondering why someone would make up such horrible things.

By then, I was a Executive Director at RAGA, the Republican Attorney General's Association, in Washington, D.C. My job was to meet with corporations to promote working with Attorney Generals. One day, I went to a meeting with the Government Affairs director at Apple at a restaurant in Cupertino, California. When I arrived, he said, "I looked you up online so I could recognize you." My heart stopped beating. All I could think throughout the meeting was, 'This man thinks I slept with the Attorney General of Alabama.'

When Shuler was served with the papers from my attorney, he was already in jail for another defamation case. (Robert Riley, a lobbyist, sued Shuler for alleging he'd had an affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.) When we met in court for a preliminary hearing, Shuler came in wearing an orange jumpsuit. He sat directly across from me, but never looked at me. He didn't seem to care that his lies could have destroyed my personal and professional life. I can only assume that his goal was to damage Luther politically, and that he thought using a woman who worked closely with the AG was the best way to do that. He didn't realize that he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

Washington, Richard Hanna and the GOP are handing Hillary Clinton a Benghazi hearing win before it even starts, Chris Cillizza, Oct. 15, 2015. Hillary Rodham Clinton won't appear before the House select Kevin McCarthycommittee tasked with investigating the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, until next Thursday. But, thanks to House Republicans, she's already got a major leg up, politically speaking. First came House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's career-killing comment that the Benghazi committee deserved credit for dragging down Clinton's poll numbers. [McCarthy is shown in a file photo.] Now we have Rep. Richard Hanna (N.Y.) who told a local radio station this week that "this may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton." Hanna added: “I think that’s the way Washington works. But you’d like to expect more from a committee that’s spent millions of dollars and tons of time.”

While McCarthy's comments were the sort of thing where, in the most positive light, you could see them being something short of an indictment of the roots and goals of the Benghazi committee, Hanna's are not. This is a politically motivated operation aimed at trying to damage the leading Democratic candidate for president, according to Hanna. Not much room for misunderstanding there.

Truthout,The US Could End Saudi War Crimes in Yemen; It Just Doesn't Want To, Gareth Porter, Oct. 15, 2015. The Saudi-led coalition is guilty of systematic war crimes in Yemen, and the US bears legal responsibility because of the use of arms purchased from the United States, an Amnesty International report charged in early October. But although the Obama administration is not happy with the Saudi war and has tremendous leverage over the Saudis, it has demonstrated over the past several weeks that it is unwilling to use its leverage to force an end to the war. And it now appears that the administration is poised to resupply the munitions used by the Saudis in committing war crimes in Yemen. The October 6 Amnesty report documented an openly declared Saudi policy of deliberately targeting two Yemeni cities for air attacks in violation of the laws of war. It also documented US liability for the war crimes committed in the air war against Yemen.

Neo Journal, Putin is Defeating More than ISIS in Syria, William F. Eghdahl, Oct. 15, 2015. Washington is on the defensive, exposed for the criminal actions it has been doing in Syria and across the Middle East, Vladimir Putin Il Corriereincluding creating the recent asylum crisis in Germany and large parts of the EU. What Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin (shown in a file photo during an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere), said to the UN General Assembly must be noted to put what he and Russia did in the days immediately following into clear focus. First of all he made clear what the international law behind the UN Charter means and that Russia is scrupulously abiding by the Charter in actions in Syria. Russia, unlike the U.S., has been formally asked by the legitimate Syrian government to aid its war against terror.

Then the Russian president goes to the heart of the matter. He lays bare the true activities of the Obama Administration in Syria and the Middle East in arming and training “moderate” Islamist terrorists to attack Washington’s bête noire, Syria’s duly-elected and recently re-elected President, Bashar al Assad. Putin, without naming it, addresses the US and NATO role in creating ISIS, noting with precision the curious anomaly that the sophisticated new US Treasury unit to conduct financial sanctions against terrorist organizations has utterly ignored the funding sources of ISIS, their oil sales facilitated by the Turkish President’s own family to name just one. The Russian President stated, “…the Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere. It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes. Having established control over parts of Syria and Iraq, Islamic State now aggressively expands into other regions. It seeks dominance in the Muslim world and beyond…The situation is extremely dangerous. In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make declarations about the threat of terrorism and at the same time turn a blind eye to the channels used to finance and support terrorists, including revenues from drug trafficking, the illegal oil trade and the arms trade.

And what Putin is doing: Russia in the last weeks has completely out-maneuvered the diabolical agenda of the Obama Administration not only in Syria but also in the entire Middle East and now in the EU with unleashing the flood of refugees. He openly reached out to invite Obama in their New York September 30 meeting to cooperate together in defeating ISIS. Obama stubbornly insisted that first Assad must go. Now come the howls of protest from neo-con warhawks, like the ever-ready-for-war Senator John McCain, chairman of the NGO International Republican Institute of the democratic revolution-exporting, US-backed NGO, National Endowment for Democracy. This is because Washington finds itself deeply exposed to the light of world scrutiny for backing terrorists in Syria against a duly-elected state leader and government.

Antiwar.com, Is Hillary Clinton Above the Law? Bernie Sanders thinks so, Justin Raimondo, Oct. 15, 2015. What did we learn from the Democratic presidential debates? We learned that Hillary Clinton hates Edward Snowden, loves the Patriot Act, and considers “the Iranians” among her biggest enemies. In short, we learned that she may very well be Lindsey Graham in drag. And we also learned what many already knew: that she considers herself above the law. What we didn’t know, however, but do now, is that Bernie Sanders agrees with her. To begin with, it is not true that the American people don’t care about this issue: a whopping 58 percent tell pollsters that Mrs. Clinton “knowingly lied” when she said there was no classified information on her private email server.

Aside from the whole issue of the rule of law, and the Clintonian view that it doesn’t apply to Hillary, the issue here is one of transparency vs. secrecy. A government whose officials operate in the shadows, and conduct the people’s business off-the-record, is a rogue operation. And one has to ask: why was this elaborate private server system set up the day she took over the State Department? The answer can only be that the then Secretary of State believed she had something to hide.

Real Independent News and Film, Wal-Mart’s Worst Stock Crash In 27 Years Is Another Sign That The Economy Is Rapidly Falling Apart, Michael Snyder, Oct 15, 2015. On Wednesday, shares of Wal-Mart experienced their largest single day decline in 27 years after an extremely disappointing earnings projection was released. The stock was down about 10 percent, which represented the biggest plunge since January 1988.  Over 21 billion dollars in shareholder wealth was wiped out on Wednesday, and this was just the continuation of a very bad year for Wal-Mart stockholders. Overall, shares had already declined by 22 percent so far in 2015 before we even got to Wednesday. If it was just Wal-Mart that was having trouble, that would be bad enough.  But the truth is that signs that the U.S. economy has entered another major downturn are popping up all around us. Just consider the following list of economic indicators: The Fed has now kept interest rates at zero for 81 months.

Oct. 14

Corbett Report, The REAL Hastert Scandal: Pedophilia, Drug Money and Blackmail, James Corbett, Oct. 14, 2015. (16:11 min.) The scandal that recently enveloped speaker of the house Dennis Hastert, downplayed as a decades-old story, has already disappeared from the headlines. But a series of revelations from FBI whistleblowers reveal that this story is just the tip of a very seedy iceberg, one that implicates Hastert, his top aide, other Congress members and government officials in a criminal network involved in sexual intrigue, foreign espionage, blackmail, and drug money.

Boiling Frogs Post, BFP EyeOpener Report: The Hastert Scandal: What the Media Isn’t Telling You, Sibel Edmonds, Oct. 14, 2015 (Part of a series). A scandal too deep, too dark, and covers too many people from both sides of the political aisle for it to ever proceed in public. When former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was first indicted, the mainstream press treated it as a story of a long-ago transgression that has long since been swept under the rug. But a series of revelations from FBI whistleblowers reveal that this story is just the tip of a very seedy iceberg, one that implicates Hastert, his top aide, other Congress members and government officials in a criminal network involved in sexual intrigue, foreign espionage, blackmail, and drug money.

Politico, Trade pact may not come up in House until after 2016 election, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan, President Barack Obama's signature trade deal - the Trans-Pacific Partnership - may not get taken up by the GOP-run Congress until after the 2016 elections, senior Republican and Democratic aides said Wednesday. Mike Sommers, chief of staff for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said at a Ripon Society meeting that Congress was unlikely to move on the massive trade package until a lame-duck session more than a year from now. Hazen Marshall, policy director for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was also at the session, agreed that a TPP vote was more likely to happen in a lame-duck session, and added that the White House was trying to work with congressional leaders on timing. One attendee said the senior GOP staffers' message was "TPP is dead until the lame duck."

Newsweek, A Bombshell on Pinochet’s Guilt, Delivered Too Late, John Dinges (co-author with Saul Landau of Assassination on Embassy Row), Oct. 14, 2015. In the case of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, five U.S. presidents — from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush — had a potentially lethal weapon to use against him but never unleashed it. That is until last week, when the State Department released documents showing convincing evidence from as early as 1978 that Pinochet gave the order to commit an act of terrorism in Washington, D.C., and murder Orlando Letelier and an American woman. Pinochet ruled Chile for 17 years and died in his bed in 2006, still under judicial investigation for human rights crimes but never convicted.  “It would have had a catastrophic impact on Pinochet,” said the Chilean ambassador to the United States, Juan Gabriel Valdés. “The United States could have changed history by simply accusing the man guilty of a crime committed in its capital, which it had the complete right to do and the power to do it.”  Chile’s return to democracy — which ultimately occurred in 1990 — would have been much quicker, and “probably it would have occurred without Pinochet,” Valdés added. 

The crime involving Pinochet occurred on September 21, 1976. A car bomb planted by a Chilean agent killed Letelier and Ronni Moffitt as they drove down Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. Moffitt’s husband, who worked for Letelier, was also in the car and survived. Letelier was a former ambassador to the United States and had served as foreign minister and defense minister in the leftist government of President Salvador Allende, which was overthrown in a coup led by Pinochet in 1973. Letelier, in exile in Washington after spending a year in a prison camp, had extraordinary access to Washington power  circles. He was the most influential voice in the United States in opposition to Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Donald Trump Campaigns in Richmond, Jim Nolan, Oct. 14, 2015. Supporters of Donald Trump cheer as he takes the stage at Expo Hall at Richmond International Raceway.  Donald Trump, the GOP’s 2016 front-runner, brought his campaign to Henrico County on Wednesday night, touting his first-place status in a host of presidential polls and dismissing his detractors. “We’re in first place everywhere,” Trump told an enthusiastic crowd in the exhibition hall at the Richmond International Raceway complex.

During a stream-of-consciousness stump speech that lasted more than an hour, Trump also took aim at Bernie Sanders, whose surging Democratic campaign also is drawing large crowds. Trump called the Vermont senator a “socialist-slash-communist.” Trump said that during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had to make extravagant promises to keep up with Sanders. “She’s gotta give everything away because this maniac that was standing on her right is giving everything away — so she’s following,” Trump said. Sanders says he is not a capitalist, but a Democratic Socialist. “I call him a socialist-slash-communist, because that’s what he is,” Trump said.

Oct. 13

Democratic Debate Oct. 13, 2015

 

New York Times, Clinton Turns Up Heat on Sanders in a Sharp Debate, Michael Barbaro and Amy Chozick, Oct. 13, 2015. Hillary Clinton, seeking to stem the momentum of Senator Bernie Sanders, aggressively questioned his values and voting history, Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking to halt the momentum of her insurgent challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, aggressively questioned his values, positions and voting history Tuesday night in the first Democratic presidential debate, turning a showdown that had been expected to scrutinize her character into a forceful critique of his record.

