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Editor's Choice: 2020 News & Views

This archive of assassination, regime change and propaganda news and commentary excerpts significant news stories and commentaries john_f_kennedy_smilingregarding alleged work by those involved with so-called "Deep State" efforts to subvert normal democratic procedures.

The materials are arranged in reverse chronological order backwards in time. They focus heavily on current news arising from the 1960s murders of President John F. Kennedy (shown in a file photo), his brother Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). Although conventional wisdom is that the deaths were solved long ago and hence of little but historical importance our contention is that close study reveals a Rosetta Stone of lost history that makes current events far more understandable.

Much of that research probes what are known as Deep State activities, which are covert and often illegal activities by powerful private figures working with allies in government, often connected to security bodies, in ways unaccountable in the ostensible leaders. This section includes materials on such other covert activities as government-connected regime change, false flag attacks, propaganda, spy rings, blackmail, smuggling, election-rigging and other major "crimes against democracy" (in the description of historian Lance deHaven Smith). 

The top section shows excerpts since the beginning of the calendar year.  Below at far bottom also are links to the Justice Integrity Project's multi-part and separate "Readers Guides" to the JFK, MLK and RFK assassinations containing notable books, films, archives and commentary. Included also are several reports regarding other alleged political murders of prominent international leaders, or attempts. Correspondence should be sent to this site's editor, Andrew Kreig.

 

Editor's Note: Excerpts below are from the authors' own words except for subheads and "Editor's notes" such as this.

Index: Deep State News, Revelations, Commentary

 2020

November

Nov. 24

nbc news logoNBC News, Opinion: Senate Republicans' Georgia bullying failed. But Lindsey Graham's ethics violations stand out, Richard Painter (right, former chief ethics richard painterlawyer for President George W. Bush) and Claire O. Finkelstein (faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania), Nov. 24, 2020. Graham’s actions should be clearly identified and vociferously rejected by his fellow senators, as well as by the Biden administration.

Republican Party organizations have continued to support President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud, amplifying his message in the press and in court filings. No such claim has survived legal scrutiny.

The president's own Department of Homeland Security has said that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” a statement that resulted in the firing of the director of that agency’s cybersecurity division. Just last week Trump summoned Michigan Republican leaders to the White House to try to throw out the state's election results. Despite these efforts, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania have certified the results in favor of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. And on Monday, the head of the General Services Administration approved the official transition process.

A handful of Republican senators has particularly disgraced the U.S. Senate in their willingness to support Trump’s doomed attempt to reverse the results of a lindsey grahamlawful and secure election.

A handful of Republican senators has particularly disgraced the U.S. Senate in their willingness to support Trump’s doomed attempt to reverse the results of a lawful and secure election. The most egregious example is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the subject of an ethics complaint we filed, along with former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, last Wednesday with the Senate Ethics Committee.

The complaint centers on a phone call Graham, left, placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to propose that Raffensperger invalidate thousands of mail-in ballots. According to The Washington Post, Graham “asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures,” which would have included ballots legally cast by eligible voters. In a subsequent interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Raffensperger explained that he took the senator’s message to mean “look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

Graham denies this account and maintains he was merely inquiring into the standards for mail-in ballots. His denial is not plausible. CNN reported that a staffer for Raffensberger, Gabriel Sterling, said “he participated in a controversial phone call with Sen. Lindsey Graham and claimed he heard Graham ask if state officials could throw out ballots.” Sterling and his family have received death threats and are now under 24-hour police protection.

Moreover, in the process of denying an attempt to invalidate ballots in Georgia, Graham admitted to reporters that he had also spoken with officials in Arizona, Nevada and possibly other states, because, as he said, “the future of the country hangs in the balance.”

Almost as worrisome as these attempts to influence election officials is Graham’s invocation of his authority as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to further the Republican narrative of fraud. Four days after the election, he vowed to launch a committee investigation into alleged irregularities, declaring that as chairman "all credible allegations of voting irregularities and misconduct will be taken seriously.” The next day he credited “allegations of system failure, fraud” as the reason Trump lost the election.

Graham is indeed empowered to investigate irregularities. But it would be a profound misuse of his office to call for an investigation for the purpose of bolstering Trump’s bid for re-election. Thus far there has been no public disclosure of any further plans regarding Graham’s promised investigation. Let’s hope it stays that way. If, however, Graham follows through, it will be clear that the investigative powers of the U.S. Senate are being pressed into service to challenge election results after the fact, either to reverse the outcome of the presidential election or to intimidate voters, election workers and the Georgia secretary of state in the upcoming January Senate runoff.

As we documented in an October report issued under the auspices of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the use of public investigatory powers for partisan political purposes has been a hallmark of the current administration, as demonstrated by William Barr’s Department of Justice. If our norms have become so distorted that the investigative powers of the Senate are similarly available for misuse, our country is experiencing a rule-of-law crisis of the first order.

Senate ethics rules prohibit Senate employees from engaging in campaign activity, unless it is clear that they do so on their own time, outside of Senate space, and without using Senate resources.

Senate ethics rules prohibit Senate employees from engaging in campaign activity, unless it is clear that they do so on their own time, outside of Senate space, and without using Senate resources. But there is no reason to suppose that Graham’s attempt to interfere in either the presidential election or the Georgia Senate runoff is being done in his personal capacity, rather than as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Taken in the context of the threats to launch an investigation into voter fraud, it is difficult to separate Graham’s official position from his personal one in support of Trump and GOP candidates in Georgia. It would not have been necessary to disentangle the two, however, had Graham steered clear of any conduct that cast doubt on his impartiality as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Perhaps the most deeply concerning aspect of Graham’s disenfranchisement campaign lies in its motive and methodology, namely to coordinate efforts across the Republican Party to flip the results of the election, a goal that could not be accomplished without disenfranchising a large number of Black voters. Both Georgia and South Carolina, Graham’s home state, have a history of infringing on the voting rights of African Americans. In recognition of this history, both states were previously under the supervision of the Department of Justice based on provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder decision, however, the Supreme Court in 2013 rescinded this supervision. Graham’s actions are illustrative of the type of conduct that might not have happened had the Voting Rights Act been fully in effect.

Graham did not succeed in his apparent attempt to disenfranchise thousands of Georgians in the November 2020 election. But if the Georgia secretary of state or his staffer had had less integrity, Graham might have prevailed. Such misconduct on the part of a sitting senator is an embarrassment to the Senate and a threat to our democracy, one that must be addressed in a full assessment of U.S. election security in the new administration. Graham’s actions should be clearly identified and vociferously rejected by his fellow senators, as well as by the Biden administration. They should make clear that interference with the counting or certification of votes is conduct unbecoming of a senator and will not be tolerated.

Nov. 23

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Republican Party has split in two. Let’s keep it that way, Jennifer Rubin, Nov. 23, 2020. In one half of the former GOP stand President Trump, his pathetic enablers in his campaign and in right-wing media, and the vast majority of Senate and House Republicans.

In the other half of the party, we see individuals from varying ideological backgrounds but who share a fundamental belief in democracy and the rule of law. These Republicans promptly declared that Trump had lost and insisted it was time to move on. In the Senate, Ben Sasse (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah) swiftly recognized the results of the election. (Belatedly, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania joined them.)

 

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Politico Magazine, Analysis: The Supreme Court’s “Breathtakingly Radical” New Approach to Election Law, Wendy Weiser and Daniel Weiner, Nov. 22, 2020. The justices won’t end up deciding the 2020 presidential race, but they have set the stage for a massive rollback of voting rights.

In the end, the blizzard of lawsuits from President Donald Trump’s campaign will amount to nothing beyond a megaphone for disinformation about the integrity of the 2020 election. As destructive as the president’s attempts to undermine democracy are, the most lasting damage to America’s election system is likely to come instead from a series of Supreme Court rulings that appear perfunctory but actually could restrict voters’ rights for years to come.

In the weeks before Election Day, the court weighed in on more than a dozen cases in a way that many portrayed as a mixed bag for voting rights—allowing voting expansions to stand in some cases and sharply curtailing them in others. But that scorecard approach obscures the principal effect of the court’s rulings: In all of the cases, regardless of whether the Trump campaign won or lost, the justices quietly—yet dramatically—rolled back Americans’ voting rights in ways that could do permanent harm—that is, unless Congress steps in.

Let’s start with the visible damage.

In multiple cases, and often without a shred of explanation, the Supreme Court affirmatively stepped in to make it harder to vote. The first case was in Wisconsin in April, right after the pandemic hit. A lower court had extended the deadline for returning mail ballots in the presidential primary by six days. But the night before the election, over a withering dissent by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—one of her last written opinions—the Supreme Court blocked that extension, leaving voters only hours to obtain and return their ballots. The result: thousands of citizens were unable to return their ballots on time, and their votes were not counted.

Likewise, in South Carolina in early October, the court reinstated a witness requirement for absentee ballots after voting had already started and weeks after the ballot instructions had been printed. While the court exempted voters whose ballots were delivered within two days of its ruling without a witness signature, at least 2,509 ballots arrived after that date and were disqualified. In Alabama, the court stepped in two weeks before Election Day to reinstate witness identification requirements for absentee ballots and a ban on curbside voting.

Until these rulings, federal courts across the country had generally responded to the pandemic by expanding voting access, applying well-established legal doctrines to evaluate burdens to voting rights under the Constitution. Their decisions mainly allowed more voters to take advantage of mail voting and to have safe ballot drop-off and voting locations. Election officials adapted their systems accordingly, and voters requested and received ballots in keeping with the new procedures.

After the Supreme Court ruled in South Carolina, however, appellate courts followed its lead and blocked more than a dozen voter-friendly rulings and settlements within a span of a few weeks. In one egregious case only four days before Election Day, a federal appeals court halted a settlement allowing Minnesota voters to mail back their ballots up until Election Day. At the time, there were more than half a million ballots—all containing instructions with the previous deadline—still outstanding.

These decisions likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of Americans this year, disproportionately people of color. But their most significant damage is not limited to this election. Although the Supreme Court didn’t provide a rationale for its rulings, individual justices articulated two principles that guided their votes, and the way the court applied those principles this election season sets dangerous precedents for the future.

First, there’s what’s known as the Purcell principle, which maintains that federal courts shouldn’t make changes to voting rules close to an election. The supposed purpose of this judge-made doctrine is to prevent confusion and chaos by requiring last-minute changes to election practices that could disenfranchise voters or cause administrative snafus. But in many cases during the lead-up to this election, the Supreme Court itself caused confusion and administrative problems by reversing voting rights rulings from lower federal courts that had already been implemented by election officials, and the circuit courts followed suit. (This would seem to suggest that while the Supreme Court believes this rule applies to lower courts, it is not a constraint on its own rulings.)

What’s more, the Purcell principle has never before been applied as a blunt instrument to block all voting rights protections close to an election, regardless of their impact, as the Supreme Court seemed to do this year. A broad application of this precedent could make it impossible to challenge barriers to voting that were themselves imposed at the last minute, including obstacles erected purposefully to thwart certain voters. This isn’t theoretical; it’s precisely what happened in Texas when a federal appeals court used the Purcell principle to uphold Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Oct. 1 executive order, which sharply limited the number of ballot drop-off sites in a way that targeted voters in more populous counties, after a federal district court ruled against it.

Second, and even more dangerous, five of the court’s justices have signed onto opinions endorsing a brand new legal theory—that the Constitution gives state legislatures virtually untrammeled authority to set voting rules for federal elections, no matter how arbitrary or unreasonable. This previously discredited theory, which was first articulated by three justices in one of the cases concerning the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, could insulate most anti-voter laws—from arbitrary voting restrictions to burdensome registration requirements—from constitutional review by federal courts. What is more, the Court may be poised to prevent even state courts from reviewing their own state’s laws for compliance with state constitutional protections. Indeed, that was the logic Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas wanted to apply to strike down the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline this year. They were outvoted this time, but this logic could also be applied to prevent state and local election officials from expanding voter access beyond legislative mandates—as many did to ensure voters’ health and safety this year.

These theories are breathtakingly radical, and if they take root, they will seriously undermine Americans’ voting rights going forward. But here is the good news: When it comes to voting rights, the Supreme Court does not necessarily get the last word. Congress can take the lead.

Wendy Weiser is vice president for democracy and Daniel Weiner is deputy director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.

Nov. 22

 

Global Research via Truth & Reconciliation Committee, Opinion and Memoir: Unspeakable Memories  -- The Day John Kennedy Died, Edward Curtin, Nov. 22, 2020. There is a vast literature on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who died on this date, November 22, 1963. I have contributed my small share to such writing in an effort to tell the truth, honor him, and emphasize its profound importance in understanding the history of the last fifty-seven years, but more importantly, what is happening in the U.S.A. today.

Unless one is a government disinformation agent or is unaware of the enormous documentary evidence, one knows that it was the U.S. national security state, led by the CIA, that carried out JFK’s murder.

Confirmation of this fact keeps arriving in easily accessible forms for anyone interested in the truth. A case in point is James DiEugenio’s posting at his website, KennedysandKing, of James Wilcott’s affidavit and interrogation by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, declassified by the Assassinations Record Review Board in 1998.

In that document, Wilcott, who worked in the finance department for the CIA and was not questioned by the Warren Commission, discusses how he unwittingly paid Lee Harvey Oswald, the government’s alleged assassin, through a cryptonym and how it was widely known and celebrated at his CIA station in Tokyo that the CIA killed Kennedy and Oswald worked for the Agency, although he did not shoot JFK. I highly recommend reading the document.

I do not here want to go into any further analysis or debate about the case. I think the evidence is overwhelming that the President was murdered by the national security state. Why he was murdered, and the implications for today, are what concern me. And how and why we remember and forget public events whose consequences become unbearable to contemplate, and the fatal repercussions of that refusal. In what I consider the best book ever written on the subject, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2009), James W. Douglass explains this in detail, including the James Wilcott story.

Realizing what I am about to say might be presumptuous and of no interest to anyone but myself, I will nevertheless try to describe my emotional reactions to learning of John Kennedy’s murder so long ago and how that reverberated down through my life.

I hope my experiences might help explain why so many people today can’t face the consequences of the tragic history that began that day and have continued to the present, among which are not just the other assassinations of the 1960s but the lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent endless and murderous “war on terror” with its mind-numbing propaganda and the recent anti-Russia phobia and the blatant celebration of the so-called “deep-state’s” open efforts to overthrow another president, albeit a very different one.

....

Many people will pretend that they are exposing themselves to such traumatic memories and are investigating the events and sources of their disquietude. It is so often a pretense since they feel most comfortable in the land of make-believe. What is needed is not a dilettantish and superficial nod in the direction of having examined such matters, but a serious in-depth study of the facts and an examination of why doing so might make one uncomfortable.

Perhaps a reason we remember so much trivia is to make sure we forget profound experiences that might shake us to our cores. The cold-blooded public execution of President John Kennedy did that to me on that melancholy Friday when I was 19, and by trying to forget it and not to speak of it, I hoped it would somehow go away, or at least fade to insignificance. But the past has a way of never dying, often to return when we least expect or want it.

Nov. 21

World Crisis Radio, Scoundrel Time! Opinion: Autogolpe [coup against one's own government) Loses Some Momentum, but MAGA Fanatics Keep Trying, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Nov. 21, 2020. Georgia Finally Certified for Biden with 16 Electoral Votes, but Fraudster Gov. Kemp is still Seeking to Filch Them; Michigan State Reps Visit Trump, and Do Not Openly Embrace His Coup Plan; Monday’s Meeting of State Canvassing Board in Lansing is Next Crucial Moment; Michigan AG Eyes Charges for Attempted Election Subversion.

US Government Faces Possible Government Shutdown and More Chaos on Dec. 11, with Moscow Mitch Once More the Culprit; Meadows Won’t Guarantee that Closure Can Be Averted; First-Time Jobless Claims Rise to 742,000, Still Depression Levels.

djt maga hatChristmas Cliff Looms for Sick and Needy, as Mnuchin Proclaims the End of Emergency Spending while Pandemic Rockets Ahead; Even Federal Reserve Wants to Spend More; No More Help for Self-Employed, Gig Workers; No More 13-Week Extension of Jobless Benefits; Eviction Freeze, Student Loan Forbearance, and Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts All Ending; Trump Gang from Super-Spreaders to Super-Scrooges.

Pompeo Meets Taliban to Press for Less Afghan Violence at Appeasement Talks in Qatar Just After 8 Die in Kabul Mortar Attacks; European Leaders in US-Led Coalition Warn that Trump’s Plan to Run for the Exits is Fraught with Peril.

The Lazy Putschist: Trump Flees Pandemic Discussion at Virtual G-20 Conference to Goof Off on Golf Links while Nation Suffers; This Negates His Oath to Promote the General Welfare and Should Force Him Out of Office; Show Him the American People Are More Teed Off than He Is! Seventy-Five Years Ago, the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials – Still Applicable Today.

Nov. 20

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election, Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 19, 2020. The president is orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters, who chose President-elect Joe Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries delaying count to cast doubt on Biden win, Amy Gardner, Robert Costa, Rosalind S. Helderman and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Nov. 19, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump has abandoned his plan to win reelection by disqualifying enough ballots to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s wins in key battleground states, pivoting instead to a goal that appears equally unattainable: delaying a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s decisive victory.

joe biden oOn Wednesday, Trump’s campaign wired $3 million to election officials in Wisconsin to start a recount in the state’s two largest counties. His personal lawyer, ­Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has taken over the president’s legal team, asked a federal judge to consider ordering the Republican-controlled legislature in Pennsylvania to select the state’s electors. And Trump egged on a group of GOP lawmakers in Michigan who are pushing for an audit of the vote there before it is certified.

Giuliani, below left, has also told Trump and associates that his ambition is to pressure GOP lawmakers and officials across the political map to stall the vote certification in an effort to have Republican lawmakers pick electors and disrupt the electoral college when it convenes next month — and Trump is encouraging of that plan, according to two senior rudy giuliani recentRepublicans who have conferred with Giuliani and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.

But that outcome appears impossible. It is against the law in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin law gives no role to the legislature in choosing presidential electors, and there is little public will in other states to pursue such a path.

Behind the thin legal gambit is what several Trump advisers say is his real goal: sowing doubt in Biden’s victory with the president’s most ardent supporters and keeping alive his prospects for another presidential run in 2024.

The shift in strategy comes after the president has suffered defeat after defeat in courtrooms around the country. And it serves as a tacit acknowledgment that Trump has failed to muster evidence to support his unfounded claims about widespread fraud.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Attempts to Overturn Election Are Unparalleled in U.S. History, David E. Sanger, Nov. 19, 2020.  The president’s push to prevent states from certifying electors and get legislators to override voters’ will is an audacious use of brute political force.

Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.

 djt ivanka rnc photo

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York State is criminally targeting Donald Trump over payments to Ivanka Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 19, 2020. Now that Donald Trump has lost the election and will be eligible for arrest and asset seizures as soon as he’s gone from office, we’ve been waiting for New York State to tip off how its ongoing investigations into Trump are going to come to a head. Tonight we got a big piece of the puzzle.

bill palmer report logo headerThe New York Times is reporting that New York’s ongoing investigation into the Donald Trump and the Trump Organization has expanded to include massive consulting fees that were paid to Ivanka Trump and then written off. It’s not against the law for Ivanka to accept those payments. But the Trump Organization reportedly wrote off those payments as tax losses, which is illegal.

What stands out here is that the Times says New York’s civil and criminal investigations have expanded to include these payments. This means New York isn’t merely looking at taking the money back that was improperly written off; it’s looking into this in terms of felony tax fraud. That would include criminal charges for whoever in the Trump Organization made the decision to write it off, which would ostensibly be Donald Trump himself, along with Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. This comes after last week’s report djt prison palmer reportthat New York is putting the squeeze on Weisselberg and his family, in an apparent attempt at getting him to flip on Donald Trump.

This is important because it makes clear that New York State really is about to rip Donald Trump’s life to pieces, on both a civil and criminal level. We’ll see asset forfeitures. We’ll see indictments. We’ll see Trump on trial. As a reminder, no President can pardon state level charges. This news comes just hours after CNN reported that the FBI is now zeroing in on Rudy Giuliani. The sharks are circling pretty heavily now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Wayne County Republican who asked to ‘rescind’ her vote certifying results says Trump called her, Tom Hamburger, Kayla Ruble and Tim Elfrink, Nov. 19, 2020. The certified election results have already been sent to the secretary of state.

President Trump called a GOP canvassing board member in Wayne County who announced Wednesday she wanted to rescind her decision to certify the results of the presidential election, the member said in a message to The Washington Post on Thursday.

“I did receive a call from President Trump, late Tuesday evening, after the meeting,” Monica Palmer, one of two Republican members of the four-member Wayne County canvassing board, told The Post. “He was checking in to make sure I was safe after hearing the threats and doxing that had occurred.”

djt maga hatThe call came after an hours-long meeting Tuesday in which the four-member canvassing board voted to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election, a key step toward finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

For now, Trump’s intervention seemed unlikely to change the course of events in Michigan. Biden is winning the state by a wide margin, more than 148,000 votes. The state said Palmer’s board has done its job, and cannot retract its votes. The state’s board of canvassers is still scheduled to hold a hearing Monday to certify the results.

ny times logoNew York Times, Timeline of the Certification Process That Trump Is Trying to Disrupt, Maggie Astor, Nov. 19, 2020. Despite Republican efforts to undermine the process, state officials say they fully expect to meet their upcoming deadlines.

As President Trump and his Republican allies continue trying to undermine the election, the certification of the vote totals in each state is the next major step in formalizing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory; Election workers recounted ballots in Atlanta last week. The deadline for Georgia to certify its election results is Friday at 5 p.m.

A key part of the G.O.P. strategy has been to delay certification processes in battleground states that Mr. Biden won, in the hopes that, if state officials miss their deadlines, legislators will subvert the popular vote and appoint pro-Trump slates to the Electoral College. But that’s extremely unlikely to happen.

Here’s a breakdown of the certification deadlines and other key dates in battleground states, and what will happen between now and Inauguration Day.

Friday, Nov. 20: Georgia

There is a 5 p.m. Friday deadline for officials to certify election results in Georgia, which Mr. Biden won in a rare Democratic victory in the Deep South that has left Republicans deeply frustrated.

The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said the state will meet the Friday deadline despite having conducted a time-consuming hand recount of the five million ballots cast there.

Mr. Raffensperger is responsible for certifying the results, and he has fiercely defended the state’s electoral process against attacks from Mr. Trump. And on Thursday, a federal judge in Georgia — Steven Grimberg, whom Mr. Trump appointed — rejected a request to block certification.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal judge rules against Donald Trump in Georgia, clears way for Joe Biden victory certification, Bill Palmer, Nov. 19, 2020. Federal judge rules against Trump, clears the way for Georgia to certify its results with Joe Biden as the winner on tomorrow’s deadline. This was the last court case that Trump had in place in Georgia, and now it’s gone. This was always going to go this way. There was literally zero chance Trump was going to magically overturn Georgia, just as there is literally zero chance he’s going to magically overturn Michigan or any other state.

bill palmer report logo headerThe kicker: the federal judge who just ruled against Trump was appointed by Trump. Again, no surprise. As Palmer Report explained at the very start of this process, judicial bias may play a role in narrowly nuanced cases, but it never plays a role when one side has literally no case.

If you’re preparing to panic and fret over Trump’s meeting with Michigan officials tomorrow, you’re setting yourself up for another day of worry and strife over something that will ultimately turn out to be nothing.

It couldn’t be much more clear that Trump is merely using these tactics to drag out the illusion that he’s somehow “contesting” the election, so he can continue fundraising on it. He knows he’s lost. This was always about money.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rudy Giuliani made accusations of fraud that the Trump team has failed to support in court, Alan Feuer and Linda Qiu, Nov. 19, 2020. At a rambling news conference on Thursday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, mixed misleading statements, wild conspiracy theories and outright fabrications as he attempted to suggest that Mr. Trump still had a viable pathway to winning the election.

Over and over again, Mr. Giuliani and other members of the president’s legal team suggested that Mr. Trump had evidence to prove that “massive fraud” had been committed in swing states across the country. But Mr. Giuliani himself had undercut that accusation in one high-profile case, telling the federal judge overseeing a suit in Pennsylvania, “This is not a fraud case.”

Mr. Giuliani, speaking at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington, claimed that Mr. Trump would prevail in the election if only he could get his day in front of a judge.

“Give us a chance to prove it in court and we will,” he said.

The problem? In many of the instances that Mr. Giuliani mentioned, the Trump campaign has already had its chance in court — and failed.

jfk limo dallas 31kb

Future of Freedom Foundation, Analysis: The Cunning Plot to Kill Kennedy, Jacob Hornberger, right, Nov. 20, 2020. If anyone murders a federal official, you can be assured jacob hornberger newof one thing: the feds will do everything they can to ensure that everyone involved in the crime is brought to justice. It's like when someone kills a cop. The entire police force mobilizes to capture, arrest, and prosecute everyone involved in killing the cop. The phenomenon is even more pronounced at the federal level, especially given the overwhelming power of the federal government

Yet, the exact opposite occurred in the Kennedy assassination. The entire effort immediately became to pin the crime solely on a "communist" ex-U.S. Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald and to shut down any aggressive investigation into whether others were involved in the crime.

What's up with that? That's not the way we would expect federal officials to handle the assassination of any federal official, especially the president of the United States. We would expect them to do everything -- even torture a suspect -- in order to capture and arrest everyone who may have participated in the crime.

For example, just three days after the assassination and after Oswald himself had been murdered, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach sent out a memo stating, "The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial."

How in the world could he be so certain that Oswald was the assassin and that he had no confederates? Why would he want to shut down the investigation so soon? Does that sound like a normal federal official who is confronted with the assassination of a president?

The answer to this riddle lies in the brilliantly cunning scheme of the U.S. national-security establishment to ensure that the investigation into Kennedy's assassination would be shut down immediately and, therefore, not lead to the U.S. national-security establishment.

The assassination itself had all the earmarks of a classic military ambush, one in which shooters were firing from both the front and back of the president. It is a virtual certainty that responsibility for the ambush lay with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been waging a vicious war against Kennedy practically since the time he assumed office. (See Future of Freedom Foundations book JFK's War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s.)

While the JCS were experts at preparing military-style ambushes, they lacked the intellectual capability of devising the overall plot and cover-up, given its high level of cunning and sophistication. That responsibility undoubtedly lay with the CIA, whose top officials were brilliant graduates of Ivy League Schools. Moreover, practically from its inception the CIA was specializing in the art of state-sponsored assassinations and in how to conceal the CIA's role in them.

To ensure that the role of the Pentagon and the CIA in the Kennedy assassination would be kept secret, they had to figure out a way to shut down the investigation from the start. Their plan worked brilliantly. While the normal thing would have been all-out investigations into the murder, in this particular murder the state of Texas and U.S. officials did the exact opposite. They settled for simply pinning the crime on Oswald, the purported lone nut communist ex-U.S. Marine.

Here is how they pulled it off.

As the years have passed, it has become increasingly clear that Oswald was a government operative, most likely for military intelligence or maybe the CIA and the FBI as well. His job was to portray himself as a communist, which would enable him to infiltrate not only domestic communist and socialist organizations but also communist countries, such as Cuba and the Soviet Union.

After all, how many communist Marines have you ever heard of? The Marines would be a good place to recruit people for intelligence roles. Oswald learned fluent Russian while in the military. How does an enlisted man do that, without the assistance of the military's language schools? When he returned from the Soviet Union after supposedly trying to defect and after promising that he was going to give up secret information he had acquired in the military, no federal grand jury or congressional investigation was launched into his conduct, even though this was the height of the Cold War.

Thus, Oswald would make the perfect patsy. He could be stationed wherever his superiors instructed. And he would have all the earmarks of a communist, which would immediately prejudice Americans at the height of the Cold War.

lee harvey oswald in dallas custodyBut simply framing Oswald (shown in custoday in Dallas after the shooting) wouldn’t have been enough to shut down the investigation. An aggressive investigation would undoubtedly be able to pierce through the pat nature of the frame-up. They needed something more.

If you’re going to frame someone who is supposedly firing from the rear, then doesn’t it make sense that you would have shots being fired only from the rear? Why would they frame a guy who is supposedly firing from the rear by having shots fired from the front?

That’s where the sheer brilliance of this particular regime-change operation came into play. The plan was much more cunning than even the successful regime-change operations and assassinations that took place prior to the one against Kennedy — i.e., Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Cuba from 1959-1963, and the Congo in 1961.

There is now virtually no doubt that Kennedy was hit by two shots fired from the front. Immediately after Kennedy was declared dead, the treating physicians at Parkland Hospital described the neck wound as a wound of entry. They also said that Kennedy had a massive, orange-sized wound in the back of his head. Nurses at Parkland said the same things. Two FBI agents said they saw the big exit-sized wound. Secret Service agent Clint Hill saw it.

Navy photography expert Saundra Spencer told the ARRB in the 1990s that she developed the JFK autopsy photos on a top-secret basis on the weekend of the assassination and that they depicted a big exit-sized wound in the back of JFK’s head. A bone fragment from the back of the president’s head was found in Dealey Plaza after the assassination. That is just part of the overwhelming evidence that establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the shot that hit Kennedy in the head came from the front.

Okay, if you’ve got a shooter firing from the back and he’s a communist, and if you have other shooters firing from the front, then they have to be working together. So, who would the shooters be who were firing from the front? The logical inference is that they had to be communist cohorts of Oswald.

That’s what Oswald’s supposed visits to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico just before the assassination were all about — making it look like Oswald was acting in concert with the Soviet and Cuban communists to kill Kennedy.

If the assassination was part of the Soviet Union’s supposed quest to conquer the world, retaliation would mean World War III, which almost surely would have meant nuclear war, which was the biggest fear among the American people in 1963.

But why not retaliate in some way? Would U.S. officials at the height of the Cold War hesitate to retaliate for the communist killing of a U.S. president, simply because they were scared of nuclear war? Not a chance! In fact, throughout Kennedy’s term in office the Pentagon and the CIA were champing at the bit to attack Cuba and go to war with the Soviet Union.

But here’s the catch: How do you take action that is going to destroy the world when it was your side that started the assassination game in the first place? Remember: It was the CIA that started the assassination game by partnering with the Mafia to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Thus, Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, and the JCS had the perfect excuse to shut down the investigation and pin the crime only on Oswald: If they instead retaliated, it would be all-out nuclear war based on an assassination game that the U.S. had started.

In fact, when Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade alleged from the start that Oswald was part of a communist conspiracy, Johnson told him to shut it down for fear that Wade might inadvertently start World War III.

earl warrenMoreover, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, right, initially declined Johnson’s invitation to serve on what ultimately became the Warren Commission, Johnson appealed to his sense of patriotism by alluding to the importance of avoiding a nuclear war. Johnson used the same argument on Senator Richard Russell Jr.

From the start, the Warren Commission proceedings were shrouded in “national-security” state secrecy, including a top-secret meeting of the commissioners to discuss information they had received that Oswald was an intelligence agent. When Warren was asked if the American people would be able to see all the evidence, Warren responded yes, but not in your lifetime.

Does that make any sense? If the assassination was, in fact, committed by some lone nut, then what would “national security” and state secrecy have to do with it?

...

Thus, the plan entailed operating at two levels: One level involved what some call the World War III cover story. It entailed shutting down the investigation, as well as a fraudulent autopsy, to prevent nuclear war. The other level involved showing the American people that their president had been killed by only one person, a supposed lone nut communist former Marine.

...

Gradually, as the years have passed, the incriminating puzzle has come together. The big avalanche of secret information came out in the 1990s as part of the work done by the Assassination Records Review Board.

Of course, there are still missing pieces to the puzzle, many of which are undoubtedly among the records that the CIA and national-security establishment are still keeping secret. But enough circumstantial evidence has come to light to enable people to see the contours of one of the most cunning and successful assassination plots in history.

Nov. 19

rudy giuliani nov 19 2020

American System TV, Opinion; Scoundrel Time! Trump’s Multi-State Attempt to Steal Electoral Votes and Stage Coup for Dictatorship Descends Into Theatre of the Absurd with Deranged Press webster tarpley 2007Conference by Giuliani and Friends, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 19, 2020. Allegations of Plot to Falsify Outcome with Rigged Voting Machines Bought with “Communist Money”; Plan Targets Democratic Cities with Black Majorities; Demand is Still that State Legislatures Junk Popular Votes and Choose Slates of MAGA Toadies as Electors; Grotesque Proceedings Make “Ghouliani” and His Claim of Win into Laughingstock.

After Dropping Lawsuits in Michigan, Trump Invites GOP Legislature Reps Chatfield and Shirkey to White House Friday in Open Conspiracy to Subvert Legal Nov. 3 Vote; Don Also Convinced Two Wayne County GOP Hacks to Recant Their Votes to Certify Votes There, but Secretary of State Rules It’s too Late; Trump’s Arizona Lawsuits Also Ended; Alexandria Ocasio Cortez officialIn Pennsylvania, House Orders “Audit” of Election Returns.

Biden Confers with Bipartisan Group of Ten Governors, Pledging Necessary Aid to States; Says that Legal Action May Take Too Long to Be Relevant, But Does Not Rule It Out; Pledges No National Shutdown.

Far From the Battlefield, AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left], is already Protesting Fellow Dems When Maximum Unity against Fascism is Imperative.

Nov. 17

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden dials up pressure on Trump to engage in handoff, Matt Viser, Nov. 17, 2020 (print ed.). The president-elect warned that more American lives would be at risk if members of the new administration are unable to plan for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine in coordination with current Trump administration officials.

joe biden twitterPresident-elect Joe Biden on Monday ratcheted up pressure on the Trump administration to engage in a transition of power, mincing no words on the dire consequences if his incoming team faces further delays in working with federal agencies.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden said during a news conference in Wilmington, Del., following remarks on the economic impact of the coronavirus in which he warned of a “very dark winter” where “things are going to get much tougher before they get easier.”

He also pointed out the absurdity that Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the vice president-elect, still has access to classified intelligence briefings because she is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But Biden himself is not able to get those briefings because Trump’s administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election.

 Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Anti-Government Protesters at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump coronavirus adviser tells Michigan to ‘rise up’ against new shutdown orders, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 17, 2020 (print ed.). I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) responded.

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced a three-week “pause to save lives,” closing colleges, high schools, workplaces and in-person dining as new coronavirus cases have spiked.

scott atlas resized After she appealed to the Trump administration to intervene in the pandemic, White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas responded with a call to action. But instead of supporting Whitmer’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Michigan, he urged residents to reject the state’s public health guidelines.

“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas said in a tweet Sunday night, which quoted a reporter who had shared information about Whitmer’s new restrictions. “You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

gretchen whitmer o horizontal Custom

Critics immediately condemned Atlas’s “rise up” rhetoric, which mirrored President Trump’s previous calls to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and statements that correlated “tyranny” with the pandemic restrictions put in place by Whitmer, who was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot that was thwarted last month. The suspects said they planned the attack because the Michigan governor was a “tyrant b----,” according to the FBI.

Whitmer responded to Atlas’s tweet Sunday night on CNN, where she defended the three-week pause that resembles the stay-at-home orders issued in many cities and states early in the pandemic.

“We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular,” Whitmer told CNN. “I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) also slammed Atlas, calling the tweet “disappointing, irresponsible, and the reason why the United States finds itself in such desperate circumstances regarding COVID-19.” She said the opposition to restrictions would lead to more coronavirus cases and deaths.

washington post logoWashington Post, The longer Republicans cower to Trump, the more damage they do to democracy, Editorial Board, Nov. 17, 2020 (print ed.). The Republican Party’s national leadership now stands squarely against fair and secure elections — or accepting results, for that matter.

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ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, Can America Restore the Rule of Law Without Prosecuting Trump? Jonathan Mahler, Nov. 17, 2020.  Donald djt smiling fileTrump’s potential criminal liability is the key to understanding his presidency. When he leaves office, it will present a historic dilemma.

Last year, one of Trump’s lawyers, William Consovoy, memorably argued in open court that a sitting president could shoot a man in public and not be prosecuted. The legal validity of this claim notwithstanding, there is nothing to protect a former president from prosecution. No ex-president has ever been indicted before, but no president has ever left office with so much potential criminal liability.

wayne madesen report logo

ny times logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: A perilous presidential interregnum, Wayne Madsen, below left, Nov. 17, 2020. Not since the presidential transition from James Buchanan to Abraham Lincoln in 1861 has an incoming president been threatened with what amounts to calls for an armed insurrection against an newly-inaugurated president.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMany of the threats aimed at President-elect Joe Biden are being egged on from the core of the Donald Trump camp, which includes neo-Nazi and fascist groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and III%ers. These insurrectionists are also receiving aid and comfort from individuals like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a state that figured as heavily in the sedition against President Lincoln as it does today in the insurrectionism against President-elect Biden.

Soon-to-be President Biden should be as wary about dealing with the neo-insurrectionists as was Lincoln in keeping a watchful eye on the treason being organized in South Carolina.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Popular Political Site Made a Sharp Right Turn. Why? Jeremy W. Peters, Nov. 17, 2020. Real Clear Politics pitches itself as a “trusted, go-to source” for unbiased polling. The Trump era changed its tone and funding sources.

For three days after every major news organization declared Joseph R. Biden Jr. the victor of the presidential election, one widely read political site maintained that Pennsylvania was still too close to call.

The delay was welcome news to allies of President Trump like Rudolph W. Giuliani and friendly outlets like The Gateway Pundit, which misrepresented the site’s decision in their efforts to spread false claims that Mr. Biden’s lead was unraveling.

That site, Real Clear Politics, is well known as a clearinghouse of elections data and analysis with a large following among the political and media establishment — and the kinds of political obsessives who might now have all the counties in Georgia memorized. It markets itself to advertisers as a “trusted, go-to source” admired by campaign and news professionals alike. Its industry benchmark polling average is regularly cited by national publications and cable news networks.

But less well known is how Real Clear Politics and its affiliated websites have taken a rightward, aggressively pro-Trump turn over the last four years as donations to its affiliated nonprofit have soared. Large quantities of those funds came through two entities that wealthy conservatives use to give money without revealing their identities.

The founders of Real Clear Politics, two self-described news junkies who became friends at Princeton and started the website in 2000, said over email that they “fully stand behind” the average and their editors’ decision to publish those pieces. “Our advertisers, sponsors, supporters, and readers represent an array of perspectives across the political spectrum,” wrote John McIntyre, the chief executive, and Tom Bevan, the president. “And they know we practice fiercely independent journalism that necessarily covers all relevant sides of our national political and policy debates.”

Nov. 16

Top Headlines

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Trying to Cling to Power, Fans Unrest and Conspiracies, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information and access to the government.

joe biden oMore than a week after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump continues to block his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, critical information about the coronavirus pandemic and access to the vast machinery of government that Mr. Biden will soon oversee.

Some former top advisers to Mr. Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise. John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, called it “crazy” on Friday. John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the administration, said the refusal “harms the country.”

john bolton hands up uncredited Custom“Every day that he delays under the pretense that he’s simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage,” Mr. Bolton (shown at right in a file photo) said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday morning.

The president’s attempt to cling to power played out against a backdrop of protests by Trump supporters and opponents late Saturday, with sporadic clashes near the White House. The police arrested 21 people as one protester was stabbed and four officers were injured. Rather than seek to calm tensions, Mr. Trump lashed out.

“ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills,” he posted on Twitter on Saturday as he urged the police to move in aggressively. “DC Police, get going — do your job and don’t hold back!!!”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Cities Accused in Fraud Conspiracies Didn’t Cost Trump the Election, Emily Badger, Nov. 16, 2020. Yet Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit have become the targets of G.O.P. allegations of voting shenanigans.

President Donald Trump officialThat these three cities would become the chief sites of Republican claims of fraud in this election is unsurprising. All three are heavily Democratic. They have large African-American populations. And in their respective states, they have long been targets of racialized charges of corruption.

But in one revealing way, the fixation this year is misplaced. All three cities voted pretty much the same way they did in 2016. Turnout barely budged, relative to other areas in these states. Joseph R. Biden Jr. saw no remarkable surge in support — certainly nothing that would bolster claims of ballot stuffing or tampered vote tallies. Mr. Trump even picked up marginally more votes this year in all three cities than he did four years ago.

Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit, in other words, were not decisive in explaining why the Northern battleground states flipped from Mr. Trump four years ago to Mr. Biden in 2020. Voters outside of these cities made the difference.

 Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Anti-Government Protesters at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump coronavirus adviser tells Michigan to ‘rise up’ against new shutdown orders, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 16, 2020. I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) responded.

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced a three-week “pause to save lives,” closing colleges, high schools, workplaces and in-person dining as new coronavirus cases have spiked.

scott atlas resized After she appealed to the Trump administration to intervene in the pandemic, White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas responded with a call to action. But instead of supporting Whitmer’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Michigan, he urged residents to reject the state’s public health guidelines.

“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas said in a tweet Sunday night, which quoted a reporter who had shared information about Whitmer’s new restrictions. “You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

gretchen whitmer o horizontal Custom

Critics immediately condemned Atlas’s “rise up” rhetoric, which mirrored President Trump’s previous calls to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and statements that correlated “tyranny” with the pandemic restrictions put in place by Whitmer, who was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot that was thwarted last month. The suspects said they planned the attack because the Michigan governor was a “tyrant b----,” according to the FBI.

Whitmer responded to Atlas’s tweet Sunday night on CNN, where she defended the three-week pause that resembles the stay-at-home orders issued in many cities and states early in the pandemic.

“We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular,” Whitmer told CNN. “I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) also slammed Atlas, calling the tweet “disappointing, irresponsible, and the reason why the United States finds itself in such desperate circumstances regarding COVID-19.” She said the opposition to restrictions would lead to more coronavirus cases and deaths.

washington post logodjt hands up mouth open CustomWashington Post, Analysis: The ending of Trump’s presidency echoes the beginning — with a lie, Ashley Parker, Nov. 16, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s term is poised to come full circle in myriad ways, from a consistent lack of strategic vision to his enduring efforts to delegitimize his political rivals, whoever they might be.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Giuliani’s fantasy parade of false voter-fraud claims, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 16, 2020. In interviews with sympathetic Fox News hosts, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, right, has made several wild claims alleging that election fraud and malfeasance was responsible for Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

rudy giuliani recentHis claims have been echoed in weekend tweets by President Trump, accusing a software company of somehow manipulating the vote in favor of Biden. These presidential tweets have been flagged by Twitter as misleading.

Moreover, this nonsense has already been debunked by Trump’s own government. In a statement issued Nov. 12, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and partners such as the National Association of Secretaries of State declared: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

That sentence was posted in boldface, just to make it clear. The statement added: “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios, Fred Hiatt (Post editorial page editor), Nov. 16, 2020 (print ed.).

Scenario 1: President Trump is trying to overturn the results of a freely conducted election.
Scenario 2: Trump knows he has lost and must leave office Jan. 20, but he is salting the soil to make governing impossible for Biden while preparing his own political and financial comeback.
Scenario 3: Trump has no plan but is lashing out in anger and disbelief that he could have lost an election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election Live Updates: Biden delivers address on the economy as Trump refuses to concede, Staff reports, Nov. 16, 2020. Reps. Cheri Bustos, Tim Walberg test positive for coronavirus; Reps. Mark Pocan, Debbie Lesko quarantining; Wisconsin says recount would cost Trump campaign $7.9 million; Delaware is famous for corporations, chemicals, chickens — and now, finally, a president.

President-elect Joe Biden spoke with business and labor leaders and then delivered an address about the economy and his “build back better” plan. He said coordination between his team and President Trump’s administration is key as vaccine development progresses and the question of distribution looms, while Trump continued to refuse to acknowledge his loss.

Former president Barack Obama, in a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday, urged Trump to “put the country first” and concede.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has called for oil and gas firms to pick spots where they’d like to drill on Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before Biden takes office.

Nov. 14

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: The Whole World Is Watching: Will It Be Wag the Dog against Iran, 'Autogolpe' (Coup against one's own government), or webster tarpley 2007Legal Transfer of Power to Biden? Webster G. Tarpley, right,Nov. 14, 2020. Destiny of 330 Million Americans Might Now Depend on the Whim of One Mentally Troubled Adventurer; By Acting as Accessories, Republican Party Has Earned Extinction – Let’s Make Sure that They Get It, Starting in Georgia on January 5!

Decapitated US Government Leaves Window of Vulnerability Wide Open on World Stage; Pompeo Eyed with Suspicion by emmanuel macronFrench President Macron, left, Who Promises to Keep Biden Informed of All that Transpires in Monday Meeting; French Views Reflect Recent Terror Attacks by Jihadis; Pompeo’s Visit to Israel Prepared by Veteran Neocon Warmonger Eliot Abrams.

Trump Fanatics Gather in DC’s Freedom Plaza (Capacity 15,000); Few Elected Officials Present Reportedly Include One QAnon Fanatic from Georgia; Not Enough for Coup; Trump Makes Perfunctory Drive-By Cameo Appearance but No Rousing Speech, then Hurries Off to Play Golf; Energy Level Falling; Anti-Trump Forces Wisely Declined Provocation.

One Week After Associated Press Called Election for Biden, Concern Grows of Threat of Public Health Chaos due to Failure to Ascertain Him as Victor; Trump’s GSA Overseer Emily Murphy, Now Sabotaging Transition, Has Been Faulted for Misleading Congress on Trump Hotel and New FBI Headquarters Issues.

Is Time for New 1776 or Rather a New 1865, which Was Already the Second American Revolution? From Mussolini’s March on Rome in October 1922 to the Pathos of the “Million MAGA March”: The First Time as Tragedy, the Second Time as Farce!

Miami Herald, Investigation: FBI wanted to arrest Epstein while he was judging a beauty pageant. The plan was overruled, Ben Wieder and Kevin G. Hall, Nov. 14, miami herald logo2020. A Justice Department look-back report into its abortive 2008 prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had planned to arrest Jeffrey Epstein in May 2007, but pulled back after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, led by former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, frowned on the plan.

The report also concludes that Epstein wasn’t assisting the federal government in prosecuting Wall Street traders behind the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns or serving as an “intelligence asset,” long rumored to be reasons for his notoriously lenient treatment.

That determination raises questions about an FBI document that seems to identify Epstein as providing information to the bureau.

Buried in a 350-page report by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) — obtained by McClatchy and the Miami Herald — are references to a story that said Epstein was given a lighter sentence and avoided federal prosecution because he cooperated with authorities on other matters.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThat was an “urban myth” federal prosecutor Ann Marie Villafaña told her superiors at the time, according to the new DOJ report, which said it found no evidence that he was a government witness.

It would seem at odds with a declassified FBI document, dated Sept. 18, 2008, in which the agency was closing out a forfeiture proceeding as part of a deal that allowed Epstein to be prosecuted on the state level and avoid more severe punishment by federal prosecutors.

“Epstein has also provided information to the FBI as agreed upon. Case agent advised that no federal prosecution will occur in this matter as long as Epstein continues to uphold his agreement with the State of Florida,” reads the declassified document. The document cited Epstein and child prostitution.

The document has led to the view that Epstein served as an informant. The OPR report, whose executive summary was made public Thursday, does not rule out that possibility but said it found no evidence of that status in relation to the Florida prosecution.

The report found that Acosta exercised poor judgment in reaching a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein, an agreement that allowed a more lenient state prosecution instead. It also faulted Acosta for failing to ensure that Epstein’s victims would be notified of developments in the case. Epstein would go on to plead guilty in June 2008 to two solicitation counts, one involving a minor, in Florida state court and serve 13 months in the private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade, allowed to leave and work from his West Palm Beach office up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe report shows that Villafaña, a federal prosecutor in the West Palm Beach office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern Florida, submitted an 82-page prosecution memorandum on May 1, 2007, for her superiors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Acosta, proposing a 60-count indictment against Epstein for sex crimes against minors.

In a statement to the Herald on Thursday, she hinted at how she was thwarted and expressed disappointment the Justice Department didn’t publicly release the full document.

The Herald and McClatchy later obtained the full report, and it shows she planned to file charges by May 15, 2007, and the FBI had been hoping to arrest Epstein soon after at a beauty pageant in the Virgin Islands, where Epstein was serving as a judge, a fact first published by NBC News.

But Villafaña’s superiors in the Southern District of Florida, notably Jeffrey Sloman, Acosta’s top deputy, and Matthew Menchel, the chief of the office’s criminal division, pushed back on her efforts to file charges, arguing that they needed more time to evaluate her sentencing memorandum and wondering why she was in a “rush.” Sloman could not immediately be reached by the Herald.

Villafaña told the report’s authors that her reasons for wanting to rush were to prevent Epstein from abusing more girls.

Background: JIP Editor's Note: The Miami Herald published a multi-part investigative project — "Perversion of Justice" — on Nov. 28 reporting how top officials gave a sweetheart deal to billionairre perversion of justice miami herald logomiami herald logopervert Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of future President Trump and past president Clinton, along with a promise not to investigate Epstein's friends and accomplices in a ring allegedly involving hundreds sex victims, many of them high school and junior high schoolers.

The Justice Integrity Project also has extensively covered this case, Jeffrey Epstein (shown below at right), and his enablers, who include prominent prosecutors and other lawyers, including President Trump's Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University But this Miami Herald series goes far beyond all previous news reports, which now number in the hundreds. The Herald credited reporter Julie K. Brown and visual producer Emily Michot with the series. The Herald obtained thousands of FBI and court records, lawsuits, and witness depositions, and went to federal court in New York to access sealed documents in the reporting of "Perversion of Justice." The Herald also tracked down more than 60 women who said they were victims, some of whom had never spoken of the abuse before.. 

Miami Herald, Perversion of Justice: A decade before #MeToo, a multimillionaire sex offender from Florida got the ultimate break, Investigative project, Nov. 28, 2018.

    • Part One: How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime
    • Part Two: Cops worked to put serial sex abuser in prison. Prosecutors worked to cut him a break
    • Part Three: Even from jail, sex abuser manipulated the system. His victims were kept in the dark
    • Interactive: Sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein was surrounded by powerful people. Here’s a sampling
    • Timeline: For years, Jeffrey Epstein abused teen girls, police say. A timeline of his case
    • Overview: How Miami Herald journalists investigated Jeffrey Epstein

Nov. 13

djt march 2020 Custom


ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Flips Arizona, Further Cementing His Presidential Victory, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jennifer Medina and Eileen Sullivan, Nov. 13, 2020 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden narrowly won the state, which had not elected a Democrat for president since 1996.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has narrowly won Arizona, capturing the state’s 11 electoral votes and strengthening his Electoral College margin as President Trump continues to make baseless attacks on the vote counts favoring Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden, whose margin in Arizona is currently over 11,000 votes, or about 0.3 percentage points, is the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since President Bill Clinton in 1996. Four years ago, Mr. Trump won the state by 3.5 percentage points.

joe biden twitterThat Arizona — the home of the late Senator John McCain and Senator Barry Goldwater, a founder of the 20th century conservative political movement and the 1964 Republican presidential nominee — was in play for Democrats at all is remarkable. Before the state voted for Mr. Clinton, the last Democrat it had supported for president was Harry S. Truman in 1948.

Mr. Biden’s win underscored a profound political shift in Arizona, a longtime Republican bastion that has lurched left in recent years, fueled by rapidly evolving demographics and a growing contingent of young Hispanic voters championing liberal policies.

Last week, the Democratic challenger Mark Kelly defeated the state’s Republican senator, Martha McSally, in a special election, making Mr. Kelly and Senator Kyrsten Sinema the first pair of Democrats to represent Arizona in the Senate since the 1950s.

The Arizona victory brings Mr. Biden to 290 electoral votes, 20 more than the 270 required to take the White House.

Republicans have been mounting long-shot legal attempts to try to upend results in key battleground states, but they have mostly been dealt setbacks — and some of their cases deal with small numbers of ballots.

ny times logoNew York Times, Presidential Transition Live Updates: Election Officials Say ‘There’s No Evidence’ of Breached Voting Systems, David E. Sanger, Matt Stevens and Nicole Perlroth, Nov. 13, 2020. A group of federal, state and local officials working with a Department of Homeland Security agency directly contradicted President Trump’s claims about voter fraud. Republicans are beginning to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden despite Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede.

Hours after President Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” he was directly contradicted by a group of federal, state and local election officials, who flatly declared Thursday that the election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised.

The rebuke, in a statement by a coordinating council overseeing the voting systems used around the country, never mentioned Mr. Trump by name. But it amounted to a remarkable corrective to a wave of disinformation that Mr. Trump has been pushing across his Twitter feed.

“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should, too,” the officials added in their statement. “When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

us dhs big eagle logo4The statement was distributed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is responsible for helping states secure the voting process. Coming directly from one of Mr. Trump’s own cabinet agencies, it further isolated the president in his false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election.

The statement also came as a previously unified Republican Party showed signs of cracking on the question of whether to keep backing the president.

Across the country, election officials have said the vote came off smoothly, with no reports of systemic fraud in any state, no sign of foreign interference in the voting infrastructure and no hardware or software failures beyond the episodic glitches that happen in any election. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead in the popular vote has expanded to more than five million, and he remains on track to win a solid victory in the Electoral College.

The group that issued the statement was the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, which includes top officials from the cybersecurity agency, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and secretaries of state and state election directors from around the country. The group also includes representatives from the voting machine industry, which has often been accused of being slow to admit to technological shortcomings and resistant to creating paper backups.

Many of the charges of fraud, illegal voting and software troubles have come from President Trump and his sons.

valerie boyd resized bryan ware

washington post logoWashington Post, Two senior Homeland Security officials forced out as White House firings widen, Nick Miroff and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs could be fired next, after his agency released a statement refuting the president’s election fraud allegations.

The White House has forced out two top Department of Homeland Security officials as part of a widening purge of anyone suspected of lacking us dhs big eagle logo4complete loyalty to President Trump, three people familiar with the removals said Thursday.
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Valerie Boyd, above  left, the top official for international affairs at DHS, was asked for her resignation, as well as Bryan Ware, above, a senior policy aide at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The requests came from the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office, whose 30-year-old director, John McEntee, has recently intensified efforts to purge appointees who have failed to demonstrate sufficient fealty to the president.

“They’re looking for complete loyalty, and someone with experience serving different administrations is not perceived as sufficiently loyal,” said one person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the moves, referring to Boyd’s previous roles in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump stews over election, he mostly ignores the public duties of the presidency, David Nakamura, Nov. 13, 2020 (print ed.). He has been mostly absent from view, focused on purging disloyal aides and tweeting grievances and misinformation even as the pandemic rages.

On Thursday, six American service members were killed in a helicopter crash during a peacekeeping mission in Egypt. Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in North Florida, contributing to severe flooding. The number of Americans infected with the novel coronavirus continued at a record-setting pace, sending the stock market tumbling.

At the White House, President Trump spent the day as he has most others this week — sequestered from public view, tweeting grievances, falsehoods and misinformation about the election results and about Fox News’s coverage of him.

Neither he nor his aides briefed reporters on the news of the day or reacted to Democratic leaders who accused Republicans of imperiling the pandemic response by “refusing to accept reality” over the election results.

The contrast between the nation grappling with an ongoing global crisis and a president consumed with his own political problems highlighted a fundamental contradiction at the heart of Trump’s assault on the integrity of the U.S. election system: He is leveraging the power of his office in a long-shot bid to stay in the job while ignoring many of the public duties that come with it.

Nov. 11

Top Headlines

 

Attempted Coup By Trump?

 

Top Stories

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ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud, Nick Corasaniti, Reid J. Epstein and Jim Rutenberg, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). New York Times, Statements Amount to Forceful Rebuke of Trump’s False Claims. The president and his allies have baselessly claimed that rampant voter fraud stole victory from him. Officials contacted by The Times said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome.

Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s portrait of a fraudulent election.

Over the last several days, the president, members of his administration, congressional Republicans and right wing allies have put forth the false claim that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump and have refused to accept results that showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner.

But top election officials across the country said in interviews and statements that the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.

“There’s a great human capacity for inventing things that aren’t true about elections,” said Frank LaRose, a Republican who serves as Ohio’s secretary of state. “The conspiracy theories and rumors and all those things run rampant. For some reason, elections breed that type of mythology.”

Steve Simon, a Democrat who is Minnesota’s secretary of state, said: “I don’t know of a single case where someone argued that a vote counted when it shouldn’t have or didn’t count when it should. There was no fraud.”

“Kansas did not experience any widespread, systematic issues with voter fraud, intimidation, irregularities or voting problems,” a spokeswoman for Scott Schwab, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas, said in an email Tuesday. “We are very pleased with how the election has gone up to this point.”

The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.

Statewide officials in Texas did not respond to repeated inquiries. But a spokeswoman for the top elections official in Harris County, the largest county in Texas with a population greater than many states, said that there were only a few minor issues and that “we had a very seamless election.” On Tuesday, the Republican lieutenant governor in Texas, Dan Patrick, announced a $1 million fund to reward reports of voter fraud.

Some states described small problems common to all elections, which they said they were addressing: a few instances of illegal or double voting, some technical glitches and some minor errors in math. Officials in all states are conducting their own review of the voting — a standard component of the certification process.

President Trump and his allies have baselessly claimed that rampant voter fraud stole victory from him. The Times contacted officials, representing both parties, in almost every state, who said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome.

 Trump by Michael Vadon Creative Commons e1486885124813

ny times logoNew York Times, Fighting Election Results, Trump Employs a New Weapon: The Government, Peter Baker and Lara Jakes, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). As President Trump and his administration insist he didn’t lose, the rest of the world has increasingly moved to accept Joe Biden’s victory.

President Trump, facing the prospect of leaving the White House in defeat in just 70 days, is harnessing the power of the federal government to resist the results of an election that he lost, something that no sitting president has done in American history.

In the latest sign of defiance, the president’s senior cabinet secretary fueled concerns on Tuesday that Mr. Trump would resist handing over power to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. after legal challenges to the vote.

“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

djt pence yard sign logoMr. Trump’s attorney general has at the same time authorized investigations into supposed vote fraud, his general services administrator has refused to give Mr. Biden’s team access to transition offices and resources guaranteed under law and the White House is preparing a budget for next year as if Mr. Trump will be around to present it.

The president has also embarked on a shake-up of his administration, firing Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper as well as the heads of three other agencies while installing loyalists in key positions at the National Security Agency and the Pentagon. Allies expect more mike pompeo portraitto come, including the possible dismissals of the directors of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.

He snapped when asked if Mr. Trump’s delaying tactics undermined the State Department’s efforts to pressure political leaders abroad to accept losing results. “That’s ridiculous and you know it’s ridiculous, and you asked it because it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Mr. Pompeo, right, can often be sarcastic, particularly when speaking to reporters, but the State Department made no effort to clarify if he was joking. Asked later on Fox News if he was serious, he did not say. “We will have a smooth transition,” he said. “And we will see what the people ultimately decided, when all the votes have been cast.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Postal worker admits making up allegations of ballot tampering, officials say, Shawn Boburg and Jacob Bogage, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). A Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities recanted to U.S. Postal Service investigators.

us mail logoA Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities admitted to U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the allegations, according to three people briefed on the investigation and a statement from a House congressional committee.

Richard Hopkins’ claim that a postmaster in Erie, Pa., instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day was cited by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter to the Department of Justice calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William P. Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.

But on Sunday, Hopkins, 32, told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Democrats on the House oversight committee tweeted late Tuesday that the Justice Department logo“whistleblower completely RECANTED.”

The reversal comes as Trump has refused to concede to President-Elect Joe Biden (D), citing unproven allegations about widespread voter fraud in an attempt to swing the results in his favor. Republicans held up Hopkins’ claims as among the most credible because he signed an affidavit swearing that he overheard a supervisor instructing colleagues to backdate ballots mailed after Nov. 3.

The Trump campaign provided that affidavit to Graham, who in turn asked the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch an investigation. The Trump campaign also cited reports of the allegation in a federal lawsuit filed Monday against Pennsylvania election officials that seeks to prevent them from certifying the states’ election results.

 

Attempted Coup By Trump?

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Bolton: Time is running out for Trump — and Republicans who coddle him, John R. Bolton, above right in a cable screenshot, Nov. 11, 2020. A Ylale Law School graduate and lifelong Republican, John R. Bolton served as national security adviser under President Trump and is the author of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

As of this writing, the Republican Party has not suffered permanent damage to its integrity and reputation because of President Trump’s post-election rampaging. This will not be true much longer.

john bolton room where cover CustomIt is simply a truism that Trump has a legal right to pursue all appropriate election-law remedies to ensure an accurate, lawful vote count. To be credible, however, any aggrieved candidate must at some point produce valid legal arguments and persuasive evidence.

Trump has so far failed to do so, and there is no indication he can. If he can’t, his “right” to contest the election is beside the point.

The real issue is the grievous harm he is causing to public trust in America’s constitutional system. Trump’s time is running out, even as his rhetoric continues escalating. And time is running out for Republicans who hope to maintain the party’s credibility, starting with Georgia’s two Senate runoffs in January. Here is the cold political reality: Trump is enhancing his own brand (in his mind) while harming the Republican brand. The party needs a long internal conversation about the post-Trump era, but first it needs to get there honorably.

Consider the competing interests. Donald Trump’s is simple and straightforward: Donald Trump. The near-term Republican interest is winning the mark esperGeorgia runoffs. The long-term Republican interest emphatically involves winning those Senate seats, but it also involves rejecting Trump’s personalized, erratic, uncivil, unpresidential and ultimately less-than-effective politics and governance.

Trump is engaging in what could well be a systematic purge of his own administration, starting with the utterly unjustified firing of Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, right, this week and continuing through high- and mid-level civilian offices in the department. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, was forced to resign. Washington is filled with rumors that the CIA and FBI directors are next.

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OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump and Republicans Staging a Hayes/Tilden Coup, Rob Kall, right, Nov. 11, 2020. They Don't Need to Win Lawsuits, Just Stall. rob kall newoenearthlogoDonald Trump and the leadership of the Republican party are aggressively staging a coup, inspired by the 1876 Tilden Hayes election, and the Democratic Party and their mainstream media surrogates, CNN and MSNBC have not yet caught on. They are laughing at a situation that must be aggressively addressed with dire urgency. Mainstream Pundits are smarmily laughing at Trump, when it is they who are the clueless ones.

Mark my words. The 1876 Hayes Tilden election will become a frequently cited element of the news very soon.

It doesn't matter if Trump wins or loses the plethora of lawsuits he and his surrogates are filing across the nation. As long as he slows down the process and delays the finalization and confirmation of state vote counts he will win the election. If even a few Republican run states refuse to certify the vote counts, Biden will no longer have the 270 electoral votes. If that happens, Trump won't have the 270 electoral votes either. Under those circumstances, the election will fall to be decided by the House of Representatives. The process there will hand the victory to Trump.

Thom Hartmann and Greg Palast predicted this possibility earlier in the year. Now, election integrity activist Jonathan Simon and journalist David Sirota are also weighing in.

Earlier this week, in an interview, Greg Palast explained to me, describing the coup as an "article 2 gambit. Now article 2 of the constitution says that the state legislatures pick your electors. Now i bet you thought we all know we don't actually vote for president we vote for electors. No, you don't even vote for electors, your vote is purely advisory.

America does not have a democracy. We give advice to each state legislature and the legislatures then determine which electors go to the electoral college."

On May 8th, in an interview on my Bottom-up Show, Thom Hartmann theoretically described what is actually now happening, citing a similar occurrence in the 1876 Tilden Hayes presidential election, where the article 2 Gambit worked to reverse the election.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump Is Sandbagging to Send Election to the House; Election Integrity Should Not Help Him, Jonathan Simon, shown at right oenearthlogobelow, author of "Code Red: Computerized Election Theft," also shown below, Nov. 11, 2020.  jonathan simonAs Donald Trump, facing a defeat he signaled in advance he would not (and could not, given the stakes and his nature) accept, files lawsuit after lawsuit in a kind of virtuoso false-note cadenza improvised on a lifelong theme of litigiousness, some of my election integrity colleagues (and good friends) have declared support for Trump's attempted putsch, "open-mindedly" asserting it is our vehicle to a new election-integrity dawn. The ironies could not be much richer.

We do face what one of my colleagues, appalled by Trump, described as a "horrible dilemma:" to seize the rarest of opportunities to secure bipartisan support and press for serious election reform or essentially keep silent vigil and pray Trump's con doesn't work. The answer, to me, becomes clearer with every CAPS LOCK TWEET, frivolous lawsuit, and breathless Trump/GOP fundraising appeal. This crisis is being played for money (lots of it) and short- and long-term political advantage. It has literally nothing to do with democracy or election integrity. And it is being played by the same cynics who doubled down on every thumb on the electoral scales, including voter-suppression and disinformation schemes galore.

It is worthy of note that Trump has never stopped claiming that there were "millions of illegal voters" who cost him the popular vote victory in 2016 without ever producing a shred of evidence to substantiate that eternally repeated claim. In fact, he slapped together an Electoral Integrity "Commission" to ferret out the fraudsters and then disbanded it without so much as a Report.

We do face what one of my colleagues, appalled by Trump, described as a "horrible dilemma:" to seize the rarest of opportunities to secure bipartisan support and press for serious election reform or essentially keep silent vigil and pray Trump's con doesn't work. The answer, to me, becomes clearer with every CAPS LOCK TWEET, frivolous lawsuit, and breathless Trump/GOP fundraising appeal. This crisis is being played for money (lots of it) and short- and long-term political advantage. It has literally nothing to do with democracy or election integrity. And it is being played by the same cynics who doubled down on every thumb on the electoral scales, including voter-suppression and disinformation schemes galore.

It is worthy of note that Trump has never stopped claiming that there were "millions of illegal voters" who cost him the popular vote victory in 2016 without ever producing a shred of evidence to substantiate that eternally repeated claim. In fact, he slapped together an Electoral Integrity "Commission" to ferret out the fraudsters and then disbanded it without so much as a Report.

jonathan simon code redAnd it is further worthy of note that Trump's current strategy is not about actually overturning enough votes to win election legitimately. His own aides have acknowledged that is impossible. Rather it is fixed on delaying certification past the applicable deadlines. The law favors delay and Team Trump knows it.

His plan is to prevent certification of 270 Biden electoral votes by tying up several state processes in court past the state deadlines (the "hard" one being 12/14, when the Electoral College votes on slates) and then either importuning friendly state legislatures (the GOP controls Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona) to send Trump elector slates to Congress, or simply throwing the election to the House, where the GOP controls the majority of state delegations (under the Twelfth Amendment, the House votes for president by state delegation) so Trump wins.

Does that look like democracy or electoral integrity to you? To me it looks like yet another right-wing scheme to steal an election and haven't we been through (and been irreparably harmed by) enough of those? Don't kid yourselves this is a clear and present danger.

So I think we should examine what's going on now in context. Yes, our electoral system is manifestly in need of serious reform. And yes, no Democrat, since The Help America Vote Act (2002) ushered in the Computerized Voting Era, has challenged the system's non-transparency or the parade of red flags that that non-transparency has given rise to. But Trump has no intention of pursuing a genuine investigation bent on bringing transparency to the system. He is interested in the welfare of no one and nothing other than Donald J. Trump not his party, not his nation, not its voters. That has been demonstrated beyond any disputing. He will lie. He will falsely accuse. He might even commit fraud as part of his desperate putsch.

I think our responsibility is not to join the Democrats and media in chanting how wonderful and legitimate our electoral system is. We know better than anyone that it is not. But our responsibility is to keep careful watch over the delay-scam that Trump is now setting in motion, and give what support we can to the beleaguered election officials who will now be attacked ruthlessly and desperately (my god, they're even going after their own GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in Georgia!). So far Trump has failed for lack of evidence in virtually every case he has taken to court, some before highly partisan right-leaning judges. We can let that process play out (it is infinitely more than Kerry or Clinton or Ossoff or Coakley or any Democrat-of-note with the exception of Al Franken has ever ventured). But we don't have to and shouldn't provide more anecdotal or ambiguous forensic fuel to a desperate man who has utter contempt for fact and evidence, or to the party that yet again is riding cynical shotgun for him.

It's not that we as Democrats, Progressives, or EI advocates "won." Given the polls and the control of the equipment, and given all the other outcomes (from Senate to House to state legislatures), Democrats are hardly the "winners" of this election. We have at least as good reason, in the pervasive red shift from both exit and tracking polls, to suspect wholesale rigging to benefit Republican candidates, as Trump has to suspect retail indeed much better, given the egregious numbers and the whole forensic history of the post-HAVA era.

Perhaps this will turn out to be a long-postponed moment of truth and reckoning for our voting system and for a counting process incidentally or diabolically designed for concealment. We continue to crunch numbers and search for telltale patterns of "mistabulation." Computerized election fraud rarely, if ever, comes out and shakes your hand. Trust in our electoral process and its core protocols has, as I've cautioned with increasing urgency over the past two decades, at last jumped the shark, hit the wall, gone over the cliff so perhaps there will now be a more receptive audience for our near-proofs and desperate pleas.

But you don't get Trump if you don't get that he will use everyone and everything he possibly can for his own ends -- and lose you when you no longer serve them. He's demonstrated that his whole life with hardly a single flinch.

You think you'll ride his scattershot charges to some new dawn for electoral integrity. If you get in bed with him (and do anything to further nurture the hopes of his besotted followers), don't expect to get up in the morning.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Pompeo committed treacherous sedition with his announcement of Trump's coup, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 11, 2020. Secretary wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallof State Mike Pompeo committed an act of treacherous sedition when he commented on a smooth presidential transition at a Tuesday press conference at the Department of State. In answer to a Fox News's reporter's question about the transition, Pompeo relied, "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

That comment, by the senior Cabinet officer of the United States, sent foreign ministries around the world, as well as the diplomatic corps in the United States, into a bewildered frenzy.

wayne madesen report logoThe U.S. Secretary of State position is far more than that of a foreign minister. The Secretary of State also acts as a type of notary and official document repository for the Executive Branch of government. The Secretary of State acknowledges and archives documents such as international treaties, instruments of surrender, and letters of resignation from the president and vice president of the United States.

When Pompeo wrongly announced that Donald Trump had been elected to a second term, over the wishes a majority of the state electors chosen by the American voters, he was misusing his position in an official capacity and to a degree never before seen in American history.

American System Network, Opinion: Tensions Grow in Washington over Highly Suspicious Pattern of Trump’s Late Term Firings and Incompetent webster tarpley 2007Replacements, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 11, 2020. Is This a Dream Team for an Autogolpe? Or for a Wag the Dog Attack on Iran?

Esper, an Opponent of Using Active Duty Troops Against Peaceful Protests, Is Being Replaced by Low Intensity Special Forces Expert Gen. Chris Miller; Will Miller’s Counter-Insurgency Skills, Learned in Afghanistan, Now Be Deployed against Americans Protesting Fascist Rule?

Miller’s Top Aide and Chief of Staff Is Trump Minion and Conspiracy Freak Kash Patel, a Key Director of Trump’s Pentagon Purge and Planner of Rep. Devin Nunes’ Infamous March 2017 Midnight Ride to Block Probes of Trump’s Russia Links.

Patel Crony Ezra Cohen-Watnick Is Don’s Choice for Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, Moving Up from Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; Cohen-Watnick, a Top Dog at the Special Operations Command, Had Served Confessed Felon Gen. Michael Flynn and Ousted AG Jeff Sessions; Cohen Watnick Contributed to the Nunes Midnight Ride to Halt Investigations of Trump.

