May News Reports 2012

 

May 31

Washington Times, Obama’s secret kill list; President’s procedure for terminating his enemies is illegal, Andrew P. Napolitano Thursday, May 31, 2012. The leader of the government regularly sits down with his senior generals, spies and advisers and reviews a list of the people they want him to authorize their agents to kill. They do this every Tuesday morning when the leader is in town. The leader once condemned any practice even close to this, but now he relishes the killing because he has convinced himself that it is a sane and sterile way to keep his country safe and himself in power. The leader, who is running for re-election, even invited his campaign manager to join the group that decides whom to kill.'

Mary SchapiroSDECSalt Lake City Tribune, Utah investors caught up in alleged $170M fraud, Tom Harvey, May 31, 2012. A Las Vegas motivational speaker and a Canadian developer are accused of raising $170 million from investors, including a significant number from Utah, to build two Caribbean resorts but instead diverted most of the money to themselves and also used investor funds to make Ponzi payments, court documents say. James B. Catledge, 44, used a multilevel marketing operation to raise the millions with false promises that investments were safe and would pay steady returns of up to 12 percent annually, according to an SEC lawsuit filed in Las Vegas. [SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro is at left.]

St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Businesses agree to return millions to Petters' Ponzi scheme victims, Julie Forster, May 31, 2012. The trustee for the bankrupt estate of convicted Ponzi mastermind Tom Petters has secured nearly $34 million more for the former businessman's victims. The agreements bring to $300 million the amount of money amassed from so-called claw-backs and the sale of assets on behalf of the estate. The Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron has agreed to pay $13.5 million to the Petters bankruptcy estate. The money will go to the victims of the fraud. And General Electric Capital Corp., based in Norwalk, Conn., agreed to pay $19 million in principal and interest it received from the scheme -- the largest amount received as part of hundreds of claw-back lawsuits aimed at recovering money that was part of the $3.65 billion scam that Petters and his associates orchestrated over years. The Fredrikson & Byron and GE Capital actions were among a number of settlement documents related to the Petters case filed in bankruptcy court in St. Paul on Wednesday, May 30.

Tom PettersABA Journal, Law Firm to Pay $13.5M Fees Clawback to Convicted Client’s Bankruptcy Estate, Martha Neil, May 31, 2012. A well-known Minnesota law firm has agreed to pay a $13.5 million legal fees claw-back to the bankruptcy estate of a longtime client convicted of operating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. Bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley acknowledged there was no evidence that Fredrikson & Byron knew anything was wrong concerning former client Tom Petters, right, but stated "there were a number of red flags that should have alerted F&B to the possibility that the business allegedly conducted by Petters was fraudulent,' the Star Tribune reports. The firm noted that the settlement will be covered by malpractice insurance, and said it shows that "our representation of Mr. Petters and his companies was, in every respect, honest, ethical and consistent with our professional duties and responsibility."

Rolling Stone, Taibbi on Spitzer: Wall Street Regulators Let the Big Guys Off Easy, Julian Brookes, May 31, 2012. Matt Taibbi dropped by Eliot Spitzer's Current TV show, Viewpoint, last night to discuss the subject of his latest Taibblog post – how the Securities and Exchange Commission, the government's cop on the Wall Street beat, looks the other way while the big banks bend and break the law. He cites Lehman Brothers as a particularly glaring example: "That was a case where there was just ample evidence of all kinds of transgressions. They just overlooked all these companies. It’s not like they don’t have cases to make, they’re just not making them."

NBC 10 (Philadelphia), The End of Chinatown Buses? Gov't cracking down on discount bus operators after they found an "imminent hazard" to public safety, Joan Lowy and Dan Stamm, May 31, 2012.  26 bus companies that offered cheap rides between Philadelphia to places like New York and Washington, D.C were shut down Thursday. The government shut down the "Chinatown Buses" after a year long investigation. NBC10's Deanna Durante spoke to former bus passengers.

Washington Post, Edwards Acquitted of One Charge, Manuel Roig-Franzia, May 31, 2012, Johnny Reid Edwards, a honey-voiced North Carolina lawyer who parlayed his boyish good looks and inspiring personal history as the son of a mill-worker into a meteoric political rise, was acquitted of one count Thursday in a corruption case, as the judge declared a mistrial on five other charges on which the jury was deadlocked. Edwards emerged from the courthouse with his daughter and parents by his side to deliver remarks that sounded more like repentance than triumph. He lamented his “sins” and said he would not have to go far to find who is responsible. “I don’t have to go any further than the mirror,” he said. “It’s me and me alone.”

Clarence ThomasWashington Post, Clarence Thomas and Yale begin to repair relationship, Robert Barnes, May 31, 2012. It would hardly seem newsworthy that a Supreme Court justice was going to be the keynote speaker at a gathering of alumni of his elite law school. Except when the justice is Clarence Thomas, and the elite law school is Yale. “Strained” would not begin to describe the relationship between the New Haven, Conn., school and Thomas, Class of 1974. For years, the 63-year-old justice has avoided his alma mater, writing that it was a mistake for him to have attended the school and declining to have his portrait hung in its halls, as is the case with other notable graduates.  But Thomas returned to the school in December, teaching a class with a liberal law professor and speaking with members of the Federalist Society and the Black Law Students Association. And in late June, just as the court is expected to release its opinion about the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, Thomas has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the Yale Law School Association of Washington. It is hard to overstate the estrangement between Thomas and Yale. In his 2007 autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son,” the justice was withering in his criticism of some of the professors and students he met in New Haven and said the law school’s affirmative action policies tainted his diploma.

Washington Post, CIA probes its process for screening books on agency, Greg Miller and Julie Tate, May 31, 2012. The CIA has begun an internal investigation into whether a process designed to screen books by former employees and protect national security secrets is being used in part to censor agency critics, U.S. officials said. The investigation coincides with the publication of a flurry of books from CIA veterans, and it is largely aimed at determining whether some redactions have been politically motivated. Among the publications expected to get particular scrutiny is a memoir by the former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who used his book, “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives,” to mount a vigorous defense of interrogation methods that were widely condemned but that he asserts provided critical intelligence about al-Qaeda. The target of the probe is the agency’s Publications Review Board. The PRB evaluates hundreds of submissions each year and is supposed to focus exclusively on whether publication of material would threaten national security interests.

Washington Post, Israel to indict reporter over leak of documents, Joel Greenberg, May 31, 2012. Israel’s attorney general has decided to indict an Israeli journalist who in an investigative report revealed that top army officers had approved killings of wanted Palestinian militants in the West Bank, charging him with illegal possession of classified documents.  The move against Uri Blau, a reporter with the liberal newspaper Haaretz, was the first prosecution of an Israeli journalist for possession of classified materials and drew sharp criticism from civil rights advocates and prominent defense correspondents, who called it a blow to freedom of the press. The Justice Ministry said in an announcement Wednesday that Blau would be charged with unauthorized possession of secret information, though without intention to harm state security, and that legal action was taken because “this is an extreme case.”  Blau based his reporting on a trove of some 1,800 army documents, hundreds of them classified, that were given to him by a former soldier who copied them when she worked in the office of the chief of the army’s Central Command, the regional command that includes the West Bank. The former soldier, Anat Kamm, is serving a 41 / 2-year prison term for stealing the documents, which included summaries of top-level operational meetings cited by Blau in his article, one of several he wrote based on the material, which was passed to him in a USB flash drive.

