Deep State 2020-21 News, Revelations, Commentary

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Editor's Choice: 2020-21 News & Views

This archive of assassination, regime change and propaganda news and commentary excerpts significant news stories and commentaries john_f_kennedy_smilingregarding alleged work by those involved with so-called "Deep State" efforts to subvert normal democratic procedures.

The materials are arranged in reverse chronological order backwards in time. They focus heavily on current news arising from the 1960s murders of President John F. Kennedy (shown in a file photo), his brother Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). Although conventional wisdom is that the deaths were solved long ago and hence of little but historical importance our contention is that close study reveals a Rosetta Stone of lost history that makes current events far more understandable.

Much of that research probes what are known as Deep State activities, which are covert and often illegal activities by powerful private figures working with allies in government, often connected to security bodies, in ways unaccountable in the ostensible leaders. This section includes materials on such other covert activities as government-connected regime change, false flag attacks, propaganda, spy rings, blackmail, smuggling, election-rigging and other major "crimes against democracy" (in the description of historian Lance deHaven Smith). 

The top section shows excerpts since the beginning of the calendar year.  Below at far bottom also are links to the Justice Integrity Project's multi-part and separate "Readers Guides" to the JFK, MLK and RFK assassinations containing notable books, films, archives and commentary. Included also are several reports regarding other alleged political murders of prominent international leaders, or attempts. Correspondence should be sent to this site's editor, Andrew Kreig.

 

Editor's Note: Excerpts below are from the authors' own words except for subheads and "Editor's notes" such as this.

Index: Deep State News, Revelations, Commentary

 2020-21

September

Sept. 26

Proof, Investigation: Trump Lawyer Admits Trump's Legal Team Was Seeking An Emergency Injunction Against Certification of Biden's Win As Trump Incited a Riot seth abramson graphicto Delay the Joint Session of Congress, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 26, 2021. New revelation confirms the actions of Trump's legal team in the Willard "war room"—whose occupants were in direct contact with Trump—were designed to dovetail with the violent attack on the Capitol.

Introduction: On March 10, 2021, Proof published an article entitled “Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6.” Based on two seth abramson proof logomonths of research relating to January 6, Proof concluded that Trump’s plan for January 6 was built on the following foundation....

In a new interview with far-right activist and propagandist Stew Peters, Powell admits that Trump’s legal team filed for an injunction against Congress in the first days of January.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by the government of China for bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape, is shown above with Trump ally and former 2016 campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Guo funds through his GTV Media Group conglomerate Bannon's "War Room" podcast and "Real America's Voice" Internet television broadcast and other propaganda supporting the January 6th insurrection in Washington and the overthrow of the the U.S. government, which is giving him political asylum in New York City and elsewhere.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: International fascist collusion to overthrow the U.S. government, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 26, 2021 (authorized for republication in wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallan excerpt form after first pubication on Sept. 9 behind the paywall of the Wayne Madsen Report. The author is national security expert who has appeared on all but one major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks. He is a former Navy Intelligence Officer and NSA analyst, and author of 20 books, including the forthcoming, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

Not since the planned 1934 fascist coup against the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt by various right-wing, fascist, and Nazi forces, backed by wealthy Wall Street interests, has the United States faced a coordinated plot by Americans and foreign interests to overthrow democracy in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1933 and 1934, the fascist coup planning, which was exposed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, were directly linked to Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy, and French Croix de Feu fascist political leaders. Groups supporting a coup against FDR included groups ranging from the pro-Mussolini American Legion to Nazi organizations like the Silver Legion of America, the German American Bund, Friends of New Germany, the Ku Klux Klan, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the Crusaders.

Today, substitute the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Chinese expatriate billionaire Guo Wengui, and groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and Falun Gong, and you will see that history is merely repeating itself with different countries and groups involved in establishing a fascist dictatorship in America, Brazil, and other nations.

Steve Bannon's effort to create an international fascist movement, which is known as simply as "The Movement," has brought together Donald Trump loyalists with the Brazilian government of Bolsonaro and his family. Trump and Bolsonaro loyalists are actively attempting to corrupt and destroy the electoral underpinnings of democratic rule in the United States, Brazil, and third countries, for example, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and others.

Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the Latin American leader of Bannon's Movement, and Trump's personal choice but failed nominee as Brazil's ambassador in Washington, was very active with the attempted January 6 coup attempt in Washington.

Eduardo Bolsonaro participated in an insurrection eve "War Council" held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Other participants in the war council included Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, MyPillow's Mike Lindell, disgraced ex-National Security Adviser under trump Lt. General Michael Flynn, and lawyer Sidney Powell. Eduardo Bolsonaro also held a meeting at the White House on January 4 with Ivanka Trump and separately with expatriate Brazilian fascist political adviser and astrologer Olavo de Carvalho. Carvalho, who has been dubbed the "Rush Limbaugh" of Brazil, lives south of Richmond, Virginia in Dinwiddie County. Carvalho, a close associate of Bannon, is a "flat earther," climate change and Covid-19 pandemic denier, and anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) proponent.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection would do well to cooperate with Brazilian Senator Jacques Wagner (PT-Bahia) of the Workers' Party of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Wagner is conducting a Senate investigation of Eduardo Bolsonaro's role in the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Wagner asked the then-Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ernest Araujo, someone who has erroneously called Nazism a "leftist" movement, to answer eight questions [right] dealing with the roles played by Bolsonaro's son and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC into the January 5 war council at the Trump hotel and additional meetings between Eduardo Bolsonaro and "several other members of the Republican Party."

Those who diminish the importance of the January 6 coup attempt by calling it a "riot" or a "violent protest" fail to understand that it is the subject of formal legislative investigations by the U.S. House and the Brazilian Senate. That fact, alone, points to the January 6 event being a vast international conspiracy.

Bannon's operations, including his own involvement in the January 6 insurrection, have been financed by Guo Wengui and Lindell, as well as previously by the multi-billionaire hedge fund father-daughter team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

On August 10, 2021, Eduardo Bolsonaro was back in the United States attending Lindell's kooky "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Bannon emceed the live-streamed symposium. Bolsonaro gave Lindell a "Make America Great Again" hat signed by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro said he had met Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey on August 9 and Trump asked him to give the hat to Lindell. Bolsonaro gave a speech on how Brazil's election system was as "rigged" as that of the United States. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened that he might cancel the 2022 presidential election, which polls currently indicate that he would lose to the leftist Lula da Silva in a landslide.

Former Trump White House adviser Jason Miller, the CEO of the right-wing social media platform GETTR, participated in the September 3-4 Conservative Political Action Conference Brasil (CPAC Brasil) conference in Brasilia, the nation's capital. On September 7, Jair Bolsonaro urged tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered in Brasilia to storm the Brazilian Supreme Court and imprison the justices, including Alexandre de Moraes, who has been leading an investigation of President Bolsonaro and members of his family, including Eduardo, for corruption. Miller and his delegation met with Jair and Eduardo Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

The House January 6 committee should also invite Justice Moraes to share on a confidential basis any information he has gleaned on the Bolsonaros involvement with the attempted January 6 coup in Washington. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened a military coup in Brazil to cement his rule over the country.

The Fourth Reich movement of Donald Trump and his fellow fascists is the focus of the forthcoming editor's book titled, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

washington post logoWashington Post, Election fraud, QAnon, Jan. 6: Extremists in Germany read from a pro-Trump script, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). Apocalyptic messages circulating ahead of German elections on Sunday import conspiratorial rhetoric from the United States.

One message advocated “occupying election offices.”

Another warned of “coronavirus tyranny.”

And a third extolled former president Donald Trump and Q, the shadowy oracle of the extremist ideology QAnon, for inspiring a new social movement prepared to take back power from the state. “America is waking up and ready to fight,” it vowed.

The calls to action came not in anticipation of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Rather, they emerged this month in Germany, within a far-right group on the messaging app Telegram, where neo-Nazis and doomsday preppers foresee what’s known as “Day X” — the collapse of the German state and assassination of high-ranking officials.

Such apocalyptic messages — posted in the run-up to German elections on Sunday — import conspiratorial, anti-government rhetoric broadcast in the U.S., according to screenshots of the since-deleted chatroom reviewed by The Washington Post.

  capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our constitutional crisis is already here, Robert Kagan, right, Brookings Institution fellow, best-selling author and former State Department official, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional robert kagan looking leftcrisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos. Imagine weeks of competing mass protests across multiple states as lawmakers from both parties claim victory and charge the other with unconstitutional efforts to take power. Partisans on both sides are likely to be better armed and more willing to inflict harm than they were in 2020. Would governors call out the National Guard? Would President Biden nationalize the Guard and place it under his control, invoke the Insurrection Act, and send troops into Pennsylvania or Texas or Wisconsin to quell violent protests? Deploying federal power in the states would be decried as tyranny. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.

Today’s arguments over the filibuster will seem quaint in three years if the American political system enters a crisis for which the Constitution offers no remedy.

Most Americans — and all but a handful of politicians — have refused to take this possibility seriously enough to try to prevent it. As has so often been the case in other countries where fascist leaders arise, their would-be opponents are paralyzed in confusion and amazement at this charismatic authoritarian. They have followed the standard model of appeasement, which always begins with underestimation. The political and intellectual establishments in both parties have been underestimating Trump since he emerged on the scene in 2015. They underestimated the extent of his popularity and the strength of his hold on his followers; they underestimated his ability to take control of the Republican Party; and then they underestimated how far he was willing to go to retain power. The fact that he failed to overturn the 2020 election has reassured many that the American system remains secure, though it easily could have gone the other way — if Biden had not been safely ahead in all four states where the vote was close; if Trump had been more competent and more in control of the decision-makers in his administration, Congress and the states. As it was, Trump came close to bringing off a coup earlier this year. All that prevented it was a handful of state officials with notable courage and integrity, and the reluctance of two attorneys general and a vice president to obey orders they deemed inappropriate.

These were not the checks and balances the Framers had in mind when they designed the Constitution, of course, but Trump has exposed the inadequacy of those protections. The Founders did not foresee the Trump phenomenon, in part because they did not foresee national parties. They anticipated the threat of a demagogue, but not of a national cult of personality. They assumed that the new republic’s vast expanse and the historic divisions among the 13 fiercely independent states would pose insuperable barriers to national movements based on party or personality. “Petty” demagogues might sway their own states, where they were known and had influence, but not the whole nation with its diverse populations and divergent interests.

Such checks and balances as the Framers put in place, therefore, depended on the separation of the three branches of government, each of which, they believed, would zealously guard its own power and prerogatives. The Framers did not establish safeguards against the possibility that national-party solidarity would transcend state boundaries because they did not imagine such a thing was possible. Nor did they foresee that members of Congress, and perhaps members of the judicial branch, too, would refuse to check the power of a president from their own party.

Robert Kagan, author of the long column excerpted above, is the Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post. His new book is The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World” (Knopf, 2018). He previously wrote the New York Times bestseller, The World America Made (Knopf, 2012), as well as other books about history and global affairs.

For his writings, Politico Magazine named Kagan one of the “Politico 50” in 2016, the “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016.” His most recent pieces include The Twilight of the Liberal World Order” in “Brookings Big Ideas for America” and “Backing into World War III in Foreign Policy. He served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the policy planning staff, as principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He is married to longtime State Department official Victoria Nuland and holds a doctorate in American history from American University.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret, Drew Harwell, Hannah Allam, Jeremy B. Merrill and Craig Timberg, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The colossal hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, has been called the “mother of all data lodes” for extremism researchers. In the real world, Joshua Alayon worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach, Fla., where he used the handle “SouthFloridasFavoriteRealtor” to urge buyers on Facebook to move to “the most beautiful State.”

epik logoBut online, data revealed by the massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, signaled a darker side. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as racisminc.com, whitesencyclopedia.com, christiansagainstisrael.com and theholocaustisfake.com.

The information was included in a giant trove of hundreds of thousands of transactions published this month by the hacking group Anonymous that exposed previously obscure details of far-right sites and launched a race among extremism researchers to identify the hidden promoters of online hate.

After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage, Travers Miran Realty, dropped him as an agent, as first reported by the real estate news site Inman. The brokerage’s owner, Rick Rapp, told The Washington Post that he didn’t “want to be involved with anyone with thoughts or motives like that.”

Alayon told The Post that he does not own the ‘racisminc,’ Holocaust-denial or other Web addresses but declined to say if he had owned them in the past; the records were hacked earlier this year. But in a screenshot of his Epik account, which he sent to The Post, the information for four other domains he currently owns matches the private records that can be found in the Epik breach.

Asked why his name, email address and other personal information were listed in company invoices for the ‘racisminc’ and Holocaust-denial domains, Alayon said the data was “easily falsifiable,” that he was the possible victim of extortion and that The Post was “fake news.”

The breach of Epik’s internal records has cast a spotlight on a long-hidden corner of the Internet’s underworld, and researchers expect it could take months before they can process the full cache — the equivalent of tens of millions of pages. Many are digging for information on who owns and administers extremist domains about which little was previously known.

Epik, based outside Seattle, said in a data-breach notice filed with Maine’s attorney general this week that 110,000 people had been affected nationwide by having their financial account and credit card numbers, passwords and security codes exposed. An earlier data-breach letter from the company, filed to comply with Montana law, was signed by the “Epic Security Team,” misspelling the company’s name. An Epik spokesperson said it was a simple typo.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The nation faces financial calamity. Republicans will be to blame, Editorial Board, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The White House on Thursday instructed federal agencies to prepare for an imminent government shutdown, in case Congress fails to pass a stopgap funding bill by Sept. 30. Government shutdowns are expensive and disruptive, and they deservedly sully the nation’s image and sense of self-respect. But at this point a lapse in government services should be the least of Americans’ worries. The nation faces an epochal financial disaster if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, forcing the country to default on its obligations and inviting a global financial panic.

Mitchell_McConnellIf that happens, there will be no doubt about who is at fault: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, and his Republican caucus, who are playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States.

Democrats joined with Republicans to suspend the debt ceiling during the Trump administration. But Mr. McConnell suddenly declares that the majority is solely responsible for performing this unattractive task, even though he pioneered the routine use of the filibuster to force any and all Senate legislation to overcome a 60-vote threshold. With only 50 votes, and Republicans unwilling to lift a finger to avoid financial calamity, Democrats’ only option would be to use the arcane “reconciliation” procedure. Senate experts believe this would be possible, but it would require a couple of weeks of complex parliamentary maneuvering and some Republican cooperation in the Senate Budget Committee. Meanwhile, the treasury is on the verge of running out of money.

Other than sticking it to Democrats, what is the point? Using reconciliation, Democrats would have to raise the debt limit by a specific dollar amount, not just suspend it for a time, as Republicans did under President Donald Trump. This would enable Republicans to run attack ads blasting Democrats for expanding the debt by some large, specific number. Never mind that raising the debt limit does not approve any new spending; it merely permits the treasury to finance the spending Congress already has okayed.

Sept. 25

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Arizona election fraudit by cyber-nimrods ends in humiliating fiasco, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 25, 2021. Arizona election fraudit by webster tarpley 2007cyber-nimrods ends in humiliating fiasco for MAGAts, confirming Biden win;

On orders from Trump, Texas launches own fraudit; Pennsylvania GOP wants to intimidate all voters; Trump sponsors puppet secretaries of state he hopes will help him steal elections; Rep. Thompson’s House January 6 committee subpoenas Bannon, Meadows, Scavino, and Kashyap Patel; Coup scenario revealed; White House refuses to implement executive privilege to shield Trump;

AG Garland must act now to enforce law in defense of general welfare; Immigration is greatest US strategic asset for dealing with China, and should be carefully developed;

CDC’s Walensky saves the day for administration by offering Pfizer covid boosters to nurses, teachers, and other exposed workers, in additon to over-65s and immunocompromised; Despite recent Trump defeats, defeatism now a fad among media elite.

Sept. 24

john_f_kennedy_smiling

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Biden Will Continue the JFK Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, (foundation founder, author, book publisher and attorney), Sept. 24, 2021. On October 26, the deadline for the public Jacob Hornbergerdisclosure of the CIA’s still-secret records relating to the Kennedy assassination comes due. At that point, the issue will be: Will President Biden order the National Archives to release the CIA’s long-secret records or will he continue the U.S. national-security establishment’s almost 60-year-old cover up of its regime-change operation in Dallas on November 26, 1963?

Make no mistake about it: Biden, like his predecessor President Donald Trump, will continue the cover-up. That’s because the CIA will future of freedom foundation logo squaredemand it.

Mind you, this is just my prediction. I don’t know as a fact that the CIA has even asked Biden to continue shielding its long-secret records from the American people. When I asked the National Archives to identify any agencies that have expressed an interest in another extension of time for secrecy, they refused to provide an answer to my question.

But consider this: Whatever reason that the CIA had for requesting Trump to continue the secrecy, that reason would continue through today. If they were scared to have the American people see those records 60 years ago, and then again 30 years ago during the ARRB years, and then 5 years ago, I will guarantee you that they are just as scared today.

Let’s get one thing clear: Whatever definition one wants to put on that nebulous and meaningless two-word term “national security,” there is no possibility that the release of 60-year-old records is going to threaten “national security.” In other words, if the CIA’s records are disclosed, the United States won’t fall into the ocean. The Reds won’t succeed in taking over America’s public schools. The Russians won’t come and get us. Cuba won’t invade and conquer the United joe biden resized oStates. Vietnam won’t start the dominoes falling.

The only thing that would happen is that more pieces to the assassination puzzle will be filled in, most likely relating to Lee Harvey Oswald’s purported trip to Mexico City, a part of the assassination scheme that clearly went awry.

Both the CIA and the Pentagon know what happened after the ARRB strictly enforced the JFK Records Act in the 1990s. Having been released from vows of secrecy that the military had imposed on them, people started talking, big time.

No, they didn’t start talking about the assassination. When people engage in murder, they don’t often talk freely about it. When the CIA and the Mafia engage in murder, they are very good about keeping secrets. We still don’t know, for example, who killed Jimmy Hoffa and Johnny Roselli, who was the liaison in the CIA-CIA LogoMafia partnership to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Where people started talking was with respect to the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on President Kennedy’s body on the very evening of the assassination. Released from vows of secrecy that the military had forced them to sign, several enlisted personnel disclosed a mountain of evidence establishing a fraudulent autopsy.

Why is that important? One big reason: There is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. None. No one has ever come up with one. No one ever will. The fraudulent autopsy is inextricably bound up with the assassination itself.

For example, as I pointed out in my recent article “The Kennedy Autopsy Selected for Amazon’s Prime Reading Program,” several enlisted personnel came forward in the 1990s and established that the national-security establishment sneaked President Kennedy’s body into the Bethesda morgue at 6:35 p.m., almost 1 1/2 hours before the official entry time of 8 p.m. Their statements were corroborated by a memorandum from Gawler’s Funeral Home, which conducted Kennedy’s funeral. They were further corroborated by statements made by Col. Pierre Finck, one of the three pathologists.

Whatever they were doing in that hour-and-half had to be rotten to the core. Otherwise, why the secrecy, the skullduggery, the deception, and the lies? If it hadn’t been for the ARRB, we would most likely never have known they had done that.

Unfortunately, the JFK Records Act permitted these people to keep many of their assassination-related records secret for another 25 years, long after the law forced the ARRB to go out of existence. The CIA took advantage of that loophole. Then when the deadline arrived under the Trump administration, Trump unfortunately granted their request for additional time for secrecy.

Given that Trump surrendered to the CIA in its demand for further secrecy, one thing is certain: Biden will do so as well. That’s my prediction. While Trump continually deferred to the national-security establishment, in my opinion Biden is effectively owned, lock, stock, and barrel, by the national-security establishment. That means he, like Trump, will do as they say.

Oh, they’ll release some of the records in the hope of skating by without much notice from the mainstream press. But I predict that the most incriminating evidence will continue to be shielded from public view — on grounds of “national security” of course.

Sept. 23

steve bannon billionaire guo wenguiWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The billionaire wanted by China who funded insurrection propaganda and a near Sino-U.S. nuclear war, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, Sept. 23, 2021. Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by the government of China for bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape, sits comfortably in New York City in his penthouse in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel overlooking Central Park, sipping $1 million-a-kilogram rare tea, all the while under the umbrella of U.S. political asylum protection status.

Meanwhile, through his GTV Media Group conglomerate, Guo is simultaneously funding propaganda supporting the January 6th insurrection in Washington and wayne madesen report logothe overthrow of the government giving him political asylum. Specifically, Guo funds, through his Guo Media company, Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast and "Real America's Voice" Internet television broadcast. The two are shown above in a file photo.

In a recent Real America's Voice segment, Bannon claimed that on the night of January 5, 2021, he, Rudolph Giuliani, and senior members of the Trump administration plotted from the Willard Hotel in Washington the January 6th attempted coup d'état to "kill the Biden presidency in the crib." Moreover, Guo's media influence operations in calling for the overthrow of the government of China -- words heeded by then-President Donald Trump -- almost ended up in a nuclear war between the U.S. and China.

Why are two Green Card holders from China permitted to wage a war of insurrection and sedition against the United States from New York City? More importantly, why is Bannon permitted to reprise the wartime treasonous roles of Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally, Lord Haw-Haw, Seoul City Sue, and Sister Mary in sowing sedition, insurrection, and treason?

Sept. 21

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Signs of sloppiness at Christopher Wray's FBI go beyond the USA Gymnastics probe; they date at least to a botched background check on Brett Kavanaugh, Roger Shuler, Sept. 21, 2021. That's a story that seemingly will not go away. Perhaps it's driven in part by Wray's curious background, which includes alarming ties to Russian interests and right-wing bad actors who tend to have an outsized influence in Alabama's political and legal worlds.

From a Legal Schnauzer post in October 2018:

FBI director Christopher Wray has professional ties to Russia, and that likely explains a Brett Kavanaugh background check that widely is being described as a "sham," according to an Alabama political insider.

Donald Trump nominated Wray to lead the FBI in June 2017, having fired James Comey roughly one month earlier. In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to lead the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Before going into public service, Wray was a partner at King and Spalding, an Atlanta-based law firm with 10 offices around the country -- plus 10 international branches, including one in Moscow. . . .

How sketchy was the FBI supplemental background check on Kavanaugh? It probably would have to improve to merit being called "cursory". According to one report, FBI agents interviewed nine individuals -- but they apparently did not include chief accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor any of her corroborating witnesses. From a report at New York magazine:

Several people who reached out to investigators to offer information said they were also left hanging. NBC News says dozens of potential witnesses have come forward to FBI field offices, “but agents have not been permitted to talk to many of them.” The New Yorker spoke to several people who were also unable to get an audience with the FBI despite their ability to corroborate [Deborah] Ramirez’s story and information refuting claims Kavanaugh made during last week’s testimony.

The FBI/Kavanaugh story continues to percolate, as evidenced by a report last week from the UK Guardian:

The FBI director, Chris Wray, is facing new scrutiny of the bureau’s handling of its 2018 background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, including its claim that the FBI lacked the authority to conduct a further investigation into the then supreme court nominee.

At the heart of the new questions surrounding Wray . . . is a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding that the FBI has recently said constrained the agency’s ability to conduct any further investigations of allegations of misconduct.

It is not clear whether that claim is accurate, based on a close reading of the MOU, which was released in court records following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FBI was called to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation process in 2018, after he was accused of assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who knew Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. He also faced other accusations, including that he had exposed himself to a classmate at Yale called Deborah Ramirez. Kavanaugh denied both accusations.

The FBI closed its extended background check of Kavanaugh after four days and did not interview either Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. The FBI also disclosed to the Senate this June – two years after questions were initially asked – that it had received 4,500 tips from the public during the background check and that it had shared all “relevant tips” with the White House counsel at that time. It is not clear whether those tips were ever investigated.

The FBI said in its letter to two senators – Sheldon Whitehouse and Christopher Coons – that the FBI did not have the authority under the 2010 MOU at the time to “unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity”. In other words, the FBI has said it would have required explicit instructions from the Trump White House to conduct further investigation under the existing 2010 guidelines on how such investigations ought to be conducted.

But an examination by the Guardian of the 2010 MOU, which was signed by the then attorney general, Eric Holder, and then White House counsel, Robert Bauer, does not make explicitly clear that the FBI was restricted in terms of how it would conduct its investigation.
The MOU, which was released in court documents in 2019 as part of Freedom of Information Act litigation brought against the US government by Buzzfeed, also does not explicitly state that the White House had the power to set the process parameters on any investigation.

What about the ties of Wray's former law firm to Russian mobsters, domestic mobsters, and unsavory characters in the Alabama political/legal firmament? From our 2018 post:

King and Spalding's extensive ties to Russia should raise eyebrows about the cursory supplemental background check of Brett Kavanaugh by Christopher Wray's FBI, says Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired lawyer from Rainsville, Alabama. In a Facebook post yesterday, Simpson notes King and Spalding's ties to a number of dubious characters and activities related to Russia.

They include Sergei Millian, a one-time Russian translator who has headed the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (Russia Am Cham, based in Atlanta) and reportedly was a primary source of information for the Trump-Steele dossier. In short, Millian likely has loads of blackmail-worthy dirt on Trump, and guess what law firm has represented Russia Am Cham? It's King and Spalding, of course, says Simpson.

The firm also has ties to Trump-affiliated mobster Felix Sater, and Simpson says the firm (via Russia Am Cham) was involved in a failed lottery deal -- involving oily Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and his associate, Robert Sigler -- that fleeced the late Milton McGregor, attorney Tommy Gallion, and other prominent Montgomery business types out of about $40 million. King and Spalding, says Simpson, has ties to Russian oligarch/mafia figure Oleg Derispaska, one-time Trump campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort, and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions.

That is a lot ugly, nasty stuff -- threatening America's democracy, and Christopher Wray, via his association with King and Spalding, is tied to all of it. Writes Simpson:

FBI director Christopher Wray should be forced to resign over [the Kavanaugh supplemental background check]. It was Wray's firm, King and Spalding, that used to host the Russia Am Cham conferences for Oleg Deripaska, Mr Millian, and Mr. Sater -- the Riley/Sessions Gang attended when they beat Milton McGregor and his buddies out of $40 million for a fake Russian lottery.

Wray's firm represents the Russian Oil and Gas Business firm that Vladimir Putin directs. Also, Christopher Wray was a Yale Law School graduate, just like Kavanaugh, and has been buddies with the Kavanaugh, Rove, and Sessions crowd for years.

The FBI's Kavanaugh background check is just a report done by a member of the Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump Russian Mafia. I tried to say last week it would be bullshit, due to Wray's ties to the Russian Mafia. His old firm is a big part of Putin's legal team. Until we as a country crush the New York/Alabama/GOP Russian Mafia, we are going to continue seeing this level of corruption.

Sept. 18

Proof via Substack, Investigation: January 6 Was a Violent Nationwide Insurrection—Not One Attack on One Building in Washington, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 18, seth abramson graphic2021. Many Americans don't realize that Trump's plan for a January 6 attack on American democracy was national in scope—and continues to be. As his insurgency continues, capitals across America are at risk.

Introduction: One of the gravest misunderstandings about January 6 is that it was a localized event involving a single target: the United States Capitol. In fact, it was a decentralized plot that involved dozens of individual attacks around the country and which—moreover—the President of the United States at the time, Donald Trump, publicly acknowledged he knew was a diffuse network of attacks on American democracy. Indeed, Trump said all of the following in his speech the White House Ellipse on Insurrection Day:

seth abramson proof logo• That in addition to the crowd in front of him, he was well aware his speech was being heard by “hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious republic”, a reference to Trumpist insurrectionists gathering “live” in other locations outside D.C. (as any reference to a TV audience would have accounted it in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands);

• That the purpose of the upcoming march on the Capitol, among other things, was to convince Vice President Mike Pence to “send it [the results of the Electoral College votes in the fifty states] back to the states to re-certify [them]”, a plot Trump believed would lead to the de-certification of Joe Biden’s electors and which he knew would only be aided if massive protests occurred in the states Trump was claiming wanted to revisit their Electoral College votes;

• That “in addition to challenging the certification of the election, I’m calling on…state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms, and you better do it before we have no country left”;

• That he was “looking out all over this country and seeing fantastic crowds” (emphasis supplied), a confession that he was tracking January 6 events across America;

• That the supposed theft of the 2020 presidential election was very much a state-by-state issue, with the former president spending time in his speech at the Ellipse discussing not just the national outcome of the November vote but specific events in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania (as well as, in the same speech, falsely characterizing the 2020 election results in Ohio, Texas, Florida, and projecting his false claims of election theft forward into future elections in Wyoming and New York); and

• “If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on, there’d be hell all over the country” (emphasis supplied), a repetition of a calculated phrase pointing toward a nationwide protest against democracy, and another attempt to send a message to pro-Trump insurrectionists outside D.C. unsure about how violent they had the sitting president’s permission to get so far from what was (at the time) seen as the epicenter of the January 6 spectacle.

With all of the foregoing in mind, America needs a comprehensive summary of what happened on January 6 outside the nation’s capital.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court hearings, guilty pleas belie right-wing recasting of Jan. 6 defendants as persecuted patriots, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, Ellie Silverman and Rachel Weiner, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). There are about 73 pleas, with roughly 600 charged and dozens still jailed. Ahead of the Justice for J6 rally, a look at where the defendants stand.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice for J6 rally sees a sparse crowd and tight security, Emily Davies, Marissa J. Lang, Teo Armus, Peter Jamison and Katie Mettler, Sept. 18, 2021. A small band of right-wing protesters decrying the treatment of the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was dwarfed by hundreds of police and news reporters. Police said they made four arrests and seized two weapons.

The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.

Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds — where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago — were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.

Capitol Police said Saturday afternoon that between 400 and 450 people had been observed at some point inside the protest zone. But many of them were journalists and other bystanders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

stewart rhodesTo others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: California shows US future once again! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 18, 2021. Newsom’s landslide win in California recall marks failure for webster tarpley 2007GOP‘s anti-social ”health freedom” demagogy: Silent Majority of Vaccinated emerges despite media focus on loudmouth rejection front; Time for Dems to take gloves off!

In Virginia gubernatorial debate, Wall Street’s GOP candidate Youngkin showcases his plan for avoiding Larry Elder‘s fate: LYING!
Gen. Milley provides much-needed model of patriotism;

Playing small ball, FDA advisory board backs covid boosters for over-65s;

Definitively refuting trickle-down economics, 2020 direct stimulus payments cut US poverty rate by unprecedented 2.7% despite pandemic and closures; now make Child Tax Credit permanent!

Sept. 17

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: A Secretive Summit That Trump Attended in December of 2020 May Explain Both Trump's Role in the January 6 seth abramson graphicInsurrection and Why Both CJCS Milley and China Feared Trump Would Start a War, Seth Abramson (left, attorney, professor, Newsweek columnist, metajournalist, and New York Times bestselling author), Sept. 16-17, 2021.

Introduction: On December 27, 2020, fresh off receiving one of the most controversial presidential pardons in U.S. history—from then-president Donald Trump, the very man he had committed federal felonies to protect—Roger Stone traveled to Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach to “thank[ ]” his patron and criminal co-conspirator.

seth abramson proof logoOnly a few U.S. media outlets covered the astonishingly brazen meeting at the time, and surprisingly that didn’t change nine days later—when a “movement” co-led by Stone, Stop the Steal, coordinated with the 2020 Trump Campaign in a sequence of events resulting in armed insurrection and a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Back in December 2020, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported on the meeting in a way that should have, but didn’t, lead to it becoming a focus of sustained national attention: per the paper, Stone went to see Trump on December 27 not just to “deliver a personal thank you to the president” but also, critically, to “counsel the president on how he could ‘ensure that Donald Trump continues as our president.’” This was during the same period that, as Proof has reported, Stone recorded a video seeking donations for arms and armor for Proud Boys and Oath Keepers planning to travel to Washington on January 6—the precise conduct Proud Boy “sergeant-at-arms” and Stone associate Ethan Nordean would later be arrested for.

So there can be no doubt that when Stone met Trump just nine days before January 6 to discuss how that day could lead to an overturning of the November 2020 election, Stone’s focus was on the Stop the Steal–cosponsored March to Save America that he was personally involved in coordinating at a logistical as well as strategic level.

The Sun-Sentinel report noted that, after posting a picture of (and commentary upon) the strange golf club meeting on Parler, Stone subsequently thought better of it and deleted all reference to the event on the far-right social media platform. At the time, he claimed it was to honor a policy supposedly in place at Trump’s golf club to prevent guests from posting pictures of the club; journalists have not yet been able to verify that any such policy exists, and a Google Image search certainly suggests it doesn’t (especially when the photograph promotes Donald Trump in any way). In any case, Stone had by then deleted not only photos of the meeting but also any reference to it on social media—and thereafter would refuse to discuss it with journalists. It did not, therefore, seem like a reticence related to an eldritch country club photography policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021. It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

To others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disclosures on Milley’s Trump pushback could further politicize the military, Missy Ryan, Sept. 17, 2021. Supporters say the country’s top officer sought to protect the Constitution, but some fear his actions could compound existing problems. New revelations showing how Gen. Mark A. Milley, the nation’s top military officer, quietly maneuvered to check President Donald Trump reveal the lengths that top officials went to prevent potentially rash action, but the disclosures also threaten to thrust the military deeper into the partisan fray, former officials said.

mark milley army chief of staffA series of dramatic inside-the-room accounts, including one in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, right, promised to alert China’s top officer if Trump was preparing to launch an attack, provides new insight into military leaders’ response to the previous administration’s fraught final period.

But Kori Schake, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the revelations that Milley covertly acted to counter his commander in chief are “bad for the military as an institution.”

“It encourages people to do what Americans are already doing, which is viewing the military as they view the Supreme Court: apolitical when they agree with them, partisan when they don’t,” she said.

Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation that top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avoid war

The latest exposé comes in a book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who write that Milley, alarmed by the possibility Trump might strike China as he tried to stay in power, reached out to Gen. Li Zuocheng in the months surrounding the 2020 election in order to dismiss any Chinese fears of a preemptive American attack, they said.

That followed other dramatic accounts involving Milley, including in a book by Washington Post journalists Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, which said the general likened the circumstances around the election to those of Nazi-era Germany.

washington post logoWashington Post, Milley says calls to Chinese counterpart were ‘perfectly within the duties and responsibilities’ of his job, John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that calls he made late in the Trump administration to his Chinese military counterpart were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job and that he would explain his actions in greater detail during an upcoming appearance before Congress.

Milley, who has come under fire after a new book revealed the conservations aimed at averting armed conflict, described the calls as “routine” and said they were done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said, according to the Associated Press. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

The AP reported that Milley, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, made his comments to reporters traveling with him to Europe. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avert war, Karoun Demirjian and John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Critics of Gen. Mark Milley contend he should be removed as Joint Chiefs chairman after a new book disclosed the extent of his alarm that Trump might order a strike on China in the waning days of his presidency.

mark milley army chief of staffPresident Biden on Wednesday threw his full support behind the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, right, who has come under fire after a new book revealed he privately conferred with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng, left, to avert armed conflict late in the Trump administration.

Gen. Li Zuocheng“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters at the White House, following calls from former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill for the removal of Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden’s declaration, coinciding with efforts by the chief spokespersons for the White House and the Pentagon to stage a similar defense of the embattled general, effectively ends speculation that Milley’s assignment may be cut short. But the controversy surrounding his fitness for the job rages on — and thus far is falling mostly along party lines.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump gave six months extra Secret Service protection to his kids, three officials. It cost taxpayers $1.7 million, David A. Fahrenthold and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 17, 2021. The former president required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to wealthy adults with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas and business trips abroad.

In June, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Israel to scout investments for his new company, then flew to Qatar for a conference. At the time, Mnuchin had been out of office for five months.

But, because of an order given by President Donald Trump, he was still entitled to protection by Secret Service agents. As agents followed Mnuchin across the Middle East, the U.S. government paid up to $3,000 each for their plane tickets, and $11,000 for rooms at Qatar’s luxe St. Regis Doha, according to government spending records.

In all, the records show U.S. taxpayers spent more than $52,000 to guard a multimillionaire on a business trip.

These payments were among $1.7 million in additional government spending triggered by Trump’s highly unusual order — which awarded six extra months of Secret Service protection for his four adult children and three top administration officials — according to a Washington Post analysis of new spending documents.

That $1.7 million in extra spending is still tiny in comparison to the Secret Service’s $2.4 billion budget.

But, as the records show, Trump’s order required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to an unexpected set of people: wealthy adults, with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas, and business trips abroad.

“Who wouldn’t enjoy continuing their free limo service and easy access to restaurant tables?” said Jim Helminski, a former Secret Service executive, who said the decision appeared to show Trump giving a public service as a private benefit to his inner circle. “Even if there was a credible risk to family and associates of Trump, these people are now private citizens who can afford to hire some very talented private security firms for their personal protection.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Ohio House Republican, Calling Trump ‘a Cancer,’ Bows Out of 2022, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is the first of the group to retire rather than face a stiff primary challenge.

Calling former President Donald J. Trump “a cancer for the country,” Representative Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, said in an interview on Thursday that he would not run for re-election in 2022, ceding his seat after just two terms in Congress rather than compete against a Trump-backed primary opponent.

anthony gonzalezMr. Gonzalez, right, is the first, but perhaps not the last, of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to retire rather than face ferocious primaries next year in a party still in thrall to the former president.

The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.

Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the impeachment vote.

“That’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?’” he said.

Mr. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday, was the sort of Republican recruit the party once prized. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State wide receiver, he was selected in the first round of the N.F.L. draft and then earned an M.B.A. at Stanford after his football career was cut short by injuries. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political office.

Mr. Gonzalez, a conservative, largely supported the former president’s agenda. Yet he started breaking with Mr. Trump and House Republican leaders when they sought to block the certification of last year’s presidential vote, and he was horrified by Jan. 6 and its implications.

Still, he insisted he could have prevailed in what he acknowledged would have been a “brutally hard primary” against Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who was endorsed by the former president in February.

Yet as Mr. Gonzalez sat on a couch in his House office, most of his colleagues still at home for the prolonged summer recess, he acknowledged that he could not bear the prospect of winning if it meant returning to a Trump-dominated House Republican caucus.

“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

For the Ohioan, Jan. 6 was “a line-in-the-sand moment” and Mr. Trump represents nothing less than a threat to American democracy.

“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Durham grand jury indicts lawyer whose firm represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). A grand jury working with special counsel John Durham’s office handed up an indictment Thursday of lawyer Michael Sussmann, who prosecutors have accused of making false statements to the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sussmann, the indictment charges, “lied about the capacity in which he was providing ... allegations to the FBI” of potenmichael sussmann perkins youngertial cyber links between a Russian bank and a company owned by former president Donald Trump.

An attorney at Perkins Coie, a prominent law firm tied to the Democratic party, Sussmann, right, had been bracing for possible indictment.

  • Read the indictment: U.S. v. Michael Sussmann

Charging him marks a strange twist in the special counsel’s probe championed by Trump and his Republican allies, and which to date has resulted in a single conviction of a low-level FBI lawyer.

john durham CustomDurham, right, was tasked with finding crimes that may have been committed at the FBI and elsewhere in the federal government, but in charging Sussmann, the special counsel is in essence arguing that the FBI was the victim of a crime.

In a statement issued Wednesday, ahead of the indictment, lawyers for Sussmann insisted their client committed no crime.

“Michael Sussmann is a highly respected national security and cyber security lawyer, who served the U.S. Department of Justice during Democratic and Republican administrations alike,” his lawyers Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth said in a joint statement. “Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented, and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work. We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name.”

Durham grand jury examines if anyone presented false evidence to FBI

In recent months, Durham’s team has questioned witnesses about how the allegation of a possible digital tie between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank Justice Department log circularwas presented to the FBI. Durham also has examined the authenticity of data given to the FBI.

Durham is pursuing a prosecutorial theory that Sussmann was secretly representing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which was a client of Sussmann’s firm, these people said.

It was not immediately clear how an individual lying to the FBI’s top lawyer would square with the Justice Department’s historical practice of charging false-statements cases. Typically, such cases are charged when a witness knowingly lies to a special agent conducting an investigation.

Sept. 16

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here come the January 6th superseding indictments, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. “They’ve gotten away with it all!” It’s the rallying cry of defeatists everywhere who are so eager to feel outrage, they’ve baselessly convinced themselves that the January 6th attackers are off the hook. Meanwhile back in the real world, the indictments continue to come down – and now we’re getting into superseding indictments.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, prosecutors handed down superseding indictments today against Capitol attackers Ronald Sandlin and Nathaniel DeGrave, who had already been hit with lesser January 6th charges. It’s a reminder that as the evidence continues to add up, and people start cutting plea deals and ratting each other out, the indictments are continuing to get more serious.

The criminal indictments in relation to January 6th are still just getting started. That’s a fact made clear by the evidence. How high up will these indictments go, and will they reach the likes of Roger Stone and Donald Trump? We’ll see. But the narrative that they’ve “gotten away with it all” is simply fiction.

  During a vote earlier this year, first-year U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) emphasized her vote against increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour with a thumbs down gesture.

During a vote earlier this year, first-year U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) emphasized her vote against increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour with a thumbs down gesture.

The Nation, Commentary: Kyrsten Sinema’s Grapes of Wealth, Tom Gogola, Sept. 16, 2021. The Arizona senator’s wine-soaked politics offer a bold and colorful bouquet of disparate notes, with a hint of corruption.

A curious news story popped up in the Sonoma County Press-Democrat this summer, just as a bipartisan group of US senators was trimming the sails on Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans and sending their own $1.2 trillion package to the Senate floor: The Wine Country paper of record reported that one of those senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, had traveled to the city of Sonoma in August 2020, where she earned $1,117.40 as a paid intern at a winery.

According to the Press-Democrat, Senator Sinema worked at the California winery for three weeks last summer, and has also traveled to Sonoma for a fundraiser held on her behalf at a luxury inn that charges $950 a night for a room during peak season.

Why would a sitting senator—earning a taxpayer-funded salary of $174,000—take a paid internship at a winery?

Well, Sinema is apparently a serious wine buff, in her own way.

Around the same time as the Press-Democrat internship article appeared, back in Washington, D.C., all the headlines were about how Sinema played a key role in keeping the infrastructure negotiations on track by encouraging her fellow “moderates” to guzzle some more wine and get back to work when talks broke down. She supplied the wine, while plonky plutocrat Joe Manchin opened his houseboat on the Potomac to the lubricated legislators. It all sounded rather immoderate, if not completely decadent, if you ask me. And anyway, isn’t excessive alcohol consumption supposed to impair your judgment, not enhance it?

So again: Why this particular wine operation? One possible answer aligns with what Sinema’s former supporters in Arizona say about her: She has abandoned the progressives who brought her to the dance and prefers to do the Wah Watusi on behalf of the 1 percent these days.

Three Sticks is owned by William S. Price III, a cofounder of TPG Capital, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, with $108 billion in assets under management.

Sept. 14

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's involvement with Epstein reflects on a past littered with ties to pedophiles, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 14, 2021. According to a new book by Donald Trump biographer Michael Wolff, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon coached the late pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for a planned CBS "60 Minutes" interview in the months prior to Epstein's arrest by federal authorities in 2019.

According to Wolff's book, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned," Bannon conducted 15 hours of practice interviews with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse [known as the Wexner Mansion, named for Epstein's benefactor Leslie Wexner, the clothing retailing mogul and shown above in a WMR graphic].

We have previously reported that Epstein's New York residence was the scene of the 1994 rape of two girls, one 12 and the other 13, by Epstein and Trump. Bannon has, for quite some time, been under our radar for his past association with pedophiles. In 2005, Bannon was affiliated with a Hong Kong-based company alexander acosta o cropped Customcalled Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) [whose silent partner included Marc Collins-Rector].

There is a common thread that extends far and wide within Trump's circle of friends and associates. U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta, right, whom Trump named as his Labor Secretary, the government's chief monitor for underage sex trafficking, was more interested in burying the criminal activities of pedophiles like Epstein, Trump, and Rector than in protecting children from predators with large bank accounts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top general was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 14, 2021. “Peril,” a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reveals that Gen. Mark A. Milley called his Chinese counterpart before the 2020 election and after Jan. 6 in a bid to avert armed conflict.

Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict.

mark milley army chief of staffIn a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (shown at right as Army chief of staff), assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.

The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China.

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

Li took the chairman at his word, the authors write in the book, Peril, which is set to be released next week.

In the second call, placed to address Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6, Li wasn’t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him, “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

Sept. 12

The Guardian, Louis Armstrong and the spy: how the CIA used him as a ‘trojan horse’ in Congo, Jason Burke, Sept. 12, 2021. Book reveals how the jazz musician unwittingly became party to secret cold war manoeuvres by the US in Africa.

It was a memorable evening: Louis Armstrong, his wife and a diplomat from the US embassy were out for dinner in a restaurant in what was still Léopoldville, capital of the newly independent Congo.

The trumpeter, singer and band leader, nicknamed Satchmo as a child, was in the middle of a tour of Africa that would stretch over months, organised and sponsored by the State Department in a bid to improve the image of the US in dozens of countries which had just won freedom from colonial regimes.

CIA LogoWhat Armstrong did not know was that his host that night in November 1960 was not the political attaché as described, but the head of the CIA in Congo. He was also totally unaware of how his fame had allowed the spy who was making small talk across the starters to gain crucial information that would facilitate some of the most controversial operations of the entire cold war.

“Armstrong was basically a Trojan horse for the CIA. It’s genuinely heartbreaking. He was brought in to serve an interest that was completely contrary to his own sense of what was right or wrong. He would have been horrified,” said Susan Williams, a research fellow at London University’s School of Advanced Study and author of White Malice, a new book which exposes the astonishing extent of the CIA’s activities across central and west Africa in the 1950s and early 60s.

Documents found by Williams in the archives of the UN during five years of research strongly suggest that the Armstrongs’ host, CIA station chief Larry Devlin, and other US intelligence officers posted to Congo used the cover of the musicians’s visit to get access to the strategically important and very wealthy province of Katanga, which had recently seceded. The US, though sympathetic to the agenda of the province’s leader, had not officially recognised the self-declared government there.

There was much of interest to the CIA in Katanga, ranging from senior officials with whom they could not otherwise meet to crucial mining infrastructure, with 1,500 tons of uranium and vast potential to procure more. Armstrong’s tour to Katanga was the perfect opportunity, so Devlin and others flew down from the capital with the musician and his famous band. “They needed a cover and this gave them one,” said Williams.

There was something else that Armstrong, who had pulled out of a similar tour to the Soviet Union three years earlier in protest at racism in the US, did not know. The CIA in the Congo, led by Devlin, was trying to kill the Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister, 35-year-old Patrice Lumumba, fearful that he would lead the country into the Soviet camp. Historians now believe the nationalist leader wanted his country to remain neutral in the cold war.

patrice lumumba raising arms 1960Just a mile or so from where Armstrong and Devlin had dined, the charismatic Lumumba was being held prisoner in his official residence by soldiers loyal to Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, the young military chief with a close working relationship with the CIA, who had effectively seized power some weeks earlier.

Within two months of Armstrong’s tour, Lumumba (shown at left in a 1960 file photo) was murdered in Katanga by officials of the breakaway province and police officers from Belgium. Mobutu would later consolidate his hold on Congo, and become a loyal US client.

Devlin later claimed that the CIA was responsible, telling a US Congressional investigation “that the coup of Mobutu … was arranged and supported, and indeed, managed, by the CIA”.

Sept. 11

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Last days to fight back against fascism by voting to keep Newsom as governor of California! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 11, 2021 (58.58 min.). 20 years after webster tarpley 20079/11, focus has shifted to domestic terrorism under heading of #CERTUNREST2021 on eve of September 18 threat.

On January 4 conference call, security officials were warned of danger of “mass casualty event” on Capitol Hill; so why so little action to defend counting of electoral votes? DoJ seeks rollback for unconstitutional Texas abortion law.

In ambitious 6-point plan, Biden deploys OSHA to fight pandemic in workplace; Two dozen GOP governors and RNC hacks promise harassing lawsuits; Corporate media programs on 9/11 stress radical subjectivism, but obscure contradictions of official narrative!

Sept. 10

 

supreme court resized 2021

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Breyer’s airbrushed portrayal of the judicial process, Ruth Marcus, right, Sept. 10, 2021. Could the timing of Supreme Court Justice ruth marcus twitter CustomStephen G. Breyer’s new book be any worse? It’s hard to imagine.

Breyer’s latest — an earnest testament to the nonpartisanship and professionalism of his conservative colleagues — comes on the heels of the decision by five of them to let a blatantly unconstitutional Texas abortion law take effect.

Breyer dissented from that move, saying it undermined “the ability to ask the Judiciary to protect an individual from the invasion of a constitutional right — an invasion that threatens immediate and serious injury.”

He dissented a few weeks earlier, when a six-justice majority rejected the Biden administration’s bid to extend the eviction moratorium. And again, a few days before that, when the same six justices rejected the Biden administration’s effort to undo the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Breyer’s book, loftily titled The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics, is an earnest plea to preserve the former and avoid the latter, a paean to the rule of law and a warning against precipitous steps — such as expanding the size of the court — that might undermine its legitimacy.

“Under the law, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; and the same is true of the public’s willingness to accept judicial decisions with which it disagrees,” Breyer writes. “The rule of law is not a meal that can be ordered à la carte.”

Except that the goose and gander seem to be treated awfully differently these days. Conservative justices insist on strict adherence to statutory text, except when they don’t: See the court’s evisceration of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Conservative justices lunge to prevent the perceived infringement of some constitutional rights — stepping in to block pandemic restrictions that limit religious observance — while insisting that procedural hurdles make it impossible to halt the Texas abortion law. They praise the importance of precedent, then casually toss it aside.

And the conservative justices are increasingly ordering off-menu, using their “shadow docket” to make decisions without the fig leaf of full briefing and oral argument. When the conservative justices leap to employ their power to issue emergency orders at the behest of the Trump administration but then act differently when the Biden administration comes calling, that sauce has a bitter aftertaste.

When it comes to politics, Breyer sees plenty of blame to go around — just not among his colleagues. Journalists, for one, who routinely identify the political party of the president appointing the justices when reporting on the court, a change from decades past. “Going further, they systematically label judges as conservative or liberal,” Breyer laments.

Guilty as charged — and it’s because times, and the court, have changed. To take one salient example: Four of the seven justices in the majority in Roe v. Wade were named by a Republican president; one of the two dissenters was nominated by a Democrat. Today, except in unusual and increasingly infrequent circumstances, the justices’ votes can be reliably predicted by looking at party affiliation. The labels are accurate.

Sept. 9

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by the government of China for bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape, is shown above with Trump ally and former 2016 campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Guo funds through his GTV Media Group conglomerate Bannon's "War Room" podcast and "Real America's Voice" Internet television broadcast and other propaganda supporting the January 6th insurrection in Washington and the overthrow of the the U.S. government, which is giving him political asylum in New York City and elsewhere.

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: International fascist collusion to overthrow the U.S. government, Wayne Madsen, left, national security expert, former Navy wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallIntelligence Officer and NSA analyst, and author of 20 books, including the forthcoming, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

Not since the planned 1934 fascist coup against the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt by various right-wing, fascist, and Nazi forces, backed by wealthy Wall Street interests, has the United States faced a coordinated plot by Americans and foreign interests to overthrow democracy in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1933 and 1934, the fascist coup planning, which was exposed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, were directly linked to Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy, and French Croix de Feu fascist political leaders. Groups supporting a coup against FDR included groups ranging from the pro-Mussolini American Legion to Nazi organizations like the Silver Legion of America, the German American Bund, Friends of New Germany, the Ku Klux Klan, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the Crusaders.

Today, substitute the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Chinese expatriate billionaire Guo Wengui, and groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and Falun Gong, and you will see that history is merely repeating itself with different countries and groups involved in establishing a fascist dictatorship in America, Brazil, and other nations.

Steve Bannon's effort to create an international fascist movement, which is known as simply as "The Movement," has brought together Donald Trump loyalists with the Brazilian government of Bolsonaro and his family. Trump and Bolsonaro loyalists are actively attempting to corrupt and destroy the electoral underpinnings of democratic rule in the United States, Brazil, and third countries, for example, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and others.

Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the Latin American leader of Bannon's Movement, and Trump's personal choice but failed nominee as Brazil's ambassador in Washington, was very active with the attempted January 6 coup attempt in Washington.

Eduardo Bolsonaro participated in an insurrection eve "War Council" held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Other participants in the war council included Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, MyPillow's Mike Lindell, disgraced ex-National Security Adviser under trump Lt. General Michael Flynn, and lawyer Sidney Powell. Eduardo Bolsonaro also held a meeting at the White House on January 4 with Ivanka Trump and separately with expatriate Brazilian fascist political adviser and astrologer Olavo de Carvalho. Carvalho, who has been dubbed the "Rush Limbaugh" of Brazil, lives south of Richmond, Virginia in Dinwiddie County. Carvalho, a close associate of Bannon, is a "flat earther," climate change and Covid-19 pandemic denier, and anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) proponent.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection would do well to cooperate with Brazilian Senator Jacques Wagner (PT-Bahia) of the Workers' Party of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Wagner is conducting a Senate investigation of Eduardo Bolsonaro's role in the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Wagner asked the then-Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ernest Araujo, someone who has erroneously called Nazism a "leftist" movement, to answer eight questions [right] dealing with the roles played by Bolsonaro's son and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC into the January 5 war council at the Trump hotel and additional meetings between Eduardo Bolsonaro and "several other members of the Republican Party."

Those who diminish the importance of the January 6 coup attempt by calling it a "riot" or a "violent protest" fail to understand that it is the subject of formal legislative investigations by the U.S. House and the Brazilian Senate. That fact, alone, points to the January 6 event being a vast international conspiracy.

Bannon's operations, including his own involvement in the January 6 insurrection, have been financed by Guo Wengui and Lindell, as well as previously by the multi-billionaire hedge fund father-daughter team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

On August 10, 2021, Eduardo Bolsonaro was back in the United States attending Lindell's kooky "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Bannon emceed the live-streamed symposium. Bolsonaro gave Lindell a "Make America Great Again" hat signed by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro said he had met Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey on August 9 and Trump asked him to give the hat to Lindell. Bolsonaro gave a speech on how Brazil's election system was as "rigged" as that of the United States. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened that he might cancel the 2022 presidential election, which polls currently indicate that he would lose to the leftist Lula da Silva in a landslide.

Former Trump White House adviser Jason Miller, the CEO of the right-wing social media platform GETTR, participated in the September 3-4 Conservative Political Action Conference Brasil (CPAC Brasil) conference in Brasilia, the nation's capital. On September 7, Jair Bolsonaro urged tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered in Brasilia to storm the Brazilian Supreme Court and imprison the justices, including Alexandre de Moraes, who has been leading an investigation of President Bolsonaro and members of his family, including Eduardo, for corruption. Miller and his delegation met with Jair and Eduardo Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

The House January 6 committee should also invite Justice Moraes to share on a confidential basis any information he has gleaned on the Bolsonaros involvement with the attempted January 6 coup in Washington. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened a military coup in Brazil to cement his rule over the country.

The Fourth Reich movement of Donald Trump and his fellow fascists is the focus of the forthcoming editor's book titled, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

TheAnalysis.news, 9/11 Lies and the National Security State – Thomas Drake, Paul Jay, Sept. 9, 2021. Twenty years later, Thomas Drake still says the NSA knew about the 9/11 plotters prior to the attack, and likely reported the intel through a back channel to VP Cheney. Nothing was done to prevent the attack, says Drake a Drake, shown at right in a Steven DePolo photoformer senior executive at the NSA. Why? To prepare public opinion in favor of invading Iraq. Drake joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.

Twenty years later, Thomas Drake, right, still says the NSA knew about the 9/11 plotters prior to the attack, and likely reported the intel through a back channel to VP Cheney. Nothing was done to prevent the attack, says Drake a former senior executive at the NSA. Why? To prepare public opinion in favor of invading Iraq. Drake, shown at right in a Steven DePolo photo, joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.

This is the sixth part of the Reality Asserts Itself with Thomas Drake series. Here is a link to the playlist:

TRANSCRIPT:

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to theAnalysis.news. My name is Paul Jay. In a few seconds, I’ll be back with the man who knew too much, Thomas Drake. We’re going to talk about the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

In 2015, I interviewed Thomas Drake, a former Senior Executive of the National Security Agency and one of the more important whistleblowers in recent years. The interview was titled From 9/11 to Mass Surveillance, The Man Who Knew Too Much. The five-part interview is on the front page of theAnalysis.news, and I think it’s one of the most important interviews I’ve conducted. On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I urge you to watch all five parts for an explosive look into the role of the NSA [National Security Agency] and the [George W.] Bush/ [Dick] Cheney White House in suppressing intelligence that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. It’s also an important discussion about the roots of the national security state, more or less from 1947, that led to the massive apparatus that exists today.

I also urge you to watch the interview I conducted with Sen. Bob Graham, who was the Co-Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee, investigating 9/11. Graham was convinced that Bush and Cheney not only knowingly allowed the attacks to take place, but in some ways, facilitated them. Graham came to believe the quote, “intelligence failures were by design, engineered mostly by Cheney.”

Thomas Drake went public about secret surveillance programs, and for that, was charged and almost went to jail. That story is also found in the interviews I mentioned above. Drake is a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy Veteran who worked, in many capacities, within the National Security State. He started a new job as Senior Executive for the NSA on September 11, 2001. That’s right, his first morning of work was the day of the attack on the World Trade Center. He reported directly to the number three leader of the NSA, the signals intelligence director, Maureen Baginski, that put Drake in the position of having access to some of the most critical intel acquired by the NSA prior to 9/11. Although, he saw this data after the fact.

Here’s a short segment of my 2015 interview with Thomas Drake.

CLIP

DRAKE: I was never actually interviewed for the 9/11 Commission.

JAY: Why?

DRAKE: Because I think my testimony was so explosive. It was smoking gun evidence of NSA’s culpability.

JAY: Just to remind people, we talked about this in an earlier segment, that the NSA actually had eavesdropping hard evidence of the connection between these guys, two guys that end up on the American Airlines flight in San Diego and what was known as a Yemeni switchboard for al-Qaeda, and I’m sure much more than that.

DRAKE: Oh, actually, far more. That was just one part of it. There was actually an entire intelligence report that they had done prior–months and months. It was actually in early 2001 that NSA refused to allow it to go out for distribution to the rest of the community. And the analysts were beside themselves. I didn’t find out about it until shortly after 9/11 when it was brought to me.

JAY: What was in it?

DRAKE: The entire network that we knew at that time, based on signals intelligence.

JAY: The entire network that winds up doing 9/11.

DRAKE: The entire al-Qaeda and associated movement. Yes. Not every single hijacker, but most of them were known. Yes.

JAY: Well, I’ve got to return to something we talked about earlier. There’s a backchannel to Cheney. You can’t sit on this stuff.

DRAKE: Of course not.

JAY: Well, watch the earlier segment, ’cause we talked about this.

DRAKE: That was the other intelligence network. He couldn’t trust what was set up from 1947 on. This is one of the ironies of history. Cheney himself could not trust the early alert and warning system that had been put into place in 1947, in which we would never have another [incompr.] like Pearl Harbor.

JAY: Unless you want one.

DRAKE: Well, he knew it would take something like that. I’ll just–we’re going to put it right on the table again, ’cause we keep saying it. He knew it would take something like a 9/11 in the 21st century for Americans to just cede to the government whatever was necessary to deal with whatever happened.

Sept. 5

ritz carlton hotel pentagon city amazonThe Ritz Carlton–Pentagon City in Northern Virginia, the site of a significant, unreported international meeting on January 5 — Insurrection Eve.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Evidence of Foreign Entanglement in January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol Emerges, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 5, 2021. A top Trump ally met foreign nationals in seth abramson graphicVirginia hours before the Capitol attack. The potential links between this meeting and the transnational conspiracy theory that animated the attack are clear.

“If it [the January 6 attack] [had been] organized, they would have taken the Capitol and made demands that had already been established by the group. They would have [had] the firepower to assure nobody [among the rioters] would die. [They would have] kill[ed] all the cops inside [the Capitol]—or the congressmen they hate so much. When the right is 10% as organized as the left, we will have civil wars in every Western country.”

—Trump ally Eduardo Bolsonaro, in comments The Brazilian Report called “chilling”

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: In a series of Facebook livestreams and interviews with far-right media outlets on January 5 and January 6, informal Trump adviser Michael Lindell underscored that he believed January 6 would be a turning point in American history—in fact, he said more than once, he believed it would be the most significant moment in the United States since the end of the American Civil War.

Lindell’s militant view of the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6, 2021 provides some context for his decision to be one of the benefactors of the Stop the Steal “movement” following the November 2020 presidential election. So the matter of who Lindell was meeting with on January 5, and where and why—especially as it was on that day that Lindell published what amounted to a declaration of civil war—is now of very significant interest to federal investigators.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Investigation: Sirhan May Go Free — But Truth on the Kennedy Assassinations Remains Locked Up, Russ Baker and Milicent Cranor, Sept. 5, 2021. The possible parole of Sirhan Sirhan — convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy and imprisoned for more than half a century — reminds us that disturbing questions still remain about what really happened in the pantry of Los Angeles’s Ambassador Hotel shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968.

The official story states that Sirhan was a militant Palestinian Christian, driven to murder the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee over his support of Israel. According to this view, anything suspicious about Sirhan’s identification as RFK’s sole killer can be explained away as inconsequential details; probing deeper into the killing is self-indulgent conspiracy theorizing, and releasing Sirhan now would be an affront to justice.

Many of us pride ourselves on being “pro-science” and are appalled by those who react reflexively to almost any “establishment” narrative with suspicion and counter-theories. COVID-19 and climate change come to mind.

Sept. 4

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: US enjoys blessings of first Labor Day holiday of Golden Peace after twenty years of futile warfare, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 4, 2021.
webster tarpley 2007President ends two decades of Afghan conflict based on false pretenses; Warmongers rail against the incipient Pax Bideniana;

  • Time for scofflaw Supreme Court justices to stand in the dock of public opinion, leading to court reform; majority are not conservatives, but reactionary extremists;
  • September 18 Hill demonstrations loom in support of insurrection defendants; but will violent groups metastasize into local acts of mayhem?
  • Germany, France, Israel and others dispensing booster shots;
  • Newsome garners 58% in California recall polls; but beware the precedent of the Prussian coup of July 1932, the direct prelude to dictatorship!

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden signs executive order requiring review, release of some classified 9/11 documents, Amy B Wang and Matt Zapotosky, Sept. 4, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden on Friday signed an executive order that would require the review, declassification and release of classified government documents related to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In doing so, Biden said he was fulfilling a promise he had made while campaigning for president, in which he had vowed, if elected, to direct the U.S. Attorney General to “personally examine the merits of all cases” where the government had invoked state secrets privilege and “to err on the side of disclosure in cases where, as here, the events in question occurred two decades or longer ago.”

“When I ran for president, I made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of documents on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America,” Biden said in a statement Friday. “As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honoring that commitment.”

Justice Department log circularThe executive order directs the Justice Department and other relevant agencies to oversee a declassification review of documents related to the FBI’s Sept. 11 investigations. The order also requires the U.S. Attorney General to release the declassified documents publicly over the next six months, Biden said.

Families of hundreds of 9/11 victims had told Biden last month that he would not be welcome at this year’s memorial events marking the 20th anniversary of the attacks unless he declassified government evidence beforehand that could link Saudi Arabia to the attack, according to a letter sent to the White House in August.

Shortly afterward, the Justice Department pledged to review evidence related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a move that an advocate for some of the families criticized as insufficient. In a court filing last month, the Justice Department already had said the FBI was reviewing the materials for possible public disclosure.

But Biden’s executive order imposes new conditions and timetables on that process, commanding the bureau to review some materials by Sept. 11 and others on staggered deadlines over the next 180 days.

Biden also seemed to direct the bureau to favor disclosure in questionable calls, writing that material should not stay secret if there was “significant doubt” about the need for it to remain classified, and that the attorney general and others should determine “whether the public interest in disclosure of the information outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure.”

The FBI said in a statement reacting to the order: “The FBI will continue to work in coordination with the Department of Justice and other agencies to declassify and release documents related to the 9/11 investigation.” The Justice Department declined to comment to The Washington Post.

In the shadow of the towers: Five lives and a world transformed

Some 9/11 families immediately praised the executive order Friday. One group, 9/11 Families United, which represents more than 10,000 people affected by the attacks, said in a statement that Biden’s order “looks like a true turning point.”

“We have been fighting the FBI and intelligence community for too long,” said Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom, was killed in the World Trade Center. “There is much more work to be done to secure justice for our murdered loved ones and to rectify the immense damage the 20-year shroud of secrecy has caused, but we now are optimistic that President Biden will be helping us achieve those goals.”

Brett Eagleson, who lost his father, Bruce Eagleson, in the 9/11 attacks, commended Biden for signing the executive order, calling it “a critical first step” to a full accounting.

“We will closely watch this process to ensure the Justice Department and FBI follow through, act in good faith, and help our families uncover the truth in our pursuit of justice against the Saudi government,” Brett Eagleson said in a statement. “The first test will be on 9/11, and the world will be watching.”

Several members of Congress, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), said they supported Biden’s decision to order the declassification review of 9/11 documents. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday the committee would closely oversee the review process “to ensure that all agencies adhere to the president’s guidance to apply the maximum degree of transparency allowed by law when conducting the review.”

Biden has not yet made public his plans for the 20th anniversary of the attacks. Last year, while campaigning for president, he attended Sept. 11 memorial events in Lower Manhattan and Shanksville, Pa.

“My heart continues to be with the 9/11 families who are suffering, and my Administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community,” Biden said Friday. “I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward.”

Sept. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Texas Abortion Case Highlights Concern Over Supreme Court’s ‘Shadow Docket,’ Charlie Savage, right, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). A charlie savageprocess intended to help the court deal with emergency petitions and routine matters has grown into a backdoor way of making major policy decisions.

Most of the time, the Supreme Court appears to the public like a cautiously deliberative body. Before issuing major rulings, the justices pore over extensive written briefs, grill lawyers in oral arguments and then take months to draft opinions explaining their reasoning, which they release at precisely calibrated moments.

Then there is the “shadow docket.”

With increasing frequency, the court is taking up weighty matters in a rushed way, considering emergency petitions that often yield late-night decisions issued with minimal or no written opinions. Such orders have reshaped the legal landscape in recent years on high-profile matters like changes to immigration enforcement, disputes over election rules, and public-health orders barring religious gatherings and evictions during the pandemic.

The latest and perhaps most powerful example came just before midnight on Wednesday, when the court ruled 5 to 4 to leave in place a novel Texas law that bars most abortions in the state — a momentous development in the decades-long judicial battle over abortion rights.

The court spent less than three days dealing with the case. There were no oral arguments before the justices. The majority opinion was unsigned and one paragraph long. In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the case illustrated “just how far the court’s ‘shadow-docket’ decisions may depart” from the usual judicial process and said use of the shadow docket “every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”

There is nothing new about the court having an orders docket where it swiftly disposes of certain matters. But with the notable exception of emergency applications for last-minute stays of execution, this category of court activity has traditionally received little attention. That is because for the most part, the orders docket centers on routine case management requests by lawyers, like asking for permission to submit an unusually long brief.

The court also uses it to dispose of emergency appeals. Each justice handles requests from a different region, and can reject them or bring them to the full court. And increasingly, the court has been using its orders docket — which was deemed the “shadow docket” in 2015, in an influential law journal article by William Baude, a University of Chicago law professor — to swiftly decide whether to block government actions, turning it into a powerful tool for affecting public policy without fully hearing from the parties or explaining its actions in writing.

Criticism of the use of the shadow docket has been building for years but rose to a new level with the Texas abortion case. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, denounced the ruling, saying it allowed what he portrayed as a “flagrantly unconstitutional law” to take force and calling it “shameful” that the court’s majority did so without hearing arguments or issuing any signed opinion. He announced hearings.

