Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2015 news and views
Daily Beast, Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS, Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef, Aug. 31, 2015. To take down the so-called Islamic State in Syria, the influential former head of the CIA wants to co-opt jihadists from America’s arch foe. Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus (shown in an official photo). The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told the Daily Beast. The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.
But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy. However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky. Yet Petraeus and his plan cannot be written off. He still wields considerable influence with current officials, U.S. lawmakers, and foreign leaders. The fact that he feels comfortable recruiting defectors from an organization that has declared war on the United States underscores the tenuous nature of the Obama administration’s strategy to fight ISIS, which numerous observers have said is floundering in search of a viable ground force.
Spiegel Online International, Ex Schröder Aide on 9/11: 'We Thought the Americans Would Overreact,' René Pfister and Gordon Repinski, Aug. 31, 2015. Michael Steiner was in Prague in 1989 and at Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's side on Sept. 11, 2001. In an interview, he tells Spiegel how the U.S. considered a nuclear attack on Afghanistan and about finding a bug in his phone at the Chancellery. Steiner, 65, had a long diplomatic career.
SPIEGEL: The Americans had developed concrete plans for the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan?
Steiner: They really had thought through all scenarios. The papers had been written.
Quartz via The Innocence Project, Judge Kozinski on Myths of Fairness in the Criminal Justice System and Consequences for the Innocent, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, Aug. 31, 2015. Judge Kozinski talked about his article and his recommendations for improving the system last Friday as part of a discussion hosted by the Innocence Project and the Jacob Burns Center for Ethics in the Practice of Law at Cardozo Law School. Judge Kozinski’s article is based in his judicial experience, data and research around wrongful convictions in the U.S., and scientific research on elements of the criminal justice system. In his piece, Judge Kozinski points to eight myths that perpetuate a false sense of fairness in our criminal justice system, many of which directly contribute to wrongful convictions.
Legal Schnauzer, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley engaged in extramarital affair that prompted First Lady's divorce complaint, Roger Shuler, Aug. 31, 2015. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley engaged in an extramarital affair with his former communications director, leading First Lady Dianne Bentley to file for divorce last Friday after 50 years of marriage, sources tell Legal Schnauzer. Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married mother of three from Bentley's home base of Tuscaloosa, was the governor's mistress in an affair that sources say raises a number of possible legal issues -- including use of the state jet and a state trooper's services for personal reasons that had nothing to do with Bentley's official role.
According to Dianne Bentley's divorce complaint, the couple separated in January 2015 because of a "complete incompatibility of temperament" and a "conflict of personalities which destroys the legitimate aims of matrimony." The 72-year-old Bentley, a Republican serving in his second term, repeatedly has touted his Christian faith and conservative "family values" to attract voters. He long has served as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. Bentley made national headlines in 2011 when, shortly after his inauguration, he said, ""Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister. And I want to be your brother."
AP via ABC-TV (Channels 33 & 40 in Central Alabama), The Latest on governor's divorce: Bentley speaks to cabinet, Staff report, Aug. 31, 2015. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, whose wife has filed for divorce, says he will not let "distractions" get in the way of his push for policy and budget changes in the state. Bentley spoke Monday to members of his cabinet regarding his plans for a special legislative session next month. On Friday, the governor's wife of 50 years, Dianne Bentley, filed for divorce saying their marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown. The governor did not directly mention the divorce in his remarks. Meanwhile, a judge has ordered that Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's divorce case be sealed from public view. Tuscaloosa Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner issued the order Monday after the couple's attorneys jointly requested that the records be kept private. The request noted the governor's position as a prominent public office holder.
JIP Editor's Note: Bentley appointed the judge to the bench. Also, Alabama precedent is that divorce records are open to the public. In a previous case, a friendly judge sealed the records of then Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery during a scandal and divorce, but later unsealed them after public outcry, including by the Justice Integrity Project, and the judge's arrest on a wife-beating charge.
