Craven, Conflicted Media Enable Puppet Masters' Political Agendas


Washington's watchdog institutions -- including its timid, corporate-controlled media -- are failing to protect the public.

That was my lecture theme July 11 at the National Press Club as I presented reasons why mainstream news organizations under-report or ignore certain major stories about domestic and foreign affairs.

Presidential Puppetry by Andrew KreigFormer CBS and NBC news editor John Kelly organized the invitation-only dinner lecture, which focused on recent developments illustrating themes from my book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. The book reveals and documents via 1,100 endnotes Wall Street's use of the CIA and NSA to influence elections and government extending back decades and affecting all Americans.

Among other examples, I described prominent government officials in the Obama administration, including President Obama, who have successfully hidden key parts of their past. Suppressed information protects and empowers "puppet masters" in the private sector.

They profit from -- if not orchestrate -- elections, revolts and financial panics, as well as their more routine fare of looting the treasury via lucrative government contracts and plutocrat-friendly tax laws and regulations.

Profiteers operate via minions in government and the media, most of whom are so ambitious that they rarely inquire into sensitive areas.

A lifelong exception to the go-along, get-along spirit is John Kelly, shown in a file photo. He is the last surviving reporter who reported 1960 election results from the Hyannis Port family compound of winner John F. Kennedy.

Kelly's impressive career includes service as a CIA officer, stepping forward to Jack Anderson as a taxpayer advocate. Anderson quoted him as saying that the leading American victims of the war were GIs and taxpayers. Kelly then returned to journalism, and covered Watergate for CBS News. Kelly is a founding director of the Justice Integrity Project, which operates the non-partisan investigative service you are reading here.

John KellyIn introducing me last week to a dinner audience, Kelly spoke of the harm to the public that occurs when slanted or entertainment news squeezes out hard news. He said those newscasters who began their careers in public relations often drive agendas to "soft" news that pleases the powerful and foster advancement for amenable journalists, their organizations and affiliated companies. 

The topic remains in this news this week in multiple ways, including Glenn Greenwald's report today, NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children. The fatal crash of a Malaysian airline in the Ukraine represents another reporting challenge to overcome bias and intrigue, as indicted by a July 17 forum by the think tank CSIS and moderated by CBS News Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

Appended below to this column are previous columns on these themes. They quote other experienced journalists, public officials and other commentators who decry the loss of a free press, and related rights such as free speech, privacy and due process.

Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, other senior advisors, May 27, 2014In Press Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks,'  for example, I reported in 2012 how the nation’s two leading press clubs convened experts on national security for a gripping, historically important assessment of the Obama administration’s shocking prosecutions of government news sources.

One panelist was New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jailing for refusing to reveal his government sources.

“The fundamental issue,” said Risen, author of the path-breaking 2006 book, State of War, “is whether you can have a democracy without aggressive reporting. I don’t think you can.”

In my remarks July 11, I noted that Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a consummate insider, that morning had described Obama national security aide Benjamin Rhodes as in effect the president's "chief strategist." Rhodes is shown at the president's immediate left during a staff meeting two months ago in the Oval Office.

Ignatius failed to mention that the aide's brother, David Rhodes, is president of CBS News.

This is one of a vast number of such conflicts and omissions harming public discourse. Such omissions enable powerful private sector players to impose their agendas with little scrutiny from government or other supposedly independent watchdogs. Many of those watchdogs in the media, politics, courts and elsewhere are mere faithful servants for the powerful, not protectors of the public.

What follows is a summary of last week's discussion, which was covered also by an interview in the New Cambridge Observer in 'Presidential Puppetry,' New Book on Intelligence/Media Ties.

 
Regular readers here know that our focus at the Justice Integrity Project began with non-partisan revelations of gross misconduct in the legal system. The inquiry has broadened to research why the White House, congress, higher courts, and such ostensible watchdogs as the media cover up gross assaults on the constitution, other law, and basic morality.

Last week, I described how secret agendas permeate much of Washington life in ways hard for the public to imagine in specific terms but which in their totality affect vast numbers of civic institutions. For instance, all recent United States presidents have developed secret relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. These kinds of hidden biographies exist also at the cabinet and staff levels.

Jeff Bezos Encore Awards 2010 WikimediaAdditionally, I recounted how a tight web of interlocking relationships exists between the CIA, bankers, politicians and the media that provides incentives for all concerned to maximize profits and their secret relationships -- and to cover up for one another.

As one example, Amazon Web Services -- a subsidiary of the Amazon.com parent that is the source of the wealth for Washington Post owner Jeffrey Bezos, right -- has won a $600 million contract to run the cloud computing services of the CIA.

That kind of relationship creates an ongoing conflict of interest even if the Post occasionally discloses the contract or muddies the waters by aggressively reporting another CIA story. 

The ordinary reader, academic or other bystander would have to search hard to know about the $600 million CIA contract. A cover story in this month's Columbia Journalism Review on Bezos and the Washington Post, Brick by brick by Michael Meyer, failed to mention it at all. Instead, the story provided rah-rah coverage of the Meyer-Graham dynasty as if the paper had never undertaken generations of secret relationships leading banking, intelligence and political figures.