“Because the court has now shown repressive state legislatures how to game the system, the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings to shine a light on the Supreme Court’s dangerous and cowardly use of the shadow docket,” he said in a statement. “Decisions like this one chip away at our democracy.”

Liberals are not the only ones who see problems in the increasing importance of the court’s exercise of power through emergency orders. When the court issued a shadow-docket order last year letting a Trump administration immigration rule take effect — overturning a lower-court judge’s nationwide injunction blocking the rule — Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, a conservative, supported that result but lamented the process that had led up to it.

“Rather than spending their time methodically developing arguments and evidence in cases limited to the parties at hand, both sides have been forced to rush from one preliminary injunction hearing to another, leaping from one emergency stay application to the next, each with potentially nationwide stakes, and all based on expedited briefing and little opportunity for the adversarial testing of evidence,” he wrote.

But while there is broad consensus that the Supreme Court’s use of the shadow docket for high-profile rulings is growing — a trend playing out within an increasingly polarized judiciary and nation — defining the precise nature of the problem is complicated and subject to dispute.

“I don’t think anyone thinks it is good to have a lot of last-minute requests for emergency relief that the court has to focus on and decide,” said Samuel Bray, a University of Notre Dame law professor who testified about the shadow docket this summer before President Biden’s commission studying possible Supreme Court changes. “But there are difficult questions about what has caused the high-profile use of the shadow docket — and what to do about it.”

Over the past decade or so, such rulings have clearly become more common. Typically, they involve emergency appeals of lower-court rulings over the question of whether to block some change — like a new law or government policy — so it cannot be enforced while the slow process of litigating plays out

One way of measuring the Supreme Court’s use of its shadow docket to issue major decisions is how often it has used that power to summarily disrupt the status quo — such as by granting or vacating an injunction when a lower court had ruled a different way.

stephen vladeck resizedAccording to data compiled by Stephen I. Vladeck, a University of Texas at Austin law professor who has written critically about the rise of the shadow docket, cases in which the Supreme Court disrupted the status quo numbered in the single digits each year from 2005 to 2013, but have been rising since, reaching 19 in its last term and 19 again so far this term.

“If they are going to issue rulings that profoundly change the law, I think they have an obligation to write and to explain why they are doing it,” said Mr. Vladeck, right, who also testified on the issue before the Supreme Court commission. “They have an obligation to the lower courts, to the other parties in the case and to other public officials who need guidance.”

But as the furor over the Texas abortion rights case shows, that measure is imperfect. In that case, rather than summarily disrupting the status quo established by a lower court, the Supreme Court majority decided not to overturn what an appeals court had done.

The most restrictive in the country. The Texas abortion law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in the state. It prohibits most abortions after about six weeks of preganancy and makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.

Citizens, not the state, will enforce the law. The law effectively deputizes ordinary citizens — including those from outside Texas — allowing them to sue clinics and others who violate the law. It awards them at least $10,000 per illegal abortion if they are successful.

Patients cannot be sued. The law allows doctors, staff and even a patient’s Uber driver to become potential defendants.

The Supreme Court’s decision.

The Supreme Court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions, less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent.

In an interview, Mr. Baude — the professor who coined the term “shadow docket,” and who is a member of Mr. Biden’s Supreme Court commission — said another reason the debate was so complicated was that there were different types of worries over the court’s growing use of its emergency orders to swiftly resolve matters, and they only partly overlapped.

One worry, he said, is substantive: The court may reach the wrong result because it is rushing. Another is procedural: Regardless of the result, it is not fair to parties who do not get a chance to be fully heard before the decision. A third is about transparency: The court should fully explain itself and disclose how each justice voted.

But the uproar over the majority’s handling of the Texas anti-abortion law, he said, seems most centered on another worry: that the conservative majority on the court is not being evenhanded or consistent about when it chooses to intervene with an emergency order.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: In the Dead of Night, the Supreme Court Proved It Has Too Much Power, Jamelle Bouie, right, Sept. 3, 2021. The Supreme Court’s recent jamelle bouiereliance on the so-called shadow docket to make major rulings — on display, this week, in its decision to let Texas end legal abortion after six weeks, at least for now — throws the problem of judicial power in a representative democracy into sharp relief.

First, some background. The shadow docket refers to emergency orders and decisions made outside of the court’s regular docket of cases, usually without oral arguments. The term was coined six years ago by William Baude, a law professor at the University of Chicago, but the division between regular cases and this more specialized set has been around for decades. All it takes to get on the docket is to appeal to one justice, who then decides whether to forward the matter to the rest of the court.

Many of these orders are minor and procedural, but others deal with high-stakes issues of national concern. In recent years, and especially during the Trump administration, the court has relied on the shadow docket to make consequential decisions on a wide range of issues. Often, the court issues its decisions from the shadow docket without signed opinions or detailed explanations of the kind you would find in an argued case.

In the last five months, the Supreme Court has used the shadow docket to strike down Covid restrictions on group religious activities in private homes, force President Biden to reinstate the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers from Central America and block the extension of an emergency federal ban on evictions, putting countless Americans at risk of homelessness.

The vote on the Texas abortion law came Wednesday, in the dead of night, when a narrow majority of the court declined to stop Texas from implementing a new ban on abortions past the sixth week of pregnancy, which is often before many women even know they are pregnant.

The law is a flagrant violation of Roe v. Wade. But because Texas has deputized private citizens to enforce the ban rather than rely on executive authority — a deliberate choice meant to prevent federal courts from blocking the law — the high court has declined to act against the ban, citing the “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” of the case. For Justice Sonia Sotomayor, this is nonsense. “The court,” she wrote in her dissent, “has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation.”

Abortion rights are a dead letter in Texas, at least temporarily. And Republican lawmakers in other parts of the country now have a clear road map for making the same thing happen in their own states. Republican legislative leaders in Florida, for example, have already said they are working on a similar law.

Another way to put this is that the court has essentially nullified the constitutional rights of millions of American women without so much as an argument. It has shaken the constitutional landscape — refusing to apply the law as it was decided in previous cases — while shielding itself from the scrutiny that might come under normal circumstances. The court has transformed the constitutional status quo under cover of night. This isn’t judicial review as much as it is a raw exercise of judicial power.

It is common enough knowledge that the Supreme Court’s power to shape American society is a function not so much of its formal power under the Constitution as it is of its popular legitimacy. And much of that legitimacy rests on the idea that the court is acting fairly, transparently and in good faith. It rests, as well, on the idea of the court as a partner in governance and a safeguard for the rights of the American people.

The court’s abuse of the shadow docket is in that category: actions that threaten to place the rule of men over the rule of law. It’s not that the court is political — that is to be expected — but that its conservative majority is acting in arbitrary, secretive ways, with hardly any justification other than its own power to do so.

The shadow docket aside, the extent to which political outcomes in America rest on the opaque machinations of a cloistered, nine-member clique is the clearest possible sign that we’ve given too much power to this institution. We can have self-government or we can have rule by judge, but we cannot have both.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Abortion Ruling Was Stunning but Not Surprising, Editorial Board, Sept. 3, 2021. Many Americans were caught off guard by the Supreme Court’s decision late Wednesday night to let stand a blatantly unconstitutional Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state.

They shouldn’t have been. Anti-choice activists, lawmakers and judges have been laying the groundwork for this moment since the court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973.

For nearly half a century, the anti-abortion movement had to settle for partial victories, constantly chipping away at women’s right to an abortion, but never achieving the ultimate goal of overturning Roe itself. Now, with a hard-right supermajority on the bench for this purpose, that goal is within reach — even as a solid and consistent majority of the American public continues to believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

For the majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to comprehensive reproductive health, the Supreme Court is now an adversary. Any long-term success will mean fighting the same way anti-abortion campaigners have for decades — in the political realm, by winning elections at the state and federal levels and changing laws as a result. Unlike the justices, elected leaders can be voted out if they don’t listen to their constituents. It’s a long and difficult road, but it’s the one all lasting reforms in a democracy must take.

brett kavanaugh flag

 washington post logoWashington Post, Sen. Collins asserted that Kavanaugh considered abortion rights settled law. His decision on Texas’s ban suggests otherwise, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). Sen. Susan Collins emerged from her face-to-face meeting with then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, above, in August 2018 insisting that he had reassured her that Roe v. Wade was settled law.

susan collins official SmallTwo months later, Collins (R-Maine), right, who supports abortion rights, declared in a lengthy Senate floor speech that Kavanaugh had a “record of judicial independence” and dismissed the notion that he might overturn precedent. She later would vote to confirm him to the lifetime post.

Collins’s past assertions came into sharp relief Wednesday as Kavanaugh joined four of his fellow conservatives on the court in declining to block one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws, a Texas statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest. The court’s action stands as the most serious threat to the landmark ruling establishing a woman’s right to abortion in nearly 50 years.

Collins’s support for Kavanaugh — and her insistence that he would uphold Roe — was crucial in installing then-President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court as the Senate confirmed him by one of the narrowest margins in history, a near party-line 50-to-48 vote.

His decision late Wednesday night revives questions of whether Collins was misled by the nominee or whether she was intent on supporting him no matter his views on abortion rights. Collins’s full-throated endorsement of Kavanaugh and her swing vote means she will always be associated with this Supreme Court justice, winning praise from conservatives and widespread criticism from liberals.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Collins called the Texas law “extreme and harmful.” She made no specific mention of Kavanaugh but noted that of the six Supreme Court justices she has voted to confirm, three voted with the majority on the Texas ban, while three voted with the minority.

“The Supreme Court recognized that there are ‘serious questions’ regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law, and it emphasized that its recent ruling does not address those questions,” Collins said. “I oppose the Court’s decision to allow the law to remain in effect for now while these underlying constitutional and procedural questions are litigated.”

Abortion providers say the Texas ban — which relies on private citizens to sue people who help women obtain abortions prohibited under the law — effectively eliminates the guarantee in Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that women have a right to end their pregnancies before viability, and that states may not impose undue burdens on that decision. It was specifically designed to turn away pre-enforcement challenges in federal courts.

Collins’s support for Kavanaugh became a major issue in her bid for reelection in 2020. Some abortion rights groups withdrew their support for Collins, and a major LGBTQ rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, endorsed her Democratic opponent, Maine’s then-House Speaker Sara Gideon, citing Collins’s vote to confirm Kavanaugh, as well as “her support of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s agenda.”

Nonetheless, the senator successfully won reelection, taking 51 percent to Gideon’s 42.4 percent. Collins, 68, is not up for reelection until 2026.

America's Untold Stories,

, Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert, Sept. 3, 2021 (101 mins). America's Untold Stories with Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert is featuring part two of Sirhan Sirhan and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy. Mark presented at the Sirhan Sirhan Parole Hearing on August 27, 2021.

This is exclusive coverage of the parole hearing and the trial that put him in prison.

supreme court resized 2021

Sept. 2

Proof via Substack, Investigation: On Insurrection Eve, Trump Adviser Michael Lindell Both Proposed Civil War in a 15-Page Manifesto and Met in Virginia with a seth abramson graphicCorrupt Foreign National, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 2, 2021. In this second entry of the Proof series on lightly reported or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive January 5 dinner in Virginia. 

Introduction: Proof long ago reported on Michael Lindell’s claims that he met with the corrupt son of corrupt Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on January 5. That reporting in turn led to two additional significant Proof reports on the possible value of the Bolsonaros to Trump’s coup attempt; the connection between other Trump war room participants (such as the Becks of Idaho) and the Bolsonaros; and other visits Eduardo Bolsonaro made during his consistently-thereafter-lied-about trip to D.C.—including not just one but two visits to see the Trump family at the White House, one before Insurrection Day and one shortly afterward.

seth abramson proof logoThe reports linked to above contain photographs of these key meetings. Ultimately, reports at Proof about Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Michael Lindell, Team Kraken, Daniel Beck, Doyle Beck, Eduardo and Jair Bolsonaro, and Donald Trump led to an ongoing Congressional inquiry in Brazil, as detailed (with links) in the history of this publication.

Brazilian media has now covered the possible involvement of the Brazilian government in Team Trump’s fraudulent “election fraud” accusations against Brazil’s foremost enemy—Venezuela—in a way that U.S. media has not.

And some members of Team Trump and its offshoot Team Kraken, such as Sidney Powell, have maintained their lies about Venezuela in a way that must be extremely pleasing to the increasingly unstable, perpetually embattled neo-fascist Bolsonaro government.

Proof can now report much more on what Lindell was doing on Insurrection Eve than it already has—though this is a developing story, and there is doubtless much more to learn. But the urgency of uncovering what Lindell has been up to has only grown since his insurrectionist August “conference” in South Dakota; his past claims that Trump will be reinstated as President of the United States (which would have seen Trump back in the White House on August 13, per Lindell); and the upcoming Justice for J6 rally in D.C. on September 18, during which insurrectionists like Lindell will return to the scene of past offenses via a rally law enforcement fears could spawn new violence.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

 

August

Aug. 22

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Trump sabotaged Afghan withdrawal! Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 21, 2021. Defying 2019 order by federal judge Chutkan, Trump-Miller webster tarpley 2007xenophobic operatives gutted State Department visa processing apparatus, stranding Afghan translators and auxiliaries in Kabul, former Pence official reveals; this is key factor in humanitarian emergency now, but Blob media continue to vilify Biden for delivering on promise to country sick of war;

With GOP more than ever the face of the pandemic, will California recall voters choose deadly covid chaos under a raving GOP ideologue on model of deSantis, Abbott, Noem, or Ducey?

Lame duck Bush Sr. trapped Clinton with Somalia intervention of November 1992, leading to Black Hawk Down defeat.

Aug. 19

Proof via Substack, Investigation: New Pre-Insurrection Strategy Meetings #1: Reps. Mo Brooks and Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, and 50 seth abramson graphicHouse Republicans, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 19, 2021. In this new entry in a Proof series focused on lightly or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive GOP-caucus call no one seems to be aware of.

Introduction: Most Americans don’t yet realize how much planning Congressional Republicans did prior to January 6 to ensure that that seth abramson proof logoterrible day would be as chaotic as possible.

The lightly and in some cases unreported meetings that top Washington Republicans held between January 2 and January 5—including White House meetings—explain why the Republican Party writ large can under no circumstances cooperate with the new House January 6 Committee. It is now a certainty that if that committee conducts a comprehensive review of top Republicans’ movements in the 120 hours preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol, it will discover an institutionalized insurrectionist conspiracy the GOP must hide from voters if it is to take back the House in late 2022.

Proof previously began the process of reporting on largely or entirely unreported pre-insurrection strategy sessions with this article, among whose stunning revelations was a national conference call held by Donald Trump with state GOP officials on January 2. That call, which included nearly 300 such officials and was both highly irregular and conducted on a weekend, would have been more than enough covert insurrectionist business for a President of the United States to conduct a single day. But it turns out that it wasn’t the only major pre-insurrection meeting Donald Trump chaired that day.

This article is about a second such meeting.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Aug. 17

American System Network, Commentary: Afghan collapse started under Trump in February 2020, Webster G. Tarpley, left, Aug. 16, 2021. Trump’s Doha pullout pledge webster tarpley 2007to Taliban triggered surrender deals by tribal and province chiefs, setting stage for disintegration of Afghan army.

williams burns 20057,000 US troops are enough for Afghan redout to hold airport enclave, airlift Americans and friends to Guam over coming weeks.

Biden should fire failed Doha negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, the Bush-Trump retread who disoriented US government, and hold NSC’s Jake Sullivan and CIA’s William Burns, right, accountable.

Breaking: Biden speech follows JFK after Bay of Pigs by saying I am President, the buck stops here; President should also study JFK’s ouster of CIA boss Allen Dulles and his clique for lying and incompetence.

Aug. 16

Responsible Statecraft, Analysis: America leaves Afghanistan, and the regional geopolitics take over, Graham E. Fuller, left, Aug. 16, 2021. There will Graham Fullerlikely be a return to a much more historically normal state of global affairs in which multiple players are engaged.

 The final end of the government in Kabul is at hand as the inexorable logic of regime collapse gains momentum. It seems more of a surprise to current policymakers than to those many observers with a long-time familiarity with the country’s dynamics. It will not be pleasant to watch, but it has long been inevitable given the utterly unrealistic ambitions and poor policy execution that Washington has maintained in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, those darker, but more insightful views on the entire enterprise have long been largely stifled by our media.

The neo-imperialist neoconservatives all argue that the American departure and the subsequent collapse of the Kabul government are deeply destructive to American “credibility” as a superpower in the world. The underlying ideology of this view is of course the cherished concept that the United States must serve as global policeman everywhere and that a failure to do so is a sign of weakness and decline.

This line of thinking is precisely backwards: it is the overall decline of America domestically and geopolitically that is the telltale sign of its deeper weakness; there is an increasing international belief that the United States is living inside a fantasy bubble of denial about maintaining its global hegemony. If the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan had actually ever shown any serious concrete advancement towards concrete goals, that would be one thing. But the neocons are ever content to throw good money after bad in the blind pursuit of hegemony — even in the very heart of “the graveyard of empires.”

On a human level, of course, it indeed matters what fate the Afghans will meet under a new Taliban government. The Afghan people have been suffering under repeated and constant warfare and military intervention since 1978, starting with a domestic coup by Afghan communists, followed by the Soviet invasion, the subsequent years of fighting to expel the Soviets by U.S.-supported mujahedin groups, the subsequent civil war among the mujahideen that followed and to which the Taliban finally put an end by restoring national order and discipline — with a rough and ready kind of justice.

But Washington’s focus on Afghanistan in reality has had very little to do with establishing a better and more equitable society for the Afghans. The ostensible impulse for the American invasion was nominally to destroy the presence of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But the deeper and more profound reason for the American invasion and lengthy occupation was more pointedly to establish a military and geopolitical foothold in Central Asia on the very borders of Russia and China. That ambition was never nakedly articulated but was clearly understood by all regional forces. The “nation-building and humanitarian” aspects of the American occupation were largely window dressing to cover Washington’s geopolitical ambitions. Those ambitions still have not fully died among American neocons and liberal interventionists.

Like it or not, a key feature of the new “post-American geopolitics” will be a return to a much more historically normal state of global affairs in which multiple players are engaged. And in this case, multiple players will also have the greatest influence over Afghanistan’s future — probably for the better. The reality is that all three countries which the United States perceives as enemies – Iran, Russia, and China — actually all share with Washington the same major goals for Afghanistan’s future: stability and an end to bloodshed and jihadism. But all three of these countries also unite in vigorous opposition to American intervention and dominance in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

While in another era, the Taliban might have cared little about the views of these neighboring countries, today Central Asia is a different place. Afghanistan is in tatters, and no matter what the social policies of the Taliban are, they also need to restore the country to a minimal degree of prosperity and peace. China, in particular, has the greatest political and economic leverage to assist in Afghanistan’s future. Afghanistan figures in China’s ambitious and visionary plan of the Belt and Road Initiative across Central Asia in a re-creation of an economically linked Central Asian that has not been so linked since the days of Genghis Khan. China will make great efforts to try to ensure that the Taliban maintain stability and avoid any support to radical movements which not only hugely affect China in Xinjiang, but also affect Russia in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the security of Shi’ite Iran — a regular target of Sunni jihadi ideology.

None of these states — Iran, China, or Russia — wishes to see the United States establish itself militarily in the heart of Central Asia and are thus happy to see Washington floundering in that occupation. Once U.S. military influence is removed from the heart of Central Asia, a prosperous and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of all.

Pakistan remains something of a wild card, but Pakistan’s dominant interest is to ensure that its eastern border with Afghanistan remains safe and friendly. Especially since Pakistan’s western neighbor — India — poses the greatest strategic threat to Islamabad. Pakistan cannot tolerate unfriendly powers on both borders. It will do whatever it takes to maintain decent working relations with Kabul. And, of course, China has Pakistan’s back as a key link in the Eurasian Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan must also be attentive to the Pashtun character of the Taliban movement; after all, there are more Pashtuns in eastern Pakistan than there are in Afghanistan itself. And resurgent Pashtun nationalism poses a constant concern to Islamabad as well.

Washington will have to lick its wounds in departing Afghanistan in defeat after 20 feckless years of occupation but cannot persist in a costly and losing policy. And only a fool would try to ward off the geopolitical power of Russia and China, and even Iran, across the vast stretches of Eurasia. Furthermore, while Washington has essentially employed military instruments to attempt to impose its hegemony around the world, Moscow and Beijing are working the diplomatic route — with far greater success.

What might be the nature of a Taliban-dominated government in Afghanistan? Hard to say, but this is a new generation of Taliban leaders who have traveled, seen the world, and dealt with many other governments. One would hope they have learned something in the course of their exile; they have little other option than to recognize the reality of now living in an international environment of mainly of non-Muslim powers. And if Taliban social policies are distasteful to Americans, they might wish to reflect upon Saudi Arabia in the same context. Of course, Riyadh and Saudi money still seem to enjoy vast influence in Washington that the Taliban cannot exert.

President Biden deserves at least some measure of credit in finally closing the spigots on U.S. blood and treasure in Afghanistan after 20 years. Hopefully it is the beginning of a sign of greater realism on the part of Washington’s geopolitical thinkers about the new limits of American power. And the need for a far more modest vision of what truly comprises American interests.

Aug. 14

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Biden sending 5,000 troops to Afghanistan, with a reserve brigade in Gulf, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Aug. 14, 2021. Catastrophic Afghan rout webster tarpley 2007would be crushing US humiliation, liable to encourage many aggressors across planet; blunders on Afghan front will be paid for along Korean DMZ, the east coast of Taiwan, and the Black and Baltic Seas; Taliban must not enter Kabul!

5,000 US forces should secure fortified Afghan National Redout around Kabul & main airport, offering a safe zone for pro-US Afghans to gather for airlift to US; Shiites of central highlands are also resisting; Amb. Khalilzad’s theory that Taliban fear pariah status is absurd appeasement, with China, Russia, Iran and others eager to see US ousted by barbaric terror regime.

Biden is badly served by Afghanistan advisors, with Khalilzad, Sullivan, Blinken, and some Central Command generals facing accountability.

Aug. 13

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Blame Biden for Losing Afghanistan? Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 13, 2021. It is becoming increasingly clear that the strategy Jacob Hornbergerof interventionist dead-enders is to blame President Biden for losing Afghanistan to the Taliban. If only he had kept U.S. troops there a bit longer or even indefinitely, their argument goes, the crooked and corrupt U.S.-installed Afghan puppet regime could have won the war and finally brought “enduring freedom” to Afghanistan.

Never mind that the U.S. national-security establishment had twenty long years to achieve its goal of bringing a model society to Afghanistan.

Never mind that U.S. officials sacrificed the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Afghans in their quest to bring “democracy” and “enduring freedom” to Afghanistan.

Never mind that U.S. officials spent around a trillion dollars in U.S. taxpayer money on their intervention, much of it ending up in the personal pockets of their crooked and corrupt Afghan puppets.

future of freedom foundation logo squareNever mind that the Trump administration entered into an agreement with the Taliban to exit the country last May. Given that Biden unilaterally broke the agreement by extending the U.S. exit to September, the dead-enders argue, he should have just broken it even more by extending the exit date another several months or perhaps even indefinitely into the future.

The defeat of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, after 20 long years of massive death and destruction, provides the American people with an opportunity to engage in some serious soul-searching as to where we are as a nation and we should go from here.

On the one hand, things can proceed in a business-as-usual fashion, with no fundamental changes, simply saying that the Afghanistan intervention was a “mistake” that we need to put behind us and move on.

Or we can move in a fundamentally different direction in the following ways:

1. End all foreign interventionism, including invasions, occupations, wars of aggression, coups, kidnappings, torture, assassinations, foreign aid, foreign alliances, and foreign military bases.

2. Dismantle the national-security state governmental apparatus that was grafted onto our federal governmental system after World War II and restore our founding governmental system of a limited-government republic.

In making this determination, we should keep in mind some important facts about Afghanistan and the U.S. national-security state.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: New Revelations on An Insurrection Eve White House Meeting Suggest It Should Be at the Center of the Congressional January 6 seth abramson graphicInvestigation, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 13-14, 2021. Trump hosted a meeting at the White House hours before the January 6 insurrection. Congress and media must give it significant scrutiny — as it increasingly looks like pre-insurrection planning.

Introduction: Back in late March, Proof authored an exclusive report revealing that dangerous far-right internet troll Rogan O’Handley attended a secret meeting at the White House just hours before the attack on the United States Capitol.

seth abramson proof logoProof termed the meeting “secret” because—by O’Handley’s own admission—that’s what it was. Indeed, when he spoke to a large insurrectionist mob at Freedom Plaza immediately after leaving the event at the White House, he told them that he “can’t” reveal even a single attendee of the Insurrection Eve meetup he’d just attended at the People’s House.

That O’Handley was admitted to the White House with a number of unknown parties hours before the worst attack on our nation’s capital since 1814 was deemed by Proof especially harrowing because of what O’Handley, either directed or merely inspired by his White House meeting, told the mob at Freedom Plaza.

As Proof noted in publishing its report on the secret White House meeting, here, with emphasis supplied, is some of what O’Handley said fresh from his visit to the White House (at a time he was sharing a stage—literally—with domestic terrorist Ali Alexander):

It may be forty degrees out here, but it sure feels like 1776. I was just at the White House. I can’t tell you who I was meeting with, but they’re optimistic. They think something good is going to happen tomorrow. All I gotta say is, “It damn well better happen,” because I don’t want to see these patriots more pissed off than they already are—in DC, right next to Congress….If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow. But you better make the right decision tomorrow, or you're gonna have a whole lot of pissed off patriots in DC.

Here’s the video of O’Handley’s inciting speech, which includes the shouted message to members of the U.S. Congress, “YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID OF US! WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE! NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS [TOMORROW]!” Right Wing Watch @RightWingWatch "If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow."

Rogan O’Handley, aka DC Draino, fired up crowd the night before the insurrection. He said he'd come from the White House where they expected "something good" the next day.

Read more at the Proof site to see what's new....

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Aug. 12

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Why the NARA Secrecy Over the Secret JFK Records? Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 12, 2021. For some unknown reason, Jacob Hornbergerthere seems to be some secrecy on the part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) over the still-secret 58-year-old records of the CIA and other federal agencies relating to the Kennedy assassination.

future of freedom foundation logo squareOn July 29, 2021, I submitted the following request for information through the NARA website:

Would you please advise me whether any federal agencies, especially the CIA, have expressed an interest in seeking an extension of time for continued secrecy with respect to the JFK records that are set to be released in October?

On August 10, I received the following email from NARA:

Dear Mr. Jacob Hornberger,

After looking into your request, we are able to confirm that at this time NARA and other federal agencies are in the process of reviewing JFK assassination records in accordance with the requirements of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 and the April 26, 2018, Presidential Memorandum on Certification for Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Similar to the 2017-2018 release, NARA plans to make the releasable records from the 2021 review available on the National Archives website. More details will be communicated as updates arrive.

Sincerely,
Ashney Randle
Special Access & FOIA Program

On August 10, I sent the following email to Ms. Randle:

Dear Ms. Randle,

Thank you for your email. It provides interesting information, for which I am appreciative.

Unfortunately, however, your email does not answer my question, which is: “Would you please advise me whether any federal agencies, especially the CIA, have expressed an interest in seeking an extension of time for continued secrecy with respect to the JFK records that are set to be released in October?”

Was this an oversight? Or is there some reason why this information has to remain secret?

Thank you for your time and continued attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Jacob Hornberger

Aug. 9

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: James Woolsey’s JFK Conspiracy Theory, Part 2, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 9, 2021. This continues a review of "Operation Dragon," a recent book by former CIA Director Jame Woolsey, shown below at left. See also Part 1, James Woolsey’s JFK Conspiracy Theory, Part 1, Jacob G. Hornberger, July 19, 2021.

Review Introduction: There is but one reasonable Jacob Hornbergerexplanation for the fraudulent autopsy that was carried out on the body of John Kennedy on the evening of his assassination — to ensure the national-security establishment’s cover-up of its assassination.

After the deadly fiasco at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, where Cuban communist forces defeated a CIA-sponsored invasion of the island, things went from bad to worse with respect to the relationship between Kennedy and the U.S. national-security establishment.

Convinced that the United States could not survive with a communist outpost only 90 miles away from American shores, the james woolsey 2015 wmilitary began pressing Kennedy to invade Cuba and forcibly remove the communist regime from power and replace it with a pro-U.S. regime. In March 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended that Kennedy adopt a plan entitled Operation Northwoods, which entailed terrorist attacks on American soil carried out by U.S. intelligence assets posing as Cuban communists. Kennedy could then tell the American people that Cuba had attacked the United States and that he had no choice but to retaliate with a regime-change invasion of the island.

Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods. Seven months later, U.S. officials discovered that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. One can imagine the Pentagon officials’ reaction when they learned of those missiles. If Kennedy had adopted Operation Northwoods and had used it as a justification for invading Cuba, the Soviet missiles would never have been installed there in the first place. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the national-security establishment believed, was occurring because Kennedy had once again, in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion, shown weakness in the face of the communist threat in Cuba.

future of freedom foundation logo squareWhen Kennedy imposed a blockade on Cuba rather than order an air attack and invasion, Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay reflected the disdain that U.S. military leaders had for Kennedy’s ability to resolve the crisis when he stated to his commander in chief, “This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich…. In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time.”

No doubt offended by a subordinate officer’s speaking to him in that manner, Kennedy responded, “What did you say?”

LeMay doubled down, stating, “You’re in a pretty bad fix.” While Kennedy would have been justified in firing LeMay at that moment, he instead laughingly said to him, “You’re in there with me.”

Kennedy and Khrushchev resolved the crisis by Kennedy’s agreeing that there would be no invasion of Cuba in return for the Soviet Union’s agreement to remove its missiles. The military leadership was livid over Kennedy’s peaceful resolution of the crisis. He had not only passed up a perfect justification for invading Cuba, he had effectively guaranteed the permanence of the communist regime in Cuba, a regime that, the U.S. national-security establishment steadfastly maintained, posed a permanent threat to the existence of the United States as a free country. LeMay called it “the greatest defeat in our history.”

james woolsey operation dragonKnowing how close the Soviets and the United States had come to nuclear war, Kennedy came to the realization that the Cold War was nothing but a deadly and destructive racket. On June 3, 1963, without consulting military or CIA leaders, Kennedy delivered his famous Peace Speech at American University in which he declared an end to the Cold War. He said that under his leadership, America would begin establishing a peaceful and friendly relationship with the Soviet Union and the communist world, notwithstanding their ideological differences.

He then entered into a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviets, over the vehement objections of the Pentagon and the CIA. He ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 troops from Vietnam and told close aides that he would remove them all after he won the 1964 presidential election. He even proposed a joint trip to the Moon, which would necessarily have meant sharing rocket technology with the Reds.

Kennedy had thrown down the gauntlet before the U.S. national-security establishment over the future direction of the United States. The Cold War was everything to the Pentagon and the CIA. In fact, the Cold War was the very reason that the U.S. government was converted to a national-security state. In the eyes of the Pentagon and the CIA, Kennedy was subjecting the United States to Cold War defeat and a communist takeover of the country. Through his supposed naiveté, cowardice, weakness, and even treason, Kennedy had become a threat to national security.

CIA LogoIn fact, Kennedy had become a much greater threat to national security than the president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, had ever been. In 1954, Arbenz, a self-described socialist, was thought to have close relations with the communist bloc. Viewing him as a grave threat to national security, the CIA had orchestrated a coup that installed a pro-U.S. right-wing military dictator in his stead.

What made matters worse was that Kennedy was operating from within the United States as president. Moreover, he was siding with Third World independence movements, which the Pentagon and the CIA were convinced were communist-directed, before he even became president. At home, Kennedy was siding with Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, which were also considered to be communist-directed. Kennedy was also trying to get socialist programs like Medicare and Medicaid enacted into law.

Once Kennedy threw down the gauntlet and challenged both the Pentagon’s and CIA’s worldview and the justification for their existence, the war was on. In the eyes of the national-security establishment, if Kennedy won re-election in 1964, America was lost to communism. Since he stood a good chance of winning the 1964 presidential election, there was only one way to deal with this grave threat and save the country — by terminating him through an assassination. Kennedy’s murder would elevate to the presidency Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who was on the same page as the Pentagon and the CIA with respect to the supposed worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the world.

By 1963, the CIA had been specializing in the art of assassination and cover-up for more than a decade. It developed a brilliantly cunning plan to orchestrate the assassination of Kennedy on grounds of protecting national security.

The plot called for framing a “communist.” Why a communist? Because everyone in America hated and feared communists. If a “communist” killed the nation’s president, people would be less likely to challenge the official narrative for fear of being accused of being communist sympathizers. The strategy was especially effective for people on the Left, who deeply feared being smeared as communists or communist sympathizers. Many on the Left immediately accepted the official version of the assassination. Those who didn’t were, predictably, labeled communist sympathizers by the U.S. national-security establishment.

But it’s obviously difficult to frame a real communist because it’s difficult to arrange his movements and actions in such a way that he can be maneuvered into position for being framed. Thus, the better option was to frame a U.S. intelligence agent who had been trained to be a top-secret intelligence operative.

That’s where Lee Harvey Oswald enters the picture. He was a U.S. intelligence operative who was framed for the assassination. Or, as he put it after his arrest, he was a “patsy” in the operation.

Lee Harvey Oswald, intelligence operative

Early in the proceedings of the Warren Commission, the members of the Commission held a top-secret meeting to discuss a very disquieting piece of information they had received. The information was that Oswald, who was accused of being a lone-nut assassin of the president, had served as an intelligence asset for the U.S. government. Refusing to acknowledge the possibility that U.S. officials might lie about such a thing, the commission accepted the official denials of the information. That meeting and its discussions were classified top secret and everyone was admonished to never discuss the information.

As the evidence has surfaced over the decades, it has inexorably pointed to Oswald as a U.S. intelligence operative who was trained to be a communist infiltrator. After all, Oswald joined the Marines. Why would a communist join the Marines? Communists hate Marines, and vice versa. Marines kill communists. That’s what the Korean and Vietnam wars were all about.

Moreover, when Oswald returned from the Soviet Union, to which he had defected, U.S officials never laid a hand on him. There was no grand jury indictment, even though he had promised to share top-secret information with the Soviets that he had acquired while in the Marines. Not even a grand-jury summons. No torture. No harassment. Does that make any sense? Look at how U.S. officials have treated Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. That’s what we would expect them to have done with Oswald.

When Oswald was in the Marines, he was steeping himself so deeply in studying Marxism and learning Russian that his Marine buddies started calling him “Osvald-ovitch.” Would the U.S. Marines really permit a genuine communist to continue serving within their midst? Not a chance. A genuine communist would have been run out on a rail, if not worse.

The official narrative has never been able to come up with an adequate motive for Oswald. The best they have come up with is that Oswald was a little man who wanted to become a big man by killing a big man. But that motive is problematic, given that Oswald denied he did it. If he was trying to become a big man by killing a big man, wouldn’t he have admitted doing it?

Moreover, why would a genuine communist want to kill Kennedy, given that he was now reaching out to the communist world in a spirit of peace and friendship? The people with the real motive would be those who objected to what Kennedy was doing.

Shutting down the investigation

The regime-change plotters knew that since this was to be an assassination of a U.S. president, all stops would be lifted in investigating the crime. Thus, they needed a way to shut down the investigation immediately.

Right after the assassination, the treating physicians at Parkland Hospital announced that Kennedy had been killed by shots fired from the front. That was reflected by the massive exit-sized bullet wound in the back of the president’s head and the small entry wound in this throat.

But Oswald was in the rear of the president. The question naturally arises: Why frame a guy who is supposed to be firing from the rear by having shooters fire from the front? The answer to that question demonstrates the sheer ingenuity of the plot because it ensured an immediate shut-down of the investigation, which could have led to the national-security establishment.

Here is the situation: You have an accused shooter from the rear who is easily labeled a communist. But there are also shooters from the front, as reflected by the statements of the treating physicians as well as by statements from dozens of people in Dealey Plaza, where the president was shot in Dallas.

Who were those shooters in the front? People would naturally assume, incorrectly, that they were communist colleagues, specifically from the Soviet Union and Cuba. That was what Oswald’s supposed trip to Mexico City was all about — to ensure that he met with Soviet and Cuban officials in their embassies shortly before the assassination.

So what did all this mean on the very day of the assassination? It meant war — war with the Soviet Union, a war that was narrowly averted just the year before during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But not just any war; it meant nuclear war. There was really no way to avoid it, especially once the American people discovered that the Soviet and Cuban communists had supposedly killed their president. They would have demanded retaliation, which inevitably would have led to all-out nuclear war.

That was the excuse for immediately shutting down the investigation — to avoid nuclear war with the Soviet Union, one that would result in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, including Americans.

If someone asked Johnson why he was letting the Soviet Union and Cuba off the hook, he had the perfect answer: It was the CIA under those Kennedy brothers who started the assassination game by repeatedly trying to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. How could Johnson in good conscience launch a retaliatory strike that would lead to a war that would kill hundreds of millions of people worldwide knowing that it was the CIA, not the communists, who had started the assassination war?

Three days after the assassination, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach sent a memo to Bill Moyers, who was working for the Johnson White House, stating, “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.” How could he know that after just three days? There can be only one reasonable explanation for Katzenbach’s memo: the false World War III cover story.

That was the point of having shots fired from the front while Oswald was positioned in the rear — to falsely make it appear that the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Oswald had worked together to kill the president. In that way, the prospect of nuclear war could then be used to secure a quick shutdown of the investigation. Officials would settle on Oswald, who was quickly killed and silenced, as the sole shooter. Securing a quick shutdown of the investigation by having shooters firing from the front, who would be falsely assumed to be agents of the Soviet Union and Cuba, was the ingenious part of the plot to assassinate Kennedy.

In fact, when the Dallas police charged Oswald with the crime as part of an international communist conspiracy, Johnson immediately contacted Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade and insisted that he remove the conspiracy charge against Oswald. He asked Wade whether he was trying to start World War III. Wade acceded to the request. It wasn’t the only time that Johnson used the World War III cover. He also used it on Earl Warren and Richard Russell as a way to persuade them to join what became known as the Warren Commission. He told them that they had a moral duty to serve on the commission to help avoid World War III, a commission that would settle on pinning the crime on Oswald.

The autopsy

It was undoubtedly what national-security operatives told the autopsy physicians to induce them to conduct a fraudulent autopsy on the very evening of the assassination. They were ordered to perform an autopsy that disguised the fact that shots had been fired from the front. That’s where the plan for a fraudulent autopsy comes into play, a plan that was launched back at Parkland Hospital, when a team of Secret Service agents, operating on orders, forcibly prevented the Dallas County medical examiner from conducting the autopsy, as required by state law. Brandishing guns and implicitly threatening the use of deadly force on Parkland Hospital medical personnel, the Secret Service team forced their way out of Parkland with Kennedy’s body and then dutifully delivered it to Lyndon Johnson at Dallas Love Field, after which he flew it to Maryland and put it in the hands of the military.

Thus, when Woolsey poses his conspiracy theory that Oswald and the Soviets conspired to kill Kennedy, the dark irony is that the false scenario had been built into the plan to assassinate Kennedy as a way to shut down the investigation.

Over the years, it has been said that if the Pentagon and the CIA had killed Kennedy, someone would have talked by now. But when it comes to murder, people don’t generally talk — ever, especially since there is no statute of limitations for murder. After all, everyone agrees that a man named Johnny Roselli, who was the mafia liaison to the CIA for the assassination partnership, was murdered, but no one has talked about that either.

But the fact is that as much as the national-security establishment tried to keep a cap of secrecy on the cover-up, they failed: people did talk about it. Although they labeled the autopsy a classified operation and made people sign secrecy oaths, which succeeded in keeping matters secret for many years, ultimately their wall of secrecy surrounding the autopsy was pierced, especially during the years of the Assassination Records Review Boards in the 1990s.

The fraudulent nature of the autopsy, as detailed in my two books The Kennedy Autopsy and The Kennedy Autopsy 2, and especially in the five-volume book, Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, by Douglas Horne, who served on the ARRB staff, have blown the cover off the assassination itself. The reason, as I stated previously in this essay, is that there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. There is but one reasonable explanation for the fraudulent autopsy that was carried out on the body of John Kennedy on the evening of his assassination — to ensure the national-security establishment’s cover-up of its assassination.

To gain a deeper grasp into the devolving nature of the relationship between Kennedy and the national-security establishment, I recommend reading the following: An article in The Atlantic magazine entitled “JFK vs. the Military,” by Robert Dallek, which can be found online; and FFF’s book JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated, by Douglas Horne.

Aug. 4

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Why People Don’t Trust the Mainstream Media, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Aug. 4, 2021. An article in the Washington Post about Jacob Hornbergerthe January 6 protests at the Capitol goes a long way toward explaining why people do not trust the mainstream media. The article, written by a Post reporter named Mike DeBonis, focuses on allegations that the FBI infiltrated the ranks of the protestors and actually helped to incite them to illegally enter the Capitol and engage in mayhem after doing so.

future of freedom foundation logo squareThe overall tone that DeBonis sets forth is one that is oftentimes found in the mainstream media when it comes to alleged wrongdoing by the federal government. The article has a mocking tone to it, suggesting that the people who are making this allegation are conspiracy theorists for actually believing that federal officials would do such a horrible thing.

There is a critical sentence in DeBonis’s article: “The FBI declined to comment.”

Why is that line important? Because there are two ways that a reporter can go when he is writing a story about this type of allegation.

On the one hand, he can mock and ridicule those who are making the allegation, pointing out that they haven’t produced any evidence to support their “unfounded claim.”

On the other hand, he can aggressively go after FBI officials and demand a definitive yes-or-no answer instead of simply settling for a “no comment” by the FBI and also engage in an aggressive investigative effort to determine whether there is evidence to support the allegation.

DeBonis chose the first route. But why? After all, a “no comment” answer by the FBI is about as incriminating as an answer can be, short of an outright admission of wrongdoing. That’s because if the FBI were not guilty of the wrongdoing, it would undoubtedly simply say, “The allegation is false.” The FBI clearly did not do that with its “no comment” answer. It’s “no comment” answer leaves open the possibility — perhaps even the likelihood — that the FBI was involved in wrongdoing.

DeBonis makes a big issue of out of the fact that the people who are making this allegation have not provided any evidence to support their allegation. But what people have pointed out is a similar course of conduct by the FBI in other cases, which would be enough to cause any reasonable person to assume that it might have engaged in the same course of conduct with respect to the January 6 protests.

For example, consider the case that involves the alleged kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. DeBonis is aware of that case because he links to an article from BuzzFeedNews.com about the case. That article alleges that the FBI played a major role in inducing the defendants in the case to commit the kidnapping. Even if what the FBI allegedly did wasn’t enough to support a defense of entrapment, its alleged actions are nonetheless enough to cause any reasonable citizen, including investigative journalists, concern.

But that’s not all. As journalist Glenn Greenwald has documented, the FBI has a long history of inciting people to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The idea is to incite people to commit crimes so that the FBI can then be praised and glorified for busting them up. See Greenwald’s July 24 article “FBI Using the Same Fear Tactic From the First War on Terror: Orchestrating its Own Terrorism Plots.” Also, see the July 31 article “Will More Media Bias Save Democracy?” by James Bovard.

Given the history of the FBI engaging in this type of misconduct, you would think that any journalist worth his salt would say, “I need to get to the bottom of this latest assertion. I need to know whether the FBI did the same thing here. Rather than mocking and ridiculing these people by pointing out that they have furnished no evidence to support their allegation, I need to do my job and go after the FBI to see if there is any evidence to support the allegation.”

Rather than do that, DeBonis goes off on the other track by implicitly assuming that the FBI would never do such a thing and implicitly assuming that those who are making the allegation are nothing more than “conspiracy theorists.”

That’s why so many people don’t trust the mainstream media.

This is not a recent phenomenon.

We can go all the way back to Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s secret program in the 1960s and 1970s whose aim was to acquire CIA assets from within the mainstream press, whose secret job would be to come to the defense of the national-security establishment whenever necessary, including calling people “conspiracy theorists” whenever they allege wrongdoing on the part of CIA officials.

Aug. 2Trump ally Steve Bannon, left, with his billionaire partner Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China.

Trump ally Steve Bannon, left, indicted last year in a massive fraud scheme but pardoned by Trump, with his billionaire partner Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Foreign cash bought the White House for Trump, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Aug. 2, 2021. Projection sums up the entire wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallfour years of Donald Trump's chaotic administration in that while he and his cohorts were trying to convince the world that Joe Biden was tied financially in some way to Ukraine and China, his administration was bought and wayne madesen report logopaid for by foreign interests.

In addition to cash outlays to Team Trump, Steve Bannon's international bloc of fascist parties and individuals contributed in kind with social media gaslighting and other propaganda campaigns designed to perpetuate unfounded rumor on Biden, Covid-19, and other subjects.

Repeated attempts by Congress to close campaign finance loopholes that permit foreign money to flow into the campaign coffers of American political candidates have met with failure. For the most part, it has been Trump loyalists in the U.S. Senate, many there due to foreign money helping to pay for their seats, that have deep-sixed repeated bills originating in both the House and the Senate designed to stop foreign money infusion into U.S. campaigns. 

Trump ally and Trump ally and "Stop the Steal" promoter Roger Stone, with (from left) allies Jacob Engels, Christina Engelstad and Joseph Greco last January (Photo via Proof).

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Adviser Roger Stone Was Closely Attended By a Leading Proud Boy Just Before a Proud Boy Arson, a Proud Boy Riot, and the Proud Boys' Capitol Attack, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Aug. 2, 2021. Images confirm that Stone had a level of access to January 6 insurrectionists well beyond what has been reported by major media, and during a period the longtime Trump adviser was in touch with Trump.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: As Proof has reported, longtime Donald Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone has consistently lied about every aspect of his trip to Washington in early January 2021, even as he refuses to reveal details about what he discussed with Trump at Mar-a-Lago when the two met there on December 28, 2020 — just nine days before the insurrection. Of late, Stone has been particularly focused on establishing who was or was not in his suite at the Willard Hotel on Insurrection Day. Perhaps to counterbalance the fact that he was rooming with convicted felon Kristin M. Davis, Stone has emphasized the fact that also in his suite at the Willard were two pastors, Randy Coggins II and Mark Burns.

Less clear is why Stone was walking the halls of the hotel on Insurrection Day with a binder of information, as Proof has reported, or why Davis now says Stone was hanging out with “literally fifty” insurrectionists at the Willard on January 6. Davis, who holds herself out as Stone’s PR flack, wrote an apologia for Stone in July that was soon deleted from the fake-news site that published it, a seeming acknowledgment that, as FBI investigators appear to be closing in on Stone as a potential insurrection kingpin, the less he or his team say about January 6 the better.

And yet Stone himself has already lied about that day so many times that anything he tells the FBI now will directly contradict at least two or three of prior public statements.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden cannot sit back and let our democracy sink. He’s now showing us he gets that, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 2, 2021 (print ed.). ej dionne w open neckPresident Biden’s infrastructure bill defied predictions of its impending death again and again and again. Voting rights and political reform have been the subject of early obituaries even more dire. To protect our democracy, Biden has no choice but to prove these wrong, too.

The broad bipartisan vote to move forward on a physical infrastructure bill really was a big deal. It marked a decisive break from the dominance of a form of conservative politics that cast even the most basic forms of government action as wasteful. In tandem with the larger Democrats-only bill, it could herald a new era of social reform and public investment.

But if Biden has been right in saying that our democracy’s health depends on the political system demonstrating its capacity to undertake ambitious projects, Joe Biden portrait 2our democracy’s success also requires — well, that it remain a democracy.

That’s in question as Republican states (18 at last count) enact laws to limit access to the ballot and, in many cases, corrupt the election process itself by undercutting independent, nonpartisan ballot counting.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThus the importance of Friday’s White House meeting, in which Biden joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to craft a strategy to enact political reform and voting rights bills.

The meeting reflected a growing awareness inside the Biden camp that it cannot hang back and let democracy legislation founder while offering false hope that political organizing can overcome voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering.

As Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) told me, after Biden’s “intimate engagement” in negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the Senate, the administration cannot now claim the filibuster is purely that chamber’s business.
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Reflecting a view widely held by civil rights leaders, Jones argued that Biden must match the energy he devoted to infrastructure with an equally spirited push on voting rights, including — if needed — a willingness to back a change in Senate rules.

A White House statement after the meeting did not mention the filibuster. But it declared that “passing legislation to protect against voter suppression, electoral subversion, dark money and partisan gerrymandering” was a “moral imperative.”

Jones described Pelosi as “enormously strong” on the issue because she “gets that everything is at stake.” That was the message the speaker sent after the White House encounter: “This is of the highest priority for us.”

Schumer, too, has gone on offense, hosting efforts by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and others to write a new version of the political reform bill rooted in many of Manchin’s suggestions for easier ballot access. The bill will also include new provisions to try to stop partisan bodies from pushing aside local election officials and nullifying election results.

 

July 

July 29

BBC, Inquiry On Daphne Caruana Galizia: Malta responsible for journalist death, Staff report, July 29, 2021. A public inquiry into the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has found the state responsible for her death.

daphne caruana galizia croppedThe report, quoted by Maltese media, said the state had failed to recognise risks to the reporter's life and take reasonable steps to avoid them.

Caruana Galizia died in a car bomb attack near her home in October 2017. An investigation led to PM Joseph Muscat's resignation in 2019 after his close associates were implicated. However, he has denied corruption allegations. 

bbc news logo2Called a "one-woman Wikileaks", Caruana Galizia, right, uncovered networks of corruption in the country and abroad. 

Aged 53 when she died, she spent 30 years as a journalist. She relentlessly accused Maltese politicians and other officials of corruption in her popular Running Commentary blog.

She was a harsh critic of government. In 2017 she effectively triggered an early election by publishing allegations linking Mr Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal, which exposed the use of tax havens by the rich.

Caruana Galizia's family sought an independent public inquiry into her murder. Mr Muscat gave it the go-ahead, a few months before he resigned.

In the last two years, the inquiry has heard from dozens of witnesses, including investigators, politicians and journalists. In its conclusions, written up in a 437-page report, it said the state had "created an atmosphere of impunity, generated by the highest echelons".

It cited an "unwarranted closeness" between big business and government. So far only a handful of individuals have been charged. In February, one of three men accused of murdering Caruana Galizia pleaded guilty and was jailed for 15 years. The others are yet to go to trial.

A fourth person, Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, has also been charged with complicity over the killing -- an allegation he denies.

He was arrested in November 2019 as he tried to sail away from Malta on a yacht, and is now awaiting trial.

After Caruana Galizia's assassination, her son Paul hit out at what he called the country's "mafia state." His mother had been killed "because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it", he said.

July 28 

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Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, previously a combat veteran, tears up during testimony on July 27, 2021 (Associated Press pool photo).Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, previously a combat veteran, tears up during House testimony on July 27, 2021 (Associated Press pool photo).

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 From left, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Michael Fanone of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, Officer Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Private First Class Harry Dunn of the U.S. Capitol Police are sworn in to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘You will die on your knees’: D.C. officer recalls being pinned, John Wagner, Kim Bellware, Karoun Demirjian, Marianna Sotomayor, Jacqueline Alemany and Mariana Alfaro, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). New video footage shows how D.C. police officer lost consciousness from insurrectionist’s violence; Rep. Murphy recalls being in proximity to officer pinned between rioters and Capitol door frame; ‘I guess it is America,’ Capitol Police officer says of racist abuse that Black officers faced.

Four police officers are delivering emotional testimony Tuesday about the physical and verbal abuse they endured defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 from a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump, as a House select committee holds its first hearing on the insurrection.

In an opening statement, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, pledged not to give ground to “the big lie” — Trump’s claim to have won the 2020 election — that he said propelled the attack. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), one of two Republicans appointed to the panel by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said no member of Congress should “whitewash what happened that day.”

  capitol ties

A heavily disguised man invades the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

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 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The select committee is already exceeding all expectations, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 28, 2021. Rarely does a congressional hearing manage to avoid grandstanding, uncover jennifer rubin new headshotnew and compelling evidence and exceed expectations. The Jan. 6 select committee managed to do all three.

Indeed, the surprises kept coming on Monday. The sincere and spontaneous emotional reactions from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and law enforcement officers stood as a rebuke to the cynicism of Republicans who continue to lie about the insurrection. It also rebuffed the media, which too often dabbles in bothsidesism, even to this day.

Kinzinger could barely get through his tribute to the officers’ bravery. “You guys won," he said tearfully. “You guys held. Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We are defined by how we come back from bad days.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who has pulled no punches concerning the insurrection, was even more emphatic in skewering her own party. “On Jan. 6 and in the days thereafter, almost all members of my party recognized the events of that day for what they actually were," she said. She added, “No member of Congress should now attempt to defend the indefensible, obstruct this investigation or attempt to whitewash what happened that day.” It’s no wonder she gives Republican toadies the shakes, especially when she warns that failure to hold all those involved responsible would allow the cancer on our democracy to go unchecked. As she put it: “We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call. Every conversation. Every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack.”
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The use of clear language — Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) spoke of “fascist traitors” while D.C. Police officer Daniel Hodges referred to “terrorists” — was a refreshing departure from mealy-mouth descriptions that obscure the violence and the ideology of the insurrectionists. It was critical to hear the granular description of that day, especially as it helps to expose the galling dishonesty and appalling bad of Republicans.

In particular, the thoughtfulness, constitutional sophistication and love of democracy that the four police officers displayed during their testimonies should serve as a model for the country:

Hodges explained “there is no moving on without accountability.”

Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn asked, “Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes. And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard?” He remarked that when a hit man goes to jail, so too should the person who hired him. That sentiment should resonate with the Justice Department as it considers investigating and indicting those who enabled the insurrection. Asked whether what he witnessed was America, he candidly replied, “I guess it is America. It shouldn’t be, but I guess that’s the way that things are."
D.C. Police officer Michael Fanone called the indifference shown to his colleagues by Republican members of Congress “disgraceful.”

The officers’ description of the racism and viciousness that insurrectionists directed toward police officers was a proper corrective following efforts to paint the crowd as peaceful. So, too, was Kinzinger’s moral clarity that debunked attempts by Republicans to create a false equivalence between the violence on Jan. 6 and largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. “There’s a difference between crimes, even grave crimes and a coup," Kinzinger said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s judgment in refusing to seat two Republicans bent on making a mockery of the committee proved wise. For 2½ hours, serious questions engendered serious answers. In place of flat-out lies or attempts to blame the victims of the attack for not being prepared, the hearing provided a poignant, precise account of the events of Jan. 6. It clarified who was defending democracy and who was seeking to destroy it. Without the antics of unhinged MAGA Republicans on the committee, a coherent narrative emerged.

Finally, if the Justice Department harbored any doubt that it should investigate whether there was any involvement in the attack by lawmakers or whether the former president’s incitement of the mob rose to the level of criminality, that vanished on Monday. The officers pleaded with the committee to find anyone who “collaborated” or spurred the attack. They are not willing to let bygones be bygones. None of us should. The Justice Department should follow the facts and indict anyone found to be criminally liable for the violent insurrection.

Palmer Report, Opinion: January 6th Committee gets off to a roaring start, Shirley Kennedy, July 28, 2021. Testimony before the select committee began, and it was heartbreaking. The four testifying officers emphasized why this incident needs to be thoroughly investigated. Live coverage of the opening testimony was carried by several outlets.

Sergeant Aquilino Gonell placed blame squarely at the feet of former “president” Donald Trump. He discussed the lack of support the Capitol police received from the White House: “What he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending support or telling his people, his supporters, to stop this nonsense, he begged them to continue fighting.” Trump caused this violence and sat on his hands, gleefully watching because it was all about him. All four officers were still visibly shaken.

bill palmer report logo headerOfficer Michael Fanone was extremely passionate, pounding the table as he spoke. What bothers Fanone the most is not that he almost died but the fact that Republicans continue pretending January 6 never happened. He told the committee: “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room.” As Officer Fanone said, this is disgraceful. How do Republicans sleep as night espousing their nonsense to the public? How can they claim to represent anyone when all they do is lie and obfuscate? Every one of them should be driven out of office, except for Cheney and Kinzinger, whose raw emotions were visible as he spoke.

The officers who came to the aid of Congressmembers suffered at the hands of these thugs, and Officer Harry Dunn shared that for the first time while in uniform, he was called the “n” word. These are Trump’s people. Make no mistake about that. These crude, violent, vile people are who Trump said he “loves,” and they are the ones whose votes are being courted by other Republicans. They should be ashamed to associate themselves with them, but their desire for power is far too great. They could care less what these people did and what many of them will do in the future. It is doubtful that they have enough feeling to understand Adam Kinzinger’s words ripping into them, but that is exactly what he did.

Kinzinger discussed the importance of self-governance and the truth, which is owed to the American people. He said that is why he agreed to serve on the committee; he also wants the truth and “to get the facts out there, free of conspiracy.” Kinzinger further voiced his shame that his fellow Republicans have turned the incident into a partisan fight, when it is nothing of the sort. It is a fight for the truth and a fight for our democracy.

Republicans showed their indifference by refusing to help Democrats form a bipartisan committee to hold these hearings. Now, Kevin McCarthy thinks it is a joke, referring to Cheney and Kinzinger as “Pelosi Republicans.” Laugh while you can, Kevin. You and those like you are a disgrace to this country. Officer Daniel Hodges told the committee: “This was a fight we could not afford to lose.” We must let his words drive us into the battle for our democracy, which we also cannot afford to lose.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: As Jan. 6 hearings begin, Republicans side with the terrorists, Dana Milbank, right, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol held its first hearing Tuesday, and Republican lawmakers took the occasion to demand justice — for the terrorists who took up dana milbank Customarms against the U.S. government on that terrible day.

Six Republican members of the House, escorted by a man in a giant Trump costume bearing the message “TRUMP WON,” marched on the Justice Department Tuesday afternoon to speak up for those they called “political prisoners” awaiting trial for their roles in the insurrection.

“These are not unruly or dangerous, violent criminals,” Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) proclaimed at a news conference outside DOJ headquarters. “These are political prisoners who are now being persecuted and bearing the pain of unjust suffering.”

The half-dozen lawmakers, including Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, made explicit what has become more obvious by the day: Republicans stand with those who attempted a violent coup on Jan. 6. And it’s not just the wingnuts. House Republican leaders held a news conference before the hearing, blaming Jan. 6 not on seditionists but on Capitol Police and, particularly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

elise stefanik cbs 2020 wwnyWith the Capitol Dome behind her, Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), left, the House Republican conference chair, proclaimed: “The American people deserve to know the truth: that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6.” Stefanik charged that Pelosi “doesn’t want a fair or bipartisan investigation.”

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, one of the saboteurs House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy had tried to place on the select committee, announced that Capitol Police “weren’t trained” adequately and that “Nancy Pelosi is ultimately responsible.”

Steve ScaliseThe Republican whip, Steve Scalise (La.), right, repeatedly accused Pelosi of a “coverup” about Jan. 6. And Rep. Troy Nehls (Tex.) denounced fellow Republicans Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), for serving on the select committee. “Those Pelosi Republicans aren’t interested in the truth,” he alleged. “We’re interested in the truth.”

Right. Seven of the eight Republicans standing there had voted down an independent, bipartisan commission negotiated by the top Republican on the House Homeland Security commission. And now they claim Pelosi is the one blocking a fair, bipartisan investigation? All this while faulting the Capitol Police, who at that very moment shielded them with a ring of officers, barriers, vehicles and a canine unit.

More On Trump Capitol Riot, Insurrection

Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, previously a combat veteran, tears up during testimony on July 27, 2021 (Associated Press pool photo).Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, previously a combat veteran, tears up during testimony on July 27, 2021 (Associated Press pool photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘A Hit Man Sent Them’: Capitol Officers Recount the Horrors of Jan. 6, Luke Broadwater and Nicholas Fandos, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). At the first hearing of the House panel investigating the Capitol riot, an officer begged lawmakers to uncover the full extent of former President Trump’s role.

One officer described how rioters attempted to gouge out his eye and called him a traitor as they sought to invade the Capitol.

Another told of being smashed in a doorway and nearly crushed amid a “medieval” battle with a pro-Trump mob as he heard guttural screams of pain from fellow officers.

A third said he was beaten unconscious and stunned repeatedly with a Taser as he pleaded with his assailants, “I have kids.”

A fourth relayed how he was called a racist slur over and over again by intruders wearing “Make America Great Again” garb.

“All of them — all of them were telling us, ‘Trump sent us,’” Aquilino A. Gonell, a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant, said on Tuesday as he tearfully recounted the horrors of defending Congress on Jan. 6, testifying at the first hearing of a House select committee to investigate the attack.

One by one, in excruciating detail, Sergeant Gonell and three other officers who faced off with the hordes that broke into the Capitol told Congress of the brutal violence, racism and hostility they suffered as a throng of angry rioters, acting in the name of President Donald J. Trump, beat, crushed and shocked them.

thomas webster dc police

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Respected N.Y.P.D. Officer Became the Accused Capitol Riot #EyeGouger, Michael Wilson, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). Thomas Webster, above in red vest, once was part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s security detail. As he awaits trial, the retired cop is on the other side of the law.

The F.B.I. agents showed Thomas Webster a wanted flier with a picture taken during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. In the photograph, a middle-aged man is shouting angrily across a metal barricade with a pole in his raised right hand.

“That’s a picture of you, right, Mr. Webster?” an agent asked, according to a transcript of the interview.

He was a former New York City police officer, a decorated member of the force who once worked as an instructor at the firing range and with a detail that protected the mayor at public appearances and at Gracie Mansion. But on this afternoon in February, sitting across from two agents in an interrogation room in Lower Manhattan, he found himself on the other side of the law.

He looked at the picture. “Yeah,” he said, and tried to explain how it all began.

“I kept on saying to myself, ‘All right, Tom, this is your first protest’ — I’ve never been to one before,” he told the agents. “I said, ‘Stay behind the freakin’ barrier, don’t threaten anyone and keep the flagpole away from everyone.’”

This plan would not last long — not more than a minute or two. Mr. Webster, in fact, quickly did the opposite, prosecutors said — starting a brawl that stood out, even amid the many hours of video from that day. Then he drove back home, to his wife and three children and his landscaping business in Florida, N.Y.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Declines to Defend Trump Ally in Lawsuit Over Jan. 6 Riot, Katie Benner, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). The move could mean that the Justice Department is also unlikely to defend former President Donald J. Trump in the case.

The Justice Department declined on Tuesday to defend a congressional ally of former President Donald J. Trump in a lawsuit accusing them both of inciting supporters at a rally in the hours before the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

Law enforcement officials determined that Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, was acting outside the scope of his duties in an incendiary speech just before the attack, according to a court filing. Mr. Brooks had asked the department to certify that he was acting as a government employee during the rally; had it agreed to defend him, he would have been dismissed from the lawsuit and the United States substituted as a defendant.

“The record indicates that Brooks’s appearance at the Jan. 6 rally was campaign activity, and it is no part of the business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections,” the Justice Department wrote.

“Members of Congress are subject to a host of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official functions, on the one hand, and campaign functions, on the other.”

The Justice Department’s decision shows it is likely to also decline to provide legal protection for Mr. Trump in the lawsuit. Legal experts have closely watched the case because the Biden Justice Department has continued to fight for granting immunity to Mr. Trump in a 2019 defamation lawsuit where he denied allegations that he raped the writer E. Jean Carroll and said she accused him to get attention.

Such a substitution provides broad protections for government officials and is generally reserved for government employees sued over actions that stem from their work. In the Carroll case, the department cited other defamation lawsuits as precedent.

The Brooks decision also ran counter to the Justice Department’s longstanding broad view of actions taken in the scope of a federal employee’s employment, which has served to make it harder to use the courts to hold government employees accountable for wrongdoing.

 

U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Gone, but the Media’s Misinformation Challenge Is Still Here, Marc Tracy, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). Should news outlets contextualize false claims made by powerful people? Or ignore them completely? There is no consensus in the industry, but its thinking continues to evolve.

In American life, truth is now contested. And while this has profoundly affected the country’s politics, and so much else, it has raised unique challenges for one group in particular: journalists.

After all, the high-profile Republicans who are obfuscating the events of Jan. 6 are undeniably newsworthy. Ms. Stefanik is the third-ranking House Republican; Mr. Johnson may seek re-election in a pivotal Senate race; polls indicate that Mr. Trump would be the commanding front-runner if he seeks the Republican presidential nomination in three years.

Their political influence would normally demand coverage. Yet journalists will never feel comfortable publishing anything they know to be false. Social media has also raised the stakes of airing misleading statements, even in the service of conveying the news. If a lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on, then maybe the act of printing a falsehood and debunking it in the next sentence is just giving the falsehood a head start.

Mainstream outlets have tried to square this circle by contextualizing problematic quotes and allegations. But this is difficult to do well, and it may be impossible to strike the exactly correct balance.

Justice Integrity Project, Whistleblower Summit This Week Highlights 50 Years of the Pentagon Papers and Investigative Journalism, Andrew Kreig, Updated July 28, 2021. The annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival this week continues to empower whistleblowers and advocates and encourages others to stand for truth. Film presentations began July 23 and the panel program begins Sunday with the program extending to Aug. 1.

The event presents more than 50 film screenings and panel presentations over ten days.

The films focus on whistleblowing, free speech/press freedom, civil and human rights, or social justice themes. Check out Film Festival Flix to see the titles, which are also listed below.

daniel ellsberg umassThis year's keynote speaker on July 30 will be former U.S. Department of Defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg, thereby marking the 50th year anniversary of his courageous release of what are now known as "The Pentagon Papers" disclosing scandalous aspects of the Pentagon's secret operations during the then-raging Vietnam War.

Ellsberg, shown at left in a photo by the University of Massachusetts, which now houses his collected papers, made disclosures first via the New York Times and later via other news organizations that risked federal prosecution, as mike gravel offical photoendured by Ellsberg. The late U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), right, who died last month, helped publicize the revelations by reading excerpts on the Senate floor.

This year's Summit and Festival includes more than 30 documentary films and shorts, plus special segments. The segments include sessions led by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a co-host of the event, and the Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), both long-time partners at the Summit. A day-long segment on July 30 by the National Whistleblower Center, another major partner, features prominent U.S. elected and appointed officials regarded as welcoming to whistleblowers and their causes.

This year's expanded Pillar Award ceremony recognizes notable civil and human rights champions among  politicians, community activists and journalists — including documentary filmmakers.

The main organizers of the event are former ACORN whistleblowers Michael McCray and Marcel Reid, who were both honored earlier this year by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners at the world's largest anti-fraud conference. The two were among the "ACORN 8" activists who helped expose gross corruption and self-dealing in the inner circle of leadership at the community activist organization ACORN.

The Summit is organized in collaboration with such longtime partners as the Pacifica Foundation.

daniel hale bob hayes photo

 “I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe… I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong”

-- Whistleblower Daniel Hale, who was sentenced July 27, after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking classified information about the U.S. targeted drone assassination program. (Source: Bob Hayes/handout)

washington post logoWashington Post, Daniel Hale, who leaked information on U.S. drone warfare, sentenced to 45 months in prison, Rachel Weiner, July 28, 2021 (print ed.). In 2013, Daniel Hale was at an antiwar conference in D.C. when a man recounted that two family members had been killed in a U.S. drone strike. The Yemeni man, through tears, said his relatives had been trying to encourage young men to leave al-Qaeda.

Hale realized he had watched the fatal attack from a base in Afghanistan. At the time, he and his colleagues in Air Force intelligence viewed it as a success. Now he was horrified.

It was such experiences, Hale told a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday, that led him to leak classified information about drone warfare to a reporter after leaving the military.

“I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless,” he said in court. He said he shared what “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”

U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady sentenced Hale, 33, of Nashville, to 45 months in prison for violating the Espionage Act, saying his disclosure of documents went beyond his “courageous and principled” stance on drones.

“You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people,” O’Grady said. “You could have been a whistleblower … without taking any of these documents.”

