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Below are significant articles for this two-week period on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.

July 29

Thomas DrakeWashington Post, Judge: Government’s treatment of alleged leaker Thomas Drake was ‘unconscionable’, Ellen Nakashima, July 29, 2011. A federal judge ripped into U.S. prosecutors’ treatment of a former spy agency official accused of leaking classified material, calling delays in the now-closed case “unconscionable” and comparing it to British tyranny in the colonial era. In 2007, FBI agents raided the house of Thomas Drake, then an official at the National Security Agency, but it took another two and a half years for officials to indict him, Judge Richard D. Bennett said at a sentencing hearing earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, according to a transcript obtained by Secrecy News blog. Drake is shown at right in a photo by Steven Depolo.

OpEd News, Bob Fitrakis on New Evidence of 2004 Stolen Election in Ohio, Joan Brunwasser, July 28, 2011. My guest today is Bob Fitrakis, author, journalist, editor and publisher of The Free Press. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Bob. We last spoke back in April after you wrote a powerful piece called: Ohio Republicans pass new Jim Crow "voter ID" law to disenfranchise 900,000 voters.  Things seem to be going from bad to worse. There are more revelations regarding the 2004 Ohio presidential election, which you've written about extensively over the years. For many of our readers, 2004 is the distant past. Can you walk us through it, Bob?  Why does it matter now, all these years later?

Michele BachmannNational Press Club, Bachmann won’t support debt-limit plan that fails to revamp federal spending, Terry Hill, July 29, 2011. Video. With the hours quickly dwindling before the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on raising the national debt limit, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told a National Press Club audience on July 28 that she would oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling that did not revamp U.S. spending policies. (Bachmann is shown at left in a Press Club photo by Sam Hurd.)

 

New York Times, Judge Agrees to Limit Writer’s Testimony, Charlie Savage, July 29, 2011. A federal judge dealt a setback on Friday to the Obama administration’s crackdown on the leaking of government secrets to journalists, sharply limiting what prosecutors can ask the author of a book about the C.I.A. in court. July 29, 2011. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., issued an order that had been sought by the author, James Risen — who is also a reporter for The New York Times — restricting his testimony in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official, Jeffrey A. Sterling, who is charged with providing classified information to Mr. Risen.  Specialists in media law portrayed the ruling as highly unusual, saying it could set an important precedent. While many states have so-called media shield laws that allow judges to quash subpoenas ordering reporters to testify about their sources by balancing the needs of prosecutors with the public interest, the federal government has no such statute.John Boehner

Huffington Post, John Boehner Backed Deregulation Of Online Learning, Leading To Explosive Growth At For-Profit Colleges, Chris Kirkham, July 29, 2011. With a mere eight lines buried in an 82,000-word budget bill passed in 2006, Congress eliminated legislation that had for more than a decade limited how many students colleges could enroll in online courses -- rules aimed at protecting students against dubious programs. Those eight lines have proven a potent fertilizer for a for-profit college industry that has since grown to enormous proportions, collecting most of its profits via federal student aid dollars.

July 28

OpEdNews, Disastrous Outcomes From An Orchestrated Crisis, Paul Craig Roberts, July 28, 2011.. While the world media fixates on the orchestrated debt ceiling crisis, the US government continues to bomb civilians in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia and continues with preparations to do the same thing to Syria and Iran. The off-shoring of US jobs, GDP, tax base, and consumer demand that has eroded away the US economy and the government's tax base, thus elevating the deficit, is somehow not a crisis. The fake orchestrated crisis can easily turn into a real one. Americans need desperately to ask themselves why they put into political office such utterly irresponsible and incompetent people capable of creating such a totally unnecessary crisis loaded with such disastrous potential outcomes.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, An un-American response to the Oslo attack, Glenn Greenwald, July 28, 2011. Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. -- whether successful or failed -- has provoked greater security and surveillance measures. The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway's political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-über-alles mentality. there are other values besides security that matter a great deal and that pursuing security above all other values, in a quest for absolute safety, is both self-destructive and futile. This realization was once not only common in the American political ethos, but its defining feature. Patrick Henry's decree -- give me liberty or give me death -- resonated for generations precisely because it underscored that Americans were willing to subordinate physical security to other values (such as freedom and privacy).

Forbes, Flying Drone Can Crack Wi-Fi Networks, Snoop On Cell Phones, Andy Greenberg, July 28, 2011. How do one ex-Air Force official and one former airplane hobby shop owner, both of whom happen to have decades of experience as network security contractors for the military, spend their weekends? Building a flying, unmanned, automated password-cracking, Wi-Fi-sniffing, cell-phone eavesdropping spy drone, of course. At the Black Hat and Defcon security conferences in Las Vegas next week, Mike Tassey and Richard Perkins plan to show the crowd of hackers a year’s worth of progress on their Wireless Aerial Surveillace Platform, or WASP, the second year Tassey and Perkins have displayed the 14-pound, six-foot long, six-foot wingspan unmanned aerial vehicle. The WASP, built from a retired Army target drone converted from a gasoline engine to electric batteries, is equipped with an HD camera, a cigarette-pack sized on-board Linux computer packed with network-hacking tools including the BackTrack testing toolset and a custom-built 340 million word dictionary for brute-force guessing of passwords, and eleven antennae.  “This is like Black Hat’s greatest hits,” Tassey says. “And it flies.”

Politiva, Petters Fraud: The Scam and the Victims. It has been almost 3 years since the September 2008 FBI raids of the homes and offices of Tom Petters, a once prominent Minnesota businessman. Petters and a group of accomplices had orchestrated a massive Ponzi scheme, which had run successfully between the years 1995-2008, through his company Petters Companies, Incorporated (PCI).  The Ponzi scheme, which went all but unnoticed for more than a decade, was eventually pointed out by the vice president of operations for PCI, Deanna Coleman.  Today, investigations are still underway to uncover who the remaining players in this massive financial scam were and how a fraudulent operation this large went unnoticed for so long. So how did this $3.65 billion scam manage to operate successfully for so long?

Huffington Post, News of the World Hacked Into Phone Of Sara Payne, Mother Of Sarah Payne, Abducted And Murdered Girl, Jack Mirkinson, July 28, 2011. The News of the World hacked into the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of Sarah Payne, an abducted and murdered 8-year-old girl, the Guardian reported Tuesday. It was the hacking of 13-year-old Milly Dowler's phone that turned the long-simmering phone hacking scandal into a full-blown crisis for the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Yet the news of Payne's hacking is, in some ways, even more shocking, because it was her daughter's murder by a pedophile in 2000 that led News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to launch a crusade for a sex offender's law in Britain known as "Sarah's Law."
 