The media have been careful to steer the public away from a focus on the CIA's war-making and propaganda roles until recently. But these activities were much on the minds of the nation's first three Cold War presidents, as indicated by this recent column by former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen on his subscription-only site WMR, Truman and first CIA director condemned the CIA after JFK assassination, based on a tip I had received during book research.

The issues are especially timely now because the Post has taken a national lead in editorial and news support for the CIA-led covert wars the Mideast and Ukraine on behalf of the banking interests that long ago provided the funding for the modern Post. Eugene Meyer chaired the Federal Reserve Bank before buying the Post in 1933 and bestowing control on his daughter Katharine and her husband, Philip, and son, Donald. Donald Graham sold the paper to Bezos a year ago for $250 million but kept possession of the education subsidiary, Kaplan, that has in recent years provided 60 percent of the Post's revenue compared to just four percent from reader circulation.

Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper, Andrew Kreig As a lawyer and longtime journalist, I have researched these issues for years. In 1987, my first book -- Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper -- exposed dire trends documented in a case history of the nation's oldest continuously published newspaper, the Hartford Courant. The book exposed the harm to the public when a news organization undertakes biased coverage or eliminates it for cost reasons.

The Courant and other newspapers nationally owned by the Tribune Companies are again undergoing editorial and financial stress because of ownership struggles. The papers are scheduled to be sold. The Poynter Institute reported that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is a leading prospective purchaser of the newspapers (although other reports suggest his main target is Time Warner). The Courant already has a joint operating agreement with the leading Fox News television channel in Connecticut, which was approved in late 2008 by the FCC in a highly controversial 3-2 party line vote orchestrated by the commission's Republican chairman, Kevin Martin.

Presidential Puppetry expands such research by exploring harms created when government officials become in effect a hidden ally of news organizations to achieve the goals of powerful interests. These situations -- often involving war, other disasters and presidential elections -- often have a national security component that fosters secrecy even when the stakes are enormously high. 
 
The book published in late 2013 arose from research of the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project, on whose board Kelly serves. The project's mission is to expose in non-partisan fashion unreported and under-reported major news stories, particularly those involving the court system and other watchdog institutions such as the news media.

For the dinner audience, I summarized a number of stories reported here in recent weeks, including complaints by veteran journalists shown in an appendix below that news organizations are not covering news honestly because of government restrictions and private agendas. Kelly generously sponsored the gathering in the same spirit of his lifelong passion for journalism and other civic service. 

In Kelly's introduction of my speech, he said the major networks have been cutting back on hard-hitting investigations following Watergate because of cowardice and greed. Profits can be endangered by hard-hitting reporting in the public interest. "It was millions of dollars in the Watergate era in advertising profits for the TV networks by not rocking the boat," he said. "Now it's hundreds of millions. The American do not trust the media. And there's justification for it, with one example after another."

Diane Sawyer Kelly was a CBS investigative reporter covering Watergate following his resignation from the CIA, where he had been an officer working in Indochina during the Vietnam war after a distinguished reporting career working in the 1960s in New York with the iconic anchors Walter Cronkite of CBS and Chet Huntley and David Brinkley of NBC.

As one indication of the media's decline, Kelly told the press club audience that Diane Sawyer evasively told him four decades ago when she was part of the Nixon White House public relations team that Watergate "This administration doesn't know anything about any burglary at any downtown hotel." 

Sawyer went on to a career in broadcast news beginning with CBS in 1978 after she helped the former president write his memoirs. More recently, she has been earning a reported $22 million a year as anchor for ABC's "World News Tonight" evening broadcasts. Sawyer, 68, is shown in a photo via one of her Facebook pages. 
 
She is one of many such examples. George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week," began his career in Democratic politics, including as a top aide in President Clinton's White House. "He was a hard-hitting researcher and an honest journalist, and that's why he became so popular at ABC," Kelly said.
 
CNN's longtime anchor Wolf Blitzer prepped trained as the communications director for the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States.
 
Similar controversies exist at international, alternative and social media.
 
A London anchor resigned July 18 from RT alleging bias in favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as reported in Another RT Anchor Resigns: ‘I’m for the Truth.’
 
Wikimedia, plagued by persistent criticism that trolls and special interests (including intelligence agencies) slant sensitive entries. Nonetheless, Wikimedia jointly announced with the government of Israel June 10 Education Ministry and Wikipedia collaborate to write content for the internet site, a joint program whereby Israel's government would fund anonymous editors to augment Wikipedia entries on current events. This follows numerous reports, as here in The Outlaw Jimmy Wales, that Wikipedia does not control the activities of its writers aside from a published but largely unenforceable code requiring the anonymous editors to refrain from secretly working for intelligence agencies and other paid secret interests.
 