In a series of sometimes biting exchanges, Mrs. Clinton declared that Mr. Sanders was mistaken in his handling of crucial votes on gun control and misguided in his grasp of the essentialness of capitalism to the American identity. Mocking Mr. Sanders’s admiration for the health care system of Denmark, she interrupted a moderator to offer a stinging assessment of his logic, suggesting he was unprepared to grapple with the realities of governing a superpower. “We are not Denmark,” Mrs. Clinton said, adding, “We are the United States of America.” The crowd erupted in applause.

OpEdNews, Sanders Crushes in EVERY Post Debate Poll -- 7 Different Poll Results, Rob Kall, Oct. 13, 2015. Bernie Sanders simply crushed Hillary Clinton in every post debate poll I could find-- seven of them, and for most, he averaged 74% or better, while Hillary averaged 20% or less.

Washington Post, Dutch report: Russian-made missile downed MH17 in Ukraine, Andrew Roth and Brian Murphy, Oct. 13, 2015. The Dutch Safety Board announced its findings that a Buk missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in mid-2014. But the final report isn't expected to bring closure since the Russian and Ukrainian armies both have Buk missile systems.

Oriental Review, Strategic implications of the Russian cruise missiles’ launch, Vladimir Kozin, Oct. 13, 2015. Vladimir Kozin is Head of Advisers’ Group at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Russian Federation. Last week the biggest event that took place in Syria as part of Operation Hmeymim was the use by the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla of 26 seaborne land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) that hit 11 Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra military targets inside Syria, which were located about 1,500 km. away from the missile launch site: A massive blow using Kalibr-NK LACMs was struck from the southwestern Caspian Sea. The objects of the attack were factories producing shells and explosives; command posts; ammunition, weapon, and fuel depots; and terrorist training camps in the Syrian Governorates of Raqqa, Aleppo, and Idlib. The cruise missiles, with a Circular Error Probable of about three meters, hit every one of their targets that had been set two days earlier.

The Dagestan, a missile-armed frigate with a displacement of about 2,000 tons, acted as the flagship of the Russian naval assault force accompanied by the small missile patrol ships the Veliky Ustyug, the Grad Sviyazhsk, and the Uglich (with a displacement of about 1,000 tons). Kalibr-NK missiles are extremely difficult to detect: when maneuvering, an LACM flies at high speed in stealth mode, meaning that it emits no signals that would allow it to be tracked by radar.

What are the military and political implications of the launch? This was the first time that Russia’s armed forces had deployed this type of weapon in an actual combat situation – not during exercises – at targets that were so far away. The second important point is that every one of the 26 missiles that were launched struck their intended targets, none deviated from their previously calculated trajectory, not one experienced a technical glitch, and none fell to earth while still on its approach to the object of the attack. (CNN’s incorrect report about four missiles crashing in Iran has been discredited, not only by Russian and Iranian sources, but also by State Department and Pentagon speakers). Some targets were dealt a double blow. Thanks to a successful Caspian Operation, the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces have added an entirely new and quite significant element to their air-combat capabilities in Syria. The most important feature of an LACM is that it strikes instantly and with unparalleled accuracy.

Atlantic, Let's Talk About Drones, Amanda Ripley, Oct. 13, 2015 (Video by The Atlantic). The diversity among flying robots is vast, as the journalist Amanda Ripley describes in her Atlantic story, "Playing Defense Against the Drones." In this conversation with Atlantic senior editor Ross Anderson, Ripley explains the rise of drones and the emergence of anti-drone technologies. See also Ripley discuss her upcoming piece on drones (video) and report on When the Wedding Crasher Is a Drone, "Flying robots: a fun new thing for everyone — from normals to celebrity wedding planners — to worry about when planning a ceremony."

Politico, Appeals court revives lawsuit over NYPD surveillance of Muslims, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 13, 2015. In a blistering opinion Tuesday, a federal appeals court revived a lawsuit challenging extensive surveillance efforts the New York Police Department conducted of Muslims in the years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A three-judge panel of the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals voted unanimously to reinstate the lawsuit, which was dismissed by a federal district judge in New Jersey last year.

The appeals court judges described the NYPD program in withering language, invoking insidious discrimination from America's history and suggesting that the widespread surveillance of Mosques, businesses, schools and community groups represented a repeat of those transgressions. "What occurs here in one guise is not new. We have been down similar roads before. Jewish-Americans during the Red Scare, African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and Japanese-Americans during World War II are examples that readily spring to mind," Judge Thomas Ambro wrote, joined by Judges Julio Fuentes and Jane Roth. "We are left to wonder why we cannot see with foresight what we see so clearly with hindsight-that '[l]oyalty is a matter of the heart and mind[,] not race, creed, or color.'" The NYPD program was exposed by a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series in 2011. The police department said last year that it had shuttered the "Demographics Unit" that carried out the mapping and data collection effort.

Jacobin, The Campaign Against Rasmea Odeh, Mark Mondalek, Oct. 13, 2015. With the US government pressing for prison and deportation, Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh needs our solidarity now more than ever. It’s clear to any Palestinian in the United States organizing for national liberation that they cannot count on the neutrality of the state. Nowhere is this clearer than in the government’s ongoing campaign against Rasmea Odeh. A Palestinian by birth and a US citizen for over ten years, the sixty-eight-year-old Odeh was widely thought to have been targeted as a “consolation prize” for FBI investigators following the bureau’s inability to indict twenty-three Midwest antiwar activists who were subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2010 for their support for movements in Palestine and Colombia.

Odeh was not among those targeted in the synchronized house raids across Minneapolis, Chicago, and Grand Rapids. But her close colleague, Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), stood out as one of the more distinguishable names of the coterie sometimes referred to as the “Midwest 23.” The FBI then came after Odeh. A full three years after the raids occurred — and following surveillance and visitations — the FBI arrested and indicted Odeh for falsely answering questions on her 2004 US naturalization application.

What designates Odeh as such a threat in the eyes of the federal government is, in many ways, precisely what makes her Palestinian. She was but an infant when, after the 1947–48 war and Israel’s creation, her family was forced to flee their home in Lifta, an ancient Palestinian village located between Jerusalem and Jaffa, and resettle as refugees in the West Bank.

In 1969, Odeh and hundreds of other Palestinians were rounded up and arrested by Israeli soldiers and police following a week of resistance operations in the occupied West Bank. She was accused of being involved in two separate bombings allegedly carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — one at a supermarket in East Jerusalem, and another at the British Consulate in Tel Aviv. Odeh, however, maintains that she was coerced into signing a false confession after being subjected to twenty-five days of unspeakable torture and rape — a well-documented, systemic reality for Arab prisoners.

Tried in a military court, Odeh was given a life sentence at the age of twenty-one. Ten years later, in 1979, she was released in exchange for an Israeli soldier captured during the invasion of Lebanon. She worked to help displaced Palestinians obtain United Nations humanitarian aid while living in Lebanon and Jordan, pursued her law degree, and eventually immigrated to Detroit in 1994 to care for her ailing father.

Reuters, Turkey warns U.S., Russia against backing Kurdish militia in Syria, Orhan Coskun, Oct. 13, 2015. Turkey has warned the United States and Russia it will not tolerate Kurdish territorial gains by Kurdish militia close to its frontiers in north-western Syria, two senior officials said. "This is clear cut for us and there is no joking about it," one official said of the possibility of Syrian Kurdish militia crossing the Euphrates to extend control along Turkish borders from Iraq's Kurdistan region towards the Mediterranean coast. Turkey fears advances by Kurdish YPG militia, backed by its PYD political wing, on the Syrian side of its 900 km (560-mile) border will fuel separatist ambitions among Kurds in its own southeastern territories. But Washington has supported YPG fighters as an effective force in combating Islamic State. "The PYD has been getting closer with both the United States and Russia of late. We view the PYD as a terrorist group and we want all countries to consider the consequences of their cooperation," one of the Turkish officials said. Turkey suspects Russia, which launched air strikes in Syria two weeks ago, has also been lending support to the YPG and PYD.

OpEdNews, The MH-17 "Report," Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 13, 2015. When I read that the report on the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine was being put in the hands of the Dutch, I knew that there would be no investigation and no attention to the facts. The Western media already had "the-Russians-did-it" story ready the moment the airliner was reported to be shot down. This story was very useful to Washington in hardening its European vassal states into sanctions against Russia, as there was some dissent. The Western media has no independence. An editor of a major German newspaper has written a book, a best-seller published in Germany, in which he states that not only he himself served the CIA as a reliable purveyor of Washington's lies, but that every significant journalist in Europe does so also. Obviously, his book has not been translated and published in America.

Washington Post, A high-society soccer dad lived a luxurious life. Now he’s going to prison, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 13, 2015. The way prosecutors tell it, Phillip Barnard Jr. cultivated his victims carefully, chatting up parents from his daughter’s soccer team with the promise of risk-free riches and using his status as a distinguished alum to persuade Virginia Tech professors to open up their checkbooks.

His persona was convincing. When Barnard promised his alma mater $30 million for a new geosciences building, the university hired architects to get the process going and sought matching funds from the state. When he told his friends about an exclusive short-term investment opportunity in gold, they trusted him with their money. The donation and the investments, though, were pure fantasy, prosecutors said. Barnard, they alleged, was no more than a “breathtakingly persuasive liar” who took more than $800,000 from his friends to spend on luxury cars, a vacation in Las Vegas and dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Alexandria sentenced him to five years and three months in prison, the top of what federal guidelines called for and a punishment that some of his victims said gave them solace. Earlier this year, Barnard pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering after fighting for three days at trial. The sentence marks a stunning nadir for a man who from the outside seemed to be a successful international businessman who easily navigated the ranks of high society.

Oct. 12, 2015.

Dennis Hastert C-SPAN

Former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, sharing his views on C-SPAN pre-indictment

Politico, Denny Hastert's dilemma, A guilty plea offers his best hope of silencing 30 years of rumors. Josh Gerstein, For Dennis Hastert, it could be the easy way out. A federal court deadline Tuesday will be a pivotal turning point in his felony case, signaling whether the former House speaker will plead guilty to a deal that has been under negotiation since at least late September with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago. A plea deal would give Hastert his best hope of averting a full public reckoning of allegations and rumors about his alleged misconduct as a teacher and coach, stories that Politico found have circulated for decades in political circles in and around Yorkville, Illinois. In interviews with numerous Hastert associates, Politico found that at least some of Hastert's allies were aware of rumors emanating from Yorkville High School as Hastert began his political career after many years as a popular teacher and coach, and no one apparently took action to address them. The findings shed new light on what was known about Hastert’s behavior long before a May 28 indictment spelled out an alleged secretive effort to pay $3.5 million to an anonymous “Individual A” for “past misconduct."

Washington Times, Russia foils ISIS-trained terror attack on Moscow, L. Todd Wood, Oct. 12, 2015. Russian citizens planned to hit transportation. Russian FSB agents today arrested six Russian citizens at a Moscow apartment who were apparently planning to detonate an explosive device in similar strength to that used in the Ankara bombings. The explosion was to be carried out on Moscow public transportation. Up to a dozen people had been actively visiting the apartment and had been previously trained by ISIS terrorists on Syrian territory.

Upon interrogation, Russian officials reported the suspects admitted they had received training and monetary assistance in Syria from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Speculation has risen that Russia may face reprisals from Sunni Muslim groups after the recent Russian assault in Syria began. The campaign seems to be primarily directed at rebels opposing the Assad regime rather than the Islamic State, according to reports from the region.

