Court Grants Assange Freedom Just As U.S. Ramps Up Claims


Julian Assange at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

Julian Assange, center, at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

A major international human rights body has ordered the United Kingdom to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for safe passage out of the kingdom — just when it seemed likely that the UK and other Western powers were on the verge seizing Assange on old charges and possibly major new ones.

Ruling on a petition brought by Ecuador, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights announced on July 12 a so-far little-reported ruling that political asylum in a nation's foreign embassy — as Ecuador has granted Assange in London for six years — carries also a right of safe passage out of a country, as in Assange's situation.

inter american court human rightsThe Costa Rican-based court is a unit of the Organization of American States (OAS) that adjudicates cases, such as referrals from the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The court ruled that its jurisdiction extends globally when the rights of its members are involved. Under that authority, it ordered the United Kingdom to release Assange for safe passage to Ecuador.

The court's press release stated that the court ruling, issued on May 30 and kept confidential, was delivered to the parties on July 12. The announcement said that the court has not yet received a response from the UK on the decision.

Whatever the UK response, the ruling by the five judges is likely to become controversial because so many major Western nations have such deep hostility towards Assange, whose organization operates in a gray zone between hackers and conventional media.

Years ago, Assange released via WikiLeaks vast quantities of secret foreign and military documents that showed apparent torture, other war crimes and deceitful practices by Western nations.

dnc horizontal logoA new factor is the U.S. Justice Department's July 13 indictment of 12 Russian GRU intelligence officers.

The government alleges that the Russians illegally used massive amounts of stolen political documents from such entities as the Democratic National Committee to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Republicans. The conspiracy was said to include an international group — unnamed and uncharged — that is widely reported to be WikiLeaks.

Since 2010, our Justice Integrity Project has reported extensively on sexual misconduct claims made by two women that year against Assange. The claims (including that he engaged in unprotected sexual relations) have not led to any formal charges against Assange by Sweden in the nearly eight years since his visit there.

But Sweden's aggressive investigation has led to court battles that have kept Assange confined for six years as a political refugee in a small room in Ecuador's London embassy while he was widely smeared in the popular press as a suspected sex criminal.

Yet that "case" against Assange was dubious and tainted by Sweden's oppressive, secretive non-jury court procedures. Even so, one of the complainants, identified most frequently in the press merely as "SW," completely disappeared in 2010 soon after inviting Assange to sleep with her, as we have previously reported in accounts excerpted below.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomA team of Swedish computer sleuths reported several years ago that "SW" and a number of her social media friends have disappeared from view, suggesting that either they were very frightened of a man long departed from Sweden or that they had been part of a secret operation.

This summer Assange has risked losing even his safe harbor of a room in Ecuador's embassy because of the recent change in Ecuador's government to new conservative leaders displeased by new WikiLeaks disclosures. Ecuador has cut off Assange's Internet and other communications, partly as a reaction to pressure from the United States. The New York Post reported on July 14 that Assange could soon be evicted from London embassy,

WikiLeaks, which launched its first server in 2006 and claims to possess 10 million documents, specializes in release of secret documents received from anonymous sources. Its stated goal? To increase accountability for governments and other major players. In early 2016, a presidential campaign year, WikiLeaks ramped up release of American political documents that hurt Democrats especially.

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Trump's Supreme Court Seat: The Art of the Steal

djt william kennedy white house

Did U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's sudden resignation June 27 stem from corrupt motives?

That question looms even as most court watchers focus on the conventional analysis of evaluating Kennedy's proposed successor, U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Judge Brett brett kavanaughKavanaugh, 53, whom President Trump (shown above in a file photo with the retiring justice) announced Monday evening on July 9.  Kavanaugh is shown below at Monday's announcement with his family and Trump and at right in a file photo.