OpEdNews, The Dying Institutions Of Western Civilization, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), Aug. 31, 2015. The United States no longer has a judiciary. This former branch of government has transitioned into an enabler of executive branch fascism. Privacy is a civil liberty protected by the U.S. Constitution. Recently a three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the National Security Agency can continue its mass surveillance of the US population without showing cause. The panel avoided the constitutional question by ruling on procedural terms that NSA had a right to withhold the information that would prove the plaintiffs' case. By refusing to extend the section of the USA PATRIOT Act -- a name that puts a patriotic sheen on Orwellian totalitarianism -- that gave carte blanche to the NSA. And by passing the USA Freedom Act, Congress attempted to give NSA's spying a constitutional patina. The USA Freedom Act allows the telecom companies to spy on us and collect all of our communications data and for NSA to access the data by obtaining a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. The Freedom Act protects constitutional procedures by requiring NSA to go through the motions, but it does not prevent telecom companies from invading our privacy in behalf of NSA.
Huffington Post, Trump's Good Bad Speaking Style, Stanley Fisher, It is now commonplace to say that Donald Trump is breaking and confounding all the rules of political behavior. He does everything you're not supposed to do. Trump is often called "crazy," but there is method to his madness, and that method is matched and displayed by the speaking style he employs on the stump. Even his detractors see that a large part of his appeal is that he comes across as unscripted. What better form to clothe (and extend) that appeal than a form of presentation that has the feeling of being as unscripted as he is?
Asian Times, Turkish military turns on Erdogan over Kurd conflict, Tom Coghlan and Hannah Lucinda Smith, Aug. 31, 2015. A grief-stricken outburst from an army officer at his brother’s funeral has galvanized public anger at Turkey’s military campaign against Kurdish rebels. Government ministers have faced heckling at several public funerals for soldiers killed in operations against PKK rebels in the past week. The public criticism came after electrifying scenes when a uniformed army officer publicly blamed the death of his brother in military operations on the political leadership.
Huffington Post, Turkey Charges Vice News Journalists With Supporting ISIS; "Baseless and alarmingly false, Vice responds," Michael Calderone Aug. 31, 2015. Two Vice News journalists and their fixer were charged Monday with "engaging in terror activity" on behalf of the Islamic State, or ISIS, allegations the media company quickly dismissed as an attempt to censor its reporting. "Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of 'working on behalf of a terrorist organization' against three Vice News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage," said Kevin Sutcliffe, head of news programming in Europe, in a statement. "Prior to being unjustly detained, these journalists were reporting and documenting the situation in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir."
Hurriyat Daily News, All measures to be taken to make Nov 1 polls safe: Erdoğan, Aug. 31, 2015. Security forces will take all necessary measures to ensure election safety on Nov. 1 in a bid to avoid the repetition of problems that allegedly occurred in the June 7 polls, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said. “I believe our government, our Armed Forces and Interior Ministry will take all measures for election safety so that we’ll get through [the polls] with minor damage,” Erdoğan told reporters late Aug. 30 on the sidelines of a Victory Day reception. “I presume that what happened in the June 7 [elections] will not be repeated on Nov. 1 as part of election safety.” Erdoğan (shown in a file photo) has previously alleged that voters in southeastern and eastern Anatolian provinces were not free to cast votes due to threats and pressure imposed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
USA Today, 1 dead and 100 injured in Ukraine clashes, Oren Dorell, Aug. 31, 2015. One Ukrainian national guard member was killed and another 100 officers were injured Monday after clashes broke out with nationalist protesters outside parliament in Kiev, the interior ministry said. The dramatic escalation in violence took place as members of parliament approved draft legislation that would give more autonomy to Donetsk and Luhansk, two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels. Ten of the injured were reported in serious condition. Some of the officers apparently were injured after an object, possibly a grenade, was thrown from the crowd of protesters, mostly members of Svoboda, a nationalist party that holds only a handful of seats in parliament. Photographs and video showed the object emitting a trail of smoke.
Center for Public Integrity, Insurers say private Medicare plans are better, but we really don't know, Wendell Potter, Aug. 31, 2015. Firms hold tight to data, so comparing their programs with traditional Medicare not possible. Health insurers have been telling us for years that their Medicare Advantage plans, which are federally funded but privately run alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, can provide better care — at lower cost — than the government. One of my priorities when I worked in the industry was to perpetuate that notion. And I believed the PR, so much so that I encouraged my own parents to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. But is the PR true? The answer is, we don’t know, and we may never know.