Montgomery Independent, Judge got $18 million in Doss Aviation sale; Fuller divorce records have been sealed by judge in case, Bob Martin, May 31, 2012.  Montgomery Circuit Judge Anita Kelly has sealed the records in the divorce matter involving U. S. District Judge Mark Everett Fuller and his wife, Lisa.  Fuller’s lawyers had requested that the file be sealed, however Mrs. Fuller had initially objected to the entire file being sealed. The Independent, Justice Integrity Project in Washington and Lgal Schauzer in Birmingham have filed a request seeking the file to remain open to the public. udge Kelly waited some three weeks after the case was filed before sealing the records.

The Independent reported last week that Judge Fuller and his partners sold Doss Aviation, located in Denver last December. We have now learned that the company which was moved from Enterprise to Colorado, brought $42 million and some change. If that is the correct number Fuller’s 43.75 percent share of the business earned him slightly more than $18 million. The company’s income has come primarily from U. S. Government contracts and once listed its mailing address at the United States Federal Courthouse, shortly after Fuller was appointed a judge by President George W. Bush. Doss Aviation  was a major source of Fuller’s income, probably the main source and its primary income came from government contracts or from those who received government contracts. Doss Aviation benefited from a steady stream of Department of Defense and other federal contracts some awarded on a no-bid basis under highly suspicious circumstances.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, John Edwards Trial: Mistrial Declared In Case, Michael Biesecker, May 31, 2012. John Edwards' campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial Thursday when jurors acquitted him on one charge and deadlocked on the other five, unable to decide whether he used money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president and his wife was dying of cancer. The month-long trial exposed a sordid sex scandal, but prosecutors couldn't convince jurors the candidate masterminded a cover-up using about $1 million, and ultimately, jurors decided tawdry didn't necessarily mean criminal. "While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins," Edwards said on the courthouse steps. t was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would retry Edwards on the other counts.
 
John EdwardsHuffington Post, Edwards' Jury Couldn't Decide and for Good Reason, Alan Dershowitz, May 31, 2012. The jury in the John Edwards case rendered exactly the right verdict. Of course they couldn't make up their mind on most of the charges. No rational person could. All reasonable people should now hope that the Justice Department sees the light of day and does not seek a retrial. The jury has spoken, though ambiguously, and there is no reason to believe that another fairly picked jury will be able to discern the precise intentions of the actors with any greater certainty or precision.  This entire farce of a trial is part of a larger problem that infects not only America but other Western countries as well: the criminalization of policy differences and of personal sin. No one can justify what John Edwards did to his family, to American politics and to himself. He will forever pay a steep price for his selfishness and arrogance. But it is not a price that all Americans should have to pay by the distortion of the criminal justice system into a Rorschach test, in which the jury is asked to interpret vague action and attribute precise intentions to actions done with mixed motives.

Huffington Post, Department Of Justice Tells Florida To Stop Purging Voter Rolls, May 31, 2012.  The Department of Justice demanded that Florida stop purging its voter rolls, Talking Points Memo reported Thursday. In a letter sent to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Justice Department ordered the state to end the practice because it has not been approved under the Voting Rights Act. Additionally, the DOJ said the purge violated the National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to complete changes to their registration rolls 90 days in advance of an election. Since Florida's primary is on August 14, all maintenance should have been completed by May 14. In recent weeks, the state has identified as many as 180,000 potential noncitizens that will be vetted and possibly removed from voter registration rolls. The practice sparked controversy when a Miami Herald analysis revealed that Hispanic, Democratic and Independent voters are more likely to be on the list. In fact, 58 percent of those identified as potential noncitizens are Hispanic, according to the Herald's review.

 

St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Businesses agree to return millions to Petters' Ponzi scheme victims, Julie Forster, May 31, 2012. The trustee for the bankrupt estate of convicted Ponzi mastermind Tom Petters has secured nearly $34 million more for the former businessman's victims. The agreements bring to $300 million the amount of money amassed from so-called clawbacks and the sale of assets on behalf of the estate. The Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron has agreed to pay $13.5 million to the Petters bankruptcy estate. The money will go to the victims of the fraud.  And General Electric Capital Corp., based in Norwalk, Conn., agreed to pay $19 million in principal and interest it received from the scheme -- the largest amount received as part of hundreds of clawback lawsuits aimed at recovering money that was part of the $3.65 billion scam that Petters and his associates orchestrated over years. The Fredrikson & Byron and GE Capital actions were among a number of settlement documents related to the Petters case filed in bankruptcy court in St. Paul on Wednesday, May 30.

ABA Journal, Law Firm to Pay $13.5M Fees Clawback to Convicted Client’s Bankruptcy Estate, Martha Neil, May 31, 2012. A well-known Minnesota law firm has agreed to pay a $13.5 million legal fees clawback to the bankruptcy estate of a longtime client convicted of operating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. Bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley acknowledged there was no evidence that Fredrikson & Byron knew anything was wrong concerning former client Tom Petters but stated "there were a number of red flags that should have alerted F&B to the possibility that the business allegedly conducted by Petters was fraudulent,' the Star Tribune reports. The firm noted that the settlement will be covered by malpractice insurance, and said it shows that "our representation of Mr. Petters and his companies was, in every respect, honest, ethical and consistent with our professional duties and responsibility."

Who? What? Why? Obama Withholds JFK, Other Documents? Russ Baker, May 30, 2012. Next year will be a half-century since the death of JFK. And the Obama Administration thinks we need to keep secret the records on the matter….a little longer yet. Believe it or not, more than 50,000 pages of JFK assassination-related documents are being withheld in full. And an untold number of documents have been partially withheld, or released with everything interesting blacked out. But why?  Since the government and the big media keep telling us there was no conspiracy, and that it was all Lee Harvey Oswald acting on his own, why continue to keep the wraps on?  We don’t have an answer, but in understanding this and any number of other mysteries, we can begin looking for patterns in the way the administration handles information policy.

Salt Lake City Tribune, Utah investors caught up in alleged $170M fraud, Tom Harvey, May 31, 2012. SEC says 2 men committed fraud as they raised $170M to build Caribbean resorts, and that 250 of the 1,700 alleged victims are from Utah. A Las Vegas motivational speaker and a Canadian developer are accused of raising $170 million from investors, including a significant number from Utah, to build two Caribbean resorts but instead diverted most of the money to themselves and also used investor funds to make Ponzi payments, court documents say. James B. Catledge, 44, used a multilevel marketing operation to raise the millions with false promises that investments were safe and would pay steady returns of up to 12 percent annually, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed in Las Vegas.
 
NBC 10 (Philadelphia), The End of Chinatown Buses? Gov't cracking down on discount bus operators after they found an "imminent hazard" to public safety, Joan Lowy and Dan Stamm, May 31, 2012.  26 bus companies that offered cheap rides between Philadelphia to places like New York and Washington, D.C were shut down Thursday. The government shut down the "Chinatown Buses" after a year long investigation. NBC10's Deanna Durante spoke to former bus passengers.Reuters, Rothschilds buy into Rockefeller wealth business, Stephen Mangan, Chris Vellacott and Joe Giannone, May 30, 2012. Two of the most storied names in global finance are linking up, with Europe's Rothschild banking dynasty agreeing to buy a stake in the Rockefeller group's wealth and asset management business to gain a long-sought foothold in the United States. Rothschild's London-listed RIT Capital Partners (RCP.L) said on Wednesday it was buying a 37 percent stake in Rockefeller from French group Societe Generale's (SOGN.PA) private banking arm, for an undisclosed sum. The transatlantic union brings together David Rockefeller, 96, and Jacob Rothschild, 76 - two family patriarchs whose personal relationship spans five decades. "We are combining, on a macro level, two well-recognized names and families who have a long history of wealth creation and responsible stewardship," Rockefeller Chief Executive Reuben Jeffery said in an interview.
 