No matter what hoopla, drama and distraction Trump planned around the selection the possibility of Deep State corruption deserves our attention — and as thorough an investigation as society's (mostly) timid and toothless watchdogs can muster.

djt brett kavanaugh family 7 9 18 SmallThat's particularly so when the high stakes involve an activist ultra-right court majority likely to protect the current president and his cronies from an ongoing corruption probe, with stage apparently set for this appointment by relationships forged with hundreds of millions of dollars in suspicious money disbursed among the current players.

That kind of attack on democracy by corrupt elites, one of the definitions of a "Deep State," is as bad or worse than the court rulings and precedents that a new justice may help create. The intrigue is heightened because Republicans arguably "stole" a seat — and their current majority — by failing to schedule hearings on any Democratic nominee to fill a court vacancy during the last year of President Obama's second term.

There are and will be many mainstream critiques of Kavanaugh and his worthiness for confirmation. The basics were already summarized before the announcement by the specialist SCOTUSblog in a profile by its editor Edith Roberts entitled  Potential nominee profile: Brett Kavanaugh.

But our column takes the scrutiny to a darker level than ventured by establishment commentators. We do so given the high stakes of the process and the repeated gaming of the system by Republicans and their appointees who are typically described as "conservatives" but should be described instead as radical right activists who want a result-oriented federal court system to enact their patrons' agendas, no matter what bromides they utter during charade-like confirmation hearings.

lnr logo newThe track record of this and other recent court appointments provides a solid basis for scrutiny, if not outrage.

In this instance, suspicions of the process arise in part because of the vast financial transitions between Deutsche Bank and LNR Property, entities associated with the Trump and Kennedy families, as well as the clear-cut benefit for Republicans and Trump by rousing their base with a new court deutsche bank logoappointment before the mid-term congressional elections in November. Kennedy had already hired court clerks for the coming term, suggesting that he did not expect to retire until recently.

Trump could also benefit in rulings from a younger and more partisan justice than Kennedy on what are likely to be increasingly serious legal actions by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III against Trump Administration players.

virginia ginni thomas cpac 2017 gage skidmore flickrOn Monday, Republican Justice Clarence Thomas's wife Virginia (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) showed yet again her side's utter contempt for non-partisan judicial norms when she used her Twitter feed to defend U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan from accusations that Jordan, as Ohio State University's assistant wrestling coach, had helped enable a team doctor's sexual predations on team members.

Jordan, an Ohio Freedom Caucus leader running to become House Speaker, is one of Trump's major GOP defenders against the corruption probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III. Virginia "Ginni" Thomas is a longtime hard-right Republican activist who years ago showed her corrupt proclivities (See the 2011 Los Angeles Times blockbuster, Clarence Thomas failed to report wife's income, watchdog says) by trying to start a consulting business in advance of her husband's (and Kennedy's) vote to destroy the nation's federal campaign financing system in the all-Republican 5-4 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

george w bush v al gore graphic Kennedy has been part of such presidential puppetry before, most obviously with his vote in the 5-4 Bush-v. Gore decision in 2000 that stopped that year's presidential vote recount in Florida. With scant compelling court precedent to anyone but ultra-right partisans, Kennedy thus joined in awarding the U.S. presidency (by an unprecedented court fiat enacted exclusively by Republicans) to GOP nominee George W. Bush, thus altering American history in enduring ways. 

With that background, we explore more fully below the suspicious activity between the Trump and Kennedy families in this sequel to New GOP High Court Threatens Massive Public Pain, our previous analysis of recent court decisions and the potential civic harms stemming from Kennedy's resignation.   

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New GOP High Court Threatens Massive Public Pain

anthony kennedy oThe resignation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy after a series of controversial pro-conservative court opinions last week is prompting widespread fear that the court is moving in sinister fashion toward radical, activist positions causing public harms unprecedented in recent American history.

Several of the court's recent holdings were by 5-4 all-Republican majorities that overcame all-Democratic minorities in ways that underscored how the court functions at times as a brute-force political operation.

