'Justice' Should Be More Than A Fancy Word

A little over three decades ago, I enrolled in an international law course at Yale Law School taught by the school's former dean, Eugene Rostow, who had been a prominent government official as well as eminent scholar in the field.

I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn in such a setting. Yet I substituted another seminar after the first day's readings and lecture. That sample suggested to me, perhaps incorrectly, that the course might turn out to be a prolonged study of the word-smithing to justify "might makes right" rationalizations. Many students have high hopes of enduring keys to neutral principles of law. It struck me that the studies were best oriented for those on the fast-track to power, and were unlikely to be practical for someone of my circumstances. 

Several momentous global events this week remind me of that decision, as does the publication today of my new book, Presidential Puppetry. The 350-page historical study (with another 150 pages of notes and sources) had its genesis in several of the injustices that we have explored for years on these pages.

One was the federal prosecution on bogus corruption charges of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who is currently serving a long prison sentence for an obvious frame-up based on his 1999 request to a wealthy man to donate to a non-profit group. Such travesties led me to chronicle in Puppetry a century of presidential decision-making that benefits a hidden elite regardless of what would appear to be "the law."

I'll describe the book more completely soon in a separate announcement.

For now, Independence Day is an apt time for reflection on the Constitution and freedom. Major news events this week illustrate the fragility of our freedoms and rule of law. These freedoms are easy for us to take for granted while they erode. In watching the fireworks on an evening like tonight, how often do we think of the original terror of the War of 1812 -- or that in the nations like Syria currently devastated by war? Our protections might not completely disappear so that we would all notice -- especially with all of the sexy entertainment and other distractions available to us. The true danger is that freedoms will continue to evaporate in a process largely unseen or unrecorded, except in the horrid experiences of victims.

The topics below include:

  • The arrogant, undemocratic and near-lawless culture becoming more apparent on the U.S. Supreme Court as it concluded its 2012-13 term last week.
  • Politicization of the Justice Department as it pursues cases applying different criteria according to the clout and other status of the targets.
  • Arbitrary United States rationales to increase arms deliveries to Syrian rebels, thereby increasing devastation in the civil war in apparant violation of international law.
  • Hypocrisy and arguably lawbreaking in U.S. surveillance on the American public. The Flickr photo above right shows German protesters against spying wearing masks of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.
  • Assaults on "Economic justice," such as doubling on July 1 the interest rate paid by millions of young people for their student loans.

These are big, complex topics. My treatment below emphazes novel perspectives overlooked by the mainstream media. That runs a risk of hubris or other error. But we should not let a desire for ultimate knowledge and wisdom thwart, in the interim, any discussion. To be clear, I wish I could have continued at Yale with the Rostow course. If so perhaps my discussion below would be more informed. Instead, I transferred to a Yale seminar on problem solving in the "Tragic Choices" societies face. Several times a month, I apply valuable lessons from that course on matters large and small. Also, I audited another course that semester on electronic media law, which provided a footing for my later career in the field in Washington. We can only do what we can each day, including an exchange of ideas as follows.

In that spirit:

Supreme Court. As the court finished its annual term, most public attention focused on two decisions. One was the court's 5-4 party line decision by the Republican majority to overturn the 1960s Voting Rights Act. The act enabled special Justice Department Review for major changes in voting laws enacted by the former slave-holding states in the South that had resisted black voting in modern times. The court's Republicans ruled that the reviews were no longer necessary even though Congress had reauthorized the reviews in 2006 by a 98-0 Senate vote and a 390-33 House vote. The majority also downplayed evidence that Republican-led Southern states (like several Northern states) were fear-mongering about nearly non-existent "voting fraud" to impose harsh new voter ID requirements that had the effect of limiting black, poor, and other traditionally Democratic-leaning voter groups.

In sum, the court's decision illustrated the power of a radically activist, result-oriented majority. Despite claims by the jurists while seeking confirmation that they deferred to Congress, the majority clearly substituting their personal judgments and political agendas in place of the votes of overwhelming majorities in Congress. This is a lawless body, and that includes the so-called "liberals" who enable the misconduct by acquiescence.

The court's second headline decisions involved votes to overturn the 1990s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thereby enabling gay marriage in states that enacted such laws. The two decisions with divided majorities were notable for, among other things, similarly replacing votes in Congress and also a rant by the court's longest-serving justice, Republican Antonin Scalia. He illustrated yet again that he feels entitled to make court decisions according to his personal ideology with only a patina of legal reasoning, despite his scholarly credentials. Scalia's Republican colleague, Samuel Alito, further demonstrated the sense of entitlement pervasive among the court's lifetime appointees when he used facial expressions to mock Justice Ruth Ginsberg while she was reading a dissenting opinion he disliked in a separate case. The spectacle illustrated yet again how the court's members function in significant part as unelected and unaccountable activist legislators despite their pretensions of objectivity and rule of law.

Justice Department Politicization

Several lower court judgments, mostly endorsed by the Justice Department, underscored how much the justice system depends on whether prosecutors want to enforce laws in a neutral manner of like punishment for like crime.

Among the more striking examples: White House National Intelligence Director James Clapper admitted that he misled Congress when he testified in March that any collections of domestic data were inadvertent. Clapper apologized July 3 for what was called his 'erroneous' answer on NSA surveillance that was exposed as a lie by a long history news reports, most dramatically those in June occasioned by the leaks of the former NSA contractor Snowden. Clapper, a retired former lieutenant general, explained that he had given lawmakers the “least untruthful answer possible.”

Some of those our Project has sympathetically profiled because of their disproportionate punishment include Hollywood film director John McTiernan, left, and former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Both Republicans (proving that party label does not necessarily provide preference) they have served long prison sentences initiated by the Bush administration for far less important mistatements than Clapper's, delivered in far less public or otherwise official circumstances. McTiernan, director of several Hollywood blockbuster movies, is serving a year in prison for essentially a one-word misleading comment to an FBI agent who phoned McTiernan at home. Prosecutors seemingly wanted to nail them for maximum punishment for reasons outside the scope of the indictment. Kerik was bulldozed into a guilty plea under more complicated circumstances but also highly unfair under close examination.

Another example of disproportionate sentences involves those who deleted information from their computers. A federal judge imposed a one-day jail sentence last month on former Bush administration Special Counsel Scott Bloch, right, who had lied to Congress and also ordered three computers wiped clean of material from his office computer that had been sought by investigators. Bloch had been notorious in the whistleblower community for using his office to thwart precisely the kinds of investigations it was supposed to advance. By contrast, Charles Spadoni, a Connecticut lawyer who deleted in 1999 several files when he feared his boss might come under investigation for bribery, is finishing up a prison sentence this summer after 14 years of often-successful litigation fighting in his case. But he could not in the end overcome the relentless pressure of a DOJ determined to crucify him for a far less serious offense than Bloch's by most reasonable standards. The big difference? Bloch was a member of the informal fraternity of "law-enforcers."

Finally, a Virginia federal judge ruled in June that United States courts have no jurisdiction over CACI International, a Virginia contractor implicated in the torture and other mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq between 2003 and 2004. The ruling, along with a similar one exempting another contractor from liability for the rape, torture and kidnapping of one of its American employees in Iraq, underscored court complicity in essentially exempting from liability anywhere in the world the activities of the powerful defense companies who increasingly implement American foreign policy and exert powerful de facto control over all branches of American government because of their taxpayer-funded financial clout and essential role in running core government operations.

Syria's Civil War & Egyptian Coup

Zbigniew Brzezinski was the top foreign policy advisor to the 2008 Obama campaign and also held Cabinet rank as President Carter's National Security Advisor. He gave an illuminating interview last month in which he described President Obama's support for Syria's rebels as lacking a sound rationale. "I still do not understand why," he told his interviewer, "we concluded somewhere back in 2011 or 2012—an election year, incidentally—that [Syria President Bashar] Assad should go." Brzezinski, right, is now a counselor and trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is not simply a high-official but widely regarded as the best-connected and most influential Democrat to the inner circle of elite power brokers. He co-founded with David Rockefeller the Trilateral Commission, for example. It is extraordinary for him to diss something so important as Obama's decision to support Syria's rebels.

Brzezinski is not alone. A number of commentators have pointed out that the United States and NATO allies have been helping tyranical Gulf monarchies overthrow a sovereign government in Syria with scant claim of justification under international law. Reports of Hezbollah and Iranian troops helping Assad are rarely matched in the West or Gulf states by even-handed reports of how many of the "rebels" are non-Syrian jihadists recruited from around the world to intervene in Syria's affairs to create a religious state.

The recent claim of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government, or "regime" as the Western press describes it, does not qualify legally as a rationale under recognized doctrines, especially when the evidence is so modest and subject to manipulation as "false flag" concoction. More generally, independent commentators increasingly note that removal of Assad would likely lead to even greater killing and lack of freedom. Such Gulf monarchies as Qatar and Saudi Arabia are leading the arms smuggling and recruitment of foreign fighters to aid the rebellion. Yet their own countries are not democracies, and they are supporting rebels who want Syria run under similar strict Islamist law.

Assad gloated July 3 that the Egyptian military's ouster the nation's Muslim Brotherhood president vindicated the Syrian government’s two-year fight against rebels, which his government calls terrorists sustained by jihadists from more than 40 nations. Assad, left, in an interview with the pro-government Al Thawra newspaper, said the fall of Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, proved that Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood are unfit to rule in the Mideast.

