Deep State 2018-19 News, Revelations, Commentary

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Editor's Choice: 2018-19 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 from 2018 backward 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 Jan. 1, 2018. Undernearth it are materials from October through December of 2017. Buttons at bottom link to sections covering earlier months in 2017. News for the entire year of 2016 is here. Below 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

 2019

July

July 15

Intrepid Report, Accusing Adam Schiff of ‘criminalizing routine reporting,’ groups call for stripping CIA-backed provision from intelligence legislation, Eoin Higgins, July 15, 2019. ‘Schiff is clearly the resistance to the resistance, and he should drop this provision from his bill.’ A adam schiff officialCIA-backed provision for a bill that could have dire effects on the freedom of the press is quietly making its way through Congress, despite the protestations of civil rights groups to Rep. Adam Schiff, right, the powerful California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, to strip the rule.

“Adam Schiff is once again putting the interests of the intelligence agencies in concealing their misdeeds ahead of protecting the rights of ordinary Americans,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, in a statement Thursday.

In the statement, Schuman also accused Schiff of “criminalizing routine reporting by the press on national security issues and undermining congressional oversight in his Intelligence Authorization bill.” Demand Progress was one of 30 groups that signed an open letter (pdf) on July 8 to congressional leaders of both parties calling for the provision to be stripped from the bill.

“This provision is an extremely broad expansion of felony criminal penalties, and delegates authority as to when those penalties apply to the executive branch,” reads the letter. “It would be significantly damaging to transparency, oversight, and accountability, and should be removed from the Intelligence Authorization Act.”

cia logoSection 305 of the Intelligence Authorization Act (pdf), which prohibits disclosure of the identity of agents currently in the field or who have been in the field in the last five years, would be tweaked under the new law to encompass the identities of a far larger number of agents, contractors, and sources—many of whom live and work domestically.

The effect of the law could be massive, Emily Manna, a policy analyst for Open the Government, told Yahoo News in an email.

“This language is almost unbelievably broad, drastically expanding felony criminal penalties for the disclosure of [many categories] of information about the intelligence agencies, even if those disclosures might be in the best interest of the government and the country,” wrote Manna. “There would likely be a significant chilling effect on journalists and government whistleblowers.”

Supporters of the law’s expansion cite WikiLeaks, the online clearinghouse for secure information, as the reason for needing further protections. It’s an argument that’s likely to have an effect on Schiff, who has spent much of the past two years railing against the site for its perceived involvement in the election of President Donald Trump.

Schiff, one of the favorite guests of MSNBC‘s “Rachel Maddow Show,” has cultivated an image of a hero to the so-called liberal “resistance” to Trump since 2017, something that Demand Progress’ Schuman took aim at in his statement.

July 13

Epstein Scandal

OPUS 167, Opinion: Mossad Epstein Connection, Steve Pieczenik (an American writer, former United States Department of State official, psychiatrist, and publisher.), July 13, 2019 (7:18 mins). Israel's intelligence agency, The Mossad, is behind Jeffrey Epstein's crimes.

"Israel not our greatest ally, they're our greatest enemy....The heroes of this picture are not only Trump and the White House [but others exposing corrupt U.S. intelligence agencies].... Israel has been placed on notice....As a Jew, I am not proud of what Jews have done."

mossad seal CustomMore from Pieczenik Wikipedia bio: Dr. Pieczenik was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance and James Baker.[2] His expertise includes foreign policy, international crisis management and psychological warfare.[6] He served the presidential administrations of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the capacity of deputy assistant secretary.[7]

In 1974, Pieczenik joined the United States Department of State as a consultant to help in the restructuring of its Office for the Prevention of Terrorism. In 1976, Pieczenik was made Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for management. At the Department of State, he served as a "specialist on hostage taking". He has been credited with devising successful negotiating strategies and tactics used in several high-profile hostage situations, including the 1976 TWA Flight 355 hostage situation and the 1977 kidnapping of the son of Cyprus' president.

As a renowned psychiatrist, he was utilized as a press source for early information on the mental state of the hostages involved in the Iran hostage crisis after they were freed. In 1977, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mary McGrory described Stephen Pieczenik as "one of the most 'brilliantly competent' men in the field of terrorism."

 July 12

Barr Team Thwarting Trump Probe?

CNN, Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say, Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, July 12, cnn logo2019. A federal investigation into whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign-finance laws appears to be wrapping up without charges being filed, according to people familiar with the matter. For months, federal prosecutors in New York have examined whether company officials broke the law, including in their effort to reimburse Michael Cohen for hush-money payments he made to women alleging affairs with his former boss, President Donald Trump.

In recent weeks, however, their investigation has quieted, the people familiar with the inquiry said, and prosecutors now don't appear poised to charge any Trump Organization executives in the probe that stemmed from the case against Cohen.

A spokesman for the Manhattan US Attorney's office declined to comment. An attorney for the Trump Organization declined to comment.

michael cohen ap file croppedn January, one month after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, prosecutors requested interviews with executives at the company, CNN reported. But prosecutors never followed up on their initial request, people familiar with the matter said, and the interviews never took place.

Meanwhile, there has been no contact between the Manhattan US Attorney's office and officials at the Trump Organization in more than five months, one person familiar with the matter said.
There is no indication that the case has been formally closed, and former federal prosecutors cautioned that it is always possible that new information could revive the inquiry. The Manhattan US Attorney's office continues to have at least one other ongoing Trump-connected investigation, a probe concerning the President's inaugural committee.

The Trump Organization investigation was launched out of the Cohen case, in which he pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two counts of campaign-finance violations for orchestrating or making payments during the 2016 election to two women -- adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal -- who alleged affairs with Trump. (Trump has denied the allegations.)

After Cohen made the $130,000 payment to Daniels, he was reimbursed, prosecutors said in court filings, by the Trump Organization. The company's executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000, in an effort to cover his original payment, tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus, according to prosecutors, and they falsely recorded those payments as legal expenses in their books.

The criminal inquiry centered on whether those payments, like the hush money Cohen gave to Daniels, violated campaign-finance law.

.kamala harris caricature black agenda report dcma

 U.S. Sen. and 2020 Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, as portrayed in a caricature by Black Agenda Report

Black Agenda Report via OpEdNews, Opinion: Opinion: Kamala Harris Has a Distinguished Career of Serving Injustice, Marjorie Cohn, July 10, 2019. Harris favored criminalizing truancy, raising cash bail fees and keeping prisoners locked up for cheap labor. Kamala Harris, shown in the Democratic presidential debate at right, is rising in the polls after dramatically confronting Joe Biden during the Democratic primary debate about his opposition to federally mandated busing for desegregation.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileThe following week, however, Harris backed away from saying that busing should always be federally mandated, calling it just one "tool that is in the toolbox" for school districts to use. When asked to clarify whether she would support federal mandates for busing, she said: "I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district." But Biden's poll numbers are falling as a result of Harris's theatrical attack.

Harris, who served as San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California Attorney General from 2011 to 2017, describes herself as a "progressive prosecutor." Harris's prosecutorial record, however, is far from progressive. Through her apologia for egregious prosecutorial misconduct, her refusal to allow DNA testing for a probably innocent death row inmate, her opposition to legislation requiring the attorney general's office to independently investigate police shootings and more, she has made a significant contribution to the sordid history of injustice she decries.

July 11

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandals

nicole junderman johnny vedmore graphic

johnny vedmore twitterThe Swamp, Investigation: The Epstein Associate Nobody's Talking About: The IDF-Linked Bond Girl Infiltrating the UK NHS, Johnny Vedmore (shown in Twitter photo, UK based Singer, Songwriter, Political Investigative Journalist, Legalize Cannabis Advocate and Leader of UWIP -- The United Wales Independence Party), July 11, 2019. FIFA Corruption, the Panama Papers, the Mossad, and Nicole Junkermann.

I have a story to tell you. A story that causes my heart to pound and my blood pressure to rise as I type each and every word. A true story of a woman of great wealth and power, who rode on Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express” private jet on several occasions. She appears to be a German-born Israeli state intelligence operative based in London. An ex-model whose name appeared in the Panama Papers from the Mossack Fonseca leaks and who became embroiled in a FIFA corruption scandal with Sepp Blatter and his family.

She is perhaps the closest example that you could possibly find to a real-life “Bond Girl.” Yet, she is almost completely unknown to the majority of us.

July 8

djt melania epsteinDonald Trump, future wife Melania Knauss [Trump], and Jeffrey Epstein At Mar-A-Lago
Epstein poses for a photo with some powerful friends.
Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty Images

Esquire, Commentary: Jeffrey Epstein Allegedly Shows There's an Even Darker Side to the Masters-of-the-Universe Mentality, Charles P. Pierce, July 8, 2019. Who else at the top of politics and big business represents the same? It took me a couple of tries to wade through the muck of the indictment that the Southern District of New York dropped on Jeffrey Epstein on Monday. Every time I got sort of rolling, I'd run into a sentence like this: "Epstein typically would also masturbate during these sexualized encounters, ask victims to touch him while he masturbated, and touch victims' genitals with his hands or with sex toys."

It is impossible that Epstein's many influential friends and houseguests didn't know about this. Apparently, Epstein was not shy about his predilections. The current President* of the United States was a frequent running buddy, and he said in New York magazine back in 2002: "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

And before the flying monkeys take wing, let me say that, if any Democratic politician was involved in these late Roman Empire hootenannys, that person should be convicted and buried under the jail as well.

This is not a stick-to-politics moment. This is going to screw up the political moment good and proper, though. Unless Epstein cuts a quick deal at the encouragement of all those people who suddenly don't know him anymore, this is going to be a long and garish public spectacle. It's going to devour news cycle after news cycle.

And if anything emerges connecting the president* directly to Epstein's alleged crimes, there isn't going to be a news cycle anymore. There will be only this story, over and over again.

Mueller Probe Follow up

robert mueller testifying flickr

National Law Journal, Judge Warns Prosecutors About Public Statements in Case Against Russian Firm, C. Ryan Barber, July 8, 2019.  US District Judge Dabney Friedrich admonished prosecutors for statements about an indicted Russian company, but she declined to initiate contempt proceedings. "Nothing about the government's conduct to date suggests a flagrant disregard for the court's authority," Friedrich said.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Robert Mueller III (shown in a file photo via Flick testifying) violated court rules in public statements about a Russian firm accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, a federal judge in Washington has ruled, while stopping short of disciplining either Justice Department leader.

dabney friedrich nbcIn a July 1 opinion, unsealed Monday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich [a Trump nominee shown at right in an NBC photo] said Barr and Mueller inappropriately linked a defendant, Concord Management and Consulting, to the Russian government, even though prosecutors have not expressly drawn a connection between the firm and the Kremlin. Friedrich, citing language in the Mueller report and Barr’s public comments on the Russia investigation, said the statements violated a court rule that prohibits lawyers in criminal cases from sharing information or opinions that could compromise the fairness of a trial.

Some of the statements could be viewed as ambiguous individually, Friedrich said in her ruling. But taken together, the statements “drew a clear connection between the defendants and a foreign government accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.” Friedrich said in her ruling: “The government’s statements were also prejudicial for another reason: they provided an opinion about the defendants’ guilt and the strength of the evidence.”

The dispute had unfolded largely under seal until Monday. Friedrich referenced a closed-door hearing in May at which she ordered ordered the government “to refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government or its agencies.” Friedrich said the lack of any “bad faith” by prosecutors counseled against proceeding with a criminal contempt action.

Concord Management, represented by a defense team from Reed Smith, had argued in April that Barr and Mueller should be held in contempt for releasing “prohibited information and opinions” in the 448-page report on the special counsel investigation and public statements that followed its release.

Describing the report and Barr’s public statements as a “broadside,” Reed Smith partner Eric Dubelier argued that the attorney general and special counsel had effectively proclaimed that Concord Management, along with other Russian companies and individuals charged in the case, participated in an interference campaign led by the Kremlin. “This despite the fact that the indictment contains no such allegation,” Dubelier said.

July 1

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Torture of Julian Assange, Paul Craig Roberts, right, July 1, 2019. In a few days July 4th will be upon us. We will hear paul craig roberts head sternendless nonsense from insouciant speakers and editorialists about what a great democracy we are, having won our freedom from being a British colony.

One thing the United States most certainly is not is a democracy. A democracy requires an informed electorate, and the United States most certainly does not have an informed electorate. The American media, indeed, the entirety of the Western print and TV media, functions as a Propaganda Ministry for Washington and the ruling oligarchies. The explanations are controlled to serve the agendas of the ruling elites. The persecution and torture of Julian Assange proves conclusively that the First Amendment is a dead-letter Amendment.

Without an honest Fourth Estate it is impossible to prevent a democracy from becoming a tyranny. In America tyranny is far advanced. Suppose that Americans somehow became aware of the truth about Julian Assange's total innocence that has been disclosed by Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. What could they do about it, short of violent revolution and complete elimination of the ruling elites?

Formerly, the US Constitution was revered, but today even law faculties and judges see the Constitution as something to find a way around. The vast majority of Americans themselves have no idea that the Constitution is the bulwark of their independence and liberty.

nils melzer un photoNils Melzer (shown in a United Nations photo) describes how his investigation of Assange's treatment liberated him from the totally false picture that has been created in order to establish the legal precedent that government crimes against humanity cannot be revealed. In the "American Democracy," the people are not permitted to know.

"In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange (shown at right) had been systematically julian assange indicter imageslandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.

"Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

"This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.

None responded positively."

Nils Melzer is a Swiss academic, author and practitioner in the field of international law. Since 1 November 2016, Melzer has been serving as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

June

June 30

Constitutional Crisis

william barr smile fox screengrab Small

atlantic logoThe Atlantic, Opinion: Bill Barr’s Dangerous Pursuit of Executive Power, Donald Ayer (Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush), June 30,2019. Shown in a screenshot above, Barr is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

Buried behind our president’s endless stream of lies and malicious self-serving remarks are actions that far transcend any reasonable Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)understanding of his legal authority. Donald Trump (shown in a Defense Department photo) disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Witness his assertion of a right to flout all congressional subpoenas; his continuing refusal to disclose his tax returns, notwithstanding Congress’s statutory right to secure them; his specific actions to bar congressional testimony by government officials; and his personal attacks on judges who dare to subject the acts of his administration to judicial review.

Attorney General William Barr has not had the lead public role in advancing the president’s claims to these unprecedented powers, which have come to us, like most everything about this president, as spontaneous assertions of Trump’s own will. To the contrary, in securing william barr o 1992his confirmation as attorney general, Barr (shown in a 1992 photo) successfully used his prior service as attorney general in the by-the-book, norm-following administration of George H. W. Bush to present himself as a mature adult dedicated to the rule of law who could be expected hold the Trump administration to established legal rules.

Having known Barr for four decades, including preceding him as deputy attorney general in the Bush Administration, I knew him to be a fierce advocate of unchecked presidential power, so my own hopes were outweighed by skepticism that this would come true.

But the first few months of his current tenure, and in particular, and his handling of the Mueller report suggest something very different — that he is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president.

June 29

Palmer Report, Opinion: President Jimmy Carter just dropped a house on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 29, 2019. As Donald Trump has continued to debase and criminalize the presidency, he’s destroyed most of the norms of the office from within. That’s left others in the no-win position of trying to decide whether to ignore the norms of the office from the outside. For instance, the living former U.S. presidents have each taken different and measured approaches to calling out Trump’s horridness. That is, until now.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday, President Jimmy Carter – long viewed as one of the highest character people to ever hold the office – flat out stated that Donald Trump isn’t a legitimate president because Russia helped alter the outcome of the election on his behalf. It’s not a big deal for you and me to state this obvious fact. But when Carter said it, his words carried the weight of the office itself, as he’s one of only four people on the planet who have previously occupied and are still around to speak on the office’s behalf.

jimmy carterThe whole thing was even more of a bombshell when you consider that President Carter didn’t merely say that Donald Trump is a bad president or a failed president – he essentially said that Trump is not president. Keep in mind that while Carter has always been known to call it like he sees it, he’s always done it in gentlemanly fashion – he’s a ninety-four year old guy who builds houses for the homeless, after all – so when he comes out swinging like this, it jeff flake omeans a whole lot.

President Carter’s words were met with widespread agreement and praise. Not everyone was happy, though. Retired GOP Senator Jeff Flake, left, tweeted that “This is an awful thing for one American President to say about another. Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.” But then Flake’s tweet got hit with about twenty times as many comments as likes – a sign that most people were siding with Carter over Flake.

June 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Jimmy Carter says Trump wouldn’t be president without help from Russia, John Wagner, June 28, 2019. Former president Jimmy Carter said Friday that he believes a full investigation of the 2016 election would show that President Trump prevailed jimmy carter portrait deftnewsbecause of Russian interference on his behalf and otherwise would not be in office.

“There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” said Carter, shown in a file photo. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

His made his comments during a panel discussion at a conference in Leesburg, Va., sponsored by the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1982 that focuses on human rights.

Pressed by historian Jon Meacham, who moderated the discussion, on whether he considers Trump to be “an illegitimate president,” Carter replied: “Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Daily, E. Jean Carroll's two confidantes corroborate the account of her alleged sexual attack by Trump, Megan Tuohy hosted by Michael Barbaro, June 2019 [29:35 min. podcast). 

e jean carrollThe writer E. Jean Carroll, left, came forward last week with explosive accusations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. Today, the two women she confided in after the alleged attack discuss it publicly for the first time.

Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, spoke with Ms. Carroll, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin. With Jessica Bennett and Alexandra Alter, she has published an investigative profile of Ms. Carroll, in which her friends and confidantes speak publicly for the first time.

June 27

Court Permits Extreme Gerrymandering 

supreme court headshots 2019

Roll Call, Supreme Court won’t step in to partisan gerrymandering cases, Todd Ruger, June 27, 2019. Ruling will affect how congressional districts are redrawn after 2020 census.

A divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that federal courts can’t rein in politicians who draw political maps to entrench a partisan advantage, a decision that will influence the redrawing of congressional districts after the 2020 census.

The justices instead said that was a political question and gave that task to Congress and the states, pointing to efforts from House Democrats to require independent commissions to oversee redistricting in each state, as well as the handful of states where voters did the same through ballot initiatives.

The decision keeps the current congressional maps in North Carolina and Maryland. It bodes poorly for similar partisan gerrymandering challenges in Ohio and Michigan, where lower court judges had ordered new congressional districts.

Critics say the decision gives a green light to the state officials and lawmakers to carve up their states in a way that strips voters of the ability to choose who represents them in Congress or the statehouse.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Leaves Citizenship Question on Census in Doubt, Adam Liptak, June 27, 2019. In a major setback for the White House, the Supreme Court on Thursday sent back to a lower court a case on whether the census should contain a citizenship question, leaving in doubt whether the question would be on the 2020 census.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, writing for the majority, said the explanation offered by the Trump administration for adding the question — asking whether a person is a citizen — was inadequate. But he left open the possibility that it could provide an adequate answer.

“The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law, after all, is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public,” the chief justice wrote. “Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.”

us census bureauThe practical impact of the decision was not immediately clear. While the question is barred for now, it is at least possible that the administration will be able to offer adequate justifications for it. But time is short, as the census forms must be printed shortly. The decision was fractured, but the key passage in the chief justice’s majority opinion was joined only by the court’s four-member liberal wing.

Government experts predicted that asking the question would cause many immigrants to refuse to participate in the census, leading to an undercount of about 6.5 million people. That could reduce Democratic representation when congressional districts are allocated in 2021 and affect how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending are distributed.

The administration’s stated reason for adding the question — to help enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to protect minority voters — has been questioned by three federal judges. Recently discovered evidence from the computer files of a Republican strategist undermined the administration’s rationale and suggested that the true reason for the question was to help “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”

The case — United States Department of Commerce v. New York, No. 18-966 — has its roots in the text of the Constitution, which requires an “actual enumeration” every 10 years, with the House to be apportioned based on “the whole number of persons in each state.”

But the government has long used the census to gather information beyond raw population data. In 2020, for instance, the short form that goes to every household will include questions about sex, age, race and Hispanic or Latino origin. Some of those questions may discourage participation, too.

June 26

Frederick News Post (MD), Opinion: Waking up to Empire, Barry Kissin, June 26, 2019. In the June 18 Frederick News-Post, page A1, from The Associated Press: “It appears as if Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign on the world. … The development follows apparent attacks last week in the Strait of Hormuz on [two] oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it laid mines in the 1980s targeting oil tankers around the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes.”

This is pro-war propaganda — once again part of a campaign to justify American aggression, echoing Pompeo’s determination within hours of the attacks that Iran was responsible. Evidence ignored by the AP (and still by Pompeo) includes the statement by the Japanese owner of one of the tankers that the U.S. is wrong about the way the attack was carried out, that his ship was attacked on the starboard side by a flying object, not by a mine or torpedo. David Stockman, former director of management and budget under Reagan, posts at antiwar.com: “You can virtually bet when the dust settles [these tanker assaults] are false flags … manufactured pretexts for war.”

Until now, most Americans have been insulated from the ramifications of our Global War on Terror. That drastically changes in the event of a war with Iran. We are running out of places to blow up short of igniting global collapse — from which none are insulated except perhaps members of our ruling class of warmongers.

There is a ray of hope that Americans are finally wising up. A few elements in mainstream media are picking up on it. I have demonstrated in many previous letters and op-eds that both of our mainstream political parties are fully supportive of our militarism and our empire. There are very few exceptions, such as Republican Sen. Rand Paul and his father, Ron Paul, who have consistently opposed our Global War on Terror and confronted the litany of lies (pretexts).

In general, though, it is the Republican Party and its supporters who most consistently appear to approve on mindless patriotic grounds our every aggression and war crime. (You know, the “pro-life” crowd.) And so I am choosing a Fox News broadcast to illustrate how the run-up to war with Iran is being questioned even in the mainstream.

On June 13, Tucker Carlson interviewed a pollster from the Eurasia Group Foundation who reported that 80 percent of Americans want a “diplomatic solution” to our conflict with Iran, and that of the remaining 20 percent, a majority believed “Iran had a right to have nuclear weapons” as a ”deterrent,” leaving a mere 8 percent who favored “launching some sort of preventive war on Iran.” Tucker then comments that “this is one of those topics, foreign policy more broadly, war in the Middle East specifically, that proceeds really with no reference at all to what the American public wants. That’s not how a democracy is supposed to operate, is it?”

No — that’s how an empire operates, based not on what the public wants but on what its ruling class wants, which includes the owners of mainstream media and the principals in our military-industrial-intelligence complex.

Everybody knows that Congress has been complicit in all of this.

The loudest people in Congress righteously demand more interventions, more war, greater military and black ops budgets. We have no visible champions of peace, the only way out of the swirling whirlpool we are in.

It will not do to rely on the patriotic myth that American soldiers and special operatives fight for freedom and democracy all across the world. Quite the opposite. They fight for a corrupt, power-mad and cruel empire.

June 24

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Solution to Trump’s Iran Mayhem, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, June 24, 2019. Undoubtedly, President Trump is fantasizing about the possibility of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for deciding at the last minute to not bomb Iran in retaliation for Iran’s shoot-down of a Pentagon drone. Apparently experiencing a crisis of conscience, Trump called off the strike when he learned that it would kill an estimated 150 people, which he decided would be disproportionate to the downing of an unmanned drone.

Meanwhile, Trump is not only continuing his brutal system of sanctions on Iran but actually ratcheting them up even more. His goal? To kill more Iranians through economic deprivation, either through starvation, illness, or domestic plane crashes arising from an inability to secure needed parts for maintenance and repair.

Should the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to a man who resolves his own crises and then chooses to kill innocent people with sanctions rather than bombs as a way to achieve a political end? Even a blind man can see that Trump’s actions toward Iran have been entirely belligerent, all with the aim of squeezing the Iranian citizenry and bullying their government officials into complying with his dictates or else face a “defensive” U.S. bombing attack.

It’s helpful to remind ourselves of what happened here.

Iran entered into a deal with the U.S. government under the presidency of Barrack Obama. Pursuant to the deal, Iran would agree not to acquire nuclear weapons and the U.S. government would lift the brutal U.S. sanctions that were impoverishing and even killing the Iranian citizenry.

Complying with the agreement, Iran gave up its nuclear weapons programs, fully expecting the U.S. government to comply with its end of the bargain by lifting its sanctions.

Then Donald Trump entered the presidency and proceeded to immediately tear up the deal, knowing full well that Iran had compiled with it with the expectation that the U.S. government would fulfill its end of the bargain. Not only did Trump not lift the sanctions, he doubled down and began enforcing them even more brutally than Obama had. In other words, Iran was double-crossed by the U.S. government operating under Trump. (I wonder if North Korean officials are noticing this.)

Throughout this ordeal, Trump has presented himself as a good guy, saying that he’s ready to “negotiate” and calling on the Iranians to just sit down and talk. In the process of “persuading” Iranian officials to “negotiate,” Trump has played the classic role of the bully — doubling down on sanctions against the citizenry of a poor Third World country with the aim of forcing its government to sit down and submit to any terms that Trump dictates.

Why would any regime want to sit down and “negotiate” under those circumstances, especially with a man who can’t be trusted to keep agreements entered into by U.S. presidents who have preceded him?

To ratchet up the pressure, Trump has, at the same time, been doing everything he can to provoke an “incident” to justify a U.S. military attack on Iran, one that would enable him to exclaim, “We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We were just minding our own business! We are now just defending ourselves with our bombings of this impoverished, Third World country.”

The Iran mayhem goes far beyond Donald Trump. It should cause Americans to question the entire foreign policy/military paradigm under which the United States has been operating for more than a century, a paradigm based on empire, world policing, foreign interventionism, and national-security statism.

America was founded as a limited-government republic and its founding foreign policy was non-interventionism in the affairs of other nations. In fact, if the American people had been told after the Constitutional Convention that the Constitution was bringing into existence a national-security state and a foreign policy based on foreign interventionism and world policing, they would have thought it was a joke. They would have summarily rejected the Constitution and just continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, a type of governmental system that they had had for 13 years, one in which the federal government’s powers were so weak that it didn’t even have the power to tax.

The problems began when the U.S. government abandoned its founding policies of a limited-government republic and non-interventionism and instead became a national-security state and embraced a foreign policy of empire and interventionism. This is what gave the country a huge, permanent military establishment, both domestically and in foreign countries. It also gave the nation assassinations, torture, coups, regime-change operations, alliances with dictatorial regimes, installation of dictatorial regimes, sanctions, embargoes, illegal invasions and occupations, undeclared wars, wars of aggression, terrorism, a war on terrorism, out-of-control spending and debt, and, of course, the destruction of American liberty and privacy.

June 23

Trump Team, Allies

jamal khashoggi entering consulate

Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist, enters the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey last year to process paperwork for his forthcoming marriage as his fiance waited on the street. Saudis chopped him to pieces inside, as documented by a gruesome report by the United Nations last week based in part on audio records of the murder-torture (Surveillance photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia, Michael D. Shear, June 23, 2019.  President Trump on Sunday shrugged off the brutal dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, just days after a United Nations report described how a team of Saudi assassins called Mr. Khashoggi a “sacrificial animal” before his murder.

donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaThe U.N. report urged an F.B.I. investigation into the slaying. But in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump said the episode had already been thoroughly investigated. He said the Middle East is “a vicious, hostile place” and noted that Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner with the United States.

“I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” the president told Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator. “I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

Just days after pulling back from striking Iran for its downing of an American surveillance drone, Mr. Trump also said he was “not looking for war,” but added that if the United States went to war with Iran, “it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.”

mike pompeo state dept photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Pompeo, a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran, Edward Wong and Michael Crowley, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (shown in a State Department photo), one of the longest surviving members of President Trump’s cabinet, pushed him to launch a missile strike against Iran.

In the days leading up to President Trump’s decision on whether to launch a missile strike against Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commanded the stage.

After warning that Mr. Trump was prepared to use force because of Iran’s suspected role in oil tanker attacks, Mr. Pompeo flew to Florida on Monday to strategize with generals at Central Command. Back in Washington, he briefed the foreign minister of the European Union on intelligence. By Thursday, he was pressing the case in the White House Situation Room for a strike.

Mr. Pompeo was steering Mr. Trump toward one of the most consequential actions of the administration. Only at the last minute did the president reverse course and cancel the strike.

The confrontation with Iran has put a spotlight on the extent of Mr. Pompeo’s influence with Mr. Trump. In an administration that churns through cabinet members at a dizzying pace, few have survived as long as Mr. Pompeo — and none have as much stature, a feat he has achieved through an uncanny ability to read the president’s desires and translate them into policy and public messaging. He has also taken advantage of a leadership void at the Defense Department, which has gone nearly six months without a confirmed secretary.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump compares himself to Kavanaugh in latest sexual assault allegation, Colby Itkowitz, Beth Reinhard, David Weigel, June 23, 2019 (print ed.). “You can’t do that for the sake of publicity,” the president says of such accusations, in general. resident brett kavanaughTrump compared himself to Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, on Saturday morning, following a fresh allegation that Trump sexually assaulted a woman in the mid-1990s.

Trump vehemently denied the accusation and said it was akin to the claims of sexual assault that roiled Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court in 2018.

“People have to be careful because they are playing with very dangerous territory,” Trump told reporters outside the White House before departing to Camp David. “When they do that, and it’s happening more and more, when you look at what happened to Justice Kavanaugh and you look at what happened to others, you can’t do that for the sake of publicity.”

e jean carrollE. Jean Carroll, left, a magazine writer and advice columnist, alleges that in 1995 or 1996, she encountered Trump at a high-end department store in Manhattan and agreed to help him shop for a gift for a woman. It was there, she says, that Trump attacked her in a dressing room.

She is telling her story for the first time in a new book, excerpts of which were published in New York magazine.

June 22

Mueller Sellout?

robert mueller screenshot washington post

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Time to face it: Robert Mueller screwed us all, Bill Palmer (right, Palmer Report editor and publisher), June 22, 2019. When Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, he was supposed to investigate and prosecute any crimes that Donald Trump and his campaign committed while conspiring with Russia to alter the outcome of the 2016 election. Two years later, Mueller’s work is done – and it’s time to admit that he screwed us all by simply not doing his job.

bill palmer report logo headerYes, there are still a dozen Mueller-spawned criminal cases in progress. But so what? We know who they’re not against. Robert Mueller decided that because of a forty year old DOJ memo that most legal experts have dismissed as meaningless, he didn’t even want to try to indict Donald Trump, despite having discovered that Trump committed a double digit number of felonies. Mueller also decided not to indict Donald Trump Jr for the crimes he committed in plain sight, while offering an insulting explanation that Junior was too stupid to have known he was committing a crime. And Mueller decided not to indict any of the dozen or more White House advisers who criminally conspired with Trump to commit obstruction of justice. So what was this guy even doing?

Mueller took down Paul Manafort, right, Rick Gates, and (perhaps) Roger Stone. Fine. Good. They’re all career criminals. But he spent two years doing nothing beyond taking down paul manafort mugthese guys – who are relatively unimportant in the scheme of things – while letting Donald Trump drag the country through the gutter the entire time. For that matter, Mueller gave Michael Flynn a free pass for conspiring with America’s enemies, and in exchange all Mueller got was evidence against Trump that knew all along he wasn’t going to indict Trump for. So what the hell was the point of any of this?

Robert Mueller is the only one who knows for sure why he spent two years farting around and pulling his punches, while leaving us all under the impression that he was investigating Donald Trump’s crimes so he could bring Trump to justice. Even if Mueller were under unfairly tight restrictions from Trump’s corrupt DOJ the whole time, Mueller still failed to warn us that his investigation was going to be a years-long waste of time.

The only solace here – if you can call it that – is that because the Republicans were in charge of the House and Senate for nearly the entire time that Robert Mueller was playing footsie instead of doing his job, it’s not as if the GOP Congress would have used that time to investigate Trump. And yes, while Mueller’s plan to simply release a report was wimpy, the real villain here is William Barr, for flat out lying about what Mueller’s report said.

June 21

Another Assault Claim Against Trump

new york magazine logoNew York Magazine, E. Jean Carroll: “Trump attacked me in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman,” Sarah Jones, June 21, 2019 (excerpted). The cover story New York published today details an encounter the writer E. Jean Carroll had over two decades ago with Donald J. Trump, in which the then–real-estate mogul allegedly assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan. Trump is shown in a graphic by A Banana Peeled.

donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaThe episode is one of six incidents Carroll details in the article of attacks on her by men over the course of her life. Another episode involves the disgraced former CEO of CBS, Les Moonves. The cover story is an excerpt from her newest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, which will be published on July 2 by St. Martin’s Press.

When Carroll meets Donald Trump in Bergdorf Goodman, the encounter starts as a friendly one. Trump recognizes her as “that advice lady”; Carroll recognizes him as “that real-estate tycoon.” Trump tells Carroll that he’s there to buy a gift for “a girl,” and though we don’t learn the identity of this mystery woman, Carroll places the ensuing incident in late 1995 or early 1996, during which time Trump was married to Marla Maples.

When Trump asks Carroll to advise him on what to buy, she agrees, and the two eventually make their way to the lingerie section. Trump suggests a lace bodysuit and encourages Carroll to try it on; she, deflecting, jokingly suggests that he try it on instead. After they reach the dressing rooms, e jean carroll twitterevents turn violent. In Carroll’s account, Trump shoves her against a wall inside a dressing room, pulls down her tights, and, “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”

Carroll, 75 (shown in her Twitter photo), is a venerated Elle advice columnist. At the time of the attack, she was well known in her own right. A frequent feature writer for magazines like Playboy and Esquire, she had her own television show on America’s Talking, the precursor to e jean carroll cover new york magazineMSNBC.

Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and the 14th to accuse Moonves of similar offenses. The incidents, which date from the 1990s, are highly specific and related with dark humor.

Carroll says that she disclosed the Trump incident to two friends at the time. New York has verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time, and has confirmed that Bergdorf Goodman kept no security footage that would prove or disprove Carroll’s story. New York has also sought comment from Moonves and Trump. Through his representative, Moonves told New York that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. A senior White House official said in a statement, “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”

The Hill.com, Prosecutors examining whether Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy offered clients access to inauguration: report, John Bowden, June 21, 2019. Federal prosecutors are elliott broidyinvestigating whether Elliott Broidy, the top GOP fundraiser who previously served as the Republican National Committee's (RNC) deputy finance chairman, used his position to improperly offer access to President Trump's inaugural team.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that investigators are looking at whether Broidy,  right, was paid by his clients, including an intelligence firm, for access to inaugural events at his invitation, which would violate campaign finance laws or possibly statutes against money laundering.

According to the Journal, Broidy invited several officials from Angola and Romania to inaugural events, introducing some of them to members of Congress despite not being registered as a lobbyist for foreign countries. Weeks later, his company would be paid $6 million by Angolan officials for his services.

A spokesman for Broidy's company, Cirinicus, told the Journal that the guests were approved by the State Department and did not comment further on the investigation. The Trump inaugural committee reportedly told the Journal that it had responded to a request for information on the case from prosecutors in April.

rnc logoBroidy resigned from the RNC last April after it was revealed that he had paid a woman $1.6 million after she became pregnant with his child. He was also accused late last year of physical abuse by a former Playboy model. He has denied those allegations.

“This person tried to extract money from me by making up false, malicious and disgusting allegations," Broidy said in a statement last year. "I have acknowledged making the mistake of having an affair, and I entered a confidential agreement to protect my family’s privacy.

"I honored my agreement until her lawyer breached it—and then, when I failed to pay her demands, she did what blackmailers do and went public with her lies. I will vigorously defend myself against these false and defamatory allegations, and I will seek all relief available to me under the settlement agreement against her and her attorneys.”

The Atlantic, AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence, Peter Beinart (Professor of journalism at the City University of New York), June 21, 2019. Ocasio-Cortez’s “concentration camps” comment questions an old orthodoxy: that only other countries—and not the U.S. — are capable of evil.

alexandria ocasio cortez officialOn Monday night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared in an Instagram video that “the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.” The following morning, Liz Cheney tweeted, “Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.” After that, the fight was on.

On its face, the fight was about using concentration camp outside the context of the Holocaust. In a subsequent tweet, Ocasio-Cortez linked to an Esquire article noting that the term pre-dates World War II. It quoted the historian Andrea Pitzer, who defines concentration camp as the “mass detention of civilians without trial.” To Ocasio-Cortez’s critics, this was too cute by half. Whatever the term’s historical origins or technical meaning, in American popular discourse concentration camp evokes the Holocaust. By using the term, they argued, the representative from New York was equating Donald Trump’s immigration policies with Nazi genocide, whether she admitted it or not.

But whether you believe Ocasio-Cortez’s terminology was appropriate or offensive, the deeper question is why it provoked such a ferocious debate. The answer: Because for the first time in decades, the left is mounting a serious challenge to American exceptionalism.

June 20

U.S. Pounds War Drums Against Iran

iran wants war graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Want War With Iran? Ask Congress First, Editorial Board, June 20, 2019. June 20, 2019. The Trump administration’s campaign of maximum pressure and minimal diplomacy are bringing the two countries ever closer to blows. From the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 to the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, maritime incidents, shrouded in the fog of uncertainty, have lured the United States into wars on foreign shoals. Which is why cooler heads must prevail — and Congress must be consulted — as American and Iranian forces inch closer to open conflict in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

american flagThe downing of an unmanned American surveillance aircraft on Thursday by an Iranian surface-to-air missile is another worrying click of the ratchet between the Trump administration, which unilaterally abandoned the 2015 nuclear accord for a campaign of “maximum pressure,” and an Iranian government suffering from tighter economic sanctions.

The United States has blamed Iran for recent attacks on shipping and pipelines in the Persian Gulf; Iran says it was not responsible. The United States has responded to the tensions by building up forces in the region.

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Shoots Down a U.S. Drone, Escalating Tensions, Daniel Victor, David D. Kirkpatrick, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper, June 20, 2019. Iran shot down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, both nations said, but they differed on the crucial issue of whether the aircraft had violated Iranian airspace, in the latest escalation of tensions that have raised fears of war between the two countries.

Iranian officials said the drone was over Iran, which the American military denied — an important distinction in determining who was at fault — and each side accused the other of being the aggressor.

Both said the downing occurred at 4:05 a.m. Iranian time on Thursday, or 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday in Washington. The drone “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz,” the United States Central Command said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Mr. Trump repeated his assertion from earlier in the day, saying “Iran made a very big mistake,” in brief remarks to reporters on Thursday afternoon. He also dismissed Iran’s assertion that the unmanned drone was flying in Iranian air space. The drone, Mr. Trump said, was flying over international waters, which has been “scientifically documented.”

Iran's Strategy?

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Iran’s Gambit: Force the World to Rein In Trump, Max Fisher, June 20, 2019. The Trump administration has portrayed Iran’s recent moves, including its threat to resume stockpiling low-enriched uranium in violation of the nuclear agreement, as proof that Iran is an implacable rogue state, bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, that can be contained only through the threat of military force.

Iran has indeed often acted as a regional provocateur, but in this case some nonpartisan experts on Iran and on United States policy in the Middle East see something different.

They say Iran appears to be pursuing a provocative but calibrated strategy to counter what its leaders see as a potentially existential American threat — as severe economic sanctions strangle the economy and cut off vital oil revenues — as well as to preserve the nuclear agreement.

In doing so, Iran is falling back on tactics associated with its reputation as a rogue state, including asymmetric military escalation, like threatening oil shipments, though Iran denies American accusations that it attacked tankers last week, or the downing of an American drone on Thursday (in disputed circumstances), and nuclear blackmail. It is doing so, analysts say, because such tactics are part of the basis of Iranian power and because the United States has closed off other avenues for responding.

The result, the experts say, is an Iranian strategy, rational but risky, that increases the likelihood of the nuclear agreement’s collapse and even of outright war in the hopes of compelling the world to avert both.

“Iran lashing out is a way for it to show the rest of the world, ‘Look, we’ve been acting in a relatively restrained manner in the year since Trump pulled out of the deal. But now we can’t,’ ” said Dina Esfandiary, a Harvard University expert on Middle Eastern security issues.

She said Tehran had settled on a “two-prong strategy of showing that they, too, can apply pressure by being a pain but also saying, ‘We’re willing to talk.’ ”

President's 126th Visit To Trump Holdings

washington post logoWashington Post, Money follows Trump when he visits his clubs, as Republicans and officials pay to be with him, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O'Connell and Michelle Ye Hee Lee​, June 20, 2019. President Trump’s trips have brought his businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue, according to a Washington Post analysis. When President Trump finished the first official rally of his reelection campaign this week, he got on Air Force One. But he didn’t go home to Washington. Instead, he flew 190 miles in the opposite direction — to visit his own Doral golf resort, outside Miami.

The resort’s profits have fallen since Trump took office. But it had a major event planned for the next day, a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection campaign.

It would be his 126th visit to one of his properties since taking office. And this visit — like more than a dozen before it — would bring paying customers, allowing Trump to play a double role. The president would be the headliner and the caterer.

Trump has bigger designs for the Doral club: He has suggested holding next year’s Group of Seven meeting — a gathering of world leaders — at Doral or another of his luxury resorts, current and former White House staffers said.

New Military Trial for 9/11 Defendants

ny times logoNew York Times, New Judge in the 9/11 Trial at Guantánamo Inherits a Complex History, Carol Rosenberg, June 20, 2019. When he took over this week as the judge in the military trial of the five defendants charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Col. W. Shane Cohen inherited 23,039 pages of public and secret transcripts; a vault with secret evidence withheld from defense lawyers by prosecutors invoking a national security exception; approximately 500 substantive legal case motions, some awaiting rulings; and more legal arguments and filings in the pipeline.

shane cohen judgeHe is the third person since 2012 to preside over the complex, slow-moving proceedings, which have been bogged down over how to handle what the United States did to the terrorist suspects from 2002 to 2006 in the C.I.A.’s secret network of black sites.

More than 17 years have passed since the attacks by Al Qaeda — and seven since Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the plot, and four accused accomplices were arraigned in the case, which carries the death penalty — and Colonel Cohen, right, could be the first judge to set a trial date.

On his first day on the bench, he described himself to lawyers in the case as a Mormon with “a very Jewish name” who felt shock but no anger over the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11.

Media / 9//11 Evidence

ae911 truth continuing education photo AIA

Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth), Opinion: American Institute of Architects Terminates AE911Truth’s Continuing Education Provider Status, Staff report, June 20, 2019. On May 31, 2019, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) was notified by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) that it was terminating our status as an AIA continuing education provider. (A previous seminar is shown above, led by AE911Truth President Richard Gage, at the screen in front.)

AE911Truth was first approved as an AIA continuing education provider in June 2016. This enabled architects to take our courses and receive the continuing education credits they needed to maintain their AIA membership and architecture license.

During our nearly three years as a provider, we offered six live and on-demand courses, each of which was approved by the AIA prior to being introduced. Between September 2017 and April 2018, the AIA conducted an audit of one of our six courses, during which we made a number of minor revisions that brought the course into full compliance with AIA guidelines. The AIA was planning to audit our remaining courses after completing the audit of the first course, but the auditor never contacted us again.

According to the AIA’s managing director of professional development and resources, Stephen Martin, the AIA conducted a more recent review of our courses and, based on the results of that review as well as “past audit concerns,” determined that the “content of the courses and mission of [our] organization [were] incompatible with the mission and intent of the AIA’s continuing education program.” The AIA provided no explanation for its determination and did not respond when asked to provide the results of its review.

In the wake of the AIA’s silent refusal to provide any basis for its determination, we are left to conclude that the abrupt termination of our provider status was motivated not by any incurable deficiencies in our courses but by the AIA’s apparent bias against our mission and against the fundamentally sound analysis contained in our courses. If the mission of AE911Truth and the content of our courses are incompatible with the mission and intent of the AIA’s continuing education program, then something is clearly wrong with the AIA’s continuing education program.

Paradoxically, the AIA’s termination of our provider status comes at the same time as our relatively new outreach program to the engineering profession, known as Project Due Diligence, is beginning to take off. Of the hundreds of engineers we have presented to at local chapter meetings and at state and national conferences, not one has expressed confidence in the official reports issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology after hearing our critique of them. Indeed, the response to our presentation has been overwhelmingly positive.

In our decade of outreach to the AIA and its membership, we have done the very job that the AIA has neglected to do: educate thousands of AIA members about the three worst structural failures in modern history. That the AIA is now making it even harder for us to educate architects — after barring us in 2017 from exhibiting at its national conventions, which we had done from 2009 to 2016 — and will no longer award continuing education credits to architects who take our courses, marks a sad day for the profession.

Nevertheless, we are confident in our ability to disseminate knowledge of the WTC evidence to the architecture and engineering professions. And we know that, in time, organizations like the AIA will be forced to face the truth of the World Trade Center’s explosive demolition and reckon with the fact that they did nothing — or worse — when given the opportunity to be on the right side of history.

For further discussion of this development, we invite you to tune in to this week’s episode of 9/11 Free Fall with AIA members Richard Gage and Henry MacLean and civil engineer Roland Angle, who is the leader of AE911Truth’s Project Due Diligence.

June 18

Sudden DoD Change

pentagon dc skyline dod photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee, Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper, June 18, 2019. President Trump on Tuesday pulled the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan, right, to be the permanent defense secretary, saying on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan would devote more time to his family.

patrick shanahan oThe move leaves the Pentagon without a permanent leader at a time of escalating tensions with Iran after attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the explosions that damaged the two tankers.

raytheon logoMr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position.

At the Pentagon, officials were internally discussing that a routine F.B.I. investigation for cabinet nominees was dragging on for Mr. Shanahan because of his divorce, which included an allegation from his ex-wife — denied by Mr. Shanahan — that he punched her in the stomach. Mr. Shanahan said that his ex-wife started the fight, and his spokesman said that she was arrested and charged with domestic violence, charges which were eventually dropped.

According to court documents viewed by The New York Times, in 2011 Mr. Shanahan’s son, who was 17 at the time, hit his mother repeatedly with a baseball bat, and she was hospitalized.

Department of Defense SealIn an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, Mr. Shanahan said that “bad things can happen to good families.” He called the episode “a tragedy,” and said that dredging it up publicly “will ruin my son’s life.”

During his tenure, Mr. Shanahan was criticized for slighting Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s chief competitor, for its mismanagement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an aircraft that is years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget.

He was widely viewed as acquiescing to the White House and other government officials, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. Mr. Shanahan famously said that the Pentagon would not be viewed as the “Department of No.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has left the building, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2019. Last month, even as the Trump regime was scrambling to hide the USS John McCain from Donald Trump’s sight during an overseas trip, Trump’s longtime Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan did the right thing by publicly speaking out against such antics. At the time, Palmer Report predicted that it would eventually lead to the demise of Shanahan’s nomination to become permanent Secretary of Defense. Sure enough, that day has arrived.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump just posted this tweet: “Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family. I thank Pat for his outstanding service and will be naming Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, (shown below at right) to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

To be clear, whenever an office holder abruptly says that they’re quitting in order to spend more time with their family, it’s nearly always a way of covering for something else. It couldn’t be much more clear that either Trump dumped Shanahan over his response to the McCain incident, or mark esperShanahan quit in disgust over the incident.

The United States has not had a permanent Secretary of Defense since late last year, when James Mattis reigned in protest of Donald Trump’s antics. Trump is now about to be on his second Acting Secretary of Defense. Mark Esper is a former corporate lobbyist for the military industrial complex, and is precisely the wrong kind of person to be in charge of the U.S. military.

Trump vs. Iran

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Adds Troops After Iran Says It Will Breach Nuclear Deal, Edward Wong, Helene Cooper and Megan Specia, June 18, 2019 (print ed.). Mr. Trump ordered another 1,000 troops to the Middle East as he again vowed that Iran would not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: ‘Wagging the Dog’ While Lying About It, Wayne Madsen (Author of 16 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer), June 18, 2019. The Donald Trump administration, aided and abetted by the Republican congressional conference, will go down in history as a regime of liars, grifters, dime store propagandists, common criminals, and schoolyard bullies.

The evidence that “Team Trump” can and probably will lie the United States into a war with Iran, just as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied America into a war with Iraq, is seen in the latest tomfoolery regarding recent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The attacks follow by almost a month similar suspicious attacks on four ships at anchor in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates sheikhdom of Fujairah. Although Iran was blamed by members of the Trump administration for the May 12 attacks, no evidence was provided to bolster such claims.

john bolton youtube guardianTrump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, right, a cartoon character-type war monger who could have served as a role model for the fictional film “Wag the Dog” about a US war against Albania based on concocted falsehoods and a steady stream of televised propaganda, strongly appears to have had his fingerprints all over the June 13 attack on two ships transiting outbound from the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf of Oman.

No sooner than had the story broken worldwide about the attack did Bolton’s partner-in-crime Secretary of State Mike Pompeo go before cameras a cast blame on Iran for attacking the ships with mines. Pompeo declared that “intelligence” determined that Iran carried out mine attacks on the mike pompeo cheated graphicJapanese-owned and Panamanian-flagged M/V Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned and Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Front Altair. But whose intelligence?

Pompeo (shown in a graphic from his time as CIA director) did not claim that US intelligence concluded that Iran was responsible. Given Pompeo’s and Bolton’s close ties with the far right and uber-nationalist regime of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the “intelligence” being relied on by Pompeo strongly appears to have been from Mossad and its team of video propagandists in Herzliya; Washington, DC; and Los Angeles.

Ironically, on the very same day the House Intelligence Committee was hearing evidence about the threat of “deep fake videos” during the upcoming presidential election campaign, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) released a grainy forward-looking infrared (FLIR) video, along with photographs, purporting to show a boat belonging to the IRGC removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of the Kokuka Courageous. The Pentagon provided the video as “proof” of Iran’s culpability. However, the Pentagon was caught in a major Trump-grade lie when Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, the company that owns the Kokuka Courageous, said the attack on his firm’s vessel did not come from a mine, but from a “flying shell.” The explosion was too far above the water line to have been from a mine, Katada told the press in Tokyo.

June 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says supporters might ‘demand’ that he serve more than two terms as president, Felicia Sonmez, June 16, 2019. The president has previously joked about serving more than two terms as president, including at an event in April where he told a crowd that he might remain “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Sunday floated the possibility of staying in office longer than two terms, suggesting in a morning tweet that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer.”

The president has previously joked about serving more than two terms as president, including at an event in April where he told a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution limits the presidency to two terms.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoIn tweets Sunday morning, Trump also voiced dissatisfaction with recent news coverage of his administration, calling both The Washington Post and The New York Times “the Enemy of the People.”

He added: “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

iran wants war graphic

iran flag mapwashington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s criticism of Iran pushes U.S. to point of potential conflict, Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, June 16, 2019 (print ed.). The president, who insists he wants to avoid a Middle East war, faces a difficult choice: step back to reduce tensions or act unilaterally and risk conflict.

One constant in President Trump’s malleable foreign policy has been his fierce criticism of Iran and what he described as a weak and dangerous nuclear compact the United States and other countries negotiated with Tehran. Threats and sanctions, and lots of them, have been his go-to response, lately leavened with vague offers of future negotiations.

June 15

U.S. Attack On Russian Electric Grid

vladimir putin djt g 20 2017 john-bolton-youtube-guardian .jpg

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, June 15, 2019. The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin (shown above meeting with President Trump in 2017) and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

As Washington’s strategy shifts to offense, officials say, it is placing malware inside Russia’s system with a new aggressiveness.
The move is both a warning and a push to be prepared to conduct cyberstrikes if conflict were to break out with Moscow.

The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

john bolton youtube guardianBut in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton (shown in a screengrab), said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort “to say to Russia, or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’”

Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years.

June 14

U.S. Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, A St. Louis Prosecutor Took On the System. She Made Enemies, Richard A. Oppel Jr., June 14, 2019. Kimberly Gardner was one of a wave of prosecutors who promised to challenge the establishment. Now she is being scrutinized in a manner that is virtually unheard-of for an elected prosecutor.

kimberly gardnerKimberly Gardner, right, was elected chief prosecutor by a wide margin in 2016, one of two dozen district attorneys across the country who campaigned to overhaul the criminal justice system.

Like a lot of them, she made quick enemies. She angered the powerful police union in St. Louis, saying repeatedly that she would hold officers more accountable. She indicted the sitting governor, Eric Greitens, shown below at left with Vice President Mike Pence and a rising star in national Republican politics.

Now her adversaries have turned the tables: Ms. Gardner’s professional actions are being scrutinized in a manner that is virtually unheard-of for an elected eric greitens mike penceprosecutor.

In the Greitens case, she has become a focus of a special prosecutor who was appointed to investigate a former F.B.I. agent. The prosecutor has had her office’s email server seized by the police, giving them access, her lawyers say, to active criminal investigations of the department itself. He has been fishing for incriminating information on her administration, according to an affidavit by the agent’s lawyer. Her aides have been called before a grand jury.

The investigation has been conducted in secrecy, with a gag order on the parties involved. But that has not stopped allegations that it is riddled with serious conflicts of interest. Nor has it stifled a sense, among Ms. Gardner’s supporters, that the police and the city’s clubby legal establishment have joined forces in an attempt to embarrass one of the few black officials with truly independent power in St. Louis.

National advocates of remaking the criminal justice system have watched as like-minded prosecutors in places like Boston, Chicago and Dallas won the support of voters but ran headlong into opposition from police unions and other local powers. Though all of them have been criticized, Ms. Gardner’s situation — facing possible criminal charges — is the most extreme.

See related story, St. Louis American, Under attack, Kim Gardner fights back, Rebecca Rivas, March 13, 2019. Police, special prosecutor take, then return, circuit attorney’s server.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said last week that a search warrant demanding thousands of records from her office would put countless people’s privacy at risk. On Tuesday, March 12, Circuit Court Judge Michael K. Mullen rejected Gardner’s motion to quash the search warrant, after claiming last week that Gardner’s office was “playing games.”

The warrant relates to a grand jury case reviewing whether Gardner’s investigator William Tisaby lied under oath last spring during then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ felonious invasion of privacy case.

Gardner’s attorneys appealed within hours of Mullen’s decision. In the short amount of time it took for them to file the appeal, the police and special prosecutor overseeing the grand jury case on Tisaby seized the circuit attorney’s email server – knowing an appeal was underway, according to Gardner. The Court of Appeals ordered a halt to the search warrant that evening.
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“In my decades of work in the criminal justice system, I have never seen a chief prosecutor treated this way by a court or a police department,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Gardner’s attorney.

He said he believes Special Prosecutor Gerard Carmody, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and even Mullen are trying to “intimidate and humiliate” Gardner and “strip her of the powers granted to her by the people of the City of St. Louis.”

This is the second search warrant that Carmody has issued in the grand jury case. Gardner’s office complied with the first search warrant in January. But the second search warrant, issued on February 21, is so broad that it would require the circuit attorney to hand over “every file in the office,” attorneys representing Gardner told a judge at a hearing on March 5. The warrant asks for all files stored on the office’s server that contain 31 common terms, including “notes,” “tape,” and “recording.”

A spokesman for Carmody’s office said he could not comment because of a gag order that Mullen issued on March 5. However, the appellate court also concluded on March 12 that the Gardner is not party to the Tisaby investigation and therefore not bound by Mullen’s gag order, according to Gardner.

The police and Carmody’s actions on March 12 temporarily interrupted the prosecutor’s entire email system “that is central to its efforts to keep the citizens of our city safe,” Gardner said.

Gardner said no information was retrieved from the server before it was returned. “They were unsuccessful,” her attorney said.

The grand jury case came out of the contentious legal battle to prosecute Greitens for allegedly taking a semi-nude photo of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015 and then allegedly transmitting it so it could be viewed on a computer. Greitens’ felony charge was ultimately dropped.

There are still a lot of “personal feelings” and “water under the bridge” left over from that case, according to comments made between Gardner’s attorneys and Carmody’s team at the March 5 hearing addressing Gardner’s motion.

Gardner hired Tisaby, a former FBI agent, in January 2018 to investigate Greitens because she claimed the police department refused her requests to investigate the governor. The department denied that they were asked.

June 11

Critique of Dean-Woodward 'Watergate' Story

The Hard Question Show via WCGO 1590 AM / 95.9 FM (Chicago) and Soundcloud, Remember John Dean?, host Blanquita Cullum (former Republican-appointed member of the len colodny croppedBroadcasting Board of Governors, parent of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, etc.), June 11, 2019 (36:40 mins). Silent Coup author Len Colodny, right, challenges the credibility of June 10 House Judiciary Committee expert witness John Dean regarding the Watergate scandal. The challenge is based on Colodny's decades of research, two co-authored books (Silent Coup and The Forty years War). Colodny's scores of tape-recorded interviews with key Watergate figures, including with Dean and former President Gerald Ford, are now housed at The Colodny Collection at Texas A & M University.

Colodny praises the new book Haig's Coup authored by former USA Today investigations editor Ray Locker, published in May by the University of ray locker haigs coupNebraska Press and Potomac Press.

Colodny tells Cullum: "I plead with the American people. Don't be fooled. What you saw yesterday was 'Fools Gold' -- and the Democrats should know better....Somebody needs to tell the president [Trump] to stop what's going on in the sense that we're in this fictitious war between the president and the media. I don't support this president. I wouldn't vote for this president. I have real problems with him. But I don't have probelms with telling the American people the truth."

Background: The "Colodny Collection" has in it the often-suppressed Nixon/Dean tape (March 16,1973), available for listening remotely by clicking len colodny silent coup coverhere. Anyone can hear Nixon and Dean as they lay out a plot to cover up White House involvement (via White House aide Gordon Strachan) in the Watergate break in. Dean would suggest to Nixon a number of ways to cover up the crime, including blaming the campaign's dirty trickster Don Segretti for the crime. Nixon quickly agrees.

At the very end of the tape, Dean assured Nixon that "We Will Win." The tapes were produced in 1996 under a lawsuit protective order. "What is intriguing," Colodny has said, "is that the mainstream media has no interest in playing or reporting the contents of this tape, with one exception at the New York TImes."

"John Dean's book Nixon's Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It," Colodny has written, "deliberately leaves out this tape and others in this series. Dean made sure we would not know everything Nixon knew, especially everything that Dean told him. The Nixon on this tape is saying things that are so incriminating that the Nixon Library's 'Watergate' exhibit does not contain it. The one place that it is featured is in The Colodny Collection, donated to Texas A & M University."

June 10

News Media / Propaganda

SouthFront, Witness Testimonies Reveal Gorgon Face Of White Helmets ‘Humanitarian Activities,’ Staff report, June 10, 2019. It seems that Russia has started apparently late, but still important efforts to counter the White Helmets propaganda narrative in Syria.

syrian white helmetsThe Director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, Maxim Grigoriev, presented the 250-page study “White Helmets: Terrorist Accomplices and a Source of Disinformation,” on April 25th, 2019. He initially presented his research at event held by the Russian Mission to the UN on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 12th.

According to the aurthor, the research is primarily based on witness testimonies and concludes that the White Helmets NGO is in no way a group of volunteers upholding human rights. He did so by travelling to Syria and interviewing residents and former White Helmets members in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and other locations

Grigoriev said that nearly everyone on the staff of the White Helmets were salaried personnel with monthly food rations. Organizationally, the White Helmets is a centrally managed paramilitary organization with a system of punishment for personnel if they fail to comply with the orders of their group leaders.

He said that researchers from his foundation spent over three months in Syria interviewing Syrians, who “talked with them openly, giving names and indicating the sites where the footage of the White Helmets’ staged rescue operations was made.”

The research says that many known members of militant groups were working for the White Helmets and were even chairing some of the group’s local centers in Syria.

June 9

The Intercept, Investigation: How and Why The Intercept Is Reporting on a Vast Trove of Materials About Brazil’s Operation Car Wash and Justice Minister Sergio Moro, Glenn glenn greenwald hsGreenwald (shown at right), Leandro Demori, Betsy Reed, June 9, 2019 (Leia em português). 

Secret Brazil Archive, Part 1: A massive archive of previously undisclosed materials reveals systematic wrongdoing among powerful officials — and the public has a right to know.

The Intercept Brasil today published three explosive exposés showing highly controversial, politicized, and legally dubious internal discussions and secret actions by the Operation Car Wash anti-corruption task force of prosecutors, led by the chief prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, along with then-Judge Sergio Moro, now the powerful and jair bolsonaro brazilinternationally celebrated justice minister for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left.

These stories are based on a massive archive of previously undisclosed materials — including private chats, audio recordings, videos, photos, court proceedings, and other documentation — provided to us by an anonymous source. They reveal serious wrongdoing, unethical behavior, and systematic deceit about which the public, both in Brazil and internationally, has the right to know.

These three articles were published today in The Intercept Brasil in Portuguese, and we have synthesized them into two English-language articles for The Intercept. Given the size and global influence of Brazil under the new Bolsonaro government, these stories are of great significance to an international audience.

This is merely the beginning of what we intend to be an ongoing journalistic investigation, using this massive archive of material, into the Car Wash corruption probe; Moro’s actions when he was a judge and those of the prosecutor Dallagnol; and the conduct of numerous individuals who continue to wield great political and economic power both inside Brazil and in other countries.

Beyond the inherent political, economic, and environmental importance of Brazil under Bolsonaro, the significance of these revelations arises from the incomparably consequential actions of the yearslong Car Wash corruption probe. That sweeping scandal implicated numerous leading political figures, oligarchs, Bolsonaro’s predecessor as president, and even foreign leaders in corruption prosecutions.

lulu de silva customMost importantly, Car Wash was the investigative saga that led to the imprisonment last year of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (shown in a file photo). Lula’s conviction by Moro, once it was quickly affirmed by an appellate court, rendered him ineligible to run for president at a time when all polls showed that Lula — who was twice elected president by large margins in 2002 and in 2006 before being term-limited out of office in 2010 with an 87 percent approval rating — was the frontrunner in the 2018 presidential race. Lula’s exclusion from the election, based on Moro’s finding of guilt, was a key episode that paved the way for Bolsonaro’s election victory.

brazil flag wavingPerhaps most remarkably, after Bolsonaro won the presidency, he created a new position of unprecedented authority, referred to by Brazilians as “super justice minister,” to oversee an agency with consolidated powers over law enforcement, surveillance, and investigation previously interspersed among multiple ministries. Bolsonaro created that position for the benefit of the very judge who found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, and it is the position Moro now occupies. In other words, Moro now wields immense police and surveillance powers in Brazil — courtesy of a president who was elected only after Moro, while he was a judge, rendered Bolsonaro’s key adversary ineligible to run against him.

The Car Wash prosecutors and Moro have been highly controversial in Brazil and internationally — heralded by many as anti-corruption heroes and accused by others of being clandestine right-wing ideologues masquerading as apolitical law enforcers. Their critics have insisted that they have abused and exploited their law enforcement powers with the politicized goal of preventing Lula from returning to the presidency and destroying his leftist Workers’ Party, or the PT. Moro and the prosecutors have, with equal vehemence, denied that they have any political allegiances or objectives and have said they are simply trying to cleanse Brazil of corruption.

But, until now, the Car Wash prosecutors and Moro have carried out their work largely in secret, preventing the public from evaluating the validity of the accusations against them and the truth of their denials. That’s what makes this new archive so journalistically valuable: For the first time, the public will learn what these judges and prosecutors were saying and doing when they thought nobody was listening.

June 7

Trump Watch

washington post logoelijah cummings oWashington Post, House likely to hold Barr, Ross in contempt after subpoena demands are rejected, Colby Itkowitz, June 7, 2019. The Department of Justice informed Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, right, it won’t comply with a request for more documents about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at Pelosi after she said she’d like to see him in prison, John Wagner​, June 7, 2019. In an interview with Fox News, the president made his first public comments about recent remarks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made while trying to quell impeachment talk among Democrats.

donald trump twitter“I think she’s a disgrace,” Trump said on Fox News. “I actually don’t think she’s a talented person. I’ve tried to be nice to her because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She’s incapable of doing deals. She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.”

The interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham was conducted at the site of a solemn ceremony in France commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Against the backdrop of a cemetery where nearly 10,000 American war dead are buried, Trump also called Senate Minority Leader robert mueller full face fileCharles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) a “jerk” and former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, a “fool.”

Trump’s tirade about Pelosi (D-Calif.) came in response to a question about comments she made during a meeting Tuesday night with five of her committee chairmen. Trying to tamp down impeachment talk about Trump, Pelosi said she would rather “see him in prison” after leaving office, according to two Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Beware the Trump Trump Macoute, Wayne Madsen (above, syndicated columnist, former National Security Agency analyst), June 7, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission). For anyone who does not believe that Trump has the motive and the means to command a network of vigilantes capable of carrying out political assassinations, torching opposition campaign offices, beating up opposition political campaign volunteers, and attacking journalists, think again, because we have already witnessed the advent of such operations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi just sent Democratic House committee chairs off to the races, Bill Palmer, June 6, 2019.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi upped her war of nancy pelosi djt 2 olderwords with Donald Trump this week, stating that she wants him to go to prison for his crimes, setting off all kinds of alarms in the process. But it turns out Pelosi is doing more than just getting inside Trump’s head. She just sent Democratic House committee chairs off to the races when it comes to cracking down on non-cooperating individuals.

In TV pundit land, and in certain corners of social media, impeachment is a magic wand that can send Donald Trump instantly through a trap door – and House Democrats are refusing to wave that magic wand because they’re wusses. But back in the real world, that’s not how anything works, of course. With or without the word “impeachment” attached, House Democrats are currently facing the same grueling process of fighting legal battles in court to obtain the testimony and evidence they need in order to move against Trump. That process just got sped up quite a bit.

bill palmer report logo headerThis evening Pelosi gave Democratic House committee chairs the power to go after non-cooperators and obstructors in court, without having to circle back and get the full House’s approval each time they need to take a step forward with it. This means that not only will the committee chairs sue people like William Barr, Don McGahn, Wilbur Ross, and Annie Donaldson, the chairs are now in position to hire private attorneys to go into court and help speed that process along.

The TV pundits who are claiming that yelling the word “impeachment” will magically cause Trump to instantly be ousted, are the same pundits who are insisting that any court battles over evidence and testimony will take years. But as we’ve seen from the multiple court rulings the Democrats have already won against Trump over his financial records, nothing actually takes that long, because the courts are prioritizing these cases. Now the process just became a swifter one.

Trump's Global Patrons, Enemies

djt saudi medal may 20 2017 afp

Saudi Arabia's king bestowed a medal on President Trump in May 2017 during the new president's first overseas trip, signifying the core relationship between the wealthy feudal monarchy and the new U.S. administration.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Allows High-Tech U.S. Bomb Parts to Be Built in Saudi Arabia, Michael LaForgia and Walt Bogdanich, June 7, 2019. Tucked into an emergency order to sell arms to Saudi Arabia is the approval for a defense company to team with the Saudis to build bomb parts there. It raises concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them make versions of American precision-guided bombs.

