DC Reporters Frolic With Celebrities, President, Financiers

OpEd News, What's so funny Mr. President? Michael Collins, April 29, 2013. The president and the mainstream media, along with the capital in-crowd, celebrate their wonderfulness each year at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. The format consists of an invited comedian who pokes fun at the president and press with some shtick from the current leader of the free world.  The event is by invitation only, no common folk allowed. After watching the dinner on C-Span, I have just one question. What's so funny Mr. President?  The president will never be asked that question. But if just one of those White House correspondents hosting the event had the courage, the answer would be in two parts. How can the president and the press get together and yuck it up when we're in such a dreadful state of affairs. The nation is in an economic dead calm. Millions of jobs left the country in the past decade, probably for good. Many more jobs were lost due to the ongoing recession. Not many were created to take their place, unless we count minimum wage jobs at Walmart (with benefits from Medicaid).

Gawker, Ex-CIA Agent Denies Rumors of Ties to Ruslan, Staff report, April 28, 2013. Graham Fuller, a retired CIA officer whose daughter was briefly married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Uncle Ruslan), has come out and flatly denied any CIA connection to the Tsarnaev's, calling the allegations “absurd.” Fuller's daughter, Samantha, was married to Ruslan from the mid-to-late 1990's, before divorcing. Ruslan lived with the retired CIA officer in Maryland for a year, but Fuller saw no interest in politics, policy, or the CIA, from Ruslan. "Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics," Fuller wrote in an email to Al-Monitor. “I doubt he even had much to say of intelligence value other than talking about his own family’s sad tale of deportation from Chechnya by Stalin to Central Asia,” Fuller wrote. “Every Chechen family has such stories.” The story of the Tsarnaev family, which is still being hashed out through media and family interviews (as well as government reports and suspicions about the family), is an especially complicated one that bridges the immediately post-Soviet era to the present-day "War on Terror." Juan Cole traces the Tsarnaevs flight from Russia to the fact that Anzor Tsarnaev (the father of the alleged bombers) had been a prosecutor for the Soviet prosecutor's office — an unpopular position among ethnic Chechens.

Al-Monitor, Former CIA officer: ‘Absurd’ to link uncle of Boston suspects, Agency, Laura Rozen, April 27, 2013. Retired CIA officer Graham Fuller, left, confirmed to Al-Monitor Saturday that his daughter was previously married to an uncle of the suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks, but called rumors of any links between the uncle and the Agency “absurd.” Graham Fuller’s daughter, Samantha A. Fuller, was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (now Tsarni) in the mid-1990s, and divorced in 1999, according to North Carolina public records. The elder Fuller had retired from the agency almost a decade before the brief marriage. “Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,” Fulller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. Fuller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. “They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe....I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND,” Fuller continued.

OpEd News, What's so funny Mr. President? Michael Collins, April 29, 2013. The president and the mainstream media, along with the capital in-crowd, celebrate their wonderfulness each year at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. The format consists of an invited comedian who pokes fun at the president and press with some shtick from the current leader of the free world.  The event is by invitation only, no common folk allowed. After watching the dinner on C-Span, I have just one question. What's so funny Mr. President?  The president will never be asked that question. But if just one of those White House correspondents hosting the event had the courage, the answer would be in two parts. How can the president and the press get together and yuck it up when we're in such a dreadful state of affairs. The nation is in an economic dead calm. Millions of jobs left the country in the past decade, probably for good. Many more jobs were lost due to the ongoing recession. Not many were created to take their place, unless we count minimum wage jobs at Walmart (with benefits from Medicaid).

Gawker, Ex-CIA Agent Denies Rumors of Ties to Ruslan, Staff report, April 28, 2013. Graham Fuller, a retired CIA officer whose daughter was briefly married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Uncle Ruslan), has come out and flatly denied any CIA connection to the Tsarnaev's, calling the allegations “absurd.” Fuller's daughter, Samantha, was married to Ruslan from the mid-to-late 1990's, before divorcing. Ruslan lived with the retired CIA officer in Maryland for a year, but Fuller saw no interest in politics, policy, or the CIA, from Ruslan. "Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics," Fuller wrote in an email to Al-Monitor. “I doubt he even had much to say of intelligence value other than talking about his own family’s sad tale of deportation from Chechnya by Stalin to Central Asia,” Fuller wrote. “Every Chechen family has such stories.” The story of the Tsarnaev family, which is still being hashed out through media and family interviews (as well as government reports and suspicions about the family), is an especially complicated one that bridges the immediately post-Soviet era to the present-day "War on Terror." Juan Cole traces the Tsarnaevs flight from Russia to the fact that Anzor Tsarnaev (the father of the alleged bombers) had been a prosecutor for the Soviet prosecutor's office — an unpopular position among ethnic Chechens.