Hale’s attorneys and advocates argued that the disclosures provided a valuable public service. The documents included a report finding that reliance on deadly attacks was undermining intelligence gathering. During one five-month stretch of an operation in Afghanistan, the documents revealed, nearly 90 percent of the people killed were not the intended targets.

Hale also disclosed the criteria for placing a person on the terrorism watch list, information that Muslim civil rights lawyers said in a letter to the court had helped them challenge the constitutionality of that system.

“I believe he only spoke out for humanitarian and educational purposes,” journalist Sonia Kennebeck told the court in a letter. She featured Hale in a 2016 documentary about drone warfare.

Prosecutors countered that Hale had put Americans at risk to boost his own ego. They noted that he began taking classified information to his home only a few weeks into a job at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2014, not long after swearing to preserve the government’s secrets.

“Hale did not in any way contribute to the public debate about how we fight wars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said in court. “All he did was endanger the people who are doing the fighting.”

Friends and family members said military service was an awkward fit for Hale, who suffered from mental health issues throughout his life. His attorney said he joined the Air Force to escape an abusive atmosphere in a poor, fundamentalist home.

“Recently, someone asked me to tell them a happy memory I have with Daniel,” his sister wrote to the court. “Sadly, this was not an easy task.”

But Hale tested well and was steered into signals intelligence. He went to Afghanistan in 2012. When he left the following year, he said, he already had deep misgivings about the work he had done. He recalled in a letter to the judge learning after one drone strike on a car that a small child had been killed and another seriously injured. He wondered whether any of the other strikes he had helped carry out had killed innocent civilians deemed “enemy combatants” by virtue of being male and of military age.

“You had to kill part of your conscience to keep doing your job,” he said in court Tuesday.

July 27

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sworn capitol officers gty ps 210727 1627395009035 hpMain 16x9 992

 From left, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Michael Fanone of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, Officer Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Private First Class Harry Dunn of the U.S. Capitol Police are sworn in to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘You will die on your knees’: D.C. officer recalls being pinned, John Wagner, Kim Bellware, Karoun Demirjian, Marianna Sotomayor, Jacqueline Alemany and Mariana Alfaro, July 27, 2021. New video footage shows how D.C. police officer lost consciousness from insurrectionist’s violence; Rep. Murphy recalls being in proximity to officer pinned between rioters and Capitol door frame; ‘I guess it is America,’ Capitol Police officer says of racist abuse that Black officers faced.

Four police officers are delivering emotional testimony Tuesday about the physical and verbal abuse they endured defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 from a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump, as a House select committee holds its first hearing on the insurrection.

In an opening statement, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, pledged not to give ground to “the big lie” — Trump’s claim to have won the 2020 election — that he said propelled the attack. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), one of two Republicans appointed to the panel by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said no member of Congress should “whitewash what happened that day.”

What’s happening in today’s hearing:

  • The panel is hearing from two members of the Capitol Police — Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell — along with two members of D.C.’s police force: officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.
  • During his testimony, Fanone slammed his fist on the table and called the indifference of some lawmakers to the attack disgraceful. “Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so, betray their oath of office.”
  • Lawmakers on the nine-member panel are now asking questions following statements from the four officers.
  • The Washington Post is providing live coverage of the hearing, which began shortly after 9:30 a.m.
  • How pro-Trump insurrectionists broke into the U.S. Capitol | How the rioters came dangerously close to Vice President Mike Pence | How one of America’s ugliest days unraveled

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Panel hears from 4 police officers about Capitol riot, John Wagner, July 27, 2021. House GOP leaders attack Pelosi ahead of hearing; Cheney hits back at criticism from party members over role in Jan. 6 probe, calling it ‘a disgrace;’ Post Reports: Investigating the insurrection.

  capitol ties

A heavily disguised man invades the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

bennie thompson horizontal

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We have started investigating the attack on the Capitol. Nothing will be off-limits, Bennie G. Thompson, right, July 27, 2021. Bennie G. Thompson, a Democrat who represents Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House, is chairman of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

On Jan. 6, a violent mob attacked the citadel of our democracy — the U.S. Capitol — in an attempt to prevent Congress from doing its constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

On Tuesday, the bipartisan Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol begins its work investigating the facts, circumstances and causes of this assault on our democracy.

I had hoped that such an investigation would be carried out by an independent commission composed of national security experts, like the panel created by Congress after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. However, once the House Republican leadership rejected — and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered — bipartisan legislation to establish such a commission, we in the House believed we had no choice but to establish a select committee. In a recent poll, 72 percent of Americans agree there is more we must learn about that day.
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Many of the Jan. 6 rioters have stated in their court pleadings that they stormed the Capitol believing they were acting on behalf of, or even at the behest of, then-President Donald Trump. The protection of our democracy demands that we comprehensively investigate what drove Americans to riot and violently assault Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police and other law enforcement officers to access the inner sanctum of Congress and private offices of top congressional leaders, including the speaker of the House.

Jan. 6 was supposed to be about the peaceful transfer of power after an election, a hallmark of democracy and our American tradition. The rioters went to the Capitol that day to obstruct this solemn action — and nearly succeeded while defacing and looting the halls of the Capitol in the process. The committee will provide the definitive accounting of one of the darkest days in our history. Armed with answers, we hope to identify actions that Congress and the executive branch can take to help ensure that it never happens again.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: I’m on the Jan. 6 Committee. Here Are the Questions I Want Answered, Adam Kinzinger (Mr. Kinzinger, a Republican, is a United States representative from Illinois), July 27, 2021. On Jan. 6, hundreds of our fellow citizens stormed the U.S. Capitol, armed and ready for battle. For hours, adam kinzinger headshotbroadcast live on television and streamed on social media, rioters attacked law enforcement and eventually breached the halls of Congress in an effort to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Their goal was to subvert America’s democratic process — and their means to this end was brute force and violent assaults on the men and women of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department.

How did this happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and any members of Congress, or with staff?

We need answers and we need accountability, and the only way to get that is a full investigation and understanding of what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Such an investigation should include a serious look at the misinformation campaigns and their origins, the lies being perpetuated by leaders — including by former President Donald Trump — and what impact such false narratives had on the events leading up to and following Jan. 6. We need to be fearless about understanding the motivations of our fellow Americans, even if it makes us uncomfortable about the truth of who they are and the truth of who played what role in inspiring them.

I’ve never been pessimistic about the future of this country, but if we fail to do this — and do this right — I will have serious doubts about what the future looks like for America and for our democracy. Self-governance requires accountability and responsibility, and it’s why I accepted Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s appointment to serve on the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which is holding its first hearing on Tuesday.

Esquire, Opinion: Let the politicians bluster and fume. The videos do not lie, Charles P. Pierce, July 27, 2021. The body-cam videos. Always the body-cam videos.

Let the politicians bluster and fume. Let the unreconstructed bastards lie about what happened on January 6. Let the duplicitous pond scum create their own narrative out of their dark, unquenchable ambitions, and the carefully cultivated ignorance of their prime audiences. The body cams don’t lie. They’re hard to watch. They leave a hot, sour aftertaste of revulsion and rage. But they do not lie.

It’s strange, in a way. For years, police-reform activists pleaded for body cams to become mandatory in order to catch bad cops doing bad things, and to defeat orchestrated cover-ups by prosecutors, police unions, and the aforementioned bad cops. Now, here we are, watching the body-cam videos of the crimes of January 6, and the videos are irrefutable proof of the offenses committed against law-enforcement officers.

This is in no way to minimize the impact of the testimony given before the Select Committee investigating the insurrection by the officers who’d been invited to appear. You cannot dismiss the description of what happened to him offered by D.C. Metro police officer Michael Fanone:

But yet they tortured me. They beat me. I was struck with a taser device at the base of my skull numerous times. And they continued to do so, until I yelled out that I have kids.

You cannot dismiss DC Metro police officer Daniel Hodges’ description of the nightmarish moments in which he was trapped in a Capitol doorway at the mercy of the mob. "A meat grinder," Hodges said, and he described how he’d hoped not to be pulled to the ground: "At worst, [I might] be dragged down into the crowd and lynched."

 washington post logoWashington Post, Biden seeks to end post-9/11 era, pulling combat forces from Iraq, Anne Gearan, July 27, 2021 (print ed.). Biden is set to welcome the Iraqi prime minister Monday and announce the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq — part of a broad goal of shifting the U.S. focus from the Middle East.

American FlagPresident Biden has announced the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He has started transferring prisoners from Guantánamo Bay in hopes of eventually shutting down the prison. And on Monday, he will welcome Iraq’s prime minister to the White House for an expected announcement that U.S. combat forces will leave that country within months.

The moves reflect what is emerging as an unmistakable pillar of Biden’s foreign policy: seeking to push America past the post-9/11 phase of its history, ending 20 years of relentless focus on the Middle East and terrorism rather than threats like China and cyberattacks. The United States needs to “fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20,” Biden has said.

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July 26

daniel hale bob hayes photo

 

“I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe… I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong”

-- Whistleblower Daniel Hale, who faces sentencing tomorrow, July 27, after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking classified information about the U.S. targeted drone assassination program. (Source: Bob Hayes/handout)

Covert Action Magazine, In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak, Brett Wilkins, July 26, 2021. Attorneys for drone whistleblower Daniel Hale—who faces sentencing tomorrow after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating the Espionage Act—last Thursday submitted a letter to Judge Liam O’Grady in which the former Air Force intelligence analyst says a crisis of conscience drove him to leak classified information about the U.S. targeted assassination program.

The 11-page handwritten letter (pdf) begins with a quote from U.S. Admiral Gene La Rocque, who said in 1995 that “we now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away… Since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse.”

“It is not a secret that I struggle to live with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” the 33-year-old Hale wrote in the letter. “Depression is a constant… Stress, particularly stress caused by war, can manifest itself at different times and in different ways.”

“The first time that I witnessed a drone strike came within days of my arrival to Afghanistan,” Hale recounted. “Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Patika province around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea. That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, much less within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities.”

“Except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket,” he wrote. “As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well.”

Daniel Hale's letter in his sentencing proceedings, on the trauma of war and how his conscience compelled him to inform the American people https://t.co/SaTpizr2vu pic.twitter.com/2pItkYKKJc
— Courage Foundation (@couragefound) July 22, 2021

In 2012—the same year that Hale deployed to Afghanistan to support the U.S. Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations Task Force and was responsible for identifying, tracking, and targeting “high-value” terror suspects—the New York Times reported then-President Barack Obama, who dramatically increased U.S. drone strikes in the so-called War on Terror, “embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” that effectively “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”

Critics condemned the policy as an attempt by the administration to artificially lower the war’s civilian casualty figures—which by then already numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with most victims killed during former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

"I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe... I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong."

July 25

JFK Countercoup, Opinion: Bottlefed By Oswald's NANA, Bill Kelly and John Judge, Updated July 25, 2021. Bill Kelly Note: While this article was written a few decades ago, in collaboration with my former and late colleague John Judge, it still holds true and suddenly became relevant with the recent death of Priscilla Johnson McMillan. I had previously posted this at my backup blog JFKCountercoup2, where I usually post articles and links that I mention and source in my own work. But with new interest in these issues I am brining it over to my main blog.

“Not even Marina knows why I went to Russia” – Lee Harvey Oswald

With the intent of returning to the United States, ex-Marine and American defector Lee Harvey Oswald wrote a letter from Russia to former Secretary of the Navy John Connally, whom he was later accused of shooting, trying to get his Marine discharge corrected.

After more than a year without communication, Oswald’s mother wrote to tell him that his discharge had been downgraded from honorable to undesirable. Oswald drafted the letter to Secretary of the Navy Connally, attempting to appeal his status.

Oswald had defected to Russia shortly after being discharged from the Marines in 1959. He had a good record in the military, held a top-level security clearance, monitored the U-2 spy plane as a radar operator in Japan, and had good grades in a Russian language test after taking accelerated courses, apparently at the Monterey Language Institute (Now the Defense Language Institute).

The circumstances of his discharge from the Marines were unusual. A letter documenting an injury his mother had sustained (nasopharyngitis from a blow to her nose), used as a basis for his early dismissal, arrived several days after he was granted a “hardship discharge.” It had been a fully honorable discharge at the time, ostensibly allowing him to return home to support his injured mother.

Oswald returned home. However, he shortly afterward boarded a tramp steamer for Europe on the first leg of a journey that would take him behind the Iron Curtain.

From France and England to Helsinki and Moscow, where he turned over his passport to the US Embassy officer Richard Snyder, announcing his defection. After his defection received press attention in the United States, the Marines held a court-martial in Oswald’s absence, changing his discharge to undesirable. It was illegal to hold such a court martial “in absentia,” and improper to base the grade of discharge on events that occurred after his military service ended.

Oswald later assumed an infamous position in American history as the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, and is also alleged to have shot then Texas Governor John Connally and Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. But whether the victim is the President of the United States or a bum in the street, in every homicide investigation, the approach to solving the murder must address the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime.

Determining Oswald’s motive would prove to be a key to implicating him in any role in the assassination, other than what he claimed to be – “a patsy.”

The actual motives and real behavior of Lee Harvey Oswald were never ascertained.

In this context, Oswald’s letter to Connally is revealing, especially as it pertains to his motive in going to Russia after leaving the Marines, and may be a critical clue to his real historical role. Although cryptic, it can be deciphered. Oswald wrote to Connally:

“I wish to call your attention to a case about which you may have personal knowledge since you are a resident of Ft. Worth as I am. In November of 1959, an event was well puplicated in Ft. Worth newspapers concerning a person who had gone to the Soviet Union to reside for a short time (much in the same way E. Hemingway resided in Paris).”

“This person, in answers to questions put to him by reporters in Moscow, criticized certain facets of American life. The story was blown up into another “turncoat” sensation, with the result being the Navy department gave this person a belated dishonorable discharge, although he had received an honorable discharge after three years of service on September 11, 1959 at El Toro Marine Corps base in California.”

“These are the basic facts of my case. I have always had the full sanction of the U.S Embassy, Moscow, USSR, and hence the U.S. Government.”

By the time Oswald wrote this letter, Connally had been replaced as Secretary of the Navy by Fred Korth, a Fort Worth attorney. Oswald was not unknown to Korth, since Korth had represented Oswald’s stepfather in his divorce from his mother, Marguerite. Korth became embroiled in a scandal as Secretary of Navy in regards to the controversial TFX fighter, and had to resign a few weeks before the assassination.

 

OSWALD THE WRITER

One of the reporters Oswald complained about in his letter to Connally was Priscilla Johnson McMillan.

In her book Marina & Lee, Priscilla Johnson McMillan notes that Oswald “went so far as to compare his sojourn in Russia with that of Hemingway in Paris in the 20’s.”

Indeed, Hemingway lived in Paris in the ‘20s as an expatriate writer, and later described the experience in his book A Moveable Feast, and perhaps he did have pretensions of becoming a writer in the Soviet Union. He did write voraciously, kept notes and a journal, took photographs and wrote a short story titled “The Collective.”

According to Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Oswald wrote in the style of one of his favorite authors, George Orwell, keeping a typewriter wrapped in a blanket so that the noise would not alert suspicions, and he went to great lengths to smuggle out manuscripts when he left the Soviet Union. She also notes that Oswald also took a fancy to Ian Fleming’s James Bond spy thrillers.

This rather romantic view of Oswald as a dissident writer may have more to do with Priscilla’s imagination than his own. She is also the author of “Khrushchev and the Arts: The Politics of Soviet Culture 1962-1964,” which presents embellished profiles of some Soviet writers as dissidents.

But Oswald never specified the 20’s in his analogy, and Priscilla Johnson McMillan’s conjecture on this point is speculative. A more convincing argument could be made that Oswald was referring to Hemingway’s stay in Paris in the 1940’s instead.

 

HEMINGWAY with ONI, OSS and NANA

In 1944 Hemingway was in France, not just as a journalist, but as a war correspondent attached to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and a comparison of Oswald’s experiences and Hemingway’s later activities is even more revealing.

Out of Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba, early in the war Hemingway served as a special agent for the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), using his fishing boat “the Pilar,” to patrol for Nazi submarines.

While working as a war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), Hemingway wrote about the war and life on the front lines, and sometimes behind the lines.

Hemingway’s son was a member of the JEDBERGs, a joint UK-USA detachment trained as commandos in England and parachuted behind the lines to organize resistance to the occupying Nazi armies. Hemingway’s son was captured by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp.

Hemingway himself organized and led a loose band of French resistance fighters and, along with OSS Col. David Bruce, participated in the liberation of Paris.

Bruce was the senior OSS officer on the ground in the European theater of operations. Bruce would later serve as best man at Hemingway’s wedding and JFK’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Riding a jeep at the head of a convoy of trucks of armed partisans, while French General LeClerc accepted the surrender of the German general at the train station, Hemingway and Bruce liberated the bar at the Hotel Ritz, where Hemingway also lived on occasion. Today, the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz is named in his honor.

Placing his gun on the bar, when the bartender asked what he wanted to drink; Hemingway looked around, counted heads and said, “Sixty vodka martinis.” Of course that would be “shaken,’ not stirred,” as a strong case can be made that Oswald went behind the Iron Curtain in the same way as Hemingway went to Paris in 1944, when it was still “behind the lines,” and not as a writer, but as an intelligence agent.

 

A MOCKINGBIRD SINGS ON RED SQUARE

In his letter to Connally, Oswald complained that his story became another “turncoat sensation” at the hands of journalists who interviewed him in Moscow. He had good reason to believe that the Hotel Metropole rooms where he stayed were bugged for sound, and that what he told the reporters would also be reaching the ears of Soviet authorities. Soviet intelligence was quite suspicious of his “defection.”

The Warren Commission, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate and report on the assassination of President Kennedy, automatically assumed that the Soviet journalists who interviewed Oswald in Russia were KGB agents, but they never voiced a similar suspicion that the American journalists who interviewed him had U.S. intelligence connections as well.

The idea of journalists being used as spies or intelligence agents posing as journalists is not a new one. The British circle of W. Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Malcolm Muggeridge, Kim Philby, Cyril Connally and Peter and Ian Fleming serves as a good example, especially because it comes into play here.

When information about the CIA’s “Family Jewels” was released in the late 1970s, the agency’s use of journalists as spies was exposed, along with other nefarious activities, such as behavior modification, MKULTRA drug experiments and the attempted assassination of foreign leaders.

Carl Bernstein, in Rolling Stone Magazine, reported over 400 cases of such CIA journalist-spies working in the printed media alone, and the CIA’s network of media agents and assets, which covert action chief Frank Wisner said could be played like a Wurlwizter organ, has been referred to as “Operation Mockingbird.”

During World War II there was a popular song, “A Mockingbird Sang on Berkley Square,” which was near the then secret British code-breaking detachment.

Former CIA director Richard Helms worked as a reporter for UPI in Germany before World War II, managed an exclusive interview with Adolph Hitler, and is one of the few people who can’t remember wheree he was when John F. Kennedy was killed.

Penthouse magazine revealed that the Copley News Service out of San Diego, California, was run by former OSS spies and was actively used to promote CIA propaganda and disinformation. It has since been learned that dozens of similar operations existed.

The University Of Missouri School Of Journalism produced “Soviet Affairs Expert” and “KGB” author John Barron, who worked with U.S. Naval Intelligence before joining Readers Digest. That firm also published his book, and supported the research of Edward J. Epstein, author of “Legend: The Secret Life of Lee Harvey Oswald,” which makes the case that Oswald was more than just a crazed lone-nut. Readers Digest also supported Henry Hurt’s research for a book on the assassination of President Kennedy, but after it took a conspiratorial bent he had to find another publisher.

The first American reporter to interview Oswald in Moscow, Aline Mosby, was also a graduate of the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism and worked as a correspondent for UPI. Oswald and Mosby talked for two hours, while Oswald explained his reasons for defecting to her, and the listening Soviet ears.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan was another reporter who met Oswald in Moscow. She interviewed Oswald for five hours in a hotel room at the Metropole. Years later she wrote that, “Lee looked and sounded like Joe College, with a slight southern drawl. But his life hadn’t been that of a typical college boy…As we sat in my hotel room that evening and into the early hours of the morning, he talked quietly about his plans to defect to Russia. I soon came to feel this boy was the stuff of which fanatics are made.”

Following the interview Priscilla said she, “asked him to please come back to see me before he became a Soviet citizen, or whatever was going to happen, just so that he would know somebody. It wasn’t very journalistic, I know, but I felt sorry for him.

On the same day Priscilla Johnson spoke with Oswald in Moscow, his fingerprints were pulled from FBI files in Washington.

Priscilla later admitted that she sought Oswald out “on the advice of an American colleague in Moscow.” The colleague turned out to be John McVicker, an Embassy officer and assistant to Richard Snyder, Oswald’s primary contact at the US Embassy. Snyder had connections to the CIA, and his intelligence background was later exposed at the spy trial of Oleg Penkovsky, an American double-agent during the Cuban missile crisis, who was executed. If Snyder was an intelligence officer, then so was McVicker, and if McVicker was Priscilla Johnson’s “colleague,” it is likely so was she. In fact, the files released under the JFK Assassination Records Act reveal that Johnson was a “witting informant” and valuable asset if not an agent of the CIA.

When Oswald renounced his citizenship he handed over his passport to Snyder, a passport that said Oswald was in the “import-export” business, just as Ian Fleming’s fictional 007 had the cover job of working for “Universal Export.” Actually Oswald did work in the “import-export” business shortly before he enlisted in the Marines. When he was only sixteen years old, Oswald worked as a messenger for Leon Trujague & Company, a New Orleans import-export company. Trujague was on the board of directors of the Friends for Democratic Cuba, an anti-Castro Cuban organization that used Oswald’s name, while he was in Russia, to purchase jeeps to be used for covert operations against Cuba.

When he handed over his passport to Snyder, Oswald threatened to apply for permanent citizenship in the Soviet Union. But when his “stateless persons” permit expired, Oswald only applied to extend it. Snyder kept Oswald’s passport handy, in his desk drawer, and handed it back to him when Oswald told Snyder he was ready to return home with his Russian wife Marin. Snyder also assisted in getting them clearance and travel funds from the State Department.

After Priscilla Johnson interviewed Oswald, and told him to contact her before obtaining Soviet citizenship, she dined with Snyder’s assistant, McVickers, who later told the Warren Commission that he thought Oswald “followed a pattern of behavior which indicated that he had been tutored by person or persons unknown, and that he had been in contact with others before or during his Marine Corps tour who had guided him in his actions.”

In an amazing coincidence, Oliver Hallett, the Navy attaché at the US Embassy in Moscow – notified the military that Oswald intended to give secrets to the Soviets. Hallet was apparently in the room at the time Oswald handed over his passport and announced his defection. Hallet was also the Navy officer in the White House Situation Room on November 22, 1963. Hallet relayed the wire service reports to the Cabinet Plane and Air Force One that Oswald had been arrested as a suspect in the assassination. Hallett’s wife, a receptionist at the Embassy, also met Oswald in Moscow, and escorted him to Snyder’s office.

By another amazing coincidence, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, one of the first reporters to interview Oswald at the time of his defection in Moscow, was the only writer permitted to speak to Oswald’s wife Marina after the assassination. Over the years, Priscilla Johnson would write periodic pieces on the assassination, always portraying Oswald as the archetypical “lone nut.” In a piece for the New York Times, she even suggested that by killing Kennedy, Oswald was fulfilling the “primal wish to kill the father.” More recently she wrote an article that questioned whether or not “assassination is contagious.”

In book reviews for the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Review of Books, she consistently praised those who support the Warren Commission’s conclusions, such as David Belin’s “You Are the Jury,” while criticizing those who suggest there is evidence of conspiracy, like “The Fish Is Red” by William Turner & Warren Hinckle.

In a televised appearance on Tom Snyder’s TV show in the 1970s, Priscilla Johnson repeated her constant theme in relation to any belief in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. “It’s hard for people to accept,” she claimed, “the idea that one person who is not so different from themselves, went off and did a thing like that. It threatens people’s sense of order about history.”

“You think that the President’s elected by the whole country,” she said, “and when one man can step up there and nullify the will of an entire country, it makes life seem meaningless and without order, and I think conspiracy theorists want to give life an order and coherence that it lacks. It’s terribly upsetting to think that Oswald could do that.”

Of course, if Oswald was the assassin, and not the patsy, and he was in fact a deranged lone-nut case who was acting on his own perverted, psychological motives, then there would be no meaning to what happened at Dealey Plaza.

But if Oswald was set up as the patsy, or was one of the snipers who was part of a well planned and executed covert intelligence operation, then the assassination, whatever you believe happened at Dealey Plaza, is infused with meaning and makes political and historic sense when placed in the proper context. If Oswald was a patsy, it also means that Oswald was innocent of the crimes attributed to him, and others have gotten away with murder.

The task of the posthumous reconstruction of Oswald’s real background resembles peeling the layers of an onion. Oswald has been variously portrayed as an agent of Cuban or Russian intelligence, a ‘lone nut’ and a Mafia hit man, but none of these portraits explains his defection and subsequent activities in New Orleans and Dallas, his association with both the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE), or his conduct and statements on the day and day after the assassination. In reality, Oswald, the alleged assassin, as a pawn in a much larger game, played only a small but critical role in the covert operation that left the President dead and a new government in power

The framing of Oswald was a critical part of the cover-up. Establishing possible false motives for his actions, especially after he was dead, became the primary occupation of the Warren Commission and the media, while subsequent psychological profiles of Oswald, assuming he was the killer, ignore the political power plays and the broader context in which he moved. Some of these “studies,” especially those that maintain Oswald was the lone assassin and acted on psychological motives are deliberately deceptive; and journalists who played more than a passive role in this endeavor must be held suspect and accountable.

Oswald seemed doomed to a succession of negative characterizations from supposed friends and seemingly sympathetic acquaintances that were later to denigrate him and implicate him in the murder of Kennedy. Priscilla Johnson McMillan was merely one of the first.

Priscilla Johnson was a Russian major at Bryn Mawr College, on the Main Line in Philadelphia, and was intimately entwined with the US intelligence community. While a college student she was a World Federalist, an organization that tried to persuade the nations of the world to form a “world government” and strengthen the United Nations. Cord Meyer, Jr., one of the founders of the World Federalists, and a former New York neighbor of Johnson, went on to become a deputy to CIA director Allen Dulles and the head of the CIA’s International Organizations Division.

After Johnson applied for employment with the CIA, she was at first rejected because of her World Federalist associations. She worked for awhile for Senator John F. Kennedy while he was recuperating from a back operation and writing Profiles in Courage, which would win him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1991, Priscilla Johnson appeared on a television program with former CIA director William Colby, who also continued to portray Oswald as the lone assassin and lone nut while she played up her association with both Oswald and Kennedy. She also intimated that Kennedy flirted with her during her short period she was with him, playing up on his “womanizing.”

While Kennedy went on to become President, Priscilla Johnson worked as a translator for the State Department and the New York Times. She has threatened libel suits against publications that claim she worked for the CIA, but has never followed up on these threats.

Priscilla Johnson claimed that because she couldn’t get a security clearance for government work, she went to Moscow as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA).

 

NANA – The North American Newspaper Alliance

NANA was a large and prominent American news and feature service syndicate that once competed with Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) wire services, and included Ernest Hemingway as one of its correspondents.

Another NANA correspondent, Inga Maria Peterson Arvad, was said to have been recruited by NANA editor Ernest Cuneo. A Danish beauty queen, she managed interviews with Herman Goering’s fiancé and Hitler himself. In January 1942 Walter Winchell broke the story that a young naval officer, the son of a former ambassador, was dating young women who many suspected of being a Nazi spy. The naval officer, John F. Kennedy, had met Arvad through his sister, and the two went on a holiday to a Charleston, South Carolina resort hotel, where their lovemaking was said to have been recorded by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, just as 007 was filmed in bed in “From Russia with Love."

In the mid-nineteen fifties, NANA was purchased by former British Intelligence officer Ivor Bryce and his American associate Ernest Cuneo, who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The funds for the purchase of NANA reportedly came from the proceeds of the sale of one of Bryce’s Texas oil wells.

Ivor Bryce, an independently wealthy millionaire, and Cuneo, were both close friends and associates of Ian Fleming, so after the war, when they purchased NANA, they hired Fleming to be the European Editor.

During the war, Ian Fleming served as assistant to the chief of British Naval Intelligence. Fleming came to America and met Cuneo while visiting Sir William Stephenson at his New York apartment. Stephenson, a Canadian industrialist, had replaced Sir. William Wiseman as the representative of British Intelligence in the United States.

While on a wartime mission to the United States, Fleming wrote out an outline for the establishment of a permanent American intelligence agency, based on the British model, and was given a gun, a .38 Police Positive revolver from Donovan for his efforts.

Donovan’s OSS was patterned on the British Military Intelligence 6 – MI6 organization, and its officers learned their spy tradecraft techniques from their British mentors. The director of MI6, Sir Stewart Menzies, was known as “C.”

Ernest Cuneo, a New York attorney, had served as an aide to New York mayor LaGuardia and as a wartime assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with an officer’s rank in the OSS. Cuneo was one of the main liaisons between President Roosevelt, William “Big Bill” Donovan, chief of the OSS, and William “Little Bill” Stephenson, aka “a man called INTREPID,” the representative of British Intelligence in the United States.

The names of both Fleming’s associates at NANA were to appear in the 007 novels, Cuneo as a Las Vegas cab driver in “Diamonds Are Forever” and Bryce as an alias for James Bond in “Dr. No.”

During World War II, Ian Fleming had helped organize Operation Goldeneye, a plan for the defense of Gibraltar, and parachuted into France during the Nazi blitzkrieg on a mission to convince French Admiral Darlan to move his fleet to a neutral or English port. Fleming was unsuccessful, and Darlan’s fleet fought the Allied armies in North Africa and Darlan himself was assassinated, probably by British agents.

Fleming was more successful in helping Yugoslavian King Zog to escape the Nazis. His brother, Peter Fleming outranked him in the Naval Intelligence services and was part of Operation Sea Lion.

Fleming had accompanied Ivor Bryce to Jamaica for a wartime conference on U-boat warfare in the Atlantic, and after the war, Fleming became Jamaican neighbors with others who maintained vacation homes along Jamaica’s north shore, including Bryce, Stephenson and Noel Coward. Fleming’s house there was called Goldeneye.

So when Priscilla Johnson went to Moscow as a correspondent for NANA, when she interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his defection, Ian Fleming was NANA’s European Editor and Ivor Bryce and Ernest Cuneo signed her checks.

 

THROUGH THE WRINGER

After leaving NANA, Priscilla Johnson became an associate at the Harvard University Russian Research Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies. The Russian Research Center itself was bankrolled by CIA funds through the Ford Foundation, whose board of directors included McGeorge Bundy, President Kennedy’s national security advisor, and John McCone, President Kennedy’s director of the CIA. The Russian Research Center was set up to “carry out interdisciplinary study of Russian institutions, behavior and related subjects.”

One of the most important operations at the Center was the CIA sponsored refugee interview project, which “debriefed” émigrés from Communist Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungry, Rumania and East Germany, code-named Operation WRINGER. The Harvard Center worked closely with the West German Intelligence (BND), which was directed by former Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen. It was Gehlen who established and supervised WRINGER, attempting to penetrate the Soviet Union and reinforce his spy network inside Russia. Gehlen had been Hitler’s intelligence chief for the Nazi German “Armies East,” the Russian front. His files and network, turned over to the Americans at the end of the war, served as the foundation for the American CIA files and operations against the Soviets.

Priscilla Johnson began her book publishing career while at the Russian Research Center. Her first book, about the persecution of Russian writers, was published by MIT Press with the assistance of the Center for International Studies. In their book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Victor Marchetti and John Marks reveal that, “…in 1951, CIA money was used to set up the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Max F. Millikan, then the Center’s director said, “The Center is a remarkable institution devoted to inquiry into current affairs of man, especially of American man and the multitude of new affairs that have pressed so hard and swiftly in upon him in these years.” Marchetti and Marks also note that, “In 1952, Max Millikan, who had been Director of the CIA’s Office of National Estimates, became the head of the Center….in 1953 the MIT Center published “The Dynamics of Soviet Society”…but there was no indication to the reader that the work had been financed by CIA funds.”

The Center actually published two versions of “Dynamics,” written by Walt Rostow. One version of Rostow’s book was for government policy makers and CIA readers and the other for the general public. According to “Cult of Intelligence,” the MIT Center also assisted Rostow in other ways. Rostow was a political scientist with intelligence ties that date back to his OSS service during World War II. Rostow went on to become an assistant for national security affairs under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. It is also interesting to note that Walt Rostow first recommended that he appoint a commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy.

In addition to Priscilla Johnson’s affiliation with the MIT CIS, Oswald’s cousin Dorothy Murret had a curious connection to the Institute. According to some Warren Commission and FBI documents Murret, “was linked in some manner with the …. Apparatus of Professor Harold Isaacs.” Issacs was an MIT professor and CIS associate who had resided in China from 1931 to 1936 where he edited a local English language newspaper, The China Forum, and contributed to Newsweek and the Christian Science Monitor on Far Eastern affairs. Much of his work took him away from MIT, and it is possible he met Murret during the course of her travels.

Cult of Intelligence notes that the CIA “also used defectors from communist governments for propaganda purposes. These defectors…are immediately taken under the CIA’s control and subjected to extensive secret debriefings. The Agency encourages and will help the defector write articles and books about their past life.”

Even Priscilla’s family seems to have been involved in the tangle of Soviet émigrés, American spies and intelligence agency-run publishing efforts. One of the most important keys to the real history of Soviet leadership, Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, defected to the United States through India with the assistance of the CIA. Stalin had died mysteriously of a blood clot to the brain after being given drugs by his new doctors, drugs that were supplied by outside interests, possibly even the CIA.

When Stalin’s daughter arrived in the United States, she was a prime candidate for debriefing and funneling through Operation WRINGER, and soon after her defection she was taken to the home of Stewart H. Johnson of Locust Valley, New York, Priscilla Johnson’s father. Priscilla then returned home and helped to translate Svetlana’s memoirs and two other books, including “Twenty Letters to a Friend,”which the CIA helped to publish.

After the murder of Oswald, Priscilla Johnson McMillan was one of the only writers allowed to have access to Oswald’s wife Marina, and she obtained the exclusive contract to write Marina’s story, for which they both got paid. That book, fifteen years in the making, was eventually published as Lee and Marina. As Marina’s friend, advisor and ghost writer, Priscilla communicated with and coached Marina’s testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978.

 

OSWALD THE RED HERRING

Both the Warren Commission and Priscilla Johnson McMillan suggest, in their portrayals of Oswald, that he held the personal political beliefs of a communist, while actually associating with rich, right wing oil executives like George Bouhe, George DeMohrenschildt and Paul Ragoridsky in Dallas, and fanatic anti-Communists like Guy Banister, David Ferrie and Carlos Bringuier in New Orleans.

From a military family, Oswald was determined to become a Marine like his older brother Robert. Another half-brother, Edward Pic served in the Coast Guard at New York harbor before enlisting in the Air Force.

Oswald’s favorite book and TV program, “I Led Three Lives,” by Herbert Philbrick, concerned an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated communist groups for a decade before exposing his true beliefs when testifying against his former friends in court.

It is possible that Oswald was recruited and trained for counter-intelligence work while serving as a Marine in Japan and California, possibly by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the American intelligence agency that was reportedly responsible for a fake Soviet defector program that Oswald may have been a part of.

The circumstances of Oswald’s “defection” clearly suggest that he was sent as a military intelligence agent to penetrate the Soviet Union and test and monitor their response to his defection. In Russia, he became affiliated with another anti-communist network that included a similar “defector,” his factory foreman Alexander Ziegler and his family.

Ziegler, a Jewish émigré during World War II, left Argentina, where he had worked for an American company, and resettled in Byelorussia. Ziegler was Oswald’s nominal boss at the radio factory where they worked in Minsk, and he encouraged Oswald to marry Marina. When Oswald was ready to leave Russia, Ziegler reportedly gave him an envelope to smuggle to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, which was addressed to CIA director Allen Dulles. Ziegler and his family returned to Argentina in 1969.

Oswald once traveled to Moscow alone and met some American tourists, two young women and an older lady who had lost their official Intourist guide and were traveling unescorted around Russia. A few weeks later Oswald met the same trio in Minsk, and can be seen in a photo of them together, a photo that ended up in the files of the CIA.

Oswald applied to the US Embassy to leave the USSR in the same month that many other Office of Naval Intelligence “defectors” also returned. Marina Oswald, in her testimony to the Warren Commission about how Oswald came to Russia and where he lived gave the details of another ONI false defector instead, Robert Webster.

Eventually arriving in New York with his Russian wife and child, Oswald and his family were met by Spas T. Raiken of Traveler’s Aid. Raiken was also the secretary-treasurer of the American Friends of the Anti-Bolshvik Block of Nations, a CIA front group, part of the World Anti-Communist League and an arm of Operation WRINGER.

 

VIRGINIA PREWETT

In the summer of ’63 Oswald became involved with both the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and the DRE – an anti-Castro Cuban student group, both of which were subjects covered by NARA reporter Virginia Prewett and monitored if not controlled by David Atlee Phillips, a CIA officer from Oswald’s old Fort Worth neighborhood.

Oswald was seen meeting with Phillips shortly before Oswald ostensibly went to Mexico City visiting the Cuban and Russian embassies monitored by Phillips’ surveillance teams.

Virginia Prewett was one of Phillips’ media assets who often wrote news articles in support of CIA operations. Prewett was interviewed by author Anthony Summers and British journalist David Leigh, and although Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post commissioned Leigh to write an article about Phillips and Prewett, Bradlee refused to publish it.

Summers reported that Prewett confirmed the existence of “Maurice Bishop” and his association with both David A. Phillips and Tony Veciana, one of the leaders of the anti-Castro Cuban Alpha 66 terrorist group, who had seen Oswald and “Bishop” together in Dallas. Prewett was also one of the founders of the Friends of Democratic Cuba, along with other associates and media assets of David Atlee Phillips. Many researchers believe that Maurice Bishop was a pseudonym used by David Phillips, and at least one former CIA operative has confirmed it.

"Maurice Bishop" and David Atlee Phillips

 

SYDNEY AND LUCI GOLDBERG

“Goldberg” is one of the names Oswald wrote in his notebook while in the Soviet Union, and was ostensibly a Moscow correspondent he had met, and not either Sidney or Luci Goldberg, who worked for NANA.

One protagonist in George Orwell’s 1984, a favorite novel of Oswald’s, is Emmanuel Goldberg, the supposed Party traitor who writes the Book of Revolution.

When Bill Kelly talked with Sidney Goldberg on the phone, he said he knew Ian Fleming from working at NANA but that Fleming left the organization around the time [Goldberg] became affiliated with it in 1963.

“Alongside Goldberg’s possible acquaintance with confirmed CIA agent Seymour Freidin, her 1972 claim to be affiliated with the North American Newspaper Alliance takes on additional significance. NANA actually existed, but it was infested with CIA connections, as JFK assassination researchers eventually discovered. Priscilla Johnson McMillan, who had numerous CIA and State Department links, was working for NANA when she interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald in Moscow in 1959.

Another NANA reporter, Virginia Prewett, was an anti-Castro activist recruited by NANA founder Ernest Cuneo, a high-ranking OSS veteran. In the mid-1960s, NANA was acquired by a partnership between Leonard Marks, Drew Pearson, and Fortune Pope. In 1952, Fortune Pope’s brother, Generoso Pope, Jr., bought the National Enquirer. The previous year Generoso was a CIA officer (according to Generoso’s listing in Who’s Who in America, 1984-85). Marks and Pearson were also friendly with the CIA.”

According to Frank Greve and Rod Hutcheson (Knight-Ridder/Tribute Information Service), Luci and Syd Goldberg were close personal friends and NANA colleagues with Victor Lasky.

“Victor Lasky, who died on February 22, 1990, was more than a simple right-wing columnist. From 1956-1960 he was a public relations executive for Radio Liberty, which was one of the CIA’s two largest propaganda operations at the time (the other was Radio Free Europe). Starting just two years later and continuing until 1980, the North American Newspaper Alliance distributed his syndicated column. It was revealed during Watergate testimony that Lasky was secretly paid $20,000 by Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President while he was writing his column. CREEP included a number of CIA operatives. In the mid-1980s, Lasky was close to CIA director William Casey.”

Lucianne and Sidney Goldberg were not only associated with NANA in regards to Oswald in the Soviet Union. Luci later posed as a reporter covering the McGovern campaign, while actually working as a “dirty trickster” for the Republicans. The Goldbergs were also mentioned in regards to the Eagleton scandal, which exposed the vice presidential candidate has having had psychological counseling.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, January 23, 1998: “In 1972, ([Lucianne]) Goldberg told the McGovern campaign that she worked for the North American Newspaper Alliance and later for Women’s News Service. The addresses she listed for both agencies then are the same as her current residence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.”

Then Luci became entangled in the Monica Lewinski affair. It was Luci Goldberg who encouraged the Pentagon secretary Linda Tripp to secretly and illegally tape record Lewinski detailing her relationship with President Clinton. Lucianne Goldberg still identified herself as associated with NANA at that time. Her son, Jonah Goldberg continues in the tradition as a vehement right-wing propagandist, and somehow recently secured an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro.

 

CONCLUSION

With editors and correspondents like Ernest Hemingway, Ernest Cueno Ivor Bryce, Ian Fleming, and Syd Goldberg, and a bevy of young and beautiful correspondents like Inga Avid, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Virginia Prewett and Luci Goldberg, the North American Newspaper Alliance, NANA was a fully functioning intelligence network closely associated with the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird.

As exemplified by the North American Newspaper Alliance (NASA), the corporate connection between the CIA and the US media is at the heart of the psychological warfare campaign that has portrayed Oswald variously as a Cuban or Soviet agent, deranged lone-nut or mob hit-man, rather than what he clearly was – an expendable agent for a domestic military-intelligence network. Oswald was an American spy and what ever his role in it, the assassination was not a foreign attack but “an inside job,” a coup.

Oswald used aliases, forged identity papers, post office boxes, pay phones, dead letter drops, and micro-dot photography. He was multi-lingual in Russian and English, and could converse in basic Japanese and Spanish. He traveled widely, primarily using public transportation, and was educated by a specialist in the crafts of intelligence practices and techniques. As they used to say in the fifties, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Oswald was a covert intelligence operator and agent for some domestic anti-communist network.

Lee Harvey Oswald went to Russia like Hemingway went to Paris in 1944 – not as a writer but as a war-time penetration agent operating behind the lines.

Set up as a patsy, Oswald’s presence at the scene of the murder of President Kennedy served as a message – that the murder of the President was not only a conspiracy, but a more specific covert intelligence operation designed to shield those actually responsible. It was a plot that originated within the heart of the federal government itself and showed that those who killed the President can get away with anything.

At a COPA conference on the assassination in Dallas in October 1992, a workshop panel on the role of the media in the assassination concluded that the most significant facts have not been the subject of news stories because of negligence on the part of the media.

Rather than negligence however, it is clear the mainstream media response to the assassination of President Kennedy can be shown to have been influenced if not entirely controlled by the CIA from the very moment of the assassination, and they did this through the utilization of their media assets, particularly those at Time-Life, CBS News and NANA – the North American Newspaper Alliance.

July 23

Spyware & Spy Scandals

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Was Pegasus used by Trump and Kushner to blackmail U.S. politicians? Wayne Madsen, July 23, 2021. Revelations by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsales of NSO Group's Pegasus smart phone surveillance program closely matched the foreign trips of former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have raised the possibility that Jared Kushner, who participated in Netanyahu's diplomatic trips to countries using Pegasus, also used Pegasus to eavesdrop on the communications of Republicans who, virtually overnight, became loyalists of Donald Trump.

As more details emerge about the political intelligence uses of Pegasus, the Israeli government and NSO Group are trying to contain the public relations damage caused by Israel's sale of the surveillance system to some of the world's most repressive regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, the lindsey graham judiciary chairmanUnited Arab Emirates, Hungary, and Morocco. All have close ties to Israel.

mitch mcconnell elaine chaoPegasus does not merely allow an eavesdropper to listen in on smart phone conversations but allows the phone's microphone and camera to be used as an espionage device, even when the phone is turned off. Pegasus has been termed a "digital predator."

Trump's possible use of Pegasus to provide surveillance information on those whose Apple and Microsoft data were subpoenaed by Trump's Justice Department and on those whose data was not subpoenaed opens the door to Trump using embarrassing information to blackmail Republicans who, on a dime, went from being Trump critics to his most loyal supporters. Blackmail in politics usually involves sex, money, or a combination of the two.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Foreign Agent in Trump’s Inner Circle? Michelle Goldberg, right, July 23, 2021. Once upon a time, it would have been huge news if the chairman of the former president’s imichelle goldberg thumbnaugural committee was indicted on charges of acting as an agent of a foreign power.

Donald Trump’s presidency, however, has left us with scandal inflation. At this point many of the leading figures from his 2016 campaign have been either indicted or convicted, even if they were later pardoned. The C.F.O. of Trump’s company was charged with tax fraud less than a month ago.

tom barrackheadshotSo when the billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack, left, one of Trump’s biggest fund-raisers, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates along with other felonies, it might have seemed like a dog-bites-man story. Barrack was once described by longtime Trump strategist uae embassy sealRoger Stone — a felon, naturally — as the ex-president’s best friend. If you knew nothing else about Barrack but that, you might have guessed he’d end up in handcuffs.

Nevertheless, Barrack’s arrest is important. Trump’s dealings with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia deserve to be investigated as thoroughly as his administration’s relationship with Russia. So far that hasn’t happened. When Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, testified before Congress, Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said to him, “We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any Gulf nations were influencing U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out.” But we have not found out.

 

Media, Whistleblower News

daniel ellsberg umass

Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival, virtual events, begins with screenings starting Friday, July 23, and panel discussions starting Sunday, July 25; DC Pro president joins opening plenary July 26, Staff Report, July 23, 2021. SPJ DC Pro Chapter is a co-sponsor of the Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival this year, with a panel presentation on July 27. A chapter board member and a chapter Distinguished Service Award honoree will be participating on another panel July 30.

Here is a schedule for panels and screenings (subject to updates). All sessions will be held via Zoom; the film screenings will be streamed online.

Keynote speaker is whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg (shown above in a University of Massachusetts photo), at noon on July 30, in recognition of his role in releasing documents that led to the publication of excerpts in The New York Times of what came to be called the Pentagon Papers, 50 years ago this summer.

DC Pro Chapter President Randy Showstack will represent the chapter during the opening plenary on Monday, July 26, at 10 a.m., joining other sponsors or collaborators. They include:

Panelists:

  • Marcel Reid, Pacifica Foundation
  • Michael McCray, ACORN 8
  • Andrew Kreig (also a DC Pro Chapter member), Justice Integrity Project
  • Randy Showstack, Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter
  • Liz Hemperwitz, Project on Government Oversight
  • Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project
  • Siri Nelson, National Whistleblower Center

Indefatigable chapter Recording Secretary and FOI advocate Kathryn Foxhall will moderate the 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 27 panel, "The Perils of PIO," which is described thus: "Over 20-30 years, it’s become a cultural norm for various entities, public and private, to prohibit staff from communicating with reporters without oversight by authorities, often through public information officers (PIO). The basic part of this is quite fearsome: prohibition against any contact without notifying authorities. However, the rules also create a chokepoint severely limiting the number of contacts. They are also used to deliberately block unwanted contacts and constrain what can be said.

"This hampers whistleblowing by massively reducing reporters’ ability to get to know and be educated by staff; have staff come to trust them; and have confidential conversations. The Society of Professional Journalists has said it believes secrecy caused by these controls led to significantly higher COVID-19 death toll. An analysis by First Amendment attorney Frank LoMonte says the restrictions are unconstitutional and many courts have said so."

Panelists:

  • Kathyrn Foxhall (Moderator) The SPJDC.org website has articles about "Censorship by PIO" and resources.
  • Frank LoMonte, head of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida
  • Haisten Willis, freelance journalist and chair of national SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee

Ahead of the keynote speech by Ellsberg -- at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 30 -- DC Pro Chapter board member and attorney Kenneth Jost will join chapter DSA awardee Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute and the institute's First Amendment Center, on a panel looking at the "Ramifications of the Pentagon Papers Today." The panel description says that the July 3, 1971, publication in The New York Times of what is now known as the Pentagon Papers prompted a series of events that ultimately resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon and changed the landscape for American journalism due to a landmark decision on freedom of the press (New York Times Co. v. United States). This informative panel will examine the long-term impact of the publishing of the Pentagon Papers on free speech, whistleblowing, investigative journalism and American society overall.

Panelists:

  • Gene Policinski, JD (Moderator)
  • Mark Zaid, JD
  • Kenneth Jost, JD

Access to streaming of panels and the films is here. More information on the Summit can be found here. Specific questions may be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (202) 370-6635. July 30 also is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. The National Whistleblower Center invites you to register here for its virtual all-day event marking the occasion.

July 19

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: James Woolsey’s JFK Conspiracy Theory, Part 1, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, July 19, 2021. Kennedy’s relationship with the Deep Jacob HornbergerState only went from bad to worse and ultimately turned into a major schism between the executive branch and the national-security branch of the federal government.

Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey has written a newly published book entitled Operation Dragon, which poses one of the silliest conspiracy theories ever in the Kennedy assassination. Woolsey says that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Lee Harvey Oswald conspired future of freedom foundation logo squareto assassinate John Kennedy. He says that Khrushchev later changed his mind and withdrew from the conspiracy and instructed Oswald to cease and desist. According to Woolsey, Oswald was so determined to become a hero in Khrushchev’s eyes that he decided to go through with the assassination anyway.

How do we know that Woolsey’s theory is silly? One reason: the fraudulent autopsy that was performed on Kennedy’s body.

There is one irrefutable fact in the Kennedy assassination, one with which everyone agrees. That fact is that the U.S. national-security establishment performed the autopsy on the president’s body. Not the Mafia. Not the communists. Not the Soviet Union. Not Nikita CIA LogoKhrushchev. Not Fidel Castro. It was the American Deep State that performed the autopsy.

Why would the U.S. national-security establishment perform a fraudulent autopsy on the body of the deceased president? There is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy, and certainly no one has ever tried to posit one. The only possible reason would be to serve as a cover-up of the crime itself.

Would the military-intelligence establishment go to all the trouble of a fraudulent autopsy to cover up an assassination by the Soviets, the communists, Nikita Khrushchev, or Fidel Castro?

Not a chance! The Pentagon and the CIA loathed communists. That’s what the Cold War was all about. In fact, in his new book Woolsey  captures perfectly the mindset of hatred and antipathy of the national-security establishment toward communism and the communist world. There is james woolsey 2015 wno possibility whatsoever that the American Deep State decided, on the spur of the moment, to carry out a fraudulent autopsy on Kennedy’s body in order to protect communists.

What does Woolsey (shown in a 2015 photo) say about the autopsy? Nothing! He doesn’t mention it. It’s as though it just didn’t happen. He is clearly stuck in a 1964 time suspension in which he remains convinced that there was an international communist conspiracy based in Moscow, one in which the Reds were coming to get us. He evidently also believes that the American people are as deferential to the Pentagon and the CIA as they were back in 1964 and that they will automatically believe anything and everything that representatives or former representatives of the Deep State say.

What Woolsey wants to ignore — and what he wants the American people to ignore — is the mountain of circumstantial evidence that has been uncovered james woolsey operation dragonsince 1963, especially as a result of the efforts of the Assassination Record Review Board in the 1990s, establishing that there was a fraudulent autopsy. The idea is that if U.S. Deep State officials, along with their assets in the mainstream press, will just ignore the autopsy, the evidence establishing the fraud will just go away.

But it’s not going away. On the contrary, it is being highlighted, examined, and publicized, not in the mainstream press but all over the Internet. Woolsey just doesn’t want to deal with it.

A fascinating aspect of Woolsey’s book (shown at left) is that he is attacking the Warren Report. In positing his conspiracy theory, he is saying that Oswald was not a lone-nut assassin, as the Warren Commission concluded. Instead, according to Woolsey, Oswald conspired with the communists to kill the president.

Editor's Note: The remainder of this Part 1 can be seen by following the link. Also, Part 2

July 18

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Merrick Garland Needs to Show He Knows What Jan. 6 Was Really About, Donald Ayer, Danielle Brian and Norman Eisen, July 18, 2021. Mr. Ayer was a deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration. Ms. Brian is the executive director of the Project On Government Oversight. Mr. Eisen served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment.

mo brooks oWhen Mo Brooks, left, took his oath of office as a U.S. representative, he swore to support and defend the Constitution. His official duties certainly don’t include what Mr. Brooks is accused of doing in a civil lawsuit pending in Washington federal court: helping to incite a mob to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6.

merrick garlandRepresentative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, sued Mr. Brooks, an Alabama Republican, and others for damages suffered as a result of their roles in the Capitol riot. Mr. Brooks has asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to certify that his actions on Jan. 6 were those of a government employee acting within the scope of his employment. The Justice Department must say if it will defend Mr. Brooks by July 27.

If the attorney general were to certify and the court agreed, Mr. Brooks would be dismissed from the lawsuit under a federal statute. The United States would be substituted as a defendant instead.

Mr. Garland’s choice is important in its own right, but it also carries ramifications for cases targeting possible official wrongdoing in the Trump era, including by the former president himself. Mr. Garland should emphatically reject Mr. Brooks’s request to make this certification, because our nation deserves a full accounting for those involved in the storming of the Capitol and any other assaults on our democracy.

Justice Department log circularThe case arises from Mr. Brooks’s appearance at the “Save America” rally in Washington on Jan. 6. All Americans are entitled to petition their government under the Constitution.But in our view, Mr. Brooks’s instructions went beyond these protections. He urged the assembled crowd to “fight for America” and “stop” at the Capitol, where the electoral transition would take place.

“Today the curtain will be pulled back and American patriots will learn by their votes which Republican senators and congressmen have the courage to fight for America,” Mr. Brooks said. “Today Republican senators and congressmen will either vote to turn America into a godless, amoral, dictatorial, oppressed and socialist nation on the decline or they will join us and they will fight and vote against voter fraud and election theft and vote for keeping America great.” He added, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” (In response to the suit, Mr. Brooks said he was talking in his speech about the 2022 and 2024 elections.)

We all know what happened next.

Determining when arguably wrongful conduct by a federal employee nonetheless occurred within the scope of his or her employment duties often involves a difficult exercise of judgment. The issue is not whether the employee committed a wrongful act — bad things can happen on the job. At the same time, not everything an employee does is within the scope of his job.

The Constitution and laws of the United States are not, as Justice Robert Jackson once warned, a suicide pact. Certification that Mr. Brooks acted within the scope of his job would leave the United States government defending the right of its elected representatives to foment insurrection against itself.

The decision before the Justice Department could also have an impact on other cases, including those against Mr. Trump. He, too, is a defendant in Representative Swalwell’s suit over his incitement at the same rally. If Mr. Brooks is immunized, how long before Mr. Trump seeks the same? There is also the Georgia criminal investigation of Mr. Trump’s efforts to have state officials “find 11,780 votes.” He surely would point to any precedent Mr. Garland set here to argue that that was official, too. Who knows what other yet-to-be revealed conduct would be swept within this new safe harbor for wrongdoing?

Our future depends on our resolve in adhering to our basic democratic values — among them, that truth is a key to the functioning of our electoral system. And that demands that Attorney General Garland unequivocally reject any notion that a congressman is doing his job when he foments a riot based on lies in order to sabotage a legitimate national electoral process.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide, Dana Priest, Craig Timberg and Souad Mekhenne, July 18, 2021. Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners.

israel flagThe phones appeared on a list of more than 50,000 numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens and also known to have been clients of the Israeli firm, NSO Group, a worldwide leader in the growing and largely unregulated private spyware industry, the investigation found.

The list does not identify who put the numbers on it, or why, and it is unknown how many of the phones were targeted or surveilled. But forensic analysis of the 37 smartphones shows that many display a tight correlation between time stamps associated with a number on the list and the initiation of surveillance, in some cases as brief as a few seconds.

ScheerPost, Investigation: The Jeffrey Epstein Cover Up: Pedophilia, Lies, and Videotape, Nick Bryant, right, July 18, 2021. Numerous procurers and perpetrators who were integral to Epstein and nick bryantMaxwell’s crimes against children over the course of 25 years have not been indicted, and the charges against Maxwell, which include only one count of child trafficking, are woefully inadequate and a further miscarriage of justice against her victims.

More recently, a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on May 10, 2021 superimposed an additional miscarriage of justice on the myriad of injustices that have already been inflicted on the victims of Epstein, et al. The FDLE report concluded that a Florida grand jury that didn’t indict Epstein on a single count of child abuse was not guilty of malfeasance.

Although Epstein’s crimes against children had been reported to the FBI in 1996, the first law enforcement agency to earnestly investigate Epstein was the Palm Beach Police Department (PBPD), starting in 2005. The PBPD compiled the statements of five minors who had been molested by Epstein. The PBPD also rounded up the statements of several witnesses who corroborated the minors’ claims, and the department was aware of 17 additional victims who had allegedly been molested by Epstein. The PBPD drew up an arrest warrant charging Epstein with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation and four counts of unwanted sexual activity with a minor. The PBPD also sought to charge two of Epstein’s henchwomen and procurers of underage girls: Sarah Kellen as a principal to Epstein’s offenses and Haley Robson with one count of lewd and lascivious conduct.

But Palm Beach state attorney Barry Krischer swooped in and snatched the Epstein case from the PBPD. He opted to impanel a grand jury to investigate the child abuse allegations. (Grand juries in Florida are extremely rare unless the crime involves a capital offense.)

_____

Nick Bryant, who started pursuing the disgraced financier around 2012, is an author who resides in New York City, and he’s been a child advocate for 30 nick bryant franklin resized coveryears. His writing has recurrently focused on the plight of disadvantaged children in the United States, and he’s been published in numerous national journals, including the Journal of Professional Ethics, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, and Journal of School Health.

He is the co-author of America’s Children: Triumph or Tragedy, addressing the medical and developmental problems of lower socioeconomic children in America. He spent seven years investigating a coast-to-coast child trafficking network and authored The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse, & Betrayal. He has also investigated the Jeffrey Epstein network, and he published Epstein’s “Little Black Book” on the Internet in 2015, four years before the case broke nationally. Bryant has contributed a chapter on child trafficking to Global Perspectives on Dissociative Disorders: Individual and Societal Oppression, a book addressing various facets of dissociative disorders that features chapters from an international panel of psychiatrists and psychologists. He has also spoken about child trafficking at several conferences, including the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation’s international convention and the 2020 and 2021 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summits.

July 16 

william regnery will vragovic

William H. Regnery II, one of the men who bankrolled the far-right, is photographed outside his home in Boca Grande, Florida (Will Vragovic).

HuffPost, Commentary: William Regnery II, Reclusive Millionaire Who Financed American Fascists, Dead At 80, Christopher Mathias, July 16, 2021. The avowed huffington post logowhite nationalist inherited millions from his prominent Republican family and used the money to fund the rise of the so-called alt-right.

William H. Regnery II, one of the men who bankrolled the far-right, is photographed outside his home in Boca Grande, Florida, in 2017. He died earlier this month at the age of 80.

William H. Regnery II, a racist, reclusive multimillionaire who used his inherited fortune to finance vile white supremacist groups in the hopes of one day forming an American whites-only ethnostate, died earlier this month, his family and associates confirmed. He was 80 years old.

Regnery, whose family amassed riches from its right-wing publishing empire, died on July 2 in Florida after a “long battle with cancer,” his cousin Alfred, the former head of Regnery Publishing, confirmed to HuffPost.

Asked if he’d like to comment on his cousin’s life and legacy, Alfred Regnery replied: “No, it’s all been said before.”

In the final two decades of his life, William Regnery funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars — and likely much more — to extremist groups. He is often credited with being one of the main funders of the so-called alt-right, the resurgent fascist movement that gained momentum during the rise of former President Donald Trump.

“William Regnery’s sordid influence was felt from the deadly Charlottesville Unite the Right rally to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol,” said Tarso Luís Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates, a social justice think tank that monitors the far right.

“His patronage of white nationalists over more than two decades helped popularize a genocidal vision for a white ethnostate on North American soil and sinking fear of racial replacement in the hearts of a growing portion of the white American population,” Ramos added. “This vision will not prevail, but it won’t either be easily extinguished.”

HuffPost first learned of Regnery’s death on Twitter, where some of the many avowed white nationalists permitted on that platform mourned their benefactor’s passing.

“Bill Regnery was a good man, who cared about the future, and, as they say, ‘did something’ about it,” tweeted Richard Spencer, the racist who led the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist organization Regnery founded.

Kevin MacDonald — perhaps America’s foremost anti-Semite, who authored a series of books claiming that Jews are genetically hard-wired to destroy Western civilization — also tweeted that he hoped Regnery would “rest in peace.”

MacDonald and Spencer are both members of the Charles Martel Society, a secretive organization of prominent American fascists founded and funded with nearly $90,000 donated from family charities and other tax exempt organizations affiliated with Regnery. (Nonprofits are not legally required to identify individual donors, so it’s possible Regnery personally donated much more.) The society publishes The Occidental Quarterly, a journal for which MacDonald serves as editor.

Other white nationalists who weren’t direct beneficiaries of Regnery’s largesse also expressed sadness at his passing.

Regnery, who went by Bill, was born Feb. 25, 1941, into a prominent Republican family.

His grandfather and namesake, textile magnate William H. Regnery I, was a founding member of the infamous America First Committee. The organization, led by anti-Semitic aviator Charles Lindbergh, opposed America’s intervention in World War II and counted many Nazi sympathizers among its ranks.

In 1947, Bill Regnery’s uncle, Henry, founded Regnery Publishing, which would grow into one of the most influential right-wing media dynasties in America. In its early years, the company published prominent conservative thinkers, including William F. Buckley, a racist and segregationist, and Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society, the anti-communist conspiracist group.

More recently it has published anti-Muslim bigots Robert Spencer and David Horowitz, and anti-immigrant crusaders Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, as well as books from Republican senators and other politicians ― including Donald Trump’s 2015 “Time to Get Tough.”

When Henry Regnery died in 1996, The New York Times eulogized him as “the godfather of modern conservatism.”

The Regnery family’s influence extended beyond the publishing world. Bill Regnery’s cousin Alfred Regnery was an official at the Department of Justice under President Ronald Reagan before eventually taking over the family publishing company.

Bill Regnery started showing an interest in politics while a student in the early 1960s at the University of Pennsylvania, where he launched a conservative student magazine. He never graduated from Penn, however, telling BuzzFeed News in an extensive 2017 interview that he was “still a couple credits short of a degree.”

He said he left to work for the 1964 presidential campaign of Republican Barry Goldwater, the far-right senator from Arizona. As BuzzFeed News described, Regnery claimed to have hatched a bizarre scheme to suppress Democratic votes on Election Day that year:

His most memorable effort, he claimed, was a convoluted scheme called Operation Dewdrop, intended to suppress Democratic voters in Philadelphia. At the time, he explained, the theory was that Democrats voted less in the rain. So on election day, he said, he tried to seed rain clouds by using dry ice and a twin-engine airplane. It didn’t rain, he recalled, but he burned his fingers from the dry ice canisters, a detail that helps add a ring of authenticity. Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide.

Such bizarre failures and embarrassments seem to have marked Regnery’s life. According to Alfred and another cousin, Frederick Meyers, he nearly ruined the family’s textile business, and the family forced him to resign as president in 1981, court records show.

In the early 1990s, Regnery became disillusioned with mainstream American conservatism, seeing it as insufficiently concerned about race, according to a memoir he published in 2015, “Left Behind,” a copy of which Mother Jones reviewed. It horrified him that whites might one day be a minority in America.

In December 1999, Regnery convened a conference for prominent white nationalists at a hotel in Florida, where he declared his belief in breaking up the United States into a series of enclaves based on race and religion, a plan that would undoubtedly involve the violent ethnic cleansing of nonwhites.

“In closing, I charge the participants of this conference with the sacred task of beginning to secure for our children’s children a proper home,” Regnery said at the conference.

Two years later, in 2001, he founded the Charles Martel Society, named for the 8th century Frankish ruler the modern far-right often glorifies for defending Gaul, in modern-day France, from an invading Arab army. Regnery staffed the organization with a who’s who of infamous white supremacists, including Sam Francis, who once suggested “imposing adequate fertility controls on nonwhites.”

In 2004, Regnery tried to launch a whites-only dating website, an effort he hoped would increase the number of white families, “since the survival of our race depends upon our people marrying, reproducing and parenting.”

And in 2005, he founded the innocuous-sounding National Policy Institute (NPI), a white nationalist think tank on a mission “to elevate the consciousness of whites” by studying “the consequences of the ongoing influx that non-Western populations pose to our national identity.”

This paranoia over immigration from nonwhite countries into America and Europe — often called the “great replacement” theory — has animated multiple white supremacist massacres in recent years, including those in Pittsburgh, El Paso and Charleston, South Carolina.

According to a BuzzFeed News tally, nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations affiliated with Regnery poured nearly half a million dollars into NPI’s coffers from 2005 to 2015. (Though William Regnery himself could have personally donated more.)

Regnery seemed content to be the moneyman behind NPI and the Charles Martel Society, working quietly behind the scenes.

“Where his relatives have headed corporations, held public office, and run high-profile civic groups, the younger William works hard to keep his activities out of the public eye,” the Southern Poverty Law Center once wrote of Regnery, adding that while his family members “worked to cultivate an air of mainstream respectability, William ran headlong into the fever swamps of white nationalism, where his familial and financial clout allowed him to set himself up as a major force shaping the entire movement.”

Regnery tapped Richard Spencer to lead NPI in 2011. In Spencer, Regnery found someone who relished the limelight. Also from a wealthy conservative family, Spencer had pursued a doctorate at Duke University while making inroads among right-wing extremists, writing for numerous publications, including The American Conservative.

Spencer launched two websites, AlternativeRight.com and RadixJournal.com, which eventually became important propaganda outlets for the so-called alt-right, a term Spencer claims to have coined himself to describe a growing online coalition of racists, including trolls and shitposters, neo-Nazis and Klansmen, Holocaust deniers and suit-and-tie fascists.

When Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015, he often mimicked “alt-right” talking points, such as calling Mexican immigrants rapists and proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States. The chief executive of Trump’s campaign, Steve Bannon, had previously run Breitbart News, which he described as a “platform for the alt-right.”

As Trump’s poll numbers rose and the size of his rallies swelled, the media clamored to explain what the alt-right was and often found a willing spokesman in Spencer, who gave interviews to almost anyone who would ask. He quickly became the face of the far right in America.

In 2016, Regnery boasted in a speech that tapping Spencer to lead the NPI “secured my place in history.”

Regnery and the American white nationalist movement were jubilant when Trump was elected president. At an NPI conference in Washington, D.C., a few weeks after the election, Spencer shouted “Hail Trump!” and “Hail victory!” — the English translation of the Nazi cry “Sieg Heil!”

His supporters responded with Nazi salutes.

Cassie Miller, a research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told HuffPost that Regnery’s “material contributions helped to build networks of racist activists and a large body of pseudoscientific literature that, he hoped, would legitimize his calls to build a white ethnostate.”

Miller said the two major organizations he built, the Charles Martel Society and the NPI, were “once highly influential” but noted that the NPI is now “in disarray.”

“It appears to no longer be operational, and its death knell likely came earlier this year when a judge ordered NPI to pay $2.4 million in damages to an Ohio man injured at the Unite the Right rally for his physical and emotional suffering,” Miller said.

Spencer and the NPI helped organize the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, where some 1,000 white nationalists marched through the streets as clashes became increasingly violent. In the most vicious attack, a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

Pro-Trump Jan. 6 Insurrectionpaul allard hodgkins

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. seeks prison term for first felony defendant to be sentenced in Capitol breach, citing domestic terrorism threat, Spencer S. Hsu, July 16, 2021. U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday urged a federal judge to impose an 18-month prison term on the first defendant to face sentencing for a felony in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, citing the need to deter domestic terrorism.

