December 2013 News Reports

Featured Commentary

Singing Carols to Jesus in Prison

By Jeanne Bishop

Jeanne BishopI was sitting in the visiting room at a prison in downstate Illinois on a bitingly cold December day. The room is as stark as you'd expect: bare linoleum floor, plain white walls, a series of cubicles. Visitors sit across from inmates, separated by glass.

I had come to see the man who had murdered my sister, her husband and their baby years ago. He killed them at the beginning of Holy Week, a time that marks death and resurrection. Our visit took place during Advent, a time that awaits a birth. He had apologized; I was there to try to reconcile.

With Christmas approaching, I asked him what that day would be like for him. Would there be anything special to mark the day?

Read more here at Singing Carols to Jesus in Prison at Huffington Post, Dec. 23, 2013

 Editor's Choice: Scroll below to read the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for December 2013 

Other JIP Clips:

Dec. 31

New Haven Register, Kreig’s ‘Presidential Puppetry’ gives road map to master manipulators, Andy Thibault, left, Dec. 31, 2013. Andrew Kreig covered federal courts in the 1970s for The Hartford Courant. Kreig seemed like he knew Presidential Puppetrywhat Andy Thibaulthe was doing, so I followed him around for a bit. The guy wore a nice suit, white shirt and a skinny tie. He was well over six-feet tall and trim. He moved swiftly and deliberately. I learned some time later he had been a boxer at Cornell, reaching the heavyweight finals of the Niagara Region AAU Golden Gloves. In federal court, the clerks and even the judges were friendly to him. I didn’t know what I was doing, but that didn’t really matter. I was a cub reporter for the Norwich paper, and most days started that way. By the end of the day, I was sort of supposed to know what I was doing. His reporting on the 2008 and 2012 elections inspired him to probe who really pulls the strings in Washington. The result is a most provocative book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. Kreig broke the story of how President-elect Obama’s transition team feared a revolt if the new commander in chief pushed prosecution of CIA officials for torture and other crimes. “Presidential Puppetry” documents how Obama is among all recent U.S. presidents who have fostered confidential relationships with the CIA or FBI before they entered politics. For example, Obama’s first job out of college was for Business International Corporation, revealed by The New York Times as a CIA front. Same article published also in: Torrington Register-Citizen and Middletown Press. 

Hartford Courant via Hartford Courant Alumni and Refugee Camp, The Courant — 250 Years Old And Counting, Dec. 31, 2013. The Hartford Courant will embark on a year-long celebration to mark an unprecedented milestone in American journalism – 250 years of continuous publication – on January 1st. From the American Revolution to the digital revolution, The Courant has reported stories, events and ideas that shaped Connecticut and the United States. During 2014, the year that marks the 250th anniversary of The Courant as the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper, the organization will look back at these unforgettable moments and stories and look ahead as the media landscape continues to change dramatically. Older than the nation, The Courant was founded on October 29, 1764 as a weekly newspaper (entitled then as The Connecticut Courant) and has never missed a publication since its inception. Thomas Green, the founder of the paper, sold clothing, stationary, hardware and spices out of a store in front of The Courant’s office in Hartford to keep the paper in business. Although the daily edition of The Courant began in 1837, the weekly Courant continued until 1896. At that point, the weekly became a tri-weekly for “country readers” who did not wish to take the daily Courant. In 1913, the publication launched its Sunday paper and one year later the tri-weekly edition was discontinued.See also, Introduction, by Jim Shea, Jan. 1, 2014.

Huffington Post, The NSA's Telephone Meta-Data Program: Part III, Geoffrey R. Stone, Dec. 31, 2013. The Intelligence Community needs to win back the trust of the American people. It can do that, not by being defensive, but by acknowledging that periodic review, reexamination and recalibration are healthy and constructive in a self-governing society, and by bending over backwards to embrace reforms that will help restore the public's trust.
In my last post, I explored the pros and cons of the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program. As I reported, after considering all the competing interests and perspectives, the Review Group concluded that, in light of the availability of other means by which the government could achieve its legitimate objectives, there was "no sufficient justification to allow the government itself to collect and store bulk telephony meta-data." The Review Group therefore recommended that the meta-data program, as currently constituted, "should be terminated as soon as reasonably practicable." At the same time, though, the Review Group found that access to telephony meta-data can be useful to the government in its effort to identify terrorists operating inside the United States. The challenge was to figure out how best to preserve the legitimate value of the program while at the same time reducing its risks to personal privacy and individual freedom. To strike a better balance, the Review Group recommends several important changes in the program as it currently exists.

Dec. 30

Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler, Only Jailed U.S. Journalist Per CPJ Census, Carol Shuler, Dec. 30, 2013. Receives Coverage at Al Jazeera America. As reported here in recent days, Legal Schnauzer publisher Roger Shuler made the list of jailed journalists compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Per the CPJ's article, "CPJ’s list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2013. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be found at Journalists remain on CPJ’s list until the organization determines with reasonable certainty that they have been released or have died in custody." In a census that is normally about jailed journalists in oppressive countries such as Turkey, Iran and China, Shuler is the only journalist unlawfully jailed in the Americas on a list of 211 journalists from around the globe.

FireDogLake, The Partisan Fact Divide, Jon Walker, Dec. 30, 2013. I think this statistic is both fascinating and very informative about the current state of politics. Significantly fewer Republicans now believe in evolution than did in 2009. On the other hand more Democrats now believe in evolution. From Pew Research: "There is not just growing ideological disagreement between the parties about how to solve problems, there is a growing divide about what are the basic facts are. Finding compromise when you don’t even share the same concept of reality becomes very difficult." I suspect a big driver of this change is that the parties are continuing to sort themselves. We are not just seeing few moderate Republicans in Congress, we are also seeing fewer regular people who see themselves as both moderate and Republican. This is important as partisan primaries are becoming the big election in more districts.

Huffington Post, NSA Uses Windows Error Messages To Spy On People, Staff via wire reports, Dec. 30, 2013. Error messages on Microsoft's Windows operating system may also serve as a way for the National Security Agency to spy on you. When a Windows program seizes up, someone using a PC can choose to send an error report to Microsoft for review. But Windows owners may inadvertently be sending those error reports to the NSA too, according to a report on Sunday by German magazine Der Spiegel detailing the work of the Tailored Access Operations division of the NSA, which is considered the agency's top hacking unit. The revelations come from the latest document leaks of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. An NSA presentation obtained by Der Spiegel noted that the crash reports are a "neat way" to gain "passive access" to a machine. The team can use the NSA's massively powerful sleuthing software to cherry-pick error reports from the global stream of Internet traffic. Only data sent from a computer can be collected this way, but it can give the NSA something crucial for further hacking: the vulnerabilities of a target's computer. Like other tech companies, Microsoft has been in a tough position since Snowden's leaks began. A report from The Guardian in July found that the company may have handed the NSA access to the customers' encrypted messages and data. In recent months, Microsoft has attempted to assuage fears of government surveillance by fighting against any attempt by U.S. intelligence agencies to seize its foreign customers' data under American surveillance laws. "Microsoft does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customer's data," a Microsoft representative said in response to the latest allegations. "We would have significant concerns if the allegations about government actions are true."

FireDogLake, Dueling judicial rulings on NSA Spying, and why they don’t matter, Shahid Buttar, Dec. 30, 2013. Two federal judges reached opposite conclusions in separate cases challenging NSA spying. One was thoughtful; the other reflected much of what is wrong with our courts. Ultimately, however, neither will matter. The NSA’s dragnet continues unabated, and only Congress is poised to stop it. Only Congress can stop the NSA. At the end of the day, there could not be a more wanton violation of the Fourth Amendment than the NSA’s domestic dragnet. Judge Leon, appointed by the president responsible for initiating the programs in the first place, understood that. At stake, in addition to the vitality of privacy, and the opportunity for dissent in America, is the independence — and legitimacy — of our judiciary. Each of these ingredients are required for our democracy to be healthy. The fact that the NSA continues to wage a decade-long assault on the American people using our own tax dollars is a clear sign that it is not. Despite the mounting controversy and escalating momentum in Congress for dramatic restrictions on NSA powers, whatever emerges from the current legislative process is likely to remain inadequate, as most agencies involved in domestic spying have yet to draw any sustained public or congressional attention.

Peter Van BurenFireDogLake, NSA and Corporate Cooperation Revealed, Peter Van Buren, left, Dec. 30, 2013. The NSA is able to divert computer equipment being delivered to you via major carriers in order to install malware spying software first The latest NSA revelations reveal deeper and more insidious intrusions into our lives, and show deeper collusion between the government and private enterprise. If you really, really think this is OK because you have “nothing to hide,” you better be damn sure that’s the case. It is now apparent that the NSA co-opted nearly every piece of electronics present in our lives. Der Spiegel reports that the NSA has found ways to slither through most firewalls and work around most security systems. This dirty work is done primarily via malware, computer code created by the NSA that is implanted in the targeted device to do the NSA’s bidding. This malware most commonly creates a “back door,” a new, hidden pathway into some computer system. We also learn that the NSA, which only recently used the American TV news magazine “60 Minutes” to warn about a new form of Chinese cyberattack, actually employs the very same technique.

Dec. 29

OpEdNews, 2014 Will Bring More Social Collapse, Paul Craig Roberts, Dec. 29, 2013. Americans, or many of them, are such exhibitionists that they do not mind being spied upon or recorded. It gives them importance. They have no conception that a loss of privacy is a loss of self. They don't understand that a loss of privacy means that they can be intimidated, blackmailed, framed, and viewed in the buff.

Dec. 28

New York Daily News, Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik accuses his former attorney Joe Tacopina of fraud and misrepresentation, Enid Alvarez, Dec. 28, 2013. Long before spearheading Alex Rodriguez’s cutthroat campaign to beat a steroid rap, attorney Joe Tacopina stood on the Bronx courthouse steps beside another fallen New York star — ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik. It was June 30, 2006, and Kerik had just pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges. The former top cop admitted accepting a $165,000 gift of apartment renovations seven years before from an allegedly mob-tied company seeking to do business with the city. Tacopina assured his client that his legal troubles were over and he was free to focus on his security consulting business in the Middle East. Privately, Kerik’s friends say,

Tacopina described the violations this way: “Like pissing on the sidewalk.” Two years later, Kerik was federal inmate No. 84888-054, sitting in a Maryland cell and wondering if the slick defense attorney helped the feds put him behind bars. Kerik, one of the most decorated police commissioners in New York City history, is now a free man looking for answers. Kerik, in a bar complaint filed Friday, accused Tacopina of engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and/or misrepresentation” — along with a list of explosive legal abuses: Cooperating with federal prosecutors and revealing information crucial to Kerik’s defense to the government without informing or receiving consent from his client. Kerik, in a bar complaint filed Friday, accused Tacopina of explosive legal abuses: Cooperating with federal prosecutors and revealing information crucial to Kerik’s defense to the government without informing or receiving consent from his client. Editor's Note: The Justice Integrity Project documnted extensive unfairness in the 2010 sentencing of Kerik and his coerced federal guilty plea after he was placed in solitary confinement pre-trial unless he pleaded guilty. The current litigation may provide answers to mysteries surrounding the case.

New York Times, A Deadly Mix in Benghazi.Susan Rice David D. Kirkpatrick, Dec. 28, 2013. Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam. White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is at right.

Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald: U.S., British Media Are 'Devoted Servants' To Government, Katherine Fung, Dec. 28, 2013.Journalist Glenn Greenwald did not hold back Friday in criticizing the media during a speech about his work with Edward Snowden. Greenwald, who reported on the National Security Agency's secret domestic surveillance programs with the help of documents leaked by the former NSA contractor, spoke to the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany, via satellite from Brazil. According to Russia Today, he denounced journalists in the United States and Britain, accusing them of failing to challenge those in political power and of discrediting anyone who dared to do so.  “[W]e knew in particular that one of our most formidable adversaries was not simply going to be the intelligence agencies on which we were reporting and who we were trying to expose, but also their most loyal, devoted servants, which calls itself the United States and British media," Greenwald said.  He said that the NSA programs came to light "almost entirely without them and despite them." Their role as journalists, Greenwald claimed, "is not to be adversarial, their role is to be loyal spokespeople to those powerful factions that they pretend to exercise oversight."

FireDogLake, Investing and Dementia, masaccio, Dec. 29, 2013.  It seems obvious that older people shouldn’t be forced into making complex decisions about health care and investments. But it isn’t obvious enough to market cheerleaders. They say the elderly should be buying medical care insurance and drug plans in the open market, and that they should be managing their own retirement funds. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Board discusses one particularly awful aspect of the policy of self-reliance. It says that a substantial number of older people are attacked by dementia and risk losing the family’s financial security.

Veterans Today, Six JFK Shooters, Three Tied To CIA, Named–Oswald not among them, Sherwood Ross with Jim Fetzer, Dec. 28, 2014. Six shooters who participated in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, including three with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), were named by a prominent critic of the Warren Commission Report (WCR). Remarkably, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Warren Commission’s lone-assassin-designate, was not among them. During an interview published this past Nov. 20th in The Santa Barbara Independent, WCR critic/researcher Dr. James Fetzer of Madison, WI, and Chairman of the Oswald Innocence Campaign, revealed the names of five of those who appear to have been shooters, where he has identified the sixth separately.

Dec. 27

William Binney

Dissenter/FireDogLake, Interview with NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney: Afraid We’re Spreading Secret Government Around World, Kevin Gosztola, Dec. 27, 2013. The FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and law enforcement, along with the NSA, are collecting information on Americans and then using that information to arrest people. “Parallel construction” is then used to “fabricate evidence” that is substituted with evidence that is subsequently collected legally and through mechanisms that have traditionally been an accepted part of criminal investigations. In former senior NSA employee and whistleblower William Binney’s view, this is the “real problem.” It is occurring without a warrant and they can bring this information into court.  “They’re lying to the courts,” Binney explains. The government knows that they are lying when they say here is the evidence used to arrest these people. Essentially, this is the United States subverting not only its own justice system but justice systems around the world. Binney, left, served as a director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group and was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician when he worked for the agency. He left the agency after the NSA began to collect data on Americans they should not have been collecting.

USA Today, Federal judge: NSA phone surveillance legal, Doug Stanglin, Dec. 27, 2013. A federal judge ruled on Friday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone and Internet records is legal and a critical component of the country's effort to combat the threat of terrorism. The decision by U.S. District Judge William Pauley contrasts with a ruling earlier this month by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon and increases the likelihood that the issue will go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Leon had granted a preliminary injunction against the collecting of phone records, saying the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on unreasonable search. The NSA-run programs pick up millions of telephone and Internet records that are routed through American networks each day. In the 54-page opinion issued in New York, Pauley said the sweeping program "represents the government's counter-punch" to eliminate al-Qaeda's terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.

Huffington Post, The NSA's Telephone Meta-Data Program: Part II, Geoffrey R. Stone, Dec. 27, 2013. In my last post (The NSA's Telephone Meta-data Program: Part I) I explained the nature and operation of the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program. In this post, I will examine the government's arguments for the meta-data program and the Review Group's analysis of those arguments. In defending the bulk telephony meta-data program, the government offers essentially four arguments. First, it argues that the program is an important tool in the effort to keep our nation safe. In evaluating the section 215 bulk telephony meta-data program, the Review Group carefully evaluated and weighed each of these four considerations. With respect to the government's first argument -- that the program plays an important role in keeping our nation safe, the Review Group concluded that, in fact, the meta-data program has "made only a modest contribution to the nation's security." Indeed, "section 215 has generated relevant information in only a small number of cases, and there has been no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome would have been different without the section 215 telephony meta-data program."

FireDogLake, 50 Years of Political Puppets, Kit OConnell, Dec. 27, 2013. The Bread & Puppet Theater turned 50 years old in 2013. Democracy Now! spoke with the founder, Peter Schumann: This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of this country’s most beloved theater companies. Founded in New York City in 1963, the Bread and Puppet Theater’s first productions ranged from puppet shows for children to pieces opposing poor housing conditions. The group’s processions, involving monstrous puppets, some about 20 feet high, became a fixture of protests against the Vietnam War. ‘We don’t have playwrights in the theater. Our playwright is the daily news, is this — all this horror that happens,’ says theater founder Peter Schumann. ‘And it’s not so much that we want to do it, but we continuously get obliged to do it, because the goddamn media don’t say it. They are — they live by omission, rather than by reporting.’ In the early 1970s, Bread and Puppet moved to Glover, Vermont, where they transformed a former hay barn into a museum of puppets. Today, Bread and Puppet remains one of the longest-running nonprofit, self-supporting theater companies in the United States. We spend the hour with Schumann, asking him how the theater addresses the most urgent political issues of our time, from nuclear weapons to mass domestic surveillance.

FireDogLake, After NSA Whitewash Story 60 Minutes’ John Miller to Join NYPD, DSWright, Dec. 27, 2013. After producing the now discredited 60 Minutes puff piece on the NSA the anchor of the piece, John Miller, will be rejoining the government communications profession for the New York Police Department. Miller embodies something that is, for some media critics, a source of great concern: the so-called “revolving door.”

Dec. 26

Edward SnowdenPC World, Edward Snowden's Christmas message: a child born today will have no conception of privacy, Peter Sayer, Dec. 26, 2013. ”A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Edward Snowden warned Wednesday in a message broadcast to U.K. television viewers. ”They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought,” said Snowden, famous for leaking documents from the U.S. National Security Agency that reveal just how much of what we say, write and do is already recorded and analyzed. ”That’s a problem because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are, and who we want to be,” Snowden said in “video message” recorded for Channel 4, a commercially funded public service broadcaster owned by the U.K. government. The video, one minute 43 seconds in duration, was produced by Praxis Films, the production company of freelance journalist Laura Poitras, who has worked on a number of stories about NSA surveillance based on the documents Snowden leaked.

BBC,Time up for 60 Minutes? Anthony Zurcher, Dec. 23, 2013. Critics contend that 60 Minutes hasn't been the same since Mike Wallace left. The New York Times' David Carr had a fairly scathing takedown of 60 Minutes on Monday. The venerable CBS News program recently had to apologize for a poorly sourced story on the Benghazi consulate attack and faced criticism for what was considered an overly complimentary piece on the National Security Agency.

Agonist, Erdogan cornered in Turkey – Did the USA say time to go?  Michael Collins, Dec. 27, 2013. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan faces major challenges from the opposition and within his own party, the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party). Through his rash actions and compulsive need for control, the PM has paved the road to his political demise. He may fall as a result of the current scandal or his exit may be somewhat delayed. In either case, things will be very ugly in Turkey before PM’s not so long good-bye is over. This will be at the expense of the Turkish people, who have done nothing to deserve this.

Consortium News via OpEdNews, Obama's Not-So-Terrible Year, Robert Parry, Dec. 26, 2013. It has become conventional wisdom to say that President Barack Obama has suffered through a terrible year in 2013 -- and if his slumping poll numbers are the only gauge, then these pundits may have a point. But much of this analysis simply marches in lockstep with the neocon view of Obama's supposed foreign policy "failures," which may not be failures at all. Indeed, there's a strong argument to be made that Obama's fifth year in office will be viewed as a historic turning point in U.S. relations with the Middle East, albeit one the neocons and much of Official Washington detest, thus explaining the hostility in their year-end critiques. For instance, if the neocons and the many tough guys/gals inside the Beltway had their way in 2013, the U.S. military would have pummeled Syria in retaliation for  its alleged (though still unproven) role  in the Aug. 21 Sarin gas incident outside Damascus. We now know that the neocons' desired bombing campaign would have been coordinated with a ground offensive by the Saudi-Israeli-favored, Sunni-dominated jihadist rebels , possibly leading to "regime change" in Syria. The U.S. assault also would likely have destroyed hopes of a nuclear agreement with Iran, thus raising the likelihood that Obama would have been goaded into a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. At each step of these escalations, the neocons would be egging Obama on, calling him "weak" and "indecisive" if he failed to ratchet up the pressure and violence.

Dec. 25

New York Times, TV Message by Snowden Says Privacy Still Matters, Channel 4, Stephen Castle, Dec. 25, 2013. In a message broadcast Wednesday on British television, Edward J. Snowden, the former American security contractor, urged an end to mass surveillance, arguing that the electronic monitoring he has exposed surpasses anything imagined by George Orwell in “1984,” a dystopian vision of an all-knowing state. “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all,” Mr. Snowden said in a Christmas Day message shown by Channel 4. “They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.” Washington Post, Snowden says spying worse than Orwellian, Griff Witte, Dec. 25, 2013. In Christmas video, the NSA whistleblower says government surveillance has destroyed privacy. 

Washington Post, If not the NSA, who should store the phone data?  Ellen Nakashima, Dec. 25, 2013. A measure that President Obama is considering as a way to curb the National Security Agency’s mass storage of phone data is already facing resistance — not only from the intelligence community but also from privacy advocates, the phone industry and some lawmakers. Obama last week suggested that he was open to the idea of requiring phone companies to store the records and allowing the government to search them under strict guidelines. Currently, the agency stores those records itself, part of a sprawling collection program that came to light through documents shared by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Washington Post, A ‘Front-Page Rule’ is unprecedented in U.S. intelligence, Walter Pincus, Dec. 25, 2013. Presidential panel suggests covert activity shouldn’t be undertaken if the public couldn’t support it if exposed.

Washington Post, Sledgehammer justice Sledgehammer justice, George F. Will, Dec. 25, 2013. How the government uses mandatory minimum sentences to gut constitutional rights.

Dec. 24 (Robertsdale, AL), Bah, humbug! I say to Alabama politics,  Bob Morgan, Dec. 24, 2013. It’s kind of hard to get into the Christmas spirit. I’m trying but I see a lot that’s bogus in this “Peace on earth, good will to men” thing. Case in point: Alabama political blogger Roger Shuler, who landed on the wrong square. Shuler’s in jail in Shelby County right now for alleging that a trio of Alabama power brokers — Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, Atty. Gen. Luther Strange and federal judge Bill Pryor, all notable “family values” types — have been involved in certain indiscretions that don’t exactly spell out “f-a-m-i-l-y-v-a-l-u-e-s.” Personally, I don’t know if Shuler is on target with his allegations or not, but several things about Shuler’s jailing make me say, “Bah, humbug!” To begin with, Shuler was arrested at his home in Shelby County on Oct. 23 and his mugshot shows him with a black, swollen eye. A retired judge was brought out of moth balls and charged Shuler with contempt of court. The judge sealed the court record at Rob Riley’s request and ordered Shuler to take down all blogs pertaining to the alleged “family values” trio. Of course, Shuler can’t do that from jail. “That’s your problem,” the judge is alleged to have told Shuler in open court. Thus, Roger Shuler could be in jail in Shelby County until the cows come home. What’s happened to Shuler is called “prior restraint” and it’s unconstitutional according to the U.S. Supreme Court. After years of watching “Perry Mason,” here’s how I think the case should have been handled. Rob Riley brings a defamation lawsuit against Roger Shuler. Everybody involved swears to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and the court decides, after hearing everyone’s testimony, if Shuler defamed Riley and the others. (Seriously, it’s legally difficult to defame a politician for obvious reasons.) If Shuler is found guilty, then he’s ordered to take down the blogs and suffers whatever other reprisals the court decides. Naturally, we’re all aghast here in Alabama that Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” got his hand spanked for speaking out against gay sex. “First Amendment right, First Amendment right!” we’re screeching. But how many Alabamians even know about the Shuler situation and its ramifications for free speech and a free press? Few, no doubt, since the case has been woefully neglected by state media even though it’s getting national attention. Shuler’s wife has been locked inside their house in Birmingham since he was arrested. She’s also named in Rob Riley’s permanent injunction and she’s scared and has a right to be.