Cole writes:

    ‘We were,’ she [the aunt of the suspects] said, ‘lucky to get him out of Kyrgyzstan alive,’ presumably because radical Muslims were trying to track him down and take revenge on him there.

    If he had been a Soviet era prosecutor, a lot of people in Kyrgyzstan would have had a grudge with him. Hence his abortive attempts to flee first to Chechnya in the early 90s and to Daghestan later.

Cole hypothesizes that the two brothers, especially the older Tamerlan, were ashamed of their father's role in the Soviet repression of ethnic Chechens and were looking to rebel against their father. Thus, he considers, the dissonance between the father and sons, the radicalization of the brothers as they searched for an identity.

The Tsarnaev's straddled several different worlds — ones that got them put on government watch lists, and into the homes of retired CIA officers; Ones where they were hounded by religious fundamentalists, and ones where they became them. As the press and authorities begin to sift through the family's stories, they're going to find contradictions and dissonance in a family that has seen the world change, drastically, in the past 20 years.

Backchannel / Al-Monitor, Former CIA officer: ‘Absurd’ to link uncle of Boston suspects, Agency, Laura Rozen, April 27, 2013. Retired CIA officer Graham Fuller confirmed to Al-Monitor Saturday that his daughter was previously married to an uncle of the suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks, but called rumors of any links between the uncle and the Agency “absurd.” Graham Fuller’s daughter, Samantha A. Fuller, was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (now Tsarni) in the mid-1990s, and divorced in 1999, according to North Carolina public records. The elder Fuller had retired from the agency almost a decade before the brief marriage. “Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,” Fulller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. “I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND,” Fuller continued.

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Related News Coverage

News Media Trends and Cases

SFGate, Worst job in America: Newspaper reporter, Staff report, April 23, 2013. After declining dramatically during the recession, newspapers are expected to continue losing jobs at a rate of 6 percent per year through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. CareerCast said the job's grim outlook, shrinking budgets, stressful deadlines, lack of income growth and low pay made this the worst job in America. Median salary is $36,000.

New York Times, Conservative Koch Brothers Turning Focus to Newspapers, Amy Chozick, April 20, 2013. Three years ago, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and supporters of libertarian causes, held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo. They laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes. The first two pieces of the strategy — educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics — were not surprising, given the money they have given to policy institutes and political action groups. But the third one was: media. Other than financing a few fringe libertarian publications, the Kochs have mostly avoided media investments. Now, Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. The papers, valued at roughly $623 million, would be a financially diminutive deal for Koch Industries, the energy and manufacturing conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenue of about $115 billion. Politically, however, the papers could serve as a broader platform for the Kochs’ laissez-faire ideas.

MSNBC, For whistleblowers, fraying protection, Joseph Wilson and Danielle Brian, April 24, 2013. This piece was co-written by Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Ten years ago this week, advocates, funders, journalists and citizens gathered in an effort to champion the rights of whistleblowers, people who come forward with information about alleged dishonest or illegal activities. It seemed like protection for whistleblowers was nearing a turning point: only the year before, Time magazine had heralded whistleblowers on their cover as “Person of the Year.” In short, we saw a brighter future for truth-tellers, and genuine progress on an issue central to American democracy. But sadly, ten years later, we fear that we may have, in fact, lost ground. The Ridenhour Prizes, founded by Randy Fertel and former president of The Nation Institute Hamilton Fish, was named for one of the most courageous truth-tellers in recent American history: Ron Ridenhour, who exposed the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam and went on to become an award-winning investigative journalist. Sadly, as these awards have thrived, prosecutions of so-called “leakers” have as well. Arguably, national security whistleblowers face greater personal risk now than at the height of the Bush administration. The secrecy that Ridenhour sought to expose still shrouds our democracy: engaging in war based on lies. Torturing detainees. Holding enemy combatants without due process. Keeping secret the interpretations of law that justify targeted killings. Few people are willing to come forward to stop these unconstitutional acts. Given the risks, can we blame them?