May 30
Brandeis Magazine, A Quest for Justice: Young alumna uses expert investigative skills to help exonerate the wrongly convicted, Theresa Pease, Spring 2012. The first time Lindsay Markel ’08 went to meet the man we’ll call Theo, she did what her mother said was the polite thing to do in December: She brought a brightly decorated box of homemade Italian Christmas cookies.  “For the prison guards, it was a big joke,” Markel, 25, says with a disgruntled grin. “For me, it was a wake-up call about what this guy’s world was like. If you can’t go in wearing a bobby pin, you can’t go in carrying cookies.”  Since that day in 2008, Theo’s world has never been far from Markel’s mind. A Latino inmate in a Massachusetts prison, Theo is serving a life sentence, with no hope of parole, for a murder conviction that Markel and her colleagues at Brandeis’ Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism question. Most working days, the Princeton, Mass., native, other institute staff members and a team of eight paid student sleuths comb public records and analyze circumstances around Theo’s alleged crime, searching for clues that justice was not served...Many people know that recent science has yielded up DNA analysis leading to the exoneration of innocent people. It’s often the stuff of TV dramas, and a real-life case was depicted to great effect in the 2010 film “Conviction,” directed by Tony Goldwyn ’82. Last year, Markel collaborated with Schuster Institute Senior Fellow Michael Blanding on an eye-opening exposé on the subject for The Boston Globe Magazine. In the article, “Failing the DNA Test,” the co-authors made a case for new legislation being considered in Massachusetts, one of only two U.S. states lacking a law specifically granting inmates the right to DNA testing that might prove their innocence.
 
Salon, How extremism is normalized, The Obama administration has converted once unthinkable government claims into permanent political fixtures, Glenn Greenwald, May 30, 2012. There is one important passage from yesterday’s big New York Times article on President Obama’s personal issuance of secret, due-process-free death sentences that I failed to highlight despite twice writing about that article. The fact that I did not even bother to highlight it among all the other passages I wrote about is itself significant, as it reflects how rapidly true extremism becomes normalized.

CNN, Virginia man who made comments about President Obama arrested on weapons charge, Carol Cratty, May 30, 2012. Officers investigate man after he posted about weapons on white supremacist website. A Virginia man who allegedly made comments suggesting President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder should be removed from office by violent means was arrested Wednesday and charged with illegally obtaining a fully automatic AK-47. Court documents describe Douglas Howard Story, 48, as a white supremacist who came under investigation by law enforcement after posting on an Aryan Nation Web forum that he was buying an AK-47 and wanted to modify it to be fully automatic.
 
Guardian (United Kingdom), Julian Assange given 14 days to challenge extradition ruling, Owen Bowcott and Esther Addley, May 30, 2012. Despite losing the appeal, Assange's lawyers are given time to consider a challenge to the judgment. Julian Assange's fight against extradition to Sweden may stagger on to a second round at the supreme court after he was granted permission to submit fresh arguments. Despite losing by a majority of five to two, his lawyers have been given 14 days to consider whether to challenge a central point of the judgment on the correct interpretation of international treaties.
 
May 29
 
Washington Post, In Yemen, U.S. airstrikes breed anger, and sympathy for al-Qaeda, Sudarsan Raghavan, May 29, 2012. Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. After recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims’ relatives and human rights activists.
 
FireDogLake, Before NYT Article, Administration Would Not Acknowledge Existence of Drone Program, David Dayen, May 29, 2012.  Despite the participation of dozens of Administration officials – many of them on the record – in detailing the inner workings of the targeted assassination program, we’re still operating in a world where the US government officially denies that any such program exists.  In this article, you have President Obama’s current national security advisor, Thomas Donilon, speaking on the record. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair – who gives the distinct impression that he resigned over these drone strikes – is on the record. Former chief of staff Bill Daley is on the record. Plenty of other senior intelligence officials are quoted on background. The word “drone” appears 17 times in the article.
 
May 28
Jonathan Turley.org, Justice Department Clears Its Own Lawyers Of Intentional Misconduct In Stevens Prosecution, Jonathan Turley, May 28, 2012. The U.S. Justice Department again showed how its protects its own in scandals involving government lawyers. The DOJ has long been notorious in refusing to seriously punish its own lawyers for wrongdoing while pushing the legal envelope on criminal charges against others. The slightest discrepancy in testimony or omission in reporting can bring a criminal charge from the DOJ. The DOJ is particularly keen in finding intentional violations or substitute for intent in federal rules — bending laws to the breaking point to secure indictments. However, when its attorneys are accused of facilitating torture or lying to the court or withholding evidence, the general response is a long investigation and then a slap on the wrist. This week is no exception. Waiting until late Thursday to inform Congress to guarantee a low media coverage, the DOJ announced that it had found no intentional violations by its attorneys in the failed prosecution of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens — despite the contrary finding made by an independent investigation. Instead, the investigation again offered rhetorical punishment as a substitute for true punishment — declaring that the attorneys were only guilty of “reckless professional misconduct.” As a result, Joseph Bottini will be suspended for only 40 days and James Goeke will be suspended for 15 days. Even that level of punishment is viewed as noteworthy for the DOJ given its prior history of whitewashing misconduct by its attorneys.
 
FireDogLake, On Memorial Day, Debate Over Counter-Insurgency at West Point,  David Dayen, May 28, 2012.  The President laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery today, and he made a proclamation:  “After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,” he said at Arlington National Cemetery, drawing applause when he noted the “milestone” of it being the first Memorial Day in nine years without Americans fighting and dying in Iraq. “I can promise you I will never do so unless it is absolutely necessary and that when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation.”  No wars unless “absolutely necessary.” I feel so reassured!  More seriously, I’d say this is the most patriotic thing happening in America today. It does the most to honor the troops, by rethinking a strategy that puts them into impossible situations and incredible danger.  Rethinking counter-insurgency is just long overdue. The best way to honor the service of the American military is to ensure they no longer have to fight, regardless of method. I am awed whenever I visit Arlington West, a weekly installation next to the Santa Monica Pier put on by Veterans for Peace, marking the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan. I’d be far more awed by its obsolescence.
 
May 25
USA Today, 2 prosecutors suspended for misconduct in Ted Stevens trial, Kevin Johnson, May 25, 2012. Two Justice Department prosecutors involved in the bungled corruption trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens will be suspended without pay for "reckless professional misconduct" in failing to disclose critical information to the senator's defense team, according to a internal Justice review.  Joseph Bottini, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska, was ordered suspended for 40 days, and James Goeke, an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington state, received 15 days, according to findings released Thursday by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Bottini's attorney, Kenneth Wainstein, said his client will appeal the punishment to the federal government's Merit Systems Protection Board. Goeke's lawyer, Matthew Menchel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Brendan Sullivan, Stevens' lawyer, said the suspensions represented "a laughable and pathetic response" to the misconduct findings which centered on the prosecution's failure to disclose inconsistent and false statements by its chief government witness.