Surveillance Scandals

Nearly a month after Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian first broke the surveillance revelations of Snowden, the former NSA contractor, it's useful to put them into brief context. First, the documents and headlines merely confirmed to a wider audience what experts had been saying for years. Snowden's daring revelations, mainstream treatment by the Guardian and then Barton Gellman of the Washington Post confronted the public with the reality that communications are being swept up en masse and stored in ways once regarded as impossible in a democracy.

Yet many in the establishment media, some of whose owners are deeply implicated in the surveillance via their relationships with social media companies and otherwise, have triviliazed the disclosures by turning the story into a personality-driven focus on Snowden and subsequent manhunt for his capture. That is far more acceptable for reporters and owners alike than challenging government officials.

Critics largely confined to blogs have more disturbing commentaries about the collapse of law revealed by the records retention. Far more important than Snowden's character or future are the implications for the public. Government intelligence personnel and the private contractors that run much of the systems can retrieve personal records for unworthy goals.

Some critics argue the real targets of the surveillance are not "terrorists" but instead the law-abiding domestic populations of the United States and allied countries. These reports document how data is available for such illicit purposes as political influence at elections or intimidation. Another use is commercial advantage for private contractors who operate with little effective oversight, as indicated by Snowden's ability to obtain huge amounts of information without a college degree and just three months on the job with one of the most influential and prestigious contractors, Booz Allen Hamilton, which is owned by the uber-powerful Carlyle Group.

Former Wall Street Journal associate editor Paul Craig Roberts, a longtime conservative scholar, has been one of the most outspoken critics. In Stasi In The White House, Roberts wrote of Obama: "He has destroyed U.S. civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. In place of a government accountable to law, he has turned law into a weapon in the hands of the government. He has intimidated a free press and prosecutes whistleblowers who reveal his government's crimes. He makes no objection when American police brutalize peacefully protesting citizens. His government intercepts and stores in National Security Agency computers every communication of every American and also the private communications of Europeans and Canadians, including the communications of the members of the governments, the better to blackmail those with secrets." But Roberts, like most who have strong criticism of both parties and their powerful Wall Street backers, is in effect confined totally to alternative media these days after a lifetime of eminent positions in academia, government, and business.

As Roberts accurately notes, the Justice Department has criminalized reporting on such matters by initiating spy investigations of whistleblowers and some reporters, while intimidating many other journalistic organizations by threatening expensive legal action. Another tactic is to appeal to patriotism or secret law to stifle stories. Additionally, all establishment journalists face loss of access to officials (which can lead to loss of job in extreme but hard to prove ways.

As a result of these factors, many of the more aggressive reporters have faced professional attacks of intimidation threatening their livelihood and instilling a chilling effect on the public's ability to obtain news. New York Times national security reporter James Risen, who has undergone years of federal intimidation and litigation, told a conference in 2012 that is impossible to have a democracy is if large segments of government are off limits to independent reporting. Since then federal authorities have been exposed as undertaking secret surveillance of more than 100 Associated Press reporters and suggesting that Fox News reporter Jamie Rosen might be a criminal suspect for aiding and abetting a leak.

That got the attention of the establishment media organizations. But far more serious are the attacks on independent journalists who undertake much of the most important reporting. Greenwald, for example, has been not so subtly undermined by fellow reporters.

Former Navy intelligence analyst and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen, left, this week underwent far worse attacks. After the Observer, one of the UK's leading newspapers, featured him June 30 as a commentator on a Sunday front-page analysis shown at right, a vicious smear campaign attacked him, the story and the newspaper. This prompted the newspaper to cave-in by pulling the story from late editions and integrating its findings into other coverage.

Not content with that success, the network apparently consisting of ultra-right military and media ideologues sought to smear Madsen so that he would be further tarnished as a commentator for future stories and otherwise in his career as a pundit and author.

For context, Madsen invites controversy by writing cutting-edge commentaries and investigative reports about leaders of all major parties, as well as about prominent individuals on both the right and left. Sometimes his exposes break allegations of sex scandal and blackmail in ways impossible to verify unless sworn testimony were required from all involved. He is more than willing to ramp up feuds in print and otherwise by unleashing his inner Don Rickles in a manner more akin to private Friars Club encounters than the tamer fare on television. In sum, he is fair game for a certain level of criticism.

But what happened to him over the last few days was extraordinary for several reasons. As critics noted, the attacks resulted in a major paper dropping a story. Furthermore, the attacks on close examination have roots in a sub-rosa network with a history of censoring the media, including the 2004 set-up and ouster of CBS Anchor Dan Rather and his team, as I report in my book.

Most important, the main allegations against Madsen this week were transparently bogus but accepted as fact by mainstream publications. I played closer attention to this than most, in part because Madsen helped me in research for my book. But anyone interested in vibrant reporting should care about at least the brief outline. It illustrates how major news organizations are susceptible to orchestrated pressure campaigns.

Prompted by Twitter feeds and other unreliable sources, the Daily Beast/Newsweek and the Poynter Institute were two of the major assailants of Madsen and the Observer based essentially on personal attacks on Madsen for reporting on stories irrelevant to his specialty of the NSA. More interestingly, Madsen and authoritative evidences shows that the attacks were bogus, and yet the publications have not corrected their errors.

As one error, the Poynter Institute claimed that Madsen was the sole source for the Observer story. But it was largely based on declassified NSA documents. In fact, he had published a similar story four years ago in a column, "NSA's meta-data email surveillance program exposed." That story and its documentation provides the essence of a major Snowden revelation that has been prompting worldwide headlines the past week, including in the Guardian and Der Speigel. As another error, the Poynter Institute and Daily Beast/Newsweek claimed that the Observer had quoted Madsen without interviewing him or knowing his background. The smear campaign was especially striking because the reporters involved purported to be media critics.    

I left reader comments pointing out these errors since the columnists declined to correct themselves. Also, several other experts weighed in to deny the smears. One was Craig Murray, a former United Kingdom ambassador and university rector. "Wayne Madsen, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985, Murray wrote in a column, "names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US. I can give, and I would give on oath, an eye witness guarantee that from my direct personal experience of twenty years as a British diplomat the deleted information from Wayne Madsen was true."

Murray, shown at left, went on to write his column, All Law is Gone: Naked Power Remains. The former ambassador cited especially the decision of United States allies to impose a forced landing of an airplane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales, right, in the vain hope of arresting Snowden as a passenger and delivering the leaker to the United States. "The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission," Murray wrote.

Murray continued:

To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence. I can see no evidence that anyone in an official position has even noted the illegality of repeated Israeli air and missile strikes against Syria. Snowden, Manning and Assange all exposed illegality on a massive scale, and no action whatsoever has been taken against any of the criminals they exposed. Instead they are being hounded out of all meaningful life and ability to function in society. I have repeatedly posted, and have been saying in public speeches for ten years, that under the UK/US intelligence sharing agreements the NSA spies on UK citizens and GCHQ spies on US citizens and they swap the information. As they use a shared technological infrastructure, the division is simply a fiction to get round the law in each country restricting those agencies from spying on their own citizens.

I have also frequently remarked how extraordinary it is that the media keep this “secret," which they have all known for years.

The attempted seizure of Snowden by violating traditional diplomatic norms is yet another example of short-sighted United States policy. Bolivia promptly responded by calling for a regional conference among Andean nations to oppose the United States for over-reaching. 

Economic Justice

Most of these topics are fairly well rooted in traditional law. But I think it appropriate also to touch at least briefly on the important concept of economic justice, vague and subjective though it is. President Obama and the Congress are imposing virtually unprecedented austerity on major segments of the population while producing for pet military projects very high levels of unpopular spending little public discussion. Thus college loan interest rates doubled on July 1 for all college students, creating a heavy burden for many.

Separately, the Washington Post reported, Obama administration delivers ‘a nasty surprise’ to black college students, parents.  Columnist Courtney Milloy wrote, "When it comes to dashing the hopes of thousands of college-bound African Americans, you’d hardly think of President Obama as a culprit. Maybe the right-wing-dominated Supreme Court. But not Obama, the black Harvard law grad who likes to cite higher education as a path into the middle class and who pledges to make student loans more accessible to black scholars. And yet, in what United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax calls “a nasty surprise,” the Obama administration has begun denying student loans to disproportionately large numbers of black parents because of blemished credit histories."

Earlier this year, the Obama administration allowed recruitment to lapse for the Job Corps, an employer of last resort for those willing to assume the burdens. Just before the Independence Day holiday, the president postponed for a year implementation of the employer mandate for Affordable Health Care Act, underscoring how a spirit of compromise has been destroying even his ostensibly greatest achievement. Meanwhile, scholars David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu published The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. They show many ways whereby health outcomes can deteriorate when the economy goes into a deep recession and government washes its hands of results.

Author and consumer activis Ralph Nader last month asked, Has There Ever Been A Bigger Con Man In White House?  But for those preoccupied with day-to-day living, its hardships and joys, the harshest appraisals are likely to come in mainstream weak tea of such books as pundit Jonathan Alter's new book on the election, ‘The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies. A Washington Post reviewer described the book this way: " Jonathan Alter’s The Center Holds [shown at right] offers an elegant, intelligent, crisply constructed account of President Obama’s second two years in the White House and his quiet march to a second term. It will be required reading for any serious student of the Obama presidency, present or future. Alter is unabashedly pro-Democratic and sympathetic to his subject. Yet he is scrupulous in flagging down missteps and screwups by the Obama administration (and Obama himself), which saves the book from being a one-sided homage to a sitting president."