Washington Post, O’Malley furniture purchases from governor’s mansion draw scrutiny, John Wagner, Aug. 31, 2015. A decision by former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley to purchase furniture from the governor’s mansion is creating some headaches back home -- including criticism from his Republican successor -- as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. When O’Malley and his family moved out of the mansion in January, they took dozens of items with them that his administration deemed “excess property,” according to state records. As first reported over the weekend by the Baltimore Sun, the family paid $9,638 for beds, chairs, desks, lamps, mirrors and other items from the mansion’s living quarters that originally cost taxpayers $62,000. Many of the pieces were eight years old or more, and they were discounted by administration officials to reflect their age. O'Malley aides were quick to point out that his Republican predecessor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was given the benefit of a similar arrangement when he moved out, though Ehrlich's purchases were on a smaller scale.
Politico, Supreme Court lets McDonnell stay out of jail, Staff report, Aug. 31, 2015. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell won a reprieve from the Supreme Court on Monday, as the justices issued an order allowing him to stay out of jail while his lawyers try to persuade the high court to hear his challenge to his convictions last year on a slew of corruptions charges.
Without the action from the Supreme Court, McDonnell would likely have had to report to federal prison in the coming weeks or months to begin serving a two-year sentence.
Washington Post, What happened to Scott Walker? Dan Balz and Jenna Johnson, Aug. 30, 2015. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker surged into the top tier of the Republican presidential race with a fiery speech in the depths of winter in Iowa. But his candidacy has wilted in the heat of a summer dominated by Donald Trump, with loyalists and supporters now calling for an immediate mid-course correction. Walker’s backers see a campaign discombobulated by Trump’s booming popularity and by his provocative language on immigration, China and other issues. They see in Walker a candidate who — in contrast to the discipline he showed in state races — continues to commit unforced errors, either out of lack of preparation or in an attempt to grab for part of the flamboyant businessman’s following.
Donald Trump Photo by Gage Skidmore at the annual CPAC convention, via Flickr and DMCA
OpEdNews, What Makes Trump Supporters Tick? Can You Say Narcissim and Authoritarianism? Rob Kall, Aug. 29, 2015.Trump is a narcissistic, blustering, offensive, abusive bully and buffoon. He is, among all the billionaires in the world, the most desperate for attention, the fastest to attack critics. There is widespread agreement that he is a narcissist. That tells us a lot about his supporters. Trump is pulling between 25 and 32% in polling. I recently did an interview with Scott Kyler, an expert on patriarichal, authoritarian people. He explained authoritarians as people obsessed with rules, who very much follow self-proclaimed experts on how life should be and moral. Someone who is authoritarian is seeking a leader to follow and blindly obedient. They are very conventional, very submissive to authorities, seeking people to dominate them.
Politico, Top Jeb fundraisers leave campaign amid troubling signs, Alex Isenstadt and Marc Caputo, Aug. 29, 2015. The move comes amid weak poll numbers and concerns that Bush's torrid fundraising pace has slowed. Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy, Politico has learned. There are different versions of what transpired. The Florida-based fundraising consultants — Kris Money, Trey McCarley, and Debbie Aleksander — have said that they voluntarily quit the campaign and were still working with Bush's super PAC, Right to Rise Super PAC. Others said the three, who worked under the same contract, were let go because they were no longer needed. One source attributed the departures to personality conflicts in the campaign. Others singled out Money as a problem due to what they describe as his haughtiness and his heavy-handed donate-or-else attitude with potential contributors.
The Lowdown via OpEdNews, A plucky (and smart!) grassroots coalition has pushed the dastardly Trans-Pacific Partnership to the edge, Jim Hightower, Aug. 29, 2015. As the Lowdown has detailed (August 2013 and January 2015), the 1,000-page TPP trade scam is an unprecedented power grab by corporate elites. While the deal is crammed with uglies, two impacts are downright nasty. One: Consistent with every "free trade agreement" of the past 20 years, TPP provides US corporations more and bigger incentives to export shiploads of our remaining middle-class jobs to low-wage countries. Two: and worse, TPP would sanction direct attacks on US sovereignty by tens of thousands of foreign corporations.