Kennedy's unexpected departure and President Trump's prompt timetable for installing a successor portend concentrated government and private power in ways that have never existed in the United States previously even when the conservative Supreme Court's hostility to New Deal legislation in the Depression-era 1930s was balanced by a reform-minded president and Congress. .

jerrold nadler o SmallThese days?  "We're going to go back to before the New Deal" in terms of economic protections for Americans, no matter what nominees might say publicly, according to U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New Yorker who is the top-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Nadler (shown at right) told CNN during a July 2 interview that all of Trump's prospective nominees have been carefully vetted by the ultra-conservative judicial selection think tanks like the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation to conform to their agendas, as have their previous picks and their decisions reflected in the latest Supreme Court decisions. 

us supreme court 2017The nine Supreme Court justices, with Chief Justice John Roberts at center, are shown in a 2017 portrait. Each of the nine attended either Yale or Harvard Law School, although Justice Ruth Ginsberg (at left) transferred before graduation to Columbia Law School.

As a general matter beyond the Supreme Court:

American courts, even when staffed by previous generations of conservatives, have always functioned during times when government power was diffused among federal branches and state/local governments.

But a novel and for many in the public a frightening situation now stems from the current concentration of power in an autocratic executive like Trump who uses "national security" as a mantra to assert power with scant pushback.

Targets for Trump and the authoritarians that he is appointing to the courts include voting rights, worker protections, immigrants and the economic safety net of Social Security and Medicare. Trump is using immigration as one of his scare tactics to solidify his base of supporters, many of whom are rightfully resentful of excesses by elites in recent years. But, in ways largely beyond the scope of today's column, Trump's legal initiatives also help protect him and his own cohort of elite backers by underminnig basic American institutions like the courts, Congress, the FBI, the press and ultimately the federal budget and social safety net.

Today's column sets the stage to explore these developments by drawing on recent commentaries about the Supreme Court's just-completed annual term and controversies arising from the Kennedy succession. The material is excerpted below in an extensive appendix. These resources include highlights from two annual seminars that I attended on June 28 that convened leading experts to speaking about the court's term, which extends from the first week of October to the last week of June. 

The Yale Law School Association of Washington, DC sponsored one conferences for alumni and students. The other annual conference was organized by the American Constitution Society, a progressive group whose conservative counterpart the Federalist Society plays a leading role in recommending judges and policy changes to Trump and other Republicans. I am a longtime member of the two rival societies and also hold law degrees from the law schools of both Yale and the University of Chicago.

Following this introduction, we summarize the signficance of Kennedy's resignation and then preview the difficult odds, at least in the short term, of sustaining constitutional checks-and-balances designed more than two centuries ago to limit power-grabs by a president.

These topics are not simple, especially since none of the players or institutions are all-bad or all-good and we do indeed live in an era of "fake news" emanating to some degree from all sides. So, today's column is sets the stage for future reporting, hopefully with your help as readers, tipsters and active citizens. Topics will include the potentially insidious aspects of Kennedy's resignation, as previewed below. 

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RFK Murder News Divides His Family, Media As 50th Anniversary Nears On June 5

Robert Kennedy Victory Speech Ambassador Hotel, June 6, 1968

Two children of slain U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy are disputing the official account of his assassination 50 years ago, prompting renewed debate before the June 5 anniversary.

Robert F Kennedy Jr (2017 portrait by Gage Skidmore)Robert F. KennedyLongtime law professor and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Washington Post reporter Tom Jackman raised the profile of the long-simmering controversy with Jackman's front-page Sunday story on May 26 entitled, Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan.

The son is shown at far right in a portrait (by Gage Skidmore) next to a file photo of his father on the 1968 presidential campaign trail. The late New York senator also is portrayed above at top in file photo taken during his California Democratic primary victory speech minutes before his murder. He was shot in a kitchen pantry after leaving the speaking stage at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Jackman, who has covered law enforcement since 1998 at the Post, reported:

The younger Kennedy was ready to go public with his views after spending months re-examining the evidence and meeting in prison with Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of the murder in a 1969 jury trial in which defense counsel mounted scant defense.