When the Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia, it did more than anger members of Congress who opposed the sale on humanitarian grounds.

raytheon logoIt also raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs — weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago.

The emergency authorization allows Raytheon Company, a top American defense firm, to team with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia. That provision, which has not been previously reported, is part of a broad package of information the administration released this week to Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: President Trump’s twists on Iran have confounded Europe, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, June 7, 2019. President Trump and his aides have sent a dizzying, seemingly conflicting set of messages to Iran in recent weeks, ordering more troops to the Middle East and a carrier to the Arabian Sea as military threats even iran flag mapwhile declaring that Washington is seeking new negotiations, not war.

European allies, still trying to save a 2015 deal to restrain Iran’s nuclear program that Mr. Trump abandoned a year ago, are trying to make sense of the administration’s strategy.

And the government in Tehran, humiliated by Mr. Trump’s hard-line policies, has all but frozen diplomacy with Washington. “Standing and resisting the enemy’s excessive demands and bullying is the only way to stop him,” Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Barnes & Noble was sold to a hedge fund after a tumultuous year, Alexandra Alter and Tiffany Hsu, June 7, 2019. Barnes & Noble has been acquired by the paul singerhedge fund Elliott Advisors for $638 million. JIP editor's note: Elliott Advisors is the UK-based affiliated of Elliott Management Corp., whose New York-based parent company was founded by Paul Singer, right, a financially successful investor sometimes described as a ruther "vulture fund" tycoon dealing in distressed properties.

The sale was announced Friday morning following months of speculation over the future of Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United barnes nobleStates and a critical retail outlet for publishers and authors.

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble follows its purchase of the British bookstore chain Waterstones in June 2018. James Daunt, the chief executive of Waterstones, will also act as Barnes & Noble’s C.E.O. and will be based in New York. Waterstones has pursued a strategy that many analysts say is the only way to compete in a marketplace dominated by online sales, by allowing individual Waterstones booksellers to tailor each store to acommunity’s needs and interests. Mr. Daunt, who took over in 2011, has said that Waterstones operates more like a constellation of independent stores, rather than a homogeneous chain.

June 5

FBI Sex Claims Against Dr. King

david garrow thomas burr npc 5 11 17

Historian David Garrow, left, discusses his 2017 biographry "Rising Star" of Barack Obama with National Press Club President Thomas Burr on May 11, 2017 (Justice Integrity Project photo by Andrew Kreig)

ny times logoNew York Times, His Martin Luther King Biography Was a Classic. His Latest King Piece Is Causing a Furor, Jennifer Schuessler, June 5, 2019 (print ed.). David Garrow found F.B.I. documents alleging King stood by during a rape. But some scholars question whether to trust records created as part of a smear campaign.

When David J. Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sat down last spring to dig through a trove of previously unreleased martin luther king injustice quotegovernment records, it was business as usual for a researcher known for prodigious reporting and doorstop books.

“There’s this weird ability I have of complete recall with regard to what I already know and don’t know,” Mr. Garrow said, describing the experience of wrestling with some 54,000 separate web links posted by the National Archives and Records Administration. “I was just scrolling through the PDFs, looking for new little factoids.”

Mr. Garrow found factoids aplenty, about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s infamous surveillance of Dr. King — and, most controversially, about alleged sexual misconduct by the civil rights leader.

In a 7,800-word article published last week by the British monthly magazine Standpoint, which teased the piece on its cover as “Martin Luther King and #MeToo,” Mr. Garrow nara logoprovides new details about the F.B.I.’s tactics alongside graphic descriptions from documents recounting alleged group sex in bugged hotel rooms. He also names some of Dr. King’s purported lovers, including fellow activists who have never been publicly identified as such.

While Dr. King’s infidelities have long been known in broad outline, Mr. Garrow concludes by saying that the new material — including an explosive allegation that he witnessed, and even encouraged, a rape committed by a fellow minister — “poses so fundamental a challenge to his historical stature as to require the most complete and extensive historical review possible.”

The revelations have sparked a heated reaction. But so far, it has been as much about the ethics and evidentiary standards of Mr. Garrow’s article as it is about Dr. King.

Some fellow historians credit Mr. Garrow with finding potentially important new information about both Dr. King and the F.B.I. attempts to discredit him. But others are denouncing him for publishing incendiary claims generated as part of an F.B.I. smear campaign, without offering any corroborating evidence. And some are accusing him of running roughshod over the privacy of the women with whom Dr. King was allegedly involved.

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Election 2016 manipulation involved same players as 9/11, Wayne Madsen, June 5, 2019 (subscription required). A growing collection of evidence indicates that three nations directly involved in coordinating the planning and carrying out the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States – Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – were also jointly involved in “hacking” the 2016 U.S. presidential election to bring about Donald Trump’s victory.

Who Killed Bobby? Book Review: A Lie Too Big to Fail, Shane O'Sullivan, right, shane osullivan headshotJune 5, 2019. Lisa Pease’s recently-published book, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (Feral House) is well-researched and digs up plenty of interesting new leads, but is undermined by implausible theories and conclusions based on a very selective interpretation of the evidence.

Lisa recently endorsed my book Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy (2008) on Black Op Radio but said it “didn’t go far enough” and inspired her to write her own. While she conducts an exhaustive survey of the witness testimony, some of her theories go too far, in my opinion, and may be damaging to our hopes of getting the case reopened. I feel obliged to point out the shortcomings of these theories, so that readers new to the case can get a more balanced view of the evidence and make up their own minds.

lisa pease rfk coverAs two of the handful of surviving authors on the case, we share some common ground. We agree that convicted Palestinian assassin Sirhan Sirhan did not kill Robert Kennedy; that Sirhan was a hypnotically programmed patsy; and that a second gunman fired the fatal shot which killed the senator. But Lisa’s book goes well beyond the second gun theory espoused by other authors on the case. Where Phil Van Praag’s analysis of the Pruszynski recording (the only known recording of the shooting) suggests thirteen shots were fired in the pantry, Lisa suggests there may have been seventeen. Where most authors believe there were two shooters in the pantry. Lisa believes there may have been four or five. While it’s generally accepted that Sirhan fired eight shots from his .22-caliber revolver, injuring Paul Schrade and four other bystanders, Lisa argues Sirhan didn’t shoot anybody as he was firing blanks.

The firearms examiners concluded that the bullet which lodged in Kennedy’s neck and the bullets recovered from victims Ira Goldstein and William Weisel were fired from the same gun. The panel also agreed that the bullet recovered from shooting victim Irwin Stroll was a CCI Mini-Mag with the same rifling characteristics as the Sirhan weapon and all four of these victim bullets were consistent with the .22-caliber CCI long rifle ammunition used by Sirhan.

sirhan sirhan 2016The leaded condition of Sirhan’s barrel prevented a positive identification but, as Bradford concluded, a second gun needed to have the same rifling characteristics as Sirhan’s weapon. Phil Van Praag’s tests are based on this. Lisa seemingly ignores it....

Sirhan (shown in a 2016 mug shot) is still in prison, in the desert just outside San Diego, having served more than fifty years for a crime he cannot remember committing and which the evidence shows he did not commit. While I agree with Lisa that he has served his time and should be freed, these implausible theories will not help that cause.

While I disagree with Lisa’s conclusions, the new research in her book is a welcome addition to the small library on the case and I hope we can work together through the new Truth and Reconciliation Committee to seek justice for Sirhan and Bobby Kennedy with the best and most credible evidence available.

Shane O'Sullivan is an Irish writer and filmmaker based in London and best known for his work on the assassination of Robert Kennedy. His works include the feature documentary "RFK Must Die." His book on the case, "Who Killed Bobby?," was published in 2008. This essay is adapted from a presentation that he gave at the “Political Assassinations of the 1960s” conference at Olney Central College, IL on April 7, 2019.

June 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Black Feminist’s Response to Attacks on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy, Barbara Ransby (history professor, June 3, 2019. We should not become historical peeping Toms by trafficking in what amounts to rumor and innuendo.

As a black feminist and a civil rights historian, I do not need to be persuaded that many black male ministers during the civil rights era were morally duplicitous, felt sexually entitled and slept around. So did many Catholic priests, politicians, Hollywood celebrities and some award-winning male academics.

Many historians have already argued that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have been no different. However, David Garrow’s essay published last week in Standpoint, a conservative British magazine — goes much further, making the serious allegation that Dr. King may have witnessed and encouraged a rape. Absolutely any allegation of rape has to be taken seriously. However, this irresponsible account, drawn from questionable documents, has serious shortcomings and risks turning readers into historical peeping Toms by trafficking in what amounts to little more than rumor and innuendo from F. B.I. files.

fbi logoRape, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual assault are very serious accusations in our own time, and all too often women making those charges are doubted, dismissed or simply not believed as in the cases of Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford, who bravely came forward with credible stories, and the R. Kelly accusers who for many years told of their own nightmarish ordeals. The voices of these survivors must be heard and taken seriously, and the perpetrators must be held accountable. The F.B.I. allegations, funneled through Mr. Garrow’s essay, have nothing to do with this effort. It is not a woman’s voice we are being asked to believe here, but the F.B.I.’s — a source with blatantly ulterior motives.

Let me underscore a critical line to draw in our assessment of this new reporting. It is a point that feminist scholars and L.G.B.T.Q. activists have insisted upon for some time. Consenting sexual activity, even activity that mainstream public opinion might not condone, is the prerogative of the adults involved. Rape, on the other hand, is a violent crime. A major problem with Mr. Garrow’s essay, questionable evidence aside, is that he fails to adequately distinguish between the two.

Where is the evidence? And whose story is this? Mr. Garrow has not seen a transcript or listened to the tape of this alleged incident himself. Both are sealed until 2027. The documents he has reviewed were made available inadvertently through the release of the John Kennedy assassination papers by the National Archives. The mention of Dr. King’s having been in the room during an alleged rape “appears only as an annotation,” one handwritten sentence added to the typed summary. Mr. Garrow ascribes the scribble to either William Sullivan, head of the Domestic Intelligence Division, whose personal file was the source of the document containing the rape allegation, or one of his associates. In other words, we don’t even know who the author is.

Mr. Garrow goes on to speculate that the prudish Mr. Sullivan, who may or may not have written the damning sentence, and his aides were unlikely to have embellished this account and had no “apparent motive” to do so. Really? Who knows what motivated them, but the motives of their boss, the notorious F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover, are well known: to destroy and discredit Dr. King and later other black freedom movement leaders. Cointelpro, the counterintelligence program of the F.B.I. that later spied on and subverted the work of groups like the Black Panther Party, was even implicated in an assassination.

Barbara Ransby (@BarbaraRansby), a professor of history, gender and women’s studies and African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom MovementEslanda and Making All Black Lives Matter.

June 3

Swamp Watch

GQ, The Political Costs of Not Impeaching Trump, Adam Jentleson (former deputy chief of staff to former Senate majority leader Harry Reid), June 3, 2019. Democrats are ceding legitimacy to Trump’s claims of exoneration by giving him a pass. It is a long way from June 2019 to November 2020. And as they say in Boston, you can’t get there from here. Hoping everything turns out well while giving Trump free space to wield his power is unlikely to end well.

The fight will be hard for House Democrats and the appeal of dodging it is strong. But like the monsters in “It Follows,” this fight will find you. It already has. There is no way over, under, or around impeachment — only through.

On February 13, 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died. Before his body was in the ground, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would block anyone President Barack Obama nominated to fill Scalia’s seat. The next week, Jeb Bush dropped out of the Republican primary, quickly followed by Marco Rubio, and eventually Ted Cruz, leaving Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee. Polls showed Hillary Clinton beating Trump by solid margins, with forecasters pegging her chances of victory from 71 to 85 percent, and Democrats favored to take back the Senate.

I was working for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid at the time. Being in the minority limited our options for overcoming McConnell’s blockade. But whenever we started to contemplate more aggressive tactics, they were dismissed on the theory that the upcoming election would sort everything out. Why rock the boat, we told ourselves. We’re on a glide path to victory in November, and then President Clinton will submit her Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed by a Democratic Senate.

The rest is history. McConnell’s decision to block Garland consolidated Republican support behind Trump and helped him pull off a narrow victory. Instead of a Democratic president appointing a liberal justice to tilt the balance of the Supreme Court, Trump has appointed two justices to entrench a conservative majority for a generation.

Republicans wielded their power while we hoped for the best. And the course of history was altered forever.

There are two lessons here for House Democrats as they debate whether to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

First, polling can change. I don’t know how else to say this: getting impeached is bad. It is not something you want to happen to you, especially if you’re president. You do not want to go down as one of only four presidents in history to be impeached. This is a bad thing. Only Democrats, bless our hearts, could convince ourselves that it is good for a president to be impeached.

Richard Nixon’s approval rating was at 65 percent when his impeachment process began and only 19 percent of the public supported his impeachment. By the end, the numbers had flipped: his approval was 24 percent and support for impeachment was 57 percent. Former president Bill Clinton survived because he was popular and the man pursuing him, Independent Counsel Ken Starr, was not. The public rightly thought Starr was on a fishing expedition. By contrast, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is popular and the public thinks he is fair, while Trump is historically unpopular. Even though Clinton survived, his heir apparent lost the next election—which he had been heavily favored to win—while Republicans gained seats in Congress.

The second lesson from the Garland experience is that like nature, power abhors a vacuum. The decision not to impeach is not a decision to focus on other things, it is a decision to cede power, control, and legitimacy to Trump. Trump is not a master chess player, he just bluffs his opponents into forfeiting their moves — and that is exactly what he is doing to House Democrats.

Perception Managementwilliam barr cbs jan crawford 60 minutes may 31 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What was William Barr’s fleece vest trying to tell us? Monica Hesse,June 3, 2019 (print ed.). He could have worn a suit for his TV interview. But the attorney general picked a folksier vibe for floating conspiracy theories.

William Barr showed up to his CBS This Morning interview looking like he was prepared to discuss not the investigation into possible Russian coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign but rather how to bait a fishing hook. The attorney general was working a distinctly “River Runs Through It” cosplay vibe: a tan half-zipped fleece vest over a checked button-down shirt, and in the background, a roaring fire.

To be fair, the interview, which aired Friday, did take place in Alaska, where Barr was traveling. But there are business suits available in Alaska; Barr had worn one earlier on the cub scout webelos badgetrip, during a meeting about rural law enforcement issues. his decision to skip a suit as he held forth on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation seemed like an attempt to communicate a message.

And that message was: I am a man of the people, and I am here to speak truths and help you earn a [Cub Scout] Webelos badge.

May 31

Barr Defies Flynn Judge

washington post logoWashington Post, Despite court order, prosecutors don’t release transcripts of Flynn, Russian ambassador, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 31, 2019. The Justice Department also declined to give an unredacted version of parts of the Mueller report related to Michael Flynn. Federal prosecutors on Friday declined to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn (shown below left in a file photo) and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016, despite a judge’s order.

michael flynn state department CustomIn a court filing Friday, the Justice Department wrote that it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.

Prosecutors also failed to release an unredacted version of portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn that the judge had ordered be made public.

Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. He is awaiting sentencing.

emmet sullivan 2012The government’s unusual response came after U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, right,  in Washington ordered earlier in May that the Justice Department make public various materials related to the case, including transcripts of any audio recordings of Flynn, such as his conversations with Russian officials.

Prosecutors provided one item that Sullivan ordered be released: a transcript of a voice mail left by an attorney for Trump, much of which had already appeared in Mueller’s report. It is unclear how the judge will react to the government’s noncompliance with other elements of his order. Late last year, Sullivan postponed Flynn’s sentencing after angrily lambasting the former national security adviser for his actions, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrats tell intelligence chiefs they must help monitor Barr’s review of Russia probe, Karoun Demirjian, May 31, 2019. The House Intelligence william barr new oCommittee chairman sent letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security.

In a separate letter, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), asked the spy chiefs to “immediately” inform the panel “if you see signs” that Barr’s inquiry risks compromising intelligence-gathering sources and methods, affecting relationships with foreign liaisons, or adversely impacting the intelligence community’s workforce.

He also asked that they notify the panel of any “selective declassification” that appeared politically motivated.Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, demanding in-person briefings to discuss what materials the attorney general has sought thus far.

May 30

Bilderberg Meeting

Global Research, Opinion: The Bilderbergers in Switzerland, Peter Koenig, May 30, 2019. The 67th Bilderberg Meeting is taking place in Montreux, Switzerland from 30 May – 2 June 2019, where the about 130 invitees – so far confirmed – from 23 countries, are staying at one of Switzerland’s most luxurious venues, the Montreux Palace hotel. About a quarter of the attendees are women. The Bilderberg meetings started at the onset of the Cold War, as a discussion club of American and European leaders, a fortification against communism, in clear text, against the Soviet Union. The first event took place in 1954 at the Bilderberg hotel in the Dutch town of Oosterbeek.

The conferences of the Bilderbergers are the most secretive events, managed by those who pull the strings behind world leaders – politicians, corporate CEOs, big finance, and other business execs – artists, and the who-is-who of the world elite. And we are talking of the western world. Other than about ten attendees from Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria and Estonia, participants are North Americans or Europeans. The rest of the world doesn’t count.

This year’s Bilderberg meeting will be chaired by Henri Castries, France, Chairman of the Paris-based Institut Montaigne, a non-profit thinktank working on public policy and social cohesion.

mike pompeo state dept photoOther prominent attendees include Mike Pompeo, left, US Secretary of State, and the driving force of these events and protégé of Rockefeller’s, former US Secretary of State (and war criminal), Henry Kissinger; France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire; Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister, from the far-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy; Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s Defense Minister from the conservative Christian jared kushner head shotDemocratic Union (CDU); – and, perhaps most noteworthy, Jared Kushner, right, personal advisor and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, and intimate friend of Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water.

U.S. Intelligence Documents: Operation Condor helena holmberg haroldo conti

Foreign Ministry official Elena Holmberg and renowned writer Haroldo Conti were among those who disappeared at the hands of security forces during the Argentine dictatorship

  • Buenos Aires Police Chief told CIA "he wanted no prisoners for interrogation, only cadavers"
  • Junta leader General Rafael Videla sought to hide mass murder to protect Argentina’s image
  • Before coup, CIA analysts predicted rise of "hardline mentality... to dominate the Army”
  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Patricia Derian reported that “Argentina has the worst human rights record in South America”

National Security Archive at George Washington University, Inside Argentina’s Killing Machine: U.S. Intelligence Documents Record Gruesome Human Rights Crimes of 1976-1983, Carlos Osorio, Silvia Tandeciarz and Johanna Weech, May 30, 2019. On August 20, 1976, Argentine security personnel dynamited the bodies of thirty people – ten women and twenty men – who had been detained by the Federal Police and executed in the town of Pilar, north of Buenos Aires.

The explosion scattered human remains over a wide radius. This gruesome display of repression was intended to send a bloody message to other alleged militants to cease their activities five months after the military coup, according to a CIA intelligence report posted today by the National Security Archive. But military junta leader General Rafael Videla was “annoyed that the bodies were left so prominently displayed,” sources told the CIA, because it “reflects adversely on the good name of Argentina."

Not that Videla opposed the mass murders, noted the CIA. “Videla is in agreement that subversives should be killed, but [believes] that the entire matter should be dealt with discreetly.”

For the duration of the “dirty war” during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, Argentine officials took extensive steps to hide their atrocities through the use of secret torture centers, disappeared victims, and faked battles with insurgents to cover up human rights crimes. Ceaseless efforts by the families of their victims, human rights organizations, courageous prosecutors and judges and survivors of the abuses have lifted the veil on the scale of repression and institutionalized brutality of the Argentine military.

Now, recently declassified U.S. intelligence reports provide comprehensive new information on the killing machine run by Argentina’s security forces during the military era. Officials from the CIA, FBI, and other U.S. government agencies recorded vivid details of the “extensive use of torture” by Argentina’s military regime to quell the leftist insurgency during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, according to a posting today of now-declassified U.S. intelligence materials by the National Security Archive. The recently released records describe “brutal methods employed by the military” during the period. "While numerous innocent people were tortured and killed by paramilitary units, most of the victims were at least supporters of the ERP or the Montoneros,” the CIA reported.

“We continue to receive numerous highly credible reports that torture is used routinely in the interrogation of detainees,” noted a graphic 1979 summary to the Secretary of State from Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Patricia Derian. “The electric ‘picana,’ something like a supercharged cattle prod, is still apparently a favorite tool, as is the ‘submarine’ treatment (immersion of the head in a tub of water, urine, excrement, blood, or a combination of these),” Derian reported. “There is no longer any doubt that Argentina has the worst human rights record in South America.”

May 28

Why Is U.S. House Stalling?

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: House -- Exhausted from Threatening Oversight -- Needs Another Recess, Bill Yeomans, May 28, 2019. The House greeted the release of the redacted bill yeomans afj cropped CustomMueller report by taking a 10-day recess. After returning for several weeks of name-calling between the Speaker and the President, the issuance of a bunch of subpoenas, threats of contempt, and two court victories, the House ran out of gas and headed off for another 10-day recess.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi jockeyed to hold the growing impeachment caucus at bay, the House failed to hold a single substantive hearing on the Mueller Report or even to secure a date to hear from Mueller. Don McGahn bowed to Trump’s demand that he blow off the House Judiciary Committee’s (HJC) subpoena -- so far, without consequence. While Pelosi oversaw implementation of her plan to delay impeachment through slow-moving, diffuse oversight, the urgency of moving to impeachment only increased.

alliance for justice logoThe Democratic mantra during the 2018 election campaign was to wait for the Mueller report. When the report was delivered, the House announced its wait for the unredacted report and then for Mueller’s testimony. Waiting for Mueller has become a paralyzing syndrome. As Trump and Barr have lied repeatedly about the contents of the report, members of Congress have waited. After AG Barr stiffed the HJC, the committee promptly reported a contempt citation to the House floor. No vote. Mueller wants to testify in private, perhaps offering a public opening statement. No date.

The HJC’s most important responsibility now is to educate the public on the contents of the report. It cannot wait for Mueller. It can bring in experts to testify about parts of the report, explaining the facts and the law. Nearly 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now signed a letter saying Trump would be in cuffs if he were not president. I’ll bet at least 800 of them would be glad to testify or assist in other ways. Surely, there are distinguished national security experts who would be delighted to help the public understand Volume I of the report. The committee cannot simply wait for reluctant witnesses to come around and for the exhaustion of court processes.

Perhaps the most harmful effect of waiting is to convey the message that the facts we now have are somehow insufficient. We have a report and supplemental public record that establish that the President of the United States has committed multiple felonies and has engaged in deeply unpatriotic conduct. The task now is less to gather facts than to help the public understand the facts before them. Facts developed by other committees will prove welcome supplements.

The House leadership seems committed to a fear-driven political calculation that impeachment will backfire. History suggests otherwise. Nixon and Clinton were both far more popular than Trump and their conduct was not nearly as egregious as Trump’s. Even so, the impeaching party won the next presidential election. Trump’s denial of congressional authority and his blatant effort to run out the clock threaten to make the House look bullied and feckless if it doesn’t act.

The House has produced significant legislation. It’s now time to show that it can legislate and hold Trump accountable at the same time.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas secretary of state resigns after leading botched voter purge that questioned the citizenship of almost 100,000 people, Meagan Flynn, May 28, 2019. Texas’s acting secretary of state, David Whitley (R), resigned Monday just months after leading the botched voter purge of nearly 100,000 suspected noncitizens that erroneously also targeted U.S. citizens, efforts that drew rebukes from a federal judge and numerous voter rights groups.

May 27

War Planning

scott ritter

OpEdNews, Opinion: The U.S. Stands to Lose Much More Than a War With Iran, Scott Ritter (shown in a file screenshot), May 27, 2019. After much back-and-forth posturing by the Trump administration, book-ended by national security adviser John Bolton accelerating the planned deployments of an aircraft carrier battle group and a B-52 bomber task force to the Middle East, and President Trump commenting, "I hope not" when asked whether there would be a war, the American commander in chief threatened to destroy Iran on Sunday. "If Iran wants to fight," Trump tweeted, "that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"

Trying to pinpoint what prompted Trump to communicate what amounts to a genocidal threat is like reading tea leaves -- more art than science. But after seeing his effort to isolate Iran diplomatically rejected by a united Europe, and learning from military leaders that a war with Iran would be far costlier and much more problematic than he originally thought, the president reverted to character, lashing out with apocalyptic fury against a nation that has frustrated his administration from its inception.

iran flag mapiran wants war graphic Custom 3Trump has backed himself into a corner. The self-imagined dealmaker sincerely believed that by applying economic pressure on Iran, backed up with the threat of force, the Iranian government would come to the negotiation table and agree to a nuclear deal that denied it everything it had achieved through diplomacy with the Obama administration. Trump believed he could bully America's allies in Europe to go along with him.

And, in the end, when he asked his military leaders to provide him with options to forcefully compel Iran to bend to his will, Trump was told that nothing short of an all-out war, involving more than 500,000 troops, could provide the outcome he sought, and even then only at great cost.

Trump had run on a platform that promised an end to costly wars of choice in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. If he pulled the trigger on Iran, his chances of reelection in 2020 would be all but eliminated.

The heart of Trump's frustration lies with the military options he has been presented with, namely "OPLAN 1002." Short for "operations plan," OPLAN 1002 is the U.S. war plan for major military conflict in the Persian Gulf.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump's very un-American Memorial Day, Wayne Madsen (author and former Navy intelligence officer), May 27, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). Donald Trump chose to spend the Memorial Day weekend hobnobbing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a man who consistently honors his nation's dead war criminals from World War II.

May 25

Facebook: Shameless Fake News Propagandists

monika bickert anderson cooper

CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper challenged Monika Bickert, a high-ranking Republican at Facebook, on why she was defending Facebook's continued distribution of a faked video making Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sound and look drunk by slowing the video's speed. President Trump also promoted the faked video.

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook defends decision to leave up fake Pelosi video, saying users should make up their own minds, Alex Horton, May 25, 2019. There is no dispute that the Facebook video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) viewed by millions is a fake, deliberately altered to make her appear drunk. YouTube acted fast and removed duplicates. Other social media outlets have not made the same call.

facebook logoFacebook acknowledged the video is “false” but said the videos would remain on the platform.

Amid fierce calls across the public and government for Facebook to remove the video — which has been viewed 2.6 million times — and others like it, a Facebook official took to CNN on Friday to defend its decision.

Monika Bickert, a company vice president for product policy and counterterrorism, said the video was reviewed by fact-checking organizations, and after it deemed the video a hoax, the company “dramatically” reduced its distribution. But Facebook did not remove the video, Bickert said.

The question has vexed lawmakers and Silicon Valley for years, particularly after massive disinformation campaigns were harnessed in the 2016 election: Should we consider platforms like Facebook “news publishers,” and should they handle information like one?

CNN host Anderson Cooper believes the answer is yes and pressed Bickert on her company’s responsibilities.

“You’re making money by being in the news business,” he said. “If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?”

Bickert rejected the premise in a tense back-and-forth. “We aren’t in the news business. We’re in the social media business,” she said, adding the company removes content deemed a threat to public safety and from fake accounts.

Fair Elections: U.S. Gerrymandering

washington post logoWashington Post, New electoral maps for Ohio and Michigan can wait, Supreme Court says, Robert Barnes, May 25, 2019 (print ed.). While they consider the question of partisan gerrymandering, the justices put lower-court decisions finding those states’ maps unconstitutional on hold. The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold lower-court decisions that said Ohio and Michigan had to come up with new electoral maps because of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.

supreme court graphicThe decision was not surprising, because the justices are currently considering whether judges should even have a role in policing partisan gerrymandering. There were no noted dissents in the orders for either state.

The Supreme Court in March heard arguments in similar cases from North Carolina, where judges found that Republicans had manipulated congressional maps to their advantage, and from Maryland, where Democratic lawmakers redrew a district that resulted in a loss for a longtime Republican congressman.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosWhile the Supreme Court regularly examines redistricting plans for signs of racial gerrymandering, it has never found a state’s plan so infected with partisan politics that it violates the rights of voters. The decision in the North Carolina and Maryland cases are expected before the end of June.

With the decisions from Ohio and Michigan, federal courts in five states have struck down maps as partisan gerrymanders. The courts in the Ohio and Michigan decisions ordered the states to come up with new maps that could be used in the 2020 elections.

May 20

paul craig roberts rob kall

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Assange/Manning Cases Discredit Humanity, Paul Craig Roberts (shown above at left in a radio interview with OpEdNews Publisher Rob Kall), May 20, 2019. Everyone who is aware of the US government's extraordinary criminal actions at home and abroad bears a heavy weight. The millions of peoples murdered, maimed, orphaned, widowed, and displaced by gratuitous American military aggression comprise a Holocaust of deaths based entirely on lies and false accusations in order to advance secret American and Israeli agendas.

I suspect that the heavy burden of responsibility for mass murder and destruction committed in our name is the reason most Americans prefer the fake news fed to them about how good and wonderful and exceptional we are and how hard our government works to protect us from the nasty folks elsewhere.

This story-line converts the illegal brutal war crimes of the US government against women, children, defenseless citizens, schools, wedding parties, funerals, and farmers in their fields into glorious and brave defenses of our liberty and virtue.

chelsea manning dan behrendt youtube screenshot dmcaIf you want the truth watch the video leaked by Chelsea Manning of US troops enjoying themselves while from the air they machine-gun reporters and innocent civilians walking along a street and follow up by machine-gunning a father and his two young children, babies, who stopped to help the wounded bleeding in the street. The leak of the video that showed the true picture of Washington's wars is the reason Manning (shown at right in a Dan Behrendt screenshot) was tortured and imprisoned.

It is the person who told the truth, not the criminals who committed the murders, who was punished.

I agree that the fake story of America's moral worthiness is much easier to live with than it is to bear the shame of the true story. But in the end the fake story destroys our liberty even more completely than would conquest by a foreign opponent. People are more suspicious of an occupying power than they are of their own government and are less likely to believe foreign occupiers when they lie to them. In contrast, a people's own government can trap them in a false consciousness and keep them there with fake news.

Washington's case against Julian Assange is so contrived and so weak, that the corrupt US attorney assigned to frame-up Assange has resorted to persecution of Manning in an effort to coerce false testimony against Assange from Manning. After being tortured and serving seven years in prison for revealing a US war crime, as Manning was required to do under the US military code, Manning was pardoned by President Obama.

Now Manning is back in prison for a second time after being pardoned, because Manning will not cooperate in the frame-up of Assange by giving false testimony to a grand jury. Without false testimony, the corrupt US attorney hasn't a case that could get a conviction from even the typical insouciant American jury, normally a collection of gullible people julian assange head bookeasily manipulated by the prosecutor.

When Manning (shown in a file photo at left) was imprisoned for 63 days for refusing to tell lies about Assange, Manning spent 28 of those days in solitary anthony trengaconfinement. Why?

A week after Manning was released, the corrupt US attorney called Manning again before the grand jury that the corrupt US attorney is using to contrive a case against Assange. Again Manning refused to cooperate in the frame-up, and was again held in contempt and again remanded into federal prison.

This time a corrupt US federal district judge, Anthony Trenga, right, added to Manning's jail time a daily fine of $500 rising to $1,000 daily after 60 days. In other words, the corrupt judge is helping the corrupt US attorney to coerce Manning into cooperating in a frame-up of Assange. Americans need to understand that their judges are not judges. They are operatives of the American police state.

indicter logo

The Indicter, The Making of a “Rapist,” Pamela Anderson (the famed actress, shown below right), May 2019 issue (first published by the pamela anderson foundation portraitPamela Anderson Foundation on May 20, 2019). Today, I want to speak out as a woman. A woman who has survived rape and sexual abuse. A woman who knows how cruel men can be, and how deep the wounds in a woman’s soul. To this day, I remember the excruciating pain.

To this day, I can feel the agony. To this day, their faces keep haunting my sleep – a fate shared by countless women worldwide. No, I would never defend a rapist, there can never be an excuse for this crime, nor for offenders enjoying impunity. We owe it to ourselves, our sisters and girls to speak out and fight complacency.

But in our resolve to do the right thing, let us never forget the danger of error, and the power of false accusations. For the same factors that make allegations of rape so difficult to prove in a court of law, make them even more difficult to disprove in the court of public opinion. Therefore, false allegations of sexual misconduct have always been the tool of choice for any campaign of mobbing, blackmail or slander. Once someone has been stamped a “rapist”, whether convicted, charged or merely alleged, his reputation has not only been sentenced to death, but has already been executed in public.

And this is the reason I speak out today. I speak out in support of a friend. A friend whom I love dearly, but whose health is crumbling, whose hopes are fading and whose time is running out. A friend who has dared to speak truth to power, who has shone a light on their criminal deeds and who is now paying the price. A friend whose voice has been strangled, whose hands have been shackled and whose name has been slandered. His name is Julian Assange.

julian assange and swedens politically appointed judges indicter graphicLet us remember that Julian has never been convicted for a sexual offense, that he has never even been formally charged with one, and that there never has been any supporting evidence against him. In fact, when the rape allegations first emerged in 2010, Julian voluntarily cooperated with the police, responded to their questions and stayed in Sweden until permitted to leave. Even the chief prosecutor, having carefully considered all the evidence, closed the case, stating that “I don’t think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape” and that the alleged conduct “disclosed no crime at all”. Only to be re-opened a few days later by a different prosecutor, and based on conveniently modified allegations of fact.

Let us also remember what both complainants have confirmed already years ago: namely that their sex with Julian had always been consensual, that they had never intended to report a crime, but that Swedish police had pressured them into doing so. And when Sweden finally wanted to drop the case in 2013, it was the British who urged them not to get “cold feet.” Sweden complied and, in the following years, went out of its way to ensure that Julian would not be able to defend himself against the rape allegations without at the same time exposing himself to extradition to the US.

On 13 May 2019, Sweden re-opened the very same grotesque investigation for a third time since August 2010. We all know that the rape allegations against Julian are bogus. We all know what is their real purpose. And we all know that Sweden acts in bad faith. As poignantly summarized by Women Against Rape: “The allegations against [Julian] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will”. I fully agree. This is not about justice for rape. This is about the rape of justice. A tragedy for Julian, a disgrace for Sweden and a serious betrayal of all of us believing in justice, democracy and the rule of law.

To me, Julian is a personal friend, a hero, a liberator. To you, he may be an enemy, a traitor, a sleazy snitch. You are entitled to your opinion and don’t have to change your mind. But before you draw your conclusions, please make sure you have really thought this through.

If, after all I said, you still believe Julian is a rapist, did you ever ask yourself whether the mere fact of a ripped condom can really amount to “rape”? A ripped condom which has revealed no trace of DNA? A ripped condom happening in the midst of repeated sexual encounters between consenting adults? A condom which Julian is accused of having ripped intentionally, but without the only other person in the room even noticing the deed? Just in case you didn’t know: that’s all he is being accused of. Pause and think. And then draw your own conclusions.

May 19

9 11 dancing israelis anamza photo

A high-quality photo, top, shows the area the dancing Israelis were staged. Credit | Panamza

Information Clearing House, Newly Released FBI Docs Shed Light on Apparent Mossad Foreknowledge of 9/11 Attacks, Whitney Webb, May 19, 2019. New information released by the FBI has brought fresh scrutiny to the possibility that the “Dancing Israelis,” at least two of whom were known Mossad operatives, had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

For nearly two decades, one of the most overlooked and little known arrests made in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was that of the so-called “High Fivers,” or the “Dancing Israelis.” However, new information released by the FBI on May 7 has brought fresh scrutiny to the possibility that the “Dancing Israelis,” at least two of whom were known Mossad operatives, had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Shortly after 8:46 a.m. on the day of the attacks, just minutes after the first plane struck the World Trade Center, five men — later revealed to be Israeli nationals — had positioned themselves in the parking lot of the Doric Apartment Complex in Union City, New Jersey, where they were seen taking pictures and filming the attacks while also celebrating the destruction of the towers and “high fiving” each other. At least one eyewitness interviewed by the FBI had seen the Israelis’ van in the parking lot as early as 8:00 a.m. that day, more than 40 minutes prior to the attack. The story received coverage in U.S. mainstream media at the time but has since been largely forgotten.

The men — Sivan Kurzberg, Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Yaron Shimuel and Omar Marmari — were subsequently apprehended by law enforcement and claimed to be Israeli tourists on a “working holiday” in the United States where they were employed by a moving company, Urban Moving Systems. Upon his arrest, Sivan Kurzberg told the arresting officer, “We are Israeli; we are not your problem. Your problems are our problems, The Palestinians are the problem.”

For years, the official story has been that these individuals, while they had engaged in “immature” behavior by celebrating and being “visibly happy” in their documenting of the attacks, had no prior knowledge of the attack. However, newly released FBI copies of the photos taken by the five Israelis strongly suggest that these individuals had prior knowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The copies of the photos were obtained via a FOIA request made by a private citizen.

According to a former high-ranking American intelligence official who spoke to the Jewish Daily Forward in 2002, the FBI concluded in its investigation that the five Israelis arrested “were conducting a Mossad surveillance mission and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, NJ, served as a front.” At least two of the men arrested were determined to have direct links to the Mossad after their names appeared in a CIA-FBI database of foreign intelligence operatives. According to one of their lawyers, one of the men, Paul Kurzberg, had previously worked for the Mossad in another country prior to arriving in the United States. Another of those arrested, Oded Ellner, subsequently stated on Israeli TV that the five Israelis had been in New York at the time “to document the event,” meaning the attack on the World Trade Center.

House Democrats are now scrutinizing whether Sekulow or other Trump attorneys played a role in shaping Cohen’s 2017 testimony to Congress. Cohen has said he made the false statement to help hide the fact that Trump had potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in a possible Russian project while he was running for president.

May 17

Mueller Probe

djt sergey lavrov sergey kislyak wh may 10 2017 tass

President Trump relaxes with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the White House on May 10, 2017. U.S. news media were barred from the confidential meeting, whose topics have remained secret. Photos are available only from the Russian outlet TASS.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge tells prosecutors to release transcript of Michael Flynn’s call to Russian envoy, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 17, 2019. The michael flynn stephen miller jared kushner reince priebustranscripts of the call and a separate voice mail would reveal conversations at the center of two major avenues of the Mueller probe. A federal judge on Thursday ordered that prosecutors make public a transcript of a phone call that former national security adviser Michael Flynn (shown at center of file photo at right surrounded by Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus) tried hard to hide with a lie: his conversation with a Russian ambassador in late 2016.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (below at left) in Washington ordered the government also to provide a public transcript of a November 2017 voice mail involving Flynn. In that sensitive call, President Trump’s attorney left a message for Flynn’s attorney reminding him of the president’s fondness for Flynn at a time when Flynn was considering cooperating with emmet sullivan 2012federal investigators.

The transcripts, which the judge ordered be posted on a court website by May 31, would reveal conversations at the center of two major avenues of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. So far they have been disclosed to the public only in fragments in court filings and the Mueller report.

Sullivan also ordered that still-redacted portions of the Mueller report that relate to Flynn be given to the court and made public. Sullivan’s orders came very shortly after government prosecutors agreed to release some sealed records in Flynn’s case. The release was in response to a motion filed with the court earlier this year by The Washington Post, which argued that the public deserved to know more about Flynn’s role in key events and cooperation with investigators.

The newly unsealed portions of court records showed Flynn was a deep source of useful information to the special counsel’s team in 2017 and 2018, helping it probe the Trump campaign’s effort to gain stolen emails and the question of whether Trump sought to criminally interfere in the investigation bearing down on him.

The records confirm the questions that Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and former military intelligence officer, helped federal prosecutors answer after his guilty plea. Flynn admitted in 2017 that he tried to conceal the nature of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then began cooperating with Mueller’s team to try to reduce and possibly avoid a prison sentence.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Robert Mueller has been waiting to testify, Bill Palmer, right, May 17, 2019. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee publicly stated that they thought Robert Mueller was going to publicly testify on May 15th – and when they learned it wasn’t going to happen, they didn’t seem too upset about it. Now we know why they were confident Mueller’s testimony would happen soon enough, and why Mueller was waiting.

bill palmer report logo headerLast night Robert Mueller’s prosecutorial team – which apparently still exists on some level – made a court filing in the Michael Flynn case, despite the fact that it wasn’t under obligation to do so, and it wasn’t even close to being up against any deadline. The filing revealed that Flynn witnessed Trump and his underlings commit several crimes. This in turn prompted the judge in the case to order that far more evidence of these crimes be publicly released soon. This, of course, wasn’t coincidence.

democratic donkey logoWith his filing yesterday, Mueller is essentially unredacting the most important pieces of his own report by force, in a way that Attorney General William Barr can’t stop. If Mueller had publicly testified on the 15th as originally planned, would he have been legally able to discuss the Trump crimes that Flynn witnessed? But now that Mueller has found a way to force the Flynn stuff into the public purview, there’s nothing that Trump and Barr can even try to do to stop Mueller from testifying about the Flynn stuff.

We’ll see if Robert Mueller makes other similar moves in the coming days in order to force the key findings of his probe into public view. But it’s now fairly obvious why he’s been waiting to testify. Why fight with Barr’s compromised DOJ about what you can testify about, when you can instead use the courts to change the entire playing field?

May 15

 whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Commentary: Truth? WTF Is That? Milicent Cranor, May 15, 2019. At a time when the American public seems to be more ignorant than ever, the tools of deception have become more sophisticated.

We live in an age of scams that trick the senses. Photos can be altered, films and videos can be manipulated to an exquisite degree of realism. Malware can add images of nonexistent cancerous lymph nodes to CT scans. Artificial intelligence can generate photorealistic images of people who do not even exist. Videos appear to show someone saying things in a speech they never said. Voice simulators can fool your nearest relative into thinking that’s you on the phone asking for $500 to spring you from a Turkish prison.

And then there are the sophisticated tools of psychological manipulation. The human sock puppets. The trolls who control the internet. The CIA, with its department of perception management and its assets in the media. The unlimited supply of bribable witnesses who will swear to anything. And those who manufacture scandals, like the conservative activists who tried to frame presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg for sexual assault.

David Swanson, Book Review: Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment, david swanson headDavid Swanson, May 15, 2019 (excerpted). A new book called Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons by Kris Newby adds significantly to our understanding of Lyme disease, while oddly seeming to avoid mention of what we already knew.

Newby claims (in 2019) that if a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer had not made a confession in 2013, the secret that Lyme disease came from a biological weapons program would have died with him. Yet, in 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on NBC’s Today Show, where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection. Lab 257 hit the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

Newby’s book reaches the same conclusion as Carroll’s, namely that the most likely source of diseased ticks is Plum Island. Newby reaches this conclusion on page 224 after mentioning Plum Island only once in passing in a list of facilities on page 47 and otherwise avoiding it throughout the book. This is bizarre, because Newby’s book otherwise goes into great depth, and even chronicles extensive research efforts that lead largely to dead ends, and because there is information available about Plum Island, and because Carroll’s best-selling book seems to demand comment, supportive or dismissive or otherwise.

In fact, I think that, despite the avoidance of any discussion of Plum Island, Newby’s research complements Carroll’s quite well, strengthens the same general conclusion, and then adds significant new understanding. So, let’s look at what Carroll told us, and then at what Newby adds.

Less than 2 miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes or at least made biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer swim to Plum Island. Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. “Ticks,” Carroll writes, “find baby chicks irresistible.”

In July of 1975 a new or very rare disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors. After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s (when we know that the United States was using such weaponized life forms in North Korea). Even Plum Island’s indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight.

And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease — and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

If Newby agrees or disagrees with any of the above, she does not inform us. But here’s what she adds to it.

The outbreak of unusual tick-borne disease around Long Island Sound actually started in 1968, and it involved three diseases: Lyme arthritis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis. A U.S. bioweapons scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, credited in 1982 with discovering the cause of Lyme disease, may have put the diseases into ticks 30 years earlier. And his report on the cause of Lyme disease may have involved a significant omission that has made it harder to diagnose or cure. The public focus on only one of the three diseases has allowed a disaster that could have been contained to become widespread.

Newby, who has herself suffered from Lyme disease, blames the profit interests of companies and the corruption of government for the poor handling of Lyme disease. But her writing suggests to me a possibility she doesn’t raise, namely that those who know where Lyme disease came from have avoided properly addressing it because of where it came from.

Newby assumes throughout the book that there has to have been a particular major incident near Long Island Sound, either an accident or an experiment on the public or an attack by a foreign nation. Burgdorfer reportedly claimed to another researcher that Russia stole U.S. bioweapons. Based on that and nothing else, Newby speculates that perhaps Russia attacked the United States with diseased ticks, coincidentally right in the location where the U.S. government experimented with diseased ticks.

May 13

Officials Ramp Up WikiLeaks Crackdown

Consortium News, Sweden Reopens 9-Year Old Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange; Seeks His Extradition, Joe Lauria, May 13, 2019. Sweden’s deputy director of public prosecution, Eva-Marie Persson, said Monday that Sweden would seek the extradition of Julian Assange to face a nearly ten-year old allegation of rape.

julian assange head bookAssange (shown in a file photo) is serving a 50-week sentence at Belmarsh prison in London for skipping bail in the rape case in 2012. Assange had lived inside the Ecuadorian embassy from June 2012 to April 11 this year, when Ecuador lifted his asylum and allowed British police to enter the embassy and arrest him.

On the same day the United States unveiled a sealed indictment accusing Assange of intrusion into a government computer. The U.S. also filed an extradition request for Assange.

Persson told a press conference in Stockholm on Monday that it would be up to British authorities to determine which extradition request—to Sweden or to the U.S.— would take precedence. She also said she wouldn’t speculate on an extradition request from the U.S. to Sweden since one had not yet been made. The wikileaks logo2BBC reported that “the decision as to which of the two requests take precedence will be made by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid. He would make his decision primarily on the basis of which alleged offence was considered to be more serious. Rape is likely to be considered more serious than conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. That would mean ordering Assange’s extradition to Sweden.”

Britain may take the opportunity to wash its hands of the politically thorny case of extraditing a publisher to the United States by sending him to Sweden instead, though Persson said Assange could not then be extradited to the U.S. from Sweden without Britain’s consent.

julian assange screenshot arrest (Ruptly)

London police arresting the bearded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (screenshot from Ruptly video).

RT, Ecuador will give US all documents & devices Assange left in London embassy – report, Staff and wire reporting, May 13, 2019.Ecuador's attorney general has informed Julian Assange's lawyer that the WikiLeaks co-founder's files, computer, mobile phones and other electronic devices will be seized during a search of the London embassy and sent to the US.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson tried unsuccessfully to retrieve Assange's personal belongings from Ecuador's UK embassy, where he had been holed up for almost seven years before his arrest and incarceration last month. However, the Ecuadorian government has reportedly greenlighted a US request to provide it with access to the documents and electronic devices left behind by the jailed WikiLeaks editor after he was hauled out of the embassy by the British police on April 11.

ecuador flagAlso on rt.com WikiLeaks editor denied entry to Ecuadorian Embassy to retrieve Assange’s belongings

The searches are set to be conducted by police on May 20, El Pais reported, citing a notice sent to Assange's Ecuadorian lawyer Carlos Poveda.

Personal files, Assange's computer, mobile phones, memory sticks, CDs and any other electronic devices uncovered during the searches will then be seized and sent to the US as a part of Ecuador's response to the Department of Justice's judicial request. The US is currently building a case to extradite Assange on hacking charges.

The files contain troves of sensitive information, include communication with lawyers and other legal documents – which, the lawyers argue, deprive him of the right to a proper defense. Having this data will potentially allow the US to "build and create new charges" to extradite Assange in violation of Ecuador's own asylum policies.

julian assange indicter imageNews of the looming handover came as a bolt out of the blue for Assange's defense team, Poveda told RT Spanish, adding that it's impossible to be sure that his things in the embassy haven't been tampered with already.

"Since Mr Assange left the embassy, we cannot know for sure what has been happening inside these rooms," he said. Lawyers have requested CCTV records for the period since Assange's arrest, Poveda said.

The US has until June 12 to build a case for extradition. Last week, Assange, who has been serving a 50-week sentence in a maximum-security Guantanamo Bay-style prison for skipping bail, faced an extradition judge for the first time. The WikiLeaks co-founder said he would not surrender himself to extradition for simply "doing journalism" that has earned his site many international awards.

Ecuador's attorney general has informed Julian Assange's lawyer that the WikiLeaks co-founder's files, computer, mobile phones and other electronic devices will be seized during a search of the London embassy and sent to the US.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson tried unsuccessfully to retrieve Assange's personal belongings from Ecuador's UK embassy, where he had been holed up for almost seven years before his arrest and incarceration last month. However, the Ecuadorian government has reportedly greenlighted a US request to provide it with access to the documents and electronic devices left behind by the jailed WikiLeaks editor after he was hauled out of the embassy by the British police on April 11.

May 9

'Constitutional Crisis,' Pelosi Warns

ny times logoNew York Times, Pelosi Declares Nation Is in a ‘Constitutional Crisis,’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, May 9, 2019. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the United States was in a “constitutional crisis” and warned that House Democrats might move to hold more Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress if they continued their refusals to comply with committee subpoenas.

nancy pelosi oSpeaking to reporters in the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi (shown in a file photo) said she agreed with Representative Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who said Wednesday that the nation was in a constitutional crisis after his committee recommended the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over an unredacted version of the special counsel’s report, along with the report’s underlying evidence.

“The administration has decided they are not going to honor their oath of office,” she said.

Ms. Pelosi said Democrats would bring the contempt citation to the floor for a vote of the full House “when we are ready.”

democratic donkey logoDemocrats have not settled on a precise date for the vote to hold Mr. Barr in contempt of Congress, though Mr. Nadler said after Wednesday’s vote that he wanted it scheduled “rapidly.”

Democratic leaders may wait to pair the Judiciary Committee’s contempt recommendations with another, most likely from the Intelligence Committee should its conflict with the Justice Department get to that point.

The committee’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, issued a subpoena on Thursday for Mr. Barr to hand over the full Mueller report and evidence, as well as all counterintelligence and foreign intelligence generated by the special counsel’s investigations. He gave the Justice Department until May 15 to comply. If Mr. Barr ignores that deadline, the Intelligence Committee would probably hold its own contempt proceedings and send another recommendation to the House floor.

There are other possible contempt citations in the wings as well, including for Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel who is under subpoena by the Judiciary Committee, and witnesses in unrelated Oversight and Reform Committee investigations.

Ms. Pelosi has been urging caution since the release of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel; she believes that Democrats campaigned on addressing issues like health care and the high cost of prescription drugs and must keep their focus on priorities for voters.

Barr Cited For Contempt

 ny times logoNew York Times, House Panel Votes to Recommend Contempt for Barr, Nicholas Fandos, May 9, 2019 (print ed.). The vote by the House Judiciary Committee against Attorney General William P. Barr came after he failed to turn over the unredacted Mueller report. Hours earlier, President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report. Both moves escalate the drama in an increasingly tense battle. 

william barr new oThe House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr, right, in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence from public view.

The committee’s 24-16 contempt vote, taken after hours of debate that featured apocalyptic language about the future of American democracy, marked the first time that the House has taken official action to punish a government official or witness amid a standoff between the legislative and executive branch. The Justice Department decried it as an unnecessary and overwrought reaction designed to stoke a fight.

The drama raised the stakes yet again in an increasingly tense battle over evidence and witnesses as Democrats investigate Mr. Trump and his administration. By the day’s end, it seemed all but inevitable that the competing claims would have to be settled in the nation’s courts rather than on Capitol Hill, as Democrats had initially hoped after the initial delivery of Mr. Mueller’s report.

“Our fight is not just about the Mueller Report — although we must have access to the Mueller report. Our fight is about defending the rights of Congress, as an independent branch, to hold the president, any president, accountable,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, during a grueling debate that ended with a vote along party lines.

The executive privilege assertion was Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president. The Justice Department described it as “protective” to allow Mr. Trump time to fully review the materials to make a final privilege determination. But the timing of the assertion signaled that the White House is eager for a fight, and the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, indicated that no change of heart was coming.

May 2

Venezuelan Coup Crisis

juan guaido nicolas maduro

washington post logoWashington Post, In Venezuela, opposition tries to maintain momentum as bid to topple Maduro crumbles, Anthony Faiola and Mariana Zuñiga​, May 2, 2019. Juan Guaidó, shown above at left, called for daily protests until President Nicolás Maduro (above right) leaves. Venezuela’s opposition sought to maintain pressure Thursday on President Nicolás Maduro through further protests, as the embattled socialist leader convened a weekend of dialogue to critique his mandate and fine-tune “the revolution.”

venezuela flag waving customFollowing a failed attempt to stage a peaceful military revolt Tuesday and overthrow Maduro, the opposition was facing a limited array of options.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó on Wednesday called on Venezuelans to stage daily protests until Maduro leaves. The campaign, opposition officials said, included an appeal to public servants to show civil disobedience by wearing blue armbands to work.

After two days of violent protests that left two people dead and dozens wounded, the opposition was banking on a resilient populace to continue the effort — though it remained unclear how exhausted, crisis-battered Venezuelans would respond. Guaidó insisted late Wednesday that political change remains within Venezuela’s grasp.

At 6 a.m. on Thursday, Maduro appeared at a military base in western Caracas alongside Vladimir Padrino López, a member of the president’s inner circle who the Trump administration has said was negotiating his ouster.

“The empire is investing in dividing us and say there’s a civil war in Venezuela,” Maduro said, referring to the United States. “They say they have to intervene, to weaken our homeland. No matter the circumstance we have to be united, and that’s what loyalty is. It has to be a collective strength.”

Future of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: Regime Change Failure (So Far) in Venezuela, Jacob G. Hornberger, May 2, 2019. So far, the U.S. national-security establishment’s jacob hornberger newregime-change operation in Venezuela has met with failure. Having designated Venezuelan public official Juan Guaidó as the new president of the country, U.S. officials have still not been able to deliver him the reins of power. At the very least, Guaidó isn’t collecting taxes from anyone, which is usually a good sign of who wields political power within a country.

A couple of days ago, Guaidó, perhaps acting on orders of the CIA and other U.S. officials, declared that the revolution to put him into office was on. He called on the Venezuelan people to take to the streets and rise up against the Nicholas Maduro regime and for the Venezuelan military to turn against Maduro.

The result was failure. Only few hundred people showed up and the military establishment declared its loyalty to Maduro. Guaidó’s right hand man, Leopoldo Lopez, who was aligned with Guaidó on revolution day, quickly ensconced himself in the Chilean embassy and then later in the Spanish embassy.

The Los Angeles Times yesterday pointed out that there is one constituency in Venezuela that matters most — the military. Whoever gets the military on its side will win the regime-change battle. The Times’ observation says as much about Venezuela’s government as it does about the U.S. government. Both governments are what are known as “national-security states.” A national-security state is characterized by an extremely powerful and permanent large military-intelligence establishment, one that wields overwhelming power within the overall governmental structure.

In the United States, the national-security branch of the government is composed of a triumvirate consisting of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. In Venezuela, like in Egypt, North Korea, and other national-security states, all of the powers that are wielded by the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA are simply combined within the overall military establishment. Thus, when we refer to the Venezuelan “military,” we are referring to a combination military and intelligence establishment, one that wields such omnipotent powers as assassination, military arrests, indefinite detention in military facilities, torture, trial by military tribunal, secret surveillance, and all the other powers exercised by the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

In any national security-state, the military-intelligence establishment wields the real power within the government. As Michael Glennon, professor of law at Tufts University, explains in his excellent book National Security and Double Government, in the U.S. governmental system the national-security part of the federal government is the part that is actually in control but permits the other three parts — the president, the Congress, and the federal judiciary to maintain the veneer of power.

For example, recall President Trump’s order last December to withdraw all troops from Syria. Very quickly, the Pentagon rejected that order by announcing that the troops would be withdrawn within 3 months, not immediately. But it never had any intention of even doing that. This week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Mulroy announced that U.S. troops would be in Syria “for the long haul.” If that’s not proof of who’s in charge, I don’t know what is.

Consider who President “America First” Trump has brought into his inner circle — John Bolton and Eliott Abrams, two of the fiercest foreign interventionists and anti-communist regime-changers during the Cold War. At the same time, he appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo as U.S. Secretary of State. Not surprisingly, Bolton, Abrams, and Pompeo are leading the charge for regime change in Venezuela. Also not surprisingly, Bolton and Abrams are repeating their old Cold War anti-communist diatribes against Russia and Cuba and threatening severe action against them for supporting the Maduro regime. No doubt we’ll soon be hearing how the dominoes are going to fall and how the Reds, once again, are coming to get us.

No doubt Bolton, Abrams, Pompeo, the Pentagon, and the CIA really did believe that the Venezuelan people would rise up and be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the Pentagon and the CIA. In convincing themselves that the Venezuelan people love the CIA and the Pentagon, they make the same mistake they made in Cuba during their disastrous regime-change invasion at the Bay of Pigs. At that time, they were convinced that the Cuban people would rise up against Cuban leader Fidel Castro and embrace the CIA’s invaders. It didn’t happen, just as the Venezuelan people didn’t rise up against Maduro a few days ago.

What the Pentagon and the CIA and Bolton and Abrams fail to realize is that there are two issues here confronting the Venezuelan people as well as the Cuban people. Many, if not most, Venezuelans and most Cubans hate their socialist economic systems but the fact is that they hate the CIA and the Pentagon and their regime-change interventionism even more. Thus, the darkly ironic part of all this is that Pentagon-CIA interventionism are responsible for making both the Cuban and Venezuelan socialist regimes even more deeply ensconced than they would be without U.S. interventionism.

The solution to all this mayhem? Leave Venezuela to the Venezuelans, dismantle America’s national-security state apparatus, and restore America’s founding governmental structure of a limited-government republic and its founding principle of non-interventionism.

 

william barr rod rosenstein ocallaghan cspan

The Atlantic, Opinion: The Catastrophic Performance of Bill Barr, The attorney general misled the public in seven key ways, Benjamin Wittes (editor-in-chief of Lawfare), right, May 2, ben wittes brookings2019. atlantic logoI was willing to give Bill Barr a chance. Consider me burned.

When Barr was nominated, I wrote a cautious piece for this magazine declining to give him “a character reference” and acknowledging “legitimate reasons to be concerned about [his] nomination,” but nonetheless concluding that “I suspect that he is likely as good as we’re going to get. And he might well be good enough. Because most of all, what the department needs right now is honest leadership that will insulate it from the predations of the president.”

Barr has now acted, and we can now evaluate his actual, rather than his hypothesized, performance. It has been catastrophic. Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general — whoever he or she is — is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president. In this case it is true.

Barr has consistently sought to spin his department’s work in a highly political fashion, and he has done so to cast the president’s conduct in the most favorable possible light. Trump serially complained that Jeff Sessions didn’t act to “protect” him. Matthew Whitaker never had the stature or internal clout to do so effectively. In Barr, Trump has found his man.

Ironically, the redactions on the report — the matter on which I urged giving Barr the benefit of the doubt — are the one major area where his performance has been respectable. On this matter, he laid out a time frame for the release of the report. He met it. His redactions, as best as I can tell, were not unreasonable, though they were aggressive in some specific areas. To whatever extent he went overboard, Congress has a far-less-redacted version. The public, in any event, has access to a detailed account of Mueller’s conclusions. On this point, Barr did as he said he would.

Where Barr has utterly failed, by contrast, is in providing “honest leadership that insulates [the department] from the predations of the president.” I confess I am surprised by this. I have never known Barr well, but I thought better of him than that.

The core of the problem is not that Barr moved, as many people worried he would, to suppress the report; it is what he has said about it. I have spent a great deal of time with the Mueller report, about which Barr’s public statements are simply indefensible. The mischaracterizations began in his first letter. They got worse during his press conference the morning he released the document. And they grew worse still yesterday in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

May 1

U.S. Justice & Constitutional Crisis

robert mueller screenshot washington post

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Pushed Twice for Barr to Release Report’s Summaries, Michael S. Schmidt, May 1, 2019. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown above in a file photo), pushed Attorney General William P. Barr twice to release more of his investigative findings in late March after Mr. Barr outlined the inquiry’s main conclusions in a letter to Congress, citing a gap between Mr. Barr’s interpretation and Mr. Mueller’s report, according to a letter released on Wednesday.

The letter, from Mr. Mueller, revealed deep concern about how Mr. Barr handled the initial release of the special counsel’s findings.

Mr. Mueller’s office first informed the Justice Department of their concerns on March 25, a day after Mr. Barr released his letter clearing Mr. Trump but declined to release the special counsel’s findings themselves.

“We communicated that concern to the department on the morning of March 25,” Mr. Mueller said in a second letter to Mr. Barr two days later. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.”

Mr. Barr’s letter “threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations,” Mr. Mueller wrote.

ny times logoNew York Times, William Barr Hearing: Live Updates and Analysis of Testimony on the Mueller Report, Staff reports, May 1, 2019. Attorney General William P. Barr will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to testify about his decisions around the special counsel's report.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lindsey Graham has profane meltdown during William Barr testimony, Bill Palmer, May 1, 2019. If you’ve been wondering why Donald Trump’s disgraced lindsey graham judiciary chairmanAttorney General William Barr was willing to show up and testify about his crimes to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, even as he publicly considers dodging tomorrow’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, you need look no further than the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee is run by Trump’s corrupt lunatic lackey Lindsey Graham. Sure enough, Graham (right) wasted no time turning the whole thing into a freak show this morning.

bill palmer report logo headerGraham kicked off his opening statement by appearing to complain about the air conditioning, and that turned out to be the least strange thing he said. He then went on to falsely claim that Robert Mueller found “no collusion” – such a blatant lie that MSNBC felt compelled to mute him and quickly jump in to explain that Graham was lying. That’s almost unprecedented for a committee chairman’s opening statement, yet it set the tenor for the day.

Graham made the stunning admission that he hasn’t even read the entire Mueller report, and that alone should have caused a trap door to open up underneath him. He then wasted no time bringing up Donald Trump’s favorite phony conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s emails and former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s text messages. At one point Graham read aloud the Strzok quote “Donald Trump is a fucking idiot” for no good reason, and his profanity was broadcast uncensored on live national television. Graham then apologized to any children who were watching.

After Lindsey Graham was finished with his profane, lying, and incoherent meltdown in front of the cameras, Democratic ranking member Dianne Feinstein then used her opening remarks to state the facts about the Mueller report, and Robert Mueller’s letter exposing William Barr’s lies about the Mueller report. We presume Lindsey Graham is now hiding under his desk.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr, James Comey (former F.B.I. director, shown in an official photo), May 1, 2019. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t james comeyresist the compromises necessary to survive this president. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?

How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?

washington post logoWashington Post, Emoluments case can proceed, judge says, providing potential access to information about Trump’s business deals, Jonathan O'Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Carol D. Leonnig​, May 1, 2019 (print ed.). The federal lawsuit, backed by nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers, says the president is violating the Constitution’s emoluments provision when his businesses accept payments from foreign governments.

emmet sullivan 2012Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (a Republican-nominated judge, shown at left) adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption ban and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene.

In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it “unpersuasive and inconsistent.”

The lawsuit is one of two landmark cases against Trump relying on the once-obscure emoluments clauses of the Constitution. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Administration won’t provide details on individual clearances, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, May 1, 2019. The White House said that it will not authorize any executive branch officials to disclose to Congress information about individual security clearances.

The White House said Wednesday that it will not authorize any executive branch officials to disclose to Congress information about individual security clearances, a move that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) called “the latest example of the president’s widespread and growing obstruction of Congress.”

The Oversight panel has been examining the administration’s handling of security clearances and allegations that officials, including presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, were granted access to sensitive information over the objections of career staff.

The investigation has led to an angry and escalating standoff between the House committee and the White House, which accused the panel in a letter Wednesday of “advancing a partisan political agenda.”

Among other things, White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone wrote, “the committee appears to be putting public servants at risk” as it seeks information on the way in which the White House granted security clearances to Kushner and others in the top echelons of the Trump White House.

Media / WikiLeaks

washington post logoWashington Post, Assange sentenced to nearly a year in prison for jumping bail, William Booth and Karla Adam​, May 1, 2019. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced Wednesday to 50 weeks in a British prison for jumping bail. He apologized to the court, but the judge said he had used his “privileged position” to show disdain for British law.

julian assange head bookAssange (shown in a file photo) next faces an extradition hearing in London related to separate and more serious charges in the United States of conspiring to hack a government password.

Assange, 47, appeared at London’s Southwark Crown Court wearing a black jacket and gray sweater, the bushy white beard seen during his arrest last month now neatly trimmed. He offered a letter of apology and answered the judge in a quiet voice from behind a glass wall in a bland courtroom packed with journalists taking notes.

The Australian citizen had faced up to a year in a British prison for his bail violation — the maximum penalty for such an offense. He broke his bail conditions in 2012 when he fled to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London after Sweden requested his extradition in a case involving sexual assault allegations, including rape. Assange has denied those accusations.

Venezuelan Crisis

washington post logovenezuela flag waving customWashington Post, Guaidó, Maduro call for rival protests in Venezuela, Mariana Zuñiga and Anthony Faiola​, May 1, 2019. The demonstrations come a day after one person was killed and dozens others hurt in clashes around the country.

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Once Idolized, Guru of Nxivm ‘Sex Cult’ to Stand Trial Alone, Staff report, May 1, 2019. Keith Raniere, who led a group in which women were branded, is on trial in Brooklyn. Testimony is expected to be prurient, bizarre and nauseating, court filings suggest.

April

April 30

U.S. Justice & Constitutional Crisis

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Mueller complained to Barr that his letter did not capture ‘context’ of probe, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, April 30, 2019. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (shown in a Washington Post screenshot) expressed his concerns in a letter to William P. Barr, right, after the attorney general publicized Mueller's principal conclusions. The letter was followed by a phone call during which Mueller pressed Barr to release executive summaries of his report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Emoluments case can proceed, judge says, providing potential access to information about Trump’s business deals, Jonathan O'Connell, Ann E. Marimow and Carol D. Leonnig​, April 30, 2019. The federal lawsuit, backed by nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers, says the president is violating the Constitution’s emoluments provision when his businesses accept payments from foreign governments.

emmet sullivan 2012Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (a Republican-nominated judge, shown at left) adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption ban and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene.

In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it “unpersuasive and inconsistent.”