BBC, Syria conflict: Putin defends Russia's air strikes, Staff report, Oct. 12, 2015. President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia's military operations in Syria, saying the aim is to "stabilise the legitimate authority" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia wants to "create conditions for a political compromise" in Syria, he told Russian state TV. On Monday the EU's foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, called Russia's role "a game-changer". She said: "It has some very worrying elements." EU ministers are discussing Syria now. Going into the Luxembourg meeting, several foreign ministers stressed that air strikes should only target so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters and other Islamist "terrorists." The US and UK governments have accused Russia of attacking mainly "moderate" anti-Assad groups, rather than the jihadists. Mr Putin denied that that was the case. "The interventions against Daesh (IS) have to be clearly against Daesh and other terrorist groups, as defined by the UN," Ms Mogherini stressed. Ms Mogherini said she was especially worried about recent violations of Turkish airspace by Russian jets.

OpEdNews, Recognizing Neocon Failure Shows Obama Has Come To His Senses, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 12, 2015. Obama Shows Strength By Recognizing The Failure Of The Neoconservative Policy. Tyler President Obama 60 Minutes Screenshot Oct. 11, 2015Durden of Zero Hedge and others are misinterpreting Steve Kroft's "60 Minutes" interview with President Obama. They see weakness and confusion in Obama's responses and conclude that Kroft shredded Obama. What I see is entirely different. Steve Kroft is either a neoconservative or he is inculcated into the neocon mind-set that the US must prevail everywhere. Kroft's view is that weakness and indecision on Obama's part is the reason the US is not prevailing in Syria. Kroft's purpose is to embarrass Obama and push him into escalating the situation. However, Obama is too strong for him. I read the interview as Obama saying that the neocon program has turned out not to be in America's national interest. Those who dislike Obama, and those inculcated by years of propaganda into the neocon view that America must always and everywhere prevail, will see what they want to see.

Daily Howler, Hillary ClintonTop pundits can’t hear a certain complaint! Bob Somerby, Oct. 12, 2015. Yesterday morning, Mark Halperin made a striking statement about the press coverage of Candidate Clinton. Halperin was appearing on ABC’s This Week. How strange! Guest host Martha Raddatz didn’t seem to hear what he said:

HALPERIN (10/11/15): [Clinton] comes into this with some positives, some momentum. But she’s under extraordinary pressure. David Brooks represents the view of the media at large, which is one mistake by Hillary Clinton in this debate will be the only story. She knows that.

 RADDATZ: OK, let’s go beyond the debate, maybe way off—way beyond the debate [to] Joe Biden possibly jumping in, possibly making a decision this week, clearly not in time for the debate...

Say what? According to Halperin, if Clinton makes a single mistake in tomorrow’s debate, that single mistake will become the press corps’ “only story.”

Washington Post, Iranian TV says Post correspondent Jason Rezaian convicted, William Branigin and Carol Morello, Oct. 12, 2015. Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran imprisoned for more than 14 months has been convicted in an espionage trial that ended two months ago, Iranian State TV has reported. News of a verdict in Tehran's Revolutionary Court initially came early Sunday, but court spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei did not specify what the judgment was. In the State TV report late Sunday night, Ejei said definitively that Rezaian was found guilty. But many details remained unknown. Rezaian faced four charges — the most serious of which was espionage — and it's unclear if he was convicted of all charges. Rezaian and The Post have strongly denied the accusations, and his case has drawn wide-ranging denunciations including statements from the White House and media freedom groups.

New York Times, Supply of U.S.-Made Missiles Picks Up, Syrian Insurgents Say, Anne Barnard and Karam Shouma, Oct. 12, 2015. Insurgent commanders say that since Russia began air attacks in support of the Russian Plane SyriaSyrian government, they have for the first time received bountiful supplies of powerful American-made antitank missiles. With the enhanced insurgent firepower and with Russia steadily raising the number of airstrikes against the government’s opponents, the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia. The increased levels of support have raised morale on both sides of the conflict, broadening war aims and hardening political positions, making a diplomatic settlement all the more unlikely. The American-made TOW antitank missiles began arriving in the region in 2013, through a covert program run by the United States, Saudi Arabia and other allies to help certain C.I.A.-vetted insurgent groups battle the Syrian government. The weapons are delivered to the field by American allies, but the United States approves their destination. That suggests that the newly steady battlefield supply has at least tacit American approval, now that Russian air power is backing President Bashar al-Assad.

Oct. 11

CBS News 60 Minutes. Steve Kroft questions President Obama on topics including Russia's incursion in Syria, ISIS and the 2016 presidential race, Oct. 11, 2015. It's been a week of rising tensions in Syria with Russia stepping up airstrikes and naval bombardments in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and in some cases against rebel groups supported by the United States. It's complicated an already precarious situation and aggravated an already contentious relationship between President Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Add to that the presidential primary campaigns underway at home, and it seemed like a good time to talk about all of it with the president which we did on Tuesday in the Roosevelt Room at the White House; a lively, spirited discussion that began with ISIS.

Steve Kroft: The last time we talked was this time last year, and the situation in Syria and Iraq had begun to worsen vis-à-vis ISIS. You had just unveiled a plan to provide air support for troops in Iraq, and also some air strikes in Syria, and the training and equipping of a moderate Syrian force. You said that this would degrade and eventually destroy ISIS.

President Barack Obama: Over time.

Steve Kroft: Over time. It's been a year, and--

President Barack Obama: I didn't say it was going to be done in a year.

 

Huffington Post, Obama Clashes With Steve Kroft On Putin, Syria In '60 Minutes' Interview, Kelly Chen, Oct. 11, 2015. President Barack Obama exchanged testy words with "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft on Sunday over Russian President Vladmir Putin and the Syrian conflict. When asked about the effectiveness of his administration's strategy in the ongoing Syrian civil war, a defensive Obama admitted he was initially skeptical about training and arming moderate rebels against Syrian President Bashar al Assad -- a $580 million program the Pentagon pulled after generating only 60 trained fighters instead of the expected 5,400.

President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I've been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that's willing to fight ISIL? And what we've learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.

Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?

President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And--

Steve Kroft: And they wanted you to do it.

President Barack Obama: Well, no. That's not what I said. I think it is important for us to make sure that we explore all the various options that are available.

Steve Kroft: I know you don't want to talk about this.

President Barack Obama: No, I'm happy to talk about it.

NBC News, Obama Says U.S. Knew Russian Military Planned to Intervene in Syria, M. Alex Johnson, Oct. 11 2015. The United States had "pretty good intelligence" that Russia intended to intervene militarily in Syria before President Barack Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday. Critics have accused Obama of having ceded American leadership to Putin by having failed to prevent Russia from launching airstrikes there on Sept. 30. Russia says the airstrikes are part of a campaign to wipe out ISIS, but U.S. officials have accused Putin of using them to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the United States is seeking to oust. Some critics, including several Republican presidential candidates, have suggested that the Obama administration was taken by surprise by the airstrikes. In a long, tense interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," conducted Tuesday and aired Sunday night, however, Obama said: "We knew that he was planning to provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about a potential imminent collapse of the regime."

Washington Post, U.S.-made missiles raise the stakes in Syria, Liz Sly, Oct. 11, 2015. Anti-tank missiles delivered to aid Free Syrian Army groups in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad are now being used in what amounts to an American proxy war of sorts with Russia. American antitank missiles supplied to Syrian rebels are playing an unexpectedly prominent role in shaping the Syrian battlefield, giving the conflict the semblance of a proxy war between the United States and Russia, despite President Obama’s express desire to avoid one. The U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW missiles were delivered under a two-year-old covert program coordinated between the United States and its allies to help vetted Free Syrian Army groups in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. Now that Russia has entered the war in support of Assad, they are taking on a greater significance than was originally intended.

Since Wednesday, when Syrian troops launched their first offensive backed by the might of Russia’s military, dozens of videos have been posted on YouTube showing rebels firing the U.S.-made missiles at Russian-made tanks and armored vehicles belonging to the Syrian army. Appearing as twirling balls of light, they zigzag across the Syrian countryside until they find and blast their target in a ball of flame.
The rebels claim they took out 24 tanks and armored vehicles on the first day, and the toll has risen daily since then. The TOW missile program overseen by the CIA is entirely separate from a failed program run by the Pentagon that was intended to influence the outcome of the other war being waged in Syria, the one in the northeastern part of the country against the Islamic State. The CIA program got underway before the Pentagon one, in early 2014, with the goal of propping up the flagging rebellion against Assad’s rule by delivering training, small arms, ammunition and the antitank missiles, which have proved instrumental in eroding the government’s key advantage over the lightly armed rebel force — its tanks and heavy armor.

RT, 63 ISIS targets hit in 64 Russian sorties over Syria: Combat report, Staff, Oct. 11, 2015. Russian Aerospace Forces have extended the range of their airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria to four provinces, focusing primarily on demolishing fortified installations and eliminating supply bases and the terrorists' infrastructure. In total, 64 sorties targeted 63 Islamic State installations, among them 53 fortified zones, 7 arms depots, 4 training camps and a command post. A group of Sukhoi Su-24M bombers attacked a terrorist field headquarters near the village of Salma in northwest Syria. This command post has been coordinating operations of the militants in whole of the Latakia province. Russian and American armed forces have held a second video conference regarding the operation in Syria. The two sides discussed in detail proposals voiced at the first such event and focused on issues of air security to be ensured by both sides, since both US and Russian aircraft are currently operating in Syria’s airspace.

Oct. 10

OpEdNews, A Decisive Shift In The Power Balance Has Occurred, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), Oct. 10, 2015. The world is beginning to realize that a seachange in world affairs occurred on September 28 when President Paul Craig RobertsPutin of Russia stated in his UN speech that Russia can no longer tolerate Washington's vicious, stupid, and failed policies that have unleashed chaos, which is engulfing the Middle East and now Europe.

Huffington Post, Republicans Fear They May Need Dems To Solve Their Speaker Crisis, Michael McAuliff and Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 10, 2015. If Paul Ryan can't save the GOP, could Democrats? Many Republicans Paul Ryanhave been turning toward the Wisconsin representative as their best shot of electing a House speaker to replace John Boehner (R-Ohio), who wants to leave his post at the end of the month. But Ryan (shown in file photo) has so far said he’s not interested. The problem for Republicans is that they need a speaker candidate who can attract at least 218 votes -- the majority needed when the full House votes for a leader. There are 247 Republicans in the House, but Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abandoned his bid when it was clear he couldn’t get enough of them to reach the magic number, because several dozen members of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus wouldn’t back him. Aside from maybe Ryan, no one else is yet positioned to secure that tally, either. “At this point, it’s almost any leader that you put in in our conference is going to have the same difficulties with the makeup of our conference,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) And that has some Republicans looking to Democrats. There are 435 members of the House, and 188 belong to the minority party. Democrats get to vote for speaker, too.

Washington Post, Deadly blasts in Turkey point to worsening instability, Erin Cunningham, Oct. 10, 2015. Twin explosions at a peace rally killed at least 95 people and injured 246 more as people gathered to call for an end to violence between Turkey's security forces and Kurdish separatists.

YouTube, Peach protesters secure rescue route, Turkish police block ambulances from getting to the scene of the bombing in Ankara targeting Kurdish peace protesters. But the crowd beats the police out of the way of ambulance drivers seeking to rescue victims in the Turkish capital. The demonstration was to demand the end to Turkish leaders' military offensive against Kurdish organizations, which has been escalating since the end of July. Turkish President Recep Erdogan began bombing the YPG and PKK Kurdish military units while ostensibly striking ISIS. The bombings came in the last stages of an election campaign.

Turks go to the polls on Nov. 1. Erdogan’s AKP Party seeks the votes to change the constitution to concentrate more power in the his hands. ‘HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas blamed the government. He said the attack was part of the same campaign as the bombing of an HDP rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on the eve of June elections and a suicide bombing blamed on Islamic State in Suruc near the Syrian border in July, which killed 33 mostly young pro-Kurdish activists.