Another Promotion Goes to White House Operative Michael Ellis, Now Made General Counsel to the National Security Agency Against the Opposition of NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone, Who Is Not a Trump Lackey; Ellis is Yet Another Alumnus of the Devin Nunes Midnight Ride.

anthony tata resized 2013Gen. Anthony Tata, left, Is New Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Tata was Fox News Commentator and Conspiracy Theorist Who Failed to Get Senate Confirmation in Spring 2020; He Had Posted Deranged Emails Calling Obama a Moslem and Terrorist, Inveighing against a Deep State Cabal, and Threatening to Execute Ex-CIA Director Brennan by Various Means.

CIA Director Haspel and FBI Director Wray May Be Next to Fall; Reports Say Any Mention of Biden or the Presidential Transition by Staffers at Robert O’ Brien’s National Security Council Team is Grounds for Immediate Firing. Biden Now Leads Trump by 5.2 Million Popular Votes; Otherwise, Trump Administration Is Catatonic as Today’s Covid Cases Set New Record Beyond 145,000; Federal Judges Must Re-Discover Rule Eleven Sanctions to Use against GOP’s Avalanche of Frivolous Lawsuits.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Georgia hand recount is about to put Donald Trump one step closer to the door, Bill Palmer, Nov. 11, 2020. Joe Biden is ahead by 14,000 votes in Georgia, making him the clear winner, but due to the relatively close margin the state has ordered a hand recount. Good. This will help to finish off Donald Trump more quickly.

Trump has literally 0.0% chance of somehow magically overturning the election result, and he knows it. He’s only “contesting” the election so he can keep fundraising from his gullible supporters; the fine print literally says that he gets to keep the majority of the money he raises. Trump won’t give up the ghost until the money starts running dry.

  • The Georgia recount has no chance of changing the result; even hand recounts never change the margin by more than a few hundred votes. So once this recount is finished, Joe Biden will be way ahead again, and the major media outlets will go ahead and declare him the winner there.

    That’s a big deal, because Trump’s argument that he’s magically going to overturn the election result is based on the notion that he can somehow win Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia to get him over 270. Some news outlets have called Arizona for Biden and some haven’t. But once they all call Georgia for Biden after the recount, it’ll mean that Trump can’t get to 270 even if he somehow flipped Pennsylvania, which has been the main focus of his imaginary voter fraud claims.

    In other words, once the Georgia recount is over, Donald Trump will have a hard time selling the “I still might secretly win” nonsense to anyone, even many of his own supporters. At that point there won’t be any money in pretending to contest the election anymore, and Trump will have to shift his focus to trying to give himself a softer landing when it comes to facing prison and bankruptcy after he’s out of office.

Nov. 10

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washington post logoWashington Post, Biden behaves as the incoming president, even as Trump balks at giving up power, Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden sought to project the authority of an incoming president Monday as he dealt with matters domestic and international, even as the defeated incumbent continued to balk at turning over the reins.

Biden began taking calls from foreign leaders, speaking Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He also was weighing whom to appoint to top White House positions, with several of his longtime advisers expected to take senior roles. And he turned his attention to the coronavirus, dispatching a key aide to brief Senate Democrats this week and making a strong pitch to Americans of every ideology to follow public health recommendations.

Biden urged Americans to wear masks, at one point holding one up during a speech in Wilmington, and sought to depoliticize the act of putting one on.

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washington post logoWashington Post, White House orders agencies to rebuff Biden transition team, Lisa Rein, Matt Viser, Greg Miller and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump White House on Monday instructed senior government leaders to block cooperation with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, escalating a standoff that threatens to impede the transfer of power and prompting the Biden team to consider legal action.
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Officials at agencies across the government who had prepared briefing books and carved out office space for the incoming Biden team to use as soon as this week were told instead that the transition would not be recognized until the Democrat’s election was confirmed by the General Services Administration, the low-profile agency that officially starts the transition.

While media outlets on Saturday projected Biden as the winner, President Trump has not conceded the election.

“We have been told: Ignore the media, wait for it to be official from the government,” said a senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Trump appointee at USAID tells colleagues not to support Biden transition, Yeganeh Torbati and John Hudson, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). The top political appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development told officials during a phone call Monday that the agency will not cooperate with the transition to a Biden administration until a Trump appointee signs paperwork ascertaining the winner of the presidential election, three officials with knowledge of the conversation told The Washington Post.

USAID officials were also told on the call that three Trump loyalists are being elevated to top positions at the agency, even as the administration enters its waning days, according to the officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on internal discussions.

The shifting leadership and the stance on the transition are causing some alarm within the agency, given President Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden. John Barsa, who holds the title of acting deputy administrator, told political appointees at USAID on Monday afternoon that the agency would not cooperate with the transition until Murphy does so. Barsa has told colleagues in other conversations that Biden has not won and emphasized the importance of not abetting the process, two people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP leaders back efforts to challenge Biden’s win, Amy Gardner, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Emma Brown, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans on Monday backed President Trump’s efforts to contest his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, despite the lack of evidence of significant fraud and sharp rebukes from election officials who defended the integrity of the vote.

McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the floor of the Senate that the president is “100 percent within his right” to pursue recounts and litigation. McConnell did not repeat Trump’s baseless assertions that fraud had cost him the election, but he said he had met with Attorney General William P. Barr earlier in the day and supports the president’s right to investigate all claims of wrongdoing.

“We have the tools and institutions we need to address any concerns,” McConnell said. “The president has every right to look into allegations and request recounts under the law.”

Separately, Barr on Monday gave federal prosecutors a green light to pursue allegations of voting irregularities in certain cases before results are certified. The memo appeared to reverse previous Justice Department guidance that prosecutors generally should not take overt steps in cases involving alleged voter fraud until results are in and official.

Meanwhile, other GOP officials also rushed to bolster Trump’s case, including the two U.S. senators from Georgia, who demanded the resignation of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, after his office said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the state.

 

Trump by Michael Vadon Creative Commons e1486885124813

washington post logoWashington Post, As an ex-president, Trump could disclose the secrets he learned while in office, current and former officials fear, Shane Harris, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). As president, Donald Trump selectively revealed highly classified information to attack his adversaries, gain political advantage and to impress or intimidate foreign governments, in some cases jeopardizing U.S. intelligence capabilities. As an ex-president, there’s every reason to worry he will do the same, thus posing a unique national security dilemma for the Biden administration, current and former officials and analysts said.

All presidents exit the office with valuable national secrets in their heads, including the procedures for launching nuclear weapons, intelligence-gathering capabilities — including assets deep inside foreign governments — and the development of new and advanced weapon systems.

But no new president has ever had to fear that his predecessor might expose the nation’s secrets as President-elect Joe Biden must with Trump, current and former officials said. Not only does Trump have a history of disclosures, he checks the boxes of a classic counterintelligence risk: He is deeply in debt and angry at the U.S. government, particularly what he describes as the “deep state” conspiracy that he believes tried to stop him from winning the White House in 2016 and what he falsely claims is an illegal effort to rob him of reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr clears Justice Dept. to investigate alleged voting irregularities as Trump makes unfounded claims, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr on Monday gave federal prosecutors approval to pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” in certain cases before results are certified and indicated he had already done so “in specific instances” — a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy that quickly drew internal and external criticism for fueling unfounded claims of massive election fraud pushed by President Trump and other conservatives.

Richard Pilger, head of the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch, stepped down from his position in protest over Barr’s directive — though he remains at the agency, according to people familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a politically volatile situation.

The people said Barr had first broached a similar idea some weeks ago and that political leadership in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, of which the Election Crimes Branch is a part, pushed back. Those officials were blindsided when Barr’s memo was released on Monday, the people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Christopher Miller, Trump’s surprise acting defense secretary, has a thin resume for the job but deep experience in counterterrorism, Dan Lamothe, Ellen Nakashima and Alex Horton, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s new acting defense secretary comes to the job with deep experience in special operations, including the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but has never served in the Pentagon’s most senior ranks and only recently became the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Christopher Miller’s rapid ascension to acting Pentagon chief was announced by Trump on Monday as he fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, who fell out of favor after disagreeing with the president over his threat in June to use active-duty military forces to quell unrest in America’s streets.

“I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” Trump tweeted. “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”

Although rumors of Esper’s departure had swirled for months, Trump had held back on firing him out of concern that it could hurt his reelection chances, according to several officials familiar with the president’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

But with Trump losing last week and refusing to concede, there was seemingly little to stop him, despite concerns that ousting a defense secretary during a presidential transition could be damaging to national security.

ny times logoNew York Times, Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Rachel Abrams and David Enrich, Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.). Some lawyers at Jones Day and Porter Wright, which have filed suits about the 2020 vote, said they were worried about undermining the electoral system.

Like many big law firms, Jones Day, whose roots go back to Cleveland in the late 1800s, has prided itself on representing controversial clients.

There was Big Tobacco. There was the Bin Laden family. There was even the hated owner of the Cleveland Browns football team as he moved the franchise to Baltimore.

Now Jones Day is the most prominent firm representing President Trump and the Republican Party as they prepare to wage a legal war challenging the results of the election. The work is intensifying concerns inside the firm about the propriety and wisdom of working for Mr. Trump, according to lawyers at the firm.

Doing business with Mr. Trump — with his history of inflammatory rhetoric, meritless lawsuits and refusal to pay what he owes — has long induced heartburn among lawyers, contractors, suppliers and lenders. But the concerns are taking on new urgency as the president seeks to raise doubts about the election results.

Some lawyers at Jones Day and Porter Wright, which have filed suits about the 2020 vote, said they were worried about undermining the electoral system.

At another large firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, based in Columbus, Ohio, lawyers have held internal meetings to voice similar concerns about their firm’s election-related work for Mr. Trump and the Republican Party, according to people at the firm. At least one lawyer quit in protest.

Already, the two firms have filed at least four lawsuits challenging aspects of the election in Pennsylvania. The cases are pending.

The latest salvo came on Monday evening, when the Trump campaign filed a suit in federal court in Pennsylvania against the Pennsylvania secretary of state and a number of county election boards. The suit — filed by lawyers at Porter Wright — alleged that there were “irregularities” in voting across the state.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Loves to Use the Pardon Power. Is He Next? Jack Goldsmith (co-author of “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency”), Nov. 10, 2020 (print ed.).  There is little to be done right now about the president’s self-serving ways, but Congress can limit future abuses.

President Trump has abused the pardon power like none of his predecessors. But we likely ain’t seen nothing yet. Now that he has lost the election, Mr. Trump will likely pardon himself, friends, family members and Trump business entities and employees for any crime they might have committed before or during his presidency.

Mr. Trump’s pardons to date, and those likely to come during a transition, reveal the problems with the supposed “absoluteness” of the pardon power — and should prompt legal reform to clarify limits on its abuse.

The pardon power that the Constitution confers on the president has just two stated limitations: A president cannot pardon for impeachment, and a presidential pardon can excuse or mitigate punishment only for federal offenses. There is little that can be done at this point to stave off a potential wave of pardons in the lame duck period, but the federal crime limitation means that Mr. Trump cannot stop state criminal investigations, including one in progress by the Manhattan district attorney into possible bank and insurance fraud by Mr. Trump and his companies.

Nov. 7

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ny times logoNew York Times, BIDEN BEATS TRUMP; Harris Is First Woman Elected Vice President, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Nov. 7, 2020. Biden Wins Presidency, Ending Four Tumultuous Years Under Trump; Joseph R. Biden Jr. achieved victory offering a message of healing and unity. He will return to Washington facing a daunting set of crises.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, promising to restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises, and making Donald J. Trump a one-term president after four years of tumult in the White House.

Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump by millions of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration, and was delivered by an unlikely alliance of women, people of color, old and young voters and a sliver of disaffected Republicans. Mr. Trump is the first incumbent to lose re-election in more than a quarter-century.

The result also provided a history-making moment for Mr. Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, who will become the first woman to serve as vice president.

With his triumph, Mr. Biden, who turns 78 later this month, fulfilled his decades-long ambition in his third bid for the White House, becoming the oldest person elected president. A pillar of Washington who was first elected amid the Watergate scandal, and who prefers political consensus over combat, Mr. Biden will lead a nation and a Democratic Party that have become far more ideological since his arrival in the capital in 1973.

He offered a mainstream Democratic agenda, yet it was less his policy platform than his biography to which many voters gravitated. Seeking the nation’s highest office a half-century after his first campaign, Mr. Biden — a candidate in the late autumn of his career — presented his life of setback and recovery to voters as a parable for a wounded country.

The race, which concluded after four tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds, was a singular referendum on Mr. Trump in a way no president’s re-election has been in modern times. He coveted the attention, and voters who either adored him or loathed him were eager to render judgment on his tenure. Americans rarely turn incumbent presidents out of office, but from the beginning to the end of the race, Mr. Biden made the president’s character central to his campaign.

This unrelenting focus propelled Mr. Biden to victory in historically Democratic strongholds in the industrial Midwest, with Mr. Biden forging a coalition of suburbanites and big-city residents to claim at least three states his party lost in 2016.

Yet even as they turned Mr. Trump out of office, voters sent a more uncertain message about the left-of-center platform Mr. Biden ran on as Democrats lost seats in the House and made only modest gains in the Senate. The divided judgment — a rare example of ticket splitting in partisan times — demonstrated that, for many voters, their disdain for the president was as personal as it was political.

ny times logoNew York Times, First Candidate to Beat an Incumbent in More Than a Quarter Century, Live Updates, Nov. 7, 2020. Election Highlights: Biden Defeats Trump as Pennsylvania Puts Him Over the Top; The state’s 20 electoral votes vaulted Joe Biden past the 270-vote threshold needed to take the White House. He leads in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. President Trump has vowed to file legal challenges.

After several tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds, Joe Biden achieved a decades-long ambition in his third attempt at the presidency.

Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of President Trump by millions of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration.

The result also provided a history-making moment for Kamala Harris, who became the first woman — and first woman of color — on a winning presidential ticket.

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden inches closer to victory as Trump’s chances fade, Updated results show Joe Biden ahead in four key states, Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Biden’s strong showing as mail-in votes were counted in critical cities had him leading in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and — very narrowly — Georgia.

Former vice president Joe Biden appeared to be on a clear path to being elected the 46th president of the United States, after updated vote counts on Friday put him ahead in several key states and seemed to all but close off President Trump’s already dwindling chances of remaining in office.

Although no winner had been projected in the presidential race, Biden’s strong showing as mail-in votes were counted in key cities had him leading Trump in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and — very narrowly — Georgia.

After securing 253 electoral votes since Election Day on Tuesday, Biden was on the cusp of being declared the winner as the remaining states neared the end of the ballot-counting process.

“The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” Biden said Friday in Wilmington, Del., with Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), his running mate, next to him. “We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us.”

Speaking from a stage at the Chase Center, Biden forcefully declared that he had “a mandate” on a number of policy issues and said he has begun preparing to take office.

“I know watching these vote tallies on TV moves as slow as it gets and can be numbing,” he said. “But never forget, the tallies aren’t just numbers. They represent votes and voters, men and women who exercised their fundamental right to have their voice heard.”

washington post logoWashington Post, White House chief of staff tested positive for coronavirus, then told others not to disclose it, Josh Dawsey and Amy B Wang, Nov. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Mark Meadows was in the East Room of the White House on election night when the president addressed a crowd of about 150 people. During that event, Meadows worked the room extensively, without a mask, speaking to dozens.

mark meadows SmallWhite House chief of staff Mark Meadows has tested positive for the coronavirus, and told others not to disclose his condition, according to an official with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Meadows, right, was at the White House early Wednesday as President Trump spoke about the election.

The diagnosis, first reported by Bloomberg News, comes a little more than a month after Trump and other members of his family and inner circle also tested positive for coronavirus. Two weeks later, at least five aides or advisers to Vice President Pence were infected.

The repeated infections within the White House underscore the attitude with which the administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 235,000 Americans since February. Trump and his allies, including Meadows, have frequently flouted public health guidelines and continued to hold large indoor gatherings where few people wear masks or socially distance.

Meadows has fought with the doctors about the severity of the virus, argued about the effectiveness of masks and has repeatedly sought to move the president away from focusing on the virus, officials say.

After the outbreak in Pence’s office, Meadows appeared on CNN to say the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow the virus’s spread.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Oct. 25. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”

Meadows has for months openly brushed off the importance of wearing masks during the pandemic. On Election Day, Meadows visited the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, where he was photographed not wearing a mask.

Meadows was also among those in the East Room of the White House when Trump gave remarks around 3 a.m. Wednesday to a crowd of about 150 of his top aides, donors and allies, as well as family members. During that event, Meadows worked the room extensively, without a mask, speaking to dozens. He stood near Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski, one of the few people there who was wearing a mask.

djt smiling fileThe same carelessness hurt Trump in the election, as the president trails Joe Biden in four of six battleground states where votes are still being counted. For months, Trump was criticized for publicly playing down the dangers of the virus. Leading up to Election Day, polls showed that voters overwhelmingly trusted Biden over Trump when it came to handling the pandemic.

After Trump was hospitalized for the coronavirus for four days in early October, some wondered if it would prompt the president to take the pandemic more seriously. Instead, Trump began boasting that he was “immune” to the virus, after having received experimental therapeutics. He also has in recent weeks declared that the United States was “rounding the corner” on the pandemic, as cases in the country exceed record highs.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like Donald Trump’s election night party may have been a super spreader event, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 7, 2020. When the news broke bill palmertonight (Nov. 6-7) that Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff has coronavirus, it raised questions about whether it meant that the White House outbreak that started a month ago was still underway. Now we’re starting to get some answers – and they’re ugly.

bill palmer report logo headerABC News is now confirming that Meadows is one of six people in Donald Trump’s immediate political orbit who currently have coronavirus – meaning the White House outbreak is definitely still happening. CNN is confirming that Meadows was at Trump’s election night party at the White House, and that he wasn’t wearing a mask. Given the way the virus is spreading among Trump staffers, it seems likely that Meadows either caught the virus while at the party, or infected the others while at the party, which is starting to look like another super spreader event.

In any case it’s doubtful that the outbreak will end up being limited to just six people in Donald Trump’s immediate orbit. So at a time when Trump has lost the election and is begging his remaining advisers to stick around and go down with the ship while he insists he somehow didn’t actually lose, he’s now facing a severe coronavirus outbreak among his staff.

How many of Trump’s remaining White House staff will be too sick to help him at this point? How many will resign in order to avoid getting sick while working on a sinking ship? As with all things Trump, this is going to get ugly.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Biden-Harris Take Presidency with 279 Electoral Votes by Winning Pennsylvania and Nevada, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 7, 2020. AP and Networks Make Call At webster tarpley 200711:25 AM EST Based on Raft of Philadelphia Votes; Trump and Minions Refuse to Concede, Promising More Lawsuits and Obstruction; Honest Judges Should Impose Severe Rule Eleven Sanctions on Trump’s Legal Henchmen for Filing Frivolous Lawsuits; Election Spotlight Now Turns to Struggle To Seat Two New Democratic Senators in Georgia In January.

Dancing in Streets of US Cities with Music, Joy and Laughter as Americans Celebrate End of the Nightmare; Merkel of Germany, Macron of France, Conte of Italy, Irish Prime Minister, Modi of India, Trudeau of Canada, Sanchez of Spain and Many Other Heads of State and Government Congratulate Biden-Harris; Don’s International Isolation Means Other Nations Will Not Grant De Jure Recognition to an Illegal Trump Regime; Biden-Harris Need a Coup Watch and Close Attention to Possible Troop Movements; Keep the General Strike Option Ready in Case of New Machinations by Trump’s Fascist Judges.

Thanks to Trumps’ Genocidal Policies, Americans Are Now Dying at Rate of Almost One Per Minute; To Save 100,000 Lives or More Before January 20, Let Trump Cop a Plea Deal in Spiro Agnew Tradition and Leave Office at Once for Exile and Oblivion; Then Have Pence Push Through Pelosi’s $3.2 Trillion HEROES Act.

Tasks for Biden: Re-State the US Security Commitment to Taiwan to Deter Aggression by Beijing During US Transition; Tell UK’s Boris Johnson No Trade Accord with US if He Goes for Illegal No Deal Brexit at End of December, Which is Threat to NATO and to World Economic Stability.

Keystone State of Pennsylvania Helped Saved the Constitution at Gettysburg in 1863, and Is Now Helping to Save It Again; Way Is Clear for New Birth of Freedom Foreshadowed by Lincoln.

Vox, Opinion: A Coup Attempt In Plain Sight, Ezra Klein, Nov. 7, 2020. How do we cover it when it’s happening here? A few years ago, there was a boom of articles called “If it happened there,” imagining how the American press would cover this or that story if it happened in another country. How would we cover the government shutdown if it happened in another country? The Ferguson protests? The Oregon militia siege? George Floyd’s killing? Mike Bloomberg?

Slate’s Joshua Keating popularized the form, but other outlets, including Vox, have deployed it. The intent was to use the tropes of foreign coverage to create a sense of what the literary critic Darko Suvin called “cognitive estrangement”: severing us from the familiarity and overconfidence that can dull our awareness of extraordinary events. And so you’d get leads like, “the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.”

djt as chosen oneBut the slight air of parody lent the whole enterprise a sense of unreality. America isn’t a banana republic. It wasn’t happening there. It was happening here, and that made all the difference. In order to even see the danger, to recognize the depth of tensions or the possibilities of fracture, we had to control for American exceptionalism, for the implicit belief that we were the United States of America, and we were different.

If the past four years — and the past four days — have proven anything, it’s that we are not as different as we believed, not as kissed by providence as we hoped. Perhaps we are not different at all. We need to cover it as if it happening here, because it is.
Donald Trump is trying to discredit an election he is losing

Joe Biden has won the presidency. But the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, is attempting a coup in plain sight. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” he tweeted on Saturday morning. This came after he demanded that states cease counting votes when the total began to turn against him, after his press secretary shocked Fox News anchors by arguing that legally cast votes should be thrown out.

The Trump administration’s current strategy is to go to court to try and get votes for Biden ruled illegitimate, and that strategy explicitly rests on Trump’s appointees honoring a debt the administration, at least, believes they owe. One of his legal advisers said, “We’re waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the President has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through.”

If that fails, and it will, Mark Levin, one of the nation’s most popular conservative radio hosts, is explicitly calling on Republican legislatures to reject the election results and seat Donald Trump as president anyway. After Twitter tagged the tweet as contested, Trump’s press secretary weighed in furiously on Levin’s behalf.

That this coup probably will not work — that it is being carried out farcically, erratically, ineffectively — does not mean it is not happening, or that it will not have consequences. Millions will believe Trump, will see the election as stolen. The Trump family’s Twitter feeds, and those of associated outlets and allies, are filled with allegations of fraud and lies about the process (reporter Isaac Saul has been doing yeoman’s work tracking these arguments, and his thread is worth reading). It’s the construction of a confusing, but immersive, alternative reality in which the election has been stolen from Trump and weak-kneed Republicans are letting the thieves escape.

This is, to borrow Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar’s framework, “an autocratic attempt.” That’s the stage in the transition toward autocracy in which the would-be autocrat is trying to sever his power from electoral check. If he’s successful, autocratic breakthrough follows, and then autocratic consolidation occurs. In this case, the would-be autocrat stands little chance of being successful. But he will not entirely fail, either. What Trump is trying to form is something akin to an autocracy-in-exile, an alternative America in which he is the rightful leader, and he — and the public he claims to represent — has been robbed of power by corrupt elites.

The corruption of the GOP will outlive Trump’s presidency

Members of the Trump family are explicitly, repeatedly, trying to make the acceptance of their conspiracies a litmus test for ambitious Republicans. And it is working. To read elected Republicans today — with a few notable exceptions, like Sen. Mitt Romney — is to read a careful, cowardly double-speak. Politician after politician is signaling, as Vice President Mike Pence did, solidarity with the president, while not quite endorsing his conspiracies. Of course every legal vote should be counted. Of course allegations of fraud should be addressed. But that is not what the president is demanding — he is demanding the votes against him be ruled illegal — and they know it.

What we are not seeing, in any way, is a wholesale rejection on the right of Trump’s effort to delegitimize the election. And thus there is no reason to believe Trump will not retain his hold over much of the party, and much of its base, going forward.

Even if Trump is rejected in this election, the Republican Party that protected and enabled him will not be. Their geographic advantage in the Senate insulates them from anything but massive, consecutive landslide defeats, and their dominance over the decennial redistricting process has given them a handicap in the House, too.

Here’s the grim kicker: The conditions that made Trump and this Republican Party possible are set to worsen. Republicans retained control of enough statehouses to drive the next redistricting effort, too, and their 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court will unleash their map-drawers more fully. The elections analyst G. Elliott Morris estimates that the gap between the popular vote margin and the tipping point state in the Electoral College will be 4 to 5 percentage points, and that the GOP’s control of the redistricting process could push it to 6 to 7 points next time.

Nov. 6

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Biden Edges Into Lead in Georgia as Nation Awaits Winner, Staff reports, Nov. 6, 2020 (5:56 a.m. ET). Biden now leads Trump in Georgia, where the count continues. Joe Biden is leading in Nevada and Arizona and threatening to erase President Trump’s advantage in Pennsylvania. The Trump team is pressing legal challenges in several states.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. stood on the threshold of the American presidency in the early hours of Friday, seizing a slim lead over President Trump in Georgia and drawing ever closer to overtaking him in Pennsylvania. Those victories would secure the 270 electoral votes he needs to lay claim to the White House.

Mr. Biden had already begun to project the image of a man preparing to assume the mantle of office, meeting on Thursday with his economic and health advisers to be briefed on the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking briefly to reporters in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden, the former vice president, urged the public to show a “little patience,” as the vote counting in battleground states stretched into a third day.

“Democracy,” he acknowledged, “can sometimes be messy.”

Mr. Biden’s appeal to let the process play out contrasted starkly with Mr. Trump, who took the lectern in the White House briefing room to falsely claim that the election was riddled with fraud, as part of an elaborate coast-to-coast conspiracy by Democrats, the news media and Silicon Valley to deny him a second term.

Mr. Trump was left increasingly with only legal challenges to forestall defeat, while Mr. Biden was betting on the steady accumulation of mail-in ballots to vault him over the top in Pennsylvania. Georgia, which has not elected a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992, was headed for a photo finish that could supply an extra cushion of electoral votes to Mr. Biden.

Yet both men were hostage to fortune — waiting, like the rest of America, for the verdict of a counting process that had become a game of inches. Inside the campaign war rooms, staffers took urgent soundings with their field operations to see where the outstanding votes were and how they would break for the candidates.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s lead stood at fewer than 20,000 votes, with roughly 175,000 absentee ballots still to count in the state, including more than 58,000 in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia. In Georgia, Mr. Biden’s total vaulted above Mr. Trump’s around 5 a.m., giving the former vice president a 917-vote lead.

If the eastern battlegrounds were trending toward Mr. Biden, the Trump campaign drew some comfort from the West.

In Arizona, the continuing count whittled Mr. Biden’s early lead in the state to less than 47,000 votes. After a delay in counting the remaining ballots from Maricopa County early in the day on Thursday, election officials continued to plow through tens of thousands of ballots from Phoenix and its sprawling suburbs. In Nevada, where the counting was also slow, Mr. Biden clung to a lead of slightly more than 11,000, with absentee ballots left to count in vote-rich Clark County, home of Las Vegas.

Still, Mr. Biden’s victory in the two Midwestern battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin put him in a strong position, with multiple paths to victory, depending on what happens in the states yet to be called. Mr. Trump needed a victory in Pennsylvania.

The process was agonizing for partisans on both sides, though for the most part, fears of widespread unrest did not materialize. Officials reported few instances of problems with the voting-counting process.djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden renews call for patience as Trump assails vote-counting process, Matt Viser and Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). The former vice president said he was confident he would be named the winner, while the president promoted unfounded allegations about voter fraud.

Joe Biden insisted Thursday that he was on the verge of winning the presidency, urging calm and patience as the final votes were methodically counted. As he did, President Trump made frantic legal claims and promoted unfounded allegations about voter fraud in a number of states where he was losing or seeing his lead swiftly diminish

Trump on Thursday evening unleashed a tirade from the White House briefing room that was filled with falsehoods about the American electoral system. He claimed that there was widespread fraud in states in which he was losing, but not in those he was winning. He provided no evidence for any of his statements.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” he said, in remarks that contained so much fabrication that several networks stopped airing them. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”

After spending months telling Republicans not to vote by mail, Trump said it was suspicious that so many mail-in ballots were for Biden. He suggested corrupt actions were somehow helping Biden cut into his lead in Pennsylvania, while touting that additional votes coming in from Arizona were bolstering his chances.

“We are on track to win Arizona,” he claimed, despite trailing Biden there. He also impugned the integrity of those across the nation who are counting ballots.

Trump claimed Republicans did not lose a seat in Tuesday’s House races (they did), that all of the states too close to call have election systems overseen by Democrats (they don’t), that votes are still being cast (they are not), and that he won Michigan and Wisconsin (he did not).

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden has TAKEN THE LEAD in Pennsylvania, Bill Palmer, Nov. 6, 2020 (9:14 am EST). It’s been fairly clear since late on Tuesday night that Joe Biden was going to end up winning Pennsylvania, even though the numbers were very skewed against him at the time.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’ve been waiting all night for Biden to finally take the lead in Pennsylvania, and now it’s finally happened.

Thanks to a batch of votes that just arrived from Philadelphia, Joe Biden now leads Donald Trump in Pennsylvania by 6,000 votes. Based on the available math, there is no question that Biden will remain in the lead in Pennsylvania, and win the state by a fairly decent margin.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In a speech of historic dishonesty, Trump tried to reinforce his long-planned effort to retain power, Philip Bump, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). Well into a presidency defined by disinformation and falsehoods, President Trump managed something remarkable on Thursday evening. Speaking to american flag upside down distressreporters in the White House briefing room, he offered the most thoroughly dishonest comments of his tenure.

For 15 minutes, he delineated nonsensical allegations about the state of the presidential election, claiming to be the victim of nefarious efforts to prevent him from earning a second term. And when he finished, after espousing obviously false claims to a room of reporters who knew better, he didn’t even have the courage to face their inevitably probing and challenging questions.

Solely for the purposes of illustrating how divergent from reality Trump’s remarks were, we’ll delineate his argument before picking it apart.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump’s White House statement: Falsehood upon falsehood, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). As Trump began floating baseless claims of election fraud, television networks cut away.

washington post logoWashington Post, Centrist House Democrats lash out at liberal colleagues, blame far-left views for loss of seats, Rachael Bade and Erica Werner, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). An angry dispute erupted among House Democrats on Thursday, with centrist members blasting their liberal colleagues during a private conference call for pushing far-left views that cost the party seats in Tuesday’s election that they had worked hard to win two years ago.

The bitter exchange, which lasted more than three hours as members sniped back and forth over tactics and ideology, reflected the extent to which the 2020 campaign exposed simmering tensions in the party even as its presidential nominee, Joe Biden, stands on the brink of achieving their biggest goal of the year — ousting President Trump.

Party leaders had expressed certainty that Trump’s divisiveness and mishandling of the pandemic would help them expand their majority with wins in GOP-held districts — and yet they lost at least a half-dozen seats and failed to retake the Senate. The explanation laid out by centrists, according to multiple people who were on the call and spoke on the condition of anonymity, is that Republicans were easily able to paint them all as socialists and radical leftists who endorse far-left positions such as defunding the police.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: The end of Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 6, 2020 (4:08 am EST). Donald Trump illegally shut down the Post Office just to block people from being able to vote against him, and he’s still going to lose by seven million votes. He got blown out. This was a historic rejection of Trump and Trumpism. Any pundit claiming otherwise is full of it.

We’re now hours away from the first woman Vice President.

bill palmer report logo headerJoe Biden’s acceptance speech is just going to be “come with me if you want to live.”

If you’re hating having to wait up all night to hear that Donald Trump has lost, imagine how much Donald Trump is hating having to wait up all night to hear that he’s lost.

I told you all along that Donald Trump’s evil plan for stealing the election was faulty and stupid and inept and wasn’t going to work. The evidence always overwhelmingly pointed to this outcome. It wasn’t optimism on my part; it was simply the most likely outcome.

 

Scandal At U.S. Postal Service

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Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: This is the perilous period we were warned about, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 6, 2020. These are the perilous times that were predicted wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallby many scholars, politicos, and legal experts should Donald Trump lose re-election. Not only has Trump, contrary to the electoral map, declared victory over Joe Biden, but his supporters are advocating violence on a scale not seen in the United States since the Civil War.

With Biden winning Pennsylvania, he has 273 electoral votes, three more than required to be elected the 46th President of the United States. Trump has made it clear to his aides and Republicans in Congress that he has no intention of conceding the election to Biden.

steve bannon court aug 21 2020Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, right, recently called for the beheading of FBI director Christopher Wray and National Institutes of Health Infectious Disease top expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Bannon suggested that the heads of Wray and Fauci be placed on pikes at the White House as a warning to all other "bureaucrats."

YouTube and Twitter suspended Bannon's accounts after his comments, prompting Trump to tweet another one of many attacks on Twitter. Bannon is free on bail after his federal indictment on charges of fraud involving a non-profit entity dedicated to building a stretch of wall on the U.S. southern border. There are calls for his bail to be revoked for threatening the lives of two senior federal officials.

Trump longtime friend Roger Stone recently called for former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director John Brennan, former director of National Intelligence James Clapper (shown rrom the left in a file photo below of their congressional testimonies), and other Trump enemies (which, according to a text message sent by Stone to one of his attorneys last December, includes this editor) to be "hung by the neck until dead." Stone made his remarks on the "Bubba The Love Sponge Show" on YouTube.

james comey john brennan james clapper michael flynn matthew olsen 2 4 2014

A few Qanon supporters of Trump drove their Humvee from Virginia to Philadelphia to attack the site of the city's vote counting. Philadelphia police found the lindsey graham judiciary chairmanvehicle and arrested two heavily-armed men believed associated with the plot.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, right, who is facing increased accusations that he has hired underage "rent boys" for sex and is highly blackmailed, is suggesting Republican state legislatures in states won by Biden to appoint "faithless" rival electors to vote for Trump in the Electoral College.

 

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U.S. District Courthouse in Washington, DC, site of historic confrontation between a federal judge and the new Trump-appointed Postmaster General who has delayed delivery of ballots in Democratic-leaning districts.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Postmaster General DeJoy Defies Federal Judge as Mail-In Ballots Surge for Biden, Harvey Wasserman, Nov. 6, 2020. At a critical turning point in the 2020 election, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a close Trump consigliere, has defied a federal court order meant to track down and deliver some 300,000 mailed-in ballots.

louis dejoy CustomIn turn, federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has warned DeJoy, right, that "someone might have a price to pay" for the postal service's refusal to sweep some 300,000 votes stranded in swing state post offices and deliver them to election boards for counting, where they may, in fact, make a critical difference in the outcome of this astounding election.

As the battle for the presidency boils down to uncounted mailed-in ballots, Trump's deconstruction of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has taken center stage.

The spread of the coronavirus long ago made it clear this election would be deeply impacted by tens of millions of mailed-in ballots.

Throughout his mercenary presidency, Trump has escalated his assaults on the Postal Service. Republicans of his corporate ilk have long wanted to dismantle the USPS, largely to destroy its powerful union.

us mail logoThey've also wanted to benefit huge private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS. DeJoy's own business, XPO Logistics, recently landed a $5 million contract with the USPS. (DeJoy claims he has divested his stake in the company, but the reality is unclear.)

When the coronavirus hit, the Postal Service became a political football. Throughout the U.S., concerned citizens worried that suffering through long lines to finally arrive at cramped voting centers would expose them to potential illness. As lines backed up in Wisconsin for this past spring's primary, reports of infection ran rampant. Some reports claim at least 71 deaths were the tragic result.

Since the 1980s, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii have automatically mailed ballots to registered voters. The systems work extremely well. After the fearsome warnings spread from Wisconsin's primary, California, Nevada, and a number of other states jumped in.

In swing states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Republican legislatures demanded voters fill out applications online or by mail to get their ballots. The requirements can be complex and confusing, apparently aiming to restrict the popular vote.

As Trump assaulted the Postal Service (which he termed "a joke"), he openly feared being overwhelmed by absentee ballots. If everyone could easily vote by mail, he complained, Republicans would never get elected.

djt smiling fileTrump himself has voted absentee since occupying the White House. (He officially lives in Florida.) But he complains vote by mail is somehow different. (It isn't.)

So he threatened to sue Nevada when it announced it would join five other states in mailing ballots to all registered voters. Those votes are now being hotly disputed.

Trump also threatened to cut election board funding in Michigan for daring to mail ballots to all registered voters. "Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election," he tweeted. "This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!"

Through the summer, DeJoy brutally gutted much of the USPS's highly evolved functional core, removing sorting machines, trashing long-established procedures, firing essential long-term personnel and removing postal drop boxes throughout the country.

As USPS revenues plummeted due to the virus, and as service deteriorated, Trump made little attempt to hide that the dismantlement was being done at least in part to undermine the service's ability to deliver ballots that he thought (correctly) might threaten to end his presidency.

The USPS is one of the U.S.'s most cherished institutions, regularly listed as the public's favorite government-related operation. Anger over its dismemberment has been palpable.

"In the Postal Service's 240 years of delivering the mail, how can one person screw this up so fast?" Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D- Massachusetts) asked DeJoy amid angry congressional hearings in August. "What the heck are you doing?"

DeJoy told Congress his "cost-cutting" measures were necessary and offered assurances that the fall election's ballots would be efficiently handled.

But very long delays prompted election protection advocates who'd supported voting by mail to push early voting or depositing ballots in official drop boxes.(Ohio and Texas responded by limiting drop boxes to one per county.)

Tennessee Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper told DeJoy: "For anyone thinking of voting absentee, the effect of your changes is to move Election Day from November 3 up to something like October 27."

As Trump's Republicans demanded ever-more stringent deadlines for receiving ballots at postal centers, the courts finally stepped in. As of November 3, USPS records in various states showed more than 300,000 absentee ballots had been received but had not gone back out to the election boards.

emmet sullivan 2012U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., had ordered on September 28 that the USPS cease its delivery cutbacks before the election.

On November 3, Judge Sullivan, left, ordered DeJoy to sweep Postal Service facilities in a dozen key districts where those 300,000 ballots had been reported undelivered. Sullivan's order included processing centers in Detroit, Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia, as well as in central Pennsylvania, south Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona, Wyoming and Alabama.

Sullivan particularly focused on districts with low on-time delivery records, including Philadelphia and Detroit.
But DeJoy's USPS proceeded to ignore Judge Sullivan's ruling, citing "physical and operational limitations." The service also complained that complying with the order might disrupt its regularly scheduled service.

Sullivan responded with fury. "I'm not pleased about this 11th-hour development last night," he said in a hearing Wednesday. "Someone might have a price to pay."

But the whereabouts of those 300,000 ballots remains a matter of dispute, as does their potential impact on the outcome of the presidential election.

And in an election where razor-thin margins can make all the difference, and where Trump supporters some of them armed are demanding to "stop the count" (see Florida 2000), the questionable whereabouts and date stamping of 300,000 votes becomes a matter of life or death.

Thus, Judge Sullivan is not happy. DeJoy, he says, "is either going to have to be deposed or appear before me and testify under oath " about why some measures were not taken after the court issued its injunction."

DeJoy might also be asked about how those missing mail-in ballots which have trended heavily for Joe Biden might affect the electoral fortunes of his boss and benefactor, Donald J. Trump.

More On U.S. Elections

washington post logodjt pence yard sign logoWashington Post, GOP splits over Trump’s false election claims, unfounded fraud allegations, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 6, 2020. Trump’s broadsides on Thursday exposed tensions within his party, splitting GOP officials who spoke publicly into warring camps: those who defended the president and those who defended the U.S. election process.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump loyalists are driving his campaign’s legal efforts to challenge ballots, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Elise Viebeck, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). In 2000, when George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore were deadlocked in the Florida vote for president, a high-powered team of legal experts flocked south to lead Bush’s ultimately successful strategy to prevail in a recount, guided by the Republican Party’s premier strategist of the time, former secretary of state James Baker.

djt rncThis year, as President Trump’s campaign mounts a multistate effort to challenge the counting of ballots around the country, many of the GOP’s preeminent election-law litigators remain on the sidelines.

Instead, the legal team driving the efforts under the leadership of deputy campaign manager Justin Clark includes longtime Trump loyalists and the president’s personal attorneys. Among them: Jay Sekulow, the conservative lawyer who defended the president during the special counsel probe and the impeachment process, and William Consovoy, an experienced Supreme Court litigator who has led the efforts in New York courts to withhold the president’s tax returns from investigators.

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook bans ‘STOP THE STEAL’ group Trump allies were using to organize vote-counting protests, Tony Romm, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). The group, which had attracted more than 360,000 members, was among widespread efforts by conservative activists to spark protests challenging the legitimacy of the election.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Is America Becoming a Failed State? Paul Krugman, right, Nov. 6, 2020 (print ed.). Mitch McConnell may make the nation ungovernable.

As I write this, it seems extremely likely that Joe Biden has won the presidency. And he clearly received millions more votes than his opponent. He can and should claim that he has been given a strong mandate to govern the nation.

But there are real questions about whether he will, in fact, be able to govern. At the moment, it seems likely that the Senate — which is wildly unrepresentative of the American people — will remain in the hands of an extremist party that will sabotage Biden in every way it can.

Normally, there are many things a president can achieve for good (Obama) or evil (Trump) through executive action. In fact, during the summer a Democratic task force identified hundreds of things a President Biden could do without having to go through Congress.

But here’s where I worry about the role of a heavily partisan Supreme Court — a court shaped by McConnell’s norm-breaking behavior, including the rushed confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett just days before the election.

Six of nine justices were chosen by a party that has won the popular vote only once in the past eight elections. And I think there’s a substantial chance that this court may behave like the Supreme Court in the 1930s, which kept blocking New Deal programs until F.D.R. threatened to add seats — something Biden wouldn’t be able to do with a Republican-controlled Senate.

So we are in big trouble.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stephen Colbert briefly breaks down, says Trump’s baseless claims of fraud ‘cast a dark shadow on our most sacred right’ (with video), Emily Yahr, Nov. 6, 2020. CBS’s “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert has spent the past four years skewering President Trump, sometimes with jokes and sometimes with serious monologues. But he seemed to reach his breaking point Thursday night, as he became visibly choked up delivering an emotional speech about Trump’s attempts to cast doubt on the election with evidence-free claims of fraud.

Colbert filmed the show shortly after Trump’s White House address, which The Washington Post called “a speech of historic dishonesty” and “a litany of falsehoods and grievances, with some baseless conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.” The three major broadcast networks all cut away from the briefing not long after it started.

The late-night comedian was not in a joking mood, as he started off standing next to his desk and was dressed in all black clothing.

“We’re taping this just a little while after Donald Trump walked into the White House briefing room, actually, and tried to poison American democracy. That’s why I’m not sitting down yet. I just don’t feel like it yet,” he said in a video that started to make the rounds on social media early Friday morning. “That’s also why I’m dressed for a funeral. Because Donald Trump tried really hard to kill something tonight.”

He also implored Republicans who have stayed silent to condemn Trump. “Republicans have to speak up — all of them. Because for evil to succeed, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing,” he said. “Say something right now, Republicans … it’s in your best interest. You only survived this up till now because a lot of voters didn’t want to believe everything that was obvious to so many of us: that Donald Trump is a fascist. And when it comes to democracy versus fascism, I’m sorry, there are not fine people on both sides. So you need to choose: Donald Trump or the American people? This is the time to get off the Trump train. Because he just told you where the train is going.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden has TAKEN THE LEAD in Georgia, Bill Palmer, Nov. 6, 2020 (4:25 am EST). Now Joe Biden has finally pulled ahead of Donald Trump in Georgia by 914 votes. There is every mathematical reason to expect Biden to remain in the lead and win the state. But based on how bill palmer report logo headerclose it could end up being, major news outlets could decide to wait until more straggler votes come in before calling the state. In any case, Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia merely gives him 269 electoral college votes. He needs 270 to win the presidency. So even if Georgia is called for him, he’ll need to win one additional state.

Nov. 4

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion:The world has seen this nightmare before, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 4, 2020. Voter suppression and intimidation resulted in what all the "predictions" had augured, an outright electoral victory was declared for a far-right and nationalist bloc. At two o'clock in the morning, with 90 percent of the vote counted, the far-right and nationalist bloc was declared wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallthe victor. Out of 648 seats in the national legislature, the far-right and nationalist bloc received a total of 341 or 52 percent.

The leader of the rightist bloc claimed immediate victory. Just as Donald Trump is trying to manipulate himself into a second term as U.S. president after a concerted campaign of voter suppression, mail-in ballot interference, and intimidation of voters, Adolf Hitler capped off his campaign victory by declaring that he had a popular mandate to scrap Germany's democracy in favor of authoritarian rule. Of course, Hitler's victory, after acts of violence committed by his followers on peaceful citizens, was a morally shallow one.

Make no mistake about it. What occurred in the morning of March 6, 1933 in Berlin was not much different than Trump, the son of a Nazi intelligence plant in New York City and other locations in the 1930s and 40s, declaring in the early morning hours of November 4, 2020 a premature victory in an election that had millions of ballots remaining to be counted.

djt smiling fileBy March 12, Hitler had added the Steel Helmets and Nazi Storm Troopers to the ranks of the police. Across the United States, police and pro-Trump militias and white nationalist provocateurs have been witnessed as comrades-in-arms.

The Nazi government also set out to purge the German Civil Service of all those who entered government service after 1918 and were not Nazi loyalists. Mr. Trump had ordered a similar purge of the U.S. Civil Service of non-Trump loyalists a few weeks prior to the November 3 election.

Today, there is no FDR to help guide the nation through economic and political turmoil. There is only a menacing Donald Trump, who has vowed to remain in power at all costs and with, perhaps, thousands of vigilantes, police, and armed militia gangs to enforce his every dictate.

djt biden smiles resized

washington post logoWashington Post, Counting continues in key battlegrounds: Biden 224, Trump 213, John Wagner, Nov. 4, 2020 (8:06 a.m. EST). White House race hangs in balance as votes are counted in key states.

With millions of votes still being counted, the outcome of the race between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden remained in flux, with the possibility that the winner would not be known for days. Key states where results were outstanding included Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan; Democratic stronghold counties in Georgia were still being counted, as well.

Early Wednesday, Trump falsely asserted election fraud, pledged to mount a legal challenge to official state results and made a premature claim of victory. Biden insisted that “we believe we’re on track to win this election” and pleaded for patience, citing several key states where the vote count was ongoing.

  • Biden is projected to win California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware and the District of Columbia, plus one electoral vote in Nebraska.
  • Trump is projected to win Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Utah, West Virginia, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming, plus three electoral votes in Nebraska, according to Edison Research.
  • House Democrats appeared on track to secure another two years in the majority. But the party looked set to fall drastically short of its bullish predictions that it would cut deep into Trump country to grow its majority.
  • Party control of the Senate hung in the balance, but Democratic hopes of securing a majority appeared to dwindle.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s what it comes down to now, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 4, 2020 (7:37 a.m. EST). In the end, it all comes down to five states. The good news for Joe Biden is that the states he bill palmerneeds to win seem to be trending in his direction as the sun is coming up.

Joe Biden has clearly pulled ahead in Wisconsin. Decision Desk has him up by about 17,000 votes; MSNBC has him up by about 21,000 votes. Kornacki just said on air that there isn’t much bill palmer report logo headerleft to come in for Wisconsin one way or the other.

An hour ago Joe Biden was down by a couple hundred thousand votes in Michigan, but now Decision Desk says he’s behind by just 2,200 votes. With most of the uncounted votes in Biden-friendly places like Detroit, expert Nate Cohn tweeted that it’s trending toward Biden and that it “may not be particularly close.”

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosWe should potentially know the Wisconsin and Michigan results by sometime later today. If Joe Biden wins them both, then he’ll only need to win one state out of Nevada, Pennsylvania, and. Georgia.

Nevada has turned out to be surprisingly close, but Cohn is seeing a “pretty good set of news” for Biden in the state. Pennsylvania and Georgia could go either way at this point. But if Biden wins Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin, then he’s at 270, it’s over, and won’t have to wait for Pennsylvania or Georgia.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Biden Urges Patience as Trump Threatens Court Action, Staff reports, Nov. 4, 2020. Dawn broke over the United States with the presidential election undecided and the specter of hours or even days of uncertainty ahead; Several states counted millions of ballots in razor-thin contests that could tip the balance to President Trump or Joe Biden; President Trump made reckless and baseless claims and said he would go to the Supreme Court before the vote count was complete. Here’s the latest.

Joe Biden expressed confidence to supporters, and President Trump falsely claimed victory. The threat of legal challenges mounted as lawyers were dispatched to battleground states. In Senate races, Democrats faced an uphill battle to claim a majority.

The morning after a chaotic, suspenseful Election Day, Americans awoke on Wednesday to the specter of hours or even days of uncertainty ahead, as several states counted millions of ballots in razor-thin contests that could tip the balance to President Trump or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

After a long election night rife with dramatic twists and victories by both candidates, Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden battled to a near draw in electoral votes, each several dozen votes shy of the 270 needed to capture the presidency.

The field of battle had dwindled to a trio of northern states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — that vaulted Mr. Trump to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, as well as Arizona and Nevada, where Mr. Biden had narrow leads, and Georgia, where he trailed but was gaining ground with every vote counted. Mr. supreme court graphicTrump prematurely declared victory and said he would petition the Supreme Court to demand a halt to the counting. Mr. Biden urged his supporters — and by implication, Mr. Trump — to show patience and allow the process to play out.

Their dueling, post-midnight appearances captured the raw struggle of a contest that many feared would leap from the campaign trail to the courts, as Mr. Trump’s lawyers readied legal maneuvers.

The president’s statement, delivered in the White House, amounted to a reckless attack on the democratic process during a time of deep anxiety and division in the country. Mr. Biden, speaking from a flag-draped stage in Wilmington, Del., appealed for calm and tried to reassure supporters rattled by a vote that was much closer than the pollsters or political analysts had predicted.

“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who has won this election,” Mr. Biden said, to a chorus of honking car horns at a drive-in rally. “That’s the decision of the American people.”

Mr. Trump, however, derided the vote-counting as “a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner,” he said. “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”

Vote counting continued into the morning from Pennsylvania to Nevada, as election officials labored to process a flood of mail-in ballots and huge numbers of in-person votes in an election that was sure to shatter records.

So far, Mr. Trump was holding off Mr. Biden in two Southern states that the former vice president had hoped to snatch back from the Republican column: Georgia and North Carolina. These were not must-win states for Mr. Biden, but he spent heavily in both and visited them in the final stretch of the campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump blatantly seeks to undermine democracy with attempts to falsely claim victory, subvert election, Dan Balz, Nov. 4, 2020. For four years, President Trump has sought to undermine the institutions of a democratic society, but never so blatantly as in the early morning hours of Wednesday. His attempt to falsely claim victory and to subvert the election itself by calling for a halt to vote-counting represents the gravest of threats to the stability of the country.

djt hands up mouth open CustomMillions of votes remain to be counted, votes cast legally under the laws of the states. Until they are all counted, the outcome of the election remains in doubt. Either he or former vice president Joe Biden could win an electoral college majority, but neither has yet done so, no matter what he says. Those are the facts, for which the president shows no respect.

A president who respected the Constitution would let things play out. But Trump has shown once again he cares not about the Constitution or the stability and well-being of the country or anything like that. He cares only about himself and retaining the powers he now holds. And so he cries “fraud” when there is no evidence whatsoever of any such thing.

amy coney barrett djt white house swearing in

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign vows legal challenges as narrow race raises stakes for battles over which ballots will count, Elise Viebeck, Robert Barnes, Josh Dawsey, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine, Nov. 4, 2020. Razor-thin vote margins in a half-dozen presidential battleground states are raising the stakes for legal fights over which ballots will count, a strategy that President Trump’s campaign vowed Wednesday to aggressively pursue.

Legal experts noted that Trump cannot simply seek the Supreme Court’s intervention in the election and stop the counting of ballots, as he said early Wednesday that he intended to do.

djt pence yard sign logoBut with pivotal states such as Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin still too close to call Wednesday morning, lawyers on both sides were gearing up for litigation — particularly over mail ballots. On Wednesday, the Trump campaign said it would immediately seek a recount in Wisconsin, where former vice president Joe Biden held a narrow edge.

Pennsylvania could also emerge as ground zero for legal jockeying. Before Election Day, the Supreme Court had declined to hear a challenge to the state’s extended deadline for accepting mail ballots, a case it could now take up if four justices agree. And Republicans have already filed two lawsuits in the state seeking to block votes from people who were allowed to correct mistakes on their mail ballots, alleging problems with that “cure” process.

Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, told allies, surrogates and donors in a call Wednesday morning that there will be “more litigation today, likely,” in the state, without offering specifics.

“We are full-court press to make sure all legal votes get counted properly in Pennsylvania,” he added, according to a recording of the call obtained by The Washington Post.

Top Trump campaign officials said that they expect a slate of legal challenges and have already deployed lawyers to a range of states.

“We are in recount territory in Wisconsin, in Michigan, the same way,” Clark said. “I believe we will be lodging legal challenges in both of those places because there is some . . . to counteract any funny business going on in both of those places.”

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign Wednesday said it was well-prepared to fend off any legal actions by the Trump campaign.

“We’re winning the election, we’ve won the election, and we’re going to defend that election,” Bob Bauer, a top attorney for the Biden campaign, said Wednesday morning in a call with reporters. “So we don’t have to do anything but protect the rights of voters and to stand up for the democratic process.”

Here are the voting lawsuits that could lead to post-election fights over ballots

Trump said early Wednesday that he wants the Supreme Court to determine which votes should count, falsely claiming victory while millions of votes were still outstanding.

“Frankly, we did win this election,” the president said at the White House. “We did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud in our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

There is no routine review of election results at the Supreme Court, and the court’s most consequential election case — Bush v. Gore, which effectively determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential race — did not arrive there for about a month.

The court’s power is constrained, and justices can entertain only specific constitutional questions that have risen from lower courts. A direct appeal from the president to intervene in an election does not count under these rules.

“You can’t bring a case directly to the Supreme Court in an election dispute. . . . And there’s no legal cause of action that says, ‘Stop the count and declare me the winner,’ ” said Joshua A. Douglas, law professor at the University of Kentucky’s Rosenberg College of Law.

Bauer said that if Trump at some point sought to go before the court to try to stop the counting of ballots that were lawfully cast, “he will be in for one of the most embarrassing defeats the president ever suffered before the highest court of the land.”

The Supreme Court’s work typically comes after a ruling in a case by a local judge that has gone through the appellate process. In Bush v. Gore, the court was reviewing decisions of the Florida Supreme Court, for instance, and issued its opinion Dec. 12, with the deadline for naming members of the electoral college looming.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden pulls ahead, Donald Trump melts down about it, Twitter cracks down on him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 4, 2020. Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe just announced on NBC News that “all of the ballots have indeed been counted” in the state. This is a big deal because Biden is ahead by about 21,000 votes. No news outlet has called the state quite yet, but this mathematically means that Biden is the unofficial, likely, apparent, winner.

wisconsin map with largest cities Custombill palmer report logo headerMeanwhile Joe Biden pulled ahead in Michigan earlier this morning, and there is strong reason to believe that his lead there will continue to widen as the final ballots come in from Biden-friendly districts. If Biden wins Wisconsin and Michigan – along with Nevada, where he maintains a slim lead – then he’ll be President of the United States without even needing Pennsylvania or Georgia.

Suffice it to say that Donald Trump isn’t taking the news well. He tweeted a phony map which falsely claimed that Biden got 100% of late votes, adding “WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?” In response, Twitter quickly pasted over his tweet with a warning label about it being misleading. Twitter also pasted over another conspiratorial Trump tweet.

While nothing is certain, it’s now clear that Joe Biden is likely to win the election – and Donald Trump knows it. No wonder he’s melting down.

 ny times logoNew York Times, The Remaining Vote in Pennsylvania Appears to Be Overwhelmingly for Biden, Nate Cohn, Nov. 4, 2020. Updated 7:19 a.m. EST. The president leads by nearly 700,000 votes, but there are 1.4 million absentee votes outstanding.

Joe Biden has won absentee ballots counted in Pennsylvania by an overwhelming margin so far, according to data from the Secretary of State early Wednesday. If he carried the remaining absentee ballots by a similar margin, he would win the state.
Votes in Pennsylvania

President Trump leads by nearly 700,000 votes in Pennsylvania as of 5 a.m. on Wednesday, and Mr. Biden’s chances depend on whether he can win a large percentage of the more than 1.4 million absentee ballots that remain to be counted.

So far, Mr. Biden has won absentee voters in Pennsylvania, 78 percent to 21 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The results comport with the findings of pre-election surveys and an analysis of absentee ballot requests, which all indicated that Mr. Biden held an overwhelming lead among absentee voters.
If Mr. Biden won the more than 1.4 million absentee votes by such a large margin, he would net around 800,000 votes — enough to overcome his deficit statewide.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Mr. Biden will win the remaining absentee vote by quite so much.

Nov. 2

david kaplan

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Has the Court Learned Nothing From Bush v. Gore? Apparently not, David A. Kaplan (author of The Accidental President: How 413 Lawyers, 9 Supreme Court Justices and 5,963,110 Floridians (Give or Take a Few) Landed George W. Bush in the White House, and The Most Dangerous Branch, shown above), Nov. 2, 2020.

You remember the legal horror show called Bush v. Gore? The Supreme Court couldn’t possibly replicate that. But don’t underestimate the justices’ capacity for self-inflicted wounds. The sequel’s being scripted and it may be worse.

Twenty years ago, the court stepped in to halt a recount in the disputed 2000 presidential election. Both the Constitution and federal law specifically entrusted Congress to resolve such a deadlock. But the justices recklessly inserted themselves anyway. The fiercely divided ruling cost the court its legitimacy and hurt the country.

Now there are widespread worries that the court will jump in again. “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” President Trump said in late September. Having just placed Amy Coney Barrett, the sixth Republican-appointed justice on the court, he is evidently thrilled about that prospect.

Only two justices remain on the court who were there in 2000 — Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Have they and their fellow justices learned anything from the court’s misadventure?

One of the biggest myths about the court — born of its continuing gratuitous interventions in contentious issues that should have been left to Congress and states — is that it had no choice but to meddle. That self-proclaimed textualist, Justice Antonin Scalia, told an interviewer years after Bush v. Gore, “We were the laughingstock of the world — the world’s greatest democracy that couldn’t conduct an election.” He omitted any mention of where in the Constitution he had unearthed a “Laughingstock” clause that justified the court’s intrusion.

On occasion, he had a smugger response when asked about the 5-to-4 ruling. “Get over it!” he’d say. Justice David Souter, who dissented, never did, so appalled was he about Bush v. Gore.

The court’s docket is discretionary. The only plausible explanation for the court’s taking up Bush v. Gore is institutional arrogance — the belief that the justices alone could save the country from a crisis that wasn’t a crisis. But the Constitution and a federal statute provide what to do in such instances, even if a president isn’t chosen by Inauguration Day. That hubris not only made the justices look like partisans in robes but also raised the stakes for future court nominations.

When the court shuts down a recount, invents an individual’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, unleashes big money into campaigns, guts voting rights and sets abortion policy, presidents and senators react accordingly. The storm over Justice Barrett’s confirmation is the latest chapter in a story that begins with the justices themselves.

Bush v. Gore involved just one state, Florida. This year, that case might look like a picnic. With so many battleground states and with hundreds of lawsuits, no doubt this is the most litigated election ever.

Still, elections should be garden-variety state matters, even races for the presidency. State courts should be left to make decisions based on their own state laws and state constitutions. Yet there’s plenty of reason to think some of the justices would be happy to substitute their own judgment.

In 2000, the court’s logic was that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection” rendered Florida’s system unconstitutional because different counties used different standards to evaluate contested ballots. Never mind that the counties all set out to determine the intent of any given voter. Never mind that George W. Bush’s lawyers had raised the equal protection argument only in passing.

Why would they do otherwise? There were 3,141 counties in the United States. Most contained multiple municipalities, most of which had separate voting precincts. There were different machines, ballot designs and instructions. Lines could be short in some neighborhoods, around the block in others. Many of the disparities disproportionately affected Black people, the chief intended beneficiaries of the 14th Amendment. Yet the court had never gone near declaring that such variances amounted to constitutional transgressions.

In Bush v. Gore, the justices did. Had they finally seen the light when it came to voting inequities? Nope. They were apparently ambivalent enough about their own reasoning that they said the case should not be considered a precedent. Bush v. Gore is the Lord Voldemort of Supreme Court jurisprudence — the case that must not be named.

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Judge Rejects G.O.P. Attempt to Toss 127,000 Ballots in Texas, David Montgomery and Nick Corasaniti, Nov. 2, 2020. Republicans had tried to invalidate votes that were cast at drive-through locations in Harris County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Houston.

A federal judge in Houston on Monday rejected Republican efforts to invalidate more than 127,000 votes that were cast at drive-through locations in Harris County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

texas mapThe lawsuit was one of the most aggressive moves by Republicans in an election marked by more than 400 voting-related lawsuits. And it came as Texas, long considered reliably Republican in presidential elections, has emerged as a swing state this year, with polls showing an unusually close race there.

Harris County, the most populous county in Texas, is home to one of the state’s largest concentrations of Democratic voters. It had set up 10 drive-through voting sites to offer a safe, in-person voting option amid the pandemic, and polls were open for 18 days.

But in a lawsuit, Republicans argued that Chris Hollins, the Harris County Clerk, did not have the authority to allow drive-through voting in the county.

Judge Andrew S. Hanen, a federal judge who was appointed by former president George W. Bush, held an emergency hearing for the lawsuit on Monday and ruled against tossing the ballots. On Sunday, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court had rejected a similar effort to get those ballots tossed out.

“We win,” texted Susan Hays, the elections counsel for Mr. Hollins.

In a motion on Friday asking to intervene in the case, Democrats said the suit threatened to “throw Texas’ election into chaos by invalidating the votes of more than 127,000 eligible Texas voters who cast their ballots” at the drive-through sites. The motion was filed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of M.J. Hegar, a Democratic candidate for the Senate in Texas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Republicans now think Texas courts don’t decide their own election law, Steve Vladeck (professor at the University of Texas School of Law, co-editor in chief of Just Security, co-host of the National Security Law Podcast and a CNN legal analyst), Nov. 2, 2020. The Harris County drive-through voting case has national ramifications.

On Monday, a day before Election Day, federal district court Judge Andrew Hanen will hold a hearing on whether Harris County, Tex., clerk Chris Hollins violated the Constitution by making provisions for some Houstonians to vote in drive-through polling stations.

Although the same lawsuit has been rejected twice by the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, the plaintiffs — who include a prominent Republican activist and a Republican state legislator — are asking Hanen to invalidate more than 100,000 ballots cast, in some instances, in temporary structures set up by Harris County. His decision may not tip the outcome of the presidential election, but it could influence a number of down-ballot races, and maybe even control of Texas’s house of representatives.

texas mapLike so many 11th-hour voting-related suits filed by Republicans in recent weeks, this suit has almost nothing to do with voter fraud. Rather, it’s the latest in a consistent and cynical line of suits — in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, among others — that appear motivated by partisan gain, assuming that the exclusion of any set of ballots from Harris County, the third-largest in the country and one of Texas’s key Democratic strongholds, is good for Republicans.

The Harris County case, in particular, gives away the game: It lays bare how little this case and others have to do with the public interest. And it’s easy to see how the plaintiffs’ argument, if taken seriously by the court and followed to its logical conclusion, would actually invalidate any number of state election laws on the ground that no two jurisdictions have exactly the same voting rules.

It would certainly be less chaotic if all Americans voted pursuant to a uniform set of federally imposed procedures — if forms, machines, drop-box specifications, mail-in ballot receipt deadlines and early voting schedules were exactly the same, from county to county and state to state — but inefficiency is not, of itself, unconstitutional.

The suit is already beset with procedural problems: Although the drive-through voting policy was announced months ago, piloted this summer and had the tacit approval of Texas’s director of elections, the plaintiffs waited until last week to first bring this federal suit. It’s also unclear how these plaintiffs (or anyone else, for that matter) are injured by having eligible voters cast timely ballots. And under something called the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, lawsuits like this — in which someone who lost in state court brings the same suit against the same party in federal court — are supposed to be barred. In other words, without ever reaching the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims, this suit could — and should — be quickly dismissed.

The merits of the suit are a sloppy rehash of two different arguments that have shown up in a number of these recent lawsuits: The first claim is that, by allowing drive-through voting, Hollins usurped the power of Texas’s legislature under the federal Constitution to set the rules for elections. Never mind that, by statute, Texas already gives election administrators some flexibility over the exact physical spaces used for polling places; that drive-through voting used security procedures and equipment comparable to that at permanent indoor stations; and that Texas’s Supreme Court, the definitive expositor of Texas election law, turned away the plaintiffs’ objections.

On Nov. 2, one day before Election Day, federal court Judge Andrew Hanen holds a hearing on whether Houston drive-through polling stations will be counted. (The Washington Post)

Trump says he can adjourn Congress. He's misreading the Constitution.

In the alternative, the plaintiffs argue, allowing citizens of Harris County to vote via drive-through voting in this respect violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, because Harris County has adopted a “manner of voting” not adopted by other counties. Never mind that different counties in Texas have different rules about the number and locations of polling places, their hours of operation during early voting and so on. Indeed, for one night, Harris County also offered 24-hour early-voting centers. Was that likewise unconstitutional entirely because other counties didn’t?

In essence, the plaintiffs are taking the equal protection argument controversially adopted by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore (which, despite the justices’ specific admonition to the contrary, these plaintiffs cite as authority), and stretching it well beyond its breaking point. In Bush v. Gore, the equal protection violation the justices identified was that different counties were using different standards to evaluate the intent of voters for ballots that had “hanging” or “dimpled” chads. If the same two voters indented their ballots in the exact same way, it was possible that the vote would count in one jurisdiction but not in another.

Today, the argument is not about the same two voters having the same ballot counted differently; it’s about access to voting. And if what Harris County did violates equal protection, then unless every single voter in a state has the exact same access to a polling place in every single respect, the state law is unconstitutional. Were that so, then a host of state election laws would have to be struck down. States would have to ensure a comparable number of polling places per capita; that polling places were roughly the same location from voters in every jurisdiction; that the voting hours and staffing for polling places were uniform; and any number of other technical requirements that rather miss the point — which, in case we need to be reminded, is to enable eligible voters to vote.

The absurd legal theory conservative judges are using to restrict voting

Galling, also, is that like other recent election lawsuits, the plaintiffs (and some courts) completely fail to acknowledge the other side of the equation — the 100,000-plus Harris County voters who stand to have their votes invalidated — having voted under rules announced in advance, approved by local officials, and left intact during weeks of early voting, potentially too late for them to do anything about it. Just like Minnesota voters whose otherwise valid mail-in ballots may be tossed because a federal appeals court suggested that the state may have erroneously extended the receipt deadline for such ballots, the mind-set appears to be that no cost is too high, and no amount of disenfranchised voters too large, in cases where, at most, local election officials erred on the side of counting more legal votes from eligible voters. What some courts forget is that these citizens who voted in good faith, before these suits were filed, also have 14th Amendment rights.

That’s perhaps the most stunning feature of this latest suit. When courts consider whether to enjoin government action, they’re supposed to consider more than just the merits of the case. Among the traditional factors in such cases are whether the plaintiffs have suffered an irreparable injury; whether that injury has no other remedy; whether the balance of hardships weighs more strongly in favor of the plaintiffs or the defendant; and whether the public interest would be served by injunctive relief.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Presidents Don’t Determine Who Gets to Vote,’ Biden Says, Katie Glueck, Nov. 2, 2020. Joseph R. Biden Jr. kicked off the final day before the election with a foray into a state that for four years has been a symbol of Democratic disappointment: Ohio.

“Ohio: One more day!” Mr. Biden said at a drive-in rally at an airport hangar in Cleveland. “Tomorrow we have an opportunity to put an end to a presidency that’s divided this nation. Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation. And tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that’s fanned the flames of hate all across this country.”

“My message is simple,” Mr. Biden said. “The power to change the country is in your hands.”

His remarks there come amid record-setting early in-person voting in Cuyahoga County, a major Democratic county in a Trump-friendly state that his team has watched closely. Ohio, which helped deliver the presidency to Donald J. Trump in 2016, is still seen by many Democrats as a reach for Mr. Biden, who is otherwise expected to spend the day campaigning in nearby western Pennsylvania.

But his campaign is seeking to create as many pathways to 270 electoral votes as possible, and a number of officials on Mr. Biden’s team have personal connections to the state, including Steve Ricchetti, a top Biden adviser and Ohio native.

“Ohio is like Iowa, is like Texas,” said Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, in a briefing later Monday. “These expansion states on both sides that, you know, frankly, are in play. And what we’ve seen coming into this final stretch is that more states are in play than less.”

“They’re in play even further,” she added, “if we keep pushing on turnout.”

At the rally, Mr. Biden also referenced the electoral success of Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, in a state that has become increasingly challenging for Democrats. “So when Sherrod tells me to come to Ohio the day before, I come to Ohio,” Mr. Biden said.

Ohio twice voted for the Obama-Biden ticket, Mr. Biden reminded voters on Monday.

“In 2008, 2012, you placed your trust in me and Barack,” Mr. Biden said. “In 2020 I’m asking you to trust me again. I’m proud of the coalition this campaign has built. We welcome Democrats, Republicans and independents.”

In his remarks, Mr. Biden took aim at Mr. Trump’s remarks on Sunday in which he appeared to entertain the idea of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert.

“Elect me and I’m going to hire Dr. Fauci,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to fire Donald Trump.”

In his address in Ohio, Mr. Biden hit many of the same things he has been stressing for months, even years in some cases: that Mr. Trump’s divisive presidency poses a unique threat to the nation’s character, that he does not respect even members of the military, that he does not grasp the threat of climate change and that he has mishandled the pandemic at every turn.

“The first step to beating the virus,” Mr. Biden said, “is beating Donald Trump.”

Mr. Biden then headed to Pennsylvania, where he, Senator Kamala Harris and their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, are fanning out across the state, seeking to promote his message to a broad coalition of voters and, in some cases, also targeting their message toward key House districts.

Nov. 2

American System TV, Opinion: On Election Day, Vote to Free American from the Nightmare of Trump and Trumpism, Webster G. Tarpley, Jr., right, Nov.2, 2020.  webster tarpley 2007Fate of US and World Is Riding on This Election; Almost 100 Million Americans So Far Have Made Clear that They Believe in Voting and Majority Rule, Unlike the Aspiring Great Dictator.

Trump Claim of Victory Would Be Seen as Signal to Fascist Gangs to Attack, Providing a Pretext for Martial Law and Halting of Vote Count; Dems’ Legal Defense Chief Bob Bauer Says They Are Ready; Federal Judge Rejects Attempt by Texas GOP to Shred 125,000 Drive-Thru Ballots.

Experienced Political Operatives and Pollsters Predict That Trump’s Defeat Could Be Obvious by About Ten O’Clock Tuesday Evening; They Predict Alternatives Come Down to a Skinny Biden Win with About 300 Electoral Votes, or else a Biden Landslide Victory; Biden Warned Never to Concede or Capitulate; Carville Urges that Biden Declare Himself the Winner Early in the Evening to Beat Trump to the Draw.

Biden’s Simplest Path is Winning Clinton States, Plus Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, along with North Carolina or Georgia as Insurance Against Surprises Elsewhere.

Democrats Expected to Gain 10 to 15 Seats in House; GOP’s Senate Majority Likely to Evaporate; Total Wipeout for Republicans Could Put GOP on Path to Extinction as National Force.