The lawsuit is one of two landmark cases against Trump relying on the once-obscure emoluments clauses of the Constitution. 

rod rosenstein cropped william barr screenshot april 18 2019

Attorney General William Barr, left, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a Justice Department news conference on April 18 where Barr spun Special Counsel Robert Mueller's then-forthcoming report to make it look like it exonerated President Trump and his main line of defenses (Screenshot).

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Rod "The Weasel" Rosenstein departs Trump's criminal lair, Wayne Madsen (left, author, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst), April 30, 2019 (Subscription normally wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallrequired but released today in the public interest. Excerpted below, with full version on WMR website).

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has tendered his resignation effective May 11. For someone like Donald Trump, who rants and raves like a lunatic about the nefarious “Deep State” he says is out to get him, Rosenstein has been and will remain a committed enforcer of the deep state.

Perhaps, not the deep state in the traditional sense. Rosenstein’s and Attorney General William Barr’s deep state is one of corporate manipulators that, today, finds itself entrenched firmly in the power centers of the United States, Russia, Britain, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, and most of the world’s other major governments sans China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

Rosenstein drafted and signed the letter that fired James Comey as FBI director. Rosenstein joined Barr in pressuring Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller to prematurely wrap up his investigation of foreign meddling in the 2016 election. Rosenstein never raised one peep when Trump appointed sacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions chief of staff Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General, a position for which Whitaker was totally unsuited.

Throughout his career, Rosenstein has been an untrustworthy, slimy worm.

lawrence walshRosenstein’s time in the Public Integrity Section was during Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh’s investigation of the Reagan and Bush administrations for the Iran-Contra scandal. There was plenty of public corruption in those days, but Rosenstein would witness Attorney General Barr prepare pardons for six pardons by George H W Bush for top officials convicted as a result of Walsh’s investigation. Mueller’s exasperation over Barr’s non-cooperation with Walsh’s investigation appeared in William Safire’s column in The New York Times. Safire called Barr “Captain Cover-up.”

From 1995 to 1997, Rosenstein worked in the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr as a co-counsel in what amounted to an actual witch hunt by Republicans of President Bill Clinton.

In 1996, Rosenstein, Starr (shown below), and other prosecutors gathered at a North Little Rock, Arkansas restaurant to celebrate three convictions of ken starr windividuals – James and Susan McDougal and Arkansas Democratic Governor Jim Guy Tucker, all friends of Bill Clinton -- who were found guilty in the so-called “Whitewater” investigation led by Starr. Rosenstein joined the other prosecutors in lighting up their “victory cigars.”

....When Trump appointed Barr to be his “Roy Cohn” at Justice, it was old home week for Rosenstein.

Once again, the man who sat in the office of the Attorney General was the same person Rosenstein had assisted thirty years earlier in the cover-up of the Iran-Contra scandal.

Rosenstein would use his remaining time at Justice to appear behind Barr at a news conference at which Barr incorrectly described Mueller’s final report on election manipulation as a total exoneration. Rosenstein also praised Barr in public remarks delivered to the Yale Club in New York. In full weasel mode, Rosenstein also lauded Trump for his “respect for the rule of law” and berated the Obama administration and the press.

Alliance for Justice, Opinion: The House Needs a Dose of Urgency, Bill Yeomans (right), April 30, 2019. Attorney General Barr unveiled a heavily smudged version of Robert Mueller’s bill yeomans afj cropped Customreport twelve days ago. He misrepresented its content both in writing and at a press conference before its release. His false narrative – that the president had engaged in neither collusion nor obstruction – continues to resonate with much of the public.

While journalists and experts who have read the 448-page report have rejected Barr’s take and marveled at his audacity, the burden rests with Congress to set the record straight. Congress responded initially with a face-plant, otherwise known as recess. It returns this week to try again.

alliance for justice logoTrump is pushing the House toward impeachment. His posture strengthens the case for bundling investigation of all of his obstructive and contemptuous conduct into hearings in a single forum that is focused on moving toward impeachment. While crystal balls are in short supply, the political argument against impeachment is not clear. Polling suggests that 37% of the general public and 60% of Democrats support the initiation of impeachment. Those numbers seem remarkably high considering that Barr’s spin as amplified by Trump has dominated the news. The polling was conducted before Trump’s full rejection of oversight.

People have not read – and will not read – the full report. Nor are they likely to pay close attention to diffuse oversight hearings in a variety of different committees. But they will pay attention to high-drama, focused hearings in a single committee that lay out the evidence in the report. Democrats need to trust that the public will react with disgust and horror to Trump’s astonishing abuse of the public trust. Recall that Republicans presented united opposition to Nixon’s impeachment and it wasn’t until two weeks before his resignation that a majority of the country first supported his removal from office.

djt robert mueller headshotsTrue, the Senate is unlikely to vote for removal, but months of hearings in the House followed by a trial in the Senate will make every American aware of Trump’s betrayal and will force every Senator to defend their vote to keep Trump in office. That’s a pretty powerful lead into the 2020 election.

This process will not be easy. While Congress may have the legal right to demand that witnesses testify and the executive branch produce documents, the forces of time and inertia favor the president. The House must rely on contempt citations followed by civil enforcement litigation. The process will take time, but moving to impeachment will strengthen the House’s legal position in overcoming executive privilege and objections to the scope of its investigation. It will also help in obtaining grand jury material collected by Mueller.

April 29

peter dale scott american deep state rowman and littlefield Custom

Dr. Peter Dale Scott is considered the father of “Deep Politics” — the study of hidden permanent institutions and interests whose influence on the political realm transcends the elected, appointed, and career officials who come and go. A professor of English at Berkeley and a former Canadian diplomat, he is the author of several critically acclaimed books on the pivotal events of our country’s recent past, including American War Machine (2010) and The American Deep State (2018), which are relevant to the story below.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Analysis: The Mueller Report, Alfa Bank, and the Deep State, Peter Dale Scott, April 29, 2019. The Deep State, and stories of a mysterious computer back alpha bank logochannel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest private banks, whose leaders are close to Putin.

For two years President Donald Trump and Fox News have been attacking the “deep state” in Washington, usually referring to the intelligence agencies, like FBI and CIA, who have had Trump under investigation.

But my notion of the deep state also includes private sources of power, outside government — but able to influence it illicitly — such as the Russian private Bank Alfa.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Anti-Abortion Incitement, Michelle Goldberg, April 29, 2019. The president’s lies about infanticide could inspire violence. Abortion providers are regular targets of domestic terrorism, and Trump’s lies serve as incitement. In 2016, a man fired an AR-15 inside a Washington pizzeria because he believed right-wing conspiracy theories that it was the epicenter of a child sex trafficking ring involving Hillary Clinton. Now the putative leader of the free world is spreading tales about unimaginable Democratic depravity toward innocent children.

It’s not a stretch to imagine an unstable Trump acolyte taking him both seriously and literally. Indeed, it seems that at least one already has. Last week, a 30-year-old Trump supporter named Matthew Haviland was arrested and accused of threatening to rape and murder a professor who supports abortion rights. According to an affidavit by an F.B.I. joint terrorism task force officer, Haviland wrote in an email, “I will kill every Democrat in the world so we never more have to have our babies brutally murdered by you absolute terrorists.” He also made over a hundred threatening calls to an abortion clinic.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Zombie Style in American Politics, Paul Krugman (right), April 29, 2019. Why bad ideas just won’t stay dead. If you’ve been trying to follow the Republican response to revelations about what happened in 2016, you may be a bit confused. We’re not even talking about an ever-shifting party line; new excuses keep emerging, but old excuses are never abandoned. On one side, we have Rudy Giuliani saying that “there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” On the other side, we have Jared Kushner denying that Russia did anything beyond taking out “a couple of Facebook ads.”

It’s all very strange. Or, more accurately, it can seem very strange if you still think of the G.O.P. as a normal political party, one that adopts policy positions and then defends those positions in more or less good faith.

But if you have been following Republican arguments over the years, you know that the party’s response to evidence of Russian intervention in 2016 is standard operating procedure. On issue after issue, what you see are multiple levels of denial combined with a refusal ever to give up an argument no matter how completely it has been discredited.

What the right’s positioning on inequality, climate and now Russian election interference have in common is that in each case the people pretending to be making a serious argument are actually apparatchiks operating in bad faith. What I mean by that is that in each case those making denialist arguments, while they may invoke evidence, don’t actually care what the evidence says; at a fundamental level, they aren’t interested in the truth. Their goal, instead, is to serve a predetermined agenda.

The public deserves to know that the big debates in modern U.S. politics aren’t a conventional clash of rival ideas. They’re a war in which one side’s forces consist mainly of intellectual zombies.

 

April 29

Justice Integrity Project, What Would James Bond Think? How the CIA Relied on 007 for inspiration in its plot to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Thomas Maier, April 29, 2019. Introduction: Guest columnist Thomas Maier shares below an excerpt from his most recent book, Mafia Spies: The Inside Story of the CIA, Gangsters, JFK and Castro.

During America’s 1960 presidential campaign, Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro and his Russian-backed Communist regime loomed as one of the nation’s top issues. Rumors of a pending U.S. invasion were rampant. And talk about spying floated in the air, thanks to the popular novels about the adventures of the fictional British secret agent, James Bond.

But in real-life, only a few knew of the CIA’s top-secret plan for assassination of Castro by two mobsters, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli -- apparently not even the candidates

April 24

April 26

The Sun, Analysis: Saudi Savagery: Saudi Arabia mass execution – Lad, 16, tortured with electricity and BEHEADED just for sending WhatsApp messages about protests, Patrick abdulkarim al hawaj screenshotKnox and Mark Hodge, April 26, 2019. Abdulkareem al-Hawa (right) was put to death in front of a baying crowd along with 36 other men who were executed this week in the barbaric desert kingdom.

A young lad was tortured with electricity and beheaded in Saudi Arabia because he sent WhatsApp messages about a protest aged 16. Abdulkarim al-Hawaj, 21, was a schoolboy when he was detained and accused of being a "terrorist" for sending texts online about an anti-government demonstration. He was a Shiite Muslim - which is a persecuted minority group in Sunni-dominated Saudi - living in the troubled Eastern province.

Abdulkarim was beaten and tortured with electricity while his hands were chained above his head when he “confessed” to his crimes, human rights charity Reprieve said.

mujtaba al sweikat soccer ballAccording to Amnesty International, his trial was a farce because he was denied access to a proper defence lawyer and convicted on the forced confession. Aside from torture, the charity also claims that his captors threatened to kill his family if did not confess to the crimes.

This week, he had his head cut from his body in front of a baying, bloodthirsty crowd along with 36 other men in the medieval country.

Sentencing a person to death who is aged under 18 is banned under international law.

Another victim, Mujtaba al-Sweikat, left, was a teenager who was set to start a new life in the US, studying at Western Michigan University, when he was arrested for attending an anti-government protest.

The then-17-year-old – who had enrolled in English language and finance - was badly beaten including on the soles of his feet before he “confessed” to crimes against the state.

Human rights charities claim he was also tortured into confessing and convicted in a "sham trial." Despite his university protesting his sentence, insisting he had “great promise,” Mujtaba was also beheaded this week.

April 24

UN logo

Reuters, U.N. rights boss condemns Saudi Arabia's beheading of 37 men, Stephanie Nebehay and Sylvia Westall, April 24, 2019. The U.N. human rights chief on Wednesday condemned the beheadings of 37 Saudi nationals across the kingdom this week, saying most were minority Shi’ite Muslims who may not have had fair trials and at least three were minors when sentenced.

Saudi Arabia, which said on Tuesday it had carried out the executions over terrorism crimes, has come under increasing global scrutiny over its human rights record since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate and the detention of women’s rights activists.

“It is particularly abhorrent that at least three of those killed were minors at the time of their sentencing,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement issued in Geneva.

She said United Nations rapporteurs had expressed concern about a lack of due process and fair trial guarantees amid allegations that confessions were obtained through torture.

Amnesty International said late on Tuesday the majority of those executed in six cities belonged to the Shi’ite minority and were convicted after “sham trials”, included at least 14 people who had participated in anti-government protests in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province in 2011-2012.

It said in a statement that one of them, Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, was arrested when he was 16, making his execution a “flagrant violation of international law”.

London-based Amnesty said 11 of those executed had been convicted of spying for the kingdom’s arch-adversary, Shi’ite Muslim Iran, and sentenced to death in 2016.

The Shi’ite-majority Eastern Province became a focal point of unrest in early 2011 with demonstrations calling for an end to discrimination and for reforms in the Sunni Muslim monarchy. Saudi Arabia denies any discrimination against Shi’ites.

April 21

The Americas: Corruption, Death

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-president’s suicide brings more criticism of Peru’s pretrial detentions, Simeon Tegel, April 21, 2019 (print ed). It’s impossible to know why Alan García killed himself this week. The charismatic politician, once hailed as Latin America’s JFK, shot himself Wednesday after police showed up at his home in Lima to arrest him in the largest corruption scandal in the region’s history.

alan garcía 2008 wHad he not killed himself, García, 69 (shown at right in a 2008 photo via Wikipedia), would have faced up to three years in pretrial detention, potentially without actually being indicted — a term unthinkable in many democracies, even for suspects facing overwhelming evidence of the most heinous crimes.

“It is increasingly difficult to justify,” said Ignazio de Ferrari, a political scientist at Lima’s University of the Pacific.

But it’s the fate confronting more of Peru’s most prominent politicians as they’re swept up in the sprawling Odebrecht investigation by a new generation of aggressive prosecutors determined to stamp out the systemic graft that has long slowed economic development and corroded faith in public institutions here.

Other suspects who have been ordered to pretrial detention in the scandal include former presidents Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who is 80, and Ollanta Humala, who has three young children. Humala’s wife, the children’s mother, was also jailed.

Critics question the courts’ acceptance of the often limited arguments presented by prosecutors for locking up high-profile suspects before they have been indicted. They warn that the tactic could threaten the legitimacy of Peru’s landmark investigation.

Odebrecht, Latin America’s largest construction company, has admitted to paying nearly $1 billion in bribes across the region to secure public contracts. The international probe into the Brazilian giant has ensnared officials from Mexico to Argentina.

Arguably no country outside Brazil has been affected as badly as Peru. Four of the country’s previous presidents, including García, have been implicated. The freeze on Odebrecht’s extensive operations here, meanwhile, is thought to have slashed GDP growth by as much as 1.5 percent.

The case has crystallized Peruvians’ fury at entrenched graft, leaving many unconcerned about observing the niceties of due process for those suspected of benefiting from the company’s criminal largesse.

De Ferrari didn’t wish to defend García, but he called the use of pretrial detention “excessive.” Diego García Sayán, a former justice minister and judge on the inter-American Court of Human Rights, wants to see prosecutors adopt a “more selective criterion” for requesting detention. García Sayán warns that the practice provides rhetorical ammunition to those who want to block the anticorruption offensive. An example came this week when Mauricio Mulder, a lawmaker from García’s APRA party, described the probe into the former president as a “fascist persecution.”

April 19

More on Mueller Report

robert mueller waving hands

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III (file photo)

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Live Coverage & Analysis, Staff reporting, April 19, 2019. Redacted Mueller Report released here. Selected MSNBC print and videos on April 18 below:

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Details Multiple Contacts With Russians and Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Inquiry, Mark Mazzetti, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). Cites Legal Constraints in Declining to Charge, but Does Not Exonerate. Robert S. Mueller III revealed a frantic, monthslong effort by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, cataloging in a report released on Thursday the attempts by Mr. Trump to escape an inquiry that imperiled his presidency from the start.

The much-anticipated report laid out how a team of prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, wrestled with whether the president’s actions added up to an indictable offense of obstruction of justice for a sitting president. They ultimately decided not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but pointedly declined to exonerate him.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr. Mueller’s investigators wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Mr. Mueller inherited a sweeping inquiry 23 months ago into whether Mr. Trump or any of his aides had coordinated with the Russian government’s campaign to sabotage the presidential election. The report found numerous contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russians in the months before and after the election — meetings in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton — but said there was “insufficient evidence” to establish that there had been a criminal conspiracy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller rejects idea that Trump is shielded from obstruction laws, Staff report, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). Report suggests investigators found abundant evidence that Trump sought to undermine probe.

The special counsel rejected arguments advanced by the president’s lawyers that he is shielded from obstruction of justice laws by his unique constitutional role and powers. Follow along for the latest findings as a team of Post reporters dissects Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

President Trump, upon first learning of the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, cursed and declared, “this is the end of my presidency,” according to the redacted 400-page report by Mueller released Thursday by the Justice Department.

The detailed document depicts a Trump campaign that expected to “benefit electorally” from information stolen and released by Russia and a president who subsequently engaged in several alarming actions, including seeking the ouster of former officials and ordering a memo that would clear his name.

The release of the report followed a news conference at which Attorney General William P. Barr exonerated Trump, saying neither he nor his campaign colluded with Russia and that none of Trump’s actions rose to the level of obstruction of justice, despite Mueller leaving that question unanswered in his report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mueller’s report paints a damning portrait of Trump’s presidency, Dan Balz, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The report shows a pattern of behavior outside the norms of the Oval Office, even if Barr concludes there was no obstruction of justice.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Impeachable -- Trump's attempted domestic re-weaponization of NSA, Wayne Madsen, April 19, 2019 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Not since the Nixon administration has a U.S. president flagrantly attempted to use the National Security Agency (NSA) to involve itself in a domestic law enforcement matter in pursuit of an Oval Office cover-up....Trump’s action to misuse a U.S. intelligence agency to protect him from criminal liability is an impeachable offense, as previously decided by the U.S. House of Representatives in Article II of its impeachment resolution against Nixon.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Democrats Subpoena Full Report, and All Evidence, Nicholas Fandos, April 19, 2019. The subpoena escalates a fight with the attorney general over what material Congress is entitled to see from the investigation. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee formally issued a subpoena on Friday demanding that the Justice Department hand over to Congress an unredacted version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and all of the evidence underlying it by May 1.

jerrold nadler o SmallThe subpoena, one of the few issued thus far by House Democrats, escalates a fight with Attorney General William P. Barr over what material Congress is entitled to see from the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York (right), asked for all evidence, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence.

“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates. It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Dishonesty, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, April 18, 2019. The report by Robert S. Mueller III shows a hotbed of conflict defined by a president who lies and tries to get his staff to lie for him. At one juncture after another, President Trump gave in to anger in ways that turned aides into witnesses against him.

As President Trump met with advisers in the Oval Office in May 2017 to discuss replacements for the F.B.I. director he had just fired, Attorney General Jeff Sessions slipped out of the room to take a call.

When he came back, he gave Mr. Trump bad news: Robert S. Mueller III had just been appointed as a special counsel to take over the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and any actions by the president to impede it.

Mr. Trump slumped in his chair. “Oh, my God,” he said. “This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

It has not been the end of his presidency, but it has come to consume it. Although the resulting two-year investigation ended without charges against Mr. Trump, Mr. Mueller’s report painted a damning portrait of a White House dominated by a president desperate to thwart the inquiry only to be restrained by aides equally desperate to thwart his orders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Paranoia, lies and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The 448-page report reveals a vivid portrait of a president and his aides on the brink of obstructing justice.

washington post logoWashington Post, Report lays out obstruction evidence against the president, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III details 10 “episodes” of potential obstruction of justice by President Trump, alternating between dense legal analysis and jarring scenes of presidential scheming.

washington post logowilliam barr new oWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: What Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said, Salvador Rizzo, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). As it turns out, the attorney general (right) took liberties in describing the results of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Offers from Russia were not reported or forcefully rejected by Trump campaign, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Karoun Demirjian and Rachel Weiner, April 19, 2019 (print ed.). The special counsel painted a portrait of a campaign that was intrigued by overtures from Russian officials and business executives.

Propaganda About Assange Arrest?

julian assange screenshot arrest (Ruptly)

London police arresting the bearded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on April 11, 2019. (Ruptly/YouTube)

Consortium News, Opinion: UK Blurring Two Very Different Extradition Claims, Jonathan Cook, April 19, 2019. The Swedish and U.S. claims are vastly different, writes Jonathan Cook. But the public conversation in the U.K. is simply about which has first dibs on Assange.

In a previous blog post, I warned that the media and political class would continue with their long-running deceptions about Julian Assange now that he has been dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy. They have wasted no time in proving me right.

Rather than focus on the gross violation of Assange’s fundamental human rights, the wider assault on press freedoms and the attack on Americans’ First Amendment Rights, U.K. politicians are “debating” whether the U.S. extradition claim on Assange should take priority over earlier Swedish extradition proceedings for a sexual-assault investigation that was publicly dropped back in 2017.

In other words, the public conversation in the U.K., sympathetically reported by The Guardian, supposedly Britain’s only major liberal news outlet, is going to be about who has first dibs on Assange.

What these U.K. MPs and The Guardian have done in this front-page story is muddy the waters yet further, with enthusiastic disregard for the damage it might do to Assange’s rights, to Corbyn’s leadership and to the future of truth-telling journalism.

April 18

Mueller Report

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Live Coverage & Analysis, Staff reporting, April 18, 2019. Redacted Mueller Report released here. Selected MSNBC print and videos on April 18 below:

ny times logoNew York Times, The Mueller Report Is 448 Pages Long. You Need to Know These 7 Key Things, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, April 18, 2019. Mr. Trump was not exonerated. Aides defied his orders to sabotage the inquiry, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, Here are seven takeaways:

1. Trump did try to sabotage the investigation. His staff defied him.
2. So many lies. So many changed stories.
3. Fake news? Not so much.
4. No obstruction? Not so fast.
5. Evading an F.B.I. interview proved a successful strategy.
6. No conclusive evidence of conspiracy, but lots of reason to investigate.
7. Imagine reading this report cold.

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

Above the Law, Robert Mueller Didn’t Finish The Job, And We’ll Never Know Why, Elie Mystal, April 18, 2019. The Mueller report treats Trump and his family with kid gloves.
If you ever have the opportunity to choose who will prosecute you for you potential crimes, ask to be prosecuted by Robert Mueller. Apparently, he will spend half of his time making your legal arguments for you, and will not try to secure your testimony under oath if it looks like you’ll give him too much trouble.

I have read through (well, scrolled through) the entire Mueller report, and I am deeply dissatisfied with the thoroughness of Mueller’s investigation. Yes, yes, I know, I’m supposed to parrot the line about how “thorough” this investigation was because… it took a lot of time and the report is very long.

Big whoop. For all the time spent on it, and the obvious meticulous dedication to the cause, Mueller did not finish the job. Maybe he was pressured by new Attorney General William Barr. Maybe the constant drumbeat of “wrap it up” coming from the Trump administration wore him down. Maybe we’ll never know. But the 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s potential obstruction of justice punted investigative functions to Congress that his office should have completed before turning over his report.

And that’s because Mueller declined to seek subpoenas to compel testimony from Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, or Eric Trump. Mueller was willing to put the screws to everybody else. Paul Manafort is in jail; Michael Cohen is going to jail. Michael Flynn is going to jail; Robert Gates is going to jail; Roger Stone will most likely be going to jail. Many of these people are going to jail because they lied to Robert Mueller. But the First Family is not going to jail. And it’s not because they are innocent. It’s because Mueller refused to ask them a damned question.

As has been widely understood — and now confirmed with the release of the report — Mueller made the decision that his office did not have the authority to charge President Donald Trump with a crime. That’s… a questionable legal conclusion. I can more or less accept it on the issue of conspiracy with Russia to influence the election. But when it comes to obstruction of justice, I just can’t. Literally, what is the point of having an “independent,” “non-political” appointee conduct an investigation into the President if only political appointees and elected officials can actually do anything about it? It’s like hiring a restaurant critic who isn’t allowed to eat the food.

william barr image by donkehotey dmca

Attorney General William P. Barr (image by Donkehotey via DCMA)

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr says he disagreed with some of Mueller’s theories on obstruction claim, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, April 18, 2019. But Attorney General William P. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein accepted the special counsel’s “legal framework” as they analyzed the case. A redacted version of the report is set to be released today.

• Transcript: The attorney general’s full remarks on the Mueller report

washington post logoWashington Post, Report examines 10 instances of potential obstruction, Barr says, Staff report, April 18, 2019. The attorney general also said that he has no objection to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testifying before Congress, which top Democratic lawmakers called for today.

 

william barr prin dep asst ag edward ocallaghan rod rosenstein april 18 2 2019 Small

Attorney General William Barr, center, flanked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan of the National Security Division at the Justice Department news conference on April 18, 2019 (screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: William Barr just did Trump another huge favor, Aaron Blake, April 18, 2019. When Attorney General William P. Barr announced he was going to hold a news conference before the release of the Mueller report Thursday, there was instant pushback. How can the media ask questions about a report it hasn’t seen? Would this just be a whole bunch of pre-spin from a man already accused of being too friendly to the president who appointed him?

Barr’s performance did nothing to argue against those allegations.

In a lengthy opening statement, Barr found just about every way possible to say that there was no coordination, cooperation or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also said Trump was right about “no collusion,” expanding the Mueller report’s clearing of Trump to a more nebulous term with little legal significance.

But perhaps more importantly, on obstruction of justice, he seemed to go to bat for Trump personally, offering a sympathetic take on the president’s state of mind and cooperation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him, George T. Conway III (right, a lawyer in New York prominent in conservative george conway twitterlegal circles and married to President Trump's senior communications adviser Kellyanne Conway), April 18, 2019. So it turns out that, indeed, President Trump was not exonerated at all, and certainly not “totally” or “completely,” as he claimed.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III didn’t reach a conclusion about whether Trump committed crimes of obstruction of justice — in part because, while a sitting president, Trump can’t be prosecuted under long-standing Justice Department directives, and in part because of “difficult issues” raised by “the President’s actions and intent.” Those difficult issues involve, among other things, the potentially tricky interplay between the criminal obstruction laws and the president’s constitutional authority, and the difficulty in proving criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

Still, the special counsel’s report is damning. Mueller couldn’t say, with any “confidence,” that the president of the United States is not a criminal. He said, stunningly, that “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Mueller did not so state.

That’s especially damning because the ultimate issue shouldn’t be — and isn’t — whether the president committed a criminal act. As I wrote not long ago, Americans should expect far more than merely that their president not be provably a criminal. In fact, the Constitution demands it.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House and Justice Dept. Discussed Mueller Report Before Release, Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner, April 18, 2019 (print edition). Some of President Trump’s advisers are concerned about whether he will retaliate against them if the report reveals them as sources of damaging details.

Not all of Robert S. Mueller III’s findings will be news to President Trump when they are released Thursday.

Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.

william barr new oA sense of paranoia was taking hold among some of Mr. Trump’s aides, some of whom fear his backlash more than the findings themselves, the people said. The report might make clear which of Mr. Trump’s current and former advisers spoke to the special counsel, how much they said and how much damage they did to the president — providing a kind of road map for retaliation.

The discussions between Justice Department officials and White House lawyers have also added to questions about the propriety of the decisions by Attorney General William P. Barr since he received Mr. Mueller’s findings late last month.

April 17

cnn logoCNN, Book Excerpt: The evidence that the US government got into the assassination business, Thomas Maier (author of the new Mafia Spies: The Inside Story of the CIA, Gangsters, JFK and Castro, published by Skyhorse) April 14, 2019. Americans shocked by tales of Russian assassinations in Ukraine and the grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi allegedly by Saudi Arabia might consider the past history of their own government and what rules exist today to prevent a US hit thomas maier mafia spiesjob against a foreign political opponent.

Indeed, the moral debate surrounding political assassination seems murkier and more open-ended now than ever.

Two years ago, President Donald Trump appeared unperturbed during a national television interview with then Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly when asked about doing business with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Putin approved a law allowing assassinations abroad, making them almost commonplace in nearby Ukraine.

"Putin's a killer," said O'Reilly.

"There's a lot of killers, we got a lot of killers," President Trump replied. "What, you think our country is so innocent?"

O'Reilly seemed taken aback. Trump persisted. "You think our country is so innocent?" the president repeated.

History shows America's first (known) attempt at state-sanctioned assassination began in the early 1960s when the CIA recruited two top gangsters, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli, to try to kill Cuba's young Communist leader Fidel Castro. The Mafia was enraged because Castro closed down their lucrative Havana casinos. And US officials worried about Castro spreading revolution throughout Latin America, becoming a puppet who obtained Russian missiles and nearly provoked an Armageddon-like nuclear war.

nbc news logoNBC News, 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh to be released from prison next month, Tom Winter and Pete Williams, April 17, 2019. John Walker Lindh, the American man who john walker lindh 2002pleaded guilty to fighting for the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks, is slated to be released from prison next month under terms restricting his internet access.

A federal judge in Virginia ordered that Lindh, 38, can't have an internet-capable device without permission from his probation office, can’t view or access extremist or terrorism videos, and must allow the probation office to monitor his internet use.

"Given the rare nature of defendant's crime and his unique personal history and characteristics, the probation officer recently filed a request asking the court to impose additional special conditions of supervised release which will govern defendant's behavior post-confinement," Judge T.S. Ellis III (shown at left in a file photo) wrote in court papers filed earlier this month.

thomas s ellis iii federal judgeLindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2002 after he pleaded guilty to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying explosives in commission of a felony. Under the terms of the sentence, his probation will last for three years.

Lindh is scheduled to be released from federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, on May 23.

In addition to the internet restrictions, the judge ordered that Lindh can’t communicate with anyone online in any language other than English. Ellis also ruled that Lindh can’t leave the United States without permission of the court, and that he must undergo mental health counseling.

Court filings show that Lindh initially opposed the restrictions but dropped his objections after consulting with a lawyer.

Ellis said that Lindh can seek to modify some or all of the special restrictions if he adjusts well to his supervised release.

April 13

The Grayzone, Top Trump Advisors and Latin American Officials at Private DC Meeting, Max Blumenthal, April 13, 2019. The complete list of attendees for the private CSIS event on US military options against Venezuela appears at the bottom of this article.

The Washington, DC-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a private roundtable on April 10 called “Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela.” A list of attendees was provided to The Grayzone and two participants confirmed the meeting took place. They refused to offer any further detail, however.

venezuela flag waving customAmong the roughly 40 figures invited to the off-the-record event to discuss potential US military action against Caracas were some of the most influential advisors on President Donald Trump’s Venezuela policy. They included current and former State Department, National Intelligence Council, and National Security Council officials, along with Admiral Kurt Tidd, who was until recently the commander of US SOUTHCOM.

Senior officials from the Colombian and Brazilian embassies like Colombian General Juan Pablo Amaya, as well as top DC representatives from Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaido’s shadow government, also participated in the meeting.

On January 23, following backroom maneuvers, the United States openly initiated a coup attempt against Venezuela’s elected government by recognizing National Assembly president Juan Guaido as the country’s “interim president.”

Since then, Venezuela has endured a series of provocations and the steady escalation of punishing economic sanctions. President Nicolas Maduro has accused the US of attacks on the Simon Bolivar hydroelectric plant at the Guri dam, which have led to country-wide blackouts openly celebrated by top Trump officials.

In a March 5 call with Russian pranksters posing as the president of the Swiss Federation, US special envoy for Venezuela Elliot Abrams ruled out military action against Venezuela, revealing that he had only held out the threat to “make the Venezuelan military nervous.”

Since then, however, Guaido has failed to mobilize the national protest wave the Trump administration had anticipated, and the Venezuelan military has demonstrated unwavering loyalty to Maduro. In Washington, the sense of urgency has risen with each passing day.

April 12

National Security Archive, Trump Administration Turns Over Massive Collection of Intelligence Records on Human Rights and Argentina, Edited by Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh, April 12, 2019.

  • 47,000 Pages of CIA, FBI, NSC, DOD and State Dept.
    Records Touted as “Largest” Government-to-Government Transfer of Declassified Documentation.
  • Documents Spotlight Buenos Aires Base for International Death Squad Operations sponsored by Condor States; Record Ruthless Repression by Argentine Security Forces during Military Dictatorship, 1976-1983
  • National Security Archive Commends Completion of U.S. Government’s Special Argentina Project as ‘Model of Declassification Diplomacy’ and Major Contribution to the Cause of Human Rights and History

Revealing CIA “intelligence information cables” on Operation Condor are part of a major collection of records released on April 12 at a government event in Washington D.C., "Declassification Diplomacy: The United States Declassification Project for Argentina."

During the diplomatic ceremony, hosted by U.S. Archivist David Ferriero at the National Archives, U.S. officials turned over some 7500 CIA, FBI, DOD, NSC and State Department records—47,000 pages in total—to Argentina’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, German Garavano. Garavano graciously thanked the Trump administration for fulfilling a formal request for the records by the Argentine government, made on the fortieth anniversary of the military coup during a state visit to Argentina by then-President Barack Obama.

Moreover, the declassification project has produced a historical roadmap that charts what and when U.S. national security agencies and policy makers knew about the human rights abuses in Argentina—and the actions they took, or failed to take, in response to detailed intelligence on internal and international repression by the military regime.

In his closing remarks at today’s ceremony, National Security Archive analyst Carlos Osorio, who served as an advisor to the Argentina Declassification Project, commended the U.S. government for pursuing what he called “one of the most comprehensive discretionary declassifications of sensitive intelligence records in recent history.” “The Argentina Project represents a new model of declassification diplomacy, and more,” Osorio said. “The release of these documents stands as a uniquely
valuable contribution to the cause of human rights, the cause of justice and the cause of our fundamental right-to-know.”

The National Security Archive today posted a selection of 18 CIA, FBI and State Department records from the newly released documents.

In late May 1976, the secret police chieftains of six Southern Cone military regimes gathered at a clandestine summit in Santiago, Chile, to create a “new unit, which was given the code name ‘Teseo’”—a reference to Theseus, the mythical Greek King of the Athenians and heroic slayer of the Minotaur, among other enemies. The mission of “Teseo” was to “conduct physical attacks against subversive targets” abroad, particularly militant Latin American leftists in Europe, according to formerly secret CIA intelligence reports turned over today to Argentina by the U.S. government, and posted for the first time by the nongovernmental National Security Archive.

The "Teseo" program represented a new initiative under "Operation Condor"—the clandestine collaboration of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil to strike at their opposition in the Southern Cone and beyond. At the time, the CIA also managed to obtain the “text of the agreement by Condor countries regulating their operations against subversive targets”—a comprehensive planning paper on financing, staffing, logistics, training, and selection of targets that reveals both the banal and dramatic details of organizing and implementing Condor’s “Teseo” death squad operations. The “Teseo” operations base would be located “at Condor 1 (Argentina).” Each member country was expected to donate $10,000 to offset operational costs; and dues of $200 would be paid “prior to the 30th of each month” for maintenance expenses of the operations center. Expenses for agents on assassination missions abroad were estimated at $3,500 per person for ten days, “with an additional $1000 first time out for clothing allowance.”

Individuals to be eliminated, the Condor agreement stated, would be proposed by member services with “final selection…by vote and on the basis of a simple majority.” As a chilling section titled “Execution of the Target” explained: “This is the responsibility of the operational team which will (A) intercept the target, (B) Carry out the Operation, and (C) Escape. With the exception of the team leaders,” the planning paper stated, “the members of the intelligence and operational teams should not know each other for security and functional reasons.”

April 11

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested

julian assange arrested april 11 2019 Copyright Ruptly

Julian Assange, at center, is dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy (Copyright Ruptly)

Euronews, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested and dragged out of embassy, Rachael Kennedy, April 11, 2019. WikLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, ending his seven-year asylum tenure there. The Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrest was based on an extradition request on behalf of the US, and for skipping bail in the UK, in a statement released on Thursday morning.

Assange is wanted in the US over an investigation into WikiLeaks' leaking of classified documents concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is wanted in the UK for breaching his conditions of bail in 2012 — it was granted amid a case that would see him extradited to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.

[Justice Integrity Project Editor's Note: Assange was never charged in Sweden and the procedures strongly suggested a political vendetta and possible entrapment and smear by intelligence agencies and their allies in the media and courts, according to our extensive reporting beginning in 2010.]

united kingdom flagTo avoid extradition, Assange took up asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had been until today.

Swedish prosecutors eventually dropped the rape charge in 2017, however, the alleged victim indicated on Thursday a wish to reopen the case, following Assange's arrest. Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren said Sweden was watching the developments, but was not yet able to "take a position" with the information available.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said the decision to remove Assange's asylum was made over "repeated violations" to international conventions and "daily life protocols."

The arrest came just a day after WikiLeaks held a press conference saying it found Assange had been a victim of an "extensive spying operation." Individuals in Spain had demanded a €3 million ransom for a "massive trove of documents" accumulated on him, which included video and audio recordings inside the Ecuadorian embassy, and other documents.

Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said he believed the documents were going to be handed over to US authorities to aid in an extradition case, but at the time he said he had no hard evidence to prove it.

Related stories below

ny times logoNew York Times, Julian Assange Is Arrested; Faces Charge in 2010 U.S. Leak, Eileen Sullivan and Richard Pérez-Peña, April 11, 2019. Britain Acts on U.S. Warrant Against WikiLeaks Founder. Mr. Assange faces one count of conspiracy to hack a computer related to the downloading of U.S. secrets by Chelsea Manning in 2010. The single charge stems from what prosecutors said was his agreement to break a password to a classified United States government computer.

The United States has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of conspiring to hack a computer as part of the 2010 release of reams of secret American documents, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday, putting him just one flight away from being in American custody after years of seclusion in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

The single charge, conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, was filed a year earlier, in March 2018, and stems from what prosecutors said was his agreement to break a password to a classified United States government computer. It carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and is significant in that it is not an espionage charge, a detail that will come as a relief to press freedom advocates. The United States government had considered until at least last year charging him with an espionage-related offense.

Mr. Assange, 47, has been living at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012. British authorities arrested him on Thursday, heavily bearded and disheveled. A dramatic video showed him shackled and being carried out of the embassy and forced into a police van. He was detained partly in connection with an American extradition warrant after he was evicted by the Ecuadoreans.

Mr. Assange has been in the sights of the United States government since his organization’s 2010 disclosures. Most recently, Mr. Assange has been under attack for his organization’s release during the 2016 presidential campaign of thousands of emails stolen from the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee, leading to a series of revelations that embarrassed the party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. United States investigators have said that the systems were hacked by Russian agents; the conspiracy charge against Mr. Assange unsealed Thursday is not related to the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election influence.

Mr. Assange will have the right to contest the United States extradition request in British courts. Most people who fight extradition requests argue that the case is politically motivated rather than driven by legitimate legal concerns.

In 2010 WikiLeaks released American files that documented the killing of civilians and journalists and the abuse of detainees by forces of the United States and other countries, airing officials’ unvarnished, often unflattering views of allies and of American actions.

An Army private, Bradley Manning — now known as Chelsea Manning — was convicted of leaking that collection of files and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. President Barack Obama commuted the sentence after Ms. Manning had served almost seven years.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Julian Assange Arrested on U.S. Extradition Warrant, London Police Say, Richard Pérez-Peña, April 11, 2019. The WikiLeaks founder was arrested at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012, after Ecuador withdrew the asylum it had granted him.

lenin moreno ecuadorPresident Lenín Moreno (left) of Ecuador said on Twitter that his country had decided to stop sheltering Mr. Assange after “his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols,” a decision that cleared the way for the British authorities to detain him.

The relationship between Mr. Assange and Ecuador has been a rocky one, even as it offered him refuge and even citizenship, and WikiLeaks said last Friday that Ecuador “already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest” and predicted that Mr. Assange would be expelled from the embassy “within ‘hours to days.’”

Fox News,Watch police drag Assange out of Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs, Greg Palkot, April 11, 2019. British police are seen dragging the white-bearded WikiLeaks founder out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in a dramatic video after Ecuador withdraws his asylum.

Trump Probes

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation/commentary: Is William Barr a "peripheral third party" in the Mueller report? Wayne Madsen (WMR editor, syndicated columnist, author), April 11, 2019 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). Attorney General William Barr told the House Appropriations Committee that the 400-page report by Robert Mueller william barr new oon the 2016 Trump campaign’s foreign connections is being redacted of all information dealing with grand jury hearings, information that would reveal intelligence sources or methods, information on other current investigations, and information that would “unduly infringe on the personal privacy and representational interests of peripheral third parties.”

Barr may have a major conflict-of-interest in the last category. While many pundits are viewing “peripheral third parties” as Donald Trump daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, the category of third parties might include Barr himself.

nancy pelosi djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has made the mistake of awakening a monster, Bill Palmer, April 11, 2019. Here’s what someone once said about Nancy Pelosi: “She’ll cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding.” That quote came from Pelosi’s own daughter. The current Speaker of the House is so politically savvy, calm, and collected, she can do a lot of damage to her opponents while smiling the entire time. Here’s the thing. Pelosi is no longer smiling. Not even close.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House earlier this year, she said that impeaching Donald Trump at that time wasn’t worth it, and she’d wait until the Mueller probe and/or other investigations turned up more about Trump’s crimes. It was a wise move. If she’d pushed forward with impeachment three months ago, it would have gotten through the House but certainly not the Senate, and all it would have done was make Trump more emboldened.

So Pelosi has held her fire, preferring to let the House committee chairs push forward with their probes, all while waiting for Trump to hand her an opening. He just did. Trump’s Attorney General William Barr thumbed his nose at Congress about the Mueller report yesterday, while repeating one of Trump’s most deranged phony conspiracy theories. Then Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin thumbed his nose at Congress as well when he announced that he was illegally refusing to turn over Trump’s tax returns.

These two scoundrels just declared war against American democracy, on Trump’s behalf. If Trump wants a war, and he clearly does, Nancy Pelosi is going to give him one. When she spoke before the cameras yesterday and accused Barr of having gone “off the rails,” you could clearly see from her tone and body language that Trump and his stooges had crossed her red line.

More Commentary On Assange Arrest

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the United States chose right now to take down Julian Assange, Bill Palmer, April 11, 2019. UK authorities just hauled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, based on an extradition request from the United States. It’s a move that a lot of people have been waiting a long time for – particularly with regard to finally getting answers in the 2016 Trump-Russia election scandal. But the question must be asked: why now? There are two potentially plausible scenarios, so let’s lay them out.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst there’s the doomsday scenario: new Attorney General William Barr fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller before he could get to Assange, and now Barr is seizing Assange to try to make sure the truth never comes out. Considering that Assange is being arrested just weeks after Mueller’s investigation abruptly ended under highly suspicious circumstances, and Barr’s obviously corrupt desire to protect Trump at all costs, this does seem plausible.

julian assange indicter imageThen there’s essentially the opposite scenario: the takedown of Assange (right) is just the latest move by the non-corrupt elements in the DOJ to continue carrying out Robert Mueller’s gameplan, and Barr either wouldn’t or couldn’t stop the takedown from happening. We’ve already seen various DOJ prosecutors pushing forward with Mueller’s grand jury work against Roger Stone, and whoever’s financial records are being targeted by the subpoena of that mystery foreign government owned company.

Legal experts are saying that it could take several months (or longer) before the Assange extradition process plays out and he’s handed over to the United States. In the meantime he’ll be held in UK custody, where U.S. investigators can petition to interview him. So if and when House investigative leaders like Adam Schiff ask to travel to London to interview Assange about the Trump-Russia scandal, we’ll see if the DOJ tries to work with or against such requests – and that’ll tell us why the DOJ made this move now.

April 9

The Guardian, David Miliband: the most vulnerable pay for Trump's 'manufactured crisis,' Ed Pilkington, April 9, 2019. Exclusive: IRC chief says US government ‘failing in its most basic responsibilities’ in its handling of border issues. Donald Trump is manufacturing a crisis at the US-Mexico border to justify his hardline immigration plans while failing to tackle the real crisis in Central America that is the root of the problem, the head of one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid groups has said.

david milibandDavid Miliband (right), the former British foreign secretary who now leads the International Rescue Committee (IRC), issued a scathing critique of the Trump administration’s handling of border issues. “The US government is failing in its most basic responsibilities, never mind as a global leader but as a local example of how a civilized country should behave,” he said.

In an interview with the Guardian from IRC’s headquarters in New York, Miliband said that Trump’s approach to immigration amounted to “disorder by design”. “The administration needs to create the evidence to justify its immigration policies – it is using the concept of crisis to create the justification for government by executive fiat.”

The national emergency declared by the US president in February to bolster his plans for a border wall were denounced by Miliband as “manufactured crisis”. He said: “By no standards of national or international precedent would you describe it as a crisis, even in the communities affected in the southern US.”

Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable people are suffering because of the removal of US protections, slow processing of their asylum claims and cuts in federal aid, he said. “The people who pay the price for government policy failure are the most vulnerable and least able to cope, whether Americans who are on the edge or Central Americans who are over the edge. That is a great danger.”

Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, IRC today operates in more than 40 countries, including many war zones. Its global emergency team is currently working to control the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Financial Tyranny: America Has Become a Pay-to-Play Exercise in Fascism, John Whitehead, April 9, 2019. We're not living the American Dream. We're in the grip of a financial nightmare. "We the people" have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

We get taxed on how much we earn, taxed on what we eat, taxed on what we buy, taxed on where we go, taxed on what we drive, and taxed on how much is left of our assets when we die, and yet we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used.

Case in point: Lawmakers across the country have been acting as fronts for corporations, sponsoring more than 10,000 model laws written by corporations, industry groups and think tanks such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Make no mistake: this is fascism disguised as legislative expediency.

usa today logoAs a recent investigative report by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity points out, these copycat bills have been used to "override the will of local voters" and advance the agendas of the corporate state. "Disguised as the work of lawmakers, these so-called 'model' bills get copied in one state Capitol after another, quietly advancing the agenda of the people who write them."

In this way, laws that promise to protect the public "actually bolster the corporate bottom line."

For example, "The Asbestos Transparency Act didn't help people exposed to asbestos. It was written by corporations who wanted to make it harder for victims to recoup money. The 'HOPE Act,' introduced in nine states, was written by a conservative advocacy group to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps."

Talk about Orwellian. So we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn't prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn.

We're being forced to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, for misguided pork barrel projects that do little to enhance our lives, and for the trappings of a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it likeslevy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsiblywith little thought for the plight of its citizens. If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation's finances, we'd all be in debtors' prison by now. Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.

April 7

Media News: Murder Motive

jamal khashoggi western suit

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In a book proposal, Khashoggi outlined a U.S.-inspired vision for a new Saudi Arabia, David B. Ottaway, April 7, 2019 (print ed.). David Ottaway is a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center. Jamal Khashoggi (right) was working on what he described as an “eye-opener” of a book challenging Saudi Arabia to draw inspiration for its reforms from American institutions and practices when he was savagely murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October. His book proposal illustrates that he was as much a visionary of a new Saudi Arabia as Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, author of the highly ambitious “Vision 2030” and the person who the CIA concluded ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

Khashoggi’s gruesome murder touched off the worst crisis in U.S.-Saudi relations since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with Congress pressing President Trump to name the instigator and to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

mohammad bin salman cropped file smallThe crown prince (left) tried to convince the White House that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist threat to the United States, but his book project reveals just the opposite: He was a great admirer of U.S. democracy and society. He had belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth but had long since disassociated himself from what Saudi authorities have branded a terrorist organization.

Khashoggi’s book project was outlined in his application for a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, submitted in June 2017. His daughter, Noha, recently agreed to allow me to disclose its content. His book was to be both a primer for Saudis coming to the United States, explaining how American institutions and practices function, and a plea for Saudi leaders to adopt many of them.

Its tentative title: United States for Saudis or U.S. Made Easy for Saudis.

“My plan is to explain American life to the Saudi reader and Arabs in general in a simple storytelling format,” he wrote, noting that at least 750,000 Saudis are graduates of American education institutions, and even more have come as tourists or family members of students. ”My focus will be on the schooling, educational reform [and] control of public funds,” he wrote.

April 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World, Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg, April 3, 2019 (print ed.). Part 1: Imperial rupert murdoch newReach: Murdoch, 86, right, and his children have toppled governments on two continents and destabilized the most important democracy on Earth. What do they want? Over the last six months, we spoke to more than 150 people about the most powerful media family on earth.

Rupert Murdoch was lying on the floor of his cabin, unable to move. It was January 2018, and Murdoch and his fourth wife, Jerry Hall, were spending the holidays cruising the Caribbean on his elder son Lachlan’s yacht. Murdoch tripped on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Few private citizens have ever been more central to the state of world affairs than the man lying in that hospital bed, awaiting his children’s arrival.

As the head of a sprawling global media empire, he commanded multiple television networks, a global news service, a major publishing house and a Hollywood movie studio. His newspapers and television networks had been instrumental in amplifying the nativist revolt that was reshaping governments not just in the United States but also across the planet.

New York Times, Here are six takeaways from The Times’s investigation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Media Companies Take a Big Gamble on Apple, Edmund Lee, April 3, 2019 (print ed.).  Executives have been burned by their previous dealings with big tech apple logo rainbowcompanies. But Apple’s promise of a billion devices worldwide was too good to pass up. Even for Rupert Murdoch.

The tech giant based the service on an app it acquired last year called Texture, which gave readers access to some 200 publications with a single subscription. The revamped and renamed version, introduced with much fanfare last week at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., charges subscribers $9.99 a month ($12.99 in Canada) for content from more than 300 titles, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Time, The Atlantic and People, as well as The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. (Also included: Airbnb Magazine, Birds & Blooms, Retro Gamer and Salt Water Sportsman, befitting the app’s conceit as an omnibus newsstand.)

Peace Activism

david swanson head SmallLet's Try Democracy, Grassroots Activism / Opinion, NATO Interrupted, David Swanson (right), April 3, 2019. Wednesday morning an event was held in a building overlooking Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., at an organization called the Center for European Policy Analysis, which is funded by: FireEye, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopters, BAE systems, the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon, National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Mission to NATO, and NATO’s own Public Diplomacy Division.

Participating in the event were several foreign ministers from NATO nations, ambassadors to NATO, and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. NATO is designed to david swanson no to nato sign2vigilantly protect you from numerous imaginary and NATO-provoked dangers, but its events are apparently protected by magic spells, as I just walked in and took a seat.

When I couldn’t take any more of the pro-militarism talk, I stood up and interrupted, holding up a sign reading: “Yes to Peace / NoToNATO.org.” Lots of media cameras were in the room, so there is bound to be video somewhere. (Please share it with me.) I said words to this general effect:

"NATO needs to be shut down, not enlarged. Russia spends a tiny percentage of what NATO nations do on war, and you pretend to be afraid of nato logo flags nameRussia. We’re not buying it. You’re provoking dangers. NATO makes up 3/4 of military spending in the world. Its members are also responsible for about 3/4 of foreign weapons dealing — to dictatorships and so-called democracies around the world. NATO wages aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic. The people you can hear chanting outside have had enough. We’re not believing these myths anymore."

I continued along those lines for a little while before leaving. We sang songs and spoke to people in the building’s lobby and on the sidewalk out front, and did interviews with media from every continent other than North America, before heading off to Capitol Hill where the head of NATO was being welcomed in bipartisan harmony.

NATO is encountering protest everywhere it goes in Washington on Wednesday and will on Thursday as well. Detailed plans.

 April 2

Global Research, Book Review: The CIA Takeover of America in the 1960s Is the Story of Our Times, Edward Curtin (author and sociologist Edward Curtin is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization), April 2, 2019. The Killing of the Kennedys and Today’s New Cold War. A Quasi-Review of "A Lie Too Big To Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy" by Lisa Pease.

When Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, the American public fell into an hypnotic trance in which they have remained ever since. The overwhelming majority accepted what was presented by government authorities as an open and shut case that a young Palestinian American, Sirhan Sirhan, had murdered RFK because of his support for Israel, a false accusation whose ramifications echo down the years. That this was patently untrue and was contradicted by overwhelming evidence made no difference.

lisa pease rfk cover“‘We’re all puppets,’ the suspect [Sirhan Sirhan] replied, with more truth than he could have understood at that moment.”

Lisa Pease, quoting from the LAPD questioning of Sirhan'

Sirhan did not kill Robert Kennedy, yet he remains in jail to this very day. Robert Kennedy, Jr., who was 14 years old at the time of his father’s death, has visited Sirhan in prison, claims he is innocent, and believes there was another gunman. Paul Schrade, an aide to the senator and the first person shot that night, also says Sirhan didn’t do it. Both have plenty of evidence. And they are not alone.

There is a vast body of documented evidence to prove this, an indisputably logical case marshalled by serious writers and researchers. Lisa Pease is the latest. It is a reason why a group of 60 prominent Americans has recently called for a reopening of, not just this case, but those of JFK, MLK, and Malcom X. The blood of these men cries out for the revelation of the truth that the United States national security state and its media accomplices have fought so mightily to keep hidden for so many years.

That they have worked so hard at this reveals how dangerous the truth about these assassinations still is to this secret government that wages propaganda war against the American people and real wars around the world. It is a government of Democrats, Republicans, and their intelligence allies working together today to confuse the American people and provoke Russia in a most dangerous game that could lead to nuclear war, a possibility that so frightened JFK and RFK after the Cuban Missile Crisis that they devoted themselves to ending the Cold War, reconciling with the Soviet Union, abolishing nuclear weapons, reining in of the power of the CIA, and withdrawing from Vietnam. That is why they were killed.

The web of deceit surrounding the now officially debunked Democratic led Russia-gate propaganda operation that has strengthened Trump to double-down on his anti-Russia operations (a Democratic goal) is an example of the perfidious and sophisticated mutuality of this game of mass mind-control.

The killing of the Kennedys and today’s new Cold War and war against terror are two ends of a linked intelligence operation.

Moreover, more than any other assassination of the 1960s, it is the killing of Bobby Kennedy that has remained shrouded in the most ignorance.

It is one of the greatest propaganda success stories of American history.

In her exhaustive new examination of the case, A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease puts it succinctly at the conclusion of her unravelling of the official lies that have mesmerized the public:

The assassination of the top four leaders of the political left in the five year period – President John Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968 – represented nothing less than a slow-motion coup on the political scene.

If anyone wishes to understand what has happened to the United States since this coup, and thus to its countless victims at home and throughout the world, one must understand these assassinations and how the alleged assassins were manipulated by the coup organizers and how the public was hoodwinked in a mind-control operation on a vast scale. It is not ancient history, for the forces that killed these leaders rule the U.S. today, and their ruthlessness has subsequently informed the actions of almost all political leaders in the years since. A bullet to the head when you seriously talk about peace and justice is a not so gentle reminder to toe the line or else.

March

March 31

Covert Politics At U.S. Supreme Court

geoffrey stonewashington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Chief Justice Roberts’s delicate seat at the center of a divided Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone (right, distinguished professor of law and former provost at the University of Chicago), March 31, 2019 (print ed.). The Supreme Court sits at the center of fundamental disagreements about various crucial issues — campaign finance, affirmative action, abortion, gun control, voting rights and the constitutionality of some of President Trump’s most controversial actions — and the stakes are as high as they have ever been. At the center of it all is conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

As Joan Biskupic observes in her book The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts, after Republicans’ refusal to confirm President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland, and Trump’s appointment of two fiercely conservative justices, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is “now Roberts’s in name and reality.”

joan biskupic john roberts the chiefAlthough Roberts consistently maintains that the court is not a political body, and although he insists publicly that “the justices do not advance political positions,” Biskupic concludes that, in his decision-making in the most important and ideological cases, Roberts has all too often “engaged in the partisanship he claimed to abhor.” Moreover, although Roberts’s public persona seems very easygoing and congenial, Biskupic reveals that his top-down style has often “rankled” his colleagues on the court.

Like Biskupic’s previous books about Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Sonia Sotomayor, The Chief offers an extraordinarily insightful, thoughtful and accessible analysis of Roberts’s personal life, professional career, judicial experience and approach to constitutional interpretation. It is essential reading for anyone who truly wants to understand this pivotal moment in Supreme Court history.

Biskupic, who has known Roberts for more than 20 years, sat down with him for seven interviews totaling 20 hours for her book. She was therefore well-positioned to offer often stunning insight into Roberts’s life and thinking both on and off the court.

joan biskupic pbsRoberts leads the Supreme Court at a critical moment. For the first time in history, the court is divided 5 to 4 not only along ideological lines, but along partisan lines as well. That is, all five justices in the highly conservative majority were appointed by Republican presidents, and all four justices in the more liberal minority were appointed by Democratic presidents. Thus, there is a serious danger that on all the issues that have bitterly divided the justices over the past half a century, the court will divide sharply along partisan lines.

Such a state of affairs will seriously undermine the fundamental integrity of the court itself. The whole point of relying on judges and justices to decide fundamental questions of law is that they are doing their best to apply the law in a neutral and fair-minded manner. Although they may disagree sharply about questions of constitutional interpretation, their disagreements should be on intellectual rather than partisan lines.

March 29

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Barr may have been a subject of Mueller's investigation, Wayne Madsen, March 29, 2019 (subscription required).  Attorney General William Barr may have been a subject of Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.

March 28

Media Self-Censorship On 9-11

9 11 courthouse news suppresses court filing march 27 2019

AE911Truth.org, Opinion: Courthouse News yanks article for its woefully fair and accurate coverage of 9/11 lawsuit, Ted Walter, March 28, 2019. If you had to pick one example to best encapsulate the mainstream media bias and censorship that have contributed significantly to suppressing the truth about 9/11 for nearly two decades, it would have to be the extraordinary actions of Courthouse News Service earlier this week.

The first extraordinary action came on March 26, 2019, when Courthouse News published the article “FBI Accused of Omitting Evidence From 9/11 Report,” which — to the astonishment of many — offered fair coverage of the lawsuit filed one day earlier by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and 9/11 family member Bob McIlvaine.

March 27

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, ‘Tricky Dick’: Behind the Prevailing Myth, There’s Another Story, Staff Report, March 27, 2019. A new CNN four-part original series on the fall of President richard nixon portraitRichard M. Nixon — Tricky Dick — had its premiere March 17. Its makers promise “fresh insight into a riveting story of politics, power and scandal.”

Frankly, we doubt it. While we believe that most journalists do their level best to tell the truth as they understand it, major news organizations have tended to be corporations participating in the creation of a consensus narrative. It has been the case regardless of topic, and it was no different with the stories we are told about Richard Nixon and his downfall.

The story everyone heard was the one we all remember: Nixon (right) was a bad guy who committed a range of abuses, and paid the price. The heroes were the media and Congress. Russ Baker, founder of WhoWhatWhy, grew up believing that story. He believed it until his own research proved russ bakerotherwise: that Richard Nixon, for all his flaws, was not the architect of Watergate, but the victim of it.

And then Baker, left, stuck to his guns, telling a story that unsettled him deeply but was what he had uncovered. Because that is what an honest journalist does. It is what WhoWhatWhy does.

CNN will tell us a story that is entirely consistent with the prevailing myth, perhaps because its journalists only know the conventional story, but also perhaps in part because it is extremely risky — financially, professionally, in every respect — to break from the crowd.

To learn something with much more “fresh insight” than you will find in Tricky Dick, read on.

ken silversteinWashington Babylon, Investigative Commentary: Is The Intercept An Intelligence Operation? An Ongoing Inquiry, Ken Silverstein (right), March 28, 2019. Washington Babylon has been running a number of stories this week by Tim Shorrock and I which raise the possibility — mine did directly — that Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept (TI) is an intelligence operation, working in collaboration with the U.S. and/or a foreign government. I understand why some readers might be skeptical of that charge, so let me lay out here some additional information and why I think everyone should be open-minded about the topic.

Let me also say that I don’t have 100 percent proof that TI was and is an intelligence operation, but the preponderance of evidence points that way. And I’m accumulating more evidence every day that makes the case even more compelling.

Before going further, here is a brief, lightly edited excerpt from the first story I ran on this topic. I urge all genuinely interested parties to read the entire story, before or after finishing this one.

Did Omidyar set up The Intercept on behalf of U.S. intelligence, in order to entrap, expose and prosecute whistleblowers? It’s curious: Greenwald was Omidyar’s first hire and he had pretty much exclusive access to Edward Snowden’s NSA treasure trove. When I worked at TI, the Snowden archive was locked in a safe. Omidyar and Greenwald long promised they would make it all available to the public but they never did, and last week, amid staff cuts that will inevitably lead to Omidyar killing the publication, TI announced that the Snowden archive will be sealed off from the public for an undetermined amount of time. So it looks like the most explosive leak in U.S. intelligence history will end up being buried by Omidyar and Greenwald.

I briefly noted in that story that I had previously worked at TI, being one of the first hires in 2014. I quit in disgust in early 2015 and wrote about my experience for Politico.

Back then, I didn’t suspect anything nefarious. I merely thought TI was experiencing a lot of the same problems any web start up would face. I remember joking with colleagues that by hiring so many left-leaning writers and paying them so much money to effectively not write — my two best stories for TI ended up in VICE — Omidyar had effectively decommissioned half of progressive journalism in the country. (Recall here Omidyar is a tech oligarch with rich ties to Silicon Valley, which in turn has deep links to U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies.)

But looking back, I have to wonder: was it merely incompetence and standard problems faced by start ups that kept TI from publishing much, or was it something worse?

JFK Death Legacy

charles thomas cynthia thomas child courtesy of cynthia thomas

Charles and Cynthia Thomas with one of their children (Credit: Cynthia Thomas)

jefferson morley newJFKFacts.org, Commentary: The Man Who Asked Too Many JFK Questions, Jeff Morley, March 27, 2019. The late Charles Thomas belonged to an exclusive, unhappy and forgotten club: U.S. government officials whose efforts to honestly investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 cost them their jobs and reputations.

Last week the Washington Post ran an obituary of Cynthia Thomas, the widow of Charles Thomas. It was an unusual tribute. The Washington Post now acknowledges that there are good and solid reasons for perfectly sane people to reject the U.S. government’s implausible and widely disbelieved official theory that a “lone gunman” killed JFK for no discernible reason.

This is a welcome and overdue development, as the facts of Thomas’s tragic story attest.

Thomas, a Foreign Service officer, was stationed in Mexico from 1964 to 1967. In the course of his consular duties, Thomas gathered first-hand information from credible sources about the visit of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to Mexico City six weeks before JFK’s assassination. Thomas assumed that the CIA and FBI would be interested in his new evidence. He assumed wrong.

In fact, Thomas was punished for asking questions about JFK’s assassination. Despite glowing job recommendations, he was inexplicably dismissed from the Foreign Service in 1969. “It was nonsensical,” Cynthia Thomas told a reporter, “Charles was the best sort of American diplomat.”

Two years later, Charles Thomas put a gun to his right temple in the second-floor bathroom of the couple’s home in northwest Washington and pulled the trigger.

March 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney general: Mueller does not find that Trump campaign conspired with Russia, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​, March 24, 2019. Special counsel ‘did not draw a conclusion . . . as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,’ william barr new oBarr says.

A summary of Robert S. Mueller III’s findings was sent to lawmakers. On the question of whether the president might have sought to obstruct the high-profile investigation, “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’,” the attorney general (right) said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Read: Attorney general’s principal conclusions of the Mueller report, March 24, 2019. Photos: Mueller in Washington after delivering his report.

 nancy pelosi djt

Speaker of the House, Pelosi, Schumer Joint Statement On Attorney General Barr’s Summary Of The Mueller Report, March 24, 2019. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown above in a file photo with of President Trump) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released the following statement regarding Attorney General Barr’s summary of the Mueller report:

“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers.  The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay.  Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.

“And most obviously, for the president to say he is completely exonerated directly contradicts the words of Mr. Mueller and is not to be taken with any degree of credibility.

“Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the Committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise.  The American people have a right to know.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats ‘absolutely’ willing to head to Supreme Court to release full report, Nadler says, Felicia Sonmez, Rachael Bade, Paul Kane and Paul Sonne, March 24, 2019. Lawmakers say it is too early to raise the specter of impeachment but suggested they are keeping their options open.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s proof that William Barr is taking Robert Mueller’s report out of context, Bill Palmer, March 24, 2019. When Donald Trump’s handpicked Attorney General William Barr released a four page “summary” today of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, it felt wildly at odds with everything Mueller was investigating about Trump, and everything that we’ve seen play out in plain sight. Now it turns out there’s semantic proof that Barr has indeed taken Mueller’s Report out of context.

bill palmer report logo headerPalmer Report readers know that I can be critical of MSNBC during its most histrionic moments. But host Ari Melber nailed it this evening when he noticed something remarkable about Barr’s summary. Despite being four pages long, it didn’t quote a single full sentence from Mueller. Why is this important?

Imagine you’ve been given a very lengthy secret report. Your task is to summarize it for the public, in a way that’s going to give the public confidence that you’re being honest about what’s really in the secret report, and you have no limit on how long your summary can be. You’re going to make a point of quoting the secret report as directly as possible, particularly when it comes to the key points that the report makes.

Instead, William Barr did the precise opposite. Each time he quoted the Mueller report, he cherry picked sentence fragments, and never did include a complete sentence. In other words, he clearly took those fragments out of context. His only reason to chop up Mueller’s words so finely would be to try to alter their meaning. This “summary” is bogus. House Democrats will seize the real Mueller report soon enough.

william barr image by donkehotey dmca

Attorney General William P. Barr (image by Donkehotey via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Opinion: Impeach William Barr if he doesn't release the Mueller report, Michael Collins, March 24, 2019. Barr can't be Trump's oenearthlogonew Michael Cohen. United States Attorney General William Barr is acting as though he has a choice about releasing the Mueller report. He doesn't. Unless Barr wants to live in infamy as a disgraced enabler of the mad and corrupt president, He needs to fulfill his constitutional duty and release the report in its entirety. If he fails to do so, he should be impeached.

In the Department of Justice Order that initiated the investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated that the purpose of special counsel investigation was to "ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election."

The question of Russian interference in the 2016 election affects all citizens. This scope amplifies the meaning of Part 600 - General Powers of the Special Counsel, Code of Federal Regulations. The Special Counsel must deliver a confidential report to the U.S. Attorney General.

It couldn't be more obvious. The integrity of our democratic republic is the critical subject of inquiry and, given the overriding importance of that subject, the public interest must be served.

Why would we think Bill Barr would withhold the report? Because he told us so in his confirmation hearing.

Barr tried to come off as calm and thoughtful when answering questions. Despite his demeanor, he offered everything we need to know about his intentions. He accepted the notion that a sitting president cannot be indicted in a criminal case. There is no such restriction on presidential indictments in the Constitution. That doesn't bother Barr. He bases his opinion on a 1973 Nixon Department of Justice memo that somehow rationalized this position. Barr also informed us that if confirmed, he would not report on anything other than indictments.