We also see Obama in a rare display of pique as he climbs down from the stage following a 2010 speech to the National Urban League after spotting black activist and philosopher Cornel West seated in the front row. West had dissed Obama for not being a true progressive, declaring that he couldn’t “in good conscience” tell black voters to support this candidate. Obama became visibly angry, saying to West: “I’m not progressive? What kind of [expletive] is this?”

I have admired Alter's work in the past. Yet my research persuades me that it is those in the public, not Obama, who have reason to be angry. Even in Africa, some reported that his welcome was muted part because of concerns Africans feel he hasn’t lived up to promises. Nonetheless, presidents current and past possess a fantastic ability to promote themselves and their favorite causes.

This feel-good mantra was on full display during the just-completed presidential trip to Africa. First Lady Michelle Obama described on her blog her thrill at being able to meet her predecessor, Laura Bush, and her husband George on the trip, as shown at left.

Summing Up

At this point in the history of the Justice Integrity Project and my overlapping book research, I ascribe to President Obama a big part of the lack of uniform justice exhibited by the Justice Department and courts.

Many of the most notorious examples had their roots in the Bush era. But he and his appointees have enforced nearly all of them and have carved out their own areas of overzealous abuse. Among them are double the number of spy indictments under the 1917 Espionage Act than all of his predecessors combined. Most of the Obama cases involve leakers, arguably public spirited, seeking to alert the news media to abuses in government when internal procedures fail.

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman's daughter, Dana Siegelman, reminded me of the victims of all kinds when contacted me this week to ask if there was something the Justice Integrity Project could do to help the defendants and their families she had encountered during the radio interviews and lectures in her campaign to achieve justice for her father. She is now studying to retake grad school exams after long interruptions to help her father, now imprisoned on a seven-year term after a Karl Rove plot to achieve one of the nation's most notorious political prosecutions. 

As it happened, I saw former Obama White House Counsel Robert Bauer heading my way a Washington street about 6:30 p.m. on July 3. Bauer held the White House job from December 2009 to 2011, and later became general counsel for the Obama for America 2012 reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Bauer's wife, former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, is another high-level player in Washington.

I felt a little bit bad for slowing Bauer up by talking at the end of what looked like a long day for him before the holiday.

But it was a rare chance to remind him of our previous meeting after he spoke at the Cato Institute a few months previous. I had mentioned there the continuing injustice of Siegelman-style imprisonments and the unwillingness of the Obama administration to undertake meaningful reform.

This week, I updated him that the White House had been reluctant to provide substantive responses to my requests for comment and records. My words were not a question so much as a reminder that no comment does not mean no story. Bauer, shown at a right in a Wikipedia photo, heard me out as we walked about 30 steps to a corner. He seemed to have a sore throat that muted his voice in what may have been painful. So, I didn't press him for any response.

Upstairs at the National Press Club a few minutes later, several colleagues who had served in government informed me after I mentioned the encounter that I had violated the city's norms by initiating such a discussion with a busy man on the street.

Guilty as charged, I suppose. Whatever the case, it strikes me that those of us who investigate the justice system and document great abuses have an obligation to speak up at least briefly in such chance encounters. Media events are largely staged, and with potential repercussions for reporters who are too blunt. The public, for the most part, rarely meets any these Washington eminences. 

In this instance, my purpose was not to try to persuade Bauer to do anything specific, especially before a holiday, but merely to remind him that those unjustly imprisoned are not always forgotten. The pattern of high-level corruption leading to Siegelman's frame-up ultimately led to my book, Puppetry, which covers a century of similar dark intrigues. But that's another story, coming soon.

 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment
 
 

 

Related News Coverage

Supreme Court

Huffington Post, Voting Rights Act Section 4 Struck Down By Supreme Court, Ryan J. Reilly, Mike Sacks, Sabrina Siddiqui, June 24, 2013. The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court. The 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, left, and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that “things have changed dramatically” in the South in the nearly 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965. The vote by the activist majority overturned legislation passed by the Senate with a nearly unanimous vote. See also, Atlantic, Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, Andrew Cohen, June 25, 2013. On Voting Rights, a Decision as Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott, and Washington Post, Court strikes down part of Voting Rights Act, Robert Barnes, June 25, 2013.

Washington Post, At Supreme Court, victories for gay marriage, Robert Barnes, June 26, 2013. The Supreme Court’s first rulings on same-sex marriage produced historic gains for gay rights Wednesday: full federal recognition of legally married gay couples and an opening for such unions to resume in the nation’s most-populous state. The divided court stopped short of a more sweeping ruling that the fundamental right to marry must be extended to gay couples no matter where they live. But in striking down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

Washington Post, What the Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage mean, Emily Chow, June 26, 2013. Today, the Supreme Court ruled a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 unconstitutional and dismissed the case against California's Proposition 8 on the basis that the appeal lacks standing. The Court ruled that the petitioners did not have standing to appeal the district court order. The judgment from the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded. This decision affects California directly, clearing the way for same-sex marriage. How the ruling applies elsewhere would require additional litigation. Windsor v. United States: DOMA is unconstitutional. Same-sex couples who are legally married will get the same federal benefits provided to opposite-sex couples. The Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it violated equal protection, so same-sex couples who are legally married will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law with regard to, for example, income taxes and Social Security benefits. The section that says states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere was not challenged.

Washington Post, The Supreme Court embraces activism in support of conservative causes, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 26, 2013. The rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 show how the liberalizing trend on some social issues is hard for even a conservative court to resist. The marriage rulings, however, should not distract from the arrogance of power displayed Tuesday in Shelby County v. Holder. Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion involved little constitutional analysis. He simply substituted the court’s judgment for Congress’s in deciding which states should be covered under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required voting rules in states with a history of discrimination to be pre-cleared by the Justice Department. The court instructed Congress to rewrite the law, even though these sophisticated conservatives certainly know how difficult this will be in the current political climate. Whenever conservatives on the court have had the opportunity to tilt the playing field toward their side, they have done so.

New York Times, Roberts Pulls Supreme Court to the Right Step by Step, Adam Liptak, June 27, 2013. Behind the Scenes at the Supreme Court: After a momentous Supreme Court term, The Times’s Adam Liptak discusses what it’s like to cover the court and how his legal background helps in decoding the decisions. Viewed in isolation, the Supreme Court term that just ended had elements of modesty. The court declined to do away with affirmative action, gave Congress another shot at salvaging the Voting Rights Act and refused to find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Huffington Post, Supreme Court's Voting Rights Act Decision Unpopular: Poll, Ariel Edwards-Levy, July 3, 2013. Americans have mixed feelings about the Supreme Court's latest rulings, with a majority disapproving of its opinion on the Voting Rights Act, but in favor of two pro-gay marriage opinions, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll released Wednesday. Just a third said they agree with the court's decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act, while 51 percent disagreed.

Huffington Post, Samuel Alito Rolls Eyes While Ruth Bader Ginsburg Reads Dissent, Ryan Rainey, June 24, 2013. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito broke from the high court's usual decorum on Monday morning, rolling his eyes and shaking his head as his senior colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, read her dissents in two cases. Longtime Supreme Court observer Garrett Epps called it a "mini-tantrum" and "display of rudeness."

Justice Department Politicization

Fox News, DNI chief Clapper apologizes for 'erroneous' answer on NSA surveillance, Staff report, July 3, 2013. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, right, has apologized for telling Congress the National Security Agency doesn’t gather data on millions of Americans. The apology comes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden gave top-secret information to newspapers that last month published stories about the federal government collecting the data from phone calls and such Internet communications as emails. Clapper apologized in a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that was posted Tuesday on the website of Clapper's office. Clapper said in the June 21 letter that his answer was "clearly erroneous." Americans have long known the United States implemented surveillance programs under the Patriot Act, in the wake of 9/11, with the goal of preventing more terror attacks, and that the programs targeted foreign and overseas suspects. However, many Americans seem stunned at the apparent extent of the programs and that the broad data collection included basic details on Americans' phone records. Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden asked Clapper at a March 12 congressional hearing whether the NSA “collects any type of data at all on millions of hundreds of millions of Americas?” Wyden asked because Clapper suggested publicly months earlier that stories about the NSA keeping “dossiers” on millions of Americans were “completely false.” Clapper told Wyden: “No sir, it does not.” When asked for clarification, he said “not wittingly.” After the latest stories appeared to reveal otherwise, Clapper said he gave the “least untruthful answer possible.”

Washington Post, Former federal official sentenced to probation with a day in jail, Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2013. The former head of the federal agency that protects government whistleblowers was sentenced Monday to two years of probation, including one day in jail, for having files erased from government computers. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins reprimanded Scott J. Bloch, the Bush-era head of the Office of Special Counsel, for failing to “completely come clean” about why he had hired private technicians to scrub office computers and for misleading Congress when asked about his conduct. Bloch’s attorney, William M. Sullivan Jr., had requested a one-year period of probation, and federal prosecutors did not object. Editor's Note: Illustrating unequal justice, federal prosecutors and judges relentlessly pursued a Connecticut attorney, Charles Spadoni, who deleted information from his computer in 1999. After many years of litigation, much of it successful, Spadoni was imprisoned last year for a sentence of a year.

MSPB Watch via FireDogLake, Whistleblowers Aggrieved by Scott Bloch Have Less than 2 Months to Organize Themselves and Demand Justice, March 19, 2013. Ex-Special Counsel Scott Bloch* is due to be sentenced on May 13, 2013. The court can accept victim impact statements, but they must not contain information about third parties (this is likely what caused many statements to be taken off the docket two years ago). One statement is already on the docket. As you can see, it can take the form of a letter. You have less than two months. If you don’t speak up now, you can’t complain if he walks away with a slap on the wrist.