An additional factor in the United States media environment is the recruitment of children of high-profile politicians for network broadcasting posts. NBC has been especially active by hiring Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush Hager and Meaghan McCain. FireDogLake's Peter van Buren, an author and former career State Department foreign service, documented some of those findings in, Chelsea Clinton Makes $900,000 for Doing Almost Nothing.
Barack  Obama and Jenna Bush Hager June 11, 2014 Today Show, White House PhotoNBC's use of President George W. Bush's daughter, Jenna, is portrayed in the photo last month of her interview of Obama is portrayed at left, President Obama to Jenna Bush Hager: Nothing more precious than fatherhood. White House Photographer Peter Souza took the photo.
 
The situation illustrates the absurdity of the notion that the younger Bush or younger Clinton -- or any of the NBC colleagues -- might be willing to reveal the inside stories covered up by the mainstream. This includes documented evidence that older members of the Bush, Clinton and Obama families were intelligence assets before they started their political careers, thereby helping position the family dynasties.
 
More specifically, Puppetry documents (among other things) how the President Obama and his family had longstanding intelligence/Wall Street ties, thereby enabling them to sell the American public a false sense of hope for meaningful change in the 2008 election.
 
The mainstream media, including NBC and its affiliate MSNBC, helped shape those perceptions in the 2008 campaign and continue to play a key role in cover-up the real story even now.
 
With Obama's popularity now rapidly eroding, the puppet masters -- many of whom are essentially apolitical in terms of party issues -- are well-positioned to prosper whatever the future.
 
The likelihood of a Clinton and a Bush on their parties' 2016 presidential tickets shows that NBC has been making a prudent investment in the future, with the other major organizations taking similar but not so visible steps.
 
Clearly, their viewers are less than savvy in buying into that process in search of meaningful "news."
 
As indicated in the collection of recent columns below, many prominent journalists and civic leaders have complained that a serious decline has occurred. My 2012 column DC News Workshop Preserves Lost Era of Press That Protected Public reported on a documentary portraying past achievements and complaints that their loss poses a serious threat to democracy.
 
Largely missing, in my view, has been a comprehensive narrative that identified the nation's malefactors and enablers by name, portrayed their methods -- and identified the harms to the public. This is not a story that the major media are eager to portray, for obvious reasons regarding their own complicity.
 
Presidential Puppetry documents that story, however, in 350 pages of narrative covering the past century, documented additionally by more than 1,100 endnotes that enable other reporters, academics and other researchers to pursue the findings.
 
A 50-second video previews the book. 
 
Its reform theme is, quite simply: “Knowledge Empowers You” (KEY).
 
 
 
 
Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 

Author's Background

Editor's Note:

The opinions in the column above and appendix draw from the experiences of many other journalists and civic leaders, including lifetime career broadcasters who have given recent speeches or written books and articles. My Andrew Kreigexperience includes appearances on more than a hundred broadcast radio, television and cable shows, including those on the networks or affiliates of ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, HuffPost Live, NBC, NPR, RT and two brief stints as an investigative reporter for WFSB-TV, the CBS-affiliate and Washington Post-owned station in Hartford, Connecticut. The screen shot at right is from a 2013 interview with NTN 24, a Colombia-based network for Latin American audiences. 

In addition, I co-hosted a weekly public affairs show Washington Update for seven years until it went on hiatus last year to permit more time for book research and lectures. The show had more than two hundred guests of widely different political views, as indicated here, most of them recruited by me. In 2008, the National Association of Broadcasters invited me to co-keynote (with AOL Chairman and CEO Randy Falco) the NAB's annual invitation-only Futures Summit conference for broadcast industry leaders in Pebble Beach, California. In previous years, I had helped lead specialized seminars at several of NAB's major annual convention, held each spring in Las Vegas.

In sum, nearly all broadcast and cable shows are oriented to likely audience interest. My criticisms in this column thus arise not from any attempts to slant the news but from more general patterns whereby topics are not covered.

Related News Coverage

Justice Integrity Project Series On Media Failures (Arranged In Reverse Chronological Order)

Justice Integrity Project, Sunday's Washington Post: A Case Study In Slanted News? Andrew Kreig, July 21, 2014. Three columns in the Washington Post's July 20 Sunday print edition raise red flags as potential examples of government propaganda disguised as news. The Post presented them as the most prominent articles on its front page, its weekly Outlook opinion section, and its Sunday magazine.

Ray McGovernJustice Integrity Project, Former CIA Analyst: Washington Post, Newsweek, New York Times Suppressed Stories, Andrew Kreig, July 7, 2014. The mainstream media have kept the American public ignorant of vital news in deference to top political and military-intelligence officials, according to former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (shown in file photo). "Never has it been so bad in the 50 years I've been in this town," said McGovern, 74, a peace and public accountability advocate following 27 years in the military and CIA, including responsibility for presidential briefings.

"There's one change that dwarfs all the others," he continued. "We no longer have a free media. That's big. It does not get any bigger than that."

Justice Integrity Project, Washington Reform Message Resonates In Connecticut, Andrew Kreig, June 28, 2014. Connecticut's tradition of vigorous civic institutions remains intact as a force for reform, I saw during my lecture tour there last week. This is good news for the rest of the country in light of sobering trends. The prominent investigative editor Charles Lewis, for example, told a National Press Club audience June 24 in Washington, DC that "lying" by government officials has become standard operating procedure.