Dec. 23

Washington Post, Snowden says his ‘mission’s already accomplished,’ Barton Gellman, Dec. 23, 2013. The former NSA contractor’s leaks have altered the U.S. government’s relationship with its citizens and the rest of the world. Six months later, he reflects.

Joe LauriaConsortium News, A History of False Fear, Joe Lauria, left, Dec. 23, 2013. It’s always hard to get someone to speak honestly when his or her livelihood depends on not telling the truth. With the military-industrial-surveillance complex, that reality is multiplied by the billions of dollars and the many careers at stake. Despite the deep embarrassment and outrage caused by continuing revelations of the National Security Agency’s abuse of power, meaningful reform is unlikely because at heart the Edward Snowden story is about money – and political power. And Snowden has threatened both. President Obama is considering adopting some NSA reforms recommended by a White House panel. But don’t bet on him going too far.

Consortium News via OpEdNews, UN Investigator Undercuts NYT on Syria, Robert Parry, Dec. 23, 2013. Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, agrees that the vector analysis -- at the heart of the New York Times' indictment of the Syrian government for the deadly Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack -- doesn't stand up to scrutiny. In a little-noticed comment at a UN press conference on Dec. 13, Sellstrom disputed claims that the launching point for the two missiles, which were recovered after the Aug. 21 attack, could be traced back following the angles of their final descent until they intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers away. In other words, the lead author of the UN report on the Aug. 21 incident has contradicted the much-touted "vectoring" claims of a New York Times front-page story and Human Rights Watch, which has been pushing for a U.S. military intervention in Syria. At the press conference, Sellstrom admitted, "I don't have information that would stand in court." He also told Wall Street Journal writer Joe Lauria that both sides in the conflict had the "opportunity" and the "capability" to carry out chemical weapons attacks.

OpEdNews, Food Behind Bars Isn't Fit for Your Dog, Chris Hedges, Dec. 23, 2013. Aramark, often contracted to provide food to prisoners at about a dollar a meal, is one of numerous corporations, from phone companies to construction firms, that have found our grotesque system of mass incarceration to be very profitable. The bodies of the poor, when they are not captive, are worth little to corporations. But bodies behind bars can each generate $40,000 to $50,000 a year for corporate coffers. More than 2.2 million men and women are in prisons and jails in the U.S. Crystal Jordan, who has spent 23 years as a corrections officer in New Jersey and who works at the Burlington County Jail, and another corrections officer at the jail, who did not want to be named, told me that the food doled out to prisoners by Aramark is not only substandard but often spoiled. For nearly a decade Jordan has filed complaints about the conditions in the jail, including persistent mold on walls and elsewhere, with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and county officials. The results of her complaints have been negligible.

Bill Moyers and Company via Huffington Post, Watch: Incarceration Nation an interview with Michelle Alexander, Bill Moyers, Dec. 23, 2013. There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. According to The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group dedicated to changing how we think about crime and punishment, "More than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their thirties, one in every ten is in prison or jail on any given day." Because of the 40-year war on drugs and get tough sentencing policies, the American prison population has exploded from about 300,000 in the 1970s to more than 2 million today. The United States has a higher rate of incarceration than any other nation and spends billions every year to keep people behind bars. The cost on democracy is immeasurable.  

Roger ShulerThink Progress, Ten Travesties Of Justice In 2013, Nicole Flatow, Dec. 23, 2013. Every year, stories emerge that serve as a reminder that the American system of justice means injustice for too many, with some receiving little or no punishment for egregious offenses, while others receive harsh or faulty punishment for much less. Here are some of the worst injustices of 2013: 1. An Alabama blogger is still sitting in a jail cell for exercising his First Amendment rights. Blogger Roger Shuler (shown at right after he was arrested and allegedly beaten at his home), drew the ire of the powers that be when he continued to write about the alleged extramarital affair of a prominent lawyer rumored to be running for Congress. The lawyer and son of former Alabama governor Bob Riley, Robert Riley, Jr., won a temporary restraining order that prohibited Shuler from writing anything about Riley’s alleged extramarital affair and other related stories. The order itself was almost certainly a violation of First Amendment law. But Alabama officials took the dispute a step further when they pursued him for a traffic stop and arrested him for contempt. In spite of advocacy from the ACLU and others, Shuler has now been in a jail cell for two months for his journalism; 2. A teen spent three years in jail without a conviction or trial. Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school walking home from a party in the Bronx when he was arrested on a tip that he robbed someone three weeks earlier. He was hauled off to Rikers Island, a prison known for punishing conditions and overuse of force, and was held because he couldn’t pay the $10,000 bail.

OpEd News, Let Roger Shuler Go Before Christmas -- The Only Journalist Held Indefinitely In The US, Jill Simpson and Jim March, Dec. 23, 2013. The Committee to Protect Journalists who are defending journalists worldwide recently announced their 2013 list of reporters imprisoned illegally around the world. As to be expected Turkey, Iran and China were at the top of the list but shamefully this time the US of A made the list as well due to the jailing of an Internet blogger named Roger Shuler in the state of Alabama.

OpEdNews, Holiday Greeting From Prison, Don Siegelman, Dec. 23, 2013. My Dear Friends, This has been my third Holiday Season in federal prison. If the Creator set a purpose for everything, then I know my job: To fight for justice! He has given me a personal, hands-on view of the tragedies created by our criminal justice system. It is not balanced or fair. It is not seeking truth or justice. Our system pursues convictions with an "anything goes" attitude! The President and the Attorney General have spoken out, allowing changes for let's encourage them to be even bolder, to seek justice for all...Oh, yes we can! We cannot give up on true justice.

Think Progress, Justice Department Calls In The Big Guns To Stop Voter Suppression, Ian Millhiser, Dec. 23, 2013. It’s difficult to exaggerate the prominence Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan enjoys within the progressive legal community. Karlan will take over as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights section. In this role, she will oversee the Justice Department’s most important challenges to voter suppression laws — including its efforts to restore federal oversight of Texas’ election law and its challenge to the nation’s worst voter suppression law in North Carolina. As a senior member of the Civil Rights Division, Karlan will work under soon-to-be Assistant Attorney General Debo Adegbile, who President Obama recently nominated as the nation’s top civil rights attorney.

Business Insider, Military & Defense More: Conspiracy Theorists Government CIA NSA, 9 Huge Government Conspiracies That Actually Happened, Christina Sterbenz, Dec. 23, 2013. We all know the conspiracy theories — the government's plan for 911, the second gunman who shot JFK, the evolution of the elite from a race of blood-drinking, shape-shifting lizards. But the people who spread these ideas usually can't prove them. As the years pass, however, secrets surface. Government documents become declassified. We now have evidence of certain elaborate government schemes right here in the U.S. of A. 1. The U.S. Department of the Treasury poisoned alcohol during Prohibition — and people died. 2. The U.S. Public Health Service lied about treating black men with syphilis for more than 40 years. 3. More than 100 million Americans received a polio vaccine contaminated with a potentially cancer-causing virus. From 1954 to 1961, simian virus 40 (SV40) somehow showed up  in polio vaccines, according to the American Journal of Cancer. Researchers estimate 98 million people in the U.S. and even more worldwide received contaminated inoculations. Jonas Salk, known creator of the inactivated polio vaccine, used cells from rhesus monkeys infected with SV40, according to president of the National Vaccine Information Center Barbara Fisher, who testified before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness in the U.S. House of Representatives on this matter in 2003, after researching the situation for 10 years. The federal government changed oral vaccine stipulations in 1961 — which didn't include Salk's inactivated polio vaccine — specifically citing SV40. But medical professionals continued to administer tainted vaccines until 1963, according to Michael E. Horwin writing for the Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology in 2003. And even after 1961, the American Journal of Cancer found contaminated oral vaccines. Although researchers know SV40 causes cancer in animals, opinions vary on a direct link between the virus and cancer in humans. Independent studies, however, have identified SV40 in brain and lung tumors of children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control did post a fact sheet acknowledging the presence of SV40 in polio vaccines but has since removed it, according to Medical Daily.

Dec. 22

Memory Hole, Courageous Journalism Prompts Establishment of Church Committee, James F. Tracy, Dec. 22, 2013. On December 22, 1974 the New York Times carried on its front page “Huge CIA Operation Reported in US Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years,” by Seymour Hersh. The piece chronicled the rampant abuses and crimes committed by the Central Intelligence Agency against the American citizenry. “An extensive investigation by the New York Times,” Hersh wrote, “has established that intelligence files on at least 10,000 American citizens were maintained by a special unit of the C.I.A. that was reporting directly to [then Director] Richard Helms.”  Later deemed “the son of Watergate,” by the Times, and at least as significant as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s Washington Post reportage that aided in bringing down the Nixon administration, Hersh pressed the issue of CIA overreach with several followup articles reporting on outrage and calls for explanation from Capitol Hill.

James CorbettCorbett Report, Media Lies While Syrians Die: Media Disinformation and the Syrian War, James Corbett, right, Dec. 22, 2013. A September 2013 study from Pew Research found that in the wake of the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta in August, the coverage of the Syrian war debate on cable news networks from supposedly different viewpoints was almost identical. The study found that Al Jazeera America, CNN, and BBC America all framed their reports in substantially similar ways and relied on substantially similar sources, including by far their most common three sources: the White House, the congress, and the military. A further study in October of this year by the Public Accountability Initiative found that many of the so-called Syria “experts” relied on by the western media to provide commentary on the Syrian conflict had direct financial ties to the defense industry, exactly as had been previously exposed in coverage of the Iraq war.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Freed Former Russian Tycoon, Challenges Putin Over Political Prisoners, Michelle Martin and Steve Gutterman, Dec. 22, 2013. Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Sunday promised not to seek power in Russia but said he would fight for the freedom of people he considered political prisoners, challenging Vladimir Putin two days after a presidential pardon freed him from jail. Khodorkovsky told reporters in Berlin that "the struggle for power is not for me", but made clear he would put pressure on Putin and urged world leaders to do the same, saying his release should not be seen as a sign Russian repression is at an end.

JFK Facts, Dec. 22, 1963: Former president Truman called for abolition of CIA, Jeff Morley, Dec. 22, 2013. According to an excellent 2009 piece by former CIA officer Ray McGovern (who says he was relying on JFK researcher Ray Marcus), Truman began thinking about his Post article nine days after Kennedy was killed. In handwritten notes found at the Truman Library, the former president noted, among other things, that the CIA had worked as he intended only “when I had control.” Four months later, Dulles paid Truman a visit trying to get him to retract what he had written in the Post. “No dice, said Truman,” according to McGovern/Marcus. ”No problem, thought Dulles. Four days later, in a formal memo for his old buddy Lawrence Houston, CIA General Counsel from 1947 to 1973, Dulles fabricated a private retraction, claiming that Truman told him the Washington Post article was ‘all wrong,’ and that Truman ‘seemed quite astounded at it.’” But in a June 10, 1964, letter to the managing editor of Look magazine, Truman restated his critique of covert action, emphasizing that he never intended the CIA to get involved in “strange activities.” As the country grieved JFK’s death and suspicions of conspiracy mounted, many current and former U.S. officials publicly rallied around the official story that Oswald had killed JFK alone and unaided. But privately many people familiar with the workings of the CIA had their doubts. Truman’s article was one of the earliest expression of those doubts. Others would follow.