The Rev. Al SharptonHuffington Post, Al Sharpton Brings Baggage, Conflict Of Interest And No Discernible Talent To MSNBC, Jason Linkins, July 28, 2011. It seems that during the time I was out of the country, The Powers That Be at MSNBC decided to replace "Young Turks" host Cenk Uygur with civil rights movement celebrity Al Sharpton as host of the 6 p.m. hour. This move was confusing at first. There's no evidence whatsoever that Sharpton (left in a David Shankbone photo via Wikipedia) has any real talent for hosting a television show or covering the news of the day. So, what, if anything, does Sharpton bring to the table? Well, as Wayne Barrett reports in The Daily Beast, Sharpton's appeal may stem from the fact that he's already been such a fine company man to NBC, having played an important role in facilitating the network's merger with Comcast:  It’s gone remarkably unnoticed that Sharpton was the first major black leader to endorse the Comcast merger, which met fierce resistance. So, Sharpton gets a gig in return for doing the suits a solid -- that's some sweet, sweet synergy right there!

 
July 27
Salon Unclaimed Territory, Al Sharpton, MSNBC and journalistic standards, Glenn Greenwald, July 27, 2011.  On Sunday, Cenk Uygur was interviewed by CNN's Howard Kurtz about Uygur's departure from MSNBC, and Ugyur claimed that Al Sharpton -- widely reported to be his replacement -- vowed in a 60 Minutes interview never to criticize President Obama under any circumstances. The segment described Sharpton as "now a trusted White House adviser" and recounts that "given his loyalty and his change from confrontational to accommodating, the administration is rewarding him with access and assignments."  How can a media outlet such as MSNBC that purports to be presenting political journalism possibly employ someone as a journalist -- even an opinion journalist -- who publicly and categorically pledges never to criticize the President of the United States under any circumstances?

Daily Howler, Special report: Banana republic press corps! Bob Somerby, July 27, 2011. On Sunday, Teresa Tritch broke the news to New York Times readers concerning those Bush tax rates. In her EDITORIAL / DECONSTRUCTION, Tritch authored the following claim:  A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels. Say what? If the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012, our future deficits revert “to sustainable levels?” If Tritch’s claim is actually true, shouldn’t someone have mentioned this fact to Times readers a long time ago—long before last Sunday? Out on the newspaper’s front page, perhaps?  Can we talk? We’re not sure we saw a single useful question asked anywhere on Sunday’s programs. But then, this clowning has long been the norm.


Harvey SilverglateForbes / Injustice Department, Constructing Truth: the FBI’s (non) recording policy, Harvey Silverglate, left, July 27, 2011. President Obama recently surprised many in both parties by extending current FBI director Robert Mueller’s term by two years, intoning that “in his 10 years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the bureau.” For Obama at least, that “gold standard” has apparently retained its sheen despite a fundamental flaw in the FBI’s truth-gathering apparatus that Mueller (and, to be fair, his modern predecessors as well) supports: the long-defended Bureau-wide policy of not recording interrogations and interviews, a practice that allows the FBI to manipulate witnesses, manufacture convictions, and destroy justice as we once knew it. Mueller is above, at right.

Robert HinkleAssociated Press / Bradenton Herald, Judge hears challenge to Fla. campaign law, Bill Kaczor, July 27, 2011.  A lawyer for three Sarasota residents challenging Florida's regulation of political committees and similar groups ran into some tough questioning Wednesday from a federal judge who had refused to temporarily block enforcing the law before last year's election.  The three plaintiffs wanted to get together last year to raise money for radio ads opposing a statewide ballot issue regarding community planning. They would have been required, though, to register with the state and comply with other requirements for political committees, which they didn't feel they should have to do. It doesn't make sense to have stricter requirements for grass roots political groups than for big corporations and labor unions, their attorney Paul Sherman argued.
July 26
Rupert MurdochOpEd News, What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally, Russ Baker, July 26, 2011. Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. Here are 12 "take-away" points that are being obscured in the daily rush of revelations, and the related specialized coverage (his wife's wardrobe and demeanor, the effect on his company's stock price, etc.): 1) He has transformed world politics for the worse.
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New York Times, The Cult That Is Destroying America, Paul Krugman, July 26, 2011. Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system. So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. What would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will. This is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray. Our nation will pay the price.
 
Legal Schnauzer, Prostitutes, Judges and ‘Judges Gone Wild,' Roger Shuler, July 26, 2011.  Judges can't seem to stay off police blotters these days. They are the ones who are supposed to uphold the law in our courtrooms?  The latest example comes from New Mexico, where a state judge  faces charges that he sexually assaulted a prostitute. District Judge Albert S. “Pat” Murdoch, 59, was arrested last week and charged with criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. He was released on a $50,000 bond overnight.
 
Forbes / Injustice Department, Constructing Truth: the FBI’s (non) recording policy, Harvey Silverglate, left, July 27, 2011. President Obama recently surprised many in both parties by extendHarvey Silverglateing current FBI director Robert Mueller’s term by two years, intoning that “in his 10 years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the bureau.” For Obama at least, that “gold standard” has apparently retained its sheen despite a fundamental flaw in the FBI’s truth-gathering apparatus that Mueller (and, to be fair, his modern predecessors as well) supports: the long-defended Bureau-wide policy of not recording interrogations and interviews, a practice that allows the FBI to manipulate witnesses, manufacture convictions, and destroy justice as we once knew it. Mueller is at right.
 

Salon Unclaimed Territory, Al Sharpton, MSNBC and journalistic standards, Glenn Greenwald, July 27, 2011.  On Sunday, Cenk Uygur was interviewed by CNN's Howard Kurtz about Uygur's departure from MSNBC, and Ugyur claimed that Al Sharpton -- widely reported to be his replacement -- vowed in a 60 Minutes interview never to criticize President Obama under any circumstances. The segment described Sharpton as "now a trusted White House adviser" and recounts that "given his loyalty and his change from confrontational to accommodating, the administration is rewarding him with access and assignments."  How can a media outlet such as MSNBC that purports to be presenting political journalism possibly employ someone as a journalist -- even an opinion journalist -- who publicly and categorically pledges never to criticize the President of the United States under any circumstances?

July 26

Legal Schnauzer, Prostitutes, Judges and ‘Judges Gone Wild,' Roger Shuler, July 26, 2011.  Judges can't seem to stay off police blotters these days. They are the ones who are supposed to uphold the law in our courtrooms?  The latest example comes from New Mexico, where a state judge  faces charges that he sexually assaulted a prostitute. District Judge Albert S. “Pat” Murdoch, 59, was arrested last week and charged with criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. He was released on a $50,000 bond overnight.

 

July 25

White House Chronicles, Murdoch is felled by a disease he once cured, Llewellyn King July 25, 2011.  In the 1960s, even to an old union man like myself, British newspaper unions had reached a point at which they were a threat not only to the newspaper industry, but also to the freedom of the press itself. It took someone as ruthless and sociopathic as the unions to find a way to break their hold. That man was Rupert Murdoch and he did it with outstanding courage, cheek and military-like planning. So there is a fine irony that the Murdoch’s News Corp. now stands accused of many of the sins of the unions he disciplined: sociopathic arrogance; a desire to control the news as well as cover it; and a thuggish corruption that reached into the highest levels of at least three British administrations, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron; and has brought low the world’s largest and most storied police force, the Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard.