Texas Monthly / Reader Supported News, Dan Rather Was Right About George W. Bush, Joe Hagan, April 16, 2012. Eight years ago, Dan Rather broadcast an explosive report on the Air National Guard service of President George W. Bush. It was supposed to be the legendary newsman's finest hour. Instead, it blew up in his face, tarnishing his career forever and casting a dark cloud of doubt and suspicion over his reporting - and that of every other journalist on the case. This month, as Rather returns with a new memoir, Joe Hagan finally gets to the bottom of the greatest untold story in modern Texas politics, with exclusive, never-before-seen details that shed fresh light on who was right, who was wrong, and what really happened.

Judicial Watch, JW Obtains Obama Administration Records Detailing Meetings with bin Laden Movie Filmmakers, Tom Fitton, May 25, 2012. On Tuesday, Judicial Watch caused a firestorm when we released records from the Obama Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding meetings and communications between government agencies and Kathryn Bigelow, the Academy Award-winning director of The Hurt Locker, and her screenwriter Mark Boal. How much of a media firestorm?  Google counts more than 700 media hits including Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, CBS News, MSNBC, and even entertainment trades like Entertainment Weekly. Why so much attention?  According to the records, the Obama Defense Department granted the Hollywood filmmakers unprecedented access to a "planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six," who was responsible for the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, to assist Bigelow prepare her upcoming feature film. The records, obtained pursuant to court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on January 21, 2012, include 153 pages of records from the DOD and 113 pages of records from the CIA.  To limit the damage, the Obama administration released them to Judicial Watch late on Friday, May 18. (Obviously this strategy did not work.) Here are a few of the highlights:'
 
OpEd News, What Federal Judge Fuller's Ugly Divorce Has to Do with Don Siegelman, (Interview of Andrew Kreig by Joan Brunwasser), May 25, 2012. The government's frame-up of Siegelman, Alabama's most popular Democrat, was the culmination of a two-decade plan by Karl Rove and his business allies to transform Alabama state politics and courts from historically Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican. Parallel developments occurred also in Mississippi and Louisiana, but it was most dramatic in Alabama, where Rove and the Bush family have longstanding ties and where the historically Democratic black population is the smallest of any Deep South state. This rout of Democrats has left the party so enfeebled that the national party has in effect ceded to Republicans much of the control over the justice system in these regions, as otherwise in the guts of government. For example, the Obama administration left in office until last spring the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney who helped frame Siegelman, and then named as her successor a man who as a defense attorney represented the chief witness against Siegelman. This created a perverse incentive to keep a lid on the scandals. Further, Congress is abandoning its watchdog role except in a few partisan matters. In this case, we now know that some prominent Democrats from Alabama in effect sold out Siegelman for their own selfish purposes by bad-mouthing him and trial critics behind-the-scenes in Washington.
 
Legal Schnauzer, Biased "Reporting," Not Technology, Led to the Steep Decline of The Birmingham News, Roger Shuler, May 25,2012. Why would anyone subscribe to a "daily" newspaper that comes out three days a week? Do the News, Times, and P-R have futures as strictly digital news organizations? The Advance Media spin machine is playing this as a reaction to changing technology. But I would submit it's more about bias, backward thinking, and old-fashioned incompetence. You might call yesterday's announcement Don Siegelman's Revenge. Throughout the 2000s, one of our nation's most important stories was the decay of the U.S. Justice Department under George W. Bush. It was a coast-to-coast story, but several of its most compelling chapters unfolded in Alabama, led by the prosecution of Siegelman, a popular former Democratic governor, and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Coverage in the Advance Media newspapers consisted mostly of cheerleading pieces for Bush-era prosecutors Alice Martin and Leura Canary. The papers made almost no serious effort to address compelling evidence that the cases were driven for political reasons by Bush strategist Karl Rove and his associates.  At the same time, the papers provided fawning coverage of Republican Governor Bob Riley, in spite of powerful evidence that Riley might have been running one of the most corrupt regimes in state history.  In essence, the News and its brethren became house organs for the Alabama Republican Party. The papers ignored a huge portion of their possible audience--those of color, those who are liberal, progressive, middle class, poor, forward thinking.
 
May 24
michael collinsOpEd News, Rupert Watch: Leveson Testimony Spells Doom for Cameron and Hunt, Michael Collins, left, May 24, 2012. Queens Counsel Robert Jay unearthed a devastating piece of evidence that will surely create calls for the resignation of both culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prime Minister David Cameron.  In afternoon testimony at the Leveson Inquiry today (5/24), Jay confronted News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel with an email rendition of a Hunt to Cameron memo of November 19, 2010 (see testimony/full memo at end of article). Hunt is clearly cheerleading for the News Corp acquisition of immensely profitable pay TV network BSkyB. News Corp owned 39% of the network and wanted to purchase the remaining 61%. This acquisition was absolutely critical to News Corp profitability and as a sign that Rupert and James Murdoch actually knew what they were doing. One month after he got the biased memo, Cameron appointed Hunt as the government minister in charge of approving the bid. Hunt portrayed his role as "quasi-judicial" and claimed he was an objective judge. The bid was opposed by an alliance of news organizations. Now we know, without any doubt and from Hunt's own words that he was biased in favor of approving the News Corp bid before he even got the authority to judge.
 
Scribd, Reporters' Petition to Unseal Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller's Divorce Records, May 24, 2012. This is a petition by journalists Andrew Kreig, Bob Martin and Roger Shuler to the Montgomery (AL) Circuit Court to unseal the divorce records of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller.
 
Salon,Warrantless spying fight; Glenn Greenwald, May 24, 2012. Obama officials demand full, reform-free renewal of the once-controversial power to eavesdrop without warrants.
 
Associated Press / Huffington Post, Newhouse Newspapers In Alabama Cut Publication To Three Days A Week, May 24, 2012. Three major Alabama daily newspapers will switch to publishing three days a week as part of a new focus on online news, in line with their new Orleans sister publication, The Times-Picayune. The three papers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville and The Times-Picayune announced the new strategy Thursday. All four are owned by the Newhouse family group. Both announcements said there will be unspecified staff reductions. The changes will take place in the fall. The Alabama papers said the changes will allow them to expand news-gathering efforts in an increasingly digital age. The newspapers will be home-delivered and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
 
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), Secret Service Tries to Hide Prostitution-Related Costs from Taxpayers; Claims Public Is Not That Interested in How Agency Spends Their Money – PCJF Files Appeal, Staff report, May 24, 2012. Resorting to a mind boggling explanation, the Secret Service is refusing to promptly disclose the amount of taxpayer funds it spent on prostitution-related costs in Colombia in response to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund’s (PCJF) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demand for expenditure records. Today, the PCJF has filed a formal appeal of this refusal. In the midst of Congressional hearings and daily headlines about Secret Service agents’ partying and payments for sexual services, the Agency has refused to promptly make the expenditure documents public, stating that they do not believe there is “an urgency to inform the public about use of taxpayer funds for expenditures incurred by Secret Service personnel during their deployment to Columbia [sic],” and that the Agency sees no “evidence of public interest [in this matter] that is any greater than the public’s general interest” in “government activity, generally.”
 
May 23
Salon, WH leaks for propaganda film, Glenn Greenwald, May 23, 2012. The administration takes a break from its war on whistleblowers to provide classified information to Hollywood.
As is now well documented, the Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecuting more of them under espionage statutes than all prior administrations combined: twice as many as all prior administrations combined, in fact. They are attempting, or have attempted, to imprison whistleblowers who exposed corrupt and illegal NSA eavesdropping, dangerously inept efforts to impede Iran’s nuclear program (which likely strengthened it), the destructive uses of torture, and a litany of previously unknown U.S.-caused civilian deaths and other American war crimes.  But there’s one type of leak of classified information that the White House not only approves of but itself routinely exploits: the type that glorifies the President for propagandistic ends.
 