Dec. 21

Bill The End Game for Democracy, Dec. 21, 2013. In one short, eloquent statement, Moyers hits all the right points. Bill Moyers says the parody and satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert pay Washington the disrespect it deserves, but in the end it’s the city’s predatory mercenaries who have the last laugh. 

Huffington Post, Inside the President's Review Group: Protecting Security and Liberty, Geoffrey R. Stone, Dec. 21, 2013. Professor of law and former provost, University of Chicago. On August 27, President Obama met in the White House Situation Room with the five members of his newly appointed Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. The members were Richard Clarke, a former member of the National Security Council; Michael Morell, a former Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Cass Sunstein, a former Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; Peter Swire, a former Chief Counselor for Privacy in the Office of Management and Budget; and me. Our charge was to submit a formal report to the President by December 15, 2013, advising him on how the United States can better employ its foreign intelligence surveillance capabilities in a way that effectively protects our national security. The five members of the Review Group unanimously agreed on every one of our 46 recommendations.

Washington Post, U.S. aid helps Colombia kill rebels, Secret CIA program has helped cripple FARC forces, Dana Priest, Dec. 21, 2013. The previously undisclosed CIA program, which includes substantial eavesdropping help from the NSA, has provided intelligence for airstrikes and GPS kits to guide smart bombs, officials say.

Washington Post, Americans uneasy about surveillance but often use snooping tools online, Marc Fisher and Craig Timberg, Dec. 21, 2013. A Post poll finds nearly seven in 10 Americans are concerned about how much information is collected.

Washington Post, U.S. reasserts need to keep NSA details secret, Ellen Nakashima, Dec. 21, 2013. The U.S. government reaffirms its claim of state-secrets privilege to keep under wraps what it says are operational details in lawsuits alleging that NSA surveillance of e-mails and phone calls is unlawful. The government Friday reasserted its claim of state-secrets privilege to keep under wraps what it says are operational details in two long-running lawsuits alleging the National Security Agency’s surveillance of Americans’ e-mails and phone calls is unlawful. Federal officials also for the first time publicly acknowledged  that President George W. Bush in 2001 authorized sweeping collections of Americans’ phone and Internet data — programs that operated for years solely under executive power before being brought under court and congressional oversight. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, left, said in a court filing Friday that Bush authorized the collection efforts on Oct. 4, 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Guardian, Nigeria must Use Her ‘Diaspora Power,’ Says Jesse Jackson, Oghogho Obayuwana and Karls Tsokar, Dec. 21 2013. For Nigeria to regain its leadership status on regional and global stage, she must urgently use her ‘Diaspora power’ to galvanise slumbering creative energies back home. The country should also engage that power as the financial and intellectual critical mass for economic development.

World Crisis Radio, Christmas 2013: Scrooge Lives as Reactionary Republicans and Libertarians Attack Food Stamps, Jobless Insurance, Minimum Wage, Webster G. Tarpley, Dec. 21, 2013. Interviews with Presidential Puppetry author Andrew Kreig and Darcy Richardson.

Dec. 20

Mikhail KhodorkovskyGuardian, Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change, Suzanne Goldenberg, Dec. 20, 2013. Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort. The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.

RT, Ex-oil tycoon Khodorkovsky leaves prison after pardon, Dec. 20, 2013. Ex-oil tycoon Khodorkovsky leaves prison after pardon. President Putin has pardoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arguably Russia’s best-known prisoner, citing humanitarian reasons. The former oil tycoon left jail hours later and flew to Germany, avoiding a crowd of journalists eager to see him. “As he was being released, Khodorkovsky. shown at right via a photo from Wikipedia, requested that he be issued documents needed to travel abroad. 

AP via USA Today, Freed Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky has left for Germany, Nataliya Vasilyeva. Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been pardoned by President Vladimir Putin, left jail after 10 years Friday and left for Germany, prison officials said on Friday. The Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement published on its website on Friday that Khodorkovsky had petitioned to be allowed to leave the country to meet his mother, who is undergoing medical treatment in Germany. The agency insisted that he left on his own volition. In his time in prison on politically tinged charges of tax evasion and embezzlement, Khodorkovsky, 50, turned from a powerful oligarch into a respected dissident, becoming a political thinker who argued for social justice and placed the blame on Putin for Russia's stagnating economy. It wasn't clear whether Khodorkovsky would continue his opposition to the Kremlin. The Kremlin's website published a decree Friday morning saying that Putin was "guided by the principles of humanity" when he decided to pardon Khodorkovsky. The pardon appeared to be a sudden turnaround for the Kremlin, which has vigorously prosecuted Khodorkovsky since his arrest in 2003, in what has widely been considered to be Putin's retribution for the tycoon's political ambitions.

USA Today, Pussy Riot members to be freed from prison, Korina Lopez, Dec. 20, 2013. Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alekhina, 25, will be freed from prison three months before their scheduled release, according to Reuters. The two women and fellow band member Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested for performing "Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away" from Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on Feb. 21, 2012. Their crime: "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility." While Samutsevich successfully appealed her sentence, the other two punk rockers remained, despite global cries for their release. Earlier this week, a new Russian amnesty law was passed. According to The Associated Press, prisoners "who haven't committed violent crimes, first-time offenders, minors and women with small children" are granted amnesty from their imprisonment. In a news conference, President Vladimir Putin expressed no regret for the Pussy Riot members. "I was not sorry that they ended up behind bars," he said. "I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behavior, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women."

Reuters, Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer, Joseph Menn, Dec. 20, 2013. As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned. Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.

Mashable, Twitter Turns Ugly Over PR Person's Idiotic Tweet, Chris Taylor, Dec. 20, 2013. Justine Sacco was, until Friday, the top PR person for InterActiveCorp, the New York media conglomerate run by Barry Diller. IAC owns the Daily Beast, Vimeo,, and, among many others. On her now-deactivated Twitter account, Sacco called herself a "troublemaker on the side" known for her "loud laugh." Perhaps it was inevitable that this self-image would clash with her high-rolling position.

Alyona MinkovskiHuffington Post Live, Richard Cohen On Edward Snowden: 'My Judgments Were Just Plain Wrong,' Alyona Minkovsky, left, Dec. 20, 2013. 

Dec. 19

Washington Post, Officials’ defenses of NSA program may be unraveling, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, Dec. 19, 2013. A court ruling and an expert panel cast doubt on the phone-data collection’s legality and value in deterring terrorism.

Washington Post, Putin says he will pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Isabel Gorst and Kathy Lally, Dec. 19, 2013. Khodorkovsky, founder of the Yukos oil corporation, was arrested in 2003 on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Washington Post, The wrong ruling on NSA data collection, Michael B. Mukasey, Steven G. Bradbury and David B. Rivkin Jr., Dec. 19, 2013. Michael B. Mukasey was U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration. Steven G. Bradbury was head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration and led the legal effort to obtain initial court approval for the NSA’s metadata collection. David B. Rivkin Jr. served in the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s office during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Reuters via Huffington Post, Russia To Free Pussy Riot And Oil Tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Alexei Anishchuk and Timothy HeritageDec. 19, 2013. President Vladimir Putin is to pardon one of his best known opponents, jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in what may be a gesture to critics of his human rights record before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics. Putin made the announcement that he would soon free Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, after a marathon news conference in which he exuded confidence that he has reasserted his authority in the face of street protests. He also confirmed that women from the Pussy Riot group would be also be released. Khodorkovsky, 50, spectacularly fell out with Putin a decade ago and had his Yukos oil company dissolved following his arrest on fraud and tax evasion charges in 2003.  He became Putin's nemesis, a symbol of what investors say is the Kremlin's abuse of the courts for political ends -- and share prices rose in Moscow on the news he would be pardoned. Putin has long singled out Khodorkovsky, who would be due for release in August, for bitter personal attacks, once saying that "a thief should sit in jail."

Daily Mail, Drunken beatings and threats made with a knife: Obama's half-brother writes book on the horrors of living with the president's absent father in Kenya, James Nye, Dec. 19, 2013.President Barack Obama's half brother is publishing an autobiography that details the domestic abuse he and his mother suffered at the hands of their father in Kenya. Mark Obama Ndesandjo also recounts his sporadic but intense encounters with his brother over the years. The self-published book, to be released in February, also tries to set the record straight on some points in the president's bestselling 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father. The Ivy-League educated half-brother of President Obama is publishing his autobiography in which he makes the shocking claim their father dished out alcohol-fueled beatings to him and his mother and in one terrifying instance held a knife to her throat. Mark Obama Ndesandjo, 48, also uses his new book to set the U.S. president straight on inaccuracies he claims exist in his best-selling 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father and confirms they have never seen eye-to-eye because 'Barack thought I was too white and I thought he was too black.' The book, Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery claims that Barck Obama Sr. consistently battered his wife when they lived in Kenya and details Ndesandjo's journey from the African country to America and finally to China where he now lives with his wife.

India Mail Today, Devyani Khobragade case reveals how row over maid's visa lead to this diplomatic incident, Saurabh Shukla, Dec. 19, 2013. The controversy is not just about the provocative arrest of a senior Indian diplomat. A Mail Today investigation has revealed how the saga unfolded.

U.S. Rep. Walter JonesWho What Why, Saudi Sized Cracks in 9/11's Wall of Silence, Russ Baker, Dec. 22, 2013. Two Congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, are asking Obama to declassify the congressional report on 9/11, which the Bush administration heavily redacted. The two members of the House of Representatives have read the blacked-out portions, including 28 totally blank pages that deal largely with Saudi government ties to the alleged 9/11 hijackers. This is apparently major connect-the-dots stuff—much more significant than what one may remember from Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 911, about Saudi royals and other Saudis studying and living in the US, who were allowed to go home without being interviewed in the aftermath of the attacks. This is about actual financial and logistical support of terrorism against the United States—by its ally, the Saudi government. As a Hoover Institution media scholar wrote in the New York Post (normally no bastion of deep investigative inquiry). The two outspoken Representatives, Walter Jones (R-NC), left, and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass), would be violating federal law if they offered any specifics about what they know, or even named any countries mentioned—but did say they were  “absolutely shocked” by revelations of foreign state involvement in the attacks. Now, they want a resolution requesting Obama declassify the entire document. If the media were to do its job Obama might feel he had to release the full 9/11 report. He’d have to concede there is a public right to know, or at least explain in detail why he doesn’t think so.