Professor Alan J. Lichtman of American University summarized the ugly truth behind Barr's position in the confirmation hearings:

"Here is the Catch-22. Barr won't authorize an indictment of the president, but he is opposed to commenting on investigations absent indictments." Spectator USA 01/16/2019

Without hesitation or a scintilla of embarrassment, Barr gave the public a clear message I decide what gets released and unless there's an indictment, nothing gets published. He left out the need for full transparency based on the defined mission of the Special Counsels effort: "to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election" and "determine" the obvious that "the release of these reports would be in the public interest."

Impeaching a Cabinet Member

Cabinet members may be impeached on the same grounds as the president and vice president. The three broad categories of impeachable offenses are: "(1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or personal gain" (Congressional Research Service, 10/29/2015).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A timeline of what we’ve learned so far about Russia and the Trump campaign, Philip Bump, March 24, 2019. The information relevant to the moment stretches back more than a decade. Over the course of the past two years,

The Washington Post has compiled timelines documenting what is known about various aspects of the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, interactions between President Trump’s campaign and Russian individuals, and ancillary activity that resulted in criminal charges obtained by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

As we’ve learned more, those timelines have grown and become more detailed. The sheer complexity of the intertwining stories, though, means that moments of overlap can be missed. So, with the final report from Mueller’s team still behind closed doors, we’ve gathered elements from all of our timelines into one grand timeline, providing a broader sense of what we’ve learned

washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, ‘Nobody I wanted to see in trouble seems as if they’re in trouble’: Some Democratic voters are disappointed, David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz, March 24, 2019. The special counsel’s findings have not yet been made public, but the fact that the investigation ended without any further indictments has Republicans declaring victory.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Inside the Justice Department, Attorney General Barr is viewed as ‘a lawyer’s lawyer,’ Aaron Gregg, March 24, 2019. Once again, William P. Barr is at the center of a protracted and politicized investigation that has dominated his time in office.

March 23

Next Steps For DOJ Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman, March 23, 2019. The work by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, may be done, but prosecutors in Manhattan and elsewhere are pursuing about a dozen other investigations. It all but ensures that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller has farmed out Trump-related investigations to SDNY and six other federal prosecutorial entities, Bill Palmer, March 23, 2019. Anyone with a basic familiarity with Robert Mueller’s investigation knows that “no more indictments from Mueller” doesn’t mean “no more indictments.” With his own investigation ending, it turns out Mueller has farmed out investigations to at least seven federal prosecutorial entities in total.

bill palmer report logo headerRobert Mueller has farmed things out to 1) the SDNY, which handles federal cases in Manhattan, 2) the EDNY, which handles federal cases in Brooklyn, 3) the EDVA in Virginia, 4) the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, 5) the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington DC, 6) the DOJ National Security Division, and 7) the DOJ Criminal Division. This is all according to a new report today from the New York Times. So what does this tell us?

Some of these are outright referrals for criminal prosecution, while others are referrals of evidence and witnesses. But these are all instances of Robert Mueller giving these seven federal prosecutorial entities the tools they need to investigate and indict. Because

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

Mueller’s investigation was into Donald Trump and his campaign, it’s a given that all of these investigations are Trump-related. But how many of them are directly focused on Trump and his people?

This sentence from the New York Times would seem to sum it up rather succinctly: “Most of the investigations focus on President Trump or his family business or a cadre of his advisers and associates.”

So now we know Mueller has equipped seven different federal prosecutorial bodies to carry out investigations and indictments, and “most” of those investigations focused specifically on Donald Trump, his family, and his people. In other words, the people on Team Trump who are celebrating right now are merely suffering from a lack of understanding about how prosecutions work.

March 22

Mueller Delivers Report To Barr

robert mueller waving hands

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russian Investigation to Attorney General, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Benner, March 22, 2019. Special Counsel Does Not Recommend New Charges; The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown above in a file photo), focused on Russian election interference and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign cooperated with them; Mr. Mueller did not suggest additional charges as part of his investigation, a senior Justice Dept. official said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Friday delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, the Justice Department said, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years.

Mr. Barr told congressional leaders in a letter that he may brief them on the special counsel’s “principal conclusions” as early as this weekend, a surprisingly fast turnaround for a report anticipated for months. The attorney general said he “remained committed to as much transparency as possible.”

Justice Department logoIn an apparent endorsement of an investigation that Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked as a “witch hunt,” Mr. Barr said Justice Department officials never had to intervene to keep him from taking an inappropriate or unwarranted step. The department’s regulations would have required Mr. Barr to inform the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees about any such interventions in his letter.

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments, a statement aimed at ending speculation that Mr. Trump or other key figures might be charged down the line. With department officials stressing that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry was over and his office closing, the question for both Mr. Trump’s critics and defenders was whether the prosecutors condemned the president’s behavior in their report, exonerated him — or neither. The president’s lawyers were already girding for a possible fight over whether they could assert executive privilege to keep parts of the report secret.

For Trump and the System, a Turning Point and a Test

Once released, the Mueller report will transform the political landscape.
'
Since Mr. Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, his team has focused on how Russian operatives sought to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, cooperated with them. While the inquiry, started months earlier by the F.B.I., unearthed a far-ranging Russian influence operation, no public evidence emerged that the president or his aides illegally assisted it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russian Investigation to Attorney General, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Benner, March 22, 2019. Special Counsel Does Not Recommend New Charges; The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown above in a file photo), focused on Russian election interference and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign cooperated with them; Mr. Mueller did not suggest additional charges as part of his investigation, a senior Justice Dept. official said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Friday delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, the Justice Department said, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years.

william barr new oMr. Barr (shown at right in his new official photo) told congressional leaders in a letter that he may brief them on the special counsel’s “principal conclusions” as early as this weekend, a surprisingly fast turnaround for a report anticipated for months. The attorney general said he “remained committed to as much transparency as possible.”

In an apparent endorsement of an investigation that Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked as a “witch hunt,” Mr. Barr said Justice Department officials never had to intervene to keep him from taking an inappropriate or unwarranted step. The department’s regulations would have required Mr. Barr to inform the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees about any such interventions in his letter.

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments, a statement aimed at ending speculation that Mr. Trump or other key figures might be charged down the line. With department officials stressing that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry was over and his office closing, the question for both Mr. Trump’s critics and defenders was whether the prosecutors condemned the president’s behavior in their report, exonerated him — or neither. The president’s lawyers were already girding for a possible fight over whether they could assert executive privilege to keep parts of the report secret.

For Trump and the System, a Turning Point and a Test

Once released, the Mueller report will transform the political landscape.
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Since Mr. Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, his team has focused on how Russian operatives sought to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone tied to the Trump campaign, wittingly or unwittingly, cooperated with them. While the inquiry, started months earlier by the F.B.I., unearthed a far-ranging Russian influence operation, no public evidence emerged that the president or his aides illegally assisted it.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, ‘We will fight’: Democrats prepare to battle for Mueller’s complete findings, Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade​, ​March 22, 2019. Lawmakers are looking to the special counsel’s findings to inform their investigations — and insist they will be satisfied with nothing short of a complete account of the results and the evidence that informed them.

washington post logoWashington Post, After lashing out for months, a combative Trump awaits Mueller’s findings, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, March 22, 2019. The president’s actions in office, including his firing of the FBI director, were scrutinized as possible obstructions of justice.

More On Mueller Report

ny times logoNew York Times, Glimpses of the Mystery That Is the Mueller Investigation, Scott Shane, Photos by Gabriella Demczuk, March 22, 2019. In 2016, the F.B.I. began its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and journalists attempted to track it. We have seen pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. The full picture is missing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can — and should — release the Mueller report, Neal Kumar Katyal, March 22, 2019. Neal Kumar Katyal, right, is the Saunders Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He was neal katyal oacting solicitor general of the United States from 2010 to 2011.

The public has every right to see Robert S. Mueller III's conclusions. Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public. Indeed, the relevant sources of law give Attorney General P. William Barr all the latitude in the world to make it public.

Those regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1998 and 1999 as a young Justice Department lawyer, require three types of reports. First, the special counsel must give the attorney general “Urgent Reports” during the course of an investigation regarding things such as proposed indictments. Second, the special counsel must provide a report to the attorney general at the end of the investigation, which Mueller delivered on Friday. And third, the attorney general must furnish Congress with a report containing “an explanation for each action … upon conclusion of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Senator Richard Blumenthal says that, after Robert Mueller report, “high likelihood” Donald Trump will be indicted, Bill Palmer, March 22, 2019. The TV pundits really, really, really want you to buy into the narrative tonight that the submission of Robert Mueller’s report somehow means that Mueller didn’t find enough evidence to build a criminal case against Donald Trump. What’s this based on? Literally nothing, of course. Meanwhile, the people in position to know better are expecting Mueller’s report to set off additional indictments.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, adam schiff officialright, appeared on MSNBC and stated that he thinks it’s “likely” there are more indictments coming; they’ll just come from the U.S. Attorneys’ offices that Mueller handed off the cases to. But this didn’t seem to fit with the doomsday narrative, so MSNBC kept pushing the notion that it’s all over, and everyone who hasn’t yet been arrested is somehow magically off the hook. That’s when Richard Blumenthal stepped to the plate.

Richard Blumenthal, below left, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, appeared on MSNBC and stated that there is a “high likelihood that there are indictments in this president’s future.” He explained that these indictments are likely to come from SDNY and/or richard blumenthal portraitother federal prosecutors. But again, this didn’t fit the prevailing MSNBC narrative, so the host cut off Blumenthal, and began asking leading questions which were aimed at painting the picture that no more indictments are coming.

We don’t know why the TV pundits are so eager tonight to push the notion that they somehow know that no one else will be indicted, beyond the obvious fact that scaring viewers is a good way to paralyze them into staying tuned in. But back in the real world, people who have been involved with the overall Trump-Russia investigation, such as Adam Schiff and Richard Blumenthal, are very loudly saying that they’re expecting more indictments. Blumenthal even thinks Trump is going to be indicted.

ny times logojames comeyNew York Times, Opinion: What I Want From the Mueller Report, James Comey (a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shown in an official photo before his dismissal in 2017), March 22, 2019 (print ed.). I am rooting for a demonstration to the world that the United States justice system works.

The country is eagerly awaiting the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Many people know what they want it to say — what they feel it simply must say — namely, that Donald Trump is a criminal who should be removed from office. Or that he is completely innocent of all wrongdoing.

But not everyone knows what it “must” say. Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal. I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to “clear” the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.

washington post logophilip shenon cover jfk cruel bookWashington Post, Cynthia Thomas, State Department widow who won presidential apology, dies at 82, Philip Shenon (author of A Cruel and Shocking Act, from which some of this obituary is drawn), March 22, 2019 (print ed). Cynthia Thomas once thought that she had solved the most confounding mystery of her life — why her late husband, a respected career diplomat, was abruptly fired by the State Department in 1969. His dismissal plunged her husband, Charles, into a severe depression and, she was certain, led him to kill himself two years later at 48.

Mrs. Thomas, who went on to her own diplomatic career and who died March 13 at 82, said the images and sounds of the suicide never left her thoughts, at least not for long.

On April 12, 1971, her husband put a gun to his right temple in the second-floor bathroom of the couple’s rented home in Washington. Mrs. Thomas, downstairs, thought at first that the boiler had exploded.

state dept map logo SmallHis firing by the State Department — he had been “selected out,” in the agency’s Orwellian language of the era — shattered Charles, his widow said.

Within weeks of her husband’s death, she mounted a one-woman lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill for an explanation of why his career had been derailed — what had put him on the path to ending his life.

With the help of outraged lawmakers, she got an answer. A State Department investigation in the mid-1970s showed he was dismissed because of a clerical mistake — the misfiling of his personnel records, including an especially flattering review from his final foreign posting at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. That evaluation described him as “one of the most valuable officers” in the diplomatic corps.

Declassified government files released in the 1990s suggested to her and her family — and to some historians and researchers who have studied the case — that her husband’s career was ended to stop him from continuing to raise unwelcome questions inside the government about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy: specifically, about whether the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had accomplices in Mexico, where Charles Thomas was posted from 1964 to 1967. The misfiling of his personnel records, his family suspected, may have been intentional.

In recent years, Mrs. Thomas, who retired from the State Department in 1993, readily conceded that the idea of a connection between her husband’s dismissal and unanswered questions about Kennedy’s death might sound “crazy.” She dreaded being branded an CIA Logoassassination conspiracy theorist.

The long-classified State Department and CIA documents show that her husband alarmed his superiors in the late 1960s by pressing for a new investigation that might have pointed to a conspiracy in Kennedy’s death. It was a plot, he suspected, that had been hatched on Mexican soil and somehow involved officials of the communist government of Cuba.

March 20

ny times logoNew York Times, The Mueller Report Is Highly Anticipated. Here’s What We Already Know, Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish, March 20, 2019. After more than two years of criminal indictments and steady revelations about contacts between associates of Donald J. Trump and Russia, we already know a lot about the work done by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Here are the main findings and lines of inquiry and the people involved in each.

The investigation has revealed a range of events related to Russian interference and the 2016 election.

Russian Hacking and WikiLeaks

As part of a complex effort to sabotage the campaign of Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump’s 2016 rival, Russia’s top military intelligence service hacked the computer networks of Democratic organizations and the private email account of the chairman of the Clinton campaign and released tens of thousands of stolen emails through WikiLeaks to the public, according to an indictment filed by Mr. Mueller. Only the Russians have been charged.

Russian Social Media Manipulation

The Russian government also directed a network of Internet trolls who used fake accounts on social media to manipulate potential voters and influence the election, according to the special counsel.

Trump Tower Moscow

Mr. Trump and other Trump Organization executives were involved in discussions throughout the 2016 campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. During the campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly denied having any business interests in Russia, but has since admitted that discussions took place.

Trump Tower Russia Meeting

Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after being told that the Russian government wanted to share damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. After the meeting was uncovered by The New York Times, the Trump team pushed a false narrative about the reason for holding it.

Russian Contacts

All told, Mr. Trump and more than a dozen of his associates had more than 100 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the campaign and transition. These included multiple offers of dirt on Mrs. Clinton, attempts to arrange “back-channel” meetings between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and private messages with WikiLeaks and other Russian fronts. At least 10 other advisers were told about these interactions but did not have any themselves.

Global Opinion: West v. ISIS

isis gunmen file

Strategic Culture Foundation via SouthFront, Opinion: “Hyper-Hypocrisy of The West about ISIS,” Eric Zuesse, March 20, 2019.  During the period of 17 September to 11 December of 2016, the United States and its allies carried out a massive operation to move ISIS’s surviving jihadists (shown in a file photo) who were in the oil-producing Iraqi region of Mosul, into the Syrian oil-producing region of Deir Ezzor and Palmyra. This was done so that those oil-stealing-and-selling jihadists in Iraq would now be stealing Syria’s oil and would thereby increase the likelihood of overthrowing Syria’s long-existing non-sectarian Government.

saudi scene no photo credit CustomThe US and its allies would then replace that Government by one which would be controlled by the fundamentalist Sunni Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, the long-time leading oil-power, and which family are America’s main foreign ally. The Sauds (with leading royals and retainers shown in a file photo crowd scene) are crucial to maintaining the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The US aristocracy rely upon them.

Now that ISIS is being defeated by Syria’s Government (and by its allies Russia and Iran) in Syria, the United States and its allies are trying to find other governments that will take them in as refugees. It’s part of a deal the US regime reached with ISIS.

The issue of what to do with the thousands of surviving but (temporarily) defeated ISIS members — and with their spouses and children — has raised hypocrisy to perhaps the highest level in all of history. Its background needs to be understood if one wants to understand the sources of that enormous hypocrisy. Here’s this background.

March 19

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela - Journalists Doubt Guaidó's Legitimacy - Regime Change Plans Continue, b, March 19, 2019. On February 23 the U.S. created a 'humanitarian aid' stunt at the border between Colombia and Venezuela. The stunt ended in a riot during which the supporters of the self declared 'president' Guaidó burned the trucks that where supposed to transport the 'aid'. Even the New York Times had to admit that.

The riots also marked the day that Guaidó lost the legal argument he had used to make himself 'interim president.' The hapless coup plotters in Washington DC were finally put on notice that the issue creates a legal problem for them. During a March 15 press briefing Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, was asked about the issue.

Here is a video of the exchange. (Abrams seems to be lying about the alleged National Assembly resolution.)

The legal argument Abrams produced lacks logic and clearly contradicts the wording of the constitution quoted above.

The legal subterfuge Abrams is using would not convince any serious court. It is of course well known that Abram's has little regard for the law. He was convicted for lying to Congress in two cases. But the issue will matter.

venezuela flag waving customThe U.S. seized Venezuelan assets, especially the Citgo refineries which are in financial trouble. The U.S. is trying to move all the valuable assets towards Guaidó to finance the next phased of its 'regime change' plan. Bondholders of Citgo will likely contest these impoundments and transfers of assets in court. There the argument Abrams made is not going to be a winning one.

The first round of the U.S. 'regime change' change attempt in Venezuela failed but it is far from over. The State Department alone foresees to spend $500 million more on it. The CIA and the Pentagon will have made much larger budget requests even while an invasion of Venezuela continues to be unlikely.

In preparation of the 'humanitarian aid' stunt the U.S. had asked Brazil to use military force to bring in the 'aid' into Venezuela and to allow a U.S. presence at the border. The far-right President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil supported that but the military of Brazil, which holds significant power in the cabinet, vetoed it (in Portuguese). Bosonaro is currently in Washington to meet cia logoPresident Trump. He also made an unusual visit to the CIA headquarter likely to review plans for future operations in Venezuela.

That a Brazilian President visits the CIA, the agency responsible for violent coups and brutal dictatorships in Latin American is disgusting. Many people in Brazil will dislike it. Supporting a CIA coup in a neighboring country is worse. It’s hard to sink any lower.

james stewart Mr. Smith Goes Stewart Capitol

James Stewart, portraying an idealistic new U.S. Senator in the film "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington"

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: A veto of Beto, Wayne Madsen, March 19, 2019 (Subscription required; excerpted with permission). 2016 Democratic Primary Campaign Trail. Here we go again. Just as there were some significant issues with [Barack] Obama that the starry-eyed media failed to dig into, O'Rourke's resume is not as much Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as it is The Dead Zone, a movie based on Stephen King's novel of the same name.

The Dead Zone is about a future presidential candidate with significant personal issues. Martin Sheen plays Greg Stillson, a U.S. Senate hopeful who harbors presidential ambitions. At a campaign rally, Stillson holds up a baby as a human shield during an assassination attempt. An iconic photograph of the incident puts an early end to Stillson's political career....

beto o rourke ted cruzWMR had the scoop on Ted Cruz's father Rafael Cruz being photographed with Oswald in New Orleans in August 1963. The story was completely mangled by Trump on the morning of the 2016 Indiana primary. Nevertheless, it helped to taint Cruz and led to Trump's winning of Indiana and the GOP nomination. It appears that O'Rourke, like Cruz (shown at right in file photos of the two), has not been completely honest about his own past.

March 16

Strategic Culture Foundation via Southfront, Opinion: Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz, Finian Cunningham, March 16, 2019. US imperialists are so desperate in their regime-change predations over Venezuela, they seem to have a problem controlling their drooling mouths. The latest orgy of American gloating was triggered by the massive power outages to have hit Venezuela. No sooner had the South American country been blacked out from its power grid collapsing, senior US officials were crowing with perverse relish.

marco rubio official.jpg SmallRepublican Senator Marco Rubio (right) – who has become a point man for the Trump administration in its regime-change campaign in Venezuela – was a little too celebratory. Within minutes of the nationwide power outage last Thursday, Rubio was having verbal orgasms about the “long-term economic damage”… “in the blink of an eye.” But it was his disclosure concerning the precise damage in the power grid that has led the Venezuelan government to accuse the US of carrying out a sabotage.

venezuela flag waving customInformation Minister Jorge Rodriguez noted how Rubio, in his tweeted comments “three minutes” after the power outage, mentioned failure of “back-up generators” in Venezuela’s main hydroelectric plant, known as the Guri Dam, located in Bolivar State. The dam supplies some 80 per cent of the Venezuelan population of 31 million with its electricity consumption.

Rodriguez mockingly ascribed “mystic skills” to Rubio because the Florida Republican senator appeared to know the precise nature of the power failure even before the Venezuelan authorities had determined it.

The Venezuelan government has since claimed that the failure in the electric grid was caused by a cyber attack on the computer system controlling the Guri Dam turbines. Caracas said it will present proof of its claims to the United Nations.

Apart from Rubio’s apparent insider information, there are several other indicators that Venezuela’s latest turmoil from power blackout was indeed caused by US sabotage, and specifically a cyber attack.

The South American country has experienced recurring power cuts over recent years due to economic problems and Washington’s sanctions. But the latest outage was widespread – at least 70 per cent of the country – and sustained for more than four days, rather than being rectified within hours. That scale of disruption suggests an unprecedented event, way beyond intermittent problems of maintenance.

The duration of the blackout in the capital Caracas and other major cities also indicates that the nature of the problem was difficult to reverse, which would be consistent with a cyber attack on the power grid. “It was a kill-shot,” says American political analyst Randy Martin.

Furthermore, US officials like President Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton as well as “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams have been warning that Washington is seeking new ways to pile pressure on Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to stand down.

Abrams was caught out last week in a prank phone call made by two Russian entertainers posing as Swiss President Ueli Maurer in which Abrams openly advocated crushing the Venezuelan banking system in order to topple the government in Caracas.

The American envoy, who was convicted over the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s for sponsoring terrorism to sabotage Nicaragua, appeared to balk at using overt US military power against Venezuela. That suggests Washington was persuaded on the efficacy of cyber warfare to inflict social chaos and incite popular anger against the Maduro government.

The immediate reaction by Washington officials and the US-backed political opposition in Venezuela was to blame the Maduro government for the power disorder. The failure was flagged up as a sign of “incompetence” and “mismanagement” of the oil-rich country by the socialist juan guaidóadministration.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido (right), who has declared himself the rightful president with Washington’s blessing, conveyed the logic of blackmail when he declared, “the lights will come back on when usurper Maduro is gone.”

mike pompeo portraitUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) also weighed in with repulsive gloating within hours of Venezuela’s power crisis. Pompeo tweeted: “No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro.”

The delight openly displayed by Washington officials in regard to aggression against Venezuela has broken new ground in terms of the brazenness of US imperialism.

Only a few weeks ago, Bolton announced that the objective for seeking regime change in Venezuela against the elected President Nicolas Maduro was for US corporations to seize the South American state’s vast oil wealth – reckoned to be the largest known reserves on the planet, far exceeding those of Saudi Arabia.

March 15

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: CIA Blames Its Proxy For Its Raid On North Korea's Embassy In Spain, b., March 15, 2019. The CIA is the main suspect in the military style raid on the North Korean embassy in Madrid. It now launched a somewhat hapless effort to deflect from it. The Spanish report in which Spanish government sources accuse the CIA said:

cia logoAt least two of the 10 assailants who broke into the embassy and interrogated diplomatic staff have been identified and have connections to the US intelligence agency. The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was “unconvincing.”

That the CIA is the main suspect in the assault was reported on Wednesday in the Spanish mainstream paper El Pais. The paper made the extra effort to publish an abbreviated English language version. It was widely picked up by other international outlets. Some of the assailants were Asian and spoke Korean language. They were probably from the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS), a subsidiary of the CIA know for its extremely hawkish politics. It often rigs elections in South Korea in support of hawkish conservatives candidates.

north korea flagAttacking a foreign embassy in a third country is far out of bounce of international law and diplomatic decency. After the El Pais report something had to be done to direct the attention away from the CIA and to find some other culprit.

A story was thought up and pushed to the favorite CIA outlet, the Washington Post. It wasn't the CIA which did it, writes the Post's national security reporter {A shadowy group trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un allegedly raided a North Korean embassy in broad daylight by John Hudson], it was a CIA controlled 'regime change' organization.

washington post logoWashington Post, A shadowy group trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un allegedly raided a North Korean embassy in broad daylight, John Hudson, March 15, 2019. Days before President Trump was set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, a mysterious incident in Spain threatened to derail the entire high-stakes nuclear summit.

north korea flagIn broad daylight, masked assailants infiltrated North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, tied up the staff, stole computers and mobile phones, and fled the scene in two luxury vehicles.

The group behind the late February operation is known as Cheollima Civil Defense, a secretive dissident organization committed to overthrowing the Kim dynasty, people familiar with the planning and execution of the mission told The Washington Post.

The group’s alleged role in the attack has not previously been reported, and officials from the governments of North Korea, the United States and Spain declined to comment on it.

March 13

El Pais, CIA implicated in attack on North Korean embassy in Madrid, Miguel González and Patricia Ortega Dolz, March 13, 2019. Investigators from the Spanish police and National Intelligence Center (CNI) have linked an attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid on February 22 to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

cia logoAt least two of the 10 assailants who broke into the embassy and interrogated diplomatic staff have been identified and have connections to the US intelligence agency. The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was “unconvincing.”

Investigators from the Spanish police and National Intelligence Center (CNI) have linked an attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid on February 22 to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Sources believe the goal of the attack embassy was to get information on the former North Korean ambassador to Spain

At least two of the 10 assailants who broke into the embassy and interrogated diplomatic staff have been identified and have connections to the US intelligence agency. The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was “unconvincing.”

If it is proven that the CIA was behind the attack, it could lead to a diplomatic spat between Madrid and Washington. Government sources say that it would be “unacceptable” for an ally to take such action. Not only would it mean that the US agency had operated on Spanish soil without asking for authorization or informing the authorities, it would also be a violation of the international conventions that protect diplomatic delegations.

What’s more, unlike other intelligence activities – such as cyberattacks, which are characterized by their discretion, the attack on the North Korean embassy was especially violent.

On February 22 at 3pm, 10 masked men carrying alleged imitation weapons broke into the embassy, located north of the capital in the residential area of Aravaca. They tied up the eight people inside and put bags on their heads. The victims were beaten and interrogated. A woman managed to escape from a window on the second floor and her screams for help were heard by a neighbor, who contacted the police.

Critics Of Mueller, Defenders of Assange

Consortium News, Opinion: VIPS: Mueller’s Forensics-Free Findings, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), March 13, 2019. The final Mueller report should be graded “incomplete,” says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.

We veteran intelligence professionals have done enough detailed forensic work to prove the speciousness of the prevailing story that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking. Given the paucity of evidence to support that story, we believe Mueller may choose to finesse this key issue and leave everyone hanging. That would help sustain the widespread belief that Trump owes his victory to President Vladimir Putin, and strengthen the hand of those who pay little heed to the unpredictable consequences of an increase in tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

There is an overabundance of “assessments” but a lack of hard evidence to support that prevailing narrative. We believe that there are enough people of integrity in the Department of Justice to prevent the outright manufacture or distortion of “evidence,” particularly if they become aware that experienced scientists have completed independent forensic study that yield very different conclusions. We know only too well — and did our best to expose — how our former colleagues in the intelligence community manufactured fraudulent “evidence” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

We have scrutinized publicly available physical data — the “trail” that every cyber operation leaves behind. And we have had support from highly experienced independent forensic investigators who, like us, have no axes to grind. We can prove that the conventional-wisdom story about Russian-hacking-DNC-emails-for-WikiLeaks is false. Drawing largely on the unique expertise of two VIPS scientists who worked for a combined total of 70 years at the National Security Agency and became Technical Directors there, we have regularly published our findings. But we have been deprived of a hearing in mainstream media — an experience painfully reminiscent of what we had to endure when we exposed the corruption of intelligence before the attack on Iraq 16 years ago.

This time, with the principles of physics and forensic science to rely on, we are able to adduce solid evidence exposing mistakes and distortions in the dominant story. We offer you below — as a kind of aide-memoire— a discussion of some of the key factors related to what has become known as “Russia-gate.” And we include our most recent findings drawn from forensic work on data associated with WikiLeaks’ publication of the DNC emails.

We do not claim our conclusions are “irrefutable and undeniable,” a la Colin Powell at the UN before the Iraq war. Our judgments, however, are based on the scientific method — not “assessments.” We decided to put this memorandum together in hopes of ensuring that you hear that directly from us.

If the Mueller team remains reluctant to review our work — or even to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray, we fear that many of those yearning earnestly for the truth on Russia-gate will come to the corrosive conclusion that the Mueller investigation was a sham.

In sum, we are concerned that, at this point, an incomplete Mueller report will fall far short of the commitment made by then Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “to ensure a full and thorough investigation,” when he appointed Mueller in May 2017. Again, we are at your disposal.

Discussion

The centerpiece accusation of Kremlin “interference” in the 2016 presidential election was the charge that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee emails and gave them to WikiLeaks to embarrass Secretary Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win. The weeks following the election witnessed multiple leak-based media allegations to that effect. These culminated on January 6, 2017 in an evidence-light, rump report misleadingly labeled “Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).” Prepared by “handpicked analysts” from only three of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, and NSA), the assessment expressed “high confidence” in the Russia-hacking-to-WikiLeaks story, but lacked so much as a hint that the authors had sought access to independent forensics to support their “assessment.”

Given the stakes involved in the Russia-gate investigation – including a possible impeachment battle and greatly increased tension between Russia and the U.S. — it is difficult to understand why Comey did not move quickly to seize the computer hardware so the FBI could perform an independent examination of what quickly became the major predicate for investigating election interference by Russia. Fortunately, enough data remain on the forensic “trail” to arrive at evidence-anchored conclusions. The work we have done shows the prevailing narrative to be false. We have been suggesting this for over two years. Recent forensic work significantly strengthens that conclusion.

U.S. Courts, Crime

St. Louis American, Under attack, Kim Gardner fights back, Rebecca Rivas, March 13, 2019. Police, special prosecutor take, then return, circuit attorney’s server. St. Louis Circuit kimberly gardnerAttorney Kimberly Gardner, right, said last week that a search warrant demanding thousands of records from her office would put countless people’s privacy at risk. On Tuesday, March 12, Circuit Court Judge Michael K. Mullen rejected Gardner’s motion to quash the search warrant, after claiming last week that Gardner’s office was “playing games.”

The warrant relates to a grand jury case reviewing whether Gardner’s investigator William Tisaby lied under oath last spring during then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ felonious invasion of privacy case.

Gardner’s attorneys appealed within hours of Mullen’s decision. In the short amount of time it took for them to file the appeal, the police and special prosecutor overseeing the grand jury case on Tisaby seized the circuit attorney’s email server – knowing an appeal was underway, according to Gardner. The Court of Appeals ordered a halt to the search warrant that evening.
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“In my decades of work in the criminal justice system, I have never seen a chief prosecutor treated this way by a court or a police department,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Gardner’s attorney.

He said he believes Special Prosecutor Gerard Carmody, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and even Mullen are trying to “intimidate and humiliate” Gardner and “strip her of the powers granted to her by the people of the City of St. Louis.”

This is the second search warrant that Carmody has issued in the grand jury case. Gardner’s office complied with the first search warrant in January. But the second search warrant, issued on February 21, is so broad that it would require the circuit attorney to hand over “every file in the office,” attorneys representing Gardner told a judge at a hearing on March 5. The warrant asks for all files stored on the office’s server that contain 31 common terms, including “notes,” “tape,” and “recording.”

A spokesman for Carmody’s office said he could not comment because of a gag order that Mullen issued on March 5. However, the appellate court also concluded on March 12 that the Gardner is not party to the Tisaby investigation and therefore not bound by Mullen’s gag order, according to Gardner.

The police and Carmody’s actions on March 12 temporarily interrupted the prosecutor’s entire email system “that is central to its efforts to keep the citizens of our city safe,” Gardner said.

Gardner said no information was retrieved from the server before it was returned. “They were unsuccessful,” her attorney said.

The grand jury case came out of the contentious legal battle to prosecute Greitens for allegedly taking a semi-nude photo of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015 and then allegedly transmitting it so it could be viewed on a computer. Greitens’ felony charge was ultimately dropped.

There are still a lot of “personal feelings” and “water under the bridge” left over from that case, according to comments made between Gardner’s attorneys and Carmody’s team at the March 5 hearing addressing Gardner’s motion.

Gardner hired Tisaby, a former FBI agent, in January 2018 to investigate Greitens because she claimed the police department refused her requests to investigate the governor. The department denied that they were asked.

See related story: New York Times, A St. Louis Prosecutor Took On the System. She Made Enemies, Richard A. Oppel Jr., June 14, 2019. Kimberly Gardner was one of a wave of prosecutors who promised to challenge the establishment. Now she is being scrutinized in a manner that is virtually unheard-of for an elected prosecutor.

Kimberly Gardner was elected chief prosecutor by a wide margin in 2016, one of two dozen district attorneys across the country who campaigned to overhaul the criminal justice system.

Like a lot of them, she made quick enemies. She angered the powerful police union in St. Louis, saying repeatedly that she would hold officers more accountable. She indicted the sitting governor, Eric Greitens, shown below at left with Vice President Mike Pence and a rising star in national Republican politics.

Now her adversaries have turned the tables: Ms. Gardner’s professional actions are being scrutinized in a manner that is virtually unheard-of for an elected eric greitens mike penceprosecutor.

In the Greitens case, she has become a focus of a special prosecutor who was appointed to investigate a former F.B.I. agent. The prosecutor has had her office’s email server seized by the police, giving them access, her lawyers say, to active criminal investigations of the department itself. He has been fishing for incriminating information on her administration, according to an affidavit by the agent’s lawyer. Her aides have been called before a grand jury.

The investigation has been conducted in secrecy, with a gag order on the parties involved. But that has not stopped allegations that it is riddled with serious conflicts of interest. Nor has it stifled a sense, among Ms. Gardner’s supporters, that the police and the city’s clubby legal establishment have joined forces in an attempt to embarrass one of the few black officials with truly independent power in St. Louis.

National advocates of remaking the criminal justice system have watched as like-minded prosecutors in places like Boston, Chicago and Dallas won the support of voters but ran headlong into opposition from police unions and other local powers. Though all of them have been criticized, Ms. Gardner’s situation — facing possible criminal charges — is the most extreme.

March 12

30th Anniversary of Iconic Garrison Column On JFK Murder

ap logoAssociated Press via Los Angeles Times, Media No Longer Laughing, Jim Garrison Says : Judge Revives View of JFK Assassination, Austin Wilson, March 12, 1989. They killed the symbol of Jim Garrison's dreams, and after 25 years, he still cannot let it go.

john_f_kennedy_smilingThat would be the practical thing to do--just let it go--but the former prosecutor-turned-judge still believes the CIA killed President John F. Kennedy, that top government officials helped to cover up the crime and that the American people need to know what really happened.

Garrison tried before and was labeled a lunatic and worse. For three years in the late 1960s, he was a topic of international debate, quizzed by Johnny Carson, grilled in network interviews, sought out by authors and cited in footnotes in all sorts of publications.

Then, disillusioned, he withdrew from public view for 18 years, except for a cameo appearance as a judge in "The Big Easy," a steamy cops-and-robbers movie set in New Orleans.

As a district attorney here in 1969, Garrison put businessman Clay Shaw on trial for conspiracy to murder the President. The prosecution was turned into a nationally publicized farce. Garrison's star witness died under mysterious circumstances, and another witness said under cross-examination that he fingerprinted his daughter each time she came home from school to make sure that a spy hadn't taken her identity.

Third Book on Subject

Garrison's first book, Heritage of Stone, attempted to do in print what he couldn't do in the courtroom. Then came a novel, The Star-Spangled Contract. His third book, On the Trail of the Assassins, is a testimony to the tenacity with which he has pursued and developed his theory as new information became available.

His interest is driven by a deep, undying affection for Kennedy as a person and as a symbol. "He had ideals. He inspired dreams," he said. Garrison still gets tears in his eyes when he reads some of Kennedy's speeches.

jim garrison fullGarrison (shown in a file photo) was recently elected to a second 10-year term as a judge on Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. His 68 years sit well on him. His 6-foot-7 frame is erect, and he dwarfs his massive desk when he leans forward to emphasize a point.

For the first time in 19 years, he has granted a lengthy interview on the subject of the JFK assassination and his investigation of it. He remained silent so long because his experience with news reporters soured him, he said.

"I'm not talking about the average reporter, but there are certain organs of the national media--The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, CBS--that, once they adopted the official fiction, there was no variation. They were like the New York Rockettes," he said.

Debunks Warren Report

The "official fiction" was the finding of the Warren Commission--that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed Kennedy, he said. Garrison maintains that Oswald was one of several "false sponsors," people set up in advance to divert attention from the CIA. The mob was another "false sponsor," he said.

To Garrison a conspiracy was obvious from the start, and it stung him when reporters began to regard him as a publicity-seeking opportunist or a buffoon.

"By that time, when I was saying, 'Look, there is no mystery about this,' they would just kind of roll their eyes," he said.

"We went about as far as we could go before our wings were clipped, in reaching a point, in '69, where I couldn't say anything without being pictured as a fool or a madman.

"I continued to have my interest in the assassination investigation, but I returned the district attorney's office to its primary function, about which we had no disagreement with anybody. It was a good office. In fact, in the election of 1968, I had the biggest vote I had ever had."

In 1972, a federal grand jury accused Garrison of taking bribes to protect illegal pinball gambling. He represented himself at his trial and was found innocent, but the trouble contributed to his defeat when he ran for a fourth term. He says that vengeful federal authorities cooked up the case against him by using fraudulent tapes secretly recorded by an old Army buddy.

No Time for Campaign

"They got me," he said. "They sure got me. When they set that trial, that federal trial, for a few months before the election, they sure got me.

"I found out it's all well and good to try your own trial--I wouldn't have it any other way--but when that case is over and you've only got six weeks or whatever it is to try and raise money and do the other things, there's not enough time for a citywide election.

"So they got me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because I wouldn't have found my way into the 4th Circuit (bench)."

Serving as an appellate court judge is the most satisfying thing he has done, he said. "I truly love it."

The son and grandson of lawyers, Garrison went to a public high school here and entered the Army a year before Pearl Harbor. He flew light planes as an artillery spotter in Europe, and arrived at Dachau the day after troops supported by his artillery unit had liberated it.

He enrolled at Tulane University after the war and earned a law degree, and briefly tried to earn a spot on the football team. "It didn't take long to realize that was not for me," he said.

'Good' and 'Bad' Wars

Old-fashioned values shape Garrison's views. He talks of truth, duty and honor, of "good wars," such as the one against the Nazis, and "bad wars," such as the one in Vietnam.

Kennedy was planning to pull the U.S. out of Vietnam, so the cold warriors in the CIA had to have him killed, he said.

By Garrison's estimate, about 18 people were involved in the assassination--at least three riflemen, a couple of coordinators with radios, two spotters to distract a strategically placed police officer and divert a standby ambulance away from the site of the shooting, about six members of the Dallas police homicide squad and three or four others who handled the training, on-site planning and logistics.

Somebody had to authorize changing the parade route from Main Street to Elm Street, and somebody had to authorize leaving the bulletproof top off the President's car, he said. Somebody, he said, had to call off the usual security check of buildings and rooftops along the new parade route.

The orders had to come from an upper level in the CIA, he said, but he would hazard no guess about the number of people involved in that decision.

Names and Pseudonyms

He never tried to identify the trigger men and never could understand reporters' fixations on that subject, he said. "They (assassins) all have nom de plumes ."

After the assassination, people as high as President Lyndon B. Johnson and Chief Justice Earl Warren lent themselves to validating the official fiction, Garrison said.

"Let's take the best-case scenario for Johnson: It was a terrible thing to happen, but it had happened, and what else could you do but put a lid on it for the good of the country?" he said.

"I think there was an awful lot of that. People will say, 'How could Chief Justice Earl Warren have let himself be dragged in?'

"Put it in the words of a forceful man like Lyndon Johnson. Put his meaty hand on your shoulder and hear him saying, 'Look, Mr. Chief Justice, this could be war. This could be misunderstood. The country has never needed you like it will now.'

"Then, coming down to: 'It could be much more involved, but we've got to put the lid on for the good of the country, for the good of the people.'

"I think that was the magic phrase from there on. A lot of people who you would not call bad people and who were not villains responded, I think, with active participation in the cover-up as a consequence."

The FBI and Secret Service became involved in the cover-up immediately, he said.

LBJ in the Dark

jim garrisonGarrison (shown in another file photo) said there is no indication that Johnson knew about the assassination beforehand. "Quite the contrary, in fact. The conspirators would have followed one of the cardinal rules of their trade and told Johnson only what he needed to know."

The proximity of Oswald's office to the New Orleans offices of some of the country's intelligence agencies started Garrison thinking, and those thoughts quickly formed themselves into his theory of a CIA conspiracy.

"I'm not particularly aggressive in seeking fights. Sometimes I wish I were more aggressive, but I just am who I am, and I can't change.

"One of the things that I happen to have in my makeup is that I am just constitutionally unable to back up, if that makes any sense to you.

"I would never cross the street to get in a fight, but if somebody comes up, I can't back up an inch.

Not a Fighter

"That, in a sense, tells you all about my role. If you were my manager and I were a professional prizefighter, after about my third fight you'd say, 'Jim, I think you've got nice hands, good footwork and everything, but you're really not a professional fighter.' "

Garrison refers to his rough treatment at the hands of the media and federal prosecutors as "that unpleasantness," but he says it has left no scars.

"Please, understand me. I'm not trying to portray myself as another Clint Eastwood. I'm not trying to portray myself as a 'make my day' fellow, but I found that I couldn't care less what other people thought about it.

"People have asked me from time to time if I felt vindicated by later developments. Watergate was a later development; Irangate was a later development--other things which showed the shadow of intelligence (agencies) around the edge of things . . . the 'off-the-shelf' activity outside the scope of regular tables of organization.

"I've had to answer that I don't feel vindicated, and have never felt the need of it.

"I still don't have ulcers. I know I gave some to people at Langley (CIA headquarters). I hope so."

Garrison's manuscript for On the Trail of the Assassins was rejected 19 times in six years before Sheridan Square Press accepted it. The first rejection came from the publisher of his novel.

"It was a very warm letter, but the essence of what he said was that 'We here do not believe the American people are interested in a murder that took place so long ago."

He was less than enthusiastic about renewing contact with the media until New Orleans television reporters covered his autograph party.

"It was quite different than it was 20 years ago," he said. "There was interest in what I said. I was not regarded as insane. They had read some of the book. Their questions were very good. That really is all I ask, and I never got that 19 years ago.

"Then, it was more along the lines, of: 'Now, you're supposed to be an intelligent man. What makes you think you're right and the United States government is wrong?' You phrase it like that, and it's a 'When did you stop beating your wife' question. So I just stopped giving interviews. Now, it's different."

Holds No Hope

Garrison said he holds out no hope that the book might inspire an investigation of the intelligence agency and the role it might have played in the assassination.

"I might have hoped that when I was younger," he said. "I do hope that it gets a wide enough readership that maybe some people will see through the false sponsorships, so they can see through the attempts to discredit John Kennedy.

"In the final analysis, I hope that it has provided information that someone--who knows? maybe even the government itself--may use to have a clearer awareness of what happened. I know that sounds awfully optimistic, but still, it is some of the truth that might otherwise have remained hidden."

Mueller Report

ny times logoNew York Times, Mueller Report Has Washington Spinning (and It’s Not Even Filed), Staff report, March 12, 2019 (print ed.). The capital is jittery and full of rumor as it awaits the report of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Russian interference and President Trump.  It may or may not be the report of the century, it may or may not be ready soon, and it may be only a few pages. But it is definitely highly anticipated.

djt li yang super bowlMassage parlor founder Li "Cindy" Yang, lower left, an active Republican contributor and PR specialist in linking Chinese nationals to prominent Repubicans, and a friend watch this year's Superbowl with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago (Facebook photo).

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump is the "Manchurian Candidate"-turned-President, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author, former Navy Intelligence officer), March 12, 2019 (Subscription required; excerpted with permission).

Palm Beach: Forget Russian oligarchs for the time being. Donald Trump and his family appear to have been co-opted by a standard Chinese intelligence operation -- both mainland and Taiwanese -- that uses overseas Chinese, shady dummy corporations, prostitution and blackmail, and political influence peddling to influence foreign governments.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: The Massage Parlor Owner and Mar-a-Lago, Michelle Goldberg, right, March 12, 2019 (print ed.). We're jaded, but this should be a big scandal.

Even if you’re an avid follower of the news, it’s hard to keep track of Donald Trump’s scandals. Revelations that would have been shocking in the world we all lived in a few years ago — for example, news that the president overruled his staff to insist on security clearances for his fashion designer daughter and her husband — now take up half a news cycle, at most.

Still, it’s worth trying to summon whatever is left of our pre-Trump sensibilities and pause to consider the epic sleaze of the unfolding story of Li Yang, also known as Cindy Yang.

Yang, in case you haven’t heard of her yet, is a Florida businesswoman whose family owns a chain of massage parlors that, as The Miami Herald put it, “have gained a reputation for offering sexual services.”

Last month, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and a close friend of and donor to Trump, was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a spa Yang founded, Orchids of Asia. (She reportedly sold it around 2013, but online reviews indicate it was known as a place to buy sex before that.) Kraft pleaded not guilty. The authorities have said that Orchids of Asia is part of a major sex trafficking operation.

Venezuelan Crisis

Grayzone via Consortium News, max blumenthal screenshot rt america,’ Max Blumenthal, right, March 12, 2019. The group that trained Juan Guaidó and his allies laid out plans for galvanizing public unrest in a 2010 memo, Max Blumenthal reports for Grayzone.

A September 2010 memo by a U.S.-funded soft power organization that helped train Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó and his allies identifies the potential collapse of the country’s electrical sector as “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

The memo has special relevance today as Guaidó moves to exploit nationwide blackouts caused by a major failure at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri dam – a crisis that Venezuela’s government blames on U.S. sabotage.

venezuela flag waving customIt was authored by Srdja Popovic of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Belgrade-based “democracy promotion” organization funded by the U.S. that has trained thousands of U.S.-aligned youth activists in countries where the West seeks regime change.

This group reportedly hosted Guaidó (shown below at left) and the key leaders of his Popular Will party for a series of training sessions, fashioning them into a “Generation 2007” determined to foment resistance to then-President Hugo Chavez and sabotage his plans to implement “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.

In the 2010 memo, published by WikiLeaks, CANVAS’s Popovic declared, “A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector.” Popovic explicitly identified the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant as a friction point, emphasizing that “water levels at the Guri dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry.”

juan guaidóSpeculating on a “grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010,” the CANVAS leader stated that “an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs.”

Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined.

March 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Manafort Is Sentenced to Nearly 4 Years; Punishment Falls Short of Guidelines, Sharon LaFraniere, March 8, 2019 (print ed.). Paul Manafort, the political consultant and Trump presidential campaign chairman whose lucrative work in Ukraine and ties to well-connected Russians made him a target of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was sentenced on Thursday to nearly four years in prison in the financial fraud case that left his grand lifestyle and power-broker reputation in ruins.

The sentence in the highest-profile criminal case mounted by the special counsel’s office was far lighter than the 19- to 24-year prison term recommended under sentencing guidelines. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., said that although Mr. Manafort’s crimes were “very serious,” following the guidelines would have resulted in an unduly harsh punishment.

A team of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors sat glum-faced as Judge Ellis delivered his decision. Mr. Manafort, who has gout and came to the hearing in a wheelchair with his foot heavily bandaged, had asked the judge for compassion. “To say I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” he said in a barely audible voice, reading from a prepared statement.

Spas, Sports, Massages and Trumps

Daily Mail, Founder of massage parlor where Robert Kraft was arrested is a Trump donor, frequent Mar-a-Lago partygoer and White House djt li yang super bowlguest who was seen watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl with the president, Chris Spargo, March 8, 2019. The Chinese entrepreneur who founded Orchids of Asia Day Spa & Massage was seen rooting for the New England Patriots at Mar-a-Lago alongside President Donald Trump early last month.

Li Yang (at left in photo via Facebook) shared a photo of herself and a friend sitting directly behind President Trump at the event, which took place just two weeks before Patriots owner Robert Kraft would matt gaetz li yangbe charged with two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution for incidents that allegedly transpired at that spa.

She is shown above left with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a "family values" hard-right Trump supporter representing Florida's Panhandle, and below with the President's sons Eric (at left) and Donald Jr. in other photos via Facebook. 

Kraft is accused of visiting the spa on two consecutive days in January, with a worker performing a manual sex act on the billionaire during his first appointment while another worker performed an oral sex act during his second sojourn.

eric trump li yang facebookHe is planning to fight those charges and denies claims he was the recipient of any sexual act at the spa, despite police claiming there is video evidence in the case.

Kraft is one of Trump's closest friends, while Yang is one with deep pockets. Records obtained by DailyMail.com show donald trump jr li yang facebookthat she donated $8,100 to the Trump Victory Fund in 2018, listing her occupation on federal election forms as Chairman of the Women's Charity Foundation

She is also a Trump Republican, having been an inactive voter with no declared political party for the decade before the current president ran for office.

Miami Herald, Trump cheered Patriots to Super Bowl victory with founder of spa where Kraft was busted, Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, miami herald logoand Caitlin Ostroff, March 8, 2019. Li Yang, 45, posed with Donald Trump during the Super Bowl while rooting for the Patriots. Two weeks later, authorities would charge the team owner, Robert Kraft, with soliciting prostitution at a spa in Jupiter that Yang had founded.

Seated at a round table littered with party favors and the paper-cutout footballs that have become tradition at his annual Super Bowl Watch Party, President Donald Trump cheered the New England Patriots and his longtime friend, team owner Robert Kraft (shown in a file photo), to victory robert kraft twitterover the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3.

Sometime during the party at Trump’s West Palm Beach country club, the president turned in his chair to look over his right shoulder, smiling for a photo with two women at a table behind him.

The woman who snapped the blurry Super Bowl selfie with the president was Li Yang, 45, a self-made entrepreneur from China who started a chain of Asian day spas in South Florida. Over the years, these establishments — many of which operate under the name Tokyo Day Spas — have gained a reputation for offering sexual services.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: Billionaires’ solicitation of H-B2 visa sex slaves tip of huge EB-5 visa swindle, Wayne Madsen, March 4, 2019 (subscription required, excerpted with permission).

Jupiter, Florida -- Across U.S. Highway 1 from the now-closed Orchids of Asia “Day Spa,” which provided owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft, as well as John Childs, a hedge fund owner and major GOP donor, and John Havens, a former president of Citigroup, with illegal prostitution services, is ground zero for a swindle and scandal involving EB-5 visas to wealthy Chinese investors.

President Donald Trump officialThe EB-5 visa is formally known as an “investment visa.” Foreign citizens who invest a minimum of $500,000 in the United States that create ten U.S. jobs per investor, qualify for an EB-5 visa. The EB-5 is a fast track program for obtaining a “Green Card,” which is permanent residency in the United States.

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Securities and Exchange Commission investigators began closely examining the activities of Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, who was touting her brother’s access to President Trump to convince Chinese business people in Beijing to invest $500,000 each in a Kushner-owned residential complex in New Jersey.

Ms. Meyer, who has assumed control of Kushner Companies from her brother Jared, guaranteed the investors a fast-track to permanent residency and probable citizenship through the EB-5 visa investments in the Kushner property at One Journal Square in Jersey City on the Hudson River, just opposite lower Manhattan.

March 7

Manafort Sentencing

Forbes, Commentary: The Judge Who Let Manafort Off Easy With 47 Months Is An Arch-Conservative, Charles Tiefer,  March 7, 2019. It is striking that a judge just sentenced Paul Manafort, a major target of the Mueller investigation, to only 47 months in prison. The Sentencing Guidelines justified a sentence well above fifteen years. It was all-important that Manafort, who had been the head of the Trump presidential campaign, receive a strong sentence.

This was partly for the general reason in sentencing, to send the message to potential malefactors of the consequences. But, it was also needed to persuade Manafort to tell Mueller (and, eventually, in some forum, the public) the truth about President Trump and Russia.

Instead, this weak sentence sends these kind of messages of a conservative judge: it is not so bad to use Republican connections to cash in with Putin’s allies; Trump’s campaign manager is worthy of much, much more respect than in the Sentencing Guidelines; Mueller’s quest for the Russia connection deserves little help, and some messages.

Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis was nominated to the bench in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, who of course favored very conservative picks. Before then, he had worked since 1970 for Hunton and Williams, a very well known, quite conservative, Richmond firm.

President Reagan nominated Judge Ellis to the Eastern District of Virginia. Presidents have a special reason to want to stack that particular court with strong conservatives. The Pentagon and the CIA are in that district. There is a great desire among conservatives to stack that district court to handle the cases that concern national security brought in that district, including espionage cases.

Take a comparison of the Manafort case with another prosecution of a political figure, a black Democratic Congressman from a black district in Louisiana named William J. Jefferson. (I was a peripheral observer of that case. The FBI had raided Jefferson’s Congressional office and carried off his computer hard drive. The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the violation of Congressional independence by that raid, and I was the principal witness (because I knew the established limits on prosecution tactics as a former House General Counsel and I was now a professor.))

Jefferson’s case was basically bribery. It was nationally famous because agents raiding his house found cash in the freezer.

Manafort may have gotten off easy with four years, but Ellis threw the book at Jefferson. In 2009 Ellis sentenced Jefferson to 13 years, the longest sentence of any Congressman to that date. (After further twists and turns Ellis let off Jefferson in December 2017 for five years time served.) It seems that while Judge Ellis can sympathize with Manafort, the Republican presidential campaign manager, he did not sympathize with Jefferson.

Everything now depends on the sentence Manafort receives in his other case, and whether it is consecutive or concurrent. Imagine the relief for Trump if it is a sentence no longer than 47 months and it runs concurrently. If Manafort had gotten (or still gets) a sentence of more than 15 years, Trump would face the problem of pardoning Manafort to prevent him from experiencing great pressure to cooperate with Mueller.

The press and public have been waiting for the first use of the pardon power as a major statement about Trump.

Now, Trump might just get off and not need to display the pardon weapon. Trump should say "Thank you, Judge Ellis."

March 5

NSA Spying On Americans

ny times logocharlie savageNew York Times, Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says, Charlie Savage (right), March 5, 2019 (print ed.). A system that analyzed logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts was quietly ended, a congressional aide said. The program touched off years of debates about privacy and the rule of law after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which nsa official logois set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.

In a raw assertion of executive power, President George W. Bush’s administration started the program as part of its intense pursuit for Qaeda conspirators in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and a court later secretly blessed it. The intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden disclosed the program’s existence in 2013, jolting the public and contributing to growing awareness of how both governments and private companies harvest and exploit personal data.

Barr To Control Mueller Probe

March 4

Barr To Control Mueller Probe

william barr senate hearing cnn screengrab jan 15 2019

Trump nominee for Attorney General William Barr during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 15, 2019.

Roll Call, Attorney General Barr will not recuse himself from Mueller investigation, John Bennett, March 4, 2019. Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from oversight of the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, following the advice he received from Justice Department senior career ethics officials, a DOJ spokeswoman said Monday.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Barr did not commit to recusing himself. “I will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel, but under the regulations, I make the decision as the head of the agency as to my own recusal,” he told the Judiciary Committee in January.

Some Democrats have called for his recusal due to his past criticism of Mueller’s investigation.

Justice Department logoA source told Roll Call earlier Monday that based on the track record of Barr, who was attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, “he seems inclined to follow the Justice Department’s guidelines that a sitting president can’t be indicted.”

That means if Mueller or investigators in New York’s federal Southern District find the president broker federal laws, Barr would not sign off on charging Trump.

“That makes it a political decision,” the GOP source said. “And [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi hasn’t given us any reason to think she’s going to bring articles if impeachment if the votes for removal aren’t there in the Senate.”

March 3

Suppressed History

george hw bush george w bush 2001

Former President George H. W. Bush, left, visits with his son, President George W. Bush, in the White House Oval Office.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, The Bush Family Stories You Won’t See Tonight on CNN, Russ Baker, March 3, 2019. CNN is certainly aggressive in questioning the myths fathered by President Donald Trump.

But how does it stack up in the truth-telling department when it comes to former presidents? To determine that, you can watch its new series, The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power, to air tonight — and then come see a small selection of what we have unearthed.

We expect you will be startled by the contrast between the public, the private, and the very private lives of this family.

March 2

jeffrey epstein alan dershowitz

Jeffrey Epsein, left, a wealthy Harvard donor and convicted serial sexual abuser of underage girls, speaks with his friend and counsel Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, as shown in a file photo. A hearing is scheduled in New York City Wednesday on whether authorities must release records. 

Miami Herald, Press access may be curbed at hearing on Epstein sex abuse, Julie K. Brown, March 2, 2019 (print ed.). A court hearing on miami herald logowhether to unseal sensitive documents involving the alleged sex trafficking of underage girls by Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein — and the possible involvement of his influential friends — will play out in a New York City courtroom next week.

But it may happen behind closed doors, with the news media and public barred — at least in part.

An attorney for lawyer Alan Dershowitz wrote a letter to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday, asking whether the media should be excluded from the proceeding because his oral arguments on behalf of his client could contain sensitive information that has been under seal.

republican elephant logoThe appeals court had not responded to his concern as of Friday, but if the hearing is closed during his lawyer’s argument, it would represent the latest in a long history of successful efforts to keep details of Epstein’s sex crimes sealed.

Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard, constitutional law expert and criminal defense attorney, represented Epstein, who in 2008 received what many consider an unusually light sentence for sexually abusing dozens of girls at his Palm Beach mansion.

perversion of justice miami herald logoTwo women — one of whom was underage — have said Epstein and his partner, British socialite and environmentalist Ghislaine Maxwell, directed them to have sex with Dershowitz, 80, and other wealthy, powerful men. Dershowitz and Maxwell have denied the claims.

Oral arguments are scheduled Wednesday to hear an appeal by the Miami Herald and other parties seeking to unseal a 2015 court case involving Epstein and Maxwell. The Herald, as part of an ongoing investigation into Epstein’s case, hopes to shed more light on the scope of Epstein’s crimes, who was involved and whether there was any undue influence that tainted the criminal justice process.

A legal brief supporting the Herald’s appeal was filed in December by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 32 other media companies, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Dow Jones, Fox News, Gannett, Politico, Reveal Center for Investigative Reporting and Tribune Publishing Co.

virginia robertsThe case — which was settled in 2017 — involved Virginia Roberts Giuffre (right), who sued Maxwell in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2015. Giuffre had asserted that Maxwell and Epstein trafficked her and other underage girls, often at sex parties that Epstein hosted at his homes in New York, New Mexico, Palm Beach and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Maxwell called her a liar. Giuffre sued for defamation.

As the case was litigated, the judge allowed a vast trove of documents, including testimony by witnesses, to be sealed. Dershowitz, having been publicly implicated in Epstein’s crimes by Giuffre, tried unsuccessfully to get the judge to unseal a select number of documents that he says will exonerate him. Blogger Michael Cernovich also filed a motion to release a portion of the sealed documents.

The judge denied their motions in 2016, as the case was still ongoing, saying release of the documents could taint a potential jury pool.

After the case was settled, the Herald filed a more extensive motion, arguing that with the case now closed, all the documents should be made public. The motion, filed in April 2018, came as the Herald was working on an investigative series, Perversion of Justice, which detailed how Epstein and his lawyers manipulated federal prosecutors to obtain one of the most lenient sentences for a child sex offender in history.

Justice Integrity Project editor's note: The project has reported extensively on the Roberts and related Epstein cases, with a photo and caption excerpted below:

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Roberts claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family and French modeling scout Jean Luc Brunel.

The California native said the photo at left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine. The death left one of the world's largest media empires with a reported $3 billion in debts.

Roberts alleged that the Ghislaine Maxwell was girlfriend of the never-married Epstein's who helped him both maintain contacts to top levels of society, recruited teenage sex consorts, and sometimes participated in the sex abuse, including of Roberts.

Maxwell, Epstein, Andrew, and Dershowitz are among those who have denied the major allegations by Roberts. Epstein, in his first formal remarks on the revived scandal, condemned the “media frenzy” surrounding the case. He wrote that he and his associates “have been the subject of the most outlandish and offensive attacks, allegations, and plain inventions.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind Illicit Massage Parlors Lies a Vast Crime Network, Nicholas Kulish, Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei, March 2, 2019. It has exploded into a $3 billion-a-year sex industry that ensnares tens of thousands of mostly foreign women in a form of modern indentured servitude. Many women stay on as prostitutes in order to pay debts to smugglers, spa owners and lawyers.

She was 49, a recent immigrant and deeply in debt to a loan shark back home in China when she answered an employment ad three years ago that promised thousands of dollars a month, but offered no job description. She realized too late that she had been tricked into working at a massage parlor in Flushing, Queens, where besides kneading backs, she was expected to sexually service up to a dozen men a day.

In strip malls across the country, neon signs and brightly colored placards promise hot stones, acupuncture and shiatsu with photos of women or couples receiving relaxing shoulder rubs. But a traditionally Asian form of therapeutic relaxation with deep roots in big-city Chinatowns has spun off a different kind of massage parlor that has little to do with traditional remedies. It has exploded into a $3 billion-a-year sex industry that relies on pervasive secrecy, close-knit ownership rings and tens of thousands of mostly foreign women ensnared in a form of modern indentured servitude.

robert kraft twitterThe recent arrest warrant filed against Robert K. Kraft (shown in a file photo), owner of the New England Patriots — and the solicitation charges filed against nearly 300 men in multiple jurisdictions as part of the same case — riveted national attention to a stretch of Highway 1 along Florida’s Treasure Coast dotted with strip malls, gas stations and sapphire ocean views. Across the region, parlors were empty and many frequent clients were phoning their lawyers, wondering if more warrants were going to drop.

Law enforcement officials said there were an estimated 9,000 illicit massage parlors across the country, from Orlando to Los Angeles.

The epicenter of this national underground is the bustling Chinatown in Flushing, in the New York City borough of Queens. Women — typically Chinese, but also Korean, Thai and East European — arrive at Kennedy International Airport, learn the trade and are sent out to places like Virginia, Iowa, Texas and Florida. Women are recruited locally through ads in Chinese-language newspapers or over the social network WeChat.

March 1

Strategic Culture Foundation, Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc. (MIAMI), Wayne Madsen (left, syndicated columnist, author of 16 books wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalland former Navy intelligence officer), March 1, 2019. The city of Miami, Florida may have started out as a retirement mecca for winter-worn pensioners from northern climes. However, after the beginning of the Cold War and US military and Central Intelligence Agency intervention in Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guyana, the Bahamas, and other Western Hemisphere nations, Miami became a refuge for exiled wealthy businessmen escaping populist revolutions and elections in South and Central America and spies. The retirement and vacation capital of the United States quickly became the “Tropical Casablanca.”

cia logoNow home to thousands of limited liability corporations linked to the CIA, as well as private military contractors, sketchy airlines flying from remote Florida airports, the interventionist US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and exiled oligarchs running destabilization operations in their native countries, Miami – or MIAMI, “Military Intervention and Mercenaries, Inc.” – serves as the nexus for current Trump administration “regime change” efforts.

The latest example of Miami being a hive of CIA operatives came after five Americans, one Serbian permanent resident of the United States, and another Serbian national, were arrested by the Haitian National Police in Port-au-Prince with weapons, advanced communications devices, drones, and other military hardware amid anti-government protests linked to CIA regime change operations.

The government of Haitian President Jovenel Moise and Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant is under US pressure to sever its diplomatic and financial links with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the Trump administration is attempting to replace with Juan Guaido, a CIA agent-of-influence and US puppet.

The Americans and Serbs were subsequently transferred to Miami on the authorization of Haitian Justice Minister Jean Roody Aly, who was assured by the Donald Trump administration that the seven men would be criminally tried by the United States. Once in Miami, the US Attorney’s Office in Miami, which takes its orders from the CIA-friendly Attorney General, William Barr, declined prosecution of the men but “debriefed” them, a term usually applied to intelligence agents who are caught and expelled by foreign authorities.

The decision by the Haitian administration to release the seven men has resulted in a political firestorm in Port-au-Prince, with the Haitian Senate demanding answers about the role Moise played in ordering the Central Bureau of the Judicial Police of Haiti to release the individuals, described by Prime Minister Céant as “mercenaries” and “terrorists.”

February 2019 Update

Feb. 24

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela -- There Was A Riot At The Border But What Else Did The "Aid" Stunt Achieve? B, Feb. 24, 2019.  Yesterday's "humanitarian aid" stunt at the Colombian-Venezuelan border was supposed to achieve four points:

  1. to breach the border and thereby open venues that could later be used for the passage of arms and fighters,
  2. to incite large scale defections from the Venezuelan army and police forces,
  3. to demonstrate to the outside world that the Random Guyaido, who declared himself president, has a large following and is thereby legitimate enough to support him,
  4. to deliver justification for further steps against Venezuela.

Point 1 was clearly not achieved. A few hundred young men attacked the Venezuelan National Guard force that closed off the border. Attempts were made to ram "aid" trucks juan guaidóthrough. Random Guyaido ["Random Guy," Juan Guaidó, "interim president," right, leader of the rebellion] was nowhere to be seen. The whole thing ended in a minor riot. The violent attackers received gasoline and made Molotov cocktails to attack the guards and set the "aid" trucks alight. The riots continued (vid) until about midnight but neither any rioters nor the aid passed through the border.

The New York Times headlines, and Guaido claimed, that some "aid" passed into Venezuela from Brazil: "Some Aid From Brazil Pierces Venezuela’s Blockade, but Deadly Violence Erupts."

Down in paragraph 17 of its story the NYT admits that its headline is fake: "But as of Saturday night, the trucks remained stranded on the border, according to Jesús Bobadillo, a Catholic priest in Pacaraima, the Brazilian border town."

Bloomberg's bureau chief in Venezuela confirmed that the "aid" never entered the country: "Patricia Laya @PattyLaya - 4:31 PM - 23 Feb 2019. An important note from our reporter on the Brazil border @SamyAdghirni: while the aid is technically on Venezuelan territory, it hasn't crossed security or customs checkpoints"

venezuela flag waving customThe attempt to incite defections of Venezuelan security forces largely failed. A handful of National Guard foot soldiers went over to the Colombian side. But the National Guard lines held well even under a hail of stones and fire and the units were quite disciplined in taking and holding their positions. The military of Venezuela stays firmly on the side of the state.

The "aid" nonsense did not help to brush up Guaido's legitimacy. Defying a court order Guaido left Venezuela and entered Colombia. If he ever goes back he will have to go to jail. The large mobilization inside and outside of Venezuela he had promised completely failed to appear. The melee at the border crossing only showed that his followers are a gang of brutal thugs.

Guaido also lost his original legal position. He claimed the presidency on January 23 under this paragraph of article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution: "When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic."