“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said in a government sentencing request for Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, above, who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.

Hodgkins’s sentencing, scheduled for Monday, could set the bar for what punishment 100 or more defendants might expect to face as they weigh whether to accept plea offers by prosecutors or take their chances at a trial by jury.

About 800 people entered the building, U.S. officials have said, with more than 500 individuals charged to date and charges expected against at least 100 others.

About 20 people have pleaded guilty, and one misdemeanor defendant has been sentenced to probation.

In Hodgkins’s case, Sedky cited FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s testimony in March to the Senate that the problem of homegrown violent extremism is “metastasizing,” with some actors growing emboldened by the Capitol riot.

“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said in a government sentencing request for Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.

The court filing marked one of the Justice Department’s bluntest statements to date of its view of the Capitol breach, in which members of a mob supporting President Donald Trump stormed barricades, assaulted nearly 140 police officers, and forced the evacuation of a joint session of Congress meeting to confirm the results of the 2020 election.

josiah colt rioter getty

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who dangled from Senate balcony pleads guilty in Capitol riots, will cooperate against others, Spencer S. Hsu, July 16, 2021 (print ed.). An Idaho man photographed (above via Getty images) hanging from the Senate balcony and sitting in the presiding officer’s chair in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony obstruction of Congress, admitting to joining a group of people who came to Washington with firearms, knives and body armor to support President Donald Trump.

Josiah B. Colt, 34, became the latest defendant to agree to cooperate in the breach investigation, seeking to pare down a possible recommended five-year prison sentence.

Though Colt is not accused of being part of a larger militia-like group, he admitted in plea papers to joining at least two men from Nevada and Tennessee who arranged travel, raised funds, bought paramilitary gear and recorded themselves before breaking into the building and rushing to the Senate chamber just evacuated by lawmakers.

“My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6,” one of the others, alleged QAnon follower Ronald Sandlin, posted on Facebook on Jan. 4, according to plea papers. The post included a picture of Colt in a bed holding a handgun, and used a term taken up by fringe groups referring to civil war, Colt acknowledged in plea papers.

In a group video recorded before the riot, Sandlin “urge[d] other patriots” watching to “take the Capitol” and said “there is going to be violence,” according to plea papers.

“We are going to be there [the Capitol] back by one o’clock when it is action time it is game time,” Sandlin added, according to plea documents. That hour, prosecutors said, was the time Congress convened to certify the 2020 presidential election results and the moment members of the pro-Trump mob began confronting police and charging barricades outside the building.

In a plea hearing, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Washington read from Colt’s signed statement of facts and plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to drop three misdemeanor charges in exchange for his full cooperation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t let the hysteria get to you, Bill Palmer, right, July 16, 2021.Yesterday we learned from the Guardian that the Kremlin really was holding blackmail material against Donald Trump all bill palmeralong, meaning Trump really was a Russian puppet all along. Yesterday we also learned from Michael Wolff’s book that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, viewed Trump in terms of Adolf Hitler.

This is a lot to take in. This comes after weeks of increasingly ugly revelations about how Trump and his co-conspirators criminally meddled in the 2020 election results. As the floodgates of inside information continue to open, we’ll no doubt see even uglier bombshells about how Trump was abusing his power.

It’s now more important than ever to remember that all of these crimes and atrocities took place while Trump was still in office. None of these things are new; they’re just newly reported. None of them are happening right now; we’re just learning about them right now.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s even more crucial to remember that Trump is no longer in power. It’s easy to read all of these increasingly ugly revelations and fall victim to the kind of hysteria that leads you to unconsciously convince yourself that he’s still in power and he’s still doing these things as we speak.

The reality is that Trump has been ousted from office. He’s been ousted from social media. He has no remaining voice. He’s now the metaphorical equivalent of a guy living in his mom’s basement. He’s desperate to get back into power, but he has no idea how to even approach that notion. In his rare public appearances, he appears to have lost a step (or two or three) in the cognitive department. He’s under active criminal investigation in three different states, two of which have gone to grand jury, one of which has begun issuing indictments. There’s a reason so much dirt is now coming out about Trump’s time in office. He’s weak, vulnerable, and of little remaining value to those around him; the people leaking these stories are looking to finish him off.

As the headlines about Trump’s time in office continue to grow uglier, and it becomes even more clear how maniacally out of control he was while serving as President, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you need to cower to him. He’s not in power anymore. There’s nothing he can do to you right now.

If these new headlines about Donald Trump are going to motivate you, let it motivate you to work even harder to make sure that he has no future. Help spread the word about his criminal scandals and criminal prosecution. Help make sure he remains on track for prison before we even get to 2024. And make sure his favorability rating remains too deep in the toilet for him to be remotely viable for any future election anyway. At this point Trump should be scared of you, not the other way around.

djt as chosen oneWayne Madsen Report, The aspirant American führer: A Bill of Rights carve out for Nazism needed, Wayne Madsen, left, July 16, 2021. We should all appreciate the collegiate liberal arts undergraduate and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallpost-graduate educations of two generals, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, and retired Marine Corps General John Kelly.

Thanks to them, the public is now aware of something this editor always had a gut feeling about: that Donald Trump is a Nazi admirer of Adolf Hitler and that his Ku Klux Klan-member wayne madsen cafe vaterlandfather, Fred Trump (shown below at left with his son), was an unrepentant pro-Nazi member of the German-American Bund in the 1930s and, very likely, a German spy used by the Gestapo and Abwehr to spy on American and Canadian troop transports departing from U.S. ports.

According to Carol Leonnig's and Phil Rucker's just-released book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year -- one of several new books that expose Donald Trump's plans to establish a far-right dictatorship with him as the dictator -- Trump said, pointing to a framed photograph of his father in the Oval Office, "I know the fucking krauts . . . I was raised by the biggest kraut of them all."

djt fred trump daily bast photo illustationIt was the naked Nazism displayed by father and son Trump that inspired me to write my first novel, Café Vaterland, an alternate history of the United States had Hitler obtained a nuclear weapon and intercontinental delivery missile before the United States. The book's cover photo [left] depicts a meeting of Bund leaders with Hitler in Berlin in 1936. Based on contemporaneous photos of Fred Trump, I believe that it is he who is standing behind Bund führer Fritz Kuhn, farthest right].

The Bill of Rights does not confer the freedom to murder, commit arson, riot, or commit coups. Nor should it enable Nazis like Trump and his supporters to have any rights to engage in hate fests and violent speech.

 washington post logoWashington Post, A man in a gladiator costume filmed the Jan. 6 mob for his mother, feds say: ‘Here comes the riot police, Mom,’ Katie Shepherd, July 16, 2021. When Nathan Wayne Entrekin joined a crowd of rioters that pushed its way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he donned a Roman gladiator costume over jean shorts and a T-shirt despite the winter chill, federal investigators say. As the mob chanted, Entrekin allegedly filmed videos on his cellphone, narrating the action for his mother, who was back in Arizona.

“Wow, Mom. I wish you were here with me,” Entrekin said in one video, according to a criminal complaint. “It’s really exciting in here. It’s joyful and it’s sad at the same time. We can’t let Biden … be our president. We can’t … there’s no way.”

Federal prosecutors on Thursday arrested Entrekin, of Cottonwood, Ariz., for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, during which he allegedly defied police orders, entered the U.S. Capitol and witnessed people looting offices. During an interview, Entrekin told investigators that “the calls of former president Donald Trump inspired him to attend the rally,” the complaint states.

He faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His next court appearance has not yet been set, according to court records.

Entrekin joins more than 500 people charged by federal prosecutors for participating in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including members of several far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Many of those arrested recorded their actions and later posted the videos and photos to social media or shared them with family and friends. Several others also wore recognizable costumes during the riot. 

Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press).Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press).

Daytona Beach News-Journal, Volusia County Proud Boys leader threatened at Seminole County Jail, attorney says, Frank Fernandez, July 16, 2021 (print ed.). A Volusia County Proud Boys leader being held in the Seminole County Jail has been threatened by inmates and will likely be threatened again as they seek to test him, his attorney said during a federal hearing on Thursday.

Joseph R. Biggs, 37, was a leader among the Proud Boys in planning “an organized and violent attack” upon the country’s democracy and its Capitol building on Jan. 6, according to federal prosecutors.

And word that Biggs is locked up in a subsection of the Seminole County Jail, which holds about 150 federal inmates in other cases, has been getting around, according to J. Daniel Hull, who represents Biggs.

“I do worry about somebody wanting to test Joe Biggs' mettle,” Hull said. “I think that’s going to be coming up more and more.”

Biggs, whose home is in Volusia County near Ormond Beach, has been held at the Seminole County Jail since he turned himself in to U.S. Marshals on April 22.

joe biggs mugHull said that Biggs, right, is also having problems with an old injury for which he previously received surgery. Hull said on Thursday that he does not want Biggs moved to a detention facility in Washington, D.C.

Biggs and three other Proud Boys have been indicted together on six counts: conspiracy; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

The Proud Boys is a far-right nationalist organization that describes itself as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

The Proud Boys strongly supported former president Donald Trump. In recent years, the group has increasingly confronted protesters on the left, including antifa, in places like Portland, sometimes leading to street fights.

Biggs’ case has been closely tied to Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean (shown above), another Proud Boys leader who is being held in Washington state. Nordean’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him. Biggs’ attorney joined that motion, which hasn't yet been heard by a judge.

July 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Reviews: Two Accounts of Donald Trump’s Final Year in Office, One More Vivid and Apt Than the Other, Dwight Garner, July 15, 2021. Two new books about the final year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency are entering the cultural bloodstream. The first, Landslide,”by the gadfly journalist Michael Wolff, is the one to leap upon, even though the second, I Alone Can Fix It, from the Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, is vastly more earnest and diligent, to a fault.

michael wolff landslideThis is Wolff’s third book about Trump in as many years. It’s Leonnig and Rucker’s second, after the excellent A Very Stable Genius, which appeared in early 2020. This one, alas, reads like 300 daily newspaper articles taped together so that they resemble an inky Kerouacian scroll. Each article longs to jump to Page A28 on a different scroll, in another room.

Perhaps it’s not the authors’ fault that I Alone Can Fix It is grueling. It may be that a reader, having survived Covid-19, “stop the steal” and the bear-spray wielders, and feeling carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 covera certain amount of relief — relief, John Lanchester has said, is the most powerful emotion — is uneager to rummage so soon through a dense, just-the-facts scrapbook of a dismal year.

A primary and not insignificant achievement in I Alone Can Fix It, however, is its bravura introduction of a new American hero, a man who has heretofore not received a great deal of attention: Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A better title for this book might have been “Mr. Milley Goes to Washington.”

There tend not to be a lot of people to root for in Trump books. Reading them is like watching WWE fights in which all the wrestlers are heels, smashing each other with folding chairs. Milley provides Leonnig and Rucker not just with an adult in the room, but a human being with a command of facts, a long view of history, a strong jaw and a moral center.

Milley (shown at right in uniform in a previous post as Army chief of staff) explains the Constitution to Trump. He delivers cinematic, Eisenhower-worthy monologues, such as: “Everything’s going to be OK. We’re going to have a peaceful transfer of power. We’re going to land this plane safely. This is America.” In one meeting he tells the egregious Stephen Miller to “shut the [expletive] up.”

mark milley army chief of staffWe were, Milley suggests, closer than we knew to the precipice. A crucial moment in this book details the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, when the stitching was really coming off the ball. Milley told aides he feared a coup, and, Leonnig and Rucker write, “saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler’s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior.” Milley told aides: “This is a Reichstag moment.”

About the Proud Boys and their ilk, he tells military and law enforcement leaders: “These are the same people we fought in World War II.”

There’s a vast amount more in I Alone Can Fix It. It’s an almost day-by-day accounting of Trump’s last year in office, from the fumbled Covid response to the second impeachment to Rudy Giuliani’s public self-immolations. There are apocalyptic scenes of Trump dressing down and humiliating those around him, including former Attorney General William P. Barr.

A final scene worth mentioning occurred during the siege on January 6. The congresswoman Liz Cheney called Milley the following day to check in. She described being with the Trump dead-ender Representative Jim Jordan during the attack on the Capitol, and how he said to her, “We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.” Cheney responded, the authors write, by slapping his hand away and telling him, “Get away from me. You [expletive] did this.”

Wolff has scenes Leonnig and Rucker don’t. These include election night details, such as the freak-out in Trump world when Fox News called Arizona early for Biden. Wolff, who wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes the frantic phone calls that flew back and forth before the word came down from the old Dirty Digger himself: “[Expletive] him.”

In this accounting, Trump belittles his followers. “Trump often expressed puzzlement over who these people were,” Wolff writes, “their low-rent ‘trailer camp’ bearing and their ‘get-ups,’ once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ‘the great unwashed.’”

djt validimir putin

Palmer Report, Opinion: Who’s leaking these new Trump-Russia details? TR Kenneth, July 15, 2021. Apparently, Putin can’t plug up his leaks because Trump’s been outed now as the Russian asset we’ve all known him to be. The documents confirming this were highly classified and direct from the Kremlin, as newly reported by the Guardian.

Right now, there’s lots of speculation as to why this is coming out. Is it more disinformation intentionally coming from Russia? Is it something the US has had and is finally releasing?

bill palmer report logo headerIf the Kremlin is “leaking” the documents to damage Trump, then Putin is signaling their relationship is done and Trump’s on his own. This could be significant, given Biden’s recent conversation with Putin about not interfering with the US.

If the US Intel community is outing the document, it could also signal Trump is cooked and should be investigated for treason. If the document is faked, then we can ride the speculation train all the way up to the mob and Semion Mogilevich.

ny times logoNew York Times, Priscilla McMillan, Who Knew Both Kennedy and Oswald, Dies at 92, Sam Roberts, Updated July 15, 2021. A Cold War scholar, she met Lee Harvey Oswald four years before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and later wrote “Marina and Lee,” a book about him and his Russian wife.

Priscilla Johnson McMillan, believed to be the only person to have conversed extensively with both John F. Kennedy and his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, died on July 7 at her home in Cambridge, priscilla johnson mcmillan me lee resized IMG 8031Mass. She was 92.

Her niece Holly-Katharine Johnson confirmed the death. She said Ms. McMillan had been in hospice care since injuring her spine in a fall several months ago.

Like nearly everyone, Ms. McMillan was shocked on Nov. 22, 1963, by reports that President Kennedy had been murdered. But walking through Harvard Square when she heard that the president — who was also her former boss — had been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, she was one of a very few who had another thought as well.

“My God,” she told a friend. “I know that boy.”

Several other people had briefly encountered both men, but Ms. McMillan had conferred with both. She had dealt with Kennedy in Washington as an adviser on Indochina in 1953, when he was a senator. And as a journalist, she had interviewed Mr. Oswald, a 20-year-old disillusioned Marine veteran, in Moscow in 1959 about why he was defecting to the Soviet Union.

She would later spend seven months interviewing Mr. Oswald’s Russian-born widow, Marina, and 13 years researching and writing a book, “Marina and Lee: The Tormented Love and Fatal Obsession Behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassination of John F. Kennedy,” which was published in 1977.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note:  The death on July 7 of author and longtime Harvard University fellow Priscilla Johnson McMillan has prompted two starkly different reactions summarized below, both linked to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and media coverage then and now. Those different views are summarized below.

For mainstream publications, such as the Washington Post in its McMillan obituary excerpted below, she provided go-to expertise that the 1964 Warren Commission was correct in concluding that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole killer of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and that Oswald had no co-conspirators or other accomplices.

For critics of the Warren Report, she was a cog in the U.S. Cold War intelligence apparatus that has consistently sought to misinform the public about the Oswalds and the Kennedy assassination, in part to obscure the true reasons for the murder and responsibility for the action and cover-up  continuing to the present.

The Justice Integrity Project will be publishing an in-depth analysis soon.

July 12

Variety, ‘JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass’ Review: Oliver Stone Doubles Down on the Mother of All Conspiracy Theories,‘ Owen Gleiberman, July 12, 2021. The director has made a kind of documentary companion-piece sequel to 'JFK,' in which he takes a just-the-facts-ma'am approach that never belies the grandiosity of his conspiracy theories.'

“JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass” lives up to its title. Directed by Oliver Stone, it’s a kind of documentary companion-piece sequel to “JFK,” and yes, it takes you through the looking glass again.

There are moments when it gives you that heady, tingling, oh-my-God-I-have-seen-the-truth-that-was-hidden! sensation of revelatory immersion, the kind that hits you when you’re confronted with an autopsy photo in which a wound is said to have mysteriously disappeared, or when you’re staring at a declassified page from the Warren Commission Report in which Gerald Ford, with a few penciled-in words, literally shifts by six inches the place where the first bullet entered JFK. At moments like that, you feel the frisson of the junkie-hit injections that conspiracy theory is built upon. They’re the moments you can feel yourself slipping through the looking glass, or down the rabbit hole, or wherever else it is that you feel more alive than you did the moment before, because you’ve now glimpsed where The Forbidden Truth resides.

Does “JFK Revisited” reveal a smoking gun? No, it doesn’t. It says that Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle wasn’t a smoking gun — and claims that he wasn’t even in the Texas School Book Depository. (Chew on that one for a while.) Yet the film, in another way, presents almost every moment in it as a smoking gun. In the 30 years since “JFK” was released, Stone has never let go of the belief that there’s a hidden history of things, one that the official history is designed to cover up. If anything, he’s only expanded that belief (it’s the premise of his fascinating 12-part documentary “The Untold History of the United States,” released on Showtime in 2012).

We used to call it “conspiracy theory,” and that’s still a good phrase for it, but to the increasingly vast number of Americans who now live inside it, it is neither conspiracy nor theory; it is simply reality. In “Through the Looking Glass,” Stone, after presenting two hours’ worth of evidence about the JFK assassination, refers to what he has shown us as “conspiracy fact,” as if he had finally blown the hinges off the Oswald lone-gunman scenario. His words are meant to be a rebuke to all those who have written him off over the years as a brilliant but frothing information-age political fantasist.

The JFK assassination launched the Age of Conspiracy, and many conspiracies followed — Paul is Dead, the fake moon landing, the cover-up of alien abductions, the murder of Princess Diana, 9/11 as inside job. That a good portion of the American public now thinks Joe Biden stole the election, and that QAnon is something other than organized media psychosis, shows you just how far through the looking glass we’ve gone.

But in the continuum of conspiracy theory that has escalated for 60 years, there’s no doubt that “JFK,” Stone’s blacks-ops puzzle of a true-life political thriller, gave a seismic boost of legitimacy to the metaphysic of conspiracy theory. Released in 1991, the film had an ominous dazzle. It sucked you into the vortex and was taken as deadly seriously as it deserved to be. It reopened the case in the American imagination, to the point that Congress, in 1992, passed the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, declassifying half a million documents that had emerged from the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1976. Those documents were supposed to have remained sealed until 2029, but “JFK” undid that deadline. And “Through the Looking Glass” is built on information contained in them. In other words, it’s based on the U.S. government’s own record of the JFK assassination, and Stone’s interpretation of it.

After “JFK,” I came back through the looking glass myself. Up until then, I’d always believed that there was some kind of conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, and that belief was only heightened by the poetic power of “JFK.” But as I was moved to consume more about the assassination than I ever had before, and to confront new evidence and analysis like the kind presented in Gerald Posner’s 1993 book “Case Closed” or Robert Stone’s mind-opening 2007 documentary “Oswald’s Ghost,” I began to swing back to the lone-gunman version of events, and to see it, in an odd way, as the ultimate looking-glass scenario: the one that now completely challenged our sense of reality. (How could one small sick man like Lee Harvey Oswald commit an act so horrifically monumental? That’s the real vortex.)

July 11 

Editor's Note: The death on July 7 of author and longtime Harvard University fellow Priscilla Johnson McMillan has prompted two starkly different reactions summarized below, both linked to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and media coverage then and now. Those different views are summarized below.

For mainstream publications, such as the Washington Post in its McMillan obituary excerpted below, she provided go-to expertise that the 1964 Warren Commission was correct in concluding that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole killer of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and that Oswald had no co-conspirators or other accomplices.

priscilla johnson mcmillan me lee resized IMG 8031McMillan, known by her maiden name Priscilla Johnson at the time, had been extensively interviewed by the Warren Commission staff in 1964, based in part on her rare if not unique vantage point of having known Kennedy as one his senate staffers in the early 1950s and then interviewing Oswald in Moscow in 1959 after he claimed he wanted to defect from the United States.

Holder of a master’s degree from Harvard University in Soviet studies and later a translator working for the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Johnson McMillan's reputation as an expert on the Oswalds and the assassination was enhanced by her exclusive research access to Oswald’s widow Marina Oswald beginning in 1964, resulting in a 1977 biography, Marina and Lee, right, published by the prestigious Harper & Row. It had previously published her translation of letters by Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

For many years, she was an Associate at the Russian Research Center at Harvard — and was published in such prestigious periodicals as the New York Times and Harper’s.

For critics of the Warren Report such as those excerpted below, she was a cog in the U.S. Cold War intelligence apparatus that has consistently sought to misinform the public about the Oswalds and the Kennedy assassination, in part to obscure the true reasons for the murder and responsibility for the action and cover-up  continuing to the present.

In that view, articulated below by encyclopedia creator John Simkin and attorney Bill Simpich, each authors of JFK-related books, many of McMillan’s supposed breakthrough career achievements were orchestrated in advance to position her as an “expert” and / or were provided to her as rewards for her continued cooperation in advancing false history.

These critics draw for their conclusions on the vast literature about the assassination that for decades has persuaded at least sixty percent of the American public and sometimes even higher percentages, not to believe the Warren Report's main findings, according to public opinion polls. An estimated three thousand books have been published in whole or part about the assassination, plus some five million declassified U.S. documents, according to Washington attorney James Lesar, who along with his late partner Bernard “Bud” Fensterwald obtained many of those documents via Freedom of Information Act litigation and helped various archive centers make them available. 

Among key disclosures: Kennedy had forced the resignations of the three top CIA leaders, including pioneering and well-connected Director Allen Dulles, as well as the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff because of Kennedy's fury at their duplicitious and in his view war-mongering policies seeking a U.S. invasion of Cuba without presidential approval, among other goals. Dulles would, of course, not only go on to join the seven-member Warren Commission but would be its most influential member because of his presumed expertise and the fact that he did not hold a fulltime job elsewhere, as did U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, for whom the commission was named but who, like other commissioners, seldom had time to hear witnesses talking primarily to staff.

One shocking disclosure from declassified documents is the transcript of a 1964 super-secret closed session of commissioners and their chief counsel. During it, Dulles persuaded the others to keep secret forever what he described as unfounded reports from Dallas authorities that Oswald had been working as a covert government asset.

Much more information about that is now available: Oswald, a U.S. Marine who had worked as a radar technician in Japan on the ultra-secret 1950s U-2 spy flights over China and the Soviet Union, had travelled in 1959 to the Soviet Union in what some regard as, in effect, a secret assignment from the U.S. government to pretend to defect and thereby infiltrate the enemy. Adding credence to such an interpretation were his many interactions with anti-communist FBI and military upon his return to the United States in 1962, including his remarkable six months of work on classified U.S. intelligence materials for the contractor Jaggers-Chiles-Stovall during the height of near-nuclear war against the Soviet Union during the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis that year. 

That was part of a pattern whereby Oswald, notorious in the public view as a supposed Marxist and purported defector, was hired upon his return to the United States by entities well-known for their fierce anti-lee harvey oswald uniformcommunism. These 1960s Oswald employers included the Reilly Coffee Company in New Orleans and the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. The latter business was part of the defense contracting empire of D.H. Byrd, owner of the LTV warplane manufacturing company. Byrd, a close friend of then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, had founded the Civil Air Patrol, which during the 1950s helped guide patriotic teenagers into military careers. Oswald had been a Civil Air Patrol member in New Orleans. The media seldom show Oswald in his Civil Air Patrol or Marine uniforms, as at right, and instead typically portray him as in mug shots or other crime-linked photos looking arrogant, haggard or otherwise unpleasant.

Among critics of the Warren Commission, many of whom like Simkin and Simpich share their insights on a near-daily confidential, invitation-only email exchange that includes experts who are well-known pro-Commission advocates, it remains an open and divisive question whether Oswald played a role in assassination operations orchestrated by others or was a complete patsy who never fired a shot.

Whatever the case on that, his widow's role also has come under great scrutiny, including her unsuccessful efforts to recant her original testimony and cooperation with McMillan. Author Dick Russell describes in his On the Trail of the JFK Assassins (Skyhorse, 2008) how she sought to correct the record in the early 1990s, saying that she had been frightened into cooperating in a "frame-up" of her husband, who she described as innocent and as having "loved President Kennedy."

Russell's account of her call to him included the following.

"I am completely helpless," she said, continuing, "It is not important to me who did the shooting but the reasons behind it and the cover-up. This is not good for the nation. America is dying because this was allowed to happen thirty years ago. I cannot understand the apathy."

dickrussellHer call to Russell, left, had come because he had authored The Man Who Knew Too Much (Carroll & Graf, 1992), which alleges that deep cover intelligence agent Richard Case Nagell had been assigned to kill Oswald in 1963 but chose instead to avoid such a task in Dallas by creating a disturbance in El Paso so that he would be arrested and held there in the fall of 1963. Nagell found himself imprisoned instead for years in maximum security conditions for reasons inexplicable to his actual conduct in waving a gun at a bank and then immediately cooperating in his arrest. Nagell died in suspicious circumstances in 1995 once he cooperated with Russell in limited fashion as investigative interest revived in the assassination following Oliver Stone's blockbuster film JFK

Russell arranged for Marina Oswald to fly from Dallas to Boston to meet privately with eminent lawyers and researchers, who included Jim Lesar and his colleague Daniel Alcorn, founders and still leaders of the Assassination Archives Research Center in Washingon, D.C. 

But Russell reported in his book a chapter-length account of how these sympathetic authors and legal experts advised after hearing her out that her options were so limited as to be almost impossible. She concluded that her search for truth and justice would be without legal remedy even if she argued that she, a single mother of two young children in a foreign land, had been intimidated into cooperating in a false narrative. 

"Some of the finest legal minds in the country had come together, with the widow of the accused assassin" Russell wrote, "to find some way -- any way -- to reopen the case. Thirty years after the fact, it seemed pretty hopeless, short of someone's deathbed confession."  

Yet many critics still regard it as their civic obligation to challenge the official story.

They argue that certain major academic institutions, publishers and news outlets damage their credibility by touting those like McMillan almost uncritically and without noting their demonstrable connections to an intelligence sector that continues to thwart investigations of Kennedy's death despite such measures as the JFK Records Act passed three decades ago requiring full release of assassination records. The Biden Administration is scheduled to release a final tranche of the most sensitive documents this fall, unless release is again postponed as much of it was four years ago by the Trump Administration. 

You can judge the facts for yourself based on the material below.

-- Andrew Kreig

Justice Integrity Project Editor

Author, attorney and publisher of Oswald: Russian Episode by Ernst Titovets, M.D., Ph.D. (Eagle View Books, 2021). The 500-page illustrated memoir by Oswald's English-speaking close friend in the Soviet Union, a guest at the wedding of Lee and Marina Oswald and friend during their courtship, was first published privately in 2010. Dr. Titovets, who is granting interviews on the book and who is still publishing peer-reviewed research in his field of brain science, argues that the Oswald he knew was an idealist who never would have killed anyone, much less Kennedy, a leader he admired. 

 

lee harvey oswald minsk radio factory friends no glasses

Lee Harvey Oswald, an accused but never convicted assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is shown at front center in an undated 1960 photo with fellow workers in a radio factory in Minsk, in the Soviet Union. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, historian who knew both JFK and Oswald, dies at 92, Harrison Smith, July 10 (print ed.). Just out of graduate school in 1953, Priscilla Johnson McMillan joined the Senate staff of John F. Kennedy, then a newly elected Democrat from Massachusetts. He was “mesmerizing,” she later said; while she worked only briefly on Capitol Hill, she visited him in the hospital when he underwent spinal surgeries, and posed as one of his sisters to get past a line of nurses and bring newspapers to his bedside.

Mrs. McMillan, who was then known as Priscilla Johnson, later went into journalism and moved to Moscow, where she drew on her fluency in Russian to file stories for the North American Newspaper Alliance. In November 1959, a friend at the U.S. Embassy mentioned that “a boy named Oswald” was in town trying to defect. He was staying at her hotel, the Metropol, where she spent five hours interviewing him over tea.

priscilla johnson mcmillan recentThe young man seemed excited, nervous, a little frightened. He was 20, a former Marine with a light Southern accent, and wanted to talk about Marxist economics and complain about the U.S. Embassy, which he said had tried to dissuade him from renouncing his citizenship. “I want to give people in the United States something to think about,” he said.

Four years later, on Nov. 22, 1963, Mrs. McMillan was suddenly jolted back to their conversation, not long after learning that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. Walking through Harvard Square, near the university where she was a visiting scholar, a friend told her that authorities had arrested the shooter. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald.

“My God,” Mrs. McMillan recalled saying. “I know that boy.”

Indeed, she was one of the only people who knew both Kennedy and his killer, who died two days later after being shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas police headquarters. Their deaths launched her on a 14-year odyssey, as she tried to find out why the quiet young man she met in Moscow had decided to shoot the president.

Mrs. McMillan persuaded Oswald’s Soviet-born widow, Marina, to sit for an exclusive book interview in exchange for a share of the royalties. They wound up speaking for nearly seven months, providing Mrs. McMillan with the core of Marina and Lee (1977), a critically acclaimed account of the Kennedy assassination, told through the lens of Oswald and his wife.

In a review for the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Powers wrote that Mrs. McMillan’s book “achieves with art what the Warren Commission failed to do with its report,” offering a persuasive case that Oswald acted alone as the assassin.

priscilla johnson mcmillan me lee resized IMG 8031“It is far better than any book about Kennedy,” he added, “with the unsettling result that the assassination is experienced from the wrong end. . . . If you can find the heart to read it, you may finally begin to forget the phantom gunmen on the grassy knoll.”

Mrs. McMillan, who went on to an accomplished career as a historian of the Cold War and U.S. nuclear weapons policy, was 92 when she died July 7 at her home in Cambridge, Mass. Her health had declined after a fall about eight weeks ago, said her niece and biographer, Holly-Katharine Johnson.

While writing her Oswald book, Mrs. McMillan translated Twenty Letters to a Friend, a 1967 memoir by Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, who had defected to the United States earlier that year. She later spent more than two decades researching and writing The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005), about the father of the atomic bomb, whose career unraveled after he was accused of being a Soviet spy during the McCarthy era.

But she remained best known for her book on Oswald. His widow, who remarried and went by Marina Oswald Porter, described him as a fame-obsessed liar with a short temper and violent mood swings. “He was a lonely person,” she told Mrs. McMillan. “He trusted no one. He was too sick. It was the fantasy of a sick person, to get attention only for himself.”

By the time Mrs. McMillan published her book, conspiracy theories had proliferated about the killing. There seemed to be little appetite for her relatively straightforward account of a wayward, self-described Marxist; sales were modest, although Marina and Lee was reissued in 2013.

“The argument over Kennedy was a kind of national madness for decades — but that is largely over now, and I would argue that Priscilla’s book stands firm as balanced and persuasive,” Powers wrote in an email. Mrs. McMillan’s interviews with Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, he added, formed a key part of the historical record.

“Imagine that some Roman had done the same with Brutus before the assassination of Julius Caesar, and then followed it with a similar history of the countdown to the killing — if you wanted to understand the politics and the life of Rome in those years, that is where you would start.”

Priscilla Mary Post Johnson was born in Glen Cove, N.Y., on July 19, 1928, and raised in nearby Locust Valley, on the North Shore of Long Island. Her father was a financier who inherited a textile company, and her mother was a homemaker.

After graduating from the private Brearley School in Manhattan, she studied Russian at Bryn Mawr College, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1950. Three years later, she earned a master’s in Russian studies from Radcliffe College, now part of Harvard.

Mrs. McMillan translated Russian newspaper articles before traveling to the Soviet Union for the first time, in 1955, paying her way by working as a translator for the New York Time. In Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, she palled around with newspaper columnist Leonard Lyons and novelist Truman Capote, who recounted some of their experiences in a 1956 nonfiction book, The Muses Are Heard.

In 1966, she married George McMillan, an author and journalism instructor. They later divorced. She had no immediate survivors but had a vast “chosen family,” often letting near-strangers and mutual friends stay at her home in Cambridge, where she was an associate at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

“More than anyone I’ve ever met, she created something like a 19th-century European salon at her home,” said Steven Aftergood, the director of the Government Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “You’d never know who you’d meet — government officials, academics, writers, artists. It was a kind of intellectual chemistry experiment.”

In recent years, Marina Oswald insisted that her husband was actually innocent, and blamed the Mafia and CIA for Kennedy’s killing. Mrs. McMillan remained convinced that Oswald acted alone, telling the Atlantic that “Marina’s change of views may stem from her daughters’ reluctance to accept their father as the assassin.”

She had long believed that the assassination would prompt conspiracy theories, in part for psychological reasons. “The killing of a President, or a king or father, is the hardest of all crimes for men to deal with,” she wrote in a 1975 Washington Post essay. “As Freud pointed out, it is this crime that stirs the deepest guilt and anxiety. . . . No matter what steps are taken, what investigation may be authorized or what autopsy material made public, I suspect that the doubts about President Kennedy’s murder are going to be with us forever.”

Priscilla Johnson (later McMillan) is shown at left with Marina Oswald, widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, in a 1964 photo in Santa Fe, New Mexico. McMillan had met her husband in the Soviet Union and later authored a book, Marina and Lee, published by Harper & Row in 1977.

Priscilla Johnson (later McMillan) is shown at left with Marina Oswald, right, widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, in a 1964 photo in Santa Fe, New Mexico. McMillan had met her husband Lee Oswald in the Soviet Union in 1959 and later authored a book, "Marina and Lee," published by Harper & Row in 1977.

Spartacus Educational, Encyclopedia: Priscilla Johnson McMillan, John Simkin (The UK-based researcher, right, created the Spartacus Educational online encyclopedia and authored the book john simkinAssassination of John F. Kennedy, shown below at left), updated July 10, 2021. The author of Marina and Lee (1977) has died after a fall at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts (7 July, 2021).

In July 1964 Johnson moved to Texas and befriended Marina Oswald, and the two spent considerable time together. In November 1964, Johnson signed a contract with Harper & Row for a book to be published about the Oswalds. The book was expected to be published in 1965. However, Marina and Lee did not appear until 1977. In the book, she argued that Oswald had assassinated the president and had acted alone.

In an interview published 36 years later, she said: "I'm just as sure now as I was then that he did it, and also that he couldn't have done it with anybody else. He wasn't somebody who, in his life, had ever done anything with anybody else."

john simkin coverIn the article that appears in Wikipedia, nothing is said about her CIA background. This has been revealed in recent years by declassified CIA files. While studying Russian literature at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, she became a member of the United World Federalists, an organization run by Cord Meyer. After graduating with a master's degree in 1952 she applied to join the CIA.

According to CIA files she was rejected because some of her associates would require more investigation. The document was signed by Cord Meyer, below right, who was now chief of CIA Investigations and Operational Support. On 17th March 1953, W. A. Osborne, sent a memo to Sheffield Edwards, head of CIA security, that after checking out cord meyerJohnson's associates he "recommended approval." However, on 23rd March he sent another memo saying that "in light of her activities in the United World Federalists" he now "recommended that she be disapproved".

In 1953, Johnson went to work for Senator John F. Kennedy. (It is claimed that Johnson was the only person who knew both JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald). The following year she worked as a translator for the Digest of Soviet Press. In 1955, Johnson moved to the Soviet Union where she worked as a translator for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. This time, the CIA made no objection to Johnson having access to classified information.

Priscilla Johnson returned to the United States in April 1957. The CIA continued to take an interest in Johnson. In a CIA document dated 23rd August 1957, it stated that during the Second World War she was "utilized by OSO (Office of Special Operations) in 1943 and 1944". As she was only 15 at the time, this is clearly inaccurate. John M. Newman has speculated that Johnson was being given a cover story of someone who had a "good security record".

In February 1958, Johnson travelled to Cairo. The following month she was in Paris. According to her own testimony she worked for "someone I knew either for Radio Liberty or the Congress for Cultural Freedom." While in France she applied to the USSR consulate to go to the Soviet Union. On 6th May 1958, the Chief of CI/OA submitted a request for operational approval on Johnson. The operation for which she was being considered is still classified.

Johnson arrived in Moscow for the third time on 4th July 1958. She did not stay for long and returned to the United States. Soon afterwards she obtained employment as a reporter for the North American News Alliance (NANA). Johnson arrived back in Moscow soon after Arline Mosby had interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald (13th November 1959).

On her arrival Johnson checked into the same hotel as Osward. The following day, she visited the American Embassy to pick up her mail (16th November 1959). According to Johnson, John McVickar approached her and told her that "there's a guy in your hotel who wants to defect, and he won't talk to any of us here". She later told the Warren Commission: "John McVickar said she was refusing to talk to journalists. So I thought that it might be an exclusive, for one thing, and he was right in my hotel, for another." As Johnson was leaving the American Embassy McVickar told her "to remember she was an American."

lee harvey oswald minskLee Harvey Oswald, shown at left in a photo from that period, agreed to be interviewed by Priscilla Johnson. She later testified that they talked from between nine until one or two in the morning. Oswald told her: "Once having been assured by the Russians that I would not have to return to the United States, come what may, I assumed it would be safe for me to give my side of the story."

Johnson's article appeared in the Washington Evening Star. Surprisingly, the article did not include Oswald's threat to reveal radar secrets. Nor was it mentioned in any other article or book published by Johnson on Oswald. However, under oath before the Warren Commission, she admitted that Oswald had told her that "he hoped his experience as a radar operator would make him more desirable to them (the Soviets)".

cia logoOn 11th December 1962, a CIA memo written by Donald Jameson (declassified in August 1993) reported: "I think that Miss Johnson can be encouraged to write pretty much the articles we want. It will require a little more contact and discussion, but I think she could come around... Basically, if approached with sympathy in the cause she considers most vital, I believe she would be interested in helping us in many ways. It would be important to avoid making her think that she was being used as a propaganda tool and expected to write what she is told."

After the assassination of JFK Johnson wrote an article for the Boston Globe where she described Lee Harvey Oswald as a classic example of an "embittered psychological loner". She added: "I soon came to feel that this boy was of the stuff of which fanatics are made."

Another CIA document dated dated 5th February 1964, reports on a 11-hour meeting with Johnson. The main objective of the meeting was to debrief Johnson "on her flaps with the Soviets when she was in the USSR, notably at the time of her last exit." She was also asked if she "would be interested in writing articles for Soviet publications." Gary Coit, the CIA officer who conducted the interview with Johnson reported that "no effort was made to attempt to force the issue of a debriefing on her contacts". However, Coit told her he would "probably be back to see her from time to time to see what she knows about specific persons whose names might come up, and she at least nodded assent to this."

Priscilla Johnson’s Wikipedia article points out she married George McMillan in 1965. He is described as a freelance writer. However, in his obituary in the New York Times in 1985 it states he was also the author of The Making of an Assassin (1976), a book that claims that James Earl Ray worked alone in the killing of Martin Luther King Jr.

bill simpichBook Excerpt, "The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend," Bill  Simpich, a San Francisco attorney and historian shown at right, provided this perspective via email, on July 10, 2021. "I offer evidence that Priscilla was not only used by the CIA as a 'spotter,' but that they confused the records on her for purposes of cover. Now that she is deceased, more records will emerge. We should stay tuned."

The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend is the back story to the Simpich book State Secret: Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald, published online by the Mary Ferrell Foundation and available for free. Simpich introduces what he calls the back story, or epilogue, this way:

Let's wrap up the story of the twelve who built the Oswald legend -- and see how we can make this story plain in the modern world.

bill simpich state secret 12 who built the legendThis wrap-up will focus on the milieu of the legend makers and Oswald, not on those that planned 11/22. (For my thoughts on that subject, see the Conclusion of State Secret.) Here's my analysis, based on the facts as I see them.

I think these thoughts also offer a path toward historical resolution of the JFK case. This case is not nearly as mysterious as many people like to portray it. The most important thing to do? Take a flinty-eyed look at the people around people like the Paines [Ruth Paine and her husband Michael]. People leading to people like FBI agent Bardwell Odum. 

...

 

Legend Maker #3: Priscilla Johnson

Johnson was presented with a suitable gift for her hard work. When Stalin's daughter defected to the United States in 1967, James Angleton made arrangements for Miss Svetlana Alliloueva to "be the guest of Mr. Stewart Johnson, Locust Valley Farm, Nassau County, New York. Mr. Johnson is a relative of Priscilla Johnson McMillan, who has been commissioned to write a book priscilla johnson mcmillan headshot recentof Mme. Alliloueva's memoirs for Harper & Row publishers..." Mr. Johnson was Priscilla's father.

Years later, Svetlana Alliluyeva said that the book she wrote on her arrival in New York was "a collective creative production...(due to a contract with) a powerful American law firm with close links to the State Department". (Guardian, 11/17/84)

By the mid-1970s, the American people made it clear that they did not believe the official story of the assassination. There was widespread public outrage when the Zapruder film was finally shown on television. Millions of people finally saw Kennedy shot in the forehead, while Oswald was supposedly firing from well behind the president. Congress was forced to form the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

After fourteen years of working on her book, Johnson released Marina and Lee just as the HSCA was starting its review of the work done by the Warren Commission. Priscilla is the only one of the twelve legend makers still alive to this day.

...

Simpich summarized some of his more notable findings about Johnson this way:

Priscilla Mary Post Johnson was identified with a CI/OA (counter-intelligence/operational approval) number in a 1956 CIA application (C-52373) four years after her initial 1952 application.

The response from the Office of Security in 1956 was odd, because it stated that C-52373 was "Priscilla Livingston Johnson", not "Priscilla R", and that "she was apparently born 23 September 1922 in Stockholm, Sweden, rather than 19 July 1928 at Glen Cove, New York."

During the formation of the HSCA (House Select Committee on Assassinations), Johnson wanted to review what was in the records. "Priscilla Johnson McMillan aka Priscilla Mary Post Johnson" submitted a sworn FOIA request to the FBI asking for all records "indicating my employment in your agency". This statement revealed not only her previously unknown relationship with the Bureau, but also that the 1928/Glen Cove data is her authentic birthdate and birthplace. Now we have some reliable data on Johnson that should offer light when studying her path.

When Johnson's 1956 application was withdrawn in 1957, the memo from SR/10 contradicted the 1956 application with the claim that the birthdate for C-52373 was 19 July 1928. A game is being played with Johnson's identity and birthdates, a game that continues to this day. It's probably a holding action to protect Johnson's reputation, because her book Marina and Lee is now a central pillar in the continuing political battle about what happened in Dallas that day. (I would agree with Thomas Powers' assessment in the New York Times Book Review that Marina and Lee is a "miraculous book".)

cord meyer2What we do know is that on April 10, 1958, Cord Meyer, right, sent a cable to Western Europe expressing interest in Johnson, right after Johnson applied for a Soviet visa in Paris. A couple weeks later, a request went out seeking approval for Johnson to become a "REDSKIN traveler and informant", and that "SR/2 (Soviet Russia Division #2) will have primary responsibility of handling agent."

Johnson was supposedly rejected in June 1958 because her "past activity in USS4, insistence return and indefinite plans inside likely draw Sov suspicions". Nonetheless, she decided to return to Moscow and study Soviet law under a fellowship grant from either Columbia or Harvard universities. By 1962, she was being vetted by the notorious anti-communist professor Richard Pipes and the CIA's Office of Security for a position in a "Soviet survey".

cia logoOther memos, one sent by "SR/RED/O'Connell", illustrate that three Priscillas have now emerged: Besides the original Priscilla Mary Post Johnson,, we now also see the names "Priscilla McClure Johnson, Priscilla McCoy" that are not identical with the original. To top it off, if you add in the references to "Priscilla Livingston Johnson" and "Priscilla R. Johnson", there are now five Priscillas competing for space in the same case file.

These five Priscillas are corroborated by the four CI/OA numbers for Priscilla Johnson seen on her "approval work record" form. 

After all this smoke and fog, the American public has no reason to assume that the US government has done anything but confuse everyone about the role of Johnson.

I did find what is described as a "true name dossier" in the Office of Security files that lists Priscilla Johnson with the biographical file number 201-102798. Furthermore, the Office of Legal Counsel made it plain that it had reviewed "documents from Priscilla Johnson McMillan's 201 file (201-102798)." By the 1970s, Priscilla Johnson McMillan was her married name. We can see with our own eyes that a close-out document for the CIA's 201-102798 file describes "Johnson" as a "witting collaborator" in 1975.

Is it any surprise that Johnson responded in an interview with Anthony Summers and his wife Robbyn that "the Johnson in the 1975 document is someone other than herself?"

Under her married name of Priscilla Johnson McMillan, she muddied the waters further by releasing her book Marina and Lee -- after fourteen years of writing and re-writing -- in the midst of the reopened investigation of the JFK case by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978.

This exercise in game-playing will probably continue with the CIA refusing to reveal Johnson's files until after her death. Johnson could easily resolve these questions by releasing her own copies of the files to the public -- and by squarely addressing further questions while she is still alive.

Related commentary about Priscilla Johnson McMillan includes:

Justice Integrity Project, Medical Expert, Oswald's Friend, Debunks Accused JFK Killer’s Portrayal, Andrew Kreig, May 6, 2021. A new book disputes false portrayals of Lee Harvey Oswald, whom officials promptly named in 1963 as the sole assassin of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

ernst titovets new coverOswald: Russian Episode reveals Oswald’s true character and rebuts claims that his personality made him a likely assassin of JFK.

ernst titovets book back cover portrait new“The real Oswald,” concludes the author, Professor Ernst Titovets, M.D., Ph.D., below at right, based on his close friendship with the American six decades ago, “had no reason whatsoever – either political or personal – to murder John F. Kennedy.”

This book culminates the scientist’s painstaking research conducted over many years to reveal the character of Oswald, which is still largely unknown to the general public.

The book, initially privately published, has been updated and is now widely available in Western nations for the first time. This follows publication on May 6 by Eagle View Books, based in Washington, DC. The book launch was timed for continuing interest in both the JFK assassination, as indicated by a continued publication of new books in recent months, as well as ramped up interest in so-called "conspiracy theories."

Wikipedia, as reported by Helen Dudar of the Arizona Republic, "Svetlana's Translator Is Seasoned Student, Reporter of Russian Affairs," May 21, 1967 (citations omitted). In 1967, McMillan translated the memoirs of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter, who had gained much attention that year by defecting to the United States. There was considerable competition among translators and publishers for the assignment, but a recommendation from former U.S. Ambassador and foreign policy legend George F. Kennan helped her get it. She had first encountered Svetlana twelve years earlier, during her first visit to the Soviet Union, when under the name Stalina, she had taught a class at Moscow State University. Svetlana spent her first weeks in America staying at McMillan's father's estate in Locust Valley.

The Atlantic, The Only Person Who Knew Both Kennedy and His Killer, John Meroney, Nov. 21, 2013.  While in the Soviet Union, Priscilla Johnson McMillan met a young American in her hotel who was trying to defect. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald.

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination has drawn all manner of retrospectives. But for one woman, the memory of tuning in to the news coverage is particularly poignant. Priscilla Johnson McMillan is the only person who knew both President Kennedy and his killer.

McMillan worked for Kennedy on Capitol Hill in the mid-1950s, when he was a U.S. Senator, advising him on foreign policy matters. She then moved into journalism and in 1959 was stationed in the Soviet Union, reporting for The Progressive and the North American Newspaper Alliance. It was there that she met a 20-year-old American called Lee Harvey Oswald. He was staying in her hotel while trying to defect to the Soviet Union.

McMillan interviewed him. Oswald proceeded to critique the American system and informed her that he was a follower of Karl Marx. “I saw,” he said, explaining why he left the U.S., “that I would become either a worker exploited for capitalist profit or an exploiter or, since there are many in this category, I’d be one of the unemployed.” On that night in Moscow, Oswald also told McMillan that he had a life mission: “I want to give the people of the United States something to think about.”

July 14

 

stephen calk paul manafort file

Chicago banker and Trump campaign donor Stephen Calk, right, has been convicted of bribery-related crimes on behalf of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, above let, to whom Calk's bank gave millions of dollars in fraudulent loans as Calk sought payback via an appointment to a high-ranking Pentagon job or prestigious ambassadorship, as testimony in Manafort's Virginia corruption trial showed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump associate convicted in court, Bill Palmer, right, July 14, 2021. The most surefire way of nailing Donald Trump bill palmerfor his crimes is to begin by nailing his underlings and associates for their related crimes.

This brings us to Stephen Calk, who was convicted this week of bribing Paul Manafort with millions of dollars in illegitimate loans in exchange for an appointed position in the Trump regime. Calk didn’t get the job, but bribery is still bribery even when it doesn’t succeed. So why does this matter?

bill palmer report logo headerCalk is now heading to prison for what will likely be several years. This means he’s a prime candidate to cut a plea deal. And while he may not have any dirt on Trump, he could certainly flip on Manafort, who accepted the bribe and attempted to get Calk the job.

On his way out the door, Trump did give Manafort a pardon. But there’s no such thing as a pardon for every crime you’ve ever committed. Manafort’s pardon merely focused on the crimes that landed him in prison to begin with. So it’s entirely conceivable that the Feds could turn around and indict Manafort for taking this bribe – particularly if Calk ends up cooperating.

Unless Paul Manafort wants to go back to prison, he would in turn have to flip on Donald Trump. Manafort refused to do this last time around, but that was back when Trump was dangling an eventual pardon in exchange for his silence. Trump can’t pardon Manafort this time, and Manafort knows it.

July 13

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, left, and Rudy Giuliani falsely claim in November 2020 that the 2020 election was stolen from him without being able to prevail on the claim in more than 60 court decisions around the nation.

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, left, and Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed in November 2020 that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump without being able to prevail on the claim in more than 60 court decisions around the nation.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘This is really fantastical’: Federal judge in Michigan presses Trump-allied lawyers on 2020 election fraud claims in sanctions hearing, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). The latest effort to hold former president Donald Trump and his allies accountable for months of baseless claims about the 2020 election played out Monday in a Michigan courtroom, where a federal judge asked detailed and skeptical questions of several lawyers she is considering imposing sanctions against for filing a suit seeking to overturn the results.

linda parkerU.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker, right, said she would rule on a request to discipline the lawyers in coming weeks. But over and over again during the more than five-hour hearing, she pointedly pressed the lawyers involved — including Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood (shown at left below with Trump last year in the Oval Office) — to explain what steps they had taken to ensure their court filings in the case filed last year had been accurate. She appeared astonished by many of their answers.

Attorney Lin Wood with President Trump at the White House (March 2020).While their suit aimed to create a broad impression that the vote in Michigan — and specifically Detroit’s Wayne County — had been troubled, the affidavits filed to support those claims included obvious errors, speculation and basic misunderstandings of how elections are generally conducted in the state, Parker said.

“There’s a duty that counsel has that when you’re submitting a sworn statement . . . that you have reviewed it, that you had done some minimal due diligence,” she said.

As the hearing concluded, a defiant Powell told the judge that she took “full responsibility” for the case’s pleadings and said she would file them again. She and the other lawyers “had a legal obligation to the country” to raise issues with the election, Powell said.

djt maga hatIf Parker decides to discipline the lawyers, she could require them to pay the fees of their opponents in the case, the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials. But she could also go further — assessing additional monetary penalties or recommending grievance proceedings be opened that could result in banning the attorneys from practicing in Michigan or disbarring them altogether.

The Michigan hearing is part of a broad move underway nationally to hold responsible Trump and his backers who spread falsehoods about the election, the so-called “big lie” that led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The push for accountability has been advancing in the nation’s courts in recent months, even as Republicans have embraced Trump’s baseless claims and blocked an independent commission to scrutinize the failures that contributed to the Jan. 6 riot.

The effort, playing out in several states, includes attempts to punish attorneys who pursued dozens of failed efforts to use the courts to overturn the election, the filing of defamation lawsuits against key figures who falsely claimed voting machine manufacturers tipped the election, and the launch of criminal investigations examining whether Trump and his allies broke the law by trying to interfere with the official administration of the election.

One of the first substantial repercussions came last month, when a committee of judges in New York state suspended the law license of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as rudy giuliani recentTrump’s personal attorney. The committee found that Giuliani, right, had “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” in violation of his ethical obligations as an attorney.

Representatives for Giuliani have called the action “unprecedented” and expressed confidence that his law license will be restored after a hearing to determine whether to revoke his license permanently.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers (D) has asked a federal judge to order Trump and three of his attorneys to pay the state’s attorneys’ fees in a case the former president filed in December unsuccessfully challenging President Biden’s win there. Trump and his lawyers told a judge in a court filing Monday that the request for attorney’s fees was “untimely and unwarranted.”t

Authorities in several states have also opened criminal probes related to the post-election period, including in Fulton County, Ga., where District Attorney Fani Willis launched a criminal investigation in February, in the wake of Trump’s calls to state officials to try to persuade them reverse Biden’s victory in the state.

Palmer Report, Sidney Powell is going through some things today, Bill Palmer, July 12, 2021. The wheels of justice turn way too slowly, but they nonetheless turn. Trump-adjacent lawyers including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood were forced to appear before a judge in Michigan today, in an initial hearing to determine whether they should be disbarred and/or face other court imposed sanctions. It didn’t go well for them.

The Judge systematically dismantled the ridiculous lawsuit that Sidney Powell and her pals filed late last year, which used phony evidence to claim that Donald Trump won Michigan. Yet even as this played out today, Powell incredibly made the claim that she stood by the suit and that she’d file it all over again if given the chance.

bill palmer report logo headerMeanwhile Powell’s associate Julia Haller was reduced to tears during the hearing. Lin Wood spent the entire time insisting that he had no idea he had even been a part of the election lawsuit; it’s still not entirely clear if he’s just playing dumb or if he really is psychologically unraveling this badly.

In any case, this hearing went poorly for all of the lawyers who were involved in the phony suit, but particularly badly for Sidney Powell. The Judge ended up giving them two weeks from today to file whatever they want to file that they think might help their case. But if the tenor of today’s hearing was an accurate indicator, then Powell and her pals appear headed for disbarment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Organization removes indicted top finance officer Allen Weisselberg from leadership roles at dozens of subsidiaries, David A. Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs, July 13, 2021 allen weisselberg cropped(print ed.). The Trump Organization has removed indicted chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, right, from his leadership roles at more than 40 subsidiary companies, according to corporate filings in the United States and Scotland.

The changes were made Thursday and Friday, a week after a grand jury in Manhattan indicted Weisselberg on 15 felony counts, including grand larceny and tax fraud. Weisselberg was accused by New York prosecutors of helping run a 15-year scheme to evade income taxes by concealing executives’ salaries — including more than $1.7 million of his own income — from tax authorities. Two Trump corporate entities were indicted alongside Weisselberg.

On Thursday, the Trump Organization removed Weisselberg as a director of the company that runs its golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, according to British corporate records.

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: ‘I Alone Can Fix It’: Inside Trump’s Election Day and the birth of the ‘big lie,’ Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, July 13, 2021. At the end of a tumultuous day, the defiant president refused to accept the signs that he was losing the White House contest to Joe Biden. “I won in a landslide and they’re taking it back,” Trump told advisers.

  • Part one of an excerpt from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. Leonnig and Rucker will discuss this book during a Washington Post Live event on July 20.

carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 coverFinally, Election Day had arrived. The morning of Nov. 3, 2020, President Trump was upbeat. The mood in the West Wing was good. Some aides talked giddily of a landslide. Several women who worked in the White House arrived wearing red sweaters in a show of optimism, while some Secret Service agents on the president’s detail sported red ties for the occasion. Trump’s voice was hoarse from his mad dash of rallies, but he thought his exhausting final sprint had sealed the deal. He considered Joe Biden to be a lot of things, but a winner most definitely was not one of them. “I can’t lose to this f------ guy,” Trump told aides.

Around noon, his detail whisked Trump across the Potomac River to visit his campaign headquarters in Arlington, where campaign manager Bill Stepien and the senior leadership briefed Trump in the conference room. Stepien outlined what to expect that night — when polls closed in each battleground state, how quickly votes should be tallied and which states would probably have the first projected winners. He explained that because of the huge number of mail-in ballots in many states, it might take long into the night for votes to be counted. Patience was in order.

Stepien explained to Trump that in many battleground states, the first votes to be recorded were expected to be in-person Election Day votes, which could lean Trump, while mail-in votes, which were likely to heavily favor Biden, would be added to the tally later as those ballots were processed. This meant that the early vote totals could well show Trump ahead by solid margins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas Democrats arrive in D.C. after leaving their state to block restrictive voting legislation, Amy Gardner and Eva Ruth Moravec, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). Democratic lawmakers in Texas fled the state on Monday, potentially torpedoing an ongoing special session called by Republicans to take up new voting restrictions and other GOP priorities.

texas mapAt least 50 House Democrats landed in Washington late Monday. The exodus denies Republicans the required two-thirds attendance level to conduct business, calling into doubt whether plans to take up voting legislation this week could proceed.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosSpeaking to reporters at Dulles International Airport, Texas Democratic leaders vowed to stay away from the state until Aug. 7, when the 30-day special session would end.

“We are determined to kill this bill,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said.

In a statement, Turner and other leaders also pledged to pressure Congress to pass new federal voting protections.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Republican Party’s top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump’s lawyers a ‘joke’ that could mislead millions, Josh Dawsey, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). The Republican Party’s top lawyer warned in November against continuing to push false claims that the presidential election was stolen, calling efforts by some of the former president’s lawyers a “joke” that could mislead millions of people, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.

Justin Riemer, the Republican National Committee’s chief counsel, sought to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting claims about ballot fraud on RNC accounts, the email shows, as attempts by Donald Trump and his associates to challenge results in a number of states, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, intensified.

“What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court,” Riemer, a longtime Republican lawyer, wrote to Liz Harrington, a former party spokeswoman, on Nov. 28, referring to Trump attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. “They are misleading millions of people who have wishful thinking that the president is going to somehow win this thing.”

The email from Riemer to Harrington, which came about six weeks before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, shows key figures in the party were privately disturbed by the false claims being made about the election by Trump and his supporters — even if they did not say so publicly.

rnc logorudy giuliani recentRiemer said Ellis and Giuliani, left, were damaging a broader Republican Party push on “election integrity” issues, according to the email. Riemer had led the party’s legal efforts for months ahead of and after the November election, particularly limiting the expansion of mail-in ballots. But Riemer was skeptical internally of some of the most conspiratorial theories and did not believe many of the claims from Giuliani and others about fraud, according to people who talked to Reimer and, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Some Trump allies, including Giuliani, sought to have Riemer fired after learning of the email, according to people familiar with the matter, but he remains employed at the RNC.

“I led the RNC legal team in over 55 lawsuits on behalf of the President’s reelection, winning a majority of them, including the only successful post-election lawsuit. Any suggestion that I did not support President Trump or do everything in my power to support the RNC’s efforts to reelect President Trump is false,” Riemer said in a statement. “I will say publicly now what I then said privately: I take issue with individuals who brought lawsuits that did not serve President Trump well and did not give him the best chance in court.”

Harrington, who is now a spokeswoman for Trump, continued to push voter-fraud allegations and left the RNC at the end of 2020. As the former president’s spokeswoman, she continues to post false claims of election fraud on social media and helps draft and disseminate the former president’s false claims about the election.

“The only thing that’s a joke is the idea that Joe Biden got 81 million votes,” Harrington said when asked about Riemer’s email on Monday afternoon.

ronna mcdaniel djt CustomIn recent weeks, some Trump allies have targeted the RNC and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, left, arguing they did not do enough in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election to help Trump overturn the results. Ellis has led many of the attacks, tweeting “#RonnaMustGo.”

Conservative nonprofit group challenging election results around the country has tie to Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis

Ellis and Giuliani were brought in by Trump to handle his election challenges within two weeks of the election, amid his growing dissatisfaction with his traditional legal team. Many of those lawyers stepped back in mid-November, when Trump appointed Giuliani and others to take charge. But Giuliani and Ellis were also unable to overturn the results, and Trump has complained about both of them in recent weeks, according to multiple people familiar with the former president’s remarks. Ellis has launched a group on voting, but Trump has not yet backed it publicly.

The RNC has also declined, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, to pay any of Giuliani’s legal bills — a point of contention among some Giuliani associates. “Rudy Giuliani has never worked for the RNC and he has never acted at our direction,” a party spokeswoman said.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Republicans Take Aim at Voting, Democrats Search for a Response, Michael Wines, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). A speech by President Biden on Tuesday could be a signal of how hard the Democrats will fight to protect voting rights.

GOP Opposition To Vaccines

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: GOP anti-vaxxers are sacrificing citizens’ lives for political gain, Michael Gerson (right, former chief speechwriter for GOP President George W. Bush), July 13, 2021 (print ed.). michael gerson file photoHere is perhaps the most important medical and political fact of our time: 99.5 percent of all covid-19-related deaths in the United States occur among unvaccinated people; 0.5 percent of covid deaths occur among vaccinated people. If you tell people not to be vaccinated, you add to the former category.

In this light, the recent outbreak of applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the United States’ failure to meet its vaccination target was macabre. Here were political activists — many of whom would call themselves “pro-life” — cheering for the advance of death. How did we get to such a strange, desperate place?

I don’t want to discount the possibility that some people are just badly misinformed. They think the vaccines come with itsy-bitsy tracking chips, or make you magnetic, or render you infertile — all of which are pure rubbish. Ignorance is a form of moral mitigation, but it is still, well, ignorance.

There are also some who oppose vaccination out of a tragically misapplied libertarianism. They somehow think the defense of freedom requires the rejection of sound medical advice from the government. They seek a rarefied form of liberation — liberation from rational rules, from prudent precautions, from scientific reality and from moral responsibility for their neighbors’ well-being. This is the degraded version of a proud tradition: Live free and let someone else die.

But others in conservative media and elected office must know precisely what they’re doing. They’re rational enough to recognize the timeline the rest of us inhabit, on which we desperately needed miraculous vaccines, miraculously got them and expeditiously distributed them to the willing.

fox news logo SmallIn the case of Fox News celebrities in particular, they must know that discouraging vaccination — by exaggerating risks, highlighting unproven alternative therapies and normalizing anti-vaccine voices — will result in additional, unnecessary deaths. This is hard to get my head around. If someone were to pay me as a columnist to argue that cigarette smoking is healthy for children, or to encourage teenagers to take naps on railroad tracks after underage drinking, I don’t think I could make an ethical case for accepting the deal. Should it matter if I belonged to a news network where producing child smokers and trisected teens were institutional policies? Or if one-half of a major political party endorsed such goals? I don’t see why.

For years, I’ve been saying to myself that GOP politics can’t go lower. I am perpetually wrong. Americans should never forget this moment — or let guilty Republicans forget it. When Republican activists cheered for death at CPAC, they were cheering for disproportionately Republican deaths. When elected Republicans feed doubts about safe, effective vaccines, they are making it more physically dangerous to be a Republican in America.

 

July 8

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Sgnificant New Evidence Emerges That the Arizona "Audit" Now Aimed at Discrediting the 2020 Election May Be a Criminal Conspiracy Born in Florida and Involving seth abramson graphicDonald Trump, Seth Abramson, left, July 7, 2021. New information about the Cyber Ninjas' connections to the Florida Republican Party quickly produces a chain of evidence that leads directly to the former President of the United States.

No less an august journalistic body than the Associated Press has asked whether the mysterious firm now running an “audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona— the Cyber Ninjas, a firm run by Doug Logan—might be little more than “grifters.”

According to the AP, before its hire by Arizona’s Republican state senate president Karen Fann, Cyber Ninjas
…had not placed a formal bid for the [Arizona] contract and had no experience with election audits. Senate President Karen Fann says she can’t recall how she found the firm.

seth abramson proof logoWhat the Associated Press appears to get wrong, however, is its diagnosis of how Fann came to select Logan and his firm, with the news agency writing that “Cyber Ninjas’ chief ap logoexecutive officer [Logan] had tweeted support for conspiracy theories claiming Republican Donald Trump, and not Democrat Joe Biden, had won Maricopa County and Arizona.” While this is true, and important, Logan being a far-right conspiracy theorist doesn’t explain how he came onto Fann’s radar—simply that, once he did, he cut a likely figure as someone willing to aid Donald Trump in discrediting the 2020 presidential election at any cost.

What Proof can now report is the apparent means by which Fann found Logan—a wild story that leads directly to the doorstep of Trump himself. It’s a story, too, that is far more than merely academic, for as many media outlets have noted, if Logan and his firm can cast further doubt on the 2020 election in the minds of Trump voters, it could light a fire under Trump’s domestic insurgency while also leading to a) even louder calls for Trump to be (illegally) “reinstated” as president—as has been proposed by former Trump legal adviser Sidney Powell, top Trump ally Michael Lindell, former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, and even Trump himself—and b) an outbreak of partisan, fraudulent post-election “audits” in states Trump lost.

If these audits turn out the way Trump wants them to—and in the case of the Arizona audit, may well have engineered it to in advance—the result could be chaos across America.  

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

AZ Central / Arizona Republic, Did Trump and his allies interfere with the Maricopa County election? Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wants an inquiry, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, July 8, 2021 (print ed.). Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Wednesday asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to open a criminal investigation into possible efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to influence Maricopa County supervisors as the ballots were still being tallied.

Hobbs said some of the communications “involve clear efforts to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties,” which could violate Arizona law. She cited The Arizona Republic’s reporting last week on text messages and voicemails from the White House, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward to the Republican members of the Board of Supervisors.

“The reporting also includes firsthand statements from the victims of this potential crime,” Hobbs said. She cited at least one potential felony charge under Arizona law.

Brnovich did not immediately comment on Hobbs’ request, which was emailed directly to the attorney general shortly after 1 p.m.

Late Wednesday, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine the possibility of "an extremely serious crime" in what Gallago called a "pressure campaign" exerted by the Trump campaign and party officials.

Their efforts "reflect a disturbing trend following the 2020 election of Trump advisors and allies, and even former President Trump himself, committing potential crimes to overturn the election," Gallego wrote.

The U.S. Justice Department did not have an immediate response earlier Wednesday when asked whether it might look into the matter.

The request for a legal review is freighted with political overtones.

Hobbs, a Democrat, is running for governor next year. She created a national profile for defending Arizona’s election administration efforts when November presidential election results were among the closest in the country. Arizona was spotlighted by Trump and his allies as they promoted the false narrative of a stolen election.

Brnovich, a Republican, is running for the U.S. Senate next year. Trump has criticized Brnovich for not supporting the state Senate’s ongoing ballot review. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law Brnovich defended that makes voting more difficult, something he has cast as part of his commitment to preserving election integrity.

Now, he has been asked to investigate Trump and his GOP allies on that very issue.

The Guardian, Trump told chief of staff Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, book says, Martin Pengelly, July 8, 2021 (print ed.). Remark shocked John Kelly, author Michael Bender reports. Book details former president’s ‘stunning disregard for history.’

john kelly o dhsOn a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

The remark from the former US president on the 2018 trip, which reportedly “stunned” Kelly, left, a retired US Marine Corps general, is reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election has been widely trailed ahead of publication next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Bender reports that Trump made the remark during an impromptu history lesson in which Kelly “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.

Bender is one of a number of authors to have interviewed Trump since he was ejected from power.

In a statement a Trump spokesperson, Liz Harrington, said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.”

But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.

“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”

Bender adds that Kelly told Trump that even if his claim about the German economy under the Nazis after 1933 were true, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Fascist leaders deserve the most extreme punishment available, Wayne Madsen, July 7-8, 2021. Wayne Madsen, left, is a syndicated columnist, the author of 20 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbooks, including two about Donald Trump, and is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst.