July 22

Questions raised over investigation into divorce, Jeremy Finley, (VIDEO) July 22, 2011. WSMV-TV (Nashville),WSMV, July 22, 2011. News story: A Channel 4 I-Team investigation has found a Memphis judge never disclosed during a divorce proceeding that his staff had police investigate the woman at the center of the divorce because the staff feared she had threatened to kill the judge. Judge Jerry Stokes continued to rule during the case, despite a state law that reads a judge shall disqualify himself if his impartiality is reasonably questioned. According to police records, Stokes even considered recusing himself from the case, but ultimately decided not to recuse himself. Danielle Malmquist, a former Nashville resident, is the woman Stokes' clerk feared had plans to kill the judge.

July 21

Huffington Post, Cenk Uygur On Leaving MSNBC: Network Told Me To 'Tone It Down,' Didn't Want To 'Challenge Power' (VIDEO), Jack Mirkinson, July 21, 2011. Cenk Uygur--the progressive online talk show host whose brief tenure as an MSNBC anchor ended on Wednesday--tore into the network in a lengthy monologue on Wednesday night, saying he had turned down a smaller role on MSNBC because he had been told he was too combative towards "those in power." Uygur had been the 6 PM host the network since January. But that role came to an end on Wednesday, as the network announced that he would not be continuing. Now, every indication is that Al Sharpton will become the new 6 PM host. Sharpton has been guest hosting in the slot for the past few weeks, and his numbers have apparently

July 20

Washingtonian, William Welch: Obama Administration’s Point Man to Stop Leaks, Shane Harris, July 20, 2011. The prosecutor has been called a tenacious and tough-as-nails lawyer, but also overzealous. On June 10, one of the biggest cases in the Obama administration’s campaign to stanch leaks of sensitive government information to the press collapsed when the Justice Department dropped espionage charges against Thomas Drake, a former senior official at the National Security Agency. But just three days before the trial was scheduled to begin, the lead federal prosecutor, William M. Welch II, told the judge that he couldn’t proceed without revealing details in court about classified systems that NSA uses to eavesdrop on global communications. Welch is now the administration’s point man in its historic anti-leaks campaign. He is prosecuting a former CIA officer, Jeffrey Sterling, and he has subpoenaed James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter, to testify about whether Sterling was the source for the journalist’s book State of War, which revealed that the CIA may have botched classified operations against Iran.

WPIX-TV (New York, NY), High End Prostitution And Drug Ring Broken Up, Lolita Lopez, July 20, 2011. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced a 144-count indictment against 17 members of a high class, big bucks prostitution ring out of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Five corporations and two of the largest investors, Efim Gorelik and Yakov Maystrovich, who each invested $700,000 to the company, were also named in the indictment of High Class NY. The prostitution ring was a family affair. They allegedly lived a lavish lifestyle with High End NY making more than $7 million over three years, from 2007-2010. In a separate indictment, two of the escorts were charged with Prostitution, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance and Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance. “High class NY went to considerable lengths to conceal it’s crime including creating a series of dummy corporations with misleading names,” DA Hynes said. Escort services ranged from $400 -$3600 an hour and clients often spent $10,000 in one night according to the indictment. “The customers were all high end customers coming from the financial markets many of them, hedge fund people, people with nothing but money,” DA Hynes said.

OpEd News, Murdoch Hearings: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Michael Collins, July 20, 2011. The Murdochs and their former chief executive of News International testified before a House of Commons committee yesterday. Their hours of explanations can be summarized in a phrase: We knew nothing. Both Murdochs, Brooks, and the two resigned police heads know absolutely nothing about phone hacking.  There is proof positive that both the Murdoch faction and the police officials were simply ignoring the obvious as they mocked the committee and the citizens of the United Kingdom.

FireDogLake, The Government Clampdown on Anonymous for ‘Operation Avenge Assange,’ Kevin Gosztola, July 20, 2011.  Widely reported yesterday was the arrest of sixteen individuals alleged to be members of the hacktivist group Anonymous, known engaging in cyber operations for political and social reasons. The FBI raided homes seizing computers and computer-related accessories. The Justice Department claimed fourteen of the individuals had been part of the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal back in December 2010, when PayPal suspended WikiLeaks’ accounts making it impossible for the organization to receive donations via PayPal.

July 19

Associated Press / Google, 14 arrests for alleged cyberattack on PayPal, Peter Yost, July 19, 2011. Fourteen people were arrested Tuesday for allegedly mounting a cyberattack on the website of PayPal in retaliation for its suspending the accounts of WikiLeaks. Separately, FBI agents executed more than 35 search warrants around the country in an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyberattacks against major companies and organizations. As part of the effort, there were two arrests in the United States unrelated to the attack on the PayPal payment service. Overseas, one person was arrested by Scotland Yard in Britain, and there were four arrests by the Dutch National Police Agency, all for alleged cybercrimes.

New York Times, Internet Activist Charged in M.I.T. Data Theft, Nick Bilton, July 19, 2011. Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old programmer and online political activist, has been indicted in Boston on charges that he stole more than four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. (Read the full indictment below.) Authorities said he broke into a restricted area of M.I.T. and entered a computer wiring closet. He apparently then accessed the M.I.T. computer network and took millions of documents from JSTOR.

Newark Star-Ledger, Ex-Assemblyman Louis Manzo pleads not guilty to new bribery-related charges, Jason Grant, July 19, 2011.  Former state assemblyman and Jersey City mayoral candidate Louis Manzo pleaded not guilty today to new bribery-related charges, his attorney John Lynch said. "I’ve been through this for two years and it’s been wearing," Manzo, 56, said today outside a federal courtroom in Newark. "This … is just retaliation for my being outspoken about what this case was about." Manzo has pleaded not guilty to other versions of corruption charges brought in the massive 2009 Bid Rig III sting based largely on the prolific work of government informant Solomon Dwek. He has repeatedly accused Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a former U.S. attorney, of targeting him and other Hudson County Democrats in a tainted probe aimed at helping Christie snag the governorship.

Hudson Reporter, Former Jersey City assemblyman pleads not guilty to all corruption charges, Terrence T. McDonald, July 19, 2011. Manzo is accused of accepting $27,500 in cash bribes from federal informant Solomon Dwek during meetings the two had in Staten Island in 2009 with Manzo's brother, Ron, and former Jersey City official Ed Cheatam.

Bergen Record, Former assemblyman Louis Manzo pleads not guilty in corruption case, Peter J. Sampson, July 19, 2011. Manzo, the former state assemblyman and 2009 Jersey City mayoral candidate, was back in federal court in Newark on Tuesday to enter a “not guilty” plea for a third time to the latest version of a corruption indictment against him. Nearly two years after he and more than 40 other people were arrested in an historic FBI sting, Manzo told reporters he is “growing weary” and eager to clear his name. U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares set deadlines for motions and scheduled trial for Feb. 7.

Jersey Journal Video, Louis Manzo Pleads Not Guilty, Adam Holsten, July 19, 2011.

Daily Howler, Whole Lot of Cheatin' Going On, Bob Somerby, July 19, 2011. In Atlanta, the public schools were cheating their keisters off. As everybody now agrees, the cheating went on for years. On July 5, the state of Georgia released its official report on the matter, the fruit of a long state probe.