Washington Post, Abu Ghraib case against CACI dismissed, Marjorie Censer, June 26, 2013. Arlington-based CACI International secured a long-fought victory Wednesday when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging its employees directed mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The judge did not explicitly rule on CACI’s role in the alleged abuse, instead deciding that because the incidents happened overseas, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria does not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The episode has created a case study for crisis communications experts to ponder, as contractors feel out their role in the often-secret world of cybersecurity and data collection. The decision, which the plaintiffs have vowed to appeal, could have broad implications for the growing corps of contractors who accompany U.S. troops around the world and are tasked with sensitive jobs. CACI’s employees, who conducted interrogation and other tasks at the Iraqi prison, were accused of being part of a group of conspirators who allegedly abused and tortured four detainees between 2003 and 2004.

Bloomberg Law, Spitzer: Lanny Breuer at DOJ Was a 'Disaster', Lee Pacchia video, June 19, 2013. Eliot Spitzer, former Governor and Attorney General for the State of New York, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the so-called revolving door between the public and private spheres.

AP via Washington Post, CIA deputy director retires; defended harsh interrogation techniques, CIA over Benghazi, Staff report, June 13, 2013. CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who defended harsh interrogation techniques and was involved with the fallout after the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, announced his retirement Wednesday. When President Barack Obama named a successor to former CIA Director David Petraeus last January, Morell was passed over in favor of the White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Morell had been acting director since Petraeus’ resignation. He said he will leave his CIA post Aug. 9. Morell retired after 33 years at the CIA, including two stints as acting director and one as deputy director.

Syria's Civil War & Egyptian Coup

New York Times, Morsi’s Fall in Egypt Lauded by Syria’s Assad, Anne Barnard, July 4, 2013. The jubilation among opponents of Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood president in Cairo was matched on Thursday in the halls of power in the Syrian capital, Damascus, where President Bashar al-Assad declared that the Egyptian events signified the fall of “political Islam” and a vindication of his government’s fight against the two-year Syrian uprising. Even as the Egyptian Army was busy rounding up the Brotherhood’s entire leadership, Syrian state media were quick to seize on an inescapable fact: that the most prominent of the leaders brought to power by a series of Arab popular revolts that inspired the Syrian uprising had met an ignominious downfall, yet Mr. Assad, after becoming practiced at wielding uncompromising force against his opponents, was still standing.  Mr. Assad, in an interview with the pro-government Al Thawra newspaper, said the fall of Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, proved that Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were unfit to rule, and drew pointed comparisons to the movement against him in Syria, in which Islamists play a prominent role. “Whoever brings religion to use for political or factional interests will fall anywhere in the world,” Mr. Assad said, adding that he was confident that nothing short of foreign military intervention would bring him down.

Washington Post, Syrian rebels say they need U.S. weapons now, Taylor Luck and William Booth, June 26, 2013. Syrian rebels say they fear that weapons pledged recently by the United States and other international backers will not come in time for them to make gains against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, left. Commanders of rebel units operating in southern Syria said that if the promised arms do not begin flowing in the next few weeks, their fighters are in danger of being routed by forces loyal to Assad, who are being assisted by the Shiite Lebanese militia Hezbollah and an unknown number of Iranian fighters.

Los Angeles Times, U.S. has secretly provided weapons training to Syria rebels, David S. Cloud and Raja Abdulrahim, June 21, 2013. CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders. The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama's decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country's bitter civil war.

Washington Spectator, Obama's Old-Fashioned Imperialism, M.J. Rosenberg, June 19, 2013. President Barack Obama’s decision to provide military aid to the Syrian opposition is incredible. The U.S. is barely out of Iraq. It’s still bogged down in Afghanistan. Obama insists on keeping the Iran war option “on the table.” Yet suddenly we are taking sides in a civil war in Syria. The most amazing thing is that the president has the audacity to even propose involvement in Syria to the American people. (Not that he is asking, just telling. If he asked, he’d know that 70 percent of Americans oppose aiding the rebels). Since 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson came up with a phony pretext to gain passage of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing the Vietnam war, it has been one presidentially-initiated intervention after another: Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. This list does not even include the delivery of arms to the mujahideen in Afghanistan which brought us the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, 9/11 and the endless War on Terror. 

Washington Post, Russia reports pullout from small base in Syria, Will Englund, June 26, 2013. Russia has evacuated all military personnel from its small naval base in Syria, Russian news organizations reported Wednesday. The base, at Tartus on the Mediterranean, has been Russia’s only foothold in the Middle East. Although it is a minor facility, its importance has grown as Russia continues to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its war against rebel forces.Washington Post, Egypt's president is ousted, Army suspends constitution, installs court official, Abigail Hauslohner, William Booth and Sharaf al-Hourani, July 3, 2013. The Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi, right, from power Wednesday and suspended the constitution in moves it said were aimed at resolving the country’s debilitating political crisis. In a televised address to the nation after a meeting with a group of civilian political and religious leaders, the head of the powerful armed forces, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, said the chief of Egypt’s constitutional court “will assume the presidency” on an interim basis until a new presidential election is held. Sissi said the interim president will have the right to declare laws during the transitional period.

New York Times, Morsi Defies Egypt Army’s Ultimatum to Bend to Protest, David D. Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard, July 3, 2013. President Mohamed Morsi rejected an ultimatum in an angry speech Tuesday night as Egypt edged closer to a return to military rule. Morsi insisted he was the legitimate leader of the country, hinted that any effort to remove him by force could plunge the nation into chaos, and seemed to disregard the record numbers of Egyptians who took to the streets demanding he resign.

Reuters via Irish Times, Morsi role at Syria rally seen as tipping point for Egypt army, Staff report, July 2, 2013. Head of state had attended rally with hardline Islamists calling for holy war in war-torn neighbor. Army concern about the way President Mohamed Morsi was governing Egypt reached tipping point when the head of state attended a rally packed with hardline fellow Islamists calling for holy war in Syria, military sources have said. At the June 15 rally, Sunni Muslim clerics used the word “infidels” to denounce both the Shias fighting to protect Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the non-Islamists that oppose Mr Morsi at home. Mr Morsi himself called for foreign intervention in Syria against Mr Assad, leading to a veiled rebuke from the army. “The armed forces were very alarmed by the Syrian conference at a time the state was going through a major political crisis,” said one officer, whose comments reflected remarks made privately by other army staff. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to talk to the media. The army’s dramatic ultimatum demanding Mr Morsi and other politicians settle their differences by tomorrow afternoon caught the presidency completely off guard. Triggered by mass protests against Mr Morsi’s rule, it amounted to a soft coup by a military that has been a major recipient of US aid since the 1970s.

Atlantic, How Obama Now 'Owns Syria'; The far-ranging implications of the president's decision to provide arms to anti-Assad rebels, Michael Hirsch, June 14, 2014. As he has done all along, Barack Obama is edging his way up to the precipice in Syria, and even now the president very much does not want to jump in -- not into America's third major war in the past decade. Even while announcing what was billed as a major shift of policy Thursday, Obama signaled that he is unwilling to put American boots on the ground or even to be seen as taking the lead in the conflict in Syria. Judging from the latest signals from the White House, Obama wants the newly announced U.S. military aid to the Syrian rebels to be kept to a stringent minimum, and he wants it to be seen as part of a broader Western aid effort.

New York Times, Taking Outsize Role in Syria, Qatar Funnels Arms to Rebels, Mark Mazzetti, C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt, June 29, 2013. As an intermittent supply of arms to the Syrian opposition gathered momentum last year, the Obama administration repeatedly implored its Arab allies to keep one type of powerful weapon out of the rebels’ hands: heat-seeking shoulder-fired missiles. The missiles, American officials warned, could one day be used by terrorist groups, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda, to shoot down civilian aircraft.

Washington is Insane, Paul Craig Roberts, June 18, 2013. Polls demonstrate that 65% of the US population opposes US intervention in Syria. Despite this clear indication of the people’s will, the Obama regime is ramping up a propaganda case for more arming of Washington’s mercenaries sent to overthrow the secular Syrian government and for a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which, if Libya is the example, means US or NATO aircraft attacking the Syrian army on the ground, thus serving as the air force of Washington’s imported mercenaries, euphemistically called “the Syrian rebels.”

Surveillance Scandals

International Reaction to Snowden Manhunt, Spying

Reuters, Venezuela's Maduro offers asylum to Snowden, Daniel Wallis and Deisy Buitrago, July 5, 2013. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Friday in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of a secret spy program. "In the name of America's dignity ... I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden," Maduro, shown at right in a photo via Wikipedia, told a military parade marking Venezuela's independence day. "He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the U.S. spying on the whole world."

OpEd News, Forcing Down Evo Morales' Plane Was An Act Of Air Piracy, John Pilger, July 4, 2013. The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane -- denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden -- was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.

OpEd News, In Obamaland, "Rule of Law' is for the Other Suckers: US (and French) Courts Ruled Head-of-State Immunity is Absolute, Dave Lindorff, July 4, 2013. US courts have ruled heads of state have absolute immunity when traveling, So what's this with the US orchastrating capture of Bolivia's Morales and searching his plane?