That the "elected President becomes permanently unavailable" was never the case to begin with. But if article 233 would apply Guaido would have had 30 days to hold new elections. The 30 days are over and Guaido did not even call for elections to be held. He thereby defied the exact same paragraph of the constitution that his (false) claim to the presidency is based on.

All the above will not change the U.S. urge to "regime change" Venezuela. But it will certainly lower Guaido's support within the country as well as his international standing. It demonstrated aptly that he is nothing but an empty suit.

bernie sandersThe last aim of yesterday's stunt was to give justification for the next steps towards "regime change" -- whatever those steps may be.

The success of achieving that aim was never in question as all U.S. media and politicians were already backing Trump's plans by accepting the "humanitarian aid" nonsense in the first place:

"Bernie Sanders [shown at right] @SenSanders -- 18:47 utc - 23 Feb 2019: 'The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.'"

This response to the fake socialist is warranted:

"Roger Waters @rogerwaters - 22:27 utc - 23 Feb 2019. Replying to @SenSanders: Bernie, are you f-ing kidding me! if you buy the Trump, Bolton, Abrams, Rubio line, “humanitarian intervention” and collude in the destruction of Venezuela, you cannot be credible candidate for President of the USA. Or, maybe you can, maybe you’re the perfect stooge for the 1 %."

Feb. 23

lee marina oswald archives

Lee Harvey Oswald is shown returning to the United States in 1962 with his Soviet-born wife Marina after announcing in 1959 a defection to the Soviet Union. Oswald was later accused of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This column argues that he was a secret U.S. intelligence asset but leaves open the issue of whether he was complicit in the JFK assassination or a patsy, as Oswald claimed before he was murdered in a Dallas police station on Nov. 24, 1963.)

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: ISIS and Oswald, Jacob G. Hornberger (right), Feb. 22, 2019. How ironic that the U.S. government’s war on ISIS, the group brought into existence by the U.S. national-security establishment’s war of aggression on Iraq, would provide insight into the U.S. national-security’s establishment’s relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy some 55 years ago.

As I emphasized in my 29-part video series on the JFK assassination and as I am emphasizing in my multipart series on the same subject in FFF’s monthly journal Future of Freedom, circumstantial evidence is just as valid as direct evidence. Equally important, sometimes we can glean just as much from what government officials fail to do as from what they do.

Consider the case of Hoda Muthana, a 23-year-old American citizen who traveled to Syria four years ago and became the wife of a member of ISIS. She had a baby and now wants to return to the United States.

It’s not going to happen if President Trump gets his way. He is steadfastly refusing to permit Muthana to return to the United States. As far as he is concerned, she is a traitor for having left the United States to join up with ISIS, which became an official enemy of the U.S. Empire after the U.S. conquest of Iraq.

lee harvey oswald marine corbis via getty imagesWhich brings us to Lee Harvey Oswald (left), the former U.S. Marine who U.S. officials have always said was a “lone nut” communist who killed President Kennedy.

How does Oswald’s case relate to those of the Americans who joined up with ISIS? The U.S. government’s treatment of Oswald, whose conduct was arguably as bad if not worse than that of the ISIS Americans, was exactly the opposite of how they are treating the ISIS Americans.

In fact, as I have note in my two series, there are but two reasonable possibilities: Either Oswald was a Cold War miracle story or he was what many assassination researchers have long contended: a U.S. intelligence agent whose official cover was a communist.

Don’t forget the official narrative. It begins with a supposed communist joining the U.S. Marine Corps. How many communists have you ever heard of who have joined the U.S. Marines? Why would a genuine communist join the Marines? The Marines hate communists. They kill communists.

Oswald learned fluent Russian while he was in the Marines. How did he do that without help, especially since his study would presumably be limited to evenings and weekends? He was also studying Marxism, even to the point that his military colleagues were calling him “Osvaldovitch.”

Then Oswald walked into the U.S. embassy in Russia and loudly announced that he is renouncing his U.S. citizenship — loud enough to ensure that Russian monitoring devices could pick up what he was saying. He handed over his passport to a U.S. official in the embassy and loudly declared that he intends to divulge all the secrets he learned in the U.S. military to the Russians. It was not an idle threat because the U.S. military had stationed this ostensible communist at Atsugi Air Base in Japan, which was where the CIA’s top-secret U-2 spy plane was based.

lee harvey oswald cuba posterWhile in Russia, Oswald married a communist woman, one whose uncle had close ties to Soviet intelligence.

After a couple of years, Oswald suddenly had a change of heart, just like those ISIS wives. He decided that he now wanted to come home, along with his Red wife.

Now, how do you think that request would be handled by U.S. officials? Before you answer, remember: This was the height of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

In fact, in what can only be described as a Cold War miracle story, Oswald was given a red-carpet treatment during a period of time in which the U.S. national-security establishment was doing everything it could to ferret out, smear, and destroy any American who suspected to be a communist.

A U.S. group called Traveler’s Aid even advanced Oswald the money to return with his Red wife. Upon his return, he wasn’t arrested, investigated, harangued, abused, or interrogated. Why, he wasn’t even summoned to appear before a federal grand jury, much less criminally indicted. And no handcuffs.

lee harvey oswald new orleans leaflets rafael cruz wdsuInstead, he found himself being mentored in Dallas by a right-wing elderly man who had U.S. intelligence stamped all over him. He also somehow secured a job with a photography company that did top-secret work for the U.S. government.

After he moved to New Orleans, Oswald somehow had the good fortune of securing a job with a coffee company whose owner was a fiercely right-wing anti-communist.

Moreover, while Oswald (shown in the white shirt at left forefront) was distributing pamphlets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which the U.S. national-security establishment was trying to destroy, he was associating with a former FBI agent whose office was located squarely within the U.S. intelligence establishment in New Orleans. Why, even some of Oswald’s FPCC pamphlets (shown above) had the FBI’s agent’s address stamped on the pamphlets as the return address.

The attitude and treatment of Americans who joined ISIS by President Trump and the national-security establishment is precisely what we would expect. The U.S national-security establishment’s treatment of Lee Harvey Oswald is also how we would expect they would treat a U.S intelligence operative trained to pose as a communist.

Feb. 22

Epstein / Acosta / Trump Scandal

alexander acosta o cropped Custom


President Trump's Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, now under fire for his sweetheart plea deal in 2007 for the billionaire accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Miami Herald, Federal prosecutors broke law in Jeffrey Epstein case, judge rules, Julie K. Brown, Feb. 22, 2019 (print edition). A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors — kenneth marra open jurist croppedamong them, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — broke federal law when they signed a plea agreement with a wealthy, politically connected sex trafficker and concealed it from more than 30 of his underage victims.

jeffrey epstein at harvard universityU.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra (right), in a 33-page opinion, said that the evidence he reviewed showed that Jeffrey Epstein (right) had been operating an international sex operation in which he and others recruited underage girls — not only in Florida — but from overseas, in violation of federal law.

“Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him.,’’ wrote Marra, who is based in Palm Beach County. “Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.’’

Instead of prosecuting Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, Acosta (right), then the U.S. attorney in Miami, helped negotiate a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution. Epstein, who lived in a Palm Beach mansion, was allowed to quietly plead guilty in state court to two prostitution charges and served just 13 months in the county jail. His accomplices, some of whom have never been identified, were never charged.

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Notes: President George W. Bush nominated Marra to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Jan. 23, 2002. Marra was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 82-0. He assumed senior status on Aug. 1, 2017.

The Justice Integrity Project and the Wayne Madsen Report reported extensively on how Acosta's actions helped protect such accused fellow pursuers of underage girls as his friend Donald Trump, who has been accused in withdrawn lawsuits of together raping two underage girls in New York City. Senate and House investigators have threatened to demand answers from Acosta in separate oversight hearings. See extensive coverage on our updated subsite: #MeToo News, which repors on allegations of such abuses and related crimes including blackmail and other threats that sometimes involve Deep State intrigues.

Feb. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Roger Stone deletes photo of judge presiding over his case, says he didn’t mean to threaten her, Reis Thebault and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Feb. 19, 2019 amy berman jackson roger stone(print edition). Days after a federal judge imposed a limited gag order on him, Roger Stone posted a photograph of that judge to his Instagram page that included her name, a close-up of her face and what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun sight near her head.

Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump, deleted the picture soon afterward, then reposted it without the crosshairs before deleting that second post as well.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is presiding over Stone’s criminal trial, in which he has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying about his efforts to gather information about hacked 2016 Democratic Party emails that were published by WikiLeaks.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone just got some bad news from the judge, Daniel Cotter, Feb. 19, 2019. Roger Stone took it upon himself to post a picture bill palmer report logo headerof his trial judge with crosshairs next to her head, then took it down and claimed he meant no harm. On Monday evening, Stone, under cover of a “Notice of Apology” by his lawyers, filed an apology with the court. As anyone could tell Stone, including what his lawyers surely did yesterday, that was not enough.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a minute order as to Roger J. Stone, Jr., stating:

Defendant is ORDERED to show cause at a hearing to be held on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. as to why the media contact order entered in this case and/or his conditions of release should not be modified or revoked in light of the posts on his Instagram account on or about February 18, 2019.”

Posting items such as Roger Stone did is not wise, especially when it implies a potential threat against a sitting federal judge. Stone potentially faces being jailed from now until his trial ends, for his conduct on Instagram.

washington post logorod rosenstein cspan Washington Post, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein plans to leave Justice Dept. next month, Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 19, 2019 (print edition). Rosenstein has spent nearly two years in the hot seat after he appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Wagging The Dog?

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Warns Venezuela’s Military to Stop Blocking Emergency Aid, Annie Karni, Nicholas Casey and Anatoly Kurmanaev, Feb. 19, 2019 (print edition). President Trump delivered his sharpest warning yet in an increasingly tense showdown over the country’s crisis. He said military authorities would “lose everything” by remaining loyal to Nicolás Maduro and refusing to allow in emergency aid stockpiled on the border.

President Trump on Monday delivered his sharpest warning yet to Venezuela’s military authorities in an increasingly tense showdown over that country’s crisis, proclaiming they would “lose everything” by remaining loyal to President Nicolás Maduro and refusing to allow in emergency aid stockpiled on the border.

Mr. Trump gave the warning in a speech denouncing Venezuela’s brand of socialism to an enthusiastic crowd in Miami that included many Americans of Venezuelan descent who have fled Venezuela or have relatives in the country, once Latin America’s wealthiest but now facing the greatest economic collapse in generations.

He spoke five days before a deadline that his administration and the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, have declared for getting humanitarian aid into the country — a move aimed at weakening Mr. Maduro, who is no longer recognized by the United States and roughly 50 other nations as the country’s president. Mr. Trump was the first to recognize Mr. Guaidó last month as Mr. Maduro’s replacement until new elections can be held.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: It's back to the future with Venezuelan "Contras," the neocons, and the CIA, Wayne Madsen (author, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), Feb. 19, 2019 (Subscription required). Trump's call for a coup in Venezuela is ironic when his most loyal supporter in the U.S. Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), claimed that senior Justice Department officials who were discussing legally invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office in early 2017 were trying to stage a "coup" against Trump.

Coups are unconstitutional in any form, while the removal of a president under the 25th Amendment is following the U.S. Constitution to the letter.

Alternative Media / Wacko Theories?

ny times logoNew York Times, YouTube Unleashed a Conspiracy Theory Boom. Can It Be Contained? Kevin Roose, Feb. 19, 2019. What if stemming the tide of misinformation on YouTube means punishing some of its biggest stars? Last month, the YouTube star Shane Dawson uploaded his new project: a 104-minute documentary, “Conspiracy Theories With Shane Dawson.”

In the video, set to a spooky instrumental soundtrack, Mr. Dawson unspooled a series of far-fetched hypotheses. Among them: that iPhones secretly record their owners’ every utterance; that popular children’s TV shows contain subliminal messages urging children to commit suicide; that the recent string of deadly wildfires in California was set on purpose, either by homeowners looking to collect insurance money or by the military using a type of high-powered laser called a “directed energy weapon.”

youtube logo CustomNone of this was fact-based, of course, and some of the theories seemed more like jokey urban legends than serious accusations. Still, his fans ate it up. The video has gotten more than 30 million views, a hit even by Mr. Dawson’s standards. A follow-up has drawn more than 20 million views and started a public feud with Chuck E. Cheese’s, the restaurant chain, which was forced to deny claims that it recycles customers’ uneaten pizza slices into new pizzas.

Mr. Dawson’s conspiracy series arrived at a particularly awkward moment for YouTube, which has been reckoning with the vast troves of misinformation and extreme content on its platform.

In late January, the company announced that it was changing its recommendations algorithm to reduce the spread of “borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways.” It cited, as examples, “videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.”

Mr. Dawson, whose real name is Shane Lee Yaw, has more than 20 million subscribers and a devoted teenage fan base. He has built his lucrative career by, among other talents, understanding what kinds of content plays well on YouTube.

Feb. 18

Stone Puts His Judge In 'Crosshairs'

roger stone fox news

Raw Story, Roger Stone lashes out at federal judge with threatening picture of her next to crosshairs, Eric W. Dolan, Feb. 18, 2019. Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone (shown in a file photo) on Monday attacked the federal judge presiding over his criminal case in the special counsel’s Russia probe. In an Instagram post, Stone lashed out at U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson (shown at right).

amy berman jackson roger stone“Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again Hillary Clinton [sic] and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime,” he wrote. Stone then asked for donations.

The Guardian’s Jon Swaine noted that the picture Stone posted on Instagram (shown at right) placed crosshairs next to Jackson’s head.

Last week, Jackson prohibited Stone from commenting on the case near the Washington, D.C., courthouse. But he remains otherwise free to discuss his situation. However, Jackson has warned that she could amend the limited gag order in the future if necessary.

“This is completely out of bounds. The cross hairs will likely lead prosecutors to ask for revocation of his pre-trial release. At best, this is a cheap stunt designed to get the judge to recuse, at worst, an outright threat,” former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone and Donald Trump both just went off a cliff, Bill Palmer, Feb. 18, 2019. There’s a popular and arguably overused meme on social media in which one public figure says or does something incredibly stupid, and then another public figure says “Hold my beer” before doing something even more incredibly stupid. I can’t recall an instance of that meme fitting any situation better than when it came to Donald Trump and Roger Stone today.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump woke up this morning and decided that his best move was to threaten “retribution” against Alec Baldwin over his Saturday Night Live portrayals. This went over about as well as one might have expected. Trump was condemned for it from all sides, as he managed to come off as both weak and dangerously out of control. Baldwin, never one to back down, will surely respond by portraying Trump on SNL more frequently. It was a disaster for Trump.

But then Roger Stone had his “Hold my beer” moment.

There has long been debate among observers as to whether Roger Stone would cut a plea deal at the first sign of real trouble, or if he would try to stick to his guns as long as possible. But we’re in a different realm now. Stone is about to go sit in solitary confinement in jail, in the same comparatively rough conditions Paul Manafort has been facing. Anyone get a good look at Manafort lately? By all accounts, he’s practically dead already. Stone is a lunatic, but even he may decide he simply can’t suffer the same fate as his pal Manafort.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Matt Whitaker perjury case takes an even stranger turn, Bill Palmer, Feb. 18, 2019. On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler matthew whitaker headshot recentpublicly informed Matt Whitaker that the committee had found proof that Whitaker (right) had lied about his communications with Donald Trump. Nadler demanded that Whitaker come back and tell the truth. The clear implication: we have you nailed on felony perjury, and you can sell Trump out, or you can go to prison.

Tellingly, the next day, the Donald Trump regime announced that Whitaker – whose time as Acting Attorney General was ending – had been given a pointless new job at the Department of Justice. Trump was clearly attempting to keep Whitaker in the fold, and prevent him from cutting any sort of plea deal. But just because Whitaker (apparently) accepted the job, it doesn’t mean he’s still playing for Team Trump at his own expense.

Trump's 'Emergency' Claim

washington post logoWashington Post, White House defends Trump’s emergency declaration amid mounting challenges, Amy B Wang, Feb. 18, 2019 (print edition). Critics have seized on recent comments by President Trump as proof that he did not need to declare an emergency at the southern border. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” he said last week. The White House on Sunday defended President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border and sought to clarify his contradictory statements about its necessity, marking the start of what’s expected to be a drawn-out fight over funding the construction of djt maga hata wall amid mounting legal challenges and objections from Congress.

Trump’s announcement last week — an attempt to circumvent Congress by redirecting taxpayer money to pay for 230 miles of barriers along the border — has led to lawsuits. On Sunday, California’s attorney general said he was working with officials from at least six other states and would be filing suit against the White House “imminently.” The national emergency declaration also triggered protests, with various groups promising to hold more throughout the country Monday.

• Washington Post, ‘Answer my question’: Fox News’ Chris Wallace grills defiant Stephen Miller on national emergency, Alex Horton.

Libertarian Explains Defector To Iran

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Conscience Versus Blind Deep-State Allegiance, Jacob G. Hornberger (right), Feb. 18, 2019. Former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence officer jacob hornberger headshotMonica Witt (below), who has defected to Iran and who U.S. officials have charged with espionage and other crimes, has members of the U.S. national-security establishment and even the mainstream press befuddled.

As the New York Times put it, “But by mid-2013, Ms. Witt had become disillusioned with the government — why exactly remains a mystery.” They just can’t figure why any American, especially especially one who has been trained by the U.S. deep state and has served it, could engage in what U.S. officials and the Times call a “betrayal of the United States.”

monica witt militaryPermit me to offer the likely motive for Witt’s actions: conscience. After witnessing the horrifically immoral actions of the U.S. government toward the Iranian people for the last several decades, especially from within the bowels of the deep state, most likely Witt decided that she no longer could be part of this immorality and decided to help those who are being targeted for death, impoverishment, and suffering at the hands of the U.S. government.

The American people have not always lived under a national-security state or deep-state type of governmental structure. Since the time the Constitution was enacted and for the next century-and-a-half, Americans lived under a type of government structure known as a limited-government republic.

That type of governmental system was abandoned in the 1940s in favor of a national-security state, a type of governmental system that is inherent to totalitarian regimes. That’s how the federal government got the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, the deep state, and the domestic and foreign empire of military bases and installations.

It’s also how the federal government got state-sponsored assassinations, torture, kidnappings, indefinite detention, military tribunals, denial of speedy trial, denial of due process of law, coups, regime-change operations, mass secret surveillance, invasions, wars of aggression, partnerships with dictatorial regimes, and sanctions and embargoes that target innocent people with death, impoverishment, and suffering.

Many Americans, including both conservatives and liberals, have come to accept these things are part of American “freedom.” In fact, they view them as necessary to preserve “our freedom.”

Feb. 15

washington post logodavid ignatiusWashington Post, Opinion: We’re entering a new phase of the Trump-Russia investigation, David Ignatius (right), Feb. 15, 2019 (print edition). President Trump has been insisting for so long that any investigation of his personal finances would cross a “ red line ” that people may have overlooked the outrageousness of his claim. But this self-declared immunity is about to change.

We’re entering a new phase of the Trump-Russia investigation, in which the president’s efforts to contain the probe are failing. Information he tried to suppress about his business and political dealings is emerging — with more to come.

adam schiff official“There are no red lines except what’s necessary to protect the country,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), left, said during an interview Monday. Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told me he plans to request information, perhaps by subpoena, from Deutsche Bank, a major Trump lender, and that “our work on Trump’s finances has already begun.”

A Deutsche Bank subpoena would be especially sensitive.

deutsche bank logoThe president’s relationship with Deutsche Bank intrigues investigators for several reasons. Trump turned to the big German bank two decades ago, when U.S. banks wouldn’t extend him more large loans. The Post estimated in 2016 that Deutsche Bank had $360 million in outstanding loans to Trump’s companies. Deutsche Bank also lent $285 million to Jared Kushner’s family real estate company in October 2016.

Investigators have noted other points of interest: Deutsche Bank, unusually, managed its lending to Trump through its private-banking division rather than normal commercial lending. Finally, the bank has been implicated in Russian money laundering, paying $630 million in fines in 2017 to settle U.S. and British charges that it had improperly transferred $10 billion from Russia.

Feb. 14lisa pease rfk cover

The Washington Post published a review of A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Photo credit: Feral House.

whowhatwhy logoruss baker cropped david welkerWhoWhatWhy, Shocker: ‘Washington Post’ Publishes Nuanced Article About RFK Assassination, Russ Baker (right), Feb. 14, 2019. Saturday was a turning point in American history. For perhaps the first time ever, one of the biggest legacy news organizations published a fair, fact-based article about a political assassination without dismissing, out of hand, any evidence of conspiracy.

The article, about a new book on the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the possible role played by elements of the national security establishment, likely would not have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, or on NPR, PBS, CBS, NBC, and the like.

And yet here it is in the Washington Post.

washington post logoThis article would also likely never have appeared in the Post in the decades prior to Jeff Bezos’s taking over ownership. Say what you will about Bezos — and there’s plenty to say — he seems to be ushering in a new era of journalistic candor.

For many years, the Washington Post, like the Times and so many other news outlets, was a witting or unwitting participant in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, a program to shape public opinion by planting disinformation in the media.

One thing the national security establishment didn’t want was journalists taking a good look under the hood of our power hierarchy, or asking questions about the military-security-industrial complex that former presidents Eisenhower, Truman, and others warned against.

The powers-that-be certainly didn’t want the public knowing that US government agencies went around the world foiling democracy — including, on occasion, killing or sanctioning the killing of elected officials in other countries. (To see just a few of our eye-opening stories on this subject, please go here, here, and here.)

Feb. 13

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Netanyahoo Asks Arabs to "Advance The Common Interest Of War With Iran," b, Feb. 13, 2019. The U.S. had called for a high level anti-Iran meeting in Poland. The purpose of the meeting was to bring with its allies and poodles into line with the U.S. agenda on Iran, to press them at least into issuing harsher sanctions. But the European rejected that.

benjamin netanyahu frownThat State Department effort to somewhat hide the real agenda was sabotaged when the Prime Minister of Israel arrived and made it clear what the meeting is all about:

"I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran. What is important about this meeting – and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran (emphasis added)."

The statement has now been changed into "combating Iran." But that is not what Netanyahoo said in Warsaw and there is video to prove it. There were also witnesses.

iran flag mapWhy is Netanyahoo doing this? No other country, except maybe the U.S., has any interest in waging war on Iran. Certainly not the Arab countries near the Persian Gulf. In case of a war they are all extremely vulnerable to Iranian retaliation. Their oil and gas installations would be in serious danger. The desalination plants which provide their drinking water are all within easy reach of Iranian missiles.

By claiming that the conference is about waging war on Iran Netanyahoo is not only embarrassing the State Department and Secretary Mike Pompeo. He also makes it extremely difficult for other attendees to justify their presence. The Arabs will be especially furious that they are shown in such an open alliance with Israel and its hostility against Iran. Scheming with Israel in the dark is fine.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Why Iranians Bash the U.S. Government, Jacob G. Hornberger (right), Feb. 13, 2019. Two days ago, the New York Times carried an article by Times’ journalist Thomas Erdbrink entitled, “For Iran, a Grand Occasion to Bash the U.S.,” which was about Iran’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of its revolution in 1979. The article included the following sentence, “And like some evil doppelgänger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.”

Unfortunately, Erdbrink failed to point out two things: One, it is understandable why the Iranian people bash the U.S. government, and, two, while the U.S. government may have broken diplomatic ties with Iran, it has nonetheless continued to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.

iran flag mapFirst things first though. When the Times refers to “bashing the U.S.,” it makes a common mistake by conflating the U.S. government and our nation. Actually, they are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon best reflected by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry (i.e., our country) from the U.S. government.

The distinction is important because the Iranian people love Americans. They just hate the U.S. government. And when one considers what the U.S. government has done to Iranians and continues to do to Iranians, which, unfortunately, many Americans don’t like to think about, it is not difficult to understand the deep enmity that Iranians have toward the U.S. government.

mohammad mossadeqIn 1953, the CIA, which is one of three principal parts of the national-security branch of the federal government, secretly initiated a regime-change coup in Iran, one that not only ousted from power the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammed Mossadegh (left), but also destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy. That’s ironic, of course, given that U.S. officials are always reminding people how enamored they are with “democracy.”

Why did the CIA initiate this regime-change operation? Because the U.S. national-security establishment was convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!)

What did that supposed worldwide conspiracy have to do with Mossadegh? The CIA was convinced that Mossadegh was leaning left because he had nationalized British oil interests, which, needless to say, had not sat well with British oil companies. Therefore, the CIA concluded, Mossadegh could conceivably be a secret agent for this supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia.

Medium, Inside Valerie Plame’s Spy Convention, Nina Burleigh, Feb. 13, 2019. Ex-CIA spooks clash over Russiagate while lunching on enchiladas. The conference had drawn an audience of 175 academics, historians, and espionage groupies, each of whom had paid up to $500, not including hotel rooms, for a series of presentations and panels bearing titles like “Terrorism, Intelligence, and the Paradigms of Perception” and “The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Secret Intelligence Perspective.”

One of the final panels, featuring a group of ex-spies, examined the question: “Was There Russian Interference in U.S. Elections?” Nearly all of the participants answered in the affirmative, but they disagreed, sometimes vehemently, on the effects. (This predated a report last month that the FBI had, in fact, investigated whether Trump was working for the Kremlin.)

“The Russians did what they always do and what we frankly do, too,” Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who served for 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in various domestic and international posts, including Russia station chief, told attendees. “They went to active measures. They wanted to hurt Hillary and help Trump. There is no question they tried to influence voters.”

While Mary Beth Long, a former CIA agent and assistant secretary of defense, defended the president as the duly elected commander-in-chief and slammed former intelligence chiefs John Brennan and James Clapper for publicly criticizing Trump, she also admitted he might well have been compromised. “I would be shocked if it was not the case that, while Trump was a businessman, he was approached by Russians,” she said, “and I have no doubt he was sexually entrapped and he had arrangements, for business purposes. But that doesn’t make him a traitor.”

Then again, it certainly might, insisted Glenn Carle, who worked for the Agency for more than two decades on four continents before retiring in 2007. “This is the greatest threat to our country since 1861,” he said. “Not even Watergate, not World War II  —  there was never any real danger Hitler would walk down Constitution Avenue. But I think there is substantive, overwhelming evidence, and that if any of us did not try to remove this man [Trump] from office, we would be derelict. It is absolutely clear that Russian intelligence manipulated him.”

“I strongly disagree,” countered Larry Johnson, former staffer at the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism and ex-CIA agent, who now runs his own private investigation and security consulting firm. “Is there gambling at the casino?” he asked. “Yes, Russians have been intervening here for years. I harbor no illusions about that. But we do it, too.”

Johnson added that the “level of Russian hysteria” directed at the Trump election “is jeopardizing our ability to actually work with Russia, in places like the International Space Station.” “If they’re so damn bad,” he wondered, “why are we trusting our astronauts to them?”

Feb. 8

david pecker cnn screenshot

Trump family friend David Pecker, chairman of American Media, Inc. (AMI), parent company of the National Enquirer (screenshot from CNN)

washington post logoWashington Post, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer’s parent of ‘extortion’ over ‘intimate’ photos, Paul Farhi​, Feb. 8, 2019 (print edition). Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, said the blackmail threat was made after he began looking into how the Enquirer acquired text messages that revealed his relationship with a former TV anchor.

jeffrey bezos washington postAmazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos (left) said Thursday that he was the target of an extortion attempt by the National Enquirer, which he said threatened to publish embarrassing photos of him if he didn’t halt his investigation into how the tabloid obtained private texts and photos between him and his mistress.

Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, said the Enquirer made the blackmail threat after he began looking into how the tabloid acquired text messages that revealed his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor.

In a rare and revealing statement posted to the online publishing platform Medium, Bezos said the National Enquirer wanted him to make a false public statement to the news media that he and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage [of the affair] was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” (AMI is American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer.)

djt don jr ivanka pecker eric

 washington post logoWashington Post, National Enquirer’s parent says it will ‘thoroughly investigate’ extortion claims made by Bezos, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Paul Farhi, Sarah Ellison and Devlin Barrett​, Feb. 8, 2019. American Media Inc. said it believes the tabloid acted lawfully in its reporting on Jeffrey P. Bezos, the Amazon chief executive and owner of The Post.

lauren sanchez jeff bezos david pecker ap via fox news

Lauren Sanchez, Jeffrey ezos and David Pecker (left to right, Associated Press via Fox News photos)

Background: Daily Beast, Bezos’ Investigators Question the Brother of His Mistress, Lauren Sanchez, in National Enquirer Leak Probe, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng, Jan. 31, 2019. Michael Sanchez is an outspoken Trump supporter with ties to Roger Stone and Carter Page. Jeff Bezos’ top personal security consultant has questioned his mistress’ brother as part of the probe into how the couple’s text messages wound up in the hands of the National Enquirer.

Gavin de Becker, the Amazon chief’s longtime personal security consultant and the point person for the investigation, confirmed to The Daily Beast on Wednesday that his probe has scrutinized Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos mistress Lauren Sanchez and a personal and business associate of Trumpworld figures including Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes.

On Wednesday, The Daily Beast first reported the existence of that investigation, which is taking place independent of Amazon and being funded by Bezos personally. Three sources familiar with the inquiry said it was increasingly probable that whoever leaked the text messages to the Enquirer, which ran a conspicuously large 12-page spread on Bezos’ affair, harbored political animosity towards Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post.

Michael Sanchez’s name bubbled up on the British celebrity news and gossip website Popbitch last week in the context of the Enquirer story. Stone also mentioned Sanchez in an interview with conspiracy theory site Infowars on Wednesday that sought to preempt The Daily Beast’s reporting by falsely claiming that it would accuse him of conspiring with the Trump administration to hack Bezos’ phone.

ny times logoNew York Times, Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi, Mark Mazzetti, Feb. 8, 2019 (print edition). Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia told a top aide in a conversation in 2017 that he would use “a bullet” on Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed in October, if Mr. Khashoggi did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government, according to current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of intelligence reports.

jamal khashoggi western suitThe conversation, intercepted by American intelligence agencies, is the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing Mr. Khashoggi (right) long before a team of Saudi operatives strangled him inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered his body using a bone saw. Mr. Khashoggi’s murder prompted weeks of outrage around the world and among both parties in Washington, where senior lawmakers called for an investigation into who was responsible.

mohammad bin salman cropped file smallThe Saudi government has denied that the young crown prince played any role in the killing, and President Trump has publicly shown little interest in trying to get the facts about who was responsible. Prince Mohammed, left, the next in line to the Saudi throne behind his ailing father, King Salman, has become the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and a close ally of the Trump White House — especially Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

The conversation appears to have been recently transcribed and analyzed as part of an effort by intelligence agencies to find proof of who was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death. The National Security Agency and other American spy agencies are now sifting through years of the crown prince’s voice and text communications that the N.S.A. routinely intercepted and stored, much as the agency has long done for other top foreign officials, including close allies of the United States.

Feb. 7

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela -- U.S. Aid Gambit Fails -- War Plans Lack Support, b, Feb. 7, 2019. A day after the U.S. coup attempt in Venezuela the U.S. game plan was already quite obvious: "The opposition in Venezuela will probably use access to that 'frozen' money to buy weapons and to create an army of mercenaries to fight a 'civil' war against the government and its followers. Like in Syria U.S. special forces or some CIA 'contractors' will be eager to help. The supply line for such a war would most likely run through Colombia. If, like 2011 in Syria, a war on the ground is planned it will likely begin in the cities near that border."

CIA LogoThe U.S. is using the pretext of 'delivering humanitarian aid' from Columbia to Venezuela to undermine the government and to establish a supply line for further operations. It is another attempt to pull the military onto the coup plotter's side. A New York Times op-ed by a right-wing former foreign minister of Mexico, Jorge G. Castañeda, details the escalation potential. 

Venezuelan military officials and troops in exile will then move these supplies into Venezuela, where if all goes well, army troops still loyal to Mr. Maduro will not stop their passage nor fire upon them. If they do, the Brazilian and Colombian governments may be willing to back the anti-Maduro soldiers. The threat of a firefight with their neighbors might just be the incentive the Venezuelan military need to jettison Mr. Maduro, making the reality of combat unnecessary.

venezuela flag waving customThis escalation strategy is unlikely to work unless some additional provocation is involved. The Venezuelan government blocked the border bridge between Cúcuta in Colombia and San Cristobal in Venezuela. Its military stands ready to stop any violation of the country's border. The Venezuelan military has shown no sign of interest to change its loyalty. The fake aid will be rejected.

The government of Venezuela does not reject aid that comes without political interference. Last year it accepted modest UN aid which consisted mostly of medical supplies from which Venezuela had been cut off due to U.S. sanctions. The UN claimed that around 12 percent of Venezuelans are undernourished. But such claims have been made for years while reports from Venezuela (vid) confirmed only some scarcity of specific products. There is no famine in Venezuela that would require immediate intervention.

The International Red Cross, the Catholic church's aid organization Caritas and the United Nations rejected U.S. requests to help deliver the currently planned 'aid' because it is so obviously politicized:

Feb. 5

john newman into the storm

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Book Excerpt: Antonio Veciana, Mystery Man in JFK Assassination, Part 1, John M. Newman (shown above with the cover of his new book), Feb. 5, 2019. Introduction by Alan Dale: More than 50 years after President John F. Kennedy’s death, details relating to his assassination have accumulated like snowflakes in a blizzard. Hundreds of names, thousands of alleged facts, millions upon millions of words competing for our attention and requiring our judgment: Is this important? Is this true? Who would know?

John M. Newman, PhD is unique in what he knows. He is a retired US Army intelligence officer who served for two years as military assistant to the director General William Odom at the National Security Agency. He has testified before various subcommittees of the US House of Representatives, and has been a consultant for various US and foreign media organizations including PBS Frontline, the History Channel, C-Span, and NBC. (He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science at James Madison University.)

His expertise as a strategic intelligence cryptologic analyst makes his credentials unique among those who delve into the hidden histories buried within America’s military and intelligence bureaucracies. For the past quarter century his works have overturned orthodoxies, introduced new facts, and produced revelations about America during the Cold War.

His past publications include Oswald and the CIA: The Documented Truth About the Unknown Relationship Between the U.S. Government and the Alleged Killer of JFK (2008); Where Angels Tread Lightly: The Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume I (2015); Countdown to Darkness: The Assassination of President Kennedy, Volume II (2017); JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue and the Struggle for Power 2nd Ed (2017).

His latest book — Into the Storm: The Assassination of President Kennedy Volume III (2019) — was described by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as a “groundbreaking work that finally illuminates the dark places where democracy goes to die.”

Here we present the first of two excerpts from that book. They reveal the intricate web of claims, contradictions, and complexities relating to the former leader of the murderous anti-Castro paramilitary group Alpha-66, Antonio Veciana. Veciana made the explosive claim that he was present in Dallas two months before the Kennedy assassination, with Lee Harvey Oswald and an agent/handler whom he knew by the name of Maurice Bishop (eventually identified by Veciana as CIA officer David Atlee Phillips).

Chapter Three. When Fiction is Stranger Than Truth: Veciana and Phillips in Cuba — 1959-1960.

January 2019 Update

Jan. 31

Trump v. His Intel Appointees

washington post logoWashington Post, In latest attack on intelligence agencies, Trump ignores where they actually agree, Shane Harris and John Wagner, Jan. 31, 2019 (print edition). “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” the president wrote in pointed tweets Wednesday morning.

President Trump lashed out at the government’s most senior intelligence leaders Wednesday, his latest assault on the spies and analysts who work for him but sometimes deliver facts that he doesn’t want to hear.

CIA LogoTriggering the president’s rage was an annual congressional hearing on global security threats, a routine event at which intelligence agency heads testified that Iran, while still a global menace, is complying with an international agreement to suspend its development of nuclear weapons. Trump ridiculed that assessment and the intelligence leaders themselves.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “. . . They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There [sic] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Power Up: Trump rift with his own intelligence chiefs widens global opening for Putin, Jacqueline Alemany, Jan. 31, 2019.  Just look at Venezuela and North Korea.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Chuck Schumer moves for a Trump intervention, Bill Palmer, Jan. 31, 2019. On Tuesday, the leaders of the U.S. intel community testified publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Donald Trump didn’t like the truthful answers that his own handpicked people gave, so on Wednesday morning he viciously ripped into them on Twitter, undermining the entire intel community in the process, and coming across like a mentally unstable person. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has had enough.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Wednesday evening, Chuck Schumer announced that “It’s past time for U.S. Intelligence Community leaders to stage an intervention with Donald J. Trump.” He also posted a letter addressed to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (right), who oversees the entire U.S. intel dan coats headshotcommunity.

Here’s the meat of Schumer’s letter: “I believe it is incumbent on you, Director Wray and Director Haspel to insist on an immediate meeting with the President to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the Intelligence Community assessments, and to impress upon him how critically important it is for him to join you and the leadership of our Intelligence Community in speaking with a unified and accurate voice about national security threats. He is putting you and your colleagues in an untenable position and hurting the national interest in the process. You must find a way to make that clear to him.”

This all seems obvious enough, but coming from the Senate Minority Leader, it’s stunning: he’s literally calling, in exact words, for U.S. intel leaders to stage an intervention with an out of control President of the United States.

Global News: Venezuela

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Venezuela -- Coup Attempt Part Of A Larger Project -- Military Intervention Likely To Fail, b, Jan. 31, 2019. The Trump administration has launched a large political project to remake several states in Latin America. The Wall Street Journal headlines: "U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America." The Trump administration’s broader aim is to gain leverage over Cuba and curb recent inroads in the region by Russia, Iran and China.

The plan includes regime change in Venezuela, Nicaragua and eventually Cuba. The removal of any Russian or Chinese interest is another point. It is a multiyear project that has bipartisan support. It will likely require military force.

The project seems to echo the "New Middle East" plan then Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice launched in 2006. It largely failed due to U.S. incompetence but left behind juan guaidóseverely damaged states. That the U.S. is going for such a wide ranging plan in the western hemisphere might explain why Trump is pressing to end the other military projects in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The starting shot for the new plan, the U.S. led coup attempt in Venezuela, is already in trouble. The U.S. selected puppet Juan Guaidó (right) had called for demonstrations in support of his coup that were supposed to take place yesterday. But even the NYT, which propagandizes for each and every regime change operation the U.S. undertakes in Latin America, could find only little evidence of support.

Jan. 29

 washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. escalates efforts to force Maduro from power in Venezuela, Karen DeYoung, Steven Mufson and Anthony Faiola, Jan. 29, 2019. The Trump administration said it will block all U.S. revenue to Venezuela’s national oil company and called on members of its armed forces to switch their allegiance to Juan Guaidó.

Grayzone via Consortium News, Opinion: The Making of Juan Guaidó: US Regime-Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader, Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, Jan. 29, 2019. The Washington favorite has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization. Before the fateful date of Jan. 22, fewer than 1-in-5 Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó, right.

Only a few juan guaidómonths ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela’s constitution.

But after a single phone call from from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (left), Guaidó proclaimed himself as president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom mike pence leftdweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the U.S.-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.

While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the U.S. government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrating his worthiness in Washington’s halls of power.

washington post logoWashington Post, Venezuelan officials seek to block U.S.-supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó from leaving the country, freeze his assets, Andreina Aponte, Rachelle Krygier and Anthony Faiola, Amid political turmoil, Venezuelans express desire for a better future. Venezuelan authorities moved to prohibit opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó from leaving the country and to freeze his bank accounts, prompting the United States, which a day earlier slapped sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company, to say there would be “serious consequences” if Guaidó is harmed.

President Nicolas Maduro’s chief prosecutor made the request, which was later ratified by the loyalist Supreme Court as a preventative measure pending a full investigation. The move stopped short of a detention order – something the Trump administration has strongly warned against.

“We request these preventive measures against Guaidó while we compile elements to stop the events that since January 22 have broken the peace of the Republic,” the prosecutor, Tarek Saab, said in a news conference.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump on North Korea and Iran, David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes
Jan. 29, 2019. A new American intelligence assessment of global threats has concluded that North Korea is “unlikely to give up” all of its nuclear stockpiles, and that Iran is not “currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activity” needed to make a bomb, directly contradicting two top tenets of President Trump’s foreign policy.

dan coats headshotDan Coats, the director of national intelligence, also challenged Mr. Trump’s insistence that the Islamic State had been defeated, a key rationale for his decision to exit from Syria. The terrorist group, the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report to Congress concluded, “still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria,” and maintains eight branches and a dozen networks around the world.

Mr. Trump is expected to meet next month with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in a second round of direct negotiations aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons.

But Mr. Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that “we currently assess North Korea will seek to retain its W.M.D. capability and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability.”

Global Research, Commentary: The CIA Then and Now: Old Wine in New Bottles, Edward Curtin, Jan. 29, 2019. The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations: Weltanschauungskrieg– “world view warfare.” As good students, they had learned many tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d’ȇtre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

This went along quite smoothly until some people started to question the Warren Commission’s JFK assassination story. The CIA then went on the offensive in 1967 and put out the word to all its people in the agency and throughout the media and academia to use the phrase “conspiracy theory” to ridicule these skeptics, which they have done up until the present day. This secret document – CIA Dispatch 1035-960 – was a propaganda success for many decades, marginalizing those researchers and writers who were uncovering the truth about not just President Kennedy’s murder by the national security state, but those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. Today, the tide is turning on this score, as recently more and more Americans are fed up with the lies and are demanding that the truth be told. Even the Washington Post is noting this, and it is a wave of opposition that will only grow.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated Weltanschauungskrieg as “psychological warfare,” a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now. Of course, the American propaganda apparatus was just then getting started on an enterprise that has become the epitome of successful world view warfare programs, a colossal beast whose tentacles have spread to every corner of the globe and whose fabrications have nestled deep within the psyches of many hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world.

And true to form in this circle game of friends helping friends, this propaganda program was ably assisted after WW II by all the Nazis secreted into the U.S. (“Operation Paperclip”) by Allen Dulles and his henchmen in the OSS and then the CIA to make sure the U.S. had operatives to carry on the Nazi legacy (see David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA, and The Rise of America’s Secret Government, an extraordinary book that will make your skin crawl with disgust).

Jan. 28

Trump Probes

rudy giuliani recentWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion -- Giuliani: Mobbed-up prosecutor and mayor, Wayne Madsen (investigative reporter, author, former Navy Intelligence officer), Jan. 28, 2019 (subscription required). If Donald Trump's legal mouthpiece, Rudolph Giuliani, right, appears as if he has as much at risk as his client, it is because he does.

Global Affairs: Venezuela

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: End All Interventionism, Not Just in Venezuela, Jacob G. Hornberger (foundation president, author, attorney, book publisher, shown below right), Jan. 28, 2019. The massive death and destruction from U.S. interventionism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East isn’t even over with, and yet interventionist dead-enders are now shifting their sights to jacob hornberger headshotVenezuela. One almost gets the impression that the dead-enders are saying to America, “Please, give us one more chance. We promise we’ll get it right this time.”

Obviously, the dead-enders are hoping that Americans forget the unmitigated disasters that interventionism has produced on this side of the world, such as in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile, and others.

The time has come for the American people to raise their sights to a higher level, one that involves not only rejecting more interventionism in Venezuela but one that rejects interventionism entirely. It is the only solution to the foreign policy-woes in which interventionist dead-enders have mired our nation

Jan. 25

kennedys and king logo

Assassinated 1960s civil rights leaders, from left: President John F. Kennedy, Attorney Gen. Robert F. Kennedy (JFK's brother), the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and preacher and activist Malcolm X (photo graphic from the site Kennedys and King)

washington post logotom jackmanWashington Post, Kennedy, King, Malcolm X relatives and scholars seek new assassination probes, Tom Jackman (right), Jan. 25, 2019. Their letter calls for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee on the JFK, RFK, MLK and Malcolm X slayings. Joined by relatives of Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, a group of more than 60 authors and investigators have called for a new congressional investigation into the assassinations of the three men and President John F. Kennedy, saying that the four slayings were not resolved and “had a disastrous impact on the course of American history.”

In a public statement, they demanded a public tribunal modeled on South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” process to persuade either Congress or the Justice Department to revisit all four assassinations.

Jan. 19

Press Statement
Embargoed for release Saturday January 19 at 11 p.m. ET

CONTACT:

Ira Arlook, Fenton Communications, c: 202 258 5437 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
David Talbot, The Truth and Reconciliation Committee, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kennedy and King Family Members and Advisors Call for Congress to Reopen Assassination Probes

Please scroll down to see the “Call” text and see attached (and also below) for list of signers.

On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a group of over 60 prominent American citizens is calling upon Congress to reopen the investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Signers of the joint statement include Isaac Newton Farris Jr., nephew of Reverend King and past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Reverend James M. Lawson Jr., a close collaborator of Reverend King; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, children of the late senator.

Other signatories include G. Robert Blakey, the chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which determined in 1979 that President Kennedy was the victim of a probable conspiracy; Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the surgeons at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas who tried to save President Kennedy’s life and saw clear evidence he had been struck by bullets from the front and the rear; Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower who served as a national security advisor to the Kennedy White House; Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a leading global authority on human rights; Hollywood artists Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner and Oliver Stone; political satirist Mort Sahl; and musician David Crosby.

The declaration is also signed by numerous historians, journalists, lawyers and other experts on the four major assassinations.

The joint statement calls for Congress to establish firm oversight on the release of all government documents related to the Kennedy presidency and assassination, as mandated by the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992. This public transparency law has been routinely defied by the CIA and other federal agencies. The Trump White House has allowed the CIA to continue its defiance of the law, even though the JFK Records Act called for the full release of relevant documents in 2017.

The group statement also calls for a public inquest into “the four major assassinations of the 1960s that together had a disastrous impact on the course of American history.” This tribunal -- which would hear testimony from living witnesses, legal experts, investigative journalists, historians and family members of the victims -- would be modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation hearings held in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. This American Truth and Reconciliation process is intended to encourage Congress or the Justice Department to reopen investigations into all four organized acts of political violence.

Signers of the joint statement, who call themselves the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, are also seeking to reopen the Robert F. Kennedy assassination case, stating that Sirhan Sirhan’s conviction was based on “a mockery of a trial.” The forensic evidence alone, observes the statement, demonstrates that Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot that killed Senator Kennedy -- a conclusion reached by, among others, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, the Los Angeles County Coroner who performed the official autopsy on RFK.

The joint statement -- which was co-written by Adam Walinsky, a speechwriter and top aide of Senator Kennedy -- declares that these “four major political murders traumatized American life in the 1960s and cast a shadow over the country for decades thereafter. John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were each in his own unique way attempting to turn the United States away from war toward disarmament and peace, away from domestic violence and division toward civil amity and justice. Their killings were together a savage, concerted assault on American democracy and the tragic consequences of these assassinations still haunt our nation.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Committee views its joint statement as the opening of a long campaign aimed at shining a light on dark national secrets. As the public transparency campaign proceeds, citizens across the country will be encouraged to add their names to the petition. The national effort seeks to confront the forces behind America’s democratic decline, a reign of secretive power that long precedes the recent rise of authoritarianism. “The organized killing of JFK, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK was a mortal attack on our democracy,” said historian James Douglass, author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. “We've been walking in the valley of the dead ever since. Our campaign is all about recovering the truth embodied in the movement they led. Yes, the transforming, reconciling power of truth will indeed set us free."

The Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Calls for Action:

1. We call upon Congress to establish continuing oversight on the release of government documents related to the presidency and assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to ensure public transparency as mandated by the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform should hold hearings on the Trump administration's failure to enforce the JFK Records Act.

(More on next page below)

2. We call for a major public inquest on the four major assassinations of the 1960s that together had a disastrous impact on the course of American history: the murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. This public tribunal, shining a light on this dark chapter of our history, will be modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation process in post-apartheid South Africa. The inquest -- which will hear testimony from living witnesses, legal experts, investigative journalists, historians and family members of the victims -- is intended to show the need for Congress or the Justice Department to reopen investigations into all four assassinations.

3. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we call for a full investigation of Reverend King’s assassination. The conviction of James Earl Ray for the crime has steadily lost credibility over the years, with a 1999 civil trial brought by Reverend King’s family placing blame on government agencies and organized crime elements. Following the verdict, Coretta Scott King, the slain leader’s widow, stated: “There is abundant evidence of a major, high-level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband.” The jury in the Memphis trial determined that various federal, state and local agencies “were deeply involved in the assassination … Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame.” Reverend King’s assassination was the culmination of years of mounting surveillance and harassment directed at the human rights leader by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and other agencies.

4. We call for a full investigation of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination case, the prosecution of which was a mockery of a trial that has been demolished by numerous eyewitnesses, investigators and experts -- including former Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi, who performed the official autopsy on Senator Kennedy. The forensic evidence alone establishes that the shots fired by Sirhan Sirhan from in front of Senator Kennedy did not kill him; the fatal shot that struck RFK in the head was fired at point–blank range from the rear. Consequently, the case should be reopened for a new comprehensive investigation while there are still living witnesses -- as there are in all four assassination cases.
 

List

A Joint Statement on the Kennedy, King and Malcolm X Assassinations and Ongoing Cover-ups:

As the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979, President John F. Kennedy was probably killed as the result of a conspiracy.

In the four decades since this Congressional finding, a massive amount of evidence compiled by journalists, historians and independent researchers confirms this conclusion. This growing body of evidence strongly indicates that the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy was organized at high levels of the U.S. power structure, and was implemented by top elements of the U.S. national security apparatus using, among others, figures in the criminal underworld to help carry out the crime and cover-up.

This stunning conclusion was also reached by the president’s own brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who himself was assassinated in 1968 while running for president -- after telling close aides that he intended to reopen the investigation into his brother’s murder if he won the election.

President Kennedy’s administration was badly fractured over his efforts to end the Cold War, including his back-channel peace feelers to the Soviet Union and Cuba and his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam after the 1964 presidential election.

President Kennedy has long been portrayed as a Cold War hawk, but this grossly inaccurate view has been strongly challenged over the years by revisionist historians and researchers, who have demonstrated that Kennedy was frequently at odds with his own generals and espionage officials. This revisionist interpretation of the Kennedy presidency is now widely embraced, even by mainstream Kennedy biographers.

The official investigation into the JFK assassination immediately fell under the control of U.S. security agencies, ensuring a cover-up. The Warren Commission was dominated by former CIA director Allen Dulles and other officials with strong ties to the CIA and FBI.

The corporate media, with its own myriad connections to the national security establishment, aided the cover-up with its rush to embrace the Warren Report and to scorn any journalists or researchers who raised questions about the official story.

Despite the massive cover-up of the JFK assassination, polls have consistently shown that a majority of the American people believes Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy -- leading to the deep erosion of confidence in the U.S. government and media.

The CIA continues to obstruct evidence about the JFK assassination, routinely blocking legitimate Freedom of Information requests and defying the JFK Records Collection Act of 1992, preventing the release of thousands of government documents as required by the law.

The JFK assassination was just one of four major political murders that traumatized American life in the 1960s and have cast a shadow over the country for decades thereafter. John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were each in his own unique way attempting to turn the United States away from war toward disarmament and peace, away from domestic violence and division toward civil amity and justice. Their killings were together a savage, concerted assault on American democracy and the tragic consequences of these assassinations still haunt our nation.

Dr. Gary Aguilar
Daniel Alcorn
Russ Baker
Alec Baldwin
G. Robert Blakey
Denise Faura Bohdan
Abraham Bolden
Rex Bradford
Douglas Caddy
Rodnell Collins
Debra Conway
David Crosby
Edward Curtin
Dr. Donald T. Curtis
Alan Dale
James DiEugenio
James Douglass
Laurie Dusek
Daniel Ellsberg
Karl Evanzz
Richard Falk
Isaac Newton Farris Jr.
Marie Fonzi
Libby Handros
Dan Hardway
Jacob Hornberger
Douglas Horne
Gayle Nix Jackson
Stephen Jaffe
James Jenkins
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Bill Kelly
Andrew Kreig
John Kirby
Rev. James M. Lawson Jr.
Jim Lesar
Edwin Lopez
David Mantik
Dr. Robert N. McClelland
Mark Crispin Miller
Jefferson Morley
John Newman
Len Osanic
Lisa Pease
William F. Pepper
Jerry Policoff
Rob Reiner
Abby Rockefeller
Dick Russell
Mort Sahl
Vincent Salandria
Martin Sheen
Lawrence P. Schnapf
E. Martin Schotz
Paul Schrade
Peter Dale Scott
John Simkin
Bill Simpich
Oliver Stone
Dan Storper
David Talbot
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Adam Walinsky
Benjamin Wecht
Dr. Cyril H. Wecht
Betty Windsor

 

Biographies:

Gary L. Aguilar, MD, is a private practicing ophthalmologist in San Francisco, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California-San Francisco, and the vice chief of staff at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. One of the few physicians outside the federal government who has ever been allowed to review President Kennedy's still-restricted autopsy photographs and X-rays, Aguilar has delivered lectures on JFK's autopsy evidence before numerous medical and legal conferences. With coauthor Cyril Wecht, MD, JD, Aguilar has published articles on the Kennedy case in journals such as The American Scholar and the Journal of the American Medical Association, and has contributed chapters to several anthologies exploring the JFK assassination. Dr. Aguilar’s writings on various aspects of the Kennedy case are available online, most notably a multipart essay that examines the five investigations of Kennedy's medical and autopsy evidence that have been conducted by the U.S. government.

Daniel Alcorn was a law partner of the late Bud Fensterwald, co-founder of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). He has served on the AARC board since 1992, and was a founding director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) on behalf of AARC, and served on COPA's board until the end of the Assassination Records Review Board process in 1998. Alcorn has represented requesters in precedent-setting Freedom of Information Act cases in the trial and appellate courts in Washington, D.C., including cases related to the JFK assassination, the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, allegations of misconduct in the FBI crime laboratory, death squad activity in Central America, intelligence abuses, and PTSD, among other issues.

Russ Baker is the founder, editor-in-chief and CEO of WhoWhatWhy, a nonprofit news organization devoted to covering stories and angles ignored by the media. WhoWhatWhy has a special team poring over thousands of declassified JFK records. Baker is the author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years.

Alec Baldwin has appeared in numerous productions onstage, in films and on television. He has received a Tony nomination (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1992), an Oscar nomination (The Cooler, 2004) and has won three Emmy awards, three Golden Globes and seven consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards as Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on NBC-TV's 30 Rock. His films include The Hunt for Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, Malice, Blue Jasmine, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. He has authored three books: A Promise to Ourselves; his memoir, Nevertheless; and You Can’t Spell America Without Me, with Kurt Andersen. He serves on numerous boards related to the arts, the environment and progressive politics.

G. Robert Blakey is retired as the William J. & Dorothy K. O'Neill Professor of Law (now emeritus) at the Notre Dame Law School, where he taught criminal law, the law of terrorism, and jurisprudence. He also was a professor of law and the director of the Cornell Institute on Organized Crime, where he taught criminal law in the law school. Blakey also served as a special attorney in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the United States Department of Justice. From 1977 to 1979, he was the chief counsel and staff director, United States House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Denise Faura Bohdan is a lawyer, film producer and the daughter of Fernando Faura, author of The Polka Dot File on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing: The Paris Peace Talks Connection, chronicling the search for an alleged conspirator in the assassination of RFK. Faura’s investigation in 1968 is regarded by most researchers as one of the most important, linking Sirhan Sirhan to co-conspirators. Ms. Bohdan is producing a film on his investigation to shine more light on the assassination and conspiracy. Her previous film work focuses on human rights abuses, freedom of speech and pursuit of justice.

Abraham Bolden was the first African-American assigned to the White House Secret Service Detail, at President Kennedy's personal request. When he later tried to testify to the Warren Commission about rampant misconduct in the Secret Service, he was punished for his courage by a trumped-up bribery charge that resulted in his imprisonment for over three years. He is the author of a 2008 memoir, The Echo From Dealey Plaza.

Rex Bradford pioneered the digital dissemination of declassified JFK assassination documents, over 1.5 million pages of which are available at www.maryferrell.org. He is president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation.

Douglas Caddy is a Houston-based attorney and the author of six books, most recently his memoir Being There: Eyewitness To History. In 1959, he published an article in the National Review that began a long friendship with founding publisher William F. Buckley as they worked together to help found what’s now known as the modern conservative movement. In 1960, Caddy was elected as the founding national director of Young Americans For Freedom. His conservative activism made him an early campaigner for 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. Caddy then worked in Washington, DC, as an attorney involved in many high-profile cases. In one, he became the original defense attorney for the Watergate burglars. His legal work has included cutting-edge research and whistle-blowing on the JFK assassination, Koreagate, CIA influences and other justice-related issues.

Rodnell Collins, Malcolm X’s first cousin, is the founder of the Malcolm X, Ella L. Little Collins Family Foundation and curator of the childhood home that he and Malcolm shared in Duxbury, Massachusetts, now a national historic landmark. Collins is working on turning it into a museum. Collins’s memoir, Seventh Child, tells Malcolm’s story from a family member’s point of view. Most recently Collins participated in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the famous Oxford Union debate, “The Night Malcolm Spoke Out.”

Debra Conway is the president of JFK Lancer Productions and Publications, a historical research company specializing in the administration and assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

David Crosby is a musician and songwriter. He has been speaking out about the JFK assassination since the 1960s, including onstage with the Byrds at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Edward Curtin is a sociologist who teaches at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He is a widely published essayist who has written extensively about the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Donald T. Curtis is a retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon who participated in the resuscitation attempt of President Kennedy at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Alan Dale is executive director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center. He is the host of JFKConversations.com.

James DiEugenio is the author of The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, and editor of Kennedysandking.com.

James Douglass is the author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

Laurie Dusek has served as legal counsel to Sirhan Sirhan in a pro bono capacity for the last 11 years.

Daniel Ellsberg was a national security consultant to the Kennedy White House. Later he leaked the Pentagon Papers. A senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, he is the author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner and a memoir, Secrets, which became the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America. He is also a key figure in Steven Spielberg's film about the Pentagon Papers, The Post.

Karl Evanzz is the author of six books, including two highly acclaimed studies of the Nation of Islam: The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X (1992) and The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad (1999). A literary and film consultant, Evanzz worked on Malcolm X: Make It Plain (Blackside Productions, 1994) and Ali (2001), starring Will Smith. Evanzz worked at the Washington Post for 32 years in its news department before retiring in 2008.

Richard Falk is professor of international law, emeritus, at Princeton University and author of Power Shift: On the New Global Order (2016).

Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He has served as the president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and in 2011 was elected president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization founded by Dr. King. Farris currently serves as senior fellow of the King Center where he not only continues to write, research and lecture on the life, philosophy, and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., but also on how Kingian nonviolence should guide American society as we confront the social, religious, economic and war issues of America and of the world today.

Marie Fonzi is the widow of Gaeton Fonzi, a top investigator on both the Senate and House Committees that probed the death of President Kennedy in the 1970s. Marie wrote the preface and afterword of the 2016 paperback edition of The Last Investigation, Fonzi's inside story of this fateful Congressional drama.

Libby Handros is an award-winning TV producer and documentary filmmaker. Since beginning her career on the PBS team that produced Inside Story, the first regularly scheduled examination of the American press ever to appear on television, she has gone on to develop and produce over one hundred hours of prime-time programming on a wide array of subjects. Along with director John Kirby, Handros produced the critically acclaimed documentary feature The American Ruling Class and Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle, among other films. Currently she is Kirby’s producing partner on Four Died Trying, a multi-part series on the political murders of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, which changed the course of history.

Dan Hardway, a graduate of Cornell Law School, has practiced law for the past 37 years. His firm, based in Cowen, West Virginia, focuses on representing nonprofit organizations, especially Christian churches and ministries, and Freedom of Information Act litigants. From 1977 to 1978, Hardway worked as a researcher for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and assisted Ed Lopez in writing the section of the committee report titled, “Oswald, the CIA, and Mexico City.”

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, a libertarian nonprofit educational foundation, and the author of The Kennedy Autopsy.

Douglas Horne served for three years on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), from 1995-1998. He was hired by the ARRB as a senior analyst on the Military Records Team, and was later promoted to the position of chief analyst for Military Records; while on the ARRB staff, Mr. Horne ensured the release of historical records on Cuba and Vietnam policy; played a key role in the sworn depositions of ten JFK autopsy witnesses; and became the primary ARRB point-of-contact for all matters related to the Zapruder film. He is the author of the five-volume work Inside the Assassination Records Review Board (2009), and the e-book JFK's War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated (2014).

Gayle Nix Jackson is the granddaughter of Orville Nix, the man who took the film of the JFK assassination opposite from Abraham Zapruder. Following three decades of research on the background of the government's loss of this film, she has written two books, Orville Nix: The Missing JFK Assassination Film and Pieces of the Puzzle: An Anthology.

Stephen Jaffe was an investigator and photo-analyst for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison 1967-68, testified before the Rockefeller Commission, was an associate producer/technical advisor for the film Executive Action, associate producer/technical adviser for documentaries The Garrison Tapes and the sequel by filmmaker John Barbour, and is the producer of the new documentary, A Rush to Judgment: Conspiracy in America, with Mark Lane. Jaffe was an investigator for the Lane Law Firm for the past 50 years and has written numerous articles on the assassination of President Kennedy.

James Jenkins was a medical corpsman assigned to work with pathologists on the autopsy of President Kennedy at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He reports his eyewitness account in his book At the Cold Shoulder of History, co-written with William Matson Law.

William Klaber was the producer of The RFK Tapes, a 1993 public radio documentary on the murder of Senator Robert Kennedy. In 1997 he co-authored, with Philip Melanson, the book Shadow Play, which examined the evidence of police misconduct in the RFK murder investigation, evidence found in the LAPD’s own files that was finally made public in 1988.

Bill Kelly is a co-founder of the Committee for an Open Archives and the Coalition on Political Assassinations. He was the recipient of the 2013 Mary Ferrell Award for his work on the Air Force One radio transmission tapes. He is currently the coordinator of the research committee for Citizens Against Political Assassinations. His blog is http://JFKCountercoup.blogspot.com.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the author of American Values: Lessons I Learned From My Family.

John Kirby made his directorial debut with the Tribeca Festival-award-winning film The American Ruling Class, made for the BBC and the Sundance Channel. He is currently directing and editing Four Died Trying, a multi-part documentary series on the extraordinary lives and calamitous deaths of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

Andrew Kreig is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit executive, attorney, author and commentator who edits the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project, which examines the performance of legal institutions. Its work includes publication of a multi-part “Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination” that highlights the topic’s leading books, films, archives, events and news developments.

The Reverend James M. Lawson Jr. was a long-time collaborator with Martin Luther King Jr. and, after the Reverend King, the major teacher in the non-violent struggles for desegregation and justice. Rep. John Lewis called him “the architect of the non-violent movement.”

Jim Lesar is president of the Assassination Archives and Research Center, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to disclose information on political assassinations to the public. During the past 49 years Lesar has litigated more than 200 Freedom of Information Act cases, resulting in the release of several hundred thousand pages of documents prior to the enactment of the JFK Records Act. He then testified before several House and Senate committees in favor of greatly expanded release of withheld government records pertaining to the assassination of President Kennedy. After the passage of the JFK Act, Lesar testified several times before the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) regarding the definition and scope of the term “JFK-assassinated-related” records. In 2006, in a suit in which he represented journalist and author Jefferson Morley, he won a significant precedent that subjected the CIA’s ultra-secret operational files to judicial review. This ultimately resulted in the disclosure of significant operational records, and in the process the CIA admitted under oath that it had hired a case officer linked to Lee Harvey Oswald’s pre-assassination activities to undermine the investigation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Edwin Lopez is an attorney practicing in New York. He has served as the general counsel at the Rochester City School District and is currently on the faculty of the Yang Tan Employment and Disability Institute at the Industrial Labor Relations School at Cornell University. In 1977 and 1978 he was a researcher for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), where he was involved, among other areas, in the research and investigation of anti-Castro Cuban groups, their possible involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy, possible Cuban government complicity in the assassination of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities in Mexico City and the performance of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in monitoring and reporting those activities. With the assistance of other staff members, he wrote the HSCA’s “Lopez Report.”

David Mantik holds an MD from the University of Michigan and a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin. He is former faculty member in the physics department at the University of Michigan and in the radiation oncology department at Loma Linda University. He is the author of JFK's Head Wounds (an e-book).

Dr. Robert N. McClelland is professor emeritus in the Department of Surgery at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, an adjunct professor of law at Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, and a member of the attending staff at Zale Lipshy University Hospital. Previously, he served for 30 years as the UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Alvin W. Baldwin Chair in Surgery, where he had first come to work as an instructor in surgery in 1962. Two years prior to that, Dr. McClelland had begun his career on the senior attending staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where his duties would include the attempt to save the life of President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. While working on the mortally wounded JFK, Dr. McClelland saw clear evidence that the president had been struck by bullets from the front and rear, indicating more than one shooter was involved. The gruesome injury to the back of JFK’s head was caused by a bullet exiting the skull rather than entering it, McClelland determined, suggesting it was fired from the front of the presidential limousine, instead of from the rear, where Lee Harvey Oswald was allegedly shooting from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building.

Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, and author of several books, including Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform. As editor of Discovering America, a book series published by the University of Texas Press, he commissioned Lance DeHaven-Smith to write Conspiracy Theory in America, and his Forbidden Bookshelf series, published by Open Road Media, has revived dozens of essential books long out of print, and many of them killed at birth, including works by I.F. Stone, Peter Dale Scott, Christopher Simpson, Ralph McGehee and Gerald Colby.

Jefferson Morley is the founder of The Deep State, a news blog that illuminates the influence of secret intelligence agencies. He worked for 15 years as an editor and reporter at the Washington Post. He is the author of Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton and of Our Man in Mexico, a biography of the CIA’s Mexico City station chief Winston Scott.

Major John M. Newman, U.S. Army (retired), is adjunct professor of political science at James Madison University. He is the author of JFK and Vietnam, Oswald and the CIA and the multi-part series The Assassination of President Kennedy: Volume I, Where Angels Tread Lightly; Volume II, Countdown to Darkness, and Volume III, Into the Storm.

Len Osanic is host of Black Op Radio and producer of The Collected Works of Col. L. Fletcher Prouty.

Lisa Pease is the author of A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Based on more than two decades of investigative research, Pease’s recently published book has already been hailed as “the magnum opus of RFK assassination research” by acclaimed Kennedy biographer James Douglass.

