The inspirational words and actions of the murdered 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy came alive once more during a book lecture on April 10 by his eldest child Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and biographer Richard "Rick" Allen at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

rfk richard allen edwin guthmanThe speakers, drawing from  RFK: His Words For Our Times, a 480-page book republished last year, provided a compelling and entertaining discussion of why the senator exemplified leadership qualities of enduring value to the public.

RFK, who launched his presidential campaign in March during the war-torn year of 1968 in a challenge to the Democratic incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, faced a stressed and angry electorate comparable to those of today, the speakers said. 

His memorable method included appeals to the public's better nature along with a daring and at times courageous willingness to travel to opposition locales. "RFK had a predisposition to go into hostile crowds," said Allen, a media executive and longtime political aide. "He constantly sought opportunities to wade into crowds that were not friendly."

Townsend, a professor at Georgetown Law Center and a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, shared several examples of how such actions won over crowds. One such time was in 1966 when Kennedy accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Mississippi Law School. Kennedy, by then a U.S. senator representing New York, had been enormously unpopular in Mississippi and the rest of the Deep South three years previously as Attorney General under his brother John's presidency by leading the Justice Department's legal efforts to require integration and African-American voting rights efforts in compliance with federal court orders. 

Huge public opposition resulted in just a narrow 5-4 vote by the university's regents to permit the RFK speech to occur. The senator arrived with his wife, Ethel, holding hands, which surprised some onlookers who had come to think of him as an almost inhuman devil for trying to change the settled ways of segregation and voting restrictions.

The result by the end of the discussions at the school , the daughter recalled, was a 10-minute standing ovation from the audience. "It was his view that if you talk honestly," she recalled, "you can make a difference."

The RFK book, originally published in 1992 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the senator's fatal shooting in 1968 in Los Angeles just after he won California's Democratic presidential primary, collects his major speeches. They began with his brief years as a journalist and his 1950s work as a U.S. Senate committee counsel kathleen kennedy townsend rick allen npc april 10 2019 img 6249helping senators lead hard-hitting investigations of Mafia members and their and allies who ran major labor unions in corruption fashion..

Most of RFK's words in the book are from his years as attorney general, senator and presidential candidate, with the goal of providing an intimate view of a wordsmith who achieved an enduring reputation for speaking persuasively to unify audiences even on such inherently divisive themes as war, peace, poverty and inequality.

"He was able to win over people," Townsend said, "not by criticizing them but by asking what kind of nation they wanted to have." 

She and Allen explained also RFK had a rare quality of holding seemingly contradictory ideas and acting on them in a positive way. One example was what they called "aggressive civility."

Another was "substantive celebrity," which Townsend described as using the Kennedy family's undoubted celebrity during the 1960s to try to achieve solid results in public policy.

"It was not power for power's sake," Allen  said, "but to help those Americans who needed representation."

Among Townsend's introductions to this world of politics, she recalled, was her attendance at organized crime hearings in the 1950s at the age of three and four. One of her father's targets was Frank Costello, whom Allen described as the head of the Genovese Mafia Family in New York and a known killer of at least five persons, while some said it was more than double that. 

Allen, who edited the book with Guthman, RFK's former press secretary at the Justice Department, recalled that RFK remained undaunted even after hearing that his Senate's work had prompted a threat that acid would be thrown in the eyes of his children to teach a lesson.

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Longtime Washington journalist Ken Silverstein delivered during a dinner lecture on March 27 at the National Press Club his hard-hitting critique of mainstream media coverage of the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.

venezuela flag waving customSilverstein, an author and the editor of the WashingtonBabylon.com news site, spoke to the McClendon Group speaker society about Venezuela and the U.S. Media: Pravda Was Better.

Silverstein, right, has traveled to Venezuela three times, in 1993, 2004 and this February. His new article “Caracas Chronicles” on ken silversteinWashington Babylon describes how the media has so routinely misread — or lied — about the political situation in Venezuela.

He is writing an ongoing series about what he assesses as the likelihood that the Trump administration will invade the country. Caracas Chronicles is Part I of the forthcoming series.

Since then one major flashpoint among commentators has been whether the massive power outages afflicting Venezuela this month are because of covert sabotage by allies of the United States on behalf of legislator Juan Guaido (at left below) who has declared himself the rightful president.

Guaido thus seeks to replace Nicolás Maduro, shown at right below, who was elected to another term last year in a disputed election. Critics claim that the electricity blackout was caused by poor policies and performance of the incumbent government.

juan guaido nicolas maduro

Silverstein's reporting coincides in general with a March 5 column by the Justice Integrity Project U.S. Mainstream Media Propagandize Venezuelan Rebellion.