July 18

Justice Integrity Project, Media Week: Three Blogger Weddings (Sort of) and a Funeral, Andrew Kreig, July 18, 2011. An impressive National Press Club speech by Arianna Huffington last week found its converse in Rupert Murdoch’s meltdown over the phone hacking scandal. The Huffington Post founder and AOL CEO and Chairman Tim Armstrong, left, portrayed a bright future after AOL's $300 million purchase last winter of the company she founded and leads as an AOL subsidiary.

Legal Schnauzer, Did One GOP Thug Reveal Too Much About Himself In a Recent Threat? Roger Shuler, July 18, 2011.  Early on in the blogging game I realized that if you are going to present real journalism about legal and political corruption, you had better be prepared to receive threats. I've even had numerous ugly messages regarding Murphy, the late beloved miniature schnauzer for whom this blog is named. In my book, it's hard to go much lower than that. How did the most recent threat jump out in that crowd? The sender used some curious language. Here is what he said: “It is beyond any sense of humanity to write such a pathetic article. But you did get one thing right: PAYBACK IS HELL ....and yours is a ‘fait accompli.’”

Huffington Post, Sean Hoare Dead: News Of The World Hacking Whistleblower Found Dead In London, July 18, 2011. Sean Hoare, a former reporter for the News of the World who was the first to go on the record about Andy Coulson's alleged knowledge of the phone hacking there, has been found dead, according to the Guardian. He was found by police at his London home. Hoare was known to have problems with drugs and alcohol, and the police said that they were not treating the death as a suspicious one, though they did not reveal what caused Hoare to pass away. But it still comes as a grim coincidence during a period when the phone hacking scandal is escalating seemingly every day.

Guardian (United Kingdom), Murdoch's worst hours are yet to come, Matt Wells, No relationship is safe, no loyal bond strong enough for Rupert Murdoch who – looking more than the sum of his 80 years – is mounting a final battle to save the company he built from nothing. His decision to throw Les Hinton to the wolves is his most dramatic move yet. For more than 50 years, as a journalist and then an executive, Hinton loyally served the Murdoch empire from its roots in Australia to the height of its power in New York.

Brookings Institution, Progressive Visions of Jurisprudence: A Debate, Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago School of Law, Douglas Kendall of the Constitutional Accountability Center and E.J. Dionne, Jr. and Benjamin Wittes, both of the Brookings Institution. July 18, 2011.  (Includes audio link).

Forbes / Injustice Department, News Corp, the FCPA, and Eliot Spitzer’s “Longstanding Practice” of Hypocrisy, Harvey Silverglate, July 18, 2011. Eliot Spitzer should count himself lucky that he did not exercise his right of self-representation. The former attorney general and then governor has been leading the charge for pursuing a federal indictment of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation following the News of the World corruption scandal (which includes bribery of police officers, illegal phone tapping, and, in one possible case, interference with a murder investigation). Spitzer takes these Draconian positions regarding a media entity while being (or pretending to be) blissfully unaware that, had a different prosecutor used this logic in pursuing a federal indictment against him, the former governor might very well be in prison right now rather than writing for Slate.com and pontificating in the public arena. Indeed, Eliot Spitzer’s actions with prostitutes represented a more tenable federal crime—as a violation of the Mann Act—than did News Corp’s supposed violation of the FCPA.

 

July 17

New York Times, British Police Arrest Rebekah Brooks in Phone Hacking, Alan Cowell and Ravi Somaiya, July 17, 2011. The British police on Sunday arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch’s media operations in Britain, according to a former associate at News International, the newspaper group at the heart of a phone-hacking scandal that is convulsing the Murdoch empire, the British political elite and the police here. The timing, two days before a separate parliamentary inquiry into the crisis, drew a skeptical response from opposition lawmakers who said the arrest might inhibit Ms. Brooks’s ability or readiness to testify before the panel while she is the subject of police inquiries. David Wilson, a lawyer representing Ms. Brooks, said she “maintains her innocence, absolutely.”

Huffington Post, Rebekah Brooks Arrested In Connection With Phone Hacking Scandal, Dina Rickman, July 17, 2011. Rebekah Brooks has been arrested, the Metropolitan Police confirmed on Sunday. The former News International chief executive went to a London police station by appointment and was arrested on suspicion of corruption and phone hacking. Brooks is the 10th person to be arrested in connection to the new investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.

July 16

Washington Post, Veteran prosecutors’ rookie mistake, no-nonsense judge lead to Clemens mistrial, Del Quentin Wilber, July 16, 2011. The demise of the perjury trial of Roger Clemens was sown in one of the most routine moments of any prosecution: the playing of a video for jurors. It actually was the fifth cued up that day, showing Clemens’s testimony before a House committee. While tedious, the clips were an essential part of the Justice Department’s case that the baseball legend had lied to Congress in 2008, when he told lawmakers that he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs.

Justice Integrity Project, Texas Judge Finally Withdraws From Gambling Casino Case, Andrew Kreig, July 16, 2011. A Texas federal judge removed herself from a major political corruption case five years after defendants moved for her recusal, thereby clarifying federal law on the due process right of litigants to a fair judge. The decision by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses of Del Rio to withdraw at the request of three defendants accused of looting their state’s only legalized gambling facility helps underscore aberrations around the nation when judges insist on deciding cases despite clear-cut law. Other recusal disputes fester right up to the Supreme Court.

July 15

Legal Schnauzer, Legal Schnauzer Reaches a Blogging Milestone, Roger, Shuler, July 15, 2011. We try not to spend much time tooting our own horn around here, but our little blog passed a milestone t he other day that might be worth noting. On June 16, Legal Schnauzer had its 1 millionth page view. What does that mean? I'm hardly an expert on blog analytics, so I really don't know. But it does seem to say that you can start a serious blog about legal and judicial corruption--a fairly complex, decidedly unsexy topic--and still attract an audience. That wasn't a given when I started this blog on June 3, 2007, with a post titled "Is 'Your Honor' Really Honorable?" At the time, I wasn't sure if anyone other than me and Mrs. Schnauzer would read it. And I still don't know that having 1 million page views over four years time--if my math is correct, we are averaging about 250,000 page views a year--is particularly special in the blogging world.

HuffPost TV, Arianna And AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Address The National Press Club (VIDEO), July 15, 2011. Arianna Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong appeared at the National Press Club on Friday to discuss journalism and where they see the business going in the future. Among other insights, Armstrong explained that in the current journalism landscape, "people aren't transparent about what they believe in before they write things, and that's something that we would like to see in the future is more transparency around journalists and what they believe in before stories get written." He also explained that it's important to create a product for an age in which many people consume news on smart phones rather than physical newspapers.

Whitey Bulger StachWhite BulgerHuffington Post, Whitey Bulger's Stash Revealed: Cash, Guns & Fake IDs, July 15, 2011. Hidden within the walls of the Santa Monica apartment shared by James "Whitey" Bulger and Catherine Greig, the FBI found more than $800,000 in cash, over 30 firearms, several knives, a grenade, and many types of fake identification documents, reports TMZ. Since Bulger's arrest on June 6, he has plead not-guilty to nineteen murder counts and a thirty-two count racketeering indictment. Bulger spent more than 16 years on the run as one of the FBI's most wanted. He is 81. His arsenel is portrayed at left in an FBI photo. An FBI "Wanted" post is at right.