At This Point, Any Riot is a Pro-Trump Riot, and Must Be Denounced and Isolated; Deranged Ultra-Left Provocateurs Tout Plans to Shut Down Washington Without Waiting for Election Result; Their Posturing is Grist for Propaganda Mill of Alt-Right!

 

October

Oct. 31

 djt march 2020 Custom

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Polling Inspires Cautious Optimism That Would-Be Dictator Can Be Defeated, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 31, 2020. Persons of webster tarpley 2007Good Will Must Devote Every Waking Hour to Defense of Democracy with Biden; 91 Million Americans Have Now Voted.

Record 100,000 Covid Cases and 1,000 Deaths on Friday Give the Lie to Trump’s Mantra That US Has Turned the Corner.

Trump Machine Prepares Legal Obstructions to Negate the Will of the People, with Focus on Attacking Blue Wall of PA, MI, WI; US Postal Service Thoroughly Sabotaged by GOP Stooge DeJoy.

djt maga hatDon’s Mouthpieces Will Work in Tandem with Gangs of Fascist Hooligans Encouraged to Harass and Intimidate Voters while Posing as Poll Watchers; Fascists Planning to Attack Elections in Oregon, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania; National Guard Deployed in Philadelphia; Democratic Governors and Mayors Must Not Hesitate to Deploy Guard if Riots Erupt; Any Riot Now S a Pro-Trump Riot, Allowing Him to Impose His Brand of Martial Law to Stop Voting; Oath Keeper Honcho Blusters His Phalanxes Will Arrest Deep State if Biden Wins.

boris johnson tieDeclaring “No Alternative,” Trump Clone BoJo (Boris Johnson, right) Institutes Lockdown Light with Schools Open in England and Across UK, Citing Threat to NHS Hospital System; Promises 80% of Wages Will Be Paid; Move Follows Similar Restrictions by Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.

A Mirror for Kushner and Kayleigh: France’s Marshal Pétain Worked During 1930s to Weaken France, and Helped Impose Surrender in 1940: He Knew Fascists Were an Unpopular Minority Which Could Take Power Only in Wake of Huge National Defeat; After 1940 Crushing of France, Pétain Ended Democratic Republic and Set Up Vichy Fascist Regime as German Puppet State; Same Pattern Can Be Seen with Covid Today.

Breaking: Friedman of New York Times Calls on Biden to Form National Unity Government to Include Top Republicans after Trump Defeat; But Long Overdue US Party Re-Alignment Requires That GOP Quickly Follow Federalists, Whigs, and Knownothings into Oblivion; GOP as Party of Trump Enablers Has Earned Extinction, So Let’s Be Sure They Get It This Year; Incorrigible Republicans Cannot Be Salvaged or Break Habits of Plutocracy and Sabotage of Public Interest.

Oct. 30

amy coney barrett djt white house swearing in

Buzzflash, Investigation: Amy Coney Barrett Got Thousands of Tainted GOP Mail-In Ballots Counted in Florida in 2000, Invaluably Helping Bush to Steal Election, Staff report, Oct. 30, 2020. Amy Coney Barrett set the tone for her role as a party hack on the Supreme Court as she willingly posed maskless with Donald j. Trump for campaign photo-ops on the night of her nomination on Monday (shown above in a White House photo).

Amy Coney Barrett set the tone for her role as a party hack on the Supreme Court as she willingly posed maskless with Donald j. Trump for campaign photo-ops on the night of her nomination on Monday. (The White House)

Amy Coney Barrett, that icon of judicial integrity — as Trump and the DC Republicans would have you believe — may soon commit gross hypocrisy if she rules on Team Trump’s efforts to have Democratic votes invalidated in the 2020 election. In fact, the SCOTUS dissenters in allowing Pennsylvania to allow three extra days for the state to count ballots postmarked by November 3 but delivered up to three days later, indicate they may consider retroactively tossing out the votes.

Barrett didn’t vote on the Florida and North Carolina cases because, according to the Court, she did not have the time to read up on them, but she will likely rule on Trump retroactive voter suppression and theft of the election legal efforts after the election unless Biden wins with an irreversible lead.

A clear argument can be made that she allowed herself to be used as a pawn for Trump’s reelection with two White House appearances and a photo-op on the Truman balcony. A stronger case can be made because she helped implement a legal strategy in 2000, working through a law firm for the Bush campaign, that allowed the counting of thousands of Republican absentee ballot requests with missing information to be taken out of a Republican-run county election office and filled out by local Republican operatives at another location.

As Mother Jones on October 11:

Republicans sought to count mail ballots that were disputed by Democrats because of evidence that Republican operatives had altered incomplete absentee ballot request forms. That position stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s current assault on mail voting. But there’s a certain consistency here: Republicans will take whatever stance on mail ballots maximizes their electoral chances. And Barrett’s work in 2000 suggests she might be willing to play along.

Election Law Blog added:

After county officials allowed the GOP to take the forms back and fill in the missing information, a Democratic voter sued, saying ballots cast by those voters should be tossed out. The county canvassing board, the Florida Republican Party and the Bush campaign argued that the votes should still count.

Barrett’s work on the case serves as a reminder of how aggressively the Republican Party has sought to harness mail voting for years, in contrast to President Trump’s relentless attacks on the practice….

Request forms sent by the party to Republican voters mistakenly omitted their voter registration numbers, leading those requests to be set aside by the Martin County elections office. The county elections supervisor allowed a local Republican Party official to take the incomplete request forms [out of the office], add the missing numbers and return them the following day, according to court filings. GOP voters who had used the request forms to seek absentee ballots were then able to receive them….

Democrats sued that neither the Marin County or nearby Seminole County, which had up to 25,000 absentee ballot irregularities “corrected,” should not have these “tainted” votes counted, which Barrett and her legal colleague argued for the counting of the ballots. A state court ruled with Barrett’s argument and the Bush Campaign, and Bush “won” Florida by 537 votes until the Supreme Court anointed him president by a 5-4 vote, while it forbade a recount that would have made Al Gore president.

The state and county Democrats said that the process had been so tainted and in violation of Florida Election law (Democrats absentee ballot requests were not corrected and the Democrats were not notified that their absentee ballot requests were not processed), including allowing Republican operatives to break the chain of vote custody by taking the ballot requests out of the election office. But the Gore campaign curiously did not join the suit, and so the state Democrats lost the case.

An October 10 Washington Post article confirms these details of Barrett’s role in an article entitled, “How Amy Coney Barrett Played a Role in Bush v. Gore — and Helped the Republican Party Defend Mail Ballots.”

Meanwhile, just recently in Iowa, according to CBS News:

Iowa's highest court upheld a state directive Wednesday that was used to invalidate tens of thousands of absentee ballot requests mailed to voters pre-filled with their personal information.

The Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling in favor of President Donald Trump's campaign and Republican groups as Trump held an evening rally in Des Moines.

The court rejected a Democratic challenge that argued the directive issued by Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate was unconstitutional.

In a similar vein, Brett Kavanaugh, who was coming off his recent role as top aide to the Ken Starr inquisition of Bill Clinton, was also aiding the Bush Campaign in 2000 to argue for what Trump would call fraudulent mail-in votes to be counted. According to The Intellectualist:

However, in Bush v. Gore — the Supreme Court decision that handed the presidency to a man who lost the popular vote — a younger Kavanaugh argued it would be unfair if ballots received after election day were not counted.

Kavanaugh was on the legal team that “argued during that contested election that ballots arriving late and without postmarks, which were thought to benefit Bush, must be counted in Florida,” Salon noted on Tuesday.

In 2001, The New York Times laid out how Bush’s team went about ensuring his presidential win….

Now, Kavanaugh — as well as a slew of Republicans, including President Donald Trump — argue that ballots received after Election Day should not be counted, claiming it opens the door to fraud and will cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election results.

As Salon noted,

Whatever the reasons behind Kavanaugh’s performance on Monday, he has given the nation another legitimate reason to fear that this election may end with a Bush v. Gore–like disaster for American democracy, but even worse than the original.

On Monday night, Kavanaugh debased the dignity of the Supreme Court in parroting Trump in claiming a presidential winner should be announced on November 3, because it would be unfair to count votes, even if they arrived before that day, because it would be unfair to the candidate leading on November 3. These were the ludicrous claims of a party hack, not a Supreme Court justice.

Justice Elena Kagan took snarling Kavanaugh to the woodshed:

Justice Kagan: Justice Kavanaugh alleges that “suspicions of impropriety” will result if “absentee ballots flow in after election day and potentially flip the results of an election.” Ante, at 7. But there are no results to “flip” until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more “suspicio[us]” or“improp[er]” than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night. To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.

Finally, remember that John Roberts is a third lawyer on the Supreme Court who worked on legal strategy for the theft of the 2000 election by George W. Bush.

American System Radio, Opinion: Four Days before General Election, US Proceeds toward Fateful Choice between Freedom and Fascism, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Oct. 29, 2020. Vote Now by Any Available Means to Make Sure You Get on the World-Historical Scoreboard.

After Atrocity Shooting of Black Citizen Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia Cops, Protests Multiply, but Provocateurs Also Move in, Fomenting Widespread Looting and Violence; Trump’s Demagogy Seizes in Situation; 11 People Shot and Scores of Police Injured; Highly Suspicious Van Found with Propane Tanks, Torches and Possible Dynamite; Gov. Wolf and Mayor Kenny Have Mobilization National Guard; Situation Must Be Pacified Quickly for Sake of National Election; Philadelphia DA Krassner Warns Proud Boys and Other Trump to Stay Away or Be Jailed; After Failure of anti-Hunter Biden Offensive, Is GOP Eyeing Riots and Martial Law as Ways to Interfere with Vote?

Looking Back at 2000: Biden and Rest of Party Must Know That No Concession to Trump Will Be Acceptable to Rank and File Voters under Any Circumstances Whatsoever; Instead, Country Needs Determined Will to Fight Through to Victory for Constitutional Government under Biden, Not Dictatorship by Financier Oligarchy and Its Puppet.

How Lincoln Defied Supreme Court Chief Justice and Traitor Roger Taney to Save Washington, and Rejected Dictatorship of Supreme Court at Opening of Civil War; Breaking: US Exceeds 85,000 Cases Today, the Worst Toll Ever; In Georgia, Ossoff Excels in Debate with Sleazy Sen. Purdue.

Oct. 26

American System Radio, Opinion: Barrett Confirmed for Supreme Court by 52-48 Vote in Senate, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 26, 2020. Ultra-Reactionary webster tarpley 2007Majority of Republican Legal Positivists Takes Shape on High Court; GOP Orgy of Rule Breaking Must Set Stage for Reform of Hijacked Court, Adding Justices; New Extremist Majority Is Designed to Enable a Trump November Coup and Resulting Dictatorship; Perversion of Judiciary Was Key Feature of Fascist Regimes Like Italy in 1920s and Germany in 1930s; Expect Atrocities against Constitution and General Welfare within Days!

More Plans for Second Term Dictatorship: Trump Wants to Fire Esper of Pentagon, Wray of FBI, and Haspel of CIA; Replacements Are Guaranteed to Be Worse; Don Plans Purge of Federal Civil Service and Removal of Safeguards against Partisan Thuggery; Ronald Sanders, a Trump Appointee on Civil Service Commission, Resigns in Protest

FBI logoEurope and US Face Exponential Growth of Pandemic, as Spain and Italy Implement New Countermeasures; White House Chief of Staff Meadows Admits US Defeat in Pandemic That Trump Cannot Control; Herd Immunity Rules; On Campaign Trail, Trump Again Suggests that Contagion Is Political Hoax against Him That Will Disappear on November 4; US Deaths Pass 225,000.

Biden to Campaign in Georgia, Visiting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Polio Treatment Center at Warm Springs.

Note to Media: Stop Helping GOP by Calling Them Conservatives! Most Are Reactionaries, with Not a Few Fascists! Breaking: In Harbinger of Horrors to Come, pre-Barrett Supreme Court Stops Wisconsin from Counting Mail-In Ballots Arriving after Election Day.

Oct. 24

American System Network, Opinion: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin at the Crossroads of World History as Struggle Enters Final Ten Days, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Oct. 26, 2020. Time to Vote Trump Out for the Sake of the Nation and of Humanity!

Are You Better Off Now? Manufacturing Jobs in These Three States Plus Ohio, North Carolina, and Minnesota Have Been Reduced by over 188,000 under Trump after Increasing by over 126,000 in Obama’s Second Term; Three Quarters of Americans Want Another Package of Economic Stimulus and Pandemic Relief Now, but 20 Senate GOP Ultra-Reactionaries Are Blocking Needed Action; Two Thirds Welcome Biden’s Plan to Reach 97% Coverage with a Public Option as Employer-Based Insurance Becomes Scarcer; Trump’s Super-Spreader Rallies Are the New Trail of Tears: Friends Don’t Let Friends Attend!

With 84,000 New Infections Reported on Friday, US Rounds the Turn to All-Time Daily Record for Highest Number of Covid Cases During Current Pandemic; Europe on Path into Grim Winter; President of Poland Tests Positive; Italy, Spain, UK, and France Eye More Restrictions.

Moscow Mitch Breaks Senate Rules, Pushes Toward Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett on Monday; Trump Gang Laying Groundwork for Political Purge of Federal Civil Service If He Wins Second Term; As Defeat Looms, Feuds Break Out in Trump Camp: “De Facto Chief of Staff” Lou Dobbs Calls for Defeat of Lindsey Graham for Not Using His Committee to Slander Biden; Wray and Barr Are Still Targets of Don’s Wrath!

Oct. 23

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Investigation: $80 million dark money group tied to Trump Supreme Court advisor, Leonard Leo, Robert Maguire, Oct. 23, 2020. A close informal advisor to President Trump who has been deeply involved in all three of his Supreme Court nomination battles is the sole trustee of a mysterious group that brought in more than $80 million in 2018, according to a previously unreported tax return uncovered by CREW. The filing vastly expands the amount of money known to be flowing into the growing constellation of dark money groups tied to Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo and provides new details about his role in a secretive firm that was responsible for one of the largest donations received by President Trump’s inaugural committee.

What makes Rule of Law Trust (RLT) particularly interesting is that despite its $80 million haul, the group seems remarkably hollow. It claimed it had no employees and no volunteers in its first year and listed what appears to be a virtual office in Virginia as its main address. Its stated mission is “to advance conservative principles and causes through communications, research, strategy and assistance to other organizations,” but there’s no apparent public information to demonstrate what that work entails, not even a website.

In an unusual financial arrangement, the group also appears to have channeled nearly all of its $2.7 million in expenditures through the BH Group — an enigmatic firm that, the filing reveals, is partly owned by Leo. The company has long been known to be tied to Leo, but the nature of his role was unknown until now. Just months after it was formed in 2016, the BH Group gave $1 million to President Trump’s inaugural committee — though the only known funds that it has received during that time came from other dark money groups allied with Leo. The ultimate source of the money remains unknown to this day.

“The filing vastly expands the amount of money known to be flowing into the growing constellation of dark money groups tied to Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo.”

The only other people linked to RLT in the sparse filing are either longtime Federalist Society officials-turned-consultants like Leo, or operatives with a long history working behind the scenes on dark money groups tied to Leo. For example, RLT’s single largest payment in 2018 was a $1.5 million consulting fee paid to Jonathan Bunch, a former vice president of the Federalist Society who has been involved in a number of entities tied to Leo. Bunch is now the president of CRC Advisors, a firm formed by Leo this past January. RLT paid an additional $300,004 to a firm called YAS, LLC for consulting. According to DC government records, the firm is registered to Maria Marshall, a former director of operations at the Federalist Society who currently serves as the vice president of CRC Advisors.

The records for RLT are maintained by Neil Corkery — who, along with his wife, Ann, is a longtime ally of Leo’s and has been tied to some of the largest conservative dark money groups in the country for more than a decade. Neil Corkery’s most notable connection is to two groups called the Wellspring Committee and Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), both 501(c)(4) social welfare groups like RLT. For ten years, from 2008 until its termination in 2018, Wellspring served as little more than a passthrough for anonymous money into politically active nonprofits that spent tens of millions of dollars on elections around the country and, in the case of JCN, judicial nominations. Leo has never personally held a formal position at either group, but he is reportedly closely involved in the fundraising for both groups.

As of last year, JCN operated out of an office on the same hallway as the Federalist Society in downtown Washington, DC. For years, JCN has been funded almost entirely by the Wellspring Committee — which was in turn funded by massive seven- and eight-figure contributions from anonymous donors. In 2016, JCN spent millions to pressure senators to not consider President Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. The following year, it poured millions into the fight to confirm President Trump’s first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, to fill the same seat on the bench. The group’s president, Carrie Severino, tweeted a picture from Gorsuch’s swearing-in in the White House Rose Garden.

In 2018, the cycle repeated for Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, and now JCN is pouring millions into the fight to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Throughout these confirmation contests, Wellspring and JCN have funneled millions of dollars into the BH Group. Leo’s ties to the firm were first identified after he listed it as his employer on a contribution reported to the Federal Election Commission, but the nature of his role in the BH Group has been unclear for years. The Rule of Law Trust filing offers some new details, though. In a note buried deep in the return, RLT reports having reimbursed the BH Group for more than $4.3 million in expenditures that it describes as “independent contractor expenses incurred on behalf of Rule of Law Trust” and notes that BH Group is “more than 35% owned by Leonard Leo.”

But even as the note provides new details, it raises new questions. In particular, it explains that the more than $2.7 million that RLT spent in 2018 was funneled through the BH Group. In other words, it appears that a firm partly owned by the sole trustee of RLT paid all of RLT’s expenses, including $1.8 million in consulting payments to two former Federalist Society associates who now work at a consulting firm founded by the trustee, and then RLT reimbursed that firm for the expenses.

Another question looms even larger, though, stemming from the fact that RLT ended 2018 with more than $78.2 million on hand. What did it actually do with all its money? It’s not clear, and because of the lag in filings for nonprofit groups like this, no 2019 tax return is currently available. The group likely won’t file a 2020 tax return until late 2021. The same goes for the growing number of dark money groups tied to Leo in recent years.

A picture is emerging, but it will take years to sort out. One thing is clear, though: Leo and his allies have amassed a massive war chest of anonymous donations for their fight to remake the federal judiciary.

Oct. 21

Guardian, Revealed: ex-members of Amy Coney Barrett faith group tell of trauma and sexual abuse, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Oct, 21, 2020. People of Praise hire lawyers to investigate historical sexual abuse allegations as former members speak of ‘emotional torment.’ 

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the supreme court has prompted former members of her secretive faith group, the People of Praise, to come forward and share stories about emotional trauma and – in at least one case – sexual abuse they claim to have suffered at the hands of members of the Christian group.
'It instilled such problems': ex-member of Amy Coney Barrett's faith group speaks out.

In the wake of the allegations, the Guardian has learned that the charismatic Christian organization, which is based in Indiana, has hired the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to conduct an “independent investigation” into sexual abuse claims on behalf of People of Praise.

The historic sexual abuse allegations and claims of emotional trauma do not pertain specifically to Barrett, who has been a lifelong member of the charismatic group, or her family.

But some former members who spoke to the Guardian said they were deeply concerned that too little was understood about the “community” of People of Praise ahead of Barrett’s expected confirmation by the Senate next week, after which she will hold the seat formerly held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Two people familiar with the matter say that more than two dozen former members of the faith group, many of whom say they felt “triggered” by Barrett’s nomination, are participating in a support group to discuss how the faith group affected their lives.

“The basic premise of everything at the People of Praise was that the devil controlled everything outside of the community, and you were ‘walking out from under the umbrella of protection’ if you ever left,” said one former member who called herself Esther, who had to join the group as a child but then left the organization. “I was OK with it being in a tiny little corner of Indiana, because a lot of weird stuff happens in tiny little corners in this country. But it’s just unfathomable to me – I can’t even explain just how unfathomable it is – that you would have a supreme court justice who is a card-carrying member of this community.”

Barrett was not asked about her involvement in People of Praise during her confirmation hearings last week, and has never included her involvement with the group in Senate disclosure forms, but has in the past emphasized that her religious faith as a devout Catholic would not interfere with her impartiality.

People of Praise is rooted in the rise of charismatic Christian communities in the late 1960s and 1970s, which blended Pentecostal traditions like speaking in tongues and prophecy with Catholicism. It is an ecumenical group – meaning it accepts members of different Christian churches – though its members are mostly Catholic. Proponents say charismatic Christians are bound together by members’ shared personal presence of Christ, and “empowerment through the Holy Spirit.”

Its handbook emphasizes an insular view of the world, stressing obedience and devotion to other members, and communal living.

Barrett’s father has served as a leader in the community. Barrett was also listed as a “handmaid” in a 2010 directory, or female leader, served as a trustee at a school associated with the group, and has been featured in People of Praise magazines that were removed from the group’s website following her appointment as an appeals court judge in 2017.

The Guardian has confirmed that Barrett lived in a household led by one of the founders of the People of Praise, Kevin Ranaghan, while she was a law student at Notre Dame, and lived with another People of Praise family – Barbette and William Brophy – in Virginia after she graduated.

Proponents of the faith community have said in other press reports that they are misunderstood, and that it is a close-knit community that seeks to support other members “financially and materially and spiritually”.

But former members paint a different picture. Allegations and concerns center on claims of the intense subjugation of women by the community leaders; control of members’ lives and decisions, including marriage, living arrangements, and child rearing; and in one case, the mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse. Members who admit to having gay sex are expelled from the group, which staunchly opposes same-sex marriage.

For Sarah (Mitchell) Kuehl, a 48-year-old former member who grew up in the community, discussions about Barrett’s possible nomination prompted her – after years of trying to figure out how to address it – to send an email on 23 September to Craig Lent, the current head of People of Praise who also works as a professor at Notre Dame. In it, Kuehl claimed she had been sexually abused decades earlier by a “household member”, a male member of “the community” who had lived with the Mitchell family as part of the group’s communal living practices. Single people were expected to be celibate and live in family households which were expected to provide an example of married life, former members say.

After her alleged abuser – who along with her family was technically a member of a precursor group called Servants of the Light/Lord that merged in 1984 with People of Praise – admitted to her father that he had been molesting Kuehl, he was moved to another household and eventually had a marriage “arranged” for him, she said. She was four years old when the abuse began and it lasted for two years. At the time, her family also lived with other single men and women.

“I have struggled for years on whether to hold PoP accountable for what they knew, when they knew it and their attempt to hide and cover up. Like the Catholic church, who covered up and moved priests around, PoP has had a history of these same behaviors,” Kuehl alleged in her email to Lent.

Letters provided to the Guardian by Kuehl dating back to the late 1980s and early 1990s substantiate claims of abuse and attempts by her parents to address the issue with senior leaders of People of Praise. The documents include references to a psychological evaluation of the alleged abuser and confirmation that he did abuse Kuehl. The documents also revealed there were additional victims and that other minors were at risk.

Years later, when Kuehl sought to discuss the issue with her “handmaid” – a female guide and senior member of the organization, when she was at college – she said she was discouraged from talking about it.

“She told me NOT to talk about it with anyone because it could ‘hurt the reputation of the community’,” Kuehl wrote in her letter to Lent.

Weeks later, on 5 October, Lent responded to Kuehl’s email. He wrote: “I am just reaching out to you to let you know that we take this matter very seriously.”

He added: “We very much want to look into this. To that end we have contracted with Diane Doolittle of Quinn Emanuel, who specializes in exactly this sort of investigation. (This took some time to arrange.) I want to stress that, although she is a lawyer, her role is not to defend PoP, but rather she is very much in the role of an independent investigator. We thought that better than trying to investigate it directly ourselves. We want to know the truth of the matter. She will be talking to other people as well.”

Doolittle’s online bio states that she is a Silicon Valley-based trial lawyer who is involved in “high-stakes complex commercial, intellectual property and white collar cases”. She is also listed as having been engaged in “sensitive #MeToo cases, including by conducting corporate internal investigations”.

But People of Praise’s choice is also noteworthy because of Quinn Emanuel’s ties to the White House. William Burck, who serves as Quinn Emanuel’s co-managing partner in Washington DC, has counted Steve Bannon as a client, among others, and was a friend and associate of supreme court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. During Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation hearings, it was Burck – a “Washington super-lawyer” – who was charged with culling Kavanaugh’s documents for review before the Senate hearing.

There is no evidence that Burck has been personally engaged in the People of Praise investigation.

Oct. 17

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Twilight of Trump: Don Was Warned by US Intelligence and NSC Director That Scandal Materials Against Hunter Biden Dished Up by webster tarpley 2007Bannon and Giuliani Were Likely Russian Intelligence Fabrications, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 17, 2020. First Time as Tragedy, Second Time as Farce: Crude Attempt by Trump Gang to Repeat the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal of 2016 Is Failing to Gain Traction, NY Post Exposé Going over Like Lead Balloon; Scant Interest for Umpteenth Warmed-Over Ukrainian Scandal as October Surprise

Another 900,000 First-Time Jobless Claims; Widespread Immiseration Looms for Holiday Season, as Moscow Mitch’s Sabotage of Pandemic Relief Bills Continues; Joni Ernst of Iowa Still Does Not Know the Price of Corn and Soy Beans!

Nightmare Winter of 2020-2021 Now Clearly Visible; Center of Contagion Shifts to Europe; France Hits 32,000 New Cases in One Day; Virus Making Comeback in Italy; Field Hospital Goes Up in Prague, Czech Republic; US Experiences Biggest Flare-Up Since August; Trump Still Catatonic.

Absolute Majority for New Zealand’s Labour Party PM Ardern Running on Platform of Compassion and Successful Measures against Pandemic Is Bad Omen for Trump, Who Utterly Lacks These Capabilities Much in Demand among Voters Everywhere.

Nausea: Low Ratings for Trump’s Town Hall on NBC-CNBC-MSNBC Compared to Biden’s ABC Appearance Point To Widespread Boredom and Disgust For Don’s Macabre and Mendacious Road Show among Beleaguered Voters Who Need Effective Help, Not His Whining and Self-Pity; With His Treatment Cocktail Costing about $140,000, Don’s Promise to Deliver It for Free to Those in Need Is the Hollowest Demagogy Yet; Trump Talks of Fleeing Abroad, but Most Americans Cannot Not Afford the Trip; Biden on Trump: He Has Gone Around the Bend, Is Living in a Dream World.

Oct. 16

Down With Tyranny! Opinion: Greasing the Bench, Skip Kaltenheuser, Oct. 16, 2020. John Grisham, meister of legal thrillers, must look at the Dark Money flying about Supreme Court nominees and think, “You stinking thieves, give me my book plots back!”

In a logical world, in a sane U.S/ Senate resistant to corruption, Senators would give the bum's rush to nominees to the Supreme Court who are being promoted with millions, tens of millions, in dark money.

Dark money, funding not readily traced to the actual donors, slithering through a labyrinth of shell corporations, donor trusts and 501(c)(4) organizations. And slithering around Senators voting on judicial nominee confirmations, not just for the Supreme Court but all Federal judges, whispering rewards and threats when they’re up for re-election. Dark Money groups like the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, flowing into groups like the Federalist Society, which Trump brags picks his judges, and the closely connected Judicial Crisis Network.

sheldon whitehouseDuring Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings for the Supremes, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), right, asked Gorsuch who his angels were who provided seven million dollars to first deny Obama nominee Merrick Garland and then later drop ten million promoting Gorsuch to the bench.

Gorsuch’s reply was that if Whitehouse wanted to know who they were, he should ask them. As if Gorsuch had no idea. And no idea of exactly what his hooded benefactors want from courts.

In backing Brett Kavanaugh, one dark donation alone provided seventeen million.

Many millions are now swirling to promote Amy Coney Barrett. Not to play down the importance of issues like reproductive rights, or the emphasis on preserving even the most meager opportunities for medical coverage, but it’s not hot-button issues that attract the incognito Big Money to such legal eagles of the Ayn Rand brotherhood.

It’s their pro-corporate, anti-regulatory, anti-labor and anti-consumer histories. It’s their willingness to pay close attention to the Amicus briefs from the Big Money’s minions. It’s about suppressing the vote, rigging democracy with gerrymandering, etc.... It’s about insulating industries like fossil fuels, and their Wall Street investors, from accountability for the myriad pollution they knowingly cause. It’s about protecting the interests of those at the top.

And when the banks start making wholesale property grabs again, it’ll be about ushering them along as they ride roughshod over people, as the floodgates open for those tumbling into a fractured, pro-creditor bankruptcy system, peppered with self-serving “trustees”. Wait and see.

As Tom Neuburger recently detailed, Barrett has rung one alarm bell after another that she will be a grim reaper of the rights and protections of workers when they conflict with the Big Money, and injured consumers have little to rejoice about. In her brief time on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Barrett quickly joined the ilk of judges who are black-robed crowbars for prying wide the wealth gap via a legal assembly line of pro-corporate decisions.

David Sirota recently revealed an important case coming before the Supreme Court involving state and municipal government lawsuits against Shell Oil, for which Barrett’s father was a lawyer for decades. Oil companies want the Court to require climate cases be heard in the more corporate-friendly federal courts. Asked about climate change during her hearings, Barrett’s reply was that she does not have “firm views”, “...I’m not really in a position to offer any kind of informed opinion on what I think causes global warming.” How convenient. Isn’t that special? Cue the Church Lady.

During Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Senator Whitehouse schooled the Senate with

.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this riveting presentation. Some of it drew from this 29-page treatise he published in the Harvard Law School Journal on Legislation. Both are worth the time.

Whitehouse revealed 80 cases at the Supreme Court involving an identifiable Republican donor. Astoundingly, damningly, all were decided in the right-wing’s favor in 5-4 decisions. Many whittle down the concept of civil juries. Because why would fat cats suffer standing before a jury not of their board members?

Eighty five-four partisan decisions. People with track records of defying odds like that wouldn’t be allowed through the door of a casino. What the hell are they doing on the Supreme Court?

Oct. 14

American System Network, Opinion: Judge Barrett Discredits Herself with Fantastic Claim She Did Not Know about Trump’s Pledge to Destroy webster tarpley 2007Obamacare/Affordable Care Act, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 14, 2020. She Also Failed to Mention Her Signature on Strident Anti-Roe Petition in Original Questionnaire She Submitted to the Senate;

Many of Her Answers Suggest She Will Function as Handmaid for Trump’s Expected Coup d’État; Moscow Mitch Might Attempt to Pass a Placebo Covid Relief Bill with Minimal Benefits to Relieve Political Pressure on His Beleaguered Members as Collapse of the GOP Senate Majority Looms.

Oct. 13

American System Network, Opinion: In Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Whitehouse and Dem Members Slam “Slap Dash” Hearings Called in Obedience to webster tarpley 2007GOP Megadonors Despite Pandemic, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 13, 2020. Extremist Ideologue Amy Barrett: “Judicial Torpedo” to Destroy the Affordable Care Act; Her Protestations of Impartiality Reek of Hypocrisy; Dems Seek to Flip One Seat on Committee or Two Seats for Floor Vote to Stop Barrett Nomination.

sheldon whitehouseSen. Whitehouse, left, Exposes Sinister Machinery Which Has Produced Trump’s Judicial Nominees; The Federalist Society Has Been Decisive in Picking Judges, with Judicial Crisis Network Campaigning to Get Them Confirmed, with the Creation of Desired Case Opportunities and Orchestration of Phalanxes of Friend of the Court Briefs Telling Judges How to Vote in Key Cases; Goals of This Apparatus Include Allowing Unlimited Anonymous Dark Money in Campaigns; Marginalizing the Jury in Civil Cases; Weakening Regulation and Regulatory Agencies; and Relentlessly Eroding Voting Rights; Supremes Give Trump Permission to Halt Census at Once; Sotomayor Dissents, Citing Irreparable Harm Involved.

The Defeat of Trump and the Extinction of the Republican Party Loom Closer: Carville Argues That Democrats May Capture Georgia Legislature, Creating a Blue State on the Eve of Re-Apportionment; Cornyn in Trouble in Texas; Alaska Seen as Longshot Possibility for Dems; Veteran Operative Forecasts Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio Results Will Be Known by 10:30 PM Eastern on Election Day, Eliminating Trump from Contention with No Chance to Game the Courts!

Oct. 12

 

 anders tegnell beer aftonbladet may 28 2020 stockholm

Anders Tegnell, the architect of the Swedish Coronavirus strategy, relaxing at an outdoor bar in Stockholm, May 28, 2020. By that time, Sweden had recorded the highest Covid-19 deaths per capita in Europe. (Aftonbladet)

The Indicter, Opinion: Why Swedish herd immunity model should not be followed; Analysis of the Covid-19 case fatality rate in Sweden and neighbouring countries, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Oct. 12, 2020. Dr. Marcello Ferrada de Noli is a professor emeritus of epidemiology, formerly at Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and at Harvard Medical School. His is Chair, Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR). He has studied Sweden’s response to the virus and advises countries elsewhere to reject the neoliberal model and survive instead.

The elderly have comprised the vast majority of Covid-19 fatalities in Sweden, either dying in care homes or their own residence, often alone.

By mid-May 2020, only 13 percent of the care home victims had received treatment at Swedish hospitals. In August 2020, only five percent of the Covid-19 patients admitted for treatment at Swedish hospitals came from care home facilities.

Sweden has by far the highest proportion of deaths among confirmed Corona cases in the Nordic countries. Let’s look into the possible reasons.

Herd Immunity

International comparisons of the Covid-19 situation may help to assess the efficacy of the different strategies used by developed countries’ health authorities.

Such strategies may have been assimilated by some countries formerly known as “Third World” because of continued economic dependency; the praxis of attributing superior technical know-how in matters of public health to countries seen as more economically developed still exists in some governing circles.

For this reason, populations in Latin America and Africa and other regions have been ruthlessly targeted with propaganda by developed countries promoting their epidemiological methods.

In Europe, Italy was the first country to apply the “lockdown” approach. At the start of the “second wave” it had one of the lowest incidences of new Covid-19 cases.

The model presented as alternative is “herd immunity,” most associated with Sweden’s neoliberal interpretation of it.

Economy First

The idea here is to prioritize the economy: no closing factories, schools, or restaurants. Sweden’s Public Health Agency’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said, “if we close the schools we would lose 25 percent of the labour force” (parents would have to stay at home).

He has also stated, “herd immunity is the one thing which eventually will stop the spread of this virus.” In the words of Johan Giesecke, the agency’s senior adviser, herd immunity strategy would consist of “letting the virus pass through the population.”

In response to the international criticism that ensued, the Swedish government tried to distance itself from the term but in practice the strategy has not changed.

Sweden’s ambassador to the U.S. declared that “Stockholm could reach herd immunity by May.” However, five months’ later this has not been achieved, and Sweden’s economy has suffered just as much, if not more, than its neighbors who used lockdown measures.

The epidemiological indicators I present below expose the flawed, not to say macabre, effects of the Swedish exporting model.

The message to other nations is: Don’t buy it. Survive instead.

What Do We Need?

Don’t follow the herd immunity model. To decimate SARS-cov-2 what we do need is a vaccine. What countries in disarray need is to start with available vaccination programs.

By adopting a Swedish public-health model, you may be serving a political establishment whose remits are greed, corporate economic power and adherence to its own interpretation of what democracy should mean.

For what is democracy in the context of this debate? Who shall ultimately decide the domestic strategy of a problem threatening the life of every single citizen of a country?

Democratic decisions are built on the participation of all, and in the interests of all, ensuring all voices are heard. In my experience, this is not the case in Sweden.

The findings of this work were refused publication by Swedish mainstream newspapers. They prefer, instead, to control discourse, permitting only mild criticism, which serves the authorities in the current Covid-19 debate.

This new Ikea-wrapped neoliberal concept of democracy, should not be unpacked by countries in Latin-America, Africa and other latitudes. There, a dignified formula for democracy should preclude the Swedish praxis of how – without the participation of the demos (Greek for “people”), those in power exercise the kratos (“rule”) to politically benefit themselves.

American System Network, Opinion: Barrett’s Fanatical Hostility to Affordable Care Act/Obamacare Is Threat to Lives and Health of 20 Million Who Are Insured webster tarpley 2007through Exchanges, Webster G. Tarpley, Oct. 12, 2020. 17 Million Insured under Medicaid Expansion, and 129 Million Who Need Protection for Pre-Existing Conditions, GOP Senators Attempt Diversions by Railing at Non-Existent Anti-Catholic Campaign.

Biden Leads Trump by 12 Points in ABC-WaPo Poll; Trump Behind by 8 in Michigan; Biden Ahead by 10 in Wisconsin; Trump’s Itinerary Shows His Weak Points of Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Iowa; Biden on the Offensive, Campaigns among Workers in Ohio; Former Trump Voter: “He Lies Like a Rug”

Barrett’s Doctrines of Originalism and Textualism Are Varieties of Bankrupt Legal Positivism and the Rejection of Natural Law as Summarized in Preamble; Her Preference for Formalism and Contempt for Outcomes, Results and Justice Are an Open Door for Dismantling Health Care and Roe, after Rubber-Stamping Trump’s November Coup!

Oct. 11

dar leaf william null fox 17 

Dar Leaf, far right, sheriff of Barry County in Michigan, praises right-wing militia member William Null, at left, and his armed cohorts at a rally in May. Null was arrested last week in what federal and state authorities described as a plot to kidnap and murder Michigan Gov. Gretchen Witmar (D) for their claims she had committed "treason" by ordering safeguards against the pandemic virus. Leaf says he did not know about any plan for kidnap and murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Arrests in alleged plot against Mich. governor bring new attention to state’s history of extremist groups, Abigail Hauslohner, Matt Zapotosky, Kayla Ruble and Devlin Barrett, Oct. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Michigan has a unique history as a hotbed for self-proclaimed militia groups that blend a variety of ideologies and grievances but share an overarching antipathy toward the government, a sentiment that is sometimes shared even by local law enforcement.

Speaking to a crowd gathered in Grand Rapids, Mich., in May to protest coronavirus restrictions, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf pointed to William Null, a beefy man in tactical gear carrying a big gun, and declared, “This is our last home defense right here, ladies and gentlemen.”

Leaf’s declaration, which drew chants of “USA! USA!” from the crowd of hundreds that day, highlights Michigan’s unique history as a hotbed for self-proclaimed militia groups that blend a variety of ideologies and grievances but share an overarching antipathy toward the government, a sentiment that is sometimes shared even by local law enforcement.

This past week, Null and a dozen other men were arrested on a variety of charges ranging from supporting terrorist acts to plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) — bringing new attention to such groups of well-armed men.

According to court papers, Null was part of a group that called itself the Wolverine Watchmen, and they engaged in regular firearms training and discussed a variety of potential attacks on law enforcement, the state capital complex, and the governor.

dar leaf oAccused leader of governor kidnap plot was struggling financially, living in basement storage space

Leaf,shown in an official photo — who knew Null to be the founder of a different group called the Michigan Liberty Militia — said he was generally supportive of self-styled militias, which he said often grow in numbers when people feel their rights are threatened. He sought to distinguish what such groups do from the allegations against Null and the others.

“There’s your militia duties, and if they did what they’re accused of doing, those are not militia duties,” said the sheriff, adding he was shocked by the charges. “I did not see this coming. Had I caught wind they were even talking about this, I would have stopped it immediately.”

Amy Coney Barrett (2018 photo via Rachel Malehorn via Creative Commons and Wikimedia)Judge Amy Coney Barrett (shown at right in a 2018 photo by Rachel Malehorn via Creative Commons and Wikimedia)

washington post logoWashington Post, How Amy Coney Barrett played a role in Bush v. Gore — and helped the GOP defend mail ballots, Beth Reinhard and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Amy Coney Barrett was just three years out of law school, a 28-year-old associate at a boutique Washington law firm, when she was dispatched to Florida to help George W. Bush’s legal team rescue thousands of Republican absentee ballots.

The litigation was a sidebar to the central drama of the 2000 presidential contest, but a loss in the case could have cost Bush the presidency.

At issue were thousands of absentee ballot request forms in Martin County — just north of Palm Beach County, home of the notorious “butterfly ballot” — that had missing voter registration information.

After county officials allowed the GOP to take the forms back and fill in the missing information, a Democratic voter sued, saying ballots cast by those voters should be tossed out. The county canvassing board, the Florida Republican Party and the Bush campaign argued that the votes should still count.

Barrett’s work on the case serves as a reminder of how aggressively the Republican Party has sought to harness mail voting for years, in contrast to President Trump’s relentless attacks on the practice.

This year, the Trump campaign and Republicans in Iowa have pushed to invalidate tens of thousands of absentee ballot applications with missing information that had been filled in by county officials.

“It’s the very antithesis of what we were arguing to the courts back then,” said Daryl Bristow, who represented the Bush campaign in the Martin County absentee ballot case and a related suit in nearby Seminole County. “We were trying to keep voters from being disenfranchised.”

As both parties brace for the possibility of another contested election that Trump has suggested could go to the high court, the previously unreported role of his Supreme Court nominee in the absentee ballot fight is more than a historical footnote. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh also played a role in Bush v. Gore — meaning that if Barrett is confirmed, three of the nine justices will have participated in litigation related to the only presidential contest to be decided by the high court.

“Here we are, two decades after Bush v. Gore, and it’s as if it was yesterday,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor. “It divided the nation 20 years ago, and it’s amazing how it continues to be a specter in national politics.”

supreme court building

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The Senate Judiciary Committee dynamics that will shape Amy Coney Barrett’s hearings, Amber Phillips, Oct. 11, 2020 (print ed.).  Before the Senate votes on whether to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, she has to undergo public vetting before 22 senators. They make up the Senate Judiciary Committee, which must approve her nomination so it can go to the Senate floor.

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoBarrett, right, will testify before them committee starting Monday. Her confirmation hearings are going ahead despite concerns about the coronavirus outbreak that has infected many Trump administration officials and allies, including a couple committee members. Republicans are also speeding ahead despite public opinion polls that show Americans would rather let the winner of the November election pick the next Supreme Court justice. Barrett could be confirmed by Election Day.

Barrett is likely to face a friendly audience of Judiciary Committee Republicans and extremely critical Democrats. Here are six things to know about the committee. 1. There are politically vulnerable Republicans on the committee.

 

julian assange facts wikileaks Custom

OpEdNews, Opinion: A horror story in 2 parts (Part II): A Travesty of Justice as UK Caters to US Desire to Crush Assange, Ron Ridenour, Oct. oenearthlogo11, 2020. The second indictment of alleged violations of the Espionage Act belatedly filed by the US against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, shown above, actually should not include him since there is no contention that he spied for any warring enemy, nor is he a U.S. citizen or resident, which the 1917 law targeted.

The original indictment focused on allegations that Assange had criminally aided Chelsea Manning in "hacking" into and downloading secret documents that show U.S. war crimes. That case went sour when the government prosecutors could not find any evidence. Furthermore, Manning (at that time while known as Bradley Manning) was a private in the US Army working in Iraq as an intelligence analyst and was authorized to download those documents so she had no need of assistance from Assange.

Hence the second indictment admitted Assange is a publisher, but claimed he had put government informant lives in danger - a different crime. Ample defense evidence was presented showing how Assange had carefully redacted the names of informants. Some names were mentioned by The Guardian and other mass media, but that was because of a choice by those editors who chose not redact their names.

Part of the prosecution's case was now built on Assange's ordering 18-year-old Sigurdur Thordarson to hack into Iceland politicians' phone conversations. Even if earlier charges fell apart, the new allegation could still form grounds for extradition. The new charges included using FBI informant Thordarson, but he had been convicted in Iceland for fraud, embezzlement, and impersonating Assange. He served time in an Icelandic prison, and was diagnosed as a sociopath. Significantly, Iceland has not sought to prosecute Assange or Wikileaks for any crime.

In 2010-11, Thordarson worked with Wikileaks first as a volunteer and for some months on staff. In August, 2011, he contacted the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik to give them information about Assange and Wikileaks. Eight FBI agents and a prosecutor flew to Iceland in a private jet to interview him. The Icelandic government had the courage to tell them to leave, fearing that the FBI and a mole sought to frame Assange. The FBI took their pigeon to ever-compliant Denmark to interview him. They did this several times.

In 2013-5, Thordarson was also tried for various sexual offenses, promising boys from 15-20 years of age cars and money in exchange for sex. This is the man whom the U.S. government had as its key witness in the new indictment. The UK hearing judge appeared to have no problem with that.

Another problem with the government's admitting that Assange is a publisher is that under the US Constitution's First Amendment journalist-publishers have special protection against prosecution for engaging in free-speech and press activities. So, in another change of tactic, the US government now interprets the Espionage Act to mean that anyone, journalists and publishers alike, can be charged with crimes of violating the Espionage Act. That includes any and all media personnel in the entire world - perhaps ordinary citizens too, who simply access Wikileaks materials. It's a fact that journalists and editors and publishers the world over who have been ignoring or misreporting on this case should be paying close heed to because of the dangerous precedent it is setting.

Edward Snowden wrote about reading former British ambassador Craig Murray's daily accounts of court proceedings: "Read this and tell me the show trial of Assange doesn't read like something from Kafka. The judge permits the charges to be changed so frequently the defense doesn't know what they are. The most basic needs are denied. No one can hear what the defendant says-a farce."

Oct. 9

OpEdNews, Opinion: A horror story in two parts -- Part I: Will England Send Assange-the-Messenger to America's Dungeons? Ron Ridenour, Oct. 9, 2020.  Most oenearthlogopeople might be excused for not knowing it, because the story is mainly ignored, or is shamelessly misreported in the corporate media when it does get any attention. A courageous Australian journalist, abandoned by his own country, is being railroaded by a British court towards extradition to the US where he could face life in prison in solitary confinement for the "crime of espionage"-exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks have revealed for the whole world to see is the systematic devastation of peoples, of lands, and perennial military pollution of planet earth. The main perpetrator is the most powerful and self-declared "greatest democratic nation" in the world, the United States of America-accompanied by its European and Commonwealth vassal states, plus proxy allies in the Middle East and Zionist Israel.

The villainous perpetrators are the prosecutors. The truth-telling hero is their prisoner.

That is what the British extradition hearing holding Julian Assange's fate in its hands is all about. The testimony aspect of the court case has ended after four grueling weeks. While awaiting closing arguments and the judge's decision, the truth-teller is forced to deteriorate in a prison cell where he has been languishing for 18 months.

The defense and prosecution are now preparing for closing arguments, which, however, will not be held orally. The public will be denied court interaction. The extradition judge, Vanessa Baraitser, will take only written arguments on November 16. She will make her ruling on extradition January 4, 2021.

Magistrate Baraitser noted in this purportedly "non-political" court case that the election might have an impact on the hearing. She said, "I agree that one way or the other my decision will come after an election in the United States. For that reason, I find no reason not to give you the four weeks," to prepare closing arguments, she told the arguing parties.

Assange and his publication Wikileaks have not murdered anyone. Nevertheless, Assange is treated as a dangerous criminal, because he and his staff have published well over 10 million government/military secret documents showing crimes and corruption of scores of governments, above all how the United States, with its always faithful "United" Kingdom, have committed massive war crimes during their "war on terror". This three-decade-long war has resulted in the deaths of three to five million humans, and forced between 37 and 58 million to flee their bombed out countries seeking refuge in neighboring countries and in Europe.

Wikileaks' disclosures are clearly in the "public interest". Yet the public's interest is not allowed as evidence in United States grand jury courts nor in the British courts created as part of the Magna Carta-heralded by "Lord" "Baron" "King's Counsel" Alfred Thompson Denning as "the greatest constitutional document of all times - the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot". The Magna Carta is a forbearer to the U.S. Constitution.

Julian Assange has been held in isolation 23 hours every day at Belmarsh high-security prison since he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy, in London, on April 11, 2019. This was just the beginning of a "charade of justice", as former British ambassador Craig Murray has called court proceedings against Julian. (1)

President Donald Trump successfully pressured, or to put it more accurately bribed, Ecuador's new president, Lenin Moreno, to expel Assange from its embassy in London. Moreno also expunged Assange's Ecuadoran citizenship. In return, the U.S. saw to it that Ecuador got a much-needed loan from the International Monetary Fund, and improved trade deals. Ecuador would realign its foreign policy to meet U.S. terms, such as recognizing Juan Guadió as the self-declared president of Venezuela, and have Ecuador's troops trained by the U.S.

Moreno also met with Trump in Washington D.C. Trump and about what he termed this "great meeting," said, "We're working on military options including the purchase of a lot of our military equipment."

Upon expulsion (actually more of a kidnapping by British Metropolitan police) from Ecuador's embassy, Assange was immediately convicted of jumping bail. He had been given 15 minutes with his lawyer before the hearing. A judge called him a narcissist. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in the country's hardest prison.

JFK Assassination Analysis

vincent salandria resized

Vincent Salandria, an attorney and pioneering researcher into flaws in the Warren Commission's 1964 report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is shown above in a file photo. He died this summer in Philadelphia. His works include, via People and the Pursuit of Truth (via Ratical), The Design of the Warren Report to Fall to Pieces, April, 1977.

Kennedys and King, Sylvia Meagher and Clay Shaw vs. Jim Garrison, James DiEugenio, below left, Oct. 9, 2020. Having recently recounted Vincent Salandria's faithful jim dieugenio filesupport of Jim Garrison, Jim DiEugenio now examines Sylvia Meagher's own relationship to Jim Garrison and her unflinching defense of Clay Shaw to the point of stubbornly refusing to consider the last year and a half of Garrison’s investigation and files.

In writing my elegy for Vincent Salandria, I reviewed his career in the JFK field, cataloguing his achievements and his characteristics as a critic — the first critic — of the Warren Report.

In reviewing that impressive record, I was again struck by his personal relationship and his lifelong fairness to New Orleans DA Jim Garrison. What made this aspect more salient was something I may have underplayed in my article: Salandria spent decades as a practicing attorney in Philadelphia. In my article, I noted that Vince was a high school teacher in 1964 when he encountered Arlen Specter talking about the Warren Report at a Philadelphia bar association event. That was true, but Salandria taught part time. He practiced law in the afternoons, and after he retired as a teacher, he worked for the Philadelphia school system as an attorney.

Salandria had attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. That university is a member of the Ivy League and their law school is habitually rated in the top ten of the US News and World Report rankings in the field. (For 2021, they are rated number 7).

Therefore, Salandria was one of the few early critics who was also a lawyer. In fact, in the early critical period of 1964–66, aside from Mark Lane, he may have been the only one. This placed him in a position to not only understand more precisely what the Warren Commission had done with the evidence, but jim garrisonalso to understand what Jim Garrison, right, was up against when he began his criminal investigation in New Orleans. As I noted in my requiem, Salandria told me that at his first personal meeting with Garrison he told him he probably would not succeed in his attempt to flush out the conspiracy by beginning at the lower level and leveraging them against the upper level. But he would be able to learn something about the plot by the acts of those who would try and interfere with his inquiry.

With what the Assassination Records and Review Board declassified about New Orleans in this regard, Salandria — as he usually was — proved to be prescient in that prediction. For as we now know, very soon after Garrison’s investigation was made public, the CIA was recruiting local attorneys in New Orleans to defend certain suspects and defendants (e.g. lawyers like James Quaid, Edward Baldwin, and Steve Plotkin).

In September, at the request of Director Richard Helms, the Agency assembled its first meeting of the Garrison Group. At that meeting, Ray Rocca, James Angleton’s first assistant, declared that if things were to proceed as they were, Clay Shaw, would be convicted. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, second edition, p. 270) The meeting was convened by Helms in order to consider the implications of Garrison’s actions before during and after the trial of  Shaw, left. clay shawFrom the declassified record, the result was that certain counter measures were now taken to obstruct, cripple, and negate Garrison’s inquiry (e.g. blocking service of subpoenas, flipping witnesses, recruiting infiltrators). (Ibid, pp. 271–85)

I should add here another key action taken by the Agency around this time. In April of 1967, they issued worldwide a memorandum which was titled “Countering Criticism of the Warren Report”. This memo was essentially a call to action to all station chiefs to use their assets in order to attack the critics of the Commission. It even outlined techniques to use in the attacks, for instance: accuse them of being interested in monetary gain, of having been biased from the start, or of having leftist political orientation. As author Lance deHaven Smith has noted, it was around this time that the New York Times began to use the phrase “conspiracy theorist” in a much more profuse and pernicious manner than before.

cia logoLater — in July of 1968 — the CIA distributed an attack article on Jim Garrison which had been written by Edward Epstein and published in The New Yorker. The memo advised all station chiefs to use the article in order to brief any political leaders; or assign it to assets in order to counter any attacks. This important memo, and the article’s author, should be kept in mind as we progress.

Since Salandria predicted that things like the above would occur, and since he visited Garrison in New Orleans and served as an advisor for the Shaw trial, he appreciated what Garrison was doing in the face of the forces arrayed against him. Some others who did so were Mark Lane, Penn Jones, Maggie Field, Ray Marcus, and, at the time, Harold Weisberg. (Lane and Weisberg were actually working with the DA.)

But there was a prominent Commission critic who, quite early, did not appreciate the warnings Salandria had issued about what Garrison was doing or the countermeasures taken against him. That critic was Sylvia Meagher, below left, of New York. At a rather early date, she staked out a position that separated her from the above writers and researchers. She also fostered a counter-movement in the critical community against Garrison. That movement would eventually include Josiah Thompson, Peter Scott, Paul Hoch, and, later, Anthony Summers.

sylvia meagherI am going to say some adverse things about Meagher in this regard, but I want to make it clear at the outset that none of this should detract from her achievements in the field. Her subject indexes to both the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee volumes were and are valuable assets to the research community. Her critique of the Warren Commission, Accessories After the Fact, is still one of the signal achievements in the literature on the case.

It is one thing to expose a patently phony murder investigation, especially one that furnished the critic with 26 volumes of testimony and exhibits in order to dismantle itself — since so much of the 26 volumes contradicted, or at least compromised, the conclusions in the report. It’s quite another to try and find out what actually happened in a complex political assassination and what the smoke and mirrors were all about.

As Vincent Salandria once said, the Warren Report was just too easy to tear apart  -- to the point that he came to think that it was designed to collapse [as argued in his 1977 article, The Design of the Warren Report to Fall to Pieces, cited above].

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September

Sept. 27

djt cpac 2017 gage skidmore

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Facing possible defeat, Trump threatens the integrity of the election, Dan Balz, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). His relentless campaign against mail-in ballots seeds the ground for chaos or worse when votes are still being counted in the days after Nov. 3. Each week has brought evidence of the damage President Trump has done during his nearly four years in office. According to his own words, he is not finished. This past week brought a renewed warning of a harm he could yet inflict on the integrity of elections.

The president did more than simply refuse to pledge that he would facilitate a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to former vice president Joe Biden, though that in itself was a step no previous president has taken. In doing so, he escalated his ongoing attack on mail-in ballots, seeding the ground to contest the election as rigged or fraudulent if he is not the winner and to propel the country into chaos.

Perhaps what Trump said merely reflected the mind-set of a president who knows he is running behind in his bid for a second term, one more rhetorical flailing to somehow throw the opposition off balance and to distract from the real reasons for Biden’s lead in the polls. But this close to the election, anything Trump does to question the validity of the count should be regarded as serious and treated as such.

Republicans who normally stand by idle when the president says or does something outrageous pushed back against his words — though, notably, nearly all were careful neither to rebuke nor condemn the president personally. They simply pointed to a long history of peaceful transfers from one presidency to the next and stood up for the Constitution, which is the minimum expected of elected officials who have sworn an oath to defend that document.

washington post logojoe biden 2020 button CustomWashington Post, Biden maintains lead over Trump as support from women fuels ex-vice president’s advantage, Post-ABC poll finds, Dan Balz and Emily Guskin, Sept. 27, 2020. After two political conventions, the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, economic dislocation, more racial upheaval and a coming battle over a Supreme Court vacancy, the race for the White House remains stable, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a steady advantage over President Trump, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump stoked more doubt on mail-in ballots and raised the prospect of Congress deciding a disputed election, Michael D. Shear and Michael Crowley, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump sought again on Saturday night to cast doubt on the integrity of the presidential election, telling supporters that the only way Democrats can win in Pennsylvania is to “cheat on the ballots” and raising the prospect that a disputed election could be decided by Congress.

djt pence yard sign logoPressing his baseless case that the election in November will be a “disaster,” Mr. Trump said at a rally just outside a hangar at the Harrisburg airport that he would have “an advantage” if Congress were to decide.

The comments, delivered in drizzling rain, were part of the president’s continuing effort to discredit the United States’ election process as he trails former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic rival.

“I don’t want to end up in the Supreme Court, and I don’t want to go back to Congress, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress. Does everyone understand that?” Mr. Trump told supporters. “I think it’s 26 to 22 or something.”

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Voters Believe Winner of Election Should Fill Court Vacancy, Poll Shows, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Sept. 27, 2020. A clear majority of voters believes the next president should fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll; Joe Biden retained a lead over President Trump, 49 to 41 percent.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosMore striking, the voters Mr. Trump and endangered Senate Republicans must reclaim to close the gap in the polls are even more opposed to a hasty pick: 62 percent of women, 63 percent of independents and 60 percent of college-educated white voters said they wanted the winner of the campaign to fill the seat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amy Coney Barrett, a disciple of Justice Scalia, is poised to push the Supreme Court further right, Michael Kranish, Robert Barnes, Shawn Boburg and Ann E. Marimow, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). If Barrett is confirmed, her vote on cases involving health care, abortion, immigration, gun control and many other issues could prove decisive.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning, Dana Milbank, right, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). For five years, my colleagues and I have taken pains dana milbank Customto avoid Nazi comparisons. It is usually hyperbolic, and counterproductive, to label the right “fascists” in the way those on the right reflexively label the left “socialists.” But this is no longer a matter of name-calling.

With his repeated refusals this week to accept the peaceful transfer of power — the bedrock principle that has sustained American democracy for 228 years — President Trump has put the United States, in some ways, where Germany was in 1933, when Adolf Hitler used the suspicious burning of the German parliament to turn a democracy into a totalitarian state.

Overwrought, you say? Then ask Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a top authority on Nazism and Stalinism. “The Reichstag has been on a slow burn since June,” he told me. “The language Trump uses to talk about Black Lives Matter and the protests is very similar to the language Hitler used — that there’s some vague left-wing conspiracy based in the cities that is destroying the country.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Amy Coney Barrett and the New, Old Anti-Catholicism, Elizabeth Bruenig, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Critics of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee argue that pious Catholics are a problem for liberalism. They have a point.

In 2017, when Judge Barrett was appointed as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, she faced a tense confirmation hearing in which Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously remarked that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” A mother of seven and a devoted Roman Catholic, Judge Barrett has continued to field concerns about whether she will be able or willing to resist the expectations of her church when it comes to cases involving relevant moral issues, and whether she will cater to the wishes of People of Praise, a mostly Catholic ecumenical organization with a distinctly traditional bent, of which she is a member.

The scrutiny focused on Judge Barrett’s beliefs has provoked allegations of old-fashioned anti-Catholicism on behalf of her Democratic critics.

But the animosity faced by Catholics in today’s America has little in common with its direct predecessor. Real sex-abuse scandals have replaced the imaginary ones circulated in the lurid tracts of yesteryear. White Catholics are no longer subject to the religious bigotry that once animated vicious rumors and, occasionally, violent attacks on Catholics and their places of learning and worship. Rather than regenerating a long-vanquished prejudice, Judge Barrett’s nomination has merely renewed attention to a fundamental conflict, centuries underway, between Catholicism and the American ethos.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s pick for high court could be seated before election day, Anne Gearan, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Judge Amy Coney Barrett is expected to be confirmed swiftly by the Republican-majority Senate to fill the vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

President Trump announced Saturday that he will nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, a choice that would lock a conservative majority on the high court and that could help turn out Republican voters in the election less than six weeks away.

Barrett, 48, would fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, preserving the court’s gender balance of three women and six men while potentially tipping its ideological balance for decades.

Trump introduced Barrett in a Rose Garden ceremony attended by a who’s who of Republicans and conservative activists, a reminder that shifting the Supreme Court to the ideological right has been a decades-long focus for Republicans.

Neither Trump nor Barrett wore face masks as recommended by public health officials to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and few in the crowd did either. Guests were seated close together, rather than the recommended six feet apart, and hugged and kissed one another.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prayer march draws thousands to the Mall seeking healing for the nation, Michelle Boorstein and and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Sept. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Thousands of Christians gathered on the Mall in Washington on Saturday, waving U.S. flags, kneeling in small prayer circles alongside monuments, singing and listening to speakers who called on the nation to come together and heal.

Two groups — one organized by New Jersey-based pastor and popular author Jonathan Cahn, the other led by Evangelist Franklin Graham — emphasized slightly different objectives but came with a shared focus central to many millions of Christian conservatives: repairing a country they say is in the midst of a spiritual crisis.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Fifty-seven percent, BD Holly, Sept. 27, 2020. Fifty-seven percent. In US politics, that’s called a landslide. Except I’m not talking about an election — I’m talking about how many people think the election winner should take the late Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. The ABC News/Washington Post Poll is clear. This country doesn’t want Trump to choose the next justice unless absolutely necessary.

And it shouldn’t be surprising. Trump’s nomination, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, would be the fifth current Supreme Court justice nominated by a president who didn’t even win the popular vote. That’s frankly disgusting. The framers of the Constitution agreed on the electoral college to ensure smaller states would have a chance at having their voices heard, but this has become so warped that we’re quite literally having to live under the tyranny of the minority.

What’s worse is that Judge Barrett is deeply, fastidiously conservative. Her agenda isn’t a secret either. She’s written about how she believes Catholicism should affect a judge’s decision-making — something made all the more harrowing by the fact that she’s a member of a secretive Catholic fundamentalist group that’s been likened to a cult. On top of this, she has written about how she thinks stare decisis — which is a judicial principle that legal precedent should guide a court’s decision and is critical to keeping justice fair and consistent — is a “soft rule,” with constitutional cases being the “easiest to overrule.”

Taken together, Judge Barrett’s extremist beliefs and her lack of respect for the most basic principles of jurisprudence would position the Supreme Court’s 6-3 majority not just “to the right,” but “to the Bronze Age.” Again, fifty-seven percent of Americans want the winner of the presidential election to choose the next Supreme Court justice. That too was Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish. If the Senate confirms Judge Barrett, it would be a punch in the face of the American people and a torch to the monument of Justice Ginsburg’s incredible achievements.

Sept. 26

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Selects Amy Coney Barrett to Fill Ginsburg’s Seat on the Supreme Court, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Updated Sept. 26, 2020. President Trump has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the favorite candidate of conservatives, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and will try amy coney barrett headshot notre dame phototo force Senate confirmation before Election Day in a move that would significantly alter the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court for years.

Mr. Trump plans to announce on Saturday that she is his choice, according to six people close to the process who asked not to be identified disclosing the decision in advance. As they often do, aides cautioned that Mr. Trump sometimes upends his own plans.

But he is not known to have interviewed any other candidates and came away from two days of meetings with Judge Barrett this week impressed with a jurist he was told would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice she once clerked for. On Friday night, Judge Barrett was photographed getting out of her car outside her home in South Bend, Ind.

The president’s political advisers hope the selection will energize his conservative political base in the thick of an election campaign in which he has for months been trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger. But it could also rouse liberal voters afraid that her confirmation could spell the end of Roe v. Wade, the decision legalizing abortion, as well as other rulings popular with the political left and center.

The nomination will kick off an extraordinary scramble by Senate Republicans to confirm her for the court in the 38 days before the election on Nov. 3, a scenario unlike any in American history. While other justices have been approved in presidential election years, none has been voted on after July. Four years ago, Senate Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination to replace Justice Scalia with Judge Merrick B. Garland, announced 237 days before Election Day, on the grounds that it should be left to whoever was chosen as the next president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Politics Live Update: Justice Ginsburg becomes first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, John Wagner, ruth bader ginsburg scotusSept. 25, 2020. Democratic nominee Joe Biden is paying his respects Friday to the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she becomes the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, while President Trump puts in a full day on the campaign trail with stops in Florida, Georgia and Virginia and a fundraiser at his hotel in Washington.

Meanwhile, controversy continues over Trump’s refusal to commit to the peaceful transition of power and his repeated attempts to undermine the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, even as he urges his own supporters to take advantage of absentee voting ahead of Election Day.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows lashed out at FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, a Trump appointee, for his assessment during congressional testimony that the United States has not experienced large-scale voter fraud by mail or other means.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s executive order goes completely off the rails, Ron Leshnower, Sept. 26, 2020. On Thursday in North Carolina, Donald Trump announced something surreal: he was signing an executive order to offer Americans something they already have and that he has been desperately trying to take away.

Trump’s order promises a “steadfast commitment to always protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions”—even while the Department of Justice is suing to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the law that accomplishes this. While this announcement was both ridiculous and insulting, the other big headline from Trump’s speech has already blossomed into a full-blown scandal.

bill palmer report logo headerPromoting his latest snake oil known as the America First Healthcare Plan, Trump boasted that “33 million Medicare beneficiaries will soon receive a card in the mail containing $200 that they can use to help pay for prescription drugs.” The clueless fool was surely hoping that his pandering would win over seniors on Election Day. Instead, Trump’s brashness and ignorance about how government works threw a big question mark onto his plans.

Trump’s half-baked promise has an odd backstory. After months of difficult negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices were nearing success, they broke down after Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted the companies pay to send $100 gift cards for all seniors. Even though Meadows seemed to promise that Trump’s name would not appear on the cards, the companies refused to go along, citing the political optics plus the fact it’s just a lame idea, according to a report from the New York Times.

Rather than shelve the plan and heed the industry’s advice, Trump (of course) chose to proceed and double down, promising seniors a $200 card courtesy of Uncle Sam. Apparently, Trump’s plan was to leave the details about the card’s legality and affordability to his surprised underlings, who have since been finding more blockades and hurdles than Trump could have imagined. These expensive cards (carrying a total value of $6.6 billion) may wind up getting paid out of Medicare’s quickly diminishing trust fund, which could result in even higher premiums for seniors, according to an analysis by Slate.

If this latest Trump boondoggle somehow manages to move forward, White House officials now admit most seniors wouldn’t get their money until after Election Day, according to reporting from Inside Health Policy. So, Trump now risks that seniors might rethink their vote if their assistance doesn’t arrive “soon,” as he promised. Americans deserve honest and thoughtful leaders whom they can trust. The Biden-Harris administration stands ready to deliver for the American people, and they deserve our enthusiastic votes on November 3.

 

Amy Coney Barrett (2018 photo via Rachel Malehorn via Creative Commons and Wikimedia)

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (2018 photo via Rachel Malehorn via Creative Commons and Wikimedia)

The Guardian via Yahoo, Analysis: Amy Coney Barrett: spotlight falls on secretive Catholic group People of Praise, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Sept. 26, 2020. Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court, to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has drawn attention to a secretive Catholic “covenant community” called People of Praise that counts Barrett as a member and faces claims of adhering to a “highly authoritarian” structure.

The 48-year-old appellate court judge has said she is a “faithful Catholic” but that her religious beliefs would not “bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge”.

At the same time, the Louisiana native and Notre Dame Law graduate, a favorite among Trump’s evangelical Christian base, has said legal careers ought not to be seen as means of gaining satisfaction, prestige or money, but rather “as a means to the end of serving God”.

Interviews with experts who have studied charismatic Christian groups such as People of Praise, and with former members of the group, plus a review of the group’s own literature, reveal an organization that appears to dominate some members’ everyday lives, in which so-called “heads” – or spiritual advisers – make big life decisions, and in which members are expected to financially support one another.

Married women – such as Barrett – count their husbands as their “heads” and all members are expected to donate 5% of their income to the organization.

Some conservative and progressive activists have said any discussion of Barrett’s faith is inappropriate in the context of a Senate confirmation to assess her judicial qualifications, and potentially reflects anti-Catholic bigotry.

Other Catholic writers have said it is fair to scrutinize People of Praise because the group falls far outside mainstream Catholicism.

Barrett has not publicly discussed her affiliation but her connection was reported in multiple media accounts at the time of her confirmation to an appellate court in 2017.

Her picture appears in a May 2006 edition of People of Praise’s magazine, which documents her participation in a Leaders’ Conference for Women. Her father and her husband, Jesse Barrett, are also known members.

The group emerged out of the Catholic charismatic movement of the late 1960s, which blended Catholicism and Protestant Pentecostalism – Catholics and Protestants are both members – and adopted practices like speaking in tongues. The group’s literature shows communal living is also encouraged, at least among unmarried members, as is the sharing of finances between households.

A July 2007 “our money our selves” edition of People of Praise’s Vine & Branch magazine included an article about a 17-member group of women described as “single for the Lord” and living together in South Bend, Indiana. The women shared a “sisterhood budget”, which involved them pooling their paychecks while a “head of the sisterhood” determined, with the sisters’ input, how the money was spent.

TalkingPoints Memo, Biden Compares Trump To Nazi Propaganda Leader, Zoë Richards, Sept. 26, 2020. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called out President Donald Trump’s penchant for spreading misinformation on Saturday, comparing Trump’s tendency to mislead to Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s minister of propaganda.

Biden made the Goebbels comparison when asked by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle about Trump’s assertion that Biden is pushing a socialist agenda during an interview that aired Saturday.

“I’m not sure anybody that hadn’t already made up their mind they’re for Trump will believe it,” Biden said. “But who knows. He’s sort of like Goebbels. You say the lie long enough — keep repeating it, repeating it, repeating it — it becomes common knowledge.”

Biden also appeared to dismiss Trump’s suggestion earlier this week that he may refuse to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the case of electoral defeat in November, calling it “a typical Trump distraction.”

“He’ll leave,” Biden said.

Biden had previously responded to Trump’s comments late Wednesday, by facetiously asking a reporter, “What country are we in?”– implying that the President’s remarks did not represent those of a leader committed to ruling by the democratic tradition established in the United States.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Trump Nominates Reactionary Bigot Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 26, 2020. She Is Bitter Foe of Affordable Care Act, webster tarpley twitterAdumbrating Genocide Against American People.

GOP hopes to start railroading of nominee on October 12, in time to start stripping 20 million of health care in November; welcome to government by cult; Trump wants a sectarian ideologue to validate his looming coup
Petition against Trump by 489 national security leaders for Biden includes generals and admirals from many service branches, as well as top civilian officials from wide array of factions, improving chances of blocking Trump coup plots; only Lincoln and FD have faced greater crises than 46; active duty US flag officers must reject illegal orders, and stand and fight for the constitution, not engage in craven gestures of resignation.

Trump’s “America First” executive orders for Obamacare replacement are cheap pre-election trick; he orders Azar to succeed where he himself and Hill GOP have failed; his endorsement of protection for pre-existing conditions is a pious wish with zero legal force; wording would let insurance companies sell policies at astronomical prices and call that protection; no concrete action to lower prescription drug prices; nothing on the obligation to issue policies or preserving ten essential medical benefits, contraception, yearly and lifetime spending limits, children on parents’ policies, and more; don’t be duped so late in the day.

Beware clerical fascism, where religious hierarchy plays key role in fascist regime, as in Austria before 1938 and later in Slovakia. Breaking: Russian military reportedly now in Belarus, threatening supply line to Baltic States; US Air Force Bolsters Defense of Central Europe with Astral Knight Drill from Germany to NATO front line states.

ny times logoNew York Times, At Pentagon, Fears Grow That Trump Will Pull Military Into Election Unrest, Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper, Sept. 26, 2020 (print ed.). Defense Department officials said top generals could resign if President Trump ordered the active-duty military to quell election protests.

President Trump gave officials no solace on Wednesday and Thursday when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election, and on Thursday, he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be “honest.” His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has incited deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections.

“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.”

But that has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest.