Newsmax, Larry Kudlow: I'll Run Against Sen. Blumenthal If He Votes for Iran Deal, Todd Beamon, Aug. 29, 2015. Conservative talk-show host Larry Kudlow declared for the first time on Saturday that he would run against Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal next year if he supported the Iran nuclear deal. "I'm going to run against him," the renowned economist and columnist said in an interview with Illinois GOP Rep. Peter Roskam on Kudlow's radio show. "I'm going to run against him for Senate." Blumenthal, 70, a first-term senator who has supported economic sanctions against Tehran, is among five influential Democratic senators President Barack Obama needs to keep Congress from blocking the agreement with Tehran.
U.S. State Department, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney's Trip to Moscow, Media relations staff, Aug. 28, 2015. U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney [a career diplomat, shown in an official photo] visited Moscow August 28 for consultations with Russian officials on the ongoing conflict in Syria. These meetings in Moscow are part of consultations to follow up on Secretary Kerry’s recent discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Doha and Kuala Lumpur, as well as ongoing efforts to support the Syrian opposition and to work toward greater convergence of views among both foreign governments and the Syrians themselves on a political transition in Syria and the defeat of extremists. The United States remains strongly committed to achieving a genuine, negotiated political transition away from Bashar al-Assad that brings an end to the violence and leads to a future that fulfills Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and dignity.
RealClearPolitics, Obama Meets the Press...On His Terms, Martha Joynt Kumar, Aug. 29, 2015. His political opponents—and even some allies—consider President Obama to be aloof, insular, and unreceptive to criticism. Media critics chaff at his administration’s many attempts to control access to the president, circumvent reporters, and chastise journalists and news outlets they deem to be unfriendly.
Those may be valid critiques. Yet it is an undeniable historic fact that no president of the United States has conducted as many interviews as Barack Obama. Not even close. Later this year, he may surpass 1,000 interviews given during his first seven years in office. At the end of Obama’s sixth year he had given 872 interviews to a broad range of reporters, columnists, bloggers, radio hosts, local television anchors, and others reporting news on a wide scope of issues the president wanted to weigh in on. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined had only 572 interviews at their six-year marks. Obama’s emphasis on interchanges with the press through interviews represents a change from the practices of the presidents who preceded him.
Those previous exchanges took place in press conferences and short question-and-answer sessions with White House reporters assigned to cover them and their administrations. The shift to interviews away from White House-centered queries has come about through the opportunities Obama and his White House staff now have to target the segments of the public they want to reach at a particular time. It is a move White House reporters view as consequential for their reporting on the presidency and for what the public knows about the chief executive.
Al.com, Gov. Robert Bentley's wife filing for divorce, Leada Gore and Jeremy Gray, Aug. 28, 2015. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's wife of 50 years, Dianne, today filed for divorce, saying "their marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown," according to court records. The couple, both 72, were married in 1965 and have four children. The filing cites "complete incompatibility of temperament" and states they have been separated since January. The filing also lists her address as Tuscaloosa and his as Montgomery. "There exists a conflict of personalities which destroys the legitimate aims of matrimony and all possibilities of reconciliation are futile," the filing states. The couple has continued to make public appearances together. Today, they were seen together at College Colors Day at the governor's mansion in Montgomery. Dianne Bentley, who holds a degree in bacteriology from the University of Alabama, met the governor during his first year of medical school. They married after she finished her senior year. She worked in medical labs for $325 a month to help put him through medical school. After his residency in Birmingham, they moved to Tuscaloosa, where they raised four sons and lived a quiet life until he got interested in running for the Legislature.
JIP editor's note: Robert and Dianne Bentley are shown in their wedding day in 1965 via a photo from Al.com, the Alabama Media Group consortium of several of Alabama's most prominent news organizations. The Justice Integrity Project would not ordinarily report on a divorce except for our longstanding coverage of the political prosecutions corrupting Alabama's legal system and the special factors here: Sources advise that the divorce stemmed from an affair by the governor, a prominent Republican advocate of "family values" policies. For a preview on where this is likely headed, read a blockbuster column a year ago by Al.com's John Archibald smoking out a scandal in the governor's protective detail in the midst of a major budget crisis that continues:
Al.com, Gov. Robert Bentley protector was paid big, promoted over more qualified troopers, John Archibald, Sept. 7, 2014. The head of Gov. Robert Bentley's security detail made $16,918 in August, thanks to overtime he earned following the governor across the globe. At that rate, Wendell Ray Lewis would pull in $203,000 a year, or about $112,000 more than his annual salary as a state trooper. It pushes his actual pay so far this fiscal year to $153,000, with a month still to go. It's almost fifty grand more than the colonel who runs the Department of Public Safety made in the same time period. It sort of, um, flies in the face of the governor's whole "I don't take a salary" thing. It doesn't mean as much to skip a paycheck when your actions allow other people to double theirs.