Dr. William F. Pepper is an American lawyer, English barrister and best-selling author. His legal career has included representation of governments and heads of state, and teaching human rights law at Oxford University. A political activist, Pepper was a 1960s friend and supporter of Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The King family asked his help to address their doubts about the guilt of accused assassin James Earl Ray. Pepper’s investigation concluded that Ray was a patsy. Representing both the imprisoned Ray before his 1998 death and the King family pro bono, Pepper then won a Memphis civil jury verdict in 1999 for the family concluding the murder was a conspiracy. Pepper authored three books on the evidence, most recently The Plot to Kill King (2016). In 2007, Pepper began representing pro bono Robert F. Kennedy’s accused assassin Sirhan Sirhan based on similar evidence that Sirhan did not fire any of the shots that struck RFK. Along with other RFK friends, Pepper has advocated for Sirhan to be released on parole and/or granted a first-ever hearing to examine the relevant scientific evidence.

Jerry Policoff has been a JFK assassination researcher since 1966, specializing in the role of the media. Widely published in magazines and book anthologies, Policoff covered the House Select Committee on Assassinations for New Times magazine, breaking many exclusives. He is the former executive director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center.

Rob Reiner is an actor and director best known for his role in the iconic TV show All in the Family and for his films A Few Good Men, When Harry Met Sally, and This Is Spinal Tap. His 2017 political thriller Shock and Awe was the first Hollywood movie to examine the tragic run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reiner is now developing a docudrama TV series on the Kennedy assassinations.

Abby Rockefeller has participated in the sponsoring and organizing of several conferences concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Dick Russell is the author of three books on the assassination of President Kennedy: The Man Who Knew Too Much; On the Trail of the JFK Assassins; and They Killed Our President!, with Jesse Ventura.

Mort Sahl is an entertainer and political satirist. He helped write speeches for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign, and later worked closely with New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to solve the Kennedy assassination, even though doing so severely damaged his career.

Vincent J. Salandria is a Philadelphia attorney who began studying the Kennedy assassination on November 23, 1963. One of the original critics of the lone assassin concept, he is the author of False Mystery, an anthology of his essays incriminating the national security state for the murder of JFK.

Martin Sheen is an actor and activist.

Lawrence P. Schnapf is the principal attorney of Schnapf LLC and an adjunct professor at the New York Law School. He serves on the board of Citizens Against Political Assassinations.

E. Martin Schotz is the author of History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial and the Murder of President Kennedy.

Paul Schrade is a former United Auto Workers official who knew both of the Kennedy brothers and worked in their campaigns. He was wounded in the hail of gunfire that mortally wounded Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Schrade, who has spent decades researching the RFK assassination, believes that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the shots that struck Kennedy and is working for his release from prison.

Peter Dale Scott is a professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Deep Politics and the Death of JFK; Oswald, Mexico, and Deep Politics; The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War; The American Deep State; and Poetry and Terror.

John Simkin established the Spartacus Educational website in 1999, an important section of which was devoted to the Kennedy assassination. He is the author of the e-book Assassination of John F. Kennedy Encyclopedia.

Bill Simpich, a civil rights attorney, is on the board of the Mary Ferrell Foundation. He is the author of the e-book State Secret.

Oliver Stone is an Academy Award–winning director and screenwriter best known for his movies Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street and JFK. His 1991 feature JFK provoked a nationwide uproar about the Kennedy assassination that led to Congressional passage of the 1992 JFK Records Collection Act and the release of thousands of important previously withheld government documents.

Dan Storper is the founder and CEO of the world music company Putumayo. He is writing a book about the political struggles of the 1960s.

David Talbot is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. He is the founder and original editor-in-chief of Salon and a former senior editor of Mother Jones magazine.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the eldest of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy’s children. She is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland. She has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland and is currently a research professor at Georgetown University, where she founded the Center for Retirement Initiatives.

Adam Walinsky served in the United States Department of Justice in 1963-64. He joined Robert Kennedy’s campaign for U.S. Senate in 1964, and then served as counsel and speechwriter for the senator through the presidential campaign of 1968. He was one of the coordinators of the Vietnam Moratorium of 1969-70, and was the Democratic nominee for Attorney General of New York in 1970. He practiced law in New York City until 1994, serving as chairman of the New York State Investigations Commission in 1979-81. Walinsky created and led the Police Corps, a federal program that offered scholarships to college students who agreed in return to train intensively for six months, and then serve four years in a state or local police force. Police Corps programs were created in 30 states, and although funding ended in 2004, many of its graduates are still serving in law enforcement and other civic endeavors across the country. From 2008 to 2012, he led a complete retraining of the Police Department in Baltimore, Maryland. He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

Benjamin Wecht is the administrator of Duquesne University's Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, managing an internationally acclaimed center for professional and general education that presents public seminars on the assassination of President Kennedy and other urgent topics. He also serves as managing member of the Forensic Sciences and Law Education Group, a business dedicated to disseminating educational video products and online resources relating to topics at the interface of forensic investigation and historical inquiry.

Dr. Cyril H. Wecht is past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American College of Legal Medicine. He is a clinical professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and adjunct professor of law at Duquesne University. Dr. Wecht served as a consultant or expert witness on several major JFK inquests, including New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s prosecution of Clay Shaw, the Rockefeller Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Betty Windsor was a close friend of Dallas Times-Herald journalist Jim Koethe, who was murdered in his home in 1964 while working to solve the JFK case. Since the reporter’s murder, she has worked to solve both the Koethe case and the JFK case. Many researchers consider her the most important source on the events in Dallas during that era.

Jan. 17

george hw bush inauguration

Chief Justice William Rehnquist swears in President George H. W. Bush in 1989 as Barbara Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle (above her) look on.

george hw bushLondon Review of Books, The Vice President’s Men, Seymour M. Hersh, Jan. 24, 2019 edition. When George H.W. Bush arrived in Washington as vice president in January 1981 he seemed little more than a sideshow to Ronald Reagan, the one-time leading man who had been overwhelmingly elected to the greatest stage in the world....Bush [shown at right as CIA director] was invariably written off as a cautious politician who followed the lead of his glamorous boss – perhaps because he assumed that his reward would be a clear shot at the presidency in 1988.

There was another view of Bush: the one held by the military men and civilian professionals who worked for him on national security issues. Unlike the president, he knew what was going on and how to get things done. It would have been natural to turn instead to the director of the CIA, but this was William Casey, a former businessman and Nixon aide who had been controversially appointed by Reagan as the reward for managing his 1980 election campaign. As the intelligence professionals working with the executive saw it, Casey was reckless, uninformed, and said far too much to the press.

cia logoBush was different: he got it. At his direction, a team of military operatives was set up that bypassed the national security establishment – including the CIA – and wasn’t answerable to congressional oversight. It was led by Vice-Admiral Arthur Moreau, a brilliant navy officer who would be known to those on the inside as ‘M’. He had most recently been involved, as deputy chief of naval operations, in developing the US’s new maritime strategy, aimed at restricting Soviet freedom of movement.

In May 1983 he was promoted to assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Vessey, and over the next couple of years he oversaw a secret team – operating in part out of the office of Daniel Murphy, Bush’s chief of staff – which quietly conducted at least 35 covert operations against drug trafficking, terrorism and, most important, perceived Soviet expansionism in more than twenty countries, including Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Libya, Senegal, Chad, Algeria, Tunisia, the Congo, Kenya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Vietnam.

oliver north mugshotIn 1986, as the Iran-Contra scandal turned toxic, the immediate problem for Vice President Bush was political survival. Too many outsiders – men like Oliver North [shown in a later mugshot]– knew too much.

Moreau’s small, off-the-record team, primarily made up of navy officers, was tasked with foreign operations deemed necessary by the vice president. The group’s link to Bush was indirect. There were two go-betweens, known for their closeness to the vice president and their ability to keep secrets: Murphy, a retired admiral who had served as Bush's deputy director at the CIA; and, to a lesser extent, Donald Gregg, Bush’s national security adviser and another veteran of CIA covert operations.

By 1983, it was plain to those who worked on national security for the White House that Reagan wouldn't or couldn't engage with intelligence or counterintelligence matters. Bush had emerged, by default and very much in private, as the most important decision-maker in America's intelligence world

Moon of Alabama, Seymour Hersh: George H.W. Bush Team Leaked To Media To Reveal CIA's Iran-Contra Affair, b, Jan. 17, 2019. A new piece by Seymour Hersh [right] seymour hershin the London Review of Books gives some insight into secret U.S. operations during the Reagan administration. The Vice President’s Men includes a quite sensational claim of who revealed the Iran-Contra affair.

According to the conventional wisdom, as reflected in Wikipedia, an Iranian operator revealed to a Lebanese paper that the U.S. was selling weapons to Iran in the hope to get hostages in Lebanon released:

After a leak by Mehdi Hashemi, a senior official in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the arrangement on 3 November 1986. This was the first public report of the weapons-for-hostages deal.

People is the National Security Council used profits from these weapon sales to illegally arm and finance CIA run anti-government gangs in Nicaragua. Both, the weapon sales to Iran and the weapon delivery to guerilla in Nicaragua, were illegal under U.S. law. The leak to Lebanese paper blew up both operations.

That Mehdi Hashemi, the Iranian operative, leaked the affair is only supported by second hand hearsay from a dubious source. Seymour Hersh reports of a very different culprit.

george hw bush HRAccording to his sources former CIA director George H.W. Bush, who was then Reagan's vice president, ran his own secret operations through a special office in the Pentagon....

Bush disliked William Casey, who Reagan had named as new CIA director. Casey was a business man who got the job after he managed Ronald Reagan's election campaign. Bush thought that he was too incompetent to run the clandestine service.

One of the operations run under Bush also involved Nicaragua, but had nothing to do with the later Iran-Contra scandal. At the same time the CIA director William Casey was drumming up support for the Contras in Nicaragua. The two operations collided when Lieutenant Colonel Oliver (Ollie) North at the National Security Council used the proceeds from the weapon sales to Iran to illegally finance the CIA's Contras in Nicaragua. While North was also a confident of the Bush/Moreau's operations, he allegedly freelanced and eventually deserted to the CIA side.

arthur moreau jrAccording to a former officer involved in Bush's operations office, Bush and [Vice-Admiral Arthur] Moreau [right] feared that the CIA's widely expanding Iran-Contra operation run by Oliver North would become a threat to their own operations. They decided to blow it up:

‘Ollie brings in Dick Secord and Iranian dissidents and money people in Texas to the scheme, and it’s gotten totally out of control,’ the officer said. ‘We’re going nuts. If we don’t manage this carefully, our whole structure will unravel. And so we’ – former members of Moreau’s team who were still working for Bush – ‘leaked the story to the magazine in Lebanon.’ He was referring to an article, published on 3 November 1986 by Ash-Shiraa magazine in Beirut, that described the arms for hostages agreement. He would not say how word was passed to the magazine, ...

According to Hersh's source the effect of the leak to the Lebanese paper was foreseen and intended....

Jan. 15

Deep State, Bill Barr’s CIA Resume: Cover-Ups, Covert Operations, and Pardons, Jefferson Morley, Jan. 15, 2019. “I started off in Washington at the Central Intelligence Agency and went to law school at night while I was working at CIA,” recalled William Barr in a 2001 oral history for the University of Virginia.

The new Attorney General, approved by the Senate on Thursday, has what Trump might call “deep state” credentials.

Barr comes to the job as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer at a pressure-packed moment. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has begun to disclose “the heart” of his case against President Trump’s campaign entourage: the interactions of his campaign manager Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian trained as a translator the Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Not only is Barr now Mueller’s boss, he is also in charge of the FBI, where deputy director Andrew McCabe and other senior officials contemplated the possibility that the president of the United States was–and perhaps is–an agent of a foreign power.

To this subterranean power struggle, Barr brings a key asset: formative CIA experience.

Barr came to Langley in 1973. He was a 23 year graduate of Columbia with a masters in Chinese studies His resume shows he toiled at the agency by day and attended George Washington University law school at night. The Watergate scandal was ravaging the agency’s reputation and bringing down president Richard Nixon.

william barr portrait at dojAttorney General William Barr in 1991 (Credit: Justice Department)

Barr spent four formative years working in the Intelligence directorate and the Office of Legislative Counsel. He even made the acquaintance of CIA director George H.W. Bush. In 1977 Barr moved on to a prestigious clerkship for a federal judge and then a series of jobs in private practice and the Justice Department. In 1991, Bush, who had since been elected president, appointed Barr to be attorney general.

At age 41, Barr was one of the younger men ever to hold that office. He left after one year and went on to a long career in corporate law and public service. Barr now returns to his old job at the behest of a besieged president under investigation for his dealings with Russian state agents.

Will Barr protect the investigation of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller? Or will he act on a tightly argued memo in which he claimed Mueller has already exceeded his authority?

A close examination of Barr’s legal career indicates a high tolerance for presidentially sanctioned law-breaking.

In his first turn as attorney general in 1991, Barr handled three legal issues of deep concern to the CIA. He helped resolve all three issues favorably for the agency’s leaders and the president.

Barr’s decisions, it is worth remembering today, were unfavorable to law enforcement, Congress, and the voters.

Jan. 12

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ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 12, 2019 (print edition). In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

FBI logoThe investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which robert mueller full face fileMr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III [shown above in a graphic and at right in a file photo], took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them. It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter, and some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: One of Donald Trump’s people sold him out the day he fired James Comey, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2019. Hours after the President Donald Trump officialrelease of the New York Times bombshell report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation against Donald Trump in mid 2017, we’re still sifting through the pieces and putting them into context.

The first observation here is that the FBI had solid evidentiary grounds to believe that Trump was serving as a Russian spy. The second is that one of Trump’s own people sold him out immediately after he fired Comey.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s long been reported that Donald Trump drafted a letter explaining his firing of James Comey which was highly self-incriminating, but then White House Counsel Don McGahn intervened and convinced Trump not to send it, and that the unsent letter eventually ended up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s hands. But this new NYT expose reveals that the FBI had a copy of the letter at the time it opened the counterintelligence probe, before Mueller was even hired.

This means that one of Donald Trump’s own people immediately turned over that unsent letter to the FBI. It could have McGahn; if so, it would mean he was cooperating with the Feds even sooner than previously reported. It could have been Rod Rosenstein, who at that point had only been Deputy Attorney General for roughly two weeks. It could have been someone else. But only a small circle of Trump’s top people would have even known at the time that the letter existed.

So now we know that one or more of Donald Trump’s own top people began reporting his crimes far sooner than we previously thought. This means the FBI and Robert Mueller have had a much deeper window into Trump’s crime spree. That makes it even more likely that Mueller’s report will be nothing short of devastating for Trump, and for anyone in his circle who didn’t cooperate with the probe.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Is there a FISA warrant against Donald Trump? Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2019. Last night we learned that the FBI opened a rosemary collyercounterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump in May of 2017. This means that at the time, the FBI had solid evidence that Trump was a Kremlin spy. Now it’s time to ask the obvious question: has there been a FISA surveillance warrant against Trump for the past year and a half?

[Chief Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, right, a Republican nominee of then President George W. Bush, presides over the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court.)]

bill palmer report logo headerLet’s be clear here. The FBI would absolutely have sought a FISA eavesdropping warrant against any American being investigated for acting as a foreign government spy.

In fact the Feds had FISA warrants against Paul Manafort and Carter Page during the election for that reason. So if there hasn’t been a FISA warrant against Donald Trump, the only reason would be that he’s occupying the office of President of the United States.

Jan. 10

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: President Bolton? Or Worse? Jacob G. Hornberger, Jan. 10, 2019. President Trump excited many non-jacob hornberger headshotinterventionists when he publicly announced that he was ordering an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Quite quickly, however, Trump bent to pressure and agreed to extend the withdrawal deadline to four months. That caused me to write an article on January 2 entitled “It’s Too Soon to Celebrate Trump’s Syria Withdrawal.”

Then came the stunning announcement by National Security Advisor John Bolton declaring that no U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Syria until ISIS has been totally defeated and only after Turkey has promised not to attack Kurdish forces, which have assisted Trump with his Syria intervention. Bolton’s announcement necessarily means that Trump’s deadline has now been extended far beyond the four-month extension. Indeed, for all practical purposes it implies that U.S. troops are going to remain in Syria indefinitely, the very thing that Trump initially said he was going to end immediately.

The question naturally arises: Who’s in charge here — Trump or Bolton? Wouldn’t one ordinarily think that it’s the president, not the person working for the president, who gives the orders with respect to U.S. troops?

The real answer is that neither Bolton nor Trump is in charge. The entity in charge of U.S. foreign policy is the national-security establishment, which consists of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. They, not Trump or Bolton, decide whether and when U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Syria or anywhere else. They are clearly the ones who have decided that U.S. troops shall remain in Syria.

I highly recommend a book entitled National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon: professor of law at Tufts University. The book explains how the national-security branch is where the real power of the federal government lies. The Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA permit the other three branches to maintain the veneer of power and permit them some latitude but in the final analysis, it is the national-security branch that is actually calling the shots.

It never really made sense that Trump would hire Bolton. He’s one of the fiercest foreign interventionists in the conservative movement. While Trump never professed to be a principled non-interventionist during his presidential campaign, his perspectives on foreign interventionism were extremely at odds with those of Bolton.

Jan. 5

elections voting photo pbs screengrab dcma

U.S. voting (file photo from a screengrab from a PBS broadcast, via DMCA)

Alternet via OpEdNews, Commentary: Democrats in Congress unveil ambitious plan to fix our election system, Steven Rosenfeld, Jan. 4, 2018. On the second day of the 116th Congress, the new House Democratic majority will introduce H.R. 1, the most comprehensive democracy reform legislation seen this century. It addresses voting rights and electoral procedures, campaign finance rules and loopholes, and seeks to institute higher ethical standards for federal officeholders and more.

One can look at the For The People Act as a wish list of inclusive, transparent and publicly accountable solutions and best practices that seek to come to grips with today's world of voting, election advocacy and voter engagementor suppression. Or one can look at its dozens of focal points as a catalog of everything that has broken down in a system that vainly labels itself the world's greatest democracy.

"When they trust you on this issue, they trust you on other issues as well," said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, chair of the House Democrats' Democracy Reform Task Force and a longtime public financing advocate, describing H.R. 1. "That confidence is what democracy is all about."

The bill's overall framing is to counter systemic corruption that blocks some citizens -- but not others -- from voting; or allows large donors to hide their identity while funding attacks they wouldn't publicly want to be associated with; or enables current and recent office-holders to personally profit from serving in the highest levels of the federal government.

"The anti-corruption stuff isn't new," said Miles Rapoport, Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at Harvard Kennedy School, who previously led the government reform groups Common Cause and Demos. "People always say it's rigged. It's corrupt, etc., I think what's new now is people say our democracy itself, our elections themselves, are screwed up, rigged, incompetently run -- one thing or another."

"What I am excited about is these things [specific anti-democratic facets and remedies] are having real resonance," Rapoport continued. "It's not just 'Drain the Swamp,' which everyone can say, right and left, and means different things to different people."

The bill is a compendium of 22 previously introduced political reform bills and some new provisions. Most of the reforms have been proposed by Democratic lawmakers to counter abuses pioneered or deployed this century by Republicans -- whether extreme gerrymanders, voter suppression, or stealth financing -- or rulings from the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that have deregulated campaigning.

"Throughout the last two years, we have heard people say they didn't just want to be part of a resistance, they wanted to insist on a set of values," said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, one of the newly elected freshmen from 2018's blue wave, in a press conference about the bill late last year. "I think, for us, it's really important to remember that accessibility, transparency and the trust of the public is the cornerstone of our democracy... They didn't want to send us here to resist [President Trump] and only work on oversight. They want to make sure we are insisting on furthering a set of values."

9 11 world trade center debris national park service wikimedia

OpEdNews, Commentary: 9/11: Finally the Truth Comes Out? Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 5, 2018. Based on the work of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth led by Richard Gage, first responder and pilots organizations, books by David Ray Griffin and others, and eyewitness testimony, the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry has presented enough hard facts to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York to force his compliance with the provisions of federal law that require the convening of a federal grand jury to investigate for the first time the attacks of September 11, 2001.

This puts the US Justice (sic) Department in an extraordinary position. Every informed person is aware that elements of the US government were involved either in the perpetration of the 9/11 attacks or in a cover-up of the attacks. There will be tremendous pressures on the US Attorney's office to have the grand jury dismiss the evidence as an unpatriotic conspiracy theory or otherwise maneuver to discredit the evidence presented by the Lawyers' Committee, or modify the official account without totally discrediting it.

911 Commission ReportWe can have hopes that the United States can establish the true story of its own Reichstag Fire, but I am not holding my breath that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York can stand up to the powerful elements in the Deep State that perpetuated or covered up the 9/11 false flag attacks or that he is inclined to try.

What the 9/11 truthers and the Lawyers' Committee have achieved is the destruction of the designation of 9/11 skeptics as "conspiracy theorists." No US Attorney would convene a grand jury on the basis of a conspiracy theory. Clearly, the evidence is compelling that has put the US Attorney in an unenviable position.

The likely result will be comparable to the US Congress' belated investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. No expert or informed person believed the obviously false story that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy. All evidence pointed to a plot by the Joint Chiefs, CIA, and Secret Service whose right-wing leaders had concluded that President Kennedy was too "soft on jfk hScommunism" to do what was necessary for the US to prevail in the contest with the Soviet Union.

Expert and public disbelief of the official story was so great that in 1976, 13 years after Kennedy's assassination, Congress investigated. The real culprits were, of course, not identified, but two important results were forthcoming. One was the conclusion by the Select Committee on Assassinations that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy and not of a lone gunman. The other was the release of the top secret Project Northwoods, which revealed the Joint Chiefs' plan presented to President Kennedy for the US government to kill US citizens and shoot down US airliners and place the blame on Castro in order to gain public acceptance for an invasion of Cuba.

The conclusion that a conspiracy, although unidentified, was involved in Kennedy's assassination was the sop thrown to those who disputed the official lone gunman account. The revelation of Project Northwoods created awareness of a previously unknown US government plot that drew attention away from Kennedy's assassination.

If the Lawyers' Committee and the 9/11 truthers trust the US Attorney to go entirely by the facts, little will come of the grand jury. If the United States had a rule of law, something as serious as 9/11 could not have gone for 17 years without investigation.

Drug Trafficking

daniel hopsickerMadcow News, The Lie at the Heart of the Trial of El Chapo Guzman, Daniel Hopsicker, right, Jan. 5, 2019. The lie at the heart of the trial of El Chapo Guzman is one familiar to every American who understands what happened to this country during Prohibition: Men and women are human. They can be bought, bribed, threatened or cajoled. It is the basis of organized crime.

In the trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (shown below in a file photo), hints of what’s happening in every country south of the U.S. border have been allowed to surface, if only briefly.

But not a word has — or will be — spoken about the elephant in the room: It’s not just happening in Mexico. It happens here too.

joaquin el chapo guzmanThose being rewarded today look remarkably similar to the people on the take during Prohibition: corrupt politicians in both political parties, the DEA, law enforcement officials, Southern Sheriffs… and most importantly: Bankers, from the world’s most powerful banks.

Fernando Blengio Cesena knows a lot about corruption, especially at the top of the Mexican government. He was a transportation and aviation manager purchasing dozens of American-registered aircraft, ‘go-fast’ boats, and ocean-going vessels, for use by the Sinaloa Cartel.

Blengio was also at onetime a personal pilot to former Mexican president Vicente Fox.

Two-thirds of the way through the trial of El Chapo Guzman, it is common knowledge that the most egregious evidence of corruption isn’t and won’t be heard; that the prosecution, aided by the judge, have nixed all testimony implicating American politician and banks, without whose cooperation the drug trade could not exist in its present gargantuan state.

daniel hopsicker barry boys coverHowever none of the witnesses for the prosecution will breath of word of this in their testimony, for fear of jeopardizing their ‘most favored nation’ status — their get out of jail, if not free, then more quickly — card.

So it comes as no surprise that in the secrecy-obsessed trial of El Chapo currently underway in New York, an unscrupulous federal prosecutor in Miami, who has been called a “serial offender” in newspaper reports, used false accusations to prevent top Sinaloa cartel figure Blengio from testifying in the trial of El Chapo, as well as the trial of Vicente Zambada, the government’s chief witness against El Chapo.

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, "Welcome to Terrorland" and "Barry & the Boys" (shown at right).

Jan. 3

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Medium, Opinion: Full email from William Arkin, leaving NBC and MSNBC, William Arkin (shown above), Jan. 3, 2018. January 4 is my last day at NBC News nbc news logoand I’d like to say goodbye to my friends, hopefully not for good. This isn’t the first time I’ve left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis. My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely out of synch with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus.

I first started my association with NBC 30 years ago, feeding Cold War stories to Bob Windrem and Fred Francis at the Pentagon. I became an on-air analyst during the 1999 Kosovo War, continuing to work thereafter with Nightly News, delighting and oftentimes annoying in my peculiar position of being a mere civilian amongst THE GENERALS and former government msnbc logo Customofficials. A scholar at heart, I also found myself an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military, anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers.

Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave began, it was clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could no longer keep up with the world. Added to that was the intellectual challenge of how to report our new kind of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success.

david petraeus wTo me there is also a larger problem: though they produce nothing that resembles actual safety and security, the national security leaders and generals we have are allowed to do their thing unmolested. Despite being at “war,” no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ [left] and Wes Clarks’, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and [below left] McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little of consequence.

james mattisAnd yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as “analysts”. We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one county in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.

As perpetual war has become accepted as a given in our lives, I’m proud to say that I’ve never deviated in my argument at NBC (or at my newspaper gigs) that terrorists will never bedefeated until we better understand why they are driven to fighting. And I have maintained my central view that airpower (in its broadest sense including space and cyber) is not just the future but the enabler and the tool of war today.

Jan. 2

Assassination Archives and Research Center, Publication Spotlight: 'A Certain Arrogance -- The Sacrificing of Lee Harvey Oswald and the Wartime Manipulation of Religious Groups by U.S. Intelligence,' Charles R. Drago, Jan. 2, 2018. Book review and introduction for A Certain Arrogance by Dr. George Michael Evica, shown above, (TrineDay, second edition, 2011; University of Hartford Press; 1st edition (1978).

George Michael EvicaGeorge Michael Evica (left), one of the preeminent prosectors of the malignant growth that disfigured the American body politic on November 22, 1963, for decades focused his intellect and intuition on the search for a cure for the underlying disease. In the course of forty years of research, analysis, writing, broadcasting, and teaching, he followed its devastating metastasis through the vital organs of politics (deep and otherwise) to the extremities of business, culture, and religion. All the while he cut away necrotic tissue and struggled valiantly, in the company of a surgical team as distinguished as it is obscure, to keep the patient alive.

Professor Evica, author of And We Are All Mortal: New Evidence and Analysis in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1975; University of Hartford), must be numbered among the most honored of the so-called second generation of Kennedy assassination researchers. Their labors to refine, reinforce, expand upon, and draw attention to the discoveries of their predecessors validate this direct statement of fact:

Anyone with reasonable access to the evidence in the homicide of JFK who does not conclude that the act was the consequence of a criminal conspiracy is cognitively impaired and/or complicit in the crime.

george michael evica certain arrogance coverA Certain Arrogance stands as Professor Evica’s response to the unavoidable question: How do we define and effect justice in the wake of the world-historic tragedy in Dallas?

Clearly he understood that, at this late date, being content merely to identify and, if possible, prosecute the conspiracy’s sponsors, facilitators, and mechanics would amount to hollow acts of vengeance. Cleaning and closing the wound while leaving the disease to spread is simply not a survivable option.

With the nobility of knowledge comes obligation: How can we utilize all that has been learned through our post-Dallas investigations to heal and immunize the long-suffering victims of the malady of which the assassination of John F. Kennedy is but the most widely appreciated and putrescent manifestation?

The method by which Professor Evica honored his noblesse oblige is, at first blush, hardly novel. Like many other researchers, he chose to begin his exploration by focusing on an aspect of the complex life of the lead character in the assassination drama, Lee Harvey Oswald. To carry the cancer metaphor forward: Think of the falsely accused killer as a tumor cell whose sojourn through the host organism in theory can be traced back to its source.

Oswald’s movements, however, are not easily discerned. False trails and feints abound. Promising clues have been obscured by a host of ham-handed interlopers and sinister obfuscators.

Rather than traverse well-worn pathways, Professor Evica set out by following one of the few remaining under-examined passages of an otherwise over-mapped life. His uniquely painstaking investigation of Oswald’s involvement with Albert Schweitzer College (hereinafter ASC), including the processes and implications of his application, acceptance, and nonattendance, has led both to major discoveries and to significant refinements of previously developed hypotheses.

In the former category our attention is drawn to what Professor Evica termed “one of U.S. intelligence’s last important secrets,” the involvement by the Central Intelligence Agency and psychological operations (psyops) in student and youth organizations – especially those with religious affiliations.

lee harvey oswald marine corbis via getty imagesMarine Lee Harvey Oswald, left, in uniform. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The U.S. government’s faith-based initiatives, it seems, did not originate with George W. Bush’s alleged presidency.

As he meticulously followed Oswald’s ASC paper trail, the author was led not toward the Swiss campus, but rather into brick walls and empty rooms. A prime example: Oswald applied to the college on March 19, 1959. Less than two months later, when the chairman of ASC’s American Admissions Committee (and, at the time, the pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island) submitted to Switzerland the applications and related materials of prospective American students, Oswald’s folder was included.

Today those documents – critically important evidence in the investigation of the crime of the 20th century – do not exist in any official repository. Yet copies, or perhaps even originals, were in the Providence ASC file seized by the FBI after the assassination. This troubling absence, within a broader context fully substantiated in A Certain Arrogance, inevitably lead the author to conclude that Oswald’s application to ASC is “a still-protected American intelligence operation.”

I do not wish to spoil the bittersweet joy of discovery to be experienced as readers accompany Professor Evica on his journey through terra incognita. Yet the methodology and ultimate value of A Certain Arrogance as a “whodunit” (as opposed to the “howdunit” nature of the overwhelming majority of JFK assassination-related volumes) must be fully appreciated. To discover the identities of Oswald’s early manipulators is to be drawn into the necrotic nucleus of the disease. And so, thanks to the Evica investigation of the ASC charade, we are left with a preliminary, shattering conclusion regarding the “who” we seek.

CIA Logo“Whoever directed the Oswald [assassination] Game was thoroughly knowledgeable about both the OSS’s and CIA’s counterintelligence manipulations of Quakers, Unitarians, Lutherans, Dutch Reformed clerics and World Council of Churches officials as intelligence and espionage contacts, assets, and informants.”

From the mountains and snowfields and quaint villages of Switzerland, Professor Evica chose to escort us through a darker, more mysterious inner landscape. Examinations of what he neatly summarized as “U.S. covert intelligence operating under humanitarian cover” leads us to a confrontation with psychological operations – psyops and its propaganda, disinformation, and morale operations alter egos.

Professor Evica was the first to understand the Kennedy assassination and other intelligence operations as by-design theatrical productions, replete with all the essential elements of drama – including shameless manipulations of audiences’ minds and emotions. Within these pages he further supported and refines this hypothesis.

“Psychological manipulations of individuals and groups, whatever the procedure may have been called in the 18th and 19th centuries, drew upon discoveries in anatomy, mesmerism, hypnotism, counseling, studies in hysteria, rhetorical theory, psychoanalysis, advertising, behavior modification, and psychiatry. In the same periods, the literary forms of irony, satire, and comedy and the less reputable verbal arts of slander, libel, and manufactured lies were applied.”

While contemplating the implications of Professor Evica’s research, I was reminded of how Francis Ford Coppola struggled to find the best thematic hook on which to hang the plot of The Godfather, Part III. It is said that he considered and ultimately rejected a treatment of the Kennedy assassination as the most cinematically viable expression of systemic evil in full flower. Instead – perhaps wisely, perhaps not – he opted to dramatize the Vatican Bank scandal.

Upon initial examination, the conjoined stories of the looting of the Banco Ambrosiano, the perfidy of Roberto Calvi and P2, the assassination of John Paul I, and the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church at its highest levels present as the cellular components of yet another tumor, arguably the most horrific manifestation imaginable of the disease being probed by Professor Evica.

We are incredulous. We are outraged.

Then reason returns.

The manipulations of religious institutions for unholy purposes by elements of the deep political structure should provoke neither surprise nor anger. For is not organized religion merely politics by other means? Are not the most powerful bishops – of the wandering and Maurice varieties, among others – devoted to the same dark liturgy.

 

December

Dec. 30

The Inheritance – Poisoned Fruit of JFK’s Assassination – How One Man’s Custody of Bobby Kennedy’s Hidden Evidence Changed Our Past and Continues to Shape Our Future. (TrineDay, Walterville, Oregon, Published on Nov. 22, 2018, by Christopher and Michelle Fulton; Introduction by Dick Russell).

LBJ: Master of Deceit, A Review of an Incredible Book: “The Inheritance,” Phillip Nelson (author, lecturer, whose most recent book's cover is shown at right), Dec. 30, 2018. This book is taking the “JFK Assassination Research Community” (if one can seriously refer to it phil nelson mlk coveras such) by storm. Like men scurrying around a ship in distress looking frantically for safe harbor – in this case, words that will sustain the test of time – many old-time researchers are scrambling with the dilemma presented to an established institution by a “newbie” who has burst onto the scene with what appears, at least to some of them, to be a veritable solution to a fifty-five-year-old puzzle: “Who really killed JFK?”

For the naysayers, the vetting of Christopher and Michelle Fulton’s story is so conflicted that even the 120 pages of photos and documents, and as importantly, the numerous citations to sworn affidavits of key witnesses contained within the narrative (including many verbatim copies of other original materials) do not seem to mitigate the shock of those whose contrary opinions have been entrenched for many decades.

But more about that aspect of the “Crime of the Century” later.

* * *

Christopher Fulton’s life was forever altered when he acquired, in 1995, a gold Cartier watch that was worn by JFK on the last day of his own life.

Little did he know that the watch had once been covered by the slain president’s blood and brain matter, nor that the finely shattered lines – Fulton called them “striations” – on the crystal, were caused by a shock wave impacting it from the fatal shot to JFK’s head. That occurred just as he held his hands toward his neck, instinctively reacting to an earlier shot to his throat, and those striations would collect not only JFK’s bodily tissues, but traces of the mercury that had been infused into the bullet to ensure his death (p. 119).

christopher fulton michelle fulton cover What Fulton would find out later, from Robert Bouck – who, in 1963, had been in charge of the Secret Service’s Protective Research Section – revealed that Robert F. Kennedy had obtained absolute proof of a conspiracy with a number of shooters and many more shots than the official reports had stated. But that information would only come to him years later, though its provenance was a forensics examination done in the mid-1960s that RFK had obtained from a private entity, done specifically to keep it away from the FBI and Secret Service laboratories, where Kennedy knew it would never be properly analyzed.

When he had originally purchased the watch, Fulton had no reason to believe that it was material evidence directly related to the murder of President Kennedy that would have absolutely proved the existence of a conspiracy, had there ever been an honest investigation of the crime.

Nor did Fulton realize, until much later, that it was Robert Kennedy who had discovered that truth and had taken steps to preserve it, and other such incriminating evidence, out of the reach of either the government – or, to ensure their safety, his own family – when he entrusted much of it to JFK’s secretary Evelyn Lincoln for safe-keeping. Likewise, Fulton later discovered that Robert Kennedy had also taken precautionary steps to ensure that other evidence, proving the truths of his brother’s murder, would be kept safe for discovery by future generations; he did that by burying them with JFK’s casket when it was reinterred on March 14, 1967 at Arlington National Cemetery. These items included photographs of the watch, the original watch strap, the president’s brain, blood reports, and copies of the x-rays and autopsy photos.

Robert Kennedy (shown below at right) probably selected Mrs. Lincoln’s assistance because of his knowledge that she had already acquired, on the day after the robert f. kennedy 1964 wassassination, many other mementos of JFK and her time working in the Oval Office (undoubtedly made more numerous due to her anger with Lyndon Johnson, who had demanded that she complete the task of removing JFK’s property in less than one hour; her complaint to RFK about it succeeded in extending the deadline another two hours.[1] Johnson then claimed in his memoirs that he didn’t take over the office until three days later [forcing his future biographer Robert Caro to go along with it] among the many other lies contained within Johnson’s tome).

Fulton had walked innocently into the middle of the morass when he bought the watch from the man to whom Mrs. Lincoln had gifted it in her will, Robert L. White of Catonsville, Maryland, a collector of presidential memorabilia, after she had become friends with him through years of correspondence and visits; two years after she died, once the government discovered the existence of the hidden secrets, Fulton would begin experiencing a decade-long, nearly unbelievable, gestapo-like government-induced torture program including visits to some of the worst prisons in the country that almost defies description. But Fulton attempted to do just that by devoting nearly half of the book’s narrative to his personal long-term nightmare that essentially destroyed his previous life, as well as his wife’s and his mother’s, even the lives of his four rescue dogs. In all of their cases: Literally, destroyed.

In Fulton’s writing about such painful memories, he has laid bare the awful truth of the lengths to which the government will go to protect the original lies – now devolved into apparently permanent myths – that were meant to portray its own innocence as the original plotters cunningly replaced their own blame for the assassination of the 35th president onto a “lone nut” simpleton / malcontent.

The “lone nut malcontent” façade became another pattern to be twice repeated five years later with similar other “misfits” blamed for the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Both of them had already become national heroes yet their public popularity had caused them to become feared by the plotters as being potential threats to the existence of those same myths that protected the truths from being exposed.

Mr. Fulton’s travails exposed still another long-buried, very plausible explanation for how and why JFK’s son – John F. Kennedy, Jr. – died. In early 1998, Fulton met with JFK Jr. in Florida and subsequently sold the watch to him, suddenly shifting the object of the government’s wrath with it, from one man to another, yet not releasing its grip on the first of them. Shortly after their meeting, JFK Jr. made the mistake of writing to President Clinton to suggest a proper forensic autopsy of his father, to establish “the truths behind my father’s murder being released to the public.” Those two events led to a series of others, not the least of which was Fulton’s indictment in February, 1998 and his arrest on August 9, 1998, then the beginning of his torture and the loss of his freedom until finally being released in February, 2007.

For JFK Jr., it appears that the interview he conducted with Christopher Fulton at the hotel in Florida was part of his larger plan for a major expose’ in his magazine George, but, as he cautioned Fulton, “I want to keep this under wraps until late next year.” (p. 181). Unfortunately for him, Mr. Kennedy would not live that long. He would die in a mysterious airplane crash on July 16, 1999. There has been a plethora of news articles written since then which suggest still another cover-up has been in place for two decades and counting. One such document is headlined: “HARD EVIDENCE OF CONSPIRACY, COVER-UP IN JFK Jr. DEATH” and includes the following sentences in its eleven (11) pages: [2]

JFK Jr.’s 9:39 PM radio contact was without doubt DELIBERATELY and literally “covered up”: hours of time on the tape archive of WCVB’s July 17 broadcast, during which information on Kennedy’s radio contact was continually reported have been intentionally cut. The record has in fact been FALSIFIED.

FAA Flight Specialist Edward Meyer of LaGuardia Airport in Queens N.Y., . . . stated in the report that visibility in the region was AT LEAST very good on the evening of July 16. Meyer himself became SO distressed by endless spewing of erroneous disinformation about these weather conditions by government agencies and mass media, he took the unprecedented step of issuing a public statement ON HIS OWN–which THOROUGHLY SLAMMED this onslaught of disinformational noise as complete, total NONSENSE. . . . To quote from Meyer’s personal statement as released to mass media: “The weather along his flight was just fine. A little haze over eastern Connecticut.”

* * *

There have been many other “dots connected” within the Fultons’ book which will be discovered by the careful reader. Ergo, we need not tabulate all of them within this paper, however a hint at some of them may be intuited from some of the following material as we return to the issues raised in the opening paragraphs. They relate to the paradox of how some of the most “experienced” researchers have not fully embraced the revelations contained within this extraordinary personal account, and how Christopher Fulton’s original desire to own a key piece of history, JFK’s watch, turned his world upside-down.

Link to full review here.

Dec. 27

Associated Press via MSN, Boston Marathon bomber's lawyers want death sentence tossed, Alanna Durkin Richer, Dec. 27, 2018. Attorneys for ap logoBoston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told a federal appeals court Thursday that his convictions or death sentence should be tossed because the judge refused to move the case out of the city where the bombs exploded, making it impossible for him to get a fair trial.

dzhokhar tsaraev hsIn a 500-page brief filed in the 1st U.S. District Court of Appeals, Tsarnaev's legal team outlined a host of other problems with his 2015 trial, including issues with jurors, certain testimony from surviving victims and the defense's inability to tell jurors about links between Tsarnaev's brother and an unsolved triple killing in 2011.

The lawyers argued the trial court's "first fundamental error" was denying the defense's repeated requests to move the case out of a city that was "traumatized by the bombings, ordered to shelter in place during the manhunt, saturated by prejudicial publicity and united in the Boston Strong movement."

"Tsarnaev stood accused of notorious crimes. The bombings were the subject of constant and widespread publicity, which included coverage of matters that would never be admitted at trial," the lawyers wrote. "Virtually every single prospective juror was familiar with that publicity, had been personally affected by the crimes and their aftermath, and thus had formed negative, entrenched preconceptions about Tsarnaev's guilt and the appropriate sentence," they said.

Tsarnaev was sentenced to death just over two years after he and his brother set off two shrapnel-packed, pressure-cooker bombs near the Boston Marathon's finish line on April 15, 2013, killing three people and wounding more than 260.

He was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of weapon of mass destruction, after a months-long trial in which his attorneys admitted he and his older brother carried out the attack. The defense had sought to portray Tsarnaev as an impressionable teenager who was lured by his brother into participating in the deadly plot.

tamerlan tsarnaev HSTsarnaev, now 25, is behind bars at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. His 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev (left), died in a gunbattle with police a few days after the bombing.

Tsarnaev's lawyers pushed several times to move the trial, arguing the intense media scrutiny and number of people touched by the bombings in Boston would taint the jury pool. But U.S. District Judge George O'Toole refused, saying he believed a fair and impartial jury in the city could be found.

A three judge panel of the 1st Circuit agreed, noting that other high-profile terrorism cases such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing took place in the cities where the attacks occurred.

Among the dozens of other issues Tsarnaev's lawyers are raising on appeal include the judge's refusal to allow the defense to tell the jury about evidence tying Tamerlan to the killing of three people in the Boston suburb of Waltham in 2011. The defense sought to raise the issue of the killings to underscore their argument that Tsarnaev was under the influence of his more culpable older brother.

Prosecutors have said a friend of Tamerlan, Ibragim Todashev, implicated him in the killings of three men whose bodies were found sprinkled with marijuana, their throats cut. Todashev was shot to death by an FBI agent after authorities said he charged another investigator with a pole while being questioned about the Tsarnaevs.

Dec. 23

OpEdNews (OEN), Commentary: Shanahan Sec of Defense Appt is Grotesque Joke; It Pierces the Veil, Rob Kall (publisher and editor-in-oenearthlogochief, shown at right), Dec. 23, 2018. The appointment of Patrick Shanahan as acting Secretary of Defense is a grotesque joke, the kind you might see in the Onion. Imagine the Onion headline: "Trump Cuts Out Middleman, Appoints Boeing Exec to Head Defense Dept to rob kall new screenshot 2018Expedite boost of Military Spending"

Shanahan (below left) never served in the military. That could be a really good thing if the right non-military person was appointed. But Shanahan has spent most of his career as a player in the military industrial complex, working at Boeing from 1986 through 2017, when he was appointed by Donald Trump as Assistant Secretary of Defense.

patrick shanahan oIt's almost like this appointment pierces the veil that the US military serves a purpose other than producing massive profits for companies within the military industrial complex.

At least with James Mattis we had someone who had some experience in the military, some experience of losing soldiers to death. Now we face a situation where we have a businessman running the military. Personally, I'd like to see Secretary of Defense be someone who is known for opposing war. That's not going to happen. It will be interesting to see how the actual military responds to this appointment.

Finally, it appears that Trump has taken a strategy of avoiding getting congressional approval of appointees by dumping people, then appointing "Acting" replacements. This should be illegal. An "Acting" Department head should only be allowed to be appointed if there is a vacancy, not because the president is firing someone.

News From Underground, Opinion: Link to Kevin Ryan's piece on how to research 9/11, Edited by Mark Crispin Miller, Dec. 23, 2018. Anybody interested in really digging into 9/11 should begin by reading this exemplary how-to by Kevin Ryan, who may know more about that subject — and how to go about researching it effectively — than anyone alive.

Dig Within, Investigating 9/11, Kevin Ryan, Feb. 27, 2016. When people ask me what more can be done to achieve 9/11 truth and justice, I tell them to spend less time calling for a new investigation and more time investigating. Even without subpoena power, independent investigators can make a lot of progress. To help with that effort, here are three steps for an independent investigation and an objective way to evaluate suspects in the 9/11 crimes.

The first step is to ask specific, well-formulated questions.

The second step is to collect information that might help to answer the questions. Interview people who have detailed knowledge about the events. Most of the people who were present at the time of the attacks and during the official investigations are still alive and some of them will answer questions. Additionally, useful information can be obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Direct requests to federal, state, or local agencies using resources like these:

The third step to investigation is to collect the information, analyze it, and then communicate it clearly and objectively. Collecting the information is relatively easy. Analysis might include categorizing or framing the information in ways that help to see linkages. Examples include creating a timeline of events or a matrix of people and events, and considering if the new information fits into the existing body of knowledge. Once new information is ready to communicate to others, there are a lot of venues

Dec. 21

New York Magazine, Opinion: GOP Leaders Won’t Tolerate Trump’s Chaos for Much Longer, Frank Rich, Dec. 21, 2018. The beginning of the end of the Trump presidency came and went a long time ago. I have never wavered from my oft-stated convictions that (a) Trump will not finish out his term, and (b), the end will be triggered by a presidential meltdown that forces the Vichy Republicans in Washington to mount an insurrection — if only to save their own asses, not the country.

This week was a big step toward that endgame, and surely one of the most remarkable weeks in American history.

What we are likely to see in the meantime: further indictments of Trump family members and other close associates; a complete halt to governance in Washington whether there’s actually a government shutdown or not; new overt and covert threats to national security; a further effort by Trump to destabilize the Federal Reserve and assault its chairman; and perhaps, at last, an intervention by those Vichy Republicans, in the financial sector as well as in the capital, who see their own necks on the line.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Allies Fear That Traditional Ties No Longer Matter, Steven Erlanger and Jane Perlez, Dec. 21, 2018. The U.S. is withdrawing about 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. This, and the resignation, are being viewed as watershed moments for allies in Europe and Asia.

America’s allies in Europe and Asia thought they had learned to digest and compensate for the instinctive unpredictability of President Trump. But the bitter resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the abrupt announcement of plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan are being viewed as watershed moments for Washington’s relations with the world.

Dec. 20

Attorney General Bill Barr and Vice President Dan Quayle with President George H. W. Bush. (Source: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Attorney General Bill Barr and Vice President Dan Quayle with President George H. W. Bush. (Source: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Lawfare, Bill Barr’s Very Strange Memo on Obstruction of Justice, Mikhaila Fogel and Benjamin Wittes, Dec. 20, 2018. The memo on obstruction of justice by Bill Barr, the once and future attorney general, is a bizarre document—particularly so for a man who would supervise the investigation it criticizes.

As the Wall Street Journal first reported, Barr, whom the president has nominated to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, sent the unsolicited memo—dated June 8, 2018—to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to offer his view of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the president. The document elicited questions over whether Barr would need to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation as attorney general, along with outrage from congressional Democrats: both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking member on the Senate intelligence committee, have demanded that Trump withdraw Barr’s nomination. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary described the memo as “troubling.”

But the legal quality of the memo itself is a different question. Over at Just Security, Marty Lederman has what he describes as a “first take” on Barr’s memo, which is to say a detailed critique of it on both constitutional and statutory grounds. On National Review’s website, by contrast, Andrew McCarthy declares the memo a “commendable piece of lawyering” and “exactly what we need and should want in an attorney general of the United States.”

Whatever Barr’s memo is, it is not that. Because whether one agrees with his view of the law (as does McCarthy) or recoils at it (as does Lederman), one thing attorneys general of the United States should certainly not do is make up facts. And ironically for a memo laying out the argument that Bob Mueller has made up a crime to investigate, the document is based entirely on made-up facts.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Memo and a Recusal Decision Underscore Potential Threats to the Mueller Inquiry, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, Dec. 20, 2018. Matthew G. Whitaker, who was installed last month as acting attorney general by President Trump, has cleared himself to supervise the special counsel’s investigation, rejecting the recommendation of career Justice Department ethics specialists that he recuse himself, according to a letter the department sent to Senate leaders on Thursday night.

The development came soon after the disclosure that the president’s nominee for attorney general, William P. Barr, had written a memo this spring in which he strongly criticized one of the main lines of inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III — whether Mr. Trump had committed obstruction of justice. Disclosure of the memo raised questions about whether Mr. Barr would order Mr. Mueller to shut down that component of the inquiry if the Senate confirmed him.

Together, the developments underscored the potential threats to Mr. Mueller’s ability to complete his work without interference at a time when his inquiry appears to be drawing closer to the White House and the president’s most trusted associates.

NBC News, Mueller may submit report to attorney general as soon as mid-February, say sources, Pete Williams and Ken Dilanian, Dec. 20, 2018. nbc news logoMueller may submit report to attorney general as soon as mid-February, say sources. "They clearly are tying up loose ends," said a lawyer who has been in contact with the Mueller team. Where the Mueller investigation stands and what may be coming next.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is nearing the end of his historic investigation into Russian election interference and is expected to submit a confidential report to the attorney general as early as mid-February, government officials and others familiar with the situation tell NBC News.

"They clearly are tying up loose ends," said a lawyer who has been in contact with the Mueller team.

robert mueller kit fox medill flickr croppedThe sources either did not know or would not say whether Mueller, right, has answered the fundamental question he was hired to investigate: Whether Trump or anyone around him conspired with the Russian intelligence operations to help his campaign.

Mueller has not made public any evidence proving such a conspiracy, though he has rebutted in court filings the president's assertion that neither he nor any of his top aides had met or talked with Russians during the 2016 race. They did, according to Mueller; and, in the case of his lawyer's negotiations over a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump knew about it, court filings say.

Mueller has also examined the question whether the president obstructed justice, and is expected to address that matter in his report. Whether the special counsel will accuse the president of wrongdoing on that score is unclear.

Defense Secretary Resigns

ny times logoNew York Times, Jim Mattis, Marine General Turned Defense Secretary, Helene Cooper, Dec. 20, 2018. Will Leave Pentagon in February. Jim Mattis, the four-star Marine general turned defense secretary, will retire at the end of February, President Trump said on Thursday.

Mr. Mattis’ departure comes a day after the president announced his decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syria over the objections of senior military officials.

His departure leaves the Trump administration without one of the few officials viewed as standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.

james mattis owashington post logoWashington Post, Mattis, once one of ‘my generals,’ loses clout with Trump, Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 20, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s move to pull all U.S. troops from Syria is a clear rebuke of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, who has been repeatedly overruled in recent months and left out of key discussions.

Justice Expert Urges Whitaker Recusal

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. ethics official told Whitaker’s team he should recuse from Mueller probe, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky​,  Earlier, a department official had said the ethics office advised acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker he need not step aside. Hours later, people familiar with the situation disclosed that a senior ethics official told Whitaker advisers that he should recuse to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

matthew whitaker agA senior Justice Department ethics official concluded acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, left, should recuse from overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe examining President Trump, but advisers to Whitaker recommended the opposite and he has no plans to step aside, according to people familiar with the matter.

The latest account of what happened underscores the high stakes and deep distrust — within Congress and in some corners of the Justice Department — surrounding Whitaker’s appointment to become the nation’s top law enforcement official until the Senate votes on the nomination of William P. Barr to take the job.

Earlier Thursday, a different official, who spoke on the condition they not be named, said ethics officials had advised Whitaker need not step aside, only to retract that account hours later.

Syrian Decision

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends Syria decision amid backlash from lawmakers, fresh praise from Putin, John Wagner​, Dec. 20, 2018. The president said it was time for others to step up against the Islamic State and other hostile forces.

Department of Defense SealIn morning tweets, Trump selectively quoted lawmakers and political pundits who agreed with him and argued that the withdrawal was the fulfillment of a campaign pledge and that the United States should not play the role of “Policeman of the Middle East.”

“Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer,” Trump said in his tweets, adding: “Do we want to be there forever?”

More On Syria Pullout

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Why Trump Decided To Remove U.S. Troops From Syria, b, Dec. 20, 2018. ("b" is the pen-name for a German national blogger on global affairs who often focuses on the Middle East.) Last Friday, President Trump had another long phonecall with the Turkish President Erdogan. Thereafter he overruled all his advisors and decided to remove the U.S. boots from Syria and to also end the air war.

This was the first time Trump took a decisive stand against the borg, the permanent neoconservative and interventionist establishment in his administration, the military and congress, that usually dictates U.S. foreign policy. It was this decision, and that he stuck to it, which finally made him presidential.

mike pompeo portraitTrump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, his Secretary of Defense 'mad dog' Mattis and his Secretary of State Pompeo (right) were all against this decision. The specialist working on Syria, the lunatic (vid) special representative for Syria engagement James Jefferey and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, were taken by surprise. They had worked diligently to install a permanent U.S. presence in a Kurdish ruled proxy state in northeast Syria.

While these people first tried to change Trump's decision, their resistance has now ceased. “The push back from DOD, State and NSC stopped [Tuesday] night,” said one regional expert who consults with the US administration, referring to the Department of Defense, the State Department and the National Security Council.

Back in January we already explained why the neoconservative project of a Kurdish proxy state in northeast Syria was doomed from its start:

In this new big game Syria's northeast is just a sideshow and not worth a significant involvement. Trump decided that to prevent Turkey from leaving NATO, and from joining a deeper alliance with Russia, China and Iran, was more important than to further fool around at the margins of the Middle East. It is the right decision.

Media / Suspected Trafficking

sacha baron cohen as gio monaldo in who is america

Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Gio Monaldo (Showtime)

Newsweek, Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Who Is America?’ deleted scene may have exposed elite, Andrew Whalen, Dec. 20, 2018. In Sacha Baron newsweek logoCohen’s latest series, Who Is America?, the character comedian and provocateur nudged former and current Republican members of Congress into endorsing armed kindergartners, revealed anti-Muslim racism and got Dick Cheney to autograph a waterboarding kit. But there was one scene the Showtime series captured on camera that was too dark and extreme, even for Baron Cohen.

In a new interview with Deadline, Baron Cohen describes how the election of Donald Trump inspired him to get back into costume (“I realized, I have to do something else to deal with this kind of anger and total disgust at what was going on”) and explained the agonizing detail that went into fictional characters like former Mossad agent Erran Morad and far-right conspiracy theorist Billy Wayne Ruddick.

Along the way, Baron Cohen was astounded by the increase in open American racism. “When we were shooting Borat, if somebody said something anti-Semitic or homophobic, we were surprised and we knew that it would make the cut,” Baron Cohen told Deadline. “Now, going out all these years later, you realize that the political dialogue that’s come from the top has made an extremely negative impact on other politicians and to the populace. People are saying things that they never would have dreamed of saying publicly, prior to Trump.”

The interview also gives some new insight into how Baron Cohen gained Cheney’s confidence. “I think he felt happy and almost excited to sit in a room next to my character, because I had done the one thing that he hadn’t actually done. He’d ordered people to be killed but he never actually killed someone with his bare hands,” Baron Cohen said. “It’s a bit like a virgin sitting next to a womanizer and being enamored by them.”

But more than Cheney or the man he convinced to “murder” three people at the Women’s March (the interview subject triggered a fictional bomb), Baron Cohen’s most shocking encounter came when, in character as Italian playboy Gio Monaldo, he convinced a concierge to help him find an underaged boy to molest.

“We wanted to investigate how does someone like Harvey Weinstein gets away with doing what…get away with criminality, essentially. And the network that surrounds him. We decided that Gio would interview a concierge in Las Vegas,” Baron Cohen describes.

During the interview, believing the admission would drive the concierge from the room, Baron Cohen, as Gio, reveals that he’s molested an eight-year-old boy.

“This guy starts advising Gio how to get rid of this issue. We even at one point talk about murdering the boy, and the concierge is just saying, ‘well, listen, I’m really sorry. In this country, we can’t just drown the boy. This is America we don’t do that,’” Baron Cohen describes.

After the concierge offers to put Gio in touch with a lawyer who can help “silence the boy,” Baron Cohen asked for his help securing a date for the night.

“He says, ‘what do you mean, a date?’ I go, you know, like a young man. He says, ‘well, what kind of age?’ I say, lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight. And he says, ‘yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that.’”

Rather than airing the segment, Baron Cohen and his production team turned the footage over to the FBI, “because we thought, perhaps alexander acosta labor othere’s a pedophile ring in Las Vegas that’s operating for these very wealthy men. And this concierge had said that he’d worked for politicians and various billionaires.”

While Baron Cohen judged the interview too “dark” and “extreme” to be included in the show, it’s a revealing look at how the powerful can get away with decades-long sexual abuse, including pedophile sexual abuse, such as in the massive cover-up of the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein, orchestrated by President Trump’s Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, right.

Dec. 19

More Facebook Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Facebook Gave Tech Giants More Intrusive Data Access Than It Disclosed, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia and Nicholas Confessore, Dec. 19, 2018 (print edition). Internal records show that the social network had arrangements with Microsoft, Amazon and others, effectively exempting some partners from its usual privacy rules. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is shown in a file photo.

facebook logoFor years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet mark zuckerberg G8 summit deauville wof the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

washington post logocambridge analytica facebook logosWashington Post, D.C. attorney general sues Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Tony Romm, Craig Timberg and Aaron C. Davis, Dec. 19, 2018. The lawsuit marks the first major effort by U.S. regulators to penalize the social media giant for its entanglement with the firm.

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U.S. forces conducted a precision airstrike near Sarmada in northwest Syria Nov. 18 that Pentagon says killed a senior al-Qaida leader. (Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson)

Consortium News, Opinion: Don’t Hold Your Breath on US Troop Withdrawal from Syria, Patrick Lawrence, Dec. 19, 2018. It would be nice to think the president has final say on foreign policy, given the U.S. Constitution. But the misleading troop withdrawal announcement, followed by Trump’s boastful tweet, suggests the exact opposite.

The announcement on Wednesday that the U.S. will withdraw all remaining troops from Syria within the next month looked at first like a rare victory for Donald Trump in his admittedly erratic opposition to senseless wars of adventure. “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there,” the president tweeted with an unmistakable air of triumph.

Don’t get your hopes up. Just about everything in these initial reports is either wrong or misleading. One, the U.S. did not defeat the Islamic State: The Syrian Arab Army, aided by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah militias did. Two, hardly was ISIS the only reason the U.S. has maintained a presence in Syria. The intent for years was to support a coup against the Assad government in Damascus—in part by training and equipping jihadists often allied with ISIS. For at least the past six months, the U.S. military’s intent in Syria has been to counter Iranian influence.

Last and hardly least, the U.S. is not closing down its military presence in Syria. It is digging in for an indefinite period, making Raqqa the equivalent of the Green Zone in Baghdad. By the official count, there are 503 U.S. troops stationed in the Islamic State’s former capital. Unofficially, according to The Washington Post and other press reports, the figure is closer to 4,000—twice the number that is supposed to represent a “full withdrawal” from Syrian soil.

It would be nice to think Washington has at last accepted defeat in Syria, given it is preposterous to pretend otherwise any longer. Damascus is now well into its consolidation phase. Russia, Iran, and Turkey are currently working with Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, to form a committee in January to begin drafting a new Syrian constitution.

It would also be nice to think the president and commander-in-chief has the final say in his administration’s policies overseas, given the constitution by which we are supposed to be governed. But the misleading announcement on the withdrawal of troops, followed by Trump’s boastful tweet, suggest something close to exactly the opposite.

As Trump finishes his second year in office, the pattern is plain: This president can have all the foreign policy ideas he wants, but the Pentagon, State, the intelligence apparatus, and the rest of what some call “the deep state” will either reverse, delay, or never implement any policy not to its liking.

U.S. Troops To Leave Syria

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. plans to pull troops from Syria immediately, official says, Missy Ryan​, Dec. 19, 2018. The Trump administration is planning to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a defense official said on Wednesday, as President Trump declared victory against the Islamic State. The president, in a message on Twitter, said the United States had "defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."

 Department of Defense SealAmerican FlagHis statement came shortly after news organizations reported that the White House had made a decision on Tuesday to abruptly remove the entire U.S. force of more than 2,000 troops from Syria and end the extended American ground campaign against the Islamic State.

Trump has long promised to conclude the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and has questioned the value of costly and dangerous military missions overseas. But U.S. troops, working alongside Syrian partner forces, have struggled to eradicate remaining pockets of militants in central Syria. An abrupt American withdrawal would raise questions about whether the militants would be more easily able to regain strength.

The unexpected White House move comes as tensions increase sharply with NATO ally Turkey, which has promised to launch a military offensive against the U.S. partner forces in Syria, which Ankara considers part of a Kurdish terrorist group. Losing their U.S. ground partner will be a major blow to the Syrian Kurdish forces.

Judge Stuns Flynn, Supporters

washington post logoWashington Post, Flynn’s sentencing delayed; judge tells ex-Trump adviser, ‘Arguably, you sold your country out,’ Spencer S. Hsu, Matt emmet sullivan 2012Zapotosky and Carol D. Leonnig​, Dec. 19, 2018 (print edition). The judge said he could not guarantee he would spare Michael Flynn from prison — a stunning development as it had appeared that President Trump's former national security adviser would be able to avoid time behind bars for lying to the FBI. Related story: The Fix: Trump backers just had their anti-Mueller hopes dashed.

A federal judge on Tuesday postponed the sentencing for Michael Flynn after he lambasted President Trump’s former national security adviser for trying to undermine his own country and said he could not guarantee he would spare Flynn from prison.

The stunning development means that Flynn will have to be sentenced at a later date, when he can possibly convince a judge more thoroughly of how his cooperation has benefited law enforcement.

Flynn’s attorneys asked for the delay after U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (right) accused Flynn of acting as “an unregistered agent of a foreign country, while serving as the national security adviser to the president of the United States” — an allegation he later walked back. Sullivan granted the request and asked for a status report in 90 days, though he said he was “not making any promises” that he would view the matter differently in three months.

After reviewing some of the allegations against Flynn, including that he worked to advance the interests of the Turkish government in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign, the judge pointed to an American flag behind him in the courtroom and said heatedly, “Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out.

“The court’s going to consider that,” the judge said. “I cannot assure you, if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration.”

Flynn, standing straight and flanked by attorneys on either side, looked shaken, his jaw clenched. Sullivan declared a recess to let Flynn consider whether he wanted to proceed and let the judge impose a punishment, or to delay and cooperate more with the special counsel in hopes of leniency.

Deep State Perspectives

Midnight Writer News Podcast, 'Presidential Puppetry' with Andrew Kreig, Host S.T. Patrick, Dec. 19, 2018 (Episode 105). Andrew Kreig, the midnight writer news st patrickdirector of the Justice Integrity Project and the author of Presidential Puppetry, joins S.T. Patrick to discuss presidential politics of the last 40 years. What should we have known about George H.W. Bush, Bill & Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, John Kerry, John Edwards, and John McCain?

Kreig takes a non-partisan approach to dissecting the pros, cons, misdeeds, and motivations of American presidential and vice-presidential candidates, dating back decades. In the interview, Kreig covers the Bush dynasty, why Reagan chose Bush in 1980, presidential puppetry 2Bush and the October Surprise, the Willie Horton ad, The Election of 1992, Ross Perot’s deficiencies, what Fletcher Prouty still teaches us, the legitimacy of Bob Dole’s 1996 nomination, the value of Jack Kemp, Bush v Gore, The Two Johns: Kerry & Edwards, the real John McCain, and much more.

Kreig also discusses current events with us, including the Corsi/Stone vs Mueller situation and the unbelievable resolution of the Jeffery Epstein trial in Palm Beach. Andrew Kreig can be read and followed at the Justice Integrity Project.

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Change of Official Enemies under George H.W. Bush, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Dec. 19, 2018. Missing from all the accolades heaped on former President H.W. Bush, who passed away a few weeks ago, was the fact that Bush presided over the jacob hornberger headshotbiggest transition of official enemies of our country in the 70-year-old history of the U.S. national-security state.

From the time the U.S. government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state after World War II, the official enemy of the United States was the Soviet Union, a confederation of nations led by Russia. The reason given for selecting the Soviet Union as America’s official enemy was that it was led by a communist regime that was supposedly hell-bent on conquering and ruling the world, including the United States.

Not surprisingly, during the 45 years of the Cold War, the tax-funded largess flowed into the coffers of the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. No amount of tax-money largess was too much to prevent America from falling to the Reds.

In 1989, however, the Soviet Union suddenly and unexpectedly declared an end to the Cold War. In 1989, the U.S. national-security establishment lost its official enemy, and it was panicked. It knew that it needed an official enemy to keep Americans scared. If Americans weren’t scared of some official enemy, they might start asking an uncomfortable question: Why do we need a national-security state and why can’t we have our limited-government republic back?

george hw bush HRThat’s when H.W. came to the rescue. When Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait to settle an oil-drilling dispute, Bush declared that the United States now had a new official enemy, one who Bush and his national-security establishment said was as another Adolf Hitler. Amidst much pomp, fanfare, and fear, Bush ordered his army to invade Iraq to reverse Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

But Bush stopped short of removing Saddam from power, which enabled the U.S. national-security establishment to have a new official enemy for the next 11 years. “Saddam! Saddam! Saddam!” That’s all that Americans exclaimed during the entire 1990s. U.S. officials made certain that Americans were convinced that Saddam was coming to get them, especially with mustard gas, Anthrax, mushroom clouds, and other weapons of mass destruction. Americans were as afraid of Saddam as they had been of the communists.

Of course, in the process everyone forgot that Saddam had been a close partner and ally of the Pentagon and the CIA during the 1980s, when they were partnering together to kill Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War. Everyone also forgot that it was the United States that furnished Saddam with those WMDs in the first place, so that he could kill Iranians with them.