Washington Post, U.S. refuses to provide full details on hospital strike that killed 22, Tim Craig, Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Oct. 10, 2015. The military has said that the hospital was “mistakenly struck” in an attempt to support Afghan security forces but holes remain in its narrative of the worst example of errant U.S. air power in recent years.

Washington Post, GOP staffer fired from House panel investigating Benghazi attacks, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Oct. 10, 2015. A Republican staffer from the House Select Committee on Benghazi has been fired after he says he developed concerns about the politicized nature of the panel’s investigation. The criticism from an experienced Republican intelligence investigator comes amid growing Democratic Party complaints that the special committee was on a mission to undermine former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton as she launched her bid for the presidency. A spokesman for the committee denied the allegations from the former staffer, Bradley Podliska, a major in the Air Force Reserve.

Podliska issued a formal statement through his lawyer Saturday afternoon. “My non-partisan investigative work conflicted with the interests of the Republican leadership, who focused their investigation primarily on Secretary Clinton and her aides,” Podliska said, especially after reports surfaced in March that Clinton has used a private e-mail server. “The families of the Americans who died in the Benghazi attacks deserve to find out the truth about Benghazi, but to do that a thorough, non-partisan investigation must be conducted of all agencies and officials involved in Benghazi,” the statement said. In a news release Saturday, the committee called Podliska’s claims “transparently false,” stating that he “was terminated for cause.” The written statement, attributed to a committee spokesman, did not mention Podliska by name but said the former employee had shown poor judgment.

NBC News (Chicago), Former CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett to Appear in Court Tuesday, Staff report, Byrd-Bennett, 66, was charged Thursday with 15 counts of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud. Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, records show. Byrd-Bennett, who was criminally charged Thursday for allegedly using her position at CPS to award lucrative no-bid contracts to her former employer in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, is scheduled to appear before Judge Edmond E. Chang at 10 a.m. at the Dirksen Federal Building, according to court documents.

A 23-count indictment alleges Byrd-Bennett steered no-bid contracts worth more than $23 million to the SUPES Academy, a principal-and-administrator training company that once employed her, in exchange for an expectation of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. The indictment alleges the companies agreed to conceal the kickback money by funneling it into accounts set up in the names of two of Byrd-Bennett's relatives. An agreement called for the funds to be paid to Byrd-Bennett in the form of a "signing bonus" after her employment with CPS ended and the companies re-hired her as a consultant, officials said.

Fox News, Declassified CIA report concluded director led 'cover up' of Kennedy assassination investigation, Oct. 10, 2015. A declassified CIA report concludes former agency Director John McCone withheld information about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr., according to a recent news story. The 2013 report, declassified last fall, concludes that McCone, who ran the spy agency when Kennedy was fatally shot in November 1963, kept information from the Warren Commission during its investigation into the assassination. The report’s author, CIA historian David Robarge, writes that McCone and other top CIA officials were part of a "benign cover-up," according to Politico Magazine.

Washington Post‎, Jerry Parr, Secret Service agent who helped save Ronald Reagan, dies at 85, Martin Weil, Oct. 10, 2015. Jerry S. Parr, the quick-thinking and fast-moving Secret Service agent who was credited with saving the life of President Ronald Reagan after the 1981 ­assassination attempt in Washington, died Oct. 9 at a hospice center near his home in Washington. He was 85. He was best known for the fraught moments after gunfire erupted March 30, 1981, as the president was leaving the Washington Hilton hotel. At the president’s side when the shots resounded, Mr. Parr did not immediately look for the gunman, John W. Hinckley Jr. ­Instead, according to accounts, Mr. Parr placed his hand on ­Reagan’s shoulder and pushed the president into an awaiting limousine. Mr. Parr ordered that the limo be driven to George Washington University Hospital instead of the White House. The president survived, but he had a close call. “If Jerry hadn’t made the change,” first lady Nancy Reagan later told CNN host Larry King, “I wouldn’t have a husband.”

Editor's Note: Parr, who joined the Secret Service in 1962 and became chief of White House Secret Service protection for President Reagan, is an example of the key witnesses to presidential history who fade from the scene without authoritative disclosure to the public of what they know. Parr has given conflicting statements on whether President Kennedy specifically declined use of a "bubble top" for the presidential limo on the day he was murdered in 1963. Also, Parr would have been in a rare if not unique position to describe the full genesis and implications of the rule he countermanded to bring a wounded president back to the White House instead of a hospital. 

Matt DrudgeCommon Dreams, Hundreds of Thousands March in Berlin Against TTIP Trade Deal, Staff and wire reports, Oct. 10, 2015. Hundreds of thousands of people rallied on Saturday afternoon in the German capital against the massive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) accord being negotiated by the European Union and the United States. Critics say the trade deal will benefit large corporations at the expense of average Europeans. Trade unions, environmental groups, NGOs and anti-globalization groups were among the organizers of the huge rally, which went from the main railway station in central Berlin to the national parliament.  Over 250,000 people turned out for the event - many more than the 50,000 to 100,000 expected, but Berlin police claimed the number was closer to their initial expectation of 100,000.

Zero Hedge, "It's Over For Me" Matt Drudge Warns Public "You're A Pawn In The 'Ghetto-isation'" Of The Web, Tyler Durden, Oct. 10, 2015. The very foundation of the free Internet is under severe threat from copyright laws that could ban independent media outlets, according to Matt Drudge. "I had a Supreme Court Justice tell me it’s over for me,” said Drudge, warning web users that they were being pushed "pawn-like" into the cyber "ghettos" of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (The reclusive Drudge, shown at right, says he has not had a photo taken in eight years.)

As DCClothesline.com reports:

During an appearance on the Alex Jones Show, Drudge asserted that copyright laws which prevent websites from even linking to news stories were being advanced. “I had a Supreme Court Justice tell me it’s over for me,” said Drudge. “They’ve got the votes now to enforce copyright law, you’re out of there. They’re going to make it so you can’t even use headlines.”    

“To have a Supreme Court Justice say to me it’s over, they’ve got the votes, which means time is limited,” he added, noting that a day was coming when simply operating an independent website could be outlawed.“That will end (it) for me – fine – I’ve had a hell of a run,” said Drudge, adding that web users were being pushed into the cyber “ghettos” of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Drudge warned that social media giants like Twitter and Facebook were swallowing up content and strangling the organic growth of independent Internet news platforms. Automated news aggregators like Google News also came under fire.

Oct. 9

New York Times, Obama Administration Halts Program to Train Syrians to Combat ISIS, Michael D. Shear, Helene Cooper and Eric Scmitt, Oct. 9, 2015. After struggling for years to identify groups in Syria that it can confidently support, the Obama administration on Friday abandoned its effort to build a rebel force inside Syria to combat the Islamic State. It acknowledged the failure of its $500 million campaign to train thousands of fighters and said whatever money remained would be usedto provide lethal aid for groups already engaged in the battle.

New York Times, ISIS Makes Gains in Syria Territory Bombed by Russia, Anne Barnard and Thomas Erdbrink, Oct. 9, 2015. The Islamic State registered significant gains Friday in the area of northwestern Syria that Russian warplanes have been bombing heavily, taking six villages near Aleppo and threatening to cut off an important route north to the Turkish border. The Islamic State advance is threatening a strategic area north of Aleppo on the way to crossing points into Turkey that was to be part of a proposed ISIS-free buffer zone under a plan the United States announced over the summer with Turkey; that plan now seems to have stalled. A prominent Iranian general was killed in Syria on Thursday night, Iranian officials and state news media reported on Friday, illustrating the level of Iran’s direct involvement on the government side in the Syrian civil war. The general, Hussein Hamedani, a senior figure in the Revolutionary Guards, was killed in Aleppo Province, where he was advising the Syrian military.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group with extensive contacts in Syria, said General Hamedani was killed along with several bodyguards on Thursday near the Kweiris military airport east of Aleppo. One of the bombs killed Saleh Mahmoud Leyla, a Syrian journalist working for Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu, according to the agency. Mr. Leyla, who had also been an antigovernment activist, frequently covered news developments in insurgent-held areas of Syria. Dozens of Syrian journalists have lost their lives in the conflict.

Some antigovernment activists have accused Mr. Assad’s ally, Russia, of strengthening the Islamic State by mounting airstrikes in recent days against an anti-ISIS rebel group called Suqour al-Jabal, or Falcons of the Mountain. Mr. Assad and the Russians call all of the government’s opponents terrorists and have brushed aside any distinctions among them.

New York Times, An Incoherent Syria War Strategy, Editorial Board, Oct. 9, 2015. The Obama administration’s $500 million initiative to train and arm so-called moderate rebels to take on the Islamic State never seemed promising when it was rolled out last year. Having acknowledged that this plan has failed — largely because Syrian opposition groups are more interested in taking on President Bashar al-Assad — the White House on Friday unveiled a plan that is even more incoherent and fraught with risk. The Pentagon will stop putting rebel fighters through training in neighboring countries, a program that was designed to ensure that fighters were properly vetted before they could get their hands on American weapons and ammunition. The new plan will simply funnel weapons through rebel leaders who are already in the fight and appear to be making some headway. The initial plan was dubious. The new one is hallucinatory, and it is being rolled out as the war enters a more perilous phase now that Russia has significantly stepped up its military support of Mr. Assad’s forces.

New York Times, The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election, Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish, Oct. 9, 2015. Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House.From Fracking to Finance, a Torrent of Campaign Cash. They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.

Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in exploiting the world of “super PACs,” which, unlike candidates’ own campaigns, can raise unlimited sums from any donor, and which have so far amassed the bulk of the money in the election. The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission filings and other data, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election -- the vast majority of it supporting Republicans.  

New York Times, A Biden Challenge to Clinton Would Expose a Policy Split, Peter Baker, Oct. 9, 2015. Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s candidacy would put on a public stage the foreign policy struggles he and Hillary Rodham Clinton faced while in the Obama White House. If Mr. Biden were to join the Democratic presidential race for the 2016 election, the contest between him and Mrs. Clinton would in effect put on a public stage the struggles waged in the secrecy of the Situation Room. More so than on domestic policy, where their differences are narrower, the two former compatriots reflect the competing voices that have shaped Mr. Obama’s approach to the world and the poles that continue to divide the Democratic policy on national security.

National Press Club, Carson says he will continue to 'expose' the press, Wesley G. Pippert, Oct. 9, 2015. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told a National Press Club Luncheon Oct. 9 that "I will Ben Carson NPC Oct. 8, 2015continue to expose the press" in an effort to prod it until it fulfills the spirit of the Constitution to be the ally of the people. "I don't particularly care whether the press likes me," the neurosurgeon said in a wide-ranging speech that frequently returned to critical comments about the media. Though his words were strong, Carson delivered them in his usual soft-spoken even gentle manner. Carson (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo) spoke to the sell-out audience in the Club Ballroom, using only notes.
His wife Candy accompanied him for what was billed as an address about their book, A More Perfect Union.

Oct. 8

The Hill, Shock! McCarthy drops from Speaker's race, Scott Wong, Oct. 8, 2015. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has dropped out of the race for House Speaker, shocking Capitol Hill and raising Kevin McCarthyquestions about who can lead the House Republican Conference. Republicans were to meet Thursday at noon to elect a new Speaker, following Rep. John Boehner's news that he would retire at the end of the month. Instead, they received the surprising news from McCarthy, shown in a file photo. "I think I shocked some of you," McCarthy joked to reporters after his bombshell. He said he would stay on as majority leader, but believed Republicans needed to unify around a "new face." "I feel good about the decision. I think we're only going to be stronger," he said. McCarthy suggested it was unclear whether he could have won the 218 votes on the floor needed to be elected Speaker.