But there is more going on here than a trooper's overtime. Lewis, who seemed to receive special treatment while standing guard over Gov. Bentley, was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant last month even though he tested lower than many others on the lieutenant's test. He was, the way troopers understand the rules, simply "unpromotable." Without intervention, that is. From somebody.
UK Daily Mail, Nazi gold train is FOUND: Deathbed confession leads treasure hunters to secret location as Polish officials claim they have seen proof on radar, Ed Wight and Jenny Stanton, Aug. 28, 2015. A German and a Pole last week claimed they had found the Nazi gold train. Polish official says man who helped hide the train revealed its location. Believed to contain weapons, jewellery, artwork and archive documents. Officials have seen radar images which prove evidence of train’s existence.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk in the Oval Office before their weekly lunch, May 6, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post, The case for Joe Biden to run in 2016, Ruth Marcus, Aug. 28, 2015. Could Joe Biden be the man for this season? The vice president has been running for president since Hillary Clinton was first lady of Arkansas. His first campaign, in 1988, fizzled over allegations of plagiarism. His second, in 2008, limped to a humiliating close with Biden winning less than 1 percent of voters in the Iowa caucuses. He received most attention for unwise comments about Indian Americans (“You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts [in Delaware] unless you have a slight Indian accent”) and Barack Obama (“articulate and bright and clean.”) But there is an argument that 2016 could be Biden’s year — a moment that will reward, even celebrate, his loose-lipped authenticity and his from-the-gut middle-class politics.
Washington Post, Federal appeals court weakens lawsuit against NSA’s bulk phone data collection, Ellen Nakashima, Aug. 28, 2015. An appeals court in the District of Columbia dealt a setback Friday to an activist’s lawsuit against the government over the legality of the National Security Agency’s call records program, ruling that the plaintiff has not proved his standing to sue. A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that public interest lawyer Larry Klayman, the founder of Freedom Watch, has not proved his own phone records were collected by the NSA — and so has not met a condition of bringing the lawsuit. It sent the case back to a lower court for further deliberation on the issue. The panel’s ruling also reverses a ban on the NSA’s collection that had been imposed — and temporarily stayed — by a District Court judge in December 2013. But the ruling, which is strictly procedural, does not address the constitutionality or legality of the program.
Washington Post, Trump attacks longtime Clinton aide; Clinton’s camp fights back on Twitter, Anne Gearan, Aug. 28, 2015. Republican front-runner Donald Trump attacked longtime Hillary Rodham Clinton aide Huma Abedin on Friday, crudely joking about how Abedin's husband, former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, was caught in a sexting scandal, and suggesting Abedin "can't see straight" for marrying the now disgraced Democrat. In rambling remarks in Norwood, Mass., on Friday evening, Trump referred to Clinton's political problems stemming from her use of a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state. Clinton "has a lot of problems," including that much information went through Abedin, Trump said.
Washington Post, This Virginia teen will spend 11 years in prison for helping ISIS through social media, Brian Fung, Aug. 28, 2015. It's a sign of how blurry the lines can be between speech and action in the digital age.
Business Insider, Donald Trump's ex-wife once said Trump kept a book of Hitler's speeches by his bed, Amanda Macias, Aug. 28, 2015. According to a 1990 Vanity Fair interview, Ivana Trump once told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that her husband, real-estate mogul Donald Trump, now a leading Republican presidential candidate, kept a book of Hitler's speeches near his bed. "Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed ... Hitler's speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist," Marie Brenner wrote. Hitler was one of history's most prolific orators, building a genocidal Nazi regime with speeches that bewitched audiences. "He learned how to become a charismatic speaker, and people, for whatever reason, became enamored with him," Professor Bruce Loebs, who has taught a class called the Rhetoric of Hitler and Churchill for the past 46 years at Idaho State University, told Business Insider earlier this year. "People were most willing to follow him, because he seemed to have the right answers in a time of enormous economic upheaval." After Trump and Brenner changed topics, Trump returned to the subject and reportedly said, "If, I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them."
