Obama Security Crackdown Continues in Jan. 5 News Reports

Editor's Note: Below is a selection of other significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media news. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

Reason, TSA's Intrusions on American Dignity, Brian Doherty, Jan. 5, 2011. The new scanning technologies rolled out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are undignified and meant to be. The illusion of choice surrounding their use is intended to funnel us into an even more undignified situation. Be exposed electronically in full, or physically molested, or go back home. These are unprecedented demands on Americans moving through the theoretically free world, not some penitentiary or asylum.
NBC, U.S. tells agencies: Watch 'insiders' to prevent new WikiLeaks, Michael Isikoff, Jan. 5, 2011. 
The Obama administration is telling federal agencies to take aggressive new steps to prevent more WikiLeaks embarrassments, including instituting “insider threat” programs to ferret out disgruntled employees who might be inclined to leak classified documents, NBC News has learned. A highly detailed 11-page memo prepared by U.S. intelligence officials and distributed by Jacob J. Lew, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, suggests that agencies use psychiatrists and sociologists to measure the “relative happiness” of workers or their “despondence and grumpiness” as a way to assess their trustworthiness. The memo was sent this week to senior officials at all agencies that use classified material.  

Huffington Post, Obama Renominates More Than 40 Judicial Candidates Reason, Sam Stein, Jan. 5, 2011. Faced with the prospect of increasingly lengthy court vacancies, the White House on Wednesday formally renominated more than 40 judicial candidates whose possible appointments were left in limbo during the last congressional session.

OpEd News/Consortium News, Republicans Aim Info-War at Obama, Robert Parry, Jan. 5, 2011.




Finally, Congress appears ready to hold some high-profile hearings -- except they won't be about the most important scandals of the past decade, like how the United States was misled into the Iraq invasion, how the Afghan War was bungled, how torture became a U.S. practice, or how bank deregulation and Wall Street greed nearly destroyed the economy.

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Suspected Rove Role In Swede WikiLeaks Probe, Part II


Over the holiday weekend, the Justice Integrity Project received significant new leads advancing our story about Karl Rove’s advisory services to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and their potential link to the ongoing WikiLeaks probes by Sweden and the United States. 

Part of this came from the reader links from News24 in Sweden, a tabloid that boasts of the ninth highest readership among that country’s online news sites.

News24 chief editor Aaron Israelson led his organization being the first in his country to follow up our group's Huffington Post story and the work of Alabama legal commentator Roger Shuler. Shuler and I each wrote updates on Monday. Mine appeared in Connecticut Watchdog. Shuler's published by multiple sites, including his Legal Schnauzer, Daily Kos and FireDogLake. These reports (listed below) were largely status reports enlivened by excellent reader comments. The most substantive reporting based on new leads is still to come.

Several points are worth noting here beyond the specifics of the Rove/WikiLeaks story. First, these investigations are an ongoing process that benefit from reader comments. The Rove/Sweden/WikiLeaks angle is almost entirely ignored by the traditional media in both countries, for example.

Yet an astonishing amount of information is already available if one follows links provided by readers. Second, the investigation of WikiLeaks founder on sex and spy claims is not simply a government vs. whistleblower story, or right vs. left.

In many ways it’s also old media vs. new media. This is memorably illustrated by a

of former CIA analyst Ray McGovern telling CNN news anchor Don Lemon, who appears almost childlike during his scolding, that he should not be parroting government claims that Assange is “a pariah” -- and should start emulating Assange by providing information to the public about important matters. Glenn Greenwald’s Salon column and the New Yorker also illustrate this theme by showing the major media’s abject deference to government leaders during their pivotal 2003 coverage of the beginning of the Iraqi war.

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Concerns Grow on Suspected Rove WikiLeaks Role

Jan. 3
Connecticut Watchdog, Rove Suspected of Role In Swedish WikiLeaks Probe, Justice Integrity Project, Jan. 3, 2010. Karl Rove’s help for Sweden as it and the Obama administration investigate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be the latest example of the adage, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”
Legal Schnauzer and Daily Kos, The Rove/Assange Story Hits the International Press in Sweden, Roger Shuler, Jan. 3, 2010. The story of Karl Rove's likely connection to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been picked up by a major news site in Sweden. We are pleased to say that our work here at Legal Schnauzer played a part in an important story going global.
TPM Muckraker, Judith Miller Criticizes Assange... For Not Verifying His Sources (VIDEO), Eric Lach, Jan. 3, 2011. Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter who was much criticized for her reporting on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction capabilities in the build-up to war, offered some pretty ironic criticisms of Julian Assange on Fox News this weekend. While arguing that Wikileaks is a new kind of journalism that people need to "get used" to, she called the Wikileaks' founder a "bad journalist." Why? "Because he didn't care at all about attempting to verify the information that he was putting out or determine whether or not it would hurt anyone," she said. For comparison's sake, here's what Miller once told Michael Massing in defense of her reporting (courtesy of Crooks and Liars): "[M]y job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal.
New York Times, Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market, Eric Lipton, Nicola Clark and Andrew W. Lehren, Jan. 3, 2010. To a greater degree than previously known, diplomats are a big part of the sales force, according to hundreds of cables released by WikiLeaks, which describe politicking and cajoling at the highest levels….The documents also suggest that demands for bribes, or at least payment to suspicious intermediaries who offer to serve as “agents,” still take place. Boeing says it is committed to avoiding any such corrupt practices.