Donald Trump's January 6 attempt to overthrow the constitutional government of the United States continues to play out in state capitals around the nation as his fascist forces wayne madsen cafe vaterlandundermine the democratic electoral process and purge disloyal leaders of the Republican Party from its ranks.

There is little wonder in the revelation in a revelatory book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender that Trump, on a 2017 trip to France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, told White House chief of staff John Kelly that "Hitler did a lot of good things.”

This editor's novel, Café Vaterland, deals with the Ku Klux Klan and pro-Nazi German-American Bund activities of Trump's father, Fred Trump, prior to and after the outbreak of World War II. Donald Trump's fascination for Hitler can be directly linked to his father's Nazi sympathies.

Trump should be tried by a military commission in the same manner that the co-conspirators of John Wilkes Booth were dealt with in Washington, DC after Booth's assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The Hitler-praising Trump is no mere insurrectionist. His obvious links to foreign actors in overthrowing the constitutional government of the United States are no different than the activities of various fascist puppet rulers in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It is a useful reminder to consider how these fascist puppets were dealt with after the German surrender in 1945.

July 3

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: The Glorious Fourth! Webster G. Tarpley, July 3, 2021. American Revolution started as a mass strike in rural Massachusetts, where despite 1619 claims webster tarpley 2007slavery was virtually non-existent; British-run Great Barrington court shut down by 1,500 patriots on August 15, 1774: Goal was to reject oppressive judges and assert the right to vote in town meetings – Sound familiar?

100 years of Chinese Communist Party: Result was at least 80 million dead under Chairman Mao alone;

On July 4 weekend, recalling the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

June

June 24

Associated Press via Voice of America,Judge Threatens to Toss DEA Agent's Plea in Corruption Case, June 24, 2021. A Tampa federal judge Wednesday threatened to throw out the guilty ap logoplea of a veteran U.S. narcotics agent who conspired with a Colombian cartel money launderer — an unexpected twist that could derail one of the most egregious misconduct cases in the history of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell was expected to sentence the disgraced agent, Jose I. Irizarry, but refused to do so over what she called a "totally unacceptable" legal dispute.

"I have never seen anything like this," Honeywell said, postponing the sentencing indefinitely. "I'm not even sure at this point I'm going to accept this plea."

voice of america logoThe heated hearing in Tampa federal court came nine months after Irizarry admitted parlaying his expertise in money laundering into a life of luxury that prosecutors said was bankrolled by millions of dollars he diverted from DEA control. The spoils included a $30,000 Tiffany diamond ring for his wife, luxury sports cars and a $767,000 home in the Caribbean resort city of Cartagena — on top of residences in south Florida and Puerto Rico.

At issue is a disagreement over whether the money Irizarry raided from undercover DEA accounts amounted to a misuse of government funds, as Irizarry contends, or the laundering of drug proceeds — a more serious offense that could add a decade to what was already expected to be a lengthy prison sentence.

Irizarry pleaded guilty last year to 19 counts, including conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank fraud, admitting he filed false reports and ordered DEA staff to wire money slated for undercover stings to international accounts he and associates controlled.

The case is the latest black eye for the DEA, which has seen repeated cases of agent misconduct in recent years. Just last week, longtime DEA agent Chad Scott was taken into federal custody after a jury in New Orleans convicted him of taking property from criminal suspects, adding to an earlier conviction on corruption charges.

But it's unclear what lessons the DEA has learned from Irizarry's scheme and whether other agents assigned to the Miami field office where his criminal activity began were involved. His guilty plea also leaves many unanswered questions about the level of supervision he received during his career, in which he had been entrusted with the government's use of front companies, shell bank accounts and couriers to combat international drug trafficking.

Irizarry's defense attorney contended in recent court filings that the accounts in question amounted to a profit-producing "slush fund" for official and personal travel of federal law enforcement, U.S. prosecutors and confidential sources. https://www.voanews.com/usa/judge-threatens-toss-dea-agents-plea-corruption-case

"They were going to dinners, drinks and doing all sorts of things with this money," attorney Humberto Dominguez said in court Wednesday. "It was all documented."

The DEA did not respond to a request for comment on that claim.

But prosecutor Joseph Palazzo argued that Irizarry's actions could only have had one purpose regardless of whether the international wire transfers were channeled through DEA-controlled accounts.

"Once drug proceeds, always drug proceeds," he said. "The defendant was in a better position than anyone to know the source of these funds and where these funds were going."

The case could also have long-lasting implications on the DEA's undercover money-laundering operations. Irizarry was accused of sharing sensitive law enforcement information with co-conspirators, including a Colombian customs official and an alleged drug trafficker and money launderer.

The Colombian official, Omar Ambuilla, was arrested in April on a U.S. warrant accusing him of transferring to the U.S. proceeds from the conspiracy for the purchase of a 2017 Lamborghini Huracan Spyder in Florida.

The other alleged co-conspirator has not been identified in court filings except as a Colombian citizen who was the target of a DEA drug trafficking investigation before becoming the godfather to Irizarry's twin children in 2015.

U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press last year that the unnamed conspirator is Diego Marin, describing him as Colombia's contraband king for his role helping launder drug dollars through the importation of containers full of electronics and other goods. Irizarry and his attorney referred to the alleged co-conspirator in court on Wednesday as a longtime U.S. government informant named "Diego."

Marin has not been charged. A U.S. attorney who has represented Marin in the past declined to comment.

Before he resigned in 2018, Irizarry's ostentatious habits and tales of raucous yacht parties had become legendary among DEA agents. Beginning around 2011, prosecutors said, Irizarry used the cover of his badge to file false reports and direct DEA personnel to wire funds reserved for undercover stings to accounts in Spain, the Netherlands and elsewhere — accounts that he controlled or were tied to his wife and his co-conspirators.

In all, Irizarry and his informants handled at least $9 million in drug proceeds that should've been carefully tracked by the DEA as part of undercover money laundering investigations, prosecutors said.

The indictment details at least $900,000 paid out from a single criminal account opened by Irizarry and an informant using the name, passport and Social Security number of a third person who was unaware their identity was being stolen.

June 19 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

Daily Beast, New Docuseries Suggests Jeffrey Epstein Was a Government Informant, Nick Schager, June 19, 2021. The Plot Thickens. The Peacock docuseries “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell” traces the life of the late sex trafficker’s right-hand woman, with victims speaking out about the damage they wrought.

Ghislaine Maxwell has a name that many can’t pronounce and a backstory that’s shrouded in mystery. Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell seeks to rectify the latter by investigating the life of Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious girlfriend and co-conspirator, who currently resides in a Brooklyn jail awaiting trial for a variety of sex-trafficking charges that were levied against her by the U.S. federal government daily beast logoin 2020. Informative and comprehensive, it paints a portrait of a woman who was groomed at an early age for her eventual role as a madame for her pedophilic partner—a cretin for whom she herself groomed countless underage girls for his perverse sexual pleasure.

Peacock’s three-part docuseries (premiering June 24) is a no-frills non-fiction affair, and all the better for it. A raft of interviews with acquaintances, authors, journalists, and more provide the narrative spine for an archival footage-heavy investigation into Maxwell’s saga, which has ensnared the many rich and powerful people whom she brought into Epstein’s orbit.

Those include, most infamously, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, whose damningly clumsy BBC interview receives some airplay here, as well as Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and various celebrities—Elon Musk, Mick Jagger, Joan Rivers—whom she was photographed with at one gala event or another. Maxwell was the conduit between Epstein and high society’s cream of the crop, and though this overview presents no new bombshells about her A-list relationships, her intimate ties to dignitaries, politicians, artists, and other notable names is made definitively clear.

Those links are central to Maxwell’s fate, since it’s apparent she and Epstein made secret surveillance videos (and photographs) of visitors to their NYC townhouse home—meaning they potentially have blackmail material on a host of global big shots.

These incriminating recordings have been fingered as the reason Epstein received a “sweetheart deal” from U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (and Secretary of Labor under Trump) Alexander Acosta in 2008, when the feds had Epstein dead-to-rights on sex-trafficking crimes, and yet offered him a plea agreement that put him behind bars for 15 months—he could even come and go during the day from prison—and provided immunity to anyone related to his infractions, at least in Palm Beach. It’s also been suggested that they’re the cause of his much-debated suicide; as the conspiracy theory goes, he may have been murdered by forces that wanted to keep what he knew—and had—from seeing the light of day.

June 17

Trump attorney and former Justice Department Deputy Attorney Gen. Rudy Giuliani, his colleague and significant other Maria Ryan, and One America Network White House correspondent Christina Bogbb are shown working in a Willard Hotel

Trump attorney and former Justice Department Deputy Attorney Gen. Rudy Giuliani, his colleague and significant other Maria Ryan, and One America Network White House correspondent Christina Bogbb are shown working in a Willard Hotel "War Room" near almost across the street from White House grounds with fellow Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021 in a photo by a fellow Trump supporter.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: We Now Know What the Willard Hotel War Room Was For—and You're Not Going to Believe It, Seth Abramson, June 16-17-2021. The revelation of the seventh person in seth abramson graphicTrump's Willard Hotel war room leads to the strangest discovery of the January 6 investigation so far, one so bizarre that it must be read to be believed.

When I discovered that the seventh identifiable figure in the photographs of Donald Trump’s Willard Hotel command center (photographs which had been posted on Instagram by Trump associate Robert Hyde) was Rudy Giuliani girlfriend Maria Ryan, the news meant little to me. It would, I felt, merit little interest from anyone else, either.

I now realize that I couldn’t have been more mistaken, as sometimes mundane discoveries lead to appalling ones—something you’d think I’d recall from my experience as a federal-system criminal investigator and then a state criminal defense attorney.

seth abramson proof logoAs the identification of Maria Ryan as the seventh entrant into the Willard war room was underway, a Proof reader sent me a January 5 “interview” Ryan had conducted with One America News (OAN) propagandist Christina Bobb. I put the word “interview” in quotes here because, as the above photo confirms, and as Proof has already reported at great length, Bobb was, with Ryan, a member of Trump’s secretive insurrection-week team at the Willard — and therefore her on-air discussion with Ryan on January 5 was in no way a real interview. Note: Bobb didn’t disclose her association with Ryan during their chat.

Even odder than the truth of the Bobb-Ryan “interview” was its timing: Insurrection Eve.

Indeed (and this was the first sign of the strange story I was about to find myself immersed in as a journalist and researcher) on January 5, 2021, Maria Ryan was being interviewed from the very war room that Bobb was a member of—meaning that Bobb had at some point left the war room, gone in to work at OAN’s television studio, and then conducted an “interview” with the very legal team she was a part of with a fellow team member who was sitting in the very war room that Bobb herself had been using.

June 14

Washington Post, Opinion: The secret gag orders must stop, Brad Smith, June 14, 2021 (print ed.). Brad Smith, right, is the president of Microsoft. The past seven days marked another bad week for the brad smith microsoftcollision between technology and democracy. We live in an era when private emails and text messages typically are backed up and stored in the cloud by tech companies. When it comes to cybersecurity, the cloud bolsters protection.

But now we’ve learned that the Trump Justice Department exploited this feature as part of a secret effort to obtain emails in investigations of the media and Congress, two institutions where transparency is essential.

microsoft logo CustomThe government cannot justify secrecy in such probes. The abuse of secrecy orders is neither new nor confined to a single administration, and certainly not limited to investigations involving members of Congress or the news media. Democracy rests on a fundamental principle of government transparency. Secrecy should be the rare exception — not the rule.
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Not long ago, if the government wanted to serve a search warrant as part of a criminal investigation, it had to do so in person, with notice. An agent or officer needed to bring a signed warrant to a house or building and hand it to the target of the probe at the front door; only then could the government search the premises for documents, records and computer files. This was true for individuals, businesses and governments alike. If secrecy required getting a “sneak and peek” warrant because evidence would be destroyed in advance or a witness’s safety would be jeopardized, this required a heightened showing, beyond mere probable cause.

Those principles still hold true today. Yet with the expansion of cloud computing in every industry, the federal and state governments know they quickly can obtain data electronically from sources other than the target. So that’s what they do. In secret. By serving search warrants on companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to obtain emails and messages that belong to our customers. Government prosecutors also ask courts to impose gag orders on companies such as ours that prevent us from letting people know that copies of their emails are now in the government’s hands. 

June 13

Top Headlines

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Private Inequity: How a Powerful Industry Conquered the Tax System, Jesse Drucker and Danny Hakim, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Private equity firms are almost never audited, despite tax-avoidance strategies that have prompted whistle-blowers to file claims alleging illegal tactics. The $4.5 trillion industry’s ability to vanquish the I.R.S. and Congress goes a long way toward explaining the deep inequities in the U.S. tax system.

There were two weeks left in the Trump administration when the Treasury Department handed down a set of rules governing an obscure corner of the tax code.

Overseen by a senior Treasury official whose previous job involved helping the wealthy avoid taxes, the new regulations represented a major victory for private equity firms. They ensured that executives in the $4.5 trillion industry, whose leaders often measure their yearly pay in eight or nine figures, could avoid paying hundreds of millions in taxes.

The rules were approved on Jan. 5, the day before the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Hardly anyone noticed.

irs logoThe Trump administration’s farewell gift to the buyout industry was part of a pattern that has spanned Republican and Democratic presidencies and Congresses: Private equity has conquered the American tax system.

The industry has perfected sleight-of-hand tax-avoidance strategies so aggressive that at least three private equity officials have alerted the Internal Revenue Service to potentially illegal tactics, according to people with direct knowledge of the claims and documents reviewed by The New York Times. The previously unreported whistle-blower claims involved tax dodges at dozens of private equity firms.

But the I.R.S., its staff hollowed out after years of budget cuts, has thrown up its hands when it comes to policing the politically powerful industry.

While intensive examinations of large multinational companies are common, the I.R.S. rarely conducts detailed audits of private equity firms, according to current and former agency officials.

Such audits are “almost nonexistent,” said Michael Desmond, who stepped down this year as the I.R.S.’s chief counsel. The agency “just doesn’t have the resources and expertise.”

One reason they rarely face audits is that private equity firms have deployed vast webs of partnerships to collect their profits. Partnerships do not owe income taxes. Instead, they pass those obligations on to their partners, who can number in the thousands at a large private equity firm. That makes the structures notoriously complicated for auditors to untangle.

Increasingly, the agency doesn’t bother. People earning less than $25,000 are at least three times more likely to be audited than partnerships, whose income flows overwhelmingly to the richest 1 percent of Americans.

The consequences of that imbalance are enormous.

By one recent estimate, the United States loses $75 billion a year from investors in partnerships failing to report their income accurately — at least some of which would probably be recovered if the I.R.S. conducted more audits. That’s enough to roughly double annual federal spending on education.

It is also a dramatic understatement of the true cost. It doesn’t include the ever-changing array of maneuvers — often skating the edge of the law — that private equity firms have devised to help their managers avoid income taxes on the roughly $120 billion the industry pays its executives each year.  

katie logan 2001 currently tim gruber wash post

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: People of Praise, a Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, faces reckoning over sexual misconduct allegations, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Barrett’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court spurred former members of the group to speak out and forced People of Praise to hire lawyers to investigate.

In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. He was 35 at the time, a widely admired teacher and girls’ basketball coach who lived in a People of Praise home for celibate men.

Logan (shown above in 2001 photo at left and in a recent Washington Post photo by Tim Gruber) told police she reported the June 2001 incident to a dean at the school five years after it happened. Police records show the dean believed Logan and relayed the complaint to at least one other senior school official.

But the teacher, Dave Beskar, remained at Trinity School at River Ridge until 2011, when he was hired to lead a charter school in Arizona. In 2015, he returned to the Minneapolis area to become headmaster of another Christian school. Beskar denies that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

“People of Praise leaders failed me,” Logan, 37, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls.”

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoLogan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, left, who has deep roots in People of Praise and who served on the board of its schools years after Beskar left.

Barrett’s ascendancy to the nation’s highest court has forced a painful reckoning in People of Praise, an insular Christian community that emphasizes traditional gender roles. The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.

The Post interviewed nine people in the Facebook group — all but one of them women — who said they were sexually abused as children, as well as another man who says he was physically abused. In four of those cases, the people said the alleged abuse was reported to community leaders. Logan gave The Post recorded statements and other documents from the police investigation of her complaint.

In response to questions from The Post, Craig Lent, chairman of the religious group’s board of governors, said that the lawyers’ findings will be reviewed by a People of Praise committee of men and women and that “appropriate action” will be taken.

Lent declined in a written statement to respond to specific questions about Logan’s allegation but acknowledged the “serious questions that it raises.” He declined to say how many claims are being investigated.

“People of Praise has always put the safety of children far above any reputational concerns,” said Lent, who is also chairman of the board overseeing three Trinity Schools campuses for middle and high school students — in the Minneapolis area, South Bend, Ind., and Falls Church, Va.

People of Praise grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing. The group says it has 1,700 members across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

amy coney barrett ap oct 12 2020Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a “handmaid,” a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.

Barrett was not asked about People of Praise during her confirmation to the Supreme Court (shown at right). At her 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court, she said she would not put her religious beliefs before the rule of law. “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law,” she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden asks G-7 to take a tougher line on China, but not all allies are enthusiastic, Ashley Parker and Anne Gearan, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden is asking leaders of other wealthy democracies to make a unified front against China’s use of forced labor, arguing Saturday that a stronger line is a moral and practical imperative.

g7 logo uk 2021The Group of Seven economic club is also expected to agree on a joint alternative to heavy-handed Chinese economic expansion tactics that can leave poorer nations saddled with debt.

Countering China is fast becoming a central element of Biden’s foreign policy, despite extensive trade ties and hopes for cooperation to combat climate change and other china flagpriorities.

But some of the leaders Biden is seeing for the annual Group of Seven nations are less eager to prod Beijing over its labor practices, and it was not clear whether Biden could persuade them to fully back his proposal to call out China for its use of forced labor, including of the Uyghur ethnic and religious minority.

Countering China is fast becoming a central element of President Biden’s foreign policy. But some members in the Group of Seven nations are less eager to prod Beijing, and it was not clear whether Biden could persuade them to back his proposal to call out China for its use of forced labor.

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Report: The Secrets and Lies of the Vietnam War, Exposed in One Epic Document, Elizabeth Becker, June 13, 2021 (print ed.).  With the Pentagon Papers revelations, the U.S. public’s trust in the government was forever diminished.

Brandishing a captured Chinese machine gun, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara appeared at a televised news conference in the spring of 1965. The United States had just sent its first combat troops to South Vietnam, and the new push, he boasted, was further wearing down the beleaguered Vietcong.

“In the past four and one-half years, the Vietcong, the Communists, have lost 89,000 men,” he said. “You can see the heavy drain.”

That was a lie. From confidential reports, McNamara knew the situation was “bad and deteriorating” in the South. “The VC have the initiative,” the information said. “Defeatism is gaining among the rural population, somewhat in the cities, and even among the soldiers.”

Lies like McNamara’s were the rule, not the exception, throughout America’s involvement in Vietnam. The lies were repeated to the public, to Congress, in closed-door hearings, in speeches and to the press. The real story might have remained unknown if, in 1967, McNamara had not commissioned a secret history based on classified documents — which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.

By then, he knew that even with nearly 500,000 U.S. troops in theater, the war was at a stalemate. He created a research team to assemble and analyze Defense Department decision-making dating back to 1945. This was either quixotic or arrogant. As secretary of defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, McNamara was an architect of the war and implicated in the lies that were the bedrock of U.S. policy.

daniel ellsberg umassDaniel Ellsberg (shown in a recent University of Massachusetts photo), an analyst on the study, eventually leaked portions of the report to The New York Times, which published excerpts in 1971. The revelations in the Pentagon Papers infuriated a country sick of the war, the body bags of young Americans, the photographs of Vietnamese civilians fleeing U.S. air attacks and the endless protests and counterprotests that were dividing the country as nothing had since the Civil War.

The lies revealed in the papers were of a generational scale, and, for much of the American public, this grand deception seeded a suspicion of government that is even more widespread today.

Officially titled “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” the papers filled 47 volumes, covering the administrations of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Their 7,000 pages chronicled, in cold, bureaucratic language, how the United States got itself mired in a long, costly war in a small Southeast Asian country of questionable strategic importance.

They are an essential record of the first war the United States lost. For modern historians, they foreshadow the mind-set and miscalculations that led the United States to fight the “forever wars” of Iraq and Afghanistan

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret recordings, leaked letters expose backroom dealings and rock the Southern Baptist Convention, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). On Tuesday, thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville to vote on issues that will shape the massive denomination’s future, including the choice of its next president.

Demands for political loyalty. Disputes about racism. A fight between conservatives and ultraconservatives. It sounds like current debates within the Republican Party, but on Tuesday, thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville to vote on issues that will shape the massive denomination’s future, including the choice of its next president.

More than 16,000 people are expected to attend the denomination’s annual meeting, probably the largest religious gathering since the pandemic, as well as the biggest Baptist meeting in decades.

What is especially unusual about the meeting is infighting at the highest levels of leadership that has become public in recent weeks. New details released to news media outlets have shined a light on the backroom dealings of several of its high-profile leaders.

tom perriello resized2

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I took a vote that cost me my seat. I know what Joe Manchin is facing, Tom Perriello, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Tom Perriello is a former congressman from Virginia’s 5tCongressional District and a former U.S. Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region. He now serves as the U.S. executive director of the Open Society Foundations

“Just promise you will never forget that Judgment Day is more important than Election Day.” That was the advice — directive, really — my father offered when I asked about running for Congress. He was born and raised in Dunbar, W.Va., with the deep faith in the community, the Catholic Church and the New Deal that defined many Italian immigrant families recruited by the coal mines or Union Carbide. My dad died a few months after seeing me sworn in as a member of the 111th Congress in 2009, just three weeks after he retired as a pediatrician. He had cared for so many children of every race, faith and class that more than 1,000 people showed up for his funeral.

When I cast one of the deciding votes to pass the Affordable Care Act that year— a vote many warned might cost me my seat — I wore one of my father’s old wool suits. He had opposed Hillary Clinton’s 1993 health-care plan but watched regretfully as the insurance companies spread like a cancer across his profession, choking out the space between doctor and patient. I felt him nodding with approval from on high.

My dad liked Governor Joe Manchin and would have really loved Sen. Manchin for his decency and determination to fight for forgotten towns and workers. This year, the Democratic senator from West Virginia has shown marked political courage by embracing at least the aspirations of President Biden’s agenda to “build back better,” sending a signal to colleagues on both sides of the aisle that this is a time to unite around solutions rather than hide in the shadow of base politics.

Yes, the Senate is rigged for small states. But not for Republicans

As his colleagues fail to answer this call, Manchin is rapidly approaching a test of his convictions on what he must do to protect America’s historic experiment with democracy.

West Virginia became a state when its citizens had the honor to break away from Virginia to defend our more perfect union. Now, their senior senator may need to break traditions to defend voting rights and the integrity of our elections. Manchin recently indicated his inability to support the For the People Act unless Republican senators show the courage to put democracy over party. He stated no substantive disagreements with the reforms, which would limit partisan gerrymandering, dark money, foreign election interference, and corporate corruption, while adopting existing voting rights and expanded election protections.

 

merrick garland new

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Garland Confronts Long-Building Crisis Over Leak Inquiries and Journalism, Charlie Savage, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Prosecutors’ approach to unauthorized disclosures of government secrets has undergone a sea change in the 21st century.

Government leak hunters have been ratcheting up pressure on the ability of journalists to do their jobs for a generation — a push fueled by changing technology and fraught national-security issues that arose after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Now, those tensions have reached an inflection point.Recent disclosures about aggressive steps that the Justice Department secretly took under President Donald J. Trump while hunting for the confidential sources of reporters — at The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post — prompted a backlash from the top. President Biden ordered prosecutors to stop seizing reporters’ phone and email data.

Justice Department log circularBut Mr. Biden’s sweeping vow to ban a practice he called “simply, simply wrong” left crucial questions unanswered. Among them: How broadly prosecutors will define the journalistic activities that the new protections apply to? And will the changes be easy or difficult for a future administration to roll back?

“The question of how this will be institutionalized or codified is crucial,” said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “These kinds of protections shouldn’t be a matter of executive grace.”

Enshrined in the First Amendment, the role of the free press in bringing to light information beyond what those in power approve for release is a foundational principle of the American system of self-government. In Senate testimony this past week, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland (shown above) said the transparency that comes from investigative journalism about “wrongdoing and error in the government” gives people faith in democracy.

An essential task for journalists who report such material is to talk with officials who are not authorized to publicly speak about government matters and to protect their confidentiality. Leak prosecutions and seizures of journalists’ communications data not only jeopardizes particular sources, but can also frighten others with newsworthy information into staying silent.

But the confluence of recent events — which also include the Trump-era targeting of Democratic lawmakers and aides suspected of being reporters’ sources, and extraordinary gag orders imposed on Times and CNN executives in fights over data that spilled into the Biden era, all of which an inspector general is investigating — has brought into focus how fragile the protections for journalism are in the 21st century.

 Washington Post, Chicago officer charged in Jan. 6 riot wore a police sweatshirt to the Capitol, U.S. alleges, Tom Jackman, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). A Chicago police officer was arrested Friday morning and charged with two misdemeanor counts tied to his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, where he apparently wore a Chicago police sweatshirt and took a selfie inside a senator’s office.

Karol J. Chwiesiuk, 29, was charged after FBI agents learned his phone had been inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and then found photos he had sent to a friend along with texts such as “We inside the capitol” and “Knocked out a commie last night,” according to court documents.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a number of civil rights leaders in the city, including Jesse Jackson, appeared at the news conference to denounce the sentiments allegedly expressed by Chwiesiuk, an officer for two years.

“You will not be paid by the taxpayers of this community,” Lightfoot said, “to be a hateful member of our community.”

Chwiesiuk is charged with knowingly entering or remaining on restricted grounds without lawful entry and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He is not accused of attacking police or vandalizing property.

Chwiesiuk appears to be at least the 19th current or former member of law enforcement to be arrested in the investigation into Jan. 6. On Thursday, a former police chief in La Habra, Calif., Alan Hostetter, also was arrested.

June 12

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Will Investigate Trump-Era Seizure of Lawmakers’ Data, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, June 12, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats denounced the Trump administration’s seizure of the data as an abuse of power and called on Republicans to back a congressional inquiry.

The Justice Department’s independent inspector general opened an investigation on Friday into the decision by federal prosecutors to secretly seize the data of House Democrats and reporters as investigators hunted down who was leaking classified information early in the Trump administration.

Justice Department log circularAt the same time, top Senate Democrats demanded that the former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William P. Barr testify publicly before Congress about the leak investigations, including about subpoenas issued to tech companies in 2017 and 2018 for the records of at least a dozen people tied to the House Intelligence Committee. The senators vowed to “vigorously investigate” and called on Republicans to join them.

Apple, which complied with a subpoena for information related to more than 100 email addresses and phone numbers in February 2018, said on Friday that it did not realize that the records belonged to Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, and his associates. Microsoft said it was also subpoenaed by a grand jury as early as November 2017 for data related to an email account for an aide to the panel.

Democrats and privacy advocates denounced the exceedingly unusual seizures related to Congress, reported on Thursday by The New York Times, as an abuse of power. Some called on lawmakers to pursue legal changes to crack down on the kind of gag orders used for years to keep companies from disclosing the subpoenas. Others urged the Justice Department to punish investigators who sought the records.

“I hope every prosecutor who was involved in this is thrown out of the department,” said Representative Eric Swalwell of California, a Democrat on the intelligence panel whose records were also seized. “It crosses the line of what we do in this country.”

The episode added fuel to accusations of politicization in the Trump-era Justice Department, where federal prosecutors seemingly gave lenient treatment to some of the former president’s allies and targeted reporters and Democrats he reviled as the administration sought to stop leaks about Trump associates and Russia.

ny times logoNew York Times, The leak investigation has placed tech giants at the center of a political firestorm, Jack Nicas, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner, June 12, 2021 (print ed.). Apple, under fire for turning over the data of two lawmakers to the Trump Justice Dept., said it did so unknowingly, while Google fought a request for New York Times data because it related to a corporate client.

On Feb. 6, 2018, Apple received a grand jury subpoena for the names and phone records connected to 109 email addresses and phone numbers. It was one of the more than 250 data requests that the company received on average from U.S. law enforcement each week at the time. An Apple paralegal complied and provided the information.

This year, a gag order on the subpoena expired. Apple said it alerted the people who were the subjects of the subpoena, just as it does with dozens of customers each day.

But this request was out of the ordinary.

apple logo rainbowWithout knowing it, Apple said, it had handed over the data of congressional staff members, their families and at least two members of Congress, including Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat and now its chairman. It turned out the subpoena was part of a wide-ranging investigation by the Trump administration into leaks of classified information.

The revelations have now plunged Apple into the middle of a firestorm over the Trump administration’s efforts to find the sources of news stories, and the handling underscores the flood of law enforcement requests that tech companies increasingly contend with. The number of these requests has soared in recent years to thousands a week, putting Apple and other tech giants like Google and Microsoft in an uncomfortable position between law enforcement, the courts and the customers whose privacy they have promised to protect.

The companies regularly comply with the requests because they are legally required to do so. The subpoenas can be vague, so Apple, Google and others are often unclear on the nature or subject of an investigation. They can challenge some of the subpoenas if they are too broad or if they relate to a corporate client. In the first six months of 2020, Apple challenged 238 demands from the government for its customers’ account data, or 4 percent of such requests.

google logo customAs part of the same leak investigation by the Trump administration, Google fought a gag order this year on a subpoena to turn over data on the emails of four New York Times reporters. Google argued that its contract as The Times’s corporate email provider required it to inform the newspaper of any government requests for its emails, said Ted Boutrous, an outside lawyer for The Times.

But more frequently than not, the companies comply with law enforcement demands. And that underlines an awkward truth: As their products become more central to people’s lives, the world’s largest tech companies have become surveillance intermediaries and crucial partners to authorities, with the power to arbitrate which requests to honor and which to reject.

“There is definitely tension,” said Alan Z. Rozenshtein, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s law school and a former Justice Department lawyer. He said given the “insane amount of data these companies have” and how everyone has a smartphone, most law enforcement investigations “at some point involve these companies.”

On Friday, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general opened an investigation into the decision by federal prosecutors to secretly seize the data of House Democrats and reporters. Top Senate Democrats also demanded that the former attorneys general William P. Barr and Jeff Sessions testify before Congress about the leak investigations, specifically about the subpoena issued to Apple and another to Microsoft.

Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said in a statement that the company regularly challenged government data requests and informed affected customers as soon as it legally could.

“In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge, provided no information on the nature of the investigation, and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts,” he said. “Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”

In a statement, Microsoft said it received a subpoena in 2017 related to a personal email account. It said it notified the customer after the gag order expired and learned that the person was a congressional staff member. “We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this,” the company said.

 Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), WMR also targeted by Trump DoJ, Wayne Madsen, June 12, 2021. As a reminder, WMR was also a target of Donald Trump’s misuse of the Justice Department to seek wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallwayne madesen report logocommunications metadata on CNN, The New York Times, and Democratic members of Congress. We reported on these subpoeanas last May.

Last year, the following emails were received from Microsoft (shown below) and Apple concerning Attorney General William Barr's private communications subpoena action: 

From: Microsoft User Notification <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
Date: May 27, 2020 at 12:34:51 PM EDT
To: "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
Subject: Microsoft Notification of Legal Process – GCC-1160500-V0W7F0

Hello,

Microsoft received a legal demand from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on 29 March 2019 for data related to your Email account This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The request was served by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Microsoft complied with the legal demand by providing responsive data on 10 April 2019.

The legal demand contained a non-disclosure order of limited duration. This non-disclosure prohibition has expired and Microsoft is now able to notify you of the existence of this legal demand.

Pursuant to Microsoft policy found here: https://blogs.microsoft.com/datalaw/our-practices/#does-microsoft-notify-users, Microsoft gives notice to users whose data is sought by a law enforcement agency or other governmental entity, except where prohibited by law.

Regards,

Law Enforcement National Security
Microsoft Corporation

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

ny times logoNew York Times, Schumer Demands That Barr Testify About Seizure of Lawmakers’ Data, Staff Reports, June 12, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats including Senator Chuck Schumer  (shown above in a file photo with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) said the actions by William Barr and other Trump officials were a gross abuse of power.

Top Senate Democrats on Friday demanded that former Attorney General William P. Barr, right, and other Justice Department officials testify before the Judiciary Committee about their extraordinary william barr new odecision to secretly seize data from the accounts of House Democrats and their aides as they hunted for leaks of classified information.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the chairman of the judiciary panel, said they were willing to subpoena for testimony Mr. Barr, former Attorney General Jeff Session and others if necessary. They also announced they would “vigorously investigate” the department’s actions and called on Republicans to join them in the inquiry.

“This issue should not be partisan; under the Constitution, Congress is a coequal branch of government and must be protected from an overreaching executive, and we expect that our Republican colleagues will join us in getting to the bottom of this serious matter,” Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin said in a statement.

Their demands came as Democrats in both chambers decried the seizures and aggressive investigative tactics, first reported by The New York Times on Thursday, as a gross abuse of power to target another branch of government. They said the pursuit of information on some of President Donald J. Trump’s most visible political adversaries in Congress smacked of dangerous politicization.

So far, no prominent Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for investigations, which could make fact-finding more difficult. The attempt by Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin to put pressure on them to stand up for Congress’s prerogatives reflected the fact that to issue subpoenas or compel testimony in an evenly divided Senate, Democrats would need at least some Republican support.

The Times reported that as it hunted for the source of leaks about Trump associates and Russia, the Justice Department had used grand jury subpoenas to compel Apple and one other service provider to hand over data tied to at least a dozen people associated with the House Intelligence Committee beginning in 2017 and 2018. The department then secured a gag order to keep it secret.

Though leak investigations are routine, current and former officials at the Justice Department and in Congress said seizing data on lawmakers is nearly unheard-of outside of corruption investigations. The Times also reported that after an initial round of scrutiny did not turn up evidence tying the intelligence committee to the leaks, Mr. Barr objected to closing out the inquiry and helped revive it.

Investigators gained access to the records of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee and now its chairman; Representative Eric Swalwell of California; committee staff; and family members, including one who was a minor.

“I hope every prosecutor who was involved in this is thrown out of the department,” Mr. Swalwell, right, said in an interview on Friday. “It crosses the line of what we do in this country.”

“We have to figure out what and how it happened to determine the extent to which D.O.J. misused its powers under Trump for political purposes,” he continued. “I think it was absolutely a frontal assault on the independence of a coequal branch of government.”

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Urged on by Biden, G-7 will offer developing countries a superior alternative to Beijing’s insidious Belt and Road debt trap! Webster G. Tarpley, right, June 12, 2021. US leads G-7 in webster tarpley 2007pushback against China on human rights, Taiwan security, Covid-19 truth, pandemic preparedness, and supply chains; France’s Macron says he is on “same page” with President.

  • Department of Justice is not an independent state within the state, but must serve the general welfare; Officials who enabled Trump’s enemies’ list operations must be ousted;
  • Virginia and New Jersey primaries are won by moderates; Defund the police slogan losing ground; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads as early voting begins in June 22 contest;
  • Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King cannot be written out of American history to please ideologues of today!
  • A century after Oswald Spengler’s orgy of historical pessimism, clear signs of the resurgence of the West.

June 11

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

Palmer Report, Biden-appointed Deputy Attorney General tells DOJ Inspector General to investigate Trump DOJ spying scandal, Bill Palmer, right, June 11, 2021. When the disturbing news bill palmerbroke last night that the Trump DOJ spied on the personal data of multiple Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, the defeatists insisted that nothing would be done about it. But now they’re already being proven wrong.

bill palmer report logo headerDeputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco has asked Department of Justice Inspector General Horowitz to open an investigation into the scandal, according to NBC News. This is a big deal, because the Inspector General is the highest ranking watchdog in the DOJ, and has independent authority to carry out an investigation that can’t be meddled with by any remaining Trump loyalists within the DOJ. Moreover, Horowitz has already previously demonstrated that he’s fair and honest in his past high profile probes.

The Inspector General’s report on the scandal will lay the groundwork for the firing of any Trump-era DOJ officials who acted improperly in this scandal and are still on the job. It will also lay the groundwork for any criminal charges that might arise from this scandal.

It’s also a big deal that the Deputy Attorney General, the second highest ranking official in the Department of Justice, is the one telling the Inspector General to do this. It will give serious weight and legitimacy to the Inspector General’s findings. And to be clear, the Deputy Attorney General would not be doing this unless she’s acting in concert with her boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland. Finally, the Department of Justice is moving forward with the “Justice” part.

g7 group photo uk resized 2021

G7 leaders representing major democracies plus the European Union pose in a socially distanced manner at their meeting at Cornwall, England hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center. Others, from left, are: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Charles Michel, President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose at the start of the G-7 summit in Carbis Bay on June 11 (Patrick Semansky / Pool Photo / via Reuters).

ny times logoNew York Times, G7 Live Updates: Leaders Will Pledge to Donate 1 Billion Covid Vaccine Doses, Marc Santora, June 11, 2021. The leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies are expected to pledge one billion doses of Covid vaccines to poor and middle-income countries on Friday as part of a campaign to “vaccinate the world” by the end of 2022.

The stakes could hardly be higher.

g7 logo uk 2021“This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation, to save as many lives as we can,” President Biden said in a speech in England on Thursday evening, before the meeting of the Group of 7 wealthy democracies. “When we see people hurting and suffering anywhere around the world, we seek to help any way we can.”It is not just a race to save lives, restart economies and lift restrictions that continue to take an immeasurable toll on people around the globe.

Since Mr. Biden landed in Europe for the start of his first presidential trip abroad on Wednesday, he has made it clear that this is a moment when democracies must prove that they can rise to meet the world’s gravest challenges. And they must do so in a way the world can see, as autocrats and strongmen — particularly in Russia and China — promote their systems of governance as superior.

Yet the notion of “vaccine diplomacy” can easily be intertwined with “vaccine nationalism,” which the World Health Organization has warned could ultimately limit the global availability of vaccines.

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr).When Mr. Biden, left, announced on Thursday that the U.S. would donate of 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses, the president said they would be provided with “no strings attached.”

“We’re doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic,” he said. “That’s it. Period.”

But even as wealthy democracies move to step up their efforts, the scale of the challenge is enormous.

Covax, the global vaccine-sharing program, still remains underfunded and billions of doses short.

In related news:

  • China, charting its own course, plays a key role in vaccinating the world against Covid.
  • Remember the Trump balloon? Now there’s one for Biden, too.
  • Trans-Atlantic relations are friendlier, but are they really different?
  • For Australia’s prime minister, his visit to Cornwall is a homecoming — of sorts.
  • ‘Mount Recylemore’ fashions world leaders’ faces out of trash.
  • What is the G7 summit, and why does it matter?
  • At the G7’s first in-person gathering since the pandemic began, tackling the health crisis is a top priority. President Biden, on his first presidential trip abroad, said it was a pivotal moment for Western democracies.

 anthony fauci graphic Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Daily Distortions: No, Fauci is not profiting from a coming book on lessons he’s learned from his public service, Davey Alba, June 11, 2021. In the past few days, after the listing for a coming book by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top adviser on Covid-19, was taken down from Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s websites, right-wing outlets and social media commentators spread the rumor that the it had been removed because of public backlash to the idea of Dr. Fauci’s “profiteering” from the pandemic.

In truth, Dr. Fauci (shown above in a file photo) is not making any money from the book, which is about lessons he has learned during his decades in public service, and the listing was pulled for a simple reason: the publisher had posted it too early.

Dr. Fauci “will not earn any royalties from its publication and was not paid” for the book, Expect the Unexpected, said Ann Day, a spokeswoman for National Geographic Books, its publisher. She said Dr. Fauci also would not earn anything for a related documentary. (Dr. Fauci did not respond to a request for comment.)

The book, which compiles interviews and speeches given by Dr. Fauci during his 37 years as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was taken off the websites because “it was prematurely posted for presale,” Ms. Day said. She added that proceeds would “go back to the National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education and to reinvest in content.”

In a statement, the national institute noted that the book had not been written by Dr. Fauci himself. The institute also confirmed that he would not earn any royalties from its publication.

The falsehood about the book and Dr. Fauci spread widely online. On May 31, the right-wing outlet The Daily Caller published an article about the book’s appearing for presale online. Some conservative Republicans, including Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Dan Bishop of North Carolina, seized on the article and claimed without evidence that Dr. Fauci would be profiting from the book.

 

katie logan 2001 currently tim gruber wash post

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: People of Praise, a Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, faces reckoning over sexual misconduct allegations, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, June 11, 2021. Barrett’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court spurred former members of the group to speak out and forced People of Praise to hire lawyers to investigate.

In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. He was 35 at the time, a widely admired teacher and girls’ basketball coach who lived in a People of Praise home for celibate men.

Logan (shown above in 2001 photo at left and in a recent Washington Post photo by Tim Gruber) told police she reported the June 2001 incident to a dean at the school five years after it happened. Police records show the dean believed Logan and relayed the complaint to at least one other senior school official.

But the teacher, Dave Beskar, remained at Trinity School at River Ridge until 2011, when he was hired to lead a charter school in Arizona. In 2015, he returned to the Minneapolis area to become headmaster of another Christian school. Beskar denies that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

“People of Praise leaders failed me,” Logan, 37, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls.”

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoLogan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, left, who has deep roots in People of Praise and who served on the board of its schools years after Beskar left.

Barrett’s ascendancy to the nation’s highest court has forced a painful reckoning in People of Praise, an insular Christian community that emphasizes traditional gender roles. The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.

The Post interviewed nine people in the Facebook group — all but one of them women — who said they were sexually abused as children, as well as another man who says he was physically abused. In four of those cases, the people said the alleged abuse was reported to community leaders. Logan gave The Post recorded statements and other documents from the police investigation of her complaint.

In response to questions from The Post, Craig Lent, chairman of the religious group’s board of governors, said that the lawyers’ findings will be reviewed by a People of Praise committee of men and women and that “appropriate action” will be taken.

Lent declined in a written statement to respond to specific questions about Logan’s allegation but acknowledged the “serious questions that it raises.” He declined to say how many claims are being investigated.

“People of Praise has always put the safety of children far above any reputational concerns,” said Lent, who is also chairman of the board overseeing three Trinity Schools campuses for middle and high school students — in the Minneapolis area, South Bend, Ind., and Falls Church, Va.

People of Praise grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing. The group says it has 1,700 members across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

amy coney barrett ap oct 12 2020Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a “handmaid,” a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.

Barrett was not asked about People of Praise during her confirmation to the Supreme Court (shown at right). At her 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court, she said she would not put her religious beliefs before the rule of law. “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law,” she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, How Severe Is the Western Drought? See for Yourself, Nadja Popovich, June 11, 2021. Maps show that drought conditions are the most widespread and severe in at least 20 years, with reservoirs running dry.

An intense drought is gripping the American West. Extreme conditions are more widespread than at any point in at least 20 years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the government’s official drought-tracking service.

And the hottest months of summer are still to come.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trumpist Insurrectionists Have Now Created a Systematized Mechanism for "Cancelling" People and Groups—and It's the Most Comprehensive Cancel Culture America seth abramson graphicHas Ever Seen, Seth Abramson, left, June 10-11, 2021. The number of brands explicitly targeted for cancellation by Patriot.Win is staggering, representing a cultist/militant rejection of both the American free-market system and American democracy itself.

The most ardent adherents to a self-described billionaire’s “populist” movement claim to be animated by what they say is the worrying spread of “cancel culture” in America. If their complaint seems not just hypocritical but even delusionally self-contradictory, do remember that that’s the point: Trumpism is about attributing to one’s opponents whatever it is one is doing oneself that one cannot defend, whether it’s encouraging violent attacks on persons and property, undermining U.S. elections, or “cancelling” so many companies, websites, media outlets and persons through concerted digital action and even (see below) a systematized protocol for cancelling entities that there can no longer be any doubt that Patriot.Win is now the chief “canceller” in the United States.

The Patriot.Win Website: Patriot.Win is an insurrectionist outgrowth of the now-defunct pro-sedition website TheDonald.Win, which latter address now redirects to America.Win. Patriot.Win has two badges it uses to warn its users about companies, sites, media outlets and persons:

    • The Orange “Warning” Badge
    • The Red “Cancellation” Badge 

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

More On U.S. Assaults On Elections, Voting Rights  

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool was just one example of the racist and anti-Semitic imagery on display at the riot. The noose is a racist symbol of the lynching of Black Americans. (Photo by Shay Horse  via NurPhoto / Getty).

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director berated for Jan. 6 failures and Giuliani probe as he testifies before House committee, Matt Zapotosky, June 11, 2021 (print ed.).  Democrats and Republicans lobbed withering questions at the FBI as Director Christopher A. Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, though their concerns diverged significantly along partisan lines. 

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) blasted Wray for the bureau’s failure to detect in advance and respond to the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while ranking Republican Jim Jordan (Ohio) accused the bureau of intruding on Americans’ civil liberties in an eclectic mix of circumstances.

The hearing made clear that Democrats and Republicans could hardly be further apart on what the FBI should and shouldn’t be doing. But on this much, they seemed to agree: the nation’s premier federal law enforcement institution had significant problems that needed to be addressed.

christopher wray oFor his part, Wray, right, sought to highlight how the bureau seeks to root out violence — no matter what motivates it — and is careful not to tread on Americans’ First Amendment rights.

In his opening statement, the FBI director highlighted the “extremist violence” of Jan. 6 in which more than 100 officers were injured in just a few hours and asserted that law enforcement had made more than 500 arrests.

But he also noted the bureau saw extremist violence during last summer’s civil unrest associated with racial justice protests. While he asserted that “most citizens made their voices heard through peaceful lawful, protests,” he said that others attacked federal buildings and left officers injured, and thousands had been arrested across the country.

“That is not a controversial issue that should force anyone to take sides,” he said, adding later in response to questions, “I don’t care whether you’re upset at our criminal justice system, or upset at our election system, violence, assaults on federal law enforcement, destruction of property, is not the way to do it. That’s our position.”

FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence

FBI logoNadler and other Democrats pressed Wray on the intelligence the bureau had gathered in advance of Jan. 6, and the actions it took that day as rioters stormed the Capitol. Nadler noted that a report from the bureau’s Norfolk field office from the day before seemed to predict what was going to happen, and it was forwarded to the field office in Washington. He questioned why — in the days after the riot — the head of that office insisted the bureau had no intelligence anything would happen beyond activity protected by the First Amendment.

“Did the FBI simply miss the evidence, or did it see the evidence and fail to piece it together?” Nadler asked.

Wray, as he and others have in the past, said the document was “raw, unverified” intelligence, and asserted that it nonetheless was shared with law enforcement partners, including the Capitol Police, in multiple ways.

“We tried to make sure that we got that information to the right people,” Wray said. He added that, among those arrested and charged so far in the Capitol attack, “almost none” were previously under investigation.

Federal agents execute search warrant at Giuliani’s home

Democrats also sought to get Wray to stress the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack, while Republicans focused more on the summer’s unrest. Though Wray stressed the seriousness of both, he noted that with the summer’s violence across the country, it was often easier for prosecutors to pursue local charges, while the mayhem at the Capitol produced more federal offenses.

  • Proof via Substack, Investigation: Inside the Willard Hotel on January 6, Seth Abramson, left, June 8-9, 2021. One of Washington's most expensive hotels (above) was the nerve center for theinsurrection—and a playground for seditious kingpins media and the FBI seem content to ignore for now. Proof takes a look inside.

alan hostetter left russ taylor right

Alleged "Three Percenters" leaders  Alan Hostetter, left, a former police chief, and Russell Taylor are shown above in Washington, DC before the January insurrection at the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Men Said to Be Tied to Three Percenters Movement Charged in Capitol Riot, Alan Feuer and Matthew Rosenberg, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). The indictment marks the first charges lodged against conspirators linked to the radical gun rights group.

Federal prosecutors filed a wide-ranging conspiracy indictment on Thursday accusing six California men said to be connected to a radical gun rights movement called the Three Percenters with plotting to assault the Capitol on Jan. 6, in the first charges lodged against anyone involved with planning any of the political events held the week of the attack.

Justice Department log circularThe 20-page indictment was also the first to be brought against a group of alleged Three Percenters, a loosely organized movement that takes its name from the supposed 3 percent of the U.S. colonial population that fought against the British. The new charges, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, came on the same day that Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified in front of a House committee that prosecutors were pursuing additional conspiracy charges against some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

Investigators have said for months that several extremist groups were involved in the attack, but while the Three Percenters have been occasionally mentioned in court filings, most accused extremists have come from two other groups: the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys. The new charges could suggest that prosecutors have started to pay attention not only to those who directly took part in the Capitol attack, but also to those who helped foment the assault.

The two top defendants in the indictment — Alan Hostetter, 56, a former police chief turned yoga instructor; and Russell Taylor, 40, a wealthy graphic designer with a taste for red Corvettes — were already under scrutiny by the government after the F.B.I. raided their homes in January. Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor were leaders of a group called the American Phoenix Project, which was founded to fight the “fear-based tyranny” of coronavirus-related restrictions. The group later embraced former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about a stolen election, and helped organize a well-attended rally outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 5, where the speakers included Roger J. Stone Jr., a former adviser to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Hostetter’s wife, Kristine, a schoolteacher, also attracted national attention this year after she attended “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, setting off a furor in their hometown, San Clemente, Calif., that prompted an investigation by the school board into whether she had attacked the Capitol. She was cleared by the district in March.

seth pendley facebook

washington post logoWashington Post, He brought a sawed-off rifle to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Then he plotted to bomb Amazon data centers, Katie Shepherd, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). For weeks this spring, 28-year-old Seth Aaron Pendley had plotted an attack on Amazon data centers in Virginia. He had already taken a sawed-off rifle to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Now, he hoped to cripple much of the Internet and take down government networks.

Last April, he finally arranged a meeting with a man promising to provide the C-4 explosive devices. When they met in Fort Worth, Tex., the man showed Pendley how to arm and detonate the powerful bombs.But just as Pendley placed the devices into his Pontiac, federal agents swarmed in and arrested him. The bomb seller was actually an FBI plant who had helped unravel a plan Pendley believed could “kill off about 70 percent of the internet.”

On Wednesday, Pendley (shown above in a Facebook photo) pleaded guilty to planning to bomb Amazon facilities in an attempt to undermine the U.S. government and to spark a rebellion against the “oligarchy” he believed to be running the country.

amazon logo smallThe case underscores the dramatic rise in domestic terrorism driven by right-wing extremists and raises concerns about those who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection plotting new attacks. Domestic attacks peaked in 2020, mostly driven by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists. Those far-right attacks have killed 91 people since 2015, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Justice Department officials on Wednesday said Pendley’s plans could have injured or killed workers at the Amazon facilities if the FBI hadn’t intervened.

“Due in large part to the meticulous work of the FBI’s undercover agents, the Justice Department was able to expose Mr. Pendley’s twisted plot and apprehend the defendant before he was able to inflict any real harm,” Prerak Shah, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “We may never know how many tech workers’ lives were saved through this operation — and we’re grateful we never had to find out.”

Pendley’s plot against the government began to take shape in January, according to investigators. He said he traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 with a sawed-off rifle concealed in a backpack. As a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, he decided to leave the gun in his car and never entered the building, according to court records. But he later boasted about taking a piece of broken glass from the federal building home to Texas with him.

Under his plea agreement, Pendley faces between five and 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of probation and will be banned from owning firearms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Attorney General Is Being Investigated by State Bar Association, Dave Montgomery, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). Attorney General Ken Paxton is accused of filing a frivolous lawsuit when he challenged President Biden’s victory.

The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether Attorney General Ken Paxton committed professional misconduct by challenging President Biden’s victory in the courts, which a complaint called a “frivolous lawsuit” that wasted taxpayer money.

texas mapThe investigation, which could result in discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment, is the latest obstacle for Mr. Paxton, who has been at the center of bribery and corruption accusations and was indicted in 2015 on allegations of securities fraud in a case that has not been resolved.

Mr. Paxton, left, a Republican, is also being challenged by a member of the Bush family in next year’s primary for attorney general, the state’s highest law enforcement office ken paxton mugand a position that has served as a political springboard. He was preceded in office by Gov. Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn.

After it became clear that Mr. Biden won the election, Mr. Paxton filed a lawsuit in early December that was ridiculed by many legal experts and ultimately rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. He had asked the court to extend a deadline for the certification of presidential electors, arguing that election irregularities in four other states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — warranted further investigation.

That month, Kevin Moran, a retired Houston Chronicle reporter and president of the Galveston Island Democrats, filed a grievance to the Texas State Bar. In his filing, Mr. Moran contended that Mr. Paxton knew the lawsuit lacked legal merit and that any unelected lawyer would face disciplinary action for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

“Knowing that the national election had NOT been rigged or stolen, he acted in a way to stoke those baseless conspiracy theories nationwide,” Mr. Moran wrote.

The State Bar of Texas said it was prohibited by statute from discussing any pending matters, and the attorney general’s office did not reply to a request for comment.

Mr. Paxton’s campaign spokesman, Ian Prior, denounced the complaint as a “low-level stunt” and “frivolous allegation,” adding that “Democrats in Texas keep showing just how much they can’t stand election integrity.”

The complaint was initially dismissed by the state bar’s chief disciplinary counsel’s office but later revived by its Board of Disciplinary Appeals, which is appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. The 12-member board notified Mr. Moran in late May that it had granted his appeal after “finding that the grievance alleges a possible violation” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Misconduct.

Mr. Moran, 71, said on Thursday that he had filed the complaint as “an upset citizen” — not as a Democratic official — because he was outraged by the attorney general’s lawsuit, particularly after a multitude of judges had upheld Mr. Biden’s victory.

“With his track record, I believe he should be disbarred,” he said of Mr. Paxton.

After receiving a letter from the state bar in January that dismissed his complaint, Mr. Moran filed an appeal that he said he was somewhat surprised to see granted.

Mr. Paxton, in his second term as the Texas attorney general, faces a tough re-election campaign against George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner as well as the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and the son of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. Both candidates are vying for an endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump, who still wields influence over Texas Republicans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Merrick Garland’s big day, Bill Palmer, right, June 11, 2021. Merrick Garland has refrained from giving high profile speeches since he became Attorney General, preferring to simply do bill palmerhis job rather than publicly posturing. But his silence has allowed procedural court filings – and a number of really cranky liberal pundits – to write his story for him. Now that’s changing today.

Garlan is giving a major speech this afternoon about how he and the Department of Justice intend to take specific legal steps to protect the voting rights of all Americans. It sounds a lot like he’s going to announce legal action against the red states that have passed blatantly unconstitutional voter suppression laws thus far this year.

bill palmer report logo headerThis will be a huge swing for Garland, , below at right, because he’ll be trying fix the voting rights mess through the court system that Congress is still struggling to fix through legislation. It’s Garland’s responsibility to go this route, as the DOJ has a legal duty to challenge the actions of states that it feels are unconstitutional. It’ll also prove to be very popular with liberal merrick garlandactivists, who have been demanding that “somebody do something” about voting rights.

Of course Merrick Garland’s speech today very likely won’t address why the DOJ has made a series of procedural court filings that have been interpreted by liberal activists as protecting Donald Trump and Bill Barr. In reality these court filings may be mere formalities, as the judge in each instance is likely to rule against the DOJ anyway. But with Garland now about to very publicly tackle voting rights and voter suppression, this should take the heat off him long enough for us to all find out where he really stands on bringing the previous regime to justice.

June 10

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress, Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman, June 10, 2021. The Justice Department seized records from Apple for metadata of House Intelligence Committee members, their aides and family members.

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

adam schiff squareAll told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, right, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had subpoenaed.

american flag upside down distressProsecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr, shown above, revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

The zeal in the Trump administration’s efforts to hunt leakers led to the extraordinary step of subpoenaing communications metadata from members of Congress — a nearly apple logo rainbowunheard-of move outside of corruption investigations. While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one.

Moreover, just as it did in investigating news organizations, the Justice Department secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, so lawmakers did not know they were being investigated until Apple informed them last month.

Prosecutors also eventually secured subpoenas for reporters’ records to try to identify their confidential sources, a move that department policy allows only after all other avenues of inquiry are exhausted.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trumpist Insurrectionists Have Now Created a Systematized Mechanism for "Cancelling" People and Groups—and It's the Most Comprehensive Cancel Culture America seth abramson graphicHas Ever Seen, Seth Abramson, left, June 10, 2021. The number of brands explicitly targeted for cancellation by Patriot.Win is staggering, representing a cultist/militant rejection of both the American free-market system and American democracy itself.

The most ardent adherents to a self-described billionaire’s “populist” movement claim to be animated by what they say is the worrying spread of “cancel culture” in America. If their complaint seems not just hypocritical but even delusionally self-contradictory, do remember that that’s the point: Trumpism is about attributing to one’s opponents whatever it is one is doing oneself that one cannot defend, whether it’s encouraging violent attacks on persons and property, undermining U.S. elections, or “cancelling” so many companies, websites, media outlets and persons through concerted digital action and even (see below) a systematized protocol for cancelling entities that there can no longer be any doubt that Patriot.Win is now the chief “canceller” in the United States.

The Patriot.Win Website: Patriot.Win is an insurrectionist outgrowth of the now-defunct pro-sedition website TheDonald.Win, which latter address now redirects to America.Win. Patriot.Win has two badges it uses to warn its users about companies, sites, media outlets and persons:

    • The Orange “Warning” Badge
    • The Red “Cancellation” Badge 

dan mcgahn djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don McGahn has finally publicly confessed to Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes, Bill Palmer, right, June 10, 2021. It shouldn’t have taken this long. It’s been sabotaged by bill palmercorrupt bad actors at every turn for years. But once Donald Trump lost the election, it was always going to happen inevitably. And sure enough, former White House Counsel Don McGahn has finally publicly confessed to Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes.

McGahn (above right) testified about these crimes to the Mueller team long ago – but as we all remember – the most important parts of the Mueller report were illegally buried by Bill Barr and then the media inexplicably took Barr at his word. But now McGahn has testified about Trump’s obstruction crimes to Congress, and while it took place behind closed doors, McGahn knew the transcript would be released shortly after his testimony.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that happened yesterday. The public transcript reveals that while Don McGahn wasn’t the most cooperative of witnesses, he did specifically state that Donald Trump ordered him to do things to interfere with the Mueller probe that he refused to do, because he viewed the orders as illegal. This is a confession on McGahn’s part that he witnessed Trump commit felony obstruction of justice.

Why does this matter? Here’s the thing. Donald Trump is already facing grand jury indictment in New York, and he’s on a glide path to state prison. But that will be for his financial crimes, many of which took place before he took office. The big question is whether Trump will also be federally criminally charged for the crimes he committed in his role as President.

McGahn’s confession to Trump’s guilt will make it a heck of a lot easier for the Feds to criminally charge Trump with obstruction of justice, if they want to. Also, the public release of this testimony should help ramp up public demand for Trump’s federal prosecution, which will help put pressure on the Feds to charge him even if they’d rather not.

Because McGahn’s testimony emerged as a transcript and not live on television (something that McGahn would never have agreed to and would have instead fought in court for another few years), the impact of his testimony won’t be immediate. But we’re already seeing the McGahn transcript filter its way into media coverage, which will help gradually educate the public about Trump’s obstruction crimes, which could finally get the ball rolling on obstruction charges.

Again, Donald Trump is already earmarked for prison for financial crimes in New York. And frankly, it’ll be infinitely easier to get a jury to convict Trump for straightforward financial crimes than it will be to get a jury to convict Trump for something as qualitative as obstruction of justice. But if you believe that the Feds must criminally charge Trump for his crimes in office, suffice it to say that those odds – while still unknown – certainly just went up

ny times logoNew York Times, Google Tweaks Its Formula, Seeking to Curb Online Slander, Kashmir Hill and Daisuke Wakabayashi, June 10, 2021. In response to Times articles, the search giant is changing its algorithm, part of a major shift in how Google polices harmful content.

For many years, the vicious cycle has spun: Websites solicit lurid, unverified complaints about supposed cheaters, sexual predators, deadbeats and scammers. People slander their enemies. The anonymous posts appear high in Google results for the names of victims. Then the websites charge the victims thousands of dollars to take the posts down.

This circle of slander has been lucrative for the websites and associated middlemen — and devastating for victims. Now Google is trying to break the loop.

google logo customThe company plans to change its search algorithm to prevent websites, which operate under domains like BadGirlReport.date and PredatorsAlert.us, from appearing in the list of results when someone searches for a person’s name.

Google also recently created a new concept it calls “known victims.” When people report to the company that they have been attacked on sites that charge to remove posts, Google will automatically suppress similar content when their names are searched for. “Known victims” also includes people whose nude photos have been published online without their consent, allowing them to request suppression of explicit results for their names.

The changes — some already made by Google and others planned for the coming months — are a response to recent New York Times articles documenting how the slander industry preys on victims with Google’s unwitting help.

That represents a momentous shift for victims of online slander. Google, which fields an estimated 90 percent of global online search, historically resisted having human judgment play a role in its search engine, although it has bowed to mounting pressure in recent years to fight misinformation and abuse appearing at the top of its results.

June 9 

sherri tenpenny ohio

Ohio Capital Journal, ‘5G towers,’ other conspiracies flourish at hearing on vaccine bill, Jake Zuckerman, June 9, 2021. Supporters crammed into the House Health Committee room June 8 in support of House Bill 248, which weakens state vaccination laws.

A doctor warned that vaccinated people might be magnetized and pose a health risk to unvaccinated people around them.

A pastor said vaccines contain ingredients like formaldehyde and fetal cells.

A nurse sought to prove the truth of “magnetic vaccine crystals.”

These statements — none of which are true — came during the Ohio House Health Committee’s review Tuesday of House Bill 248, a broad weakening of state vaccination laws. The five-hour hearing, limited to proponent testimony, devolved into a forum of fear-stoking, speculation, and conspiracy theorizing around the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, shown above, a board-certified physician from the Cleveland area, repeatedly raised unfounded claims of deaths, strokes and other “horrendous side effects” from the vaccine. The Center for Countering Digital Hate identified Tenpenny as one of a dozen of the most prolific anti-vaccination disinformers “who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about Covid vaccines.” The report is linked here and excerpted below:  Advocacy Special Report: The Disinformation Dozen: Why Platforms Must Act On Twelve Leading Online Anti-Vaxxers

At one point, Tenpenny made a claim to lawmakers, with no evidence behind it, that vaccinated people are somehow magnetized.

“They can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think there’s a metal piece to that,” she said. “There’s been people who have long suspected that there was some sort of an interface, yet to be defined interface, between what’s being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers.”

Shortly thereafter, Tom Renz, a lawyer, testified in support of the bill as well. Renz has filed lawsuits in states around the U.S. crying foul of an array of government practices related to COVID-19 and vaccination.

He filed one such case in Ohio, which he withdrew after U.S. District Judge James Carr called Renz’s arguments nearly “incomprehensible” and his supporting evidence “a jumble of alleged facts, conclusory and speculative assertions, personal and third-party allegations, opinions, and articles of dubious provenance and admissibility.”

Renz, like several other witnesses, accused health officials of secretly profiting from vaccines while covering up their dangers.

House Bill 248, co-sponsored by 16 House Republicans, would prohibit any of the following institutions from mandating, incentivizing, or “otherwise requesting” their employees, customers or students get vaccinated: businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, day-care centers, and insurers.

It also:

  • Prohibits a person from mandating, requiring, or otherwise requesting that an individual receive a vaccine.
  • Compels public schools, which already accept exemptions for non-medical and medical reasons, to emphasize vaccine exemptions “in the same timing and manner, including text size and font, as it
  • provides notice of the requirements.”
  • Blocks businesses from separating patrons by vaccination status or asking whether they’ve been vaccinated.

Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester, the bill’s lead sponsor, has said she isn’t opposed to vaccination, but people should have the right to choose. “This is not a scientific bill,” she said last month. “This is a freedom bill.”

Several public health experts have warned in interviews that the legislation will likely lead to sagging vaccination rates, and in turn, outbreaks of infectious disease.

mike dewine oIn the last two weeks, Gov. Mike DeWine, right, Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud, and ODH Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff declined to comment on the legislation.

At a press call last week, a physician joined Vanderhoff for a largely unrelated press conference encouraging vaccination against COVID-19. When asked by a reporter about the bill, she didn’t share Vanderhoff’s reticence.

“I’ll be very direct and say this bill threatens how we take care of children, and how we keep them healthy, and how we keep them alive,” said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, the chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“To limit and restrict the ability to require vaccinations in schools or to check vaccination status, it’s almost unthinkable in a pediatric community to think that one of the best tools we have at prevention would be limited, restricted, or discussed in a way that is negative.”

Similarly, a “vaccine coalition” of business groups along with the largest medical groups and associations in the state — including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, Anthem, OhioHealth, and others — issued a public letter warning the legislation puts all children at risk.

“At its core, this proposal would destroy our current public health framework that prevents outbreaks of potentially lethal diseases, threaten the stability of our economy as it recovers from a devastating pandemic, and jeopardize the way we live, learn, work and celebrate life,” the coalition wrote.

An item that fully escaped the committee’s attention: during the hearing itself, the CDC published an early release of a report analyzing COVID-19 infections by age group and vaccination status.

The researchers found occurrences of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death plummeted among Americans aged 65-and-up (about 82% of whom are vaccinated) compared to those aged 18-49 (about 42% of whom are vaccinated).

The finding builds on mounting evidence of the COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and efficacy.

The legislation drew immense support including more than 800 pieces of written testimony. The hearing room was virtually full, requiring two overflow rooms for supporters. At a lunch recess, a man stood outside the statehouse passing out faux vaccination cards with a vulgarity on the flip side.

“Mandatory vaccines and masks are a joke … much like this card!” it states.

In an interview after the hearing, House Health Chairman Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, said it’d be tough but possible to see the bill passed out of committee before lawmakers break for summer recess at the end of the month.

He indicated looming amendments might narrow the bill, possibly restricting its focus solely to the flu or COVID-19 vaccine as opposed to its current form of all vaccinations.

“If you could trim this bill down, you could pass it,” he said.

During the hearing, Lipps tried to steer witness testimony and lawmakers’ inquiries toward the philosophical questions about the role of government in public health as opposed to litigating the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The attempts were largely unsuccessful with both proponents and opponents.

He distanced himself from Tenpenny’s remarks.

“I do believe Representative Gross requested Dr. Tenpenny to speak, and she got a little off balance, I think she got a little outside the lines of what we were intending or hoping to keep her in,” he said. “I hope that didn’t harm her credibility, but I think some committee members walked away with big questions.”

Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), Advocacy Special Report: The Disinformation Dozen: Why Platforms Must Act On Twelve Leading Online Anti-Vaxxers, Imran Ahmed, March 24, 2021. The Disinformation Dozen are twelve anti-vaxxers who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about Covid vaccines. They were selected because they have large numbers of followers, produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content or have seen rapid growth of their social media accounts in the last two months.

Analysis of a sample of anti-vaccine content that was shared or posted on Facebook and Twitter a total of 812,000 times between 1 February and 16 March 2021 shows that 65 percent of anti-vaccinecontent is attributable to the Disinformation Dozen.

Despite repeatedly violating Facebook, Instagram and Twitter’s terms of service agreements, nine of the Disinformation Dozen remain on all three platforms, while just three have been comprehensively removed from just one platform.

This is the product of a series of failures from social media platforms

a. Research conducted by CCDH last year has shown that platforms fail to act on 95 percent of the Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them.
b. CCDH’s recent report, Malgorithm, uncovered evidence that Instagram’s algorithm actively recommends similar misinformation.
c. Tracking of 425 anti-vaccine accounts by CCDH shows that their total following across platforms now stood at 59.2 million in December, an increase of 877,000 more than they had in June.
d. CCDH’s ongoing tracking shows that the 20 anti-vaxxers with the largest followings account for over two-thirds of this total cross-platform following of 59.2 million.