Vanity Fair, After The Gold Rush, Marie Brenner, September 1990. Unfortunately for Donald and Ivana Trump, all that glittered wasn’t gold. But the reign of New York’s self-created imperial couple isn’t over yet. Donald’s Midas touch may be tarnished, but the banks are still throwing money at him, while Ivana is busy brokering a future of her own. Marie Brenner reports on how the Trumps are still going for it all.
AP via US News, Associated Press sues over access to records involving FBI's dissemination of fake news story, Michael Biesecker, Aug. 27, 2015. The AP sued the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday over the FBI's failure to provide public records related to the creation of a fake news story used to plant surveillance software on a suspect's computer. AP joined with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to file the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. At issue is a 2014 Freedom of Information request seeking documents related to the FBI's decision to send a web link to the fake article to a 15-year-old boy suspected of making bomb threats to a high school near Olympia, Washington. The link enabled the FBI to infect the suspect's computer with software that revealed its location and Internet address. AP strongly objected to the ruse, which was uncovered last year in documents obtained through a separate FOIA request made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Washington Post, The story behind the Trump-Bush feud, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Aug. 27, 2015. Trump's remarks on his fellow candidate are the latest manifestation of decades of discord between the mogul and Bushes. Donald Trump spent a day in January 2014 hobnobbing with politicians at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. But as they tapped putts on the manicured greens, something else was on Trump’s mind: Jeb Bush. “He was trashing Jeb and, quite honestly, I don’t think he’s ever held Jeb in high regard,” said Crisafulli, a Bush supporter who said he was “uncomfortable” with the conversation and defended the former Florida governor to Trump. Trump’s jeering that day was a harbinger of the taunts and derision that the 2016 GOP front-runner has directed at Bush on the campaign trail this summer. The feud between the two leading Republicans, which has escalated in recent days, is shaping up as a defining dynamic at this early stage of the race. And considering Trump’s dominant status in polls and Bush’s fundraising dominance, the tensions between the two are likely to be a factor for weeks or months to come as each candidate attempts to topple the other on his way to the nomination. The 2016 campaign is only the latest manifestation of decades of discord between Trump and the Bush family. Since the gilded 1980s, when Trump and George H.W. Bush rose as forces in their respective spheres, the relationship between Trump and the Bushes has been a melodrama — veering between displays of public affection and acerbic insults.
Washington Post, How Huma Abedin operated at the center of the Clinton universe, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 27, 2015.New documents show the longtime Hillary Clinton aide juggling multiple jobs during her State Department stint,
Washington Post, The Hillary Clinton e-mail ‘scandal’ that isn’t, David Ignatius, Aug. 27, 2015. Does Hillary Clinton have a serious legal problem because she may have transmitted classified information on her private e-mail server? After talking with a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers, I think this “scandal” is overstated. Using the server was a self-inflicted wound by Clinton, but it’s not something a prosecutor would take to court. “It’s common” that people end up using unclassified systems to transmit classified information, said Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.
Washington Post, Friends of Beau Biden urging vice president to make 2016 bid, Paul Kane, Aug. 27, 2015. The Democrat is deciding if he has the “emotional fuel” for a third bid. Friends and supporters of the late Beau Biden are emerging as a key force behind efforts to help his father, Vice President Biden, become president. Many of them were classmates at the University of Pennsylvania or Syracuse University’s law school, where Beau Biden met several dozen rising stars. Some from Penn in particular vividly recall meeting then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), both at the Ivy League school and when he hosted his son’s friends at their home just 25 miles from the Philadelphia campus.