AP via Huffington Post, Spain And Other Nations Address Snowden Controversy, Juan Karita, June 5, 2013. South America's leftist leaders rallied to support Bolivian President Evo Morales after his plane was rerouted amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board and demanded an apology from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The presidents of Argentina, Ecuador, Suriname, Venezuela and Uruguay joined Morales in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba late Thursday to address the diplomatic row. Morales used the gathering to warn that he would close the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia if necessary. Morales again blamed Washington for pressuring European countries to refuse to allow his plane to fly through their airspace on Tuesday, forcing it to land in Vienna, Austria, in what he called a violation of international law. He had been returning from a summit in Russia during which he had suggested he would be willing to consider a request from Snowden for asylum.

Institute for Political Economy, Lawlessness Is The New Normal, Paul Craig Roberts, July 5, 2013. Although the individual countries still retain some sovereignty from the EU government, they are all under Washington’s thumb, as demonstrated by the recent illegal and hostile action taken on Washington’s orders by France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Austria against the airliner carrying Bolivia’s President Evo Morales. Flying back to Bolivia from Moscow, Morales’ plane was denied overflight and refueling permission by Washington’s French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese puppets and had to land in Austria, where the presidential plane was searched for Edward Snowden. It was a power play by Washington to kidnap Snowden from Bolivia’s presidential airliner in defiance of international law and to teach upstart reformers like Morales that independence from Washington’s orders is not permitted. The European puppet states went along with this extraordinary breach of diplomacy and international law despite the fact that each of the countries is incensed that Washington is spying on their governments, diplomats, and citizens. Their thanks to Snowden, whose revelations made them aware that Washington was recording their every communication, was to help Washington capture Snowden. This tells us how much morality, honor, integrity there is left in Western civilization: Zero. In short, the governments of the countries on earth want Washington’s money and good graces more than they want truth and integrity or even their independence.

FireDogLake, Bolivian President’s Plane Grounded On Snowden Fears, DSWright, July 3, 2013. Despite promises from the White House that there would be no tampering with flights over Edward Snowden, calls from the Obama Administration led to a flight by Bolivia's president being grounded over fears that Edward Snowden was aboard his plane.

Washington Post, Kerry, in Brunei, faces European anger over Snowden’s NSA disclosures, Karen DeYoung, July 1, 2013. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said he was taken by surprise Monday when European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton questioned him here about reports that the United States conducted electronic monitoring of E.U. offices and computer networks. “I honestly hadn’t heard about it. I hadn’t seen any of those reports,” said Kerry, who has spent the last several days immersed in shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. He arrived here Monday morning, after an all-night flight from Israel, on the last stop of an eight-nation tour.

Reuters via Huffington Post, EU Confronts Washington Reports Of Spying On Allies, Ben Deighton and Annika Breidthardt, June 30, 2013. The European Union has demanded that the United States explain a report in a German magazine that Washington is spying on the group, using unusually strong language to confront its closest trading partner over its alleged surveillance activities. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Sunday the EU contacted U.S. authorities in Washington and Brussels about a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. secret service had tapped EU offices in Washington and Brussels and at the United Nations.

Der Spiegel, How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock, July 1, 2013. Top secret documents detail the mass scope of efforts by the United States to spy on Germany and Europe. Each month, the NSA monitors a half a billion communications and EU buildings are bugged. The scandal poses a threat to trans-Atlantic relations.

Der Spiegel, Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid and Holger Stark, June 29, 2013. America's NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to Spiegel information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington.

Guardian, New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies; Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France and Italy, Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, June 30, 2013. Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics. US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as "targets". It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the EU missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey.

Washington's Sanctimonious Mask, Paul Craig Roberts, left, June 25, 2013. Following Snowden's revelations, Germany's most important magazine, Der Spiegal, had the headline: "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism: Europe Must Protect Itself From America." The first sentence of the article asks: "Is Barack Obama a friend? Revelations about his government's vast spying program call that into doubt. The European Union must protect the Continent from America's reach for omnipotence." Der Spiegal continues: "We are being watched. All the time and everywhere. And it is the Americans who are doing the watching." It is extraordinary that the most important publication in Germany has acknowledged that the German government is Washington's puppet state. For those moronic amerikans who say, "I'm not doing anything wrong, I don't care if they spy," Der Spiegel writes that a "monitored human being is not a free one." We have reached the point where we "free americans" have to learn from our German puppets that we are not free.

Observer, Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America, Jamie Dowden, June 29, 2013. Germany is 'among countries offering intelligence' according to new claims by former US defense analyst. At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America's National Security Agency, who said the public should not be "kept in the dark." Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US. Editor's Note: The Observer pulled this front-page story from its website June 30 pending what its brief notice called further investigation. Sources indicated that the concern was that Madsen had reported on other controversial topics. The topics included alleged sex scandals by prominent political leaders in both parties in the United States and alleged foreign intelligence operations in the United States involving allies. Before becoming a reporter and blogger, Madsen as a Navy investigator probed, among other matters, both sexual scandal and, separately, the Jonathan Pollard spy case and the impact of Pollard's disclosures on U.S. security.

Scope of Surveillance

OpEdNews, Greenwald: Every Phone Call is Recorded and Stored -- A Globalized System Designed to Destroy Privacy, includes video, Rob Kall, June 29, 2013. Glenn Greenwald, in a skyped in talk to the Socialism 2013 Conference, told the audience, for the first time, according to him, about his experience going through the process of encountering, interacting with Ed Snowden, at first anonymously, then seeing his first evidence that Snowden was the real deal. "It made me dizzy," he described. Greenwald, who has been a regular at the conference for several years, told the audience that a bombshell he would soon be releasing was that "NSA can redirect to its storage one billion cell phone calls every thing day. They are storing every call and have the capability to listen to them... It is a globalized system designed to destroy all privacy--- with no accountabliity and no safeguards." He described the debate about his journalism is " being led by TV actors who play the role of journalists on TV. " Glenn discussed how the US military's banning of access to the Guardian, the paper he publishes with, at all military bases, was better than receiving a Pulitzer or any other journalism award. He cited David Halberstam, saying, "David Halberstam viewed the measure of good journalism by how much you anger the people in power."   

Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald: NSA Can Store A Billion Cell Phone Calls Every Day, Braden Goyette, June 29, 2013. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald says he has another big scoop about the National Security Agency's surveillance practices up his sleeve. Speaking over Skype to the Socialism Conference in Chicago, Greenwald claimed that the NSA has the ability to store one billion phone calls each day. Greenwald's reporting earlier this month sparked the scandal over NSA surveillance practices that is currently plaguing the Obama administration. The stories were based on classified documents leaked to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and Greenwald indicated Friday night that he's sitting on several more -- one of which he decided to talk about even though his story on it hasn't been published yet.

Washington Post, Inner workings of a top-secret spy program, Barton Gellman and Todd Lindeman, June 29, 2013. The National Security Agency’s PRISM progam, which collects intelligence from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple and other tech giants, is “targeted” at foreigners. But it also collects the e-mail, voice, text and video chats of an unknown number of Americans — “inadvertently,” “incidentally” or deliberately if an American is conversing with a foreign target overseas. Here are new details on how the program works, from top-secret documents and interviews.

Washington Post, Shadowy Pentagon ‘psy-ops’ missions becoming entangled on home front, Craig Whitlock, July 7, 2013. A case involving a Somali American shows how other parts of the U.S. government monitor online activity. In the past, psychological operations usually meant dropping leaflets or broadcasting propaganda on the battlefield. Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership. Much of the work is carried out by military information support teams that the Special Operations Command has deployed to 22 countries. The command, which is based in Tampa, also operates multilingual news Web sites tailored to specific regions.

Washington Post, Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S., Daniel Ellsberg, July 7, 2013. I was, like Snowden now, a “fugitive from justice.”  Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind. There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”). I hope Snowden’s revelations will spark a movement to rescue our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado.

Huffington Post, Snowden's Common Law Defense, Joe Lauria, right, July 6, 2013. The U.S. Senator who divulged the Pentagon Papers in Congress says Edward Snowden and other citizens with access to classified information should have the same immunity as members of Congress to make public secret documents exposing government wrongdoing. Before Daniel Ellsberg, American's most important whistleblower until Snowden, leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 to The New York Times and The Washington Post, he went to Congress to find a Senator willing to make the Papers public. Several turned him down, including George McGovern, who was worried what it would do to his presidential chances the next year. Eventually a freshman Senator, Mike Gravel of Alaska, agreed to take them. With publication in the Times and Post shut down by the Nixon Justice Department's prior restraint, Gravel read the top secret Papers in a Senate hearing on June 29, 1971. He did so on the basis of a clause in the Constitution granting immunity to members of Congress to legally reveal classified information. But when Gravel went to Beacon Press in Boston to publish the Papers as a book, Nixon sought his indictment. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld Gravel's right to reveal classified information in the Senate. I tell the full story in the book I authored with Senator Gravel, A Political Odyssey, published by Seven Stories Press, with a foreword by Ellsberg. It is relevant today because Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall on the Senate intelligence committee say they had concerns about the National Security Agency surveillance programs but couldn't go public with the classified details. Politicians seek power and businessmen profits, and Snowden is threatening both. That's why they are after him, not because of "national security." Since it is their interests that he is threatening, and not the nation's, the fear of terrorism is trumped up to falsely extend that interest to the entire population.

Huffington Post, General Warrants, NSA Spying, And America's Unappreciated Founding Father, James Otis, Jr., Radley Balko, Jully 4, 2013. Today is a day when we Americans reflect on the people and principles that led to our founding. I'd like to write a bit about one of my favorite founding fathers, an 18th-century Boston lawyer named James Otis, Jr. Because he did most of his important work well before the American Revolution, Otis is often overlooked. But no less than John Adams credited Otis' activism with laying the philosophical foundation for American independence. Moreover, the specific abuses by the British crown that most outraged Otis are particularly relevant given the recent revelations about warrantless NSA spying and data collection.