Fishbowl DC, The Short-Lived Turn of Rupert Murdoch: Blackness Analyst, Corinne Grinapol, Oct. 8, 2015. In this latest episode of Rupert Murdoch ignites Twitter in 140 characters or less, the News Corp chairman -– an Australian-born white man, lest anybody was unclear on that –- took it upon himself to discern and bestow the mantle of blackness upon the political class.

Politico, Judges refuse to align Clinton email FOIA lawsuits, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 8, 2015. Federal district court judges in Washington have unanimously rejected a bid by the Obama Administration to try to coordinate aspects of nearly 40 Freedom of Information Act lawsuits relating to the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides.  The Justice Department had requested the coordination process for FOIA cases involving Clinton's emails, as well as those of aides Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan, Huma Abedin and Philippe Reines-all of whom recently provided the State Department with records in response to requests for any potential federal records in their possession.

Politico, Joe Biden Can't Campaign on Tragedy, Peter Beinart, Oct. 8, 2015. If Joe Biden wants to run for president, fine. But not this way. The vice president seems to be building his bid on emotion, not Joe Bidensubstance—and that’s unlikely to carry him very far. On Wednesday, the group Draft Biden released an ad that supposedly explained why Americans need him as president. It’s mostly about the death of Biden’s wife and daughter in 1972, and the way he found “redemption” through his surviving sons — one of whom, Beau, died of brain cancer this May. The ad closes with Biden saying some extremely vague things about Americans being “on the cusp of some of the most astonishing breakthroughs in the history of mankind,” and their responsibility to “translate those unprecedented capabilities into a greater measure of happiness and meaning.” David Axelrod called the ad “tasteless” and “exploitative.” It was also vacuous. That same day, Politico reported that Biden himself had leaked to Maureen Dowd the story that his dying son Beau urged him to run.

Lurking behind all this is the awkward question of what Biden believes that distinguishes him from both Hillary and her main rival, Bernie Sanders. In a Democratic Party that has moved left, Sanders is finding success by running as the one candidate who can restore economic fairness because he isn’t bought by the ultra-rich. Hillary is struggling because her progressivism seems less authentic. Liberals remember that she was once hawkish, pro-financial deregulation, and tough on crime. So was Biden. If Hillary supported the 1994 crime bill that Black Lives Matter despises, Biden authored it. He also backed the Iraq War and the Patriot Act and the Defense of Marriage Act and opposed federal funding for abortions. Anita Hill has criticized him for the way he ran the Senate hearings in which she testified against Clarence Thomas. Elizabeth Warren has criticized him for supporting legislation that made it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. (Biden was, after all, a senator from Delaware).

Washington Post, Russian bombs in Syria killing fragile hopes for diplomacy far beyond, Steven Mufson, Oct. 8, 2015. Russia’s military offensive in Syria is only a week old, but the casualties for American foreign policy are already mounting. Gone is the hope that diplomacy in recent weeks between the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia might produce a negotiated settlement in Syria and stop the exodus of Syrians fleeing the violence. While Secretary of State John F. Kerry wants to pursue that avenue, another administration official last week called it “a pipe dream.” And the prospect seems even more remote now.

TruthDig, Why the U.S. Owns the Rise of Islamic State and the Syria Disaster, Gareth Porter, Oct. 8, 2015. Pundits and politicians are already looking for a convenient explanation for the twin Middle East disasters of the rise of Islamic State and the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. But over the past three decades, U.S. covert operations and war have entered repeatedly and powerfully into the chain of causality leading to Islamic State’s present position. The causal chain begins with the role of the U.S. in creating a mujahedeen force to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Osama bin Laden was a key facilitator in training that force in Afghanistan. Without that reckless U.S. policy, the blowback of the later creation of al-Qaida would very likely not have occurred. But it was the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that made al-Qaida a significant political-military force for the first time. The war drew Islamists to Iraq from all over the Middle East, and their war of terrorism against Iraqi Shiites was a precursor to the sectarian wars to follow.

Seymour HershSeymour Hersh (shown in a file photo) reported last year that an unpublished addendum to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi revealed a covert CIA operation to arm Syrian rebels, in cooperation with Sunni allies’ intelligence services. In early 2012, Hersh reported, following an agreement with Turkey, then-CIA Director David Petraeus approved an elaborate covert operation in which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would fund the shipment of weapons to Syrian rebels from stocks captured from the Gadhafi government. The scheme employed front companies set up in Libya to manage the shipments of arms in order to separate the U.S. government from the operation. An October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report released by the Department of Defense to Judicial Watch confirmed the shipments of Libyan weapons from the port of Benghazi to two Syrian ports near Turkey beginning in October 2011 and continuing through August 2012.

Washington Post, Ben Carson inspired a generation of black doctors. Now we don’t know what to make of his second act, Damon Tweedy, Oct. 8, 2015. Damon Tweedy, M.D., is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and author of "Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine." When I first met Ben Carson in 1996, at his luxurious home outside Baltimore, I stood before one of my heroes. I was a college senior at the nearby University of Maryland at Baltimore County, and Carson was a leading neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Today, Carson’s greatest fans are no longer those within the black community. Instead, in a bizarre twist, he has become a major star among the far-right – the faction of the Republican Party often perceived as being indifferent, or worse, to African Americans. Many black doctors – given our longstanding adulation of Carson – are puzzled and discouraged by this evolution. The man who built his brand as a black icon has found a new home. And it’s a place where many of us feel unwelcome.

Mediaite, Government IP Address Edits Wikipedia To Accuse Kevin McCarthy of Affair, Alex Griswold, Oct. 8, 2015. The Wikipedia page of a North Carolina Republican Congresswoman was edited by a federal government IP address to accuse her of having an affair with Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Seven Days: Vermont's Independent Voice, Anger Management: Sanders Fights For Employees Except His Own, Paul Heintz, Oct. 8, 2015. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced three months ago that Bernie Sanders Officialhe'd seek the Democratic presidential nomination, the New York Times described him as a "grumpy grandfather-type." That caricature has persisted — most notably in a recent Washington Post article with the irresistible headline: "7 ways Bernie Sanders reminds us of our grumpy grandpa." According to some who have worked closely with Sanders over the years, "grumpy grandpa" doesn't even begin to describe it. They characterize the senator as rude, short-tempered and, occasionally, downright hostile. Though Sanders has spent much of his life fighting for working Vermonters, they say he mistreats the people working for him.

Oct. 7

Guardian, Harvard's prestigious debate team loses to New York prison inmates, Lauren Gambino, Oct. 7, 2015. Prisoners participating in Bard College initiative to provide them a liberal arts education beat Ivy League students who won national title only months ago, The debating team from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, lost to a group of New York prisoners. Among formerly incarcerated Bard students who earned degrees while in custody, fewer than 2% have returned to prison within three years, a standard measurement period for assessing recidivism. This is exceptionally low, when contrasted with the statewide recidivism rate, which has hovered for decades at about 40%.

Washington Post, Hillary Clinton comes out against Obama’s Pacific trade deal, Anne Gearan and David Nakamura, Oct. 7, 2015. The move puts her at odds with both the Obama administration and the position Hillary Clintonshe championed as secretary of state. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Wednesday that she opposes an expansive 12-nation Pacific Rim free trade accord finalized by the Obama administration this week. Clinton said in an interview with PBS that she would not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) based on what she knows of the deal so far. The 30-chapter text of the agreement, which negotiators concluded Monday, has not been made public. Clinton's stance aligns her with most of the Democratic Party, including her closest rivals on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, both running for the Democratic nomination, have opposed the trade deal. Obama won new "fast-track" powers in the spring with support from most of the Republican congressional caucus, but only a fraction of Democrats, in the face of fierce opposition from organized labor and environmental groups. Just 28 of 188 House Democrats voted in favor of that legislation.

Middle East Eye, Will Russian airstrikes replace US-led coalition hits in Iraq? Staff report, Oct. 7, 2015. Iraq is likely to ask Russia to expand its role in the war against the Islamic State (IS) and conduct airstrikes on the group in the country, largely because the Russians have "no red lines" when it comes to hitting targets that have slowed US-led attacks, Iraqi security officials told Middle East Eye. Last week, Baghdad announced that it will share "security and intelligence" information with Russia, Iran and Syria to counter the IS group which has seized most of the towns and cities in three Sunni-dominated provinces in the north and west of Iraq since June 2014. There have also been reports that Iraq is mulling over allowing Russia to carry out airstrikes on IS in the country, a consideration that is ongoing, a senior Iraqi security official told MEE this week. "Initially, I have no problem," Haider al-Abadi, Iraq's Prime Minister said in response to a question about the possibility of the implementation of Russia's airstrikes in Iraq on Saturday. "Actually, I would welcome it if the Russian side will be ready to strike Daesh (an Arabic acronym for IS) inside Iraq.”

 

New York Times, Russian Video Said to Show Cruise Missile Strikes, Oct. 7, 2015. On the first day of its airstrike campaign, Russia launched a volley of missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea at targets in Syria. The use of 26 sea-based cruise missiles was one of the first known uses in combat of Russian missiles with this range. A video published by the Russian Defense Ministry purports to show the missile launches.

Washington Post, Syrian conflict escalates with attack from Russian warships, Erin Cunningham and Andrew Roth, Oct. 7, 2015. The bombardment, which the Kremlin has insisted were aimed at the Islamic State, were launched in apparent coordination with Syrian government forces that opened a ground offensive into areas that included other rebel factions battling President Bashar al-Assad.

Reuters via Yahoo!, Russian warplanes in Syria destroy U.S.-trained rebels' weapons depots: commander, Dasha Afanasieva, John Davison and Tom Perry, Oct. 7, 2015. Russian air strikes have destroyed the Russian plane in Syriamain weapons depots of a U.S.-trained rebel group in Syria, their commander said on Wednesday, in an expansion of Russian attacks on insurgents. The Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, whose fighters have attended military training organized by the Central Intelligence Agency in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was also hit last week by Russian raids as Moscow began its air campaign in support of Damascus. New strikes targeted the group's main weapons depots in western Aleppo province and completely destroyed them late on Tuesday, its commander Hassan Haj Ali told Reuters on Wednesday via Internet messaging service. "These were considered the principal depots of the Liwa," he said in an audio recording obtained separately.

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC conventionWashington Post, Donald Trump plots his second act, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Oct. 7, 2015. In an hour-long interview with the Washington Post at his 26th-floor office in Trump Tower, the Republican front-runner ruminated on TV ads, a book, new policies and the many obstacles ahead. Trump is shown in a Gage Skidmore photo from the CPAC convention in February.
 
Washington Post, Doctors Without Borders seeks possible war crime charges after U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan, Missy Ryan and Daniela Deane, Oct. 7, 2015. The charity said they want to form an independent international commission that would investigate the bombing that killed 22 people.

A Just Cause, Unexplained Death of Inmate at Florence Prison; Actions Point to a Federal Cover Up of Foul Play in Inmate Michael Andersen's Death, Staff report, A Just Cause is requesting an immediate investigation into the circumstances of Michael Andersen's death on Sept. 7, 2015, of an alleged suicide which has been stated by prison officials as the cause of death, while in solitary confinement in FCI at Florence, Colorado.

WGBH News, How Many Casinos Are The Ideal? How About None?  Harvey Silverglate, Oct. 7, 2015. How many casinos are the ideal for Massachusetts? Reading the editorial page of the Sept. 29 issue of The Boston Globe, one would come to the conclusion that sensible folks are focused on the number three. As Massachusetts debates the “correct” number of casinos our state should have, I offer my opinion: None.