Daily Howler, The nature of State Department email! Bob Somerby, Aug. 27, 2015. Watching mid-afternoon CNN, we just saw Brooke Baldwin hyping a “bombshell report.” In a brand-new Quinnipiac poll, Biden performs a few points better than Clinton against the leading Republicans! In August of the year before, with Biden not even in the race, that’s a bombshell in much the same way that Baldwin is Pliny the Elder reborn. Our “journalists” routinely say it — they say they have a professional bias in favor of creating a lively race. Perhaps that explains why the corps is fluffing Biden. Perhaps it’s Clinton hatred. Whatever it is, it isn’t journalistic. This brings us back to the press corps’ ongoing obsession with the Clinton email non-probe. We say non-probe for a reason. As far as we know, there are two major claims: First claim: Clinton put national security at risk by using a non-secure email account. Also, Clinton stymied FOIA requests by maintaining her own server. By now, CNN, or anyone else, could have created a coherent account of the various charges, crazy and otherwise, being made against Clinton. No one has done so because our imitation, Potemkin “news orgs” simply don’t function that way. That isn’t what our “news orgs” do. Instead, they spend two years obsessing over meaningless polls while gossiping about a wide assortment of silly distractions.
Shadowproof via OpEdNews, WikiLeaks Attorneys Oppose Diplomatic Retaliation, Kevin Gosztola, Aug. 27, 2015. Ecuador's London embassy (image by nick.hider) via DMCA license. Attorneys for WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and other staff members of the media organization have condemned the United Kingdom's diplomatic protest against Ecuador for continuing to provide Assange asylum. "We are deeply troubled by the reported diplomatic protest made by the United Kingdom against Ecuador for granting asylum to Assange and by the continued menacing police presence outside the Embassy of Ecuador in London," lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) declared.
The UK, according to CCR, has "previously threatened to storm the Ecuadorean Embassy and arrest Assange, in clear violation of the Vienna Convention's protection of the inviolability of sovereign embassy properties." Attorneys described asylum as a "humanitarian act," which the United Nations General Assembly has "unanimously declared" as an act other countries should never construe as unfriendly. Yet, the U.S., U.K., and Sweden have protested and threatened diplomatic consequences against Ecuador. Hugo Swire, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State, stated on August 13, "Ecuador must recognize that its decision to harbor Mr. Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice." The statement came after Sweden dropped multiple claims against Assange, which stem from sexual misconduct allegations. In spite of the fact that Swedish prosecutors remain committed to investigating a rape allegation, Swire blamed Ecuador for allowing the claims to expire.
Belling Cat via Foreign Policy, The Other Foreign Fighters: An Open-Source Investigation into American Volunteers Fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Nathan Patin, Aug. 27, 2015. This report’s main finding is that there have been at least 108 Americans who have volunteered to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria between August 2014 and the beginning of August 2015. Other key findings include the following:
- As of 13 August 2015, 70 of the Americans appear to still be abroad.
- The Americans hail from at least 31 states across the US; more foreign fighters come from Texas than any other state.
- More than two thirds of the Americans have prior military experience.
- With the exception of the Coast Guard, every branch of the US armed forces is represented among the Americans, with the Marine Corps and Army predominating.
- The age range of the Americans is between 23 and 61; anecdotally, the Americans appear to be in their 20s and 30s on average.
- Ranging from software engineers to surf instructors, there is no one size fits all occupation or career field other than military service that characterizes the Americans.
- The three primary groups that the Americans join are in order of popularity the YPG, PUK, Peshmerga, and Dwekh Nawsha.
- A wide range of motivations inspire the Americans to fight IS, not the least of which is a sense that something needed to be done in the face of IS’s continuing barbarity.
“The foreign fighter phenomenon as it relates to the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria has been well documented by governments, the media, and the academic literature. Estimates vary, but the general consensus is that between 20,000 and 30,000 foreigners from more than 100 countries have traveled to Syria to fight with various Sunni jihadist groups. Of those, roughly 150 to 200 are American citizens. This report seeks to shed light on a related, yet understudied phenomenon, namely, that of Americans traveling to Iraq and Syria to fight against the Islamic State (IS)."