Glenn GreenwaldSalon Unclaimed Territory, How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism, Glenn Greenwald, July 15, 2011.  This week, the truly intrepid investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill published in The Nation one of the most significant political exposés of the year. Entitled "The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia," the article documented that the CIA uses and effectively controls a secret prison in Mogadishu, where foreign nationals who are rendered off the streets of their countries (at the direction of the U.S.) are taken (along with Somali nationals) to be imprisoned with no due process and interrogated (by U.S. agents).  Despite the significance of this revelation -- or, more accurately, because of it -- the U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story.  Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera.  No major television news network -- including MSNBC -- has even mentioned his story.  Generally speaking, Republicans don't care that the worst abuses of the Bush era are continuing, and Democrats (who widely celebrated Dana Priest's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning story about Bush's CIA black cites) don't want to hear that it's true.

July 14

Washington Post, Roger Clemens perjury trial ends in mistrial after prosecution error, Del Quentin Wilber, July 15, 2011. A federal judge dealt a potentially fatal blow to the perjury case against baseball legend Roger Clemens by declaring a mistrial just minutes after prosecutors committed a basic error by presenting barred evidence to the jury. Just two days into the trial, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington issued his ruling in dramatic fashion from the bench, saying that prosecutors had wrongly played a portion of a video and had ensured that jurors would not be able to “render a fair and impartial” verdict.  The judge declared a mistrial Thursday in baseball star Roger Clemens' perjury trial after prosecutors showed to jurors evidence that he had ruled would be out of bounds in the case.  “There are rules that we play by and those rules are designed to ensure that both parties receive a fair trial,” Walton told jurors before dismissing them from service. “Evidence that I have excluded from this trial came before you. As a result of that, in my view, the ability of Mr. Clemens with this jury to get a fair trial would be very difficult, if not impossible.”

Washington Post, FBI opens inquiry after report that News Corp. tried to hack phones of 9/11 victims, Jerry Markon and David S. Hilzenrath, July 14, 2011. The FBI has opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that News Corp. employees sought to hack into the phones of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and tried to bribe law enforcement officers for information, U.S. officials said Thursday. FBI agents are reviewing information on the phone-hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s British media operations and trying to determine if U.S. laws were broken, the officials said. Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp., which is based in New York and has extensive U.S. operations.
Legal Schnauzer,
Why Did the FBI Launch a Raid on Mississippi Choctaw? Roger Shuler, July 14, 2011. Two days have passed since federal authorities launched an investigation at Mississippi Choctaw casinos, and we still don't know what prompted the action. News reports indicate that Mississippi Choctaws spent $13 million, funneled through Republican felon Jack Abramoff, to help get Bob Riley elected governor in 2002. If Tuesday's raid has anything to do with Riley, Abramoff, and perhaps the Bush administration (hello, Karl Rove!), it would be a major national story. But so far, we have no indication that such weighty issues are driving the investigation.  But I have a hard time believing that Eric Holder actually could serve some useful purpose while he is U.S. attorney general.

Jersey Journal, Hudson News, Arraignment scheduled for former Assemblyman Manzo on his latest federal corruption indictment, Agustin C. Torres, July 14, 2011.  Former Assemblyman Louis Manzo of Jersey City will be arraigned Tuesday in federal court, Newark, on a superseding indictment that adds one count of failing to report a felony to the two bribery charges Manzo already faces. "I'm disappointed that they returned an indictment, and it seems like they ignored the testimony of their own witnesses, who exculpated Lou," said his attorney, John Lynch of the latest and third indictment against his client in this case. Lynch said he was referring to testimony in the recent corruption trial of former Secaucus mayor Dennis Elwell, in which Ronald Manzo testified that he accepted the $27,500 without telling his brother about it. Louis Manzo charges that the Operation Bid Rig III sting was meant to boost Gov. Chris Christie's gubernatorial campaign. Christie had been the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.

Newark Star-Ledger, Rental car charges against FBI informant Solomon Dwek dropped, Ted Sherman. July 14, 2011. The lie that sent Solomon Dwek to jail was all for naught. Dwek, whose bail was revoked after misleading the FBI about his arrest in Baltimore over a failure to return a rental car, was cleared today of all criminal charges in connection with the incident.

July 13

Legal Schnauzer, Democrats Join the Effort to Cover Up Misconduct in the Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, July 13, 2011.  The Hinkle ruling shows that the case is not about Siegelman's personality; in a sense, it isn't about Siegelman at all. It is about the fundamental notions of fairness that are supposed to hold sway in our courtrooms. They come under the umbrella known as "due process," and they include the right to an objective, unbiased judge; the right to an untainted jury; and the right to face prosecutors who follow fundamental legal procedures.

July 12

Legal Schnauzer, FBI Has Raided Mississippi Choctaw Gaming Facility, Roger Shuler, July12, 2011. Law-enforcement officials are on the grounds of two casinos in Philadelphia, Mississippi, as part of a federal investigation, multiple news outlets are reporting this afternoon.  The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians operates the Silver Star and Golden Moon casinos. The Choctaws reportedly funneled $13 million, through Republican lobbyist and felon Jack Abramoff, to help Bob Riley get elected governor in Alabama in 2002. Riley last year launched a series of raids against gaming facilities in Alabama, apparently in an effort to protect the Choctaws' market share. The Riley raids led to a federal electronic-bingo prosecution that is ongoing in Montgomery.  Is today's action in Mississippi an outgrowth of the Alabama electronic-bingo case? Could it help shine light on activities that helped turn Alabama into "ground zero" for prosecutorial misconduct under the Bush Justice Department? Could this be a sign that the Abramoff affair continues to generate scandal?

Justice Integrity Project, Florida Judge Continues Whitewash of Siegelman Frame-up, Andrew Kreig, July 12, 2011. A Florida federal judge has ruled that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and his co-defendant have been treated so fairly that no one can reasonably suspect the appearance of bias. The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle denied a hearing or other discovery on whether Siegelman’s trial judge should be recused. Hinkle thus continued the whitewash of the nation’s most notorious political prosecution of the decade. Hinkle's decision absolving Chief U.S,. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Alabama's Montgomery-based Middle District carries the veneer of independence and fairness. But Hinkle trivializes Fuller's mind-boggling irregularities and his legal duty to avoid even the appearance of unfairness. Most important, Hinkle severely undermines public confidence in the judiciary when he protects his colleague Fuller from scrutiny regarding the fabulous sums Fuller has been making Frank M. Johnson on the side while implementing the Bush administration's long jihad against Siegelman, his state's most prominent Democrat.