Harper's No Comment, Behold the Lord High Executioner! Scott Horton, May 23, 2012. Kimberley Dozier of the Associated Press reports that the burden of making the life-and-death decisions surrounding drone use is settling on the shoulders of a single man, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan: "White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in guiding the debate on which terror leaders will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure to vet both military and CIA targets. The move concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones at the White House."
 
May 22
Legal Schnauzer, Court File Is Sealed In The Wake Of Press Reports About The Mark Fuller Divorce Case, Roger Shuler, May 22, 2012.  The court file in the divorce case of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller has been sealed, multiple sources tell Legal Schnauzer. It's not clear when the case was sealed, but it appears to have happened since news reports broke last Thursday, outlining allegations of extramarital affairs, drug abuse, domestic abuse, and other misconduct against Fuller. The judge is best known for his role in presiding over the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman in 2006. Fuller filed a motion to seal on April 20, citing security concerns related to his status as a federal judge. Attorneys for his wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller, filed an objection on April 25, arguing that certain sensitive information  (financial matters, addresses, etc.) could be redacted but that the overall file should not be sealed. (See the Motion to Seal and Objection to Complete Sealing of File at the end of this post.)  Potential embarrassment for one of the parties, via press coverage, almost never presents valid grounds for sealing a divorce case. Is Mark Fuller being protected in a way that a regular citizen would not be? It sure looks that way.
 
May 21

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Another Georgia judge retires facing investigation, Bill Rankin, May 24, 2012. Yet another Georgia judge -- the fifth since the beginning of March -- has stepped down from the bench while facing an investigation for alleged misconduct.  On Saturday, long-serving Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit notified Gov. Nathan Deal he was retiring immediately. In a court filing Monday, the state Judicial Qualifications Commission said it had been investigating allegations that Parrott "allowed the prestige of his office to advance his private interests."  Over the past few years, some of the most prominent members of the state's judiciary, including seven chief Superior Court judges, have stepped down while facing allegations of misconduct, bringing disorder to the courts. Because of the number of high-profile resignations, more people are filing complaints with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, according to agency records.  The Judicial Qualifications Commission is bringing more transparency to the judiciary, which is good for litigants and the public, Atlanta lawyer Bruce Harvey said.  The court filing did not provide any further details, and the agency's director, Jeff Davis, declined to comment.

Huffington Post, North Carolina Pastor Charles L. Worley Suggests Gays And Lesbians Should Be Put In Electrified Pen, Slowly Killed Off, Video, May 21, 2012.  The barrage of anti-gay sermons delivered by North Carolina-based pastors to hit the blogosphere continues with yet another disturbing rant caught on tape. The pastor, identified on YouTube as Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., condemns President Obama's much-publicized endorsement of same-sex marriage while calling for gays and lesbians to be put in an electrified pen and ultimately killed off.  "Build a great, big, large fence -- 150 or 100 mile long -- put all the lesbians in there," Worley suggests in the clip, reportedly filmed on May 13. He continues: "Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out...and you know what, in a few years, they'll die out...do you know why? They can't reproduce!"

Associated Press / Huffington Post, Criminal Exonerations: 2,000 Convicted Then Exonerated In U.S. Over Last 23 Years, Says Study, Pete Yost, May 21, 2012.  More than 2,000 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes have been exonerated in the United States in the past 23 years, according to a new archive compiled at two universities. There is no official record-keeping system for exonerations of convicted criminals in the country, so academics set one up. The new national registry, or database, painstakingly assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is the most complete list of exonerations ever compiled. The database compiled and analyzed by the researchers contains information on 873 exonerations for which they have the most detailed evidence. The researchers are aware of nearly 1,200 other exonerations, for which they have less data.

Don SiegelmanLegal Schnauzer, Drug Addiction Might Be The Central Issue In Divorce Case Against Siegelman Judge, Roger Shuler, May 21, 2012. The divorce complaint filed against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller raises a number of troubling issues. But possible drug addiction might be No. 1 on the list. Lisa Boyd Fuller's complaint includes no shortage of titillating issues, including extramarital affairs and domestic abuse. But those go primarily to Mark Fuller's character outside the courtroom. Drug addiction, however, goes to Fuller's fitness to serve on the federal bench. It also raises these troubling questions: Has Fuller's mind been clouded by illicit drug use while serving as a judge? Have civil cases been unlawfully decided because the judge was more or less high? Have some citizens, including former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, been wrongfully sent to federal prison in part because Mark Fuller was on uppers, downers, painkillers, mind numbers--or some combination of them all. [Mark Fuller Divorce -- Subpoena List Re: Drugs.]

May 20

Washington Post, An end to abuse in prison? The Justice Department finally issues rules to address prison rape, Editorial Board, May 20, 2012. Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 with support so bipartisan that ideological opposites such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) co-sponsored it. In accordance with the law, a commission spent six years investigating and formulating recommendations for new rules. Then the Justice Department slow-walked the rule-writing, repeating much of the commission’s labor. When the department finally proposed draft rules, they were too weak.

Bill Maher / Huffington Post, Dan Rather: Corporate Media 'Is In Bed With' Washington, (VIDEO) Staff report, May 20, 2012. Dan Rather slammed corporate media on Friday night, alleging that news coverage is guided by political interests and profits.  The former CBS News anchor has recently returned to the spotlight, speaking out about his former employer and defending the controversial Bush National Guard story that ended his storied career at the network. On Friday, Rather appeared on Bill Maher's show to discuss his new book "Rather Outspoken." He spoke out about the controversy again, and stood by his story (his comments start at the 1:50 mark in the video above). He said that he was fired because CBS News caved into the Bush administration's demands. "The powers that be and the corporate structure were very uncomfortable with the story," Rather said. "They got pressured by the Bush administration and others in Washington, and it cost a lot of people their jobs, including myself."

May 18

Legal Schnauzer, Sex, Drugs, and Violence Are At The Heart Of Divorce Case Against Siegelman Judge Mark Fuller, Roger Shuler, May 18, 2012.  A request for admissions can be one of the most entertaining documents in a lawsuit. The requesting party, in so many words, is saying, "We all know the following statements are true, so why don't you admit to them so we can haggle about something else?"  It can be a rare moment of clarity in a legal action, where one party is trying to cut through the many layers of BS and establish facts. That doesn't mean the receiving party is going to admit to everything--or anything--in the request. But the effort to get at what one party considers to be the clear truth can be most enlightening.

Huffington Post, 'Reporter's Privilege' Under Fire From Obama Administration Amid Broader War On Leaks, Dan Froomkin and Michael Calderone, May 18, 2012.  The Obama administration Friday morning continued its headlong attack on the right of reporters to protect their confidential sources in leak investigations. Before a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Department of Justice lawyer argued that New York Times reporter James Risen should be forced to testify in the trial of former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is charged with leaking classified information to Risen about a botched plot against the Iranian government. Rather than arguing the specifics of the case, DOJ appellate lawyer Robert A. Parker asserted that there is no reporter's privilege when a journalist receives an illegal leak of national security secrets. When Judge Robert Gregory asked Parker to explain why the public's interest in a free press was outweighed by the specific circumstances in this case, Parker declined. "I don’t think there would be a balancing test because there's no privilege in the first place," Parker said. "The salient point is that Risen is the only eyewitness to this crime."  Gregory told Parker that the Supreme Court's Branzburg v. Hayes decision -- which Parker cited as precedent for forcing journalists to testify when they had witnessed a crime -- involved the witnessing of a different crime, "not the disclosure itself."  Parker said what Risen did was "analogous" to a journalist receiving drugs from a confidential source, and then refusing to testify about it.  "You think so?" Gregory asked, clearly unconvinced.