Analysis of anti-vaccine content posted to Facebook over 689,000 times in the last two months shows that up to 73 percent of that content originates with members of the Disinformation Dozen of leading online anti-vaxxers.

facebook logoFacebook’s own internal analysis of vaccine hesitant content on its platform is likely to underestimate the influence of leading anti-vaxxers by failing to address the ultimate source of this content, and by the recorded failure of its algorithms to identify content concerning vaccines.

Analysis of over 120,000 anti-vaccine tweets collected in the last two months shows that up to 17 percent feature the Disinformation Dozen of leading online anti-vaxxers.

The most effective and efficient way to stop the dissemination of harmful information is to deplatform the most highly visible repeat offenders, who we term the Disinformation Dozen. This should also include the organisations these individuals control or fund, as well as any backup accounts they have established to evade removal.

Platforms should establish a clear threshold for enforcement action, such as two strikes, after which restrictions are applied to accounts short of deplaforming them.

Users should be presented with warning screens when attempting to follow links to sites known to host vaccine misinformation, and users exposed to posts containing misinformation should be shown effective corrections.

Facebook should not allow private and secret anti-vaccine Groupswhere dangerous anti-vaccine disinformation can be spread with impunity.

The Disinformation Dozen are responsible for up to 65% of anti-vaccine contentAt the outset of this research, we identified a dozen individuals who appeared to be extremely influential creators of digital anti-vaccine content.

These individuals were selected either because they run anti-vaccine social media accounts with large numbers of followers, because they produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content or because their growth was accelerating rapidly at the outset of our research in February.Full profiles of each are available at the end of this report.


1. Joseph Mercola
robert f kennedy jr gage skidmore2. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (shown at right in a Gage Skidmore portrait)
3. Ty and Charlene Bollinger
4. Sherri Tenpenny
5. Rizza Islam
6. Rashid Buttar
7. Erin Elizabeth
8. Sayer Ji
9. Kelly Brogan
10. Christiane Northrup
11. Ben Tapper
12. Kevin Jenkins

The Disinformation Dozen are responsible for up to 65% of anti-vaccine content.

Our analysis of over 812,000 posts extracted from Facebook and Twitter between 1 February and 16 March 2021 shows that 65 percent of anti-vaccine content is attributable to the Disinformation Dozen.This shows that while many people might spread anti-vaccine content on social media platforms, the content they share often comes from a much more limited range of sources.

Exposure to even a small amount of online vaccine misinformation has been shown by the Vaccine Confidence Project to reduce the number of people willing to take a Covid vaccine by up to 8.8 percent.

Platforms have failed to act on the Disinformation Dozen

Despite repeatedly violating Facebook, Instagram and Twitter’s terms of service agreements, nine of the Disinformation Dozen remain on all three platforms, while just three have been comprehensively removed from just one platform. This is an extension of platforms’ failure to act on vaccine misinformation. Research conducted by CCDH last year has shown that platforms fail to act on 95 percent of the Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them, and we have uncovered evidence that Instagram’s algorithm actively recommends similar misinformation.

Tracking of 425 anti-vaccine accounts by CCDH shows that their total following across platforms now stands at 59.2 millionas a result of these failures.

The 20 anti-vaxxers with the largest followings account for over two-thirds of this total.

Up to 17% of anti-vaccine tweets feature the Disinformation Dozen

Analysis of over 120,000 anti-vaccine tweets collected in the last two months shows that up to 17 percent feature the Disinformation Dozen of leading online anti-vaxxers. This analysis is based on a representative sample of 123,494 anti-vaccine tweets identified by analysis of their text contents.

We collected this sample using Brandwatch, an enterprise social listening tool, to extract anti-vaccine tweets posted between 1 February and 16 March 2021 based on text analysis.

Retweets and quote tweets were also extracted to discover which pieces of anti-vaccine content were shared most frequently.

Tweets were selected based on their use of anti-vaccine keywords, phrases and hashtags, as well as selecting tweets about vaccines from known anti-vaxxers including those who are not members of the Disinformation Dozen. This process selected tweets using phrases commonly used by anti-vaxxers such as “informed consent” and “casedemic” in combination with more common terms regarding Covid vaccines.

This sample was then analysed using an automated set of rules to tag those that featured the name or username of a member of the Disinformation Dozen, or contained a link to a website controlled by or related to one of them.Tweets that were extracted and tagged using these methodswere then checked by researchers on a daily basis to maintain the quality of our data.

This analysis showed that 21,351 of the tweets in our sample featured members of the Disinformation Dozen equivalent to 17.3% of the whole sample.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate is a not-for-profit NGO that seeks to disrupt the architecture of online hate and misinformation. Digital technology has changed forever the way we communicate, build relationships, share knowledge, set social standards, and negotiate and assert our society's values.

Digital spaces have been colonised and their unique dynamics exploited by fringe movements that instrumentalise hate and misinformation. These movements are opportunistic, agile and confident in exerting influence and persuading people. Over time these actors, advocating diverse causes --from anti-feminism to ethnic nationalism to denial of scientific consensus -- have formed a Digital Counter Enlightenment. Their trolling, disinformation and skilled advocacy of their causes has resocialised the offline world for the worse.

The Center's work combines both analysis and active disruption of these networks. CCDH's solutions seek to increase the economic, political and social costs of all parts of the infrastructure -- the actors, systems and culture -- that support, and often profit from hate and misinformation.

June 8

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Will Biden Continue the JFK Assassination Cover-Up? Jacob G. Hornberger, right, June 8, 2021. Immediately after the Jacob Hornbergerassassination of President John F. Kennedy, the official narrative became that a lone-nut communist named Lee Harvey Oswald suddenly decided to kill the president. Immediately after Oswald was himself assassinated, federal officials decreed an end to any further investigation into Kennedy’s assassination.

The official narrative never made any sense. For one thing, Oswald had served in the U.S. Marine Corps. How many U.S Marine communists have you ever heard of? Moreover, the previous June, President Kennedy had declared an end to the Cold War, stating that the United States and future of freedom foundation logo squarethe Soviet Union and the rest of the communist world could live in peaceful harmony with one another. Why would a genuine communist want to get rid of a president like that?

As we carefully documented in our recent conference “The National Security State and the Kennedy Assassination,” the assassination of President Kennedy was actually the result of a plot by his enemies with the national-security establishment, specifically within the Pentagon and the CIA, who were convinced that Kennedy’s policies were going to lead to a communist takeover of the United States.

Central to the plot was secrecy. That’s why from the very beginning the assassination was shrouded in “national security.” Back in 1964, when Earl Warren, the chairman of the Warren Commission, was asked when people would be able to see all the documentation relating to the assassination, he responded, “It might not be in your lifetime…. There may be some things that would involve security.”

That was palpable nonsense back then and it remains palpable nonsense today. After all, if the assassination was really carried out by some lone nut communist former Marine, what would that have to do with “national security”? But since the assassination was actually a highly sophisticated Cold War regime-change operation, national-security secrecy was a necessary part of the operation given that an aggressive investigation would inevitably have led to the military and the CIA.

In the 1990s, in response to public pressure, Congress enacted the JFK Records Act, which required the Pentagon, the CIA, and other federal agencies to finally disclose their assassination-related records to the public.

That was when the dam of secrecy broke down, at least with respect to the autopsy that the U.S. national-security establishment had conducted on the president’s body on the very evening of the assassination. As we carefully documented in our recent conference, the overwhelming weight of the newly released evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the autopsy was fraudulent.

Why is that important? Because there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. None! Once the fraudulent autopsy was uncovered, the case against the national-security establishment was closed. That’s because a fraudulent autopsy had to be part of the cover-up of the assassination itself.

Unfortunately, someone slipped a provision into the JFK Records Act that permitted the CIA, the Pentagon, and other federal agencies to delay disclosure of their assassination-related records for another 25 years. Imagine that! A supposed lone-nut assassination that requires additional secrecy of assassination-related records until April 2018. That’s 55 years after the assassination!

When that deadline came due, guess what the CIA did then. It declared that “national security” required even more years of secrecy! And guess who fell for it. That would be President Donald Trump, who gave the CIA another three years of “national security” secrecy. The new deadline for release of the still-secret records was now October 2021.

Why will the CIA do prior to this October? There is no question about it. It will undoubtedly pressure President Biden into extending the time for “national-security” secrecy even more. Hey, if they’ve been able to keep their assassination-related records secret this long, they know that they can pressure any president, Democrat or Republican, into extending the deadline into perpetuity.

No, there is no confession within the still-secret records. From the CIA’s very beginning, it was established policy to never refer to any state-sponsored assassination in writing. Instead, there is an extreme likelihood that some of the records that the CIA doesn’t want us to read relate to the Mexico City part of their operation. That was where they positioned Oswald — or someone portraying Oswald — in the Soviet and Cuban embassies two months before the assassination. The purpose was to establish Oswald’s connection to those two communist countries immediately prior to the assassination. As I carefully documented in my own presentation at our recent conference, that connection was essential to achieving an immediate shutdown of the investigation.

The Mexico City part of the operation is still shrouded in mystery, most likely because so many things went wrong with it. The CIA’s cameras on one or both embassies, we were later told, just happened to be broken. The CIA did produce a photograph of a person who was supposed to be Oswald but wasn’t. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told new President Lyndon Johnson that audiotapes of conversations revealed the voice of someone other than Oswald. The CIA then later claimed that no audiotapes existed.

In the 1970s, when two law students, Dan Hardway and Edwin Lopez, were seeking records relating to Mexico City from the CIA as part of their work for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the CIA brought a CIA officer named George Joannides out of retirement to serve as a wall to prevent Hardway and Lopez from getting to those records. Joannides had secretly served as supervisor to the DRE, which was the first organization to advertise that the president had been killed by a “communist.” The CIA kept Joannides’s and the CIA’s relationship with the DRE secret from the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee, and the ARRB.

The CIA and the Pentagon know what happened when the JFK Records Act mandated the release of records back in the 1990s. The people who had participated in the fraudulent autopsy were released from the vows of secrecy that the military had imposed upon them 30 years before. That was why researchers were able to establish the fraudulent nature of the autopsy.

The CIA knows that its Mexico City records will fill in more pieces to the puzzle. That’s why it’s a virtual certainty that it will plead “national security” when it seeks additional time for secrecy with President Biden.

Will Biden cave, as Trump did? In my opinion, there is little doubt about it. Biden is much more likely to bow to the CIA’s demands than Trump was. The only thing that can force release of the CIA’s almost 60-year old records is public pressure, the same thing that got the JFK Records Act enacted 20 years ago.

June 7willard hotel

Proof via Substack, MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Team Trump Had a Second Pre-Insurrection War Room, Seth Abramson, left, June 6-7, 2021. An investigation of who was in this second Insurrection Eve war seth abramson graphicroom has now begun.

Introduction: As this publication has exclusively and exhaustively detailed, on the eve of the January 6 insurrection Team Trump convened a 23-person war council at Trump International seth abramson proof logoHotel in D.C. to plot out—as attendees have since confessed—what would happen the following day. It is now clear that a second, contemporaneous pre-insurrection war council was held at a nearby Washington hotel and that it may well have been linked, through either phone or video conferencing, to the first.

This previously unreported news could significantly swell the size of Donald Trump’s pre-insurrection planning team, even as it remains possible (indeed, a possibility that has been extensively investigated here at Proof) that any remote conferencing that occurred the night before the January 6 insurrection also included the White House.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

June 4

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Says Trump’s Ban Will Last at Least 2 Years, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, June 4, 2021. Facebook said on Friday that Donald J. Trump’s suspension from the service would last at least two years, clarifying a timeline on the ban that the company put in place in January.

The company said Mr. Trump (shown in a file photo) would be eligible for reinstatement in January 2023, when it will then look to experts to decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded,” Facebook said. The company barred the former president from the service after comments he made about the Capitol riots.

“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, wrote in a company blog post, “we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.”

If reinstated, Mr. Trump will be subject to a set of “rapidly escalating sanctions” if he committed further violations, up to and including the permanent suspension of his account.

Facebook also said it was ending a policy that treated content by politicians differently from that of other users. The policy had previously been used to allow Mr. Trump, and other global leaders, to post content that violated Facebook’s rules.

Threats To U.S. Democracy  

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: BREAKING NEWS: New Trump Fundraising Push May Violate Federal Law By Strongly Implying Trump Is the Nation's Real President, Seth Abramson, left, June seth abramson graphic3-4, 2021. Language in texts and survey sent to Trump voters raises question of whether Trump has gone beyond telling friends and allies he'll be reinstalled as POTUS in August and into federal criminal conduct.

On June 2 and June 3, 2021, countless Americans reported on social media receiving a text from the Trump campaign that read as follows: Pres. Trump: Before I give my Presidential speech on June 5th, I need your input, friend. You have 1HR. Take Prep Survey NOW. These Americans reported that the text had a link to a bizarre and deeply unsettling survey.

seth abramson proof logoIt is one thing for Trump to refer to himself as “President Trump” seven times in one survey; it’s one thing for him to refer to President Biden as simply “Joe Biden” four times in the survey; but given that Trump is telling friends and allies that he will be reinstalled in the White House in August, an action would require a military coup, and given that (via the “Big Lie”) Trump is daily implying to his voters that he is the only legitimate President of the United States, not only does all of the foregoing take on a very different cast, but a survey question like this one, below, becomes profoundly problematic:

It’s inexplicable that dozens of bands and musicians have now formally demanded that Trump stop playing their songs without permission but somehow the Department of Justice and/or FBI logothe Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or the United States Secret Service can’t tell Donald Trump to stop fraudulently pretending he’s President of the United States.

Trump Is Committing a Crime—and a Dangerous One. Under the provisions of U.S. federal law (specifically, 18 U.S. Code § 912), “Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Trump is knowingly—and falsely—doing all of the things listed above.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Plans to End Hands-Off Approach to Politicians’ Posts, Mike Isaac, June 4, 2021 (print ed.). The social network, under pressure since barring former President Donald J. Trump, will no longer automatically give world leaders special treatment. The policy change is a stark one for Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, previously said he didn’t want the company to be an arbiter of speech.

Facebook plans to announce on Friday that it will no longer keep posts by politicians up on its site by default if their speech breaks its rules, said two people with knowledge of the company’s plans, reversing how it has allowed posts from political figures to remain untouched on the social network.

facebook logoThe change, which is tied to Facebook’s decision to bar former President Donald J. Trump from its site, is a retreat from a policy introduced less than two years ago, when the company said speech from politicians was newsworthy and should not be policed.

Under the change, politicians’ posts will no longer be presumed newsworthy, said the people with knowledge of the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Politicians will be subject to Facebook’s content guidelines that prohibit harassment, discrimination or other harmful speech, they said.

If Facebook does decide speech from politicians is newsworthy, it can be exempt from being pulled down, under a standard the company has used since at least 2016. Starting on Friday, the people with knowledge of the plans said, Facebook will disclose when it has applied the newsworthiness clause to rule-breaking posts.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, declined to comment. The Verge reported earlier on Facebook’s change.

The change is stark because of how Facebook’s leaders previously pledged not to interfere with political speech. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, said in a 2019 speech at Georgetown University that the company wouldn’t be an arbiter of speech “because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.” Nick Clegg, who leads Facebook’s public affairs, has also said all speech from politicians “should, as a general rule, be seen and heard” on the platform.

Yet Facebook has grappled with a backlash against that stance by lawmakers, civil rights activists and even its own employees, especially when Mr. Trump used social media to rally a crowd that ended up storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A day after the riot, Facebook said it would block Mr. Trump because the risks of allowing him to use the platform were too great.

Since then, Mr. Trump’s allies and supporters have challenged the company, saying Facebook engaged in censorship and had too much power over who could say what online. To defuse the situation, the social network sent its decision to block Mr. Trump to a company-appointed oversight board for review. Last month, the board upheld the ban of Mr. Trump but also kicked the case back to the company.

The board said that an indefinite suspension of Mr. Trump was “not appropriate” because it was not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard punishment, such as a time-bound suspension or a permanent ban. The board also said Facebook must respond by Friday to its recommendations for how to handle potentially dangerous posts from world leaders.

Around the world, political leaders have also tried to curtail Facebook’s power over online speech, while using social media to advance their own agendas. Russia, India and other countries have recently ordered Facebook to pull down posts, even as some of their own politicians have tried to influence citizens with Facebook posts.

In the United States, Florida last month became the first state to regulate how companies like Facebook moderate speech online, by imposing fines on companies that permanently bar political candidates in the state.

 

U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) used an emphatic thumbs-down gesture on March 5 of this year as she voted against the inclusion of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in the covid relief bill.  She was one of eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus opposing the measure.

U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) used an emphatic thumbs-down gesture on March 5 of this year as she voted against the inclusion of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in the covid relief bill.  She was one of eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus opposing the measure. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Sinema and Manchin’s Nihilistic Bipartisanship, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 4, 2021. We are in the eye of the storm of American democratic collapse. There is, outwardly, a michelle goldberg thumbfeeling of calm. The Biden administration is competent and placid. The coronavirus emergency is receding nationally, if not internationally. Donald Trump, once the most powerful man on earth and the emperor of the news cycle, is now a failed blogger under criminal investigation.

Yet in red states, Trump’s party, motivated by his big lie about his 2020 loss, is systematically changing electoral rules to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote and, should Democrats win anyway, easier for Republicans to overturn elections.

You’ve probably heard the details already — Democrats are repeating them ad nauseam, with a growing sense of desperation.

Republicans have an excellent chance of gerrymandering their way to control of the House in 2022, whether or not they increase their vote share. A Republican-dominated House is unlikely to smoothly ratify even a clear Democratic presidential victory in 2024. We may be living through a brief interregnum before American democracy is strangled for a generation.

Two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, could save us by joining their colleagues in breaking the filibuster and passing new voting rights legislation. But they prefer not to.

On Tuesday, Sinema, touring migrant facilities with her Texas Republican colleague John Cornyn, defended the filibuster by spouting an alternative history nearly as delusional as Trump’s claims to have actually won the election. “The idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before us in the United States Senate to create comity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together,” she said.

This is nonsense. The filibuster was created by mistake when the Senate, cleaning up its rule book in 1806, failed to include a provision to cut off debate. (A so-called cloture rule allowing two-thirds of senators to end a filibuster was adopted in 1917; the proportion was reduced to three-fifths in 1975.) The filibuster encouraged extremism, not comity: It was a favorite tool of pro-slavery senators before the Civil War and segregationists after it.

It is impossible to know whether Sinema believes what she said, or whether she simply doesn’t care. Both she and Manchin are committed to bipartisanship as a supreme good, which in practice means bowing to the wishes of a party that doesn’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and wants above all to see him fai

Talking Points Memo, ‘You Are Full Of Poop’: A Proud Boy-Fueled Power Struggle Divides Portland-Area GOP, Matt Shuham, June 4, 2021. “First of All, James Ball III, you are full of poop,” wrote one Republican Party functionary to another in a bitter, paramilitary-tinged rift over the future of the GOP in Multnomah County, Oregon. “That is a legal term used by bible believing Christians,” the email continued, “who want to say something much much stronger but err on the side of caution.”

djt maga hatThe author was Tim Sytsma, a precinct committee person, or PCP, for the Multnomah County Republican Party who helped arrange for an associate of the Proud Boys, the right-wing street gang, to provide security for a recent meeting in which the county chair was recalled. The target of his email, Ball, is also a PCP, though he’s stuck by ousted chair Stephen Lloyd and has led the effort to get him back in power.

republican elephant logoThe beef — aired out in a series of stories over the past month by the Portland-based Willamette Week (WW) — is part of a pattern playing out in some form around the country: Fringe and even violent movements like the Proud Boys are muscling their way into internal Republican Party politics.

The story in Multnomah County, which is home to both Democrat-dominated Portland and a strong contingent of right-wing militia types, started with anger and frustration over Lloyd’s effort to make the party “open to everyone,” including with more public-facing meetings.

At press time Friday, Lloyd was still listed as county GOP chair on the Oregon Republican Party’s website. But the party will need to make a more explicit choice soon, Ball said: On Saturday, the ORP is having a statewide meeting, and will need to determine which Multnomah County Republican Party delegation is legitimate.

“The ORP will have to choose one,” he said. “So that’s probably where this ends.”

capitol riot shaman

Two of the pro-Trump insurrectionists who took over the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to prevent congressional election-certification of President-elect Joe Biden.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t let Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin off the hook, Bill Palmer, right, June 4, 2021. Here’s the thing about Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. They’re selfishly bill palmerholding up progress and putting democracy at risk, so they deserve all the criticism you can heap on them. But there’s a huge difference between going at them in a way that will allow us to win, and going at them in a way that will ultimately just make it easier for them to get off the hook.

bill palmer report logo headerIf you’re yelling around about how Manchin and Sinema have destroyed democracy because they’ll never cave on the filibuster, then you’re doing it wrong. Why? Because you just let them off the hook. You stated your expectation that they’re never going to cave, which means you just told them that you’re not even trying to get them to cave.

Instead, we should actively work to pressure Manchin and Sinema to cave, and – this is crucial – we should presume going in that we’re going to be successful in making them cave. Let them know that you’re not going to let them get away with not caving.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouths. President Biden just publicly called Manchin and Sinema to the carpet over voting rights. Now they’re both being louder than ever in insisting that they’ve never cave on the filibuster. But this doesn’t mean anything.

95% of politics takes place behind closed doors. When politicians speak publicly, it’s only ever to try to influence what’s going on behind the scenes. Politicians take what they’d like to do, or what they wish were going to happen, and publicly state it as fact. It’s your job to ignore their their public proclamations about how they’ll never cave no matter what, and to keep pushing them harder than ever to cave.

sean mchugh police bodycam photo capitol insurrection

CNN, Alleged US Capitol rioter who heckled police for 'protecting pedophiles' served jail time for statutory rape of 14-year-old girl, Marshall Cohen and Hannah Rabinowitz, June 4, 2021. A Trump supporter accused of storming the US Capitol and heckling police officers for "protecting pedophiles" previously served jail time after being convicted in the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, according to court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in the cases.

Federal prosecutors say Sean McHugh of Auburn, California, fought with police as they fended off the massive mob of Trump supporters outside the Capitol on January 6. During the scuffle, McHugh was recorded by police body-worn cameras heckling the officers with a megaphone.

According to prosecutors' description of the footage, McHugh (shown above in a photo via a police bodycam) allegedly shouted, "You guys like protecting pedophiles?" "you're protecting Communists," "I'd be shaking in your little s--t boots too," and, "there is a Second Amendment behind us, what are you going to do then?"

His comments about "pedophiles" are particularly striking, considering his criminal history.

McHugh was convicted in 2010 on a state charge of unlawful sex with a minor, according to California court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in McHugh's cases. McHugh was sentenced to 240 days in jail -- though he served less -- and got four years of probation.

There was DNA evidence that connected McHugh to the girl, former prosecutor Todd Kuhnen told CNN. The victim was 14 years old and McHugh was 23 when the crime occurred, Kuhnen said. The victim also alleged that she was intoxicated when the incident occurred.

McHugh pleaded no contest to the underage sex charge. Kuhnen said he didn't take the case to trial because he didn't want to "run the victim through the ringer again," and said that the victim and her mother signed off to the plea agreement as part of California's victims' rights law.

McHugh has been charged with eight federal crimes tied to the Capitol insurrection, including trespassing charges and the more serious counts of obstructing congressional proceedings and assaulting police officers with a dangerous weapon. He hasn't yet entered a plea in court.

Prosecutors allege that McHugh used a megaphone to incite other rioters outside the Capitol by calling on the crowd to advance on a police line. As the rioters grew more hostile, McHugh allegedly grabbed a large metal Trump sign and urged the mob to push it into the officers.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP should think twice before it tries to mess with elections, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 4, 2021. In addition to a slew of efforts to impair access to the ballot, Republicans jennifer rubin new headshotthroughout the country are attempting to shift control of elections away from local authorities or nonpartisan officials and toward partisan GOP operatives. But they should think twice before proceeding with such tactics; they might be venturing into some dangerous territory.

To be blunt, these efforts open up the potential for partisan Republicans to overthrow legitimate election results. That is, these laws could allow them to stage a coup, just as the MAGA crowd attempted in 2020. Arizona’s circuslike election “audit” conducted by Republican partisans provides a glimpse of the horror show that could result if partisan Republicans were counting the votes rather than trying to delegitimize the vote after the fact.

This sort of election rigging is difficult to combat at the federal level, even if Democrats manage to pass voting reforms protecting access to the ballot or paper audit trails. (Audits are not much help if the auditors are partisan toadies.) Nevertheless, legal barriers exist that might deter election rigging or a shift in control of elections from nonpartisan to partisan control.

For starters, it is worth remembering that it is illegal under state and federal law to change vote outcomes.

This is the basis for the ongoing investigation of the former president’s phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which the election’s loser pleaded with the Republican official to “find” sufficient votes to change the state’s outcome. Georgia prosecutors sent a letter to state officials in February noting potential violations of state law, including “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, FBI investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with his political fundraising, Matt Zapotosky and Jacob Bogage, June 4, 2021 (print ed.). The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, right, in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business, according to people familiar with the matter and a spokesman for DeJoy.

louis dejoy CustomFBI agents in recent weeks interviewed current and former employees of DeJoy and the business, asking questions about political contributions and company activities, these people said. Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself for information, one of the people said.

That person, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing and politically sensitive investigation.

Mark Corallo, a DeJoy spokesman, confirmed the investigation in a statement but insisted DeJoy had not knowingly violated any laws.

FBI logo“Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector,” Corallo said. “He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them.”

us mail logoThe inquiries could signal impending legal peril for the controversial head of the nation’s mail service — though DeJoy has not been charged with any crimes and has previously asserted that he and his company followed the law in their campaign fundraising activity.
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Spokesmen for the FBI and Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DeJoy — who was appointed to run the Postal Service by its board of governors last May — has been dogged by controversy for almost his entire time in office. Soon after starting in the job, he imposed cost-cutting moves that led to a reduction in overtime and limits on mail trips that mail carriers blamed for creating backlogs across the country.

Democrats accused the prominent GOP fundraiser, who personally gave more than $1.1 million to the joint fundraising vehicle of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the RepublicanParty, of trying to undermine his own organization because of Trump’s distrust of mail-in voting. Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the FBI asking agents to investigate whether DeJoy or the Postal Service’s governing board “committed any crimes” in stalling mail.

In a congressional hearing last year, DeJoy disputed he was trying to affect the vote.

“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said at the time. “We will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time.”

In early September, The Washington Post published an extensive examination of how employees at DeJoy’s former company, North Carolina-based New Breed Logistics, alleged they were pressured by DeJoy or his aides to attend political fundraisers or make contributions to Republican candidates, and then were paid back through bonuses.

Such reimbursements could run afoul of state or federal laws, which prohibit “straw-donor” schemes meant to allow wealthy donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscure the source of a candidate’s money. 

carolyn maloney oDeJoy has adamantly disputed that he broke the law. 

When The Post later published its report, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, said the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an inquiry and asserted DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath.

Corallo noted in his statement about the FBI investigation that DeJoy “fully cooperated with and answered the questions posed by Congress regarding these matters.”

“The same is true of the Postal Service Inspector General’s inquiry which after a thorough investigation gave Mr. DeJoy a clean bill of health on his disclosure and divestment issues,” Corallo said. “He expects nothing less in this latest matter and he intends to work with DOJ toward swiftly resolving it.”

June 2

Vice, Investigation: QAnon Has a Disturbing Takeover Plot to ‘Eliminate’ Elected Officials, David Gilbert, June 2, 2021. A known grifter and QAnon supporter who claims she can time-travel has amassed an army of thousands of loyal followers to carry out a plot to oust elected officials across the country and replace them with QAnon believers—and she’s using game-streaming platform.

Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman has spent the last four months building an intricate network of groups in all 50 states, urging followers to dig up information about elected officials and cough up hundreds of dollars to take part in her scheme.

Maras-Lindeman has promised her followers that the plot will bring about “retaliation” for what she believes was a stolen election last November, and ultimately see the return of former president Donald Trump to the White House.

All the while, Maras-Lindeman, who streams under the name Tore Says, has grown her subscriber base massively, raking in tens of thousands of dollars since the beginning of the year. She even managed to convince her supporters to cough up over $87,400 in a crowdfunding campaign, which she used to buy a new Tesla.

Maras-Lindeman is part of a growing ecosystem of grifters and hucksters who are leveraging the widespread belief that Trump’s election loss was somehow orchestrated by shadowy figures and companies tied to the Democrats. This so-called “Big Lie” has taken hold within the mainstream Republican Party, and fringe figures like Maras-Lindeman have succeeded in carving out a niche that’s proving to be highly lucrative.

When President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, QAnon supporters were distraught—after all, they were promised that would never happen.
Building the army on Twitch

For some it was the final straw, but others, who had spent years devoted to the conspiracy movement, needed something to latch onto—and Maras-Lindeman provided that.

A week after Biden’s inauguration, Maras-Lindeman outlined an audacious plan to oust sitting lawmakers across the country and replace them with Q believers who were tired of having elections stolen from them.

And they were going to begin with Ohio.

“Ohio’s gonna be lit, next week we’re gonna be setting some serious fires,” she told viewers on her Twitch channel, ToreSays, on Jan. 29. Then, she issued a warning to the lawmakers: “You want a great reset? Here it is. We’re gonna do it our way, and that’s by eliminating you.”

The plan was relatively simple: Maras-Lindeman claimed that vote-counting equipment used in states across the country were not properly certified and that as a result, all elected officials—both Democrat and Republican—were illegitimate. This opens the door for anyone to file what’s known as a “quo warranto” lawsuit, an arcane legal action that requires a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised.

But so far neither Maras-Lindeman nor any of her supporters has provided evidence to back up their claims that the voting machines are invalid.

“From what I can discern, the final step is meeting at the Ohio Supreme Court, where they’ll look to have Ms. Lindeman filing their election fraud warrants, in an effort to remove the ‘illegally elected’ representatives, and take their place,” Genevieve Oh, a livestreaming analyst who has been closely tracking Maras-Lindeman’s activity on Twitch for months, told VICE News.

“Looking at her followers’ messages and reactions, she seems to have legitimately convinced her viewers they’re going to take Ohio Senate and House of Representatives’ seats through this movement,” Oh added.

So far over 60 people in Ohio alone have signed up to take part in this mass lawsuit filing, according to an online spreadsheet used by the group and seen by VICE News.

Over the course of the next four months, Maras-Lindeman’s support base grew dramatically on her Twitch channel. In parallel, she organized state-specific groups on the encrypted messaging app Telegram to allow citizens in those states to coordinate their efforts and get people to sign up to challenge elected officials.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Secretly Seized Phone Records of Times Reporters, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 2, 2021. The admission by the Biden Justice Department followed similar recent disclosures to The Washington Post and CNN.

The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation, the Biden administration disclosed on Wednesday.

It was the latest in a series of revelations about the Trump administration secretly obtaining reporters’ communications records in an effort to uncover their sources. Last month, the Biden Justice Department disclosed Trump-era seizures of the phone logs of reporters who work for The Washington Post and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, condemned the action by the Trump administration.

“Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” he said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”

Last month, after the disclosures about the seizures of communications records involving Post and CNN reporters, President Biden said he would not allow the department to take such a step during his administration, calling it “simply, simply wrong.”

Referring to that declaration, Mr. Baquet added: “President Biden has said this sort of interference with a free press will not be tolerated in his administration. We expect the Department of Justice to explain why this action was taken and what steps are being taken to make certain it does not happen again in the future.”

Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesman, said that law enforcement officials obtained the records in 2020, and added that “members of the news media have now been notified in every instance” of leak investigations from the 2019-2020 period in which their records were sought.

The department informed The Times that law enforcement officials had seized phone records from Jan. 14 to April 30, 2017, for four Times reporters: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt. The government also secured a court order to seize logs — but not contents — of their emails, it said, but “no records were obtained.”

The Justice Department did not say which article was being investigated. But the lineup of reporters and the timing suggested that the leak investigation related to classified information reported in an April 22, 2017, article the four reporters wrote about how James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential election.

Discussing Mr. Comey’s unorthodox decision to announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. was recommending against charging Hillary Clinton in relation to her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state, the April 2017 article mentioned a document obtained from Russia by hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials. The document, whose existence was classified, was said to have played a key role in Mr. Comey’s thinking about the Clinton case.

The document has been described as a memo or email written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far. Russian hackers had obtained the document, but it is apparently not among those that Russia sent to WikiLeaks, intelligence officials concluded.

Mr. Comey was said to be worried that if Ms. Lynch were to be the one who announced a decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton, and Russia then made the document public, it would be used to raise doubts about the independence of the investigation and the legitimacy of the outcome.

The Times reported in January 2020 that Trump-era investigators had pursued a leak investigation into whether Mr. Comey had been the source of the unauthorized disclosure in that 2017 article.

Mr. Comey had been under scrutiny since 2017, after Mr. Trump fired him as the director of the F.B.I. After his dismissal, Mr. Comey engineered — through his friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor — the disclosure to The Times of accounts of several of his conversations with the president related to the Russia investigation.

The inquiry into Mr. Comey, according to three people briefed on that investigation, was eventually code-named Arctic Haze. Its focus was said to evolve over time, as investigators shifted from scrutinizing whether they could charge Mr. Comey with a crime for disclosing his conversations with Mr. Trump, to whether he had anything to do with the disclosure of the existence of the document.

As part of that effort, law enforcement officials had seized Mr. Richman’s phone and computer, according to a person familiar with the matter. They are said to have initially searched them for material about Mr. Comey’s conversations with Mr. Trump, and later obtained a court’s permission to search them again, apparently about the Russia document matter.

Separately, according to a person briefed on the investigation, the F.B.I. is also said to have subpoenaed Google in 2020, seeking information relevant to any emails between Mr. Richman and The Times. A spokesman for Google did not respond to a request for comment.

But by November 2020, some prosecutors felt that the F.B.I. had not found evidence that could support any charges against Mr. Comey, and they discussed whether the investigation should be closed.

At the beginning of this year, prosecutors were informed that the F.B.I. was not willing to close the case — in part because agents still wanted to interview Mr. Comey, according to a person familiar with the F.B.I.’s inquiry. Interviewing the subject of an investigation is typically considered a final step before closing a matter or bringing charges.

Last month, the F.B.I. asked Mr. Comey’s lawyer whether he would be willing to sit down for an interview, a request that Mr. Comey declined, according to a person familiar with the case.

Starting midway through the George W. Bush administration, and extending through the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations, the Justice Department became more aggressive about pursuing criminal leak investigations.

May

May 29

ny times logoNew York Times, Janine Brookner, Punished C.I.A. Officer Who Got Revenge, Dies at 80, Richard Sandomir, Updated May 29, 2021. She had been a successful operative and station chief when staffers made dubious allegations that forced her from the field. She sued the C.I.A. — and won.

Janine Brookner, an undercover C.I.A. officer who fought dubious allegations against her at the agency and won a $410,000 settlement, then became a lawyer who helped other government employees fight similar injustices, died on May 11 in Washington. She was 80.

Ms. Brookner was a rising star inside the C.I.A.’s clandestine operations; she had infiltrated the Communist Party in the Philippines in the 1970s and later recruited a Soviet-bloc agent in Venezuela. When she served as the agency’s station chief in Jamaica, from 1989 to 1991 — she was one of the first women in the agency to hold such a position — her supervisors called her performance “superb.”

“She had a drive, persistence and sensibility not normally found in male officers,” George Kalaris, Ms. Brookner’s station chief in the Philippines, told The New York Times in 1994. “She made me change my mind about the potential that women had as espionage officers.”

He added, “She worked in a macho society, and she succeeded at getting after some of the most difficult targets we had.”

As a result of her success in Jamaica, she was offered the job of station chief in Prague. But that offer was rescinded when she became the target of an internal C.I.A. investigation over allegations made by staffers she had disciplined in Jamaica — one of whom, her deputy chief, she had accused of beating his wife nearly to death. They described her as a hard drinker who wore revealing clothing, and they claimed that she had defrauded the government by taking overtime pay for cooking Thanksgiving dinner for important Jamaican intelligence contacts and using a government helicopter for an office picnic.

The agency’s inspector general, Frederick Hitz, concluded in a December 1992 report that she was a boozy “sexual provocateur” who had made sexual advances toward male co-workers. Ms. Brookner was moved to a desk job at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va.

May 28

gladys sicknick center harry dunn former rep barbara comstock tom williams cq roll

Gladys Sicknick, center, mother of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, Officer Harry Dunn and former Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., address the media Thursday before a meeting with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to urge Republican senators to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Roll Call, Republican senators torpedo Jan. 6 commission, Chris Marquette, May 28, 2021. Some senators didn't have an answer for what they would need to see in order to vote for the measure. Republican senators on Friday drowned the hopes of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, gathering enough members of their own conference to block legislation to establish the panel.

Though it received overall majority support in the chamber, the procedural vote, a cloture vote on a motion to proceed, to the legislation fell short of the 60 votes needed, 54-35. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republicans who voted to end debate on whether to take up the legislation.

The vote, which had been expected on Thursday, was delayed after some Republican senators, including Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, consumed floor time that brought the chamber to a painfully slow cadence and culminated at around 3 a.m. Friday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said he struck an agreement that ensured the commission vote would happen “in the light of day” and not in the early morning hours.

brian sicknick

washington post logoWashington Post, Sicknick’s family and officers on duty Jan. 6 plead with GOP senators to back investigation, Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian and Peter Hermann, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). The mother and partner of the late Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick personally lobbied Republican senators Thursday to support an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Two other officers who responded that day and protected members of Congress also pleaded with GOP lawmakers to support a probe into the failed insurrection and the events surrounding it.

“If January 6th didn’t happen, Brian would still be here. Plain and simple,” U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn said Thursday morning as the group began a long day of lobbying senators ahead of a possible vote.

Gladys Sicknick, the late officer’s mother, and Sandra Garza, his companion of 11 years, are leading the lobbying effort, which comes as the legislation for an independent commission faces near-unanimous Republican opposition, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The face-to-face meetings involving Sicknick’s family, police officers and Republican senators highlighted a stark choice for GOP lawmakers: either stand with former president Donald Trump, who opposes the commission, or with members of law enforcement.

Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the insurrection, the District’s chief medical examiner ruled last month. In early February, Sicknick, who grew up in New Jersey, was honored at the U.S. Capitol. His remains were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nearly 140 officers were assaulted during the failed insurrection as they faced rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons, authorities said.

The House last week passed legislation that would form an independent commission to investigate the attack. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday began the process of setting up a Senate vote on the bill, which could come as early as Thursday evening.

But the legislation’s prospects in the Senate remain dim. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to join them in supporting the measure for it to pass. McConnell has voiced opposition to the commission, dismissing it Thursday as “extraneous” and arguing that it would not shed light on the events of Jan. 6.

“I do not believe the additional, extraneous ‘commission’ that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing,” McConnell said in floor remarks. “Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to.”

Several Republican lawmakers have also sought in recent days to play down the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack, comparing the violent mob to “tourists,” railing against law enforcement for seeking to arrest them and questioning how anyone could be sure the rioters were supporters of Trump.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: An unsettling similarity between the German Nazi Party and the current U.S. Republican Party, Wayne Madsen, left, May 28, 2021. One major unsettling similarity between the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallNazi Party of Adolf Hitler and the Republican Party of Donald Trump is that both would resist an independent investigation of the attacks on the respective legislatures of the two nations: the February 27, 1933 Reichstag Fire in Berlin and the January 6, 2021 storming by Trump loyalists of the U.S. Capitol complex.

republican elephant logoHitler and his Nazis falsely claimed the Reichstag arson was carried out by a mentally deranged Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe, who was allegedly aided by German Communists.

In the case of the U.S. Capitol attack, several far-right Republicans have claimed the attack was actually carried out by members of "antifa" (an acronym for "anti-fascist") and Black Lives Matter (BLM). Using Nazi propaganda from 1933, some Republicans also falsely claim that BLM is a "communist" organization.

At the post-war Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, German Army General Franz Halder testified that he heard Hermann Göring boast about setting the fire at the Reichstag himself.

 

capitol mob

Pro-Trump rioters and insurrectionists, including the so-called "Q-Anon Shama dressed in fur at center, are shown after storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and threatening lawmakers unless they overturned November elections and reinstalled Trump for four more years. That followed Trump's repeated claims via social media that he had won re-election and was being deprived of the right to rule because of fraud that was never prove in more than 60 lawsuits by Trump and his allies.

Palmer Report, Opinion: When Capitol insurrectionist thugs plead insanity, Robert Harrington, right, May 27, 2021. In 1998 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I won’t drag you through tales of the therapies, robert harringtnn portraitmedications, hospitalisation, diets, Napoleonic highs and Lilliputian lows I’ve tried and endured since. I will say I’ve learned to live in a kind of armed truce with my mental illness. Let’s just further say that diet and exercise are vastly underrated and criminally under-utilized in the world of the treatment of mental health disorders and leave it at that.

One in five humans on our overburdened planet suffer from some kind of mental illness. Most of us don’t talk about it much because there isn’t much to say. Unless it’s a disorder of the obvious kind, such as schizophrenia for example, our conditions remain largely invisible and we are content to let them stay that way.

I can’t speak for the rest of the mentally ill but some of us in the manic-depressive club share a little secret: we wouldn’t change it for the world. We like our mountain top highs and put up with our cavernous lows as part of the price of entry. But one thing I guarantee none of us would do. We wouldn’t use bipolar disorder as an excuse to attack our own country.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s tempting to call the January 6th rioters crazy. It’s one of the many adjectives most of us have used, including me. But when they use it themselves as an excuse to betray democracy, I’m afraid I’m going to have to speak up on behalf of my brother and sister sufferers of actual mental disease and call, if you’ll pardon the expression, bullshit. They are, in fact spoiled, privileged little assholes who chose to follow a hateful, toxic bigot and were dumb enough to believe he’d stick his neck out for them if they got into trouble.

Take Jacob Chansley, for example. You all know who he is. He’s the so-called QAnon Shaman, the idiot with the Buffalo Bill outfit and quasi Native American paint job. Almost four months to the day after his first court appearance his lawyer is now asking the judge for a psychological examination. That’s right, he’s going to try the not guilty by reason of insanity argument.

republican elephant logoPart of the problem, I will admit, is semantic. We have become so accustomed to characterizing people on the rightwing with terms that are also traditionally used to describe mental disorders that a lot of confusion has resulted. 

But it’s unlikely that any of the January 6th rioters will get away with an insanity plea. Why? Because they have no history of mental disorders. Mental stupidity, to be sure. But not mental illness. It is part of the banality of evil that people who would attack their own country live and work among us. We occasionally exchange pleasantries with them. They’re seemingly normal human beings with corrupt souls.

But even more to the point, we of the 20% who suffer from mental illness are not them. While it is unquestionably true that some of the mentally ill among us are evil, they are not evil because of mental illness. They are evil because they’re jerks. It’s an important distinction to make, and I can’t make it enough.

Some of the Capitol rioters are going to try the insanity plea in the coming months, and they are hoping that no one deciding their fates will notice that which we of the 20% know so well. Mental illness doesn’t cause treason. Evil causes treason. And mental illness and evil are not the same thing.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Have you no decency left, Republican Senator? Shirley Kennedy, May 28, 2021. Republicans have had every opportunity to stand up and be counted as useful members of society. bill palmer report logo headerSo far, they have failed miserably. They had an opportunity to show the level of humanity they possess, if any, when they met with the mother of Brian Sicknick, who died as a result of the January 6 insurrection.

Gladys Sicknick was joined by Brian’s long-time girlfriend and another officer who was injured that day, Michael Fanone. Hopefully, they can appeal to any shred of human decency that Republicans might have left.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, center, with Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas, above right, and their colleague Ignor Fruman. Parnas and Fruman were arrested while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Are Investigating Ukrainians for Meddling in 2020 Election, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel and Nicole Hong, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). The criminal inquiry includes looking at whether Ukrainian officials funneled misleading information about President Biden through Rudolph Giuliani. The previously unreported investigation underscores the federal government’s aggressive approach toward rooting out foreign interference in elections.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using Rudolph W. Giuliani to spread their misleading claims about President Biden and tilt the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The criminal investigation, which began during the final months of the Trump administration and has not been previously reported, underscores the federal government’s increasingly aggressive approach toward rooting out foreign interference in American electoral politics. Much of that effort is focused on Russian intelligence, which has suspected ties to at least one of the Ukrainians now under investigation.

The investigation is unfolding separately from a long-running federal inquiry in Manhattan that is aimed at Mr. Giuliani. While the two investigations have a similar cast of characters and overlap in some ways, Mr. Giuliani is not a subject of the Brooklyn investigation, the people said.

Instead, the Brooklyn prosecutors, along with the F.B.I., are focused on current and former Ukrainian officials suspected of trying to influence the election by spreading unsubstantiated claims of corruption about Mr. Biden through a number of channels, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer at the time. It is unclear whether the Brooklyn prosecutors will ultimately charge any of the Ukrainians.

At one point in the investigation, the authorities examined a trip Mr. Giuliani took to Europe in December 2019, when he met with several Ukrainians, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing inquiry.

andrii derkachAt least one of the current and former officials Mr. Giuliani met, a Ukrainian member of parliament named Andriy Derkach, left, is now a focus of the Brooklyn investigation, the people said.

The trip was the culmination of a yearlong effort by Mr. Giuliani, with support from Mr. Trump, to undermine Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign. The effort proceeded primarily on two parallel tracks: collecting information from Ukraine to attack Mr. Biden’s diplomatic efforts there as vice president, and pressing Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Biden and other Trump critics.

The effort ultimately backfired, leading to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.

Amid the impeachment proceedings, U.S. intelligence officials warned Mr. Trump that Mr. Derkach was seeking to use Mr. Giuliani to spread disinformation. Mr. Giuliani, who has said he did not receive a similar warning at the time, continued to vouch for the authenticity of information he received, even after Mr. Trump’s Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Mr. Derkach for election interference, and accused him of being “an active Russian agent.”

ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests, Giovanni Russonello, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). Fifteen percent of Americans believe that “patriots may have to resort to violence” to restore the country’s rightful order, the poll indicated.

As hopes fade for a bipartisan inquiry into the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, it’s increasingly clear that the Republican base remains in thrall to the web of untruths spun by Donald J. Trump — and perhaps even more outlandish lies, beyond those of the former president’s making.

A federal judge warned in an opinion yesterday that Mr. Trump’s insistence on the “big lie” — that the November election was stolen from him — still posed a serious threat. Presiding over the case of a man accused of storming Congress on Jan. 6, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington wrote: “The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away. Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former president.”

But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that has caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public — particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and “restore the rightful leaders.”

“These are words I never thought I would write into a poll question, or have the need to, but here we are,” Robby Jones, the founder of P.R.R.I., said in an interview.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Election-deniers are running for a key role in swing states. It could lead to a scary 2024, Editorial Board, May 28, 2021 (print ed.). Imagine how the 2020 election might brad raffenspergerhave gone if, instead of principled Republican Brad Raffensperger, right, running Georgia’s voting system, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist had been the state’s secretary of state, receiving calls from former president Donald Trump asking to find enough votes to overturn the results.

Or if, as Mr. Trump pressured Michigan’s canvassers to refuse to certify President Biden’s win in that state, that state’s chief elections officer had helped drum up rather than tamp down the former president’s bogus fraud allegations.

These what-ifs might become the nation’s reality in 2024, with Republican election-deniers running for secretary of state in several swing states

 

May 27

American System Radio, Biden demands Senate pass jobs and infrastructure bill, Webster G. Tarpley, right, May 27, 2021. In rousing Cleveland speech, Biden demands Senate pass jobs and infrastructure bill, webster tarpley 2007citing need to attain full employment to drive up wages and secure workplace dignity for workers, especially women;

President repeats commitment to 28% tax rate for corporations, Buy American pledge, and $15 per hour federal minimum wage; singles out greedy executives obsessed with stock buybacks; his evocation of inflection point evokes FDR’s rendez-vous with destiny!

New jobless claims fall to lowest level since start of pandemic, new Covid cases fall by half in May.

May 25

Melinda Gates, left, and Bill Gates (2019 photo by Elaine Thompson of the Associated Press).

Melinda Gates, left, and then-husband Bill Gates (2019 photo by Elaine Thompson of the Associated Press).

Unz Review, Investigation: The Cover-Up Continues: the Truth About Bill Gates, Microsoft, and Jeffrey Epstein, Whitney Webb, below right, May 25, 2021. While more revelations about the Bill Gates–Jeffrey Epstein relationship have begun trickling out following the Gates’s divorce announcement, the strong evidence pointing to their relationship beginning decades prior to 2011 continues to be covered whitney webb newer smileup by the media—not necessarily to protect Bill but to protect Microsoft.

In early May, the announcement that Bill and Melinda Gates would be divorcing after twenty-seven years of marriage shocked both those that praise and those that loathe the “philanthropic” power couple.

Less than a week after the initial announcement of the divorce, on May 7, the Daily Beast reported that Melinda Gates had allegedly been “deeply troubled” by Bill Gates’s relationship with child sex trafficker and intelligence asset Jeffrey Epstein. The report suggested that Melinda was a major reason for her husband’s decision to distance himself from Epstein around 2014 because of her discomfort with Epstein after they both met him in 2013. That previously unreported meeting had taken place at Epstein’s mansion on New York’s Upper East Side.

The Daily Beast also revealed that the details of the Gates’s divorce had been decided several weeks prior to the official announcement. Then, on May 9, the Wall Street Journal published a report suggesting that the plans for divorce went back even farther, with Melinda having consulted divorce lawyers in 2019. Allegedly, that consultation was made after details of Bill Gates’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein had gained considerable mainstream media attention, including from the New York Times.

While mainstream media outlets apparently agree that Jeffrey Epstein was a likely factor in the Gates’s recently announced split up, what these same outlets refuse to cover is the real extent of the Bill Gates–Jeffrey Epstein relationship. Indeed, the mainstream narrative holds that Gates’s ties to Epstein began in 2011, despite the evidence pointing to their relationship beginning decades earlier.This blanket refusal to honestly report on the Gates-Epstein ties likely is due to Gates’s outsized role in current events, both in terms of global health policy as it relates to COVID-19 and in his being a major promoter and funder of controversial technocratic “solutions” to a slew of societal problems. What is more likely, however, is that the nature of the relationship between Gates and Epstein before 2011 is even more scandalous than what transpired later, and it may have major implications not just for Gates but for Microsoft as a company and for some of its former top executives.

microsoft logo CustomThis particular cover-up is part of an obvious tendency of mainstream media to ignore the clear influence that both Epstein and members of the Maxwell family wielded—and, arguably, continue to wield—in Silicon Valley. Indeed, the individuals who founded tech giants such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, and Amazon all have connections with Jeffrey Epstein, some closer than others.

This investigation is adapted from my upcoming book One Nation Under Blackmail, which will be released early next year and will include a more complete investigation into Epstein’s ties to Silicon Valley, scientific academia, and intelligence agencies.
The Evening Standard Mystery

In 2001, perhaps the most important article ever written about Jeffrey Epstein was published. The article, which focused mainly on Ghislaine Maxwell’s and Epstein’s relationship with Prince Andrew, was published on January 22, 2001, in London’s Evening Standard. The article, written by Nigel Rosser, was never retracted and was published well before Epstein’s first arrest and the onset of his public notoriety. It has, nevertheless, since been removed from the Evening Standard’s website and can now only be found on professional newspaper databases. I made a PDF of that article and several other scrubbed Epstein-related articles publicly available in October 2019.

The full article here can also be accessed here:Download

Key statements made in the article make it clear why it was removed from the internet, apparently in the wake of Epstein’s first arrest in Florida. Rosser introduces Epstein as “an immensely powerful New York property developer and financier,” a nod to Epstein’s past in the New York real estate market. Later in the article, he notes that Epstein “once claimed to have worked for the CIA although he now denies it,” one of several likely reasons why the article was removed from the internet well before Epstein’s second arrest in 2019.

Much of the article notes the closeness of Epstein and Maxwell to Prince Andrew and suggests that both wielded considerable influence over the prince, largely due to Maxwell’s role as his “social fixer.” It states that Maxwell was “manipulating” the prince and that “the whole Andrew thing is probably being done for Epstein.”

One line stands out, however, as the first major clue toward demystifying the true origin the of the Gates-Epstein relationship. Soon after Rosser introduces Epstein in the article, he states that Epstein “has made many millions out of his business links with the likes of Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner, whose trust he runs.”

Both Wexner’s and Trump’s relationships with Epstein prior to 2001 are well known and date back to 1985 and 1987, respectively. Mainstream media, however, continue to report that Gates and Epstein first met in 2011 and have declined to follow the leads laid out by Nigel Rosser. I am personally aware of this withholding of information to a degree as a BBC reporter contacted me in 2019 for details about this 2001 Evening Standard article, which I provided. To date, the BBC has never reported on the contents of that article. Notably, the BBC has received millions in funding for years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Not only was Rosser’s article never retracted, but neither Gates, Trump, nor Wexner disputed the claims made in the article at the time, which was well before Epstein became notorious. In addition, given that Gates is named alongside two known close Epstein associates at the time—Donald Trump and Leslie Wexner—it further suggests that Gates’s ties to Epstein prior to 2001 were considerable enough to warrant his mention alongside these two other men.

.....

The ties of Epstein and the Maxwells to Silicon Valley, not just to Microsoft, are part of a broader attempt to cover up the strong intelligence component in the origin of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies. Much effort has been invested in creating a public perception that these companies are strictly private entities despite their deep, long-standing ties to the intelligence agencies and militaries of the United States and Israel. 

TThe true breadth of the Epstein scandal will never be covered by mainstream media because so many news outlets are owned by these same Silicon Valley oligarchs or depend on Silicon Valley for online reader engagement.

Perhaps the biggest reason why the military/intelligence origins and links to the current Silicon Valley oligarchy will never be honestly examined, however, is that those very entities are now working with breakneck speed to usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which would make artificial intelligence, automation, mass electronic surveillance, and transhumanism central to human society. One of the architects of this “revolution,” Klaus Schwab, said earlier this year that rebuilding and maintaining trust with the public was critical to that project. However, were the true nature of Silicon Valley, including its significant ties to serial child rapist and sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein and his network, to emerge, the public’s trust would be significantly eroded, thus threatening what the global oligarchy views as a project critical to its survival.

May 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Commerce Dept. security unit became counter-intelligence-like operation, Shawn Boburg, May 24, 2021. An obscure security unit tasked with protecting the Commerce Department’s officials and facilities has evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the department, a Washington Post examination found.

The Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) covertly searched employees’ offices at night, ran broad keyword searches of their emails trying to surface signs of foreign influence and scoured Americans’ social media for critical comments about the census, according to documents and interviews with five former investigators.

In one instance, the unit opened a case on a 68-year-old retiree in Florida who tweeted that the census, which is run by the Commerce Department, would be manipulated “to benefit the Trump Party!” records show.

commerce dept logoIn another example, the unit searched Commerce servers for particular Chinese words, documents show. The search resulted in the monitoring of many Asian American employees over benign correspondence, according to two former investigators.

The office “has been allowed to operate far outside the bounds of federal law enforcement norms and has created an environment of paranoia and retaliation at the Department,” John Costello, a former deputy assistant secretary of intelligence and security at Commerce in the Trump administration, said in a statement for this story.

ITMS “rests on questionable legal authority and has suffered from poor management and lack of sufficient legal and managerial oversight for much of its existence,” Costello said.

Concerns have long simmered internally about the Commerce unit, which was led for more than a decade by career supervisor George D. Lee.

The unit’s tactics appear as if “someone watched too many ‘Mission Impossible’ movies,” said Bruce Ridlen, a former supervisor.

Investigators lodged complaints with supervisors, and the department’s internal watchdog launched multiple inquiries, documents show. In an internal memo laying out his concerns about the unit, Costello described an inspector general’s investigation that he said had found it had no legal authority to conduct criminal investigations.

Incoming Commerce leaders from the Biden administration ordered ITMS to pause all criminal investigations on March 10, and on May 13 ordered the suspension of all activities after preliminary results of an ongoing review, according to a statement issued by department spokeswoman Brittany Caplin.

Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part III), Seth Abramson, left, May 23-24, 2021. Introduction to Part III: The most chilling sentence seth abramson graphicinAli Alexander’s chilling January 13 interview with the chillingly named Church Militant of Michigan is this one: “We [Stop the Steal] own all of [the government of] Arizona except katie hobbsfor the Secretary of State [Katie Hobbs, right].

”In the interview, Alexander credits one man with ensuring that Stop the Steal could take over Arizona’s government: Arizona state representative and Oath Keeper Mark Finchem, the man Trump praised in Georgia on January 4 as a “great political leader.”

As Oath Keepers like Finchem get arrested by the dozens, and Finchem’s presence at the Capitol in a golf cart becomes national news, and Finchem faces the possibility of a state ethics investigation and there is a steady drumbeat of calls for his resignation or expulsion from not just Arizona Democrats but even journalists, it is becoming harder and harder for Finchem to find reliable allies in Phoenix.

A notable exception is a fellow Arizona Republican state representative who is, like Finchem, a self-described Oath Keeper: Wendy Rogers. Rogers, who spent January 6 at a massive Stop the Steal rally in Phoenix, watched with glee on January 4 as the President of the United States name-checked her friend Mark Finchem.

seth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part II), Seth Abramson, left, May 23-24, 2021. Introduction to Part II: The mystery of the strange conclave at Trump's private residence at Trump International Hotel is unraveling — revealing new evidence about the Oath Keepers, U.S. senators likely in attendance, and more.

These are Parts II and III of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part I), Seth Abramson.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Be wary of the 6th of January -- a coup by any other name, Wayne Madsen, left, May 24, 2021. The right-wing coup continues as a "rolling putsch." wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallEven without a congressionally-mandated January 6 Commission, we are slowly learning more about the premeditated attempt by Donald Trump and members of his administration and key support groups to overthrow the government of the United States on January 6, 2021.

wayne madesen report logoThanks to Washington Metropolitan Police memos hacked into and released by a ransomware group and a disclosure by an aide to Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), it is now known that the Boogaloo Bois and members of the Qanon cult were planning on attacking other targets in Washington, DC on and after January 6 -- and that among these targets was the FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Alex Ferro, an aide to Gimenez, reported to both the FBI and US Capitol Police that he overheard one Trump supporter, who was dressed in military-type tactical gear, talking about seizing control of the FBI Building on Pennsylvania Avenue on the morning of January 6.

franklin d rooseveltRepublican leaders in the Congress are adamantly opposed to a January 6 Commission with the power to subpoena those with direct knowledge of what is beginning to look like a pre-planned "rolling coup" that extended from prior to January 6 through January 20.

The January coup attempt by Trump loyalists came the closest to an overthrow of the government since the aborted 1933 right-wing "Wall Street bankers" coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, right. That plot was disclosed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler.

 djt impeachment graphic

state dept map logo Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Key impeachment witness who accused Trump of quid pro quo sues Pompeo, U.S. for $1.8 million, John Hudson, May 24, 2021. President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, right, is suing former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and the U.S. government for $1.8 million to compensate for legal fees incurred during the 2019 House impeachment probe.

gordon sondland oThe suit, filed Monday in federal court in the District of Columbia, alleges that Pompeo reneged on his promise that the State Department would cover the fees after Sondland delivered bombshell testimony accusing Trump and his aides of pressuring the government of Ukraine to investigate then presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid.

Sondland, a Portland hotel magnate appointed by Trump to serve as ambassador, became a key witness of the impeachment probe because of his firsthand knowledge of conversations with Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and senior Ukrainian officials — as well as his punchy answers, affable demeanor and colorful language.

The allegations in the suit also offer new details on Sondland’s rapid devolution from Trump insider to political outcast in the span of days.

mike pompeo portraitThe complaint alleges that Pompeo, left, told Sondland that government lawyers would not be made available to represent him but that if he hired his own counsel, his attorney fees would be covered by the U.S. government. Top aides to Pompeo also acknowledged this commitment, the suit alleges, but “everything changed” after Sondland delivered his testimony alleging a “quid pro quo” and then refused to resign despite a request from one of Pompeo’s most trusted aides, Ulrich Brechbuhl.

“Ambassador Sondland confirmed he would not resign because he did not do anything improper. After that, everything changed. Ambassador Sondland did not receive his attorneys’ fees, notwithstanding the promises from the State Department that the attorneys’ fees would be paid,” the suit alleges.Sondland is demanding that the U.S. government cover the fees or Pompeo pay out of his own pocket. The suit argues that Pompeo’s actions as secretary of state should not be subject to governmental immunity because the promise “was self-serving, made entirely for personal reasons for his own political survival in the hopes that Ambassador Sondland would not implicate him or others by his testimony.”

In the past year, Sondland’s businesses empire, including several hotels in Portland, was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which decimated tourism across the country. Before being tapped by Trump for the ambassador position, Sondland donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers worry the toxic mood on Capitol Hill will follow them home, Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane, May 24, 2021 (print ed.). House members head out of Washington for three weeks, anger at each other is turning into fear of what could await them back home.

Tensions among lawmakers have been running high since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and have only increased in recent weeks. The two parties are clashing over how to investigate what transpired that day and whether, or how, to ease precautions put in place to keep members and staff safe during the pandemic.

U.S. House logoThe tenor of the debate has been highly personal, with Democrats expressing a sense of distrust toward their Republican colleagues with regard to their personal safety and health, while many GOP members are accusing Democrats of using the tragedies of the attack and the pandemic to score political points.

Now, several Democrats said they are concerned that the toxic political culture on Capitol Hill could greet them back home as their communities open up, with the pandemic waning and vaccination rates rising, and there is pressure to hold more in-person events.

“Obviously we’re going to return to more outward-facing live, in-person things and I’m thrilled about that. I want to do that,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.). “I think we’re going to have to be very cautious. I think there’s going to have to be some ramped-up security. Hopefully it’s going to be low key, I don’t want people to feel like they’re walking into an armed event, but I imagine doing a lot of events in parks, in the daytime, staffers and local police are around.”

Bitter anger over Jan. 6 riots lingers in the House, prompting a week of tense standoff and legislative stalemate

Several Democratic members have privately expressed their concerns to leadership about security back home as threats have risen, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversations. Some of these Democrats said they have paid out of their own pocket to increase security at their district offices or install security systems in their homes out of an abundance of caution.

May 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: Do Whistle-Blowers Damage National Security? Justin Vogt, May 21, 2021. One morning in December 1965, the C.I.A. station chief in Montevideo, Uruguay, went to the city’s Police Headquarters to tell security officials about a disinformation campaign the Americans were planning in their country. Like the rest of Latin America, Uruguay was a Cold War battleground, and Washington was eager to discredit a left-wing insurrection — in this case, by concocting rumors that Soviet agents had infiltrated Uruguayan labor unions. Accompanying the C.I.A. chief was a 30-year-old case officer named Philip Agee, who was helping coordinate the plot.

philip agee 1977As the Uruguayans reviewed the C.I.A.’s plans, a soccer match played on the radio. Soon, however, a different noise intruded. “I began to hear a strange low sound which, as it gradually became louder, I recognized as the moan of a human voice,” Agee later wrote. At first, he thought it was a street vendor outside. But the sound persisted, and it became clear that it was coming from the room above.

“The moaning grew in intensity, turning into screams,” Agee wrote. “By then I knew we were listening to someone being tortured.” Agee was already harboring moral qualms about his work, and to his horror, he suspected — correctly, he soon learned — that the voice belonged to a Communist operative whose name Agee himself had supplied to the Uruguayans. “All I wanted to do was get away from the voice,” he recalled.

Agee  (shown at right in a 1977 photo) did get away — far away. He left the Central Intelligence Agency in 1968, and seven years later launched an unprecedented assault on the agency by publishing a book, Inside the Company, that revealed the names of more than 400 C.I.A. officers, agents, informants and assets. The book created a crisis for the American intelligence community; with its personnel compromised and its sources and methods exposed, the C.I.A. had to dismantle many of its Latin American operations.

CIA LogoThe history of United States intelligence features many leakers, whistle-blowers and even a few traitors. But no one had ever done anything like this before — and, to this day, no one else has.

Agee became a celebrity of sorts. His book wrapped its revelations inside a withering critique of American foreign policy, and leftists around the world hailed Agee as a hero. The C.I.A., he wrote, was “nothing more than the secret police of American capitalism, plugging up leaks in the political dam night and day so that shareholders of U.S. companies operating in poor countries can continue enjoying the rip-off.”

He was repudiating more than just the C.I.A.; his real target was “the American project writ large,” as Jonathan Stevenson, the managing editor of Survival, argues in A Drop of Treason, his new biography of Agee. “He was part of the opposition, but he was no longer loyal,” Stevenson says.

Stevenson’s book seeks to unravel the mix of personal and ideological motives that drove Agee.

“His detractors might say he just got mildly disenchanted with C.I.A. work; tried to take the quiet, nontreasonous way out; got frustrated; was seduced by a couple of lefty women; felt the allure of dissident celebrity; and only then became a real dissenter,” Stevenson writes. He rejects that view and casts Agee as “a figure of profound ambivalence and considerable subtlety.” That portrait, however, is undermined by the rigor of the portrayal. The book is remarkably well researched and treats complex issues with admirable clarity. But Stevenson so thoroughly documents Agee’s shallowness and self-regard that his nuanced assessment ultimately seems too charitable.

There is little doubt that Agee grew disgusted with Washington’s hypocritical backing of authoritarian governments. And it is true that Agee took a huge risk without much promise of personal profit. (Some evidence suggests that the C.I.A. at one point plotted to assassinate him.) But his decision to expose the agency came two years after he had ceased working there, during which he grew increasingly bitter owing to a messy divorce and a failed business venture. Moreover, he worked on his tell-all memoir while living in Havana and maintaining contacts with Cuban intelligence officials; Stevenson concurs with other historians who have concluded that Agee became, in essence, a Cuban asset — which, given the nature of the Castro regime, undercut his pose as a principled defender of liberty.

The C.I.A. recovered quickly from the damage Agee had inflicted. He was never charged with a crime because, strange as it may seem, it was not clearly illegal to reveal the identities of intelligence officers when he did so. After a brief period of notoriety, he faded from view, carrying out a peripatetic life on the fringes of international leftism, nursing various grudges. By the time he died, in 2008, he was largely forgotten. Ultimately, despite Stevenson’s efforts to raise the stakes, Agee’s story seems less about moral risk-taking or the wages of dissent than about what might be called the banality of betrayal.

Still, if the book falls short in some ways as biography, it delivers as history. It offers a vivid snapshot of America in the mid-1970s, when the collapse of institutional authority after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal was followed not by revolution or reformation but by exhaustion and decadence. As Stevenson writes: “The fierce and euphoric idealism that had arisen in the 1960s was giving way to doubt and paranoia, a kind of creeping corporate co-optation and, ultimately, downbeat social lassitude and introverted resignation.” Agee wanted his actions to be seen through the prism of the earlier moment. He was late to the party, however, and to the extent that his revelations had an impact, it was less to hinder American power than to feed the nihilism that took hold in the country.djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report's Hollywood, Film Commentary: Screen treatment of mind control cults, Wayne Madsen, left, May 23, 2021. Hardly an American has not been touched, in some way, by a close relative wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallor longtime friend joining the cult of Donald Trump while also advocating against coronavirus public health measures such as the wearing of masks or getting vaccinated against the deadly virus.

Hollywood has amply dealt with the plague of cults in a number of films, including comedies. Big and small screen offerings include the three aspects inherent with any cult: a lavishly worshiped and adored leader; use of threats and coercion to convince others to join the cult; and pyramidal financial, sexual, or psychological exploitation of cult members.

Hollywood's first major treatment of cults was with 1934's "The Black Cat," which starred horror film staples Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The leader of a group of Satan-worshipers, Karloff, plans to sacrifice a woman but to her rescue comes none other than Lugosi, famed more for his perennial roles as Count Dracula rather than a movie hero.