Seymour HershJustice Integrity Project, Mainstream Media Ignore Hersh’s Shocking Reports on Benghazi, Syria Atrocities, Andrew Kreig, April 17, 2014. The major U.S. media have ignored for the most part Seymour Hersh’s blockbuster column April 4 reporting the Obama administration's deceptive accounts of notorious killings in Benghazi and Syria. Hersh is shown in a file photo.

Justice Integrity Project, Government PR Officials Increasingly Control News, Studies Find, Andrew Kreig, March 20, 2014. Local, state and federal governments increasingly rely on a new breed of public relations officials to control news coverage, according to two major studies announced March 19 in Washington, DC. “It’s no wonder the United States has dropped 13 spots this year in a ranking of countries in press freedom – down to 46th – behind Uganda, El Salvador and Botswana,” said Society of Professional Journalists President David Cuillier, whose group co-sponsored the surveys of local and education reporters in cooperation with the Education Writers Association. “It’s shameful what is happening in this country. It’s a war over information and we must take up arms.”

Shelby County Jail (Photo by Roger Shuler)

Justice Integrity Project, Corruption-Fighting Reporter Arrested, Beaten, Jailed In Alabama As Deputies Seek Wife's Arrest, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 25, 2013. The prominent investigative blogger Roger Shuler was arrested and beaten by Shelby County sheriff's deputies at his Alabama garage upon returning home Oct. 23. Shuler faces a resisting arrest charge stemming from his refusal to obey a judge's order to stop writing adversely about Robert Riley Jr., a well-connected attorney who is part of Alabama's most prominent political family.

Justice Integrity Project, 'American Conservative' Publisher Decries Major Media Conventional Wisdom, Cover-ups, Andrew Kreig, June 7, 2013. A conservative magazine publisher has created a stir during recent weeks by his non-partisan attack on shoddy and otherwise incomplete reporting by the mainstream media on vital national issues. American Conservative Publisher Ron Unz published on April 29 "Our American Pravda: The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?" The long article described missed or misplayed national stories over the past three decades.

Justice Integrity Project, Free Press Expert Goodale Warns Against Obama DOJ's Abuses, Andrew Kreig, May 24, 2013. One of the nation's most battle-tested First Amendment experts warned this week that President Obama "surely" will exceed the 1970s abuses of Richard Nixon "as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." James C. Goodale was New York Times general counsel during its 1971 fight with the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers. His Times op-ed May 21, "Only Nixon Harmed a Free Press More,” cited recent revelations about the Obama Justice Department's extreme measures to plug national security leaks by secret surveillance of more than 100 Associated Press reporter phones.

Justice Integrity Project, Press Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks,' Andrew Kreig, May 2, 2012. The nation’s two leading press clubs convened experts on national security May 1 in Washington for a gripping, historically important assessment of the Obama administration’s shocking prosecutions of government news sources. The administration took office on promises to protect whistle-blowers. But it has since repeatedly cracked down on leakers, citing Charles Lewisthe Espionage Act in six recent cases as a basis for criminal prosecution. New York Times reporter James Risen, who has broken some of the most important national security stories of the decade, was one of the panelists at the National Press Club, which organized the forum at its headquarters in cooperation with the New York-based Overseas Press Club. Risen has undergone years of financially damaging federal investigation and potential imprisonment for refusing to reveal his government sources.

Holly Weber AvatarJustice Integrity Project, DC News Workshop Preserves Lost Era of Press That Protected Public, Andrew Kreig, April 26, 2012. American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop this week premiered an impressive documentary illustrating observations about journalism by 26 of the most distinguished American reporters and editors of the past half century. The Workshop’s executive editor, Charles Lewis (shown in a file photo at right), presented excerpts of the film, Investigating Power, at the National Press Club. He then led a panel discussion for three of the film's featured journalists, who responded to tough questions from him and the audience.

Justice Integrity Project, Feeling Friendly This Week? Beware, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 22, 2011. Are you feeling friendly? Perhaps you’d like to meet Holly Weber or others like her through their Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter accounts. Or maybe recent news has prompted you to get active in politics -- or even to protest in some way? Here's the bottom line: Be careful, whatever your views. New evidence emerged in Washington late last week of sophisticated avatar, phishing and similar surveillance plots. The snitch scams were reportedly run by government-affiliated IT contractors to obtain personal information from those who criticize federal officials or key members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Holly Weber, the lovely University of Denver alumn, for example, apparently does not exist -- except as avatar.

 

Complaints Against Foreign & Alternative Media

OpEdNews, What Happened to the Malaysian Airliner?  Paul Craig Roberts, July 19, 2014. Contrast the US government's support for Israel's war crimes with the propaganda onslaught against Russia. We are living all over again "Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction," "Assad's use of chemical weapons," "Iranian nukes." Washington has lied for so long that it can't do anything else.