Huffington Post, Reflections on the FISA Court, Geoffrey R. Stone, July 5, 2013. Before 1978, the federal government assumed that agencies like the NSA and the FBI could legally carry out wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States without any prior judicial approval. In 1978, as a result of disclosures about Nixon-era abuses uncovered by the Church Committee, Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which, among other things, created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. The FISA court today consists of 11 federal district court judges, appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States. Each member of the court has to be approved for a security clearance and each serves a seven year term. Over the past 10 years, the FISA court has reviewed an average of approximately 2,000 requests annually for FISA warrants. Approximately 97 percent of the government's requests are approved on initial submission, and if one includes those cases in which the government comes back to the court with additional material after a request has initially been denied, roughly 99 percent of all requests are approved. There are major deficiencies in the way the FISA court now operates. When the judges on the FISA court review the government's submissions, there is no one on the other side to advocate against the arguments of the government. Third, there is some reason to be concerned about the makeup of the FISA court. Of the 11 judges currently serving on the court, ten were initially appointed to the federal bench by Republican presidents. Only one, Judge Mary McLaughlin, was appointed by a Democratic president -- Bill Clinton. The reason for this seems pretty clear, and it is troubling. Under the FISA Act, the Chief Justice appoints the members of the FISA court. Since 1978, when the FISA court was created, every Chief Justice of the United States -- Warren Burger, William Rehnquist and John Roberts -- was appointed by a Republican president. At present, approximately 50 percent of federal district court judges were appointed by Republican presidents and 50 percent were appointed by Democratic presidents. But on the FISA court, 91 percent were appointed by Republican presidents and only 9 percent were appointed by Democratic presidents. This is quite disturbing in terms of the choices made by Burger, Rehnquist and Roberts, who are not supposed to be influenced by partisan or ideological considerations. Moreover, this matters. Judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents differ quite significantly in their judicial approaches. To cite just one example, among Supreme Court justices appointed in the last 30 years, those appointed by Republican presidents support civil liberties claims roughly 34 percent of the time, whereas those appointed by Democratic presidents support such claims approximately 74 percent of the time.

Washington Post, Judges in secret court upset with their portrayal, Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman, June 29, 2013. Members chafe at the suggestion they were collaborating with the executive branch in enabling surveillance. Editor's Note: The secret court's chief judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, right, is reported to be especially upset with news accounts portraying her and the rest of the court as being a rubber-stamp process that collaborates in secret with authorities to ensure that nearly every request for surveillance is granted without an adversial hearing or public decisions. She is a federal district judge based in Washington, DC appointed in 1997 by the Clinton administration.

Editor's Note: James Bamford, former investigative editor for ABC-TV and author of the leading books about the NSA, described its new Bluffdale Data Center in a major article in 2012 for Wired Magazine. Bamford, at right, had disclosed the operations of the super-secret NSA in The Puzzle Palace in 1982. Later, however, NSA Director Michael Hayden cooperated with Bamford in the latter's 2001 book, Body of Secrets, chronicling NSA's vast spying operation. Bamford's The Shadow Factory in 2009 continued his book-length, cutting-edge reporting. His Wired cover-story below was the  Inside the Matrix: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), published in the edition of March 15, 2012. This week, he published in Wired the authoritative article below.

Wired, Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA’s Massive Spy Center, James Bamford, June 6, 2013. Physically, the NSA has always been well protected by miles of high fences and electrified wire, thousands of cameras, and gun-toting guards. But that was to protect the agency from those on the outside trying to get in to steal secrets. Now it is confronting a new challenge: those on the inside going out and giving the secrets away.

Atlantic, 2 Senators Say the NSA Is Still Feeding Us False Information, Conor Friedersdorf, June 25, 2013. How can a democratic republic function when the bureaucrats are constantly misleading the people? Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall say that at least one of the NSA's statements is inaccurate, and another one is misleading. "We were disappointed to see that this fact sheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government," they write. "In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans' privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are." Notice that these two senators feel unable to tell us what the false information is or to correct the record -- just further evidence that classified programs subvert not only public debate, but also the ability of Congress to openly discuss policy and communicate with constituents. Wyden and Udall go on to address the NSA talking point that they characterize as "merely" misleading.

Atlantic, The Irrationality of Giving Up This Much Liberty to Fight Terror, Conor Friedersdorf, June 11, 2013. When confronted by far deadlier threats, Americans are much less willing to cede freedom and privacy. Of course we should dedicate significant resources and effort to stopping terrorism. But consider some hard facts. In 2001, the year when America suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack -- by far the biggest in its history -- roughly 3,000 people died from terrorism in the U.S. Let's put that in context. That same year in the United States: 71,372 died of diabetes. 29,573 were killed by guns. 13,290 were killed in drunk driving accidents. That's what things looked like at the all-time peak for deaths by terrorism.

OpEdNews, Stasi In The White House, Paul Craig Roberts, June 21, 2013. On June 19, 2013, U.S. President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing NSA spy scandals, sought to associate himself with two iconic speeches made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Here was Obama, who consistently lies, speaking of "eternal truth." Here was Obama, who enabled Wall Street to rob the American and European peoples and who destroyed Americans' civil liberties and the lives of vast numbers of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, Pakistanis, Syrians, and others, speaking of "the yearnings of justice." Obama equates demands for justice with "terrorism."  Here was Obama, who has constructed an international spy network and a domestic police state, speaking of "the yearnings for freedom." Here was Obama, president of a country that has initiated wars or military action against six countries since 2001 and has three more Muslim countries -- Syria, Lebanon, and Iran -- in its crosshairs and perhaps several more in Africa, speaking of "the yearnings of peace that burns in the human heart," but clearly not in Obama's heart.

OpEdNews, NSA spying -- another side of the story -- Data Privatized For Corporate Use, Martin Cohen, July 2, 2013. The latest revelations of US spying on Europeans are far from novel, but I think nonetheless significant. They may well may prove to be the straw that broke the camel's back, in terms of trans-Atlantic trust. Well-informed Europeans (such as the German MEPs) recall very well that the issue came up in the 1990s, after certain triumphs of US communications intelligence came to light, notably the successful derailing of several trade deals for European companies like Airbus in favour of US contractors. This story of mass interception of civilian communications is a very old one, and the second is that the policy has nothing to do with protecting the public, but everything to do with economics.  Unfortunately, if predictably, the media has so far in its coverage put the emphasis on the wrong issues - and allowed the debate to be on the ground chosen by the surveillance agencies -- that is of "security' and "protection' of the public. The real story is very different. Mass communications interception and processing is a system which enables the countries using it to obtain significant economic information and, hence, to secure a leading position on the commercial markets. The study quotes examples where American companies have secured contracts as a result of communications having been intercepted.

Washington Post, Obama, in Africa, defends U.S. intelligence-gathering tactics, David Nakamura and Karen DeYoung, July 1, 2013. The president’s comments followed a report that the U.S. eavesdropped on European allies, outraging them. Washington Post, For many, Obama’s trip to Africa was a moment for pride, David Nakamura, July 2, 2013. First came the signs, then the shirts, and a street. “Welcome home, Mr. President,” posters in Senegal read. In South Africa, children wore clothing with his likeness. And in Tanzania, the government renamed the boulevard outside the presidential palace “Barack Obama Drive.” During President Obama’s first extended trip to Africa, 4½ years after he entered the White House, there was a palpable sense that he remained a symbol of hope, despite any disagreements over his policies. The candidate who inspired so many in 2008 has been battered during his time in office, winning some policy fights and losing others. Along the way, he jokes, he has become older and grayer, nicked and bruised by partisan political fights. A White House photo at right shows President Obama in Africa.

Washington Post, Plugging the leaks in the Edward Snowden case; Prosecuting Edward Snowden is less important than keeping him from revealing more secrets, Editorial Board, July 1, 2013. The costs of the Edward Snowden affair continue to mount for the Obama administration — though so far the visible damage is primarily political, rather than national security-related. The first U.S. priority should be to prevent Mr. Snowden from leaking information that harms efforts to fight terrorism and conduct legitimate intelligence operations. Documents published so far by news organizations have shed useful light on some NSA programs and raised questions that deserve debate, such as whether a government agency should build a database of Americans’ phone records. But Mr. Snowden is reported to have stolen many more documents, encrypted copies of which may have been given to allies such as the WikiLeaks organization.

Nation, How the Powerful Derail Accountability: The Case of Intelligence Reform (Part I), Rick Perlstein, July 1, 2013. Christmastime, 1974, in a massive front page New York Times article, Seymour Hersh revealed that the CIA had collected intelligence files on at least 10,000 American citizens in direct violation of its 1947 charter stipulating that it was only allowed to work overseas. It also documented "dozens of other illegal activities by members of the C.I.A in the United States, beginning in the nineteen-fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping, and the surreptitious inspection of mail." Emerging but eighteen weeks after Richard Nixon's resignation, when the momentum for deep reckoning with America's sins had never been stronger, President Ford was forced to react. He impaneled a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the allegations—a paper-tiger panel made up of the very establishmentarians whose complicity in CIA sins should have been a subject of investigation itself. "Having the CIA investigated by such a group," the New York Times editorialized "is like having the Mafia audited by its own accountants." Not having any of it, both chambers of Congress impaneled their own select committees to investigate the CIA, FBI, and—later—the NSA.