Sept. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s attacks on election prompt fears of a constitutional crisis, Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner and Annie Linskey, Sept. 25, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s continuing threats have prompted election and law enforcement authorities nationwide to prepare for an unprecedented clash.

President Trump reiterated Thursday that he may not honor the results should he lose reelection, reaffirming his extraordinary refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power and prompting election and law enforcement authorities nationwide to prepare for an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

Trump escalated his months-long campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election with comments Wednesday that, taken together and at face value, pose his most substantial threat yet to the nation’s history of free and fair elections.

In recent days, the president cast doubt on the integrity of vote totals. He said he might not accept the results if they show him losing to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. He said it was imperative to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because the nation’s high court could determine the winner of the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP senators reject Trump’s assertion about transfer of power — with no direct criticism of the president, Paul Kane and Rachael Bade, Sept. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans, with almost no direct criticism of Trump’s statements, uniformly asserted that if Joe Biden wins the election, they will support a peaceful transition to the Democrat’s inauguration in January.

ny times logoNew York Times, At Pentagon, Fears Grow That Trump Will Pull Military Into Election Unrest, Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper, Sept. 25, 2020.  Defense Department officials said top generals could resign if President Trump ordered the active-duty military to quell election protests.

President Trump gave officials no solace on Wednesday and Thursday when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election, and on Thursday, he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be “honest.” His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has incited deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections.

“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.”

But that has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Politics Live Update: Justice Ginsburg becomes first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, John Wagner, ruth bader ginsburg scotusSept. 25, 2020. Democratic nominee Joe Biden is paying his respects Friday to the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she becomes the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, while President Trump puts in a full day on the campaign trail with stops in Florida, Georgia and Virginia and a fundraiser at his hotel in Washington.

Meanwhile, controversy continues over Trump’s refusal to commit to the peaceful transition of power and his repeated attempts to undermine the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, even as he urges his own supporters to take advantage of absentee voting ahead of Election Day.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows lashed out at FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, a Trump appointee, for his assessment during congressional testimony that the United States has not experienced large-scale voter fraud by mail or other means.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Less Than Six Weeks to Election Day, and Voting Rules Remain in Flux, Nick Corasaniti and Kenneth P. Vogel, Updated Sept. 25, 2020. The two parties are locked in fights over laws in many battleground states, creating uncertainty that is being fanned by President Trump.

With less than six weeks until Election Day, laws governing how Americans vote remain in flux in many battleground states, with the two parties locked in an intensive fight over the rules as President Trump continues to suggest he will challenge any outcome unfavorable to him.

djt biden smiles resizedThe combination of the pandemic, doubts about the capacity of the Postal Service to handle a flood of mail ballots and an aggressive push by Democrats to expand access to voting rights and counter Republican efforts to limit them has fueled litigation and legislative battles across the country that have not been resolved even as early voting has gotten underway.

The result is uncertainty that Mr. Trump is already seizing on in his extraordinary campaign to cast doubt on the election system and the result. In the latest of a string of remarks on the issue, the president refused on Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, igniting new concern about his commitment to the Constitution and drawing pushback on Thursday from prominent members of his party.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Barbara Lagoa refused to recuse herself from Florida felons’ voting case, creating controversy, Aaron C. Davis and Ann E. barbara lagoaMarimow, Sept. 25, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s potential Supreme Court pick, right, could face scrutiny for staying on — and becoming a key voice — in a federal court decision expected to limit voting by poor former inmates.

Sept. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Nearly 500 former senior military, civilian leaders sign letter backing Biden, Karen DeYoung, Sept. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, as well as former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs and other officials, have signed an open letter in support of former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, saying that he has “the character, principles, wisdom and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.”

The letter, published Thursday morning by National Security Leaders for Biden, is the latest in a series of calls for President Trump’s defeat in the November election.

“We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States,” it says. “We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans and Democrats, and Independents. We love our country.

“Unfortunately, we also fear for it.”

The letter has been signed by 489 people.

Not all of those Republicans who previously have broken ranks with Trump have called for Biden’s election, although the numbers are growing. Last month, more than 60 former national security officials who served in Republican administrations, including Trump’s, signed a statement calling him “unfit to serve as President.” Noting that some of them held different policy positions from Biden, they nonetheless called for his election, saying it was “imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.”

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CBS News logoCBS News, Bernie Sanders says Trump is ready "to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power," Grace Segers, Sept. 24, 2020.
Senator Bernie Sanders argued in an impassioned speech Thursday that President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power is a threat to American democracy.

"What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be discussing," Sanders (shown in a Gage Skidmore file photo) said. "And that is the need to make certain that the president of the United States, if he loses this election, will abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully."

djt impeachment graphic"This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win," Sanders said in an address at George Washington University. He referred to Mr. Trump as a "pathological liar" with "strong authoritarian tendencies," and accused him of being "prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power."

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump declined to commit to a peaceful transition of power if Biden wins the election in November. Sanders also quoted Mr. Trump's remarks at the Republican National Convention last month, in which he declared that "the only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election."

"I think it is terribly important that we actually listen to, and take seriously, what Donald Trump is saying," Sanders said. "There is nothing in our Constitution or in our laws that give Donald Trump the privilege of deciding whether or not he will step aside if he loses. In the United States, the president does not determine who can or cannot vote and what ballots will be counted."

He went on to criticize Mr. Trump for continuing "to be obsessed with the belief that there is massive voter fraud in this country," even though instances of voter fraud are extremely rare. The president has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud, even as he urges supporters to vote by mail in critical swing states like Florida.

"Trump's strategy to delegitimize this election and to stay in office if he loses is not complicated. Finding himself behind in many polls, he is attempting massive voter suppression," Sanders said. "He and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it harder and harder for people to vote. In addition, he is sowing the seeds of chaos, confusion and conspiracy theories by casting doubt on the integrity of this election and, if he loses, justifying why he should remain in office."

Sanders noted that this election will see an influx of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, and brought up a scenario under which Mr. Trump could claim victory on election night before all the mail-in ballots are counted.

He also worries that states controlled by Republican legislatures will ignore election results "because of false accusations of voter fraud," and predicted that if this happened, "the legislature itself will use its power to appoint electors pledged to vote for Trump, overriding the will of the people."

"And, in the midst of all of this, with the death of Justice Ginsburg, Trump is attempting to push through a Supreme Court Justice who may very well cast a vote in a case that will determine the outcome of this election," Sanders continued. There are enough Republican senators who have said they would vote to confirm Mr. Trump's nominee to the court before the election, despite Democrats' argument that the vacancy has opened so close to November 3 that it should be the winner of the election who selects the next justice.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump won’t commit to a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ if he loses, Colby Itkowitz, Sept. 24, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump refused Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, asserting that if he doesn’t win, it will be because of fraudulent mail-in voting and not because more Americans voted against him.

djt handwave fileHis latest comments came after he has spent months making unsubstantiated claims that voting by mail is corrupt and will lead to a “rigged” election. In fact, states that have embraced universal mail voting have documented tiny rates of possible ballot fraud, data shows.

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster —” Trump (shown in a file photo) began when asked during a White House press briefing if he would ensure a peaceful transition.

“I understand that, but people are rioting; do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?” the reporter pressed, appearing to refer to incidents of violence that have broken out during some protests.

The president seems to be referring to, as he has for months now, the massive uptick in people voting by mail this fall rather than in person amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trump continues to claim, with no evidence, that Democrats are supporting widespread mail-in voting not for public health reasons but to corrupt or commit fraud in the results.

Trump has previously been asked whether he would accept the results of the election if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins. Asked by Fox News’s Chris Wallace in July, Trump said, “I have to see. Look, you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time, either.”

Sept. 21

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Investigation: HSBC moved vast sums of dirty money after paying record laundering fine, Spencer spencer woodman resizedWoodman, right, Sept. 21, 2020. FinCEN Files probe reveals Europe’s biggest bank aided massive Ponzi scheme while on probation over ties to drug kingpins. (Continued from above.)

In March 2014, three men kidnapped Reynaldo Pacheco and bludgeoned his head with rocks, leaving the 44-year-old father of a young daughter dead in a creek bed in California’s Napa County. Local authorities determined that his murder was a consequence of an investment fraud that targeted low-income Latino and Asian immigrants around the world.

Like other victims of the World Capital Market scheme, or WCM, Pacheco energetically promoted the deal to relatives and acquaintances. When the Ponzi scheme collapsed, an unlucky investor decided to have him killed.

icij logoFour days before Pacheco was beaten to death, compliance officers at the global banking giant HSBC raised a warning about millions of dollars flowing into a big-dollar account in Hong Kong controlled by the scammers. It was at least the third in a series of so-called suspicious activity reports that the bank’s internal watchdogs had lodged about WCM over several months.

Yet HSBC continued to handle the Ponzi network’s massive flow of dirty money into — and out of — its accounts at the bank.

HSBC was profiting from an international criminal scheme even while on probation for having served murderous drug cartels and other criminals. HSBC had admitted to U.S. prosecutors in 2012 that it had helped dirty money flow through its branches around the world, including at least $881 million controlled by the notorious Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican drug gangs.

In a controversial decision, prosecutors declined to seek an indictment of the bank but instead allowed it to pay a $1.92 billion settlement and serve five years of probation during which its efforts to prevent money laundering would be monitored by a court-appointed watchdog. The court named a former top New York state financial crimes prosecutor, Michael Cherkasky.

hsbc logoA 16-month investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, BuzzFeed News and 108 other media partners has found that HSBC continued to provide banking services to alleged criminals, Ponzi schemers, shell companies tied to looted government funds and financial go-betweens for drug traffickers. This occurred even while the bank was on probation and under Cherkasky’s scrutiny.

The FinCEN Files investigation found that HSBC’s highly profitable branch in Hong Kong played a key role in keeping the dirty money flowing.

Although providing only a partial view of HSBC’s suspicious activity reports, the records show that between 2013 and 2017, HSBC’s U.S. compliance staff, who are charged with monitoring customer activity, filed reports lacking crucial customer information on 16 shell companies that had processed nearly $1.5 billion in more than 6,800 transactions through the bank’s Hong Kong operations alone. More than $900 million of that total involved shell companies linked to alleged criminal networks, according to an analysis by ICIJ and its media partners.

In a statement, HSBC defended changes the bank made under the monitorship. “Starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime,” said Heidi Ashley, a spokesperson for the bank. “HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012.”

The bank told ICIJ that it increased its compliance staff from a few hundred members in 2012 to several thousand in 2017 and invested more than $1 billion in compliance initiatives since 2015. “Though we have made significant improvements in our financial crime compliance programme, we are continually seeking ways to improve,” the bank said in a statement.

The investigation is based on a review of dozens of leaked suspicious activity reports, or SARs, as well as interviews with more than a dozen former HSBC anti-money-laundering employees. Banks doing business in the United States submit the confidential reports to an intelligence office within the U.S. Treasury Department known as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. Suspicious activity reports reflect concerns of watchdogs within banks and are not necessarily evidence of any criminal conduct or wrongdoing.

Leaked records show HSBC processed at least $31 million between 2014 and 2015 for companies later revealed to have moved stolen government funds from Brazil; and more than $292 million between 2010 and 2016 for a Panama-based organization branded by U.S. authorities as a major money launderer for drug cartels. The organization, Vida Panama, denies wrongdoing and is fighting the U.S. designation. The records show HSBC worked with a bank in Tiraspol, within Moldova’s breakaway territory of Transnistria, for four years after the U.S. Treasury Department issued a 2011 advisory warning of the risks of doing business with the Tiraspol bank.

  wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Administration threatens leakers of FINCEN SARs, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, Sept. 21, 2020. The Trump administration has threatened with criminal prosecution leakers of over 2,500 Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) filed by banks with the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). The SARs, covering the period 1999 to 2017, were published over the weekend by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The suspicious financial transactions total in excess of $2 trillion.

icij logoIn anticipation of the leak of the SARs, on September 1, the Treasury Department issued a statement warning of criminal prosecution of those involved in the leak: Treasury has indicated that it not only seeks to prosecute the leakers of the FINCEN files, but those who have the reports in their possession. That may include ICIJ, which has published the leaked reports on their website, and other media organizations. The eldest daughter of Attorney General William Barr, Mary Daly, is a senior official of FINCEN.

In January of this year, senior Treasury official Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards pleaded guilty to leaking SARs that dealt with Russian oligarchs' financial support to key officials of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, including convicted campaign manager Paul Manafort. Many of the leaked SARs involve transactions of shady businessmen in Trump's orbit who featured prominently in the Trump-Kushner global criminal syndicate list donald trump money palmer report Customcompiled by WMR in 2019.

The leaked SARs involve several oligarchs tied to the Trump family, the Trump Organization, and their associates. These include Oleg Deripaska and the brothers, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who are all close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. 

wall street on parade cropped logo

Wall Sreet on Parade, Analysis: 3-Count Felon, JPMorgan Chase, Caught Laundering More Dirty Money, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, right, Sept. 21, 2020. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has once again managed to do what federal bank regulators refuse to do in the pam martens russ martensUnited States – come clean with the American people about our dirty Wall Street banks.

ICIJ dropped a bombshell investigative report yesterday about money laundering for criminals at some of the biggest banks on Wall Street, but you won’t find a peep about it on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal or New York Times’ print editions.

JPMorgan Chase has already pleaded guilty to three criminal felony counts brought by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2014. Two of those counts related to money laundering and failure to file suspicious activity reports on the business bank account it held for Bernie Madoff for decades. JPMorgan Chase actually told U.K. regulators that it suspected Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme but it failed to jp morgan chase logoshare those concerns with U.S. regulators, even though it was required under law to do so.

The third felony count brought by the U.S. Department of Justice came one year later, in 2015. It related to JPMorgan’s involvement in a bank cartel that was engaged in rigging foreign exchange trading.

The ICIJ investigation is based on secret documents leaked from FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a unit of the U.S. Treasury. The documents “show that five global banks — JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon — hsbc logokept profiting from powerful and dangerous players even after U.S. authorities fined these financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money.”

The report has much to say about JPMorgan Chase:

JPMorgan Chase was involved in moving illicit funds for the fugitive, Jho Low, involving the notorious looting of public funds in Malaysia. Jho Low has been accused by multiple jurisdictions of playing a key role in the embezzlement of more than $4.5 billion from a Malaysian economic development fund, 1MDB. JPMorgan Chase moved $1.2 billion in money for Jho Low from 2013 to 2016, according to the report.

paul manafort cnnThe ICIJ bombshell includes the charge that JPMorgan also “processed more than $50 million in payments over a decade, the records show, for Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump (shown at right in a 2016 file photo). The bank shuttled at least $6.9 million in Manafort transactions in the 14 months after he resigned from the campaign amid a swirl of money laundering and corruption allegations spawning from his work with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.”

More troubling activity at JPMorgan Chase includes the following, according to ICIJ investigators:

“JPMorgan also moved money for companies and people tied to corruption scandals in Venezuela that have helped create one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. One in three Venezuelans is not getting enough to eat, the UN reported this year, and millions have fled the country.

“One of the Venezuelans who got help from JPMorgan was Alejandro ‘Piojo’ Isturiz, a former government official who has been charged by U.S. authorities as a player in an international money laundering scheme. Prosecutors allege that between 2011 and 2013 Isturiz and others solicited bribes to rig government energy contracts. The bank moved more than $63 million for companies linked to Isturiz and the money laundering scheme between 2012 and 2016, the FinCEN Files show…”

Civil Rights, Race, Religion

The Rev. Robert Graetz, a civil rights pioneer, died Sunday. He is shown shown below left with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the cover of Graetz's 2007 memoir, A White Pastor's Message on Race and Reconciliation (2007). The introduction was by the late civil rights pioneer John Lewis, who died this summer after robert graetz resized martin luther king coverrepresenting in Georgia in Congress.

Here is the publisher's description: In 1955, when the Montgomery Bus Boycott began, author Bob Graetz was the young white pastor of a black Lutheran Church in Montgomery. His church and his home were in the black community and he and his wife among the few whites who supported the boycott. Their church and home were both bombed; their lives were threatened often. But Graetz never wavered, and his Montgomery experiences, recounted in rich detail here, shaped a long ministerial career that always emphasized equality and justice issues no matter where his call took him. In addition to Graetz’s boycott memoirs, this book includes provocative chapters on white privilege, black forgiveness, and the present-day challenges for human and civil rights.
Like King, he preached integration from the pulpit and told followers to trust in God and boycott segregated city buses in 1955.

"This was a movement of the church, the Christian church in the black community," he has described it on many occasions.

Montgomery Advertiser, Robert Graetz, minister who helped organize Montgomery Bus Boycott, dies at 92, Brian Lyman, Sept. 21, 2020. The Rev. Robert Graetz, whose support of the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott made him a target of segregationists and sparked a career dedicated to social justice, died Sunday, his daughter Meta Ellis said. He was 92.

Graetz had been in hospice care. Graetz, who ministered to the majority-Black Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church, helped organize the early stages of the robert graetz jeannie graetz Rainier Ehrhardtboycott and helped drive people to and from work.

Graetz was the only white clergyman to support the boycott, and like other participants in the boycott, the reverend and his family persisted in the face of harassment, terrorism, and death threats that extended to their preschool children. Vandals poured sugar in their gas tank; slashed their tires and sprayed acid over their cars. White students on segregated school buses shouted "n---r lover" at Graetz and his wife, Jeannie (shown together in a photo for the Montgomery Advertiser by Rainier Ehrhardt), as they walked the street.

The family home was bombed twice, and while arrests were made, no one was ever convicted. Graetz often became emotional remembering the bombings in later years.

“People often said we had courage,” he said in 2001. “There were times when I was scared to death.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. targets Portland, New York and Seattle over protests, Devlin Barrett, Sept. 21, 2020. The Trump administration has released a list of cities that face possible federal aid cuts. A similar approach over immigration policies has been blocked by the courts. The Justice Department labeled the cities of Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle on Monday as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” targeting them for possible cuts in federal funding.

Justice Department log circularFollowing a memorandum that President Trump issued earlier this month, the Justice Department published a list of cities that the White House wants to get more aggressive on civil unrest in the wake of police shootings and killings.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

 

Palmer Report, Opinion: The increasingly ugly story behind Robert Mueller’s miserable failure and Rod Rosenstein’s treason, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 21, 2020. When bill palmerSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate an obviously guilty Donald Trump, he started off with a bang. He quickly got Michael Flynn to flip on Trump. He arrested George Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort. There was every reason to expect that Mueller would continue on that path and take Trump down. But somewhere along the way Mueller stopped doing his job, and in the end he simply gave up and went home. So what happened?

bill palmer report logo headerNow the details of the ugliest and most damaging failure in U.S. prosecutorial history are starting to pour out – and some of it’s even uglier than we thought. Robert Mueller’s former top deputy, Andrew Weissmann, is now flat out admitting that Team Mueller failed to do its job, partly due to fear and intimidation. While Weissmann doesn’t attack Mueller personally, he makes clear that Mueller screwed up by failing to subpoena Trump, and by failing to admit that Trump obstructed justice.

This comes on the heels of recent reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had been secretly sabotaging Robert Mueller’s investigation from the very start, going so far as to block Mueller from investigating Trump’s financial ties to Russia, while tricking the FBI into thinking that Mueller was following the money.

If Robert Mueller had done his job, and if Rod Rosenstein hadn’t tried too hard to prevent Mueller from doing his job, there’s a good chance Donald Trump would be in prison by now instead of still being in the White House. At the least, Mueller’s reputation should be destroyed by his cowardly refusal to do his job – unless he really did go senile during his investigation. And Rosenstein, by illegally obstructing an investigation into whether Trump was conspiring with the Russian government against the United States, is guilty of some form of treason. Rosenstein must be put on criminal trial when this over.

 

Sept. 18

 supreme court Custom

Breaking News: Washington Post, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87; McConnell says Trump’s court pick will get Senate vote despite Ginsburg’s dying wish, Derek Hawkins, Darren Sands and Meryl Kornfield, Sept. 18, 2020. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman on the high court in 1993 and legal pioneer for gender equality.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who refused to consider President Obama’s choice months before the 2016 election, said in a statement Friday hours after Ginsburg’s death: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

ruth bader ginsburg scotusThe death of Ginsburg, right, sent shock waves through the country Friday, igniting debate about the future of the high court and President Trump’s role in choosing a successor to the 87-year-old jurist.

Ginsburg died in her home in Washington, where she was surrounded by family, the Supreme Court said in a statement announcing her death. The cause was complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, according to the court.

A trailblazer for gender equality, Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court and served there for more than 27 years.

She rose to the top of her class at Columbia Law School in the 1950s, helped battle gender discrimination as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and, in 1993, became the second woman on the high court. Her fierce opinions as a justice made her a hero to the left.

On the court, she became an iconic figure to a new wave of young feminists, and her regal image as the “Notorious RBG” graced T-shirts and coffee mugs. She also was the subject of a popular film documentary, RBG, in 2018.

Her death sets up what is all but certain to be a fierce political fight over whether Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate will decide her replacement.

The Justice Integrity Project joins in mourning her passing and celebrating her achievements.

 

Sept. 16

Top Stories

djt profile balding big head palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, in town hall, says he wouldn’t have done anything differently on pandemic, Colby Itkowitz, Josh Dawsey, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Sept. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The president (shown in a file photo) blamed cities and states run by Democrats for any problems with the response to coronavirus, as well as for any crime or violence in the country.

President Trump faced tough questions from undecided voters during a wide-ranging town hall Tuesday night on ABC in which he was pressed to defend his responses to the coronavirus pandemic, racial justice protests and health care.

Trump often praised his own performance and said problems were the fault of others.

He said he would not do anything differently with regard to his response to the pandemic, despite nearly 200,000 Americans having died from the outbreak. He blamed China for the pandemic and said he saved many lives by “closing up the country.” His claim he could not have done more to slow the deadly virus has been rebutted by a number of epidemiologists.

washington post logobob woodward headshotWashington Post, Woodward: ‘Denial across the board’ in White House about severity of virus, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The Washington Post associate editor, right, who conducted 18 interviews with President Trump for his new book Rage, said the president is a “one-man band” who is going to do what he wants.

washington post logoWashington Post, CDC director says coronavirus vaccines won’t be widely available till the middle of 2021, Amy Goldstein, Sept. 16, 2020. It will take months after approval for a vaccine to help control the pandemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield Robert Redfieldpredicted at Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the government’s response to the pandemic.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, right, predicted Wednesday that most of the American public will not have access to a vaccine against the novel coronavirus until late spring or summer of next year — contrary to President Trump’s assertions that the pandemic is nearly over.

us senate logoAt a Senate hearing on the government’s response to the pandemic, CDC director Robert Redfield adhered to President Trump’s oft-stated contention that a safe and effective vaccine will become available in November or December — perhaps just before the presidential election seven weeks away.

But Redfield said the vaccine will be provided first to people most vulnerable to covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and supplies will increase over time, so Americans who are lower priority for the protection will be offered the shot more gradually. For it to be “fully available to the American public, so we begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life,” he said, “I think we are probably looking at late second cdc logo Customquarter, third quarter 2021.”

Though any individual vaccinated should benefit, he said, the progressive widening of its availability means there will be a time lag between when a vaccine is approved and when it could have a measurable effect in controlling the pandemic. That might be six to nine months after the day it is approved by federal drug regulators, Redfield predicted.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just lost Michael Caputo, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2020. Donald Trump’s handpicked HHS spokesman Michael Caputo, right, has had arguably one of the most scandalous and disturbing weeks in presidential administration history – and in a michael caputoreminder of just how deranged the Trump administration is, there was no guarantee he’d even lose his job over it. But now Caputo is leaving the building.

After Caputo was caught altering CDC coronavirus reports, and caught calling for violence surrounding the election, and caught tweeting racist things prompting him to delete his account, and flat out admitted that he thought the shadows on his wall were out to get him, he let it be known yesterday that he was considering taking a medical leave of absence. Sure enough, that’s officially happened as of this afternoon. So now what?

bill palmer report logo headerIf Michael Caputo is as disturbed as he claims, we hope he gets professional help. But from a strictly political standpoint, what’s notable is that his leave of absence is for sixty days. That’s after election day. Caputo was supposed to play a key role in the election for Trump, by using his HHS position to put false pro-Trump information out there. Now he’s stepping off the stage for the rest of the election. Caputo was a rather ineffective henchman to begin with, but this means Trump has nonetheless lost yet another henchman. Trump is running out of people and he’s running out of time.

 Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Donald Trump

 Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Donald Trump

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Told Prosecutors to Consider Sedition Charges for Protest Violence, Katie Benner, Sept. 16, 2020. Attorney General William P. Barr told federal prosecutors in a call last week that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, according to two people familiar with the call.

The highly unusual suggestion to charge people with insurrection against lawful authority alarmed some on the call, which included U.S. attorneys around the country, said the people, who spoke on the condition they not be named describing Mr. Barr’s comments because they feared retribution.

william barr new oThe attorney general, left, has also asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing some residents to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for weeks this summer, according to two people briefed on those discussions.

The directives are in keeping with Mr. Barr’s approach to prosecute crimes as aggressively as possible in cities where protests have given way to violence. But in suggesting possible prosecution of Ms. Durkan, a Democrat, Mr. Barr also took aim at an elected official whom President Trump has repeatedly attacked.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than half of all wrongful criminal convictions are caused by government misconduct, study finds, Tom Jackman, right, Sept. 16, 2020. The tom jackmanstudy also found that police and prosecutors are rarely disciplined for actions that lead to a wrongful conviction; Misconduct can be intentional or unintentional, but either way innocent people are found guilty.

When a prisoner is granted their freedom because they were wrongly convicted of a crime, the focus turns to the years — or decades — they spent behind bars, their feelings upon release and their hopes for the future. But a new study digs into the reasons people are wrongly convicted, and it has found that 54 percent of those defendants are victimized by official misconduct, with police involved in 34 percent of cases, prosecutors in 30 percent, and some cases involving both police and prosecutors.

The study by the National Registry of Exonerations reviewed 2,400 exonerations it has logged between 1989 and 2019, nearly 80 percent of which were for violent felonies. Of the 2,400, 93 innocent defendants were sentenced to death and later cleared before they were executed.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomCraig Murray Blog via Information Clearing House, Commentary: Assange Hearing Day 9, Craig Murray, right, craig murray uk ambassadorSept. 15, 2020. Things became not merely dramatic in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty.

There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behaviour from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment.

Today’s witness was Eric Lewis. A practicing US attorney for 35 years, Eric Lewis has a doctorate in law from Yale and a masters in criminology from Cambridge. He is former professor in law at Georgetown University, an elected member of both the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is Chairman of Reprieve. He has represented high profile clients in national security and terrorism cases, including Seymour Hersh and Guantanamo Bay internees.

Trial coverage continued below under "Section U.S. Law, Courts, Investigations"

washington post logoWashington Post, DeJoy’s Postal Service policies delayed 7 percent of nation’s first-class mail, Senate report says, Jacob Bogage, Sept.16, 2020. The postmaster general suspended some cost-cutting maneuvers but not the moves experts say are behind the worst problems

us mail logoPostmaster General Louis DeJoy’s controversial midsummer operational directives delayed nearly 350 million pieces, or 7 percent, of the country’s first-class mail in the five weeks they were in effect, according to a new report published Wednesday by the Senate’s top Democrat in charge of postal oversight.

A month after taking charge of the U.S. Postal Service, DeJoy implemented stricter dispatch schedules on transport trucks that forced workers to leave mail behind and prohibited extra mail trips, leading to well-documented bottlenecks. Managers under him also cracked down on overtime, which postal workers commonly rely on to complete routes, though DeJoy has denied having a role in those cutbacks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: War Crime Risk Grows for U.S. Over Saudi Strikes in Yemen, Michael LaForgia and Edward Wong, Updated Sept. 16, 2020, 6 State Department officials have raised alarms about airstrikes that kill civilians. The Trump administration recently suppressed findings as it sold more weapons to Gulf nations.

The civilian death toll from Saudi Arabia’s disastrous air war over Yemen was steadily rising in 2016 when the State Department’s legal office in the Obama administration reached a startling conclusion: Top American officials could be charged with war crimes for approving bomb sales to the Saudis and their partners.

Four years later, more than a dozen current and former U.S. officials say the legal risks have only grown as President Trump has made selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Middle East nations a cornerstone of his foreign policy.

Yet rather than taking steps to address the legal issues, State Department leaders have gone to great lengths to conceal them. Even after a State Department inspector general investigation this year revealed that the department had failed to address the legal risks of selling bombs to the Saudis, agency officials ensured that details of the finding were put in a classified part of the public report released in August, and then so heavily redacted that lawmakers with security clearances could not see them.

The concerns will be the subject of a congressional hearing on Wednesday. House lawmakers are expected to question senior State Department officials, including the agency’s top lawyer and the assistant secretary overseeing weapons sales.

Wayne Madsen Report wayne madesen report logo(WMR), Opinion: William Barr is worse as AG than Nazi Germany's first Justice Minister, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 17, 2020. Attorney wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallGeneral William Barr is less independent of aspirant dictator Donald Trump than Nazi Germany's first Justice Minister, Franz Gurtner, was of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Barr has systematically turned the Justice Department into a political weapon designed to protect Trump from the Congress, the courts, and individual U.S. citizens exercising their rights under the Constitution. Barr has trashed the rule of law that has ensured that America's system of democracy has prevailed since the birth of constitutional government. 

washington post logoWashington Post, DHS says it won’t make officials available for questioning in House probe of Portland protests, Shane Harris, Sept. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The Department of Homeland Security has said it will not agree to a congressional panel’s request to interview official witnesses as part of an investigation of the department’s response to protests in Portland, Ore.

us dhs big eagle logo4The congressional investigation has been fueled by allegations from a top DHS official, who has accused the White House of trying to skew intelligence reports to match President Trump’s claims that far-left extremist groups are behind nationwide protests against police violence.

The House Intelligence Committee’s request to interview several DHS officials “will not be accommodated at this time,” Assistant Secretary Beth Spivey wrote to the committee chairman Monday, arguing that the committee had unreasonably broadened its scope after receiving a whistleblower complaint from Brian Murphy, who until recently was in charge of the department’s intelligence office.

Murphy has alleged that senior DHS officials, acting on orders from the White House, have tried to color intelligence reports in ways that favor Trump’s chad wolfcampaign rhetoric.

Murphy claimed in a complaint filed last week with the DHS inspector general that the department’s acting secretary, Chad Wolf, right, instructed him in May to stop reporting Russian interference in the election and to focus his office’s efforts on China and Iran, two countries Democratic lawmakers briefed on intelligence say are not engaged in the same aggressive attempts to influence the elections as Russia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Because of pandemic, Supreme Court will begin new term with teleconference arguments, Robert Barnes, Sept. 16, 2020. The justices, six of whom are at special risk because of age, have not held arguments in person since March.

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisville agrees to $12 million settlement with family of Breonna Taylor, Tim Craig and Marisa Iati, Sept. 16, 2020 (print ed.). In addition to the cash payout, the settlement includes a number of changes in how local officers obtain and execute search warrants.

The city of Louisville announced on Tuesday a $12 million settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor and a number of changes in how local officers obtain and execute search warrants, among the largest payouts for a police killing in the nation’s history, according to a Taylor family attorney.

Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor, 26, while executing a “no-knock” search warrant at her apartment during a drug raid in March that uncovered no illegal substances and has become a driving symbol in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The settlement, which follows a wrongful-death lawsuit that Taylor’s family filed in May, requires police commanders to approve all search warrant applications that are submitted to a judge, said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Louisville police will also have to conduct extensive risk assessments before applying for a warrant.

Jacob Wohl, whose supposed investment acumen as a 17-year-old, was featured by Fox Business News (screenshot)

Jacob Wohl, whose supposed investment acumen as a 17-year-old, was featured by Fox Business News (screenshot above). Separate from his investment activities, Wohl has become known as a promoter of scandal allegations against perceived opponents of Donald Trump and other Republicans. On May 7, Diana Andrade and Jacob Wohl (Andrade photo via Reason.com)2020, Reason Magazine published a column quoting Diana Andrade, shown below right in a photo with Wohl when she said they were dating, in a story headlined as follows: Reason, She Said Anthony Fauci Sexually Assaulted Her. Now She Says Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman Paid Her to Lie.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fake FBI raid staged by right-wing activists dupes The Post, Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi, Sept. 16, 2020 (print ed.). It appears that Jacob Wohl used photos of the event in Arlington to trick a reporter into believing that Wohl’s longtime associate Jack Burkman was being targeted by law enforcement officials.

american flag upside down distressA fake FBI raid staged Monday by a notorious right-wing activist and conspiracist turned into an embarrassment for The Washington Post, which briefly reported the faux-event as if it were the real deal.

The “raid” on a house in Arlington, Va., actually involved actors recruited by Jacob Wohl, who has a history of making false accusations and has orchestrated dubious events in an effort to smear perceived opponents of President Trump.

This time, Wohl recruited actors to pose as FBI agents, telling them they would be participating in a scene for a “TV pilot,” one of the actors involved told the Daily Beast. The actors donned FBI-style windbreakers and pretended they were raiding a house during early-morning hours.

FBI logoIt appears Wohl used photos of the event to trick a reporter into believing that Wohl’s longtime associate, Jack Burkman, was being targeted by law enforcement officials. The intended purpose of the deception was not clear.

In a story written by Metro reporter Rachel Weiner, The Post briefly reported Monday that a real FBI raid had taken place. The story was updated about two hours later to note that the raid was a fabrication and later taken down entirely with an editor’s note in its place saying it “was published because The Post failed to obtain appropriate confirmation.”

Burkman is longtime conservative lobbyist and recent conspiracist. Together with Wohl, a 22-year-old former hedge fund manager with a history of investment scandals, the pair have mounted several failed media stunts. Among others, the pair hosted a “news” conference in late 2018 to lay out alleged sexual assault claims against special counselor Robert Mueller; Mueller’s supposed accuser never materialized. They also tried in 2019 to paint then-Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as a sexual predator; that stunt blew up when the supposed accuser said the allegations were entirely made up and that he had been paid to make them.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomCraig Murray Blog via Information Clearing House, Commentary: Assange Hearing Day 9, Craig Murray, right, craig murray uk ambassadorSept. 15, 2020. Things became not merely dramatic in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty.

There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behaviour from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment.

Today’s witness was Eric Lewis. A practicing US attorney for 35 years, Eric Lewis has a doctorate in law from Yale and a masters in criminology from Cambridge. He is former professor in law at Georgetown University, an elected member of both the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is Chairman of Reprieve. He has represented high profile clients in national security and terrorism cases, including Seymour Hersh and Guantanamo Bay internees.

Lewis had submitted five statements to the court, between October 2019 and August 2020, addressing the ever-changing indictments and charges brought by the prosecution. He was initially led through the permitted brief half-hour summary of his statements by defence QC Edward Fitzgerald. (I am told I am not currently allowed to publish the defence statements or links to them. I shall try to clarify this tomorrow.)

Eric Lewis testified that no publisher had ever been successfully prosecuted for publishing national security information in the USA. Following the Wikileaks publications including the diplomatic cables and the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, Assange had not been prosecuted because the First Amendment was considered insuperable and because of the New York Times problem – there was no way just to prosecute Assange without prosecuting the New York Times for publishing the same material. The New York Times had successfully pleaded the First Amendment for its publication of the Pentagon Papers, which had been upheld in a landmark Supreme Court judgment.

Lewis here gave evidence that mirrored that already reported of Prof Feldstein, Trevor Timm and Prof Rogers, so I shall not repeat all of it. He said that credible sources had stated the Obama administration had decided not to prosecute Assange, notably Matthew Miller, a highly respected Justice Department figure who had been close to Attorney General Holder and would have been unlikely to brief the media without Holder’s knowledge and approval.

Eric Lewis then gave testimony on the change of policy towards prosecuting Assange from the Trump administration. Again this mostly mirrored the earlier witnesses. He added detail of Mike Pompeo stating the free speech argument for Wikileaks was “a perversion of what our great country stands for”, and claiming that the First Amendment did not apply to foreigners.

Attorney General Sessions had accordingly stated that it was “a priority for the Justice Department” to arrest Julian Assange. He had pressured prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia to bring a case. In December 2017 an arrest warrant had been issued, with the indictment to be filled in later. The first indictment of a single count had been launched in March 2018, its timing possibly dictated by a limitation deadline.

In May 2019 a new superseding indictment increased the counts from one to eighteen, seventeen of which related to espionage. This tougher stance followed the appointment of William Barr as Attorney General just four months previously. The plain intention of the first superseding indictment was to get round the New York Times problem by trying to differentiate Assange’s actions with Manning from those of other journalists. It showed that the Justice Department was very serious and very aggressive in acting on the statements of Trump administration officials. Barr was plainly acting at the behest of Trump. This represented a clear abuse of the criminal enforcement power of the state.

The prosecution of a publisher in this way was unprecedented. Yet the facts were the same in 2018 as they had been in 2012 and 13; there was no new evidence behind the decision to prosecute. Crucially, the affidavits of US Assistant Attorney Gordon Kromberg present no legal basis for the taking of a different decision to that of 2013. There is no explanation of why the dossier was lying around with no action for five or six years.

The Trump administration had in fact taken a different political decision through the Presidential spokesperson Sarah Sanders who had boasted that only this administration had acted against Assange and “taken this process seriously.”

Edward Fitzgerald QC then turned to the question of probable sentencing and led Lewis through his evidence on this point. Eric Lewis confirmed that if Julian Assange were convicted he could very probably spend the rest of his life in prison. The charges had not been pleaded as one count, which it had been open to the prosecution to do. The judge would have discretion to sentence the counts either concurrently or consecutively. Under current sentencing guidelines, Assange’s sentence if convicted could range from “best case” 20 years to a maximum of 175 years. It was disingenuous of Gordon Kromberg to suggest a minimal sentence, given that Chelsea Manning had been sentenced to 35 years and the prosecution had requested 60.

It had been a government choice to charge the alleged offences as espionage. The history of espionage convictions in the USA had generally resulted in whole life sentences. 20 to 30 years had been lighter sentences for espionage. The multiple charges approach of the indictment showed a government intention to obtain a very lengthy sentence. Of course the final decision would lay with the judge, but it would be decades.

Edward Fitzgerald then led on to the question of detention conditions. On the question of remand, Gordon Kromberg had agreed that Julian Assange would be placed in the Alexandria City Jail, and there was a “risk” that he would be held there under Special Administrative Measures. In fact this was a near certainty. Assange faced serious charges related to national security, and had seen millions of items of classified information which the authorities would be concerned he might pass on to other prisoners. He would be subject to Special Administrative Measures both pre- and post-conviction.

After conviction Julian Assange would be held in the supermax prison ADX Florence, Colorado. There were at least four national security prisoners currently there in the H block. Under SAMS Assange would be kept in a small cell for 22 or 23 hours a day and not allowed to meet any other prisoners. He would be allowed out once a day for brief exercise or recreation excluded from other prisoners, but shackled.

Fitzgerald then led Lewis to the 2017 decision by the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan, in which the evidence provided by the Wikileaks release of US war logs and diplomatic cables provided essential evidence. This had been denounced by Trump, John Bolton and Pompeo. The ICC prosecutor’s US visa had been cancelled to hinder his investigation. An Executive Order had been issued imposing financial sanctions and blocking the banking access of any non US national who assisted the ICC investigation into crimes alleged against any US citizen. This would affect Julian Assange.

Coverage continued in much greater detail on the Craig Murray Blog. Craig John Murray is a British former diplomat turned political activist, human rights campaigner, blogger and whistleblower. Between 2002 and 2004, he was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan during which time he exposed the violations of human rights in Uzbekistan by the Karimov administration.

Sept. 11

U.S. 9/11 Memorials, Researchers

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Pioneering 9/11 Truth Researcher Criticizes Movement, Urges Focus On Trump Defeat, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 11, 2020 webster tarpley twitter(59:50 min.). Dr. Webster Tarpley, the historian and progressive advocate whose 2008 book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made In the USA debunked official accounts of the 9/11 attacks, ended his weekly radio show on the 19th anniversary of the attacks by criticizing in general fellow 9/11 "truth researchers." He urged them to refocus energies to more current struggles, with the major initial goal of defeating Donald Trump, thereby enabling a progressive agenda. His comments below, primarily addressed to fellow "truth" researchers to couple their revelations about past cover-ups with political action to address current problems, are lightly edited and condensed.

You're still talking about 9/11 and now we have a world depression. What are you going to do? Are you going to go to the unemployment office or a breadline and say to people, "Hey, Buddy! Let me tell you about Building 7!"?

The time has passed. There's also a very serious problem of intellectual stagnation and also the mental map. It's now a three-cornered world. There's Beijing, who are totalitarians. There's Moscow, which is strong authoritarians. These are two powers bent on world domination. Then there's the U.S. Now the U.S. means Europe, Japan, South Korea, a lot of South American countries, a lot of Africa.

We learned in the 9/11 Truth Movement that the U.S. was 'the bad guys.' You can say a lot of this is the fault of the neocons. The neo-cons have antagonized everyone in the world by their lunatic ideas. This entire neo-con venture has been a failure.

But the Anti-American choice, frankly, is wrong. The world has changed. The problem is the U.S. has been outdistanced in evil and depravity by Putin and Xi. They are worse.

And above all, if you want to avoid the catastrophe, if you want to avoid the apocalypse, that means fighting Trump. A lot of these 9-11 people have taken their mental map from 2004 to 2006 and they say, if anything, "Trump is better" or "Trump isn't so bad." This is absolute folly.

I'm sorry to say that a lot of people are so addicted to the notion of false flags. Yes, 9-11 was a false flag. The Kennedy assassination was a false flag in many ways.

But not everything is. If the 9/11 experience is all you know you're going to say 'Covid is false flag' or any number of other things are 'false flags.' This is, unfortunately, not adequate.

I would say to people, "Bring yourself up to date. Fight today's and tomorrow's battles, not the battles of the yesterday.”

That means if you want to use the undoubtedly valuable experience of having been in the 9/11 Truth movement, then mobilize that against Trump in the next two months. That's what I intend to do to the very best of my ability.

So that would be the end of our time here [on the radio show], the 19th anniversary of that tragic and criminal event of 9/11.

Lawyers Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Recent and Upcoming Research Discussions, Staff report, Sept. 11, 2020. Below is a schedule of recent and upcoming research discussions and broadcasts supported by the Lawyers Committee for 9/11 Inquiry. Most are free but some request or require a small donation.

The events still pending will be free. The Lawyers' Committee for 911 Inquiry, Inc. is the last entry on this list, it is free, and you can access it through its website for Sunday's show from 3 to 6 pm.

Thursday, September 10th from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern: Livestreamed on the Jason Goodman CrowdSourceTheTruth Show, an historic new 9/11 Congressional petition will be announced with host Jason Goodman and guests Dr. Meryl Nass, Dr. Graeme MacQueen, and Mick Harrison, Esq. and David Meiswinkle, Esq. of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry. Go to here -- https://youtu.be/bpVsuYW8jFQ -- to watch live beginning just before or at 1 p.m. Eastern on the 10th.

Thursday, Sept. 10th from 3 to 11 p.m. Eastern: The online ‘9/11 Film Festival’ with Documentaries and Speakers. Listeners need to make a minimal donation – at least one dollar here -- (https://noliesradio.org/ticket4.html), which includes typing in your email address, before or by Wednesday, Sept. 9. You’ll receive the link to enter the Festival in your e-mail box sometime on the 9th. The entire eight hours will be archived and the video available for viewing at any time for a week afterwards at the same link provided to watch the live Event. (Note: This Event follows half an hour after the end of the above Jason Goodman Show.)

Friday, September 11th at 8:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern: Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth 9/11 Anniversary Conference -- Session on Legal Actions ae for 9 11 truth logowith Richard Gage, AIA; Mick Harrison, Esq.; Barbara Honegger, M.S.; and David Meiswinkle, Esq. Go to www.AE911Truth.org/JusticeRising to watch live for free.(Note: This is just the final Session of this three-hour-long online conference, and only the first day of three for the Conference. If You want to watch the whole Conference, either just on the 11th and/or also on the 12th and 13th, Go to this link here to access it live each day: www.ae911truth.org/justicerising).

Friday, September 11th at 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern: ‘The Other Side of The News’ online Radio Show which reaches over 100 countries with Guests Barbara Honegger, M.S., David Meiswinkle, Esq., Mick Harrison, Esq., and Richard Gage, AIA. Go to here -- www.theothersideofmidnight.com -- at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and click on the white square ‘poster’ or ‘banner’ that says ‘The Other Side of the News’ near the top. When the next page comes up after a few seconds scroll down a bit and click where it says something like ‘Use our own Player’ and then click on the arrow to start the audio.

Saturday, Sept. 12th at Midnight to 3:00 a.m. Eastern -- just going into Sunday September 13th: ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ online radio show which reaches over 100 countries with host Richard Hoagland. Guests are Barbara Honegger, M.S., David Meiswinkle, Esq., Mick Harrison, Esq., Richard Gage, AIA, and Matt Campbell, a UK citizen who lost his brother in WTC1 on 9/11. Go here to www.theothersideofmidnight.com at Midnight Eastern and click on the ‘poster’ or ‘banner’ near the top with the Guests’ names. When the next page comes up after a few seconds scroll down a bit and click where it says something like ‘Use our own Player’ and then click on the arrow to start the audio.

Sunday, September 13th, 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern: Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry online Conference "Recognizing and Pushing Back The Police State" with speakers who includ Professor Francis Boyle, national security experts Bill Binney, Ray McGovern, Dr. Meryl Nass, Dr. Graeme MacQueen, and more. Go to LCfor911.org beginning Saturday night the 12th for the Zoom link to watch live at the start time on the 13th.
https://www.lawyerscommitteefor9-11inquiry.org/

ny times logoNew York Times, New York City Marks 9/11 at a Time of Harrowing Loss, Michael Gold, Sept. 11, 2020. As New Yorkers memorialize a past tragedy, they face another profound and deadly crisis that is not yet over.

The families came together again on Friday to honor their loved ones at the site where their lives were stolen. The names of the victims resounded across the plaza, and the bells tolled in New York City as they have in years past, sounding a peal of collective mourning for those killed on one of the darkest days in American history.

Yet the somber, solemn rituals held at the Sept. 11 memorial to mark a tragedy that brought New York and the nation to its knees were unmistakably altered at a time of another crisis — one also marked by devastating loss.

Some of America’s most notable politicians were in attendance, including Vice President Mike Pence and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic candidate for president. All of them wore masks in addition to their customary memorial ribbons and lapel pins. They exchanged elbow bumps, then distanced themselves six feet apart as they stood for the national anthem.

There was no stage in front of them on Friday, and no speeches given to the mourners gathered at the site known as ground zero — two hallmarks of past memorials that were removed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump caught stealing money from 9/11 fund, Ron Leshnower, Sept. 11, 2020. Although 19 years have passed since the horrific attacks of 9/11, people across the United States pause to remember the day with a deep sense of sorrow and solemnity. The President of the United States should treat 9/11 as sacred and strive to honor the sacrifices of the first responders and their families. Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s shameful desecration of 9/11 began on that tragic day and shows no signs of letting up.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night, on the eve of 9/11, the New York Daily News reported that the Trump administration has “secretly siphoned” funds aimed at helping FDNY firefighters and medics who suffer from 9/11-related illnesses. A review of documents reveals that Trump’s Treasury Department “mysteriously” decided to keep some of the money — already authorized by Congress under the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program — for years without even a single communication about it.

This unexplained withholding of money is not only an affront to first responders, but it threatens the continued employment of physicians, nurses, and support staff and has required New York City to cover the shortfall, even as the coronavirus pandemic has stressed the economy. Not surprisingly, no one in the Trump administration has responded to requests for comments, and there is no sign that this will get resolved soon.

This is not the first time Trump has offended our sensibilities when it comes to 9/11. Within mere hours of the attacks, Trump boasted (inaccurately, no less) that he now owned the tallest building in Lower Manhattan. Trump later falsely claimed he watched “thousands and thousands” of Muslims on New Jersey rooftops cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center. Trump then lied by saying he “was down there also” with the first responders in the wake of 9/11, and he lied again by claiming he sent “a couple of hundred people” from his company to help with the recovery effort.

In the ensuing months, Trump pledged $10,000 to the Twin Towers Fund, yet investigations show he donated nothing. Trump later applied for and received substantial federal money for small business recovery, made available thanks to the efforts of Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, New York’s two senators at the time — even though, as Trump later admitted, his one property in the area was “fortunately” not affected. Last year, Trump secretly invited the Taliban, who protected Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, to Camp David for peace talks just days before the anniversary 9/11. And the list goes on.

Sept. 10

9/11 Remembrances and Research

No Lies Radio via Pacifica Radio Network,

.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Archived Film Festival: Eight Hours of 9/11 Truth, Varied experts, first broadcast Sept.10, 2020. Introduction: The impact of 9/11 continues to shape US domestic and foreign policy, robbing us of our liberties, and costing millions of lives, as the subsequent wars continue to wreak havoc abroad. We have been committed to seek and disseminate truths about the terrible crimes committed on September 11, 2001, exposing gaps and deceptions in the official story. Our goal is to inspire more eyewitness revelations, truthful media coverage, and a movement that will bring the responsible criminals to justice and eliminate governmental and corporate policies that enable criminal elements to commit such acts.”

This year’s featured films include:

‘Calling Out Bravo 7; The 2020 Edition.’ Produced by Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, this comprehensive documentary includes details on the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings on 9/11 that are not well known. Very informative and important, a must see, especially for those who have never realized the deep flaws within the official narrative.

‘The Genesis of The 9/11 “War on Terror”: How Much Does Mainstream Academia Really Know?’ Compiled from an excellent presentation by Dr. Piers Robinson on 9/11/2019 at the Public Master Class on the events of September 11, 2001 in Zurich, Switzerland. Dr. Piers Robinson is Co-Director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies, convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media and associated researcher with the Working Group on Propaganda and the 9/11 Global ‘War on Terror.’

9/11 Remembrances and Research

No Lies Radio via Pacifica Radio Network,

.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Archived Film Festival: Eight Hours of 9/11 Truth, Varied experts, first broadcast Sept.10, 2020. Introduction: The impact of 9/11 continues to shape US domestic and foreign policy, robbing us of our liberties, and costing millions of lives, as the subsequent wars continue to wreak havoc abroad. We have been committed to seek and disseminate truths about the terrible crimes committed on September 11, 2001, exposing gaps and deceptions in the official story. Our goal is to inspire more eyewitness revelations, truthful media coverage, and a movement that will bring the responsible criminals to justice and eliminate governmental and corporate policies that enable criminal elements to commit such acts.”

This year’s featured ilms include:

‘Calling Out Bravo 7; The 2020 Edition.’ Produced by Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, this excellent, comprehensive documentary, includes details on the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings on 9/11 that are not well known. Very informative and important, a must see, especially for those who have never realized the deep flaws within the official narrative.

‘The Genesis of The 9/11 “War on Terror”: How Much Does Mainstream Academia Really Know?’ Compiled from an excellent presentation by Dr. Piers Robinson on 9/11/2019 at the Public Master Class on the events of September 11, 2001 in Zurich, Switzerland. Dr Piers Robinson is Co-Director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies, convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media and associated researcher with the Working Group kevin ryanon Propaganda and the 9/11 Global ‘War on Terror.’

‘9/11 Whistleblowers.‘ Produced by James Corbett, The Corbett Report. A detailed look at the whistleblowers, that have spoken out, whose voices and stories have challenged the official narrative. They include Kevin Ryan, above left, Cate Jenkins, Barry Jennings, Michael Springmann and William Rodriguez.

 

August

Aug. 30

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Justice Dept. Never Fully Examined Trump’s Ties to Russia, Ex-Officials Say, Michael S. Schmidt, Aug. 30, 2020. The former deputy attorney general maneuvered to keep investigators from completing an inquiry into whether the president’s personal and financial links to Russia posed a national security threat. President Trump has long called investigations into his 2016 campaign’s ties with Russia a “hoax.”

robert mueller full face fileThe Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials, keeping investigators from completing an examination of President Trump’s decades-long personal and business ties to Russia.

The special counsel who finished the investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, right, secured three dozen indictments and convictions of some top Trump advisers, and he produced a report that outlined Russia’s wide-ranging operations to help get Mr. Trump elected and the president’s efforts to impede the inquiry.

Justice Department log circularBut law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them. Within days, the former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein, below at right, curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralA bipartisan report by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released this month came the closest to an examination of the president’s links to Russia.

Senators depicted extensive ties between Trump associates and Russia, identified a close associate of a former Trump campaign chairman as a Russian intelligence officer and outlined how allegations about Mr. Trump’s encounters with women during trips to Moscow could be used to compromise him. But the senators acknowledged they lacked access to the full picture, particularly any insight into Mr. Trump’s finances.

Now, as Mr. Trump seeks re-election, major questions about his approach to Russia remain unanswered. He has repeatedly shown an openness to Russia, an adversary that attacked American democracy in 2016, and refused to criticize or challenge the Kremlin’s increasing aggressions toward the West. The president has also rejected the intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in 2016 to bolster his candidacy and the spy agencies’ assessment that Russia is trying to sabotage this year’s election again on his behalf.

Mr. Rosenstein concluded the F.B.I. lacked sufficient reason to conduct an investigation into the president’s links to a foreign adversary. Mr. Rosenstein determined that the investigators were acting too hastily in response to the firing days earlier of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, and he suspected that the acting bureau director who approved the opening of the inquiry, Andrew G. McCabe, had conflicts of interest.

djt impeachment graphicMr. Rosenstein never told Mr. McCabe about his decision, leaving the F.B.I. with the impression that the special counsel would take on the investigation into the president as part of his broader duties. Mr. McCabe said in an interview that had he known Mr. Mueller would not continue the inquiry, he would have had the F.B.I. perform it.

“We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” Mr. McCabe said. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”

The disclosure about the counterintelligence investigation is based on interviews with former Justice Department and F.B.I. officials.

Axios, 1 big thing: Trump offered FBI director job to Kelly, asked for loyalty, Jonathan Swan, Aug 30, 2020. The day after President Trump fired FBI boss James Comey, the president phoned John Kelly, who was then secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and offered him Comey's job, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Schmidt reports in his forthcoming book, Donald Trump v. The United States.

Driving the news: "But the president added something else — if he became FBI director, Trump told him, Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him."

• "Kelly immediately realized the problem with Trump's request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president's demand," Schmidt writes.
• "Kelly said that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump."

Why it matters: This previously unreported conversation sheds additional light on the president's mindset when he fired Comey. Special counsel Robert Mueller never learned of this information because the president's lawyers limited the scope of his team's two-hour interview with Kelly.

Aug. 26

vincent salandria resized

Vincent Salandria, Esq., the first major public critic of the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Truth & Reconciliation Committee, Vincent Salandria (1928-2020): Farewell to the 'First Researcher, John Kirby (film maker, historian and co-founding director of The Truth & Reconciliation Committee), Aug. 26, 2020. The man who immediately understood the true cause and profound meaning of President Kennedy’s assassination, and for 57 years quietly taught that understanding to the rest of us, has died. Vincent J. Salandria was 92, vigorous and lucid till the end.

On Sunday, August 23rd, he collapsed while walking his dog in his Philadelphia neighborhood.

We reprint here in full Christopher Sharrett’s excellent short biography of Vince, written in 1999 as the introduction to False Mystery, a collection of Vince’s speeches and articles that remain indispensable reading today.

To the extensive list of Salandria-inspired people and material provided by Professor Sharrett below, we should add three of the most important that have arrived on the scene since his piece was written: Jim Douglas’s JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters and two works by David Talbot: Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, and The Devil’s Chessboard, about the career of CIA director Allen Dulles.

In addition, Vince advised and will appear in two upcoming documentary films, one directed by Max Good on the role of the Paines in history, and Four Died Trying, produced by TRC co-chair Libby Handros and directed by this writer.

Vince insisted on asking fundamental questions that cut through the cant of official propaganda. With an attorney’s clear logic, he asked with perfect simplicity: “What would an honest government do?”

It was a test the authorities consistently failed at the time of the assassination, and one we would do well to apply more vigorously today.

Farewell, great teacher.

John Kirby
Provincetown, MA
August 25, 2020

 

Introduction to False Mystery

by Christopher Sharrett

The writings of Vincent J Salandria on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are historic, foundational, and essential to any serious scholar interested in understanding the real dynamics of the Kennedy murder and its place as a terrible and pivotal moment of the American Century. In his 1967 book Six Seconds in Dallas, Josiah Thompson notes that what he terms the “second generation” of assassination researchers—including Mark Lane, Edward J. Epstein, Harold Weisberg, Raymond Marcus, Léo Sauvage, Richard Popkin—owe “a deep debt to Salandria’s pioneering and largely unsung research.” Thompson is accurate, since Salandria is in the front rank of Warren Commission critics, and the prescience of his analysis is an instruction to all interested people.

On November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination, Salandria watched the unfolding narrative on television with his then brother-in-law, the late Harold Feldman (himself a important scholar of this case and the author of the monograph “Fifty-One Witnesses: The Grassy Knoll”). Many friends of Salandria recount his responses to that day.

Salandria noted at the first moments of this crime that it reeked of a governmental coup, and that the confirmation of his suspicion would be the murder of the alleged suspect while in custody. He observed that from the first hours of the case, the pronouncements of the government, as carried by the major media, contained a consciousness of guilt at the center of state power. At no time did the government entertain seriously the possibility of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, even as local authorities in Dallas and the mainstream media offered a steady stream of evidence pointing to conspiracy (witnesses and physicians saying Kennedy was shot from two directions; witnesses running to the grassy knoll in front of the motorcade as well as into buildings behind the motorcade; more than one rifle found; various suspects detained; gun smoke smelled at ground level; a bystander wounded). Although many of these reports could have been in error, Salandria noted that the federal authorities, if honest, would have pursued these reports rather than shut down their options and proclaim the guilt of one man, a warehouse worker named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oswald’s guilt was indeed immediately proclaimed, and rarely with the qualifier “alleged.” Oswald’s supposed leftist political affiliations were loudly trumpeted as a means of enhancing the aura of guilt around a man declared the murderer—and the only murderer—even before he was officially charged with the crime. It should be noted that the labeling by the government of Oswald as a leftist—and hence a homicidal madman—effectively stilled the dissent of and terrified much of the American progressive community, particularly with the publication of the Warren Report. The voice of Vincent Salandria, who never wavered from progressive values, was not so stilled.

On Nov. 2, 1964, Salandria published an article in The Legal Intelligencer, the oldest law publication in the United States. The piece, reproduced herein, is the first sustained criticism of the Warren Commission’s conclusions on the forensic evidence in the assassination. It represents a courageous and articulate dissent from within the American legal profession that, sadly, has rarely been replicated. To those who today argue that the government’s initial response to the assassination flowed from a concern merely to protect national security, Salandria’s article, written in 1964, is a crucial response. It shows that the authorities were utterly disingenuous about the smallest detail of the forensic evidence of the crime, and none of the official conduct augured well for confidence in the government’s motivations, then or now, in telling us about the assassination.

The circumstances of this article’s publication are as remarkable and historic as its content. The Philadelphia Bar Association had just finished celebrating the work for the Warren Commission of Arlen Specter, a native son who would soon be elected the city’s district attorney. Salandria, a practicing lawyer in Philadelphia, was unimpressed by his colleague’s new status in the profession. Theodore Voorhees, then Chancellor of the Bar, felt that Salandria’s dissent was too important for the Intelligencer to ignore, despite the paper’s positive appraisal both of the Warren Report and the service provided to the Warren Commission by its legal staff.

Aug. 17

Law & Crime, Lawsuit: Jeffrey Epstein Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl in 1978, 3 Years After Working at the Dalton School, Colin Kalmbacher, Aug. 17, 2020. Nine women are suing the estate of Jeffrey Epstein based on decades-old abuse allegations dating as far back as 1978.

“In or about 1978, and continuing for a period of time thereafter, when Plaintiff Jane Doe XIV was approximately thirteen years old, Epstein sexually assaulted, abused, battered and raped her multiple times,” the lawsuit alleges. “As a result of the aforementioned sexual abuse, Plaintiff Jane Doe XIV suffered, and continues to suffer from severe and serious injuries including, but not limited to, severe emotional distress and physical manifestations thereof.”

This appears to be the oldest known allegation of sexual abuse against Epstein. The 1978 claim is three years after Epstein taught teens at the Dalton School, an elite institution that was helmed by Attorney General William Barr’s father Donald Barr.

Another Jane Doe plaintiff alleges that Epstein began sexually abusing her even before she was a teenager.

“In or about 1993, when Plaintiff Jane Doe XIII was approximately eleven years old, Epstein sexually assaulted, abused, battered and digitally penetrated her on three, separate occasions,” the lawsuit continues. “Epstein also forced Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him.”

Three of the other plaintiffs claim to have been sexually abused by Epstein as part of his “massive sex trafficking network” while they were minors; four women say they were sexually assaulted by Epstein when they were adults. According to the lawsuit, the sexual abuse against some of the plaintiffs continued until 2004.

Law & Crime, Indictment Reveals Real Reason Behind Arrest of InfoWars Correspondent Millie Weaver, Jerry Lambe, Aug. 17, 2020. Millicent “Millie” Weaver, 29, the correspondent for the Alex Jones-helmed conspiracy-theory website InfoWars, was arrested Friday at her Ohio home and charged with several felonies stemming from a dispute with her mother, documents filed in the Portage County Common Pleas Court show.

millie weaver maga hatWeaver’s arrest, which came hours before she was scheduled to release a “documentary” claiming to show that President Donald Trump was set-up by government officials in the Russia scandal, gave rise to a slew of conspiracy theories, but the truth appears far more mundane.

Weaver, left, along with her brother, Charles L. Weaver Jr., and boyfriend Gavon Wince, were all charged with one count each of robbery, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, and domestic violence, stemming from an incident with Weaver’s mother Felicia McCarron.

According to the indictment from the Portage County Grand Jury, all three were charged with robbery (a second-degree felony) for “attempting or committing a theft offense, or in fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense, recklessly inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten to inflict physical harm upon Felicia McCarron.”

The trio also face charges of evidence tampering (a third-degree felony), obstructing justice (a fifth-degree felony), and domestic violence (a first degree misdemeanor). The obstruction charge stems from allegedly communicating “false information” about the dispute in order to hinder law enforcement’s investigation.

A YouTube user claiming to be McCarron reportedly wrote that the charges stemmed from a “family dispute” over a $50 cell phone. That post expressed shock, surprise and disapproval of the charges. Other new stories reported by Law & Crime:

  • DOJ Charges Puerto Rico Legislator and Family in Alleged Multi-Year Bribery and Kickback Scandal
  • Two Suspects Charged in Murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay 18 Years After Shooting
  • 3 Officers Were Shot, and Subject Barricaded Inside Home in Ongoing Stand-Off, Police Say

washington post logoWashington Post, Violent clashes erupt between far-right groups, police and Black Lives Matter, Katie Shepherd and Holly Bailey, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). The renewed tensions in Portland, Minneapolis and other cities pushed the country into its 80th day of demonstrations in some places.

Far-right extremists and continued clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and police this weekend renewed tensions in Portland, Minneapolis and other cities, pushing the country into its 80th day of consecutive demonstrations in some places.

A group with ties to far-right organizations that have long targeted Portland gathered downtown Saturday afternoon to wave American flags and push back against Black Lives Matter protests challenging police brutality. The event ended with two gunshots.

Protests in other cities also erupted into violence Saturday, as police grappled with small groups hijacking otherwise peaceful events, including far-right activists armed with pepper spray and wooden flagpoles.

One clash ended in fistfights after Proud Boys marched in Kalamazoo, Mich. Police intervened as the Proud Boys retreated into a parking garage, about seven minutes after a large brawl broke out between members of the far-right group and their opponents. Officers arrested some counterprotesters who had come out to oppose the right-wing group.

 

Aug. 16

 

Axios Sneak Peek, Investigation: 1 big thing: Trump eyes new unproven virus "cure," Jonathan Swan, right, Aug. 16, 2020. To the alarm of some government health jonathan swan twitterofficials, President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the Food and Drug Administration to approve an extract from the oleander plant as a dietary supplement to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works.

• The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July.
• It's embraced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product.
• Lindell told Axios that in the meeting, Trump "basically said: …'The FDA should be approving it.'"
• The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Why it matters: A senior administration official familiar with the internal conversations told Axios, "The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and MyPillow.com in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic."

The big picture: It's part of a pattern in which entrepreneurs, often without rigorous vetting, push unproven products to Trump — knowing their sales pitches might catch his eye. Trump will then urge FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to "look at" or speed up approval.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)• In March, Trump personally lobbied Hahn to authorize hydroxychloroquine's emergency use to treat COVID-19.
• The FDA obliged. But in June, after a large trial, the agency revoked that authorization and warned of the "risk of heart rhythm problems" in COVID-19 patients treated with the drug.

Behind the scenes: Senior administration officials familiar with the internal conversations around oleandrin have raised concerns about the way this botanical extract — pushed by Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology — is being promoted at the highest levels of the Trump administration.

• There is no public data showing oleandrin has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against COVID-19, but the extract has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus in a non-peer reviewed laboratory study.
• In an interview on Saturday, Whitney told Axios that oleandrin has been tested on humans for its efficacy against COVID-19 but said the study has not been published yet. He also said the lab study is in the process of being peer reviewed.

ben carsonHUD Secretary Carson, right, has enthusiastically promoted oleandrin to Trump administration officials and to the president himself.

• MyPillow CEO Lindell, who is a major advertiser on Fox News and a personal friend of Carson and Trump, helped Whitney get an Oval Office meeting with the president in July to discuss oleandrin as a potential COVID-19 cure. (The Washington Post first reported this meeting.)
• Lindell said that he, Carson, at least one lawyer and, briefly, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, joined Trump and Whitney for the meeting. Notably absent was Hahn, the head of the agency that studies and approves medical treatments.
• Asked why the HUD secretary was promoting an unproven botanical extract to cure COVID-19, a Carson spokesperson emailed the following statement to Axios: "Secretary Carson is a member of the Coronavirus Task Force, he has been directly involved with the Administration's response to this disease from the very beginning."
• "The Task Force is looking at a plethora of therapeutics to fight COVID-19," the statement also said. "To suggest that Secretary Carson, who is a world-renowned expert in the medical field, shouldn't be involved is not only absurd but unhelpful in our collective fight to eradicate the pandemic."

• A senior official familiar with Carson's involvement noted that while Carson is a world-renowned expert in pediatric neurosurgery, he is not a world-renowned expert on antiviral drugs or infectious diseases.

What's next: Whitney said he is pursuing multiple paths to getting oleandrin to market.

• The first path is as a COVID-19 drug, which would involve a rigorous process that includes clinical trials.
• But to hedge his bets, Whitney said he is also pushing the FDA to allow oleandrin to be sold off the shelf as a dietary supplement — a move that could be made immediately, Whitney has told administration officials.

Whitney has claimed to administration officials that oleandrin cures COVID-19 in two days, according to a source familiar with his private comments.

• But if the FDA allows oleandrin to be sold as a dietary supplement, the company would not be allowed to make medical claims about its ability to treat or cure COVID-19.
• Asked about this claim about oleandrin being a "cure" for COVID-19, Whitney said he stands by it "100%."

washington post logoWashington Post, Tracing Trump’s grievance-fueled crusade against the USPS, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). His attempts to make the post office a tool in his reelection campaign by slowing service and challenging the integrity of mail-in ballots represent a culmination of his efforts against the popular public institution that date to the start of his presidency.

us mail logoSoon after taking office in 2017, President Trump seized on the U.S. Postal Service as an emblem of the bloated bureaucracy. “A loser,” he repeatedly labeled one of America’s most beloved public institutions, according to aides who discussed the matter with him.

Allies coddled Trump by telling him the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was widespread mail-in balloting fraud — a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence — and the president’s postal outrage coarsened further.

Then Trump complained to senior White House advisers that Jeff Bezos — a presidential foe in part because he owns The Washington Post, whose news coverage the president thought was unfair and too tough on him — was “getting rich” because Amazon had been “ripping off” the Postal Service with a “sweetheart deal” to ship millions of its packages, one of them recalled. They explained that this was not true and that the Postal Service actually benefited from Amazon’s business, the adviser added, but the president railed for months about what he described as a “scam.”

And now Trump has fixated again on the Postal Service, this time trying to make it a tool in his reelection campaign by slowing mail service, blocking an emergency infusion of federal funds and challenging the integrity of mail-in balloting. The president acknowledged last week that his opposition is rooted in his desire to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail.

  • Washington Post, FedEx and UPS are wary of delivering ballots for election

ny times logoNew York Times, Fact Check: Trump Ads Attack Biden Through Deceptive Editing and Hyperbole, Linda Qiu, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). We reviewed all of the Trump campaign’s television ads since June. Two-thirds contained clearly misleading claims or videos.

President Trump’s re-election campaign has spent tens of millions of dollars on television ads attacking his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. While their content varies greatly, be it the coronavirus, police funding, taxes or charter schools, the tactics used remain constant: selectively edited remarks and exaggerations.

djt biden smiles resizedThe New York Times reviewed 22 ads from the Trump campaign that have aired since June and that have been tracked republican elephant logoby Advertising Analytics. We found that 14 of those ads contained clearly misleading claims or videos. Here’s a review.

Throughout much of June and July, the ads have focused on activists’ calls to defund the police with hyperbolic warnings about the ramifications.

One, titled “Break-In,” begins with a voice describing “Seattle’s pledge to defund its police department by 50 percent, even including a proposal to remove 911 dispatchers from police control” as an older woman notices someone breaking into her house and dials 911.

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Robert Draper, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. Our investigation uncovered what happened next.

In early July of last year, the first draft of a classified document known as a National Intelligence Estimate circulated among key members of the agencies making up the U.S. intelligence community. N.I.E.s are intended to be that community’s most authoritative class of top-secret document, reflecting its consensus judgment on national-security matters ranging from Iran’s nuclear capabilities to global terrorism. The draft of the July 2019 N.I.E. ran to about 15 pages, with another 10 pages of appendices and source notes.

CIA LogoAccording to multiple officials who saw it, the document discussed Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence U.S. elections: the 2020 presidential contest and 2024’s as well. It was compiled by a working group consisting of about a dozen senior analysts, led by Christopher Bort, a veteran national intelligence officer with nearly four decades of experience, principally focused on Russia and Eurasia.

The N.I.E. began by enumerating the authors’ “key judgments.” Key Judgment 2 was that in the 2020 election, Russia favored the current president: Donald Trump.

The intelligence provided to the N.I.E.’s authors indicated that in the lead-up to 2020, Russia worked in support of the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as well. But Bort explained to his colleagues, according to notes taken by one participant in the process, that this reflected not a genuine preference for Sanders but rather an effort “to weaken that party and ultimately help the current U.S. president.” To allay any speculation that Putin’s interest in Trump had cooled, Key Judgment 2 was substantiated by current information from a highly sensitive foreign source described by someone who read the N.I.E. as “100 percent reliable.”

On its face, Key Judgment 2 was not a contentious assertion. In 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the umbrella entity supervising the 16 other U.S. intelligence agencies, released a report drawing on intelligence from the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency that found Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and aspired to help Trump. At a news conference with Trump in Helsinki in July 2018, President Vladimir Putin of Russia denied interfering in the election. But when asked by a reporter if he had wanted Trump to win, he replied bluntly: “Yes, I did.”

Yet Trump never accepted this and often actively disputed it, judging officials who expressed such a view to be disloyal. As a former senior adviser to Trump, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me, “You couldn’t have any conversation about Russia and the election without the president assuming you were calling his election into question. Everyone in the White House knew that, and so you just didn’t talk about that with him.” According to this former adviser, both John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, who were Trump’s national security adviser and acting chief of staff in 2019, went to considerable lengths to keep the subject of Russian election interference off the president’s agenda.