New Year's Reflections On Alfred Kahn's Legacy

By Andrew Kreig / JIP Director’s Blog

The passing this week of the illustrious economist, college dean and pioneering regulator Dr. Alfred Kahn provides an apt occasion not simply to celebrate his work helping consumers. His work underscores also how logic and individual commitment can change conventional wisdom and indeed entrenched power, These lessons are especially timely as we at the Justice Integrity Project take stock of our first year documenting scandals within the justice system and, with your help as readers, rally support for reform in the year ahead.

Kahn, 93, left, is most famous for leading the deregulation of the airline industry during the late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter at a time when it was widely assumed that air traffic over major routes required close government supervision over a handful of major carriers. Kahn then became anti-inflation “czar” in that administration, an almost hopeless task that was enlivened occasionally by his blunt talk and wit. Most of us have benefitted for decades from the lower-costs and innovations from deregulating air traffic, which enabled creation of Southwest Airlines and provided a test case for similar deregulation and expanded consumer benefits in many sectors. These included energy and my longtime field of telecommunications.

Kahn’s friend and admirer, Dr. Thomas Hazlett, professor of law and economics at George Mason University School of Law, wrote an eloquent assessment in today’s Financial Times, excerpted below.  In showing the power of ideas, it’s relevant that Kahn was generally considered a liberal Democrat and Hazlett is a well-known political conservative and authority on telecommunications. He directs his law school’s Information Economy Project at the National Center for Technology and Law after serving as the FCC’s first chief economist. As disclosure, I’m an affiliated research fellow at that Project. Also, my undergraduate degree from Cornell University was signed by then-Dean Kahn, who spent most of his career at the university since 1947 when not in public office. The degree hangs on my wall, as I write this as a kind of inspiration, though I'd be the first to recognize that its signing was more of an administrative function than personal. For an authoritative and even more personal assessment of the deregulating regulator's legacy to the country, kindly read that below -- with our best wishes for all of your endeavors in the New Year.

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Evidence of Swedish-U.S. Abuses in WikiLeaks Probes?


We at the Justice Integrity Project recently wrote that our legal reform mission was impossible without reporting on the rapid erosion of due process rights -- and the reluctance of traditional news media to warn of this trend. With sadness, we report today more evidence that our traditional freedoms are being sacrificed under the guise of protecting us from “terror.”

Legal commentator Roger Shuler expands our understanding of how the spy and sex investigation of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange could well have a “Made in America” label as a joint Swedish-American political prosecution designed to smear and incapacitate him. Cited below is Shuler’s column, which takes the controversial step of reporting on the professional ties of Assange’s former lovers who turned into accusers. To understand suspicions why Karl Rove could have a role in this prosecution, Shuler’s article should be read in tandem with the recent reporting of Wayne Madsen, Glenn Greenwald and bloggers at FireDogLake. These columns are cited below also, or summarized in several of our previous columns this week.

JIP has been reporting also on this story, including our Huffington Post column Dec. 19, Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks. To be sure, some critics responded that any such ties were too speculative to be published, even though Rove’s own website boasted of his consulting services for Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredric Reinfeldt, right, as Shuler’s column today notes. Others criticized JIP for pointing out the relationships even though we lacked specific confirmation that Rove had helped plan the WikiLeaks investigations. Realistically, that’s seldom possible at the outset, particularly in high-level international intrigue.

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JIP Special Report on WikiLeaks Investigations


Several major web-based news investigations and commentaries were published Dec. 29 regarding intrigues behind the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic documents and the subsequent investigation of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange on sex and spy charges.

The most explosive in its implications was by investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, right, an author and former National Security Agency analyst. He published, “Sweden co-opted by CIA/Pentagon to launder WikiLeaks cables.” A small part of his article is excerpted below. The full text requires a modest monthly or yearly subscription. Our excerpt below primarily touches on the piece’s headline.

The full text overlaps with other areas we have  been researching on behalf of JIP. It draws links between the Assange prosecutions and high-level news media, law enforcement and diplomatic figures in Sweden and such U.S. counterparts as Karl Rove, an advisor to both Swedish Prime Minister Fredric Reinfeldt and many prominent U.S. leaders, including former President Bush.

Madsen beat me into print with his story. But he would be the first to stay it’s only a start of an investigation into all aspects of the WikiLeaks case. JIP will be pursuing the leads independently. As further background, Madsen is a controversial author, reporter and broadcast commentator. He has appeared on most major networks, and is now most frequently on such international outlets as Russia Today. He’s published an 1,100-page book on privacy law, wrote a book on genocide in Rwanda based upon on-the-ground reporting there and demanded an audit of the National Press Club when he ran for president. 

Perhaps most daring from a career standpoint, he mocked the "War on Christmas" as a trumped up issue when he appeared as a guest expert on the Fox News Bill O’Reilly Show. Earlier this month, Madsen gave a guest lecture on WikiLeaks at the Press Club to a group of investigative reporters. In the talk, Madsen said he was approached by a founding director of WikiLeaks to join its board but was blocked by Assange himself, in part because Madsen has long suspected that Assange is a "useful idiot" at best for various intellience agencies, if not  a "charlatan."  Whatever the facts on that, Madsen's accusations of government wrongdoing in the WikiLeaks case can hardly be ascribed to unthinking loyalty to the group or its leaders.

The other major development today was new information in the effort by columnists Glenn Greenwald of Salon and Jane Hamsher’s team at FireDogLake to challenge Wired magazine and its source Adrian Lamo on their reporting about Assange and what some claim was his source, the now-imprisoned Army Private Bradley Manning. Wired’s leadership launched a counter-attack against their critics. Greenwald and Hamsher responded with an escalation of their questioning.

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