Esquire, The CIA Keeps (Accidentally) Legitimizing JFK Conspiracy Theories, Charles P. Pierce, Oct. 7, 2015. It should be no surprise that, after the president was murdered in Dallas, the national security establishment's first objective was not to tell the truth to the American people about how their president was snuffed in broad daylight. It was to concoct fictions and diversions, most devoted to bureaucratic ass-covering. This brings us to Philip Shenon's report today. Shenon tells us of how John McCone, who was put in charge of the CIA after Kennedy fired Allen Dulles, did all he could to bury "incendiary" information where the bumbling Warren Commission couldn't find it.​

Justice Department, Eastern Oregon Ranchers Convicted of Arson Resentenced to Five Years in Prison, Oct. 7, 2015. Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, both residents of Diamond, Oregon in Harney County, were sentenced to five years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken for arsons they committed on federal lands.  A jury sitting in Pendleton, Oregon found the Hammonds guilty of the arsons after a two-week trial in June 2012.  The trial involved allegations that the Hammonds, owners of Hammond Ranches, Inc., ignited a series of fires on lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on which the Hammonds had grazing rights leased to them for their cattle operation.

Oct. 6

Politico, Exclusive: Biden himself leaked word of his son's dying wish; The vice president is mourning. He’s also calculating, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Oct. 6, 2015. Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about Beau Biden Wikipediahis late son (shown in an official photo) since August. Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation. According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because "the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.

Daily Howler, The developing tale of the son’s dying words! Bob Somerby, Oct. 6, 2015. Does Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere know whereof he speaks? Maureen Dowd provided zero Joe Bidensources when she started the story of the dying son’s last words. Today, Dovere cites only anonymous sources as he claims to reveal Dowd’s source. He says her source was the dying man’s father, Joe Biden. Dowd’s column placed the current White House campaign within a deeply emotional, melodramatic framework. Especially coming from her, it also created an ugly type of story: So deeply vile are the Clintons that it was the sainted young man’s last wish that they not return to power! Even as the son “was losing his nouns,” he maintained his Clinton-hatred. Everyone has wept for Joe, who got such a terrible break. We’ve seen no one wonder if there wasn’t something a bit exploitive about this maudlin story, behind which he has been hiding, upon which his rise has been based, whose truth no one can confirm. In many ways, this has been Dowd’s ugliest, creepiest, most exploitive story to date.

Washington Times, John Kasich backs legal status for illegal immigrants, Seth McLaughlin, Oct. 6, 2015. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said non-violent illegal immigrants are here to stay, that trying to deport them would cause “sheer panic” among Hispanics, and that the U.S. must find a way of legalizing them. Toeing a more liberal line on immigration than some of his rivals in the 2016 GOP presidential race, Kasich vowed during an appearance Tuesday before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that he would not lead an aggressive crackdown on illegal immigrants. “The idea that we are going to pick these folks up and ship them out, I mean that is just unbelievable,” Mr. Kasich told Javier Palomarez, the group’s president in a question-and-answer session at the Newseum in Washington. “What are we going to do, ride into neighborhoods and announce ‘Come on out, now you are going to the border’?”

Washington Post, Kasich may be the Jon Huntsman of 2016, Dana Milbank, Oct. 6, 2015. On paper, John Kasich is a perfect candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He has a Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Newseum 10-6-15 (JIP Photo by Andrew Kreig)long record as a fiscal and social conservative, and he’s the popular governor of Ohio, a must-win state for any Republican hoping to occupy the Oval Office. But the 2016 GOP presidential primary isn’t being fought on paper. It’s being fought in the gutter, and in this venue Kasich (shown in a JIP photo on Oct. 6, 2015) has been derided as a career politician and a RINO — Republican In Name Only — because of his supposedly heretical positions on issues such as immigration, Medicaid and the Common Core education standards. In reality, Kasich’s views are reliably conservative. What’s hurting him, more likely, is his inclusive talk. Kasich preaches to fellow conservatives about doing right by racial minorities, immigrants, gay people, labor unions, the poor and drug addicts. But in this campaign, the “compassionate conservative” label has become an epithet.

Buzzflash at Truthout, Sovereign Citizens' Movement May Be Biggest Domestic Terrorist Threat, Bill Berkowitz, Oct. 6, 2015.  In late-September, Thomas David Deegan, a man described by authorities as an anti-government sovereign citizen, was arrested and accused "of plotting to overthrow the state government in West Virginia, hoping to establish a prototype for extremists to follow in other states." At the same time, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, issued a report "advising contractors, property inspectors, Section 8 housing administrators and Realtors how to recognize anti-government sovereign citizens occupying vacant properties or using false deeds to support leasing."  In just seven years, the Sovereign Citizen movement, a movement that most Americans know little about, has vaulted to the top of the list of terrorist threats to the homeland, according to a survey of law enforcement officials.

CIA Director John McCone and wife

CIA Director John McCone and wife

Politico, Yes, the CIA Director Was Part of the JFK Assassination Cover Up, Philip Shenon, Oct. 6, 2015. John McCone was long suspected of withholding information from the Warren Commission. Now even the John McConeCIA says he did. John McCone came to the CIA as an outsider. An industrialist and an engineer by training, he replaced veteran spymaster Allen Dulles as director of central intelligence in November 1961, after John F. Kennedy had forced out Dulles following the CIA’s bungled operation to oust Fidel Castro by invading Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. McCone (shown in a file photo) had one overriding mission: restore order at the besieged CIA. Kennedy hoped his management skills might prevent a future debacle, even if the Californian — mostly a stranger to the clubby, blue-blooded world of the men like Dulles who had always run the spy agency — faced a steep learning curve.

But did McCone come close to perjury all those decades ago? Did the onetime Washington outsider in fact hide agency secrets that might still rewrite the history of the assassination? Even the CIA is now willing to raise these questions.

Cool Justice, Foreshaw & Thibault uncensored library discussion, Andy Thibault, Oct. 6, 2015. Podcast of joint appearance of unjustly imprisoned murder suspect Bonnie Foreshaw and investigative reporter and Law and Justice In Everyday Life author Andy Thibault at Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield, CT. Foreshaw was granted clemency in 2013 after serving 27 years on a murder charge for the accidental fatal shooting of a pregnant woman who had been used as a human shield by a man harassing Foreshaw. Investigation later showed the defendant should have been charged with a lesser crime.

Dothan Eagle, Commissioner Amos Newsome hits WTVY reporter Ken Curtis in the face, Lance Griffin, Oct. 6, 2015. District 2 Commissioner Amos Newsome struck WTVY reporter Ken Curtis in the face following Tuesday's Dothan commission meeting as Newsome was leaving to get in his car. Video shot by another WTVY reporter showed Curtis approaching Newsome to ask him District 2 Commissioner Amos Newsome, left, and WTVY reporter Ken Curtisabout voter fraud allegations connected to his 2013 election. When Curtis asked Newsome if he planned to resign, Newsome struck him with an open hand two times, causing Curtis to bleed on his right cheek. Curtis and WTVY management met with police after the incident and plan to pursue third degree assault charges against Newsome. Third degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor. See video of the incident posted to WTVY's Facebook page and in adjoining photo taken from the video

Oct. 5

Intercept/First Look, The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification, Glenn Greenwald, Oct. 5, 2015.When news first broke of the U.S. airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the response from the U.S. military was predictable and familiar. It was all just a big, terrible mistake, its official statement suggested: an airstrike it carried out in Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Oops: our bad. Fog of war, errant bombs, and all that. This obfuscation tactic is the standard one the U.S. and Israel both use whenever they blow up civilian structures and slaughter large numbers of innocent people with airstrikes.

Just as this article was being published, NBC News published a report making clear that even the latest claims from the U.S. and Afghan governments are now falling apart. The Pentagon’s top four-star commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, now claims that “local Afghans forces asked for air support and U.S. forces were not under direct fire just prior to the U.S. bombardment” of the hospital. As NBC notes, this directly contradicts prior claims

Responding to the above-referenced admission, MSF has issued this statement: “The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

The U.S. seems to have picked the wrong group this time to attack from the air.

New York Times, Kremlin Says Russian ‘Volunteer’ Forces Will Fight in Syria, Andrew E. Kramer, Helene Cooper and Ceylan Ygeinsu, Oct. 5, 2015. Russia signaled deepening intervention Monday in the Syria war, strongly hinting that its “volunteer” ground forces would soon be fighting there, as NATO officials warned the Kremlin after a Russian warplane invaded Turkey’s airspace. Russia called the air incursion an innocent mistake because of foul weather, a claim that the Americans rejected. The unfolding developments reflected a dangerous new superpower entanglement in the war. The addition of Russia ground forces to the assaults already underway by Russian warplanes particularly threatens to undermine Turkey’s Syria policy, which aims for the establishment of a “safe zone” along the Turkish border where some Syrian refugees could return in the future.

Politico, Brzezinski: Obama should retaliate if Russia doesn't stop attacking U.S. assets, Staff report quoting former Carter and Obama national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (shown in a file photo) from a Financial Times column, Oct. 5, 2015. "In these rapidly unfolding circumstances the U.S. has only one real option if it is to protect its wider stakes in the region: to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets....The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland....They could be 'disarmed' if they persist in provoking the US....But, better still, Russia might be persuaded to act with the U.S. in seeking a wider accommodation to a regional problem that transcends the interests of a single state....China would doubtless prefer to stay on the sidelines. It might calculate that it will then be in a better position to pick up the pieces. But the regional chaos could easily spread northeastward, eventually engulfing central and northeastern Asia. Both Russia and then China could be adversely affected. But American interests and America’s friends — not to mention regional stability — would also suffer. It is time, therefore, for strategic boldness.”

RT, Russian Air Force destroys 20 ISIS tanks, 3 rocket systems in Homs province: Defense Ministry, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2015. The Russian Air Force carried out fifteen sorties striking ten Islamic State targets on Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defense has reported. An estimated 20 tanks were destroyed in the Tadmur district of Homs province, the report says. Artillery positions were also struck, with three rocket systems and a munitions warehouse destroyed.

Ron Paul WeeklyRon Paul Institute, I Wish Nobody Was Bombing Syria, Ron Paul, Oct. 5, 2015. The U.S. regime change policy for Syria has been a catastrophe. More than 200,000 killed and an entire country reduced to rubble at least partly because President Obama decided that “Assad has lost his legitimacy.” How is it that the president of a country 6,000 miles away has the authority to decide whether another leader belongs in office or not?

The neocon solution to this failure to overthrow Assad and “degrade and destroy” ISIS is to increase the bombing and lead a ground invasion of Syria. The confusing policy of fighting Assad and also fighting his enemies does not seem to bother the neocons. They want us to forget all about their recent failures in Libya and Iraq and to try the same failed strategy one more time.

But something dramatic happened last week. Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the United Nations criticizing the US policy of partnering with one set of extremists – al-Qaeda and its allies – to attack both ISIS and Assad. Shortly after Putin’s UN speech, he requested and was granted authority from the Russian parliament to use force in Syria in response to the Syrian government’s request for assistance against the rebels.

It may be tempting to cheer Russian military action in Syria, as it seems ISIS is finally suffering some considerable losses. But I cannot cheer the bombs, whether they are Russian bombs or US bombs or French or British bombs. I wish Congress respected our Constitution enough to demand that the president seek a declaration of war before attacking a foreign country. I wish President Bush and his neocon advisors had never decided to overthrow the Syrian government. I wish President Obama had fired the neocons who led him from one foolish intervention to another. I wish the US media was more than just a propaganda arm of the US government.