Salon, Analysis: What is QAnon? A not-so-brief introduction to the conspiracy theory that's eating America, Robert Guffey, Aug. 16, 2020. (This is the first article in a series.)_ Do millions of Americans really believe Donald Trump is saving children from underground demons? It seems that way.

I've been involved in the wild world of conspiracy theories for 24 years now, ever since I published my first article in the pages of Paranoia Magazine in the spring of 1996 when I was 24 years old. What most impressed me about Paranoia was the anarchy of information available within its pages. It wasn't a right-wing conspiracy magazine. It wasn't a left-wing conspiracy magazine. It didn't even exist between these two poles. Its editorial mission (or non-mission) was beholden to values (or non-values) that lay far beyond these limiting parameters, a dedication to cataloging and analyzing the extremes of fringe beliefs from multiple points of view. As Marshall McLuhan once said, "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." The editors of Paranoia dedicated themselves to not having a point of view. It was the exact opposite of propaganda. By its very nature, propaganda excludes any information that contradicts or undermines the message the dedicated propagandist is intent on disseminating.

Conspiracy theories have always been used by what we now call "persuasion engineers" as tools of mass indoctrination. A good conspiracy theory that seems plausible and frightening enough can be worth more than a thousand well-reasoned stump speeches.
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In my first book, "Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form," I broke conspiracy theories down into five distinct categories: 1) Insanity, 2) Disinformation, 3) Misinformation, 4) Satire, and 5) Legitimate Research. Some theories manage to merge two or more categories into one. Only on very rare occasions do such theories manage to combine all five categories. The most recent — and arguably most impactful — strain of this hybrid form of conspiracy-mongering first emerged in 2017, promulgated by an anonymous 4chan poster known only as "Q" — or "QAnon." You've been hearing a lot about this lately, most likely. At least one QAnon supporter is almost certain to be elected to Congress in November, and devotees of this particular conspiracy theory are eagerly supporting the re-election of Donald Trump.

The average person, who has not spent the past couple of decades studying the origins of conspiracy theories (a reasonable choice, I might add), would probably not recognize the origins of most of the quasi-surreal elements that make up the convoluted QAnon narrative.

Earlier this year, in March, I was talking to a friend about COVID-19 and the national lockdown. He's 10 years older than me and lives in a small town in the Midwest. I live in Long Beach, California. While chatting with him on the phone about all the unexpected difficulties that have arisen from teaching my English classes online, he suddenly volunteered the opinion that COVID-19 would be a positive development in 2020.

As of May 28, only 10 days after being posted, this video had already received 33,105 views and only 34 dislikes. I've seen YouTube videos of random kids opening birthday presents get more dislikes than that. The Blessed to Teach YouTube channel has 92,600 subscribers.

If it's not clear to you yet, let me spell this out: Even as you're reading these words, there are thousands of "Christian Patriots" living in the United States who sincerely believe that Donald Trump saved them from being eaten by demons when he entered the White House. This is not hyperbole. This is a literal interpretation of what they believe.

This is the mentality you're dealing with. No amount of logic, common sense or reason can combat such convoluted delusions. These people are clearly the product of incessant brainwashing, and yet they think everyone else in the country is mind-controlled to such an extreme degree that people who do not support Trump are either A) soulless demon-worshippers or B) poor unfortunates incapable of understanding the obvious truths being unveiled by geniuses like "Rick B2T" and his pal "Gene." On Nov. 18, 1978, hundreds of "True Believers" in Guyana held similar beliefs, only seconds before they literally drank the Kool-Aid.

You might assume that most of Rick's viewers are hardcore evangelicals dwelling in a deep pit in the Ozarks. But my friend wasn't raised a hardcore Christian and had never expressed such views in my presence over the course of many, many years. Something happened to change him radically between the emergence of QAnon in 2017 and the advent of the national lockdown in 2020. Even a regular Joe can be swayed by nonsense with a fair amount of ease.

Nonsense has always been an essential part of the American landscape, from Salem witch hunts in the 1690s to New Age UFO cults in the 1990s, but QAnon takes this tradition of nonsense to a whole new level.

Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University, Long Beach. His books include the novel "Until the Last Dog Dies" and "Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security."

Heavy.com, Millie Weaver: Filmmaker Arrested Hours Before ‘Shadow Gate,’ Erin Laviola, Aug. 16, 2020. Millie Weaver is a conservative filmmaker who was arrested at her home in northeastern Ohio hours before she was scheduled to debut her new documentary called Shadow Gate on YouTube.

Weaver, shown at right and below at left, claimed she had uncovered a plot, orchestrated by both major political parties, against President Donald Trump and that the documentary would explain how it all worked.

The timing of her arrest flamed conspiracy theories online, with critics wondering whether the arrest was related to the Shadow Gate documentary. Heavy confirmed with the Portage County Jail that Weaver, along with her significant other, Gavin Wince, were both arrested on August 14 on felony charges including robbery and domestic violence. There is no evidence to suggest her arrest was related to the documentary.

The Portage County Sheriff further confirmed via email that Weaver was arrested on an indictment from the Portage County Grand Jury. Heavy has reached out to the county prosecutor’s office to ask about obtaining a copy of the affidavit.

Aug. 13

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: CIA-Sponsored Propaganda Has Been Around for 75 Years, Wayne Madsen (shown below at left), Aug. 13, 2020. The release of a report by the U.S. Department of State’s strategic culture logoGlobal Engagement Center (GEC), billed as the Donald Trump administration’s “dedicated center for countering foreign disinformation and propaganda, cites the Strategic Culture Foundation in Russia, Canada’s Global Research Center, and other on-line publications as “proxy sites” for Russian intelligence and the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The State Department’s report is titled, “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” and it is not much different than the series of reports issued by the State Department’s “International Information Program” in the mid-2000s that were used to debase U.S. journalists and authors critical of the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney neo-conservative wars of choice. Those diatribes, like the recent one masquerading as a “special report,” were written on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime and represent a squandering of money.

Diagrams in the recent State Department report depict various on-line publications and Internet sites as coronavirus microbes. The Mike Pompeo-led State Department, which has, along with the Trump White House, issued a daily dose of pabulum that can only be described as conspiracy theory-based rantings from congenital liars and reality-challenged fabulists and fanatical right-wingers, have no ethical or political grounds to proclaim virtuousness when it comes to spewing forth propaganda and outright lies.

One could easily issue a multi-volume report that deals with America’s propaganda factory both during the Cold War and in its aftermath. A major focus of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from its very inception was the penetration of the news media, including the assignment of CIA agents to the newsrooms and editorial offices of America’s largest media operations, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Hearst Newspapers, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, and other major newspapers and broadcast networks.

CIA LogoThe CIA also thoroughly infiltrated America’s political polling companies, including Gallup, Harris, and Roper. Details concerning the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD and “The Mighty Wurlitzer” propaganda and news influencing operations can easily be found in the annals of America’s post-World War II history. These are activities that the U.S. corporate media, as well as the CIA and State Department would prefer to have global consumers of news ignore.

As far as the State Department’s “Propaganda Ecosystem” report and its earlier incarnation, the International Information Program (IIP), are concerned, they are remnants of U.S. Cold War-era disinformation shops. The IIP’s chief propagandist was a one-time colleague of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff in formulating pro-apartheid propaganda for South Africa’s minority apartheid government in the 1980s – Project Babushka. In the 1980s, through a front organization in Washington established by South Africa’s military establishment – the International Freedom Foundation (IFF) – propaganda was regularly churned out to argue against sanctions imposed on the apartheid regime. Serving as chairman of the editorial advisory board for the IFF’s publication branch—a group that pumped out all sorts of propaganda claiming that the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela were Communists – was none other than the far-right Republican Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms.

Today, Helms has been replaced by similar vile right-wing political creatures like Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Ron Johnson of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWisconsin, who are always willing to carry the political tripe doled out by the Trump White House and Pompeo State Department.

Operating out of the State Department, the IIP launched vicious attacks on two American writers – this one included – as well as the Argentine newspaper Clarin, the Sunday Mirror (London), Quinto Dia (Venezuela), and other publications over their reports on the George W. Bush administration’s covert and war crime operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Southeast Asia, Iran, and Pakistan. The IIP even attacked The Los Angeles Times over its story on the kidnapping of poor children from poverty-ravished Latin American barrios for the purpose of organ harvesting. The IIP’s true masters in Israel were upset about the coverage because it involved Israeli human organ brokers.

Aug. 9

Conspiracy of Dunces

People who convince themselves that they’re really smart often do the dumbest things. I’ve fallen prey to this dynamic myself in the past. Yet perhaps no one in history is a better example of this than the Cambridge Four. Their story is both a tragedy and a farce—think Jason Bournemeets Austin Powers — with larger-than-life characters that might be equally at home in a Saturday Night Live skit or a John Le Carré spy thriller. Yet the damage they did is deadly serious.

The Cambridge Four’s most mythical, larger-than-life character — both literally and figuratively — is my former advisor, Halper. Codenamed “the Walrus,” in person he appears well over 300 pounds, and carries himself with grandiose airs, evoking fictional anti-heroes like Ignatius O’Reilly of Confederacy of Dunces or Shakespeare’s Falstaff.

At first, I was drawn to and respected him for his bold books opposing brain-dead Republican orthodoxies on the Iraq War and China policy. It seemed his real-world government experience eerily mirrored my own. I had yet to discover his checkered past, including: his reported role in organizing ex-CIA operatives to steal Jimmy Carter’s 1980 debate materials; 1990’s crack cocaine arrest; and FBI firing in 2011 for “mercurial” behavior, demanding more “compensation” and “questionable allegiance to [intelligence] targets.”

By the time I organized a major 2016 conference to serve as a capstone of my years of research at Harvard and Cambridge — ironically focused on the national security risks of U.S. presidential campaigns — Halper was a gregarious, opinionated eccentric who struggled to use Cambridge’s basic internet system without help.

He appeared slightly more “mercurial” and rattled after losing his politics professorship in the months before my conference. Yet the idea that any competent FBI or government official would rely on him as a linchpin for world-changing Trump-Russia conspiracy investigations was and is preposterous.

Halper might have faded into retirement — and Spygate likely never would have happened — without my driving forward with the 2016 conference, one that Halper, again ironically, had repeatedly urged me to cancel. An all-star cast of international academics and officials would be there, headlined by Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s confidante Madeleine Albright.

But after a 20-something Cambridge administrative official smugly told me “there’s no way Trump can win” and cut our travel funding, it sent me on a mad scramble. I had to find someone, anyone, to fly over on a last-minute economy ticket to represent the Trump campaign. This is the only reason Spygate’s “FBI Spy” Halper and Russiagate’s “Russian Spy” Carter Page ever met, with consequences still shaking politics today. For most of the conference, Halper couldn’t be bothered with Page, about whom he made snarky comments about behind Page’s back, while focusing on Albright. That all changed when another one of the Cambridge Four arrived.

Sir Richard Dearlove is a former director of MI6 and Halper’s long-time collaborator. He arrived at the last minute from a billionaire’s Rocky Mountain soiree called the Allen Conference, whose other attendees reportedly included Oprah, Obama confidants, and Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. Dearlove was under the cloud of an official UK investigation into the Iraq war rationale, called the Chilcot Report that were serious even by the Walrus’s or Weinstein’s standards, given the geopolitical consequences.

Among other things, it involved Dearlove’s MI6 allegedly withholding the fact that a key piece of “intelligence” George W. Bush used to launch the attacks – the idea that chemical munitions were kept in “glass beads or spheres” – suspiciously mirrored an erroneous factoid from the plot of the 1996 WMD-heist movie The Rock, starring Nicholas Cage.

At my conference’s last session, Dearlove went far off the script I had discussed with his assistant, lambasting Trump as a national security threat in front a Trump advisor, and our official guest, Page. My jaw hit the floor in embarrassment, but that, and his discussion with Dearlove, seemed to cause Halper to do a 180-degree shift. Suddenly, he seemed desperately interested in isolating, cornering, and ingratiating himself to Page and promoting himself to the Trump campaign.

Dearlove’s former MI6 agent and the third Cambridge Four member, Christopher Steele, is now as famous as his old boss. According to multiple reports, Steele had been hired by a Clinton campaign contractor a few weeks earlier to compile the infamous “Steele Dossier.” Steele filled his “intelligence” reports with obviously non-intelligent assertions, including that Trump-Russia conspiracies were run out of Russia’s Miami consulate — a consulate an average high schooler with internet access could instantly show did not exist.

Similarly, Steele’s famous allegations that notorious germaphobe Trump paid prostitutes to urinate while Putin recorded him seemed like a teenage boy’s dream after watching too many Austin Powers movies — and with recent news revealing Steele’s highly suspect sub-source, Igor Dyachenko, his story appears just about as based on reality.

The Cambridge’s Four’s final member, Christopher Andrew, seemed the least likely to become involved. He initially called some of Halper’s Russia conspiracy theories “absurd.” Yet by early 2017 he published an articlethat helped legitimize false allegations against Trump’s team and even implicated his own student.

I call them — Halper, Steele, Dearlove, and Andrew — the Cambridge Four because of parallels to another British spy story of yore, perhaps the most notorious intelligence scandal in history. That earlier “Cambridge Five” spy ring, including infamous names like Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, became the basisfor John LeCarré’s famous spy thriller and film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Five were Cold War Soviet spies who escaped virtually unpunished after embarrassed British and American officials essentially covered up the extent of their betrayals. One, Anthony Blunt, was even knighted and served as art curator to the Queen.

These Cambridge men undermined democracy and the U.S.-UK relationship, while making fools of politicians, the media, and officials linked to the FBI, CIA and MI6 for years. The same can be said of our new Cambridge Four.

I have no indication that any of the Cambridge Four were ever on Russia’s payroll or were actual spies for Russia, like their Cambridge Five namesakes. Yet the Cambridge Four, and their media and political enablers, did a miraculous job in pushing fake Trump-Russia conspiracy stories that undermined America’s democratically-elected government and sparked investigations still ripping us apart today. In this regard, the Cambridge Four were probably the most effective tools for Russia’s disinformation campaign to divide America that Putin could have ever dreamed of.

Flynn’s Tag Team Take Down

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the Cambridge Four’s roles — or is more urgent given Flynn’s legal hearing August 11 — than the takedown of Trump’s national security advisor. Starting in 2016, Halper made odd requests for me to brief him and others on Trump’s team. He even had me research Trump, allegedly as part of my thesis work, even though my thesis was focused on past, not present, presidents.

In these discussions I stressed that Flynn was indispensable. He was perhaps the only campaign advisor who both had Trump’s personal trust and the deep intelligence experience necessary to expose hidden problems in the intelligence community. At one point, I even recall telling Halper that taking Flynn out would be like “beheading” Trump’s team. I had no idea I had been unintentionally aiding a spy preparing the guillotine and helping lead Flynn to exactly such a beheading.

Whether and to what degree the Cambridge Four’s individual acts were formally coordinated can likely only be proven by testimony under oath and reviewing phone records, emails, and documents — things government officials seem to have blocked the Cambridge Four and Halper’s FBI handler, Steve Somma, from for four years. Yet it would seem odd if four, interconnected individuals linked to a town thousands of miles from Moscow or DC, randomly took acts that fit together so perfectly to take down Flynn.

My conference ended on July 12, 2016 with a closing session where Halper, Dearlove, and Page had their strange interactions. Almost immediately after that, the sparks of international intelligence interest surrounding Trump-Russia connections caught fire. Seven days after the conference, Steele provided a new report for the Clinton Campaign. In it, for the first time, Steele made Page central to his Trump-Russia conspiracies.

Eleven days after that, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation officially launched, allegedly due to a tip (based on a casual London wine bar conversation two months earlier) by an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer linked to the Clinton Foundation and to the Cambridge Four through the tight-knit London/Cambridge Five Eyes intelligence community (involving the CIA, FBI, and MI6). Current CIA Director Gina Haspel was the CIA station chief in London when Downer reportedlybroke typical protocol by giving his tip directly to that Embassy’s team.

Halper’s long-time FBI handler Steve Somma, who personally saved Halper’s FBI career after Halper’s firing in 2011, was quickly reassigned to Crossfire Hurricane despite Somma telling the DOJ’s Inspector General that he “lacked a basic understanding of simple [campaign] issues.” Shortly after his reassignment, Somma claimed he “couldn’t believe [their] luck” as he “kind of stumbled upon” Halper’s ties to Crossfire Hurricane’s top targets, including from his recently meeting Page at my conference.

Halper quickly agreed to highly questionable, if not illegal, FBI requests to secretly record his own party’s presidential campaign advisers. Two business days after Somma held his meetings with Halper, the Crossfire Razor investigation of Flynn launched on August 16.

In the weeks after my Summer 2016 conference, Halper and Dearlove quit an academic entity, the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), they’d put together with Andrew. After these resignations, rumors circulated that Trump’s national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, was seduced by a young blonde “Russian spy” in Cambridge years earlier. This “seduction” allegedly occurred after three of the Cambridge Four — Halper, Dearlove, and Andrew — hosted Flynn for CIS events in 2014. I attended part of their program and found nothing untoward, just typical academic fare. Neither apparently did any of the Cambridge Four find anything wrong, until years later after two of them crossed paths with Page at my conference.

Steele’s role pushing anti-Flynn stories was revealed in his dossier and the testimony of an aide to Republican Senator John McCain. Steele met the aide in London during the fall of 2016, telling him that “Flynn had an extramarital affair with a Russian woman in the U.K.” and using details mirroring the other Cambridge Four stories. The Washington Post also reports Steele and Dearlove discussed how his anti-Trump work might integrate with UK government actions from at least “early fall” 2016.

Yet by winter 2016, these efforts were imploding. After Trump’s election, FBI agents texted about “a lot of scared MFers” at headquarters who needed to “[s]tart looking for new jobs fellas.” Yet doubling down on questionable investigations might have been some of the FBI Keystone Cops’ only escape route.

Before the election, Halper and the FBI made several wired-up spying attempts: secretly recording and questioning Page and Papadopoulos to try and catch them in statements supporting Steele’s Trump-Russia conspiracies. Their clown car operation backfired spectacularly, often contradicting Steele. Halper at one point awkwardly put a phone down as if to record Papadopoulos while spewing questions about Russia. On an FBI recording, Halper apparently admitted he was “three sheets to the wind” drunk.

The supposedly “confidential” source Halper seemingly made a public, last-ditch attempt to try and legitimize allegations of a Russian conspiracy at Cambridge through a December 16 Financial Times newspaper article. Halper claimed he and Dearlove quit the seminar that hosted Flynn due to “unacceptable Russian influence.” Halper’s partner Andrew initially called Halper’s assertions “absurd.” Another professor added that “Cambridge is a wonderful place for conspiracy theories, but the idea there is a Machiavellian plot here is ridiculous…it’s real Reds under the Bed stuff—the whole thing is ludicrous.”

But Andrew later seemed to flip, giving legs to his Cambridge Four comrades’ smears by authoring an 2017 article implying their falsely accused “Russian spy” behaved seductively towards Flynn. That this fake “spy” was a new mother — and Andrew’s own student mentee for years — made this more disturbing.

Despite Halper’s article, a few weeks later these efforts were dead. A memo to terminate the Flynn investigation was on its way to FBI director on January 4, finding “no derogatory evidence.” Flynn would soon lead the NSC, where he would be empowered to expose the Cambridge Four and could bring them to their own career guillotines. They would likely be joined by Director Comey, McCabe, and FBI officials whom Democrats had widely derided earlier for botching the Hillary Clinton email investigation before they staked what remained of their credibility to Steele’s falsehoods. Then everything changed.

A General, a Walrus, and a “Kill Shot”

McCabe’s FBI subordinate Peter Strzok — who earlier texted that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation was like an “insurance policy” in case of Trump’s election which “[w]e’ll stop” and he could “SMELL the Trump support” at a Walmart — intervened on January 4 to pull the memo terminating Flynn’s investigation.

The next day, January 5, Strzok attended an Oval Office Meeting with President Obama, National Security Adviser Rice, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director Comey. Among the topics were intercepted calls between Flynn and Russia’s Ambassador discussing sanctions. Strzok’s notes indicate Vice President Biden suggested that Flynn somehow violated a 216-year-old, possibly unconstitutional, and never successfully prosecuted, law called the Logan Act.

All of this — White House discussions, the taping of Flynn, Flynn-Russia conversations — were highly classified. They were never supposed to go public. If no one commits a felony by leaking them, this whole situation likely disappears. It is hard to believe anyone in Trump’s White House, or even in the last days of Obama’s presidency, would try to prosecute Flynn for a “Logan Act” violation of a possibly unconstitutional law he probably didn’t even violate, and that hasn’t been successfully prosecuted in its over two centuries of existence.

If this law — created to stop private citizens from intervening in foreign affairs — applied to incoming presidential teams, likely Joe Biden, Susan Rice, and most of the incoming international teams of Presidents Obama, Bush, Reagan, and Clinton would be guilty. Under our Constitution, it is the job of presidential campaigns to announce how they will change policy. So, unless someone commits the leak against Flynn, this all would be resolved internally. It is never transformed into a public Russia-Trump conspiracy tearing our country apart. But as we all now know, and history recorded, that is not what happened.

Five days after that the January 5 Oval Office meeting, I met Halper in Virginia. I didn’t think much about that meeting until Durham’s team requested I review my records. Because Halper had seemed increasingly erratic in our dealings, making it difficult to advance my doctoral work, I requested to start recording our conversations back in 2015 to document his guidance.

When I listened to my January 10, 2017 recording a few weeks ago, I expected to find boring academic discussions. Instead I found something else.
In the recording Halper laid out what was about to happen to Flynn, something he had no independent reason to know. “I don’t think Flynn’s going to be around long,” he said, adding, “the way these things work” was that “opponents… so-called enemies” of Flynn would be “looking for ways of exerting pressure…that’s how it builds.”
Flynn, he said, would be “squeezed pretty hard,” and Flynn’s “reaction to that is to blow up and get angry. He’s really fucked. I don’t where he goes from there. But that is his reaction. That’s why he’s so unsuitable.”

The full audio of his Flynn discussion is linked here.

Those still defending the Crossfire Hurricane investigation will say there is no smoking gun here. There is no confession that individuals lied to ensnare Flynn, leaked classified information, or illegally undermined and sabotaged America’s government.

As someone experienced in crime and terrorism efforts, I can assure you of a hard truth: there almost never is. That is why we have jury trials, congressional investigations, and adversarial processes to uncover the truth.

That is why the most disturbing thing is that the Cambridge Four, their FBI/intelligence handlers, and others have been hidden from critical public and government inquiries for over four years. Context (including my background and materials) is vital, as is the chance for Halper, myself, Carter Page, and others involved to publicly testify, defend themselves, and answer questions. Yet for now, the context I can add makes this more troubling.

Halper would not have independently known Flynn, Trump’s most trusted security advisor, was about to go down. Halper knew the Cambridge Four’s Flynn affair allegations were, at best, unsubstantiated speculations, if not intentional lies. The FBI sought to close Flynn’s investigation and had mounting evidence undermining Steele’s Page and Papadopoulos allegations.

Even if Halper knew about Flynn’s “Logan Act violation” calls, it wouldn’t have mattered. Trump’s Administration would not prosecute this. It was, as Obama’s Acting Attorney General Sally Yates even admitted, “certainly unlikely” Obama’s Administration would either — it would expose their Crossfire investigation and spark bipartisan ridicule over a legally and politically suspect “Logan Act” prosecution in Obama’s last 10 days.

Halper was often unhinged and “mercurial,” as FBI described him in his 2011 firing. Months earlier he exploded screaming to block my long-planned outreach to the Trump campaign, likely fearing I would expose him and the Cambridge Four. Now Halper’s efforts were collapsing like a house of cards, likely leading to the Cambridge Four’s actual exposure, possibly even prosecution, once Flynn came to power. He should have been at wits’ end. Yet in the recording he was as eerily calm, almost cocky, as I’ve ever heard him.

One of the remaining tasks of investigators is determining the precise source of the leaks about Flynn to the Washington Post. These leaks were a critical inflection point. They revived the Trump-Russia investigations that were about to die and stopped Flynn before he could expose the fabrications and incompetence behind it all.

This is not a classic whistleblowing situation, wherein the confidentiality of the leaker should ideally remain sacrosanct in light of an important, socially-beneficial disclosure. This is the opposite: a leak seemingly manufactured with the intent of creating a media firestorm around a figure the FBI had already investigated, to no effect. The FBI’s key “confidential” source was already naming himself in a major global newspaper as he openly pushed Russia conspiracy theories.

Fairness demands individuals have a chance to testify under oath and defend themselves, yet members of the Cambridge Four, once again, have links that should be explored. It is demonstrably true that Halper knew Ignatius for decades, and he also bragged to me Ignatius was his press contact. Ignatius’ Post colleague, Robert Costa, was also Halper’s former student, and has described Halper as a “friend” he “had dinner with on many occasions.”

When Halper was outed as an FBI informant in 2018, Ignatius quickly filed a story calling Halper a “bit player” and a “middle man,” in what may have been an attempt to turn attention away from his long-time source. It is also worth noting that Flynn’s lawyer, Sydney Powell, has accused Pentagon official James Baker of making the leak — a charge a Pentagon official denied — and of coordinating with Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on what she called a “kill shot” on Flynn.

Baker leads the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA), whichreported paying Halper $411,575 while he surveilled Trump’s team. ONA claims this enormous sum —more than the annual salary of the President of the United States — was paid to Halper for fairly normal, largely publicly-sourced, reports to this office. I always found it strange that Halper profusely thanked me for introducing him to Carter Page, even after Page was accused of being a “Russian spy.” The disclosure that some of these payments started around the time Halper met Page, provided me with a theory on why he was so grateful.

According to a former Washington Post reporter, numerous sources were checked before the January 12, 2017 Ignatius story was published. While Flynn’s lawyer Powell suggested Baker leaked to Ignatius, it might be safer for Halper, rather than highly monitored government officials like Baker or Clapper, to provide information to his long-time media contact Ignatius, former student Costa, or one of their Post colleagues. Halper’s confidential FBI source role could be used to hide him from Congressional or public scrutiny. Halper’s FBI handler Somma could be hidden by a DOJ policy shielding lower-level employees, while foreign members of the Cambridge Four can selectively dodge U.S. investigations.

This exactly corresponds to what has happened so far.

The Getaway

My former supervisor, using his booming voice and bold ideas, likes to be the center of attention. Yet for two years his allies with powerful intelligence, political, and media ties seem to have done the impossible. They made this massive figure almost completely disappear.

The Mueller and DOJ IG investigations of these scandals relied in large part on input from DOJ and FBI officials linked to potential abuses — including the FBI’s Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page and DOJ’s Andrew Weisman. When Congress grilled long-time FBI leader Mueller about why he didn’t interview “Steven Schrage” or others who might expose DOJ or FBI improprieties, he stammered: “[i]n those areas, I am going to stay away from…I stand by that which is in the report and not so necessarily with that, which is - which is not in the report.”

Given Mueller’s stated preference to “stay away” from those with information that might implicate members of his team and the DOJ IG’s reliance on DOJ insiders, it’s not surprising that people like me who were in a position to expose the Russiagate narrative were not interviewed.

What is surprising for anyone valuing journalistic standards, is that those under government investigation for abuses of power have so easily avoided hard questions. Some have even been given media contractsto spin their own actions. Imagine if Nixon’s allies appointed the Watergate burglars to investigate themselves, then placed them in nightly news positions where they could attack anyone questioning them. Politics shouldn’t destroy our principles.

There is too much to fully detail here, but further revelations – and they are forthcoming – will make these moves even more damning. How Cambridge Four members and Carter Page came together is a comedy of errors rivaling Dumb and Dumber. An FBI source had information that should have stopped Carter Page’s invasive surveillance in August 2016 before it started. A covert anti-Trump operative sought to be appointed to one of the world’s most powerful positions that could be used to undermine the president.

Evidence suggests undisclosed famous officials, including Republicans, tried to cover up their links to Steele’s smears. The IG report contains statements by Crossfire officials that appear factual inaccurate, inherently inconsistent, or highly improbable, raising questions about whether they risked prosecution to conceal their acts.

“I don’t remember.” That should be the official, trademarked motto of the government officials involved in these events. It is what former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates responded under oath this past Wednesday.

She had been asked if Vice President Biden raised the Logan Act in their Oval Office discussion of Flynn on January 5, 2017, seven days before the felony leak on Flynn’s alleged “Logan Act” violation was published. Flynn’s appeals hearing is on Tuesday, and Vice President Biden and President Trump are on the ballot in less than 90 days. These issues should be beyond politics. They should have been dealt with before now. They would have, if Washington insiders could “remember” things, like how to provide legally-mandated documents under our Constitution or their duties to the public.

This is also beyond the pervasive, often subconscious, partisanship that now blinds us. The intelligence leak claiming Russia supported Bernie Sanders over Vice President Biden in 2020’s critical Nevada Democratic caucuses, shows how our national security powers could just as easily be deployed against Democrats as against Republicans.

In my work after 9/11, I saw how those national security powers combined with unaccountable government officials could do things George Orwell never dreamed over. Russia and foreign interference in elections should be taken seriously. Yet pushing the threat of Russia—now a country with a GDP the CIA publicly estimates is far closer to Indonesia’s than our own—like we are in the middle of a 1950’s Red Scare push by Senator Joseph McCarthy, should not be used as a political weapon to cover up or excuse our own government officials’ abuses.

For years, political and intelligence officials have concealed key documents — and even my former supervisor the Walrus — in ways that have divided America and derailed our government’s work.If Biden, Trump, or members of their teams grossly abused national security powers to upend democracy, we deserve to know as soon as possible before the election.

This should not be turned into an “October surprise” or later used to throw any new presidential administration into chaos. Allowing politicians and national security officials to cover up or even profit from abuses of power, puts us on course for even greater disasters. America can’t afford another government and media strike out, after four years of too much denial, incompetence, and coverup.

 

ABC News, Michael Flynn's criminal case to be reheard by full appeals court, Alexander Mallin, July 30, 2020. The court has set a hearing date for Aug. 11. The full Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has agreed to hold a re-hearing on the Justice Department's efforts to drop the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the court announced Tuesday.

The announcement from the full court tosses out a previous 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel on the court last month that sought to overrule D.C. district judge Emmet Sullivan and demand he accept the DOJ's motion to end the case.

Sullivan had appointed an outside former judge to argue against the DOJ and Flynn's legal team as he weighed whether to move forward in sentencing Flynn, who previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian Ambassador in 2016. Sullivan had also raised issue with whether Flynn committed perjury by seeking to withdraw his plea.

The announcement is the latest twist in the more than three-year, politically fraught case first brought by former special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Attorney General William Barr made the surprise decision to move to drop the case in May after he said a U.S. attorney he had appointed to review the FBI's investigation uncovered evidence that undercut Flynn's prosecution.

Barr has repeatedly sought to brush off criticism over his intervention in the case involving one of the president's allies, saying in an interview at the time he was, "doing the law's bidding."

The Justice Department and Flynn's attorney's have additionally argued that when Sullivan did not initially accept their motion to dismiss the case, he overstepped his authority and assumed the role of the prosecution.

Two judges on the appeals court agreed with that assessment at least in part. D.C. Circuit Judge Neomi Rao wrote in her opinion last month seeking to overrule Sullivan that, "a hearing cannot be used as an occasion to superintend the prosecution’s charging decisions, because authority over criminal charging decisions resides fundamentally with the Executive without the involvement of—and without oversight power in—the Judiciary."

"Each of our three coequal branches should be encouraged to self-correct when it errs," Rao said. "If evidence comes to light calling into question the integrity or purpose of an underlying criminal investigation, the Executive Branch must have the authority to decide that further prosecution is not in the interest of justice."

The full court will now hear arguments between Flynn's legal team and lawyers representing Sullivan on Aug. 11.

Aug. 1

Whistleblowing Revelations

"You never volunteer to be a whistleblower; it falls into your lap."

-- Wayne Madsen

charlotte dennett

OpEdNews, 2020 Annual Whistleblower Summit Features "Telling Stories Almost Too Big to Hear," Marta Steele, Aug. 1, 2020. This year's annual Whistleblower Summit, held on Zoom in combination with a dynamic film festival, featured a world-class panel, "Telling Stories Almost Too Big to Hear," organized by the well-known activist and attorney Andrew Kreig,

The four panelists, all expert whistleblowers who have spoken truth to power, included Charlotte Dennett, author of The Crash of Flight 3804 (shown above), the story of her investigations into the death of her father in a 1947 plane crash en route to report on his work investigating the huge oil industries in the Middle East.

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomWayne Madsen, left, author of 18 books and master investigative reporter, began this segment of his career with "an A to Z encyclopedia of covert groups focused on the most sensitive issues on Earth, encompassing the intelligence backgrounds of U.S. politicians and judges before they were elected to office."

Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, right, told his story of a meteoric career up the political ranks in the bright red state of Alabama despite his extremely progressive background and how Karl Rove and his cronies stepped in to ruin him even as he was being short-listed as a Democratic candidate for president in the 2004 general election. He has recently published an amazing memoir, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

Dr. William Pepper, a close associate of both Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. (with whom he is shown below) in the 1960s, told an amazing life story of investigating the assassinations of both, risking his life in the process.

mlk william pepper plot to kill cover 300x169

 

July

July 23

Daily Clout, The Crash of Flight 3408: A Daughter's Loss Becomes An Expose of "Pipeline Politics," Naomi Wolf, July 23, 2020 (33:44 min. video). Daily Clout editor Naomi Wolf, a best-selling author, interviews author Charlotte Dennett on her new book, The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, a Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil.

July 21

Last American Vagabond, Investigative Commentary: Alleged Salas Family Assailant Previously Worked for US/Israeli Intelligence-Linked Firm, Whitney Webb, right, July 21, 2020. Alleged Salas whitney webb twitterFamily Assailant Previously Worked for US/Israeli Intelligence-Linked Firm. The alleged gunmen who killed the son of Esther Salas, the judge recently assigned to the Epstein-Deutsche Bank case, worked for a company of corporate spies and mercenaries with ties to intelligence and also to Deutsche Bank.

The news of the shooting of the husband and son of Esther Salas, the judge recently assigned to oversee the Jeffrey Epstein – Deutsche Bank case, caused shock and confusion while also bringing renewed scrutiny to the Epstein scandal just a week after Epstein’s main co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, was denied bail in a separate case.

The case Salas is set to oversee is a class action lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who allege that Deutsche Bank “failed to properly monitor customers that the Bank itself deemed to be high risk, including, among others, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.” The case came after the New York state Department of Financial Services had settled with Deutsche Bank over the bank’s failure to cut ties with Epstein-linked accounts, resulting in Deutsche Bank paying a $150 million fine. Deutsche Bank, unlike other financial institutions, failed to close all of its accounts linked to Epstein until less than a month prior to his arrest last year, even though the bank had identified him as “high risk” years before.

Beyond the tragedy of Sunday’s shooting, which claimed the life of Salas’ only child, the quick discovery of the death of the main suspect, Roy Den Hollander, of a “self-inflicted” gunshot to the head before he could be arrested or questioned by authorities has led to speculation that there is more to the official narrative of the crime than meets the eye.

With law enforcement sources now claiming that Esther Salas was not the intended target of the attack and some media reports now suggesting that Den Hollander’s motive was related to his dislike of feminism, it appears there are efforts underway to distance Sunday’s tragic shooting from Salas’ recent assignment to the Epstein case, which occurred just four days before the tragic shooting.

The most likely reason for any such “damage control” effort lies in the fact that both U.S. law enforcement investigations and mainstream media reports have consistently downplayed the connections of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual trafficking and financial crimes to intelligence agencies in the U.S. and Israel. Similarly, Roy Den Hollander previously worked for a New York firm has been described as a “private CIA” with ties to those countries’ intelligence agencies and, also, ties to Deutsche Bank.

Founded by Jules Kroll in 1972, Kroll Associates would later become known as the “CIA of Wall Street” and “Wall Street’s Private Eye” and was alleged to be an actual front for the CIA by French intelligence agencies, according to theWashington Post. Part of the reason for this nickname, which was once a boasting point for top Kroll executives, owes to the fact that the firm frequently hired former CIA and FBI officers, as well as former members of MI6 and Mossad. K2 Intelligence, the successor to Kroll Associates founded by Jules Kroll and his son Jeremy in 2009, has similar hiring practices, counting former FBI and NSA officials among its ranks alongside former high-ranking members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. Kroll also boasted ties to the Bush family, with Jonathan Bush (George Bush Sr.’s brother) serving on its corporate advisory board, and Kroll was also employed by Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.

Though it is mainly involved in corporate security and investigations, Kroll has also frequently investigated targets of Washington foreign policy, including Saddam Hussein, and was also the company tapped to “reorganize” Enron in 2002. Kroll Associates also has long been a subject of scrutiny for those that question the official narrative on the attacks of September 11, 2001, given that the company was put in charge of security for the World Trade Center complex from 1993 bombing up through the 2001 attacks and has no shortage of ties to companies and individuals that profited from the attacks. Kroll itself experienced a “surge in business” following the events of 9/11, a day when its top executives all avoided going to work despite ostensibly providing security for the complex.

July 20

Former Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, left, and Fox prime time stars Tucker Carlson, center, and Sean Hannity (Fox News screenshots).

Former Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, left, and Fox prime time stars Tucker Carlson, center, and Sean Hannity (Fox News screenshots).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Fox News faces allegations of sexual harassment, rape, Erik Wemple, July 20, 2020. For the past few years, Fox News has kept telling us that it learned its lesson: The culture of sexual harassment that started with longtime chief Roger Ailes and extended to disgraced former anchor Bill O’Reilly and others had been addressed. New, accountable lines of authority were drawn up; a new HR apparatus was in place; a so-called Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council (WPIC) sprung into action.

fox news logo SmallHas it all done any good? Not according to a fresh lawsuit brimming with horrific allegations.

cathy areu left jennifer eckhartOn Monday, former Fox Business associate producer Jennifer Eckhart, shown at right in the adjoining photo, and former Fox News guest Cathy Areu, at left, brought a complaint against the network claiming yet more misconduct that key executives allegedly failed to thwart. The complaint, filed by Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin of Wigdor LLP, includes misconduct allegations directed at former host Ed Henry, prime-time mainstays Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity (portrayed above) and media correspondent/host Howard Kurtz.

The most disturbing allegations relate to Henry, a former Fox News host and correspondent who had a stormy tenure at the network. Henry was suspended for roughly four months in 2016 after carrying on an extramarital relationship with a Las Vegas hostess on company time. He returned to work and again climbed the hierarchy, becoming a co-host of the morning program “America’s Newsroom.”

Earlier this month, however, Fox News announced it had fired Henry over sexual misconduct allegations the network received on June 25. “Based on investigative findings, Ed has been terminated,” said top Fox News officials in a memo to colleagues. The conduct in question took place “years ago,” said the memo. At the time, Wigdor told the media that the firm wasn’t in a position to “share any further information.”

Now the other shoe has dropped. The complaint is detailed and not suitable for republication in a family newspaper such as this one.

Ed Henry, former Fox chief white house correspondentIt begins with a caution in red ink: “TRIGGER WARNING: THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS HIGHLY GRAPHIC INFORMATION OF A SEXUAL NATURE, INCLUDING SEXUAL ASSAULT.” It then alleges that Henry “preyed upon, manipulated and groomed Ms. Eckhart starting at the young age of 24, by exerting his abuse of power over her and her career. Mr. Henry not only leveraged this imbalance of power for control over his victim, Ms. Eckhart, but asked her to be his ‘sex slave’ and his ‘little whore,’ and threatened punishment and retaliation if Ms. Eckhart did not comply with his sexual demands.”

According to the document, Henry raped Eckhart at a hotel where the network puts up visiting employees. Eckhart was “helpless and restrained in metal handcuffs, as Mr. Henry preformed sadistic acts on her without her consent that left her injured, bruised and battered with bloody wrists.”

Included in the complaint are alleged text messages between Henry and Eckhart — messages that “establish Mr. Henry’s delusions and prove his violence,” according to the complaint. “Gona make you my little whore again,” reads one of them. Fox has denied allegations against others accused.

July 15

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Last American Vagabond, Investigative Commentary: The Maxwell Family Business: Espionage, Whitney Webb, right, July 15, 2020. Excerpted below: Ghislaine Maxwell is hardly the only whitney webb twitterMaxwell sibling to continue their father’s controversial work for intelligence, with other siblings carrying the torch specifically for Robert Maxwell’s sizable role in the PROMIS software scandal and subsequent yet related hi-tech espionage operations.

Many were surprised to learn earlier this month that the key co-conspirator in Jeffrey Epstein’s intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation, Ghislaine Maxwell, had been in hiding in New England since Epstein’s arrest and subsequent “suicide” last summer. Her recent arrest, of course, has returned attention to the Epstein scandal and to Ghislaine’s ties to the entire operation, in which she played a central and crucial role, arguably more so than Epstein himself.

Ghislaine was first reported to be living in New England at the mansion of her alleged boyfriend Scott Borgeson on August 14th of last year.

Though Maxwell is believed to have stayed there until purchasing the nearby New Hampshire home where she was arrested, attention from her presence on the East Coast was immediately and sensationally re-directed to the West Coast when, a day later on August 15th, the New York Post published a picture allegedly depicting Maxwell reading a book on “CIA operatives” at an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles, California. The photo (shown above, one of several ostensibly at the locale) was later revealed to have been photoshopped and a fake, but ultimately served its purpose in distracting from her actual location in New England.

While the media frenziedly covered the fake In-N-Out Burger photo, the appearance of an unexpected visitor nearby Borgeson’s mansion succeeded in largely slipping under the radar. On August 18th, Ghislaine’s sister Christine was spotted “packing up a number of bags” into a SUV just a few miles from Borgeson’s “secluded beachfront” home. Christine, who currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas, declined to comment on why she was visiting the exact area where Ghislaine was allegedly hiding at the time.

Out of the seven Maxwell siblings, Ghislaine Maxwell has undoubtedly received the bulk of media scrutiny both in recent years and arguably ever since the suspected homicide of the family robert maxwell with papers filepatriarch, Robert Maxwell (a press lord shown in a file photo at left), in 1991. In the years since his death, Robert Maxwell’s close ties to Israeli intelligence and links to other intelligence agencies have been documented by respected journalists and investigators including Seymour Hersh and Gordon Thomas, among others.

While Ghislaine’s own ties to intelligence have since come to light in relation to her critical role in facilitating the Jeffrey Epstein sexual blackmail operation, little, if any attention, has been paid to her siblings, particularly Christine and her twin sister Isabel, despite them having held senior roles at the Israeli intelligence front company that facilitated their father’s greatest act of espionage on Israel’s behalf, the sale of the bugged PROMIS software to the U.S. national laboratories at the heart of the country’s nuclear weapons system.

Not only that, but Christine and Isabel later became directly involved with technology-based business ventures that directly involved Ghislaine during the very period she worked with Epstein on behalf of Israeli and U.S. intelligence to ensnare powerful U.S. political and public figures in a sexual blackmail scheme involving minors. At the time, Ghislaine described her profession to a number of newspapers as “an internet operator.” Then, after this venture’s multi-million dollar sale to a competitor, Christine and Isabel became involved with successors to the PROMIS software scandal that were closely tied to U.S. intelligence and Israeli intelligence, respectively.

Ghislaine herself also became involved in these affairs, as did Jeffrey Epstein following his first arrest, as they began courting the biggest names in the U.S. tech scene, from Silicon Valley’s most powerful venture capital firms to its most well-known titans. This also dovetailed with Epstein’s investments in Israeli intelligence-linked tech firms and his claims of having troves of blackmail on prominent tech company CEOs during this same period.

With Ghislaine’s name and her ties to intelligence now inking their way back into the media sphere, detailing the decades-long course of these technology-focused espionage operations and their persistent ties to the Maxwell sisters demands the attention it deserves, as the need to air out the real Maxwell family business – espionage – is now greater than ever before. (Continued at The Last American Vagabond site.)

July 14

nsa headquarters strategic culture foundation

Headquarters of the National Security Agency in Maryland.

The Corbett Report via YouTube, Conspiracy Theorists Are Wrong!!! . . . Even When They're Right! James Corbett, right, james corbettJuly 14, 2020 (13:34 min. video). The host reviews Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, a new book by Pulitzer-winning Washington Post national security reporter Barton Gellman.

Corbett found remarkable the book's description of the FIRSTFRUITS scoop in 2005 by independent journalist Wayne Madsen' about an operation at the National Security Agency (NSA), where Madsen had worked for a year many years previous on detail from his work as a Navy intelligence officer.

In 2005, Madsen, below left, reported based on sources that an operation codenamed FIRSTFRUITS was targeting journalists and their sources, an undertaking at odds with the historic and supposed ban at NSA on spying on Americans.

Madsen's revelations were ignored by other journalists but were confirmed nearly a decade later in mainstream media accounts, including those based on the 2013 revelations of former NSA and CIA analyst Edward Snowden. Gellman was awarded a Pulitzer along with two others, Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian and independent filmmaker Laura Poitras, based on their reporting of Snowden's revelations.

Corbett writes that Gellman unwittingly reveals in his account his own deep biases in favor of establishment theories and sources.

"Then came the day," Corbett quotes Gellman as writing, "I found my name in the Snowden archives" as well as verifacation that the NSA had a database called FIRSTFRUITS focused on journalists, as Madsen had reported, and located in the NSA's Denial and Deception unit within the agency's Signals Intelligence Unit.

July 11

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

Daily Mail Online, Maxwell 'has tapes of two prominent US politicians having sex with minors' and boasted of 'owning' powerful people, former friend and jewel thief claims, Katie Weston, July 11, 2020. Former friend of the couple claimed they wanted to convince him of their 'power.'

Ghislaine Maxwell 'has tapes of two prominent US politicians having sex with minors' and boasted of 'owning' powerful people, according to a former friend. The ex-jewel robber, who used the pseudonym William Steel, said they 'forced' him to watch the footage as they wanted to convince him of their 'power.'

He also claimed to have seen clips of 'celebrities' and 'world figures' having 'threesomes, even orgies' with minors.

It follows Maxwell, 58, being arrested last Thursday on charges she helped lure at least three girls - one as young as 14 - to be sexually abused by Epstein, who was accused of victimising dozens of girls and women over many years.

Steel told The Sun: 'They wanted to convince me of their power and who they held in their grip. They boasted about 'owning' powerful people.' He added: 'I saw videos of very powerful people - celebrities, world figures - in those videos having sex, threesomes, even orgies with minors.' The former friend also referred to two 'high-profile' American politicians who were in videos with minors.

Maxwell, the daughter of the late British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, is the former girlfriend and long-time close associate of Epstein. She is accused of facilitating his crimes and on some occasions joined him in sexually abusing the girls, according to the indictment against her. Several Epstein victims have described Maxwell as his chief enabler, recruiting and grooming young girls for abuse.

She has denied wrongdoing and called claims against her 'absolute rubbish.'

Maxwell was arrested by a team of federal agents last week at a $1 million estate she had purchased in New Hampshire. The investigators had been keeping an eye on Maxwell and knew she had been hiding out in various locations in New England.

She had switched her email address, ordered packages under someone else´s name and registered at least one new phone number under an alias 'G Max,' prosecutors have said.

A former friend of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured in 2005, claimed they 'forced' him to watch the footage as they wanted to convince him of their 'power'

A former friend of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured in 2005, claimed they 'forced' him to watch the footage as they wanted to convince him of their 'power'
The property where Maxwell was arrested by the FBI seen in an aerial photograph in Bradford, New Hampshire. She is accused in four counts of acting as Epstein's madam

The property where Maxwell was arrested by the FBI seen in an aerial photograph in Bradford, New Hampshire. She is accused in four counts of acting as Epstein's madam

The British socialite will appear in New York's southern district court on July 14 at 1pm and the hearing will take place over video-link due to coronavirus.

She will join from the 'hell-hole' jail where she is being held and only the judge, Alison Nathan, will be present along with one prosecutor and one defence attorney.

Maxwell - a friend to billionaires, celebrities, presidents and royalty before her arrest - is facing a six-count federal indictment which could see her jailed for 35 years.

She is accused in four counts of acting as Epstein's madam, hunting down and 'training' young girls for him to abuse in the late 1990s.

Another two counts accuse her of lying about the abuse to a court when she was sued by one of the victims - Virginia Roberts - in 2015.

However, observers and experts believe she is not the state's primary target, and will likely be offered a plea deal to turn on others in Epstein's circle.

Epstein was initially jailed for 18 months in 2008 after being allowed to plead guilty to a single charge of soliciting sex from a child prostitute, despite at one stage facing a 53-page FBI indictment.

July 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Prospect of vaccine unites anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and hippie moms in Germany, Loveday Morris and William Glucroft, July 4, 2020 (print ed.). German health experts have warned that even if a coronavirus vaccine is approved, refusals could open the way to a resurgence of the virus.

german flagWhile much of the world is aching for a coronavirus vaccine, Lilia Löffler is adamant that her three children won't be getting any jabs.

Shrugging off light rain to join a two-hour bike protest of shutdown rules, Löffler said that previously she vaccinated all her kids.

But she changed her mind after what she’s been hearing at demonstrations and reading on the Internet during the pandemic. She noted that her 6-year-old son is supposed to get a shot for measles ahead of school in the fall.“But he won’t get that,” she said. Or any other vaccination.

The possibility that Germany’s anti-vaccination movement may gain new adherents like Löffler has been a concern for health authorities, as the coronavirus unites a mishmash of groups resistant to the prospect of a vaccine, from far-right conspiracy theorists to hippie moms.

June

June 29

 

maria ressa rappler

Journalist Maria Ressa

USA Today, Opinion: Why Maria Ressa's fight for free speech and a free press should be America's fight, too, Kathy Kiely, June 29, 2020. Americans should care because powerful US usa today logocompanies are aiding and abetting Ressa’s censors and our tax dollars are going to Duterte's government.

Americans should care because powerful US companies are aiding and abetting Ressa’s censors and our tax dollars are going to Duterte's government. In the middle of a worldwide pandemic and a paroxysm of racial resentments in the United States, it would be tempting to avoid hurting our heads even further with the details of a complicated legal battle now unfolding in a faraway place. 

But if we believe in democracy and want to preserve it, journalist Maria Ressa’s battle for freedom must be ours as well.

rodrigo duterte philippines presidentRessa’s legal team was back in a Philippine court Monday to appeal the libel verdict handed down this month against her. It’s the latest twist in a legal battle that rivals Charles Dickens' famous novel Bleak House, a powerful allegory in which, as in Ressa’s case, legal technicalities end up overriding basic human morality and common sense.

A former CNN reporter raised in New Jersey after her parents fled martial law in the Philippines, Ressa eventually returned to her home country and founded Rappler, an innovative online news outlet.

Its investigations have drawn the ire of Rodrigo Duterte, right, the unsavory but hugely popular president.

Duterte does not brook criticism. He has already locked up one Philippine senator who criticized him, and he recently shut down one of the country’s leading broadcast networks. Against Rappler, Duterte is engaged in what might be called censorship by trial: Over the past 15 months, 11 cases have been leveled against the news organization or its employees. Ressa herself has had to post bail eight times just to stay out of jail.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s ‘Alternate History’ and Rejection of Facts, Wayne Madsen, right, wayne madsen screen shotJune 29, 2020. Future historians will scratch their heads when researching the annals strategic culture logoand archives of the Donald Trump administration. Trump’s denial of basic facts about history, science, and even the weather will undoubtedly result in his administration and the subsequent fall-out from it being called the “Age of Unreason.” Trump and his administration often seize on erroneous information and turn them into, in what is in their minds, irrefutable facts. One example has been Trump’s insistence that the 1918 influenza occurred in 1917. Trump and his advisers discount the fact that the “1918 flu” is thus named because it was first detected in 1918, not in 1917.

Trump eschews facts as often as he is able. The 1918 flu, incorrectly called the “Spanish flu” was first detected in the United States on March 4, 1918. “Patient zero” was identified as Albert Gitchell, a U.S. Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas.

Facts matter, except for a select group of fascist and proto-fascist leaders who include Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, right, Colombian President Ivan Duque, Philippines President jair bolsonaro brazilRodrigo Duterte, and a few other delusional presidents and prime ministers scattered around the globe.

Trump’s logic on the Covid-19 virus is as bizarre as his botching the time line of the 1918 flu. Trump repeatedly claimed the United States had more cases of Covid-19 because it was conducting more tests. Trump also admitted that he ordered less tests because that action would result in fewer cases. Of course, such a statement is that of a madman and is similar to someone claiming that if he or she was not tested for cancer, they would not contract cancer.

It is historical revisionism by Trump and his acolytes that presents the most danger for the United States and the world. George Orwell’s novel about a dystopian fascistic future, “1984,” introduced the quote, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” That fascist precept, a canon of fictional Oceania’s “Ministry of Truth,” is dominant in Trump’s administration and Republican Party, the latter having become a personal political vehicle for would-be dictator Trump.

Alteration of American history lies at the heart of Trump’s attempt to re-brand the Old Confederacy. Trump has held up politicians and generals of the Confederate States of America, over which the United States was ultimately victorious in the U.S. Civil War, as part of the “heritage” of America. “Heritage” is a word that has become synonymous with adulation of the Confederacy, Jim Crow-era racism, plantation system slavery, and esteem for Confederate leaders. In order to re-write history, Trump and his Republicans have acted to develop fictional stories about the past.

In Mississippi, the Republicans opposed to removing the Confederate battle flag from the state flag have incorrectly stated that the flag was designed by “an African-American Confederate soldier.” State senator Kathy Chism, a Republican supporter of Trump, wrote on Facebook about the black Confederate soldier, who she failed to identify, “I can only imagine how proud he was that his art, his flag design was chosen to represent our State and now we want to strip him of his pride, his hard work. I’m sure he put a lot of thought into this design.” Chism made up the entire claim.

First, there were no black soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. Second, the current Mississippi flag was designed in 1894 by one of her predecessors in the state Senate, Edward Scudder, a white man who wanted to honor the Confederacy. Scudder’s wife actually sewed the flag as both she and her husband were ardent supporters of the segregationist South. What better way to both honor the Confederacy and send a strong message to Mississippi’s large black population than to place the flag of a defeated secessionist and racist confederation of states on the flag of Mississippi!

Another disturbing alteration of history can be linked directly to the neo-fascist global movement of former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon. The neo-fascist catechism holds forth that Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were not far-right-wingers but represented “left-wing socialism.” This false historical narrative, pushed by officials in both the Trump and Bolsonaro administrations, reasons that because “National Socialism,” the political tenet of the Nazis, contain the word “socialism,” that makes Hitler and his Nazis “socialists.” Those who believe such codswallop refuse to recognize that Germany’s true Socialists and Communists were either executed by Hitler’s paramilitary forces or sent to the death camps, where few survived. To Hitler, socialism represented Bolshevik Marxism, Socialism, and Communism. There was absolutely nothing “leftist” about Hitler and his Nazis.

Trump and his supporters’ entire campaign to paint the news as “fake” and history, as we know it, as false is an Orwellian attempt to own the past, dictate the present, and control the future. Trump has given more than one “wink and nod” to an extreme fringe of right-wingers, who call themselves “Qanon,” who believe that even more far-out fantasies are true. One is that John F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of the 35th president who died along with his wife and sister-in-law in a 1999 plane crash, faked his own death in order to re-emerge one day to join Trump in battling an international pedophile ring. Several Qanon followers have emerged to join Trump on the Republican ballot in several states for the November 3 election. Qanon has a major outlet for their bizarre views on a cable “news” network, One America News Network, which is based in San Diego, California.

June 27

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TheHill.com, Mueller investigation witness George Nader sentenced to a decade in prison in child sex case, Tal Axelrod, June 27, 2020. George Nader, a central witness in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and a former informal foreign policy adviser to the White House, was sentenced to 10 years in prison over his conviction on child sex charges.

Judge Leonie Brinkema handed down the decade-long sentence Friday after Nader pleaded guilty in January to two charges relating to sexual exploitation of children.

Nader, former high-profile adviser to top U.S. and Middle Eastern officials, had admitted to possessing child pornography that showed sexual abuse of minors and bringing an underage boy to the U.S. for sex. The crimes were committed prior to the 2016 race, during which he worked with President Trump’s transition team and was seen at high-level meetings.

The Justice Department had agreed as part of its plea deal with Nader to only seek the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

jared kushner head shotNader was known to have interacted with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, left, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former national security adviser Michael Flynn and played a role in arranging Trump’s maiden foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in 2017.

The meetings with Trump’s campaign caught the eye of Mueller’s team, who stopped him for questioning in 2018 and discovered several explicitly sexual videos of minors on his phone. He was ultimately arrested in 2019.

Nader has long faced accusations of pedophilia. Charges were first dropped against him in 1984, but he later pleaded guilty in 1991 to transporting child pornography, according to CNN. He was later convicted in 2003 in the Czech Republic for sex with several underage boys.

June 26

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The Independent, A daughter’s quest to find the truth about the death of her father, the CIA’s top spy in the Middle East, James Taylor, June 26, 2020. Charlotte Dennett, shown above, suspects the British or the Russians were responsible for her father's death. Charlotte Dennett was only six weeks old when her father died in a plane crash. In her new book, she investigates his death and how the CIA Logooil game influences politics across the Middle East.

In 1947, Daniel Dennett was sent to Saudi Arabia to study the route of the proposed trans-Arabian pipeline before heading to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to meet with Ethiopian and oil officials to discuss energy opportunities and airspace rights. The Cairo-based US petroleum attache and a communications specialist were also on board the ill-fated flight, which was also carrying 2,000lbs of secret radio equipment as well as an aerial camera.

nbc news logoNBC News via Yahoo News, Trump signs executive order to punish vandalism against federal monuments, Dartunorro Clark, June 26, 2020. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to protect federal monuments after a rash of recent incidents involving the vandalism of statues memorializing the Confederacy and some of the nation's Founding Fathers.

"I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!" Trump said in a tweet.

The order would "reinforce" existing federal law, which criminalizes the destruction of federal monuments. For instance, the Veterans’ Memorials Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003 imposes a fine and up to 10 years in prison on anyone who vandalizes a monument.

"Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument," the order states. "But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force."

It also threatens to withhold federal funding from state and local law enforcement agencies that "fail to protect monuments, memorials, and statues."
The protests against racism and police brutality prompted by the killing of George Floyd has reignited the debate around statues and other monuments honoring the Confederacy and slave-holding presidents, such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson. After violence prompted by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, there was a public outcry to remove Confederate symbols across the country.

Earlier this week, protesters defaced a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square outside the White House and tried to topple it, but police pepper-sprayed demonstrators to protect the monument. Jackson was a slaveholder and oversaw the expulsion of Native Americans in which they were forcibly moved further west by the federal government. Roughly 4,000 Cherokees died on that journey, known as the "Trail of Tears."

Julian Assange IndicterJulian Assange (Photo by The Indicter Magazine).

Medium, Opinion: Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange; On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Nils Melzer (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture), June 26, 2020. I know, you may think I am deluded. How could life in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture?

That’s exactly what I thought, too, when Assange first appealed to my office for protection. Like most of the public, I had been subconsciously poisoned by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years. So it took a second knock on my door to get my reluctant attention.

But once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief.

Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the United States had encouraged allies to Swedish flagfind reasons to prosecute Assange, Swedish prosecution informed the tabloid press that he was suspected of having raped two women.

Anna Ardin and Sofia WilenStrangely, however, the women themselves never claimed to have been raped, nor did they intend to report a criminal offence. Go figure.

Moreover, the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure again. One woman even texted that she only wanted Assange to take an HIV test, but that the police were “keen on getting their hands on him.” Go figure, once more.

Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Alright, I thought, but surely Assange must be a hacker! But what I found is that all his disclosures had been freely leaked to him, and that no one accuses him of having hacked a single computer. In fact, the only arguable hacking-charge against him relates to his alleged unsuccessful attempt to help breaking a password which, had it been successful, might have helped his source to cover her tracks. In short: a rather isolated, speculative, and inconsequential chain of events; a bit like trying to prosecute a driver who unsuccessfully attempted to exceed the speed-limit, but failed because their car was too weak.

Well then, I thought, at least we know for sure that Assange is a Russian spy, has interfered with US elections, and negligently caused people’s deaths! But all I found is that he consistently published true information of inherent public interest without any breach of trust, duty or allegiance. Yes, he exposed war crimes, corruption and abuse, but let’s not confuse national security with governmental impunity.

Yes, the facts he disclosed empowered US voters to take more informed decisions, but isn’t that simply democracy? Yes, there are ethical discussions to be had regarding the legitimacy of unredacted disclosures. But if actual harm had really been caused, how come neither Assange nor Wikileaks ever faced related criminal charges or civil lawsuits for just compensation?

But surely, I found myself pleading, Assange must be a selfish narcissist, skateboarding through the Ecuadorian Embassy and smearing feces on the walls? Well, all I heard from Embassy staff is that the inevitable inconveniences of his accommodation at their offices were handled with mutual respect and consideration. This changed only after the election of President Moreno, when they were suddenly instructed to find smears against Assange and, when they didn’t, they were soon replaced. The President even took it upon himself to bless the world with his gossip, and to personally strip Assange of his asylum and citizenship without any due process of law.

In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide.

And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.

Very well, you may say, but what does slander have to do with torture? Well, this is a slippery slope. What may look like mere «mudslinging» in public debate, quickly becomes “mobbing” when used against the defenseless, and even “persecution” once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.

Yes, living in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard may seem like a sweet deal when you believe the rest of the lies. But when no one remembers the reason for the hate you endure, when no one even wants to hear the truth, when neither the courts nor the media hold the powerful to account, then your refuge really is but a rubber boat in a shark-pool, and neither your cat nor your skateboard will save your life.

Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek. None responded positively.

June 25

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Sanders-Trotskyist - Neo-Nazi collusion in statue destruction? Wayne Madsen, June 25, 2020. The world has witnessed in the past collusion between ostensibly left-wing Trotskyists and right-wing fascists, including Nazis. One of the Trotskyist left figures who agitates for even more widespread destruction and removal of non-racist oriented statues is Shaun King, a darling of the Bernie Sanders left and a writer for Glenn Greenwald's "The Intercept," Daily Kos, and a supporter of Black Lives Matter. It is noteworthy that King's part-time employer, Greenwald, once represented in court convicted neo-Nazi terrorist Matthew Hale.

King jumped the shark on statue removal when he recently advocated tearing down statues of Jesus, claiming that his depiction as a white man represents "a form of white supremacy." Such extremism is the favorite tool of the so-called "far-left," including Trotskyists and anarcho-syndicalists.

A provocateur like King serves two purposes. One is moving the goal post to include other targets in a radicalized "cultural revolution." The other is to provide the extreme right with another cause célèbre to rally Trump's increasingly shrinking base. There are already reports of priceless stained glass windows in churches being smashed by either provocateurs of the extreme left or extreme right or both acting in concert.

King, who claims to be fully African-American but reportedly had a white father, knows full-well where his call to remove Jesus statues leads: vandalizing of churches and cemeteries of many sects, from Roman Catholics to Greek Orthodox. It also provides the religious right with a rallying cry to continue to fleece their congregations in drumming up more financial support for Trump's flagging re-election campaign.

June 23

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Fear in the JFK Assassination, Part 2 (of 2), Jacob G. Hornberger, right, June 23, 2020. Let’s now move to the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on the President John F. Kennedy’s body on the evening of the assassination, November 22, 1963.

Texas law required the autopsy to be conducted in Texas. Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas Medical Examiner, insisted on conducting the autopsy immediately upon Kennedy’s death. An armed team of Secret Service agents, brandishing their guns, refused to permit that to happen and forced their way out of Parkland Hospital. Operating on orders, their objective was to get the president’s body to the airport, where Vice President Lyndon Johnson was waiting for it. His objective: to put the autopsy in the hands of the U.S. military.

In the 1970s, the U.S. House of Representatives opened up a new investigation into Kennedy’s assassination. During and after those hearings, a group of Navy enlisted men came forward with a remarkable story. They stated that they had secretly carried Kennedy’s body into the morgue at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland about an hour-and-a-half before the body was officially brought into the morgue.

They also stated that they had all been sworn to secrecy immediately after the autopsy and had been threatened with severe punishment, including criminal prosecution, if they ever revealed to anyone the classified secrets about the autopsy that they had acquired.
The Boyajian Report

In the 1990s, the Assassination Records Review Board, which was formed to enforce the JFK Records Act, uncovered an official document that had been kept secret for more than 30 years. It became known as the Boyajian Report. It had been created by Marine Sergeant Roger Boyajian immediately after the autopsy. Boyajian gave a copy of the report to the ARRB. Boyajian and his report confirmed that his team carried the president’s body into the morgue in a cheap military-style shipping casket at 6:35 p.m., about 1 and 1/2 hours before 8 p.m., the time that the body was officially brought into the morgue in the expensive, ornate casket into which it had been placed in Dallas.

On the night of the autopsy, one of the autopsy physicians, Admiral James Humes, telephoned U.S. Army Colonel Pierre Finck asking him to come to the morgue and assist with the autopsy. That phone call was made at 8 p.m. During the conversation, Humes told Finck that they already had some x-rays made of the president’s head. Yet, how could they have x-rays of the president’s head, given that the president’s body was being officially brought into the morgue at 8 p.m.? Humes’s testimony inadvertently confirmed the accuracy of the Boyajian Report and the statements of the enlisted men who had secretly carried the president’s body into the morgue an hour-and-a-half before the official 8 p.m. time that the body was brought into the morgue.

The Magic Bullet

During the autopsy, Finck began to “dissect” the president’s neck wound, a wound that later became embroiled in what became known as the “magic bullet” controversy. As Finck began the procedure, he was ordered by some unknown figure to cease and desist and to leave the wound alone. Finck complied with the order. The order showed that the three autopsy physicians were not in charge of the autopsy and that there was a higher force within the deep state that was orchestrating and directing the overall operation.
The brain examinations

It’s worth mentioning the brain examinations that took place as part of the autopsy. In an autopsy, there is only one brain examination. In the Kennedy autopsy, there were two, the second of which involved a brain that could not possibly have belonged to the president. Rather than detail the circumstances surrounding that unusual occurrence, I’ll simply link to the following two articles that the mainstream press published about it for those who might be interested in that aspect of the autopsy:

  • Newly Released JFK Documents Raise Questions About Medical Evidence by Deb Riechmann in the November 9, 1998, issue of the Washington Post.
  • Archive Photos Not of JFK’s Brain, Concludes Aides to Review Board by George Lardner Jr. in the November 10, 1998, issue of the Washington Post.

It is also worth noting that when Congress enacted the JFK Records Act mandating that federal agencies had to release their long-secret records relating to the assassination, the law that brought the ARRB into existence to enforce the law expressly prohibited the ARRB from investigating any aspect of the assassination. It was a provision that the ARRB board strictly enforced on the ARRB staff, which thereby prevented the staff from investigating the two separate brain examinations once they were discovered or, for that matter, anything else.

It’s is also worth noting that there are still thousands of assassination-related records that the National Archives is keeping secret, owing to a request by the CIA to President Trump early in his administration to continue keeping them secret, a request that Trump granted. The CIA’s reason for the continued secrecy? The CIA told Trump that the disclosure of the 56-year-old records to the American people would endanger “national security.”

June 22

Future of Freedom Foundation, Analysis: What Americans Fear Most In The JFK Assassination, Part 1, Jacob Hornberger, right (author, publisher and Libertarian) think tank president), June 22, 2020. One of the fascinating phenomena in the JFK jacob hornberger newassassination is the fear of some Americans to consider the possibility that the assassination was actually a regime-change operation carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment rather than simply a murder carried out by a supposed lone-nut assassin.

The mountain of evidence that has surfaced, especially since the 1990s, when the JFK Records Act mandated the release of top-secret assassination-related records within the national-security establishment, has been in the nature of circumstantial evidence, as compared to direct evidence. Thus, I can understand that someone who places little faith in the power of circumstantial evidence might study and review that evidence and decide to embrace the “lone-nut theory” of the case.

But many of the people who have embraced the lone-nut theory have never spent any time studying the evidence in the case and yet have embraced the lone-nut theory.

john f kennedy smilingWhy? My hunch is that the reason is that they have a deep fear of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist,” which is the term the CIA many years ago advised its assets in the mainstream press to employ to discredit those who were questioning the official narrative in the case.

Like many others, I have studied the evidence in the case. After doing that, I concluded that the circumstantial evidence pointing toward a regime-change operation has reached critical mass. Based on that evidence, for me the Kennedy assassination is not a conspiracy theory but rather the fact of a national-security state regime-change operation, no different in principle than other regime-change operations, including through assassination, carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment, especially through the CIA.

Interestingly, there are those who have shown no reluctance to study the facts and circumstances surrounding foreign regime-change operations carried out by the CIA and the Pentagon. But when it comes to the Kennedy assassination, they run for the hills, exclaiming that they don’t want to be pulled down the “rabbit hole,” meaning that they don’t want to take any chances of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist.”

For those who have never delved into the Kennedy assassination but have interest in the matter, let me set forth just a few of the reasons that the circumstantial evidence points to a U.S. national-security state regime-change operation. Then, at the end of this article, I’ll point out some books and videos for those who wish to explore the matter more deeply.

lee harvey oswald in dallas custodyI start out with a basic thesis: Lee Harvey Oswald (shown in custoday in Dallas) was an intelligence agent for the U.S. deep state. Now, that thesis undoubtedly shocks people who have always believed in the lone-nut theory of the assassination. They just cannot imagine that Oswald could have really been working for the U.S. government at the time of the assassination.

Yet, when one examines the evidence in the case objectively, the lone-theory doesn’t make any sense. The only thesis that is consistent with the evidence and, well, common sense, is that Oswald was an intelligence agent.

Ask yourself: How many communist Marines have you ever encountered or even heard of? My hunch is none. Not one single communist Marine. Why would a communist join the Marines? Communists hate the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps hates communists. It kills communists. It tortures them. It invades communist countries. It bombs them. It destroys them.

What are the chances that the Marine Corps would permit an openly avowed communist to serve in its ranks? None! There is no such chance. And yet, here was Oswald, whose Marine friends were calling “Oswaldovitch,” being assigned to the Atsugi naval base in Japan, where the U.S. Air Force was basing its top-secret U-2 spy plane, one that it was using to secretly fly over the Soviet Union. Why would the Navy and the Air Force permit a self-avowed communist even near the U-2? Does that make any sense?

While Oswald was serving in the Marine Corps, he became fluent in the Russian language. How is that possible? How many people have you known who have become fluent in a foreign langue all on their own, especially when they have a full-time job? Even if they are able to study a foreign language from books, they have to practice conversing with people in that language to become proficient in speaking it. How did Oswald do that? There is but one reasonable possibility: Language lessons provided by U.S. military-suppled tutors.

After leaving the Marine Corps, Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union, walked into the U.S. embassy, renounced his citizenship, and stated that he intended to give any secrets he learned while serving in the military to the Soviet Union. Later, when he stated his desire to return to the United States, with a wife with family connections to Soviet intelligence, Oswald was given the red-carpet treatment on his return. No grand jury summons. No grand-jury indictment. No FBI interrogation. No congressional summons to testify.

June 19

jeffrey epstein who killed graphic consortium news Custom

elizabeth vosConsortium News, Analysis: Epstein Case Documentaries Won’t Touch Tales of Intel Ties, Elizabeth Vos, right, June 19, 2020. Two new documentaries on the Jeffery Epstein affair delve into lurid details & give voice to his victims, but both scratch the surface of the political & intelligence dimensions of the scandal.