Washington Post, Snowden, in new statement, accuses Obama of using ‘old, bad tools of political aggression,’ Max Fisher, July 1, 2013. Edward Snowden, in his first public message since arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport eight days ago, has issued a statement accusing President Obama of deploying “the old, bad tools of political aggression” and “using citizenship as a weapon” in order to silence him. It describes the Obama administration as “afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.” The message also accuses Vice President  Biden of pressuring foreign leaders to deny his extradition requests.

Media Attacks on Snowden, Journalists Covering NSA

Salon, Meet the “Journalists Against Journalism” club! David Sirota, July 2, 2013. The clique of media figures outraged when news outlets challenge power has a new member: Washington Post higher-ups. From David Gregory to Andrew Ross Sorkin to David Brooks, the ranks of Washington’s hottest new club continues to swell. Call it Journalists Against Journalism — a group of reporters and pundits who are outraged that whistle-blowers and news organizations are colluding to expose illegal government surveillance. To this club, the best journalism is not the kind that challenges power or even merely sheds light on the inner workings of government; it is about protecting power and keeping the lights off.

Huffington Post, Media's Edward Snowden Haters Club Keeps Growing, Jack Mirkinson, June 17, 2013. In trashing NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday, CBS's Bob Schieffer joined a fast-growing club of establishment pundits who have derided his actions and questioned his character. It has seemed sometimes that commentators have been trying to compete for who can come up with the most sneering description of Snowden. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen seemed likely to win the contest when he confusingly dubbed Snowden a "cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood." (Huh?) Schieffer might have managed to trump all of those rivals, though, when he lamented that Snowden did not live up to the likes of Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King. While it's definitely true that Snowden will probably not leave a legacy on the same scale as Rosa Parks, it's a bit of a strange test to match him against two of the greatest people in human history. Judged against them, most people would fail. For now, though, Schieffer is in first place in the anti-Snowden contest.

Huffington Post Live, Valerie Plame: Edward Snowden Deserves Thanks, 'Will Be Abused,' Clapper Should Resign (VIDEO), Danny Shea, June 19, 2013. Former CIA agent Valerie Plame said Wednesday that she views NSA leaker Edward Snowden as neither a hero nor a traitor, but that Americans should be grateful that he brought the conversation about liberty and security to the national forefront. "I don't think [Snowden's] a hero, I don't condone what he did. At the same time he's certainly not a traitor as he was called by Dick Cheney," Plame told HuffPost Live host Mike Sacks.

Atlantic, 3 Former NSA Employees Praise Edward Snowden, Corroborate Key Claims, Conor Friedersdorf, June 18, 2013. The men, all whistleblowers, say he succeeded where they failed. USA Today has published an extraordinary interview with three former NSA employees who praise Edward Snowden's leaks, corroborate some of his claims, and warn about unlawful government acts. Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe each protested the NSA in their own rights. "For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens," the newspaper reports. "They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media." In other words, they blew the whistle in the way Snowden's critics suggest he should have done. Their method didn't get through to the members of Congress who are saying, in the wake of the Snowden leak, that they had no idea what was going on. But they are nonetheless owed thanks.

Guardian, Distractions about my past and personal life have emerged – an inevitable side effect for those who challenge the US government, Glenn Greenwald, June 26, 2013. When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming. As a result, I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the New York Daily News informing me that he had been "reviewing some old lawsuits" in which I was involved – "old" as in: more than a decade ago – and that "the paper wants to do a story on this for tomorrow." He asked that I call him right away to discuss this, apologizing for the very small window he gave me to comment.

Washington Post, The Guardian: Small British paper makes big impact with NSA stories. Paul Farhi, July 1, 2013. The NSA stories, in particular, raised the Guardian’s profile to an Everest-like peak. Its video interview with Snowden, conducted by its star American columnist Glenn Greenwald, attracted nearly 7 million unique views worldwide in one day. The total was a record for the paper’s Web site, which is already one of the world’s most heavily trafficked news sites with a high of 41 million unique monthly visitors. The NSA and WikiLeaks revelations also raise a question: Why is a London-based news organization revealing so many secrets about the American government?

Wayne Madsen Report, SPECIAL REPORT. NSA's meta-data email surveillance program exposed, Wayne Madsen, left, Feb. 4, 2009 (Suscription required.) WMR has learned details of one of the most important components of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program code named "STELLAR WIND." The highly-classified STELLAR WIND program was initiated by the George W. Bush administration with the cooperation of major U.S. telecommunications carriers, including AT&T and Verizon. The system is linked to a number of meta-databases that contain e-mail, faxes, and text messages of hundreds of millions of people around the world and in the United States. Informed sources have revealed to WMR that PINWALE can search these meta-databases using various parameters like date-time group, natural language, IP address, sender and recipients, operating system, and other information embedded in the header. When an NSA analyst is looking for Farsi or Arabic e-mails, the sender and recepients are normally foreign nationals, who are not covered by restrictions on eavesdropping on U.S. "persons" once imposed on NSA by United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18). However, STELLAR WIND and PINWALE negated both USSID 18 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 by permitting NSA analysts to read the e-mails, faxes, and text messages of U.S. persons when PINWALE search parameters included searches of e-mails in English. When English language text communications are retrieved, analysts read the text message content to determine whether it contains anything to do with terrorism. However, rather than being deleted, the messages are returned to the meta-databases. Text message records in PINWALE, a system developed by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, are contained in three major meta-databases code-named LIONHEART, LIONROAR, and LIONFUSION. Not only are text communications between U.S. persons in the United States and recipients abroad contained in the PINWALE meta-databases but text messages between U.S. persons within the United States are also held in the databases. WMR reported on May 10, 2005, that Booz Allen is also the major contractor for an NSA database code named "FIRSTFRUITS" that tracked not only the articles of journalists but contained intercepts of their communications, ". . . part of the upkeep of the [FIRSTFRUITS] system has been outsourced to outside contractors such as Booz Allen." The involvement of the telecommunications companies in STELLAR WIND and PINWALE was revealed when former AT&T technician Mark Klein leaked AT&T documents on the program 2006. AT&T's interception entailed NSA snooping equipment being placed within AT&T centers in San Francisco; Bridgeton, Missouri; San Diego; San Jose; Atlanta; Seattle; and Los Angeles.

WMR, Firing back, Wayne Madsen, July 1, 2013, After a very stormy weekend, this should be perfectly clear to those who would practice amateur psychiatry while, at the same time, purporting to be "journalists." I do not suffer fools easily. I'll start with the events that led up to The Observer of Britain and its sister paper, The Guardian, dropping the story on my not-so-new revelations concerning the National Security Agency's use of "Third Parties" like Germany and France, now up in arms about NSA-British GCHQ spying on their citizens, to conduct mass eavesdropping on satellite and undersea cable communications. The Observer, which ran a front page story in its Sunday June 30 edition featuring yours truly's picture on the front page, was responding to my interview with Simon Davies, the former director general of Privacy International and now the editor of The Privacy Surgeon.

Poynter Institute, Observer pulls story about NSA deal based on Wayne Madsen conspiracy theory, Joshua Gillin, July 1, 2013. The U.K.’s Observer raised eyebrows Sunday for publishing a story alleging the United States had been working with European Union countries and Britain to collect personal communications data, based solely on the allegations of conspiracy theorist Wayne Madsen. See also, Daily Beast / Newsweek, NSA Nutjob: Anatomy of a Fake ‘Observer’ Story, Michael Moynihan, July 1, 2013.

Craig Murray.org, All Law is Gone: Naked Power Remains, Craig Murray, July 3, 2013. Craig Murray, left, is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission. It has never been thought necessary to write down in a Treaty that Heads of State enjoy diplomatic immunity while engaged in diplomacy, as their representatives only enjoy diplomatic immunity as cyphers for their Head of State. But it is a hitherto unchallenged precept of customary international law, indeed arguably the oldest provision of international law. To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence. I can see no evidence that anyone in an official position has even noted the illegality of repeated Israeli air and missile strikes against Syria. Snowden, Manning and Assange all exposed illegality on a massive scale, and no action whatsoever has been taken against any of the criminals they exposed. Instead they are being hounded out of all meaningful life and ability to function in society. I have repeatedly posted, and have been saying in public speeches for ten years, that under the UK/US intelligence sharing agreements the NSA spies on UK citizens and GCHQ spies on US citizens and they swap the information. As they use a shared technological infrastructure, the division is simply a fiction to get round the law in each country restricting those agencies from spying on their own citizens.

I have also frequently remarked how extraordinary it is that the media keep this “secret,” which they have all known for years. The Guardian published the truth on 29 June: "At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America’s National Security Agency, who said the public should not be “kept in the dark.”  This article has been taken down pending an investigation...." Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US. I can give, and I would give on oath, an eye witness guarantee that from my direct personal experience of twenty years as a British diplomat the deleted information from Wayne Madsen was true.

Government Probes of Mainstream Journalists

National Press Club, AP CEO calls for new Justice Department guidelines to protect journalists, Robert Webb, June 19, 2013. The Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records has made it tougher for reporters to do their jobs, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said Wednesday, June 19 at a National Press Club luncheon. Pruitt, shown in a photo courtesy of Noel St. John, called for new Justice Department guidelines that include protections for journalists' email and text messages, and a federal shield law "with teeth." The Justice Department's seizure unsettled sources and chilled reporting, he said. "Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us -- even on stories unrelated to national security," Pruitt said. "Others are reluctant to meet in person. In one instance, our journalists could not get a law enforcement official to confirm a detail that had been reported elsewhere." AP is not the only media to suffer, he said. "Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me that has intimidated both official and non-official sources speaking to them as well," Pruitt said.