Sara FirthMediaite, Another RT Anchor Resigns: ‘I’m for the Truth,’ Tina Nguyen, July 18, 2014. Sara Firth, a London-based correspondent for RT, announced her resignation from the Kremlin-owned press outlet today via Twitter, while alleging that she had been, in her own words, “taking a paycheck” to spread Russian propaganda. She is shown in a file photo.

Liz WahlPolitico, RT Anchor Resigns On-Air: I Can't Be Part of Network 'That Whitewashes the Actions of Putin,' Dylan Byers, March 5, 2014. American 'RT' anchor quits in protest of network's Putin coverage. A Washington-based anchor for the Kremlin-backed RT news channel announced her resignation on-air Wednesday, saying she "could not be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashed the actions of Putin." "I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth," Liz Wahl, shown in a screen shot, an anchor in RT's D.C. bureau, told viewers, after explaining how her parents had fled Soviet persecution during the Hungarian revolution. Wahl's public resignation came two days after another anchor Abby Martin, condemned the military intervention during her own broadcast. In the wake of Martin's remarks, RT (formerly Russia Today) released a statement saying that all RT journalists are "free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air" and that "there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin."

Ronald Thomas West, Intelligence Agencies & Wikipedia, Feb. 5, 2014 (updated April 5, 2014). Ronald Thomas West is a former U.S. intelligence professional. A 2007 Wired Magazine article (taken down in less than a month since this article’s initial publication) exposed the CIA (among others) as anonymous editors of Wikipedia. This old news should come as no surprise, deliberate, professionally engineered disinformation (information operations, psy-ops) is a long used tool of intelligence agencies, with a military history to ancient times.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), The Outlaw Jimmy Wales, Wayne Madsen, March 27, 2014 (subscription required for full text). Wayne Madsen spent 14 years as a Naval intelligence officer, including a year on detail with the National Security Agency. He has alleged that Wikipedia has systematically defamed him via hundreds of anonymous entries in his Wikipedia entry, most of them by three anonymous editors who created the page in 2009. As an an example of potential motive for the anonymous Wikipedia saboteurs of his profile: Madsen's latest book, The Betrayal of the Scorpion and Poet, documents shocking cover-ups  in the Cold War mysteries surrounding the fates of two ships: the USS Scorpion, a nuclear-powered submarine that sank in 1968, and the SS Poet, a U.S.-flagged Merchant Marine vessel that sank in 1980.

WMR has been covering Alabama politics for so long that little escapes our attention when it comes to Alabama politicians and their well-connected friends in other states. It has recently been brought to our attention by one of our trusted Alabama sources that the so-called "founder" of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, an Alabama native, has close ties to the king of political sleaze, Karl Rove, George W. Bush's "brain," who is also known as "turd blossom." WMR previously reported on how the National Security Agency and its partners around the world were using Wikipedia as a tool in their information warfare operations. One of the classified PowerPoint slides revealed by Edward Snowden points to this fact. But Wikipedia not only has a relationship with the Intelligence Community that permits NSA and other cyber-warfare operators to manipulate Wikipedia information to serve their own needs, but Wikipedia's original seed money came from the CIA's venture capital firm, IN-Q-TEL. A source who has tracked IN-Q-TEL's various incubator programs for companies like Facebook and Google discovered the same links between the CIA and Wikipedia. Therefore, there should have been no surprise that in 2007 a tool called WikiScanner discovered that CIA personnel were routinely making "questionable and opinionated" changes to Wikipedia entries.

Jerusalem Post, Education Ministry and Wikipedia collaborate to write content for the internet site, Lidar Grave-Lazi, June 10, 2014. Wikimedia Foundation chair hopes joint venture with Israel will serve as example for other education systems around the world. The Education Ministry and Wikipedia are joining forces to enable Israeli pupils to fill in missing information on the online encyclopedia’s site, it was announced Tuesday. Education Minister Shai Piron and Jan-Bart de Vreede, chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, have agreed on a collaborative program to train history, geography and science teachers to guide their students in editing and adding to Wikipedia articles. “It is important for us that the education system in Israel will lead the innovation and collaboration with Wikipedia and provide a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box and allow students in Israel to do things which will also influence others,” Piron said. This agreement marks the first systematic collaboration between an education system and the Wikimedia movement.

 

CIA and NSA Controversies

President Obama and former President Bush, 2009Obama and Bush stroll on White House grounds in 2009 (White House Photo).

Mother Jones, 2008 Obama Would Have Slammed 2014 Obama for This Case, Nick Baumann, July 14, 2014. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama hammered George W. Bush for expanding government secrecy. Obama promised that his would be the most transparent and open administration ever. In particular, Obama criticized the Bush administration's use of a legal loophole known as the state secrets privilege. After Obama took office, his attorney general, Eric Holder, promised to significantly limit the use of this controversial legal doctrine. Despite this promise, Obama continued to assert the privilege to squelch cases about Bush-era abuses. In one instance, the Justice Department scuttled a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he had been kidnapped by the CIA and had his penis and testicles cut with a scalpel in a Moroccan prison. And now Obama is broadening the use of this legal maneuver: In the past 18 months, the Obama administration has twice cited state secrets to prevent federal courts from considering lawsuits challenging its use of the no-fly list. 