Investigation Discovery premiered a three-hour special, “Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein?” on May 31, the first segment in a three-part series, that focused on Epstein’s August 2019 death in federal custody. The series addresses Epstein’s alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, his links with billionaire Leslie Wexner, founder of the Victoria Secrets clothing line, and others, as well as the non-prosecution deal he was given.

The special followed on the heels of Netflix’s release of “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” a mini-series that draws on a book of the same name by James Patterson.

Promotional material for “Who Killed Jeffery Epstein?” promises that: “… exclusive interviews and in-depth investigations reveal new clues about his seedy underworld, privileged life and controversial death. The three-hour special looks to answer the questions surrounding the death of this enigmatic figure.” Netflix billed its series this way: “Stories from survivors fuel this docuseries examining how convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein used his wealth and power to carry out his abuses.”

Neither documentary however deals at all with Epstein’s suspected ties to the world of intelligence.

robert maxwell with papers fileAbsent from both are Maxwell’s reported links to Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell, former owner of The New York Daily News and The Mirror newspaper in London. Maxwell essentially received a state funeral in Israel and was buried on the Mount of Olives after he mysteriously fell off his yacht in 1991 in the Atlantic Ocean.

In an interview with Consortium News, former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe said Epstein did not work with Mossad. “Military intelligence was who he was working with,” said Ben-Menashe. “Big difference,” he said. “He never worked with Mossad, and Robert Maxwell never did, either. It was military intelligence.”

In Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales, a book published in December, Ben-Menashe is quoted as saying he worked with Robert Maxwell who introduced his daughter and Epstein to Israeli intelligence, after which they engaged in a blackmail operation for Israel. “[Epstein] was taking photos of politicians f**king fourteen-year-old girls — if you want to get it straight. They [Epstein and Maxwell] would just blackmail people, they would just blackmail people like that,” he says in the book.

Victims’ Voices

alexander acosta o cropped CustomThe Netflix and Investigation Discovery productions allow survivors to recount their experiences in interviews as well as taped police recordings and focus on the sweetheart plea deal provided to Epstein by former Trump Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, right, during Acosta’s tenure as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Each series outlines Epstein’s relationships with Wexner (below left), Maxwell, and a variety of elite figures. Investigation Discovery focuses on the controversy surrounding Epstein’s death while Netflix’s “Filthy Rich” examines the second attempt to prosecute Epstein in the context of the Me Too movement.

leslie wexner youtube cropped screenshot american academy of achievementOmitting the intelligence aspect of Epstein’s history allows the Establishment media to portray his case as a mysterious and unsolvable aberration, rather than perhaps a continuation of business-as-usual amongst those in power.

The glaring refusal to address Epstein’s intelligence involvement becomes clear when Investigation Discovery and Netflix’s programs discuss the role of Acosta in securing Epstein’s “sweetheart” plea deal, but do not reference Acosta’s widely reported explanation as to why Acosta agreed to the deal. As reported by The Daily Beast, Acosta claimed that he cut the non-prosecution deal because he had been told that “Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone.”

Independent journalist Whitney Webb has reported on Epstein’s many ties with intelligence, telling CNLive! in August last year that there is evidence this included with the CIA.

“I think that one of the goals of this [Netflix] documentary is to basically imply that Epstein was the head of the operation and that now that he is dead, all of that activity has ceased,” Webb said. “If they had actually bothered to explore the intelligence angle, in some of the more obvious facts about the case, like Leslie Wexner’s role, for example, it becomes clear that Epstein was really just more of a manager of this type of operation, [and] that these activities continue.”

June 6

whitney webb newer smileThe Last American Vagabond,

, Whitney Webb, right, telephone of Maria Farmer, June 6, 2020 (67:56 mins.). Farmer, a former model, describes to Deep State investigative reporter Whitney Webb what it was like working for Jeffrey Epstein and hearing of his mentor/benefactor, Leslie Wexner, the retail store magnate.

 

May 

May 14

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Investigation Into The Prophecies of Q, Adrienne LaFrance, June 2020. American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase. This article is part of “Shadowland,” a project about conspiracy thinking in America.

Conspiracy theories are a constant in American history, and it is tempting to dismiss them as inconsequential. But as the 21st century has progressed, such a dismissal has begun to require willful blindness. I was a city-hall reporter for a local investigative-news site called Honolulu Civil Beat in 2011 when Donald Trump was laying the groundwork for a presidential run by publicly questioning whether Barack Obama had been born in Hawaii, as all facts and documents showed. Trump maintained that Obama had really been born in Africa, and therefore wasn’t a natural-born atlantic logo horizontalAmerican—making him ineligible for the highest office. I remember the debate in our Honolulu newsroom: Should we even cover this “birther” madness? As it turned out, the allegations, based entirely on lies, captivated enough people to give Trump a launching pad.

[With] Trump now president, a series of ideas began burbling in the QAnon community: that the coronavirus might not be real; that if it was, it had been created by the “deep state,” the star chamber of government officials and other elite figures who secretly run the world; that the hysteria surrounding the pandemic was part of a plot to hurt Trump’s reelection chances; and that media elites were cheering the death toll. Some of these ideas would make their way onto Fox News and into the president’s public utterances. fox news logo SmallAs of late last year, according to The New York Times, Trump had retweeted accounts often focused on conspiracy theories, including those of QAnon, on at least 145 occasions.

The power of the internet was understood early on, but the full nature of that power — its ability to shatter any semblance of shared reality, undermining civil society and democratic governance in the process — was not. The internet also enabled unknown individuals to reach masses of people, at a scale Marshall McLuhan never dreamed of. The warping of shared reality leads a man with an AR-15 rifle to invade a pizza shop. It brings online forums into being where people colorfully imagine the assassination of a former secretary of state. It offers the promise of a Great Awakening, in which the elites will be routed and the truth will be revealed. It causes chat sites to come alive with commentary speculating that the coronavirus pandemic may be the moment QAnon has been waiting for. None of this could have been imagined as recently as the turn of the century.

QAnon is emblematic of modern America’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories, and its enthusiasm for them. But it is also already much more than a loose collection of conspiracy-minded chat-room inhabitants. It is a movement united in mass rejection of reason, objectivity, and other Enlightenment values. And we are likely closer to the beginning of its story than the end. The group harnesses paranoia to fervent hope and a deep sense of belonging. The way it breathes life into an ancient preoccupation with end-times is also radically new. To look at QAnon is to see not just a conspiracy theory but the birth of a new religion.

What might have languished as a lonely screed on a single image board instead incited fervor. Its profile was enhanced, according to Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins of NBC News, by several conspiracy theorists whose promotion of Q in turn helped build up their own online profiles. By now, nearly three years since Q’s original messages appeared, there have been thousands of what his followers call “Q drops” — messages posted to image boards by Q. He uses a password-protected “tripcode,” a series of letters and numbers visible to other image-board users to signal the continuity of his identity over time. (Q’s tripcode has changed on occasion, prompting flurries of speculation.) As Q has moved from one image board to the next — from 4chan to 8chan to 8kun, seeking a safe harbor — QAnon adherents have only become more devoted. If the internet is one big rabbit hole containing infinitely recursive rabbit holes, QAnon has somehow found its way down all of them, gulping up lesser conspiracy theories as it goes.

It’s impossible to know the number of QAnon adherents with any precision, but the ranks are growing. At least 35 current or former congressional candidates have embraced Q, according to an online tally by the progressive nonprofit Media Matters for America. Those candidates have either directly praised QAnon in public or approvingly referenced QAnon slogans. (One Republican candidate for Congress, Matthew Lusk of Florida, includes QAnon under the “issues” section of his campaign website, posing the question: “Who is Q?”)

djt as chosen oneQAnon has by now made its way onto every major social and commercial platform and any number of fringe sites. Tracy Diaz, a QAnon evangelist, known online by the name TracyBeanz, has 185,000 followers on Twitter and more than 100,000 YouTube subscribers. She helped lift QAnon from obscurity, facilitating its transition to mainstream social media. (A publicist described Diaz as “really private” and declined requests for an interview.) On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #QAnon have garnered millions of views. There are too many QAnon Facebook groups, plenty of them ghost towns, to do a proper count, but the most active ones publish thousands of items each day. (In 2018, Reddit banned QAnon groups from its platform for inciting violence.)

Adherents are ever looking out for signs from on high, plumbing for portents when guidance from Q himself is absent. The coronavirus, for instance — what does it signify? In several of the big Facebook groups, people erupted in a frenzy of speculation, circulating a theory that Trump’s decision to wear a yellow tie to a White House briefing about the virus was a sign that the outbreak wasn’t real. On March 9, Q himself issued a triptych of ominous posts that seemed definitive: The coronavirus is real, but welcome, and followers should not be afraid. The first post shared Trump’s tweet from the night before and repeated, “Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming.” The second said: “The Great Awakening is Worldwide.” The third was simple: “GOD WINS.”

A month later, on April 8, Q went on a posting spree, dropping nine posts over the span of six hours and touching on several of his favorite topics — God, Pizzagate, and the wickedness of the elites. “They will stop at nothing to regain power,” he wrote in one scathing post that alleged a coordinated propaganda effort by Democrats, Hollywood, and the media. Another accused Democrats of promoting “mass hysteria” about the coronavirus for political gain: “What is the primary benefit to keep public in mass-hysteria re: COVID‑19? Think voting. Are you awake yet? Q.” And he shared these verses from Ephesians: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become an object of scorn among QAnon supporters who don’t like the bad news he delivers or the way he has contradicted Trump publicly. In one March press conference, Trump referred to the State Department as the “Deep State Department,” and Fauci could be seen over the president’s shoulder, suppressing a laugh and covering his djt anthony fauciface. By then, QAnon had already declared Fauci irredeemably compromised, because WikiLeaks had unearthed a pair of emails he sent praising Hillary Clinton in 2012 and 2013.

Sentiment about Fauci, right, among QAnon supporters on social-media platforms ranges from “Fauci is a Deep State puppet” to “FAUCI is a BLACKHAT!!!”—the term QAnon uses for people who support the evil cabal that Q warns about. One person, using the hashtags #DeepStateCabal and #Qanon, tweeted this: “Watch Fauci’s hand signals and body language at the press conferences. What is he communicating?” Another shared an image of Fauci standing in a lab with Barack Obama, with the caption “Obama and ‘Dr.’ Fauci in the lab creating coronovirus [sic]. #DeepstateDoctor.” The Justice Department recently approved heightened security measures for Fauci because of the mounting volume of threats against him.

In the final days before Congress passed a $2 trillion economic-relief package in late March, Democrats insisted on provisions that would make it easier for people to vote by mail, prompting Q himself to weigh in with dismay: “These people are sick! Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing.”

The most prominent QAnon figures have a presence beyond the biggest social-media platforms and image boards. The Q universe encompasses numerous blogs, proprietary websites, and types of chat software, as well as alternative social-media platforms such as Gab, the site known for anti-Semitism and white nationalism, where many people banned from Twitter have congregated. Vloggers and bloggers promote their Patreon accounts, where people can pay them in monthly sums.

There’s also money to be made from ads on YouTube. Q evangelists have taken a “publish everywhere” approach that is half outreach, half redundancy. If one platform cracks down on QAnon, as Reddit did, they won’t have to start from scratch somewhere else. Already embroiled in the battle between good and evil, QAnon has involved itself in another battle — between the notion of an open web for the people and a gated internet controlled by a powerful few.

May 12

 brett eagleson gail eagleson donald trump melania trump brett eagleson photo

Brett Eagleson and his mother, Gail Eagleson, with Donald and Melania Trump (undated photo of Brett Eagleson)

Yahoo News, In court filing, FBI accidentally reveals name of Saudi official suspected of directing support for 9/11 hijackers, Michael Isikoff, May 12, 2020. The FBI inadvertently revealed one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive secrets about the Sept. 11 terror attacks: the identity of a mysterious Saudi Embassy official in Washington who agents suspected had directed crucial support to two of the al-Qaida hijackers.

9 11 fbi list 19 hijackersThe disclosure came in a new declaration filed in federal court by a senior FBI official in response to a lawsuit brought by families of 9/11 victims that accuses the Saudi government of complicity in the terrorist attacks.

The declaration was filed last month but unsealed late last week. According to a spokesman for the 9/11 victims’ families, it represents a major breakthrough in the long-running case, providing for the first time an apparent confirmation that FBI agents investigating the attacks believed they had uncovered a link between the hijackers and the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

It’s unclear just how strong the evidence is against the former Saudi Embassy official — it’s been a subject of sharp dispute within the FBI for years. But the disclosure, which a senior U.S. government official confirmed was made in error, seems likely to revive questions about potential Saudi links to the 9/11 plot.

FBI logoIt also shines a light on the extraordinary efforts by top Trump administration officials in recent months to prevent internal documents about the issue from ever becoming public.

“This shows there is a complete government cover-up of the Saudi involvement,” said Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the 9/11 families whose father was killed in the attacks. “It demonstrates there was a hierarchy of command that’s coming from the Saudi Embassy to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs [in Los Angeles] to the hijackers.”

Still, Eagleson acknowledged he was flabbergasted by the bureau’s slip-up in identifying the Saudi Embassy official in a public filing. Although Justice Department lawyers had last September notified lawyers for the 9/11 families of the official’s identity, they had done so under a protective order that forbade the family members from publicly disclosing it.

Now, the bureau itself has named the Saudi official. “This is a giant screwup,” Eagleson said.
Brett Eagleson and his mother, Gail Eagleson, with Donald and Melania Trump. (Brett Eagleson)

After being contacted by Yahoo News on Monday, Justice Department officials notified the court and withdrew the FBI’s declaration from the public docket. “The document was incorrectly filed in this case,” the docket now reads.

But FBI and Justice Department officials declined to comment on how the erroneous disclosure had been made. A Saudi government spokesman, meanwhile, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Saudi government has consistently denied any connection to the 9/11 hijackers, telling the New York Times and ProPublica in January: “Saudi Arabia is and has always been a close and critical ally of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.”

Ironically, the declaration identifying the Saudi official in question was intended to support recent filings by Attorney General William Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell barring the public release of the Saudi official’s name and all related documents, concluding they are “state secrets” that, if disclosed, could cause “significant harm to the national security.”

The declaration was filed by Jill Sanborn, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division. Her declaration fleshes out some of the assertions Barr and Grenell have used in their filings, arguing that publicly disclosing internal FBI files — including “interview reports, telephone and bank records, source reporting documents and foreign government information” — would reveal intelligence sources and methods of collection and would hamper the willingness of foreign governments to assist the FBI on sensitive cases.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Mystery Explained: Moscow Has 1,700 Extra Deaths, Ivan Nechepurenko, May 11, 2020. Russia’s government has boasted of a low coronavirus mortality rate, but figures from an obscure city agency cast doubt on those claims.

Ever since the coronavirus took hold globally, researchers have been puzzled by Russia’s mortality rate of only about 13 deaths per million, far below the world average of 36 in a country with a ramshackle health system.

With the arrival of data for April, however, the mystery appears to be clearing up.

Data released by Moscow’s city government on Friday shows that the number of overall registered deaths in the Russian capital in April exceeded the five-year average for the same period by more than 1,700. That total is far higher than the official Covid-19 death count of 642 — an indication of significant underreporting by the authorities.

A similar picture has been observed in many other countries. In neighboring Belarus, for example — where the authoritarian leader Aleksandr G. Lukashenko has rejected calls for a lockdown as “frenzy and psychosis” — the reported death rate is about 10 per million. In Mexico, officials have recorded more than three times as many deaths in the capital as the government has acknowledged.

washington post logoWashington Post, Venezuela raid: How an ex-Green Beret and a defecting general planned to capture Maduro, Anthony Faiola, Shawn Boburg and Ana Vanessa Herrero, May 11, 2020 (print ed.). For the men in the Colombian safe house, the arrival of the muscular American felt like deliverance.

Defectors from Venezuela’s police and military, they had been rounded up from flophouses and streetside encampments for a secret mission to nicolas maduro customliberate their homeland from the socialist government of autocratic President Nicolás Maduro, right. They were holed up in a sweltering smuggler’s town near the Venezuelan frontier late last spring when Jordan Goudreau — a square-jawed former Green Beret who ran a strategic-services firm in Florida — stepped out of a car and approached.

“He had a translator,” said a man who later bowed out of the mission, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of persecution. “Jordan was talking about how he had connections with the U.S. high command.”

Five men who initially trained for the mission, or who came into contact with its operatives, said the 43-year-old veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had convinced the men that they were training for a U.S.-backed incursion into Venezuela. That belief, these people said, bolstered their sense of a serious operation that was worth risking their lives for.

From a Miami condo to the Venezuelan coast, how a plan to ‘capture’ Maduro went rogue

In a video of Goudreau’s encounter with the group, leaked to social media and confirmed by one of those present, one of the Venezuelans lavishes praise on their American hope.

“Mr. Jordan,” he says. “We want to give thanks to you for fighting for the freedom of a nation that is not yours. . . . Thanks to you, we will free Venezuela.”

What followed is a barely believable odyssey, a hall-of-mirrors operation that ended May 3 with Goudreau announcing a mission to overthrow Maduro that had already failed.

Maduro says his forces have killed eight men and captured 34 others, including Airan Berry and Luke Denman — fellow former Green Berets who served with Goudreau and are now being held in Venezuela on charges of terrorism, arms trafficking and conspiracy.

U.S. Crime & Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Twisted My Words in Dropping the Flynn Case. Here’s the Truth, Mary B. McCord (an acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department from 2016 to 2017), May 11, 2020 (print ed.). The F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was constitutional, lawful and for a legitimate counterintelligence purpose.

william barr new oAt the direction of Attorney General Bill Barr, right,the Justice Department last week moved to dismiss a false-statements charge against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser. The reason stated was that the continued prosecution “would not serve the interests of justice.”

timothy shea o CustomThe motion was signed by Timothy Shea, left, a longtime trusted adviser of Mr. Barr and, since January, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington. In attempting to support its argument, the motion cites more than 25 times the F.B.I.’s report of an interview with me in July 2017, two months after I left a decades-long career at the department (under administrations of both parties) that culminated in my role as the acting assistant attorney general for national security.

The Barr-Shea motion to dismiss refers to my descriptions of the F.B.I.’s justification for not wanting to notify the new administration about the potential Flynn compromise as “vacillating from the potential compromise of a ‘counterintelligence’ investigation to the protection of a purported ‘criminal’ investigation.” But that “vacillation” has no bearing on whether the F.B.I. was justified in engaging in a voluntary interview with Mr. Flynn. It has no bearing on whether Mr. Flynn’s lies to the F.B.I. were material to its investigation into any links or coordination between Mr. Trump’s FBI logopresidential campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

And perhaps more significant, it has no bearing on whether Mr. Flynn’s lies to the F.B.I. were material to the clear counterintelligence threat posed by the susceptible position Mr. Flynn put himself in when he told Mr. Pence and others in the new administration that he had not discussed the sanctions with Mr. Kislyak. The materiality is obvious.

In short, the report of my interview does not anywhere suggest that the F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was unconstitutional, unlawful or not “tethered” to any legitimate counterintelligence purpose.

May 9 michael flynn djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The judge should look skeptically at Barr’s latest effort to rescue another Trump crony, Editorial Board, May 9, 2020 (print william barr new oed.). Now, in a stunning blow to impartial justice, Attorney General William P. Barr, right, is proposing to clear Mr. Flynn, who served as national security adviser at the beginning of President Trump’s term.

Justice Department log circularIt is the latest and perhaps most disturbing action Mr. Barr has taken to overrule the professionals of the Justice Department in a manner pleasing to his boss.

U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen said he made the call, then consulted Mr. Barr, who agreed. Mr. Jensen should not have been in a position to make that call. He had that position because Mr. Barr tapped him to “assist” other Justice Department prosecutors on a case of particular interest to Mr. Trump. Yet those other prosecutors needed no help determining Mr. Flynn’s guilt.

washington post logoWashington Post, A constant battle of you against the leadership of your country’: Justice Dept. rattled as Flynn fallout reaches FBI, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey, May 9, 2020. President Trump cast fresh doubt Friday on the future of his FBI director as federal law enforcement officials privately wrestled with fallout from the Justice Department’s move to throw out the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The president’s comments in a phone interview with Fox News highlight the ongoing distrust between the White House and some law enforcement officials in the aftermath of a nearly two-year investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. FBI logopresidential campaign.

“It’s disappointing,” Trump said when asked about Christopher A. Wray’s role in ongoing reviews of the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. “Let’s see what happens with him. Look, the jury’s still out.”

Trump faulted the FBI director as “skirting” the debate surrounding the Russia investigation, although the agency and the Justice Department have insisted that the FBI has cooperated fully with those reviewing the case. The president said more developments could come in the next two weeks but declined to elaborate.

Justice Department log circularWhile the president continued to criticize the FBI’s conduct, multiple federal law enforcement officials interviewed Friday expressed varying degrees of anger, resignation and alarm over the decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to abandon the prosecution of Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.

“The attorney general is supposed to be above reproach and apolitical in terms of how the department operates and how he or she as an individual operates, and he’s just completely lost that,” said one veteran Justice Department lawyer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “He’s Trump’s attorney. He’s not the country’s attorney.”

A day after the Flynn reversal, more than a half dozen Justice Department employees expressed similar displeasure with the move, saying that they did not agree with Barr’s legal rationale and that they worried about what it might portend for the agency. A smaller number of law enforcement officials contacted Friday said they were basically pleased with the outcome and were critical of decisions made by James B. Comey, who launched the Flynn investigation while he was FBI director.

“Wray is not going to be fired, because there is a sense of realism, because we are in a pandemic, and it’s in an election year,” predicted one official, who added that Trump has little love for Wray but is not preparing to fire him.

ny times logorichard painterNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Bid to Stand Above the Law, Claire O. Finkelstein and Richard W. Painter, right, May 9, 2020. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear lawyers argue the president’s claim that he has absolute immunity while in office.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear one of the most consequential cases ever considered on executive privilege. Trump v. Vance concerns a subpoena issued by the Manhattan district attorney to President Trump’s accountants demanding the release of tax returns and other financial documents to a grand jury.

supreme court buildingWhat is at stake is no less than the accountability of a president to the rule of law.

Mr. Trump claims that a president has “temporary absolute immunity,” meaning he cannot be criminally investigated while in office. Indeed, in oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, his lawyers said that if the president were to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, he could not be investigated or indicted until after he left office.

If the justices endorse this extreme view, they will make it impossible to hold this president, and all future presidents, answerable in courts for their actions.

Mr. Trump claims that a president has “temporary absolute immunity,” meaning he cannot be criminally investigated while in office. Indeed, in oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, his lawyers said that if the president were to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, he could not be investigated or indicted until after he left office.

If the justices endorse this extreme view, they will make it impossible to hold this president, and all future presidents, answerable in courts for their actions.

richard nixon portraitMr. Trump’s legal position contradicts clear Supreme Court precedent. In U.S. v. Nixon, a unanimous Supreme Court ordered President Richard Nixon (shown in an official portrait) to turn over Oval Office tapes subpoenaed by the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. In Clinton v. Jones, a unanimous court held that a sitting president can be forced to testify in response to a subpoena in civil litigation. Taken together, these cases make it clear that the president is not immune from investigation, whether criminal or civil, while he is in office.

Mr. Trump’s claims of absolute immunity are even weaker than the assertions by Presidents Nixon and Bill Clinton. The subpoena was issued by a state, rather than a federal prosecutor. The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows states a certain degree of autonomy in investigating and prosecuting crimes. Although grand jury proceedings are secret, Mr. Vance is probably also investigating whether the president’s company, the Trump Organization, falsely accounted for hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 election to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump. To deny New York the right to exercise its “police powers” over serious financial crimes should give the court’s conservative justices pause.

mazars logo croppedIn addition, the subpoena was not issued to Mr. Trump, but to Mazars (logo at left), his accountants. Mr. Trump maintains that the immunity of a sitting president is so strong that it extends to his entire business empire and even to third-party businesses that possess his personal information. By this logic, President Clinton could have blocked a subpoena to Monica Lewinsky’s dry cleaner, had she had one, to prevent it from handing over the infamous blue dress before laundering to the independent counsel investigating him.

Mr. Trump’s legal team asserts that federal law pre-empts state law, arguing that his immunity descends directly from the president’s constitutional authority under Article II of the Constitution. We filed an amicus brief in the case opposing this sweeping assertion of presidential immunity, on the grounds that the language of Article II, the history of its drafting and its subsequent interpretation by federal courts contradict Mr. Trump’s interpretation.

FBI logoMoreover, his claim conflicts with the administration’s position in another recent Supreme Court case over states’ rights, Kansas v. Garcia. The administration’s solicitor general had sided with Kansas against an immigrant’s claim that federal immigration law prevented Kansas from prosecuting him for identity theft.

The same should apply in Trump v. Vance: The Constitution gives the Manhattan district attorney broad latitude to investigate possible financial misconduct of businesses headquartered in New York unless federal law expressly forbids it. No federal law does.

The authorities usually cited for the proposition that a sitting president cannot be indicted are two Justice Department memorandums. Rather than offering a legal analysis based on Article II, the memos are largely pragmatic, advising that it would be unwise to distract a president with legal processes when he needs to focus on the national interest. As such, these memorandums are merely advice to Justice Department prosecutors. They are not binding in any way on state prosecutors.

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washington post logoWashington Post, George Conway Opinion: No one in this country is above the law. The Supreme Court is about to teach that lesson, George T. george conway postConway III, right, May 9, 2020 (print ed.). Twenty-six years ago, I published my first op-ed. Entitled “‘No Man in This Country … Is Above the Law,’” it addressed news reports that President Bill Clinton planned to claim an immunity from having to respond to Paula Jones’s sexual harassment suit. “In a case involving his private conduct,” I wrote, “a President should be treated like any private citizen. The rule of law requires no more — and no less.”

The piece led to my ghostwriting briefs for Jones, including a Supreme Court brief two years later. The Supreme Court agreed unanimously that Jones could proceed, and, like the op-ed, quoted from the Founders’ debates about the status of the president: “Far from being above the laws, he is amenable to them in his private character as a citizen, and in his public character by impeachment.” Which meant that while a president could be impeached for official misconduct, he “is otherwise subject to the laws” — and therefore could be sued — “for his purely private acts.”

I couldn’t have imagined then that another president would challenge that proposition. Then again, I couldn’t have imagined President Donald Trump.
But here we are. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear telephonic arguments in three cases addressing whether Trump can keep his tax and financial information from being disclosed, whether from Congress or criminal prosecutors. In Trump v. Vance, which involves a New York state grand jury investigation, Trump’s lawyers argue that, even when it comes to purely private conduct, the presidency insulates him from the legal process.

Justice Department log circularThe case arises from a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization, and it seems there’s plenty worth examining: whether, as suggested by extensive reporting in this newspaper and other outlets, Trump’s businesses may have dodged taxes. And whether Trump’s hush-money payments, made through his lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, violated state law. (Cohen pleaded guilty to federal crimes arising from those payments, which the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said were made “at the direction of Individual-1” — Trump.)

The state grand jury subpoenaed the Trump Organization and Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, seeking tax returns and financial rmazars logo croppedecords. Trump sued to block the subpoena to Mazars — on the ground that he’s president. The lower federal courts rejected his pleas, and now he’s in the Supreme Court. Where he will lose — or should.

To say Trump’s argument is frivolous demeans frivolity. Clinton v. Jones dictates the result: The subpoenaed documents have nothing to do with Trump’s presidential duties — zip. That alone does it.

But Trump’s case is even weaker than Clinton’s. At least Clinton was being sued personally. He ultimately had to give evidence himself, which he did (infamously) at a deposition. But because the suit had nothing to do with presidential duties, the Supreme Court said it could proceed.

Here, Trump hasn’t been charged with or sued for anything. He’s not being required to do anything. The subpoenas have been directed at his company and his accountants. They don’t require his time or attention.

Trump’s position stupefies. In essence: Authorities can’t investigate anything touching his personal affairs — including, ahem, payments to pornographic actresses — because he’s president. Think of the logic: Not only does the president enjoy a personal constitutional immunity — his businesses do, too.

It doesn’t matter that Trump challenges a criminal inquiry, while Jones involved a civil suit. Whether a sitting president can be indicted remains unsettled, but Trump hasn’t been charged. In fact, presidents have given evidence in criminal matters many times — including ones touching them personally.

Chief Justice John Marshall ordered President Thomas Jefferson to produce documents in Aaron Burr’s treason case. A unanimous Supreme Court ordered President Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, and rejected a claim of presidential privilege — in a case in which Nixon was named an unindicted co-conspirator. Clinton provided grand jury and criminal trial testimony in the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations — matters in which he was potentially a target.

Trump complains nonetheless that letting 50 states conduct investigations involving presidents would endanger the presidency, as well as federal supremacy. A short answer is one the court gave in Jones, where Clinton raised the specter of countless private plaintiffs bringing meritless suits: Courts can address vexatious litigation case by case, and if that doesn’t suffice, Congress can legislate a fix.

A more fundamental answer, though, may be found in an amicus curiae brief in the Vance case, a brief submitted by the Protect Democracy Project and joined by me and 36 other conservatives: “The Constitution is concerned with the supremacy of federal law, not the supremacy of federal officials.”

Likewise, the Constitution is concerned with protecting the presidency, not the person who happens to be the president. That’s because no one in this country is above the law. The Supreme Court is now called upon to teach that lesson once again — even if Trump will likely never learn it.

April 2020

April 28

Medium, Commentary: We’re all in this together. Really? What about the oil majors? Charlotte Dennett, April 27, 2020. One thing I’ve learned over the years of investigating Big Oil and its hold over the futures of whole nations — including the US — is this: Never count on “straight talk” from its lobbyists, its PR people, and its protagonists in Congress and the White House

So what are we make of the fact that the price of oil tanked to below zero per barrel on April 22, the greatest drop in history? The price has gone up slightly since then, hovering around $16 a barrel on April 25th, but it is still severely depressed. Who will suffer from this? And perhaps more importantly, who will gain?
Motorists wil be happy with lower gas prices, but the impact on oil producing communites is “devastating.”

Predicting the future is difficult during this pandemic. Here are five questions that might yield answers.

1. What caused the precipitous drop in the price of oil?

In a word: coronavirus. No one can deny this. It is an inescapable fact, plainly portrayed by TV images of empty streets around the world. Sheltering at home has greatly reduced the consumption of gasoline. People are not driving their cars to work. Airlines — big consumers of gasoline — are cutting way back. A global over-supply of oil is not only driving down prices, it is causing havoc because there is no more storage space for tankers to unload their cargo.

Tankers cannot unload their cargo so wait offshore until stogage space can be found

2. Why did Russia and Saudi Arabia react by starting an oil price war now– of all times!

Members of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies, met in Vienna in early March to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on a declining demand for oil. Russia (though not a member of OPEC) joined the meetings, resulting in a pact called OPEC +. Representatives of OPEC’s 15 member countries (plus Russia) tried to hash out a deal that would curtail oil production enough to raise the price of oil. They failed. Why?

Saudi Arabia — the capo di tutti capi of oil producers — proposed cutting its oil production by 1 million barrels a day to prop up the price of oil, provided that Russia, another major leaguer, cut its production by 500,000 barrels a day. Russia balked. After all, Putin, ex-KGB guy that he is, is a master at playing the Great Game for Oil. Ever since the United States began exporting large quantities of shale oil and gas (much of it obtained through fracking) as cheap energy to Europe, he saw Russia’s market share in Europe threatened and revenues reduced. As the major supplier of oil and natural gas to Europe, Putin needed to compete with American shale oil producers and if possible, outcompete them with Russia’s own cheap oil.

But there was another factor at play, according to Bloomberg News: Russia’s economy was better prepared to take a hit because “five years of austerity and safeguarding assets against the threat of U.S. sanctions have left Russia in a stronger position than ever before to cope with lower oil prices…International sanctions forced Russia to strip back foreign borrowing in recent years, while stringent fiscal policies pared domestic spending to a minimum. The result is that Russia now boasts the fourth-biggest international reserves in the world, and some of the lowest debt levels.”

April 27

wayne madsen screen shotStrategic Culture Foundation, Opinion on Post-Corona World: Recrimination and Defederation, Wayne Madsen, right, April 27, 2020. There are growing signs that the coronavirus pandemic will radically alter the geo-political map of the world. The governors, prime ministers, premiers, chief ministers, and strategic culture logoadministrators of sub-national governments have been almost unanimous in decrying the lack of support from central governments during the current Covid-19 crisis.

Not least among these have been the governors of the American states of New York, Michigan, Washington, and other states and U.S. territories.

Welcome to the international empire of “Pandemia.” This unstructured alliance of disbelievers in public health, skeptics of scientific proof, practitioners of fascist ideology, and bloviators about any subject minus the ones at hand have ensured that a deadly pandemic became an international scourge.

Rather than pooling the resources of their nations with those of others, these cartoonish politicians decided to, at first, discount the threat; then, manipulate the numbers of infected persons in their countries; followed by hoarding precious medical supplies and resources and, in the case of Donald Trump, tighten sanctions on nations trying to deal with the virus at home and abroad. Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba discovered that the United States, far from being generous during a global health crisis, would use sanctions to increase the pandemic’s death count in the sanctions-targeted nations.

In two federal republics, the United States and Brazil, led by two extreme-rightwing Presidents, Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, respectively, the central governments demonstrated an initial and continued failure to take Covid-19 seriously. By waiting until the pandemic was already weighing heavily on state governments, the two presidents, rather than taking strong federal action, decided to engage in a ridiculous blame game in both shedding off federal responsibility and forcing state governors into roles best suited to the national governments.

jared kushner head shotWhen Trump appointed his New York/New Jersey “kosher nostra”-mobbed up son-in-law, Jared Kushner, left, to chair a “shadow” Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) task force charged with building up a national stockpile of ventilators, personal protection equipment (PPE), and Covid-19 test kits.

Kushner publicly stated at a White House press briefing that the federal medical stockpile was not meant for the states, even though the United States solely consists of states. Who would ultimately receive the federal stockpile over which Kushner maintained his control? Kushner granted himself sole authority to distribute the equipment and supplies.

To where? Israel, where the prime minister was a personal friend of Kushner and his family? The New York/New Jersey regional black market, where Baruch Feldheim, Yuriy Borukhov, Maisey Khovasov, and Michael Borukhov were arrested for hoarding masks and other medical supplies and gouging buyers? These are the types of criminals Trump and Kushner have been dealing with throughout their entire lives.

As if they were dealing with organized crime syndicates, governors were alerted to numerous attempts by FEMA and Kushner, using Gestapo-like tactics, to intercept PPEs pre-ordered by the states.

william barr new oColorado’s Democratic Governor, Jared Polis, revealed that FEMA “swept up” 500 ventilators that were already purchased by the state of Colorado. Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker decried the Kushner team’s confiscation of three million masks ordered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Acting entirely outside of their scope and doing the bidding of Trump “capo” and Attorney General William Barr, right, authorized the FBI to question the chief physician at Baystate Health in Massachusetts about the purpose of two semi-trucks, disguised as food-service vehicles, hauling badly-needed PPEs to Massachusetts hospitals.

Even after the FBI stood down, FEMA attempted to seize the equipment. Similar FEMA seizures and attempted seizures were reported from Florida, California, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, and Texas.

ray mcgovern hsPopular Resistance via OpEdNews, Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray Indicted, Ray McGovern, right, April 27, 2020. Charged With Contempt Of Court.

Background: Alex Salmond, a friend of former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray, was First Minister of Scotland and leader of the pro-Independence Scottish National Party. When the party narrowly lost the independence referendum in 2014, Salmond stepped down and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, became, and remains, First Minister.

Salmond was thought to be considering a political comeback. Then came several sexual allegations against him, which Amb. Murray publicly craig murray uk ambassadordescribed as false. Murray, left, uses the word "fit-up," British slang meaning to incriminate someone on false charges.

Alex Salmond was tried and a majority female jury found him innocent of all charges. Murray believes that Sturgeon and associates are determined that nobody should find out what really happened.

There has been a media campaign implying Salmond is really guilty. Murray reports that there has also been a police campaign of intimidation against anyone, even ordinary folk making a Facebook post, who implies the charges were contrived. The chief prosecutor and his key staff are all Sturgeon appointees, as is the police chief.

The following are excerpts from a Craig Murray blog posted Friday:

"... I know of four pro-[Scottish] Independence folk who were last week phoned or visited by Police Scotland and threatened with contempt of court proceedings over social media postings they had made weeks back on the Alex Salmond case.

Then on Monday, a Scottish journalist I know had his home raided by five policemen, who confiscated (and still have) all his computers and phones. They said they were from the 'Alex Salmond team' and investigating his postings on the Alex Salmond case. He has not to date been charged, and his lawyer is advising him at present to say nothing, so I am not revealing his name.

"On Thursday two plain clothes police arrived and handed me the indictment. Shortly thereafter, an email arrived from The Times newspaper, saying that the Crown Office had 'confirmed' that I had been charged with contempt of court. In the case of my friend whose house was raided, he was contacted by the Daily Record just before the raid even happened!

"I am charged with contempt of court and the hearing is on 7 July at the High Court in Edinburgh. The contempt charge falls in two categories: i) Material published before the trial liable to prejudice a jury. ii) Material published which could assist 'jigsaw identification' of the failed accusers.

"[T]his is a blatant, one-sided political persecution. That much is entirely plain. I have therefore decided, in the interests of open justice, to publish [a link to the indictment is embedded in the Murray's blog item] the entire indictment against me (with a single sentence redacted where I think the prosecution were excessively indiscreet). Neither the indictment nor the covering letter is marked confidential or not for publication. It is, so far as I know, a public document. ...

"The state believes it has finally discovered a way to put me in prison without the inconvenient hurdle of a jury of my peers. Contempt of Court is just decided by a judge. It is extraordinary that you can go to jail for a substantial two years with no jury protection and no test of 'beyond reasonable doubt'; and on the whim of a judge defending what he may view as the dignity of his own office. This really is the epitome of bad law. To use it against freedom of speech is disgusting. ...

"I am charged specifically with saying that the Alex Salmond case was a fit-up and a conspiracy in which the Crown Office was implicated. So I thought I would say it again now: 'The Alex Salmond case was a fit-up and a conspiracy in which the Crown Office was implicated, foiled by the jury. If Scotland is the kind of country where you go to jail for saying that, let me get my toothbrush.'"

April 20

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion / Analysis: Is William Barr a remnant KGB sleeper agent? Wayne Madsen, April 20, 2020. In the 1970s, the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB, operated an extremely aggressive intelligence gathering and recruitment effort in New York City.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1973-74, one subject of interest to the KGB resident agency in New York may have been Donald Barr, the quirky former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer during World War II and the headmaster of the exclusive private Dalton School....

Today, William Barr's only real accomplishments as Attorney General have been to stifle his department's and the FBI's and CIA's investigation of foreign intelligence interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, permitting Jeffrey Epstein to be put in a position where he could be "suicided," ensuring that Epstein's underage victims cannot receive damages from the Justice Department for their rights as sex trafficking victims being violated, and other outrages.

April 18

ae 911 freefall correction request graphic Custom

Architects and Engineers for 911 Turth (AE911Truth) "Free Fall" radio show: Request for Correction: What It Means and How NIST Might Respond, ae for 9 11 truth logoAn Interview with Mick Harrison and Ted Walter, April 18, 2020. On this week’s episode of "9/11 Free Fall," attorney Mick Harrison and AE911Truth Director of Strategy Ted Walter join host Andy Steele for an in-depth discussion of the request for correction submitted to NIST earlier this week regarding the agency's 2008 report on the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7.

The 100-page request for correction, which is signed by ten 9/11 family members, 88 architects and structural engineers, and AE911Truth, represents the most serious challenge to date against NIST's World Trade Center investigation.

9/11 Free Fall recently moved from an hour-long to a half-hour format. We hope you’ll be able to tune in for this episode or read the full interview.

April 17

Dr. Leroy Hulsey trailer thumb headshot Custom

Architects and Engineers for 911 Turth (AE911Truth), Commentary: A Teaser for the Much-Anticipated Building 7 Documentary, Staff report, April 17, ae for 9 11 truth logo2020. We at Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth are thrilled to release a short teaser for our upcoming documentary on Building 7 and the University of Alaska Fairbanks study led by Dr. Leroy Hulsey, shown above.

We’ve got to bring this film to millions, so please share the teaser widely and stay tuned for updates on our forthcoming release of the film!

April 14

djt virus rewrites history cnn jonathan karl april 13 2020 Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis of The Me President: Trump uses briefing to focus on himself, Ashley Parker, April 14, 2020 (print ed.). Monday’s news conference offered a stark portrait of a president who seemed unable to grasp the magnitude of the crisis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s propaganda-laden, off-the-rails coronavirus briefing, Aaron Blake, April 14, 2020 (print ed.). Near the start of his daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, President Trump made a statement that betrayed, better than just about anything, how he views the purpose of such briefings.

Before playing a campaign-style video intended to show his decisive action on the virus and to accuse his critics of being the actual culprits on downplaying the threat, Trump cued it up by talking about what he wanted to do after it played.

“Most importantly,” he said, “we’re going to get back on to the reason we’re here, which is the success we’re having.”

Trump’s self-promotion, falsehoods and use of dodgy medical advice in these coronavirus briefings have led to a dialogue about whether networks should carry them live. And on Monday, he seemed to be daring all of them to stop, turning the whole thing into a spectacle of government-produced propaganda and even more personal score-settling and grievances.

djt meltdown chyron cnn april 13 2020 Custom

Palmer Report, Editorial note: It’s about time! Bill Palmer, right, April 14, 2020. At one point during Donald Trump’s press briefing yesterday, after his behavior had bill palmertaken a turn for the indescribable, CNN put a chyron (above) across the bottom of the screen that said “TRUMP MELTS DOWN.” It was a perfectly accurate and factual description of what was going on. It’s about time.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen I first started referring to Donald Trump’s behavior as “meltdowns,” I took a ton of heat for it. Various mainstream media outlets and pundits told me I was being hyperbolic, sensationalistic, and unprofessional. Meanwhile they were doing their best to understate and normalize his behavior by framing his rubber room-level antics as somehow merely being “untraditional” or “out of the box.”

Now, three years too late, the media is finally reporting on Donald Trump using accurate words that properly reflect his behavior. I’m not bitter that some of the same mainstream pundits who gave me grief for using words like “meltdown” are now using it themselves. I do resent that if the media had been doing its job properly these past few years, Trump would probably have been ousted by now. But better late than never.

My goal from the start has been to nudge the mainstream media toward being more honest and accurate. The media has a bad habit of using painfully understated headlines and descriptors that have falsely painted Donald Trump as merely behaving in unusual fashion, when by any objective measure he’s behaving as an unhinged and deranged lunatic. We’re getting closer. I’ll keep pushing until the mainstream media is willing to fully tell the public just how objectionable Trump’s behavior is without sugarcoating it.

strategic culture logoStrategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: U.S. Will Always Be Remembered as a COVID-19 Pariah State, Wayne Madsen, April 14, 2020. The anti-science, conspiracy-driven, and radical right-wing agenda of the Trump administration has directly led to the needless deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and foreign citizens amid the worst pandemic to strike the world since the 1918 influenza scourge. Like any fascist tyrant, Trump requires scapegoats to maintain his power base and he has discovered plenty of them.

In addition to scapegoating almost a dozen U.S. state governors, two past U.S. presidents, and the Democratic Party, Trump has seen fit to blame the World Health Organization for the Covid-19 pandemic, even threatening to cut off U.S. assistance to the global health body.

Trump’s attack on the WHO came as no real surprise. The director-general of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is from Ethiopia, a nation Trump included in his sweeping reference to African nations as “shithole countries.” Trump also falsely accused the WHO of being “China-centric.” Dr. Tedros hit back at Trump’s criticisms, stressing that countries should avoid politicizing Covid-19 “if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”

Trump’s familiar fascist tactic of scapegoating others for his own failures is what was ultimately behind his attacks on the WHO and China.

However, Trump’s xenophobia and racism were not the only reasons for his attacks. Trump was echoing the propaganda of several right-wing entities, including those that back Taiwan’s admission to the WHO against strong Chinese opposition, the Falun Gong and its press mouthpiece, “Epoch Times,” that are opposed to the Chinese government and receive favorable treatment by the Trump White House; and white supremacist groups opposed to the WHO director being a black man from Ethiopia. Also irritating Trump was Dr. Tedros’s admonitions to Washington that it was not helpful to refer to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.” Anti-Asian racial attacks were reported

April 6 supreme court headshots 2019

Slate, Commentary: By a 5-4 Vote, SCOTUS Lets Wisconsin Throw Out Tens of Thousands of Ballots, Mark Joseph Stern, April 6, 2020. On Monday, by a 5–4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court approved one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern history.

The court will nullify the votes of citizens who mailed in their ballots late — not because they forgot, but because they did not receive ballots until after Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ruth bader ginsburg scotusAs Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right, wrote in dissent, the court’s order “will result in massive disenfranchisement.” The conservative majority claimed that its decision would help protect “the integrity of the election process.” In reality, it calls into question the legitimacy of the election itself.

Wisconsin has long been scheduled to hold an election on April 7. There are more than 3,800 seats on the ballot, and a crucial state Supreme Court race. But the state’s ability to conduct in-person voting is imperiled by COVID-19.

Thousands of poll workers have dropped out for fear of contracting the virus, forcing cities to shutter dozens of polling places. Milwaukee, for example, consolidated its polling locations from 182 to five, while Green Bay consolidated its polling locations from 31 to two.

Gov. Tony Evers asked the Republican-controlled Legislature to postpone the election, but it refused. So he tried to delay it himself with an executive order on Monday. But the Republican-dominated state Supreme Court reinstated the election, thereby forcing voters to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote.

Because voters are rightfully afraid of COVID-19, Wisconsin has been caught off guard by a surge in requests for absentee ballots. Election officials simply do not have time, resources, or staff to process all those requests.

As a result, a large number of voters — at least tens of thousands — won’t get their ballots until after Election Day. And Wisconsin law disqualifies ballots received after that date. In response, last Thursday, a federal district court ordered the state to extend the absentee ballot deadline. It directed officials to count votes mailed after Election Day so long as they were returned by April 13. A conservative appeals court upheld his decision.

Now the Supreme Court has reversed that order. It allowed Wisconsin to throw out ballots postmarked and received after Election Day, even if voters were entirely blameless for the delay. (Thankfully, ballots postmarked by Election Day but received by April 13 still count because the Legislature didn’t challenge that extension.)

In an unsigned opinion, the majority cited the Purcell principle, which cautions courts against altering voting laws shortly before an election. It criticized the district court for “fundamentally alter[ing] the nature of the election by permitting voting for six additional days after the election.” And it insisted that the plaintiffs did not actually request that relief — which, as Ginsburg notes in her dissent, is simply false.

cheddi jagan reality in writing caribbean political economy british guiana pm

Dr. Cheddi Jagan (source: Reality in Writing : Caribbean Political Economy)

National Security Archive, CIA Covert Operations: The 1964 Overthrow of Cheddi Jagan in British Guiana (Briefing Book #670), Edited by John Prados and Arturo Jimenez-Bacardi, April 6, 2020. Cold War concerns about another Communist Cuba in Latin America drove President John F. Kennedy to approve a john_f_kennedy_smilingcovert CIA political campaign to rig national elections in British Guiana, then a British colony but soon to be independent, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive.

U.S. intelligence concluded that Prime Minister Cheddi Jagan, one of the main presidential candidates in the upcoming 1964 elections, was a communist, although not necessarily under the sway of Moscow. Nevertheless, Kennedy decided Jagan would have to go and urged London to cooperate in the effort. As early as mid-1962, JFK informed the British prime minister that the notion of an independent state led by Jagan “disturbs us seriously,” adding: “We must be entirely frank in saying that we simply cannot afford to see another Castro-type regime established in this Hemisphere. It follows that we should set as our objective an independent British Guiana under some other leader.”

Today’s posting details a clandestine operation that is far less well-known than other CIA actions in Latin America and elsewhere during the Cold War. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at the intelligence process as it gives shape to a complex covert campaign and offers fascinating insights into the anti-Communist outlook of Kennedy and his advisers.

CIA LogoThe documents were obtained through archival research in presidential libraries and from CIA declassifications. They are part of the Digital National Security Archive publication “CIA Covert Operations III: From Kennedy to Nixon, 1961-1974,” the latest in the authoritative series compiled and curated by one of the world's leading intelligence historians, Dr. John Prados.

* * *

The Overthrow of Cheddi Jagan in British Guiana

By John Prados and Arturo Jimenez-Bacardi

Attempts at influencing elections—that is foreign interference—are not new. In fact, the United States, using the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was an early practitioner of this tactic. The agency’s intervention in Italy in 1948 and after, while details remain vague, is a known example. But in British Guiana (present-day Guyana) in the 1960s we now have a virtually unknown yet well-documented instance of use of this technique. What makes this an extraordinary case also is that President John F. Kennedy did not begin this covert operation until 1962, after the Bay of Pigs failure, when that disaster had supposedly taught him to rein in the secret warriors.

The bugaboo which led to this was political ideology, specifically communism. Throughout the Cold War, Washington had difficulty appreciating that different political traditions applied in different lands, and that “communism” was not a monolithic, Soviet-led international movement. This time CIA wielded the covert scalpel against British Guiana, in fact a British Commonwealth member located on the northern coast of South America. Such was the overconcern with communism that the United States-United Kingdom alliance did not keep Washington from political intervention in a land that answered to an American ally. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., President Kennedy’s court historian and adviser on Latin America, several decades later observed that “we misunderstood the whole struggle down there.”[1]

Schlesinger apologized, but by then it was too late. At the time, he wrote, “it was idle to suppose that communism in Latin America was no more than the expression of an indigenous desire for social reform.”[2] He joined American leaders and spies to take the Guianese leftist and socialist Cheddi Jagan as a communist and plot against him—or, more accurately, Schlesinger took a more relaxed view of Jagan, became isolated in the Kennedy administration, and eventually ceased to oppose the CIA’s project. That regime change operation is documented in this electronic briefing book.

jamal khashoggi entering consulate

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump calls MBS his ‘friend’ — 18 months to the day after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Fred Hiatt (Editorial page editor), April 6, 2020 (print ed.). No doubt President Trump was unaware of the significance of the date he chose to salute “my friend MBS.”

No doubt Trump had no idea that it was the year-and-a-half-anniversary of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-SaudBut, yes, Trump’s tweet came 18 months to the day after his “friend MBS” — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right — had a hit squad murder Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. A hit squad that included forensic doctor Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, who brought his bone saw with him from Riyadh.

You probably remember the outlines of the story. A respected Saudi journalist living in Virginia and writing columns for The Post, Khashoggi (shown below in the Washington Post's newsroom) had visited the consulate the previous week seeking paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. He had been told, no problem, come back the following Tuesday — Oct. 2, 2018.

U.S. intelligence officials concluded that the murder could not have taken place without the crown prince’s authorization. An investigation by U.N. special rapporteur Agnes Callamard called the murder and dismemberment “an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the jamal khashoggi washpost newsroom SmallKingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”

For a time, the Trump administration pretended to seek information about the killing. The truth would come out, Trump said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed the crown prince at least to move aside his chief henchman, Saud al-Qahtani.

But any pretense is long gone. Qahtani remains influential. The administration has illegally ignored congressional mandates to furnish information on the killing and impose sanctions.

And now, as though to mark a year and a half of Saudi nose-thumbing, Trump is prostrating himself again. The reason: As a pandemic imperils the American economy, the Saudis have threatened to devastate the U.S. oil industry further by flooding the market with cheap oil.

April 3

djt impeachment graphic

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just decided to fire the Inspector General in the middle of the night during a pandemic, Bill Palmer, April 3, 2020. With everything that’s going on right now, you’d think Donald Trump would have better things to do than to carry out old petty michael atkinson ogrudges. Then again, he isn’t bothering to do anything useful about the coronavirus crisis anyway, so he has plenty of time on his hands for deranged things. Sure enough, he just fired the Inspector General in the middle of the night.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump has fired U.S. intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, right, tonight. If you’re trying to place the name, Atkinson played a key role in Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal. When someone in the intel community discovered what Trump was up to, that person reported it to Atkinson, who reported it to Congress.

Politico says that Trump’s official excuse for firing Atkinson is that he’s lost confidence in him – but of course this is the most thinly veiled of generic excuses. Trump can fire the Inspector General without needing a reason, but he can’t do it for retaliatory reasons, or to try to cover up his own crimes, which is what Trump is doing here.

This is pretty clearly an illegal firing on Donald Trump’s part. He’s hoping that by doing it late on a Friday night, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, it’ll get lost in the news cycle. But this firing is an impeachable crime all by itself.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed, Michelle Goldberg, right, April 3, 2020 (print ed.). Trump’s son-in-law michelle goldberg thumbhas no business running the coronavirus response. Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.

According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist.

“I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,” Kushner reportedly said. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)

jared kushner head shotEven now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner, left, could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: “People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections, which are not the realistic projections.”

Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.

Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. “Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,” said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump regime caught altering DHS website after Jared Kushner’s press conference meltdown, Daniel Cotter, April 3, 2020. At Thursday’s press briefing, the guest of the day was the fool who is assigned much, but is effective in nothing. His best qualifications are having been born into a New York real estate family and having married into the family of Donald J. Trump. His name is Jared Kushner.

Kushner made the statement at the press conference: “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use.”

bill palmer report logo headerLike his daddy-in-law, nobody knew what the hell he was talking about when he said it is “our stockpile”- was he saying that it belonged to the federal government or the Trump family? Anyone with a computer, or a cell phone, or a brain knows this is not true. If you go to the Public Health Emergency webpage, which is an official page of the United States Department of Health and Human Services agency, you will find it states:

“When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.”

“When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.”

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

Palmer Report, Opinion: I think I figured it out, Bill Palmer, right, April 3, 2020. We’ve all been chewing on three questions. 1) Why is Donald Trump bill palmerrefusing to fully invoke the Defense Production Act, which could solve all the medical supply shortages? 2) Why is Trump forcing states to outbid each other for the medical supplies they’re buying from foreign governments? 3) Why has the Trump regime been sending U.S. medical supplies overseas all along, when they’re needed here?

bill palmer report logo headerTo decipher any mystery involving Donald Trump, you have to apply two rules. One is that he’s always running a petty con for personal financial gain. The other is that with Trump, it’s always even more treacherous than you imagined. When you apply all of this to the three questions above, I think I’ve figured out what he may be up to.

First, Trump makes sure there’s a scarcity of medical supplies by refusing to order them into mass production. Then Trump sends the federal government’s existing stockpile to foreign countries. Then the individual states, which he’s made desperate for supplies, end up bidding each other through the roof for these supplies. Who’s profiting? The foreign entities – and Trump is the one giving them the djt doesnt listenopportunity to turn that profit.

I’ve come to suspect that Donald Trump is sending our medical supplies to corrupt foreign governments, so they can turn around and sell those supplies back to the states at a huge profit.

Then these foreign governments owe Trump a personal favor. We’ve already seen Trump use this kind of leverage to try to push Ukraine into making up fake scandals about Joe Biden. Why wouldn’t Trump be doing the same with the medical equipment he’s sending overseas? Someone with broader investigative resources than mine should try to get to the bottom of this, because there has to be something to it. With Trump, there always is.

March

March 30

Music / Politics / JFK Death

Kennedys and King, Review: The Dylan/Kennedy Sensation, James DiEugenio, March 30, 2020. Analysis of the surprising new song released by Bob Dylan about the JFK assassination, Murder Most Foul.

As everyone who reads this site must know by now, Bob Dylan’s newly released song Murder Most Foul has created nothing less than a cultural and popular mini earthquake. As of this writing, the song, his first in about 8 years, has registered 2.4 million views on You Tube. Over two million in 96 hours!

The song is themed around the murder of President Kennedy, but I hesitate to call Murder Most Foul a song. Because, as most people understand, Dylan is one of the finest lyricists in the modern history of music. At his best — in classics like Blowin’ in the Wind and Like a Rolling Stone — he does not really write song lyrics, not in the normal sense. He writes poems. And to anyone who knows anything about the Kennedy assassination, this song is really a poem. It is an intricately designed, multi-leveled, cleverly-referenced poem about both the Kennedy assassination and what happened to America after that cataclysmic event.

For people who have studied the Kennedy case, Dylan has centered the lyrics around a conspiracy to kill JFK in Dallas. Consider these three lines: “We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect/We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face/We’ve already got someone here to take your place.”  But, then, this theme gets hammered home a few lines later.

#MeToo Claim Against Biden

tara reade joe biden Custom

Medium, Investigative Commentary: Evidence Casts Doubt on Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegations of Joe Biden, Brian Krassenstein and Eddie Krassenstein, March 30, 2020. Alexandra Tara Reade’s accusations of sexual assault against Joe Biden (both shown above) appear very questionable once the story is fully investigated.

We were able to contact a longtime friend of Reade’s who wished to remain anonymous, but they said they “do not believe her allegations,” claiming she has always been one to seek attention. Note: We reached out to Ms. Reade for comment but she refused.

Every allegation of sexual assault must be taken seriously, and the #metoo movement has certainly given the victims of sexual harassment and assault a greater shield of confidence in coming forward with less fear of being attacked themselves. With this said, however, it is the media’s responsibility to thoroughly investigate accusations before jumping into a story and allowing those allegations to potentially destroy another human being, or, in this case, a political campaign. Every woman deserves to be heard, but every media outlet still has the responsibility of investigating and then relaying to the public all of the facts at face value.

joe biden 2020 button CustomAlexandra Tara Reade came forward last week with quite disturbing allegations against former Vice President and current 2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden. In April of 2019, Reade originally said that Joe Biden’s handsiness made her feel uncomfortable when she worked as a Senate aide in 1993. At the time, however, she said that she did not consider Biden’s actions to be sexualization, instead comparing her experience to that of being a beautiful lamp.

This story suddenly changed last week when Reade took part in an interview with podcast host Katie Halper. In the interview, Reade claimed that then-Senator Joe Biden “penetrated” her, against her will, with his finger, in an encounter that took place in ‘93.

While the allegations made by Reade are impossible to prove or disprove, examining Reade’s actions over the years and other evidence Vladimir Putin Il Corrierethat has been archived on the internet, brings her honesty and integrity into question.

Below we will cover many of the inconsistencies in her story, the endless contradictions she has made over the years, and the evidence that paints a picture of someone who went from seemingly adoring Joe Biden and disliking Vladimir Putin, right, in 2017, to someone who showed compassion and love for Vladimir Putin in 2018, to someone who accused Biden of doing horrific things to her in 2019 and 2020.

Who is Alexandra Tara Reade?

Alexandra Tara Reade has gone by many names and aliases over the years. According to our research, she was born as Tara Reade Moulton, before changing her name in her early 20s to Tara Reade, then changing it back to Tara Moulton again, and then changing it once again later in life (through marriage) to Alexandra Tara McCabe.

It appears as though sometime between 2017 and early 2018 she began calling herself Alexandra Tara Reade.

According to a website that she recently deleted, Reade is the founder of Gracie’s Pet Food Pantry, graduated from Seattle University School of Law, and was the co-host, creator and producer of a soul music radio show called “Soul Vibes” on KNRY — an AM radio station that serves the Santa Cruz and Monterey areas in California.

At one point in her life Reade worked on the domestic violence unit for the King County Prosecutor, in Seattle, WA, as a ‘Victim’s Advocate,” and on at least one occasion testified as an expert witness on domestic violence.

Reade also worked for former Congressman Leon Panetta, former Senator Joe Biden, and former California State Senator Jack O’Connell.

In 2017 Alexandra Tara Reade Praised Joe Biden for Helping End Sexual Assault.

In 2017 Alexandra Tara Reade praised Joe Biden for his action in helping stop sexual assault, not just once, but on multiple occasions.

Alexandra Tara Reade’s other Twitter account under her legal name Alexandra (Tara) McCabe.

Between September of 2016 and May of 2017, Alexander Tara Reade used a Twitter account, under the name Tara McCabe, to spread praise of Joe Biden via tweeting, retweeting and liking various Tweets.

There are multiple examples of this, as seen below:

  • In the below instance, Reade retweeted a tweet by Margaret Cho that appears to commend Joe Biden for working with Lady Gaga to end sexual assault.
  • In 2017 Joe Biden worked with Lady Gaga to help end sexual assault. In February of 2017, Tara Reade retweeted this tweet apparently commending Biden for his work in doing so.
  • Then again in April of 2017, Reade liked a tweet by the Huffington post that praised the former Vice President for helping men realize how important they are in the fight against sexual assault. The article commends Biden for the steps he has taken to encourage men to take responsibility in stopping assaults against women.

 ...

Conclusion

No, no one will be able to say with certainty whether Tara Reade’s latest allegations are legitimate or not, but the very least we can do is ensure that the public has as much information as possible to make an informed decision. That’s the purpose of this article.

With that, we leave you with two things to think about

#1) A tweet response made by Reade just weeks before coming forward with new allegations seemingly contradicting her original story, and just days before The Daily Beast reported on the Russian media becoming concerned with Joe Biden’s resurgence. As you can see, it seems as though Reade is admitting that she’s waiting for the perfect time to release her new allegations in order to hurt Joe Biden’s campaign:

And #2) A tweet response that Reade made to the parents of accused rapist Julian Assange. She called the man “a hero.”

Note: UPDATE 4/2/20: We were able to contact a longtime friend of Reade’s who wished to remain anonymous, but they said they “do not believe her allegations,” claiming she has always been one to seek attention.

We went out of our way to get Reade on the record to defend herself and also spoke to individuals close to her for years in an effort to get someone to tell us that Reade was telling the truth. Those we spoke to could not do so and in fact left us even more convinced that things don’t add up.

Background on Krassentein Brothers

brian krassenstein ed krassenstein left facebook

Heavy.com, Krassenstein Brothers: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, Erin Laviola, Updated May 24, 2019. Ed (above at left) and Brian Krassenstein (above right in the Facebook photo), the Florida brothers who became famous on Twitter for their outspoken opposition of President Trump, have been permanently banned from the social platform.

The Krassensteins were accused of creating fake Twitter accounts and purchasing automated “bots” that could share and “like” their tweets in order to boost their own profiles. They shared the official statement that Twitter sent out on their website, the Hill Reporter:

“The Twitter Rules to apply to everyone. Operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions are strictly prohibited. Engaging in these behaviors will result in permanent suspension from the service.”

Ed and Brian Krassenstein have denied the accusations. They wrote in an op-ed on May 24, 2019 “We NEVER, and we want to make twitter bird Customthis as clear as day, ever bought or sold ANY Twitter accounts or interactions. We swear on our graves that this is 100% true.”

The Krassenstein brothers had more than 1.6 million followers between them before Twitter banned them from the site. Ed and Brian Krassenstein have been tweeting about Donald Trump and his administration since late 2016. Many of their tweets have called for his impeachment and accused him of being corrupt. They often were seen responding to the president’s tweets. They are also credited with helping to promote the hashtag “Resistance” on social media.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Ed & Brian Krassenstein Began Tweeting About Donald Trump in Late 2016; The Brothers Say They Started Posting About the President Out of Sincere Concerns About the Administration

2. The Krassenstein Brothers Deny Paying For Bots & Have Asked Twitter to Review The Suspension

3. Federal Investigators Searched Ed & Brian Krassenstein’s Homes in 2016 After They Were Accused of Helping to Promote Scams Run By a Russian Crime Organization; The Brothers Were Never Charged With a Crime

4. Ed & Brian Krassenstein Have Operated Dozens of Websites Since the Early 2000s

5. Brian & Ed Krassenstein Are Both Married Fathers & Live in the Same Neighborhood in Fort Myers, Florida

Daily Beast, Twitter Bans #Resistance-Famous Krassenstein Brothers for Allegedly Operating Fake Accounts: GONE, Will Sommer, May 23, daily beast logo2019. Ed and Brian Krassenstein are banned for life after ‘operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions,’ a Twitter spokesman said.

Twitter has permanently banned prominent anti-Trump brothers Brian and Ed Krassenstein, alleging that two of the biggest stars of #Resistance Twitter had broken the site’s rules about operating fake accounts and purchasing fake interactions with their accounts.

“The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions are strictly prohibited. Engaging in these behaviors will result in permanent suspension from the service.”

The suspensions are a major loss for the Krassensteins, who had used their massive Twitter followers and ability to quickly respond to tweets from Donald Trump to make themselves internet celebrities. Ed Krassenstein had roughly 925,000 followers before he was banned, while Brian Krassenstein had more than 697,000.

twitter bird CustomThe brothers appeared to be unusually good at getting attention on Twitter. While the Twitter statement doesn’t explain what the Krassensteins allegedly did to illicitly promote their accounts, “fake interactions” could engage buying bots to retweet their posts, or buying fake followers to inflate their profiles on the site.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, the Krassensteins denied breaking Twitter rules.

“Twitter claims that we manipulated our interactions through the purchase of fake accounts and fake interactions,” the Krassenstein brothers said. “We have never once acquired anything for the purpose of increasing our Twitter presence.”

The Krassensteins say they only operated secondary accounts on Twitter to monitor death threats, as well as accounts for their businesses.

“None of those accounts were ever used for manipulative purposes as Twitter claims,” the Krassensteins said in the statement.

March 29

Music / Politics / JFK Death

Vanity Fair, OK Boomer: How Bob Dylan’s New JFK Song Helps Explain 2020, Michael Hogan, March 27, 2020 Listen above. “The soul of a nation’s been torn away,” he sings in his first new song in nearly a decade.

It’s about Kennedy — and a lot more. Dylan has always been a stubborn contrarian, so maybe it’s fitting that, after five decades of evading any and all responsibility as a “voice of a generation,” he is finally embracing it, kind of, at the height of the “OK Boomer” backlash.

His new song, Murder Most Foul, which he says in a statement was “recorded a while back,” is an epic, 16-plus-minutes-long murder ballad about the assassination of John F. Kennedy that feels like an otherworldly hybrid of such earlier songs as Hurricane, Idiot Wind, and Not Dark Yet.

Before you object to the “OK Boomer” thing, yes, I know that Dylan, born in 1941, is technically a Silent Generation guy.

But teen and preteen baby boomers were heavily represented among the generation that felt inspired and galvanized by his politically charged folk music of the early- and mid-1960s. Even at the time, though, he couldn’t resist undercutting a rousing anthem like The Times They Are A-Changin’ with a cranky blow-off like It Ain’t Me, Babe. (“Go away from my window / Leave at your own chosen speed…”)

Irish Post, Bob Dylan releases 17-minute track about assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jack Beresford, March 29, 2020. Bob Dylan has released his first original song in eight years.

john f kennedy smilingThe new track, titled Murder Most Foul, centers on the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy and runs an epic 17 minutes in length.

Dylan dropped the surprise new track on social media. Writing on Twitter, the music icon thanked his fans for their continued support.

He also issued a message of support for anyone affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years,” he said.

“This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you.”

A surprising release, to say the least, Murder Most Foul sees Dylan speaking in graphic terms about the 1963 assassination of JFK in Dallas.

In one line he comments how the former President was “being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb.”

He then goes on to describe how “they blew off his head while he was still in the car” adding that he was “shot down like a dog in broad daylight".

Dylan later asserts how America has been in steady decline since the killing of JFK.

In a wide-ranging track, Dylan goes on to name check the Beatles, Stevie Nicks, Woodstock Festival, The Eagles and Charlie Parker. Despite the song’s unusual length, the track has won praise from critics, with The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis calling it “a dark, dense ballad for the end times.” 

Murder Most Foul is the first song Dylan has written since he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

Dallas Morning News, Bob Dylan releases a 17-minute song about the JFK assassination, full of dark references to Dallas, Michael Granberry, March 27, 2020. 

It is the longest song ever recorded by the musician, who blames the president’s death on a conspiracy.

Bob Dylan once wrote a landmark song about a boxer named Hurricane Carter. We got word Friday that, at 78, Dylan has delivered his own Hurricane punch by releasing a new song, which is, in a word, wild.

It is about — of all things — the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Murder Most Foul is beyond being a one-two punch. It’s more like a one-two-three punch, because 1) any new song by Dylan is noteworthy, 2) its subject matter alone makes it a headline-grabber, and 3) it’s almost 17 minutes long.

Sixteen minutes, 56 seconds, to be precise. His longest song ever.

And here’s something else: “Murder Most Foul” overflows with references to Dallas, beginning with, “It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63/A day that will live on in infamy.”

There are references to the grassy knoll, as in, “There’s a party going on behind the grassy knoll.” One lyric repeats the line spoken to Kennedy by a fellow passenger in the ill-fated limousine, Nellie Connally, the wife of Texas Gov. John Connally, who was critically wounded in the attack that killed the president.

Moments before shots rang out, Nellie Connally reacted to the enthusiastic crowd greeting the president by saying, “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you," which Dylan changes to: “Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President.”

Commentary for the Justice Integrity Project from cultural anthropologist Dr. Bruce Woych of Kingston, NY, who currently works on independent research on contemporary issues. 

"It's a stream of consciousness, with mature, fatalistic remorse. The piano and violin keep it drifting as a survivalist's daydream.

It is a disturbing lament about  the turbulence of realism. Youthful defiance and insight evoke a surrender in his tone, which is consolation rather than reconciliation.

The fact that Dylan is now pointing to the JFK murder is the underlying power of the song, not the lyrics themselves. Everyone else has all but dismissed it in popular culture.

This could be a significant break giving attention to the truth and realism of the crime, here brought vividly back by the hard line graphic phrases that he uses to bring revulsion over the act back to our senses."

March 27

leroy hulsey freefall graphic Custom Custom

AE911Truth "Free Fall" radio show: In the Name of Engineering, Science, and Truth: Leroy Hulsey and Roland Angle on the Final WTC 7 Report, Host Andy Steele, ae for 9 11 truth logoMarch 27, 2020 (30 mins.). On this week's episode of 9/11 Free Fall, Dr. Leroy Hulsey of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Roland Angle of AE911Truth join host Andy Steele to discuss the release of the final report on World Trade Center Building 7 and the importance of everyone helping in their own way to share it.

Andrew Steele:

So we are all collectively at the end of a very long journey, maybe not long in the span of all of humankind, but for all of us who have been eagerly awaiting the publishing of the final report on World Trade Center 7, we are here now this week. We're going to be talking about that. For people who may be new — we always want to take them into account — Roland, can you briefly describe for our audience what this report is about.

Roland Angle:

Professor Hulsey and his team at the University of Alaska Fairbanks conducted this study of the collapse of World Trade Center 7, the 47-story building that collapsed in New York City on 9/11, because there had been significant questions raised about the government-issued report on that collapse, which was authored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

And there was just a lot of research that indicated that the conclusions that NIST came to — that the building was brought down by normal office fires — was highly suspect. And so Professor Hulsey and the University of Alaska agreed at our request, to conduct a full, thorough engineering study of the collapse and determine just how valid the NIST report was. And if not, what other mechanism might have caused the collapse of the building.

So that's the purpose of the study. And I would like to say that I've worked with Professor Hulsey and other engineers as this report has been developed, and I can say that it is a very thorough and exact study of what happened that day.

Dr. Hulsey, I know you have taped presentations out there that go into a lot of detail about this. But just briefly for our audience, as we maneuver into talking about the report overall, can you tell us about some of the many years' processes that were involved in putting this report together?

Leroy Hulsey:

So if it's going to come down through some form of natural phenomenon, it's likely not to come straight down. That was looked at very carefully at the beginning. We established the methodology to look at every little detail that might impact what might have occurred to this building as it might be coming down.