BBC, Trans-Pacific free trade deal agreed creating vast partnership, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2015.The US, Japan and 10 other Pacific rim countries have signed a controversial and sweeping trade agreement that covers about 40% of the world economy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will create a new economic bloc with reduced trade barriers between the 12 nations involved. The deal was signed after five days of talks in Atlanta in the US but has been under negotiation for five years. It was delayed repeatedly by negotiations over drug patents. The other countries included in the TPP are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

President Obama talks with SC Gov. Nikki Haley following floods 10-5-15President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to express sympathy for families affected by the floods and to offer whatever federal assistance is needed to help families recover, Oct. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

National Review, Trump Wrongs the Right, Rich Lowry & Ramesh Ponnuru, Oct. 5, 2015. It’s almost impossible to fathom what an unusual candidate Donald Trump is. Put aside his lack of political experience (except for his serial flirtations with running for president over the years). Never mind his violation of nearly every rule of thumb of politics: Always shoot up, never down. Avoid throwing reporters out of your press conferences. Pretend you don’t care about the polls. Maintain tight message discipline. Don’t wear hats! Disregard his constant feuds with nearly everyone, his blatant self-contradiction on basic policy questions, and his general outlandishness.

The most elemental reason for Trump’s rise is that over the decades he has built a nearly universally recognized brand associated with toughness and success, and many Americans worry that we are running out of both. Trump’s business is being famous — and he’s really good at it. To be a media fixture for some 30 years in New York (the media capital of the world), always finding the next new thing even when the last thing hasn’t worked out so well, is no small feat. It speaks to a shrewdness, a drive, and a shamelessness that few can match.

Politico, Exclusive: Biden eyes weekend decision, Mike Allen, Oct. 5, 2015. Several people who have visited the vice president recently said he seems to be leaning toward 'yes.' He’s finally close. Confidants of Joe BidenVice President Joe Biden (shown in official photo) expect him to make a decision next weekend, or shortly thereafter, on whether to launch.

Washington Post, In rural America, a startling prospect: voters Obama lost look to Sanders, David Weigel, Oct. 5, 2015. Shelley Brannon, 62, can sum up the Obama presidency with three words. Well, three words and an exclamation. “He screwed us,” said Brannon, a coal miner from Wise County, Va., as he sat outside a rally for the United Mine Workers of America. “Man, he screwed us.” Then he explained why he would probably be voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the next Democratic primary. “For one thing, he knows what union is, and he respects it,” said Brannon.  West Virginia has rejected the Obama-era Democratic Party more dramatically than any state outside the South, with Appalachian counties that voted for Mike Dukakis and Walter Mondale turning blood red over the past eight years. But if you think it’s in places like this that the insurgent Sanders campaign faces its most formidable test, here’s what he thinks: It is also one of his greatest opportunities.

AC-130 Gunship (Department of Defense)

Daily Beast, The U.S. Gunship that Slaughtered Doctors and Patients in Kunduz, David Axe, Oct. 5, 2015. The crews of the AC-130, a low, slow plane bristling with guns, don’t have to follow the same rules as those in other U.S. warplanes. The American warplane that apparently struck a Doctors Without Borders clinic in the embattled city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan on October 3, killing 22 people, was probably an AC-130 gunship — a lumbering, four-engine transport modified to carry a powerful arsenal of side-firing guns. Maybe the gunship’s crew knew exactly where the clinic was in Kunduz, maybe it didn’t. Maybe there were Taliban fighters nearby, maybe there weren’t. Regardless, the AC-130 blasted the vicinity of the clinic for more than an hour, repeatedly striking the medical facility. And the U.S. military’s lax rules allowed it to happen.

Huffington Post, Congressman Behind Planned Parenthood Assault Kept Paying Aide After Sexual Harassment Complaints, Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal, Oct. 5, 2015. Rep. Mark Meadows found out his chief of Mark Meadowsstaff was harassing female staffers in March, but the aide was still paid through August. A Republican congressman leading the fight to defund Planned Parenthood paid his chief of staff for nearly six months after at least three female staffers complained that the top aide was sexually harassing subordinates, according to four sources close to the situation. The women told North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows about chief of staff Kenny West's behavior in March, sources said. At first, Meadows barred West from his D.C. office, but reassigned him to the district office and continued paying him. Meadows (shown in an official photo) eventually sent West off with a sizable severance. Any compensation that came after West was no longer working in his role as chief of staff may have violated House ethics rules.

West officially departed Meadows’ office on May 21, but was paid his full rate of $38,750 for the period covering April 1 through June 30, and then received further pay taking him through Aug. 15. The House Ethics Manual says, “Compensation may be received only for duties performed within the preceding month.” Ethics rules state that members of Congress “may not retain an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation he receives.”

Oct. 4

Washington Post, Carly Fiorina’s first political campaign had a surprising problem: Money, Robert Samuels, Oct. 4, 2015. Her staff said they loved working with the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Until their checks Carly Fiorinadidn’t come in.  Famed California pollster Joe Shumate was found dead in his home one month before Election Day 2010, surrounded by sheets of polling data he labored over for the flailing Senate bid of Carly Fiorina. But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president. When Fiorina learned that the campaign was in debt, she was furious. But she also refused to pay up, saying the problem belonged to the campaign itself — Carly for California.

Many campaigns end up in debt, including that of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who did not close out the $20 million she owed from her 2008 presidential campaign until January 2013. Struggling campaigns often set up payment plans or hold fundraisers to pay their bills. Fiorina’s staff members said they asked her to do the same. She declined.

Kevin McCarthyJason ChaffetzWashington Post, Battle for speaker shows unrest in Republican caucus, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Oct. 4, 2015. The Republican chairman of a high-profile House committee on Sunday shook up the race to succeed outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner, launching a challenge to the heavy favorite, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (shown aft far left in file photo). The bid by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah) (also at left), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, comes amid unrest from conservatives driven by doubts that McCarthy (Calif.) will be any more inclined than Boehner (shown in file photo) John Boehnerto embrace the right flank of the House Republican Conference.

BradCast via Pacifica syndicated radio stations, Hand-Counting Paper Ballots in Columbia County, NY, Brad Friedman, Oct. 3 and 4. 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."

Oct. 3

Bernie Sanders OfficialWashington Post, Bernie Sanders sides with Obama and against Clinton on no-fly zone in Syria, John Wagner and Anne Gearan, Oct. 3, 2015. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday that he opposes a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, offering a less hawkish stance on the war-torn region than Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a position more in line with President Obama. “We must be very careful about not making a complex and dangerous situation in Syria even worse,” Sanders said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I support President Obama’s efforts to combat ISIS in Syria while at the same time supporting those in that country trying to remove the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad.” But, Sanders added: “I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”

Hillary ClintonIn a television interview broadcast Thursday, Clinton advocated additional air power to protect civilians in the multi-front war, in which Syrian rebels and international advocates have said that air patrols in Syria’s north could give civilians a refuge from Assad’s bombing raids. Clinton’s position puts her in the same camp as some Republican contenders for the presidential nomination, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In a news conference Friday, Obama said Clinton "is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems." But he said that "there's a difference between running for president and being president. And the decisions that are being made and the discussions that I'm having with the joint chiefs become much more specific and require, I think, a different kind of judgment."

Washington Post, Possible U.S. airstrike hits Doctors Without Borders hospital; 16 dead, Tim Craig, Oct. 3, 2015. U.S. forces may have mistakenly bombed a hospital in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 16 people in an incident that will likely raise new questions about the scope of American involvement in the country’s 14-year war. The medical relief group said at least 16 people were killed and dozens of others were hurt. A U.S. military official said U.S. special forces were on the ground advising Afghan special forces and authorized an AC-130 gunship to fire at an area that was apparently near the hospital.

Syria's FlagGuardian, Gulf states plan military response as Putin raises the stakes in Syria, Russia carries out air strikes, Emma Graham-Harrison and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Oct. 3, 2015. Russia’s military intervention is seen as more provocative than decisive by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. Riyadh has focused support on rebels in the south, while allies Turkey and Qatar have reportedly backed northern rebels. That is unlikely to go as far as troops on the ground, however, and not only because so many assets are already tied up in Yemen.

Reuters, Pope Francis met with gay couple in U.S. visit, Patrick Rucker and Alistair Bell, Oct. 3, 2015. Pope Francis met with a gay couple at the Vatican Embassy in Washington during the pontiff's visit to the United States last week in a quiet gesture to the gay and lesbian community. The meeting between Francis, an Argentine gay man and his long-term partner came to light as the Vatican tried to tamp down controversy about a separate meeting the pope held with well-known American gay marriage opponent Kim Davis. The pontiff met on Sept. 23 with Yayo Grassi, a U.S-based Argentine caterer, Grassi's male partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus and three other people for 15 minutes, Grassi told Reuters. Grassi, 67, has known the pope since Francis, 78, taught him literature and psychology at a high school in Argentina in the 1960s and has stayed in touch. "What I can say is that he met with me knowing that I am gay, and we had an extraordinary, very moving conversation," Grassi said. The Vatican confirmed the meeting. A statement said Grassi, who had met the pope in the past, asked to present his mother and several friends to the pontiff in Washington. "As noted in the past, the pope, as pastor, has maintained many personal relationships with people in a spirit of kindness, welcome and dialogue," spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. Both Grassi and his partner posted a video of the encounter on their Facebook pages.

France 24, Eurotunnel services resume after mass break-in, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2015. Traffic resumed through the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France early Saturday, several hours after being suspended when at least 113 migrants tried to get into French side of the tunnel, the company operating it said. Scores of migrants clashed with staff and police and forced the suspension of rail services, a spokesman for Eurotunnel said. The disruption was the latest in a series of incidents involving migrants who are camped around the northern French port of Calais in the hope of reaching Britain. A spokesman for Eurotunnel said the migrants broke into its French terminal and got onto the tracks. Their effort was coordinated and highly organised, forcing the company to call for police reinforcements, he said. Eurotunnel services for passengers and freight were suspended, and while trains have started running again they are likely to proceed slowly through the Calais area, disrupting normal timetables, he added. Calais is just one of the hot spots in a wider immigration crisis, as European countries struggle to agree how to deal with growing numbers of migrants fleeing conflict or poverty.

Washington Post, Russia’s military is unlikely to turn the tide in Syria’s war, Andrew Roth and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Oct. 3, 2015. Russia has triumphantly plunged into Syria’s four-year-old civil war with an expanding campaign of airstrikes. The Syrian military will likely go on the offensive against moderate and Islamist rebel groups, including the Islamic State. But unless it is significantly strengthened, Moscow’s contribution is unlikely to be decisive in the war, analysts said.

Oct. 2

Fox News, Pentagon weighs using force to protect US-backed Syria rebels targeted by Russia, Julie Banderas with staff and AP reports, Oct. 2, 2015. Senior U.S. military leaders and defense officials are debating whether military force should be used to protect Washington-backed Syrian rebels who have come under attack by Russian airstrikes in recent days. The question was part of a broader debate within the Pentagon about the broader dilemma of how the administration should respond to what White House press secretary Josh Earnest described as Russia's "indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition."  A key concern is the prospect of the U.S. and Russia getting drawn into a shooting war in the event that Russian warplanes hit moderate Syrian rebels who have been trained and equipped by the U.S. U.S. officials made it clear earlier this year that rebels trained by the U.S. would receive air support in the event they are attacked by either IS or Syrian government troops. Currently, only about 80 U.S.-trained Syrian rebels are back in Syria fighting with their units.

PaulCraigRoberts.org via OpEdNews, By telling the truth at a time of universal deceit, Putin committed a revolutionary act, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 2, 2015. Referring to the slaughter, destruction, and chaos that Washington has brought to the Middle East, North Africa, and Ukraine, and the extreme jihadist forces that have been unleashed, Putin asked Washington: "Do you realize what you have done?"