In 1943's "The Seventh Victim," which starred Jean Brooks and Kim Hunter, focused its plot on a Greenwich Village-based Satanic cult. Appearing in a minor role was Hugh Beaumont, better known to later television audiences as Ward Cleaver, the father in "Leave it to Beaver."

May 22

Proof via Substack Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part I), Seth Abramson, right, May 22, 2021. The mystery of the strange conclave at Trump's private seth abramson graphicresidence at Trump International Hotel is unraveling — revealing new evidence about the Oath Keepers, U.S. senators likely in attendance, and more.

Introductseth abramson proof logoion: The mystery of which three Unites States senators attended Donald Trump’s secret pre-insurrection war council has remained only one-third resolved for months, with only Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville admitting—after being forced to do so by reporting at Proof—that he attended, though his confession included a passel of new lies about the event, anyway.

The other two U.S. senators present at the war council alongside Trump family members, aides, and advisers at Trump’s “private residence” in Trump International Hotel have remained a mystery, and (inexplicably) one that U.S. media thus far has made no effort to unravel.

This is Part I of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. Part II of the series can be found at this link. Part III will be published at Proof very shortly. 

May 14

Insider.com, Leaked memos show police were concerned about Boogaloo Bois' plans to attack major landmarks in DC ahead of Biden's inauguration, Jacob Shamsian, May 14, 2021. \Newly leaked intelligence memos demonstrate how concerned law enforcement in Washington, DC, was about the Boogaloo Bois' — a right-wing militia group seeking to incite a second Civil War — plans for violence ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration.

The plans, called "Operation Stormbreaker," involved targeting landmarks, government buildings, power plants, and other civic institutions in DC on January 19, the memos show.

Members of the Boogaloo movement and QAnon adherents called the date "National Popcorn Day," when they planned to follow up the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol with another wave of violence.

Intelligence memos detailing the Boogaloo movement's plans were prepared by the DC Metropolitan Police Department Intelligence Division and include notes from the FBI. Babuk, a ransomware hacking group, released the memos Thursday in a
cache
of what it claims are 250 GB of data stolen from MPD.

The FBI declined to comment. MPD didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment, but has commented on other leaked documents and confirmed their veracity.

Alex Friedfeld, a researcher specializing in far-right movements for the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism and a former New York Police Department terrorism intelligence analyst, reviewed portions of a memo and told Insider it resembled a legitimate police intelligence report.

The cache of files includes several memos that show Boogaloo members planned a schedule, priority list, and communications strategy for attacking DC buildings and landmarks. An FBI memo issued on January 18 and included in the leak shows a map of targets it says originated from a Boogaloo chat group.

May 7

 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary and Opinion: Qanon and pedophilia -- Hold your cards, we have a Bingo! Wayne Madsen, left, May 7, 2021. U.S. Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMarjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) are kicking off their "America First" national tour at the Brownwood Hotel and Spa in The Villages, a central Florida retirement community that is over 70 percent Republican.

The pairing of Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for being involved in an Orlando-based sex trafficking ring involving minors, and Taylor-Greene, a Qanon advocate who believes that leading Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking operations that use pizza restaurants as fronts, points to the dirty secret that it is the far-right and Qanon that are involved in pedophilia and child sexual exploitation.

It does not take the political marriage of Gaetz, who is suspected of committing other bizarre sexual crimes, and Taylor-Greene, who subscribes to the Qanon "Pizzagate" nonsense, to shine the light on the fact that it is Qanon and their far-right allies who are involved in international satanic pedophilia activities.

May 6

Justice Integrity Project, Medical Expert, Oswald's Friend, Debunks Accused JFK Killer’s Portrayal, Andrew Kreig, May 6, 2021. A new book disputes false portrayals of Lee Harvey Oswald, whom officials promptly named in 1963 as the sole assassin of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

"Oswald: Russian Episode" reveals Oswald’s true character and rebuts claims that his personality made him a likely assassin of JFK.

“The real Oswald,” concludes the author, Professor Ernst Titovets, M.D., Ph.D., based on his close friendship with the American six decades ago, “had no reason whatsoever – either political or personal – to murder John F. Kennedy.”

This book culminates the scientist’s painstaking research conducted over many years to reveal the character of Oswald, which is still largely unknown to the general public.

ernst titovets new coverThe book, initially privately published, has been updated and is now widely available in Western nations for the first time. This follows publication on May 6 by Eagle View Books, based in Washington, DC. The book launch was timed for continuing interest in both the JFK assassination, as indicated by a continued publication of new books in recent months, as well as ramped up interest in so-called "conspiracy theories."

At a major annual research conference from Nov. 20-22 about the JFK assassination organized by Citizens Against Political Assassination (CAPA), investigative reporter Andrew Kreig, Eagle View’s book editor on this project and also editor of the Justice Integrity Project, moderated a CAPA panel of experts reviewing media coverage of JFK’s death.

Kreig has written and spoken extensively on the topic, documenting how criticism of the Warren Commission report on the JFK can be solidly researched and thus is far different from wild and otherwise unsupported claims commonly derided as "conspiracy theory."

The Justice Integrity Project also has published a 55-part "Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination: Books, Videos, Archives, Commentary," which is excerpted below with links.

Professor Titovets, who is still active as an accomplished researcher on brain functions, provides a gripping and historically important challenge to conventional wisdom regarding the 1963 assassination.

His account describes first-hand appraisals of what he regards as the shockingly misguided research of such Oswald biographers whom he met as Norman Mailer.

To recap JFK’s history-changing death: Oswald, an ex-Marine was arrested soon after Kennedy’s murder by gunfire in downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Oswald denied killing the president. ernst titovets book back cover portrait newTwo days after Oswald’s arrest, nightclub owner Jack Ruby murdered him in a Dallas police station. That enabled authorities for the most part to condemn Oswald as JFK’s sole assassin without trial, despite vast and still-lingering public skepticism about the official story.

Professor Titovets, shown at right, expertly refutes the standard portrayals of Oswald as a loner and mentally deranged man prone to violence. He draws on their friendship during the years Oswald spent in the former Soviet Union, beginning in 1959 at the height of the Cold War.

Oswald, who previously had worked as a U.S. Marine technician in Japan with clearance for high secrets on the then-highly classified U-2 spy plane missions, undertook a supposed “defection” to the Soviet Union that in some ways previewed the plot of the future James Bond thriller “From Russia With Love.”

May 4

 

david berkowitz

Daily Beast, The new Netflix docuseries “The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness” explores the theory that the serial killer who terrorized New York may not have acted alone, Nick Schager, May 4, 2021. David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam (shown above), killed six New Yorkers and wounded seven more—all with his trademark .44 caliber revolver—before being caught on Aug. 10, 1977. A loner who struck fear into the heart of the Big Apple with crimes that were all the more chilling for being so random, Berkowitz was, and remains, one of America’s most notorious serial killers, a fiend who targeted everyday citizens because, he claimed, a 6,000-year-old demon told him to via his neighbor’s dog. His crime spree was national news, and his capture calmed the metropolis he had paralyzed with terror.

Yet the question The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness poses is, what if he didn’t act alone?

daily beast logoPremiering on May 5, director Joshua Zeman’s four-part Netflix docuseries is, per its title, a descent into a bleak abyss, although the specific nature of that horror is perhaps its biggest surprise. Berkowitz’s crimes during the summer of 1977, and the New York Police Department’s desperate attempts to stop them, comprise the bulk of The Sons of Sam’s initial installment. Compiling a wealth of talking-head interviews and archival footage from the era, from TV news reports and on-the-street interviews to police press conferences and talk shows featuring experts, psychologists, and New York Daily News superstar reporter Jimmy Breslin—whose direct correspondences with Berkowitz became fodder for the front page—the series presents a harrowing account of those stressful few months, which were compounded by a July 13-14 blackout that further put New Yorkers on edge.

Berkowitz targeted young women with long brown hair as well as their male acquaintances, almost always when they were in cars late at night, and when he was nabbed in August, New York breathed a sigh of relief. Or, at least, most of the city did. From the moment Berkowitz was apprehended—and then smirked to the cameras during his perp walk, before confessing his guilt in court—IBM employee Maury Terry suspected that there was more to this story than simply a delusional sociopath who shot strangers on the orders of an evil spirit living in his elderly neighbor Sam Carr’s dog, and who wrote taunting letters to the police in which he ranted about Satanic forces, gave himself various nicknames, drew strange insignias, and declared, “I am the monster, Beelzebub, the chubby behemoth.” In light of various discrepancies in the case, including the fact that Berkowitz didn’t remotely resemble the many police sketches made from eyewitness statements, Terry surmised that more than one person might have committed these executions.

Thus, a private investigation was born, one that led Terry first to the Carr family.

Though Berkowitz dubbed himself the “Son of Sam,” Sam Carr actually had two sons of his own—John and Michael Carr—and the former’s nickname, “Wheaties,” almost perfectly aligned with one of the nicknames (“John Wheaties”) the killer had mentioned in a letter to the cops. Berkowitz knew John and Michael Carr, and they all used to hang out in Yonkers’ Untermyer Park—in particular, at a decrepit pump house known as “the Devil’s Cave,” whose interior was decorated with blood and upside-down crosses, and where mutilated animal corpses that had apparently been used in ritual sacrifices were found. Since John Carr looked eerily similar to one of the police sketches of the killer, Terry became convinced that the three were in cahoots—and, moreover, that they were members of a Satanic cult known as “the Children,” which was an offshoot of a British cult known as “the Process Church of the Final Judgment.”

May 3

Daily Beast, Commentary: U.S. Captured, Tortured, and Cleared Him. He’s Still in GITMO, Spencer Ackerman, May 3, 2021. Abu Zubaydah was a human guinea pig for the CIA’s post-9/11 torture. Almost 20 years later, as the U.S. moves on, he’s still trying to get out of Guantanamo.

daily beast logoIt’s been 19 years since U.S. forces captured Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn and declared him one of the senior leaders of al Qaeda. It’s been 15 years since the CIA quietly revoked that assessment once it was done torturing him. Today, Huseyn, a forgotten man, remains locked inside Guantanamo Bay, a living symbol of the permanent damage wrought by the War on Terror.

As the Biden administration performs the latest government review into closing Guantanamo, attorneys for Husayn, better known as Abu Zubaydah, have decided they’ve waited long enough. They filed a petition on Friday with the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention seeking his release from his 19 years of captivity. They want the panel to exercise its “urgent actions” procedures to appeal to Washington for his freedom, citing his counsel’s “serious concerns for his physical and mental health and welfare [stretching back] for years.”

May 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: The politicians who tried to overturn an election — and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it, Margaret Sullivan, right, May 2, 2021. While Sunday shows keep margaret sullivan 2015 photobooking the lawmakers who undermined democracy, one public radio station decided it wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago.

They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s “State of the Union,” which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.

“There’s a kind of clubby atmosphere on these shows, part of the Beltway Bubble mentality, in which it’s become almost impolite to raise the topic of the insurrection,” Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse told me.

“CBS This Morning,” for example, sent out an email alert last week touting its exclusive interview with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), one of the seven senators who voted against certifying the election results in Pennsylvania. Scott blasted President Biden for “spending us into oblivion” and mocked him for not achieving bipartisanship — yet interviewer Anthony Mason never mentioned that Scott had literally tried to overturn Biden’s election.

“109 days after Jan. 6, ‘history will remember’ is a complete joke,” Matt Negrin of “The Daily Show” tweeted last week. He added: “These media outlets want you to forget.”

But Harrisburg’s WITF has gone a different route: They want you to remember.

May 1

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Corrupt media still covering up for GOP's fake infrastructure offer, which represents just $189 billion or only 8% of Biden's $2.3 trillion planned investment, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, Ph.D., host, right, May 1, 2021. Media sacrifice truth and national interest to their imbecilic cult of bipartisan cooperation with the criminals of January 6.

Increased taxes on wealthy must include levies for solvency of Medicare, which will begin to run out of cash in 2024; Four additional years of free public education will help make US competitive with world; productivity depends chiefly on quality of education and infrastructure, but GOP is committed to destroying public education; Biden marks 50 years of Amtrak in Delaware.

Barr Justice Department blocked search warrant for Giuliani last year, but charges now appear imminent; 00 million Americans now immunized for Covid

 

April

April 30

Boston Herald, FBI won’t release documents linking Saudis to Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Joe Dwinell, April 30, 2021. 10,000 families suing to force Biden administration to open books. The 10,000 families suing to finally uncover Saudi ties to the 9/11 terrorist attacks were “basically told to go to hell,” a loved one said, by the FBI in the latest fight over sealed documents.

The agency stated in their court filing over the bottled-up intelligence that what they know “cannot be disclosed without proper authorization.”

“It’s outrageous,” said attorney Andrew Maloney on Friday. “That information is 20 years old and there’s no reason not to give us this information.”

FBI logoMaloney’s firm, Kreindler and Kreindler with offices in Boston, represents 10,000 families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, or had family members die from the toxic fallout following the toppling of the Twin Towers in New York City.

He and other lawyers have joined in going after the Saudi government to once and for all expose support given to the 9/11 hijackers two decades ago. But, as this latest denial from the FBI shows, the Biden administration is not making it easy.

“We were hoping for a different outcome from the Biden administration and the new attorney general” — Merrick Garland, Maloney added. “We’re not giving up.”

Maloney says the FBI’s latest refusal in the federal case out of the Southern District of Manhattan does prove the Department of Justice has evidence of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

“How is this America?” said Brett Eagleson, who was 15 years old when his dad died while working at the Twin Towers. “Garland needs to step up and right the ship and help the 9/11 families.

“The FBI has just basically told us to go to hell,” Eagleson, one of those suing the government, added. “We’re begging, pleading with the government to help us.”

As the Herald reported last week, GOP lawmakers in D.C. — along with a few Democrats — have written to Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to finally go public with the intel. It could expose how out of the 19 hijackers that day, 15 of them were citizens of Saudi Arabia.

April 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court to consider Guantánamo Bay terrorism suspect’s request to learn more about his CIA-sponsored torture, Robert Barnes, April 27, 2021 (print ed.). The prisoner is Abu Zubaida, once a prized capture whose torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been extensively documented. But the government has invoked the “state secrets” privilege to oppose his efforts CIA Logofor additional information about foreign intelligence officials who partnered with the CIA in detention facilities abroad.

The government already has declassified vast amounts of information about Abu Zubaida, whose birth name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein and whose closeness to Osama bin Laden, the deceased founder of al-Qaeda, is now questioned.

But he and his attorney have asked for more disclosure and to question two CIA contractors, James Mitchell and John Jessen, about the interrogations. Abu Zubaida wants the information because he has intervened, through his attorneys, in a Polish investigation of the CIA’s conduct in that country, where he was once held.

His request was opposed by then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, who said the disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause serious, and in many instances, exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security.”

Justice Department log circular

ABC News / KTRK-TV (Houston), International panel call on lawmakers to dismantle police, Cory McGinnis, April 27, 2021. Traffic stops and excessive use of force against Black people are being reported as "common precursors" to police killings, a new report shows.

On Tuesday, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence in the United States released its final report of its investigations into police violence across the country.

The commission selected 44 cases of police violence from 33 different cities, including Houston. The panel met via Zoom after weeks of live hearings involving cases of Black people killed by police as well as months of review of relevant documents.

The commission found that traffic stops are a common precursor to police killings and uses of excessive force against Black people. They also found a pattern of police destructing or manipulating evidence in cases of involving people of color.

"The only weapon that they had was the color of their skin," said a panel member.

Commissioners also mentioned how these patterns of violence and mistreatment ultimately breaks up Black families and Black communities.

The guest speakers featured on the Zoom call included families touched by police violence, including the mother of Eric Garner and the brother of George Floyd. The commissioners are now calling on lawmakers and President Joe Biden to step in. Visit the group's website for the full list of the committee's findings. 

washington post logoWashington Post, When communities try to hold police accountable, law enforcement fights back, Nicole Dungca and Jenn Abelson, April 27, 2021. Attempts by civilian oversight groups to hold law enforcement officials accountable are often an exercise in failure and frustration. Police say citizens are well-meaning but ill-equipped to judge officers.

The struggle in New Mexico’s largest city illustrates the challenge of asking civilians to check police powers. Police nationwide have frequently defied efforts to impose civilian oversight and, in turn, undermined the ability of communities to hold law enforcement accountable, according to a Washington Post review of audits, misconduct complaints, emails, lawsuits and interviews with dozens of current and former officials.

More than 160 municipalities and counties have implemented some form of civilian oversight through review boards, inspectors general and independent monitors. Another 130 localities are trying to do so, according to officials from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, or NACOLE, though this represents a fraction of roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The issue has gained new traction as part of the push to overhaul policing in the United States after the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, both unarmed and Black. Their deaths last year sparked massive demonstrations and reignited long-held skepticism about law enforcement’s treatment of Black people and its tolerance for misconduct.

David and Leila Centner identify themselves as “health freedom advocates,” and their school has posted guidance to help parents file for exemptions to state-required vaccinations. In late January, they invited Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine advocate, to speak at the school.

Daily Beast, Secret Court Reveals: FBI Hunted for Domestic Terrorists Without a Warrant, Spencer Ackerman, April 27, 2021. A secret court warned the FBI in 2018 about warrantless searches. But the bureau still went looking for “racially motivated violent extremists” in NSA troves without a court order.

daily beast logoThe FBI, without any court order, sifted through the National Security Agency’s massive troves of foreign communications for information on American “racially motivated violent extremists,” a newly declassified order from the secret surveillance court details.

Even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court warned the FBI in 2018 that its warrant-free queries, known as backdoor searches, were constitutionally alarming, the bureau still conducted queries relevant to criminal investigations about, among other things “domestic terrorism involving racially motivated violent extremists.” The court’s Judge James E. Boasberg found what he referred to as “apparent widespread violations of the querying standard.”

FBI logoThat’s the euphemistic term the bureau tends to use to denote white supremacist violence. On one occasion, an FBI analyst ran a multi-search-term “batch query” on Americans “in connection with predicated criminal investigations relating to domestic terrorism” that returned 33 foreign surveillance results.

“The FBI continues to perform warrantless searches through the NSA’s most sensitive databases for routine criminal investigations.”

And not only domestic terror. The FISA Court recounts government acknowledgment that at least 40 FBI searches through the NSA’s warrantlessly collected data involved “health care fraud, transnational organized crime, violent gangs” and “public corruption and bribery.”

On at least one occasion, around May 2020, an FBI analyst looked through the foreign NSA troves “to vet [a] potential source in [a] predicated criminal investigation relating to public corruption.” Seven FBI field offices were implicated in “these and a number of similar violations,” according to a November 18, 2020 FISA Court opinion declassified on Monday and signed by Boasberg.

In other words, the FBI continues to perform warrantless searches through the NSA’s most sensitive databases—the ones the NSA is not required to get warrants before filling with communications information—for routine criminal investigations that are supposed to require warrants.

Mother Jones, Investigation: In Sworn Testimony in Inauguration Scandal Case, Donald Trump Jr. Made Apparently False Statements, David Corn, April 27, 2021 (3:16 min. video). On February 11, Donald Trump Jr. sat in front of his computer for a video deposition. He swore to tell the truth. But documents and a video obtained by Mother Jones—and recent legal filings—indicate that his testimony on key points was not accurate.

The matter at hand was a lawsuit filed in 2020 against Donald Trump’s inauguration committee and the Trump Organization by Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, DC. The suit claims that the inauguration committee misused charitable funds to enrich the Trump family.

As the attorney general put it, the lawsuit “alleges that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel. Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events. The Committee also improperly used non-profit funds to throw a private party [at the Trump Hotel] for the Trump family costing several hundred thousand dollars.” In short, the attorney general has accused the Trump clan and its company of major grifting, and he is looking to recover the amounts paid to the Trump Hotel so he can direct those funds to real charitable purposes.

As part of the case, Racine has taken depositions from Tom Barrack, the investor and Donald Trump pal who chaired the inauguration committee; Rick Gates, the committee’s former deputy chair, who subsequently pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation; and two of Trump’s adult children: Donald Jr. and Ivanka. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a top producer for the inauguration committee, was deposed as a lead witness cooperating with the investigation. Racine has also collected internal emails and material from the committee, its officials, and others who worked on the inauguration.

During his deposition, Trump Jr. frequently replied, “I don’t recall,” and he downplayed his involvement in preparation for his father’s inauguration in January 2017. In several exchanges, he made statements that are contradicted by documents or the recollections of others and that appear to be false.

One of the clearest instances of Trump Jr. not testifying accurately came when he was asked about Winston Wolkoff. As the lawsuit notes, during the organization of the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Melania Trump, had raised concerns with the president-elect, Ivanka Trump, and Gates about the prices the Trump Hotel was charging the inauguration committee for events to be held there. This included a written warning to Ivanka Trump and Gates that Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space. (Gates ignored the warning, the lawsuit notes, and the committee struck a contract with the Trump Hotel for $1.03 million, an amount the lawsuit says was far above the hotel’s own pricing guidelines.)

During his deposition, Trump Jr. was asked about Winston Wolkoff: “Do you know her?” He replied, “I know of her. I think I’ve met her, but I don’t know her. If she was in this room I’m not sure I would recognize her.” He added, “I had no involvement with her.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The indictments of two men connected to an alleged neo-Nazi terror cell in Georgia shines light on the reach of the group known as the Base, Staff Report, April 27, 2021. The recent indictments of two more men connected to an alleged neo-Nazi terror cell in Floyd County shine new light on the reach of the group known as the Base.

Duncan Christopher Trimmell, 23 of Austin, Texas, and Brandon Gregory Ashley, 21 of Hayden, Alabama, face charges of animal cruelty related to the alleged theft and ritual beheading of a ram or goat on Halloween 2019, according to an indictment handed down by a Floyd County grand jury earlier this month.

The charges, first reported by the Rome News-Tribune, reveal more of the web of what authorities describe as a criminal gang whose members planned to kill a Bartow County couple they suspected of being anti-fascist activists. Group members were arrested as part of a undercover investigation by state and federal law enforcement before they could carry out the plot.

Trimmell and Ashley join six other men believed to have come to an isolated property in the Silver Creek community south of Rome where an undercover law enforcement officer said they shot guns, took drugs and planned for a race war as part of a white supremacist group known as the Base.

According to court records, one aspect of those meetings was the killing of an animal alternately described in court records as a ram or a goat. The animal was allegedly stolen from a nearby property and killed in what was described as a "ritual sacrifice."

Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, said the new indictments show the Base's long reach, drawing members from across the nation and even from other countries.

"As this case further develops it sheds a very bright light of how this group that had a substantial presence in the virtual spaces engaged in real-world action, bringing individuals from the far corners of our country together," she said.

In January 2020, three Georgia residents were arrested in the alleged conspiracy: Michael Helterbrand, 26, of Dalton; Jacob Kaderli, 20, of Dacula; and Luke Austin Lane, 22, whose Silver Creek residence prosecutors say was used as the locale for the meeting.

Along with the animal cruelty charges, Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane face charges of conspiracy to commit arson, home invasion and murder, and violations to the state's anti-gang laws.

In addition, Patrik Mathews, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, Brian Mark Lemley Jr., also accused members of the Base, were indicted on charges related to the killing of the ram. Those charges are in addition to federal firearms charges they face in Maryland. Mathews Bilbrough and Lemley hail from Maryland, but Mathews was a member of the Canadian military and was in the United States illegally.

Helterbrand, Kaderli and Lane have been held in jail for more than a year without bond but were only formally indicted last month, thanks to judicial delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lane's most recent motion for bond was rejected by Floyd County Superior Court Judge John Neidrach in a March 30 order.

Authorities contend the suspects in the alleged murder plot continue to have contact with white supremacists while in jail. At Lane's bond hearing last month, Assistant DA Johnson said Lane has been in contact with far-right figures while in jail, including Dalton Woodward, a Georgia resident who was expelled from the National Guard after the AJC reported his membership in a pagan sect known for attracting white supremacists.

The Georgia suspects have also been featured on the website of the Global Minority Initiative, a group that encourages supporters to send money and cards of support to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in prison. Attorneys for Lane and Kaderli said their clients are not soliciting that kind of support.

April 25

SpyTalk.com, Commentary: The Crazy CIA Plot to Kill the Other Castro, Peter Kornbluh, April 25, 2021. The CIA wanted a pilot to sabotage Raul Castro's plane—while he was flying it. In early March 1960, a special team of CIA officials and operatives gathered for the first meeting of the new “Branch 4 Task Force,” which was dedicated to overthrowing Fidel Castro in Cuba.

April 20

Kennedys and King, Book Review: A Slice of Time: Review of Josiah Thompson’s Last Second in Dallas, Milicent Cranor, April 20, 2021. Milicent Cranor, right, determines that, despite its flaws, "Last Second in milicent cranorDallas" is a stimulating book about an eternal puzzle concerning the confounding details of this monumental murder. Josiah Thompson’s book is rich in detail and a lot of it is factual and not well-known.

If you take a moment in time and slice it down the middle, all kinds of things may come tumbling out — even state secrets.

Moments on films of the Kennedy assassination are sliced into about 18 frames per second. In his latest book, Last Second in Dallas, Josiah Thompson focuses on one of those seconds, during which time, he says, and I agree, the president’s head exploded as it was hit by multiple bullets.

To the mainstream media, Thompson has always been a credible source, so it’s a wonderful thing that, in his latest book, this credible source promotes — without reservation — the concept of josiah thompson last second coverconspiracy in the assassination.

The strongest proof described in the book is the famous Dictabelt tape, a recording of what a motorcycle policeman’s stuck-open microphone picked up — the sounds of five separate shots. Some were fired in such rapid succession that more than one shooter had to have been involved. And not all came from the same direction.

To me, it’s inconceivable that gunfire would not have been recorded under the circumstances described. So, it seems significant that apparently no recording exists of only three shots — the government-approved number.

Thompson attempts to correlate these sounds with specific frames of the Abraham Zapruder film of the event. In gruesome color stills, he points out what he believes is evidence of an additional shot.

You may or may not agree with his conclusions, but it doesn’t matter. You should have no trouble correlating — however loosely — these additional shots with what bystanders said they heard, what they saw, and when. Below is a small collection of their observations, selected for their relevance to the tape. I find them fascinating.

Milicent Cranor is currently a senior editor at whowhatwhy.org. She has been a creative editor at E.P. Dutton (fiction, non fiction); comedy ghostwriter; co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles for medical journals; editor of consequential legal and scientific documents; former member, American Mensa Society.

April 19

Palmer Report, Opinion: QAnon has apparently infiltrated U.S. Special Forces, Robert Harrington, left, April 19, 2021. NBC News has infiltrated two private Facebook robert harringtnn portraitgroups dedicated exclusively to members of special operations forces. Disturbing trends have emerged from this investigation, including evidence that many group members support and promote certain radical political conspiracy theories, including QAnon dogma and the Big Lie that the election was stolen.

facebook logoRepublicanism is attractive to some people in the armed services because for decades Republicans have cultivated the tough guy image, despite the provable fact that they are cowards. If you need to open-carry an AR-15 in order to shop at Walmart then you’re a coward. If you need a rocket launcher to buy a sandwich at Subway then you’re a coward.

If you’re afraid of being called a snowflake because you openly weep for the less fortunate then you’re a coward. If you’re afraid that people of color have too many rights then you’re a coward. Just because Republicans have stolen the tough guy image doesn’t mean they’re tough guys. They’re not.

bill palmer report logo headerUnfortunately some members of the military’s special operations forces have fallen for this lie. Because of this they confuse conservatism with being tough. I hasten to add this is not true of all of them, or even most of them. Just enough of them to be worrying.

My best man at my first marriage was a Captain in Special Forces in Vietnam, for example, and he was an exemplary human being and a man of real strength and compassion. So I wish to emphasise that I am not excoriating all members of special forces specifically or the military in general.

But NBC has looked at two Facebook groups for special forces, “SF Brotherhood – PAC” and “US Special Forces Team Room.” These groups are largely political in nature and the forums shouldn’t be seen as necessarily reflective of the views of the special operations forces community as whole.

Department of Defense SealCollectively, the two Facebook groups have more than 5,000 members, with some belonging to both. By comparison, U.S. Special Operations Command has about 70,000 active personnel. Even so, some of the views and ideas posted to these groups are concerning.

For example, members of these groups often ridicule President Joe Biden by describing him as senile and weak and they compare him unfavourably to “stronger” leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin. They also refer to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a man of color, with derogatory terms like “bubba.”

Many of the posters are Trump supporters who believe the false narrative that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election. One member said of law enforcement officers during the January 6 attack on the Capitol, “too bad they didn’t bother to defend the Constitution.”

djt maga hatFormer Green Beret Robert Wilson, who was counterterrorism director on the National Security Council during the Obama and Trump administrations, and who commanded the 3rd Special Forces Group, said members of the community “are radicalizing themselves online, just like many of these lone-wolf ISIS terrorists did.” As we have seen in recent years, home grown American terrorists are a much larger threat than terrorists from abroad.

These Facebook groups are strictly private and members are carefully vetted. Members are encouraged to speak their minds but to keep what is said inside the groups stringently confidential. Facebook does flag some members’ wilder ideas with warnings that they are fake news, such as the notion that the election was stolen or that the Deep State is running the government, but otherwise leaves them alone. They walk a very thin line between freedom of speech and an immediate threat to national security.

April 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Seeing a threat to democracy in a conservative Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone (right, professor and former dean, University geoffrey stoneof Chicago School of law), April 18, 2021 (print ed.). Ian Millhiser argues that the Supreme Court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority is skewing the law to benefit the Republican Party.

In The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America, Ian Millhiser examines the current makeup of the Supreme Court and how it is likely to affect our democracy. This question is especially important in light of the wave of Republican state legislation designed to undermine the voting rights of racial minorities and other supporters of the Democratic Party. At this pivotal moment, the core precepts of our democracy are once again at risk. Will the Supreme Court live up to its essential responsibility to protect our profound constitutional commitment to democracy and equality?

ian millhiser agenda coverIn this short and very accessible work, Millhiser focuses on four facets of the court’s current and future jurisprudence: the right to vote, the dismantling of the administrative state, religion and the right to sue. It is a bit surprising that Millhiser, a senior correspondent at Vox, does not address such issues as abortion rights, gay rights and affirmative action. Although he holds out little, if any, hope that the current Supreme Court will act appropriately with respect to those matters, he maintains that, in terms of our democracy, they are less important than the four issues on which he focuses.

The most discomforting of those is the right to vote, which, of course, lies at the very heart of our democracy. At the center of today’s crisis are the ever-more-aggressive efforts of Republican legislatures to find ways to effectively disenfranchise Democratic voters — and especially Black voters. In recent years, the Roberts court has often evaded its responsibilities in this realm. In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, for example, the court in 2008 upheld an Indiana voter ID law that would clearly have a disproportionate effect on Black voters, even though there was no evidence that the law would meaningfully deter voter fraud.

Even more dramatically, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Roberts court in 2013 held unconstitutional Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required states and localities with a history of racial voter suppression to submit proposed changes to their election laws either to the Justice Department or to a federal court in Washington, which would not approve the changes if they had the purpose or effect of “abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” The impact of this decision has been “profound.”

In Millhiser’s words, “many Republicans recognized immediately that they’d been given a gift,” and GOP legislators have acted quickly and aggressively to enact laws, especially in the South, that have had a significant role in preventing minority voters from exercising their most fundamental constitutional right. In light of the current makeup of the court, this trend toward allowing manipulation of the electoral process to benefit Republican candidates is likely, Millhiser predicts, to escalate. The new Georgia law on voting, which has generated a great deal of controversy, is an example of what Millhiser anticipates and fears.

Adding insult to injury, in Rucho v. Common Cause, decided in 2019, the Roberts court held that partisan gerrymandering is not unconstitutional, although it permits a state legislature to draw district lines in a way that ensures that the party in control will remain in control, even if its candidates statewide receive far less than 50 percent of the vote. As Millhiser notes, Republicans in the future “could gain a lock on the House of Representatives, not because they necessarily have the votes to win elections, but because the Supreme Court is likely to remove nearly all remaining safeguards against gerrymandering.”

The court’s actions on voting rights reflect only one part of its conservative activism. Millhiser explains that over the past decade the court has dismantled much of America’s campaign finance law; crippled the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion; created a religious exemption doctrine that permits a person or a company objecting to compliance with a law for religious reasons to deny the rights of employees and third parties; undermined the ability of public-sector unions to raise money; and halted President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, among other decisions in a similar vein. And, he notes, with “Republicans now controlling two-thirds of the seats on the Supreme Court, the Court could potentially sabotage any policy initiative pushed by President Joe Biden.”

April 16

 

joe biden black background resized serious file

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Imposes Tough Sanctions on Russia, Blaming It for Major Hack, Michael D. Shear, David E. Sanger, Steven Erlanger and Andrew E. Kramer, April 16, 2021 (print ed.). The Biden administration announced sanctions on 32 entities and individuals for disinformation efforts and for carrying out U.S. election interference. Following years of wrist slaps under former President Trump, the new measures are designed to have a noticeable impact on the Russian economy.

In the broadest effort yet to give more teeth to financial sanctions — which in the past have failed to deter Russian activity — the sanctions are aimed at choking off lending to the Russian government.

American FlagIn an executive order, President Biden announced a series of additional steps — sanctions on 32 entities and individuals for disinformation efforts and for carrying out the Russian government’s interference in the 2020 presidential election. Ten Russian diplomats, most of them identified as intelligence operatives, were expelled from the Russian Embassy in Washington. The country also joined with European partners to sanction eight people and entities associated with Russia’s occupation in Crimea.

russian flag wavingThe announcement is the first time that the U.S. government had placed the blame for the “SolarWinds” hacking attack right at the Kremlin’s feet, saying it was masterminded by the SVR, one of the Russian intelligence agencies that was also involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee six years ago. The finding comports with the findings of private cybersecurity firms.

Widely anticipated, the sanctions come amid a large Russian military buildup on the borders of Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014.

They comprise what United States officials described as “seen and unseen” steps in response to the hacking, known as SolarWinds; to the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia offered bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan; and to Russia’s longstanding effort to interfere in U.S. elections on behalf of Donald J. Trump. The key to the sanctions’ effectiveness, officials concede, will be whether European and Asian allies go along with that ban, and whether the United States decides to seek to extend the sanctions by threatening to cut off financial institutions around the world that deal in those Russian bonds, much as it has Vladimir Putinenforced “secondary sanctions” against those who do business with Iran.

In a conversation with President Vladimir V. Putin, right, on Tuesday, Mr. Biden warned that the United States was going to act to protect its interests, but also raised the prospect of a summit meeting between the two leaders. It is unclear whether Russia will now feel the need to retaliate for the sanctions and expulsions. American officials are already alarmed by a troop buildup along the border of Ukraine and Russian naval activity in the Black Sea.

 April 15

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

Miami Herald, Appeals court upholds deal that silenced Epstein victims, Julie K. Brown, April 15, 2021. Appeals court upholds Jeffrey Epstein deal that minimizedmiami herald logopunishment, silenced victims.

How a Miami Herald investigation "Perversion of Justice" and the voices of four brave survivors, once silenced by the courts, helped to blow up Jeffrey Epstein’s sweetheart deal,  Brittany Peterson | Emily Michot (Video investigation).

In a landmark decision, a U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected the 12-year quest of a Jeffrey Epstein survivor to hold the government accountable for giving the infamous child predator a clandestine deal that essentially allowed him to get out of jail after a minimal sentence, and, according to recent lawsuits, continue to abuse girls and women.

The 7-4 decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was split mostly along gender lines, with four female judges issuing a scathing rebuke of the majority’s interpretation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA). The decision, unless it is overturned on further appeal, could allow wealthy defendants to continue to arrange favorable plea deals from the government without any oversight or accountability, said an attorney who originally filed the challenge.

“The ruling is very disturbing. It sets up two systems of justice, one for wealthy defendants who can negotiate deals before charges are filed — and one for most criminal defendants, who don’t have the wealth and power to arrange those kinds of deals,’’ said the attorney, Paul Cassell.

The plaintiff, Courtney Wild, was 14 when she was first raped by Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion. Wild, now 33, has waged a one-woman crusade against the federal government on behalf of Epstein’s victims since the case was filed in 2008.

courtney wild

While underage, Courtney Wild was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein (Photo by Emily Michot / Miami Herald)

The court ruled that, because federal prosecutors never lodged criminal charges against Epstein — he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in state court in Palm Beach County — neither Wild nor any of Epstein’s victims has standing to successfully file such a challenge citing the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

perversion of justice miami herald logoCircuit Judge Kevin C. Newsom, in writing the majority’s opinion, said that while “we have the profoundest sympathy for Ms. Wild and others like her, who suffered unspeakable horror at Epstein’s hands, only to be left in the dark — and, so it seems, affirmatively misled by government attorneys,’’ the court nevertheless concludes that the CVRA doesn’t give crime victims the right to file a lawsuit or seek judicial enforcement of the law.

The CVRA, passed by Congress in 2004, enumerates certain rights that victims of crimes are entitled to during the criminal justice process. Among them: that victims have a right to confer with prosecutors about their case, that they should be treated with fairness and that they be given an opportunity to appear at sentencing.

Years later, Epstein's victims discuss the lasting impact of sexual abuse. Victims of Jeffery Epstein share the emotional toll that sexual abuse has taken on them — even years after the abuse occurred. Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown interviewed the young women, most speaking for the first time about Epstein. By Emily Michot | Julie K. Brown

Epstein signed a secret plea agreement with federal prosecutors in September 2007, agreeing to shift the case into state court. Despite the fact that a deal had jeffrey epstein sex offenderbeen negotiated and signed, federal authorities met with Wild in January 2008 and assured her that the investigation into Epstein was continuing. She didn’t learn about the deal until well after Epstein was sentenced and sent to the Palm Beach County jail, where he would serve just 13 months, most of it while on work release. He was let out for good in 2009.

Epstein’s deal was sealed by federal prosecutors at the behest of Epstein’s high-powered lawyers, who reasoned that if the victims found out, they might strenuously object and even convince the judge to derail the deal.

The Epstein case was detailed in a 2018 Miami Herald series, “Perversion of Justice,’’ that led federal prosecutors to take another look at the crime. Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges six months later in the Southern District of New York. One month after that, however, he was dead. The medical examiner ruled that he hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

frank hull resized In her dissenting opinion, Senior Circuit Judge Frank Hull, right, skewered the majority’s “sense of sorrow,’’ over not being able to give Epstein’s victims justice. Noting that the decision would have far-reaching impact in other cases involving wealthy defendants, she said the ruling “leaves federal prosecutors free to engage in the secret plea deals and deception’’ before criminal charges are ever made public, resulting in “the travesty” that happened in the Epstein case.

She also noted that “the Department of Justice’s failure to discipline its own prosecutors heightens the importance of the CVRA’s private right alexander acosta labor oof action.’’

DOJ’s investigation found that prosecutors exercised “poor judgment,’’ but stopped short of recommending sanctions against prosecutors, including Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Attorney in Miami who approved the secret deal.

Acosta (left, later U.S. Labor Secretary under President Trump) declined to comment on the ruling.

“Most would-be defendants lack resources and usually have no counsel during this pre-charge period,’’ Hull pointed out, referring to the time before a defendant is formally charged with a crime. “Consequently, they do not have the pre-charge opportunity to negotiate the kind of extremely favorable deal that Epstein received.’’

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot
Virginia Roberts was working at Mar-a-Lago at age 17 when she was recruited to be a masseuse to Palm Beach hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein. She was lured into a life of depravity and sexual abuse. (Story by Emily Michot | Julie K. Brown, photo via recent NBC screenshot).

Cassell suggested that the case would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, Wild continues to lobby Congress to pass the Courtney Wild Crime Victims’ Rights Reform Act, which would strengthen the law and close loopholes that federal prosecutors used to exploit the law and justify giving Epstein one of the most lenient plea deals for a serial sex offender in history.

His alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested in July and now faces sex trafficking charges in connection with Epstein’s crimes. Her trial is scheduled for July 2021.

Since Epstein’s arrest, several women have filed lawsuits claiming that they were sexually abused while Epstein was on work release and after he was released from jail.

Thus far, Epstein’s estate has paid out more than $67 million in damages to more than 175 victims who have come forward alleging they were abused by Epstein.

April 15

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Warns Russia on Bounties, but Stops Short of Sanctions, Charlie Savage, April 15, 2021. The available evidence supporting a stunning C.I.A. assessment — which President Donald J. Trump’s inaction on prompted bipartisan uproar — remains less than definitive proof.

CIA LogoThe Biden administration warned the Kremlin on Thursday over the C.I.A.’s conclusion that Russia had covertly offered payments to militants to encourage more killings of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, delivering the diplomatic admonition as it imposed sanctions on Moscow over its hacking and election interference.

But the administration stopped short of inflicting sanctions on any Russian officials over the suspected bounties, making clear that the available evidence about what happened — primarily what Afghan detainees told interrogators — continues to fall short of definitively proving the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia likely paid money to reward attacks.

Russian FlagThe intelligence community, a senior administration official told reporters, “assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, and perhaps earlier, including through financial incentives and compensation.”

The New York Times first reported last summer the existence of the C.I.A.’s assessment and that the National Security Council had led an interagency process to develop a range of response options — but that months had passed and the Trump White House had failed to authorize any response, not even a diplomatic protest.

NSA Official LogoThe Times also reported that the available evidence behind that assessment centered on what detainees who were believed to be part of a criminal-militant network linked to the Taliban had told interrogators, along with suspicious travel patterns and financial transfers, and that the C.I.A. placed medium confidence in its conclusion.

But, it also reported, the National Security Agency — which is focused on electronic surveillance — placed lower confidence in the assessment, citing the lack of smoking-gun electronic intercepts. Analysts at two other agencies that were consulted, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency, were also said to split, with the former backing the C.I.A. and the latter the National Security Agency.

Former intelligence officials, including in testimony about the issue before Congress, have noted that it is rare in the murky world of intelligence to have courtroom levels of proof beyond a reasonable doubt about what an adversary is covertly doing.

The re-scrub of available evidence by President Biden’s administration had not uncovered anything new and significant enough to bring greater clarity to that muddied intelligence portrait, so the disagreement over confidence levels remained, an official familiar with internal deliberations said.

April 10

mike pence djt side by side

Associated Press, Investigation: ‘Clear the Capitol,’ Pence pleaded, timeline of riot shows, Lisa Mascarfo, Ben Fox and Lolita C. Baldor, April 10, 2021. From a secure room in the Capitol on Jan. 6, as rioters pummeled police and vandalized the building, Vice President Mike Pence tried to assert control. In an urgent phone call to the acting defense secretary, he issued a startling demand.

ap logo“Clear the Capitol,” Pence said.

Elsewhere in the building, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were making a similarly dire appeal to military leaders, asking the Army to deploy the National Guard.

“We need help,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in desperation, more than an hour after the Senate chamber had been breached.

At the Pentagon, officials were discussing media reports that the mayhem was not confined to Washington and that other state capitals were facing similar violence in what had the makings of a national insurrection.

mark milley army chief of staff“We must establish order,” said Gen. Mark Milley, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a call with Pentagon leaders.

But order would not be restored for hours.

These new details about the deadly riot are contained in a previously undisclosed document prepared by the Pentagon for internal use that was obtained by The Associated Press and vetted by current and former government officials.

The timeline adds another layer of understanding about the state of fear and panic while the insurrection played out, and lays bare the inaction by then-President Donald Trump and how that void contributed to a slowed response by the military and law enforcement. It shows that the intelligence missteps, tactical errors and bureaucratic delays were eclipsed by the government’s failure to comprehend the scale and intensity of a violent uprising by its own citizens.

With Trump not engaged, it fell to Pentagon officials, a handful of senior White House aides, the leaders of Congress and the vice president holed up in a secure bunker to manage the chaos.

While the timeline helps to crystalize the frantic character of the crisis, the document, along with hours of sworn testimony, provides only an incomplete picture about how the insurrection could have advanced with such swift and lethal force, interrupting the congressional certification of Joe Biden as president and delaying the peaceful transfer of power, the hallmark of American democracy.

Lawmakers, protected to this day by National Guard troops, will hear from the inspector general of the Capitol Police this coming week.

“Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which is investigating the siege, said last month.

The timeline fills in some of those gaps.

At 4:08 p.m. on Jan. 6, as the rioters roamed the Capitol and after they had menacingly called out for Pelosi, D-Calif., and yelled for Pence to be hanged, the christopher miller official.jpgvice president was in a secure location, phoning Christopher Miller, left, the acting defense secretary, and demanding answers.

There had been a highly public rift between Trump and Pence, with Trump furious that his vice president refused to halt the Electoral College certification. Interfering with that process was an act that Pence considered unconstitutional. The Constitution makes clear that the vice president’s role in this joint session of Congress is largely ceremonial.

Pence’s call to Miller lasted only a minute. Pence said the Capitol was not secure and he asked military leaders for a deadline for securing the building, according to the document.

By this point it had already been two hours since the mob overwhelmed Capitol Police unprepared for an insurrection. Rioters broke into the building, seized the Senate and paraded to the House. In their path, they left destruction and debris. Dozens of officers were wounded, some gravely.

Just three days earlier, government leaders had talked about the use of the National Guard. On the afternoon of Jan. 3, as lawmakers were sworn in for the new session of Congress, Miller and Milley gathered with Cabinet members to discuss Jan. 6. They also met with Trump.

In that meeting at the White House, Trump approved the activation of the D.C. National Guard and also told the acting defense secretary to take whatever action needed as events unfolded, according to the information obtained by the AP.

The next day, Jan. 4, the defense officials spoke by phone with Cabinet members, including the acting attorney general, and finalized details of the Guard deployment.

The Guard’s role was limited to traffic intersections and checkpoints around the city, based in part on strict restrictions mandated by district officials. Miller also authorized Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to deploy, if needed, the D.C. Guard’s emergency reaction force stationed at Joint Base Andrews.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Clear the Capitol” – Trump busted after military leaders defied Mike Pence’s direct request for help, Bill Palmer, right, April 10, 2021. Today bill palmer report logo headerthe Associated Press bill palmerconfirmed in great detail what had already previously been vaguely reported elsewhere: Vice President Mike Pence directly called U.S. military leaders and instructed them to take control of the Capitol building during the January 6th attack, but they ignored him.

To be clear, the Vice President can’t give a formal order to the military; unless the President is unreachable or indisposed. But as a practical matter, U.S. military would never simply ignore an instruction from the Vice President, unless the President told them to ignore it.ap logoIn other words, this helps confirm that Donald Trump really did order U.S. military leaders to defy Mike Pence’s instructions to come rescue him – and only hours later did the military finally take action. This means that Trump actively worked to protect the insurrectionists inside the Capitol building, which makes him guilty of not just inciting the attack, but conspiring to commit it.

This scandal is just getting started, with hundreds of insurrectionists having been arrested, and some of them cutting plea deals, even as the low level leaders of the attack are now being hit with conspiracy charges. We expect these charges to continue to work their way all the way to the top of the hierarchy – meaning Donald Trump.

April 3

Proof via Substack, Investigation: A Comprehensive Guide to Those Responsible for the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, left, April 3, 2021 (excerpted below to about one-fourth published length). This primer also explains, in seth abramson headshotdetail, how and seth abramson proof logowhy the attack on the Capitol occurred.

The Department of Justice calls the FBI investigation into the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol one of the largest criminal probes in American history. One of the reasons the investigation is so historically vast and complex is that it encompasses five discrete yet overlapping classes of potential criminal defendants.

This article details those five classes, establishes the key intersections between each, identifies a small number of key events in the lead-up to the insurrection, and presents an overarching narrative—confirmed by both testimonial and documentary evidence—of how the insurrection occurred.

The Five Classes of Insurrectionists

Paramilitaries: The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Boogaloo Bois, QAnoners, and 8kun (an online community of trolls) all had a significant presence at the Capitol on January 6, as well as a patchwork of lesser-known entities that included smaller white supremacist organizations, militias, independently operating trolls from the internet, and heterogeneous breeds of conspiracy theorist.

Grassroots Organizations: This category includes at least six grassroots organizations (Stop the Steal, Women for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Students for Trump, Jericho March, and Women for America First, this last an outgrowth of Women for Trump) as well as a number of pro-Trump PACs or nonprofits (among them Save America PAC, America First Policies, and the Council for National Policy) that were involved in planning, funding, promoting, and/or coordinating the events of January 6.

The Trump Campaign: Officially, the 2020 Trump campaign began dissolving shortly after the 2020 election, but a sufficient number of loyalists and dead-enders remained to seek to assist Trump in overturning the November election. Many of these individuals had longstanding ties to the Trump family, the Trump administration, or a past Trump political campaign.

Independent Agitators and Enablers: Trump’s brand of personal and professional corruption has always attracted a bizarre swarm of persons that includes dissolute grifters, deranged ideologues, and foreign agents—essentially, unscrupulous but sufficiently well-resourced people who see in Trump a means of advancing their fringe designs with relative impunity.

Members of Congress: Trump’s GOP allies in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives did not directly participate in the January 6 insurrection, but nevertheless issued public rhetoric and engaged in actions in their official capacity as members of Congress that helped inspire the false belief that the 2020 election had been stolen—and that with sufficient pressure on Congress on and before January 6, the election result might be overturned. Many individuals listed below attended pre-January 6 strategy sessions with the president and his top advisers, while other spoke at Stop the Steal events and (in a few rare instances) arguably directly incited violence with their irresponsible rhetoric.

Seth Abramson, shown above left and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

March

March 31

 

gordon liddy

ny times logoNew York Times, G. Gordon Liddy, Mastermind Behind Watergate Burglary, Dies at 90, Robert D. McFadden, Updated March 31, 2021. Unlike other defendants in the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, Mr. Liddy refused to testify and drew the longest prison term.

G. Gordon Liddy, a cloak-and-dagger lawyer who masterminded dirty tricks for the White House and concocted the bungled burglary that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, died on Tuesday in Mount Vernon, Va. He was 90.

His death, at the home of his daughter Alexandra Liddy Bourne, was confirmed by his son Thomas P. Liddy, who said that his father had Parkinson’s disease and had been in declining health.

Decades after Watergate entered the lexicon, Mr. Liddy was still an enigma in the cast of characters who fell from grace with the 37th president — to some a patriot who went silently to prison refusing to betray his comrades, to others a zealot who cashed in on bogus celebrity to become an author and syndicated talk show host.

As a leader of a White House “plumbers” unit set up to plug information leaks, and then as a strategist for the president’s re-election campaign, Mr. Liddy helped devise plots to discredit Nixon “enemies” and to disrupt the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Most were far-fetched — bizarre kidnappings, acts of sabotage, traps using prostitutes, even an assassination — and were never carried out.

But Mr. Liddy, a former F.B.I. agent, and E. Howard Hunt, a former C.I.A. agent, engineered two break-ins at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex in Washington. On May 28, 1972, as Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt stood by, six Cuban expatriates and James W. McCord Jr., a Nixon campaign security official, went in, planted bugs, photographed documents and got away cleanly.

A few weeks later, on June 17, four Cubans and Mr. McCord, wearing surgical gloves and carrying walkie-talkies, returned to the scene and were caught by the police. Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt, running the operation from a Watergate hotel room, fled but were soon arrested and indicted on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy.

In the context of 1972, with Mr. Nixon’s triumphal visit to China and a steam-rolling presidential campaign that soon crushed the Democrat, Senator George S. McGovern, the Watergate case looked inconsequential at first. Mr. Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, dismissed it as a “third-rate burglary.”

But it deepened a White House cover-up that had begun in 1971, when Mr. Liddy and Mr. Hunt broke into the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, looking for damaging information on him. Over the next two years, the cover-up unraveled under pressure of investigations, trials, hearings and headlines into the worst political scandal — and the first resignation by a sitting president — in the nation’s history.

“I have lived as I believed I ought to have lived,” Mr. Liddy, a small dapper man with a baldish pate and a brushy mustache, told reporters after his release. He said he had no regrets and would do it again. “When the prince approaches his lieutenant, the proper response of the lieutenant to the prince is, ‘Fiat voluntas tua,’” he said, using the Latin of the Lord’s Prayer for “Thy will be done.”

Disbarred from law practice and in debt for $300,000, mostly for legal fees, Mr. Liddy began a new career as a writer. His first book, “Out of Control,” (1979) was a spy thriller. He later wrote another novel, “The Monkey Handlers” (1990), and a nonfiction book, “When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country” (2002). He also co-wrote a guide to fighting terrorism, “Fight Back! Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style” (2006), and produced many articles on politics, taxes, health and other matters.

In 1980, he broke his silence on Watergate with his autobiography, “Will.” The reviews were mixed, but it became a best seller. After years of revelations by other Watergate conspirators, there was little new in it about the scandal, but critics said his account of prison life was graphic. A television movie based on the book was aired in 1982 by NBC.

March 30

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Republicans Have an Ambitious Agenda for the Supreme Court, Ian Millhiser (commentator on the Supreme Court, the Constitution and the intersection of law and politics), March 30, 2021. Why the G.O.P. doesn’t need to try to pass mostly unpopular policies through the elected branches.

Not so long ago, Republicans had one of the most ambitious legislative agendas of any political party in modern American history.

paul ryan wDevised by the former House speaker, Paul Ryan, left, the so-called Ryan budget sought to reduce much of the nation’s social safety net to ashes. Congressional Republicans planned to slash Medicaid spending and food stamps. In the most aggressive version of Mr. Ryan’s proposal, Republicans would have replaced Medicare with “premium support” vouchers that could be used to buy private insurance, and then reduced the value of this subsidy every year — effectively eliminating traditional Medicare over time.

But all of that has changed. The Ryan budget is a relic. At their 2020 national convention, Republicans didn’t even bother to come up with a new platform.

republican elephant logoYet while the party appears to have no legislative agenda, it’s a mistake to conclude that it has no policy agenda. Because Republicans do: They have an extraordinarily ambitious agenda to roll back voting rights, to strip the government of much of its power to regulate, to give broad legal immunity to religious conservatives and to immunize many businesses from a wide range of laws.

It’s just that the Republican Party doesn’t plan to pass its agenda through either one of the elected branches. Its agenda lives in the judiciary — and especially in the Supreme Court.

From 2011, when Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and denied President Barack Obama a governing majority, until the pandemic forced legislators’ hands in 2020, Congress enacted hardly any major legislation outside of the 2017 tax law.

In the same period, the Supreme Court dismantled much of America’s campaign finance law; severely weakened the Voting Rights Act; permitted states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion; expanded new “religious liberty” rights permitting some businesses that object to a law on religious grounds to diminish the rights of third parties; weakened laws shielding workers from sexual and racial harassment; expanded the right of employers to shunt workers with legal grievances into a privatized arbitration system; undercut public sector unions’ ability to raise funds; and halted Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Now, a 6-to-3 conservative-majority Supreme Court is likely to reshape the country in the coming decade, exempting favored groups from their legal obligations, stripping the Biden administration of much of its lawful authority, and even placing a thumb on the scales of democracy itself.

Many of these changes would build on decisions handed down long before President Donald Trump reshaped the Supreme Court. The court, for example, first allowed employers to force workers to sign away their right to sue the company — locking those workers into a private-arbitration system that favors corporate parties — in a 2001 case, Circuit City v. Adams. But the court’s current majority is likely to make it much harder for workers and consumers to overcome these tactics. In Epic Systems v. Lewis (2018), Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s majority opinion favoring an employer that forced its employees to give up their right to sue.

March 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial, Georgia Republicans’ ban on giving voters water epitomizes the GOP’s disturbing priorities, Editorial Board, March 28, 2021 (print ed.). A petty crusade is just one provision in a bad new election law.

Let's say you sat down with a group to brainstorm on how best to strengthen our democracy. Let’s say someone said, “I know! Let’s make sure that people waiting to vote in long lines on hot days can’t be given water to drink!” You might reply: “Uh . . . what?”

Yet that is indeed one of the “reforms” Republicans in Georgia implemented this week.

Georgia has been a primary battleground in the voting wars, pitting Republicans who seek to restrict voting against Democrats, good-government groups and others who want casting a ballot to be easier, not harder. While state Republicans backed off their worst ideas, such as abolishing no-excuse absentee voting, the restrictionists still scored a victory on Thursday, when Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill containing plenty of noxious provisions. Among them: a ban on distributing food or water to voters waiting in long polling place lines.

This provision will do little to improve confidence in the vote, but it promises to make voting in person in Georgia — particularly in those areas that see epic voting lines — even less pleasant. Meanwhile, state lawmakers added new rules on absentee voting, which may require more people to sit out in the sun to cast a ballot.

It is clear who would be hurt most by this shift. Lines tend to be long in predominantly non-White precincts — areas that tend to vote for Democrats. State and local officials have failed to keep pace with the fast growth of ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the Atlanta area, leading to lengthy voting backups. Data on Georgia’s primary elections last June, collected by Georgia Public Broadcasting and ProPublica, revealed that the average wait after 7 p.m. in predominantly non-White neighborhoods was 51 minutes, while in predominantly White neighborhoods it was six minutes.

Georgia state law previously barred people and groups from handing out gifts, such as refreshments, to those waiting in line. But the law appeared to allow the distribution of food and water if it were available to everyone — voters, poll workers, passersby — so it did not amount to a reward for voting.

Moreover, those passing out the refreshments could not do any campaigning. Now the law restricts anyone from giving out water to any voter within a certain distance of a polling place, authorizing only election officials to provide self-service water from an unattended receptacle — and only if election officials choose to do so.

Georgia lawmakers also banned mobile voting buses such as those that Atlanta’s Fulton County used to ease lines. They added voter ID requirements for absentee voting and narrowed the amount of time people have to request mail-in ballots. They placed so many limits on ballot drop boxes as to render them practically useless. So it is now a criminal offense for someone to hand a bottle of water to an elderly Black voter in Fulton County — who had to wait in line because she could not navigate the new absentee ballot requirements.

March 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden attacks new Georgia voting law as ‘Jim Crow,’ Seung Min Kim, March 26, 2021. President Biden issued a full-throated attack Friday on a new Georgia law that dramatically constrains voting access in the Peach State, calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and putting his voice behind efforts to pass voting-rights legislation in Congress.

Biden’s criticism of Georgia’s SB 202, which was signed into law Thursday evening, came after similarly vehement comments from the president at his first formal news conference this week, in which he denounced efforts by Republican-led state legislatures to restrict access to voting.

georgia map“Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over,” Biden said of the Georgia statute. “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.”

Like other critics, Biden took particular aim at a provision that forbids people from providing drinks or food, including water, to voters waiting in line at the polls — arguing that it was Republicans themselves who created those lines by cutting the number of polling sites, especially in majority Black communities.

But some civil rights activists argued that Biden is not doing enough beyond his impassioned rhetoric to ensure the passage of a federal voting protection law.

“I think he has to do more, and do everything within his power,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “I understand he’s trying to work across the aisle and get bipartisanship, but voting is sacred. So he has to be out in public explaining why it’s necessary that it pass, that it’s important.”

republican elephant logoThe White House has been somewhat vague about Biden’s plans to push for voting rights, but the president said Friday he would continue to make the public argument that voting restrictions hurt democracy.

“I will take my case to the American people — including Republicans who joined the broadest coalition of voters ever in this past election to put country before party,” Biden said. “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.”

SB 202 is one of the first comprehensive state bills to significantly restrict voting access in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when former president Donald Trump repeatedly and baselessly attacked the integrity of state elections systems.

Trump’s attacks were particularly severe in Georgia, after he became the first Republican presidential nominee to lose the state since 1992.

The new Georgia law has several components: It allows state lawmakers to initiate takeovers of local election boards while stripping power from the secretary of state. It institutes new ID requirements for mail ballots and curtails the use of drop boxes. It includes the ban on providing food and drink to those in line.

 

"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander, center, and his co-organizer, Infowars radio host, Alex Jones, to his right.

ny times logoNew York Times, Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine, Neil MacFarquhar, March 27, 2021 (print ed.). Extremist groups are trying to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation about vaccines in an effort to undermine the government.

Adherents of far-right groups who cluster online have turned repeatedly to one particular website in recent weeks — the federal database showing deaths and adverse reactions nationwide among people who have received Covid-19 vaccinations.

Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.”

republican elephant logoIf the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government.

Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.

These groups tend to portray vaccines as a symbol of excessive government control. “If less people get vaccinated then the system will have to use more aggressive force on the rest of us to make us get the shot,” read a recent post on the Telegram social media platform, in a channel linked to members of the Proud Boys charged in storming the Capitol.

Apocalyptic warnings about the vaccine feed into the far-right narrative that the government cannot be trusted, the sentiment also at the root of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The more vaccine opponents succeed in preventing or at least delaying herd immunity, experts noted, the longer it will take for life to return to normal and that will further undermine faith in the government and its institutions.

In April, a conference with the tagline “Learn How to Fight Back for Your Health and Freedom,” is set to bring together Trump allies like Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell along with high-profile members of the anti-vaccination effort.

Maligning the coronavirus vaccines is obviously not limited to extremist groups tied to the Capitol riot. There is deep partisanship over the vaccines generally.

One third of Republicans surveyed in a CBS News poll said that they would avoid getting vaccinated — compared with 10 percent of Democrats — and another 20 percent of Republicans said they were unsure. Other polls found similar trends.

About 100 members of the House of Representatives, roughly one-quarter, had not been vaccinated as of mid-March, according to Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader.

It is unclear where Mr. Trump will fit into the vaccine battle. The former president, who has been vaccinated, endorsed getting the shot recently, provoking some disbelief in QAnon and other chat rooms. “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me frankly,” he said in an interview with Fox News.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Support Builds for Amazon Workers in Struggle to Obtain Union Representation in NRLB Election Ending Monday, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, March 27, 2021. Sanders, Barber Attend Rallies in Bessemer, Alabama; At Stake is a New Era of Militant Civil Rights Unionism on Ruins of Globalist anti-Worker Policies of Last Three Decades; Contest Pits Six Thousand Largely Black Workers against World’s Most Infamous Finance Predator; Bezos’ Beijing-Style Micromanagement of Workers by Algorithm Destroys Human Dignity and Must Be Stopped; Alliance of Revived Labor Movement with Democratic Party Could Stabilize US Politics for Many Years; Time for Multi-Billionaire Oppressors to Lose One for a Change!

Defeated in January 6 Bid for Dictatorship by Autogolpe, Republicans Fall Back on Gradual Creeping Coup through the Institutions, with Voter Suppression and Vote Fraud as Key Weapons; Georgia GOP Seeks to Cancel XV Amendment to Stop Black Voters; Move Condemned by Biden as Atrocity and Attack on Constitution; Blatant Gestapo Tactics against Black Legislators Likely to Trigger Backlash against Party; Trump’s New Lost Cause Narrative of to Disguise Failed Coup is a Tissue of Lies;

Xi’s Favorite Myanmar Junta Kills Over 100 in Worst Repression Yet of Protests against February Coup; Blinken Condemns Horrifying “Reign of Terror”; PRC Diplomats Keep Lying about Uighurs of East Turkestan; Pentagon Contracts for Mid-Course Defense Signal New Phase of Anti-Ballistic Measures;

Biden to Announce More Specifics of $3 Trillion Infrastructure and Industrial Policy Bill in Pittsburgh on Wednesday; No to Buttigieg’s Gambit of a Regressive “Mileage Tax.”

March 26

seth abramson headshotProof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: 15 Questions for the Secret Service About Its Conduct During the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, March 26, 2021. America deserves a thorough public Congressional inquiry into the actions of the Secret Service both before and during the January 6th, 2021 armed insurrection.

March 23

American System Network, Opinion: After Latest Gun Massacre in Boulder, Biden Calls for Background Checks and Ban on Assault Weapons, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, March 23, 2021. Extremist Cruz Leads the GOP Pack in Slandering Any and All Gun Safety Reforms as “Ridiculous Theater”; If Senate Republicans Now Insist on Carrying Out Their Usual Despicable Routine, Will This Finally Convince All Concerned that “Bipartisanship” is an Impossible Chimera?

Priority Must Be to Pass $3 Trillion Public Works Recovery Bill by Budget Reconciliation, While Ending the Filibuster and Enabling Gun Safety Legislation in the Process; Eyes of World on Monday’s NLRB Election at Amazon Shipping Center in Bessemer, Alabama Where Jeff Bezos, the World’s Richest Man, Treats His Employees Like Serfs in One of Worst Union-Busting States; Union Organizers Seeking to Win Over Last Undecided Workers;

Biden Should Put Jerome Powell on Warning that Federal Reserve will Be Called on to Help Finance $3 Trillion Infrastructure and Modernization Bill, Even if GOP Senate Blocks It; FDR Did This in 1940 When Fascist Threat Came from Abroad; Today’s Fascist Threat Comes from Within, Feeding Off Poverty and Despair;

Chinese Government Stunned by First-Time Coordinated Sanctions by EU, Five Eyes, and US: This Was Something Trump was Somehow Never Able to Do
In Fourth Israeli Election in Two Years, Fragmentation of Splinter Parties Increases, Leaving Formation of Next Government Uncertain; Netanyahyu’s Likud Party Leads with About Half of Necessary Majority, Just Two Weeks before He Enters the Next Phase of his Ongoing Corruption Trial; Jury Still Out on Worldwide Left Turn Signaled by Biden Win.

Law&Crime, High-Profile Former Mormon Accuses Church of Fraud, Seeks Millions in Restitution, Jerry Lambe, March 23, 2021. A prominent lawcrime logoformer member of the Mormon Church and brother to former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman filed a federal lawsuit on Monday accusing the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints of defrauding members by spending their charitable donations to further commercial interests.

In a 13-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, James Huntsman alleged that the church’s corporate arm, the LDS corporation, has been collecting tithes—ten-percent of members’ incomes—and using it to prop up private businesses with ties to the church.

“For decades, in a fraudulent effort to elicit the donation of tithing funds from Mr. Huntsman and other devout Church members, the LDS Corporation repeatedly and publicly lied about the intended use of those funds, promising that they would be used for purely non-commercial purposes consistent with the Church’s stated priorities – namely, to fund missionary work, member indoctrination, temple work, and other educational and charitable activities,” the suit states. “Behind the scenes, however, rather than using tithing funds for the promised purposes, the LDS Corporation secretly lined its own pockets by using the funds to develop a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate and insurance empire that had nothing to do with charity.”

Specifically, the complaint claims that the LDS Corporation used approximately $1.5 billion in donations to develop a for-profit shopping center in Salt Lake City called the City Creek Mall and to bail out a church-owned insurance and financial company called Beneficial Life Insurance. Huntsman said the church had explicitly stated on several occasions that tithes would not go towards those endeavors, calling those statements “outright lies.”

According to the suit, Huntsman relied on such misrepresentations when he donated $5 million to the church from 1993 to 2017, money he now wants back, saying he’ll donate any recovered funds to “benefit organizations and communities whose members have been marginalized by the Church’s teachings and doctrines, including by donating to charities supporting LGBTQ, African-American, and women’s rights.”

Huntsman claims to have discovered the church’s misdeeds after a senior portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors—the church’s investment branch—became an IRS whistleblower in 2019. David A. Nielsen alleged that the LDS Corporation misappropriated more than $2 billion in the church’s charitable contributions while simultaneously failing to fund any “religious, educational, or charitable activities” for more than 20 years.

Huntsman also unequivocally stated that his lawsuit was not attacking the church’s beliefs, only its alleged financial misdeeds.

In a statement shared with news organizations following the suit’s filing, the church denied Huntsman’s claims, calling them “baseless.”

“Mr. James Huntsman resigned his Church membership last year. Now, he is demanding through his lawyers that tithing he paid to the Church as charitable contributions be returned to him. He claims that, contrary to assurances made by past Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Church used tithing to build City Creek, a mixed use commercial development across the street from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City,” spokesperson Eric Hawkins said. “In fact, tithing was not used on the City Creek project. As President Hinckley said in the April 2003 General Conference of the Church, the funds came from ‘commercial entities owned by the Church’ and the ‘earnings of invested reserve funds.’ A similar statement was made by President Hinckley in the October 2004 General Conference. Mr. James Huntsman’s claim is baseless.”