And so we looked at, in detail, floors 12 and 13, as NIST did, and we examined numbers of things about that. We also, at the same time, were looking at, without consideration from NIST, what might have happened under a heated-up floor system, walls, columns, etc., etc. And we determined that the modeling was essential in determining how this building is going to respond.

What we did is put together a virtual model of the building to virtually simulate a failure and then [analyze] what kind of failures needed to happen to get what you see in the videos that actually occurred. That's kind of a snapshot overview.

Andrew Steele:

Now again, because our time is brief, can you just talk about some of the conclusions that you had reached that you talked about last September.

Leroy Hulsey:

Yeah, well the first one was that it became very clear early on that fire did not bring this building down. So that's the first thing. And when I took this on, I said, "I might not be able to come up with the reason it came down, but I could certainly tell you what didn't happen." And, well, that didn't happen.

The second thing we began to look at is how the building actually deformed if it was subjected to all this heat. And it became pretty clear pretty quickly that the exterior part of this building was not that stiff. So when you heat up something, imagine that it's going to elongate with respect to some point. And that point is where it's the stiffest. That's not on the outside of the building; it's closer to the inner core, where the elevator shafts were.

That being said, the response going around, the big controversy, which was column 79, and the bearing plates, and the A2001 girder coming into it led to a whole different set of findings than they used as an argument that brought this building down. And furthermore, when you go up and take a look at the system, the other conclusion we came to was that the system up near the top, near the penthouse, that series of columns didn't fail down below, they failed up around Floor 45 — in that neighborhood, which there was no fires up there.

So that was a further finding that led us to be sure that what we were saying is true. Anyway, that's kind of a snapshot....

Andrew Steele:

Absolutely. And I love the fact that you point that out — the fact that we have NIST telling us one thing, Dr. Hulsey and the University of Alaska Fairbanks telling us another. You have two very different outcomes of this analysis. I will step back further and say for myself that from one side, you have the input data hidden away under this guise of public safety: We have to preserve public safety by not making the input data available to the general public, even though engineers like yourselves need that input data — if you believe the official story — to make the general public more safe. Because if buildings can just collapse from random office fires, good God, we're all in danger — anybody who works in a major city.

But this is only phase one of our getting the word out. Again, the corporate media have never been the best friend of 9/11 Truth. Any progress we've made has been because of ourselves. So the next step is to be doing the work to get this out in front of as many people — especially engineering professionals —as possible.

Our volunteers are getting ready for the long fight. They're going to be doing their work. They're fighting those professors on one team. They're going to be calling those professors on another team. And we're going to be having Project Due Diligence doing the proper outreach to those people as well, to carry on those discussions, to get presentations.

This is going to be a full-on assault against the official story of Building 7. And this report is going to be the big Sherman Tank driving through the resistance. Because, again, it's very hard to challenge. I mean, common sense, when you first look at the building coming down, is a very big weapon. But when you actually have the science and everything laid out in this volume, it's very hard to get around it.

Roland, I want to hear from you though. I know what our supporters can do. I've got my own views. But as a board member, what in your view, can our supporters do to help us out in promoting the results of the study?

Roland Angle:

I think if people will look at the results of the study. It's a 115-page document, and I think it's very well laid out. It's very clearly stated. I think that most people can actually follow it. Now, I know it's asking a lot for people to look through 115-page technical report, but this is an issue that is part of a story that has defined the whole era that we're living in.

People have asked in the past, "What good does it do to go back and study this?" And I think we need to understand that the study points out the fact that the evidence that was examined and the conclusion that we came to as a result of that study, was seriously flawed. Therefore, we have been off on a deviant trip. And we need to go back to that information and restudy it and come to different conclusions about what was the cause of that event.

And that event is so important from a professional standpoint alone, for us as engineers. We cannot allow information that is not correct to circulate throughout our profession. It will undermine the foundation of our profession, and we will lose all credibility—and we should lose all credibility if we can't explain why a failure like this actually occurred.

So, what people can do is spread this information as best they can. Point to it, talk about it, research it, look at the different aspects of it, and encourage, especially their engineering friends and colleagues, to do the same.

We will reach a tipping point. And I'm convinced that, from my experience—and our experience as engineers who have been taking this information out into the engineering community—that engineers, like it or not, are playing a very central role in this whole event, because we are the experts.

The public is relying upon us to tell them what we know to be true about what happened. What I'm finding is that, wherever we go, when we present our information to the engineering community, they stand behind us 100% and agree that the NIST report is flawed and we need a new investigation.

Andrew Steele:

As a layman sitting on the outside—I mean, I work here at AE, but I'm not a scientist or engineer like you guys are—it just seems to me that so much work has been done in this report and in all of the work previous on World Trade Center Seven. Now that this report is out, what else can be done to make the case? I think I asked Richard Gage one time this on the show, but I want to hear it from you guys as the engineers here, starting with Roland, is there anything further that could be done on World Trade Center 7 to point to the fact that we're not getting the full story of what happened that day?

Roland Angle:

That's a very good question. I think the information is clear now. I'm satisfied that the information that we have produced, including this report, over the last 15 years, proves without a doubt that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition. That information is presented to the public most often as some kind of a conspiracy theory [Emphasis added].

However, we're progressing from an engineering standpoint of, in this case, constructing a virtual model, subjecting it to the fires, looking at the observed collapse, and coming to a reasoned, scientific conclusion about what caused that collapse. So we've got to take that information now out to the universities. We're going to encourage the universities to study both reports. They have students who are routinely assigned to solve forensic problems that are presented to them in this field. And we're going to ask that the universities take up such studies.

They can come down only in three ways. They can say that the NIST report is valid and they stand behind it. They can say that the University of Alaska study is valid and they stand behind it. Or they might come up with some third hypothesis or some theory as to why the building came down.

But I think it's very important that this discussion take place in the engineering community, that the public be aware that this discussion is going on, that the public encourage the engineering community in every way possible to take up this study, and that people continue to assist us by funding us to go out to the engineering community.

So far we've made 22 presentations to chapters of professional organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers, and to various universities. We've gone to conferences. We're getting a great response and a lot of interest.

And that all takes money. Money is a very important aspect of this, and we have only been able to accomplish this with the support of our many supporters who have contributed the money that has been necessary for us to pay for this study and to pay for our efforts with due diligence, and our other efforts to publicize this issue.

We are a grassroots organization. We're a nonprofit. We don't get any money from any special interest. We are not endorsing any products. We are simply in it for the benefit of the reputation of the engineering community and the responsibility that we have to the general public.

So, everybody has a role to play. Wherever they fit into that model, they should play their part. We encourage everyone to take this up as a matter of great, overwhelming importance to our society.

March 25leroy hulsey report final march 25 2020 Custom 2

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, WTC 7 Not Destroyed by Fire, Concludes Final University of Alaska Fairbanks Report, AE911 Truth, ae for 9 11 truth logoMarch 25, 2020. The destruction of the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 in New York City late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001, was not a result of fires, according to the much-anticipated final report issued today by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).

The UAF team’s findings, which were the result of a four-year computer modeling study of the tower’s collapse, contradict those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which concluded in a 2008 report that WTC 7 was the first tall building ever to collapse primarily due to fire.

“Our study found that the fires in WTC 7 could not have caused the observed collapse,” said Professor Leroy Hulsey, right, the study’s principal investigator. “The only way it could have fallen in the observed manner is by the near-simultaneous failure of every column.”
leroy hulseyIMG 2188 Small“The only way it could have fallen in the observed manner is by the near-simultaneous failure of every column.” — Professor Leroy Hulsey

The four-year study was funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth), a nonprofit organization representing more than 3,000 architects and engineers who have signed the organization’s petition calling for a new investigation into the destruction of the three World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

“We are proud to have supported the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Professor Leroy Hulsey in conducting a genuinely scientific study into the reasons for this building’s collapse,” said Richard Gage, president and founder of AE911Truth. “It is now incumbent upon the building community, the media, and government officials to reckon with the implications of these findings and launch a new full-scale investigation.”

AE911Truth and its allies among the 9/11 victims’ families will now use the findings in the report as part of a formal “request for correction” that the group plans to submit to NIST in the coming days. “The indisputable errors documented in our request for correction will give NIST no way out of correcting its deeply flawed report and reversing its conclusion that fires were the cause of the collapse,” said Gage.

“It is now incumbent upon the building community, the media, and government officials to reckon with the implications of these findings and launch a new full-scale investigation.” — Richard Gage, AIA

The final report, entitled A Structural Reevaluation of the Collapse of World Trade Center 7 – Final Report, includes clarifications and supplemental text based on public comments submitted in response to a draft report released by UAF and AE911Truth on September 3, 2019.

The UAF team’s final report is the result of an extensive four-year computer modeling effort that was followed by a robust peer review process. The peer review included dozens of public comments as well as external review by two independent experts, Dr. Gregory Szuladzinski of Analytical Service Company, a leading expert in structural mechanics and finite element modeling, and Dr. Robert Korol, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at McMaster University and a fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.

richard gage cspan interview“I am grateful to everyone who supported or participated in this study in any way,” said Professor Hulsey. “We hope that our findings will be carefully looked at by the building community and spur further investigation into how this building came down on that tragic day.”

The Hulsey report and supporting materials can be found on UAF’s Institute of Northern Engineering website and on the AE911Truth website.

Richard Gage (shown at left on one of the most downloaded C-SPAN program in its history) and civil engineer Roland Angle held a live virtual presentation on March 26, 2020 to outline the findings contained in the final report. Please tune in or watch the archived presentation here.

ae 911 truth building 7 graphic hulsey study Custom

March 23

Daily Beast, Opinion: The Party of Life Embraces Trump’s Death Cult, Matt Lewis, March 23, 2020. We’ve skipped over any nuanced daily beast logodiscussion of economic considerations, straight to the part where Republicans rationalize letting a million or so people die to fix the economy.

In the last twenty-four hours, it has become clear that, despite warnings from experts like Dr. Fauci, Donald Trump is willing to sacrifice lives to try and save the economy and his chances for re-election.

ron johnson o CustomThe amazing thing is that some of his prominent supporters are starting to say the silent part out loud. Consider the comments of Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, right, who, a few days ago, said, “We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.”

In other words, we take inherent risks all the time. Why should a global pandemic be any different?

Johnson went on to add that “getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population, (and) I think probably far less.”

When I signed up to be a columnist, I was told there’d be no math. Still, I’m pretty sure Johnson just said he was comfortable with millions of Americans dying of coronavirus — so long as it doesn’t disrupt economic activity.

Even if you accept that those millions of deaths, and the burden placed on our hospitals leading up to them, wouldn’t disrupt economic activity, is this the rhetoric of a man who believes that every life is precious? Is this the rhetoric of a man who believes in the dignity of human life? It sure doesn’t sound like it to me.

Trump echoed this ends-justify-the-means logic Monday night and the ghoulish and utilitarian worldview that defines one death as a tragedy, one hundred thousand as a statistic.

This logic is spreading about Republicans. Consider the comments Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made Monday night on Fox News: “No one reached out to me and said as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren. And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

He went on to add, “I feel like as the president said, the mortality rate is so low, do we have to shut down the whole country for this? I think we can get back to work.”

I’m old enough to remember when conservatives worried that Obamacare rationing would lead to “death panels” whereby older patients would be deemed too sick and expensive to help. After all, why throw good money after bad? A few short years later, and it is Republicans who are making a shockingly similar rationalization.

Patrick might be willing to be collateral damage, but I’m not sure everyone over the age of 70 will be so eager to sacrifice their lives on the altar of the stock market — nor am I sure their loved ones would approve of a government willing to sacrifice the lives of our most weak and vulnerable for (I suppose) the greater good of the fatherland.

These are, after all, our moms and dads, aunts and uncles, friends, and grandparents he’s talking about. But I guess you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Maybe the old and the weak should make room so that the young and virile can thrive?

This is a weird turn of events for the party of life.

Look, I get the need for economic activity, and It’s fair to suggest that economic considerations (which, let’s be honest, can and do impact our health), should be part of the discussion.

Unfortunately, we have skipped over that nuanced discussion and gone straight to Republicans rationalizing the idea that we can just wipe out a million or so people to fix the economy.

The Last American Vagabonds, Investigative Commentary: The Truth About the United States' "Continuity of Government" Plans & The whitney webb newer smileCoronavirus Perfect Storm, Whitney Webb, March 23, 2020. Though often discussed in relation to nuclear war or a similarly chaotic scenario, “Continuity of Government” plans can be triggered even by popular, nonviolent opposition to an unpopular war abroad. It exists solely to keep the current system in place, regardless of the cost.

Last week, Newsweek published a report entitled “Inside The Military’s Top Secret Plans If Coronavirus Cripples the Government,” which offers vague descriptions of different military plans that could be put into effect if the civilian government were to be largely incapacitated, with a focus on the potential of the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to result in such a scenario.

The article’s author, William Arkin, largely frames these plans as new, though — buried deep within the article — he eventually mentions that such contingency plans can be traced back to the Eisenhower administration (though they were in place before) and have since been developed and updated by most subsequent administrations, largely through the issuance of executive orders. Arkin also points out that some of these “Continuity of Government”, or COG, plans include the “devolution” of leadership and Constitutional authority, which he notes “could circumvent the normal Constitutional provisions for government succession, and military commanders could be placed in control around America.”

Yet, there are key aspects of COG and its development that Arkin leaves out. For instance, in his timeline on how such plans have developed in the post-World War II era, he conveniently fails to mention any of the Reagan administration’s major changes to COG, including the Reagan-era Executive Order on which all current COG programs are based.

Indeed, many of the “extra-Constitutional” aspects of COG that Arkin mentions began during the Reagan administration, when these plans were redrafted to largely exclude members of Congress, including the Speaker of the House, from succession plans and even moved to essentially eliminate Congress in the event of COG being implemented, with near total power instead being given to the executive branch and the military. It was also during this time that the “devolution” aspect of COG was hammered out, as it created three president-cabinet “teams” to be stationed in different parts of the country outside of the nation’s capital. Arkin’s decision to not mention how COG was a major focus of the Reagan administration is striking given that that administration poured hundreds of millions of dollars annually into COG planning and development and also conducted COG drills on a regular basis.

Furthermore, the Miami Herald revealed in 1987, that the COG programs of that era were deeply connected to what the Herald termed “a virtual parallel government outside the traditional cabinet departments and agencies” that began operating “almost from the day Reagan took office” and included many of Reagan’s closest advisers, including then-CIA Director William Casey. The Herald further claimed that this “parallel government” had been responsible for the Iran-Contra scandal (i.e. “involved in arming the Nicaraguan rebels”) as well as “the drafting of martial law plans for national emergencies,” i.e. COG, as well as “the monitoring of U.S. citizens considered potential security risks.”

Other key players in those Reagan-era COG developments, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former CIA Director James Woosley and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, are also left unmentioned in Arkin’s article. Not mentioning Cheney and Rumsfeld are particularly glaring omissions given that they were involved in the implementation of aspects of those COG plans that went live in the wake of the September 11 attacks, when both men were serving in key posts in the George W. Bush administration.

While Arkin’s omission of the role of the Reagan administration and leading neoconservatives in the development and use of COG is significant, arguably more significant is his failure to mention one of COG’s major components, one that has gone essentially unmentioned by well-known media outlets for well over a decade – Main Core: The government’s database of “potential troublemakers”

March 18

djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studios

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss [Trump], Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell, (left to right at Mar-A-Lago.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

Miami Herald, Ghislaine Maxwell stakes claim to a piece of Jeffrey Epstein’s fortune, Kevin G. Hall, March 18, 2020. Maxwell, 58, has long said she had a miami herald logospecial relationship with him.

She hasn’t appeared publicly in months and her former neighbors just off posh Park Avenue say they’ve heard nothing. Yet from some mystery location, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime partner and alleged enabler in his sex trafficking network, has filed a claim against the estate of the multimillionaire financier.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe filing occurred in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the estate of the disgraced businessman is being settled. It was filed on Friday but it appeared on the docket late Tuesday, just hours before the March 18 deadline that effectively closes the window for asking the court for a piece of Epstein’s fortune. It was first reported by the New York Times on Wednesday but had been rumored for days.

The Miami law firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer filed the action on behalf of Maxwell. It has an office in the Virgin Islands and has not responded to requests for comment.

Search for images of her on the Internet, and there Maxwell is on Epstein’s arm alongside Donald and Melania Trump (shown above). She appears in Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001photos with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, British royal Prince Andrew (left) and even in one with Epstein and movie mogul and recently convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein.

Maxwell has largely been missing since Epstein’s controversial death by hanging last Aug. 10 at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. It was the culmination of Epstein’s world caving in following the Miami Herald’s Perversion of Justice series that highlighted how powerful people helped him escape punishment in 2008.

Since then she was photographed reading a book on espionage at a Southern California In-N-Out Burger, maybe spotted briefly in New England and reported without any proof to have been in southern Brazil, Israel or even in FBI custody at a safe house.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

March 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups, Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman, March 7, 2020. Mr. Prince, a contractor close to the Trump administration, contacted veteran spies for operations by Project Veritas, the conservative group known for conducting stings on news organizations and other groups.

erik princeErik Prince, left, the security contractor with close ties to the Trump administration, has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda, according to interviews and documents.

One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.

abigail spanberger twitterUsing a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.

Both operations were run by Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups. Mr. Seddon’s role in the teachers’ union operation — detailed in internal Project Veritas emails that have emerged from the discovery process of a court battle between the group and the union — has not previously been reported, nor has Mr. Prince’s role in recruiting Mr. Seddon for the group’s activities.

Both Project Veritas and Mr. Prince have ties to President Trump’s aides and family. Whether any Trump administration officials or advisers to the president were involved in the operations, even tacitly, is unclear. But the effort is a glimpse of a vigorous private campaign to try to undermine political groups or individuals perceived to be in opposition to Mr. Trump’s agenda.

betsy devos oMr. Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, left, has at times served as an informal adviser to Trump administration officials. He worked with the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn during the presidential transition. In 2017, he met with White House and Pentagon officials to pitch a plan to privatize the Afghan war using contractors in lieu of American troops. Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, rejected the idea.

Mr. Prince appears to have become interested in using former spies to train Project Veritas operatives in espionage tactics sometime during the 2016 presidential campaign. Reaching out to several intelligence veterans — and occasionally using Mr. Seddon to make the pitch — Mr. Prince said he wanted the Project Veritas employees to learn skills like how to recruit sources and how to conduct clandestine recordings, among other surveillance techniques.

James O’Keefe, the head of Project Veritas, declined to answer detailed questions about Mr. Prince, Mr. Seddon and other topics, but he called his group a “proud independent news organization” that is involved in dozens of investigations. He said that numerous sources were coming to the group “providing confidential documents, insights into internal processes and wearing hidden cameras to expose corruption and misconduct.”

March 5

Epstein Case

PhilosophyInsights via YouTube,

, March 5, 2020 (15 min. video). In this new interview from March 2020, New York financier Dr.  Eric Weinstein goes to the bottom of what happned to Jeffrey Epstein, and asks precisely why journalists and government official do not ask some very basic questions.

Is journalism broken? What was his impression when Eric met Epstein in 2002?

Weinstein, with a Harvard Ph.D. in mathematics, is managing director of Theil Capital. His Wikipedia profile is here.

March 1

Assange Prosecution: Implications

julian assange clean cut library screenshot 2007 Custom 2Consortium News via Zero Hedge, Opinion: Assange Extradition: Can A French Touch Pierce A Neo-Orwellian Farce? Pepe Escobar, March 1, 2020.
 It’s quite fitting that the – imperially pre-determined – judicial fate of Julian Assange (shown above in a 2007 screenshot) is being played out in Britain, the home of George Orwell.

As chronicled by the painful, searing reports of Ambassador Craig Murray, what’s taking place in Woolwich Crown Court is a sub-Orwellian farce with Conradian overtones: the horror…the horror…, remixed for the Raging Twenties. The heart of our moral darkness is not in the Congo: it’s in a dingy courtroom attached to a prison, presided by a lowly imperial lackey.

In one of Michel Onfray’s books published last year, Theorie de la Dictature (Robert Laffont) – the top dissident, politically incorrect French philosopher starts exactly from Orwell to examine the key features of a new-look dictatorship. He tracks seven paths of destruction: to destroy freedom, impoverish language, abolish truth, suppress history, deny nature, propagate hate, and aspire to empire.

To destroy freedom, Onfray stresses, power needs to assure perpetual surveillance; ruin personal life; suppress solitude; make opinion uniform and denounce thought crimes. That sounds like the road map for the United States government’s persecution of Assange.

Other paths, as in impoverishing language, include practicing newspeak; using double language; destroying words; oralizing language; speaking a single language; and suppressing the classics. That sounds like the modus operandi of the ruling classes in the Hegemon.

To abolish truth, power must teach ideology; instrumentalize the press; propagate fake news; and produce reality. To propagate hate, power, among other instruments, must create an enemy; foment wars; and psychiatrize critical thinking.

There’s no question we are already mired deep inside this neo-Orwellian dystopia.

John Paradise Lost Milton, in 1642, could not have been more prophetic, when he wrote “Those that hurt the eyes of the people blame them for being blind.” How not to identify a direct parallel with Le Petit Roi Emmanuel Macron’s army, month after month, willfully blinding protesting Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in the streets of France.

Orwell was more straightforward than Milton, saying that to talk about freedom is meaningless unless it refers to the freedom to tell people what they don’t want to hear. And he put it in context by quoting a line from Milton: “By the known rules of ancient liberty.”

No “known rules of ancient liberty” are allowed to penetrate the heart of darkness of Woolwich Crown Court.
A Spy at the Service of the People

Juan Branco is arguably the most brilliant young French intellectual – heir to a fine Sartre/Foucault/Deleuze tradition. The French establishment detests him, especially because of his best-seller Crepuscule, where he dissected Macronism – branded as a thuggish regime – from the inside, and the French president as a creature and instrument of a tiny oligarchy.

Julian Assange. (YouTube still)

He has just published Assange: L’Antisouverain (Les Editions du Cerf), an absorbing, erudite study that he defines as “a philosophy book about the figure of the Anti-Sovereign.” The Sovereign is of course the state apparatus.

Here (in French) is an excellent interview with Branco about the book. There’s nothing even remotely comparable to it in the Anglosphere, which has treated Assange essentially as an unpleasant freak, oozing pedestrian slander and piling up sub-ideology tirades disguised as facts.

The book is essentially structured as a seminary for the hyper-selective Ecole Normale Superieure, the august school in the Latin Quarter here that shapes French elites, a privileged nest of power institutions and reproduction of privileges. Branco takes the reader to the heart of this universe just to make him or her discover Assange from the point of view of one of those students.

Branco was privileged to profit from the interaction between the Ecole Normale Superieure and Yale. He met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in January 2014, “in a state of radical confinement,” and then followed him as a juridical consultant, then lawyer, “day after day,” until meeting him again in September 2016, “getting ready to no less than change the course of the American presidential election and engineer the fall of the one who had sworn to crush him, one Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Branco is fascinated by Assange’s “scientific journalism,” and his capacity to “intervene in the political space without occupying a determined place.” Assange is painted as a contemporary oracle, a maniac for free access to information, someone who “never looked for a reward, or insertion, or juridical protection,” which is a totally different modus operandi from any media.

February

Feb. 26

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has a whole new Julian Assange problem, TR Kenneth, Feb. 26, 2020. Richard Grenell, Trump’s new intelligence chief, is now becoming embroiled in the Julian Assange extradition fight. According to court filings made by Assange’s attorneys, they have recordings and richard grenell oscreenshots of Grenell’s involvement in the WikiLeaks founder’s legal troubles. Apparently, according to the attorneys, Grenell was acting on Trump’s orders.

bill palmer report logo headerWhile we wait for this latest Trumpy sh*tshow to unfold, it’s come out that Chuck Schumer is investigating Grenell, right, as well, and the CIA reportedly just had a closed door meeting with the Gang of Eight amid speculation that the briefing is concerning the fact that our top intelligence chief is nothing more than Trump’s handmaiden.

Grenell has also been seen as running interference for upper-echelon Russian mobster, Dmytro Firtash, in his fight against extradition to the US from Vienna for bribery. Firtash is the guy who wired Lev Parnas’ wife the inexplicable million dollars. Firstash is also “Ukraine corruption-fighting pals” with Rudy Giuliani. If this doesn’t smell like something rotting on the asphalt in the midday sun, we don’t know what does.

Background: ProPublica, Trump’s New Spy Chief Used to Work for a Foreign Politician the U.S. Accused of Corruption, Isaac Arnsdorf, Feb. 21, 2020. Richard Grenell did not disclose payments for advocacy work on behalf of a Moldovan politician whom the U.S. later accused of corruption. His own office’s policy says that could leave him vulnerable to blackmail.

Feb. 23

Trump Power, Payback

Axios, Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list, Jonathan Swan, right, Feb 23, 2020. The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen jonathan swan twittersources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

While Trump's distrust has only intensified since his impeachment and acquittal, he has long been on the hunt for "bad people" inside the White House and U.S. government, and fresh "pro-Trump" options. Outside advisers have been happy to oblige.

In reporting this story, I have been briefed on, or reviewed, memos and lists the president received since 2018 suggesting whom he should hire and fire. Most of these details have never been published.

A well-connected network of conservative activists with close ties to Trump and top administration officials is quietly helping develop these "Never Trump"/pro-Trump lists, and some sent memos to Trump to shape his views, per sources with direct knowledge.

ginni thomas gage skidmore CustomMembers of this network include Ginni Thomas (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo), the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Republican Senate staffer Barbara Ledeen.

The big picture: Since Trump's Senate acquittal, aides say the president has crossed a psychological line regarding what he calls the "Deep State." He feels his government — from Justice to State to Defense to Homeland Security — is filled with "snakes." He wants them fired and replaced ASAP.

"I think it's a very positive development," said Rich Higgins, who served on Trump's National Security Council in 2017. H.R. McMaster removed Higgins after he wrote a memo speculating that Trump's presidency faced threats from Marxists, the "Deep State," so-called globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans. (This was long before the full scope of the FBI's Russia investigation was known to Trump and his aides.)

Higgins told me on Sunday he stands by everything he wrote in his memo, but "I would probably remove 'bankers' if I had to do it over and I would play up the intel community role — which I neglected."

Let's get to the memos.

1. The Jessie Liu memo: Shortly before withdrawing the nomination of the former D.C. U.S. attorney for a top Treasury role, the president reviewed a memo on Liu's alleged misdeeds, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Ledeen wrote the memo, and its findings left a striking impression on Trump, per sources with direct knowledge. Ledeen declined to comment.

A source with direct knowledge of the memo's contents said it contained 14 sections building a case for why Liu was unfit for the job for which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin selected her, including:

  • Not acting on criminal referrals of some of Justice Brett Kavanaugh's accusers.
  • Signing "the sentencing filing asking for jail time" for Gen. Michael Flynn (a friend of Ledeen's).
  • Holding a leadership role in a women's lawyers networking group that Ledeen criticized as "pro-choice and anti-Alito."
  • Not indicting former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe.
  • Dismissing charges against "violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration."

Neither Liu nor the White House responded to requests for comment.

Between the lines: The Liu memo is not the first such memo to reach the president's desk — and there's a common thread in Groundswell, a conservative activist network that's headed by Thomas and whose members include Ledeen.

Sources leaked me details of two other memos from people associated with the Groundswell network that also caused a stir inside the White House over the past year.

Thomas has spent a significant amount of time and energy urging Trump administration officials to change the personnel inside his government. This came to a head early last year.

Members of Groundswell, whose members earlier led the successful campaign to remove McMaster as national security adviser, meet on Wednesdays in the D.C. offices of Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has led the fight against the Mueller probe.

Judicial Watch's president is Tom Fitton. He's a regular on Fox News, and Trump regularly retweets his commentary on the "Deep State."
Conservative activists who attend Groundswell meetings funneled names to Thomas, and she compiled those recommendations and passed them along to the president, according to a source close to her.

She handed a memo of names directly to the president in early 2019. (The New York Times reported on her group's meeting with Trump at the time.)

2. The Groundswell memo: The presidential personnel office reviewed Thomas' memo and determined that some names she passed along for jobs were not appropriate candidates. Trump may revisit some given his current mood.

Potential hires she offered to Trump, per sources with direct knowledge:

  • Sheriff David Clarke for a senior Homeland Security role.
  • Fox News regular and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino for a Homeland Security or counterterrorism adviser role.
  • Devin Nunes aide Derek Harvey for the National Security Council (where he served before McMaster pushed him out).
  • Radio talk show host Chris Plante for press secretary.
  • Federalist contributor Ben Weingarten for the National Security Council.

What we're hearing: These memos created tension inside the White House, as people close to the president constantly told him his own staff, especially those running personnel, were undermining him — and White House staff countered they were being smeared.

3. The State Department memo: In one extraordinary incident last year, President Trump passed along another action memo to his then-head of presidential personnel, Sean Doocey (since pushed to State and replaced with former body man John McEntee). People familiar with the January 2019 memo say it came from conservatives associated with Groundswell. Though nobody I’ve spoken to has claimed credit for it.

According to sources briefed on the incident, the memo was, in large part, an attack against Doocey. The memo accused him and a colleague in the State Department of obstructionism and named several State Department officials who needed to be fired.

This list named former deputy secretary John Sullivan, deputy undersecretary for management Bill Todd, and undersecretary for political affairs David Hale, who later testified in the impeachment hearings. (Todd and Hale are career foreign service officers, serving in positions typically reserved for career officials.) Sullivan is now the U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

Feb. 21

Truth Continuum, REVIEW: Ark Media and Malcolm X: Bad Acting and Half-Truths, Karl Evanzz, Feb. 21, 2020. If the truth will set us free, a lie will keep us in bondage. If you know the whole truth about something but deliberately withhold part of it, you are no better than a person who creates events out of whole cloth. An old adage is that “a half-truth is the same as a whole lie.”

Having watched the six-part Netflix series, “Who Killed Malcolm X,” I can say emphatically that the makers of this series are peddling a half-truth even though the whole truth was available to them. As such, the series is more propaganda than inquiry, more deception than honesty.

malcolm x stamp black heritageWhy do I call it a half-truth? Because Ark Media had access to the complete film footage of the scene outside the Audubon Ballroom moments after three members of the Nation of Islam assassinated Malcolm X, a charismatic revolutionary who inspired tens of thousands before his death on February 21, 1965, and who inspires millions across the globe today.

They had access to the complete footage, but they only revealed half of it. They show the footage of two of the assassins––Talmadge Hayer and William Bradley––fighting with police and spectators, but they deliberately suppressed footage of the third assassin––Norman 3X Butler––wrestling his way through the crowd as the body of Malcolm X is wheeled from the Audubon to the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital across the street.

There are a host of problems with the series, but the major offenses and omissions are these:

They minimize the role of the intelligence agencies in orchestrating the assassination. There is, for example, only one reference to the State Department’s hostility toward Malcolm X, but they don’t show a single document to substantiate it.

They fail to make a single reference to the CIA’s spying on Malcolm X while he was in Africa, and they make no mention of Benjamin H. Read, a White House official, telling CIA Director Richard Helms in the spring of 1964 that Malcolm was damaging America’s foreign policy in the Third World and should be “dealt with” the way the CIA dealt with other foreign leaders who cause problems for America. This information is in the declassified CIA documents on Malcolm X and is readily available.

Instead, the entire series is aimed at convincing viewers that Malcolm X was killed by a group of five Black Muslims from the Newark mosque who were acting independently of any leaders of the sect.

To buttress this argument, nearly all of the NOI members interviewed are from Newark. There were no interviews with members from Philadelphia, Chicago, or even Harlem, an inexcusable omission.

While there is a brief mention of a mandatory meeting of officers in the NOI’s Fruit of Islam group called by Elijah Muhammad Jr., during which he ordered them to kill Malcolm X, there is no mention that Junior added an extra incentive of $10,000 to the person who killed Malcolm.

The central premise of the series is that two of the three men convicted for murdering Malcolm X were innocent. While it succeeds in establishing the innocence of Johnson through eyewitness accounts and FBI documents, they fail to show any reliable evidence whatsoever to support Butler’s claim of innocence.

They give the false impression that Abdur-Rahman Muhammad is this brave, defiant soldier hell-bent on confronting William Bradley, the shotgun assassin of Malcolm X, but Bradley died before he could do so. This is, of course, utterly ridiculous. Rahman wrote on his blog on April 22, 2010, that he had discovered Bradley’s whereabouts.

Bradley didn’t pass until October 2018. By then, Ark Media was a full ten months into the project. If Rahman had eight years to confront Bradley, to give the impression that he didn’t locate Bradley until shortly before the latter’s death is dishonest, one of many half-truths in the series.
The Bradley confrontation hoax is one of many. Another half-truth is Rahman’s account of how he discovered Bradley’s whereabouts. He claims now that he was visiting a mosque and asked about Bradley when someone gave him Bradley’s new name, Al-Mustafa Shabazz.
This is at odds with what Rahman told me and other researchers in 2010, when he said that he was the Howard University classmate of the nephew of a prominent NOI official whose name has surfaced repeatedly in relation to the assassination. The nephew was the person who led him to Bradley.
Here are some of the key problems with the series, episode by episode. I refer to them as “acts” because the series is more theater than documentary.

Karl Evanzz is the author of several books about the Nation of Islam, including "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X" (1992) and "The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad" (1999). He was the ghostwriter for Mark Curry’s bestseller, "Dancing with the Devil: How Puff Burned the Bad Boys of Hip Hop" (2009), and author of "The Wilma Chestnut Story" (2011).

ProPublica, Trump’s New Spy Chief Used to Work for a Foreign Politician the U.S. Accused of Corruption, Isaac Arnsdorf, Feb. 21, 2020. Richard Grenell did not disclose payments for advocacy work on behalf of a Moldovan politician whom the U.S. later accused of corruption. His own office’s policy says that could leave him vulnerable to blackmail.

President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.

richard grenell oIn 2016, Grenell,right, wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.

FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were convicted of violating. (Manafort went to trial. Gates pleaded guilty.)

It’s not clear whether the articles were directly part of Grenell’s paid consulting work for Plahotniuc. Unpaid work could still require disclosures under FARA if it was directed by or primarily benefited a foreign politician, according to Matthew Sanderson, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale who advises people on complying with FARA. FARA contains several exemptions, such as for lawyers and businesses, Sanderson said, but none appear to apply to Grenell’s op-eds about Plahotniuc.

“There is real reason to believe that Mr. Grenell should have registered here,” Sanderson said after ProPublica described the circumstances to him. “This is exactly the type of circumstances I’d expect the Department of Justice to investigate further.”

Craig Engle, an attorney with the law firm Arent Fox, said he was responding to ProPublica’s questions on Grenell’s behalf. Engle declined to say what Grenell’s paid consulting work involved but said he did not have to register under FARA “because he was not working at the direction of a foreign power.”

“Ric was not paid to write these stories, in fact he has written hundreds of stories on his own time to express his own views,” Engle said. “But to be clear: he was not working for any individual, he was working for himself and was advocating the ideal of a pro-western political party that was emerging.”

Undisclosed work for a foreign politician would ordinarily pose a problem for anyone applying for a security clearance or a job in a U.S. intelligence agency because it could make the person susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail, according to the official policy from the office that Trump tapped Grenell to lead.

The policy specifies that among the “conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying” are:

“Failure to report or fully disclose, when required, association with a foreign person, group, government or country.”

“Substantial business, financial, or property interests in a foreign country … that could subject the individual to a heightened risk of foreign influence or exploitation or personal conflict of interest.”

“Acting to serve the interest of a foreign person, group, organization or government in any way that conflicts with U.S. national security interests.”

“That’s really easy, he should not have a clearance,” said Kel McClanahan, a Washington-area lawyer specializing in security clearances. “If he were one of my clients and just a normal [federal employee], he would almost assuredly not have a clearance.”

McClanahan said it’s unclear how Grenell could have already gotten a clearance as an ambassador. The House Oversight Committee is investigating whether the Trump administration has overruled career officials in granting security clearances to political appointees.

As Trump’s pick for acting director of national intelligence, Grenell will have access to the country’s most sensitive secrets. Grenell isn’t subject to Senate confirmation because Trump appointed him on a temporary basis.

The White House, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Grenell, who is also continuing in his current posts as ambassador to Germany and special envoy for negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, has gained Trump’s favor with his unwavering loyalty and combative tweets. (In one instance, he attacked ProPublica in response to reporting that Vice President Mike Pence’s office had intervened in foreign aid decisions.) He raised hackles in Berlin by injecting himself into the country’s domestic politics, a departure from usual diplomatic protocol.

Grenell does not have prior experience in intelligence. He was the U.S. spokesman at the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.

In between his turns in government, Grenell had a public affairs consulting firm called Capitol Media Partners. One of the firm’s clients, according to the financial disclosure that Grenell filed when he became an ambassador, was Arthur J. Finkelstein, the late Republican political consultant whose international clients included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. Grenell’s financial disclosure indicates that he received more than $5,000 from Finkelstein’s firm but does not specify how much.

According to a person familiar with the relationship, Grenell worked for Finkelstein as a media consultant for clients in Eastern Europe. That person and another individual said the client in Moldova was Plahotniuc, the country’s richest man and then a top official in its ruling political party.

Feb. 18

Unz Review, Opinion: Explaining Syria: It's everyone's fault except the U.S. and Israel, Philip Giraldi, right, Feb. 18, 2020. The first week in February was philip giraldimemorable for the failed impeachment of President Donald Trump, the “re-elect me” State of the Union address and the marketing of a new line of underwear by Kim Kardashian. Given all of the excitement, it was easy to miss a special State Department press briefing by Ambassador James Jeffrey held on February 5th regarding the current situation in Syria.

Jeffrey is the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL. Jeffrey has had a distinguished career in government service, attaining senior level State Department positions under both Democratic and Republican presidents. He has served as U.S. Ambassador to both Turkey and Iraq. He is, generally speaking, a hardliner politically, closely aligned with Israel and regarding Iran as a hostile destabilizing force in the Middle East region. He was between 2013 and 2018 Philip Solondz distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think tank that is a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He is currently a WINEP “Outside Author” and go-to “expert.”

Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, describe WINEP as “part of the core” of the Israel Lobby in the U.S. They examined the group on pages 175-6 in their groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy and concluded as follows:

“Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a ‘balanced and realistic’ perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda … Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks.”

In early 2018 Jeffrey co-authored a WINEP special report on Syria which urged “…the Trump administration [to] couple a no-fly/no-drive zone and a small residual ground presence in the northeast with intensified sanctions against the Assad regime’s Iranian patron. In doing so, Washington can support local efforts to stabilize the area, encourage Gulf partners to ‘put skin in the game, drive a wedge between Moscow and Tehran, and help Israel avoid all-out war.”

Note the focus on Iran and Russia as threats and the referral to Assad and his government as a “regime.” And the U.S. presence is to “help Israel.” So we have Ambassador James Jeffrey leading the charge on Syria, from an Israeli perspective that is no doubt compatible with the White House view, which explains why he has become Special Representative for Syria Engagement.

Jeffrey set the tone for his term of office shortly after being appointed by President Trump back in August 2018 when he argued that the Syrian terrorists were “. . . not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, who must have somehow missed a lot of the head chopping and rape going on, subsequently traveled to the Middle East and stopped off in Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It has been suggested that Jeffrey received his marching orders during the visit.

Two months later James Jeffrey declared that he would like to see Russia maintain a “permissive approach” to allow the Israelis to attack Iranian targets inside Syria. Regarding Iran’s possible future role in Syria he observed that “Iranians are part of the problem not part of the solution.”

What Jeffrey meant was that because Israel had been “allowed” to carry out hundreds of air attacks in Syria ostensibly directed against Iran-linked targets, the practice should be permitted to continue. Israel had suspended nearly all of its airstrikes in the wake of the shoot down of a Russian aircraft in September 2018, an incident which was caused by a deliberate Israeli maneuver that brought down the plane even though the missile that struck the aircraft was fired by Syria. Fifteen Russian servicemen were killed. Israel reportedly was deliberately using the Russian plane to mask the presence of its own attacking aircraft.

Russia responded to the incident by deploying advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria, which can cover most of the more heavily developed areas of the country. Jeffrey was unhappy with that decision, saying “We are concerned very much about the S-300 system being deployed to Syria. The issue is at the detail level. Who will control it? what role will it play?” And he defended his own patently absurd urging that Russia, Syria’s ally, permit Israel to continue its air attacks by saying “We understand the existential interest and we support Israel” because the Israeli government has an “existential interest in blocking Iran from deploying long-range power projection systems such as surface-to-surface missiles.”

Later in November 2018 James Jeffrey was at it again, declaring that U.S. troops will not leave Syria before guaranteeing the “enduring defeated” of ISIS, but he perversely put the onus on Syria and Iran, saying that “We also think that you cannot have an enduring defeat of ISIS until you have fundamental change in the Syrian regime and fundamental change in Iran’s role in Syria, which contributed greatly to the rise of ISIS in the first place in 2013, 2014.”

As virtually no one but Jeffrey and the Israeli government actually believes that Damascus and Tehran were responsible for creating ISIS, the ambassador elaborated, blaming President Bashar al-Assad for the cycle of violence in Syria that, he claimed, allowed the development of the terrorist group in both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

He said “The Syrian regime produced ISIS. The elements of ISIS in the hundreds, probably, saw an opportunity in the total breakdown of civil society and of the upsurge of violence as the population rose up against the Assad regime, and the Assad regime, rather than try to negotiate or try to find any kind of solution, unleashed massive violence against its own population.”

Jeffrey’s formula is just another recycling of the myth that the Syrian opposition consisted of good folks who wanted to establish democracy in the country. In reality, it incorporated terrorist elements right from the beginning and groups like ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliates rapidly assumed control of the violence. That Jeffrey should be so ignorant or blinded by his own presumptions to be unaware of that is astonishing. It is also interesting to note that he makes no mention of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, kneejerk support for Israel and the unrelenting pressure on Syria starting with the Syrian Accountability Act of 2003 and continuing with embrace of the so-called Arab Spring. Most observers believe that those actions were major contributors to the rise of ISIS.

Well, one has to conclude that James Jeffrey is possibly completely delusional. The core issue that the United States is in Syria illegally as a proxy for Israel and Saudi Arabia is not touched on, nor the criminal role in “protecting the oil fields” and stealing their production, which he mentions but does not explain. Nor the issue of the legitimate Syrian government seeking to recover its territory against groups that most everyone admits to be terrorists.

Virtually every bit of “evidence” that Jeffrey cites is either false or inflated, to include the claim of use of chemical weapons and the responsibility for the refugees. As for who actually created the terrorists, that honor goes to the United States, which accomplished that when it invaded Iraq and destroyed its government before following up by undermining Syria. And, by the way, someone should point out to Jeffrey that Russia and Iran are in Syria as allies of its legitimate government.

Ambassador James Jeffrey maintains that “Russia needs to change its policies.” That is not correct. It is the United States that must change its policies by getting out of Syria and Iraq for starters while also stopping the deference to feckless “allies” Israel and Saudi Arabia that has produced a debilitating cold war against both Iran and Russia. Another good first step to make the U.S. a “normal, decent country” would be to get rid of the advice of people like James Jeffrey.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., directs the Council for the National Interest, an educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Feb. 14

Unz Review, Investigative Commentary: NYC Taxpayers Spending Millions on Cyber Center with Controversial Ties to Israeli Intelligence, Whitney Webb, Feb. 14, 2020. Early last week, the city of New York launched — with little media scrutiny — one of two new massive cybersecurity centers that will be run by private Israeli firms with close ties to Israel’s government, the so-called “Mega Group” tied to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and prominent pro-Israel lobby organizations operating in the United States. The centers were first announced in 2018 as was the identity of the firms who would run them: Israel-based Jerusalem Venture Partners and SOSA.

As MintPress has reported on several occasions, all three of these entities have a history of aggressively spying on the U.S. federal government and/or blackmailing top American politicians, raising concerns regarding why these companies were chosen to run the new centers in the heart of Manhattan. The news also comes as Israeli cybersecurity companies tied to Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200 were revealed to have access to the U.S. government’s most classified systems and simulating the cancellation of the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

The new cybersecurity centers are part of a new New York City public-private partnership called “CyberNYC” that is valued at over $100 million and officially aims to “spur the creation of 10,000 cybersecurity jobs and make New York City a global leader in cyber innovation.” CyberNYC is an initiative of New York City’s Economic Development Corporation.

However, the companies that will be responsible for creating those cybersecurity jobs will benefit foreign companies, namely Israeli and most of the jobs to be created will go to foreigners as well, as media reports on the partnership have quietly noted. Those reports also stated that, while the stated purpose of the centers is to create new jobs, the Israeli firms chosen to run them — Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and SOSA — view it as an opportunity to provide Israeli cybersecurity companies with a foothold into the American market and to see Israeli cybersecurity products adopted by both small and medium-sized American businesses, not just large corporations and government agencies.

For example, the founder of JVP and former Knesset member, Erel Margalit, told the Jerusalem Post that “the center we are setting up [in New York] will assist Israeli hi-tech companies in collaborating with customers and companies in the US and around the world.” More recently, ahead of the opening of the cybersecurity center that Margalit’s firm will manage, he told the Times of Israel that “New York is about something else, it’s about the drama of taking investors from Israel and Spain or Paris and other places and taking them to the next business level.” In other words, the companies set to benefit from these new centers will be foreign and mainly Israeli, as JVP invests the vast majority of its funds in Israeli start-ups.

Truth Continuum, Opinion: Netflix’s Nonsense about Norman Butler, One of Three Men who Killed Malcolm X, Karl Evanzz, Feb. 12, 2020. By now many of you are aware of the Netflix series about the assassination of Malcolm X, or more specifically, who allegedly killed him. The series aims to identify who actually pulled the triggers as opposed to the far more troubling question of who wanted him dead and why.

Some have asked why I wasn’t in the series.

I was asked by Shayla Harris, one of the African American’s behind the camera, to be interviewed for it, but I declined. Why? Because when I asked her whether certain people would be interviewed and the answer was what I expected, so I told her that I could not be part of it.

The people I referred to are responsible for some of the most despicable lies ever cast on Malcolm X’s legacy.

malcolm x stamp black heritageDespite data I sent to Arkmedia via Ms. Harris, they chose to go with the erroneous proposition that all of the assassins were from New Jersey and that Butler was framed. They conveniently show the footage of William Bradley fighting to free Hagan, but they omit the footage of Norman Butler at the same scene.

One of Marable’s sources was none other than Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, the person at this center of the Netflix series. Muhammad claims that his obsession with Malcolm X’s murder “changed the trajectory of my life.” The truth is that his life had no trajectory as far as anyone knows. He’s kind of fumbled his way through life until now.

He has not written any books or lengthy articles about the assassination. He has only written one blog of note, and that was because a friend of his from Howard University led him to Bradley’s whereabouts. Everything else in the series is based on my books and the book by Zak Kondo.

In Marable’s biography of Malcolm X, Muhammad is cited as the source for Marable’s bogus assertion that Malcolm X had an intimate relationship with Sharon 6X Poole (aka Shabazz). When I asked Muhammad about this claim, he replied that Malcolm X fathered Sharon’s child.

This was, of course, a blatant lie, one that I brought to Marable’s attention long before publication but which he printed anyway. In fact, Benjamin Goodman (aka Karim) fathered a child by Sharon Poole fourteen months after Malcolm X was assassinated. Once the lie was exposed, Marable's researcher named Karim as its source, yet there is no attribution to Karim in Marable’s book.

Karl Evanzz is the author of several books about the Nation of Islam, including "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X" (1992) and "The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad" (1999). He was the ghostwriter for Mark Curry’s bestseller, "Dancing with the Devil: How Puff Burned the Bad Boys of Hip Hop" (2009), and author of "The Wilma Chestnut Story" (2011).

Feb.11

Counterpunch via JFK Facts, CIA tradecraft & JFK’s assassination: A veteran officer analyzes the death of a president, Jefferson Morley, Feb. 11, 2020. “I was struck by the intimacy and the smallness of the whole surroundings,” said retired CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen after his first visit to Dealey Plaza in November 2019.

Dealey Plaza, a grassy Art Deco entry point to downtown Dallas, is where President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963. Hundreds of thousands of people still come from around the world every day to see the spot where the popular liberal president was ambushed. Many of them have the same reaction to the crime scene: the intimacy, the smallness.

Mowatt-Larssen was not just any tourist.

A 22-year veteran of America’s clandestine service, he is an experienced secret intelligence professional and a senior fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. With the binocular vision of an operations officer, Mowatt-Larssen assessed the landscape where JFK was murdered on November 22, 1963 for its action potential, both defensive and offensive.

“Everything was so easy to control, so easy to manipulate,” he told a crowd of 150 JFK researchers at a nearby hotel two days later. He described Dealey Plaza as “a setting that was so conducive to everything that happened that day And I wondered if that was accident.”

I wondered about Mowatt-Larssen’s wonder. This CIA veteran’s curiosity about the causes of JFK’s assassination, his willingness to talk about it publicly, and his analysis of how and why the liberal president was assassinated is compelling. What he brings to the historical record of JFK’s murder, is not new facts, but an original frame of analysis.

He sees Dealey Plaza through the eyes of a covert operator.

I found that intriguing, so I introduced myself to him in the crowded hall outside the room where he spoke. The conference, sponsored by the Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), attracted a graying, mostly male, crowd that debated and discussed the intricacies of a pivotal historic moment. Mowatt-Larssen was mixing amiably with these amateur sleuths when I intercepted him. He told me he liked my biography of CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton, The Ghost. Soon, we repaired to the lobby bar of the Quality Inn to trade spy stories over white wine.

Mole Hunter

A pinkish, polylingual Norwegian-American with white bangs, Mowatt-Larssen looks younger than his 65 years. He graduated from West Point in 1976 and served six years as a U.S. Army Cavalry officer before joining the CIA in 1982.

In Dallas, I learned that Mowatt-Larssen embraces the theory that JFK’s assassination was the work of rogue CIA officers. He argues that certain officers in the agency’s Miami station plotted JFK’s death as revenge for his perceived betrayal of Cuban anti-communist forces during the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and the missile crisis of October 1962.

This is not a novel interpretation of November 22. The possible involvement CIA officers in JFK’s death is explored most carefully in Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan’s deeply reported book, Not in Your Lifetime. Nor does Mowatt-Larssen stake out a grand claim to historical truth. He sometimes gives himself an out by saying things like, “If there was a conspiracy, here’s how it happened.” He repeats he is not speaking from any knowledge of CIA records on the subject. His method is probabilistic, not evidentiary.

“It’s based on tradecraft,” Mowatt-Larssen said. “How would a conspiracy look?”

While I appreciated this creative mode of thinking, more than one conference participant did not.

“I think there’s a zero percent chance he’s not a representative of the CIA cover-up,” Dan Storper, a record company owner and co-chair of The Truth & Reconciliation Committee, a group of 80 citizens, activists and authors who have called for the re-opening of the JFK investigation. Another researcher called Mowatt-Larssen a “CIA stooge” whose talk was “the low point of the conference. I couldn’t find a brick to toss, LOL. Why he was there is beyond me.”

Such suspicions should not blind people to Mowatt-Larssen’s central insight: in the eyes of an experienced CIA officer, the crime of November 22, 1963 was most likely the culmination of a covert operation, organized by CIA personnel.

Mowatt-Larssen’s presentation in Dallas is the first significant development in the JFK story since October 2017. That’s when President Trump agreed to keep secret portions of 15,834 assassination-related files until at least 2021. The statistic comes from the National Archives web site and was confirmed to me by an Archives official. Probably two-thirds of those records are held the CIA and FBI) Some people say the U.S. government has nothing to hide on JFK assassination’s. But if they have nothing to hide, why are they hiding so much?

While President Trump has acquiesced to the CIA’s demands for continuing JFK secrecy, this former station chief questions it.

“I’m a big believer in releasing the rest of the records,” said Mowatt-Larssen.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation On Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and The Mafia: Trump's mob talk comes from his time in Atlantic City, Wayne Madsen, left, Feb. 11, 2020 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). Impeached President Donald John Trump’s legacy in Atlantic City as the proprietor of three casinos -- the Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel, the Trump Marina Hotel Casino, and the Trump Taj Mahal – is one of the mob.

The skim, the transfer of a small percentage of a casino’s pre-tax profits to organized crime syndicates, was pioneered by Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky in Las Vegas. The skim arrived in Atlantic City at the same time as did the first casino opening. And controlling the Atlantic City skim was the boss of the Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and South Jersey rackets, Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, and his nephew, lieutenant, and mob underboss, Philip “Crazy Phil” Leonetti.

Scarfo hid the money from the skim by plowing it into newly-incorporated legitimate businesses and the buying of property through Scarfo’s primary business, Scarf, Inc. It was a business practice that Trump also knew very well in the method of creating thousands of limited liability corporations and other corporate shells all interwoven with the Trump Organization.

One way by which Scarfo used Scarf, Inc. to exact “tribute” was to shake down businesses for extortion payments....

The mob had a deep impact on the method by which Trump operates, for example, vowing vengeance on all those who crossed him in supporting his impeachment in the House, sworn testimony against him by government employees and military and intelligence personnel, and guilty votes in the Senate....

Another Trump affectation is to apply nicknames to his enemies and friends, alike. That is standard operating procedure for the mob....

CIA Surveillance

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: For decades, CIA read encrypted communications of allies and adversaries, Greg Miller, Feb. 11, 2020. For decades, the CIA read the encrypted communications of allies and adversaries. The CIA in partnership with West German intelligence was the secret owner of a Swiss company that supplied more than 120 countries from Iran to the Vatican with encryption machines.

For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.

cia logoThe Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.

The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.

The account identifies the CIA officers who ran the program and the company executives entrusted to execute it. It traces the origin of the venture as well as the internal conflicts that nearly derailed it. It describes how the United States and its allies exploited other nations’ gullibility for years, taking their money and stealing their secrets.

The operation, known first by the code name “Thesaurus” and later “Rubicon,” ranks among the most audacious in CIA history.

“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”

From 1970 on, the CIA and its code-breaking sibling, the National Security Agency, controlled nearly every aspect of Crypto’s operations — presiding with their German partners over hiring decisions, designing its technology, sabotaging its algorithms and directing its sales targets.

 

ICE logo

Politico, Opinion: A Conservative Judge Draws a Line in the Sand With the Trump Administration, Kimberly Wehle, Feb. 12, 2020. Outraged the attorney general had ignored a court order, he authors a blistering opinion rebuking William Barr for overstepping his constitutional authority.

frank easterbrook fullPresident Donald Trump has defanged Congress’ oversight authority. That became clear when the Senate acquitted the president of obstruction. But one conservative judge isn’t willing to let the executive branch steal power from his branch of government.

In a jaw-dropping opinion issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on January 23, Judge Frank Easterbrook, right — a longtime speaker for the conservative Federalist Society and someone whom the late Justice Antonin Scalia favored to replace him on the U.S. Supreme Court — rebuked Attorney General William Barr for declaring in a letter that the court’s decision in an immigration case was “incorrect” and thus dispensable.

Barr’s letter was used as justification by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the federal agency that applies immigration laws) to ignore the court’s ruling not to deport a man who had applied for a visa to remain in the country.

As Washington reels from the surprise withdrawals of Roger Stone‘s prosecutors, apparently triggered by Trump’s intervention in the upcoming sentencing of his long-time adviser, the Easterbrook broadside offers another window into the way the Trump administration is violating the division of power between the executive and judicial branches.

The 7th Circuit case involved an undocumented immigrant, Jorge Baez-Sanchez, who was subject to removal from the United States after being convicted of a crime.

Baez-Sanchez applied for a special visa allowing him to remain in the U.S. if he was also a victim of a crime. An immigration judge twice granted Baez-Sanchez a waiver. But the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the immigration judge’s decision, claiming that only the attorney general personally could grant waivers — not immigration judges. Baez-Sanchez appealed to the 7th Circuit, which disagreed and remanded the case with a directive that the Department of Homeland Security comply with the immigration judge’s waiver. When it refused, Easterbrook, a 35-year veteran of the court, had had enough of the willful disregard for judicial authority.

Kimberly Wehle is a law professor, former assistant United States Attorney and author of the book, "How to Read the Constitution — And Why." JIP editor's note: Judge Easterbrook was this editor's law professor teaching antitrust at the University of Chicago School of Law, where Easterbrook has long taught law following his work as an assistant attorney general at during the 1980s in the Bush Justice Department.

Feb. 10

julian assange and swedens politically appointed judges indicter graphic

WikiLeaks Editor Julian Assange (graphic by The Indicter Magazine and Swedish Doctors for Human Rights).

OpEdNews, Opinion: What Is Happening to Assange Will Happen to the Rest of Us, Chris Hedges, Feb. 10, 2020. David Morales, the indicted owner of the Spanish private security firm Undercover Global, is being investigated by Spain's high court for allegedly providing the CIA with audio and video recordings of the meetings WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had with his attorneys and other visitors when the publisher was in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The security firm also reportedly photographed the passports of all of Assange's visitors. It is accused of taking visitors' phones, which were not permitted in the embassy, and opening them, presumably in an effort to intercept calls. It reportedly stole data from laptops, electronic tablets and USB sticks, all required to be left at the embassy reception area. It allegedly compiled detailed reports on all of Assange's meetings and conversations with visitors. The firm even is said to have planned to steal the diaper of a baby brought to visit Assange to perform a DNA test to establish whether the infant was a secret son of Assange. UC Global, apparently at the behest of the CIA, also allegedly spied on Ecuadorian diplomats who worked in the London embassy.

The probe by the court, the Audiencia Nacional, into the activities of UC Global, along with leaked videos, statements, documents and reports published by the Spanish newspaper El País as well as the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, offers a window into the new global security state. Here the rule of law is irrelevant. Here privacy and attorney-client privilege do not exist. Here people live under 24-hour-a-day surveillance. Here all who attempt to expose the crimes of tyrannical power will be hunted down, kidnapped, imprisoned and broken. This global security state is a terrifying melding of the corporate and the public. And what it has done to Assange it will soon do to the rest of us.

The publication of classified documents is not yet a crime in the United States. If Assange is extradited and convicted, it will become one. Assange is not an American citizen. WikiLeaks, which he founded, is not a U.S.-based publication. The extradition of Assange would mean the end of journalistic investigations into the inner workings of power. It would cement into place a terrifying global, corporate tyranny under which borders, nationality and law mean nothing. Once such a legal precedent is set, any publication that publishes classified material, from The New York Times to an alternative website, will be prosecuted and silenced.

The flagrant defiance of law and international protocols in the persecution of Assange is legion. In April 2019, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno capriciously terminated Assange's right of asylum at the London embassy, where he spent seven years, despite Assange's status as a political refugee. Moreno authorized British police to enter the embassy diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador. (Assange retains his Australian citizenship.) The British police seized Assange, who has never committed a crime, and the British government keeps him imprisoned, ostensibly for a bail violation.

Assange is being held in the notorious high-security HM Prison Belmarsh. He has spent much of his time in isolation, is often heavily sedated and has been denied medical treatment for a variety of physical ailments. His lawyers say they are routinely denied access to their client. Nils Melzer, the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture who examined Assange with two physicians, said Assange has undergone prolonged psychological torture. Melzer has criticized what he calls the "judicial persecution" of Assange by Britain, the United States, Ecuador and Sweden, which prolonged an investigation into a sexual assault case in an effort to extradite Assange to Sweden. Assange said the case was a pretext to extradite him to the United States. Once Assange was arrested by British police the sexual assault case was dropped.

Melzer says Assange would face a politicized show trial in the United States if he were extradited to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing classified military and diplomatic cables, documents and videos that exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each of the counts carries a potential sentence of 10 years, and an additional charge that Assange conspired to hack into a government computer has a maximum sentence of five years. A hearing to determine whether he will be extradited to the United States starts Feb. 24 at London's Woolwich Crown Court. It is scheduled to last about a week and then resume May 18, for three weeks more.

WikiLeaks released U.S. military war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, a cache of 250,000 diplomatic cables and 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs along with the 2007 "Collateral Murder" video, in which U.S. helicopter pilots banter as they gun down civilians, including children and two Reuters journalists, in a Baghdad street. The material was given to WikiLeaks in 2010 by Chelsea Manning, then Bradley Manning, a low-ranking intelligence specialist in the U.S. Army. Assange has been accused by an enraged U.S. intelligence community of causing "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States." Manning was convicted of espionage charges in August 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. She was granted clemency in January 2017 by President Barack Obama. Manning was ordered back to prison last year after refusing to testify before a grand jury in the WikiLeaks case, and she remains behind bars. No one was ever charged for the war crimes WikiLeaks documented.

Assange earned the enmity of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton's repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted "open trade and open borders" and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign's efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton's advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the principal architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate.

Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs, should have remained hidden, but they can't then call themselves journalists.

The Democratic and Republican leaders are united in their crusade to extradite and sentence Assange. The Democratic Party, which has attempted to blame Russia for its election loss to Trump, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers. However, James Comey, the former FBI director, has conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary, and Assange has said the emails were not provided by "state actors."

WikiLeaks has done more than any other news organization to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American empire. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Edward Snowden, who made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. (The Snowden leaks also revealed that Assange was on a U.S. "manhunt target list.")

The inquiry by the Spanish court is the result of a criminal complaint filed by Assange, who accuses Morales and UC Global of violating his privacy and client-attorney confidentiality rights. The WikiLeaks founder also says the firm is guilty of misappropriation, bribery and money laundering.

Feb. 9

djt roy cohn wheres my roy cohn

OpEdNews, Film Review: "Where's My Roy Cohn?": A U.S. Coup by Nihilists, Mobsters, Pedophiles and Blackmailers, Mike Rivage-Seul, Feb. 9, 2020. Recently, I spent two weeks in Tijuana working with Al Otro Lado (AOL). I've written about that experience here, here, and here.

AOL is a legal defense service for refugees seeking asylum mostly from gang-rule in Mexico and Central America. The emigrants want escape from countries whose police forces and allied power holders are controlled by ruthless drug rings whose only goal is accumulation of money and social dominance.

roy cohn wheres my row cohn poster sony picturesAs I did my work helping clients fill out endless forms concocted by those who would illegally exclude them, everything seemed so hopeless. I wondered how those gangs achieved such power? Isn't it a shame, I thought, that entire countries are now controlled by criminal mobs with names like "MS 13," "Nueva Generacion," and "18?" How sad for these people!

Then, during my flight home to Connecticut, I happened to watch the documentary "Where's My Roy Cohn?" (WMRC). It introduced viewers to the dark and criminal mentor of Donald Trump.

On its face, the film illustrated the absolute corruption of the U.S. government as the unwavering servant of the elite as the only people who count.

But in the light of my experience in Tijuana, it made me realize that our country too is literally controlled by shadowy gangs to an extent even worse than what's happening south of our border. I mean, the United States of America now has the most prominent protege of Roy Cohn, right, an unabashed mafioso, actually sitting in the Oval Office!

Both Cohn and, of course, his disciple turn out to be absolute nihilists without principle or any regard for truth.

The film made clear how both men tapped into a similar nihilist strain within huge numbers of Americans who identify with the Republican Party and ironically with the Catholic faith and Christian fundamentalism. Nonetheless, WMRC wasn't explicit enough in probing either Cohn's corruption, that of Donald Trump or of our reigning system's complex of government, education, church and mainstream media.

It failed to show how the phenomena of Roy Cohn and Donald Trump represent mere surface indications of a profoundly anti-democratic coup d'e'tat that has gradually unfolded in our country over the last 40 years. The actuality of this takeover was revealed most clearly in the recent impeachment proceedings. They provided a kind of last straw undeniably exhibiting how nihilist "Christians" have seized power in perhaps irreversible ways.

To see what I mean, begin by watching "Where's my Roy Cohn?" for yourself. It not only details Cohn's life as an infamous New York mafia consigliere. It also shows how he started his career in crime as the 23-year-old advisor of the equally villainous Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. (McCarthy, of course was the force behind the nation-wide communist scare of the early 1950s.)

However, most importantly WMRC describes the film's subject as the mentor of Donald Trump. By both their admissions, each recognized in the other a kindred spirit. Each used mafia and friends in high places (from Ronald Reagan to New York's Cardinal Spellman) to enrich himself in terms of power and money. In the end, the alliance brought Trump to "the highest office in the land."

washington post logoWashington Post, Meet the 71-year-old staging a one-man protest in his Trump-loving retirement community, Brittany Shammas, Feb. 9, 2020 (print ed.). For most of his life, Ed McGinty kept his political beliefs to himself.

Raised Irish Catholic in Philadelphia, the 71-year-old retired real estate broker has always been a Democrat, just like his parents before him. But the last time he remembers being especially politically motivated was when Hubert Humphrey ran against Richard Nixon in 1968. After that, he’d wake up the morning after Election Day, find out George W. Bush or another Republican had won and say, “Okay, well, back to work.”

Then Donald Trump was elected.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logo“When Trump won, it changed the whole ballgame for me,” McGinty told The Washington Post. “I thought to myself, ‘This was supposed to be a joke. What’s wrong with these people?’ ”

In the three years since then, the once-quiet political observer has transformed into the best-known Trump protester in The Villages, a sprawling, meticulously planned and maintained retirement community that lies about 45 miles northwest of Orlando. McGinty’s daily vigil with signs blasting the president as a “SEXUAL PREDATOR” (among other things) has drawn ire in the Trump-loving Florida town he has called home since 2016. It has also brought viral fame.

For his one-man protest against the president, McGinty has been berated as a baby killer and a “dumb a--,” decried in letters to the editor of a local news site and hit with an anonymous, handwritten threat — a sign that even a town that is described as Disney World for retirees and markets itself as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown” is not immune to the divisiveness of this political era.

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: Political idolatry is the enemy of religious faith, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Feb. 9, 2020. If you wonder why young people are leaving organized religion in droves, look no further than last week’s National Prayer Breakfast.

Many who care about religion and its fate have condemned President Trump’s vindictive, self-involved, God-as-an-afterthought speech at the annual gathering. By contrast, his backers were happy to say “Amen” as they prepared to exploit religion in one more election.

My Post colleague Michael Gerson, a beacon of moral clarity in the conservative evangelical world, noted that Trump’s address was a tribute to his “remarkable ability to corrupt, distort and discredit every institution he touches.”

Gerson is right, but I confess that there has always been something troubling about the prayer breakfast. The gatherings encourage the suspicion that many politicians are there not because of God but because of their own political imperatives. They want to tell the world how religious they are and check the faith box on the advice of their political advisers. You worry that this is as much about preening as praying.

In his always crude but always revealing way, Trump has exposed the underside of long-standing political habits and practices. He is not the first politician to exploit religion. He just does it in a way so at odds with the core tenets of the Christian faith he claims to uphold that he pushes the hypocritical aspects of public religion to a breaking point.

Feb. 6

U.S. Political History

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Really Killed Malcolm X? John Leland, Feb. 6, 2020. Fifty-five years later, the case may be reopened. Malcom X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965. For more than half a century, scholars have maintained that prosecutors convicted malcolm x finger at headthe wrong men in the assassination of Malcolm X, right.

Now, 55 years after that bloody afternoon in February 1965, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is reviewing whether to reinvestigate the murder.

Some new evidence comes from a six-part documentary called “Who Killed Malcolm X?,” streaming on Netflix Feb. 7, which posits that two of the men convicted could not have been at the scene that day.

Instead it points the finger at four members of a Nation of Islam mosque in Newark, N.J., depicting their involvement as an open secret in their city. One even appeared in a 2010 campaign ad for then-Newark mayor Cory Booker.

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Historical Commentary: Pelosi and Romney: the last vestiges of constitutional governance, Wayne Madsen, left, Feb. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small6, 2020. In the era of Donald Trump, the U.S. Constitution is merely an arcane encumbrance to be ignored by a dictatorial chief executive bent on amassing all political power into his own hands while threatening dissidents with criminal prosecution amid the rage of his cult following and chicanery of his political operatives and propagandists.

Pelosi and Romney grew up in political households, Pelosi's father being Baltimore's Democratic machine Mayor Thomas D'Alessandro and Romney's Michigan Republican Governor George Romney. N

either would recognize their respective political parties today, with the front-running Democratic presidential candidate not even a member of the party, but a Trotskyist Socialist former member of the Socialist Workers Party, and the Republican incumbent president being an accused rapist, money launderer, racist, misogynist, and fraudster.

Feb. 3

National Public Radio, Ex-CIA Employee Accused Of Leaking Documents To WikiLeaks Goes On Trial, Merrit Kennedy, Feb. 3, 2020. The documents npr logoreleased by WikiLeaks in 2017 represented one of the largest leaks in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency software engineer who allegedly leaked thousands of pages of documents to WikiLeaks was set to begin Monday in federal court in New York. The leak has been described as one of the largest in the CIA's history.

joshua schulte CustomJoshua Schulte, right, has pleaded not guilty to 11 criminal counts, including illegal transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information and theft of government property.

WikiLeaks started publishing the documents, which it called "Vault 7," in March 2017. Many of the documents are highly technical, and appear to describe agency practices for hacking a number of different targets.

CIA LogoAs NPR's Camila Domonoske and Greg Myre reported at the time, the documents are said to be to be internal guides to creating and using many kinds of hacking tools, "from turning smart TVs into bugs to designing customized USB drives to extract information from computers."

In court filings ahead of the trial, they have expressed frustration at the pace with which they are required to review materials surfaced during the discovery process.

Some of the charges against Schulte stem from the Espionage Act, and defense lawyers say they are unconstitutionally overbroad and vague. They also said the law was intended to be used to prosecute those who transmit government secrets to foreign governments, and that it shouldn't apply to leaking to WikiLeaks. The judge rejected those arguments.

Prosecutors have said that when Schulte was working at the CIA, he developed classified cyber tools, including tools to covertly gather data from computers.

The leak allegedly happened during a time of rising tension between Schulte and his CIA colleagues.

In the summer of 2015, according to prosecutors, Schulte started having "significant problems" in his group that stemmed from a feud with one of his colleagues. The feud deepened after the colleague reportedly complained about Schulte to management. Prosecutors say Schulte accused the employee of making a death threat against him and eventually filed a protective order against that person. They were reassigned to different teams.

Because of his reassignment, Schulte's access to previous projects was revoked. But prosecutors say he reinstated his own administrative privileges. Management at the Center for Cyber Intelligence discovered it, and they attempted to revoke privileges and change passwords. But they missed credentials for one computer network, according to prosecutors, and in April 2016, Schulte allegedly stole vast quantities of information from the network and passed the data along to WikiLeaks.

The judge has granted measures to protect the anonymity of certain witnesses from the CIA who are expected to testify. During those sessions, the courtroom will be closed to press, except for two pool reporters who have agreed not to disclose the physical characteristics of these witnesses. Other reporters in an adjoining courtroom will be able to see a video feed that won't show images of the witnesses.

Federal prosecutors originally indicted Schulte in 2017 on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. They said they discovered more than 10,000 images and videos of child pornography encrypted on Schulte's personal computer.

In July 2019, the court severed the child pornography-related charges from the rest of the case, meaning that those accusations will be addressed at a separate trial.

January

Jan. 31

60 Minutes Australia, Tracking down the most wanted fugitive behind Nugan Hand bank collapse, Producer: Stephen Rice, Jan. 31, 2020 (22:24 min.). It’s one of Australia’s biggest mysteries, involving drug trafficking, money laundering, CIA spies and claims of murder. The collapse of the infamous Nugan Hand Bank wiped out tens of millions of dollars, most of it from mum and dad investors.