Michael CollinsOpEdNews, 'Ukrainian Nazis crucify a baby and force mother to watch then murder her' -- The Saker, Michael Collins (shown in file photo), July 14, 2014. On Saturday, I reported the stunning threat of reprisal killings by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko: Ukraine President Threatens Resistance with Nazi Style Reprisal Killings. This remarkable report by the highly traveled blog, Vineyard of the Saker, describes a chilling incident alleged to have taken place at the hands of Ukraine forces in the Donbass region of that country where citizens are under attack by their own government. The videos are provided without alteration. When will the Obama administration and Congress cut off the extremist, violence obsessed Ukraine central government?

OpEd News, Ukraine President Threatens Resistance with Nazi -Style Reprisal Killings, Michael Collins, July 11, 2014. Obama administration lapdog, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, threatened the Eastern Ukraine resistance with harsh punishment for defending themselves against his government's military assault on their towns and cities. Reuters reported the following promise of reprisal: "For every soldier's life, the militants will pay with scores and hundreds of their own. Not a single terrorist will avoid responsibility; each will get what they deserve." Poroshenko and his comrades were reacting to a major resistance victory against Ukraine's regular army. Somewhere between 20 and 40 Ukrainian troops were killed in an attack by resistance forces under the command of Igor Strelkov. Poroshenko failed to note that the missiles he claimed were used against Ukraine regulars are the same types of weapons the Kiev government used against cities and towns in the contested, densely populated Donbass region under attack.

Dianne FeinsteinFireDogLake, CIA, Senate and a Constitutional Crisis Resolved (not in favor of the Constitution), Peter Van Buren, July 11, 2014. The DOJ won’t investigate Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s “grave concerns” the CIA “violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.” On July 10, 2014, DOJ released a short statement: “The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation.” There will be no reckoning of what the CIA did to conceal or influence the Senate report. Previously, in 2012, the Justice Department closed an inquiry into prosecuting low-level CIA practitioners of torture without bringing any charges. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (shown in a file photo) appears to have made no comment on the DOJ decision despite her central role in all this and previous claims of unconstitutional actions by the Executive. As this is written, her most recent public remarks deal with immigration. The last reference found on her official website to the torture report is from April 2014. The CIA attacks on the Senate, designed to impede, alter or influence the outcome of a report on torture, coupled with a lack of concern from the White House and the Department of Justice, as well as apparently by the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee itself, are another example of our new world, a Post-Constitutional America where the old rules of an aging republic no longer apply.

CIA LogoOpEdNews, Obama administration drops investigation into CIA spying on US Senate, Patrick Martin, July 12, 2014. The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would not investigate charges that the CIA had spied on members of the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, whitewashing the brazenly illegal actions of the US intelligence apparatus. The department will also not investigate counter-charges by the CIA that Senate staffers had gained unauthorized access to CIA documents, effectively equating the two and prompting the corporate-controlled media (which have largely buried the story) to portray the action as a neutral, "hands-off" position in a murky dispute between the Senate and the CIA. Even the way the Justice Department announced its decision underscores the supremacy of the intelligence apparatus over the elected institutions that nominally hold sway in Washington. The department informed the CIA Wednesday that it would not investigate either criminal referral, but it waited to tell the Senate committee until Thursday. The response of leading Senate Democrats was a further demonstration of their prostration before the intelligence agencies. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared, "I think what the CIA did to my senators is wrong. I'm going to drop it at that."

Observer, Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA 'torture flights,' Jamie Doward and Ian Cobain, July 12, 2014. Police given crucial logs about Diego Garcia's role in rendition program when it was allegedly used as a secret prison. Crucial logs revealing flights to a British overseas territory when it was allegedly used as a secret US prison are in the possession of the police, the Observer has learned. Despite repeated demands, details of the flights have not been shared with lawyers and MPs, who for years have been investigating the role played by Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian ocean, in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

NSA LogoFirst Look/Intercept, Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction, Glenn Greenwald, July 11, 2014. On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered the Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration—while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention—pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom. But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials— including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander—not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force the Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it. How many times do Obama administration officials have to be caught misleading the public before U.S. media outlets will stop assuming their claims to be true?

Edward SnowdenWashington Post, In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are, Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani, July 5, 2014. Files provided by Snowden show the extent ordinary Web users are caught in the net. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by the Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden (shown in a screen shot from a London television interview) provided in full to the Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but the Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

 

Suppressed News and Corporate-Owned Media Cowardice

New Cambridge Observer, Andrew Kreig addresses National Press Club on “Presidential Puppetry” New Book on Intelligence/Media Ties, Anita M. Harris, July 14, 2014. Andrew Kreig’s new book “Presidential Puppetry “argues that failures in news reporting will continue because both traditional and social media are heavily influenced by revenue sources little understood by the public, including most journalists and academics.

Washington Post, For White House interviews, it’s never one-on-one, Paul Farhi, July 23, 2014. A press staffer almost always attends when reporters sit down with administration officials.