Dec. 18

FireDogLake, Under Amazon’s CIA Cloud: The Washington Post, Norman Solomon, Dec. 18, 2013. News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaper’s CIA coverage are left in the dark. The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon — which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. But the Post’s articles about the CIA are not disclosing that the newspaper’s sole owner is the main owner of CIA business partner Amazon. Even for a multi-billionaire like Bezos, a $600 million contract is a big deal. That’s more than twice as much as Bezos paid to buy the Post four months ago. And there’s likely to be plenty more where that CIA largesse came from. Amazon’s offer wasn’t the low bid, but it won the CIA contract anyway by offering advanced high-tech “cloud” infrastructure. Bezos personally and publicly touts Amazon Web Services, and it’s evident that Amazon will be seeking more CIA contracts. Last month, Amazon issued a statement saying, “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.” As Amazon’s majority owner and the Post’s only owner, Bezos stands to gain a lot more if his newspaper does less ruffling and more soothing of CIA feathers. Amazon has a bad history of currying favor with the U.S. government’s “national security” establishment. The media watch group FAIR pointed out what happened after WikiLeaks published State Department cables: “WikiLeaks was booted from Amazon’s webhosting service AWS. So at the height of public interest in what WikiLeaks was publishing, readers were unable to access the WikiLeaks website.” How’s that for a commitment to the public’s right to know? Days ago, my colleagues at launched a petition that says: “The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon — and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.” More than 15,000 people have signed the petition so far this week, with many posting comments that underscore widespread belief in journalistic principles. While the Post functions as a powerhouse media outlet in the Nation’s Capital, it’s also a national and global entity — read every day by millions of people who never hold its newsprint edition in their hands. Hundreds of daily papers reprint the Post’s news articles and opinion pieces, while online readership spans the world. 

Atlantic, Obama's Panel: A Rebuke to the NSA, Vindication for Edward Snowden, Conor Friedersdorf, Dec. 18, 2013. In response to the contractor's leaks, prominent voices in all three branches of government have now called for reining in the surveillance state.  A panel President Obama convened to assess the National Security Agency in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks has issued a 308-page report with this message: To protect privacy, civil liberties, and security, the NSA ought to be reformed. The panel's 46 recommendations, all implicit critiques of the way the NSA operates now, would rein in the agency in many of the ways civil libertarians have urged. The timing of the report is significant, since it comes just after a federal judge issued a ruling calling the NSA's phone dragnet "almost Orwellian" and likely unconstitutional. In other words, despite surveillance state protestations that its programs are legal, unobjectionable, and subject to oversight by all three branches of government, assessments of the program after the Snowden leaks have now resulted in strong rebukes from a federal judge, numerous legislators, and now a committee formed by the president himself.

NSA LogoNew York Times, Obama Panel Recommends New Limits on N.S.A. Spying, David E. Sanger, and Charlie Savage, Dec. 18, 2013. A panel of outside advisers urged President Obama on Wednesday to impose major restrictions on the National Security Agency, arguing that in the past dozen years its powers had been enhanced at the expense of personal privacy.  Specifically the panel of five intelligence and legal experts recommended that Mr. Obama restructure a program in which the N.S.A. systematically collects logs of all American phone calls — so-called metadata — and a small group of agency officials have the power to authorize the search of an individual’s telephone contacts. Instead, the panel said, the data should remain in the hands of telecommunications companies or a private consortium, and a court order should be necessary each time analysts want to access the information of any individual “for queries and data mining.” The experts briefed Mr. Obama on Wednesday on their 46 recommendations, and a senior administration official said Mr. Obama was “open to many” of the changes, though he has already rejected one that called for separate leaders for the N.S.A. and its Pentagon cousin, the United States Cyber Command. If Mr. Obama adopts the majority of the recommendations, it would mark the first major restrictions on the unilateral powers that the N.S.A. has acquired since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They would require the agency to seek far more specific approvals from the courts, far more oversight from the Congress, and specific presidential approval for spying on national leaders, especially allies.

Roger ShulerColumbia Journalism Review,The 2nd-worst year for jailed journalists, CPJ’s annual census of imprisoned journalists makes sober reading, Edirin Oputu, Dec. 18, 2013. Two hundred and eleven journalists are in jail around the world, the second-worst year on record since the Committee to Protect Journalists began its annual census in 1990. This year marks a slight improvement on 2012’s record high of 232, but the figures—which cover all reporters imprisoned as of December—still make depressing reading. The report was released December 18. Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists for the second year running, closely followed by Iran and China. Altogether, the three countries accounted for more than half of all reporters behind bars in 2013. The number of journalists in Turkish prisons fell from 49 to 40 this year: Some were freed pending trial, while others—defendants in pre-trial detentions—were released for time served. Dozens of Kurdish reporters were detained on terror-related charges; other journalists were imprisoned for allegedly supporting anti-government groups. Turkey’s anti-terror and penal laws allow its government to conflate covering banned groups with becoming active members of them, according to the CPJ. Only one journalist is behind bars in the Americas: Independent blogger Roger Shuler is in jail in Alabama, held in contempt of court for refusing to remove information from his blog that a judge had ruled defamatory. Shuler is shown at right.

USA Today, India outraged by strip-search of diplomat in NYC, Oren Dorell, Dec. 18, 2013. The U.S. State Department was scrambling to tamp down Indian outrage over the arrest of a diplomat in New York City who says she was stripped and cavity-searched over charges that she didn't pay her housekeeper enough money. Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, said the U.S. Marshals Service subjected her to an intrusive search following her arrest last week outside her daughter's Manhattan school on visa charges despite her "incessant assertions of immunity. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the diplomat's treatment as "deplorable" and protests have broken out in India. The case has infuriated the India government, which revoked privileges and identification cards for U.S. diplomats in India to protest her treatment. Indian police also removed security barriers around the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Prosecutors say the maid received less than $3 per hour for her work. In India, fear of public humiliation resonates strongly. Heavy-handed treatment by the police is normally reserved for the poor. For a middle-class woman to face a strip search is almost unimaginable except in heinous crimes.

CII Broadcasting (South Africa), The elite interests that control the USA, Abel Mabelane, Dec. 18, 2013. Radio duration: 48:13 min. Who controls American politics? Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters – documents what many millions have long suspected: secretive elites guide US government leaders. The first book to analyse Obama’s second term as president,reveals scandals and shows why Congress, courts, and other watchdog institutions fail to report key facts about even the biggest news makers. Our guest is Andrew Kreig based in Washington, DC. He is a public affairs commentator, author, attorney and legal reformer with decades of experience in cutting-edge public policy issues.

Dec. 17

Center for Public Integrity, How Washington starves its election watchdog, Dave Levinthal, Dec. 17, 2013. Just after the federal government shut down Oct. 1, and one of the government’s more dysfunctional agencies stopped functioning altogether, Chinese hackers picked their moment to attack. They waylaid the Federal Election Commission’s networks. They crashed computer systems that publicly disclose how billions of dollars are raised and spent each election cycle by candidates, parties and political action committees. As minutes turned to hours, the FEC found itself largely defenseless against what may be the worst act of sabotage in its 38-year history. The government had furloughed all 339 agency employees, save for the presidentially appointed commissioners, and not even one staffer had been deemed “necessary to the prevention of imminent threats” to federal property, the minimum measure for keeping someone on the job. And it happened just months after an independent auditor commissioned by the government warned that the FEC’s information systems were at “high risk” to infiltration — a charge the FEC roundly disputed, saying its “systems are secure.”

Fox News, Ex-CIA director: Snowden should be ‘hanged’ if convicted for treason, Lucas Tomlinson, Dec. 17, 2013. Former CIA Director James Woolsey had harsh words Tuesday for anyone thinking about giving Edward Snowden amnesty, and argued the NSA leaker should be “hanged” if he’s ever tried and convicted of treason. Woolsey, along with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton, spoke Tuesday in Washington in an interview with Fox News. “I think giving him amnesty is idiotic,” Woolsey said. “He should be prosecuted for treason. If convicted by a jury of his peers, he should be hanged by his neck until he is dead." The reaction comes after an official with the NSA task force assessing the leaks floated the idea of allowing Snowden safe passage back to the United States in exchange for a promise to end further leaking.   

24/7 Wall Street via Huffington Post, America's Least Healthy States, Alexander E.M. Hess, Michael B. Sauter and Thomas C. Frohlich, Dec 17, 2013. These are America’s most and least healthy states. Based on data provided by United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 states with each the highest and lowest overall scores. These scores are based on a number of measures that fall into two separate categories: determinants and outcomes. Determinants are further divided into behaviors, such as smoking; community and environmental factors, such as children living in poverty; policy factors, such as public health funding and immunization rates; and clinical care factors, such as the availability of dentists and doctors. Additionally, we also reviewed supplementary data provided by America’s Health Rankings, including economic factors such as median household income. All data referenced are the most recent available data.

Legal Schnauzer, Reporter Exposed to Theft, Threat of Violence and Gruesome Suicide While Unlawfully Incarcerated in Shelby County Jail, Carol Shuler, Dec. 17, 2013. Legal Schnauzer publisher, Roger Shuler, has been the victim of a theft while being unlawfully incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail because of a lawsuit filed by Republican political figure, Rob Riley. Shuler noticed funds missing from his inmate account about 10 days ago and filed a grievance with the Shelby County Jail. Shuler received a copy of his account which showed some $99 in unauthorized charges.  "I had a meeting with a Sargent Thompson," Shuler said, "and he stated that it appeared that an inmate had stolen my PIN number and charged unauthorized phone calls to my account in exchange for food items. Shuler has been incarcerated in the Shelby County Jail since Oct. 23 after Riley filed a lawsuit seeking removal of posts about Riley's extramarital affair with lobbyist Liberty Duke.  "Because of Rob Riley's lawsuit, I've had to encounter all sorts of dangerous events," Shuler said. The ACLU has filed a brief on Shuler's behalf stating that these injunctions, civil contempt findings, imprisonment and incarceration are all unlawful in his case. Shuler, who says he was beaten during his arrest on a contempt charges at his home, is shown at right in his jail mug photo Oct. 23.

Dec. 16

Edward SnowdenGuardian, Edward Snowden offers to help Brazil over US spying in return for asylum, Paul Owen,  Dec. 16, 2013. NSA whistleblower, left, says in letter he is willing to help in wake of revelations that President Dilma Rousseff's phone was hacked.

Guardian, Egypt's constitution unveiled with a poster depicting westerners, Patrick Kingsley, Dec. 16, 2013. Text proclaims it represents 'all Egyptians' but shows images of models that show up on basic internet searches.


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Richard J. LeonKeith AlexanderHuffington Post, NSA Phone Program Likely Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules, Mollie Reilly and Matt Sledge, Dec. 16, 2013. A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's phone record surveillance program is likely unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said that the agency's controversial program, first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year, appears to violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures. The program collects records of the time and phone numbers involved in every phone call made in the U.S., and allows that database to be queried for connections to suspected terrorists. "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval," wrote Leon, left, a Republican George W. Bush appointee, in the ruling. The NSA is led by Gen. Keith Alexander at right.