“I got to a place where I had to see Sirhan,” Kennedy told Jackman of the defendant, shown at right in a 2016 prison photo.

Sirhan Sirhan“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,” said Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and the third oldest of his father’s 11 children. “I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”

The report of Kennedy's comments and the evidence supporting them represent breakthrough coverage of the case for a mainstream publication — and a challenge to other family members, authorities, opinion leaders and indeed any concerned citizen.

The challenge is whether the oft-reported basic facts of such a high-profile assassination could have been so incomplete or suppressed as to lead to a false imprisonment — and an escaped murderer or murderers.

That's an assessment provided in an exclusive interview June 4 by Dr. William Pepper, a close friend of the late Senator Kennedy and also the current defense counsel for Sirhan. It took years for Pepper to become convinced that Sirhan was innocent of killing RFK, not just via a legal technicality but as a matter of scientific and other proof.

william pepper mlkPepper, shown at right with his friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) at a major political conference in 1967, was a journalist and activist who last year summarized RFK evidence in a pending petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a unit of the Organization of American States (IACHR/OAS), seeking what Pepper calls the first evidentiary hearing ever in the Sirhan murder case.

He regards Jackman's reporting as extraordinary, much like the Washington Post's willingness to print it, as well as a breakthrough story by Jackman on March 30, Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.? His family believes James Earl Ray was framed. Jackman, a Post reporter covering courts and crime since 1998, quoted prominent members of MLK's family as saying they did not believe that his convicted killer James Earl Ray really killed the civil rights leader in April 1968 in Memphis. 

cia logo"More than any other mainstream media journalist," Pepper told me regarding RFK's murder, "Tom Jackman has gone in-depth into the evidence of the case related to Sirhan's alleged guilt and has very clearly shown that evidence was withheld and that Sirhan was selected as a victim of CIA MK Ultra mind control efforts to be set up as a patsy through the use of hypnosis and chemicals. His role was to perform a distraction so that the real assassin could do his work and put three bullets into RFK's body at much closer range while Sirhan was always three to five feet in from of the senator." 

dan brownUpdate: Jackman and author/ filmmaker / professor Dr. Shane O'Sullivan have provided powerful reporting bolstering the hypnosis explanation in new, in-depth articles quoting experts, including Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. Daniel P. Brown (shown at right), an expert in forensic psychiatry and hypnosis. He extensively interviewed Sirhan and studied also what is known about the CIA's MK Ultra program.

Their new articles are: The assassination of Bobby Kennedy: Was Sirhan Sirhan hypnotized to be the fall guy? by Jackman on June 4 in the Washington Post and Was Sirhan Hypnotically Programmed to Assassinate RFK? by O’Sullivan on June 5 in the investigative online site WhoWhatWhy. The WhoWhatWhy report contains a 67-minute video featuring interviews with Brown and Sirhan's attorney Laurie Dusek. Despite filming six hours of interviews, Brown was spiked from the recent Netflix documentary Bobby Kennedy For President.

Other Mainstream Reporting

Conventional wisdom is that reporters, editors and their news outlets always seek to publish verifiable information challenging the power structure, especially for suspected misconduct in something like a high-profile murder case, which the assassination of a Kennedy running for president surely was, by any standard.

The track record on truly sensitive topics is less than impressive, however, as indicated by the Netflix decisioni among many others, especially if new reporting undermines decades of previous coverage and powerful institutional relationships, as we reported on May 29 in our most recent column here, Rights Pioneer's Obit Prompts Disputes Over JFK Murder Half-Truths. Our column began: "The Washington Post's obituary last week of a pioneering African-American lawyer continued the newspaper's controversial coverage of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the 1964 murder of JFK's friend and purported lover Mary Pinchot Meyer."