Dec. 18

9-11 Truth Analyzed On Radio

steve bhaerman wiki politiki

Wiki Politiki, The Latest REAL News on the 9/11 Attacks and Finding Truth in a Sea of Lies, Steve Bhaerman, 5 p.m., Dec. 18, 2018. An Interview with Andrew Kreig, Author, Attorney, Broadcaster and Founder of the Justice Integrity Project. Did you know that In a letter dated November 7, 2018, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York notified the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry that he would comply with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3332 requiring him to present to a special grand jury the Lawyers’ Committee’s reports filed earlier this year of unprosecuted federal crimes at the World Trade Center?

You didn’t? That’s because mainstream media makes it its business to insure that anything that points to the nefarious doings of the real deep state is “none of its business.” The misinformation, disinformation and missing information that pollute corporate news have created the perfect field for “real” fake news to flourish.

Which is why this latest development might be a genuine breakthrough. It means a 23-member grand jury, vested with subpoena power and the authority to take sworn testimony, will hear the voluminous evidence of the World Trade Center’s demolition and will have the ability to conduct a thorough investigation that could result in indictments against suspected individuals — in other words, what the 9/11 Truth Movement has been working toward for 17 years.

Our guest this week on Wiki Politiki, journalist and author Andrew Kreig (pronounced “Craig”) will discuss his own involvement with the Lawyers Committee, as well as his work through his own organization, the Justice Integrity Project.

Visit Justice Integrity, and you will find a refreshingly broad, transpartisan and bluntly truthful site that isn’t afraid to take on both the deep state and the Trumpist disinfo machine. Their mission is “to report misconduct, primarily in the justice and political systems, that harms individuals, communities and democratic values. The project is non-partisan and supported by advertising revenue and paid subscriptions.”

Dec. 16

The 5th Estate, Poppy Bush's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 4), Andrew Kreig, Dec. 16, 2018. The major American news organizations whitewashed the life and legacy of President George H. W. Bush. The 5th Estate, published by the courageous editor Robert Finnegan for a global readership, helps sets the record straight by here republishing in the four-part series "George H.W. Bush: Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest" drawn from 2015 updated edition of Presidential Puppetry by Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig.

The segment below, Part 4, covers presidential decision-making involving hoked up excuses for the first Iraq War; the Reagan-Bush domestic program of deregulation that helped enable fat cats (including one Bush son) to game the system during the Savings & Loan scandal; and an overall historical assessment. See also the three earlier segments on the 5th Estate about Bush, a former CIA director whose sinister family ties date back two generations from his own secretive and history-making roles before his presidency.

Dec. 10

Covert Action Magazine, William Blum, Renowned U.S. Foreign Policy Critic, Dead at 85, Chris Agee and Louis Wolf, Dec. 9, 2018. William Blum (1933 – 2018) died in Virginia early william blumthis morning on December 9, 2018. He was surrounded by friends and family after falling in his Washtington D.C. apartment and sustaining serious wounds 65 days ago. He was 85 years old.

Bill was born March 6, 1933 at Beth Moses Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. and became an American author, historian, and critic of United States foreign policy. He worked in a computer-related position at the United States Department of State in the mid-1960s. Initially an anti-communist with dreams of becoming a foreign service officer, he became disillusioned by the Vietnam War.

Blum left the State Department in 1967 and became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first “alternative” newspaper in the capital. In 1969, he wrote and published an exposé of the CIA in which were revealed the names and addresses of more than 200 CIA employees.

He worked as freelance journalist in the United States, Europe and South America. In 1972–1973 Blum worked as a journalist in Chile where he reported on the Allende government’s “socialist experiment.” Its overthrow in a CIA designed coup instilled in him a personal involvement and an even more heightened interest in what his government was doing in various corners of the world.

GregPalast.com, Bush Sr. Made a Killing – 50 Miners Buried Alive, Greg Palast, Dec. 10, 2018. While pundits were falling all over themselves spewing about the “civility” of the patrician George H. W. Bush, l must honor the memory of those 50 men who were buried alive in a gold field in Africa so Bush Sr. could cash in.

Dec. 7

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Chief Justice William Rehnquist swears in President George H. W. Bush in 1989 as Barbara Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle (above her) look on.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Bush 41: The Triumph of Manners Over Truth, Jeff Schechtman, Dec. 7, 2018. Russ Baker looks into the telltale heart of George H.W. Bush and the real (and tragically under-investigated) legacy of the Bush family. While President Donald Trump has used truculence, bluster, populism, and manufactured division to hide the true nature of his agenda, George Herbert Walker Bush used manners, civility, and grace to hide the truth of his and his family’s agenda.

Both are very similar in their objectives. Both have enabled the continued transfer of wealth to the upper echelons of society. Both have sought to protect the interests of corporations and rich friends. But as we witnessed this week, Bush and the Bush family were far more effective with honey than with vinegar.

To wrap up this week of seemingly non-stop hagiographic coverage of George H.W. Bush, Jeff Schechtman talks with Russ Baker about the Bush family and Baker’s blockbuster book Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years.

Dec. 6

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: The laughable fraud called "Pizzagate" diverts from actual child trafficking tied to Trump, Wayne Madsen (investigative reporter, author and former Navy intelligence officer), Dec. 6, 2018 (subscription required). Trump and his cronies are involved in covering up an international sex trafficking ring involving underage girls and boys.

Dec. 4

Down With Tyranny! Manafort Revelations Show Trump Team Crime, Legacy Of Injustice, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 4, 2018. Among the remarkable Mueller probe revelations last week was the claim that attorneys for former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort have been sharing confidential information about the special counsel’s investigation with the legal team of “Individual 1,” aka President Trump.

The New York Times broke the main story electronically on Nov. 27 under the headline, Manafort’s Lawyer Is Said to Have Briefed Trump Team on Mueller Talks. Reporters Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman wrote:

The controversy illustrates continuing tension between the federal enforcement “community” and the opportunists (or worse) who operate within the justice system or on its fringes. Such conflicts are especially important and outrageous as the Trump administration draws upon some of the very worst Bush administration attorneys.

Among the many such shocking situations, this column focuses on three such officials who have become extremely prominent and otherwise newsworthy, in part because of their ties to President Trump and his team.

• Manafort’s lead defense attorney, Kevin Downing, is a former senior litigator within the Justice Department’s tax fraud section, which missed a series of colossal tax frauds, including by Downing’s future client Manafort. Downing reportedly is also one of the attorneys involved in the liaison with the Trump White House that the New York Times reported last week;

• U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta as U.S. attorney for Miami in the Bush administration was involved both in major tax fraud cover-ups and also in whitewashing the federal-state prosecution of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein is a Trump friend and neighbor who is back in the news this week with the beginning of a major defamation trial in West Palm Beach, Florida; and

• Our third Bush-era former Justice Department official is Matthew Whitaker, whom Trump named as acting attorney general after Whitaker tried out for the job by arguing on cable news shows that Mueller’s investigation are excessive and unwarranted. Whitaker’s career includes a stint as a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Northern Iowa, where he vigorously prosecuted one of his political enemies whom a jury acquitted in just two hours.

george hw bush cia director after assassinations in Beirut june17 1976 NARA wh photo

CIA Director George H.W. Bush hears a briefing in 1976 on June 17 following the assassination of two Americans in Lebanon (David Kennerly photo now with the National Archives)

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Truthout, Opinion: George H.W. Bush Empowered Atrocity Abroad and Fascists at Home, William Rivers Pitt, Dec. 4, 2018. The television spent the entire weekend reminding me that George Herbert Walker Bush loved his country, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his dog, the city of Houston, the town of Kennebunkport, baseball, football, golf and so very much else besides.

Our 41st US president, the talking heads assured me, was a veritable ocean of love. The newspaper folks did their part to paint this picture, as well; stealing a leaf from Jesus of Nazareth over the weekend, Bush Sr. died and rose again on the warm updraft of early 1990s B-roll footage and gushing headlines from all corners of the country.

The hagiography festival made a particularly grand to-do about the fact that George H.W. Bush was president when the Cold War ended. What the glowing obituaries obscured, however, was that Bush Sr. was a Cold Warrior of the first order, actively involved in a number of genuine atrocities that spanned the globe.

Most of Bush Sr.’s biography has been well documented for good and ill, but his time at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seldom discussed in this hemisphere. He spent only a year in that job, but it was one of the bloodiest years South America has ever known. Fifteen years later, he personally, if inadvertently, opened the door for the proto-fascist takeover of his own party. Those two tales, combined with some other dark chapters of Bush Sr.’s life, frame a career in power and politics that did damage most everywhere it went.

CIA LogoAs director of the CIA from 1976 to 1977, Bush Sr. was an integral part of a US government covert terrorism/torture program in South America. Known as Operation Condor by the participants, the program was aimed at destroying left-leaning governments and organizations they feared might come to support the Soviet Union. Forty years later, the horror and chaos unleashed by Operation Condor still plagues that region, and is a fair explanation for why massive caravans of asylum-seeking migrants continue to arrive at the US-Mexico border.

Documents that were recently declassified reveal that the “Dirty War” in Argentina, the Augusto Pinochet regime in Chile, Alfredo Stoessner’s dictatorship in Paraguay and other atrocities across the continent were actively supported by the US government. Thousands of leftist peasants, union leaders, teachers, students, priests, and nuns were slaughtered, imprisoned and tortured, and George Herbert Walker Bush went to work every day at CIA headquarters to make sure it happened.

Many years later, when Bush Sr. rose to accept the Republican nomination for president in 1988, he made a fateful promise. “Read my lips,” he told the enthusiastic crowd, “no new taxes.” He broke that pledge in 1990, and in doing so dropped an atomic bomb on politics in the United States. Breaking that pledge infuriated the conservative wing of his party, which was deeply suspicious of Bush’s internationalist leanings to begin with.

The fascist upswelling that came in the wake of his broken campaign promise is as much a part of Bush Sr.’s legacy as the crisis at the southern border. Operation Condor happened even though the TV people this weekend chose to leave it off the script. The GOP’s neo-fascist twist erupted during Sr.’s administration. Both are side effects of the Cold War that will be with us for many years to come, and deserve their own wing in Bush Sr.’s library down in College Station.

Dec. 3

Washington Post, Opinion: Bush practiced a CIA omerta that may have died with him, Tim Weiner, Dec. 3, 2018.  It was his spy service, right or wrong, and he protected it at all costs. George H.W. Bush loved the CIA. It was “part of my heartbeat,” he once said. He was the only president who ever ran the agency, and the last president who truly believed in its Cold War code: Admit nothing, deny everything.

CIA LogoThe wall of silence cracked during the administration of Bush’s successor, Bill Clinton, when the FBI’s arrest of Aldrich Ames, a Russian mole who went undetected by the CIA for nine years, led the agency’s directors to denounce systemic flaws in the CIA’s integrity. The wall crumbled when the 9/11 Commission disclosed the CIA’s dead-wrong reporting on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a false case for a brutal war led by Bush’s son. By the time reporters brought to light the CIA’s secret prisons and its torture of terrorism suspects — the torture authorized by that son — the wall was dust.

Everything we know about the late president suggests that he might have been privately appalled by these failures of common law and common sense. But he never said anything — not in public. The CIA was his spy service, right or wrong. He protected it at all costs. Tim Weiner's reporting and writing on national security have won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He is the author of “Enemies: A History of the FBI” and “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.”

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washington post logoWashington Post, The Cuban spy and Watergate burglar who won a presidential pardon, Shane O’Sullivan, Dec. 3, 2018. How Cuba and the Kennedy assassination led to the pardon of Rolando Eugenio Martínez.

In anticipation of the Mueller report, political commentators and historians have drawn numerous parallels with Watergate and the impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon. A month after Nixon’s resignation in August 1974, President Gerald R. Ford pardoned him. But history has forgotten the only other man granted a presidential pardon for his role in the Watergate crimes, and why the pardon was given.

Watergate burglar Rolando Eugenio Martínez was a veteran of more than 300 infiltration missions into Cuba for the CIA during the secret war on Fidel Castro in the early 1960s. He was also the only Watergate burglar still on the agency’s payroll at the time of the break-in.

He was recruited for the Watergate operation by E. Howard Hunt, the former CIA liaison to the Cuban “government in exile” in Miami before the Bay of Pigs invasion. By the summer of 1971, Hunt had retired from the agency and taken up a new job as a security consultant for the Nixon White House.

Incensed by the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Nixon ordered a smear campaign against whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, so Hunt recruited Martínez and two other Cubans to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, Calif. Their goal? To find embarrassing secrets that could destroy Ellsberg’s reputation in the press. Hunt subsequently employed an expanded Cuban team to break into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee in May and June 1972.

Amid rumors that Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern had financial support from Cuba, Hunt sent Martínez into DNC headquarters to find and photograph documentary evidence of collusion between Democrats and Castro. Martínez believed the Ellsberg and Watergate break-ins were “national security” operations being run through Hunt at the White House with the blessing of the CIA. After all, the agency was still paying Martínez a retainer of a hundred dollars a month to report on Cubans of intelligence interest arriving in Miami, and he had repeatedly told his case officer about his contact with Hunt.

Shane O’Sullivan is a documentary filmmaker, senior lecturer in filmmaking at Kingston University, London and author of the new book, “Dirty Tricks: Nixon, Watergate and the CIA."

Dec. 1

usa today logoUSA Today, George H.W. Bush, the 41st U.S. president and father of the 43rd, has died at age 94, Susan Page and Judy Keen, Nov. 30, 2018. George Herbert Walker Bush, george hw bush HRthe president who managed the end of the Cold War and forged a global coalition to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait, has died at age 94. In a political career that spanned three decades, he lost his bid for re-election, lived to see his son win the Oval Office and then, in a turn worthy of Shakespeare, died soon after Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years. He is shown in a 1989 official photo.

The death of Bush — nicknamed "41" to distinguish himself from son George W. Bush, "43" — was announced by spokesman Jim McGrath.

"Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died," his son, 43rd President George W. Bush, said in a state released by McGrath. "George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest charcater and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.

LewRockwell.com, Opinion: George Herbert Walker Bush, Charles Burris, Dec. 1, 2018. George H. W. Bush is dead. Regime journalists across the nation are scrambling to compose obituary prose concerning the late president. Here are hard cold facts which will not be included in such puerile accounts.

peter brewton“Former reporter for the Houston Post, Pete Brewton [right, now a professor of journalism and law at Texas Tech University], tells of one of the most momentous stories of the past 50 years and how it has been suppressed by the establishment media and the Congress. Pete’s book The Mafia, CIA and George Bush, shows the incredible complexity of the relationships in the operation of the destruction of hundreds of Savings and Loans at the hands of the CIA and the Mafia, stealing peter brewton bush mafia covermany billions of dollars in the process, and leaving the taxpayers to bailout the banks.

Big names at the state and national levels of power are involved, including Lloyd Bentsen, the Bush family, and power brokers in Houston. People such as Charles Keating and Don Dixon, who are mentioned prominently in the press in connection with the S & L debacle, were merely front men or “cutouts” for the main movers. Keating and his ilk only took millions; the CIA and the Mafia looted billions.”

In his classic book on power elite analysis, The Yankee and Cowboy War, researcher Carl Oglesby divided up the Post-WWII American ruling class into two internecine factions: the northeastern seaboard Yankees versus the Sunbelt nouveau riche Cowboys. The amazing political success of George Herbert Walker Bush was his uncanny ability to stand astride and have one foot firmly planted in each of these competing factions.

Essential to understanding the Bush legacy is the historical background of the 1980 October Surprise when key individuals of the Reagan/Bush campaign covertly met with top members of the Iranian government to prevent the release of the 55 Americans held hostage in Tehran before the November election, ensuring the defeat of Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter. The hostages were released on the day Ronald Reagan took office. Critical arm shipments, materiel and military supplies soon began flowing to the Khomeini regime, years before the more widely known Iran-Contra Scandal, which almost brought down the Reagan administration.

Barbara Honegger worked as a researcher at the Hoover Institution before joining the Ronald Reagan administration as a researcher and policy analyst in 1980. She was the Director of the Attorney General’s Anti-Discrimination Law Review at the Department of Justice. After leaving Washington, she became the Senior Military Affairs Journalist for the barbara honeggerNaval Postgraduate School.

While working for Reagan, she discovered information that convinced her that George H. W. Bush and William Casey had conspired to make sure that Iran did not release the U.S. hostages until Jimmy Carter had been defeated in the 1980 presidential election.

In 1987, Honegger began leaking information to journalists about the Reagan administration.

However, it was not until Reagan left office that Honegger published October Surprise (1989). In her book, Honegger claimed that in 1980 William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

russ baker cover CustomFor more on the sordid backstory of epic criminality of Bush see the following volumes:

The Mafia, CIA & George Bush, by Pete Brewton; Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put It In The White House, And What Their Influence Means For America, by Russ Baker; American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, by Kevin Phillips; peter dale scottSecrecy And Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, by Robert Parry; American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan, by Peter Dale Scott (shown at right); Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, by Terry Reed and John Cummings; and The Iran Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era, by Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter.

[See also: George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin.]

george hw bush george w bush 2001

ny times logoNew York Times, George H.W. Bush, Who Steered Nation Through Turbulent Era, Dies at 94, Adam Nagourney, Dec. 1, 2018 (print edition). Mr. Bush, a Republican, was the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd [shown together above in a 2001 photo in the White House Oval Officie]. He was the last of the World War II generation to occupy the Oval Office. His one-term presidency during the tumultuous period at the end of the Cold War capped four decades in public service.

Mr. Bush had a form of Parkinson’s disease that forced him to use a wheelchair or motorized scooter in recent years, and he had been in and out of hospitals during that time as his health declined. In April, a day after attending Mrs. Bush’s funeral, he was treated for an infection that had spread to his blood. In 2013, he was in dire enough shape with bronchitis that former President George W. Bush, his son, solicited ideas for a eulogy.

But he proved resilient each time. In 2013 he told well-wishers, through an aide, to “put the harps back in the closet.”

Roll Call, A Life in Photos: George H.W. Bush, Gillian Roberts, Dec 1, 2018. The 41st president died Friday at 94. George H.W. Bush died Friday at 94. The 41st president — and 43rd vice president, and onetime congressman, CIA director, United Nations ambassador, Republican National Committee chairman, oil tycoon and World War II naval pilot — was also father to the 43rd president, George W. Bush.

The younger Bush in a statement Friday remembered Bush Sr. as “a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.”

Roll Call delved into its archives to remember the former president’s days in D.C.

Mueller Probe

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Mueller Exposes the Culture of Lying That Surrounds Trump, Sharon LaFraniere, Dec. 1, 2018. The president has demanded loyalty of advisers, including an embrace of his habitual boasts, misstatements and outright falsehoods; Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, asked a judge that he be allowed to avoid prison when he is sentenced.

When Michael D. Cohen admitted this past week to lying to Congress about a Russian business deal, he said he had testified falsely out of loyalty to President Trump. When he admitted this summer to lying on campaign finance records about payments to cover up a sex scandal during the campaign, he said it was at Mr. Trump’s direction.

paul manafort mugPaul Manafort, left, and Rick Gates, former senior Trump campaign officials, lied to cover up financial fraud. George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide, lied in hopes of landing an administration job. And Michael T. Flynn, another adviser, lied about his interactions with a Russian official and about other matters for reasons that remain unclear.

robert mueller kit fox medill flickr croppedIf the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, right, has proved anything in his 18-month-long investigation — besides how intensely Russia meddled in an American presidential election — it is that Mr. Trump surrounded himself throughout 2016 and early 2017 with people to whom lying seemed to be second nature.

They lied to federal authorities even when they had lawyers advising them, even when the risk of getting caught was high and even when the consequences for them were dire.

LewRockwell.com, Opinion: George Herbert Walker Bush, Charles Burris, Dec. 1, 2018. George H. W. Bush is dead. Regime journalists across the nation are scrambling to compose obituary prose concerning the late president. Here are hard cold facts which will not be included in such puerile accounts.

“Former reporter for the Houston Post, Pete Brewton tells of one of the most momentous stories of the past 50 years and how it has been suppressed by the establishment media and the Congress. Pete’s book The Mafia, CIA and George Bush, shows the incredible complexity of the relationships in the operation of the destruction of hundreds of Savings and Loans at the hands of the CIA and the Mafia, stealing many billions of dollars in the process, and leaving the taxpayers to bailout the banks.

November

Nov. 28

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Roger Stone on C-SPAN

Lawfare, Opinion: Roger Stone’s ‘Time in the Barrel’: Campaign Dirty Tricks, Political Sabotage and the Law, Bob Bauer, Nov. 28, 2018. Bob Bauer served as White House Counsel to President Obama. In 2013, the President named Bob to be Co-Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. He is a Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law, as well as the co-director of the university's Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic.

Roger Stone is pleased to be known as a campaign “dirty trickster.” A former Trump campaign aide and Republican operative, he has embraced his past as practitioner of the political dark arts. “One man’s dirty tricks,” he has said, are “another man’s political, civic action. He has warned that “Politics ain’t bean bag, and losers don’t legislate.” Going still further, he has articulated as one of his “rules” for success that “To win you must do everything.” Yet he has also insisted that, “Everything I do, everything I’ve ever done has been legal.”

This claim is now likely to be put to the test. News reports increasingly suggest that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is circling around Roger Stone and his associates in the Russia matter and that the legality of his “dirty tricks” is very much in question.

Stone’s argument that ”it’s all just politics” is close in kind to the First Amendment protection defenses that the Trump campaign has claimed it enjoys even if, as alleged, it had contacts with Russia and WikiLeaks. Like those defenses, Stone’s claims will be evaluated in the light of the still emerging but increasingly troubling facts of the campaign and its associates’ active connivance with the Russian cyber attack on the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign. As the Watergate prosecutions showed, dirty tricks pursued to sabotage an opposing campaign are very much a legal issue. They are not easily passed off as good old-fashioned hardball politics, the kind that “ain’t beanbag”—especially when, as in this case, the fellow tricksters are a foreign government and its agents.

Nov. 26

Feds Promise 9/11 Evidence Review

9 11 lawyers committee logo

Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, U.S. Attorney Agrees To Comply With Federal Law Requiring Submission To Special Grand Jury Of Report By Lawyers’ Committee and 9/11 Victim Family Members of Yet-To-Be- Prosecuted 9/11 Related Federal Crimes, Mick Harrison (Lawyers Committee litigation director), Nov. 26, 2018. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman (shown below at right) wrote on 7 November that his office will comply with the Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition.

geoffrey berman sdnyThe Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, a nonprofit public interest organization, announces its receipt of a letter from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in response to the Lawyers’ Committee’s April 10, 2018 Petition and July 30, 2018 Amended Petition demanding that the U.S. Attorney present to a Special Grand Jury extensive evidence of yet-to-be-prosecuted federal crimes relating to the destruction of three World Trade Center Towers on 9/11 (WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7).

The U.S. Attorney, in his November 7, 2018 letter to the Lawyers’ Committee, stated: “We have received and reviewed The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Inc.’s submissions of April 10 and July 30, 2018. We will comply with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3332 as they relate to your submissions” (emphasis added).

The U.S. Attorney’s letter does not spell out the steps that will be taken to comply, but 18 U.S.C. § 3332 is clear as to what these steps must be.

This letter from the U.S. Attorney was signed by Michael Ferrara and Ilan Graff, Chiefs, Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. On November 24, 2018, the Lawyers’ Committee replied, thanking the U.S. Attorney and expressing support for a thorough inquiry into the crimes reported in the Lawyers’ Committee’s petitions.

911 world trade center creative commonsThe Lawyers’ Committee’s April 10th 52-page original Petition was accompanied by 57 exhibits and presented extensive evidence that explosives were used to destroy three WTC buildings. That evidence included independent scientific laboratory analysis of WTC dust samples showing the presence of high-tech explosives and/or incendiaries; numerous first-hand reports by First Responders of explosions at the WTC on 9/11; expert analysis of seismic evidence that explosions occurred at the WTC towers on 9/11 prior to the airplane impacts and prior to the building collapses; and expert analysis by architects, engineers, and scientists concluding that the rapid onset symmetrical near-free-fall acceleration collapse of three WTC high rise buildings on 9/11 exhibited the key characteristics of controlled demolition. The Lawyers’ Committee’s July 30th Amended Petition addresses several additional federal crimes beyond the federal bombing crime addressed in the original Petition. The Lawyers’ Committee concluded in the petitions that explosive and incendiary devices preplaced at the WTC were detonated causing the complete collapse of the WTC Twin Towers on 9/11 and increasing the tragic loss of life.

Attorney Mick Harrison, Litigation Director, stated: “The failure of our government to diligently investigate this disturbing evidence has contributed to the erosion of trust in our institutions. The Lawyers’ Committee felt it was out duty as public citizens to submit this evidence to the U.S. Attorney for submission to the Special Grand Jury.”

Attorney David Meiswinkle, President of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Board of Directors, stated: “We have offered to assist the U.S. Attorney in the presentation of this evidence to a Special Grand Jury. We have also requested that Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth provide us expert support in the hope that our organizations will be invited to make a joint presentation of relevant evidence to the Special Grand Jury.”

Attorney William Jacoby, Lawyers’ Committee Board Member, stated: “We call upon the public and legal community to contact us and support our efforts to contribute to this grand jury process and to monitor and ensure compliance by the Justice Department.”

Executive Director Ed Asner stated: “The U.S. Attorney’s decision to comply with the Special Grand Jury Statute regarding our petitions is an important step towards greater transparency and accountability regarding the tragic events of 9/11.”

Nov. 24

The Guardian, Opinion: If Trump is cornered, the judges he disdains may finally bring him down, Walter Shapiro, Nov. 24, 2018. The president thinks justice only matters as it affects him. As his defenders fall away, he may find this all too painfully true.

john roberts oA rational president, who had just bludgeoned Brett Kavanaugh onto the supreme court, would not jeopardize the long-awaited conservative majority by picking a fight with Chief Justice John Roberts, right. But rationality has never been Donald Trump’s strong suit when it comes to dealing with the judiciary.

Many phrases might describe Roberts’ 13 years as chief justice since he was appointed by George W Bush, but “hot-headed” is not among them. It presumably took dozens of provocations before he yielded to the temptation to instruct the president that with an independent judiciary, “we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.”

Trump’s concept of justice pivots around a simple question: “Is it good for me or bad for me?”

Nothing better illustrates Trump’s solipsistic approach to crime and punishment than the recent revelation by the New York Times that last spring he talked about ordering the justice department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey.

As he pursued such thuggish fantasies, it is possible Trump was influenced by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who had imprisoned hundreds of his political foes in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. (That, of course, was the more benevolent version of Prince Mohammed, before he became closely associated with a bone saw.)

In the American version of such a dragnet, you might see Robert Mueller confined to a room next to Elizabeth Warren with a couple of dozen recalcitrant federal judges down the hall. Of course, the incarcerated would be residing in a Trump hotel – and the president would be billing the federal government at inflated rates for its use.

The final line of defense of democratic values are judges and top law enforcement officials who answer to a higher loyalty than fealty to Trump. It would be both bracing and ironic if the president were ultimately thwarted by black-robed figures.

washington post logoWashington Post, In book, Trump allies call out government officials, alleging they are 'embedded enemies,' Philip Rucker​, Nov. 24, 2018. Two of the president’s longest-serving advisers allege in a new book that scores of officials inside the White House, Congress, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies are “embedded enemies of President Trump” working to stymie his agenda and delegitimize his presidency.

The authors, Corey R. Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, are both Republican operatives who do not work in the administration but are close to Trump and fashion themselves as his outside protectors. They portray the president as victim to disloyalty on his staff and “swamp creatures” intent on extinguishing his political movement.

Their book, Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency, which is being released Tuesday and was obtained in advance by The Washington Post, paints a dark and at times conspiratorial portrait of Trump’s Washington. The authors identify by name a number of Trump appointees who they claim have formed a “resistance” inside the government during the first two years of Trump’s presidency.

Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign manager, and Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager, enjoy personal relationships with Trump and traveled with him on campaign trips this year. But some White House aides are said to be suspicious of their motives and worry about them influencing the president — including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who routinely restricted their access to the West Wing, the authors write

Moon of Alabama, Investigative commentary: British Government Runs Secret Anti-Russian Smear Campaigns, b, Nov. 24, 2018. In 2015 the government of Britain launched a secret United Kingdom flagoperation to insert anti-Russia propaganda into the western media stream. We have already seen many consequences of this and similar programs which are designed to smear anyone who does not follow the anti-Russian government lines. The 'Russian collusion' smear campaign against Donald Trump based on the Steele dossier was also a largely British operation but seems to be part of a different project.

The 'Integrity Initiative' builds 'cluster' or contact groups of trusted journalists, military personal, academics and lobbyists within foreign countries. These people get alerts via social media to take action when the British center perceives a need.

On June 7 it took the Spanish cluster only a few hours to derail the appointment of Perto Banos as the Director of the National Security Department in Spain. The cluster determined that he had a too-positive view of Russia and launched a coordinated social media smear campaign (pdf) against him.

The Initiative and its operations were unveiled when someone liberated some of its documents, including its budget applications to the British Foreign Office, and posted them under the 'Anonymous' label at cyberguerrilla.org.

The Initiative is nominally run under the (government financed) non-government-organisation The Institute For Statecraft. Its internal handbook (pdf) describes its purpose:

The Integrity Initiative was set up in autumn 2015 by The Institute for Statecraft in cooperation with the Free University of Brussels (VUB) to bring to the attention of politicians, atlantic council logopolicy-makers, opinion leaders and other interested parties the threat posed by Russia to democratic institutions in the United Kingdom, across Europe and North America.

It lists Bellingcat and the Atlantic Council as "partner organisations" and promises that:

"Cluster members will be sent to educational sessions abroad to improve the technical competence of the cluster to deal with disinformation and strengthen bonds in the cluster community. [...] (Events with DFR Digital Sherlocks, Bellingcat, EuVsDisinfo, Buzzfeed, Irex, Detector Media, Stopfake, LT MOD Stratcom – add more names and propose cluster participants as you desire)."

The Initiatives Orwellian slogan is 'Defending Democracy Against Disinformation'. It covers European countries, the UK, the U.S. and Canada and seems to want to expand to the Middle East.

NATOOn its About page it claims: "We are not a government body but we do work with government departments and agencies who share our aims." The now published budget plans show that more than 95% of the Initiative's funding is coming directly from the British government, NATO and the U.S. State Department. All the 'contact persons' for creating 'clusters' in foreign countries are British embassy officers. It amounts to a foreign influence campaign by the British government that hides behind a 'civil society' NGO.

The organisation is led by one Chris N. Donnelly (shown in a Euromaidanpress photo) who receives £8,100 per month for creating the smear campaign chris donnelly via euromaidanpressnetwork.

The Initiative has a black-and-white view that is based on a "we are the good ones" illusion. When "we" 'educate the public' it is legitimate work. When others do similar, it its disinformation. That is of course not the reality. The Initiative's existence itself, created to secretly manipulate the public, is proof that such a view is wrong.

If its work were as legit as it wants to be seen, why would the Foreign Office run it from behind the curtain as an NGO? The Initiative is not the only such operation.

A look at the 'clusters' set up in U.S. and UK shows some prominent names. Members of the Atlantic Council, which has a contract to censor Facebook posts, appear on several cluster lists. The UK core cluster also includes some prominent names like tax fraudster William Browder, the daft Atlantic Council shill Ben Nimmo and the neo-conservative Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum.

state dept map logo SmallOne person of interest is Andrew Wood who handed the Steele 'dirty dossier' to Senator John McCain to smear Donald Trump over alleged relations with Russia. A separate subcluster of so-called journalists names Deborah Haynes, David Aaronovitch of the London Times, Neil Buckley from the FT and Jonathan Marcus of the BBC. The programme is proposed to run until at least March 2019, to ensure that the clusters established in each country have sufficient time to take root, find funding, and demonstrate their effectiveness. FCO funding for Phase 2 will enable the activities to be expanded in scale, reach and scope.

The budget plan includes a section that describes 'Risks' to the initiative. These include hacking of the Initiatives IT as well as: "Adverse publicity generated by Russia or by supporters of Russia in target countries, or by political and interest groups affected by the work of the programme, aimed at discrediting the programme or its participants, or to create political embarrassment."

We hope that this piece contributes to such embarrassment.

Nov. 22

john roberts twitter

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, nominated by GOP President George W. Bush (file photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Rebuking Trump’s criticism of ‘Obama judge,’ Chief Justice Roberts defends judiciary as ‘independent,’ Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 22, 2018 (print edition). U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday issued an extraordinary statement in response to President Trump’s criticism of federal judges, one day after the president blamed an “Obama judge” for ruling against his administration’s ban on asylum for those who cross the border illegally.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement released the day before Thanksgiving. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

“That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for,” the statement concluded.

On Tuesday, Trump had told reporters outside the White House that he would file a “major complaint” against the federal judge who temporarily blocked his administration from denying asylum to migrants who illegally cross the southern border. See below for related articles on immigration and the courts.

Nov. 21

JFK Assassination

jfk jeff morley james dieugenio russ baker 2018 whowhatwhy

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, JFK Assassination: Still Searching for Answers, Staff report, Nov. 21, 2018. It’s been 55 years since JFK was gunned down in Dallas. WhoWhatWhy founding editor Russ Baker and two other well-respected researchers, authors Jefferson Morley of JFKFacts.org and James DiEugenio of KennedysandKing.org, discuss what they’ve learned since then — and what remains in the shadows.

Fifty-five years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. The widely accepted narrative for all these many decades is that he was murdered by lone-wolf gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Yet the evidence is overwhelming that there was at least one other shooter present in Dealey Plaza. Skeptical? There’s really only one piece of evidence you need to see in order to overcome your doubts.

Saudi Murder

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Stands Up for Saudi Arabian Values, Editorial Board, Nov. 21, 2018 (print edition). He disregarded the C.I.A.’s conclusions and American values in swallowing the Saudi version of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

President Trump confirmed the harshest caricatures drawn by America’s most cynical critics on Tuesday when he portrayed its central objectives in the world as panting after money and narrow self-interest.

Ignoring the findings of the C.I.A., Mr. Trump said in a muddled statement released by the White House that, in effect, no matter how wrong the murder of the journalist Jamal mohammed bin salman al saudKhashoggi, no matter where true responsibility lay, he would not stand up to the Saudi regime. He would not take any chance of risking its supplies of money, oil and help in the Middle East by holding the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right, accountable for the killing.

Roll Call, Corker: White House Like a ‘Public Relations Firm’ for Saudi Arabia, Griffin Connolly, Nov. 21, 2018. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was “really astounded” by President Donald Trump’s apparent dismissal of U.S. intelligence assessments that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

bob corker closeup“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Corker, shown in a file photo, said in statement on Twitter Tuesday, in response to a statement put out by the White House casting doubt on the Saudi government’s involvement in the journalist’s slaying.

Corker and Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on his committee, sent a letter to Trump on Tuesday to determine within 120 days whether bin Salman “is responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder.”

Corker indicated Tuesday that he was not remotely satisfied with the president’s statement that ran counter to the CIA’s claim that it has intelligence substantiating bin Salman’s involvement in Khashoggi’s killing.

“‘Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t’ won’t cut it,” Corker tweeted Tuesday. Trump has provided at least two reasons for his reticence to hold the Saudi government and the crown prince, to account: the military-industrial complex and oil.

Nov. 20

hillary clinton gage skidmore Small

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaiging in 2016 (Gage Skidmore photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and Clinton, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 20, 2018. President Trump sought in the spring to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James B. Comey, but the White House counsel said the move could lead to impeachment.

The episode was a blatant example of how Mr. Trump saw the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be used against his political enemies.

james comey fbiPresident Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, shown at left, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, right, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request don mcgahn cato screengraban investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.

The encounter was one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr. Trump views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. It took on additional significance in recent weeks when Mr. McGahn left the White House and Mr. Trump appointed a relatively inexperienced political loyalist, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting attorney general.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump read Mr. McGahn’s memo or whether he pursued the prosecutions further. But the president has continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey, according to two people who have spoken to Mr. Trump about the issue. He has also repeatedly expressed disappointment in the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, for failing to more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton, calling him weak, one of the people said.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Commentary: Wait, Donald Trump tried to do WHAT to Hillary Clinton and James Comey? Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 20, 2018. Donald Trump sought the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton and James Comey back in April of this year, and it’s just now becoming public, thanks to the New York Times. As the story goes, Trump’s effort was stymied by then-White House Counsel Don McGahn, who warned him that these phony prosecutions could lead to Trump’s own impeachment and ouster.

It’s worth pointing out that every time one of these stories about Donald Trump’s overreach has surfaced over the past year, Don McGahn is always conveniently portrayed as the hero. This strongly suggests that McGahn is the source for these stories, and that he’s been putting them out there in order to distance himself from Trump’s crime spree. But despite the obvious bias involved here, there is no reason to believe that McGahn is making this up.

It’s notable that McGahn – if he is indeed the source on this – is choosing to leak it to the public right now, just as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to make his big moves against Donald Trump. This paints Trump as a criminally and psychotically out of control would-be dictator who truly did try to imprison Hillary simply for being his political opponent, and imprison Comey simply for doing his job as a law enforcement official.

nbc news logoNBC News, Trump submits written answers to Robert Mueller's questions, Allan Smith, Nov. 20, 2018. President Donald Trump's legal team submitted his written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller's questions on Tuesday, Trump attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani said in a Tuesday statement.

"It has been our position from the outset that much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry," Giuliani said in a statement. "This remains our position today. The President has nonetheless provided unprecedented cooperation. The Special Counsel has been provided with more than 30 witnesses, 1.4 million pages of material, and now the President's written responses to questions. It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion."

Earlier Tuesday, Trump told reporters outside the White House that his attorneys have his answers and assumed they would "turn them in today or soon."

Trump Whitewashes Saudi Murderjamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Killing, Mark Landler, Nov. 20, 2018. President Trump declared his unswerving loyalty to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on Tuesday, declaring that the prince’s culpability in the killing of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, right, might never be known.

jamal kahshoggi“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Mr. Trump said in a remarkable, eight-paragraph, exclamation-point laden statement that appeared calculated to end debate over the American response to Mr. Khashoggi’s killing.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Mr. Trump said in the statement, which read like a verbatim transcript of the president’s off-the-cuff musings. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump defends Saudi Arabia’s denial about death of Khashoggi, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 20, 2018.  President Trump issued a statement that defended Saudi Arabia, questioned the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and effectively declared the issue closed — as far as he was concerned.

djt smiling filePresident Trump issued an exclamation-mark packed statement Tuesday defending Saudi Arabia, undermining the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and effectively declaring closed the debate over whether to stand by the kingdom.

The United States “may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder,” Trump said, noting that both King Salman and his son, Mohammed, “vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” which Trump called a “crime.”

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said, contradicting the CIA’s high-confidence assessment that Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

Ivanka's Private Emails

washington post logoWashington Post, Ivanka Trump used a personal account to send emails about government business, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 20, 2018 (print edition). Ethics officials learned Trump sent hundreds of emails last year. Some advisers to President Trump feared that his daughter’s practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton. Ivanka Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.

ivanka trump in 2011The White House referred requests for comment to Ivanka Trump’s attorney and ethics counsel, Abbe Lowell.

In a statement, Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Lowell, acknowledged that the president’s daughter, right, occasionally used her private email before she was briefed on the rules, but he said none of her messages contained classified information.

Austin Evers, executive director of the liberal watchdog group American Oversight, whose record requests sparked the White House discovery, said it strained credulity that Trump’s daughter did not know that government officials should not use private emails for official business.

“There’s the obvious hypocrisy that her father ran on the misuse of personal email as a central tenet of his campaign,” Evers said. “There is no reasonable suggestion that she didn’t know better. Clearly everyone joining the Trump administration should have been on high alert about personal email use.”

washington post logoWashington Post, House panel to investigate Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email, Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz, Nov. 20, 2018. The House Oversight Committee plans to investigate whether Ivanka Trump violated federal law by using a personal email account for government business, the panel’s incoming chairman, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), said Tuesday.

elijah cummings oIn a statement, Cummings said the committee launched a bipartisan investigation last year into White House officials’ use of personal email accounts, but the White House did not provide the requested information.

“We need those documents to ensure that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other officials are complying with federal records laws and there is a complete record of the activities of this Administration,” Cummings said.

In what appeared to be an acknowledgment of the potential risk of a backlash against Democrats for aggressively probing the Trump administration, Cummings also emphasized that his focus upon becoming chairman of the committee will be to address the everyday issues impacting Americans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the mainstream media is suddenly setting Ivanka Trump on fire, Bill Palmer, Nov. 19, 2018. There is major breaking news this evening, reported by the Washington Post and then echoed by outlets like MSNBC, about Ivanka Trump having used personal email for government business last year.

Here’s the thing: this isn’t news. Not even close. In fact Palmer Report covered it more than a year ago. It’s not as if we had some exclusive information; Ivanka’s email scandal was well known and well documented at the time. So what’s suddenly happening here?

Mueller's Trump Probe

bill palmerPalmer Report, Commentary: Robert Mueller makes major new filing in the mysterious grand jury proceedings that appear to be against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 20, 2018. A few weeks ago, we all became aware that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has spent the past couple months pushing the courts to compel someone to comply with a grand jury subpoena. The person’s identity is top secret, and the legal battle itself has been given unprecedented priority by the courts. Numerous legal experts suspect that Mueller is trying to force Trump himself to testify before a grand jury.

In any case, Mueller just made a major new court filing in the matter.

Robert Mueller’s new filing is three thousand words long, and for better or worse, we can’t see what it says, because it’s under seal. But the most important clue here is the timing. Donald Trump keeps telling reporters that he’s finished answering Mueller’s questions in writing, while adding that he hasn’t turned them in yet. The question is why he’d do it this way.

One of the most plausible explanations is that Trump and Mueller were both waiting to see which way the courts rule on this matter. If Trump is ordered to testify before a grand jury, then his written answers may be irrelevant. If the courts side with Trump, then Mueller will have to accept his written answers and nothing more. But here’s the kicker: shortly after Mueller made this filing, Trump’s legal team told ABC News that they’ve preemptively submitted Trump’s written answers to Mueller. This could be a last ditch effort at appeasing the court and preventing it from siding with Mueller.

leon jaworskiEarlier this month, thanks to a legal challenge, the long-secret roadmap was revealed for ousting Richard Nixon, which never was carried out because he resigned. That roadmap showed that Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, right, was planning to have a grand jury conclude that Nixon should be indicted, and then turn those findings over to the House for impeachment proceedings.

If Robert Mueller is following this roadmap, there is every reason to believe that he’s trying to compel Donald Trump to testify before a grand jury that is then going to turn around and declare that he should be indicted.

Slush Funding For Trump AG

washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative nonprofit with undisclosed funders paid Whitaker $1.2 million, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg and Aaron C. Davis, Nov. 20, 2018. Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker worked for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust for three years. The group became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise to the nation’s top law enforcement job.

matthew whitaker headshot recentIn the three years after he arrived in Washington in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker, right, received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees, some of the best pay of his career.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust described itself as a new watchdog nonprofit dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials. For Whitaker, it became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise from a modest law practice in Iowa to the nation’s top law enforcement job. As FACT’s president, he regularly appeared on radio and television, often to skewer liberals.

But FACT’s origins and the source of funding used to pay Whitaker — now the acting attorney general — remain obscured. An examination of state and federal records, and interviews with those involved, show that the group is part of a national network of nonprofits that often work in concert to amplify conservative messages.

Contrary to its claims in news releases and a tax filing, the group was created under a different name two years before Whitaker’s arrival, according to incorporation and IRS records. At least two of the organizers were involved in another conservative charity using the same address.

washington post logoWashington Post, Before Justice Dept., Whitaker made $900,000 from charity, took ‘legal fees’ from company accused of fraud, Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 20, 2018. In the roughly two years before he rejoined the Justice Department, acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker earned more than $900,000 from a conservative charity with no other employees and collected more than $1,800 in “legal fees” from a Miami-based invention-marketing company that was shut down amid accusations of fraud, according to a financial disclosure form made public Tuesday.

The form, which Whitaker first filled out after taking over as Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff, shows Whitaker drew a salary from the conservative Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust of $904,000 and collected $1,875 in legal fees from World Patent Marketing.

That company is notable because it shut down in May and agreed to pay a settlement of more than $25 million to resolve a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into its practices.

Nov. 18

Palmer Report, Opinion: You’d better believe Robert Mueller is investigating Anthony Kennedy’s connection to Trump-Russia, Bill Palmer, Nov. 18, 2018. Earlier, Palmer Report pulled together all the confirmed pieces of the puzzle when it comes to Donald Trump, Russia, Deutsche Bank, and retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, shown below left. We argued that while the mountain of circumstantial evidence doesn’t prove anything, it’s the kind of situation that calls for a criminal investigation.

anthony kennedy oBased on the pattern we’ve watched play out with Robert Mueller over the past year, we can virtually guarantee you that one of two scenarios is true. Either Mueller and his team began investigating the Trump-Kennedy-Russia connection the minute it showed up in newspaper headlines last week, or Mueller and his team already knew about it and their investigation into it is well underway. How can we be so sure?

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)We’re looking at a situation where a Supreme Court Justice’s son used his position at a major bank to steer absurdly inappropriate loans to Donald Trump, at the same time that bank just happened to be laundering billions of dollars of Russian money into the hands of clients in the city where Trump lived, even as Russia was working to get Trump elected President, and then that same Justice stepped down at just the right time to help Trump.

You’d better believe Robert Mueller, right, is looking into something that obvious and ominous – and if it is indeed a criminal matter, he’ll pursue it and expose it.

Trump Watch

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Says He’s Unlikely to Sit for Interview in Russia Investigation, Maggie Haberman, Nov. 18, 2018. President Trump said in an interview aired Sunday that he most likely would not sit for an interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, asserting that “we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is, probably, we’re finished.”

The president also claimed that he had no idea that his acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, viewed the Mueller investigation skeptically, despite reports that the two had multiple conversations about the inquiry over the past year.

President Donald Trump officialThe comments from Mr. Trump were made during a wide-ranging, sometimes testy interview with Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” who sat with the president at the White House last week. The president continued to be defensive about his abandoned trip to an American military cemetery during a visit to Paris last week, insulted the widely respected retired Navy admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and said he declined to listen to an audio recording of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi being killed by people connected to the Saudi crown prince last month.

His comments on the Mueller investigation marked an apparent reversal from a year of claiming that he was willing and eager to be interviewed by the special counsel, who is investigating possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election. Mr. Trump’s legal team has blanched at the idea, fearing that the president might lie under oath, and has steadily narrowed the path for such an interview.

Nov. 15

Trump Rants Against Prosecutors

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump blasts Mueller probe a week after installing new acting attorney general, John Wagner, Nov. 15, 2018. President Trump on Thursday lashed out anew at the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, calling his team of lawyers “a disgrace to our NationNation” and accusing them, without evidence, of threatening witnesses to get answers they want.

matthew whitaker headshot recentTrump’s rant, in a pair of morning tweets, came a week after the installation of Matthew G. Whitaker, right, as acting attorney general, a move many Democrats have said appears designed to curtail Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.

Trump angrily dismissed a reporter’s question about that notion last week and said he had not spoken to Whitaker about the Russia probe before naming him to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of Trump’s complaints in Thursday’s tweets were familiar, but they took on heightened significance with Whitaker now overseeing Mueller’s probe, which is also examining whether Trump has obstructed justice.

Nov. 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for five suspects in killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Kareem Fahim​, Nov. 15, 2018 (print edition). Saudi Arabia said Thursday it has indicted 11 people in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month and that it is seeking the death penalty against five of them for ordering and committing the killing, according to the country’s public prosecutor.

Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement that the former deputy head of intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri, had dispatched a Saudi team to Turkey to negotiate Khashoggi’s return to Saudi mohammed bin salman al saudArabia. The order to kill the journalist came from the head of the Saudi team in Istanbul, the prosecutor added.

Officials in several countries have said it is unlikely Khashoggi could have been killed without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader. But no definitive evidence has emerged showing that Mohammed ordered the operation. Saudi officials deny that the crown prince was in any way responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

nbc news logoNBC News, To ease Turkish pressure on Saudis over killing, White House weighs expelling Erdogan foe, Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Courtney Kube, Nov. 15, 2018. "Once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious," a U.S. official said of request tied to Khashoggi killing.

The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, left, in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

fetullah gulen 2016The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey's case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

They said the White House specifically wanted details about Gulen's residency status in the U.S. Gulen has a Green Card, according to two people familiar with the matter. He has been living in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.

Career officials at the agencies pushed back on the White House requests, the U.S. officials and people briefed on the requests said.

"At first there were eye rolls, but once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious," said a senior U.S. official involved in the process.

Nov. 9

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Michael Rothfeld,Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus, Nov. 9, 2018. Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence of president’s participation in transactions that violated campaign-finance laws.

david pecker croppedAs a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Less than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.

Nov. 8

Investigator's Report Announced

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigation: General release of Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map, Wayne Madsen (syndicated columnist, author of 16 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 8, 2018 (Whereas most WMR columns are subscription only this article is available to the general public.)

Since WMR began developing and maintaining the "Trump-Mafia collusion Road Map" in 2017, it has been WMR's intention to release it to the general public the moment Donald Trump made a hostile move on the Department of Justice and specifically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions — who was recused from overseeing the collusion investigation of Trump's and his family's criminal foreign entanglements — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are all being targeted by Trump and his criminal associates in an attempt to hide the Trump Organization's close connections to and involvement with major international criminal networks.

The Trump-Mafia Road Map illustrates the myriad nature of Trump's criminal enterprises. Due to its size and compression, the .PDF file [download here] must be expanded by at least 400 times, using a .PDF viewer, for proper reading and scrolling.

On November 7, Trump fired Sessions, removed Rosenstein from overseeing Mueller's investigation, and named, as acting Attorney General, the Attorney General's chief of staff Matt Whitaker, a GOP operative from Iowa and a close friend and political associate of Sam Clovis, a Trump campaign official and a witness called before a grand jury empaneled by Mueller. This "Wednesday afternoon massacre" was the first step toward Trump's shutting down the important work of Mueller and his team of investigators.

There is an inter-active version of the Road Map. It contains side notes and other relevant information. It can be accessed by clicking here. If you choose this viewing method, be prepared for very long load times. This is a massive document. Your device may freeze during accessing. We are, therefore, recommending only downloading the PDF document.

Nov. 5

washington post logoWashington Post, CIA contractor gets 3-month prison sentence for taking home classified information, Rachel Weiner, Nov. 5, 2018 (print edition). A former CIA contractor who kept 60 notebooks full of classified information will spend three months in prison.

cia logoWhy Reynaldo Regis over his 10 years at the agency felt compelled to look up classified information about individuals outside his purview and take it home with him, however, remains a mystery.

“The $64 question is why he was keeping those notebooks,” U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady said Friday before sentencing Regis in an Alexandria courtroom.

david petraeus cia oRegis, a Philippine native who spent 25 years in the U.S. military and held a top-secret security clearance, only told O’Grady, “I’m really sorry for what I have done . . . truly sorry.”

Sentences in such cases vary widely. A National Security Administration employee who brought work on sensitive hacking tools home was recently sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge in Maryland. But retired Army general and former CIA director David Petraeus, left, and former national security adviser Sandy Berger both got probation for taking home classified information.

king abdullah left crown prince salman abdul aziz third right praying during 2103 funeral saudi press agency via ap

Saudi leaders at 2013 funeral (Saudi royal family photo via Associated Press)

washington post logoWashington Post, A year after Ritz-Carlton roundup, Saudi elites remain jailed by crown prince, Kevin Sullivan and Kareem Fahim, Nov. 5, 2018. Human rights activists and other analysts said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be preparing to release more detainees to help cool the furor over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Somewhere in this kingdom, Prince Turki bin Abdullah is locked away.

Turki, 47, was once a golden scion of Saudi Arabia’s gilded royal family, a prominent son of former King Abdullah and a fighter pilot with advanced degrees who trained in the United States and Britain. He was the powerful governor of Riyadh province, then chief executive of the multibillion-dollar King Abdullah Foundation, which funds charitable work around the world.

He is now among an unknown number of superwealthy Saudis who remain detained a full year after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman startled his country by turning Riyadh’s posh Ritz-Carlton hotel into a 5-star jail for some of the nation’s most prominent citizens in what he called an anti-corruption sweep.

Prince Turki, who officials have reportedly accused of graft related to construction of the Riyadh subway, remains detained without any formal charges. His chief of staff, Gen. Ali al-Qahtani, was also arrested and died in detention under circumstances that have never been fully explained.

Early this year, the Saudi attorney general said 56 men remained locked up, some the subject of criminal investigations, with more than $106 billion in cash, real estate, businesses, securities and other assets recovered in the Ritz operation.

Mohammed said in interview last month with Bloomberg only eight men were still detained. He offered no other details, except to say, “They’re with their lawyers and facing the system that we have in Saudi Arabia.”

But other people familiar with the detentions said the number is much higher, with 45 Ritz detainees still locked up.

Nov. 2

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump and the Hart-less Presidency, Maureen Dowd, Nov. 2, 2018. After 30 years, Gary Hart still wonders what might have been.

While the rest of us obsess on what happened in 2016 and what will happen on Tuesday, Gary Hart is bedeviled by what happened in 1987, and whether the tabloid mania sparked by his liaison with Donna Rice led down a rattlesnake-filled path straight to our tabloid president.

gary hart the front runner jason reitman directorHart, and a new Jason Reitman movie about the Rice imbroglio, The Front Runner, both pose the question: Is there a direct connection between Hart’s fall and Trump’s rise?

If reporters had not hidden in the bushes, would there have been any Bushes?

“I bear a very heavy burden of responsibility,” Hart says, picking at a “game plate” of elk, buffalo and quail at The Fort restaurant outside of Denver. “If all that stuff had not happened and if I had been elected, there would have been no gulf war. H.W. wouldn’t have been president. W. wouldn’t have been president. Everything would have changed. I don’t say that to aggrandize myself. It’s just, history changed.

“And that has haunted me for thirty years. I had only one talent and it wasn’t traditional politics — I could see farther ahead than anybody.’’

Hart maintained that “there was no relationship” with Rice. Rice — who became an evangelical and supports Trump — told People this week, “I’m just not discussing it.” But a married candidate can’t have a gorgeous young model fly up to D.C. from Miami for the weekend to visit his house — “the infamous townhouse,’’ as Hart’s son dryly calls it — and not attract questions if they are seen.

A recent piece by James Fallows in The Atlantic reported that Lee Atwater, the Republican dirty trickster and Poppy Bush party chief, confessed before his death that he had set up Hart for his weekend of doom on “Monkey Business.”

“That’s the only way that 48-hour period makes any sense,’’ Hart told me.

See also for background:

  • Miami Herald, The Gary Hart Story: How It Happened, by Jim McGee, Tom Fiedler and James Savage, May 10, 1987. This article was prepared by Jim McGee, Tom Fiedler and James Savage. It was first published in the Miami Herald on May 10, 1987. It is reprinted with permission of The Miami Herald. Note: This article is from  the University of North Carolina “AFS” site, which is being close on Nov. 13, 2018.
  • The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

Nov. 1

National Emergency?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ignoring the curbs on declaring a national emergency, David Nakamura, Nov. 1, 2018 (print edition). As a caravan of migrant families heads toward the United States, the president said that he was “bringing out the military for a National Emergency.” But he has filed no proclamation declaring a national crisis.

jefferson morley newDeep State, Former Spy Chiefs Warn of Trump’s Dangerous Radicalization: ‘We Have Four Years to Stop Him,’ Jefferson Morley, right, Nov. 1, 2018. Trump is similar to ISIS in that both use social media to recruit and radicalize, say Clapper and Hayden.

If you think some former U.S. intelligence officials have been harsh in their criticism of President Trump, well, they’re getting harsher. In the wake of the mail bomb arrest and the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings, James Clapper and Michael Hayden are likening President Trump’s political rhetoric to radicalization tactics used by terrorists.

james clapper oClapper, shown in a file photo, former director of the National Security Agency, and addressee of one of the bombs mailed to CNN, told a Virginia audience on Wednesday, “It’s not unlike what we experienced with ISIS where you have a group using social media to recruit and radicalize their supporters.”

While former CIA director John Brennan has attacked Trump’s character, Clapper and Hayden have tried to restrict themselves to issues of policy. No more. The president is acting like a recruiter for a terrorist organization, and a few among his supporters are acting like terrorists, the former spy chiefs say.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden, who appeared with Clapper at George Mason University, added, “I don’t want to say the two groups are equivalent, but there are parallels.”

michael hayden CIA official portraitHayden, shown in a former official photo at right, proceeded to spell them out.

“At CIA when our people looked at radicalization, I asked, ‘Is it the ideology of al-Qaeda or ISIS that attracts them? Or are these unhappy young males, who don’t have a job, have disappointments, are unattached, and are looking to attach themselves to a larger cause?”

“In this country,” said Hayden, “what you get are individuals who are unhappy, violence-prone on their own, with a great sense of grievance, who now get legitimization and justification for their grievance by attaching it to something larger themselves. .... and here’s what’s new. They now have a set of grievances to which they can attach themselves that have been articulated by the president of the United States of America.”

The charge is severe, but the most recent evidence lends credence to the claim.

“If you look at the bomber, it was all there on his van,” Hayden said. “If you look at the incident in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, [the shooter who killed 11 people had] a latent anti-Semitism, but the proximate cause was his belief that international Jewry was sponsoring the invasion of America by that caravan which is still a thousand miles from the U.S. border. That has been a constant theme coming from the White House.”

Both men said Trump’s attacks on the press, the FBI, and his critics are damaging the country’s democratic institutions, perhaps irretrievably. “We have four years to stop him,” Hayden said. “We don’t have eight.”

New Angle On Khashoggi Murder

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi crown prince described slain journalist as a dangerous Islamist in call with White House, John Hudson, Souad Mekhennet and Carol D. Leonnig,  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist days after his disappearance in a phone call with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton, according to people familiar with the discussion.

jamal khashoggi western suitIn the call, which occurred before the kingdom publicly acknowledged killing Khashoggi, right, the crown prince urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the U.S.-Saudi alliance and said the journalist was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group long opposed by Bolton and other senior Trump officials.

The attempt to criticize Khashoggi in private stands in contrast to the Saudi government’s later public statements decrying the journalist’s death as a “terrible mistake” and a “terrible tragedy.”

October

Oct. 31

Looking Back: Dirty Tricks or Scandal?

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018. At first, she hoped she could remain anonymous.

When The Miami Herald‘s bombshell front-page headline — “Miami woman is linked to Hart; Candidate denies any impropriety” — hit newsstands on May 3, 1987, the 29-year-old woman in question thought her name could be kept out of what quickly spun into the first big political scandal of its kind. Hart, of course, was Gary Hart, the married U.S. senator from Colorado who, at the time, seemed to be coasting toward the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.

The woman, spied by Herald reporters who staked out Hart’s Washington, D.C., home to investigate his reputation for womanizing, was Donna Rice, then a pharmaceutical sales rep and model-actress living in Miami.

Known today by her married name, Donna Rice Hughes spoke exclusively to PEOPLE for the new issue on newsstands Friday, ahead of the Nov. 21 nationwide opening of The Front Runner, director Jason Reitman’s big-screen retelling of the 1987 sex scandal that shut down Hart’s campaign and tarred Hughes, in her words, as a “bimbo, homewrecker, sleaze.”

“The Miami Herald didn’t know my identity. Somebody in the Hart campaign released my name to the media and so within the day the story broke, my name and other things were released,” Hughes, now 60, recalls in an interview at the kitchen table of the D.C.-area home she shares with her husband, Jack, a tech-industry businessman.

See also: The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

Secret Watergate Filing Released

richard nixon desk archives

President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office (Photo via Wikimedia and the National Record and Archives Administration).

Lawfare, The Watergate Road Map Unsealed, Benjamin Wittes, Oct. 31, 2018. The National Archives [shown at right] has released the famed — and long mysterious — Watergate national archives“Road Map,” which Special Prosecutor sent to Congress in 1974.

For background on the Road Map, and our litigation to get it released, see here and here. This only just happened, and I have not read the document yet. I’m sure that I will have things to say about it once I have had a chance to digest it, as, I suspect, will Stephen Bates and Jack Goldsmith.

For now, the document itself is [here]; redactions, on initial inspection, seem relatively minor. And here is a trove of related material also available from the National Archive.

Oct. 29

djt man in high castle nazi salutes wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: This is a real-life "Man in the High Castle" drama, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2018 (Subscription required). Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer, has studied the Trump family extensively, including in the latest of Madsen's 16 books, "Trump's Bananas Republic."

In the television adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, The Man in the High Castle, which has, as its premise, how Americans fare in an alternate history where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan win World War II, American John Smith becomes the SS Obergruppenführer for Nazi-occupied America. The television series has turned out to be so popular, Amazon Prime has extended it to a third season.

There is a reason why The Man in the High Castle, both the novel and the TV series, is so popular. Donald Trump has, in effect, become an Obergruppenführer over the United States.....We are all now bit players in an increasingly Nazified world. And that is why the upcoming November 6 mid-term election is the most important election in the history of the United States.

Oct. 26

Bombing Threat Against Democrats

cesar altieri sayoc

 washington post logoWashington Post, BREAKING: Bomb suspect charged with 5 federal crimes; fingerprints and DNA tie him to devices, as one more package found, authorities say, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 26, 2018. Records show Cesar Sayoc, 56, shown above in a booking photo, has a lengthy criminal record. Sayoc had a 2002 arrest for a bomb threat and others for larceny and fraud. After the Friday arrest, FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel could be seen in news footage draping a blue tarp over what was believed to be his van in a South Florida parking lot.

A man in Florida with a lengthy criminal record was arrested and charged Friday in connection with the suspected mail bombs sent to high profile figures, authorities said.

The arrest came on the same day law enforcement responded to three more devices — in Florida, New York and California — pushing the total number of packages found by authorities to 13. All of the devices were sent to people who have criticized or clashed with President Trump, and while none have detonated, officials have been on high alert and worried about whether more could be delivered.

The suspect has been identified as 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc. State records show he had a criminal record dating back decades, including a past arrest for making a bomb threat.

Sayoc was charged with transporting explosives across state lines, illegally mailing explosives, threatening former presidents and others, threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officials, according to charging documents. He faces up to 58 years in prison, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference announcing the charges.

democratic donkey logoFBI Director Christopher Wray referred to the 13 explosive devices recovered so far as “IEDs,” an acronym for improvised explosive devices. He said investigators were able to trace Sayoc after finding a fingerprint on an envelope containing a bomb sent to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and that DNA found on two of the devices matched a sample previously taken from Sayoc during an earlier arrest.

barack obama smile HRInside the packages sent to three of the potential targets — former president Barack Obama, right, former CIA director John Brennan and Waters — were a picture of each person with red "X" marks on them, according to the criminal complaint, filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

A suspicious package addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) found Friday at a Sacramento mail facility is also suspected to have been sent by Sayoc, a law enforcement official said. An aide to Harris said her office was told the package was similar to the others that had been sent to public figures. Tom Steyer, a major Democratic donor, also said Friday that a suspicious package mailed to him was intercepted in California; it was not immediately clear if that package was linked to the others.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump gives utterly horrible speech after FBI arrests Trump supporter for sending bombs, Bill Palmer, below right, Oct. 26, 2018. This morning, the FBI bill palmerarrested Cesar Sayoc for sending bombs to numerous prominent Democratic political figures. Based on the propaganda on his van and his social media pages, Sayoc is a huge supporter of Donald Trump. Moments after the arrest, Trump held a pre-scheduled event at the White House. He gave a brief and generic statement condemning the bomber, but before long, Trump and his audience dissolved into incendiary rhetoric.

george soros uncreditedDuring his televised speech, Donald Trump lashed out at “globalists” which prompted some people in his audience to begin yelling the name of George Soros (left) – who was targeted by the bomber – while also chanting “lock him up.”

To be clear, Trump’s supporters were calling for Soros to be locked up, not the guy who tried to kill Soros. Donald Trump then repeated the “lock him up” remark himself. Again, this came after the FBI arrested a Trump supporter for sending these bombs.

That’s right, after one of Donald Trump’s own supporters was arrested for trying to murder George Soros and other liberals, Trump’s response is that he wants Soros to be imprisoned. It’s clear that Trump has no intention of taking responsibility for his own rhetoric, and if anything, he’s ramping up that rhetoric.

The Atlantic, Why the Mail Bomber Wasn’t Charged With Terrorism, Kathy Gilsinan, For domestic actors without international connections, the First Amendment and other civil-liberties protections make it tough to do so.

Donald Trump condemned a spate of attempted mail bombings this week as “terrorizing acts.” And his Justice Department today charged a suspect with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive and threats against former presidents.

Announcing the charges against Cesar Sayoc of Florida, Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized the mailings, which were directed at prominent critics of Trump, as “political violence” — which is a common way of describing terrorism.

cesar altieri sayocSo why wasn’t Sayoc (shown at right in a mug shot) charged with terrorism?

There’s a popular perception that investigators are quicker to label violent crimes by Muslims “terrorism” than they are, say, right-wing extremist violence. This perception is well founded, and the approach is morally inconsistent, but the reasons aren’t necessarily related to racism.

In the United States, the most frequently used terrorism-related charge, by far, is for providing “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization. Support can mean anything from offering money or advice to showing up in person to help a group that is on the State Department’s designated list of terrorist organizations.

cesar sayoc michael symonette IMG 3908

Bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc poses with "Michael the Black Man," variously known as Michael Symonette and Michael Israel, at a "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) rally for Trump (file photo). See Washington Post story, excerpted below, on "Michael the Black Man," a religious cult member acquitted of two murders in Florida and a frequent presence at Trump rallies positioned behind the president by rally organizers to show racial diversity on television screens while the president speaks. Separately, news reports state that Sayoc worked many years as a bouncer and / or promotions worker in the strip club scene in the Miami area.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who is Sayoc? Here’s what we know about the suspect, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Mark Berman​, Oct. 26, 2018. Cesar Altieri Sayoc is believed to be the owner of a white van plastered with names and photos of prominent Democrats and media figures, several of them framed by shooting targets.

Next to the pro-Trump stickers plastered all over the white van authorities believe belongs to Cesar Sayoc are the names and photos of dozens of prominent Democrats and media figures — former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama, former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta E. Lynch, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, filmmaker Michael Moore, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.

Authorities on Friday arrested Sayoc and identified him as a suspect in the sprawling mail-bomb scare that included at least a dozen suspicious packages sent to political and media figures, including many pictured on the van.

republican elephant logoSayoc, a 56-year-old registered Republican, lives in Aventura, Fla., near the facility from where many of the packages were mailed, authorities said.