Huffington Post, Michael Calderone and Matt Sledge, Obama Whistleblower Prosecutions Lead To Chilling Effect On Press, April 16, 2013. On April 9, McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay reported that the Obama administration has “targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants” in drone strikes, a revelation that contradicts previous administration claims of pursuing only senior-level operatives who pose an imminent threat to the United States. It was an investigative story clearly in the public interest, shedding new light on the government’s long-running targeted-killing program in Pakistan. But now Landay, a veteran national security reporter for the McClatchy newspaper chain, is concerned that the Obama administration could next investigate him in hopes of finding the sources for “top-secret U.S. intelligence reports” cited in the story. “Do I think that they could come after me?” Landay asked, in an interview with the Huffington Post. “Yes.” “I can tell you that people who normally would meet with me, sort of in a more relaxed atmosphere, are on pins and needles,” Landay said of the reporting climate during the Obama years, a period of unprecedented whistleblower prosecutions. The crackdown on leaks, he added, seems “deliberately intended to have a chilling effect.” Landay isn’t alone in that assessment, as several investigative journalists attest in War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State, a timely documentary directed by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation that premieres this week in New York and Washington. The film details the ordeals of four whistleblowers who turned to the press in order to expose waste or illegality.

Washington Post, Portrait of a Faded American Dream, Marc Fisher with 11 colleagues reporting, April 28, 2013 (print edition). America, the golden door, had already welcomed two of his brothers when Anzor Tsarnaev crossed the ocean with his family in 2002. Anzor’s brother Ruslan, who had immigrated just a few years earlier, already had a law degree and was on his way to an executive job and a six-figure salary. And at first, Anzor, his wife, Zubeidat, and their two sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, seemed as energetic and brimming with initiative as their relatives had been. Anzor, a mechanic, fixed up cars. His wife turned a cut-rate apartment in affluent Cambridge into an improvised salon, offering facials at attractive prices. The boys — who authorities believe are the Boston Marathon bombers, responsible for killing four people and injuring more than 250 — took to their new home with gusto. The older one, Tamerlan, was sociable, even showy, dressing sharply, honing his body to become an Olympic boxer. He married an American WASP, daughter of a well-to-do Rhode Island family.

American Free Press, James P. Tucker, Jr., ‘Bilderberg Hound,’ Dies at 78, Michael Collins Piper, April 27, 2013. James P. Tucker, Jr. (1934 – 2013), right, famed Bilderberg Hound, author of Jim Tucker’s Bilderberg Diary, passed away yesterday due to complications he suffered following a fall. A proper tribute to Tucker will rendered next week when the front page of American Free Press newspaper will be dedicated to Jim. Please read his obituary below and listen to the last interview Tucker gave AFP prior to his passing.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Military and International Intrigues

Washington Post, U.S. military should put religious freedom at the front; What must stop is the concept that America needs to conquer the world for Christ, Sally Quinn, April 26, 2013. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is worried about the Pentagon budget, but there are much more serious issues he must deal with. Religious proselytizing and sexual assault are at the top of the list. “The armed forces are on the verge of falling apart,” Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told me in an interview. Aside from proselytizing, he said, other problems include “sexual assault, suicides, lowering entrance standards and war weariness. They are in trouble, and the leadership is oblivious.” Sexual assault and proselytizing, according to Wilkerson, “are absolutely destructive of the bonds that keep soldiers together.” Wilkerson was speaking to me in an interview with former ambassador Joe Wilson and the head of the private Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein. They were on their way to a meeting at the Pentagon on April 23 where they would discuss religious issues in a group that included several generals and a military chaplain. The chaplain’s role, according to Wilson, “is to minister to spiritual needs. You don’t proselytize. It’s a workplace violation.” Weinstein told me after the Pentagon meeting that military leaders need to understand that “there is systematic misogyny, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the military.” He said it is all part of the same culture.

Guardian, The Same Motive for Anti-US 'Terrorism' Is Cited Over and Over, Ignoring the role played by US actions is dangerously self-flattering and self-delusional, Glenn Greenwald, April 24, 2013. It is vital to understand why there are so many people who want to attack the US as opposed to, say, Peru, or South Africa, or Brazil, or Mexico, or Japan, or Portugal. It's vital for two separate reasons. First, some leading American opinion-makers love to delude themselves and mislead others into believing that the US is attacked despite the fact that it is peaceful, peace-loving, freedom-giving and innocent. Second, it's crucial to understand this causation because it's often asked "what can we do to stop Terrorism?" The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the polices in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence. There seems to be this pervasive belief in the US that we can invade, bomb, drone, kill, occupy, and tyrannize whomever we want, and that they will never respond. That isn't how human affairs function and it never has been.April 22