Regarding the RFK coverage, the Post's most recent big stories were quite varied in their assumptions.

The gist of Jackman's in-depth pieces on May 26 and June 4 contrasted sharply with a Post Sunday Magazine story a week later, What is it like to be the brother of Robert Kennedy’s assassin? The life of the other Sirhan.

For the magazine piece, Los Angeles-based freelance author Peter Gilstrap accepted Sirhan's guilt with scant attempt to explore the possibility of his innocence. The discrepancy doubtless occurred in part because of the long lead time for magazine articles, which are generated separately from the Post's news staff. Nonetheless, the supposedly in-depth treatment that a magazine is supposed to provide managed to miss much of the gist of four decades of investigative revelations. 

The Washington Post published in its news section on the same day, June 3, another major treatment, headlined Robert F. Kennedy’s final flight: The storied journey of the ride from California to New York. Authored by freelance legal expert David Margolick, it avoided the issue of murder guilt and focused instead on the mournful yet intriguing airplane flight in which the three widows of 1960s murdered ikons JFK, MLK and RFK accompanied RFK's corpse from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. On June 5, Post editorial board member and op-ed columnist Charles Lane dismissed any new evidence or calls for a new investigation as crackpot ideas unworthy of discussion except (apparently) to insult those proposing them.

kathleen kennedy townsendThe Boston Globe, New England's largest circulation newspaper, followed up Jackman's May 26 scoops in the Post by reporting on May 31 that the late senator's oldest child, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (shown at left), has been persuaded by her brother Robert Jr.'s analysis to join him in seeking a new investigation of the murder.

But the Globe story, RFK's children divided over calls for a fresh investigation of his assassination by Michael Levenson on May 31, 2018, also reported that other children of the slain senator said that they opposed a re-investigation. Levenson reported that this opposition underscores "how divisive the second-gunman theory continues to be, a half-century after the presidential candidate, former attorney general, and senator from New York, was killed in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles."

joe kennedy ii rfk child former repThose children objecting to a new investigation were former Massachusetts Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II (shown at right), documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy (the late senator's youngest child, who declined comment to the Globe but voiced opposition to the Post), and Kerry Kennedy, who is president of a human rights organization named for her father. The irony is striking. The head of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights opposes a new investigation into alleged human rights violations that allegedly protected his murderer.

This dispute about evidence will surprise and shock many. Most people have thought from initial news reports to the present that they knew what happened: Sirhan hated Kennedy, acted alone to kill him, and was convicted after a fair trial. Any doubts about such a consensus casts doubt on enormously important and influential American institutions and leaders, past and present.

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Rights Pioneer's Obit Prompts Disputes Over JFK Murder Half-Truths

The Washington Post's obituary last week of a pioneering African-American lawyer continued the newspaper's controversial coverage of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the 1964 murder of JFK's friend and lover Mary Pinchot Meyer.

dovey roundtreeOn May 21, the Post published a long and respectful obituary, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, 1914–2018, about an African-American woman by that name (shown at right) who overcame racial bias to carve out impressive careers in the military, law, and ministry in a Washington, DC work environment that was heavily segregated for most of her career.

One of Roundtree's early highlights was winning a 1965 jury acquittal for Raymond Crump, Jr., an African-American day laborer whom authorities had charged with murdering Meyer on a canal towpath near her home in the capital's fashionable Georgetown neighborhood.

Obituary writer Harrison Smith reported on Roundtree's civic commitment and skill in winning the acquittal. The reporter also quoted two commentators — journalist / author Nina Burleigh and attorney Robert Bennett — as opining that Crump was guilty, despite the jury verdict.