Salon, Federal court enjoins NDAA, Glenn Greenwald, May 16, 2012.  An Obama-appointed judge rules its indefinite detention provisions likely violate the 1st and 5th Amendments. A federal district judge today, the newly-appointed Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued an amazing ruling: one which preliminarily enjoins enforcement of the highly controversial indefinite provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last December. This afternoon’s ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violates ”both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
The ruling was a sweeping victory for the plaintiffs, as it rejected each of the Obama DOJ’s three arguments: (1) because none of the plaintiffs has yet been indefinitely detained, they lack “standing” to challenge the statute; (2) even if they have standing, the lack of imminent enforcement against them renders injunctive relief unnecessary; and (3) the NDAA creates no new detention powers beyond what the 2001 AUMF already provides.

OpEd News, Rebekah Brooks, Witness for the Prosecution, Michael Collins, May 16, 2012.  Criminal charges against Rupert Murdoch insider and favorite Rebekah Brooks may be a prelude to looming charges arising out of Brooks' testimony before the Leveson Inquiry last week. Crown Prosecution Services charged Brooks, her husband, and four others with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on Tuesday May 15. The alleged conspiracy took place between July 6 and July 19, 2011. Brooks' current legal troubles should not obscure the significance of her testimony before the Leveson Inquiry last week. During her several hours on the witness stand, she was confronted with an explosive email that, if true, implicates Conservative Party Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a conspiracy to pervert the British regulatory process in favor of News Corporation's bid to acquire the ten-million-subscriber pay TV company BSkyB.  News Corp owns 39% of the company.  It sought the remaining 61%.

Montgomery Independent, Federal judge's lengthy affair with court worker is exposed, Bob Martin, May 16, 2012. On April 10, Lisa Boyd Fuller filed for divorce in Montgomery County against United States District Judge Mark Everett Fuller.
 
Montgomery Independent / Wetumpka Herald, Fuller’s ethics called into question in suit, Bob Martin, May 16, 2012. The past judicial record of U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery has demonstrated his failure on many occasions to step aside from cases thought by lawyers to be compromised by his personal, financial or political interests. This past month personal interests came to the forefront of Fuller’s life with the filing of divorce papers by his wife, Lisa. The long term abuse of trust by Fuller, described to me from sources inside the U.S. Courthouse in Montgomery and others continues today and has lasted at least 4 years. It involves a former female courtroom deputy in her late 30s with children ages 9 and 14. Her husband obtained a divorce several months ago.
 
Harper's /  No Comment, Columbia Study Suggests Texas Executed an Innocent Man, Scott Horton, May 16, 2012. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, appearing in character as Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen to promote his new film, The Dictator, has been working in lines about the double standards of American human rights assessments. “What in Wadiya you call genocide,” he says, referring to the dictator’s fictitious Arab homeland, “in Texas you call the justice system.” Texas criminal justice may not amount to genocide, but it does misfire with alarming frequency, and claims innocent lives in the process.  Since 1982, when Texas resumed judicial killings following a moratorium during the Sixties, the state has executed 482 people—four times the number of the next most aggressive state. Moreover, amid the rough-and-tumble of Texas’s right-leaning political culture, a candidate’s willingness to authorize large numbers of judicial killings and his distaste for clemency and pardon reviews has become a sine qua non for holding the state’s governorship—which has in turn become an important launching pad for G.O.P. presidential candidates, particularly since Texas is the most populous predictably Republican state.
 
Harper's No Comment, Blocking Pardons at Justice, Scott Horton, May 16, 2012. ProPublica’s Dafna Linzer continues her examination of the federal pardons process with a piece, excerpted in Monday’s Washington Post, that contrasts two pardon candidates. Both cases are the sort of victimless drug offenses that clog the federal detentions system. One involves a star athlete with no prior criminal record, and a prosecutor’s office and judge who favored immediate commutation of the sentence. The athlete was present at a drug sale, and he introduced the parties to one another, for which he received a gratuity from the dealer. Though such offenses are theoretically prosecutable, this very rarely happens.
 

May 9

Legal Schnauzer, Justice Department Lawyer Has Conflict of Interest In SCOTUS Review of Siegelman Convictions, Roger Shuler, Wednesday, May 9, 2012. John-Alex Romano is the government lawyer who wrote a brief filed this month that opposes U.S. Supreme Court review of the Don Siegelman prosecution in Alabama. That, in itself, is not newsworthy. But when you consider that Romano is married to Caroline Gary Romano, chief of staff in the U.S. Department of Interior . . . well, the plot begins to thicken.  It gets real thick when you learn that Caroline Romano, until May 2011, had been deputy commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She was appointed to that position in December 2008, just before George W. Bush left the White House. She joined the Department of Interior in May 2004, at the height of the Bush administration.  This information should set off red flags for every citizen who cares about justice. That's because it tells us that Justice Department lawyer John-Alex Romano has a major conflict of interest in the Siegelman case. And it's been going on for quite some time.

Harper's No Comment, Yoo, Latif, and the Rise of Secret Justice, Scott Horton, May 9, 2012. One of the lasting challenges to America’s federal judiciary will be addressing American complicity in the tortures and disappearances of the past ten years. Two recent appeals-court decisions show us how judicial panels are tackling these issues: by shielding federal officials and their contractors from liability, and even by glorifying the fruits of their dark arts. In the process, legal prohibitions on torture are being destroyed through secrecy and legal sleight of hand, and our justice system is being distorted and undermined. Last week, the Ninth Circuit reversed a district-court decision allowing a suit against torture-memo author John Yoo to go forward. The suit had been brought on behalf of José Padilla by his mother, who argued that Padilla was tortured while in U.S. custody as a result of Yoo’s advice—a claim that seems pretty much unassailable, and that had to be accepted as true for purposes of the preliminary rulings. Hovering in the background of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is a troubling fact: John Yoo had a co-author when he crafted his torture memoranda, Jay Bybee. And Bybee is now a judge on the Ninth Circuit. Had the court handed down any other ruling, it would have been exposing one of its own. The court’s twisted reasoning and distortions of legal precedent otherwise make very little sense. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit judges seemed to be uncomfortable with torture, issuing an opinion that was comparable to a surgical excision: do what is essential to shelter Yoo and Bybee, and not an iota more.

May 8

Salon, US attack kills 5 Afghan kids, Glenn Greenwald, May 8, 2012. On the very same day that CNN and the other cable news networks devoted so much coverage to a failed, un-serious attempt to bring violence to the U.S. — one that never moved beyond the early planning stages and “never posed a threat to public safety” — it was revealed that the U.S. just killed multiple civilians, including a family of 5 children, in Afghanistan. But that got no mention. That event simply does not exist in the world of CNN and its viewers (I’d be shocked if it has been mentioned on MSNBC or Fox either). Nascent, failed non-threats directed at the U.S. merit all-hands-on-deck, five-alarm media coverage, but the actual extinguishing of the lives of children by the U.S. is steadfastly ignored (even though the latter is so causally related to the former).