March 22

ny times logoNew York Times, Filmmaker’s Suit Says A&E Networks Suppressed ‘Watergate’ Series, Julia Jacobs and Nicole Sperling, March 22, 2021. The director, Charles Ferguson, said in a lawsuit that an executive was concerned about the “negative reaction it would provoke among Trump supporters and the Trump administration.”

“Watergate,” a four-hour documentary examining the scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency, had its world premiere in 2018 at the Telluride Film Festival, an event known to foretell future Oscar nominations. It went on to be shown at the New York Film Festival and several others, collecting positive reviews that highlighted allusions the series made to the Trump presidency.

It aired on the History Channel over three days in early November, just before the 2018 midterm elections. To the filmmaker’s surprise, it was never broadcast on American television again.

The writer and director of the documentary, the award-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson, is now suing the company that owns the History Channel, A&E Networks, asserting it suppressed the dissemination of his mini-series because it was worried about potential backlash to allusions the documentary makes to the Trump White House.

In the lawsuit filed Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Ferguson accuses the company of attempting to delay the documentary until after the 2018 midterm elections because a History Channel executive feared it would offend the White House and Trump supporters.

“He was concerned about the impact of ‘Watergate’ upon ratings in ‘red states,’” the lawsuit said of the executive, Eli Lehrer, “as well as the negative reaction it would provoke among Trump supporters and the Trump administration.”

Mr. Ferguson resisted that plan, and the mini-series ultimately aired shortly before Election Day. But the filmmaker contends the documentary was given short shrift, despite acclaim in the film industry and previous assurances that it would receive “extremely prominent treatment.”

The lawsuit describes the treatment of the documentary as part of a “pattern and practice of censorship and suppression of documentary content” at A&E Networks, and cites several others that it says were subject to attempted manipulation for political or economic reasons.

A&E called the lawsuit meritless and the assertion that the documentary was suppressed “absurd,” saying its decision to not rebroadcast it additional times was based on lower than expected ratings.

bradcast gavin newsom resized don siegelman 032221

BradBlog, Former AL Gov. Siegelman on GOP Recall of CA Gov. Newsom, Radio interview by Brad Friedman, March 22, 2021. 'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party,' Gov. Gavin Newsom (above left). Also, Siegelman (above right) on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future.

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

bob rileyWe're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, left, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomSiegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor. That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation;

And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

March 21

Hollywood PoliTrivia, Film Commentary: The Hollywood Extermination List, Wayne Madsen, left, March 21, 2021. Adolf Hitler had a plan to round up all of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallHollywood's "undesirables" and transport them to concentration camps.

The Germans relied on a massive network of U.S. collaborators -- members of such organizations as the Friend of New Germany (FNG), its successor, the German-American Bund, and the Silver Shirts -- who provided German intelligence with the personal details on key figures in the American motion picture industry.

washington post logoWashington Post, Brian Barger (1952–2021): Journalist who helped unravel Iran-contra scandal, dies at 68, Bart Barnes, March 21, 2021 (print ed.). A former reporter for the Associated Press and The Washington Post, Brian Barger in recent years worked as a full-time volunteer with immigrants’ rights organizations.

brian barger 2008 family photoBrian Barger, shown at right in a 2008 family photo, was an investigative journalist who edited and reported on Colombian drug cartels, covert operations of the CIA, international terrorism, money laundering, excessive levels of toxins in sea fish, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was among the primary reporters covering the Iran-contra arms-for-hostage scandals of the Reagan administration.

In a journalism career spanning three decades, he worked for the Associated Press, CNN and The Washington Post, among other CIA Logoorganizations. He was a restless man who disliked staying long in one place. Early in his career he was a school bus driver and a garbage collector in suburban Maryland; a bartender in Tokyo; a logging truck driver in Wyoming; and an auto mechanic, taxi driver, carpenter, house painter, short-order cook and motorcycle messenger in Washington, D.C.

For a time, he was a California farmworker and organized protests against low wages and poor working conditions. He also had been an insurance claims adjuster and an activist for political and humanitarian causes. He was arrested several times in protests against the Vietnam War.

In 1999, he took a three-year hiatus from journalism to co-found and direct Casa Amiga, a rape crisis and domestic violence counseling center network in Mexico. This, said his family, was an outgrowth of his friendship with Dianna Ortiz, a Catholic nun and missionary who in 1989 was abducted, raped and tortured by members of the Guatemalan military. She died Feb. 19 and is shown at below in a 1996 AP photo pointing at a press conference to sketches of her attackers.

sister ortiz guatemalan attackers 1996 ron edmonds apMr. Barger, a District resident who in recent years has been a full-time volunteer with immigrants’ rights organizations, died Feb. 22 at a hospital in New York. He was 68 and the cause was complications following surgery for pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Tia Duer.

Brian King Barger was born in Washington on June 21, 1952. His father was a Foreign Service officer, whom he accompanied to postings in Indonesia, Mexico and Tokyo.

He began his journalism career in 1979 as a Post news aide and retired in 2008 after seven years as an assistant foreign editor. In between, he was an independent correspondent in Latin America and an off-camera reporter with CBS and ABC News, and a Washington-based reporter with the AP, United Press International and CNN.

At the AP, Mr. Barger partnered with colleague Robert Parry on the Iran-contra story, conducting extensive and early reporting about drug trafficking by members of the right-wing Nicaraguan force known as the contras, who had U.S. backing and ties to National Security Council member Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North.

But as Mr. Barger and Parry were examining details of North’s role in the illegal Iran-contra affair, the journalists complained that the bureau chief blocked or delayed running their findings while high-level news agency officials were in discussions with North about securing the release of Terry Anderson, an AP journalist who had been taken hostage during the Lebanon civil war.

At the time, Louis D. Boccardi, president and general manager of AP, denied the allegation that he or others “were somehow editing the AP wire to suit Ollie North.” Mr. Parry soon left for CBS News.

As a foreign desk editor at The Post from 2001 to 2008, Mr. Barger worked on stories connected with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, national security issues and current events in Latin America and the Middle East.

March 20

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Analysis: State of the JFK Releases 2021, Rex Bradford

mary ferrell foundation logo

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Analysis: State of the JFK Releases 2021, Rex Bradford (director), right, March 20, 2021. This essay discusses the state of the JFK Records Collection as of March 2021. It describes the background and results of the declassifications which occurred in 2017 and 2018, and alerts readers to rex bradfordthe re-review which is taking place this year. Particular focus is placed on 3,598 "withheld in full" records which the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) declared would be finally released. Some were, and some weren't, as will be explained.

A companion column to this, Analysis: Withheld in Full -- 2021 Update, is excerpted below. It contains an interactive table where the not-released portion of the 3,598 "withheld in full" records may be explored.

A companion page, 2017 Document Releases, discusses the set of records that were released in 2017 and 2018, along with links to read and search them all.

Background: The JFK Records Act and the Assassination Records Review Board

Following public outcry over Oliver Stone's film JFK, Congress in 1992 passed the JFK Records Act. This law created the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), which from 1994 until 1998 oversaw the declassification of a large number of documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy and the various investigations into his murder; this broad effort included a wide swath of formerly-secret records on Kennedy foreign policy on Cuba and Vietnam, and FBI and CIA and other agencies' files on myriad related topics and individuals.

The revelations from the declassifications of the 1990s have rewritten the story of the formation of the Warren Commission, thrust into prominence Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City in the fall of 1963 and the allegations of Communist conspiracy emanating from that city, and turned that story on its head with the stunning news that Director Hoover -- in a memo to the Secret Service and a now-erased presidential phone call -- relayed the FBI's determination that someone had impersonated Oswald there. Also released were formerly-secret notes of Oswald's interrogation which include an alibi for his whereabouts, buried testimony about the nature of JFK's wounds (and thus the direction of shots), which was taken by Congressional investigators and then hidden, documents revealing that CIA officers lied about their knowledge of Oswald before the assassination, a Pentagon false-flag operation named Northwoods outlining terrorist acts which could be implemented and then used to justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba, written plans kept secret for 35 years to withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam, and so much more, far too voluminous to even summarize here.

The JFK Records Act has been in many ways a great success in reaching toward a fuller history of Kennedy's murder and its context.

The JFK Collection now sits at over 300,000 records comprising over 5 million pages, plus abundant photographic and audiovisual records. The records processed in the 1990s and later all have a unique 13-digit record number assigned to them and are represented in a master collection database. A substantial portion of the 5 million pages, including voluminous Warren Commission files, predate this system, have no record numbers, and do not appear in the database.

But while the ARRB oversaw a massive declassification effort, it also deferred in many cases to government agencies desiring continued secrecy; tens of thousands of JFK records were released with "redactions" (blackouts) -- sometimes as small as a name, sometimes entire pages. And thousands of records remained "withheld in full."

The JFK Records Act mandated that, 25 years after the passage of the Act, all such records should be released in full, barring a determination by the president that "continued postponement is made necessary by an identifable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations" and "the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

The 25-year deadline came on October 26, 2017. But when the 25-year deadline finally arrived, the remaining records were not released in full. Instead, under a process approved by then-President Trump:

Over 34,000 documents were released, or re-released with fewer redactions, in 7 batches in 2017 and 2018.

Hundreds of documents were declared sealed in accordance with Sections 10 and 11 of the JFK Records Act (IRS and Social Security Administration records are exempt from public disclosure, as are those sealed by court order or donated to the Archives under a restrictive "deed of gift").

On the date of the last batch of releases, April 26 2018, another Trump memorandum authorized a process whereby the more than 15,000 records with remaining redactions would be subject to re-review in 2021.

It is now 2021.

The 2017 and 2018 Releases

In seven batches in 2017 and 2018, the National Archives (NARA) put online more than 34,000 documents from its JFK Collection. Some of these had been previously released in redacted form, and were re-released in full. Others were simply re-released with fewer (or, inevitably, more) redactions. The nara logodocuments themselves may be read and searched here at the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

According to NARA's JFK Assassination Records Processing Project page, 15,834 documents still feature redactions. A listing of which particular documents remain redacted is not available, and it is not possible without access to all those records to independently make such a determination. NARA's online database of records, which does list the status of records, has not been updated since 2008, and so is quite out-of-date in this regard. The Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF) is in possession of scanned copies of only 20% or so of the collection, and thus is not in a position to do this analysis.

NOTE: NARA has for years provided online a searchable database of the metadata -- title, date, subjects, etc. -- of the over 300,000 records in the JFK Collection. The JFK Assassination Collection Reference System webpage says the database is "currently down for maintenance"; a huge downloadable spreadsheet is available there instead. The MFF had already obtained a copy of the database and used it to fashion our innovative JFK Database FBI logoExplorer, which may be used to filter and search listings of all metadata records in the database.

The majority of the newly-released documents came from the FBI and CIA, but other agencies which released records included the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, Department of Justice, the National Archives itself, and others. Records from previous investigations including the Church Committee, the Rockefeller Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations were also declassified.

What was in the redacted text that got revealed, and what blackouts remain? There is no single answer. In many cases, the redactions relate to "sources and methods" -- agent or informant names or numbers, or names or details of particular operations. Sometimes they involve a relationship with a foreign government official. Agencies like the FBI and CIA naturally want to keep these secret, but a full accounting of the JFK assassination story can turn on such details. The issue is whether, more than 55 year later, revealing them is really a matter of "identifiable harm" of "such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

The 2017/2018 releases contained revelations of interest to researchers -- that the mayor of Dallas was a CIA asset, for example. Among audiotapes released were actual interrogations of Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko, whom the CIA imprisoned during the Warren Commission investigation and afterwards. Abundant details in CIA files are still being studied to fill out much of the story of the "secret war" against Castro's Cuba. Generally, the 2017/2018 releases did not produce the vast sweeping new revelations that the 1990s declassifications uncovered. But the removal of redactions is indeed helping researchers fill in previously-murky details of various aspects of the vast JFK assassination saga.

Too many redactions remain, however, without compelling reasons for them. Some examples of the kinds of redactions still seen in the records:

CIA LogoClassification that prevents the release of trivial information: In one document about CIA's Mexico City station, the word "unilateral" was made public only in 2017 (see then vs. now). In context, "unilateral" means no other intelligence service assisted in technical surveillance in Mexico City 55 years ago. Did withholding this information protect U.S. national security? It's hard to see how. This redaction is symptomatic of widespread overclassification of JFK files.

Classification that spares the CIA embarrassment and has nothing to do with national security: In this testimony of CIA officer Sam Halpern (who is one of very few insiders alleging that Robert Kennedy was a driving force in the plots to kill Fidel Castro) the Agency is still hiding the details of a 1960's scheme, in which Halpern participated, to make a fake porno film about President Sukarno of Indonesia because he charted a foreign policy independent of the U.S. government. This type of withholding is a matter of public relations, not public safety.

Classification that blocks release of potentially significant JFK information: Some of the 2017/2018 releases actually left redactions completely unchanged. For example, see this March 1964 CIA memo for the Warren Commission, then vs. now. The redacted information in this case is almost certainly the job title of counterintelligence officer Lee Wigren and the CIA component he worked in. This information could be significant in the JFK story because the Warren Commission was originally told that the CIA had only 5 documents on Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of the assassination. In fact, the true number of pre-assassination Oswald documents was at least 42. The CIA waited ten weeks to share this very basic information with the Commission. Lee Wigren did the belated sharing. What CIA office was he working for in 1964? His CIA job title/office in 1975 are declassified in this document, which has been in the public domain for decades. So why is his title/office in 1964 withheld? The answer might help illuminate the process by which the CIA slow-walked the Oswald investigation. This is exactly the kind of question the release of JFK records is supposed to answer.

Not all documents were previously seen with redactions. Also among the released files were nearly 2,500 which had been "withheld in full" -- not previously available even with blackouts. One of these is the subject of the concluding section of this essay. In general these completely-secret documents naturally invoke curiosity, and for them we do have a listing of the documents in question. Our discussion turns next to these records.

Withheld in Full - Released Now?

In 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information request from Politico, other news organizations, and researchers, the National Archives produced a listing of 3,603 documents which were at that time "withheld in full." That list was amended to 3,598 (and still later amended, mistakenly, to a count of 3,571). These records were explicitly slated for release as part of the 2017 declassifications in accordance with the JFK Records Act.

Sample metadata for a withheld JFK record

The Mary Ferrell Foundation has conducted an analysis of these 3,598 records, comparing that list to what was actually released in 2017 and 2018. We have also taken into account declarations made on NARA's project page. In summary, only 2,447 of them were released in any form; 1,151 remain withheld, were declared released but not put online, or are missing. NARA's project page contains explanations for most of these, though there are a few ambiguities and the provided explanations in some cases are questionable. Our analysis indicates that an unknown but significant number of records remain unaccounted for.

Here is a summary of the information provided by NARA regarding what we identify as 1,151 records not released online by the Archives, coupled with our own analysis:

...

[Visit Mary Ferrell Foundation site for its detailed analysis of links to this material]

...

The Upcoming 2021 Review

Where are we now? The April 26, 2018 Trump administration memorandum set a date of April 26, 2021 by which time agencies must "identify to the Archivist the specific basis for concluding that records (or portions of records) satisfy the standard for continued postponement under section 5(g)(2)(D) of the Act." It further states that "the Archivist shall recommend to the President, no later than September 26, 2021, whether continued withholding from public disclosure of the identified records is warranted after October 26, 2021."

At the time of this writing, April 26 is not much more than a month away. President Biden's decision on the fate of these continued withholdings comes six months later. Researcher Larry Schnapf has sent a detailed and compelling letter to the House Oversight Committee chairperson asking for hearings and enforcement of the JFK Records Act. Specifically, he asks that Congress:

  • Conduct an oversight hearing before the April 26th deadline established by the Archivist for the agencies to request further postponement;
  • Instruct agencies that requested records to be withheld in 2017 that they are to comply with the April 26th deadline;
  • Instruct any agency requesting further postponement to provide a Vaughn Index setting forth specific explanations on a document-by-document basis why the particular document needs to be withheld as required by Section 4(3)(e) of the JFK Act;
  • Require all agencies to provide and publish in the Federal Register explanations for each and every postponed document (or portion of a document); and
    Investigate if certain records were properly categorized as “Not Believed Relevant” (NBR).

The MFF endorses all of these requests.

The Cost to History

There is a cost to the lack of transparency, to the willful destruction of historical records, to the endless kicking the can down the road on declassification orders. John F. Kennedy was killed more than 55 years ago, and as for the figures named in these documents, the obituaries are piling up every year. That makes continued withholding less likely to hit the bar set by the Congress that "postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm..." and that "the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure."

Among the releases of December 15, 2017 was the 6/23/1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations' sworn testimony of Orest Pena, a bar owner in New Orleans. Why was the testimony of a bar owner held in complete secrecy for nearly 4 decades? Why did the Assassination Records Review Board apparently not review this testimony for release (its date of last review is 7/22/1993, before the ARRB was formed)? You may ask, but you will not find a satisfactory answer.

It has long been known that Mr. Pena told the HSCA that he knew that Lee Harvey Oswald, who frequented his bar in the summer of 1963, was an FBI informant. It has also long been known that Pena told the Committee that he himself was also an informant to the same FBI agent, Warren de Brueys, whom Pena said had threatened him physically after the assassination to keep his silence. The HSCA chose to disbelieve Pena, writing that de Brueys denied these accusations, and citing a few (weak) reasons why "he was not a credible witness."

Now that the testimony is finally public, what's in it? In one sense, nothing new -- Pena tells the story the HSCA attributed to him. The reader can judge the credibility of the witness across the 38-page transcript; to this reader he seemed compelling. More importantly, Pena named names. A Mr. Pedro to whose restaurant Oswald would "go...in the morning with other federal agents from the Customs House Building." A Victor Perez who could verify Pena's having seen Oswald in their company at that restaurant. These people are no doubt dead now. And if the HSCA ever interviewed Mr. Pedro or Mr. Perez, there is no such indication in the metadata of the records it left behind, nor were they cited in the dismissal of Orest Pena's allegations.

Regarding Oswald and U.S. Customs, the earlier Church Committee was also onto this connection during their limited review of the JFK assassination. Declassified memos written by staffer Paul Wallach made notes of phone conversations with a David Smith of Customs, and an associate named Wendall Roach of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Wallach noted that both names had been provided by none other than Orest Pena. Roach told the staffer "I've been waiting twelve years to talk to someone about this," and said he was "willing to come to D.C. at our convenience." However, there is no subsequent interview transcript with Wendall Roach to be found in the released Church Committee files. That Committee's other records on this matter are frustratingly meager.

Oswald palling around with government agents doesn't mesh well with the "lone nut" assassin theory. But the point here is not to say with any certainty that Pena's allegations and the Oswald-Customs connection would necessarily have held up under investigative scrutiny. The point is that the investigations failed in this and so many other instances to do what was needed, and their files have remained secret for too long, and thus as a country we have failed to get to the bottom of Kennedy's assassination.

This is the "identifiable harm" we should be attending to -- the harm to our nation due to ongoing secrecy - not now-inconsequential harm or embarrassment from the release of the remaining clues in these records. Justice demands allegiance to the truth, and democracy demands accountability and transparency, and we have not had enough of either in this affair. We should end the pattern of obstruction. Release all the files now.

Mary Ferrell Foundation, Analysis: Withheld in Full -- 2021 Update, Rex Bradford (director), right, March 20, 2021. In 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Archives produced a spreadsheet of 3,598 "withheld in full" records slated for declassification in 2017. In the subsequent rex bradfordreleases of 2017 and 2018, 2,447 of these were in fact released online, but 1,151 were not. The table at the bottom of this page lets you explore those 1,151 unreleased records. As an organizational aid, the Mary Ferrell Foundation has split them into categories -- these mary ferrell foundation logocategories are an MFF invention and not official designations.

The categories into which these records are divded was developed using guidance from the JFK Assassination Records Processing Page, which described reasons why some of these documents remain withheld and declares others lost or previously released.

Each record is summarized by its 13-digit record number, agency where the record was held, date, title, and subjects, all taken from the National Archive's JFK Records database. Records can be expanded to show the full set of metadata from the database.

Here's how use the table below:

  • nara logoSelect a category. Click one of the tabs to view summaries of that category of records. A description of the category appears between the tabs and the record summaries.
  • Expand an entry. Click the record number of an entry to view full metadata for that record.
  • Expand all entries. Click the "expand all" and "collapse all" to see full metadata for the entire list

Kennedys and King, Book Review: John Fitzgerald Kennedy The Devil is in the Details By Malcolm Blunt with Alan Dale, James DiEugenio, left, jim dieugenio fileMarch 20, 2021.

Malcolm Blunt may, in fact, be the most important little-known JFK researcher of our generation. Jim DiEugenio uses this review of Alan Dale’s excellent new oral history, The Devil is in the Details, to survey Malcolm’s crucial contributions to the evidence that has been exposed today and to pay tribute to his tireless, selfless, and insightful work.

This book is an oral history. The interviewer is Alan Dale and the interviewee is Malcolm Blunt—with minor appearances by authors Jefferson Morley and John Newman.

malcolm blunt devil coverDale is the executive director of Jim Lesar’s Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). He has worked with authors like Newman and Joan Mellen. He is a close friend and admirer of Malcolm Blunt, who is, by far, the major personage in the book. Unfortunately, many people, even in the critical community, do not know who Malcolm is. Why is that?

That is because every once in awhile there comes a character in the JFK case who isn’t interested in doing interviews, starting a blog, writing books or articles, or getting on the radio. This type of person essentially wants to dig into those 2 million pages that were declassified by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). He or she wants to find out what is and is not in that treasure trove.

I was lucky enough to know someone like this back in the nineties. His name was Peter Vea. He was an American living in Japan at the time the ARRB was forming. He said he was returning to the USA, relocating to Virginia and planned on visiting the National Archives to see what had been declassified. He asked if I would be interested in him sending me some of these documents. I said, of course I would. Many of the articles in Probe magazine were based upon the discoveries that Peter made in the archives. And Bill Davy’s fine book, Let Justice be Done, owes much to Peter’s work. But yet, Peter is virtually unknown today.

Malcolm Blunt (shown on the cover of the book at right) took up Peter’s baton. The extraordinary thing about Malcolm is this: he does not live in America. He lives across the pond in England. He travels to America to make long visits to the National Archives. Up to now, he has not written a book. He shares alan dale newhis discoveries with other researchers who he thinks would be interested in the particular subject matter. I know this because I have been the sometime recipient of his largesse.

In this book, Alan Dale, left, tried to elicit some of the discoveries Malcolm has made in his many visits to the Archives. In that regard, it is an unusual book, since I know of no prior attempt to do such a thing. The volume is made up of ten long interviews done from 2014–18. There is a lengthy back matter section, consisting of 8 appendixes and a penultimate 3-page section labeled as “Afterthought.”

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Diplomatic Clashes with Russia and China Confirm Reality of Three-Block World with US and Allies Arrayed on Defensive against webster tarpley 2007Totalitarian Aggressors, Webster G. Tarpley, right, March 20, 2021. Increased Belligerence of Moscow and Beijing Suggests Domestic Disaffection After Regime Failures and Crackdowns on Opposition.

US Alliance System Emerges as Decisive Asset, in Sharp Contrast to Trump’s Unilateral Rage and Greed; Biden Shows that Appeasement Is Over; Austin Hints US Edge Eroded by Futile Neocon Wars in Middle East.

Democrats Must Act Immediately to Disrupt GOP’s Creeping Coup Apparatus Before It Can Consolidate for 2022 Takeover of Congress; Filibuster Must Be Abolished; No More Republican Purges of Voter Rolls and Other Vote Fraud Tactics; Vigilance on Loyalty in Military; House Opens Door to Citizenship for Dreamers by 228-197 vote;

Myanmar Generals Show World the Grim Future that Awaits Beijing Satellites with Over 200 Killed in Anti-Coup Protests and Pervasive Use of Huawei’s Facial Recognition Technology;

Michael Cohen Completes Eighth Session with Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Expects More Visits, Says Charges May Be Imminent in Trump Organization Case.

jfk american university Custom

President John Kennedy delivering his iconic "Peace Speech" at American University in June, 1963.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: Oswald or the Pentagon/CIA? Jacob G. Hornberger, right, March 17, 2021.This evening at 7 p.m. jacob hornberger newEastern time, we continue with our online conference “The National Security State and the Kennedy Assassination.” We currently have 693 registrations.

Our speaker is Dr. John Newman, below left, adjunct professor of political science at James Madison University. Newman is the author of the seminal book JFK and Vietnam and four books relating to the JFK assassination. He served as a consultant for Oliver Stone’s movie john newman newJFK. To receive a zoom link, just register (or re-register) at our conference web page.

Our first two speakers — James DiEugenio and Michael Swanson — set the stage for John Kennedy’s assumption of the presidency in 1961. Those two talks can be found in the multimedia section of FFF’s website.

After World War II, the federal government was converted to a national-security state, which vested omnipotent, non-reviewable powers in the hands of the federal government, including the powers of assassination and regime change.

As DiEugenio and Swanson pointed out, there was already tension between Kennedy and the Pentagon and the CIA before he even became president. As DiEugenio observed, Kennedy sided with Third World independence movements, which the Pentagon and the CIA were certain were communist-directed. As Swanson indicated, Kennedy also was skeptical about sending combat troops into Southeast Asia, something that the Pentagon and the CIA believed was necessary to prevent a communist takeover of the United States.

future of freedom foundation logo squareWith Newman’s talk tonight, we head directly into the Kennedy administration and the various crises faced by Kennedy, which led to an ever-growing devolution in the relationship between Kennedy and the Pentagon and the CIA, which ultimately culminated in outright war between the executive branch and the national-security branch of the government, much as it would ten years later within the Chilean national government.

Since the time of the assassination, the official story, one promoted by both the Pentagon and the CIA, has been that a communist former U.S. Marine assassinated Kennedy because he was a little man wanting to kill a big man.

From the beginning, there have been problems with that theory. For one, Oswald denied he committed the crime. In fact, he claimed that he was being framed for the crime. That’s what he meant when he stated that he was a “patsy” or fall guy for the crime. If he was really just a little man wanting to kill a big man, wouldn’t the natural thing to do be to brag about what he had done rather than deny it?

Moreover, how many communist Marines have you known? Communists hate the Marines and vice versa. Marines kill communists. They, along with others in the military, killed millions of communists in Korea and Vietnam. Why would a communist want to join an organization that hated communists and wanted to kill them? Why would the U.S. Marines permit a communist to exist within their midst? Does that sound like the Marines you know?

john newman oswald ciaAnd it’s not as though Oswald was hiding his supposed affinity to communism while he was a Marine. His Marine buddies were jokingly calling him “Oswaldovitch.” That’s because he was learning to speak Russian fluently while in the military and studying the principles of Marxism at the same time.

This was the Cold War period of time, when the U.S. national-security establishment was infiltrating communist organizations with the intention of spying on them and destroying them. In order for a person to be a good infiltrator, he had to convince the organization that he was one of them — that he believed in Marxism and socialism as much as they did. Naturally, an infiltrator oftentimes had to be trained to be an infiltrator,

As previously secret evidence has been uncovered over the years, it has led inexorably to Oswald’s operating as a U.S. intelligence operative, one who was recruited and trained when he was in the Marines. One revealing factor here is that when Oswald returned to the United States after supposedly trying to defect to the Soviet Union, to which he promised to divulge classified information he had acquired as a Marine, they did nothing to him. No indictment. Not even a grand jury summons. No torture. No anything. Remember: This is supposedly one of the most notorious communists in U.S. history and yet they didn’t give him the treatment that they gave to people like Dalton Trumbo and many others who had done nothing more than become members of the Communist Party.

lee harvey oswald hsLet’s talk about motive. If Oswald, left, had been a genuine communist, why would he want to kill Kennedy? After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy experienced a breakthrough that would culminate in a full-fledged war between him and the Pentagon/CIA. At his Peace Speech in June 1963 at American University, he declared an end to the Cold War and America’s intention to establish peaceful and friendly relations with the Soviet Union and the communist world, a position that the Pentagon and the CIA were convinced posed a grave threat to national security.

Pursuant to this new course for America, Kennedy entered into a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviets, over the vehement objection of the Pentagon and the CIA. He also ordered a partial withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and told aides he would bring them all home after he won the 1964 presidential election. He announced that he wanted to explore the possibility of a joint moon shot with the Soviets, which meant sharing U.S. rocket technology with the communists. He sided with Martin Luther King and the civil-righs movement, which the national-security establishment, particularly the FBI, was convinced was a communist front.

Why would a genuine communist want to kill a president who was establishing peaceful and friendly relations with the communist world, especially given that Vice President Lyndon Johnson was on the same page as the Pentagon and the CIA?

It stands to reason that people who would have the motive to kill the president, and frame a “communist” for the crime, were those who vehemently objected to the new course that Kennedy was setting for the United States, a course that posed a grave threat to the existence of the national-security establishment itself.

To get a zoom link [free], just register at our conference website.

Date   Speaker(s)         Time                        Topic

3/3/21  Jim DiEugenio     7:00 PM Eastern Time  President Kennedy and the Third World
3/10/21 Mike Swanson    7:00 PM Eastern Time  JFK, the Vietnam War, and the War State
3/17/21 John Newman     7:00 PM Eastern Time  JFK and the Cold War: Deception, Treachery, and the Struggle for Power
douglas horne 20213/24/21 Jefferson Morley  7:00 PM Eastern Time  Morley v. the CIA [Part 1]
3/31/21 Jefferson Morley  7:00 PM Eastern Time  Morley v. the CIA [Part 2]
4/7/21   Douglas Horne (r.) 7:00 PM Eastern Time The JFK Medical Coverup
4/14/21 Douglas Horne     7:00 PM Eastern Time  JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment
4/21/21 Jacob Hornberger 7:00 PM Eastern Time  Regime Change: The JFK Assassination

American System Network, Opinion: After Defeat of January 6 Attempted Autogolpe, GOP Regroups around Plan for Cold Coup or Creeping webster tarpley 2007Coup Designed to Establish Dictatorship in Two Years, Webster G. Tarpley, right, March 17, 2021. Scenario Includes Subversion of Military Units as Suggested by Army Memo Supplying Reasons to Refuse National Guard Defense of US Capitol.

Republican Assault on Voting Rights Shows Intent to Seize Congress through Voter Suppression; Senate Filibuster Can Sabotage Biden’s Measures to Pacify Domestic Privations and Conflicts: GOP Attorneys General Start Legal Challenge to Rescue Plan over Ban on Using Federal Money to Fund Tax Cuts for GOP Parasites.

US Hits More Chinese Functionaries with Sanctions on Eve of Yang-Blinken Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Alaska; DNI Avril Haines Reports that Kremlin Peddled Slanders against Biden through Politicians and Media to Help Trump in 2020 Election; Biden Repeats that Sanctions Loom Next Week in Solar Winds Hack Attack.

Biden Accepts That Putin is “Killer” with “No Soul,” Signaling End of Four Years of Groveling Appeasement under Trump; Russian Ambassador to Washington Recalled in a Huff.

 nsa official logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Intelligence cybernauts: the new spies, Wayne Madsen, left, March 15, 2021. The world of intelligence gathering is rapidly wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallchanging as a result of two major factors: increased capabilities of artificially intelligent programs to break into computer systems and networks and Covid-19 shutting down many of the venues favored by spies.

wayne madesen report logoThese include trade shows, scientific conferences, diplomatic receptions, and in-person press conferences. James Bond is being replaced by nameless AI cybernauts capable of gathering more "actionable intelligence" in an hour than many human agents could compile in a year or more. 

March 14

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than It Disclosed, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, March 14, 2021. The undercount complicates President Biden’s decision on carrying out a complete withdrawal by May 1, as his administration tries to jump-start peace talks.

Facing a high-stakes choice and running out of time to make it, the Biden administration is wrestling with whether to follow through with a full withdrawal in the next seven weeks of the 2,500 American troops still in Afghanistan — except, as it turns out, that number is actually around 3,500.

American FlagThe United States has about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than it has disclosed, according to U.S., European and Afghan officials. That adds another layer of complexity to the swirling debate at the White House over whether to stick with a deal, struck by the Trump administration and the Taliban, that calls for removing the remaining American forces by May 1.

A thousand troops may seem like a small number compared to the roughly 100,000 who were there at the height of the war. But the scope of the U.S. presence has become a contentious issue in Afghanistan — where the Taliban want the Americans gone, while the government’s beleaguered security forces rely on U.S. air support — and also in Washington.

Members of Congress have repeatedly called for an increase in troops if the United States decides to stay past the withdrawal date outlined in the agreement, which was reached just over a year ago.

cia logoThe cloudy accounting around the troop numbers results from some Special Operations forces having been put “off the books,” according to a senior U.S. official, as well as the presence of some temporary and transitioning units. These troops, according to a second U.S. official, include Joint Special Operations Command units, some of them elite Army Rangers, who work under both the Pentagon and the CIA while deployed to Afghanistan.

Having more troops in a country than the Defense Department officially acknowledges is common practice. From Syria to Yemen to Mali, the United States often details military troops to the CIA or other agencies, declares that information “classified” and refuses to publicly acknowledge their presence.

March 10

 

capitol weare the storm flyer resized

Organizers for the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol used as one of their tools the flyer above, distributed widely by partner organizations. See the commentary by Mark Karlin, the founder of BuzzFlash.com: Trump Didn't Just Incite Sedition on January 6. He Aided and Abetted Ongoing Insurrection, Jan. 19, 2021.

seth abramson headshotseth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Investigation: "Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6," Seth Abramson, shown at left, (best-selling author, attorney, Harfvard Law grad, professor), March 10, 2021 (subscription required). "It's time we started talking about the former president's game plan for the armed insurrection of January 6, as all its details are now public — and they're terrifying."

 

March 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s Justice Dept. already has split from Trump. Merrick Garland will go even further, Matt Zapotosky, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Biden nominees Monaco, Gupta face Senate confirmation hearing for high-level Justice Dept. posts.

For nearly two months, the Justice Department has quietly rolled back several Trump-era policies and shifted position in civil cases, moves that officials see as relatively noncontroversial returns to previous ways of doing business.

merrick garlandNow, with federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, set to take over as attorney general, the thornier work begins.

Garland, who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate this week, will inherit a Justice Department damaged by President Donald Trump’s efforts to use its power to benefit his friends and hurt his enemies. He’ll inherit a department overseeing several high-profile Justice Department log circularpolitical cases, the outcomes of which probably will leave wide swaths of the country unhappy. And he’ll inherit a department that has for the past four years vigorously implemented Trump’s conservative agenda — instituting an aggressive charging policy and reviving use of the federal death penalty.

Garland, analysts say, will have to improve morale and restore the traditional barriers between his agency and the White House on criminal matters, while shepherding the department’s leftward policy shift that seemed to begin immediately after President Biden took office.

Garland said at his confirmation hearing that his first briefing would focus on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and the criminal cases that have emanated from it. Prosecutors have charged more than 300 people in connection with the mayhem, authorities have said, and have been working their way up from those who entered to building to those who might have planned or orchestrated the violence that day.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here comes Merrick Garland! Bill Palmer, right, March 9, 2021. How afraid are Senate Republicans of Attorney General Merrick Garland? bill palmerThey’ve been using every procedural move in the book to drag out his confirmation process for as long as possible. There was literally nothing President Biden or the Democrats could have done to get Garland confirmed any sooner. But now the Republicans are all out of tricks, and as was always going to be the case, Garland is about to be confirmed.

bill palmer report logo headerThe full Senate is holding a cloture vote on the Garland nomination later today, meaning he’s inches away from his inevitable confirmation. This brings up two equally important issues. The first is what new shoes will drop at the Department of Justice once Garland is officially in place. There are likely federal criminal cases ready to go against everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Donald Trump, waiting for Garland to greenlight them, revise them, or whatever the case may be. We couldn’t begin to guess precisely what day they’ll happen on, but there will be indictments.

republican elephant logoThe second issue at hand is precisely why the Republicans worked so hard to drag out the Merrick Garland nomination for so long. Is it simply that they were trying to delay the federal prosecution of Donald Trump, because it’ll be embarrassing for the GOP? Or do some of these Republicans fear that the DOJ is about to hit them with criminal charges as well? There has to be a reason so many Senate Republicans are suddenly announcing that they’re not seeking reelection. We’ll see.

 

Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, center, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for a broadcast airing on March 7, 2021 (screenshot).

Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, center, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for a CBS broadcast that aired on March 7, 2021 (screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Meghan and Harry interview has Britain abuzz; critics howl in outrage, Karla Adam, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Any doubt that Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan and Prince Harry was overhyped was quickly put to rest on Monday morning, as Brits caught up with highlights from CBS's two-hour "tell-all" event.

The morning news was filled with the interview highlights about suicidal thoughts, alleged racism within the royal family and the fact that, at one point, Prince Charles stopped taking calls from Harry.

British broadcaster ITV said: “Harry and Meghan loaded up a plane and dropped bomb after heavy bomb on Buckingham Palace in their Oprah interview.”

A review in the Daily Telegraph said: “Sussexes deliver enough bombshells to sink a flotilla.”

Peter Hunt, the BBC’s former royal correspondent, said, “The claim of racism is one that will endure. No Palace spin can erase it from the collective memory.”

In his piece for the Spectator magazine, Hunt added that “the only person to emerge relatively unscathed is the Queen — apart from the minor matter that she is the head of the family that has been subjected to such a battering in this broadcast.”

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Harry-Meghan tribulations rooted in assassination of Diana, Wayne Madsen (shown at left, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcommentator, author and former Navy intelligence officer), March 9, 2021. When Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, says she was scared of the royal threats, believe her.

The trials and tribulations of Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle, while serving up fare for the tabloid-format cable "news" channels, does conjure up memories of the death of Harry's mother, Lady Diana, the former Princess of Wales, Diana's contentious divorce from Charles, the Prince of Wales, Harry's alleged father and heir to the British throne.

This editor investigated Diana's August 31, 1997 death in the weeks after it occurred, traveling to London, Paris and the scene of her death at the Pont d'Alma tunnel, and one of her favorite holiday retreats, the French Riviera. Diana's death was triggered by her planned marriage to Dodi al-Fayad, a Muslim, an act that would have placed their potential Muslim offspring -- future step-siblings of Princes William and Harry -- in the royal line of succession

seth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Analysis: The Trump-Brazil Scandal: Did Donald Trump "Attend" the January 5 War Council From the White House? Seth Abramson, March 9, 2021. Possibility emerges that one of the oddest social media typos in recent U.S. history wasn't a typo—and that the January 5 meeting was in part a Trump-Brazil summit focused on insurrection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in direct contact with rioters before and during Capitol breach, U.S. alleges, Spencer S. Hsu, March 9, 2021. U.S. prosecutors alleged Monday that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in direct contact before, during and immediately after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach with members since charged with plotting to prevent Congress from confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In a late-night court filing, prosecutors alleged Rhodes directed Oath Keepers to rally during the riot to the southeast steps of the Capitol, after which several members forcibly entered the east side of the building.

Prosecutors said they had recovered a chat called “DC OP: Jan 6 21” on the encrypted Signal messaging app that “shows that individuals, including those alleged to have conspired with [others], were actively planning to use force and violence.”

Prosecutors said chat participants included Rhodes — identified only as “Person One” in the filing but whom prosecutors named in earlier court papers — and two charged Oath Keepers members, Jessica Watkins, 38, an Ohio leader; and Kelly Meggs, 52, of Florida.

U.S. authorities have charged Watkins, Meggs and seven other individuals who appear to be members or associates of the right-wing anti-government group, alleging a wider conspiracy to obstruct Congress amid rioting that led to five deaths and assaults on about 140 police officers. Charges have been brought against more than 300 defendants, but to date prosecutors led by the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington have not publicly charged anyone other than alleged rioters themselves.

In the court filing, prosecutors said Rhodes, Watkins, Meggs and “regional Oath Keeper leaders from multiple states across the country” discussed plans in the chat for members and affiliates to come to Washington for events on Jan. 5 and 6 to “provide security to speakers and VIPs.”

Prosecutors said they found “no discussion of forcibly entering the Capitol until January 6.”

jacob chansley

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘QAnon Shaman’ stays in jail as judge slams his arguments: ‘So frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence,’ Katie Shepherd, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Anthony Chansley, often referred to as the “QAnon Shaman” who donned horns and red-white-and-blue face paint to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (as shown above), has spent nearly two months pleading with a judge — and with the public in high-profile interviews — to let him go free.

He said on “60 Minutes+” last week that the Capitol riots were “not an attack on this country,” while his attorney has argued that he was actually a peaceful protester and wasn’t really armed when he was filmed storming the building with a spear.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, left, was not impressed.

royce lamberth 2009On Monday, Lamberth denied Chansley’s motion for release in a scathing memorandum that rejected his arguments as “meritless,” “mistaken” and “so frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence.” The judge said that Chansley was too dangerous to release and continues to pose a threat to the public.

“The statements defendant has made to the public from jail show that defendant does not fully appreciate the severity of the allegations against him,” Lamberth wrote. “To the contrary, he believes that he — not the American people or members of Congress — was the victim on January 6th.”

Chansley is charged with violently entering the Capitol, among other felony charges, and prosecutors have urged the court to keep him in jail. Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, did not immediately return a request for comment late Monday.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mugThe 33-year-old Phoenix resident (shown at right in his costume and in a mug shot) quickly became one of the most recognizable people charged in the Capitol riot, in part because of the eccentric costume he wore while sitting in Vice President Mike Pence’s chair. His connection to QAnon, an extremist ideology that spreads a sprawling set of false claims, has also highlighted the movement’s role in the Jan. 6 riot.

He made headlines soon after his arrest when he asked to be fed only organic foods, citing his obscure religious beliefs, and begged to be released after Watkins said he lost 20 pounds in jail. Watkins also made a public plea for a pardon from President Donald Trump, which was ignored. Chansley has filed multiple motions for release before his trial, but none have succeeded.

Last week, he made another public appeal on “60 Minutes+,” without permission from the jail, the U.S. Marshals Service or the court — a move that led Lamberth to scold him and his attorney in a hearing on Friday.

On Monday, Lamberth, a fiery presence in D.C. courts appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, eviscerated the alleged rioter’s claims one by one.

March 8

Substack via OpEd News, Opinion: With a Second War on Terror Looming, a New Film Explores the Grave Abuses of the First, Glenn Greenwald, right, March 8, glenn greenwald hs2021. Imprisoned without charges for 14 years in Guanta'namo, Mohamedou Slahi is a symbol of humans' impulse to abuse power and their capacity for redemption.

Mohamedou Slahi, shown below left in a Red Cross photo, is an extraordinary person with a harrowing past and a remarkable, still-unfolding story. The interview I conducted with him on Saturday, which can be viewed below, is one I sincerely hope you will watch. He has much to say that the world should hear, and, with a new War on Terror likely to be launched in the U.S., his story is particularly timely now.

mohammedou ould salahi int red cross committeeKnown as the author of the best-selling Guanta'namo Diary, a memoir he wrote during his 14 years in captivity in the U.S. prison camp at Guanta'namo he is now the primary character of a new Hollywood feature film about his life, The Mauritanian. The first eight years of Slahi's imprisonment included multiple forms of abuse in four different countries and separation from everything he knew, but it afforded no charges, trials, or opportunities to refute or even learn of the accusations against him.

The film stars Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley, while Slahi is played by the French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim. Foster last week won a Golden Globe award for her role as Nancy Hollander, Slahi's lawyer who worked for years, for free, to secure his right simply to have a court evaluate the evidence which the U.S. Government believed justified his due-process-free, indefinite imprisonment. Cumberbatch plays Slahi's military prosecutor whose friend died on 9/11 when the American Airlines passenger jet he was piloting was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Slahi's story is fascinating unto itself but, with a second War on Terror looming, bears particular relevance now. No matter your views on the post-9/11 War on Terror ranging from "it was necessary to take the gloves off and dispense with all limits in order to win this war against an unprecedented evil and existential threat" to "the U.S. gravely overreacted and mirrored the worst abuses of what it claimed it was fighting" to anything in between it cannot be disputed that limitless power was placed in the hands of the U.S. Government to imprison, to monitor, to surveil, to kidnap and to kill anyone it wanted, anywhere in the world, with no checks. And like most authorities vested in the state in the name of some emergency, these powers were said to be temporary but, almost 20 years later, show no signs of going anywhere. They are now embedded in the woodwork of U.S. political life.

What happened to Slahi is a vivid embodiment of how humans will inevitably abuse power when it is wielded without safeguards or limits. In November, 2001, Slahi was attending a party with his mother and other relatives in his home country of Mauritania, the U.S.-aligned nation in Northwest Africa plagued for years by dictatorships and military coups. Police arrived and told him they needed to question him. That was the last time he would ever see his mother.

After two weeks of intense interrogation about his ties to Islamic radicals, Slahi was flown in chains and shackles to Jordan, the U.S.-controlled oil monarchy where he had never visited and with which he had no ties. For the next eight months, he was interrogated on a daily basis by Jordanian and U.S. operatives, including CIA agents. The Jordanians frequently used classic torture techniques to extract information when their CIA bosses assessed that he was not being forthcoming. After eight months, the Jordanians concluded that he was not affiliated with any extremist groups and had no more information to provide, but the Americans, still reeling from the 9/11 attack, were not convinced.

He was told he would return to Mauritania but quickly realized that was a lie as he was placed in full-body shackles, chains and a jumpsuit. This time, he was flown to the notorious U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan, home to thousands of prisoners detained indefinitely by the Bush and Obama administrations with no charges or human rights protections. After two weeks of brutal daily interrogations, Slahi was told that he was being taken to a U.S. military base in Guanta'namo.

Because the camp had opened only after Slahi was first detained in Mauritania, he had no idea what Guanta'namo was. But, he told me, he was so happy and relieved to hear he was being taken to the U.S. because "the U.S. is where you get legal rights and there is a functioning court system." Upon hearing the news, he thought his nightmare, now almost a year long, was about to end. In fact, it was only beginning, and was about to get far darker than he could have imagined.

Flown to the floating island prison in the middle of the Caribbean, thousands of miles away from his home, Slahi, though in American custody on a U.S. military base, was in a place which the U.S. Government had decreed was not the United States at all. It was a no-man's land, free of any law or authority dick cheney wother than the unconstrained will of U.S. political leaders. Shortly after his arrival, the Bush administration guided by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, right, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General John Ashcroft authorized the use of multiple forms of torture that it and the U.S. press euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

It is not in dispute, because official U.S. Government documents acknowledge it, that Slahi, along with dozens of others, was subjected to these techniques over and over. They included prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings and stress positions, a mock execution, and sexual humiliation and assault.

When he arrived at the camp, he spoke Arabic, German and French, and then quickly learned English from his captors and interrogators. His refuge from his hopelessness was the book he wrote, which he authored in English. Completed in 2005, it was taken from him by camp guards and not permitted to be published until ten years later, when it became a global bestseller while Slahi was still consigned to a cage, convicted of nothing and with no idea of when, if ever, he would be freed.

Throughout his ordeal, all Slahi wanted, as any human would, was the opportunity to be told of the charges against him and presented with the evidence corroborating the accusations. But the U.S. government's decree that Guanta'namo was foreign soil and thus free of constitutional constraints enabled them to imprison people indefinitely with no due process of any kind. A bipartisan law enacted by Congress in 2006 called "the Military Commissions Act" fortified the Bush administration's position by barring federal courts from reviewing any petitions brought by War on Terror detainees to have the validity of their imprisonment legally evaluated.

richard nephew sanction

Gray Zone, Commentary: Biden Iran envoy boasted of depriving civilians of food, driving up Iranian inequality in sadistic sanctions manual, Max Blumenthal, March 8, 2021. Richard Nephew, above at right, has taken personal credit for depriving Iranians of food and driving up their unemployment rates, celebrating the economic destruction he caused as “a tremendous success.” Under Biden, he will help direct policy on Iran.

The Joseph Biden administration has named Richard Nephew as its deputy Iran envoy. As the former principal deputy coordinator of sanctions policy for Barack Obama’s State Department, Nephew took personal credit for depriving Iranians of food, sabotaging their automobile industry, and driving up unemployment rates.

Nephew has described the destruction of Iran’s economy as “a tremendous success,” and lamented during a visit to Russia that food was still plentiful in the country’s capital despite mounting US sanctions.

Nephew’s appointment to a senior diplomatic post suggests that rather than immediately returning to the JCPOA nuclear deal, the Biden administration will finesse sanctions illegally imposed by Trump to pressure Iran into an onerous, reworked agreement that Tehran is unlikely to join.

After coordinating Obama’s sanctions regime against Iran, Nephew left the administration for a position at the energy industry-funded Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. There, he published a book outlining in blunt terms how he honed the craft of economic warfare and applied it against Iran.

Entitled The Art of Sanctions: A View From The Field, the book’s cover image features two Caucasian hands drawing a rope for a noose, presumably to strangle some insufficiently pliant Global South government. Its contents read like a list of criminal confessions, detailing in chillingly clinical terms how the sanctions Nephew conceived from inside an air-conditioned office in Washington immiserated average Iranians.

With his candor, Nephew has shattered the official US rhetoric about “targeted sanctions” that exclusively punish “bad actors” and their business cronies while leaving civilian populations unharmed.

The application of pain to a country’s civilian population is central to Nephew’s sanctions strategy. As he explains in “The Art of Sanctions,” for the unilateral coercive measures to succeed, they must impose significant pain to a state’s most vulnerable sectors, shatter the state’s political and social resolve, and ultimately force the state to cry uncle in the face of Washington’s demands.

March 7

"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander, center, and his co-organizer, Infowars radio host, Alex Jones, to his right.

huffington post logoHuffPost, Investigation: How Republican Politics (And Twitter) Created Ali Alexander, The Man Behind ‘Stop The Steal,’ Luke O’Brien, March 7, 2021. High above Constitution Avenue, on a rooftop terrace, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander gazed down at the U.S. Capitol and the chaos he’d helped unleash.

A mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters had just stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing members of Congress to scramble for safety. White nationalists, QAnon cultists and Make America Great Again extremists roamed the halls hunting for politicians. Some carried zip-tie handcuffs. One wore a sweatshirt that read “Camp Auschwitz.”

“I don’t disavow this,” Alexander said, pointing to the scene below.

The longtime Republican political operative had spent months working with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and far-right activists, such as Mike Cernovich, to organize nationwide protests aimed at invalidating Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win. Alexander knew plenty of influential Republicans, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led an effort in the Senate to dispute the election results. He had connections to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which was also involved in promoting the rally-turned-riot.

Alexander had plenty of friends in low places, too: far-right Twitter influencers and grifters; members of the violent neo-fascist Proud Boys gang who showed up at his protests; Nick Fuentes, a prominent far-right extremist who participated in 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fuentes said in 2019 that he could accurately be described as a white nationalist, being both “white” and a “nationalist,” and just two days before the riot he seemingly encouraged his followers to kill legislators.

Unsurprisingly, several of Alexander’s previous Stop the Steal events had inspired bloodshed. But none of them ― and nothing in American history ― compared to what happened Jan. 6.

The warning signs were ominous. Before the rally, white nationalists and militia members talked about smuggling guns into D.C. Pro-Trump internet forums crackled with homicidal chatter and plans to lay siege to the Capitol. And the Proud Boys were back in town. They’d turned out by the hundreds for Alexander’s two other Stop the Steal events in Washington. Brawls and stabbings occurred after those demonstrations. The Proud Boys attacked residents. In December, they ripped a Black Lives Matter banner off a Black church and burned it in the street. Their leader, Enrique “Henry” Tarrio, was arrested on Jan. 4 with high-capacity firearms magazines as he entered the city.

At the rally, the president whipped up demonstrators with a speech on the White House Ellipse, where Alexander had a front-row seat. “We will not take it anymore,” Trump said. “We will stop the steal.” The demagogue then pointed his supporters toward the heart of American democracy.

The mob arrived at the Capitol just before 1 p.m. Insurrectionists smashed through barricades and police lines. Once inside, they looted and vandalized. They urinated and defecated on floors. One of them scrawled “Murder the media” on a set of doors. Many were far-right extremists, including a Proud Boy allegedly looking to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence. Men carrying a flag from Fuentes’ “America First” group prowled through the building. Another Alexander associate, Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, a veteran of the Charlottesville rally, livestreamed himself inside the Capitol and was later arrested.

But it was the fate of Ashli Babbitt, a military veteran and QAnon conspiracy theory devotee, that crystallized to what lengths some would go on behalf of Trump. On Twitter, Babbitt was in thrall to MAGA propagandists and Stop the Steal organizers such as Jack Posobiec — one of Alexander’s close friends and a prolific spreader of disinformation, including the Pizzagate sex trafficking conspiracy theory that in 2016 resulted in a pro-Trump gunman storming a restaurant in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 5, Posobiec tweeted a photo of a plane loaded with Trump supporters traveling to Washington and described them, seemingly in jest, as “domestic terrorists.” Babbitt retweeted the message. It was her penultimate act on a platform that helped radicalize her.

Police would later find pipe bombs outside the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee offices. They’d find Molotov cocktails in a nearby truck. National security experts declared the attack domestic terrorism. Seven people died in the mayhem or by suicide in the immediate aftermath, including three Capitol Police officers.

“I do not denounce this,” Alexander reiterated from his rooftop perch, impassively surveying the Capitol grounds in a video posted to Twitter by one of his associates and preserved by Kristen Doerer at Right Wing Watch.

On Twitter, Alexander had called violence a “natural right.” He was a prominent influencer on the platform, with almost 200,000 followers. “I am a sincere advocate for violence and war, when justified,” he tweeted in 2019. “I recognize no law above what is natural and good.” A militant Christianity has permeated his extremism; he has spoken often about being an agent of God.

Insomuch as he was a zealot, however, he was also out to make a buck. His Jan. 6 protest, which he’d dubbed the Wild Protest after Trump promoted his “March to Save America” event on Twitter ― “Be there, will be wild!” the president tweeted ― had brought in almost $200,000 in donations in just over two weeks. On his Stop the Steal site, Alexander hawked $45 T-shirts, $40 baseball caps and $75 yard signs. A bumper sticker cost $17.76. On merchandise site Gumroad, he sold self-designed “New Crusades” T-shirts for $55. Alexander hadn’t bothered to set up a business or a nonprofit, he admitted on his personal site, where he peddled a “persuasion” class for $198. Stop the Steal donations flowed initially into his personal accounts. In mid-November, his lawyer, Baron Coleman, who has also served as local counsel in Alabama for Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, registered a limited-liability company, or LLC. One of Alexander’s partners set up a political action committee.

To radical Republicans, he was worth it. Alexander, 36, represented the possibility of a multiracial far-right coalition and put a diverse sheen on a movement founded on white supremacy. And he did it from within. A lifelong product of Republican politics and activism who’d radicalized in step with his party, Alexander embodied a turn toward outright fascism. His Stop the Steal movement was simply a Trumpified extension of decades of Republican efforts to invalidate Democratic votes, especially Black ones, with false accusations of “fraud.”

The day before the riot, Alexander bounded onto a stage in Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington to prepare protesters for “rebellion.” “Victory or death!” he cried, leading Trump supporters in a chant. Proud Boys and militia members were in the crowd. Some carried knives and clubs. “These degenerates in the deep state are going to give us what we want or we are going to shut this country down!” Alexander shouted as a cold rain fell. “Our government should be afraid.”


Petty Crime, Conservative Politics

Ali Alexander was once Ali Abdul-Razaq Akbar. Alexander, who was born in Texas, claims his father was an exchange student from a “prominent family” in the United Arab Emirates who abandoned him and his Black mother when Alexander was a toddler. He says his mother raised him by herself in Fort Worth, where he went to Fossil Ridge High School. Even then, he was a conservative political junkie who liked to talk about the big sponsors he’d land who would take him to the “hieghts of the Hill” one day, as he wrote in 2005.

“Very early as a child, I sought power. I sought power and influence,” Alexander would later say.

After high school, however, he got into legal trouble. He briefly attended the University of North Texas but dropped out in 2006 and was arrested that year for stealing property. A month later, he was arrested again for debit card abuse. In 2007 and 2008, the charges resulted in felony convictions.

But the Republican Party took him in. Alexander recognized Twitter’s potential for political activism early on, creating his account less than a year after the platform launched. “I was like the first [of] four political operatives that joined Twitter, and we made sure there was mass adoption on the Republican side,” he later told Cernovich in a podcast. Alexander also had a knack for graphic design and web development. He started setting up right-wing blogs, including one that attacked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as an elitist trying to “marginalize traditional Americans.” On his personal blog, Alexander embraced a right-wing “birther” conspiracy that disputed Obama’s birthplace and racial identity. He wrote that Obama was an “African man (he is not Black!).”

March 6

 capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows was near the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Below is a separate photo by a suspect described in the story below.5,000 salary.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Says Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Had Contact Before Riot, Katie Benner, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman, March 6, 2021 (print ed.). A leader of the far-right group separately said he had been in touch with Roger Stone, but an official said it was not the same contact investigators found.

A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party.

The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack.

The same data has revealed no evidence of communications between the rioters and members of Congress during the deadly attack, the official said. That undercuts Democratic allegations that some Republican lawmakers were active participants that day.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomSeparately, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys, told The New York Times on Friday that he called Roger J. Stone Jr., left, a close associate of former President Donald J. Trump’s, while at a protest in front of the home of Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. During the protest, which occurred in the days before the Capitol assault, he put Mr. Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering.

A law enforcement official said that it was not Mr. Tarrio’s communication with Mr. Stone that was being scrutinized, and that the call made in front of Mr. Rubio’s home was a different matter. That two members of the group were in communication with people associated with the White House underscores the access that violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys had to the White House and to people close to the former president.

Mr. Stone denied “any involvement or knowledge of the attack on the Capitol” in a statement last month to The Times.

Mr. Tarrio was arrested in Washington on Jan. 4 on charges of destruction of property for his role in the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner that had been torn from a historic Black church during a protest in Washington in December. He was asked to leave the city, and was not present when the Capitol was attacked. His case is pending.

The Justice Department has charged more than a dozen members of the Proud Boys with crimes related to the attack, including conspiracy to obstruct the final certification of President Biden’s electoral victory and to attack law enforcement officers.

In court papers, federal prosecutors have said groups of Proud Boys also coordinated travel to Washington and shared lodging near the city, with the intent of disrupting Congress and advancing Mr. Trump’s efforts to unlawfully maintain his grip on the presidency.

The communication between the person associated with the White House and the member of the Proud Boys was discovered in part through data that the F.B.I. obtained from technology and telecommunications companies immediately after the assault.

Court documents show F.B.I. warrants for a list of all the phones associated with the cell towers serving the Capitol, and that it received information from the major cellphone carriers on the numbers called by everyone on the Capitol’s cell towers during the riot, three officials familiar with the investigation said.

The F.B.I. also obtained a “geofence” warrant for all the Android devices that Google recorded within the building during the assault, the officials said. A geofence warrant legally gives law enforcement a list of mobile devices that are able to be identified in a particular geographic area. Jill Sanborn, the head of counterterrorism at the F.B.I., testified before a Senate panel on Wednesday that all the data the F.B.I. had gathered in its investigation into the riot was obtained legally through subpoenas and search warrants.

Although investigators have found no contact between the rioters and members of Congress during the attack, those records have shown evidence in the days leading up to Jan. 6 of communications between far-right extremists and lawmakers who were planning to appear at the rally featuring Mr. Trump that occurred just before the assault, according to one of the officials.

The Justice Department is examining those communications, but it has not opened investigations into any members, the official said. A department spokesman declined to comment.

 

capitol mob-jacob-charnsley

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge scolds ‘QAnon Shaman’ for appearing on ‘60 Minutes Plus’ without permission, Emily Davies, March 6, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Chansley (shown above at center) to remain in jail pending trial as a judge considers his release. The judge said in a detention hearing that Chansley appeared in an interview without proper authorization.

A federal judge chided the self-identified “QAnon Shaman,” who was part of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, for appearing in a “60 Minutes Plus” interview without permission.

During a detention hearing Friday, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia questioned whether Jacob Chansley appeared in the interview that aired Thursday without the required clearance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the detention facility or the judge. The judge also questioned whether Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, was deceitful in skirting proper authorization to appear on the show.

In what was billed as Chansley’s first interview since his arrest, he said that his actions were “not an attack on this country” and that he does not regret being loyal to former president Donald Trump. Chansley became one of the most distinct individuals arrested in the riot, photographed flexing near the vice president’s chair in the Senate while shirtless and wearing a headdress and face paint.

Watkins said he did make “independent arrangements” with “60 Minutes Plus” but denied conducting “subterfuge.” He said he assumed his client would be allowed to be captured on camera from his office.

A decision about Chansley’s detention is still pending.

Chansley has been behind bars since he was arrested in his hometown of Phoenix on Jan 9. Chansley has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building among other federal felony charges. He is among more than 300 charged in the Capitol riots that resulted in five deaths.

In a previous interview with the Washington Post, he said he danced, sang and prayed in the Capitol, drumming on the floor with his pole to “reclaim our nation.” He also said he left a note for Vice President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall argued that Chansley is a danger to the community and should therefore remain jailed until trial. She said there was “ample evidence” that Chansley was carrying a spear while facing off with an officer inside the Senate chambers. She pointed to Chansley’s “60 Minutes Plus” interview as evidence of his still-standing belief “that the current government is not a legitimate government and that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.”

She argued that Chansley would not be capable of following conditions of release.

Watkins, meanwhile, painted his client as a nonviolent man misled and let down by Trump, whom he greatly admired. He highlighted Chansley’s lack of criminal history and said his client simply walked into the Capitol after police let him in. The judge and prosecutor pushed back.

“I am not belittling my client . . . but my client was wearing horns,” he said. “He had tattoos around his nipples. He wasn’t leading anywhere. He was a follower.”

Watkins also said that Chansley believes in ahimsa, a form of nonviolence toward living things, and denied that the flagpole he carried was a spear.

Chansley apologized last month for storming the Capitol, saying he regrets entering the building and that Trump “let a lot of peaceful people down.”

Chansley publicly requested — but did not receive — a pardon from Trump, an outcome with which he expressed disappointment in the “60 Minutes Plus” interview. At one point, Chansley had offered to testify against Trump during his impeachment trial.

On Friday, Watkins cast the absence of a pardon as a turning point for Chansley.

“My client went from that point to expressing deep disappointment in the former president,” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Impact of Capitol riot looms over efforts to overhaul policing in the District, Peter Hermann, March 6, 2021. The acting police chief says he needs a larger force to help combat new threat of domestic terrorism.

Amid months of protests for social justice, the D.C. Council moved quickly last year with emergency legislation to make sweeping overhauls to the police force, including cutting its budget and making it smaller.

Then came the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, when hundreds of D.C. officers rushed to help defend the building. Now the mayor’s pick for her new police leader says any further reimagining of the force must take into account what he calls a growing and persistent threat of domestic terrorism.

The coming weeks will be a pivotal moment for the future of law enforcement in the District as the city wrestles over that balance. Acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III says his department needs to grow, not shrink, to confront both rising crime and extremism.

Contee, who faces a confirmation hearing later this month from a Council that last year cut the police budget, forcing it to shed nearly 200 officers, said he must prepare for “a high probability for violent confrontations that will require a significant police response.”

Last year’s budget cuts brought the District’s police force down to about 3,650 officers, below a threshold officials once considered the bare minimum. Contee said he believes 4,000 officers — a number the mayor aspired to in 2019, when the department counted 3,850 officers — are needed “to get to where we need to be in light of the things we need to contend with now.” Similarly, the Capitol Police wants to increase its force and budget following its failure to properly mobilize ahead of the deadly riot.

But Contee could face pushback from members of the D.C. Council, a progressive group of lawmakers who want police to adapt a public health approach to combating crime that de-emphasizes arrests and redirects resources into programs that attack the root causes of criminal behavior.

Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the public safety committee, said last year’s budget cuts — opposed at the time by the mayor — and other laws enacted to make police more transparent and accountable, could be just a start.

“That wasn’t a one-year budget, pat yourself on the back and call it a day,” said Allen, who will oversee hearings this month on the state of the police department and Contee’s confirmation. “We’re in the midst of a conversation on the nature of policing.”

Allen credited D.C. police with helping the overwhelmed Capitol police end the Jan. 6 riot, but he said, “I don’t think we need to be planning our force size based on an armed insurrection. We hope to never see such an event again.”

Contee will face Allen and other lawmakers at an oversight hearing on Thursday, where he is likely to field questions over rising homicides, the insurrection that involved 850 D.C. officers sent to the Capitol and his commitment to making further changes in the force to reflect new ideas born out of the protests that started with the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

That will be followed by the expected release of an independent audit of fatal shootings and a deadly use of force incidents by D.C. police, and then Contee’s confirmation hearing, where lawmakers will decided whether to make him the permanent chief.

March 5

Gray Zone, Commentary, Tulsi Gabbard calls out the US dirty war on Syria that Biden, aides admit to, Aaron Maté, March 5, 2021. As Tulsi Gabbard criticizes former Congressional colleagues for ignoring the ongoing US dirty war and sanctions on Syria, a look at the comments of Joe Biden and top aides show that they have admitted to the same underlying, horrific facts. Gabbard only stands apart — and is even vilified — for being willing to call it out.

tulsi gabbard debate stage gabe skidmore CustomWhile Joe Biden has faced some mild Congressional pushback for bombing the Iraq-Syria border, Tulsi Gabbard (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo at right) says her former colleagues are ignoring the larger issue: the ongoing US dirty war on Syria. After a decade of proxy warfare that empowered Al Qaeda and ISIS, the US is now occupying one-third of Syria and imposing crippling sanctions that are crushing Syria’s economy and preventing reconstruction.

While Gabbard has been vilified for her stance on Syria, many top White House officials — including Joe Biden himself — have already acknowledged the same facts that she has called out.

Aaron Maté plays clips of Biden and some of his most senior aides admitting to the horrific realities of the US dirty war on Syria, and argues that Gabbard only stands apart in being wiling to criticize it.

Featuring clips from: Tulsi Gabbard, former Democratic Congressmember; President Joe Biden; Brett McGurk, National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa; Martin Dempsey, former Joint Chiefs chairman; Rob Malley, Special Envoy for Iran; John Kerry, Special Envoy for Climate & former Secretary of State; former President Donald Trump; Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions; Dana Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East; Vice President Kamala Harris.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Conference Agenda: The National-Security State and the Kennedy Assassination, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, March 5, 2021. jacob hornberger newAdmission: FREE. Register at conference website

The national-security establishment’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy was one of the pivotal events in our lifetime, and it continues to have an adverse impact on American life today. This conference will be oriented toward people who are not well-versed in the assassination and who wish to gain a deeper understanding of it.

The conference will present an easy-to-understand introduction to what happened and why. Consider it a primer on the Kennedy assassination. Attendees will learn about President Kennedy’s foreign policy and how it was so different from that of both his predecessors and successors — and why the Pentagon and the CIA considered it to be such a grave threat to future of freedom foundation logo squarenational security. Attendees will also learn about the fraudulent nature of the autopsy that the national-security establishment performed on the president’s body on the evening of the assassination and how it leads to an understanding of the assassination itself.

The conference will consist of a weekly series of online presentations by various speakers, beginning Wednesday evening, March 3, and continue every Wednesday evening through April 21. By the time it is over, participants will have a good grasp of what happened on that fateful day in November 1963 and why it is so critically important today.

Date Speaker(s) Time Topic

3/3/21 Jim DiEugenio 7:00 PM Eastern Time President Kennedy and the Third World
3/10/21 Mike Swanson 7:00 PM Eastern Time JFK, the Vietnam War, and the War State
3/17/21 John Newman 7:00 PM Eastern Time JFK and the Cold War: Deception, Treachery, and the Struggle for Power
douglas horne 20213/24/21 Jefferson Morley 7:00 PM Eastern Time Morley v. the CIA [Part 1]
3/31/21 Jefferson Morley 7:00 PM Eastern Time Morley v. the CIA [Part 2]