Guardian, NSA goes on 60 Minutes: the definitive facts behind CBS's flawed report, Spencer Ackerman, Dec. 16, 2013. Our take on five things the spy agency would like the public to believe about its vast surveillance powers. The National Security Agency is telling its story like never before. Never mind whether that story is, well, true. On Sunday night, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a remarkable piece that provided NSA officials, from director Keith Alexander to junior analysts, with a long, televised forum to push back against criticism of the powerful spy agency. It’s an opening salvo in an unprecedented push from the agency to win public confidence at a time when both White House reviews and pending legislation would restrict the NSA’s powers. But mixed in among the dramatic footage of Alexander receiving threat briefings and junior analysts solving Rubik’s cubes in 90 seconds were a number of dubious claims: from the extent of surveillance to collecting on Google and Yahoo data centers to an online “kill-switch” for the global financial system developed by China. Reporter John Miller, a former official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and an ex-FBI spokesman, allowed these claims to go unchallenged. The Guardian, not so much. Here’s our take:

FireDogLake, NSA Internal Oversight Must be Pathetic, Jon Walker, Dec. 16, 2013. The NSA still can’t figure out everything Edward Snowen did. One of the many frightening things about the Edward Snowden, right, revelations is discovering how terrible internal oversight must be at the National Security Agency. Despite half a year of an all-consuming investigation the NSA will probably never know what Snowden took. Investigators remain in the dark about the extent of the data breach partly because the N.S.A. facility in Hawaii where Mr. Snowden worked — unlike other N.S.A. facilities — was not equipped with up-to-date software that allows the spy agency to monitor which corners of its vast computer landscape its employees are navigating at any given time. Even if we assume the NSA as an entity doesn’t engage in systemic abuse (which no one should assume giving their history and multiple lies) this is still deeply terrifying. If after six month the NSA still can’t figure out everything Snowen did, it must mean their internal auditing is completely inadequate. Thousands of people have incredibly deep access to the NSA’s ever expanding web of surveillance and apparently the NSA has no way of figuring out what these individual have done with their access. That includes information that could be abused in countless ways for personal gain.

OpEdNews, 'Good' Syrian rebels on run, Saudis ask Putin for help, Michael Collins, Dec. 16, 2013. Will there be any 'good' Syrian rebels left to provide credible representation at the January United States - Russia sponsored Geneva II peace conference? The U.S. favored rebel group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), experienced major setbacks in December. On the first, the Syrian Arab Army killed a key FSA commander in Daraa Province in southern Syria.  On the eighth, "the top Western-backed rebel commander in Syria," General Salim Idris, head of the FSA, fled Syria after an Al Qaeda aligned rebel faction took over FSA weapons warehouses north of Aleppo near the Syria-Turkey border.  On December 15, an Al Qaeda affiliated rebel group killed another FSA regional commander in a town near Aleppo. General Idris ended up in Doha, Qatar. The United States is urging him to return to his command in Syria. As a result of the weapons warehouse falling into the hands of Islamist Syrian rebels, the U.S. announced the suspension of nonlethal aid to northern Syria. The brought complaints from FSA fighters and an admission from Syrian war effort supporter John McCain (R-AZ) that "parts of the northern Syrian border have been taken over by the al-Nusra and other extremist Islamist groups."

Village Voice, Read the "Stomach-Churning" Sexual Assault Accusations Against R. Kelly in Full, Jessica Hopper, Dec. 16, 2013. Journalist Jim DeRogatis caught the story that has since defined his career, one that he wishes didn't exist: R. Kelly's sexual predation on teenage girls. DeRogatis, at that time the pop-music critic at the *Chicago Sun-Times*, was anonymously delivered the first of two videos he would receive depicting the pop star engaging in sexual acts with underage girls. Now the host of the syndicated public radio show *Sound Opinions* and a professor at Columbia College, DeRogatis, along with his former *Sun-Times*colleague Abdon Pallasch, didn't just break the story, they did the only significant reporting on the accusations against Kelly, interviewing hundreds of people over the years, including dozens of young women whose lives DeRogatis says were ruined by the singer.  This past summer, leading up to Kelly's headlining performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival, DeRogatis posted a series of discussions about Kelly's career, the charges made against him, and sexual assault.

Dec. 15

Nelson Mandela 2008 wikipediaOpEdNews,The Mainstream Media and Mandela: Hypocrisy, Crocodile Tears and Sham Solidarity, Michael Roberts, Dec. 15, 2013. When South Africa's most famous freedom fighter and political icon died recently, loud and strident were the praises from international capitals around the world. People who covertly supported the odious political system of South African Apartheid suddenly were struck by a political epiphany and joined the frantic rush to canonize Nelson Mandel, left. This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to hijack the legacy of Mandela and pose a "we did it moment" meme for   a tiny global elite who could never comprehend the suffering of Black South Africans -- even today -- in places like Soweto.

Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela Dec. 5, 2013At right, President Barack Obama watches news coverage of the passing of Nelson Mandela, in the Outer Oval Office, Dec. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Truthout, The Mandela Barbie, Greg Palast, Dec. 15, 2013. All week, I've watched Nelson Mandela reduced to a Barbie doll. From Fox News to the Bush family, the politicians and media mavens who body-blocked the anti-Apartheid Movement and were happy to keep Mandela behind bars, now get to dress his image up in any silly outfit they choose. To replace the plastic and metal Mandelas with flesh and blood, I spoke to Danny Schechter. Schechter knew Mandela personally, and more deeply, than any other American journalist. One of the great reporters of our generation, Schechter produced South Africa Now, a weekly program seen on PBS, from 1988-91, bringing Mandela's case to Americans dumbed and numbed by Ronald Reagan's red-baiting. Schechter notes that George W. Bush kept Mandela on the Terrorist Watch List — no kidding — even after Mandela was elected President.

Showbiz, Murdoch’s NYPost Today Backs Michael Moore Bush-Saudi Claims from “Fahrenheit 911,″ Roger Friedman, Dec. 15, 2013. Shock: today’s Murdoch owned highly conservative New York Post features an opinion piece backing Michael Moore‘s Bush-Saudi claims from “Fahrenheit 911.” It’s the main story on the Post’s website with a huge photo and prominent placement. The story is also featured in a color block headline on the front page of today’s paper. Moore must get a lot of satisfaction out of this. It’s only taken a decade for a conservative pundit writing in a conservative newspaper to endorse his movie. Indeed, Paul Sperry’s editorial is a direct echo of a 2003 Vanity Fair story by Craig Unger, author of the book that was the underlying information for the Oscar winning movie. That book was called “House of Bush, House of Saud” and it still available for Kindle. The Vanity Fair article was called Saving the Saudis, publishing ten years ago.

Associated Press via, Selma's once thriving Chestnut, Sanders and Sanders law firm much smaller and splintered, Phillip Rawls, Dec. 15, 2013. Hank Sanders is the only remaining partner in the firm that was once one of the most prominent African American law firms in the South. One of the South's prominent African-American law firms has disintegrated in a fight over money after helping black farmers nationwide win $1.2 billion in a discrimination case. The Chestnut, Sanders and Sanders law firm in Selma once had nearly 40 employees and handled high-profile cases ranging from defending capital murder defendants to pursuing civil rights complaints. In recent years, it has shrunk dramatically and struggled with financial problems. Now, the family of the late J.L. Chestnut Jr. is fighting his former partners, state Sen. Hank Sanders and his wife, Faya Rose Sanders, over how to divide a $5.2 million fee that arose from the black farmers' discrimination case. An attorney for the Chestnut family, retired Circuit Judge Claud Neilson, said the family deserves a significant share because Chestnut was a major figure in the farmers' case from the start and was "a very well-known and respected lawyer" who helped the firm generate income. The firm was best known for the black farmers' case. It began with a lawsuit in 1997 with black farmers alleging discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several law firms were involved, but Chestnut was one of the faces of the case, testifying to Congress and speaking across the country to alert black farmers. The farmers originally got $100,000. Then a second round of litigation produced $1.15 billion, bringing the total to $1.25 billion. "When the black farmers' case began, we were the largest black law firm in the state. We were once one of the 10 largest black law firms in the country. We had nearly 40 employees. The first black farmers' case broke our firm financially, numerically and otherwise. Now, I am the only partner in the firm," Hank Sanders said in a statement.

Dec. 14

KPBX (Spokane), Ricin Case Brings Up Disregard for Criminal Evidence Rule, Tom Bacon, Dec. 14, 2013. A former Spokane Valley man sentenced a decade ago for making and intending to use the deadly poison ricin has failed again in his bid to overturn his sentence. But Kenneth R. Olsen's conviction aroused the wrath of five dissenting judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who lashed out at prosecutors and judges who ignore the basic rules of justice. Most judicial dissents are couched in mild, respectful language. But not this one, written by 9th Circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski, joined by four other appeals judges. They charged that US prosecutors in Spokane ignored a well-settled requirement that evidence favorable to a criminal defendant be turned over to defense lawyers. It's called the Brady rule, after a case heard years ago by the US Supreme Court. The dissenting judges wrote "some prosecutors don't care about Brady because courts don't make them care." They said that federal prosecutors in Spokane behaved with "casual disregard for their own constitutional obligations and for Olsen's rights. Worse, they wrote "when such transgressions are acknowledged yet forgiven by the courts, we endorse and invite their repetition."

Washington Post, White House delayed policies before election, Juliet Eilperin, Dec. 14, 2013. The Obama administration didn’t want rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to be points of contention before the 2012 campaign, officials say.

Washington Post, Refugee: Stories from the Syrian Exodus, Kevin Sullivan, Dec. 14, 2013. Refugees from Syria’s civil war are remaking the political, economic and religious landscape in the Mideast.

Gary and Judy WhiteOpEdNews, Forrest City FCI: Where Visitors, Civil Rights and Human Dignity Are Unwelcome, Joan Brunwasser, Dec. 14, 2013. Editor's Note: This is part of a continuing series in which OEN editor Joan Brunwasser interviews Judy White, shown at right with her husband, former Jefferson County (Alabama) Commissioner Gary White, who is serving a 10-year sentence in Arkansas on federal corruption charges. The Whites maintain that the prosecution was in retaliation for his refusal to provide false testimony in another case. Leading up to Thanksgiving, Gary asked prison employees several times about the visitation schedule so we could make plans. Not only did they not know, they didn't care, and they didn't bother to ask anyone or let Gary know. Finally, the week before Thanksgiving, Gary approached a lieutenant, someone who has a higher rank and may be expected to know more than the regular prison guards. I've shared with you before that they must like to pretend they are in the military, giving themselves military rank-style titles.) Gary asked the lieutenant when visitation would be allowed for Thanksgiving. The lieutenant responded with a question: "What Day of the week is Thanksgiving on this year?"

Dec. 13

Keith AlexanderBarack Obama and Military Chiefs Nov. 12, 2013Washington Post, U.S. to maintain unified NSA, Cyber Command leadership, Ellen Nakashima, Dec. 13, 2013. Critics say agencies needed separate heads to avoid undue concentration of power in single individual, currently Keith Alexander, right. At left, the president meets with top military and national security advisors (White House file photo).

Washington Post, In cracking cellphone code, NSA power grows, Craig Timberg and Ashkan Soltani, Dec. 13, 2013. The agency can easily defeat encryption technology to decode billions of private calls and texts that travel over public airwaves, a document shows.

Atlantic, The 6,000-Page Report on CIA Torture Has Now Been Suppressed for 1 Year, Conor Friedersdorf, Dec. 13 2013. It cost $40 million to produce, documents serious wrongdoing, and doesn't threaten national security. Team Obama won't release it.  One year ago today, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to adopt a 6,000-page report on the CIA rendition, detention, and interrogation program that led to torture. Its contents include details on each prisoner in CIA custody, the conditions of their confinement, whether they were tortured, the intelligence they provided, and the degree to which the CIA lied about its behavior to overseers. Senator Dianne Feinstein declared it one of the most significant oversight efforts in American history, noting that it contains "startling details" and raises "critical questions." But all these months later, the report is still being suppressed.