When Frank Nugan, one of the founders of the bank, was found dead it meant just one man knew where the money was, and the answer to many more questions. Then he disappeared -– vanished from the face of the earth. For 35 years he’s been out of reach of the Australian authorities -– but now 60 Minutes has finally caught up with Michael Hand.

Jan. 30

Action_4Assange, The Prosecution of Julian Assange and Its Impact on the Freedom of the Press, Expert panel appearing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Jan. 30, 2020, published on Jan. 31 and filmed by Taylor Hudak‏ of @Action_4Assange (70:04 mins).

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of Espionage and 1 count of conspiracy to commit computer crime for WikiLeaks' 2010 publications of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, and State Department cables leaked to WikiLeaks by US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

On Jan. 30, 2020, these legal and academic experts discussed the impact of Assange's prosecution on the freedom of the press, at the National Press Club's First Amendment Lounge in Washington DC.

Speakers:

  • Jameel Jaffer, Director, Knight First Amendment Institute
  • Amy Jeffress, Attorney, former US Department of Justice
  • Ben Wizner, Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project

Moderator: Mary-Rose Papandrea, Constitutional Law Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Courage Foundation supports whistleblowers and the public's right to know. Courage hosts Julian Assange's defense site at defend.wikileaks.org

SwissInfo.org, UN rapporteur: Assange being set up to be ‘burnt at the stake,’ Nils Melzer, Jan. 31, 2020. The detention and potential extradition to the US of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is an attack on democratic principles and the freedom of the press, says the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

In an interview with news outlet Republikexternal link, Melzer delivered a damning indictment of the legal and political systems in the United States, Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.

“It is obvious that what we are dealing with here is political persecution,” he said. “The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law.”

Assange is currently in a high-security prison in Britain fighting extradition to the US. In 2010 the whistleblowing website Wikileaks published material from former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning of alleged US war crimes in Iraq.

Melzer got involved in the case last year but was dissatisfied with answers to his enquiries to the Swedish and British authorities. He has visited Assange in jail and says that the 48-year-old is being denied legal rights and is being subject to psychological torture that could cost him his life.

Melzer, who has previously criticised the Swiss government’s stance towards Assange, tells Republik that he has documentary evidence that Swedish police made up evidence to accuse Assange with rape, an investigation that was subsequently dropped.

“Four democratic countries joined forces – the US, Ecuador, Sweden and the UK – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could later be burnt at the stake without any outcry. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press,” Melzer said.

Assange is wanted for trial in the US to face several charges, including breaches of the Espionage Act. He continues to divide public opinion, with some accusing him of being a dangerous narcissist who endangers lives and others believing him to be a defender of democratic freedoms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signs executive order to combat human trafficking as some advocacy groups boycott summit, Jessica Contrera, Jan. 31, 2020. President Trump signed an executive order Friday creating a position within his domestic policy team dedicated solely to fighting human trafficking. The order, signed during a White House summit on the issue, also proposes an additional $42 million in funding for service programs and prosecutions.

“Human trafficking is worse than ever before because of the Internet,” Trump said. “The Internet has caused lots of good things to happen and lots of really bad things, and this is probably the worst of the bad things.”

Trump was joined by Vice President Pence and first daughter Ivanka Trump, whom he credited for championing the issue.

“I would say that this issue may be closest to her heart because of the level of evil that you would never believe is even possible in a modern age,” Trump said.

Ivanka Trump’s office organized the summit to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which established trafficking as a federal crime. While some anti-trafficking organizations were grateful for the spotlight on the issue, others boycotted the event, citing the administration’s treatment of trafficking victims who are immigrants. Among them was Polaris, the organization that runs the national human-trafficking hotline.

william barr new oHe praised Attorney General William P. Barr, right, for going after traffickers.

“My administration is fighting these monsters, persecuting and prosecuting them, locking them away for a very, very long time,” Trump said. “We have had a tremendous track record, the best track record in a long time.”

Statistics from the Justice Department show otherwise. Prosecutions of sex and labor traffickers, which fluctuated during the Obama years, are down from 531 in fiscal 2016 to 343 in fiscal 2019.

  • Washington Post, Anti-human-trafficking groups refuse to attend Ivanka Trump’s White House summit, Jessica Contrera, Jan. 30, 2020.

Jan. 30

julian assange npc event jan 30 2020 Custom

Action 4 Assange, an advocacy group for the civil rights of imprisoned WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, sponosored a panel discussion on Jan. 30, 2020 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The discussion is available via YouTube

. In related news, see a news report below based on a United Nations finding.

SwissInfo.org, UN rapporteur: Assange being set up to be ‘burnt at the stake,’ Nils Melzer, Jan. 31, 2020. The detention and potential extradition to the US of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is an attack on democratic principles and the freedom of the press, says the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

In an interview with news outlet Republikexternal link, Melzer delivered a damning indictment of the legal and political systems in the United States, Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.

“It is obvious that what we are dealing with here is political persecution,” he said. “The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law.”

Assange is currently in a high-security prison in Britain fighting extradition to the US. In 2010 the whistleblowing website Wikileaks published material from former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning of alleged US war crimes in Iraq.

Melzer got involved in the case last year but was dissatisfied with answers to his enquiries to the Swedish and British authorities. He has visited Assange in jail and says that the 48-year-old is being denied legal rights and is being subject to psychological torture that could cost him his life.

Melzer, who has previously criticised the Swiss government’s stance towards Assange, tells Republik that he has documentary evidence that Swedish police made up evidence to accuse Assange with rape, an investigation that was subsequently dropped.

“Four democratic countries joined forces – the US, Ecuador, Sweden and the UK – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could later be burnt at the stake without any outcry. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press,” Melzer said.

Assange is wanted for trial in the US to face several charges, including breaches of the Espionage Act. He continues to divide public opinion, with some accusing him of being a dangerous narcissist who endangers lives and others believing him to be a defender of democratic freedoms.

Jan. 29

keith raniere nxivm

ny times logoNew York Times, Nxivm ‘Sex Cult’ Was Also a Huge Pyramid Scheme, Lawsuit Says, Nicole Hong, Jan. 29, 2020. Eighty people contended that they were bilked out of millions of dollars through a “coercive” scheme by the self-help group. The self-help group Nxivm gained a reputation as a “sex cult” last year after its leader, Keith Raniere, was convicted of coercing some of his female followers into sexual servitude, even creating a ritual in which they were branded with his initials.

But a lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday illuminated another unsavory side of Nxivm. Most participants in the group were not Mr. Raniere’s sex slaves, the lawsuit said, but rather victims of an insidious pyramid scheme who were lured by false scientific claims into paying thousands of dollars for classes.

“They get you to not trust your own decision-making process,” said one former member, Sally Brink, who said she paid $145,000 to take Nxivm classes over the years. “They tell you that you need them to make decisions. You start to doubt everything.”

Ms. Brink was among the 80 plaintiffs who sued Mr. Raniere and 14 other associates of Nxivm (pronounced NEX-ee-um).

The 200-page lawsuit details sprawling allegations of fraud and abuse, including that Nxivm’s leaders drew “from methods used in pyramid schemes” to take people’s money and make it “physically and psychologically difficult, and in some cases impossible, to leave the coercive community.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Sonny Grosso, Detective Who Severed 'French Connection, Sam Roberts, Updated Jan. 29, 2020. He and his partner broke the heroin case that inspired that 1971 film. After he retired, he became a movie and television producer and consultant.

Sonny Grosso, the true-blue New York City police detective who with his gung-ho partner made the record heroin bust that inspired the Oscar-winning film “The French Connection,” died on Jan. 22 at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his longtime companion, Christina Kraus.

A product of East Harlem and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mr. Grosso rose to the rank of detective first grade in the New York Police Department faster than any predecessor. He followed his 22 years on the force with a second career as a television producer and consultant for television shows about law enforcement, including “Kojak,” “Baretta” and “Night Heat,” and for the movie “The Godfather,” in which he played a detective named Phil.

Until he died, Mr. Grosso carried his off-duty .38-caliber Colt revolver, the very same gun that was taped to the tank of a toilet and fired (using blanks) by Al Pacino in a mob hit in “The Godfather.”

But Mr. Grosso was best known as the model for Buddy Russo, played by Roy Scheider in William Friedkin’s 1971 action thriller, “The French Connection,” which won five Academy Awards, including best picture. Gene Hackman portrayed Popeye Doyle, a doppelgänger for Mr. Grosso’s real-life partner, Edward R. Egan, who was revered for his bravery and nicknamed Bullets because he enjoyed firing his revolver for flamboyant effect. (Mr. Egan died in 1995.)

The film, a fictionalized account based on Robin Moore’s book of the same title, recounts how the case unfolded after the two detectives, out for drinks at the Copacabana nightclub, spotted known drug dealers adulating an unidentified man, whom they later discovered owned a greasy spoon luncheonette in Brooklyn.

They followed him on a hunch, and the trail led to a French smuggler who was shipping to the United States 100 pounds of heroin, some of it stolen from a police vault. Mr. Grosso determined the magnitude of the cache by weighing the Frenchman’s 1960 Buick Invicta when it arrived by ship and again when it was about to be transported back to France. (Mr. Grosso appears uncredited in the movie as a narcotics agent.)

Police said the seizure was a record amount at the time.

Jan. 27

Impeachment Headlines

djt impeachment graphic

Lev Parnas Trump Revelations

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Impeachment Trial Excerpts

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Demands for Inquiries, Bolton Book Says, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump said he wanted to keep aid to Ukraine frozen until he got help with inquiries he sought, John Bolton (shown above in a Guardian file photo) wrote in drafts of a new book. The statement as described by Mr. Bolton, the former national security adviser, could undercut a key element of Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense.

john bolton surrender is not an optionPresident Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

CNBC, Trump rages after reports that Bolton book claims president tied Ukraine aid to probes, Kevin Breuninger, Jan. 27, 2020. President Donald cnbc logoTrump vented rage Monday on Twitter, denying his ex-national security advisor John Bolton’s reported claim that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to secure investigation into his political opponents.

But Trump flatly denied the account from Bolton, who left the White House in September amid a public dispute with the president over whether he resigned or was fired.

mitt romney headshot SmallLater Monday morning, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, right, of Utah told reporters, “I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”

President Donald Trump vented rage on Twitter just hours before his Senate impeachment trial was set to resume Monday, denying his ex-national security advisor John Bolton’s reported claim that military aid to Ukraine was frozen in order to secure investigation into Trump’s political donald trump twitteropponents.

Trump’s pushback came amid growing pressure for the Republican-majority Senate to allow witnesses to testify in the trial.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Bolton, in his upcoming book “The Room Where It Happened,” wrote that ny times logoTrump personally tied a nearly $400 million aid package to Kyiv to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. CNBC has not seen a copy of Bolton’s manuscript.

But Trump flatly denied the account from Bolton, who left the White House in September amid a public dispute with the president over whether he resigned or was fired.

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination.”

“If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” Trump claimed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Here are five revelations from Mr. Bolton’s book, Noah Weiland, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). New revelations from the former White House national security adviser could complicate President Trump’s impeachment trial. ​President Trump directly tied the withholding of almost $400 million in American security aid to investigations that he sought from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript of a book that John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote about his time in the White House.

john bolton full cropped CustomThe firsthand account of the link between the aid and investigations, which is based on meetings and conversations Mr. Bolton had with Mr. Trump, undercuts a key component of the president’s impeachment defense: that the decision to freeze the aid was independent from his requests that Ukraine announce politically motivated investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter.

In their opening arguments on Saturday in Mr. Trump’s trial, the president’s lawyers asserted that Mr. Trump had legitimate concerns about corruption in Ukraine and whether other countries were offering enough help for its war against Russian-backed separatists, which his lawyers said explained his reluctance to release the aid. They also said that Democrats had no direct evidence of the quid pro quo they allege at the heart of their impeachment case.

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account. A draft of the manuscript, which offers a glimpse into how Mr. Bolton might testify in the trial if he were called to, was sent to the White House in recent weeks for a standard review process.

Here are five takeaways.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats call for Bolton to testify in Trump trial after new report on aid to Ukraine, Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez​, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). The New York Times, citing an unpublished manuscript of the former national security adviser’s book, reported that the president told John Bolton last August he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it aided investigations into the Bidens.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: John Roberts Can Call Witnesses to Trump’s Trial. Will He? Neal K. Katyal, right, Joshua A. Geltzer and Mickey Edwards, neal katyal oJan. 27, 2020. Democratic House managers should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas for John Bolton and others.

the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.

Mr. Katyal and Mr. Geltzer are law professors at Georgetown. Mr. Edwards is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impeachment trial live updates: Trump team to resume defense amid fallout from new report on Bolton’s claim on withholding military aid from Ukraine, John Wagner, Jan. 27, 2020. President Trump’s legal team is set to resume its defense Monday in his Senate impeachment trial amid fallout from a new report that Trump told then-national security adviser John Bolton in August that he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it aided investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: John Bolton’s bombshell gives the GOP a glimpse of its nightmare scenario, Aaron Blake, Jan. 27, 2020.  We finally got a taste Sunday night of what former national security adviser John Bolton might tell President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial — if he’s called to testify, that is.

What we learned reinforced the potential peril for Republicans if they refuse to let him do so.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Now we know why Donald Trump was racing against the clock, Bill Palmer, Jan. 27, 2020. Donald Trump and his legal team used just over two hours, out of their eight allotted hours for the day [Saturday], to present their farce of an impeachment trial defense. Then they called it a day. It suggested that they weren’t actually prepared to make a presentation, and that they had originally been planning to wait until Monday, before something suddenly changed.

bill palmer report logo headerAt the time, Palmer Report pointed out that Donald Trump appeared to be increasingly worried about the evidence that kept surfacing against him, and thus increasingly worried about Republican Senators deciding to cover their backsides by voting to call witnesses. By starting his defense on Saturday instead of waiting 'til Monday, Trump was ensuring that the trial would end sooner, and thus perhaps wrap up before the whole thing got out of control.

Now, thanks to the New York Times, we know that John Bolton’s upcoming book confirms that Donald Trump was guilty of a quid pro quo in his Ukraine scandal. We also now know that Bolton sent an advance copy of his book to the Trump White House last month, in order to get djt john bolton Customconfirmation that it didn’t contain any classified information.

This means Donald Trump was aware that John Bolton was looking to publish his book right around the time of the impeachment trial, and that Bolton was therefore likely going to end up wanting to testify at the trial in order to promote the book.

Republican Senators were already feeling the pressure to call witnesses as the Lev Parnas and “take her out” bombshells were dropping. Now we know that Trump knew the Bolton bombshell was coming too. No wonder he was having his lawyers try to get the trial over with as quickly as possible, even at the expense of forfeiting large chunks of his own defense presentation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Schiff ‘has not paid the price’ for impeachment, Trump says in what appears to be veiled threat, Felicia Sonmez and Elise Viebeck, Jan. 27, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump escalated his attacks on Rep. Adam B. Schiff on Sunday, issuing what appears to be a veiled threat against the California Democrat one day before Trump’s team is expected to deliver the crux of its defense in the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.

“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. “He adam schiff squarehas not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial.

Schiff, right, responded in an interview on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” saying he believes Trump’s remarks were intended as a threat.

“This is a wrathful and vindictive president; I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” Schiff said in the interview. “And if you think there is, look at the president’s tweets about me today, saying that I should ‘pay a price.’ ”

Mossad Assassinations

Unz Review, American Pravda: Mossad Assassinations: The JFK Assassination and the 9/11 Attacks? Ron Unz, right, Jan. 27, 2020. Final ron unzJudgment by the late Michael Collins Piper set forth the explosive hypothesis that Mossad had played a central role in the most famous assassination of the twentieth century, the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy.

While Ostrovsky’s books drew upon his personal knowledge of Israel’s secret intelligence service, Piper was a journalist and researcher who had spent his entire career at Liberty Lobby, a small activist organization based in DC. Being sharply critical of Israeli policies and Zionist influence in America, the group was usually portrayed by the media as part of the far right anti-Semitic populist fringe, and almost entirely ignored by all mainstream outlets. Its weekly tabloid Spotlight, which usually focused on controversial topics, had once reached a remarkable circulation of 300,000 in the unsettled times of the late 1970s, but then declined substantially in readership during the more placid and optimistic Reagan Era that followed.

Liberty Lobby had never much delved into JFK assassination issues, but in 1978 it published an article on the subject by Victor Marchetti, a prominent former CIA official, and as a result was soon sued for defamation by E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame, with the lawsuit threatening its survival. In 1982 this ongoing legal battle attracted the involvement of Mark Lane, an experienced attorney of a leftist Jewish background who had been the founding father of JFK conspiracy investigations. Lane won the case at trial in 1985 and thereafter remained a close ally of the organization.

Piper gradually became friendly with Lane and by the early 1990s he himself had grown interested in the JFK assassination. In January 1994, he published his major work, Final Judgment, which presented an enormous body of circumstantial evidence backing his theory that Mossad had been heavily involved in the JFK assassination. I summarized and discussed the Piper Hypothesis in my own 2018 article:

cia logoFor decades following the 1963 assassination, virtually no suspicions had ever been directed towards Israel, and as a consequence none of the hundreds or thousands of assassination conspiracy books that appeared during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s had hinted at any role for the Mossad, though nearly every other possible culprit, ranging from the Vatican to the Illuminati, came under scrutiny. Kennedy had received over 80% of the Jewish vote in his 1960 election, American Jews featured very prominently in his White House, and he was greatly lionized by Jewish media figures, celebrities, and intellectuals ranging from New York City to Hollywood to the Ivy League.

Moreover, individuals with a Jewish background such as Mark Lane and Edward Epstein had been among the leading early proponents of an assassination conspiracy, with their controversial theories championed by influential Jewish cultural celebrities such as Mort Sahl and Norman Mailer. Given that the Kennedy Administration was widely perceived as pro-Israel, there seemed no possible motive for any Mossad involvement, and bizarre, totally unsubstantiated accusations of such a monumental nature directed against the Jewish state were hardly likely to gain much traction in an overwhelmingly pro-Israel publishing industry.

However, in the early 1990s highly regarded journalists and researchers began exposing the circumstances surrounding the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Seymour Hersh’s 1991 book The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy described the extreme efforts of the Kennedy Administration to force Israel to allow international inspections of its allegedly non-military nuclear reactor at Dimona, and thereby prevent its use in producing nuclear weapons. Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn appeared in the same year, and covered similar ground.

Although Mark Lane was himself of Jewish origins and left-wing roots, after his victory for Liberty Lobby in the Hunt libel trial, he spent many years associated with that organization in a legal capacity, and apparently became quite friendly with Piper, one of its leading writers. According to Piper, Lane told him that Final Judgment made “a solid case” for a major Mossad role in the assassination, and he viewed the theory as fully complementary to his own focus on CIA involvement.

I suspect that concerns about these associations may explain why Lane was almost completely airbrushed out of the Douglass and 2007 Talbot books, and discussed in the second Talbot book only when his work was absolutely essential to Talbot’s own analysis. By contrast, New York Times staff writers are hardly likely to be as versed in the lesser-known aspects of the JFK assassination research community, and being ignorant of this hidden controversy, they gave Lane the long and glowing obituary that his career fully warranted.

Jan. 26

Impeachment Headlines

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Lev Parnas Trump Revelations

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Impeachment Trial Excerpts

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Defense Begins by Accusing Democrats of Subverting Election, Peter Baker, Jan. 26, 2020 (print ed.). President’s Lawyers Give Radically Different View of Facts. President Trump’s legal team attacked his accusers as trying to remove him because they could not beat him at the ballot box. Mr. Trump’s lawyers sought to turn the charges back on Democrats while denouncing the process as illegitimate.

President Trump’s legal defense team mounted an aggressive offense on Saturday as it opened its side in the Senate impeachment trial by attacking his Democratic accusers as partisan witch-hunters trying to remove him from office because they could not beat him at the ballot box.

After three days of arguments by the House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, the president’s lawyers presented the senators a radically different view of the facts and the Constitution, seeking to turn the Democrats’ charges back on them while denouncing the whole process as illegitimate.

“They’re asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel (shown above), said of the House managers. “They’re here,” he added moments later, “to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen.”

The president’s team spent only two of the 24 hours allotted to them so that senators could leave town for the weekend before the defense presentation resumes on Monday, but it was the first time his lawyers have formally made a case for him since the House opened its inquiry in September. The goal was to poke holes in the House managers’ arguments in order to provide enough fodder to Senate Republicans already inclined to acquit him.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump lawyers’ weak start opens the door to devastating questions, Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 26, 2020. President Trump’s lawyers’ repeated assertions Saturday that they would not take much time on their case confirmed that they know the result is in the bag and that they have embarrassingly little to say in Trump’s defense. The central problem for them remains: How do you contest the facts, or claim an absence of evidence when you won’t allow in available evidence?

As Democratic senators think ahead to question time, they might start formulating questions that perform one of five functions.

  • First are the questions that expose the lies.
  • Second are the questions that obviously require new documents and witnesses.

ny times logoNew York Times, Could Mr. Trump muzzle Mr. Bolton? We explain the limits of executive privilege, Charlie Savage, Jan. 26, 2020 (print ed.).  If senators vote to subpoena testimony for the impeachment trial, the president may not be able to block or delay a willing witness.

Republican senators allied with President Trump are increasingly arguing that the Senate should not call witnesses or subpoena documents for his impeachment trial because Mr. Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege, and a legal fight would take too long to resolve.

But it is far from clear that Mr. Trump has the power to gag or delay a witness who is willing to comply with a subpoena and tell the Senate what he knows about the president’s interactions with Ukraine anyway — as Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton has said he would do.

Here is an explanation of executive privilege legal issues.

Jan. 25

jeffrey epstein mcc cell 60 minutes

Epstein died in August at MCC Manhattan (shown above in a photo via CBS "60 Minutes") while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida. His cell is seen above after his death. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the New York City medical examiner, but his attorneys have contested that finding. His cell is seen above after his death. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the New York City medical examiner, but his attorneys have contested that finding.

Daily Mail, Warden who was in charge when Jeffrey Epstein died behind bars is quietly given a top job at 'Club Fed' prison -- despite Bill Barr ordering him assigned to a lowly desk job, Keith Griffith and Associated Press, Jan. 25, 2020. The warden in charge when Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell is getting a cushy new supervisor's job at 'Club Fed' despite Attorney General Bill Barr's demand that he be reassigned to a desk job.

Lamine N'Diaye is being reassigned to a leadership role at FCI Fort Dix, a low-security prison in Burlington County, New Jersey, two people familiar with the matter said.

The move comes months after Barr ordered N'Diaye be reassigned to a desk post at the Bureau of Prisons' regional office in Pennsylvania after Epstein´s death as the FBI and the Justice Department´s inspector general investigated.

One of the people said the agency planned to move N´Diaye into the new role on February 2. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal personnel matter.

It was unclear why the agency was planning to return N'Diaye to a position supervising inmates and staff members, even though multiple investigations into Epstein´s death remain active.

The inspector general's investigation is continuing, and the Justice Department is still probing the circumstances that led to Epstein´s death, including why he wasn´t given a cellmate.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderEpstein, right, died in August while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Epstein's death cast a spotlight on the Bureau of Prisons and highlighted a series of safety lapses inside a high-security unit of one of the most secure jails in America.

His death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the New York City medical examiner, but his attorneys have contested that finding and argued he may have been killed.

Barr said even Epstein's ability to take his own life in federal custody had raised 'serious questions that must be answered.'

He said in an interview with the AP in November that the investigation revealed a 'series' of mistakes made that gave Epstein the chance to take his own life and that his death was the result of 'a perfect storm of screw-ups.'

Epstein died in August at MCC Manhattan (above) while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida.

Two correctional officers responsible for watching Epstein have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging they lied on prison records to make it seem as though they had checked on Epstein, as required, before his death.

Instead, investigators say they appeared to sleep for two hours and had been browsing the internet - shopping for furniture and motorcycles - instead of watching Epstein, who was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.

The attorney general also removed the agency´s acting director in the wake of Epstein's death and named Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the prison agency´s director from 1992 until 2003, to replace him.

Since Epstein´s death and N'Diaye´s removal as warden, the Manhattan jail has had two interim leaders.

The newest warden, M. Licon-Vitale, used to oversee a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. Her first big order of business has been to deal with jailed lawyer Michael Avenatti's complaints about his treatment at the lockup.

The Bureau of Prisons has been plagued for years by chronic violence, extensive staffing shortages and serious misconduct.

Jan. 24

More On Epstein Scandal

Cindy McCain, widow of longtime Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), admits 'we all knew' about Epstein in interview by Georgetown Professor Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, an expert on human rights, religious freedom, and international affairs. The session, "A Conversation: The Scourge of Human Trafficking" excerpted into a two-minute segment on YouTube, was part of a two-day panel "State of the World 2020" on Jan. 9 at Florida International University in Miami.

Washington Examiner, Cindy McCain admits ‘we all knew’ about Epstein, Spencer Neale, Jan. 24, 2020. Cindy McCain, the widow of late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), blasted authorities who were "afraid" to arrest convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein even though everyone "knew" what he was doing.

"Epstein was hiding in plain sight," said Cindy McCain. "We all knew about him. We all knew what he was doing, but we had no one that was — no legal aspect that would go after him. They were afraid of him. For whatever reason, they were afraid of him."

McCain's comments came after she was questioned by an attendee during her appearance at the State of the World 2020 conference in Florida (on Jan. 9, sponsored by Florida International University).

McCain said a girl from her daughter's high school was one of Epstein's victims and that she hopes Epstein "is in hell."

Epstein's massive wealth and his connections to powerful politicians and celebrities allowed him to continue trafficking young women and girls long after many had exposed his devious interests.

Dr. Barbara Sampson, the New York City medical examiner, said Epstein died by suicide at a Manhattan federal detention facility last August. His death and the circumstances surrounding it have created controversy after the former medical examiner of New York, Dr. Michael Baden, told 60 Minutes that he believes Epstein was murdered.

Cameras from outside Epstein's jail cell failed to record footage on the night of his death, and guards who were supposed to monitor him every 30 minutes fell asleep when the former financier died.

Jan. 21

Impeachment News

ny times logoNew York Times, News Analysis: ‘Constitutional Nonsense’: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus, Charlie Savage, Updated Jan. 21, 2020. The president’s legal case would negate any need for witnesses. But constitutional scholars say that it’s wrong.

As President Trump’s impeachment trial opens, his lawyers have increasingly emphasized a striking argument: Even if he did abuse his powers in an attempt to bully Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election on his behalf, it would not matter because the House never accused him of committing an ordinary crime.

Their argument is widely disputed. It cuts against the consensus among scholars that impeachment exists to remove officials who abuse power. The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” means a serious violation of public trust that need not also be an ordinary crime, said Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and the author of a recent book on the topic.

“This argument is constitutional nonsense,” Mr. Bowman said. “The almost universal consensus — in Great Britain, in the colonies, in the American states between 1776 and 1787, at the Constitutional Convention and since — has been that criminal conduct is not required for impeachment.”

But the argument is politically convenient for Mr. Trump. For any moderate Republican senator who may not like what the facts already show about his campaign of pressure on Ukraine, the theory provides an alternative rationale to acquit the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Senators gird for spirited debate over rules governing Trump’s trial, John Wagner, Jan. 21, 2020. Senators are girding for a spirited debate Tuesday over the rules that will guide the impeachment trial of President Trump — just the third in history of a U.S. president — focused on his conduct toward Ukraine.

When it reconvenes, the chamber will take up a resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that seeks a swift trial. Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), have panned the proposal, arguing it is part of an effort to “cover up” Trump’s dealings. On Tuesday, the House impeachment managers urged the Senate to reject McConnell’s rules.

The impeachment charges center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Special Investigation: Trump attorney Pam Bondi -- mobbed up to her eyeballs, Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, author of 17 books, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), Jan. 21, 2020.  Pam Bondi: From Florida cover-up artist to the White House Senate trial defense team.

Donald John Trump, impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on two articles – obstruction of Congress and abuse of office – has opted in choosing former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as one of his defense attorneys for his Senate trial to showcase Bondi, whose law enforcement record in Florida and Hillsborough County is rife with connections to organized crime.

Jan. 17

More On Epstein Death

jeffrey epstein mehmet oz david shankbone flickr palm beach sheriff dept Custom

Jeffrey Epstein (left). Dr Mehmet Oz. (Right). Photo credit: David Shankbone / Flickr (CC BY 2.0) and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department / Wikimedia

WhoWhatWhy, More Reasons to Question the Jeffrey Epstein ‘Suicide,’ Staff report, Jan. 17, 2020. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden has expanded on the evidence he provided to 60 Minutes. What he finds is more consistent with murder than with suicide.

On the heels of his analysis in a 60 Minutes interview pointing to reasons to believe Jeffrey Epstein may have been murdered, forensic pathologist Michael Baden is now back with more claims.

Baden, who was hired by Epstein’s family, presented his evidence on a Dr. Oz special, aired on January 16. In case you missed it, here are the main highlights with respect to the medical evidence. (He presented other evidence as well, on both shows.)

Previously, we posted our own observations that suggested Epstein may not have died from hanging: They concerned the strangeness of the marks across his throat — not only their location (too low, as pointed out by 60 Minutes), but the nature of the marks themselves.

Jan. 16

JFK Assassination

Kennedys and King Home, Opinion: More "Haagwash" from Lucien Haag, Milicent Cranor, Jan. 16, 2020. "Peer reviewed” forensics journal unintentionally proves conspiracy to cover up the truth — by publishing fresh fraud and decaying disinformation designed to sell the lone nut theory in the John Kennedy assassination. Have they no shame?

Lucien C. Haag, BS, describes himself as a “former criminalist and technical director of the Phoenix Crime Laboratory, with nearly 50 years of experience in the field of criminalistics and forensic firearm examinations; president, Forensic Science Services Inc.” And he was an “expert witness” in the November 2017 mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, hosted by South Texas College of Law.

In the December 2019 issue of the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, Haag demonstrates this “expertise” with his article, The Unique and Misunderstood Wound Ballistics in the John F. Kennedy Assassination.

When it comes to this case, his expertise seems to be in the specialty of propaganda.

His article demonstrates scholarship below the level of a junior high school term paper. The title, like the rest of his story, is misleading. The wounds were not unique, and would have been understood had they been properly explored, and truthfully explained in previous investigations. But Haag is correct when he says the evidence is misrepresented — and he himself grossly misrepresents the evidence in crude attempts to perpetuate the government-approved narrative.

Jan. 14

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: They Like to Get the Landmarks, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 14, 2020. In the 2016 science fiction sequel, Independence strategic culture logoDay: Resurgence, actor Jeff Goldblum, describing the targeting priorities of aliens invading the Earth, says, “They like to get the landmarks.” In both Independence Day and its sequel, movie viewers were treated to scenes of macabre-looking extraterrestrials destroying the Empire State Building, the White House, Los Angeles’s Tower Records building, and London’s Tower Bridge and “the Eye” wheel.

Destroying famous landmarks is not merely in the purview of motion picture aliens but also the president of the United States. In a series of tweets sent after Trump ordered the assassination at Baghdad International Airport of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Al Quds commander, Major General Qaseem Soleimani, he vowed to destroy Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated for the U.S. assassination of Iran’s most revered military leader.

Trump tweeted: “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have… targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

iran wants war graphic Custom 3Destroying cultural and religious sites during armed conflict is a war crime and a violation of international law. Not since 1944, when the German commander of Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, defied Adolf Hitler’s order to destroy the major cultural sites in Nazi-occupied Paris – the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Sacré-Cœur basilica, and others – had a military official so publicly defied a political leader.

Trump did not state what 52 Iranian cultural sites and antiquities were on his “hit list,” but informed observers believe they included the ruins of the capital of the Achaemenid Empire at Persepolis; the Kingdom of Elam’s holy city, Tchogha Zanbil; and Imam Square in Isfahan, all protected World Heritage sites protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), from which Trump withdrew the United States in 2019.

The world has in recent years witnessed a number of barbarian acts of destruction of world heritage cultural sites. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed several historical sites and objects of antiquity in Mosul, Iraq and Palmyra, Syria. In 2001, the Taliban blew up the UNESCO-protected Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, rendering them into a pile of rubble.

It is a sad commentary on the present state of the world that an American president would desire to put himself in the same barbarian category as Adolf Hitler, ISIL, and the Taliban. However, Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran appears to have very few boundaries.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion:The Pentagon’s and CIA’s Power to Assassinate Americans, Jacob G. Hornberger (right, foundation president, book publisher, law school graduate and author), Jan. 14, 2020. Pentagon officials Jacob Hornbergerare assuring Americans that the Pentagon’s recent assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani (below at left) will make Americans safer. There is at least one big problem with that formulation, one that, unfortunately, many Americans still don’t recognize. That problem is this: the power of assassination wielded by the Pentagon and the CIA extends to American citizens.

Why is that a problem?

Because there is no way to reconcile a government’s power to assassinate its own citizens with the principles of a free society. A free society necessarily is one in which the government lacks the power to assassinate its own citizens.

Our American ancestors clearly understood this aspect of a free society. That’s why they demanded the enactment of the Fifth Amendment as a condition for accepting the new limited-government republic that was being proposed by the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment reads in part: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” That phrase — due process of law, which stretches back to Magna qasem soleimani with zolfaghar orderCarta — has come to mean notice and trial, including trial by jury.

Americans had been operating under the Articles of Confederation for some 13 years when the delegates at the Constitutional Convention proposed a limited-government republic type of governmental system. Under the Articles, the federal government hadn’t even been given the power to tax, much less the power to assassinate American citizens. Americans were leery about the proposal for a limited-government republic because they feared that it might evolve into a government with totalitarian-like powers, such as the power to assassinate its own citizens.

Americans finally were persuaded to accept the deal but they demanded the enactment of the Bill of Rights to make sure that federal officials got the point. The Bill of Rights essentially says: “You don’t have the power to destroy our fundamental, God-given rights, and you also lack the power to kill us without following the principles of due process of law.”

george washington gilbert stuart portraitThe Framers did not bring into existence a government in which federal officials would be entrusted with the power of assassination. Instead, they made certain that the federal government was denied the power of assassination. They understood that freedom isn’t a government in which officials are exercising a power of assassination prudently, rarely, and wisely. They understood that freedom is a government in which officials don’t have the power to assassinate at all.

It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the change that took place after World War II, when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state form of governmental structure. A national-security state is a totalitarian form of governmental structure, one that wields totalitarian-like powers. North Korea is a national security state. So are China, Russia, Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. And post-World War II United States.

The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state automatically brought into existence the power of the federal government to assassinate American citizens. At the moment of the conversion, the freedom of the American people was destroyed because, again, it is impossible to reconcile the totalitarian power of assassination with the principles of a free society.

Jan. 13

William Barr is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. His wife, Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts look on

William Barr is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General. His wife, Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts look on (White House photo).

The New Yorker, William Barr, Trump’s Sword and Shield:  The Attorney General’s mission to maximize executive power and protect the Presidency, David Rohde (an executive editor of newyorker.com and the author of In Deep: The F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the Truth about America’s ‘Deep State’, forthcoming in April, 2020), Jan. 13, 2020 (January 20, 2020 Issue). For decades, Barr has argued that Congress is a menace to the Presidency.  As Attorney General, he’s poised to fight back.

Last October, Attorney General William Barr appeared at Notre Dame Law School to make a case for ideological warfare. Before an assembly of students and faculty, Barr claimed that the “organized destruction” of religion was under way in the United States. “Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values,” he said. Barr, a conservative Catholic, blamed the spread of “secularism and moral relativism” for a rise in “virtually every measure of social pathology”—from the “wreckage of the family” to “record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.”

The speech was less a staid legal lecture than a catalogue of grievances accumulated since the Reagan era, when Barr first enlisted in the culture wars. It included a series of contentious claims. He argued, for example, that the Founders of the United States saw religion as essential to democracy. “In the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people—a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order,” he said. Barr ended his address by urging his listeners to resist the “constant seductions of our contemporary society” and launch a “moral renaissance.”

Donald Trump does not share Barr’s long-standing concern about the role of religion in civic life.

(Though he often says that the Bible is his favorite book, when he was asked which Testament he preferred, he answered, “The whole Bible is incredible.”)

What the two men have in common is a sense of being surrounded by a hostile insurgency.

jeffrey epstein autopsy photos

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Surveillance video of Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell has been "accidentally" destroyed, and that along with analysis of autopsy evidence, points to homicide, not suicide, Roger Shuler, Jan. 13, 2020. Federal prosecutors revealed late last week that surveillance video from Jeffrey Epstein's first "suicide attempt" at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) no longer exists -- and that adds to troubling questions about Trump attorney general William Barr's possible involvement in a murder coverup, according to a D.C.-based investigative journalist.

The latest turn in the Epstein story came when attorneys for Epstein's cellmate -- former cop and quadruple drug-ring murderer Nicholas Tartaglione, below right -- requested the video in an nicholas tartaglione facebook Customapparent effort to clear their client of involvement in Epstein's death. The response from federal prosecutors? Any such video has been lost or destroyed. A new story (subscription required) at Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) says that only adds to the stench surrounding Epstein's death. Writes Madsen:

Federal prosecutors in New York have revealed that the MCC's video of the Special Housing Unit (SHU) cell where Epstein was placed with former cop Nicholas Tartaglione, charged with a quadruple homicide involving a drug ring, was "accidentally" destroyed. Epstein is said to have tried to commit suicide by hanging himself on July 23, 2019, while Tartaglione was in his cell. Under suspicion for strangling Epstein in the alleged first suicide attempt, Tartaglione's attorney requested a copy of the July 23 videotape to demonstrate that he "acted appropriately" in his sentencing. Federal prosecutors are asking for the death penalty for Tartaglione.

It is not known what Tartaglione meant by stating that he "acted appropriately" while Epstein tried to hang himself. Epstein's attorney claimed that marks on Epstein's neck (shown above) were more indicative of a strangling attempt, not an attempted suicide by hanging. Epstein had apparently passed information to his relatives that his first injuries were sustained as the result of a physical attack, and that it was Tartaglione who assaulted him.

How could an exceptionally dangerous bad actor, such as Tartaglione, be placed anywhere near the alleged sex trafficker Epstein, who because of his ties to Trump, was perhaps the nation's most high-profile inmate at the time? That is one of many head-scratchers in this case. Writes Madsen:

It is clear that Tartaglione is trying to bargain his way out of a death sentence. What is not clear is what the July 23 videotape, had it not been destroyed, would have shown. In a January 9 letter a federal judge, prosecutors stated that the MCC "inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier," adding that the video from Epstein's and Tartaglione's cell "no longer exists." Earlier, prosecutors told the judge that the tape had been "lost." They then changed their story to state that the video they discovered was trained on the wrong cell.

It defies logic that one of the government's most secure correctional facilities, the one that held Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel chieftain "El Chapo" and Gambino family kingpin John Gotti during their trials, could have destroyed a videotape on its most high-profile inmate.

How ugly could Tartaglione's possible ties to Epstein's death get? The answer is "off-the-charts" ugly, as Madsen explains:

Just prior to Epstein's arrival at the MCC following his arrest at a New Jersey airport, Tartaglione had been found with a contraband cell phone. There is a distinct possibility that Tartaglione received orders over the cell phone to kill Epstein at the first practical opportunity. Tartaglione is now claiming that he "acted appropriately" in the cell with Epstein. In Targtaglione's world of gangland-style murders, "acting appropriately" might mean that he tried to carry out his orders to off Epstein, but, for some reason, Epstein managed to survive the attempted strangulation.

Once Epstein survived the first "suicide" event, did someone in authority takes steps to make sure he was safe? Nope.

After Epstein was found semi-conscious in his cell on July 23, he was moved to a special cell where he was placed under a suicide watch. An MCC psychologist later approved Epstein's removal from the suicide watch and back to the SHU. On August 10, Epstein was found strangled to death from what was reported to have been a noose crafted from a torn orange bed sheet (shown above at left). There are reports that “shrieking” and “shouting” were heard from Epstein’s cell shortly before his body was discovered by guards.

Media / Privacy / Elections

Julian Assange at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

Julian Assange, center, at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

The Hill, Opinion: Will Alleged CIA Misbehavior Set Julian Assange Free? James C. Goodale, Jan. 10, 2020. A few days before Christmas, Julian Assange testified to a Spanish court that a Spanish security company, UC Global S.L., acting in coordination with the CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers, and streamed them back in real time to the CIA. He will, at the end of February, make a similar complaint to a British extradition court about the CIA’s alleged misbehavior.

Will such misbehavior, if proven, set Assange free?

The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. You may recall that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the “Pentagon Papers” case, Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for leaking Pentagon documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomAfter the trial commenced in San Francisco, it was brought to the judge’s attention that the “White House plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Based on that information and other complaints of government misbehavior, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official, Judge William Matthew Byrne decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the government acted outrageously.

For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed, if it reaches the U.S. courts.

The “plumbers” were a covert group formed by the Nixon White House to stop leaks of information from the government, such as the Pentagon Papers. They are notorious for their burglary at the Watergate complex, which led to former President Nixon’s downfall. Approximately nine months before the Watergate break-in, the plumbers, led by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, burglarized a psychiatrist’s office to find information that could discredit Ellsberg.

The CIA also was involved with the break-in. It prepared a psychiatric profile of Ellsberg as well as an ID kit for the plumbers, including drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, and disguises consisting of red wigs, glasses and speech alteration devices.

Additionally, the CIA allowed Hunt and his sidekick, G. Gordon Liddy, to use two CIA safe houses in the D.C. area for meetings and storage purposes. Clearly, the CIA knew the plumbers were up to no good. It is unclear whether the CIA knew Ellsberg was the target, but it would not have taken much to figure it out.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais broke the story that UC Global invaded Assange’s privacy at the Ecuadorian embassy and shared its surveillance with the CIA. It demonstrated step-by-step, document-by-document, UC Global’s actions and its contacts with the CIA. UC Global reportedly installed cameras throughout Assange’s space in the embassy — including his bathroom — and captured Assange’s every word and apparently livestreamed it, giving the CIA a free TV show of Assange’s daily life.

After reading El Pais’s series, you would have to be a dunce not to believe the CIA didn’t monitor Assange’s every move at the Ecuadorian embassy, including trips to the bathroom.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in their embassy for seven years, after he jumped bail in London to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegedly raping two Swedish women. (Those charges are now dismissed.) If you can believe it, Ecuador had hired UC Global to protect the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange. Not surprisingly, the CIA later made UC Global its spy to surveil Assange.

When there was a change of administration in Ecuador, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn, and he was immediately arrested by British police at the request of U.S. officials. The United States subsequently indicted him for violating the Espionage Act, for publishing the very same information published roughly contemporaneously by The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. (Assange already was subject to a sealed indictment in the United States for computer hacking.)

The behavior of UC Global and the CIA seems indistinguishable from the government’s behavior in the Ellsberg case, which a federal judge found to have “offended a sense of justice” and “incurably infected the prosecution” of the case. Accordingly, he concluded that the only remedy to ensure due process and the fair administration of justice was to dismiss Ellsberg’s case “with prejudice,” meaning that Ellsberg could not be retried.

Can anything be more offensive to a “sense of justice” than an unlimited surveillance, particularly of lawyer-client conversations, livestreamed to the opposing party in a criminal case? The alleged streaming unmasked the strategy of Assange’s lawyers, giving the government an advantage that is impossible to remove. Short of dismissing Assange’s indictment with prejudice, the government will always have an advantage that can never be matched by the defense.

The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but, rather, intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make.

When Assange begins his extradition hearing, this will be part of his argument — that the CIA’s misbehavior violates his human rights by depriving him of his right to a fair trial.

The CIA will no doubt attempt to trump this argument by defending the surveillance on grounds of national security. This may be easier said than done, however: It is one thing to say the CIA can engage in surveillance abroad for its own intelligence-gathering purposes, and another to say it can listen to the private lawyer-client communications of a person against whom the U.S. government has an open criminal investigation.

More to the point, it does not seem immediately clear why eavesdropping on conversations of legal strategy protects U.S. national security. In my experience in national security cases (I led The New York Times lawyers in the “Pentagon Papers” case), every time the government is backed into a corner in such cases, it will simply serve up a defense of “national security” because it is difficult to defend against such an assertion and the government, consequently, has the ability to trump every competing argument.

James C. Goodale was the vice chairman and general counsel of The New York Times and is the author of “Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and other battles.”

Jan. 10

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Long Sordid History of Pentagon Intervention in Iraq, Jacob G. Hornberger, right (foundation president, book publisher, law school graduate and author), Jan. 10, 2020. There is no reason for the Pentagon to be Jacob Hornbergerdepressed, despondent, or angry over the fact that Iraqi officials are kicking the Pentagon out of Iraq. The Pentagon doesn’t belong in Iraq in the first place.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that ever since the Pentagon and the rest of the U.S. national-security establishment lost their official Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, with the end of the Cold War in 1989, Iraq never invaded the United States or even threatened to do so. In the 30 years that the Pentagon has been killing people and wreaking destruction in Iraq, it has always been the Pentagon that has been the aggressor and Iraq the defender.

Second, it’s also important to keep in mind that during the 1980s, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a partner and ally of the Pentagon, when the Pentagon was helping him to wage his brutal 8-year war against Iran.

Third, U.S. officials expressed indifference to their partner and ally Saddam when he expressed exasperation with Kuwait, which, he said, was stealing oil from Iraq by slant-drilling into Iraqi land. That expressed indifference to a partner and ally could easily be construed as giving a green light for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

Fourth, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the dispute was no business of the Pentagon, given that the invasion did not constitute an invasion of the United States. Nonetheless, the Pentagon intervened in the conflict, notwithstanding the fact that Congress had not declared war on Iraq, as the Constitution requires. The Pentagon killed countless Iraqis in what was clearly an illegal U.S. war under U.S. law.

Fifth, the Pentagon had no business intentionally destroying Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants during the course of its intervention. That was a war crime, especially since the Pentagon’s intent was to spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people.

Sixth, the Pentagon had no legitimate authority to establish “no-fly zones” over Iraq after hostilities ended. The Pentagon continue to kill Iraqis during the enforcement of such zones, including a teenage boy who was just tending his sheep.

Seventh, the Pentagon had no business enforcing sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s, especially when it became painfully clear that they were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, including through infectious illnesses from polluted water. The sanctions were preventing Iraqis from repairing the water-and-sewage treatment plants that the Pentagon had intentionally destroyed during the Persian Gulf War. It was the deaths of those children that turned out to be a major contributing cause to anti-American terrorism, such as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the 9/11 attacks, the Fort Hood attacks, the Detroit would-be attack, and many more.

Eighth, the Pentagon had no legitimate authority to invade Iraq after the 9/11 attacks because Congress never issued a declaration of war against Iraq, as the Constitution requires. Moreover, even if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in violation of UN resolutions, only the UN had the authority to enforce its own resolutions. Iraq never invaded the United States. That made the Pentagon the aggressor against Iraq once again. The Pentagon killed and injured countless more Iraqis in the process and ended up destroying the entire country under its mantra “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Ninth, once the Pentagon discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction, which was the Pentagon’s excuse for the invasion in the first place, it should have apologized for its “mistake” and come home. Instead, the Pentagon stayed in Iraq for several more years, killing and injuring countless more Iraqis during its occupation and wreaking continued destruction all across the country.

Tenth, the Pentagon’s invasion of Iraq gave rise to ISIS, which the Pentagon used as the excuse for wreaking even more death and destruction, not only in Iraq but also across the Middle East. That’s why the Pentagon is in Iraq today—ostensibly to defeat the entity that the Pentagon brought into existence with its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Evicting the Pentagon from Iraq is the best thing Iraqi officials could do, both for the people of the Middle East and the United States. The Pentagon has wreaked enough death, suffering, and destruction in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. The sooner the Pentagon comes home, the better off everyone will be.

Climate Change / Media / Economy

jane fonda publicity dec 17 Custom

Down With Tyranny! Opinion: Jane Fonda Is Pitching For Our Future. Lend an Ear, Skip Kaltenheuser, Jan. 9, 2020. Even for those already in the climate choir, Jane Fonda’s sermon last month at the National Press Club is well worth the time to read or watch and listen to. I’ve logged loads of press club luncheon speeches over the years. This was one of the finest I’ve heard. Fonda eloquently described how global warming has us up against the wall. Not just the heartfelt delivery one expects from Oscar winners, but the essential substance and slightly wicked wit woven throughout. Send it to those needing motivation to confront the stark realities before us and to act (59 min. video here via C-SPAN and YouTube).

Fonda’s many actions include Fire-drill Fridays, protests for which she temporarily moved to DC in September, at which she’s been arrested a half dozen times. If you’re around Washington, the last drill before her return to acting commitments in L.A. is Jan. 10. Guest speakers include Bill McKibben and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Fonda's speech took no prisoners, calling out a range of climate villains, including Exxon, which over forty years ago knew the truth about the effect of increasing CO2 gases and the short window to address it, and whose executives, when their scientists informed them of the global impacts, replied “This problem is not as significant to mankind as a nuclear holocaust or world famine.”

jane fonda dec.17 npc"And they continued to drill," said Fonda, right. "Exxon, Shell, Mobil, and others knew that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks. So they used the same consultants that the tobacco companies had used to launch a huge communications effort, to develop strategies on how to fool us."

"The difference is that tobacco companies were primarily harming people who smoke. The fossil fuel companies are harming the entire planet and all its inhabitants. The companies not only hid what they knew, a coalition, together with the Koch brothers and other billionaires spent tens of millions of dollars on think tanks, like the Heartland Institute, that promote false science, sowing confusion about global warming, so that people won't try to stop them. Their line was, and continues to be, that the, “Science about climate change is not clear. And even if it were, the fault lies with governments and consumers, not with them.” You see, but the thing is, these oil companies have played a big role in actively stopping governments from enacting clean energy policies, with Exxon leading the way."

That includes Exxon’s undermining the 1998 International Treaty on Climate, the Kyoto Protocol. Fonda points to other bad actors, like the American Petroleum Institute, with its new video, America’s Energy Security: A Generation of Progress at Risk, equating fracking and drilling with patriotism, as Republicans including Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania introduce resolutions to prohibit a President from implementing a unilateral moratorium on fracking, and as the Manhattan Institute, with significant backing from fossil fuels concerns, warns of global recession if the US bans fracking. It won’t shock that Fonda advocates legal consequences for knowing deceptions and environmental damage.

To claims like Toomey’s that American oil and gas production is the only path to energy security, Fonda asks if it’s necessary for energy security, what are we doing shipping it overseas? She quoted Oil Change International that 45% of existing drilling wouldn’t be profitable without taxpayers subsidizing fossil fuels with over $16 billion dollars a year.

She didn’t mention it, but that’s dwarfed by military expenditures underpinning escapades with oil in mind. They arguably include backing Iraq in the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88, the invasions of Iraq, and shoring up the Saudi regime and the UAE and pumping up their ally Israel. Now we’re doing that trio's bidding with a dance in the dark with Iran.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Moves to Exempt Big Projects From Environmental Review, Lisa Friedman, Jan. 9, 2020. The Trump Administration, hoping to speed infrastructure projects like pipelines, will formally introduce changes to a landmark environmental law.

The White House on Thursday introduced major changes to the nation’s benchmark environmental protection law, moving to ease approval of major energy and infrastructure projects without detailed environmental assessment or consideration of climate change.

epa general logoMany of the changes to the law — the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark measure that touches nearly every significant construction project in the country — had been long sought by the oil and gas industry as well as trade unions, which have argued that the review process is lengthy, cumbersome and used by environmental activists to drag out legal disputes and kill infrastructure projects.

Under the law, major federal projects like bridges, highways, pipelines or power plants that will have a significant impact on the environment require an review, or environmental impact statement, outlining potential consequences. The proposed new rules would narrow the range of projects that require such a study and impose strict new deadlines on completing assessments.

World News

australian fires kangaroo nytimes Custom

Kangaroo rushes past a burning house Tuesday in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, Australia (Photo: Matthew Abbott for The New York Times).

washington post logoWashington Post, A billion animals have been caught in Australia’s fires. Some may go extinct, Karin Brulliard and Darryl Fears, Jan. 9, 2020.  Some of the rarest species on Earth are threatened by fires scorching their habitats, scientists warn. Expert says Australian habitats might take centuries to recover — if at all

The mouse-size dunnart is not as iconic as the koalas or platypuses that draw tourists, but it is arguably the most special mammal on Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

Now the Kangaroo Island dunnart’s days may be numbered. Before bush fires struck, it was already endangered, so rare that even researchers who studied them had never seen one. Now they fear they never will. One-third of the 1,700-square-mile island has burned, including the entire area where these dunnarts are known to live.

“One hundred percent — all of our records since 1990 are within the burned fire scar. The entire range of the species has been burned,” said Rosemary Hohnen, an ecologist who spent more than two years surveying the Kangaroo Island dunnart. “They’re in true peril, real peril of extinction.”

Jan. 7

Media News

daniel hopsickerMadcow News, Investigation & Commentary: Paint It Mint, Daniel Hopsicker, right, Jan. 7, 2020. On the eve of war, with breaking news advancing like an electrical storm across the horizon, I was outmaneuvered by an internet troll into promising to explain what I know about a bizarre little Minneapolis news site called MintPress News.

This is that story.

Who stands behind Mint Press, a small Minneapolis-based site with a progressive bent that hides its funding even from employees and has mysterious connections to the Middle East?

Their poking around also establishes the nature of the mystery. The background to the case.

In stories filed with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MinnPost, and the Colombia Journalism Review, journalists on the ground in Minnesota provided most of the following details.

Interviews with former employees and people familiar with the inner workings of Mint Press, they wrote, paint a portrait of a dysfunctional outlet where employees are left in the dark about the site’s sources of funding and are alienated from the Muhawesh family that runs it:

odeh muhawesh CustomMnar Muhawesh, the editor-in-chief, her brother-in-law and managing editor Muhammad Muhawesh, and her father-in-law Odeh Muhawesh, 54, left, a Minneapolis businessman born in Jordan.

They also revealed an agenda that lines up, from its sympathy with the Syrian regime to its hostility to Sunni Saudi Arabia, with that of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where Odeh Muhawesh studied under an ayatollah for five years after the Islamic Revolution, and where he visited as recently as last summer.

A fellow researcher recently discovered information indicating Odeh Muhawesh was part of a government operation with the father of Peter Strzok, the recently-famous and controversial FBI Agent.

Before to the invasion of Iraq by the George W. Bush regime, Muhawesh opened an office as president of Middle East Trading Company, Inc. in Jordan to provide agricultural and developmental projects within Iraq with funding from federal agencies like U.S. AID and the United Nations World Food Progress.

Peter Strzok, Sr. was the former director of humanitarian and development programs throughout the Middle East. Strzok organized a program to send used tractors and other farm equipment to Iraq.

Both Muhawesh and Srtzok’s Dad, himself a former FBI Agent, are affiliated with the Minnesota-based American Refugee Committee, part of a USAID program to distribute relief supplies in Iraq.

If their USAID program wasn’t connected to the CIA, it would likely be the only one operating in country.

 daniel hopsicker barry boys coverJustice Integrity Project Editor's Note: The project has not independently verified the allegations in the investigation above made by Hopsicker, author of Barry and the Boys, whose cover is shown at right, and Welcome To Terrorland. Our project has excerpted columns also by MintPress News, most notably a series of cutting-edge reports by Whitney Webb during the summer of 2019 regarding context for the Jeffrey Epstein scandals. We are seeking reaction from MintPress News and Webb to Hopsicker's report.

Justice Integrity Project, MintPress News Denounces Hopsicker's Claims As Error-Filled 'Smear,' Andrew Kreig, Jan. 13, 2020 (updated). MintPress News Editor-in-Chief Mnar Muhawesh and correspondent Whitney Webb rebutted claims made Madcow News founder Daniel Hopsicker in the column above, describing it as a poorly researched, inaccurate and highly biased "dangerous smear."

Webb, shown below in one of the photos she uses to illustrate her columns, wrote on Twitter on Jan. 8, "Dangerous smear about Mintpress sadly coming from D Hopsicker, who falsely claims that it has 'direct ties' to Iran and whitney webb twitterspecifically Soleimani at a time when the US is about to go to war w Iran and MSM calling Soleimani a 'terrorist'. Clear attempt to get MPN deplatformed."

She wrote also, using the Twitter name @whitneywebb, "Hopsicker also claiming, after looking up the names of my relatives, that my dad worked for the OSS, an agency that was liquidated years before my dad was even born. Hopsicker began to 'investigate"'me after he implied I was a Nazi for merely being an American living in Chile."

"Hopsicker's problem with me,"  Webb continued, "is because I wrote about the links between Epstein and Israeli intel (I also covered his links to US Intel btw). His smears now being promoted by other alt media ppl who think it's impossible that I wrote my Epstein series w/o special help fr a govt."

In another Tweet, she wrote, "Nearly [sic] smear since my Epstein series has come from old men in alt media who are clearly upset that a woman half their age (I'm 30) made connections in that case in a couple of months that they couldn't make for years."

MintPress editor Muhawesh wrote in a separate Tweet, "No mention of my response to BuzzFeed smear & Odeh's role as a tech & HR advisor when I first started MPN. Why didn't Hopsicker mention my actual editorial & other business advisors like Mickey Huff & Kate Madonna. Is it because they are not brown Muslims?"

The MintPress website describes its background and alliances in part as follows: "MintPress News is proud to partner with leading journalism venues and activist sites that work tirelessly to bring attention to social justice issues at home and abroad. These syndication partners include: Shadow Proof, TruthOut, CommonDreams, Media Roots, War Is A Crime, Occupy.com , and several others. Become a MintPress partner! If you’d like to become a syndication or news partner or are simply interested in collaborating on an investigation with MintPress, contact our editor Mnar Muhawesh."

Hopsicker replied with a Jan. 11 Tweet asserting in call capitals, "THE SECOND THING...WHITNEY WEBB DISSOCIATED HERSELF FROM MINT PRESS NEWS YESTERDAY."

Webb responded the same day as follows: "For those asking, this is not even remotely true. I have several reports coming out for Mintpress this week. An absurd smear campaign inventing its own victory lap. Can't make this stuff up."

Jan. 6

Tom Dispatch via Truthdig, Opinion: Trump Threatens Armageddon in Afghanistan, Nick Turse, Jan. 6, 2020. On February 4, 2002, a Predator drone circled over Afghanistan’s Paktia province, near the city of Khost. Below was al-Qaeda’s founder Osama bin Laden — or at least someone in the CIA thought so — and he was marked for death. As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it later, both awkwardly and passively: “A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired.” That air-to-ground, laser-guided missile — designed to obliterate tanks, bunkers, helicopters, and people — did exactly what it was meant to do.

As it happened, though (and not for the first time in its history either), the CIA got it wrong. It wasn’t Osama bin Laden on the receiving end of that strike, or a member of al-Qaeda, or even of the Taliban. The dead, local witnesses reported, were civilians out collecting scrap metal, ordinary people going about their daily work just as thousands of Americans had been doing at the World Trade Center only months earlier when terror struck from the skies.

In the years since, those Afghan scrap collectors have been joined by more than 157,000 war dead in that embattled land. That’s a heavy toll, but represents just a fraction of the body count from America’s post-9/11 wars. According to a study by the Costs of War Project of Brown University’s Watson Institute, as many as 801,000 people, combatants and noncombatants alike, have been killed in those conflicts. That’s a staggering number, the equivalent of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. But if President Donald Trump is to be believed, the United States has “plans” that could bury that grim count in staggering numbers of dead. The “method of war” he suggested employing could produce more than 20 times that number in a single country — an estimated 20 million or more Afghans, almost all of them civilians.

It’s a strange fact of our moment that President Trump has claimed to have “plans” (or “a method”) for annihilating millions of innocent people, possibly most of the population of Afghanistan. Yet those comments of his barely made the news, disappearing within days. Even for a president who threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea and usher in “the end” of Iran, hinting at the possibility of wiping out most of the civilian population of an ally represented something new.

After all, America’s commander-in-chief does have the authority, at his sole discretion, to order the launch of weapons from the vast U.S. nuclear arsenal. So it was no small thing last year when President Trump suggested that he might unleash a “method of war” that would kill at least 54% of the roughly 37 million inhabitants of Afghanistan.

And yet almost no one — in Washington or Kabul — wanted to touch such presidential comments. The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department all demurred. So did the chief spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. One high-ranking Afghan official apologized to me for being unable to respond honestly to President Trump’s comments. A current American official expressed worry that reacting to the president’s Afghan threats might provoke a presidential tweet storm against him and refused to comment on the record.

Experts, however, weren’t shy about weighing in on what such “plans,” if real and utilized, would actually mean. Employing such a method (to use the president’s term), they say, would constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, and possibly a genocide.

Jan. 5

CBS Epstein Probe

michael baden office cbs Custom

The New York City Medical Examiner's Office ruled Epstein's death a suicide by hanging, but a forensic pathologist (shown above in a CBS 60 Minutes screenshot) who observed the four-hour autopsy on behalf of Epstein's brother, Mark, tells 60 Minutes the evidence released so far points more to murder than suicide in his view. Dr. Michael Baden's key reason: the unusual fractures he saw in Epstein's neck.

cbs news logoCBS,>60 Minutes investigates the death of Jeffrey Epstein, Produced by Oriana Zill de Granados, correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi, Jan. 5, 2019. (14:14 mins). 60 Minutes examines the circumstances surrounding his death in a Manhattan federal jail cell. Warning: This report contains graphic images that some viewers may find disturbing. Continued from above.

In July 2019, Jeffrey Epstein, already a convicted sex offender, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors. On August 10, Epstein was found dead in his federal jail cell at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC).

The New York City Medical Examiner's Office ruled Epstein's death a suicide by hanging, but a forensic pathologist who observed the four-hour autopsy on behalf of Epstein's brother, Mark, tells 60 Minutes the evidence released so far points more to murder than suicide in his view. Dr. Michael Baden's key reason: the unusual fractures he saw in Epstein's neck.

"There were fractures of the left, the right thyroid cartilage and the left hyoid bone," Baden said. "I have never seen three fractures like this in a suicidal hanging."

"Going over a thousand jail hangings, suicides in the New York City state prisons over the past 40-50 years, no one had three fractures," Baden said.

The medical examiner's office said it stands "firmly" behind its finding of suicide by hanging, arguing that fractures of the hyoid bone and cartilage can be seen in both suicides and homicides.

Still, questions linger.

Epstein was directing money to be deposited in other inmates' commissary accounts in exchange for protection, sources say, because he feared for his life. But the government says Epstein was suicidal and made his first, failed suicide attempt weeks after he arrived at MCC.

According to a federal indictment, on July 23 Epstein was found "on the floor of his cell with a strip of bedsheet around his neck." The government says it was a failed suicide attempt, but Epstein claimed his cellmate, 52-year-old former police officer Nick Tartaglione, attacked him. Tartaglione, who is accused of murdering four men, denied that and his lawyer says: "Absolutely nothing like that happened." His lawyer also says Tartaglione was cleared by jail officials.

jeffrey epstein new mug cropped july 2019Epstein was put on suicide watch after the incident, but one week later, "at the direction of the MCC's psychological staff," he was taken off suicide watch and "required to have an assigned cellmate."

Epstein (Jeffrey Epstein, seen in a March 28, 2017, image provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry) was moved back to his old unit and assigned a new cellmate, but the night before his death, Epstein's cellmate was released. According to court documents, "no new cellmate was assigned" before he died, even though he was required to have one.

That night, federal prosecutors say, "Epstein was escorted into his cell by Tova Noel at approximately 7:49 p.m." Noel and Michael Thomas, the two guards who were working the overnight shift in Epstein's unit, allegedly didn't check on him again until "shortly after 6:30 a.m." the next morning.

The two guards have been charged with falsifying documents and conspiracy to defraud the federal government. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutors say surveillance video "makes clear" that the guards "search[ed] the internet" and "appear to have been asleep" on their overnight overtime shift. One thing the video may not show, according to sources, is Epstein's cell door and the doors of the other inmates on his unit tier. Sources say the camera that should have captured those angles was corrupted the night of Epstein's death. Epstein's cell was about 15 feet away and up a set of stairs from the guards' station, with a single locked gate between them.

60 Minutes reviewed hundreds of graphic photographs from Epstein's autopsy and inside his cell. There are multiple nooses, a bit of orange sheet tied to the grate of a window. On the top bunk, bottles and medicines stand upright. Below it, another piece of fabric is tied through a hole on the bed about four feet from the ground.

Did Epstein, who was nearly 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, somehow lean in and hang himself from the lower bunk? We don't know.

Dr. Baden, the forensic pathologist hired by Epstein's family, says the noose that was sketched and included in the autopsy report doesn't appear to match the wounds on Epstein's neck. And Baden says, the ligature mark was in the middle of Epstein's neck, not beneath the jawbone, as one would expect in a hanging. Also puzzling to Baden is that Epstein would make a noose out of a bedsheet when wires and cords were present in his cell, as photographs show.

There are not any photos of Epstein's body in his cell, Baden says – he was rushed to an emergency room after guard Michael Thomas found him. But Baden believes, based on the autopsy, Epstein had been dead for two hours by then and he says the scene should have been treated as a crime scene, leaving the body alone. Federal Bureau of Prisons protocol mandates a suicide scene should be treated with the "same level of protection as any crime scene in which a death has occurred."

Baden has taken several controversial positions over his decades-long career.

.And Baden said, at this point, he doesn't have all the information needed to make a final conclusion. The Justice Department told the family, they say, that it won't release the video pertaining to the case and additional forensic testing because of the ongoing criminal case against the two guards on duty the night of Epstein's death.

The charges have also silenced the guards themselves. Michael Thomas's attorney Montell Figgins says Thomas still hasn't spoken to investigators or revealed how he, alone, found Epstein's body, a key piece of information in any death investigation.

One member of the Justice Department who has gone on record about the case is Attorney General William Barr. He told reporters in November he personally reviewed surveillance video that showed nobody entered the area where Epstein was held. Sources say he may be talking about surveillance video above the guard area or at the entrance to the Special Housing Unit. But this remains to be seen as the Department of Justice would not comment to 60 Minutes about which cameras were working that night.

Jan. 4

U.S. Attack In Iraq

washington post logoWashington Post, With missile strike, Trump opts for escalation and a swing at a ‘hornets’ nest,’ Joby Warrick and William Branigin, Jan. 4, 2020 (print ed.). Trump administration officials described the fiery attack as a defensive measure intended to disrupt Iranian plans to kill qasem soleimani with zolfaghar orderU.S. diplomats or service members overseas.

But current and former U.S. officials said the United States almost certainly will face retaliatory strikes for the killing of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, as well as a heightened risk of a wider regional conflict, which U.S. administrations previously had sought to avoid.

washington post logoWashington Post, At Baghdad funeral procession for Qasem Soleimani, calls for retaliation against U.S., Mustafa Salim, Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck​, Jan. 4, 2020  Thousands joined the ceremonies on Saturday for Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia leader. “We will take our revenge,” some chanted.

Iran has vowed to retaliate against the United States for the killing of Soleimani, Tehran’s most powerful military commander, and the Trump administration has said it is sending thousands of new troops to the Middle East. The looming confrontation has left the region bracing for an escalation of violence, and Iraq, caught between its allies in Tehran and Washington, fears the country will be at the center of the storm.

An Iranian commander quoted by the Tasnim News Agency on Saturday suggested that dozens of American facilities and military assets in the Middle East were at risk, along with Israel, a key U.S. ally.

washington post logoWashington Post, Why Soleimani’s killing is different from other targeted attacks by U.S., Siobhán O'Grady, Jan. 4, 2020. After the killing of Soleimani, the United States could face direct Iranian reprisals, including potential cyberattacks, analysts said. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened “severe revenge” but gave no indication of what could come.

Barbara Slavin, the director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said Trump is “trying to do a victory lap here and beat his chest and somehow show this is like killing Baghdadi.” She was referring to the October raid on the hideout of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. “But it’s not. It’s much more serious,” she said.

Like Baghdadi’s, other targeted killings carried out by the United States have typically struck at extremist leaders without affiliations to a powerful state such as Iran.

Jan. 3

World News qassem soleimani exploded car Custom 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Iran vows revenge after U.S. drone strike kills elite force commander, Louisa Loveluck​​, Jan. 3, 2019. The death of Quds qasem soleimani with zolfaghar orderForce commander Qasem Soleimani, right, could plunge the region into a new cycle of violence. His death in the wreckage of a two-car convoy (shown above) in Baghdad left U.S. outposts bracing for retaliation.

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq warned its citizens to leave “immediately.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he discussed the operation afterward with British and Chinese officials, telling them that “the U.S. remains committed to de-escalation.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Attack at Baghdad Airport Is Major Escalation in U.S.-Iran Conflict, Michael Crowley, Falih Hassan and Eric Schmitt, Jan. 3, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump ordered the killing of the powerful commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, right, in a drone strike on the Baghdad International Airport early Friday, American officials said.

“General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “General Suleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the statement added. “The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.” (More detail below.)

washington post logoIran FlagWashington Post, Why Iraq is at the center of the dispute between Iran and U.S., Adam Taylor​, Jan. 3, 2019. The location of this round of violence shows how Iraq is again stuck in the middle of the dispute between the United States and Iran — a dangerous place for a country still reeling from years of dictatorship, war and extremism.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Soleimani coordinated the battle against ISIS in Iraq with U.S. and its allies, Wayne Madsen, Jan. 3, 2020. It was less than five years ago that U.S. troops in Iraq were coordinating with Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and members of his elite Al Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attacks on the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq. The Al Quds Force is the foreign expeditionary arm of the IRGC.

A 2015 photograph showed Soleimani [circled] in Tikrit, the hometown of the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, along with U.S., Iraqi government, British, and French forces, as well as members of the Iraqi Shi'a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). During the battle with ISIL, Soleimani also coordinated operations against the Saudi-backed jihadist forces with Pershmerga paramilitary forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq.

Consortium News, Opinion: VIPS MEMO: Doubling Down Into Yet Another ‘March of Folly,’ This Time on Iran, Jan. 3, 2020. “We write with a sense of urgency suggesting you avoid doubling down on catastrophe,” Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tells Donald Trump in its latest memo to the president.

The drone assassination in Iraq of Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani evokes memory of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914, which led to World War I. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to warn of “severe revenge.” That Iran will retaliate at a time and place of its choosing is a near certainty. And escalation into World War III is no longer just a remote possibility, particularly given the multitude of vulnerable targets offered by our large military footprint in the region and in nearby waters.

What your advisers may have avoided telling you is that Iran has not been isolated. Quite the contrary. One short week ago, for example, Iran launched its first joint naval exercises with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman, in an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. in the region.

It is time to call a spade a spade. The country expecting to benefit most from hostilities between Iran and the U.S. is Israel (with Saudi Arabia in second place). As you no doubt are aware, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life. He continues to await from you the kind of gift that keeps giving. Likewise, it appears that you, your son-in-law, and other myopic pro-Israel advisers are as susceptible to the influence of Israeli prime ministers as was former President George W. Bush. Some commentators are citing your taking personal responsibility for providing Iran with a casus belli as unfathomable. Looking back just a decade or so, we see a readily distinguishable pattern.

Consortium News, Opinion: US Kick Starts Raging ’20s Declaring War on Iran, Pepe Escobar, Jan. 3, 2020. Iraq is the preferred battleground of a proxy war against Iran that may now metastasize into hot war, with devastating consequences.

Consortium News, Opinion: Qassem Suleimani Air Strike Escalates US Assassination Policy, Luca Trenta, Jan. 3, 2020. The killing of the Iranian general signals an escalation in the U.S. policy of assassination and targeted killing, says Luca Trenta.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: For Trump, a Risky Gamble to Deter Iran, David E. Sanger, Jan. 3, 2020. American officials have no doubt the I