Several JFK assassination researchers, including this editor and another Meyer biographer, Peter Janney, sharply challenged via reader comments and letters to the Post its taint of Crump (and by implication Roundtree).

paul kuntzler georgetown dish croppedAnother critic, Paul Kuntzler, used the dispute to urge the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to renew the murder investigation by focusing on a witness against Crump, retired professor William L. Mitchell, whom Janney has accused of being a CIA asset who participated in an effort to frame Crump on a claim that he murdered Meyer during an attempted rape that she resisted. Mitchell has responded through the years with conflicting statements, as amplified below.

In 2007, Kuntzler (a retired exhibit sales manager for the National Science Teachers Association shown at right) spent his life savings of nearly $200,000 on two pages of advertising in the New York Times denouncing that newspaper, the Washington Post and other major news organizations for failing to cover fairly the JFK murder and cover-up evidence.

peter janney coverAs a preview of our treatment below:

Janney, the son of high-ranking CIA executive Wistar Janney, has argued in his investigative book Mary's Mosaic: The CiA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and their Vision for World Peace, that his father and Meyer's ex-husband Cord Meyer, another high-level CIA executive, were among those in the agency implicated in her murder on (Oct. 12, 1964). Her shooter used two bullets to kill her execution-style on a canal towpath.

Janney, drawing also on other research typically ignored by the media, asserts that murder motive was fear by authorities that the well-connected Meyer — sister-in-law to Post-Newsweek rising star Ben Bradlee, among her other influential contacts — would use her connections to expose flaws in the Warren Commission report issued in September 1964.

earl warrenThat panel led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren assertedthat JFK was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone. The commission, which included former CIA Director Allen Dulles, also claimed that Oswald's killer Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, had no connection to the mob despite Ruby's longtime work with Mafia leaders who had sub-rosa alliances with parts of the CIA, law enforcement at the national and Dallas levels, and anti-Castro Cubans.   

The Roundtree obituary failed to quote Janney or any other backer of Roundtree's defense of Crump. Instead, it cited only the establishment lawyer Bennett and Burleigh, shown in a file photo and author of 1998 biography of Meyer, A Very Private Woman.

nine burleigh newsweek screenshotThe reaction to those few paragraphs in the obituary criticizing the jury acquittal of Crump prompted reaction mostly because the perceived slant paralleled the Post's biased and at times self-protective coverage for decades of JFK's assassination, which occurred during a Dallas motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963.

As documented in the Justice Integrity Project's 50-part "Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination," the Post has thrown its editorial weight behind the Warren Report from 1964 to present. The newspaper with rare exceptions has ignored or trivialized the most compelling contrary scientific, documentary and witness evidence. That evidence draws on some five million pages of declassified documents and more than 2,500 books in whole or part about the assassination. Many critics of the Warren Commission believe the single best book for general readers summarizing the evidence is JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass, published in 2009.

Ben Bradlee, moreover, played a key role in the Post's coverage through the years, first as the Washington bureau chief of the Post-owned Newsweek and then as the Post's longtime executive editor.

peter janney jfk mary meyerHe was also a key participant in the Meyer case in several ways: As a news executive, brother-in-law to the victim, personal friend of the president, and witness in the Crump trial. Perhaps most notably, he helped deliver the murder victim Meyer's diary to CIA master spy James J. Angleton, a mutual friend of Bradlee and the victim, and kept that entire matter secret at the trial and out of the media.

Not until a scoop by an outsider in 1976 did the reading public learn that Meyer had had an affair with Kennedy during his presidency. Mary Meyer is shown at the White House with the president during one of her visits with Bradlee and his wife Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee.

'Fake News' Factors?

Meanwhile, Bradlee had been achieving iconic status as a fearless, crusading editor leading the public's right to know about such tough investigative stories as the Pentagon Papers (recently chronicled by a Hollywood film) and Watergate. One of his quotations is shown below.

ben bradlee pursuit of truthSimmering under the surface, however, public opinion polls for decades have shown that more than 60 percent of Americans do not believe the Warren report despite the efforts of mainstream media like the Bradlee-led Post to reinforce the report and downplay critics, whether contemporaries like Meyer (ex-wife of Cord Meyer, one of the top CIA propagandists for many years), or scientific, law enforcement, and other experts.