Politicker New Jersey, Manzo Speaks, Darryl R. Isherwood, July 12, 2011. Check out this story in the Cliffview Pilot. It seems former Assemblyman and current target of the U.S. Attorney Louis Manzo has some things to say about the Justice Department, his own claims of innocence, and current Governor and former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

July 11

Cliffview Pilot, Manzo: New Jersey corruption sweep meant to sweep Christie, friends into office, Jerry DeMarco, July 11, 2011. EXCLUSIVE: Government crime fighters illegally brought charges against him in order to further their careers and that of Gov. Christie, who, as New Jersey’s chief U.S. prosecutor, oversaw a massive public corruption sweep that overwhelmingly targeted Democrats, former state Assemblyman and Jersey City mayoral candidate Louis Manzo tells CLIFFVIEW PILOT, in an explosive series of emails. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark “used evidence they know is untruthful to corrupt the sacred grand jury process for the purpose of indicting me a third time,” Manzo writes. They also relied on a “prey for pay” informant who was once a major GOP contributor and eventually proved unreliable, he adds.

July 10

Guardian (United Kingdom) via News from Underground, Nick Davies on phone hacking, Murdoch and News of the World, July 10, 2011. Video Interview. Investigative journalist Nick Davies on how the phone-hacking scandal has escalated, leading to News of the World's announced closure.

July 9

Louis ManzoJersey Journal, Political Insider Notes, Agustin C. Torres, July 9, 2011. Former Jersey City Assemblyman and record breaking mayoral candidate Louis Manzo, left, has been indicted by the feds, again. You would almost think that it has gotten personal between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Lou. This time his crime, according to the feds, is that he failed to report a crime.

Paul J. FishmanJustice Integrity Project, Jersey Feds Indict Critic Third Time To Win Christie Case, Andrew Kreig, July 9, 2011.  Federal prosecutors indicted for the third time on corruption charges a former New Jersey assemblyman who has emerged as one of their sharpest critics nationally among defendants. Defendant Louis Manzo, Jr. forced the government to drop its second indictment this spring because a federal appeals court accepted his argument that the charges were invalid.  On July 8, Manzo immediately denounced the new indictment as revenge by what he called “corrupt law enforcement officials.”  The case is being prosecuted by New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, right, a Democrat, in an investigation initiated by a Republican predecessor, Chris Christie, who is now the state's governor.

Washington Post, Caylee Anthony verdict sparks firestorm on Twitter, Kyle Hightower and Matt Sedensky July 9, 2011. For nearly two months, the murder trial of Casey Anthony was a living entity. It breathed daily across national television airwaves, then was reinforced nightly on cable TV programs that dissected every word uttered in the courtroom and fueled speculation on her fate. When Anthony was acquitted of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, hundreds of thousands of people captivated by the case — and certain of her guilt — poured their rage into postings on Facebook and the micro-blogging site Twitter. Those and other social media sites provided a platform and a large audience for a decibel level of vitriol seldom seen before.

Washington Post, If Caylee Anthony had been black, would you know her name? Keith L. Alexander, July 8, 2011. If Caylee Anthony had been black, would you know her name? How is it that the tragic death of one little girl could attract so much more attention than the tragic deaths of four sisters? The easy answer is that the disparity in coverage is about race and class. Those differences may have played a part, but there were other reasons that Caylee became a household name and Aja and her sisters did not.

July 8

Newark Star-Ledger, Juror who voted to convict former Secaucus mayor unhappy with trial's outcome, Jason Grant, July 8, 2011. One of the jurors who voted this week to convict former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell of bribery says he is upset over delivering a verdict he didn’t believe in, one he now hopes will be overturned on appeal. "I am not happy," said Luis Alba, a 48-year-old private security guard from Hudson County. "Personally, I hope the defense appeals, and if they get a technicality, they can get him free of the (bribery) charge." Later, he said, "It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think (Elwell) accepted the money as a bribe."  In a 25-minute phone interview Thursday evening, Alba said he believed Elwell when he testified that he considered the $10,000 to be a campaign contribution. Asked why he voted to convict on the bribery charge even though he had reasonable doubt and had entered the jury room intending to acquit Elwell on all three counts, Alba said his mind was swayed by other jurors — including four who strongly pushed for a conviction on all counts. "I will not stop thinking about him and his family," he said. "Even though it’s not a personal relationship, you’re affecting people’s lives."

Associated Press / Huffington Post, BP: Most Gulf Oil Spill Victims Should Not Get Any More Payouts, Kevin McGill, July 8, 2011. BP is arguing that most victims of last year's Gulf oil spill should not get any more payouts for future losses because the hardest-hit areas are recovering and the economy is growing.  The British oil company argues its case in a 29-page document made public Friday and filed with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. The $20 billion fund is responsible for paying for damages from the spill. The company says the fund should end payments for future losses to everyone, except in limited cases for oyster harvesters.

FireDogLake, Judge on Suspicionless Laptop Searches & Seizures: Better Off Leaving Devices at Home, Kevin Gosztola, July 9, 2011. A federal judge on Friday heard a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) against the government’s assertion that it has the authority to search, seize and copy laptops, cell phones, cameras and other devices of people at America’s borders even if there is no suspicion of wrongdoing. District Judge Edward Korman weakly defended a person’s right to not be subjected to unreasonable searches or seizures, suggesting, according to Reuters, “Travelers who want to keep U.S. border agents from seeing sensitive documents on their laptops and cell phones may be better off leaving those devices at home.”

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The great generational threat, Glenn Greenwald, July 9, 2011. In just the past two months alone (all subsequent to the killing of Osama bin Laden), the U.S. Government has taken the following steps in the name of battling the Terrorist menace: extended the Patriot Act by four years without a single reform [long, long list of other measures].  Behold the mammoth, life-altering, nation-threatening danger justifying this endless -- and ongoing -- erosion of safeguards, checks and liberties: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared Saturday that the United States is "within reach" of "strategically defeating" Al Qaeda as a terrorist threat, but that doing so would require killing or capturing the group's 10 to 20 remaining leaders.  Panetta knows that this disclosure won't even slightly impede the always-expanding National Security State and the War on Terror which justifies it -- just like the acknowledgment long ago that there were fewer than 100 Al Qaeda operatives in all of Afghanistan had no effect on our decade-long war there. That's because -- as the above-described events of the last eight weeks demonstrate -- civil liberties assaults and expansions of executive power are not what the U.S. Government does in response to some actual problem; it's what the public-private consortium composing the U.S. Government is. Terrorist villains are the pretext for, not the cause of, those policies, and they will continue irrespective of the scope or magnitude of Terrorism.

July 7

Washington Post, Phone-hacking scandal is biggest PR disaster of Murdoch’s career, William Booth and Paul Farhi, July 7, 2011.   Media baron Rupert Murdoch shuttered one of his signature British newspapers Thursday amid a spreading phone-hacking scandal that has damaged his reputation and threatened the globe-spanning conglomerate he has assembled over nearly six decades.  Murdoch’s News Corp. took the extraordinary step of announcing the closure of the News of the World, the company’s racy Sunday tabloid, in an attempt to stem the fallout from the newspaper’s prying into the voice-mail and cellphone accounts of hundreds of British citizens.  The 168-year-old News of the World, the widest-read paper in the English-speaking world, has acknowledged that it hired “investigators” who hacked into the phone accounts of politicians, celebrities and ordinary Britons in an attempt to develop stories. The targets of the paper’s hacking apparently included the families of British troops killed in Afghanistan, victims of the 2005 London transit bombings and a 13-year-old missing girl who was later found dead.