"News coverage of current political strife in Venezuela," we wrote, "serves as a fresh reminder that U.S. mainstream newspapers and broadcasters too often deliver remarkably biased 'news' reports on sensitive global topics."

We continued:

The corporate media — including the prestigious newspaper outlets like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post — consistently portray leaders of Venezuela, Syria and Russia as bloodthirsty dictators with no semblance of popular appeal. That's despite independent evidence that they have won elections (unlike some tyrants counted as strong U.S. allies) and probably could continue to do so in fair elections, according to independent popularity polls and other evidence.

Appendices to that column and this contain excerpts from a sampling of corporate-controlled and alternative media. Readers can thereby see  differences and patterns.

Silverstein is the creator of WashingtonBabylon.com, a political, satirical and investigative website. He has previously worked as an AP correspondent from Brazil, at the Washington office of the Los Angeles Times, and as the Washington Editor of Harper's Magazine.

He has been a columnist at the New York Observer and a Contributing Editor at VICE, and has written for scores of other publications, with datelines from dozens of countries. These nations include Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Dubai, Egypt, Venezuela, Colombia and many more. Also, he is the author of several books, most recently The Secret World of Oil, and has two more books in the works. He will sign copies at the event.

The Venezuelan crisis is not only an ordeal for its population but a test for the entire Hemisphere’s democratic institutions, including the media’s performance.

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Editor's Note: The announcement below is from the press releases of two 9/11 research groups endorsed by the Justice Integrity Project.

The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and 9/11 victim family members Robert McIlvaine and Barbara 9 11 lawyers committee logoKrukowski-Rastelli announced on March 25 a joint federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI for their failure to perform a congressionally mandated assessment of any evidence known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission related to any factors that contributed in any manner to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

A news conference about these filings was held on March 25, 2019 in Washington, DC near the federal courthouse. The conference locale was 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, outside the Newseum, helping underscore the news value of the topic.

The complaint can be read here. More details are below.

The action for declaratory and injunctive relief is under ae 911 truth logo horizontalthe Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 702, 706, and the federal mandamus statute, 28 U.S.C. 1361, because of federal agency failures to comply with the mandate from Congress.

The complaint cites the failure of the FBI and its 2014-2015 9/11 Review Commission to assess key 9/11-related evidence that the FBI can be shown to have had, or been aware of, regarding:

1) the use of pre-placed explosives to destroy World Trade Center buildings, 1, 2 and 7;
2) arrest and investigation of the “High Fivers” observed photographing and celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11;
3) terrorist financing regarding the reported Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers;
4) recovered plane parts, including serial numbers from all three crash locations;
5) video from cameras mounted inside and outside the Pentagon; and
6) cell phone communications from passengers aboard airplanes.

This is evidence relevant to the 9/11 Review Commission’s and the FBI’s compliance with the mandate from Congress, which should have fbi logobeen assessed by the FBI and the 2014-2015 9/11 Review Commission and reported to Congress. The complaint also cites the destruction by the FBI of evidence related to the “High Fivers.”

The Lawyers' Committee filmed the press conference. An excerpt is below.

Shown above (from left to right) are Richard Gage, president of Architects and Engineers for 9/11Truth.org, 9/11 victim family member Robert McIlvaine (father of victim Bobby McIlvaine), Mick Harrison and David R. Meiswinkle, litigation director and president, respectively, of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, as they held a press conference on March 25, 2019 in front of the Newseum in Washington, DC to discuss the Lawyers’ Committee lawsuit against the FBI. The Newseum, a museum for the news industry, was holding an exhibit inside on the 9/11 attacks.

An extended version of this film with commentary from the Lawyers Committee, Richard Gage and Robert McIlvaine can be found on our Youtube channel at this link on the site of the Lawyers' Committee.

Another view of the event was by Jason Goodman, producer and editor of Crowdsource the Truth. His film, which includes extensive, exclusive interview and compelling comments by the experts featured at the press conference, is available via YouTube at Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth Join Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry for FBI Lawsuit  (99:38 mins). Some of his footage was included in the Lawyers' Committee' video.