James BamfordSalt Lake Tribune, Bamford: Public backlash — not Congress — will rein in NSA spying, Tony Semerad, Dec.13, 2013. Experts say civic engagement, use of privacy tools will curb unchecked surveillance. Public protest, legal reform and widespread use of tools that shield Web traffic from spying are the only ways to fight privacy-crushing surveillance by the National Security Agency, a prominent author told Utahns on Friday. Despite revelations by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden on the depth and scope of government intrusion into phone records, Internet usage, email, financial data and other personal information, Congress will not lead the way on toughening scrutiny of the U.S. military’s spy agency, NSA observer and investigative reporter James Bamford said. ‘‘It really has to come from the grass roots to the local legislators and then to Washington for them to see the anger,’’ Bamford, right, told an audience at the University of Utah. ‘‘It’s not going to be top down. It’s got to be bottom up.’’ A new wave of young Internet users — the so-called ‘‘Facebook generation’’ — will be going up against the NSA ‘‘at the height of its power,’’ Bamford and others said. And it needs to take seriously the dire threats posed by unchecked U.S. prying into personal data.

Dec. 12

McClatchy News Service, Lawsuit seeks to unlock CIA’s secret history of Bay of Pigs invasion, Michael Doyle, Dec. 12, 2013. The Obama administration on Thursday fought to keep secret a CIA account of the 1961 Bay of Pigs debacle. Half a century after the failed invasion of Cuba, an administration lawyer told a top appellate court that the time still isn’t right to make the document public. See also, National Security Archive, National Security Archive Lawsuit Seeks Last Volume of CIA "Official History," Tom Blanton, Dec. 13, 2013. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard the National Security Archive's arguments yesterday for public release of the last secret volume of the CIA's internal history of the 1961 Bay of Pigs disaster. The Archive rebutted the CIA's claims that the events deserved any protection. RT, CIA probe into Bay of Pigs should be kept secret: Obama admin, Dec. 14, 2013.
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AP via Huffington Post, Robert Levinson, American Missing In Iran, Was Working For CIA, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, Dec. 12, 2013. In March 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson flew to Kish Island, an Iranian resort awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures. Days later, after an arranged meeting with an admitted killer, he checked out of his hotel, slipped into a taxi and vanished. For years, the U.S. has publicly described him as a private citizen who traveled to the tiny Persian Gulf island on private business. But that was just a cover story. An Associated Press investigation reveals that Levinson was working for the CIA. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world's darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian government.

President Obama and Vice President Biden in Meeting Dec. 12, 2013Washington Post, Obama the oblivious, Charles Krauthammer, Dec. 12, 2013. In explaining the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, President Obama told Chris Matthews he had discovered that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.” An interesting discovery to make. Obama’s late discovery is especially remarkable considering that he built his entire political philosophy on the rock of Big Government, on the fervent belief in the state as the very engine of collective action and the ultimate source of national greatness. (Indeed, of individual success as well, as in “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”)

At left, President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Dec. 11

Reuters, U.S., Britain suspend aid to north Syria after Islamists seize weapons store, Dasha Afanasieva and Humeyra Pamuk, Dec. 11, 2013. The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in the wrong hands and the general chaos engulfing the nation. The rebel Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. and British moves were rushed and mistaken. "We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer," FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said. The suspension underlines a crisis for the FSA leadership which needs international backing to reinforce its credibility and to stop its fighters joining powerful al Qaeda-backed Islamist militants who now dominate the war with Assad.

Dec. 10

Barack Obama Mandela Soccer StadiumHuffington Post, Dan Rather: CBS Has 'A Lot To Answer' About Lara Logan Scandal, Jack Mirkinson, Dec. 10, 2013. Dan Rather told Piers Morgan on Monday that CBS News has "a lot to answer" about the scandal surrounding its discredited "60 Minutes" report on Benghazi, but he said that Lara Logan, the correspondent at the heart of the scandal, should keep her job. Logan is currently on an indefinite leave of absence after her central source for the Benghazi story was found to be a serial liar.

Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela Memorial in South Africa, Dec. 10, 2013At left and right, President Obama is in a South African soccer stadium on stage and in preparation to take the stage Dec. 10 in honor of the late civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who died at age 95.

Washington Post, Woman who inspired Syria’s peaceful revolt goes missing, Liz Sly, Dec. 10, 2013. One of the most prominent figures in the peaceful protest movement that swept Syria early in the country’s uprising was reported missing Tuesday from a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus, prompting suspicions that she is among the scores of civilian activists and journalists who have been detained by Islamist extremists in recent months. Razan Zaitouneh, 36, a human rights lawyer, disappeared from her apartment with her husband and two other activists overnight Monday after threats were received from Islamist groups.

Washington Post, NSA uses Internet cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking, Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson and and Barton Gellman, Dec. 10, 2013. It secretly piggybacks on the tools that advertisers use to track consumers online, making particular use of part of a Google-specific tracking file. The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using "cookies" and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance. The agency's internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.

OpEdNews, ALEC Claims to Control 100% of Iowa's & South Dakota's State Legislatures, Eric Zuesse, Dec. 10, 2013. The far-right American Legislative Exchange Council claims that every member of the state legislature in two states is a member of their organization. Recently leaked documents from the  "ALEC Board Meeting, August 6, 2013, Chicago, Illinois," list the number and percentage of each state's legislature that have signed onto ALEC; and, under "# of Legislators," and "# of ALEC Members," Iowa has 150 in each column, and South Dakota has 105 in each column. The third column, for both states, shows the "% of ALEC Membership in Legislature" as being "100%." At the opposite end, the lowest percentage is 1%, in New York. The second-lowest is New Jersey, 2%.

Democracy Now! via OpEdNews, Seymour Hersh: Obama "Cherry-Picked" Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike, Amy Goodman, Dec. 10, 2013. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh (below right) joins us to discuss his new article casting doubt on the veracity of the Obama administration's claims that only the Assad regime could have carried out the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta earlier this year. AMY GOODMAN:  Lay out your case for what it is that the Obama administration did or didn't tell us. SEYMOUR HERSH: Actually, Amy, it's really not my case; it's the case of people in the administration who believe when they -- when they take the oath, they take the oath of office to the Constitution and not to their immediate general or admiral or not to the -- or not to the president even. It's about truth.... There's -- it's a real rebel war there, civil war. And the point was that at no Seymour Hershtime did the United States ever consider al-Nusra to be a potential target of investigation. They were simply excluded from the conversation. And the narrative was Bashar did it. And it was bought by the mainstream press, as we all know, and by most people in the world. And this is why, you know, creepy troublemakers like me stay in business.

Dec. 9

FireDoglake, Seymour Hersh: Obama Administration Cherry-Picked Syria Intelligence, Avoided Al-Qaeda Connection, DS Wright, Dec. 9, 2013. In a piece that was rejected by both the New Yorker and Washington Post, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, right, writes that the Obama Administration cherry-picked Syria intelligence and that President Barack Obama misled the American public on the case that the Assad regime were the ones guilty of using sarin gas. Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack

Dec. 8

London Review of Books, Whose sarin? Seymour M. Hersh, Dec. 8, 2013. Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. 

Moyers and Company, The Criminalization of Everyday Life, Chase Madar and Tom Engelhardt, Dec. 9, 2013. Sometimes a single story has a way of standing in for everything you need to know.  In the case of the up-arming, up-armoring and militarization of police forces across the country, there is such a story.  Not the police, mind you, but the campus cops at Ohio State University now possess an MRAP; that is, a $500,000, 18-ton, mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle of a sort used in the war in Afghanistan and, as Hunter Stuart of the Huffington Post reported, built to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IEDs and nuclear, biological and chemical environments.”  Sounds like just the thing for bouts of binge drinking and post-football-game shenanigans. That MRAP came, like so much other equipment police departments are stocking up on — from tactical military vests, assault rifles and grenade launchers to actual tanks and helicopters – as a freebie via a Pentagon-organized surplus military equipment program. As it happens, police departments across the country are getting MRAPs like OSU’s, including the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota. It’s received one of 18 such decommissioned military vehicles already being distributed around that state. So has Warren County which, like a number of counties in New York state, some quite rural, is now deploying Afghan War-grade vehicles.

Huffington Post, Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal, Zach Carter, Dec. 8, 2013. The Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation, according to two internal memos obtained by The Huffington Post. The memos, which come from a government involved in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, detail continued disputes in the talks over the deal. The documents reveal broad disagreement over a host of key positions, and general skepticism that an agreement can be reached by year-end. The Obama administration has urged countries to reach a deal by New Year's Day, though there is no technical deadline.

Washington Post, Agencies collected data on Americans’ cellphone use in thousands of ‘tower dumps,'  Ellen Nakashima, Dec. 8, 2013. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducting criminal investigations collected data on cellphone activity thousands of times last year, with each request to a phone company yielding hundreds or thousands of phone numbers of innocent Americans along with those of potential suspects. Law enforcement made more than 9,000 requests last year for what are called “tower dumps,” information on all the calls that bounced off a cellphone tower within a certain period of time, usually two or more hours, a congressional inquiry has revealed.

Dec. 7

Washington Post, NSA morale low after Snowden revelations, ex-officials say, Ellen Nakashima, Dec. 7, 2013. NSA morale down after Edward Snowden revelations, former U.S. officials say. They add that they are surprised President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support.

Washington Post, Al-Qaeda-linked group gaining ground in Iraq, Ben Van Heuvelen, Dec. 7, 2013. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is using attacks in both countries to show off its growing clout.

Dec. 5

Rolling Stone, John F. Kennedy's Vision of Peace, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dec. 5, 2013. On the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, his nephew recalls the fallen president's attempts to halt the war machine.

New Haven Independent, New Haven Advocate, 1975-2013, Paul Bass, Dec 4, 2013. The New Haven Advocate, a weekly newspaper once known for a mix of gutsy investigative journalism, edgy political commentary, magazine-style feature writing, and savvy arts coverage, died Wednesday following a long illness. It was 38 years old. The cause of death was a changed media landscape combined with corporate cluelessness and cupidity. Like other alt-weeklies, the Advocate by the time of its death has gradually shrunk in page size, innovation, and relevance since succumbing to corporate ownership. The Tribune Co. (the Courant’s owner) gradually drained the paper’s newsroom of reporters and editors, as well as creativity and pluck, squeezing as much profit as it could without reinvesting in quality local reporting. The company’s mainstream corporate culture never blended with the altweekly DNA; instead it wiped it out. Then, as the internet changed the face of journalism, the Advocate—which had introduced online story-chats and interactive news-oriented games before the corporate takeover—sat out the revolution.

Boston Globe, In reversal, Obama says he lived with uncle, Maria Sacchetti, Dec. 5, 2013 (Subscription required).

Voice of Russia, British agents in Russia instructed to find Snowden – Canadian NGO, Staff report, Dec. 5, 2013. The British intelligence MI-6 station in Moscow has been given the task of locating former US intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, who was granted temporary political asylum in Russia, says the Center for the Study of Globalization, a Canadian non-governmental organization based in Montreal. "The British authorities are aiming to find Snowden and, if possible, to ship him to the UK or the US," says the Canadian NGO website without referring to any sources. British MI-6 employees in Moscow "have started analyzing intelligence received by US National Security Agency and UK Government Communications Centre in the course of surveillance on Facebook and other social websites in order to detect Snowden’s location," says the Canadian research organization. According to the NGO, at present, information on the chain of Twitter contacts connected to Snowden is being processed as well as information on phone calls made by four former employees of US intelligence services, who visited Moscow in October to meet him. The Canadian NGO claims that all American contacts in Moscow have already been identified which made it possible to broaden the search for Snowden and learn his daily schedule. As pointed out by the Center for the Study of Globalization, the Snowden search was given the highest priority in the MI-6 station, "mostly due to the damage done to worldwide British intelligence operations by Snowden’s leaks, rather than a desire to find favor in the eyes of their American colleagues, the CIA."