Legal Times BLT, Court Disbars Former DOJ Official Charged In Abramoff Scandal, July 7, 2011.  The D.C. Court of Appeals today disbarred a former U.S. Justice Department lawyer who pleaded guilty in Washington federal district court to a conflict of interest violation stemming from the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Robert Coughlin II, who served as deputy chief of staff in the Criminal Division, consented to disbarment from the District of Columbia bar, the appeals court said in an order (PDF) published today. Coughlin had been under interim suspension since June 2008. He pleaded guilty in April 2008 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of conflict of interest.

Legal Schnauzer, The Tale of Bob Riley's Motorcycle Crash Gets Stranger and Stranger, Roger Shuler, July 7, 2011.  The story of Bob Riley's motorcycle crash in Alaska has taken a peculiar twist, with news that the man who rescued him said he did not realize at first that the former Alabama governor was even hurt. Steve DeMolen, a sales representative for Caterpillar, and his friend, Delany Smith, came upon the site of Riley's crash on a remote highway north of Fairbanks. During a two-hour drive to the nearest hospital, the only injury DeMolen noticed on Riley was a cut hand. According to news reports, doctors later determined that Riley had a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, and a punctured lung. None of that, however, was apparent to DeMolen: DeMolen, a retired master sergeant and a Harley-Davidson rider, said he came upon the accident as he crested a hill and saw wavy bike tracks on the downhill slope. The couple then saw the bike, another motorcyclist and a man trying to right himself, DeMolen said.

New Statesman, The strange silencing of liberal America, John Pilger, July 7, 2011. Obama's greatest achievement is having seduced, co-opted and silenced much of liberal opinion in the US. How does political censorship work in liberal societies? The Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, believes in free speech. Authors, film-makers and poets make their way to a sanctum of liberalism bankrolled by the billionaire Patrick Lannan in the tradition of Rockefeller and Ford. In Britain, it has been a supporter of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, of which I am one of the judges. In 2008, Patrick Lannan backed Barack Obama's presidential campaign. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, he is "devoted" to Obama. On 15 June, I was due in Santa Fe, having been invited to share a platform with the distinguished American journalist David Barsamian. The foundation was also to host the US premiere of my new film, The War You Don't See, which investigates the false image-making of warmakers, especially Obama. I was about to leave for Santa Fe when I received an email from the Lannan Foundation official organising my visit. The tone was incredulous. "Something has come up," she wrote. Patrick Lannan had called her and ordered all my events to be cancelled. "I have no idea what this is all about," she wrote. Baffled, I asked that the premiere of my film be allowed to go ahead, as the US distribution largely depended on it. She repeated that "all" my events were cancelled, "and this includes the screening of your film." Theories? There are many, but nothing is proven.

Associated Press / AL.com, Federal judge won't remove Fuller from Siegelman case, July 7, 2011. http://blog.al.com/wire/2011/07/federal_judge_wont_remove_full.html  A federal judge in Florida has refused to order U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to step down from deciding whether former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy should receive a new trial on government corruption charges. Fuller presided over their 2006 trial and sentenced both to federal prison. Siegelman and Scrushy had asked Fuller to step down from considering the new trial motion because he participated in a meeting with government officials, undisclosed to the defense about allegations some jurors sent e-mails to each other during the trial. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of the Northern District of Florida ruled last week that he found no reason to question Fuller's "impartiality" and to order him to step down from the case.

AlterNet, Murdoch Named Architect of PATRIOT Act to Mop Up Eavesdropping/Phone-Hack Scandal, Adele M. Stan, July 6, 2011. A scandal involving phone-hacking by a right-wing newspaper tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is threatening the administration of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Now the scandal is boomeranging back to New York, engulfing the top executive at the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal.
To clean up some of the mess, Murdoch has called upon the talents of former Bush administration Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, whose views on privacy are enshrined in the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, and Joel Klein, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's union-bashing former schools chief, known for his phony claims of test-score gains.

July 6

CNN International, Hacking scandal exposes secrets at Murdoch's tabloid, Peter Wilkinson, July 6, 2011. Police launched a new investigation this year into hacking by journalists in response to widespread complaints from politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures who fear they have been targets. News of the World's parent company News International paid out compensation to various victims, including actress Sienna Miller and publicist Max Clifford, and issued a public apology in April. The growing scandal implicates London's police force and now threatens one of the biggest assets of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. News of the World.

Thom HartmannThom Hartmann Program, Andrew Kreig describes George Beck Senate confirmation controversy, Thom Hartmann, July 6, 2011. The high-rated, nationally syndicated TV and radio host , left, interviews the Justice Integrity Project director about the Project's latest scoop regarding the federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Newark Star-Ledger,
Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell found guilty of bribery, not guilty of two extortion counts, Jason Grant, July 6, 2011.  A federal jury in Newark today found former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell guilty of bribery and not guilty of attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.

Jersey Journal, Former Secaucus mayor found guilty of bribery charge, not guilty of two extortion charges, Terrence T. McDonald, July 6, 2011. Former Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell was found guilty today on a bribery charge, but was cleared of two extortion counts. Thomas J. Cammarata, one of Elwell's attorneys, said he was confused by the "inconsistent" verdict.

FireDogLake, The FBI Gets a “Bigger, Better, Faster” Database – but Who Gets to Use It? Sunita Patel, Gitanjali Gutierrez, Travis Hall, July 6, 2011.  Since 2006, the FBI has been quietly creating a massive new biometric database that is, in their words, “Bigger- Better- Faster.” Known as the “Next Generation Identification” program, or NGI, this new system marks a dramatic leap in the FBI’s ability to collect, store and share identifying information across government agencies. Alarm bells should ring for all Americans concerned with their privacy. Relying on “state of the art” biometric technology, NGI will use your physical traits (like eye scans and facial characteristics) to create identifications at lightning speed. While this may not seem terrible on its face, the real thrust of NGI is for multiple federal agencies to share your personal information without your knowledge. Through a series of disclosure programs, the FBI’s NGI database, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration database and the Department of Defense’s biometric database can now search and share matches. Moreover, the FBI hopes to expand the use of “Mobile” biometric units, which are biometric scanners that will send personal identifying information to all participating federal agencies, even for people who have not been arrested.

Associated Press / Daily Oklahoman, George Beck sworn in as US attorney in Alabama, Phillip Rawls, July 6, 2011. A  lawyer who has handled some of Alabama's best known cases waited longer to become the chief federal prosecutor in Montgomery than he may get to serve if President Obama is a one-term president.  George Beck, 69, of Santuck took the oath of office Wednesday as U.S. attorney for Alabama's Middle District. The length of time he will be in office depends on whether Obama is re-elected next year

July 5

Professors Blog, Julian Assange’s sex-crime accusers deserve to be named, Naomi Wolf, July 5, 2011. The shielding of sex-crime accusers is a Victorian relic. Women are moral adults and should be treated as such, As Swedish prosecutors' sex-crime allegations against Julian Assange play out, one aspect of the case merits serious scrutiny. We know Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, by name. But his two accusers are consistently identified only as "Miss A" and "Miss W" in the media, and their images are blurred. In the UK it is against the law to name an accuser in a sex-crime case once a complaint has been made; elsewhere – in the US, and much of Europe – media convention demands that accusers get the same protection. This is bad law and bad policy. Motivated by good intentions, the outcome harms women.