Mother Jones, BP's Corexit Oil Tar Sponged Up by Human Skin, Julia Whitty, April 17, 2012. The Surfrider Foundation has released its preliminary "State of the Beach" study for the Gulf of Mexico from BP's ongoing Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Sadly, things aren't getting cleaner faster, according to their results. The Corexit that BP used to "disperse" the oil now appears to be making it tougher for microbes to digest the oil. I wrote about this problem in depth in "The BP Cover-Up."  The persistence of Corexit mixed with crude oil has now weathered to tar, yet is traceable to BP's Deepwater Horizon brew through its chemical fingerprint. The mix creates a fluorescent signature visible under UV light.

May 6

Salon, Surveillance State democracy, Glenn Greenwald, May 6, 2012.  As the FBI seeks full access to all forms of Interent communication, it is not voters who need to be convinced. CNET‘s excellent technology reporter, Declan McCullagh, reports on ongoing efforts by the Obama administration to force the Internet industry to provide the U.S. Government with “backdoor” access to all forms of Internet communication: "The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance. . . . That included a scheduled trip this month to the West Coast — which was subsequently postponed — to meet with Internet companies’ CEOs and top lawyers. . . ."

Austin American-Statesman, Justices remove themselves from Tom DeLay's appeal, Laylan Copelin, May 5, 2012. Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's appeal has taken an unexpected turn as three Republican justices removed themselves from his money laundering case in just a matter of days.  That leaves the fate of DeLay, a high-profile Republican who argued that he couldn't get a fair trial in the Democratic Travis County, in the hands of a 2-1 Democratic majority on the 3rd Court of Appeals.  On Friday, DeLay's appellate lawyer, Brian Wice, filed a motion to remove Justice Diane Henson, a Democrat, because of "anti-Republican" remarks she made at the state Democratic Convention in 2006.  "To suggest that the procedural posture of this case is unique in the annals of this Court, indeed, any appellate court in Texas, is a monumental understatement," Wice wrote in his motion. "In the space of a week and change, there have been as many changes in the composition of the panel assigned to hear this matter as is humanly or mathematically possible."  In 2010, a Travis County jury convicted DeLay on charges of laundering $190,000 of corporate money into illegal campaign donations during the 2002 election. A judge sentenced DeLay to three years in prison, but he remains free, pending his appeal.

NBC / Huffington Post, Tom Brokaw: 'It Is Time To Rethink' White House Correspondents Dinner (VIDEO), May 6, 2012. Tom Brokaw lamented the media's coverage of politics on Sunday's "Meet the Press," calling out the White House Correspondents Dinner in particular. Brokaw proceeded to criticize political coverage for focusing on too much on the extreme ends of the political spectrum. (His remarks start at the 14:40 mark in the clip above.) "As I've gone around the country, a lot of people say to me, 'What's happened with the press? What's happened with political coverage in America. We don't feel connected to it,'" Brokaw reflected. He had expressed similar sentiments earlier in the show, saying that the public is "tuning out of Washington." He said that the White House Correspondents Dinner exemplified the disconnect. "If there's ever an event that separates the press from the people that they're supposed to serve, symbolically, it is that one," he said. "It is time to rethink it."

Washington Post, CNN, Dan Rather's Last Crusade, Erik Wemple, May 7, 2012. Mark Feldstein, Fred Francis, Howard Kurtz Dan Rather has been making the rounds to promote his book, “Rather Outspoken.” He’s been on “Good Morning America” and “The Diane Rehm Show,” among other stops on the circuit. On his CNN show “Reliable Sources” yesterday, host Howard Kurtz said Rather had been invited to appear on the show. Rather didn’t politely decline;instead, says Kurtz via e-mail, “Rather simply didn’t respond to my email.” Perhaps that’s because Kurtz, as he made plain in the segment, doesn’t think too highly of the former CBS star’s stubborn loyalty to his reporting on the George W. Bush-National Guard story. “Why is Dan Rather still pushing and defending this story, this discredited story?” Kurtz asked his panel. Another question: “Is he, by still continuing to push this, ensuring that this will play a more prominent role when people write the legacy of his career, when his eventual obituary is written?”

May 4

Politico, Waiting 4 years on a FOIA at TSA, Josh Gerstein, May 4, 2012. Here's the latest evidence of how the federal government's Freedom of Information system remains broken despite President Barack Obama's pledge to run the most transparent administration in history: ProPublica just received a Transportation Security Administration complaint database the non-profit investigative journalism outlet requested nearly four years ago. ProPublica's Michael Grabell lays out the story here. He asked for the database of airport checkpoint complaints back in June 2008. His request clearly languished for a long time. Then it became caught up in a back and forth about its scope. The records finally arrived this week. The final release was far from massive: just 87 pages. Grabell hoped to use the records to inform his reporting. There's little chance of that now, since the data spans about 10 months from 2008 and probably doesn't relate much to the problems people have with TSA these days.

Salon, More federal judge abdication, The branch designed to be insulated from political pressures has been the most craven of all in the post-9/11 era, Glenn Greenwald, Friday, May 4, 2012. The abdication of U.S. federal judges in the post-9/11 era, and their craven subservience to Executive Branch security claims, has been a topic I’ve written about several times over the past couples of weeks. Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ that John Yoo is — needless to say — fully immune from any and all liability for having authorized the torture of Jose Padilla, on the ground that the illegality of Yoo’s conduct was not “beyond debate” at the time he engaged in it. Everything I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the identical shielding of Donald Rumsfeld by federal courts and the Obama DOJ from similar claims applies to yesterday’s ruling, and The New York Times has a good editorial today condemning this ruling as “misguided and dangerous.”  In sum, this yet again underscores that of all the American institutions that have so profoundly failed in the wake of 9/11 to protect the most basic liberties — Congress, both political parties, the establishment media, the Executive Branch, the DOJ specifically — none has been quite as disgraceful as the federal judiciary, whose life tenure is supposed to insulate them from base political pressures that produce cowardly and corrupted choices.

Guardian (United Kingdom), Conrad Black released from Miami prison, May 4, 2012. Conrad Black travelled to his estate in Toronto shortly after his release. Former media mogul Conrad Black has been released from prison in Miami after serving just over three years for defrauding investors. His wife greeted him at their home in Toronto, Canada, and he was seen on the estate grounds by 14:00 (16:00 GMT). Black, 67, who controlled an empire including the Daily Telegraph in the UK, and US papers including the Chicago Sun-Times, left prison early on Friday. Earlier, Canada said he would be allowed to live there upon his release.  Black was born in Canada but renounced his citizenship in 2001 to accept a peerage in Britain's House of Lords. He is a British citizen.  The move to grant Black a one-year temporary residence permit stirred debate in Canada's House of Commons.

World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2012

Barack ObamaStatement by the President on World Press Freedom Day. May 3, 2011. On this May 3 as we observe World Press Freedom Day, we take time to honor those who promote and protect the freedom of expression, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while giving voice to those who may not have the opportunity to express themselves freely -- including the journalists recently killed while bravely covering the crisis in Libya.


YouTube, video clips from the documentary Investigating Power film posted in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day:

, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Barry Sussman and Ben Bradlee reflect on The Washington Post reporting that uncovered the Watergate scandal and brought down a president.

. On November 12, 1969 reporter Seymour Hersh broke a shocking story about a massacre of hundreds of unarmed men, woman and children in the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. Hersh explains that the story started with an anonymous tip and led him to Fort Benning, Georgia where the Army was holding Lt. William Calley, an officer undergoing court martial proceedings for the killings.