Many Americans suspect that the Post, like other news organizations, places a higher importance in protecting its institutional interests (including relationships with government and/or other power brokers) than on the public's right to know about truly sensitive matters. This would be despite the long-standing campaigns of the news sector  to promote Bradlee, among others, as paragons of fearless truth-telling.

Robert F Kennedy Jr (2017 portrait by Gage Skidmore)Yet any news organization is constantly generating new material that complicate, if not undermine, suggestions of unwarranted, pervasive self-censorship. On May 27, for example, the Post published a breakthrough, in-depth report quoting law professor and environment activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (shown at right) as saying he no longer believes the official story that his father was killed in 1968 by the still-imprisoned convict Sirhan Sirhan.

The powerful front-page story headlined Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan was reported by the Post's Tom Jackman. On March 30, he published on the Post's front page a similar breakthrough report, Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.? His family believes James Earl Ray was framed, quoting members of the King family as stating they did not believe that Dr. Martin Luther King was fatally shot by the convict James Earl Ray, who died in 1998 in prison.

Reasonable observers might differ on whether the Post's two front-page stories this spring illustrate the strength of the free press and journalistic initiative, or are long overdue course corrections.

But it's hard to imagine that the details are not worth reviewing, as we enable with the materials below, especially during current times when a current president is so reckless broadcasting claims of "fake news" against the Post and many other leading news organizations.

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JIP Reports On Trump Asian Policies, Conservative Future


The Justice Integrity Project (JIP)'s original reporting provides for the most part an alternative to conventional mainstream reporting even though many of this editor's other activities involve reporting, legal, business and other civic activities closely associated with traditional institutions.

asne logoOne way to provide that broader context along with a change of pace from much of our usual fare here is to excerpt two of my columns published last week by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) based on my reporting of nearly two days of ASNE briefings for fellow members earlier this month at the U.S. Department of State on May 7 and at the DC-based Heritage Foundation on May 6.

About a dozen ASNE members attended the briefings and several of us volunteered to report the discussions for ASNE's quarterly publication "The Masthead," excerpted immediately below.  

American Society of Newspaper Editors, State Dept. report: U.S. counters threats from China, North Korea, May 17, 2018. The United States takes a stern stance against threats from China and North Korea, according to a senior U.S. Department of State official who briefed ASNE members this month at the department’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

American Society of Newspaper Editors, Heritage panel: Conservatism supports, survives Trump, May 17, 2018. The conservative movement’s policies largely coincide with President Donald Trump’s agenda and so will emerge intact if not stronger following his presidency.

This editor has long been a member of about a half dozen other journalism groups, including the National Press Club, the Overseas Press Club and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, as well as the District of Columbia Bar, the American Bar Association, the Federalist Society, American Constitution Society, and the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition. The latter advocates for technically efficient spectrum use in fixed wireless bands. My involvedment grows out of a previous career leading the Wireless Communications Association as President/CEO from 1996-2008. In addition, I have served in recent years as a research fellow at two major universities but those relationships are now concluded. Also, I am active with two school alumni groups, primarily in fostering events, alumni news and the modest level of donations such activities generate.

None of these groups bears any responsibility by implication or otherwise, for any reporting here, of course. But it does seem appropriate to share with readers here from time to time the wider context that the directors of the Justice Integrity Project have long been involved in a varied civic activities, while trying (successfully so far, according to our best belief) to avoid any conflict of interest with reporting, which is intended to be hard-hitting, while non-partisan and otherwise free from conflicts. 

Regarding ASNE's annual State Department briefing, these are annual on-the-record discussions between department policy makers and ASNE members, with most of the latter's attendees coming from the editorial opinion pages of major newspapers. The half-day briefing with the Heritage Foundation was a similar program designed to foster dialog between opinion journalists and groups of newsmakers. Details are below.

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