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A federal judge on Thursday scheduled for Nov. 5 Roger Stone's trial on charges that he tried to learn about stolen Democratic Party emails in 2016 at the direction of a senior but unnamed Trump campaign official and then illegally tried to keep those actions secret.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, presiding in Washington, DC, focused heavily on scheduling issues and refrained from sanctions for Stone's most recent alleged violation of her pre-trial gag order -- his republication of a book that sharply criticizes Special Counsel Robert S. robert mueller full face fileMueller III (left) and his probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The focus on planning for a trial expected to take two weeks and on the media clamor that Stone has generated tends to obscure the still-myserious drama at the core of the case:

Democratic Party secrets, some of them embarrassing and otherwise deeply harmful to the 2016 campaign, were systematically released by WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, thereby deflating the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (right).

hillary clinton buttonThe overall impact was thus to benefit the campaigns of Trump and other Republicans.

Stone, who once seemed to brag about that process and his overall reputation as an effective political operative for decades willing to do what's necessary to win, has recently been portraying himself as a victim. 

"I now find myself on Crooked Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's hit list because I've advised Donald Trump for the past forty years," Stone wrote in the book's introduction. "Clearly, I was targeted for strictly political reasons."

Mueller is a Republican career prosecutor who was nominated to become FBI Director in 2001 by Republican President Bush and to become special counsel by Trump. For those reasons, his defenders reject claims that the probe is partisan or otherwise unfairly anti-Trump.

The Justice Integrity Project attended the hearing. We observed that Stone, 66 (shown in a screenshot from TV interview), arrived shortly before the scheduled 9:30 a.m. hearing time and did not start through the security process until 9:34 a.m. The judge made no comment about the delay in the hearing's beginning.

The status hearing to plan pretrial issues occurred a day after the judge had sentenced 2016 Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Stone's former GOP lobbying partner during the 1980s, to a 7 1/2-year prison term for fraud, failing to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice.

Manafort's term included 47 months of a concurrent sentence imposed by a Virginia federal court judge for Manafort's massive tax and bank fraud schemes extending for the most part from 2006 to 2016. Some criminal conduct occurred in 2017 and 2018.

amy berman jackson roger stoneOn Feb. 21, Jackson forbade Stone, President Trump's longtime friend and advisor, from publicly discussing his pending case after she told him that she did not believe his explanation of why he broadcast on the social media channel Instagram a photo of her with "crosshairs" next to her head.

Stone distributed the photo (shown at right) along with text implying that his judge was politically biased. The text also denounced Mueller's probe, which had resulted in Stone's indictment in January on seven felony charges relating to WikiLeaks' release of emails stolen in 2016 from the Democratic Party.

Last month, Stone received a stern warning and a tightened gag order from the judge after he apologized for the Instagram message, removed it from public view and said that he had not focused on the symbol at top left in the photo, which Stone characterized as a "Celtic cross" -- and not a symbol for a rifle's crosshairs.

Whatever the case, the "Celtic cross" has been adopted a symbol by some ultra-right organizations and the threat of murder against federal judges or other officials by disturbed, ultra-right Americans is far from theoretical.

Dangerous History

Former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen reported on the scope of danger facing public officials in a Feb. 20 column Stone's threatening federal judge no laughing matter. "Since 1979,"  Madsen wrote, "four federal judges have been assassinated and the disabled husband and mother of another judge were murdered in an unsuccessful targeted assassination of the judge."

Madsen has reported on many assassinations and threats, including those generated by the alt-right. For example, he documented in his 2018 Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) column Shooter targeting Annapolis Capital-Gazette is an anti-press paranoid and Trump supporter how alt-right messaging appears vital to understanding the actions of an accused killer of five newspaper reporters.

Madsen's subscription-only column about Stone's implied threats, excerpted here with permission, continued:

In 2007, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the same bench on which Berman Jackson serves, asked to be removed from the case involving Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called DC Madam, whose clientele list included some of Washington's most powerful political movers and shakers.

WMR's sources reported at the time that Kessler had been threatened because she showed an interest in revealing the "johns" on Palfrey's list of customers.

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The massive coverage of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort’s tax and bank fraud scandal during recent days has so far missed almost entirely one of its most shocking and important aspects.

paul manafort cnnHow did Manafort (shown as campaign manager in 2016) get away with such brazen tax evasion and other corruption for so many years? 

Manafort’s years of corruption were part of a scandalous breakdown by the U.S. Department of Justice in prosecuting wealthy and other otherwise politically influential criminals.

At long last, Manafort's remarkable greed exposed him to some of the many honest investigators within the department who have been empowered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of larger Trump campaign and administration scandals. 

March 13 updates, as reported by the New York Times:

The Washington Post explored the the Manafort defense team's strategy of echoing Trump's comments with this analysis:

Judge strongly rebukes Manafort’s — and Trump’s — ‘no collusion’ refrain, Aaron Blake, March 13, 2019. Judge Amy Berman Jackson made several strong statements before sentencing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Wednesday. But one, in particular, struck at the core of President Trump’s personal defense in the Russia investigation.