Dec. 4

Washington Post, NSA collects 5 billion records a day on cellphones, Agency tracks locations of devices worldwide, Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Dec. 4, 2013. Data on Americans are collected incidentally as foreign targets are monitored, according to documents from ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool. The NSA is led by Gen. Keith Alexander at left.

FireDogLake, Why There is Nothing Wrong With the Fact That Less Than 1% of NSA Files Have Been Published, Kevin Gosztola, Dec. 4, 2013. There seems to be growing or steady discontent with the way a select group of committed and professional journalists have handled the National Security Agency documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden wants the files to keep trickling out in the manner in which they are being made public. Glenn Greenwald wrote: "[H]e came to journalists he personally selected, and asked that we only publish with media organizations. He also asked that we very carefully vet the material he gave us and only publish that which would be recognized as in the public interest but not anything which could be said to endanger the lives of innocent people. His primary concern has always been that the focus be on the substance of what the NSA is doing, and knew that mass, indiscriminate publication would drown meaningful discussions with accusations of how we recklessly helped The Terrorists™, the Chinese, and every other World Villain….Over the course of six months, global citizens have learned the NSA: collects the phone records of all consumers, has a PRISM program that gives the agency direct access to Internet companies to collect users’ data, has a “Boundless Informant” program capable of tracking global surveillance data and collecting billions of pieces of intelligence on US citizens, US and UK spied on world leaders at the 2009 G20 Summit and bugged the South African ministry, how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allows US persons’ data to be used without a warrant, the NSA and GCHQ are tapping into fiber optic cables of Internet companies to intercept traffic, harvests users’ metadata, how the NSA collected US email records in bulk under Obama for two years, US bugs EU and UN embassies, spies on communications of millions of Germans, French, and Brazilians. Also revealed [click here for more}

Dec. 3

Atlantic, How Surveillance-State Insiders Try to Discredit NSA Critics, Conor Friedersdorf, Dec. 3, 2013. Journalists opposed to the surveillance state are accused of sensationalism and withholding context. But unlike our critics, we're eager for the whole truth to out. Who has done more than anyone else to increase public understanding of what the National Security Agency does? A top-10 list would have to include James Bamford, its first and most prolific journalistic chronicler, and Glenn Greenwald, a primary recipient of classified documents leaked months ago by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Over the weekend, I engaged in a back-and-forth with a former NSA employee who harshly criticized both (and me, too) with words that illuminate how some insiders view the press and the national-security state. His name is John R. Schindler. In his own words, he is a "professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, where he’s been since 2005, and where he teaches courses on security, strategy, intelligence, terrorism, and occasionally military history." He previously spent "nearly a decade with the National Security Agency as an intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer," and he is "a senior fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University and is chairman of the Partnership for Peace Consortium's Combating Terrorism Working Group, a unique body which brings together scholars and practitioners from more than two dozen countries across Eurasia to tackle problems of terrorism, extremism, and political violence." As Schindler and I interacted on Twitter, a predictable divide opened up between his followers, who are generally supportive of the surveillance state, and mine, who are more skeptical of it. Highlighting parts of our exchange* will permit me to better explain what it is that many of us "outsiders" find so frustrating about how "insiders" treat this subject.

Guardian, An open letter from Carl Bernstein to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, Carl Bernstein, Dec. 3, 2013. Watergate scandal journalist's letter comes as Guardian editor prepares to appear before MPs over Edward Snowden leaks.

FireDogLake, Discussing NSA’s Turkey Talking Points on RT’s ‘Breaking the Set,’ Kevin Gosztola, Dec. 3, 2013.  Abby Martin of RT’s “Breaking the Set” had me on to discuss the talking points sheet the NSA leadership sent for employees to share with family and close friends during Thanksgiving. She also asked me about NSA’s porn-spying and whether it seems like the country has lost interest in the disclosures. The story I published with the NSA’s talking points for the holiday season did really well yesterday. It was picked up by The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Verge, Gizmodo,, and Techdirt.

Dec. 2

Consortium News, Contra-Cocaine Was a Real Conspiracy, Robert Parry, Dec. 2, 2013. Exclusive: The 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination saw a mainstream media blackout of nearly all evidence of conspiracy in that case. But New York Magazine went even further, mocking the proven Contra-cocaine scandal as a “conspiracy theory.” In the insular world of Manhattan media, there’s much hand-wringing over the latest blow to print publications as New York Magazine scales back from a weekly to a biweekly. But the real lesson might be the commercial failure of snarky writing, the kind that New York demonstrated in its recent hit piece on “conspiracy theories.” What was most stunning to me about the article, pegged to the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, was that it began by ridiculing what is actually one of the best-documented real conspiracies of recent decades, the CIA’s tolerance and even protection of cocaine trafficking by the Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the 1980s. Author Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes: “The wider the aperture around this theory, the harder its proponents work to implicate Washington, the shakier it seems." But neither Wallace-Wells nor his New York Magazine editors seem to have any idea about the actual history of the Contra-cocaine scandal.

Barack Obama_Denis_McDonaugh_Daughter Dec. 2, 2013FireDogLake, NSA Sent Home Talking Points for Employees to Use in Conversations with Family & Friends During Holidays, Kevin Gosztola, Dec. 2, 2013. A sheet of talking points for employees of the National Security Agency and Central Security Services, was sent out ahead of Thanksgiving to help guide conversations with family and friends during the holiday season. Firedoglake obtained a copy of a two-page document that was sent out on November 22. It was clearly put together for rebutting statements about the NSA from news stories on documents disclosed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and it encouraged employees to “share the following points with family members and close friends.” The “talking points” sheet suggests that employees make five key points: (1) NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation”; (2) NSA performs its mission the right way—lawful, compliant and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy; (3) NSA performs its mission exceptionally well. We strive to be the best that we can be, because that’s what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world; (4) The people who work for NSA are loyal Americans with expert skills who make sacrifices to help protect the freedoms we all cherish; (5) NSA is committed to increased transparency, public dialog and faithful implementation of any changes required by our overseers. (No emphasis added. Underlines appear in the document.)

At right, President Barack Obama, joined by Chief of Staff Denis McDonough's daughter, carries a birthday cake to surprise McDonough in his West Wing office, Dec. 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Daily Beast, Dallas Lays Elaborate but Dignified Plans to Celebrate Assassination Anniversary, Helen Anders, Nov. 22, 2013. Still smarting from being tagged the ‘city of hate’ 50 years ago, Dallas plans to observe the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination with as much dignity as possible.Thus, although it will take place just a few yards from the spot where John F. Kennedy was shot in the head and killed on Nov. 22, 1963, the city’s official memorial is likely to contain not a word about the assassination. Instead, Rawlings will speak about Kennedy’s presidency on Nov. 22 at Dealey Plaza to about 5,000 people—local officials, media, financial contributors to the event, and about 3,700 individuals who won tickets through a lottery and have been vetted by the Dallas Police Department.

JFK Globe Coverage...76 Others MurderedGlobe, President John F. Kennedy's body must be exhumed for a new autopsy! Globe Staff, Dec. 2, 2013. That's the bombshell demand of forensic experts who insist it's the only way to finally learn the truth about the President's assassination 50 years ago. In this week's GLOBE, you'll learn why authorities say a new autopsy will reveal the identity of the real killers - PLUS: a special report about 76 persons linked to JFK who have died in a chilling conspiracy cover-up. 

DC Dave, Biggest Whistleblower in JFK Case Ignored, David Martin, June 8, 2012. The dwindling number of Americans who profess to believe the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy and did it alone may be divided into two basic groups, those who know next to nothing about the facts of the case and those whose livelihoods depend upon believing it.  Actually, there is a considerable degree of overlap between the two groups.  Among the second group of assorted journalists, academics, politicians, government functionaries, etc., there are a considerable number who have decided that the course of ignorance is the safer one to take in such a sensitive matter as this.  There is also a good deal of interaction among the two groups.  The knowledgeable ones in the second group have had to work extra hard convincing the others that it is not even necessary that they know anything about the facts of the JFK assassination in order to have a firm opinion in favor of the official position.  For this they have had to draw heavily upon the “Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression.”
The most encompassing of the techniques is #11, what I call reasoning backward or using the deductive method exclusively.  In its baldest form, it begins with the premise that the government and major news media are completely trustworthy and all the messy contrary facts that we might encounter must be molded and shaped to fit that premise.  In the JFK case we see the technique in a microcosm when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover proclaimed the guilt of Oswald the very next day, before there was any investigation at all, and the facts were then lined up to fit that conclusion.  Anything that goes against conclusions grounded in the essential probity of the government and our major opinion molders may be dismissed as “conspiracy theory.” While this supposed argument amounts to little more than the schoolyard name-calling of technique #5, it can wear some pseudo-intellectual trappings.  A favorite one is to invoke the observations of the famous philosopher, Sir Karl Popper, as we see Barack Obama’s “information czar,” Cass Sunstein doing here:
Karl Popper famously argued that conspiracy theories overlook the pervasive unintended consequences of political and social action; they assume that all consequences must have been intended by someone. 

Hartford Courant Alumni Association and Refugee Camp, Kreig Remembers Irv Kravsow, Releases New Book, Dec. 2, 2013. Former Courant staffer Andrew Kreig (1970-84) has been a busy guy. In a Dec. 2 column, he reprises the powerful tributes earlier this fall by Tom Condon and Colin McEnroe to the late Irving Kravsow. Kreig’s column “Sharing a Capital Feast for Ideas & Civic Reform”  calls Kravow a “path-finder” whose experience can help both journalists and civic reformers these days. Kreig’s column is a relatively rare foray for him into uplift. Most of his commentaries via his DC-based Justice Integrity Project and elsewhere report Washington scandals and their impact on the country.

Dec. 1

David Atlee PhillipsOpEd News, CIA Official Tied to JFK to JFK Assassination, Jim Lesar, left, Dec. 1, 2013. The Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) learned that Antonio Veciana, the Jim Lesarleader of Alpha 66, a Cuban exile organization devoted to overthrowing Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, has released a statement identifying "Maurice Bishop" as David Atlee Phillips, a longtime "dirty tricks" operative for the CIA who widely suspected of having played a role in a plot to assassinate President Kennedy. Marie Fonzi is the widow of Gaeton Fonzi, who investigated Kennedy's assassination for the Church Committee and the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He contended in his book,The Last Investigation, that Phillips, right, was Bishop. His statement is at variance with his testimony before the HSCA, where he stated that a sketch of Maurice Bishop closely resembled Phillips but was not the same man. This new declaration raises even more questions regarding a possible role by the CIA in the assassination of President Kennedy. This Veciana's statement should lead the American people to demand (1) the immediate release of the thousands of pages of JFK Assassination-related records that the CIA is still withholding, and (2) demand that Congress hold oversight hearings into the CIA's subversion of the investigation conducted by the HSCA, which conducted the last official investigation of the assassination.

Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM via OpEdNews, Peter Ludlow on Systemic Evil, Whistleblowers, and hacktivism, Rob Kall, Dec. 1, 2013 (Interview broadcast Sept. 25, 2013). My guest tonight is Peter Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He writes frequently on digital culture, hacktivism, and the surveillance state. Peter did an oped for the New York Times titled, "The Banality of Systemic Evil" which is mostly about whistleblowers. Rob Kall: Talk about evil. Peter Ludlow: I think we have this notion of evil and the one that we usually employ involves some sort of really sinister bad guy. Someone who is like, looks shifty, someone who might be a bad guy in a movie or something like that. But a lot of times the responsibility for evil is completely defused and a lot of times it's like an organization itself that can be evil. We want to focus on individuals. We should really be focusing on institutions.