Sayoc, who was previously known to law enforcement officials, has been arrested nearly a dozen times in Florida, including a 2002 arrest for making a bomb threat. His criminal record in the state extends to the early 1990s, starting with his arrest for larceny at the age of 29, according to state records. Other charges of larceny, grand theft and fraud would soon follow across the southern part of the state.

In the 2002 bomb threat case, Sayoc pleaded guilty to the felony without a trial and was sentenced to probation, the records show.

According to Miami-Dade County jail booking records, Sayoc called Florida Power and Light and threatened to blow up the local electric utility. Sayoc said “it would be worse than Sept. 11″ and also threatened something would happen to the FPL representative he was talking to if the utility cut his electricity.

FBI logoHe declared bankruptcy in 2012, according to a court filing that said he lived with his mother at that time.

A lawsuit in which Sayoc was deposed said he had been a manager at a strip club called Stir Crazy for 35 years. In that same deposition, Sayoc claimed he was also a pro wrestler, a Chippendales dancer, a professional soccer player in Milan, and an arena football player in Arizona.

See related 2017 story on MAGA supporter "Michael the Black Man."

washington post logoWashington Post, The strange story of that ‘Blacks for Trump’ guy standing behind POTUS at his Phoenix rally, Katie Mettler and Lindsey Bever, Aug. 23, 2017. At a number of political rallies over the past year, a character calling himself “Michael the Black Man” has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and prompting widespread fascination.

He holds signs that scream “BLACKS FOR TRUMP” and wears a T-shirt proclaiming with equal conviction that “TRUMP & Republicans Are Not Racist.”

Almost always, he plugs his wild website, Gods2.com, across his chest.

And so it was Tuesday night before a crowd of Trump supporters in Phoenix who had come to watch another show. There was the president, whipping up the wildly cheering crowd, and then there was Michael the Black Man, chanting just beyond Trump’s right shoulder in that trademark T-shirt.

The presence of Michael — variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel — has inspired not only trending Twitter hashtags but a great deal of curiosity and Google searches. Internet sleuths find the man’s bizarre URL, an easily accessible gateway to his strange and checkered past.

The radical fringe activist from Miami once belonged to a violent black supremacist religious cult, and he runs a handful of amateur, unintelligible conspiracy websites. He has called Barack Obama “The Beast” and Hillary Clinton a Ku Klux Klan member. Oprah Winfrey, he says, is the devil.

Most curiously, in the 1990s, he was charged, then acquitted, with conspiracy to commit two murders.

But Michael the Black Man loves President Trump.

It’s unclear whether the White House or Trump’s campaign officials are aware of Michael the Black Man’s turbulent history or extreme political views.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a Washington Post query about Michael the Black Man by saying, in a Wednesday-morning email: “You would have to contact the campaign.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Man Arrested in Connection With Pipe Bombs Sent to Trump Critics, William K. Rashbaum and Alan Feuer, Oct. 26, 2018. Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Trump.

cory booker official profileIt was not immediately clear who had been taken into custody, but the arrest took place in Florida, two law enforcement officials said. The arrest came only hours after the mysterious spate of pipe bombs spread further on Friday morning as federal authorities said that they had found two more of the explosive devices: one addressed to Senator Cory Booker, left, and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.

cnn logoThe package addressed to Mr. Clapper was meant to be delivered to the New York offices of CNN, where he works as an analyst, but was intercepted at a mail facility in Midtown Manhattan, police officials in New York City said. The package addressed to Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, was found in Florida, which two people briefed on the matter have said has become a focus of the intense, nationwide investigation into the bombs.

ny times logojames clapper oNew York Times, Two More Bombs Found, Addressed to Cory Booker and CNN, Oct. 26, 2018. Two more explosive devices were intercepted today: One was sent to Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., right, the former director of national intelligence. The package sent to Mr. Clapper was addressed to CNN’s offices in New York.

Oct. 24

Top Democrats, Media Receive Suspected Bombs

washington post logoWashington Post, Potential explosives sent to Obama, Clinton and CNN spur search for other devices, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Oct. 24, 2018. The devices sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York and former president Barack Obama in Washington are thought to be the work of the person who sent a similar device to liberal philanthropist George Soros, two law enforcement officials said.

Roll Call, Capitol Police Investigate Another Suspicious Package; Senate Staff Warned of Mail Threats, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 24, 2018. Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was apparent intended target.

barack obama smile HRPalmer Report, Opinion: Here’s how to fight back against the bombs sent to President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2018. We’re in the middle of a still-unfolding and profoundly disturbing situation which can only be described as a terrorist attack against the United States. Based on the reporting thus far, bombs have been mailed to President Obama (shown at right), Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Brennan, Eric Holder, and other prominent Democratic figures. Even as we wait for more details, one thing is abundantly clear: how we fight back against this.

When people resort to violence against political officials, it’s clear that they’re trying to subvert democracy. Someone out there doesn’t want Democratic politicians to hold office, or doesn’t want Democratic politicians to remain alive, or wants Democrats to be afraid to go vote.

So if you’re a Democrat, the solution is simple: go vote. Seriously, vote. The best way you can fight back against an attack on democracy is to exercise the rights you’re given in a democracy.

Roll Call, The Coincidence of Bomb Recipients, Trump and Far-Right Rhetoric, John T. Bennett, Oct. 24, 2018. White House ducks questions about president’s win-at-all-costs polarizing approach

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump supporters go berserk at rally after Democrats are targeted with bombs, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2018. Today we saw an unmistakable attempt at assassinating Donald Trump’s most frequent Democratic political targets, as someone sent mail bombs to everyone from President Obama to Hillary Clinton to Maxine Waters. Trump’s response to the terrorist attack has been weak and generic at best, and his refusal to cancel his planned political rally tonight has been widely criticized.

Now the rally itself is quickly dissolving into precisely what one might have expected.Trump supporters at the Wisconsin rally are already chanting “Lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton, just hours after someone tried to murder her, according to MSNBC. Things are apparently so in danger of getting out of control at the rally, even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – a man without a spine – has felt compelled to meekly ask the crowd to dial it back. Trump himself has yet to speak at the event.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘We have a serious problem’: Paul Volcker is worried about something worse than inflation, Heather Long, Oct. 24, 2018. The former Fed chairman said he is aghast at how Americans no longer trust in government, media, science or about anything else. He chastised President Trump for exacerbating the problem.

Trump Trivializes Saudi Murder

jamal khashoggi son sahal with mbs

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, widely suspected of ordering the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, greets the victim's eldest son Sahal Khashoggi, who is forbidden to leave Saudi Arabia. (Saudi government photo and video. Analyst's column excerpted below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President and Saudi Prince Escalate Battle Over Khashoggi Killing, David D. Kirkpatrick and Carlotta Gall, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). For the strongmen of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the dispute over the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is personal and political. Their competing stage shows on Tuesday were the latest salvos in an increasingly high-stakes battle that no longer appears to leave either one room for retreat, pitting against each other two American allies who have each aspired to be the leader of their region.

recep tayyip erdogan o presidentPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, shown at left in a file photo, swept into Ankara’s wood-paneled Parliament on Tuesday to level his most direct attack yet against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, accusing his government of planning the “savage murder” and mutilation of the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Hours later, Prince Mohammed bounded into the gilded conference hall of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh to a standing ovation from scores of oil executives, bankers and other businessmen who had risked association with scandal over the killing of Mr. Khashoggi for a chance to profit from the kingdom’s vast wealth.

“More people, more money,” the crown prince told reporters, pronouncing the event a success despite the withdrawal of dozens of speakers and the pleas of many businessmen for him to spare them embarrassment by calling it off.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Saudis engaged in ‘worst coverup ever’ as U.S. imposes penalties, Kareem Fahim, Tamer El-Ghobashy, John Hudson and Chico Harlan, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). Turkey’s president said the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “planned” and called for the extradition of the Saudi suspects.

CraigMurray.com via Southfront: Commentary: Khashoggi, Erdogan and the Truth, Craig Murray (shown at left, author, broadcaster and former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan craig murray new2002-2004), Oct. 24, 2018. The Turkish account of the murder of Khashoggi given by President Erdogan is true, in every detail. Audio and video evidence exists and has been widely shared with world intelligence agencies, including the US, UK, Russia and Germany, and others which have a relationship with Turkey or are seen as influential.

That is why, despite their desperate desire to do so, no Western country has been able to maintain support for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, right. I have not seen the mohammed bin salman al saudvideo from inside the consulate, but have been shown stills which may be from a video. The most important thing to say is that they are not from a fixed position camera and appear at first sight consistent with the idea they are taken by a device brought in by the victim.

There are many things to learn from the gruesome murder other than the justified outrage at the event itself. It opens a window on the truly horrible world of the extremely powerful and wealthy.

The first thing to say is that the current Saudi explanation, that this was an intended interrogation and abduction gone wrong, though untrue, does have one thing going for it. It is their regular practice.

bbc news logo2The Saudis have for years been abducting dissidents abroad and returning them to the Kingdom to be secretly killed. The BBC World Service often contains little pockets of decent journalism not reflected in its main news outlets, and here from August 2017 is a little noticed piece on the abduction and “disappearance” of three other senior Saudis between 2015-17. Interestingly, while the piece was updated this month, it was not to include the obvious link to the Khashoggi case.

The key point is that European authorities turned a completely blind eye to the abductions in that BBC report, even when performed on European soil and involving physical force. The Saudi regime was really doing very little different in the Khashoggi case.

jamal kahshoggiIn fact, inside Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi (right) was a less senior and important figure than those other three abducted then killed, about whom nobody kicked up any fuss, even though the truth was readily available. Mohammed Bin Salman appears to have made two important miscalculations: he misread Erdogan and he underestimated the difference which Khashoggi’s position as a Washington Post journalist made to political pressure on Western governments.

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi crown prince calls Khashoggi killing ‘heinous crime,’ Kevin Sullivan and William Branigin, Oct. 24, 2018. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made his first public comments on the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an appearance by the prince at an investment conference in Riyadh.​

Oct. 22

Saudi Killing

jamal khashoggi western suit

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President Vows to Detail Khashoggi Death ‘in Full Nakedness,’ David D. Kirkpatrick, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition). Turkish officials have been leaking lurid details for weeks about the assassination and reported dismemberment of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, right, in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

recep erdogan with flagBut President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, keen to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia, has until now mostly held his tongue.

turkey flagOn Sunday, Mr. Erdogan broke his silence, promising that within 48 hours he would remove the lid completely from what his spokesmen are now calling a Saudi cover-up. “We will reveal it,” he said in a televised speech. “It will be revealed in full nakedness.”

With international outrage at Mr. Khashoggi’s killing increasingly focused on the potential culpability of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr. Erdogan appears to sense an opportunity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Germany halts arms deals with Saudi Arabia, encourages allies to do the same, Rick Noack, Oct. 22, 2018. "Arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

washington post logogina haspel screenshotWashington Post, CIA director flies to Turkey amid controversy over Khashoggi killing, John Hudson, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 22, 2018. CIA Director Gina Haspel, right, departed for Turkey on Monday amid a growing international uproar over Saudi Arabia’s explanation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to people familiar with the matter.

Intelligence officials are increasingly skeptical of the Saudi account and have warned President Trump that the idea that rogue operators flew to Istanbul and killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi without the knowledge or consent of Saudi leaders is dubious, a White House official said.

Saudi Clout In DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Saudis’ Washington influence machine: How the kingdom gained power through fierce lobbying and charm offensives, Tom Hamburger, Beth Reinhard and Justin Wm. Moyer, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition).  In 2017, Saudi payments to lobbyists and consultants in Washington more than tripled over the previous year, public filings show.

The strength of the Saudi operation is now being tested amid a global condemnation of the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — a death the kingdom belatedly acknowledged last week.

More on Saudi Murder Most Foul

saudi consular service cropped

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Khashoggi Drama - A Deal Is No Longer Possible -- Erdogan Demands That MbS Goes, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2018. The Khashoggi saga continues to influence Middle East policies. On Friday, the Saudi regime admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its consulate in Istanbul. Since then they have changed their story twice.

Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi clown prince and effective ruler, does not seem to have any good media advisors. By not sticking to one story, all further Saudi accounts will immediately come into doubt.

jamal khashoggi mustafa al madani

The Saudis originally claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate. We now know why they felt safe to make that claim. CNN has a new Turkish story of a decoy which was send out to make it look as if Khashoggi left. They provide pictures to prove it. While Khashoggi was half bald, the decoy in Khashoggi's cloth[ing] seems to have full hair.

Khashoggi was a personal friend of Erdogan. He was a columnist at the Washington Post, the CIA's most favored news outlet. Mohammad bin Salman is an enemy of both. Neither the neocon opinion editor of the Post, Fred Hiatt, nor Erdogan have any love for the Saudi clown prince. They would of course raise a ruckus when given such a chance.

They will pile on and air the Saudi's dirty linen until MbS is gone. Years of lobbying and tens of millions of dollars to push pro-Saudi propaganda have now gone to waste.

The affair is damaging to Trump. He built his Middle East policy on his relations with Saudi Arabia. But he can not avoid the issue and has to call out MbS over the killing.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed is Mohammad bin Salman's mentor and partner in crime in Yemen. MbZ is smarter than MbS -- and will be more difficult to dislodge.

The Riyadh administration must dethrone Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at once. It has no other choice. Otherwise, it is going to pay very heavy prices. If they fail to quash the trap set up targeting Saudi Arabia through bin Zayed, they will be victims of Trump’s “You won’t last two weeks” statement, and the process is going to start to work in that direction.    ...    This duo must be taken out of the entire region and neutralized. Otherwise they are going to throw the region in fire.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Khashoggi Drama - A Deal Is No Longer Possible -- Erdogan Demands That MbS Goes, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2018. The Khashoggi saga continues to influence Middle East policies. On Friday, the Saudi regime admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its consulate in Istanbul. Since then they have changed their story twice.

Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi clown prince and effective ruler, does not seem to have any good media advisors. By not sticking to one story, all further Saudi accounts will immediately come into doubt.

jamal khashoggi mustafa al madaniThe Saudis originally claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate. We now know why they felt safe to make that claim. CNN has a new Turkish story of a decoy which was send out to make it look as if Khashoggi left. They provide pictures to prove it. While Khashoggi was half bald, the decoy in Khashoggi's cloth[ing] seems to have full hair.

Khashoggi was a personal friend of Erdogan. He was a columnist at the Washington Post, the CIA's most favored news outlet. Mohammad bin Salman is an enemy of both. Neither the neocon opinion editor of the Post, Fred Hiatt, nor Erdogan have any love for the Saudi clown prince. They would of course raise a ruckus when given such a chance.

They will pile on and air the Saudi's dirty linen until MbS is gone. Years of lobbying and tens of millions of dollars to push pro-Saudi propaganda have now gone to waste.

The affair is damaging to Trump. He built his Middle East policy on his relations with Saudi Arabia. But he can not avoid the issue and has to call out MbS over the killing.

Oct. 20

The Atlantic, Letter to the Editor Opinion: Gary Hart Was Not Set Up, James Savage, Oct. 20, 2018. A journalist who reported on Gary Hart’s downfall in 1987 pushes back on the notion that the candidate’s Monkey Business incident may have been staged.

I was the Miami Herald’s investigations editor who helped report and edit the 1987 stories that uncovered Gary Hart’s relationship with Donna Rice and prompted him to quit his presidential campaign.

I believe from my personal knowledge of the facts that The Atlantic’s article contains serious factual errors.

The article’s conspiracy theory suggests that William Broadhurst deliberately maneuvered Hart into potentially damaging press exposure by arranging for him to spend time on the yacht Monkey Business and have his picture taken with Donna Rice sitting on his lap.

The truth is the late Mr. Broadhurst did everything short of violence trying to prevent the Herald’s investigations team from publishing the first story about the scandal.

I believe the Atlantic story also implies that Donna Rice was somehow involved in a conspiracy to embarrass Hart. I am convinced from my firsthand knowledge of how the Herald learned about Hart’s plan to meet with Ms. Rice that she did not have any involvement in any plan to embarrass Hart.

Atlantic author James Fallows replies: The details of the Miami Herald’s handling of the Gary Hart–Donna Rice case were donna rice hughes explicitly not the topic of my article.

The literature on the topic is too vast and contradictory to set out, even in a magazine article many times longer than the one I wrote.....what the Herald did was not the topic I was discussing. The news my article conveyed is what might have happened before anyone at any newspaper got involved.

Oct. 16

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taknig a cruise on a yahct named Monkey Business, in a photo taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to news media

The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

lee atwater headshotIn the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the presidency, the political consultant Lee Atwater learned that he was dying. Atwater, right, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the Republican National Committee, had suffered a seizure while at a political fund-raising breakfast and had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In a year he was dead.

Atwater put some of that year to use making amends. Throughout his meteoric political rise he had been known for both his effectiveness and his brutality. And in a private act of repentance that has remained private for nearly three decades, he told Raymond Strother that he was sorry for how he had torpedoed Gary Hart’s chances of becoming president.

“There were a lot of people on the dock, people getting off their boats and wandering up and down on the wharf,” [Gary] Hart told me. “While I was waiting for Broadhurst and whatever he was working out with the customs people, I sat on this little piling on the pier.” Hart said that Donna Rice’s friend and companion on the boat, Lynn Armandt, was standing a short distance away. “Miss Armandt made a gesture to Miss Rice, and she immediately came over and sat on my lap. Miss Armandt took the picture. The whole thing took less than five seconds, with lots of other people around. It was clearly staged, but it was used after the fact to prove that some intimacy existed.”

What are we to make of Strother’s late-in-life revelation of Atwater’s deathbed confession?

Oct. 19

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomAlliance for Justice, Opinion: The Captured Court, Bill Yeomans, right, Oct. 19, 2018. In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation, Supreme Court justices have taken to public fora to assert the independence of the Court and to assure the public that the Court is not a political institution. Most prominently, Chief Justice Roberts distinguished justices from officials in the political branches, noting that “they speak for the people” while the justices “do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution.”

As aspiration, Roberts’ comment shines, but in current context, it is a distraction from the stark reality that the Court is a political institution. It has been captured by the sustained effort of the Republican Party to distort the third branch of government into an instrument to promote a right-wing political agenda. While the justices will not decide cases in the language of partisan politics, the conservative majority will repeatedly reach results that match Republican political goals. The conservative justices were selected by political officials and confirmed through a highly partisan political process because they were reliable votes for those results. The product is a political institution.

The roots of the drive to reshape the Court to serve conservative political goals lie in the reaction of social conservatives against Brown v. Bd. of Education and Roe v. Wade, and the effort by Lewis Powell and others in the early 1970’s and thereafter to mobilize the business community to capture the courts. The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation were central to the rise of the organized conservative legal movement in the 1980’s. That movement focused on building a strong cadre of rising lawyers who could be appointed to the bench by Republican presidents. Each of the Republican appointed justices now sitting – Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh – has deep roots in the Federalist Society. Indeed, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were selected by Trump from lists compiled specially for him by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.

The justices were groomed to be reliable conservatives. Each served in one or more Republican administrations and each completed a successful tryout on a federal court of appeals. They were nominated for the Supreme Court because Republicans were confident there would be no surprises in their rulings. They were adherents to a legal philosophy (characterized by subtle variations that rarely affect results on major issues) that would produce outcomes that align almost perfectly with the Republican political agenda. By relying on their legal philosophy, they would exercise non-partisan judgment to interpret the laws and Constitution to promote Republican interests.

Reform the Supreme Court

The Kavanaugh confirmation debacle has justifiably left people angry. We must continue to process the allegations against Kavanaugh, the limitations imposed on the FBI investigation, and the suppression of documents by the White House and Senate Republicans. But it is also time to get serious about reforming the Supreme Court.The president and Republicans in the Senate have installed a radically conservative justice who was credibly accused of sexual assault and lied to the Judiciary Committee about matters ranging from his activities in the Bush White House to the meaning of his high school yearbook. They pressed ahead with a supremely flawed candidate to complete the right-wing takeover of the Court that has been a central Republican political goal for at least fifty years.

The Court is now indisputably a political institution in which Republican justices will move the law inexorably to the right in furtherance of the Republican agenda. By further weakening public confidence in the Court’s independence and neutrality, Republicans have damaged its legitimacy. Congress must begin to repair the Court.Proposals for essential reforms have been floating around for years, including adoption of a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, reform of recusal practices, limits on financial holdings and outside appearances, better policing of conflicts of interest, and the adoption of 18-year terms.

The elevation of Kavanaugh brings several of these reforms into play, but two stand out. First, Congress must impose a code of conduct and method for enforcement on Supreme Court justices, if the justices will not do it themselves. Judge Henderson, acting as Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit because of Judge Garland’s recusal, referred to Chief Justice Roberts more than a dozen complaints filed against Judge Kavanaugh based on the confirmation process. Complaints filed against federal district court and court of appeals judges can be dismissed by the chief judge or referred to the circuit’s judicial council for fuller consideration. Henderson, apparently, thought these complaints were sufficiently meritorious to send forward.

It is common to ask the Chief Justice to refer the complaints to another circuit. The complaints were sent to Roberts before Kavanaugh’s swearing in. After Kavanaugh was sworn in, Roberts, in what appears to be a ministerial act, referred the complaints to Chief Judge Tymkovich of the Tenth Circuit. Tymkovich will almost certainly dismiss them now that Kavanaugh sits on the Supreme Court. Because the code of conduct and disciplinary process that govern court of appeals judges do not apply to Supreme Court justices, Kavanaugh will escape accountability. The law must be changed.

Congress also must address the issue of recusals. Currently, each justice decides whether or not to recuse him or herself from a matter and there is no requirement that a justice offer reasons. The bar and public, therefore, often can only speculate about a justice’s reasoning. That’s troubling since the Court’s legitimacy depends entirely on the justices’ written explanations of the bases for their decisions. Compounding the concern, the Chief Justice has suggested that justices are not bound by the existing recusal statute. Ideally, the Court should itself articulate clear standards and an improved process for recusal, but its failure to do so places the burden on Congress to act.

Kavanaugh’s angry, intemperate, and partisan tirade before the Judiciary Committee requires close monitoring of his recusal decisions. He denounced the Clintons, Democrats, and groups on the left, creating the appearance, at least, that he cannot fairly adjudicate claims involving them. While Congress faces legitimate separation of powers concerns in this area, it must act to the full extent of its constitutional authority to ensure that justices apply clear standards transparently when faced with recusal decisions.

Progressives also must begin thinking long term about expanding the Court. This change cannot happen until Democrats control the White House, the House, and 60 votes in the Senate.

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomBill Yeomans, right, is the Senior Justice Fellow for Justice at Alliance for Justice. He previously taught constitutional law, civil rights, and legislation at American University Washington College of Law. He also served for 26 years in the Department of Justice, where he litigated cases involving voting rights and discrimination in employment, housing, and education, and prosecuted police officers and racially motivated violent offenders before assuming a series of management positions, including acting Assistant Attorney General. For three years, Bill served as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has also held positions at AFJ and the American Constitution Society.

Oct. 18

terry albury gofundme photo

Former FBI special agent Terry Albury, sentenced to four years in prison on espionage charges after what he describes as whistleblowing (personal photo via GoFundMe campaign)

The Intercept, As FBI Whistleblower Terry Albury Faces Sentencing, His Lawyers Say He Was Motivated by Racism and Abuses at the Bureau, Alice Speri, Oct. 18, 2018. On Thursday, Judge Wilhelmina Wright sentenced Terry Albury to 48 months in prison, telling him that his disclosure “put our country at risk.” Albury pleaded guilty to unlawful transmission and unlawful retention of national defense information, which under the Espionage Act could earn him 10 years in prison each.

Albury was specifically charged with leaking two documents to the media — one that highlighted FBI methods for recruiting informants and another that was about threats from an unspecified Middle Eastern country — and retaining another. In a search warrant affidavit released at the time of his plea, the government said that Albury had also accessed other documents published by the news outlet.

In January 2017, Albury was assigned by the FBI to be an airport liaison, working to recruit informants at the border. According to the government sentencing memo, he continued to take FBI documents home from the airport — though he never shared them with anyone. When law enforcement raided his home, in August 2017, they found the documents on a storage device in a shirt pocket in his closet, wrapped in a note with a reporter’s phone number of it.

Prosecutors wrote that Albury acted with “clear disrespect for the law and his profession” and that his actions “put us all at risk.”

While they maintained that “motive is irrelevant to the offenses,” they called into question whether Albury was driven by “social conscience,” and said that he was no whistleblower because, in their view, the matters he exposed don’t constitute abuse. “Were the defendant truly troubled or disturbed or at odds with FBI policies or practices, he could have walked away,” they wrote. “Ultimately, he chose instead to engage in criminal conduct for 18 months rather than engage any process to remedy the ills he perceived against others or felt against himself.

That argument was supported by an amicus brief filed by 17 First Amendment scholars. The group wrote that between 2 to 3 million U.S. officials have the authority to classify information, and that last year, they made more than 49.5 million classification decisions — a 10 percent increase over 2016. Reviews of classification practices have regularly concluded that the procedure is widely abused, that classifying information is too easy, and that there is no consequence for misclassification. A former director of the Information Security Oversight Office cited in the scholars’ brief reported that information “published in third-grade textbooks” is classified. Further revealing just how arbitrary the process can be, fired FBI Director James Comey’s memos of his meetings with President Donald Trump, which were leaked to the media earlier this year, opened with his assessment of the level of classification they should hold. “I am not sure of the proper classification here so have chosen SECRET,” Comey wrote. “Please let me know of [sic] it should be higher or lower than that.”

“Overclassification is rampant,” the scholars concluded. “A great deal of nonsensitive information is classified simply because disclosure would embarrass powerful officials or expose government misconduct.”

Perhaps the most famous example of the arbitrary and unequal nature of leak prosecutions is that of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor — and served no jail time — for sharing his highly classified journals with his biographer and lover, and then lying to the FBI about it.

“All administrations leak profusely from the top, meaning that they leak politically convenient information,” Heidi Kitrosser, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and one of the authors of the amicus brief, told The Intercept. “When that is coupled with a historically unparalleled use of the Espionage Act to go after lower-level employees for leaking classified information, it becomes a powerful weapon for the government to pick and choose what they want the people to know.”

In their amicus brief, the group of legal scholars recalled a 2011 exchange between an intelligence official and the then-executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, about the subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen, who is now at The Intercept.

That subpoena to force a reporter to disclose his source — which Risen refused to do — would be “one of the last you’ll see,” the official said at the time. “We don’t need to ask who you’re talking to. We know.”

In fact, the scholars argue, First Amendment protections extended to reporters have become all but useless now that officials can easily track their sources without them. “Given technological advances, the administration simply no longer needs to rely on subpoenaing reporters the way they used to,” Kitrosser told The Intercept. “They have surveillance cameras, call logs, third-party subpoenas, and many other means less available to them in the past to track down sources without having to go to the reporter. This poses a new and very scary threat to the ability of the press to cover information of great public importance.”

The prosecution of leakers has already significantly chilled sources’ willingness to risk their jobs and freedom, several reporters have said, with devastating impact on public discourse. In punishing Albury, the legal scholars pleaded, the court should consider “the benefits to the public and to democratic deliberation” that resulted from his disclosure, “as well as the damage that a severe sentence would inflict on the constitutionally-protected interest in the flow of information to the citizenry on matters of public importance.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Minneapolis F.B.I. Agent Is Sentenced to 4 Years in Leak Case, Charlie Savage and Mitch Smith, Oct. 18, 2018. By the time Terry J. Albury arrived in Minneapolis in 2012, about 11 years after he went to work for the F.B.I., he had grown increasingly convinced that agents were abusing their powers and discriminating against racial and religious minorities as they hunted for potential terrorists.

The son of an Ethiopian political refugee, Mr. Albury was the only African-American field agent assigned to a counterterrorism squad that scrutinized Minnesota’s Somali-American community. There, according to his lawyer, he became disillusioned about “widespread racist and xenophobic sentiments” in the bureau and “discriminatory practices and policies he observed and implemented.”

In 2016, Mr. Albury began photographing secret documents that described F.B.I. powers to recruit potential informants and identify potential extremists. On Thursday, he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to unauthorized disclosures of national security secrets for sending several of the documents to The Intercept, which published the files with a series titled “The F.B.I.’s Secret Rules.”

Before Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright announced the sentence, Mr. Albury spoke haltingly in her courtroom in downtown St. Paul, pausing to wipe his face and breathe deeply. He apologized to his former F.B.I. colleagues and said he had been motivated to act by perceived injustices. In hindsight, he said, he wished he had voiced his concerns through official channels and not the news media.

“I truly wanted to make a difference and never intended to put anyone in danger,” Mr. Albury said.

The sentencing — which also included three years of supervised release after Mr. Albury gets out of prison — brought to a close the second leak case charged under the Espionage Act during the Trump administration after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s vow last year to crack down on unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

jeff sessions ag oOn Thursday, Mr. Sessions, left, was triumphant, saying in a statement that the department was “conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks” in its history.

“Today’s sentence should be a warning to every would-be leaker in the federal government that if they disclose classified information, they will pay a high price,” he said.

The first leak case came to a close in August when Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, was sentenced to more than five years in prison after she pleaded guilty to leaking a classified document about Russian efforts to hack state elections systems. Like Mr. Albury, Ms. Winter had sent her document to The Intercept.

Betsy Reed, the editor in chief of The Intercept, which published a lengthy profile of Mr. Albury on Thursday, said in an email that it was getting easier for the government to hunt down journalists’ sources using surveillance and internal monitoring systems. She warned of a growing chill for investigative journalism.

Oct. 12

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Virginia and Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

Washington Post, Turks tell U.S. officials that audio and video prove Khashoggi was killed, Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson and Anne Gearan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). The audio recording provides some of the strongest evidence that a Saudi team killed Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi, officials said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” one person said.

Oct. 11

Oct. 11

Justice Integrity Project, Courts Continue Voter Suppression As Trump Celebrates With His Justice In Partisan White House Gala, Hatefest

By Andrew Kreig

The U.S. Supreme Court helped launch the Brett Kavanaugh era on Oct. 10 by curtailing the voting of Native Americans in North Dakota, where a tight Senate race threatens a Democrat who voted against Kavanaugh's recent confirmation.

brett kavanaugh white house promoThe court enabled a new state rule barring voters who use for election purposes Post Office boxes instead of street addresses. Many Native Americans living on reservations use only PO Boxes and have heavily supported Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, below, the incumbent Democrat who is now an underdog in her race.

heidi heitkamp oThe court's refusal to intervene follows its recent practice of avoiding review for the most part of voter suppression and gerrymandering efforts by Republican state officials who have taken major steps recently to reduce voter registrations and polling place en masse in ways that heavily disadvantage Democrats in November.

In the North Dakota case, five votes were needed from the nine justices. Kavanaugh, shown in a White House-promoted political-type photo of a kind unusual for a sitting justice, did not participate for unexplained reasons, presumably because of his busy schedule getting installed onto the court.

Several columns this week describe a looming legal crisis regarding election-rigging in next month's elections and beyond.

Update: Trump Administration Seeks to Stifle Protests Near White House and on National Mall.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast, who documented for the BBC in 2001 how Republicans had stolen the 2000 presidential election by eliminating the names of more than 100,000 suspected Democrats from voter rolls (and not by the few ballots with hanging "chads" described by the American media), published several investigations regarding secret cutbacks in 2018 voter rolls by Republican secretaries of state seeking to tilt next month's elections.

For example, he wrote for Truthout in GOP’s Brian Kemp Purged 1 in 10 Georgia Voters: I’ve Got the Names:

"My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished," Palast began. "This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017."

Yet all such legal actions and reporting is based on the increasingly quaint theory that federal courts will honestly address the election issues and not just endorse Republican vote suppression by 5-4 party line votes by justices installed like Kavanaugh after long involvement in extreme partisan politics, including dirty tricks at election time.

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphicTaking another broad view, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen linked Kavanaugh with presidential election rigging in the United States with Karl Rove and in the Ukraine with Paul Manafort in 2004, as portrayed at right and as described in his column Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret.

The column, based on Madsen's years of covering election frauds, linked Kavanaugh and Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee to the Bush dynasty and its election-rigging operation headquartered in Chattanooga, TN,  where Corker was mayor before his 2006 election to the senate.

Madsen thereby explained the all-out Bush team pressure that kept such supposed "moderates" as Corker and former Bush appointee Susan Collins as strong Kavanaugh supporters despite their supposed willingness to weigh evidence fairly about  allegations against the nominee. Collins is married to Thomas Daffron, a lobbyist with deep ties to the Bush administration and powerful corporations.

Also, Ohio-based investigative reporters/authors Robert Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman published Will the Trump GOP Strip and Flip America's 2018 Election While the Democrats Fail to Protect the Vote?

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white houseEarlier this week, President Trump invited the newest justice and his family to the White House to reenact the official weekend swearing-in ceremony.

With Trump front and center and denouncing Democrats, the White House ceremony became a highly partisan attack by the president on "mobs" of protesters against the nominee.

Democrats and other protesters must be defeated at the polls in next month's elections to maintain law and order, the president urged as the new justice looked on during the celebration — thereby horrifying both Democrats and others who think presidents and judges should at least pretend to be non-partisan on formal occasions.

The spectacle was an especially flagrant disregard of norms for a non-partisan judiciary independent of party or president. That's because Kavanaugh, doubtless now deeply indebted to Trump, has argued that a president should not have to undergo civil or criminal litigation.

Murder Most Foul?

washington post logoWashington Post, Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, U.S. intercepts show, Shane Harris, Oct. 11, 2018. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, below left, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, mohammad bin salman cropped fileaccording to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

jamal khashoggi western suitKhashoggi, right (a U.S. resident), was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

jared kushner head shotThe intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

The intelligence poses a political problem for the Trump administration because it implicates Mohammed, who is particularly close to Jared Kushner, left, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Murders of journalists and kidnappings: Welcome to Trump World, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 11, 2018 (subscription required $30 annually; excerpted with permission). All of the films that depict a dystopian future of lawlessness, complete with tyrannical leaders, wanton murders, and ransom kidnappings, have come to fruition under Donald Trump's presidency.

Oct. 10

Reader Supported News, Opinion: Will the Trump GOP Strip and Flip America's 2018 Election While the Democrats Fail to Protect the Vote? Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (Ohio-based authors of many books on election fraud), Oct. 10, 2018. Are you ready to be a poll worker? To stop Trump’s dictatorial rise, a real opposition party would be mobilizing Americans to vote AND to protect the right to cast verifiable ballots while making sure they’re actually counted.

That means becoming poll workers, registration protectors, vote count monitors and much more.

A real opposition party would now be organizing massive nationwide grassroots trainings for a reliable election. Are the Dems doing that?

Trump’s Republicans enter 2018 with a 5-10% structural advantage. They’ve stripped voter registration rolls and flipped electronic vote counts since at least 2000. This year just voting will again not be enough.

Progressives MUST become poll workers, bring voters to the polls, monitor vote counts after the balloting, and refuse to concede close elections.

Strip/flip tactics gave Republicans the presidency in 2000, 2004 and 2016. In 2014 and 2016, they took six US Senate seats when their candidate trailed in the exit polls and/or “won” by less than five points.

Those six seats gave Trump control of US Supreme Court, his mega-tax cut for the super-rich, and much more.

To win one or both houses of Congress this year, far more than just voting will be required. Some reasons:

• The GOP is everywhere waging war on the right to vote, targeting (as always) primarily people of color, ethnicity, youth, and low income.

• Suspected Democrats now face impossible demands involving photo ID, proof of citizenship, movable/disappearing precincts, massive voter roll purges, elimination of early and weekend voting, elimination of same-day registration, outright intimidation, and more.

• Key swing states have been targeted, but procedures vary from state to state, as reported in Arizona by Steve Rosenfeld at Alternet.

• The core assault on voting rights comes primarily from US-based corporate Republicans, but Russian operatives did access registration rolls in Illinois in 2016, and rolls nationwide are as vulnerable as ever.

• White Supremacist Trump crony Kris Kobach (now running for Governor of Kansas) has deployed Crosscheck to strip voter rolls, as Choicepoint was used by then-governor Jeb Bush to steal Florida 2000. As reported by Greg Palast, Crosscheck will strip voter rolls in many states in 2018.

• Palast now reports as much as ten percent of the Georgia electorate is being stripped from the voter rolls, more than enough to flip the governor’s race to an extreme right-wing Trumpist.

• The US Supreme Court has let Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted strip more than a million voters (of about 5.4 million) in mostly Democratic urban areas.

• Photo ID requirements and other Jim Crow methods to deny voting rights are still in use throughout the US.

• Indigenous citizens who have post boxes rather than street addresses are being stripped from voter rolls, a move (unless it’s stopped) likely to give North Dakota’s US Senate seat to Trump.

• Based on corrupted registration rolls, millions will be given provisional ballots that will go straight into the trash.

• Electronic voting machines all over the US have source codes hidden from independent watchdogs.

• Many of them are 15 or more years old and are obsolete, unreliable and easily hacked.

• Hacking can be done by state and local officials, Russian operatives, and anyone else with wifi capabilities and/or insider access.

• Algorithms still in use “beheaded” 70,000 ballots in Detroit, Flint and other Democratic areas in 2016, producing “no votes for president” that gave Michigan to Trump.

• Activists led by the Green Party’s Jill Stein won a 2016 court decision forcing a recount in Michigan, but Democrats led by Hillary Clinton refused to join, guaranteeing Trump’s victory there.

• Digital ballot images can enhance vote count security, but are being resisted by Trumpists in Alabama, Georgia and elsewhere.

• Gerrymandering gives the GOP control of the US House and many state legislatures.

• Evenly divided between GOP/Dem voters, Ohio has 12 GOP US Reps versus 4 Dems, plus GOP super-majorities in the state legislature; similar scams rule North Carolina and elsewhere.

• In 2020, US electoral maps will be redrawn, as heavily impacted by this year’s outcome.

Oct. 9

U.S. Constitutional Protest Rights Under Attack

white house protest ted eytan flickr

White House Protest (File photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr)

American Civil Liberties Union, Trump Administration Seeks to Stifle Protests Near White House and on National Mall, Arthur Spitzer, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump has a record of attacking the rights of protesters, from suggesting that protest be illegal to praising dictators who crush any kind of dissent.

Now, the Trump administration proposes to dramatically limit the right to demonstrate near the White House and on the National Mall, including in ways that would violate court orders that have stood for decades. The proposal would close 80 percent of the White House sidewalk, put new limits on spontaneous demonstrations, and open the door to charging fees for protesting.

Fee requirements could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its “I have a dream” speech too expensive to happen.The public has until October 15 to comment on the plans, and on Monday, we submitted our formal written comment explaining why the planned changes are unconstitutional.

In 1967, in the middle of the Vietnam War, the federal government tried to impose severe limits on protests near the White House. The ACLU of the District of Columbia sued, and after years of litigation, the courts rebuffed the government’s effort and reminded the National Park Service, which administers these areas, that Lafayette Park is not Yellowstone and that the White House area and the National Mall “constitute a unique [site] for the exercise of First Amendment rights.” Under court orders, the park service issued regulations allowing large demonstrations, guaranteeing quick action on applications for permits, and accommodating spontaneous protests as much as possible.

Closing the White House sidewalk. The park service plans to close 20 feet of the 25-foot-wide White House sidewalk, limiting demonstrators to a 5-foot sliver along Pennsylvania Avenue. This is perhaps the most iconic public forum in America, allowing “We the People” to express our views directly to the chief executive, going back at least to the women’s suffrage movement 100 years ago.

The closure would violate the earlier court order, which permits demonstrations by at least 750 people on the White House sidewalk and declares that any lower limit is “invalid and void as an unconstitutional infringement of plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech and to assemble peaceably and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, McConnell signals he would push to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who blocked President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year amid widespread Democratic objections — signaled Monday that he would help fill a high-court vacancy if one emerges when President Trump is up for re­election in 2020.

Speaking at a news conference in Louisville, McConnell, right, said his decision to block Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, was based on a tradition that opposition parties in control of the Senate do not confirm Supreme Court nominees during presidential election years.

He claimed the precedent only applies when different parties control the Senate and the White House — leaving open the possibility he would help advance a Trump nominee in 2020 if Republicans still hold a majority in the Senate.

ny times logo

paul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Paranoid Style in G.O.P. Politics, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Republicans are an authoritarian regime in waiting.

Many people are worried, rightly, about what the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh means for America in the long term. He’s a naked partisan who clearly lied under oath about many aspects of his personal history; that’s as important as, and related to, the question of what he did to Christine Blasey Ford, a question that remains unresolved because the supposed investigation was such a transparent sham. Putting such a man on the Supreme Court has, at a stroke, destroyed the court’s moral authority for the foreseeable future.

But such long-term worries should be a secondary concern right now. The more immediate threat comes from what we saw on the Republican side during and after the hearing: not just contempt for the truth, but also a rush to demonize any and all criticism. In particular, the readiness with which senior Republicans embraced crazy conspiracy theories about the opposition to Kavanaugh is a deeply scary warning about what might happen to America, not in the long run, but just a few weeks from now.

Oct. 8

Supreme Court Swearing-in

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white house

Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, ceremonially swears-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as President Donald Trump looks on, in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 8, 2018. Susan Walsh / AP

abc news logoABC News, Trump apologizes 'on behalf of the nation' to Kavanaugh during swearing-in, claims he was 'proven innocent,' Adam Kelsey and Meridith McGraw, Oct. 8, 2018. President Donald Trump apologized to incoming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Monday evening "for the terrible pain and suffering" that he and his family endured during his confirmation process, going so far as to claim that Kavanaugh was "proven innocent" of the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Trump's comments, which he acknowledged as outside of the norm just prior to making them, came at a ceremonial swearing-in event for Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House, two days after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate and formally sworn-in as a member of the court by Chief Justice John Roberts.

"On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brad and the entire a Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you've been forced to endure," Trump said. "Those who stepped forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception."

Trump addressed the controversy head-on characterizing the heated political debate over sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by California professor Christine Blasey Ford and several other women as "violat[ing] every notion of fairness, decency and due process."

"[In] our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty," the president continued. "And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent."

nbc news logoNBC News, Hillary Clinton calls Kavanaugh's ceremonial swearing-in a 'political rally,' Adam Edelman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump's remarks at the White House event "further undermined the image and integrity of the court," the former secretary of state said.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ripped President Donald Trump’s unusual handling of the ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the display a "political rally" that "further undermined the image and integrity of the court."

hillary clinton gage skidmore peoria azIn an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, parts of which aired Tuesday morning on the network, Clinton (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) said that the way Trump carried out the event "troubles me greatly."

"What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court," Clinton said, "and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government."

"So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against," she added, calling Trump “true to form.”

"He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign. Really for many years leading up to the campaign — and he's continued to do that inside the White House," Clinton said.

Trump responded on Tuesday to Clinton's comments, saying, "I guess that's why she lost. She never got it."

GOP Election Scandals

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 8, 2018 (Subscription required, $30 annually; excerpted with permission.)

karl rove HR"Bush White House aides Brett Kavanaugh and Karl Rove, left, closely coordinated their election fraud operations with two experienced Washington campaign advisers for Republican candidates, Rick Davis, and Davis's partner, Paul Manafort."

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverNote: Former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contractor computer scientist Wayne Madsen for many years has exposed techniques to rig U.S. and international elections, electronically and by other methods. He is the author of 16 books, including the just-published "Trump's Bananas Republic," which portrays administration scandals through the lens of iconic Hollywood movies.

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, World has just over a decade to get control of climate change, U.N. scientists say, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). “There is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the body found.

The report warns of dire consequences if nations do not cut their carbon emissions by more than 1 billion tons per year, a figure that is larger than the annual emissions of nearly every country on the planet.

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh, E.J. Dionne Jr., Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). But even more, we need to vote, organize and think boldly after this travesty.

Republicans rushed through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about one other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

brett kavanaugh.judgeLThe conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.

The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices move to repair Supreme Court’s image after fight over Kavanaugh, Robert Barnes, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). As Brett M. Kavanaugh prepared for his debut on the high court, his colleagues already had moved quickly to paper over the damage from the bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle.

Protests Grow Over Saudi Dissident

Saudi Arabian flag

washington post logojamal kahshoggiWashington Post, Opinion: Jamal Khashoggi chose to tell the truth. It’s part of the reason he’s beloved, David Ignatius, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). In his work, he has always had the same insistent passion for honesty about his country. I have known Khashoggi, right, for about 15 years and want to share here some of the reasons he is beloved in our profession and the news of his disappearance has been such a shock.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi journalist could complicate relations with U.S., Karen DeYoung, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration has said little publicly about the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Post, but officials are frustrated with the lack of a Saudi response to its queries.

JIP Editor's Note: An example of Khashoggi's commentary was in Middle East Monitor, Khashoggi: the deal of the century will disappear, Staff report, Feb. 21, 2018:

The well-known Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi confirmed that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has started a relationship with Israel and tried to pressure the Palestinians to accept the so-called “deal of the century.”

However, this approach has floundered. Khashoggi [shown at right in a Facebook photo] was speaking during a seminar in Istanbul hosted by the “Riwaq Istanbul” [Istanbul gallery].

jamal khashoggi western suit“The Crown Prince’s promise was that he will manage to pressure the Palestinians to accept the “Deal of the Century” in return for the Americans and Israelis expulsion of Iranians from Syria and Lebanon. But in reality this cannot be realized,” Khashoggi told The New Khaleeji.

According to Khashoggi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would not agree to consider the town of Abu Dis (adjacent to Jerusalem) as the capital of Palestine. Khashoggi also added that Jordan’s King Abdullah II l has ignored all Saudi pressures.

He said “The crown prince discovered that he does not have a ‘Palestine card’ to play. The American president, Donald Trump, cannot do anything about the Iranians. The man is paralyzed and sending US troops to get the Iranians out of Aleppo and Damascus is but a dream.”

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Mainstream Journos Pissed As Saudi Clown Prince Nabs One Of Their Own, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2018. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, is pissed that the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the kidnapping of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileKhashoggi, who comes from a very rich family, has long served the Saudi regime in editorial positions and was the media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal during his tenure as ambassador in London and Washington. He left Saudi Arabia last year out of fear of being targeted in the ongoing crackdown by clown prince Mohammad bin Salman (shown at right). He ended up writing mildly critical columns for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi is no liberal but a staunch supporter of Saudi system and its brutality. He had praised the beheading of Syrian soldiers by ISIS as an "effective psychological military tactic" and supported the abhorrent Saudi war on Yemen.

The mainstream journos who are now up in arms over Khashoggi are mostly embarrassed about their earlier adoration of Mohammad bin Salman. But even more important to them is that Khashoggi is one of their class. They think of themselves as entitled aristocrats who do not deserve such a fate. That is reserved for the deplorable plebs below them.

Just consider this amoral passage in Friedman's whining column about the Khashoggi case:

If Jamal has been abducted or murdered by agents of the Saudi government, it will be a disaster for M.B.S. and a tragedy for Saudi Arabia and all the Arab Gulf countries. It would be an unfathomable violation of norms of human decency, worse not in numbers but in principle than even the Yemen war.

Every ten minutes a child in Yemen starves because of the famine caused by the Saudi, UAE, U.S. and UK war on the country. The renewed attack on the harbor of Hodeidah and hyperinflation over the recent months have doubled the prices of food and gas Most people in Yemen no longer have the income to pay for the needed food. Tens of thousands were already silently starved, millions will likely follow. By what humanitarian 'principle' would the potential death of one bootlicking columnist be worse than that?

Investigator Murdered

SouthFront, Bulgarian Journalist Found Raped, Murdered; She Was Covering Investigation of Financial Frauds of EU Politicians, Businessmen, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2018. On October 6, a Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova, was found brutally raped and murdered in Bulgaria’s northern town of Ruse.

viktoria marinova tvn bulgaria via reuters scanpix leta cropThe body of the 30-year-old woman (shown at left in a TVN photo) was found by a passerby in bushes near the pier on the Danube river, according to Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev. “Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing,” he said.

Prior to the murder, Marinova was also raped. She was disfigured due to blows to the head and suffocated to death. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov expressed hope that the investigation would succeed because of the “work that has been done.”

She was a TV host, and her last aired show happened on September 30th when she interviewed investigative journalists Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project about an investigation of alleged fraud with EU funds linked to big businessmen and politicians.

Her colleagues from TVN were staggered by the event. “We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats – aimed at her or the television,” a journalist from TVN told AFP under a condition of anonymity, adding that he and his colleagues feared for their safety.

Bulgarian media reports said that over the last year Marinova had reported on an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds for the broadcaster TVN. She also worked on a program focusing on social issues and was involved with charity work.

brett kavanaugh swear in kennedy

Former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy reenacts the swear-in his former clerk Brett Kavanaught as the new justice's family looks on (Supreme Court photo)

Palmer Report, Opinion, Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, which had Trump-Russia fingerprints all over it, is a bigger scandal than ever, Bill Palmer, Oct. 8, 2018. It was an instantly explosive scandal, with ramifications deep and wide enough to shake American democracy to its core – and then almost as instantly, the mainstream media simply abandoned its coverage. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cast an uncharacteristic vote in Donald Trump’s favor on the Muslim Ban, then abruptly announced his retirement the next day (even though he had already hired clerks for the upcoming session), just as we were learning that Kennedy’s son was deeply caught up in the Trump-Russia scandal.

On June 28th of this year, just as Anthony Kennedy was announcing the end of his Supreme Court tenure, the New York Times reported that his son Justin Kennedy “spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer.” This was particularly noteworthy considering that not too long ago, Deutsche Bank was busted for having laundered billions of dollars of Russian money into the hands of unnamed clients in cities including – ahem – New York City.

So was Justin Kennedy the secret conduit for the Kremlin to criminally launder money into the hands of Donald Trump, or was Kennedy totally uninvolved in any such hijinks, and he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? We don’t know the answer, because the major media outlets – who have the inside sources and investigative resources to expose these kinds of things – completely dropped the story. In the name of trying to get somewhere on this crucial but dry-docked scandal, I’m going to present one possible theory of what could have happened.

Let’s say – hypothetically, because there is no proof of this – that Justin Kennedy was indeed a criminal money launderer for Donald Trump and Russia. let’s further say that once the media dredged this up, Anthony Kennedy realized he was going to need to find a way to bail his son out. The easiest path of course would be a presidential pardon. Let’s say that Kennedy asked Trump to pardon his son, and that Trump agreed to it on one condition: Kennedy had to immediately retire. This would hand Trump a key victory – getting to appoint a Supreme Court Justice while the Republicans still safely had control of the Senate before the midterms.

The scary part is that, while this would represent one of the most criminally scandalous corrupt bargains in the history of the United States government, it doesn’t sound that crazy. It’s also worth pointing out that there is no plausible above-board explanation for some of the things that have transpired here. What are the odds that Kennedy would happen to make his retirement decision at the same time his son was being exposed, and that these two events were somehow related? It’s time for the major media outlets to do their jobs and dig up the real story here.

Oct. 7

brett kavanaugh swear in oct 6 2018 ashley

Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as his wife Ashley and two daughters look on, is sworn onto the court by Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Kavanaugh recommended for the court as Bush Administration White House Staff secretary (Supreme Court photo, Oct. 6, 2018). A political precedent used during the Republican installation of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was to rush the swear-in in order to limit the impact of new scandal and protest for the lifetime appointment.

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Kavanaugh Is Sworn In After Close Confirmation Vote in Senate, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday by one of the slimmest margins in American history, locking in a solid conservative majority on the court and capping a rancorous battle that began as a debate over judicial ideology and concluded with a national reckoning over sexual misconduct.

He was promptly sworn in by both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — the court’s longtime swing vote, whom he will replace — in a private ceremony.

brett kavanaugh zina bash c span sept 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided Senate confirms Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). The Senate voted to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court’s 114th justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in the institution’s history, as police stood guard and protesters’ shouts of “shame, shame” echoed through the Senate chamber.

The 50-to-48 vote capped a brutal confirmation fight that underscored how deeply polarized the nation has become under President Trump, who has now successfully placed two justices on the nation’s highest court, cementing a conservative majority.

With Vice President Pence presiding, senators sat in their chairs and rose to cast their votes, repeatedly interrupted by protesters in the visitors’ gallery who yelled out and were removed by Capitol Police. The Supreme Court announced Kavanaugh would be sworn in later Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Rock bottom’: Supreme Court fight reveals a country on the brink, Michael Scherer and Robert Costa​, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). In the battle over Brett M. Kavanaugh, few of the players emerged from the process unchanged or unblemished, underscoring the uncharted territory of deepening distrust and polarization that now defines the American system.

Oct. 6

JFK Assassination Research

harry truman oJFK Facts.org, After JFK was killed, former president Truman called for the abolition of CIA covert operations, Jefferson Morley, Oct. 6, 2018. “For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote former president Harry Truman, right, in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963. It was exactly one month after the assassination of President Kennedy.

“It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas,” Truman wrote.

The former president never explicitly linked JFK’s death to the clandestine service, but the timing and venue of his piece was suggestive.

Why Truman spoke out

Already Soviet bloc news outlets were speculating Kennedy’s murder — and the murder of the only suspect while in police custody—pointed to U.S. government involvement in the assassination.

cia logoTruman addressed the allegations obliquely. “This quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and subject for cold war enemy propaganda,” Truman wrote.

Truman said he knew the first two directors of the CIA and called them “men of the highest character, patriotism and integrity.” He added he could only assume the same about “all those who continue in charge.”

But he had stiff words for the agency’s leaders. He said the CIA’s “operational duties” should “be terminated.”

In short, JFK’s assassination prompted Truman to call for the CIA’s abolition.

There can be little doubt that the circumstances of Kennedy’s murder prompted Truman’s radical proposal. The former president, living in Missouri, began writing his Post article nine days after Kennedy was killed, according to an excellent 2009 piece by former CIA officer Ray McGovern (who says he was relying on JFK researcher Ray Marcus).

GOP Wins Court Battlerepublican elephant logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The High Court Brought Low, The Editorial Board, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.

The task of plugging the holes and patching the rents in the court’s legitimacy now falls to the justices themselves, mainly to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. (shown at left) He john roberts omust know that every decision of political significance rendered by a 5-to-4 majority that includes a Justice Kavanaugh will, at the very least, appear to be the product of bias and vengeance. If he cares about the integrity of the court as much as he claims to, the chief will do everything in his power to steer the court away from cases, and rulings, that could deepen the nation’s political divide.

There’s work the rest of us can do as well.

We can, for one thing, find ways in our own workplaces and communities to assure victims of sexual assault that they will be respected if they come forward, even if so many national political figures are dismissive of them.

And if we disapprove of the direction of the courts, we can put the lessons Mitch McConnell taught us to work — and vote.

It’s worth noting that, of the five justices picked by Republicans, including Judge Kavanaugh, four were nominated by presidents who first took office after losing the popular vote. And the slim majority of senators who said they would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh on Saturday represent tens of millions fewer Americans than the minority of senators who voted to reject him. The nation’s founders were wise to design the court as a counter-majoritarian institution, but they couldn’t have been picturing this.

Most Americans are not where this Senate majority is. They do not support President Trump. They do not approve of relentless partisanship and disregard for the integrity of democratic institutions. And they have the power to call their government to account.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Rock bottom’: Supreme Court fight reveals a country on the brink, Michael Scherer and Robert Costa​, Oct. 6, 2018. In the battle over Brett M. Kavanaugh, few of the players emerged from the process unchanged or unblemished, underscoring the uncharted territory of deepening distrust and polarization that now defines the American system.

Suspected Saudi Murder Of Journalist

jamal kahshoggiwashington post logoWashington Post, Turkey concludes Saudi journalist Khashoggi killed by ‘murder’ team, sources say, Kareem Fahim, Oct. 6, 2018. Turkey has concluded that Jamal Khashoggi, shown above in a 2011 file photo, a prominent journalist from Saudi Arabia, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this week by a Saudi team sent “specifically for the murder,” two people with knowledge of the probe said Saturday.

Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia. It was a preplanned murder,” said one of the people. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

recep erdogan with flagTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown in a file photo, was expected to make a statement on the case on Sunday. Saudi Arabia had vehemently denied that Khashoggi was detained after he entered the consulate.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, below at right, said Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after he arrived on Tuesday. Saudi officials have yet to provide any evidence for that assertion.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileKhashoggi’s disappearance has drawn attention to Prince Salman’s crackdowns on his critics. It also threatened to deepen a rift between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both regional powers that have competed for influence in the region.

Khashoggi, who writes for the Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, visited the consulate Tuesday to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding, according to his fiancee and friends.

The killing, if confirmed, would mark a stunning escalation of Saudi Arabia’s effort to silence dissent.

Under direction from the crown prince, Saudi authorities have carried out hundreds of arrests under the banner of national security, rounding up clerics, business executives and even women’s rights advocates.

But analysts said Khashoggi might have been considered especially dangerous by the Saudi leadership because he was not a longtime dissident, but rather a pillar of the Saudi establishment who was close to its ruling circles for decades, had worked as an editor at Saudi news outlets and had been an adviser to a former Saudi intelligence chief.

Oct. 5

Supreme Court Battle

george hw bush and son

ryan grim CustomThe Intercept: Analysis: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh Are Both in the Bush Family Inner Circle. That Helps Explain Her Vote, Ryan Grim, right, and Akela Lacy, Oct., 5, 2018. The announcement Friday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was about family. Namely, the Bush family.

George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush [shown above in a file photo] have both been welcomed into the ranks of the resistance to President Donald Trump, but their most consequential action since his election has been to help lift Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

susan collins oCollins, left, is an honorary member of the Bush family. She got her start in politics as a congressional aide to Rep.-turned-Sen. William Cohen. The Maine Republican was close to George H.W. Bush, who has long maintained a presence in the state. At the end of the first Bush administration, Collins was appointed New England regional director of the Small Business Administration. In 1996, she was elected to the Senate to replace her mentor, Cohen.

Kavanaugh, too, has longstanding ties to the Bush family. He served as an attorney for George W. Bush’s campaign, playing a major role in the legal battle between Bush and Al Gore. He then served as staff secretary in the Bush White House, a position of intimate influence — the staff secretary attends most Oval Office meetings and is a trusted sounding board for the president.

In the weeks after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault during his high school and college years, Bush personally called wavering senators, lobbying on the nominee’s behalf. Collins, who had said she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, was one of those wavering senators. In August, HuffPost reported, citing a source close to Collins’s staff, that Collins had assured the White House that she would support Kavanaugh if he were nominated. (She has denied that.)

Collins has since said that the decision was a difficult one, though there was no hint of that agonizing in her Senate floor speech Friday, which was a full-throated defense of Kavanaugh and a prosecution of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations.

In the end, Collins suggested that she hoped Kavanaugh’s nomination would restore the faith of Americans in the Supreme Court, easing partisan tensions and decreasing the number of 5-4 decisions the court handed down. It’s difficult to rationalize the idea that a nomination as contentious as this would usher a return to a more harmonious era of bipartisan collaboration.

Supreme 'Deep State'

webster tarpley podium2World Crisis Radio, Kavanaugh nomination as culmination of a fascist movement in the United States, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, commentator, shown at right), Oct. 5, 2018. Mussolini's was a normal government...it was not an open terroristic dictatorship....but of course all that changed....So where do we find ourselves?....In the case of Italy, it took about 20-25 months.

In the case of Kavanaugh, they picked the worst possible guy. And of course it's not just him, you've alerady got four votes on this court that might go along with the fascist program. The way to control this dictatorship is to control the Supreme Court because then you can decide what the laws are.....

Global Research, Opinion: High Crimes and Misdemeanours of Kavanaugh and the Senate-Trump Faction. Step-by-step Overthrow of the Rule of Law, John McMurtry and Matthew Stanton, Oct. 5, 2018. Despite the historic stakes of the ram-through appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States of a serial liar and alleged early rapist, who loudly denounces his Senate questioners as a “left-wing conspiracy” – sniffing all the time as his habit – there has been no legal analysis of his abetted crimes of persistent false statements and declarations, and factional subversion of the rule of law and the US Constitution itself.

As law and moral philosophy professors writing just as the White-House-counsel controlled FBI ‘investigation’ is hidden under cover from citizens and the press, we are moved by duty to explain what has so far been lost in media melodrama, political cover-up at the highest levels, he-says-she-says reductions, and the politics of effectively usurping the rule of law in the United States.

As a branch of government it is unique from the other two branches of government – the legislative. and executive branches – in that the supreme Justices are arbiters of what is allowed or prevented by the US Constitution as the ultimate source of the rule of law in America. What if the entire process is led by a long train of proved false declarations, persistently intentional misdirection, and perjury under oath with no restraint?

What if in all evident respects the process and appointment to the highest judicial office of the land operates like a criminal conspiracy with a vice-grip on all three branches of government – in the words of Madison, the very definition of ‘tyranny’ – with now the Supreme Court itself fixed to ignore and override basic issues of justice and morality for the next generation in a situation of cumulatively unprecedented social and environmental crisis?

We have already seen the unraveling of even the need to appear objective, disinterested, above the political mob mentality and thuggery of this ruling faction in one long train of abuses, false statements and lying with impunity under oath. The reckless and grasping nature of the Kavanaugh appointment, in short, shows an unbound faction of power treating its position of tyrannical rule as its personal property and right. Step-by-step overthrow of the rule of law

What has happened in Washington DC with the Kavanaugh hearings is of grave concern to anyone who believes in the democratic rule of law over a moneyed faction fixing all legal process. What this hearing and FBI investigation now controlled by the White House Counsel and ranking Senate Republicans shows is a series of non-stop false statements and actions that attack the very heart of our system of laws and poison the soul of the nation.

In our considered legal and moral opinion, Kavanaugh’s continual false declarations and prevarications are grounds for impeachment in even his current position of Federal Court Judge. In our judgement, with which many will agree, Trump’s candidate Kavanaugh has incontestably demonstrated unfitness for any judicial or public office. His speech and actions under oath, to the US Senate, is enough to be disbarred and lose his law license.

Kavanaugh has been so continuously coached from the highest offices of the land to act above the lawin every regard that this corrupt appointment reaches into the depths of a ‘tyrannical faction’ now in control of our federal government and institutions. It has so overreached in lawless and naked abuse of power that only keeping the public in ignorance can allow it to continue into the mid-term elections this November – the acid test of US democracy which is now before us.

The Aristocrats

david sirotaThe Guardian, Opinion: America's new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone, David Sirota, right, Oct. 5, 2018. Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history.

When the former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was released from prison a few weeks ago, the news conjured memories of a corporate scandal that now seems almost quaint – and it was also a reminder that Enron executives were among the last politically connected criminals to face any serious consequences for institutionalized fraud.

Since Skilling’s conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement’s objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let’s remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era’s catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

The effort to construct this elite haven has tied together so many seemingly disparate news events, suggesting that there is a method in the madness. Consider this past month that culminated with the dramatic battle over the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

supreme court building

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis, Michael Tomasky (editor of "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas" and a contributing New York Times opinion writer), Oct. 5, 2018. It’s not about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior. It’s about justices who do not represent the will of the majority..

Donald Trump won just under 46 percent of the popular vote and 2.8 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. And Judge Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54-45. According to Kevin McMahon of Trinity College, who wrote all this up this year in his paper “Will the Supreme Court Still ‘Seldom Stray Very Far’?: Regime Politics in a Polarized America,” the 54 senators who voted to elevate Judge Gorsuch had received around 54 million votes, and the 45 senators who opposed him got more than 73 million. That’s 58 percent to 42 percent.

And if the Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh, the vote is likely to fall along similar lines, meaning that we will soon have two Supreme Court justices who deserve to be called “minority-majority”: justices who are part of a five-vote majority on the bench but who were nominated and confirmed by a president and a Senate who represent the will of a minority of the American people.

And consider this further point. Two more current members of the dominant conservative bloc, while nominated by presidents who did win the popular vote, were confirmed by senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against them.

They are Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 by 52 senators who won just 48 percent of the popular vote, and Samuel Alito, confirmed in 2006 by 58 senators who garnered, again, 48 percent of the vote. This is a severe legitimacy crisis for the Supreme Court.

The court, as Professor McMahon notes, was intended never to stray far from the mainstream of American political life. The fact that justices represented that mainstream and were normally confirmed by lopsided votes gave the court’s decisions their legitimacy. It’s also why past chief justices worked to avoid 5-4 decisions on controversial matters: They wanted Americans to see that the court was unified when it laid down a major new precedent.

But now, in an age of 5-4 partisan decisions, we’re on the verge of having a five-member majority who figure to radically rewrite our nation’s laws. And four of them will have been narrowly approved by senators representing minority will.

Judge Kavanaugh’s alleged youthful behavior is a scandal, but this legitimacy crisis is one too, and with arguably greater consequences. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, may not care about them. But Chief Justice John Roberts, and for that matter Brett Kavanaugh, surely should.

washington post logoWashington Post, The rise and the reckoning: Inside Brett Kavanaugh’s circles of influence, Marc Fisher, Ann E. Marimow and Michael Kranish, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). The story of President Trump’s embattled choice for the Supreme Court is a classic Washington tale of a young man who grew up surrounded by people in high places, keenly aware of protecting his image. He told a friend in college that he didn’t plan to buy stocks as an adult because he had to avoid conflicts if he wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a judge.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookKavanaugh’s story is also one of the power and insularity of wealth. He grew up in an idyll of country clubs and beach retreats, private schools and public prominence. The only child of a lobbyist and a judge, he had parents who pushed him hard, teachers who assured him that he faced no limits, and friends whose families knew the art of making problems go away quietly.

That Kavanaugh (shown in a prep school yearbook photo) would achieve greatness seemed certain. Some of his classmates called him “The Genius.” They liked him because he was smart and fun. Women found him thoughtful and empathetic. Men said he was a guy’s guy — a walking encyclopedia of sports, a good pal, always up for a beer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elizabeth Warren’s new, tantalizing claim about Kavanaugh shows what utter madness this is, Greg Sargent, Oct. 5, 2018. One of the most infuriating aspects of this whole Kavanaugh saga is the degree to which we are flying blind about some of the most fundamental points of disagreement at its core. Making this even worse, it doesn’t have to be this way.

elizabeth warren o purpleOn the Senate floor late Thursday, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, made a new and tantalizing claim about what’s in the FBI documents on Brett M. Kavanaugh that all senators have now reviewed. Senators are severely limited in what they can say about these documents, which are summaries of the interviews that the FBI conducted as part of their renewed background check into Kavanaugh, after Christine Blasey Ford went public with charges that he sexually assaulted her, which led to a host of new claims like that one and others about his drinking at the time.

Warren noted these limi