Info Wars, McCain: Let's Arm ISIS To Fight Russia, Alex Jones, Oct. 2, 2015. On this edition of the Show, we look into Sen. John McCain's plan to arm ISIS-linked Syrian rebels to shoot down Russian airplanes, which would likely spark World War 3. We also analyze the myth of "moderate" rebel groups because ISIS and ISIS-linked groups make up the vast majority of militants in Syria. Also, Joe Biggs is live streaming from UT Austin where Second Amendment supporters are staging a counter-protest against a gun control group on campus. And geopolitical expert Joel Skousen explains what can plausibly happen next in Syria and why everyone should be paying attention. You don't want to miss today's show!


Reuters via Huffington Post, Job Growth Slows In Last Two Months, Unemployment Still 5.1 Percent, Jason Lange, Oct. 2, 2015. U.S. employers slammed the brakes on hiring over the last two months and wages fell in September, raising new doubts the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by the end of this year. Payrolls outside of farming rose by 142,000 last month and August figures were revised sharply lower to show only 136,000 jobs added in August, the Labor Department said on Friday. That marked the smallest two-month gain in employment in over a year and could fuel fears that the China-led global economic slowdown is sapping America's strength.

 

Norman Rockwell painting of Country Editor, owned by National Press Club.

Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor originally appeared in Saturday Evening Post on May 25, 1946.

National Press Club, Rockwell Sale Is Legacy for the National Press Club, NPC Persident President John Hughes, Oct. 1, 2015. The boards of the National Press Club and non-profit National Press Club Journalism Institute voted last night to sell our Norman Rockwell painting, "Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor." The sale will occur at an auction at Christie's on Nov. 19. Christie's expects the artwork to sell for $10 million to $15 million. Seventy percent of the proceeds will go to the Club, 30 percent to the Institute.  This is wonderful news for the Club and the Institute because we will have additional resources to carry out our missions for many years to come. However, this news may come as a surprise to many of you. You may wonder, are the Club and Institute broke, or desperate for cash, so that they had to look around the Club to look for assets to sell? No, that is far from the case. Then what is going on? How did we get to this point? However, our board members determined that over time, the costs of securing such a valuable artifact would be a drain on the financial resources of the Club and the Institute. The Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. It didn't make sense for us to begin diverting so many of our resources for art security.

Washington Post, Ore. shooter left behind online portrait of a lonely youth with a grudge against religion, Michael E. Miller and Yanan Wang, Oct. 2, 2015. Nine victims and gunman dead in mass shooting at Ore. community college. Multiple casualties have been reported at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. As the horrific details of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., slowly came together on Thursday evening like a grisly jigsaw puzzle, one crucial piece remained missing. A portrait of the shooter. Federal law enforcement officials identified the gunman, who was killed by police, as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer of the nearby town of Winchester. But information about Mercer remained fragmented as of Friday morning, much of it scattered online like a shredded photograph.

Brookings Institution, Government shutdown avoided (for now), and a new GOP strategy takes shape, Molly E. Reynolds, Oct. 1, 2015. This week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives began work on a budget reconciliation bill that eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and repeals some components of the landmark 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). This reconciliation measure represents a key part of the congressional leadership’s plan to avoid a government shutdown: promise the Planned Parenthood opponents that their concerns will be addressed in a filibuster-proof reconciliation bill, and, in exchange, get smoother consideration of the short-term spending bill that passed yesterday and keeps the government’s lights on until December.

New York Times, Archbishop at Center of Mystery of Papal Meeting With Kim Davis, Jason Horowitz, Oct. 2, 2015. Shortly after the election of Pope Francis, Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio to the United States, spoke effusively about his official reception by the pontiff in the library of the Apostolic Palace in Rome. “That is a man you may talk to with an open heart,” Archbishop Viganò said in an interview at the time, calling his audience, “extremely nice, extremely warm.” Archbishop Viganò could be in for a chillier reception the next time he returns to the Vatican. The archbishop, who was exiled to the United States in 2011 after losing a high-altitude Vatican power struggle that became public in an infamous leaks scandal, now finds himself at the center of another papal controversy. This time, the Vatican is suggesting that Archbishop Viganò is responsible for giving papal face time to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk whose refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has made her a heroine to social conservatives.

Oct. 1

New York Times, Sentencing Overhaul Proposed in Senate With Bipartisan Backing, Carl Hulse and Jennifer Steinhauer, Oct. 1, 2015. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation on Thursday that would overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system, allowing some nonviolent drug offenders to get reduced prison sentences. Months of tense and at times frustrating negotiations over the effectiveness and fairness of locking up nonviolent offenders for mandatory prison terms gave way to simple handshakes on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday morning in a bold effort to recast two decades of criminal justice policy.

Washington's Blog, Putin Has Just Put An End to the Wolfowitz Doctrine, Oct. 1, 2015. The Russians Will No Longer Allow Regime Change of Their Allies. As noted in video above, General Wesley Clark has noted: "In 1991, [powerful neocon and Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz] was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy – the number 3 position at the Pentagon. And I had gone to see him when I was a 1-Star General commanding the National Training Center." And I said, “Mr. Secretary, you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.” And he said: “Yeah, but not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t … But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

The hawks overthrew Soviet allies Iraq and Libya. And they’ve been pushing for regime change in Syria for years. By bombing Isis, Al Nusra and other jihadis in Syria who are focused on overthrowing Russian ally Assad, Putin has put an end to the Wolfowitz doctrine

CNN, FBI chief on Clinton investigation: My people 'don't give a rip about politics,' Evan Perez, Oct. 1, 2015. FBI Director James Comey said Thursday he feels no pressure from the election cycle to announce findings or to move more quickly James Comeyregarding the probe of Hillary Clinton's private email server. "If you know my folks ... they don't give a rip about politics," Comey said at an off-camera briefing at FBI headquarters Thursday. Comey (shown in a file photo) said he is getting briefed on the investigation of the former secretary of state's email server and is confident he has the resources and the right people doing the probe. He met with House Intelligence Committee members recently, but said he told lawmakers he won't discuss findings. In a wide ranging discussion with the media, Comey says he is worried about a surge in murders and other violent crime in cities around the country. "Something very worrisome is going on," Comey told reporters.

The Hill, Hillary confidant rips 'alcoholic' and 'lazy' Boehner in email, Scott Wong, Oct. 1, 2015. Hillary Clinton’s close confidant called John Boehner an “alcoholic,” “lazy” and a weak leader in a scathing email sent the night of the 2010 midterm election, when a Tea Party wave swept House Republicans into power. “He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle,” Sidney Blumenthal wrote to Clinton, then the secretary of State, in a lengthy “post-midterms” memo. “Thx, as always, for your insights,” Clinton wrote back, though she didn’t reference any specific remarks about the future Speaker. Blumenthal’s memo was among 7,000 pages of emails between Clinton and her top aides that the State Department released on Monday night. About 125 pages had been redacted because they contained classified information.

Washington Post, Supreme Court rounds out docket with cases from Iranian bank, moose hunter, Robert Barnes, Oct. 1, 2015. The cases and others will be added to about 35 U.S. Surempremepetitions the court has agreed to hear in the new term.

The Atlantic, Al Gore Blames the 2016 Election's Craziness on Television, Robinson Meyer, Oct. 1, 2015. “Politicians spend 75 percent of their money on 30-second TV ads.” Many have blamed not only Citizens United for the strangeness of the 2016 president election, but also the Internet and social media. Speaking at the 2015 Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday, Al Gore did blame a technology for the race’s unpredictableness — but not the one people might think of. “I think there’s a big wheel turning slowly and we’re now in a phase where our politics have been debased,” he told The Atlantic’s James Fallows. He described this wheel — this cycle — as profoundly technological. “When our country was founded, our information ecosystem was formed by the printing press, and it had certain characteristics where individuals could easily enter the public square. The ideas were treated more according to a meritocracy.” See full interview here.

Washington Post, McCarthy’s comments on Clinton’s polling could reshape Benghazi probe, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 1, 2015. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s upcoming appearance before the U.S. House Hillary ClintonSelect Committee on Benghazi was supposed to be a crucible: a chance for Republicans to prosecute the former secretary of state for her handling of the 2012 terrorist attacks that killed four Americans as well as for her use of private e-mail. Instead, it may have turned into a political gift for Clinton following this week’s suggestion by the likely next House speaker, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), that the taxpayer-funded Benghazi investigation was politically motivated. Clinton’s allies say his comments will help recast Clinton’s scheduled Oct. 22 hearing as a partisan inquisition rather than a fact-finding mission about the attacks in Libya. Hillary Clinton allies say the GOP leader’s comments will loom over her upcoming Benghazi testimony and unite Democrats.

New York Times, Russia Said to Carry Out 30 Airstrikes in Syria on 2nd Day of Raids, Ann Barnard, Oct. 1, 2015. In a second day of raids in Syria, Russian warplanes carried out 30 airstrikes on Thursday in the northern province of Idlib that targeted not the Islamic State but a rival insurgent coalition, according to a Lebanon-based news channel that leans toward the Syrian government and is well sourced there. The channel, Al Mayadeen, also said that Russia was targeting “a known list of terrorist organizations” that it had agreed on with the Syrian Army. If confirmed by Russia, that would be the first official admission that its military is targeting insurgents other than the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS. The strikes on Thursday targeted the Army of Conquest, a coalition of insurgent groups that includes the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and a range of less-extreme Islamist groups. This year, the Army of Conquest dealt Syrian forces a serious setback by seizing the city of Idlib, and later, the entire province, advances that posed the war’s sharpest threat to the coastal areas where support for President Bashar al-Assad is strongest. Russia has a naval station on the coast and has concentrated much of its recent military buildup there.

Sott.net, Russia in Syria: When the propaganda is kind of true; Russia bombing 'U.S.-trained' nutjobs, Harrison Koehli, Oct. 1, 2015. Putin's strategy in Syria has worked like a charm. First, there were around two weeks of murky, rumor-filled reports of a build-up of Russian military activity in Tartus and Latakia, Syria. Some were false, some had a seed of truth, but it got everyone talking -- this at the same time that Western media was hyping the refugee crisis and the danger of ISIS 'infiltrating Europe.' Second, there was talk of a new coalition to fight ISIS. This irked the West: Russian assistance in Latakia makes any no-fly zone in Syria a no-go. And a real coalition risks actually defeating ISIS, which the West doesn't really want. (They were counting on ISIS as the means or pretext of taking out Assad.)

Now, quick on the heels of Putin's talk at the UN and his meeting with Obama, Russia has begun airstrikes in Syria using the West's own pretext -- the threat of radicalized nationals 'returning home.' (Of course, Russia has other reasons for going to Syria, too.) Already, after just one day of airstrikes, the U.S. has pretty much folded, stating that they are stopping any additional training of radical Syrian jihadis, and 'adjusting' their policy regarding Assad, at least temporarily.

Global Research, Russia Establishes ‘No Fly’ Zone for NATO Planes over Syria, Moves to Destroy “ISIS.” Pentagon Freaks Out, Joe Quinn, Oct. 1, 2015. The U.S. government and its European “allies” are not really serious about destroying “ISIS.” The first hint came early last year when the jihadi mercenaries took large swathes of Iraq and Syria, and the West did nothing but wring its collective hands and fret, and resolve to bolster the fighting capability of the wonderful “rebels.” The second hint came this year when the U.S. and their partners began piecemeal airstrikes against “ISIS” that appeared to merely spur the head-choppers on to more success. The third hint came with reports that weapons supplies being sent to “Syrian rebels” were ‘accidentally’ ending up in the hands of the head-choppers.

 

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