Manafort, 69, is a Connecticut-reared and DC-educated lobbyist, strategic consultant and fixer who spent decades helping prominent U.S. Republicans, some of the world's most horrific foreign dictators, and their supporters.

The mission? To win office, reap the fruits of power, and then hide the tens of millions of dollars in loot from taxing authorities for the benefit of insiders -- most relevantly, Manafort himself.

Manafort's 47-month prison sentence in Virginia’s federal court March 7 on corruption charges was a sweetheart deal compared to the scope of Manafort's crime and lack of repentance. The judge's sentence, demeanor at trial and sentencing, and possible motives deserve far more scrutiny than they have received so far. 

Even so, the sentence prompted widespread criticism of the sentencing judge, Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, as exemplified in our own commentary in GOP Judge Disgraces Federal Bench In Manafort Sentence, Hearing.

kevin downing head portraitThe breakdown in the nation's federal justice goes far beyond the "revolving door" whereby Manafort’s lead defense attorney, Kevin Downing (shown at left), had been a top Justice Department prosecutor supposed to be fighting hard against the kinds of tax frauds that Manafort was committing for years at the same time.

Today’s report, which includes an exclusive albeit brief interview with Downing, shows that the defense counsel and some of his Justice Department peers had a wider record of coddling well-connected criminals that, fortunately for the public, is beginning to prompt some scrutiny.

At the same time, Downing and the now-notorious former U.S. attorney in Miami Alexander Acosta (a presidentially appointed position supervising federal criminal and civil litigation in that region) also prosecuted former UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) banker Bradley Birkenfeld, one of the nation’s major whistleblowers against higher-ups committing the kinds of financial crimes so attractive to Manafort.

More recently, two members of Congress, former prosecutors Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice, both Democrats, have called for a New York State Bar Association probe of Downing for his alleged improper liaison work between Manafort and the Trump administration after his client’s guilty plea last September.

That arose from Manafort's deceitful and unremorseful liaison with Trump administration lawyers (most likely to curry favor for a Trump pardon that would constitute obstruction of justice) after Manafort pleaded guilty to federal charges last September and promised to cooperate with authorities.

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A Republican-appointed federal judge imposed on March 7 one-fifth of the federal guideline sentence on former Trump 2016 Campaign Manager Paul J. Manafort Jr. for massive bank and tax frauds, thereby sending a national message that wealthy, politically well-connected defendants can cheat justice if they pursue decades of crime at a high-level and with the right legal and political connections.

thomas s ellis iii federal judgeSenior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III (shown at left in a file photo), appointed to the bench by Republican President Ronald Reagan, imposed Manafort's sentence 47-month sentence at the end of a three-hour hearing during which the judge also ordered restitution and ordered a fine of $50,000.

Trump defenders then leaped to expand on the judge's anti-prosecution sneers, which contrast with the judgment of a pro-Trump juror who explained post-trial that the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming.

The pro-defendant bias of Ellis, which had appeared sporadically during Manafort's trial last summer, became apparent during the sentencing hearing in several ways described below and most notably by the judge's conclusion that Manafort, aside from his convictions, had "otherwise led a blameless life."

Ellis's stunning sentence came after even he remarked that Manafort (shown at right in a mug shot) had failed to express regret for his crimes, which included concealing $55 million in income in 30 different overseas bank accounts to avoid income taxes. Manafort amassed his wealth in large part by serving foreign dictators accused of massive corruption, elections fraud, torture and other tyrannical behavior.  

paul manafort mugThe sentence, which will be reduced nine months to account for Manafort's pre-trial detention, was far too lenient, especially given the mind-boggling evidence of corruption by Manafort and his gang. Shocking also was Manafort's lack of remorse in his four-minute statement and his breach of trust on the global stage.

Decades ago, Manafort and such previous partners as Roger Stone and Lee Atwater helped pioneer a hybrid form of campaign work and lobbying that helped install officials and then exploited their powers on behalf of special interests.

Manafort's most recent consultancy partner was Rick Gates, who went on to obtain a high-ranking position with the Trump Inauguration Committee and become Deputy National Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee before being indicted on corruption charges and reaching a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors.

The judge's demonstrable bias in serving as a pro-Manafort advocate at times during trial and during Thursday's hearing added to the charade of a honest rnc logojudiciary supposedly functioning in the public interest.