National Press Club, Club Talks With Attorney General Holder on Press Freedom Matters, Angela Greiling Keane, June 19, 2013. The National Press Club participated in the most recent small-group meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss our concerns about the Justice Department's recent subpoenas and search warrants issued against journalists.


Economic Justice

Washington Post, Obama administration delivers ‘a nasty surprise’ to black college students, parents, Courtland Milloy, June 25, 2013. When it comes to dashing the hopes of thousands of college-bound African Americans, you’d hardly think of President Obama as a culprit. Maybe the right-wing-dominated Supreme Court. But not Obama, the black Harvard law grad who likes to cite higher education as a path into the middle class and who pledges to make student loans more accessible to black scholars. And yet, in what United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax calls “a nasty surprise,” the Obama administration has begun denying student loans to disproportionately large numbers of black parents because of blemished credit histories.

Washington Post, White House delays health-care rule that businesses provide insurance to workers, Zachary A. Goldfarb and Sandhya Somashekhar, July 2, 2013. The White House on Tuesday delayed for one year a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that businesses provide health insurance to employees, a fresh setback for President Obama’s landmark health-care overhaul as it enters a critical phase. The provision, commonly known as the employer mandate, calls for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide affordable quality insurance to workers or pay a $2,000 fine per employee. Business groups had objected to the provision, which now will take effect in January 2015.

Washington Post, The politics of delaying Obamacare, Sarah Kliff, July 2, 2013. By delaying a requirement that all large employers provide health insurance, the Obama administration heads off the unseemly spectacle of companies vowing to cut jobs or workers’ hours to avoid the costly mandate. But the late Tuesday action is not a free pass: It contributes to critics’ claims that the White House does not have the ability to launch its biggest legislative accomplishment on schedule. “

FDL Book Salon, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills: Recessions, Budget Battles, and the Politics of Life and Death, Mark Thoma, June 29, 2013. David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu’s new book The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills is a thorough examination of the toll that recessions take on people’s health. They show, convincingly, that there are many, many channels through which health outcomes can deteriorate when the economy goes into a deep recession. They also show that the manner in which the government reacts to an economic downturn is a critical factor in determining health outcomes. Deterioration in health in a recession, though common, is far from inevitable.

Mediaite, Ralph Nader Slams Obama Again: ‘Has There Ever Been A Bigger Con Man In White House?’ Andrew Kirell, June 13, 2013 video. Appearing at a 92nd Street Y event with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman last week, famed activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader tore into President Obama for a variety of issues, namely the lack of progress in mandating an increase in the minimum wage. After explaining that he believes the Democratic Party has purposely stalled action on increasing the federally-mandated wage rate, Nader suggested the president has shrugged off the issue for the last five years. This thought led Nader to reiterate a harsh question he posed to Goodman several years ago: “Has there ever been a bigger con man in the White House?” The audience applauded. “The one ingredient you want when you vote for somebody… it’s their moral courage and the fire in the belly,” he added, suggesting that Obama has lacked it. “That’s what makes all the difference in the world.”

Washington Post, Ahead of Obama’s visit, Africans feel he hasn’t lived up to promises, David Nakamura and Sudarsan Raghavan, June 25, 2013. As President Obama heads back to the continent Wednesday for a week-long trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, he can expect a welcome that is still warm and enthusiastic — but tinged with an unmistakable sense of disappointment after a first term that many Africans believe did not live up to Obama’s lofty promises. The Obama administration’s record, policy analysts in Washington and Africa said, has not been defined by greater economic investment and diplomacy. According to the Congressional Research Service, U.S. aid to Africa rose from $1.1 billion in 2006 to $8.2 billion in fiscal 2009 — an amount set during George W. Bush’s final year in office — before dipping to$6.9 billion in 2011.

Washington Post, ‘The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies’ by Jonathan Alter, Ken Gormley, June 28, 2013. Jonathan Alter’s The Center Holds (shown at right) offers an elegant, intelligent, crisply constructed account of President Obama’s second two years in the White House and his quiet march to a second term. In assessing this missing “schmooze gene,” Alter concludes that Obama’s strong desire to be a normal person is “a fine quality in an individual but problematic for a president.” He concludes that Obama has squandered a valuable piece of political capital: “His failure to use the trappings of the presidency more often left him with one less tool in his toolbox, one less way to leverage his authority.”

Washington Spectator, Choose Your Own Dystopia, James Berger, June 25, 2013. Even in our passionately oblivious consumer paradise, two principle dissonances persist. First, the center of the consumerist social contract is breaking down: that is, continual prosperity and the ability of all citizens to be effective consumers. The growth of poverty and social inequality since the 1980s, and especially since the financial crisis of 2008, have begun to starve consumer capitalism of its political elixer. This sense of the endpoint of consumption guides both the Tea Party and the Occupy movements. The second dissonance is that force and violence are still used. We saw during Occupy the reality of the state power when the government’s patience with public protest had expired. We know that during political conventions or international summits, freedom of assembly and political expression are restricted to fenced-in “free speech zones”—a revelation to those who imagined that such a zone encompassed our entire country.

McClatchy, Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S., Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay, June 20, 2013.  Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions. President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct. Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them.

Fox News, NSA Spying Hearing: Ron Paul disputes NSA claim of 50 plots foiled, Neil Cavuto, June 18, 2013. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) disputed NSA claims at a congressional hearing June 18 hearing that surveillance has thwarted 50 terrorist plots. “I don’t really believe that because I think they fudged the figures," Paul told Fox News host Neil Cavuto, referring to comments made by NSA Director Keith Alexander during a House Intelligence Committee hearing. "Of those 50 plots that they stopped, I think 40 were minor plots overseas, for all we know.” President Obama repeated the point in a speech in Berlin, Germany, claiming “at least 50 threats have been averted” thanks to information gleaned from the domestic surveillance programs. Paul responded of federal officials, “They have to try to justify their existence of destroying the freedom of and the privacy of the American citizens, otherwise they’re out of work....They stretched the point."

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

New York Times, U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement, Ron Nixon, July 2, 2013. A misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service. A longtime surveillance system called mail covers is a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images. Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail. The mail covers program is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny. The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping. “In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.” 

Legal Schnauzer, Was The Fiery Death Of Journalist Michael Hastings Connected To Atlanta Security Firm Called Endgame? Roger Shuler, July 1, 2013. At the time of his death in a fiery car crash on June 18, journalist Michael Hastings was working on a story about alleged Anonymous leader Barrett Brown. Currently under federal indictment on charges related to computer hacking, Brown is the journalist who first reported on a shadowy private security firm in Atlanta called Endgame. The Web site freebarrettbrown.org reports that Hastings was planning to interview Brown in late June and had announced to his followers, "Get ready for your mind to be blown."  A Hastings / Brown interview almost certainly would have included questions about Brown's research on "black hat" private security firms that work with the official U.S. intelligence community. Some of these outfits also have powerful ties to corporate America via the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Primary among such firms is Endgame, which is based on the seventh floor of the former Biltmore Hotel building in Atlanta.

OpEdNews, Black Hat Versus White Hat: The Other Side Of The Snowden/Hastings/Barret Brown Cases, Jim March and Jill Simpson, June 27, 2013. This is a look into the world of the private contractors that work in alliance with the official US intelligence community and appear to be state-sanctioned to commit crimes. We focus on one of these shady contractors, Endgame -- an Atlanta corporation that both Barrett Brown and Michael Hastings were looking at. We show who they are, what they do, what their founders did before, who funds them and who they are connected to. We even filmed and photographed their building and lobby. At present everybody is focused on what the NSA and related "spy agencies" are doing. But these contractors don't even have their level of alleged "oversight" and are if anything scarier. Enjoy. We assure you, the "spooks" won't. The final moves in a chess game are called the “endgame.”  It has come to the attention of American whistleblowers and election integrity specialists that the CIA, NSA and White House have designed the ultimate final “endgame” for the free world as we know it -- with a group of computer “security specialists.” One key component of this is a corporate office called Endgame at the Biltmore Hotel building.

Examiner.com, Top secret CIA dart gun causes fatal heart attacks, Fred Burks, June 20, 2013. A top secret weapon of the CIA is used for conducting clandestine assassinations without leaving a trace of evidence. This specially designed secret weapon is a pistol which shoots a small poison dart to cause a heart attack, as explained in Congressional testimony in a short video clip from the powerful documentary Secrets of the CIA. By educating ourselves and others on vitally important matters like this, we can build a brighter future for us all. The dart from this secret CIA weapon penetrates clothing and leaves nothing but a tiny red dot on the skin. On penetration of the deadly dart, the individual targeted for assassination may feel as if bitten by a mosquito, or they may not feel anything at all. The poisonous dart completely disintegrates upon entering the target. The lethal poison then rapidly enters the bloodstream causing a heart attack. Once the damage is done, the poison denatures quickly, so that an autopsy is very unlikely to detect that the heart attack resulted from anything other than natural causes.Sounds like the perfect James Bond weapon, doesn't it? Yet all of this is verifiable in Congressional testimony. The astonishing information about this top secret weapon of the CIA comes from U.S. Senate testimony in 1975 on rogue activities of the CIA. In this riveting exposé, five former CIA agents describe how their initial pride and enthusiasm at serving their nation turned to anguish and remorse, as they realized they were actually subverting democracy and killing innocent civilians in the name "national security" and promoting foreign policy agendas.

 

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