Intercept/First Look, NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children, Glenn Greenwald, July 17, 2014. Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. Yesterday, Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli planes of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. What has not been reported until now is that Mohyeldin was removed completely from reporting on Gaza by a top NBC executive, David Verdi, who ordered Mohyeldin to leave Gaza immediately. Over the last two weeks, Mohyeldin’s reporting has been far more balanced and even-handed than the standard pro-Israel coverage that dominates establishment American press coverage. As a result, neocon and “pro-Israel” websites have repeatedly attacked him as a “Hamas spokesman” and spouting “pro-Hamas rants.”

Poynter Institute, News Corp. rumored to be putting together a new bid for Tribune newspapers, Rick Edmonds, July 9, 2014. Rumor has it that News Corp — with a $2.5 billion cash kitty for acquisitions — may be mounting a new bid for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the six other Tribune newspapers. Rupert Murdoch and his company were first reported interested in the acquisition (in a story in the L.A. Times and elsewhere) when the papers were being shopped in late 2012 and early 2013.

David IgnatiusWashington Post, Obama’s counterterrorism blueprint looks good, on paper, David Ignatius (shown in file photo), July 10, 2014. His counterterrorism blueprint looks good, on paper. Yet it hasn’t achieved its goals. In President Obama’s sometimes maddeningly cautious foreign policy, you can see him struggling to answer what may be the hardest question of his presidency: How should the United States project power in a disorderly world without making the same mistakes it did in Iraq and Afghanistan? William McRavenHe is willing to use what amounts to targeted killing. Instead of significant U.S. military intervention, Obama seeks a network of partnerships stretching from Morocco to South Asia. Obama has posited the counter-terrorism strategy in two major speeches, in May 2013 at the National Defense University and May 2014 at West Point. Further explanation was offered by Ben Rhodes, Obama’s speechwriter, deputy national security adviser and the closest thing he has to a chief strategist. It’s a strategy in which Obama, despite his legalistic temperament, plays a role I’ve described as “covert commander in chief.” He relies on the two instruments of national power he most trusts: the CIA and its armed drones and “special activities,” overseen by Director John Brennan, one of his closest aides; and Special Operations Command’s “Global SOF Network,” developed by Adm. William McRaven the architect of the Osama bin Laden raid and perhaps Obama’s favorite military adviser." Editor's Note: William McRaven, born in 1955 and shown in a file photo, is a Navy admiral in the United States Navy who has commanded since 2011 the Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command.

Tom Dispatch via FireDogLake, Rebecca Gordon: A Nation of Cowards? Tom Engelhardt, July 10, 2014. It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke: a CIA agent and a U.S. Special Operations commando walked into a barbershop. The rest of this mysterious tale surfaced in the U.S. media in early May (only to disappear again shortly thereafter): according to unnamed “American officials,” two armed Yemeni civilians entered that barbershop with the intention of “kidnapping” the Americans, who shot and killed them and were then “whisked” out of the country with the approval of the Yemeni government. For today, set aside the mystery of what in the world was actually going on in that barbershop and just consider the fact that when “they” do it to “us,” there’s no question about what word to use. It’s kidnapping, plain and simple. When we do it to “them” (even when the they turn out to be innocent of any terror crimes), it’s got a far fancier and more comfortable name: “rendition” or “extraordinary rendition.”  When they bust into a barbershop in a tony district in the capital city of Yemen, no question what they have in mind. When we do it in Milan, Benghazi, Tripoli, or other major cities, sometimes with the collusion of the local police, sometimes with the help of the local government, sometimes with no locals at all, we’re just “rendering” our victims to “justice.”

White House Chronicles, When Less Was More in the News Business, Llewellyn King, June 30, 2014. When I first worked at the newspaper trade in Washington, back in 1966, it was a different journalism. Covering the White House was a simple matter: once through the gate, you could stroll through the West Wing and talk to people. Today, even if you have a regular or so-called hard pass, you are restricted to walking down the driveway to the press briefing room. If you have an appointment, or want to smell the flowers, you have to have an escort – usually a young person from the press office. Why this is, and what the purpose of this minder is, nobody has been able to tell me. It is so dispiriting to see the equanimity with which reporters accept their "prisoner status.”  It did not happen overnight, but gradually under president after president. In my time in Washington, reporter freedom has been curtailed at the White House to the point that unless you want to go to the briefing, there is no point in going through the gate. No news is available because you, the reporter, are not at liberty to collect it. But the real change is the proliferation of political media. This means there are more reporters chasing snippets of news. The big issues get lost as often as not while the news hounds are baying after trivia, little non-events, misstatements, or failure to apologize for imagined sleights. Also, White House staffers and people who work on Capitol Hill have less and less confidence in reporters and are less frank with them. I find very little point in interviewing Congress people these days because they worry that whatever they say will, if you like, go into their record to be dredged up way in the future.