Huffington Post, Distinguished Warfare Medal Honoring Drone Pilots Canceled By Chuck Hagel, Amanda Terkel, April 15, 2013. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has canceled the creation of a controversial new medal that would have honored drone pilots and cyber warriors, after veterans organizations and members of Congress expressed outrage that it would outrank some battlefield medals like the Purple Heart. The Distinguished Warfare Medal was approved in February by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, intended to honor members of the military for achievements beyond the battlefield since Sept. 11, 2001. The backlash to the medal centered around the fact that it would have taken precedence over several traditional combat awards, which require that the recipient risk his or her life in order to receive them. (The White House photo at left shows, from left to right, Panetta, Hagel, Obama and CIA Director John Brennan at the nomination ceremony earlier this year for Hagel and Brennan.)

Washington Post, Guantanamo dogged by new controversy after mishandling of e-mails, Peter Finn, April 11, 2013. The military justice system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been dogged by charges of secret monitoring of proceedings and defense communications, became embroiled in a fresh controversy Thursday when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of defense e-mails were turned over to the prosecution. The breach prompted Col. Karen Mayberry, the chief military defense counsel, to order all attorneys for Guantanamo detainees to stop using Defense Department computer networks to transmit privileged or confidential information until the security of such communications is assured. Army Col. James Pohl, the chief judge at Guantanamo, also ordered a two-month delay in pre­trial proceedings in the military-commission case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of organizing the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

The Real News,

, Paul Jay, April 11, 2013. (Video: 20:41 min.)  Michael Ratner: Kissinger files show important role Wikileaks continues to play revealing real history of US foreign policy; Judge makes one decision favorable to Manning, one not.

OpEd News, What's so funny Mr. President? Michael Collins, April 29, 2013. The president and the mainstream media, along with the capital in-crowd, celebrate their wonderfulness each year at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. The format consists of an invited comedian who pokes fun at the president and press with some shtick from the current leader of the free world.  The event is by invitation only, no common folk allowed. After watching the dinner on C-Span, I have just one question. What's so funny Mr. President?  The president will never be asked that question. But if just one of those White House correspondents hosting the event had the courage, the answer would be in two parts. How can the president and the press get together and yuck it up when we're in such a dreadful state of affairs. The nation is in an economic dead calm. Millions of jobs left the country in the past decade, probably for good. Many more jobs were lost due to the ongoing recession. Not many were created to take their place, unless we count minimum wage jobs at Walmart (with benefits from Medicaid).

Gawker, Ex-CIA Agent Denies Rumors of Ties to Ruslan, Staff report, April 28, 2013. Graham Fuller, a retired CIA officer whose daughter was briefly married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Uncle Ruslan), has come out and flatly denied any CIA connection to the Tsarnaev's, calling the allegations “absurd.” Fuller's daughter, Samantha, was married to Ruslan from the mid-to-late 1990's, before divorcing. Ruslan lived with the retired CIA officer in Maryland for a year, but Fuller saw no interest in politics, policy, or the CIA, from Ruslan. "Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics," Fuller wrote in an email to Al-Monitor. “I doubt he even had much to say of intelligence value other than talking about his own family’s sad tale of deportation from Chechnya by Stalin to Central Asia,” Fuller wrote. “Every Chechen family has such stories.” The story of the Tsarnaev family, which is still being hashed out through media and family interviews (as well as government reports and suspicions about the family), is an especially complicated one that bridges the immediately post-Soviet era to the present-day "War on Terror." Juan Cole traces the Tsarnaevs flight from Russia to the fact that Anzor Tsarnaev (the father of the alleged bombers) had been a prosecutor for the Soviet prosecutor's office — an unpopular position among ethnic Chechens.

Al-Monitor, Former CIA officer: ‘Absurd’ to link uncle of Boston suspects, Agency, Laura Rozen, April 27, 2013. Retired CIA officer Graham Fuller, left, confirmed to Al-Monitor Saturday that his daughter was previously married to an uncle of the suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks, but called rumors of any links between the uncle and the Agency “absurd.” Graham Fuller’s daughter, Samantha A. Fuller, was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (now Tsarni) in the mid-1990s, and divorced in 1999, according to North Carolina public records. The elder Fuller had retired from the agency almost a decade before the brief marriage. “Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,” Fulller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. Fuller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. “They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe....I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND,” Fuller continued.

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