. Murrey Marder remembers his reporting for The Washington Post that helped to unmask Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Guardian (United Kingdom), Murdoch facing new challenge as US senator contacts Leveson over hacking, Ed Pilkington and Lisa O'Carroll, May 3, 2012. Jay Rockefeller writes to British judge in bid to find out whether News Corporation has broken American laws. Rupert Murdoch's global media empire is facing a challenge on a new front in the billowing phone-hacking scandal after a powerful US Senate committee opened direct contact with British investigators in an attempt to find out whether News Corporation has broken American laws.

Salon, NBC News’ top hagiographer, Glenn Greenwald, May 3, 2012. The role of Brian Williams is to glorify political and military leaders, but he really outdid himself last night. Whatever one’s position is on the killing of Osama bin Laden — and I’ve always argued that there is a range of reasonable views — there are many journalistically important questions and significant disparities that still need serious examination (with all due respect (i.e., none) to John Kerry’s dictate that we all “shut up and move on”). None of those questions was even acknowledged, let alone meaningfully addressed, by last night’s one-hour melodramatic extravaganza hosted by NBC News anchor Brian Williams. This bin Laden show — “Inside the Situation Room” — was hagiography in its purest, most propagandistic, and most subservient form. This is typically the role Williams plays — he cleanses and glorifies American government actions, especially military actions, with his reverent, soothing, self-important baritone — but he really outdid himself here.  In essence, the entire show was devoted to uncritical veneration of our national political and military leaders. It was as vapid as it was propagandistic; as Josh Gerstein wrote: “Much of the program was devoted to the thoughts and feelings of the senior officials involved and to such details as Biden clutching his Rosary ring as the raid unfolded and the sourcing of the food consumed by officials on that fateful day.” We got to hear about how the President’s daughters reacted upon hearing of bin Laden’s death, and how very difficult it was for him to attend the White House Correspondents’ dinner that evening. The coolness of American military gadgetry was constantly on display (the SitRoom has multiple digital clocks for different time zones, one of which always shows the time where the President is located, as well as some really big and flat TV screens!).

May 2

Cutline, Dan Rather on George W. Bush report: ‘We reported a true story—that’s why I’m no longer with CBS News,’ Dylan Stableford, May 2, 2012. In an interview with Piers Morgan on Tuesday, Rather recalled the last conversation he had with George W. Bush after his controversial 2004 CBS News report on the former president's Air National Guard service record.  "I was at the White House for a briefing for reporters, and I asked him a couple of questions and he answered the questions," Rather said. "And then afterward he said to me, 'I hope you'll be happy retired in Austin.' That's my home. I had no intention of retiring in Austin. I have a passion for my work and I plunged myself back into doing work. But that's the only conversation I've had with him since." Rather also defended the report that led to the end of his network news career. "We reported a true story," he said. "That's why I'm no longer with CBS News."

OpEd News, Rupert Watch -- the Kiss of Death, Michael Collins, May 2, 2012.  When things don't work out, doing business with Murdoch can be the kiss of death. No matter how hard you try, how loyal you are, if something goes wrong, you can be sure it will be your fault. Reporting has failed to lay the proper foundation for understanding Rupert Murdoch's remarkable testimony before the Leveson Inquiry in London and his behavior of late. Rupert Murdoch is a nihilist. Murdoch's television outlets in the United States stoked the fires for the 2003 invasion of Iraq based on outrageous misrepresentations like the idea that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks....

AlterNet, Bush Torture Memo Author John Yoo Granted Legal Immunity, Steven Rosenfeld, May  2012. A federal appeals court has granted legal immunity to former Bush Administration Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo for writing Justice Department  memos between 2001 and 2003 that gave the White House legal cover to torture alleged enemy combatants, including citizens taken in the war on terrorism. The ruling by a three-judge panel on the California-based Ninth Circuit found that there were no specific constitutional prohibitions against using the torture techniques at the time that Yoo drafted the memos while working at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. 

May 1

Harper’s via OpEd News, Bread, Circuses, and the Edwards Prosecution, Scott Horton. May 1, 2012. Scott HortonLast week, in a courtroom in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Justice Department launched its latest political charade in the guise of a public-integrity prosecution. Former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, a man with whom President Obama once broached the possibility of an appointment as attorney general, faces charges that he spent nearly $1 million in campaign donations to cover up an embarrassing sexual liaison. This, prosecutors insist, was a federal crime, for which Edwards could spend as many as 30 years in prison and face a $1.5 million fine. The Edwards prosecutors may well win their case, but not because any crime was involved. Rather, they're likely to win because John Edwards is one of the most reviled politicians in the United States, and so a choice target. No doubt his affair, undertaken while his heroic wife was dying of cancer, makes him the definition of a cad, but while he may be morally unsuited for high office, that is not the question in this trial. If Edwards can be imprisoned for using campaign funds to try to cover up his flaws, then few politicians could fairly escape prison. The Justice Department appears instead to be engaged in statutory vandalism, and it is awarding itself exceptional power to intrude into the electoral process -- a power that is ripe for abuse, as the Edwards case demonstrates.

Huffington Post, Rupert Murdoch 'Not A Fit Person' To Run Major Company, Phone Hacking Report Says, Jack Mirkinson, May 1, 2012. A parliamentary committee has judged that Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run a major international company such as News Corp. due to his handling of the phone hacking scandal. The verdict, from the Culture, Media and Sport committee in the House of Commons, is an unexpectedly damning one. Committee members made clear on Tuesday that it was not a unanimous one, setting up a political fight when the entire House votes on some of its findings. The committee wrote that Murdoch "turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications," and concluded that he "is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

Sibel EdmondsFireDogLake, Sibel Edmonds Finally Wins, David Swanson, April 30, 2012. Sibel Edmonds’ new book, Classified Woman, is like an FBI file on the FBI, only without the incompetence. The experiences she recounts resemble K.’s trip to the castle, as told by Franz Kafka, only without the pleasantness and humanity. I’ve read a million reviews of nonfiction books about our government that referred to them as “page-turners” and “gripping dramas,” but I had never read a book that actually fit that description until now. The F.B.I., the Justice Department, the White House, the Congress, the courts, the media, and the nonprofit industrial complex put Sibel Edmonds (at right) through hell. This book is her triumph over it all, and part of her contribution toward fixing the problems she uncovered and lived through.

Harper's / No Comment, Jose Rodriguez, Poster Boy, Scott Horton, May 1, 2012. Why did Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, destroy ninety-two tapes of interrogation sessions in which terrorism suspects were subjected to waterboarding and other torture techniques? On Sunday, Lesley Stahl put the question to him on 60 Minutes, and he provided an answer:

Rodriguez: To protect the people who worked for me and who were at those black sites and whose faces were shown on the tape.

Stahl: Protect them from what?

Rodriguez: Protect them from Al Qaeda ever getting their hands on these tapes and using them to go after them and their families.

Rodriguez’s claims don’t stand up. Tapes are released with some regularity by the government, and when they are, the identities of any Americans shown in them are almost always obscured—in fact, U.S. law would generally require that this be so. So his first concern hardly makes sense. His second, that the interrogators would become Al Qaeda targets, is similarly a stretch, not only because their identities would not be disclosed, but because of the clear success of the U.S. campaign against Al Qaeda. The terrorist organization has been decimated; it is now struggling from the margins against extinction. And even if it were in a position to strike, low- or mid-level CIA interrogators would hardly be high on its list of targets.