David Cuillier and Emily RichmondSociety of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Letter urges President Obama to be more transparent, SPJ President David Cullier, July 8, 2014. The Society of Professional Journalists and 37 other journalism and open government groups today called on President Obama to stop practices in federal agencies that prevent important information from getting to the public. Cuiller is shown at right at a recent forum with Emily Richmond, public editor of the Education Writers Association at a recent event documenting the rapid growth of public relations officers controlling media contacts with government agencies. The letter is excerpted below:

Dear President Obama:

You recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government. You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in. Over the past two decades, public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees. This trend has been especially pronounced in the federal government. We consider these restrictions a form of censorship -- an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.

The stifling of free expression is happening despite your pledge on your first day in office to bring “a new era of openness” to federal government – and the subsequent executive orders and directives which were supposed to bring such openness about. Recent research has indicated the problem is getting worse throughout the nation, particularly at the federal level. Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations. Contact is often blocked completely. When public affairs officers speak, even about routine public matters, they often do so confidentially in spite of having the title “spokesperson.” Reporters seeking interviews are expected to seek permission, often providing questions in advance. Delays can stretch for days, longer than most deadlines allow. Public affairs officers might send their own written responses of slick non-answers. Agencies hold on-background press conferences with unnamed officials, on a not-for-attribution basis.

Daily Howler, A portrait of nimble, self-seeking connivers on the greasy pole of advancement! Bob Somerby, July 2, 2104. Reflections on the mainstream press. The press corps does not discuss the press corps. If you hold a Daily Howler Logosinecure inside the guild, you do not discuss, explain or question the conduct of colleagues and friends. That very powerful code of silence is the reliable norm. But on the very rare occasion, someone with an inside view describes the people around him. As it turns out, the late Michael Hastings seems to have been one such scholar. Hastings, a young and iconoclastic reporter, died in a car accident last year. As it turns out, he was writing a novel, a lightly fictionalized account of his time at Newsweek. Hastings was working for Newsweek at the start of the war in Iraq. At that time, Newsweek was still an important, influential weekly publication.

Daily Howler, The smell of war in this morning’s Post! Bob Somerby, July 17, 2014. Consider Philip Rucker’s return in today’s Washington Post. “New York college paid $275,000 for Hillary Clinton speech.” The dissembling by Rucker and his editors starts not long after that. First, a bit of background: As far as we know, the speaking fees of a candidate or possible candidate have never been considered a major news topic before. Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate yet, and the election in question is well over two years away. That said, the Post is waging total war about her troubling fees. In our culture, the “journalists” are increasingly young. They’re also increasingly incompetent and/or callow. To see what we mean, try this: Review the work of Lindsey Boerma, a hopelessly incompetent youngster who types for CBS News.

Jeff Bezos Encore Awards 2010 WikimediaColumbia Journalism Review, Brick by brick, Michael Meyer, June 26, 2014 (Print edition on July1). After years of shrinking ambition at the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination. In April, six months after her family sold the newspaper it had controlled for eight decades to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth walked onstage in the paper’s auditorium to reverse what had been the signature strategy of her six years at the helm. Since she was named publisher in February 2008, a year the newspaper division of The Washington Post Company declared a loss of $193 million, Weymouth had sought to codify the Post’s identity as a paper “For and about Washington.” As a practical matter, “For and about Washington” meant the Post no longer covered stories beyond its circulation area unless they had a direct link to political Washington or a federal government interest. Exceptions were made for impossible-to-ignore events, like school shootings and other catastrophes, but all domestic bureaus were closed and correspondents were called home. Bezos is shown in a file photo courtesy of Creative Commons via Wikimedia.

Peter Van BurenFireDogLake, Chelsea Clinton Makes $900,000 for Doing Almost Nothing, Peter Van Buren, July 9, 2014. A feature of oligarchy is the dynastic ascension of new leaders, children who rise to positions of power and wealth simply by the luck of birth. We welcome Chelsea Clinton to the club. Chelsea jumped more than a few rungs. Despite never having attended journalism school or otherwise having worked in the field, Chelsea was hired by NBC News to do feel-good stories as part of their “Making a Difference” series. Though the starting salary for such positions is already a chunky $100,000-200,000, Chelsea is being paid $600,000 a year for the same work. All told, in her almost three-year tenure at NBC, Chelsea has worked on all of 14 stories. NBC has an eye for talent, at least the talent of children of important politicians. In 2009, it hired George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna to serve as a correspondent on the Today” show. In 2011, it hired Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan as a contributor on MSNBC.

NBC News "Today," President Obama to Jenna Bush Hager: Nothing more precious than fatherhood, Rebecca Dube, June 11, 2014. When he talks to new dads, Obama says he tells them, "Don't just spend time with your kids because it's good for the kids; understand that there's nothing that's going to be more precious in your life." President Obama opened up to TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager about fatherhood and raising teen girls in the public eye, in an exclusive interview to air on TODAY on June 12. "The time goes by so quick," Obama said, noting that his advice to new dads is to savor every moment. "Understand that there's nothing that's going to be more precious in your life... And when you're on your death bed, that's the stuff you're going to remember — you holding hands with your daughter."