Newark Star-Ledger, Editorial: N.J. needs guidelines for law enforcement agencies to bargain with informants, Editorial Board, July 5, 2011. As the New Jersey ACLU revealed in a report released last month, there are virtually no rules or reliable data on the murky underworld where police officers — often accountable to no one — cut deals with criminals, offering all sorts of unholy incentives for being a snitch. While informants have been valuable law enforcement tools, they come with a price: the integrity of the criminal justice system. Each year, thousands of offenders provide all levels of law enforcement with information in order to save themselves. Sometimes, the information is reliable. Often, it’s not.

Connecticut Watchdog, Strong Senate Oversight Is a Consumer Issue, Andrew Kreig, July 5, 2011. The U.S. Senate approved by voice vote June 30 a new U.S. attorney for Alabama, thereby raising media watchdog issues for the federal justice system in that state and nationally.  Confirmation hearings are one of the few times in our political system when the public can learn – through the expert questions of Senators, who serve as our surrogates – about sensitive matters in such fields as law enforcement. Here, the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to require Beck to appear at a hearing and answer any questions, including about the Siegelman case and several other major disputes.

Legal Schnauzer, Coverup in the Siegelman Case Now Extends to the U.S. Senate, Roger Shuler, July 5, 2011.  While many Americans were preparing to eat barbecue and shoot fireworks for the Fourth of July, the U.S. Senate engaged in an extraordinary act of cowardice--not to mention neglect of duty. The Senate approved by voice vote on June 30 the appointment of George Beck as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Beck replaces Leura Canary, the Bush appointee who helped turn the Don Siegelman case into perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history.

But here's the kicker: Beck also played a prominent and highly questionable role in the Siegelman case. Beck's nomination was an opportunity for senators to grill a key figure in the Siegelman prosecution, to help determine how the U.S. justice system went badly off track in the Bush years. The Senate, however, elected to punt, giving Beck a free pass into his new position and throwing an extra  load of dirt onto a coverup of Bush-era criminality. For progressives who once had hope for the Barack Obama administration on justice matters, consider this: Beck is an Obama nominee, and the Senate is controlled by Democrats.

July 4

Justice Integrity Project, Justice Irregularities In Alabama Continue Disgrace, Andrew Kreig, July 4, 2011. The U.S. Senate approved by voice vote June 30 a new U.S. attorney for Alabama, thereby extending a series of disgraces blighting the federal justice system in that state and nationally. The Senate voted to approve George Beck, 69, to run the Middle District office in Alabama’s capital city of Montgomery. The Senate failed to require that Beck, right, appear at a hearing to answer questions about a host of pending issues.

Huffington Post, Is Torture In America's Future As Well As In Our Country's Past? Dan Froomkin, July 4, 2011.The Fourth of July is a joyous celebration of the United States' independence. And yet this country finds itself turning 235 at a morally precarious moment. That's because President Barack Obama has made it clear that we don't torture now -- but he's done very little to ensure that we won't do it again in the future.

July 2

FireDogLake, DSK Case Collapse: Lawyers, Phone Calls & Money, bmaz, July 2, 2011. It is not often you see the total implosion of a major criminal case in quite such a spectacular fashion as we have witnessed with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) case in the last 24 plus hours. As I said Thursday night when the news first broke of the evidentiary infirmities in relation to the putative victim were first made public in the New York Times; there is simply no way for the prosecution to recover, the criminal case is dead toast.

New York Post, Maid cleaning up as 'hooker,' Big tips for extra 'turndown service,' Prosecutors list litany of lies, scams, Laura Italiano, July 2, 2011. Allegations that she worked as a hotel hooker may explain why Strauss-Kahn insists their encounter was consensual. His defense attorneys refused yesterday to comment on the damning evidence -- or say whether he paid her for sex.

July 1

Roger AilesDaily Mail, Roger Ailes 'had secret plan for pro-Nixon TV channel 40 years ago as forerunner to Fox News, 'Mark Duell, July 1, 2011. One of the most influential names in today’s media was well aware more than 40 years ago that television could do the thinking for viewers. Roger Ailes, right, was planning a forerunner to Fox News in 1970 to deliver ‘pro-administration’ news for President Richard Nixon, documents show. The Republican strategist and Fox News chief launched the channel in 1996 but had ideas for another partisan station decades before then.   A memo called ‘A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News’ was discovered by a Gawker journalist inside the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.  It shows Mr Nixon’s aide was looking at a channel to avoid the ‘prejudices of network news’ in what he felt was the liberal establishment media.

Justice Integrity Project,
CIA Torture Investigator Plays Powerful But Mysterious Role, July 1, 2011. John Durham is the career federal prosecutor who made news June 30 when the Justice Department acted on his recommendation to narrow a probe of CIA mistreatment of detainees from 101 to two cases.  Our Justice Integrity Project revealed last July that a federal appeals court found in 2008 serious misconduct by a team of federal prosecutors supervised by Durham. Thus, the 2008 Bush and then Obama administration appointments of Durham and his prominent Connecticut colleague, Nora Dannehy, to lead major national investigations of misconduct by other federal officials smacks of politics and whitewash.

OpEd News, John Dean Does Not Know How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas, David Swanson, July 1, 2011. The impeachable offenses have been well catalogued by Think Progress without a solution proposed. William Rivers Pitt at TruthOut has had the sense to use a different I word: impeachment. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has, in fact, and beyond dispute, been very busy accepting gifts from organizations that file briefs before the court, attending political fundraisers, ruling on suits in which he or his wife have a conflict of interest, and hiding income. No wonder he hasn't had time to ask a question from the bench in five years!

Truthout, The Corrupt Corporate Incarceration Complex, William Fisher, July 1, 2011. Seventeen-year-old Hillary Transue did what lots of 17-year-olds do: Got into mischief. What she expected was perhaps a stern lecture. What she got was a perp walk -- being led away in handcuffs as her stunned parents stood by helplessly.  It wasn't until two years later that she found out why. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, two judges pleaded guilty to operating a kickback scheme involving juvenile offenders. The judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, took more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private prison company to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.  Today, the United States has locked up more prisoners than any other country in the world - 2.3 million-plus people locked up in state and federal prisons and county jails. This has predictably resulted in a shortage of publicly owned prison beds -- a shortage increasingly being filled by companies that charge so many dollars for each convict sent their way.

June 30

Legal Schnauzer, Ronnie Gilley's Attorney Has a Drug-Trafficking Conviction In His Past, Roger Shuler, June 30, 2011. The attorney representing Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley in the Alabama bingo trial has a federal drug-trafficking conviction on his record.  David J. Harrison, of Geneva, was convicted in March 1997 of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Veteran investigative journalist John Caylor, editor of insider-magazine.com, has provided documents and other evidence to Legal Schnauzer, showing that a federal jury in Dothan found Harrison guilty and his appeal was unsuccessful.

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