This editor attended Thursday's hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, sitting about 25 feet behind Manafort. He sat in a wheelchair fo reasons largely undisclosed to the public and wore a dark green jail jumpsuit with the words "Alexandria Inmate" in big white letters signifying his pre-sentence detention.

That contrasted with luxury custom suits that Manafort had sported in decades as a high-level political lobbyist and strategist for GOP candidates and notorious dictators.

Before addressing below details of Thursday's hearing and the overall prosecution, we explain the tone of this column, including its headline.

konstantin klimnikThe Justice Integrity Project is a non-partisan organization that has defended such GOP defendants as the late Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens from Justice Department over-reach. We rarely ascribe partisan political motives to judges except in the most extreme cases. We focus mostly on reporting, not commentary.

But for this story, I draw on considerable reporting and legal experience (including nearly three decades as a member of the bar and previous experience as a federal judge's law clerk) to provide my opinion that Manafort's judge embarrassed himself and the federal system by his transparently biased hearing. The proceeding's flaws extend well beyond the shockingly light term and fine.

The judge said a fine higher than $50,000 might seem punitive -- for a criminal who spent a decade leading a crime gang avoiding taxes and committing bank frauds with the complicity global oligarchs. In one such investigative thread, authorities have said Manafort gave polling data Trump For Presidenton the 2016 campaign to Konstantine Kilimnik, right, a trainee of the Russian Ministry of Defense,

Kilimnik, according to House of Trump, House of Putin by Craig Unger, among others, began work for Manafort in 2005 when Manafort was representing the Ukrainian oligarch Akhmetov and who also opened a consulting firm in 2015 that had ties to Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that helped elect Trump. 

The judge, with 32 years of experience on the federal bench, showed early in the case that he adopted the Trump line that Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III was unfairly targeting Manafort. The judge had mocked prosecutors saying they didn't really care about Manafort's conduct because they only wanted to squeeze the defendant to pressure the president.

robert mueller full face fileThat judicial posture prompted so much public outrage early in the trial, as manifested in newspaper headlines, that Ellis kept his feelings largely under wraps after that until the sentencing hearing, where he made a great show of proceeding carefully and at length while ultimately minimizing the enormity of Manafort's crimes.

Most striking to this reporter was that the judge failed to reference Manafort's gross abuse of his high position of public trust as a presidential campaign manager who had taken the job for free with a clear-cut goal of using the position to sell influence to keep living in luxury..

Notable also was the judge's tolerance for Manafort's unwillingness to provide his financial information to the court's probation office so that the court could assess how many assets Manafort has available for a fine or restitution. It would have been simple for the judge to postpone sentencing until Manafort and his lawyers totaled up his millions of dollars in assets.

The judge's conduct went far beyond traditional political partisan politics and almost defies explanation. And that opens the door extremely sinister potential rationales, with the judge's motives potentially involving his role as a longtime "fixer" for sensitive legal disputes within the intelligence community, as amplified below.

The Sentence

Sentencing guidelines, based on sentences for similar crimes and the defendant's background, prompted court career officials to call for a recommended a term of 19.5 to 24 years for Manafort's crimes. Prosecutors said the calculation was correct but declined to call for a specific term. The judge congratulated them for that failure, saying that he would have held it against prosecutors had recommended a specific term.

The judge accepted the defense recommendation that he recommend to the Trump Justice Department that Manafort serve his sentence at the minimum security federal facility in Cumberland, Maryland. The judge rejected prosecution efforts to tap Manafort's homes worth more than $4 million for a fine, saying that $50,000 was enough punishment combined with restitution to victims.

kevin downing head portraitAfterward, lead defense counsel Kevin Downing, right, spun the media with a brief comment outside the courthouse claiming that the case proved, "most importantly" that Manafort was not involved with any "collusion" with any "Russian government official."

That is like the Trump administration claims of "no collusion." It is a half-truth deception at best that ignores how Manafort was heavily involved with other Russians who were well-connected to officials -- and that judge Ellis had forbidden any discussion of collusion during the trial.

Downing's comment failed to note also that prosecutors were keeping such information confidential to protect their ongoing investigation of corruption in the Trump administration and that a parallel prosecution occurred in the District of Columbia.

In September, Manafort pleaded guilty to two charges in that case that could bring him up to 10 more additional years in prison at sentencing next Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman. She could impose a term consecutive to that Ellis imposed on Manafort or a concurrent term.

In a column to be published over the weekend, we shall note separately below a brief and exclusive interview that we conducted with Downing regarding his previous career as a senior litigation counsel focusing on tax cheats. We asked him why he did not prosecute Manafort, his current client, for tax evasion when he had the chance.

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