Daily Beast, Vester Lee Flanagan Filmed TV Attack, Then Committed Suicide, Katie Zavadski, Aug. 26, 2015. A former employee of a Virginia television station filmed his killing of two journalists and broadcast it to the world before killing himself. Vester Lee Flanagan is seen in the video walking up behind Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Wednesday morning. A pistol the enters the frame but the video stops before the first gunshot. A second video shows the rest of the shooting. (Twitter suspended his account.) Flanagan went by Bryce Williams at WBDJ-TV in Roanoke, where Parker and Ward worked. Ward captured Flanagan on video as he fired at him, Parker, and Vicki Gardner of the local Chamber of Commerce. In the tweets, Flanagan hinted at possible motives for the shooting. He tweeted about filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint and alleged that the reporter had made racist comments. “They hired her after that???” he tweeted. The slain producer, he claimed, complained to HR about him after working together one time. His final text tweet boasted about filming the attack. ABC News said it received a 23-page fax from Flanagan and turned it over to authorities.
The fatal victims of the WDBJ-TV shooting are shown with the suspect in a station photograph
Roanoke Times (VA), Two WDBJ journalists dead after shooting at Smith Mountain Lake; manhunt continues, Tiffany Stevens, Aug. 26, 2015. Vicki Gardner, head of the SML Chamber of Commerce, was shot in the back and is in surgery. Two WDBJ-TV (Channel 7) journalists are dead and a third person is injured after shots were fired at Smith Mountain Lake this morning. Part of the incident was caught on video during WDBJ's morning broadcast. The station was interviewing Vicki Gardner, head of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce. WDBJ President and General Manager Jeff Marks announced in a live broadcast at 8:45 a.m. that reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, had died. McBroom: “We’ve lost two friends, two coworkers. These two were more than what you see here on TV.”
Huffington Post, Alleged Virginia Shooter Requested Personnel Records On Victims, Jessica Schulberg and Dana Liebelson, Aug. 26, 2015. Vester Lee Flanagan, the man suspected of killing two Virginia television reporters Wednesday morning, attempted to subpoena personnel records on both of those victims, as well as other staff members, as part of a lawsuit against the TV station. Flanagan’s lawsuit, filed in the Roanoke City General District Court in March 2014, requested $25,000 from WDBJ, the station, which had terminated his employment the previous year. The suit cited wrongful termination, unpaid overtime wages, racial discrimination and sexual harassment for identifying as gay. The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence, although it’s unclear whether a settlement was reached. Flanagan was offered a position with WDBJ on March 6, 2012, as a multimedia journalist/general assignment reporter with an annual salary of $36,000. However, he quickly racked up a misconduct record during his year of employment.
Boston Globe, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren have a frosty past, Annie Linskey, Aug. 26, 2015. As Joe Biden mulls a presidential run, he’s aiming his legendary charm squarely at Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. For it to work, he must overcome an awkward history between the two. A look at the public record shows that clashes between the pair began more than a decade ago. The fraught relationship has improved in recent years, but their past would complicate a potential alliance should he decide to run for president — and, as some have speculated, ask her to join him on a ticket.
President Jimmy Carter and his wife Roselyn Carter march on Pennsylvania Avenue following his 1977 inauguration (Carter Center photo).
New York Times, Jimmy Carter’s Unheralded Legacy, Stuart E. Eizenstat, Aug. 25, 2015. His lasting accomplishments have gone unrecognized. As Jimmy Carter moves into the twilight of his life, it is enormously frustrating for those of us who worked closely with him in the White House to witness his presidency caricatured as a failure, and to see how he has been marginalized, even by his fellow Democrats, since he left office in 1981. His defining characteristic was confronting intractable problems regardless of their political cost. Given these lasting achievements, why is the Carter presidency viewed with such disdain by so many? The answers lie in two areas, one in his style of governing and his unbending character, and the other in external events. President Ronald Reagan’s positive, hopeful approach also contrasted with Mr. Carter’s penchant to be the bearer of unpleasant truths, to ask for sacrifice in a way that shaded into the image of a public scold. Trained as an engineer, he sought comprehensive solutions to fundamental challenges through a political system designed for incremental change; his significant successes never quite seemed to match the ambition of his proposals.
Columbia Journalism Review, As legacy media cuts back on FOIA, digital-only news outlets step in, Trevor Timm, Aug. 25, 2015. The Freedom of Information Act process is broken. Denials are at record highs, navigating the bureaucracy can be a nightmare, and the federal agencies recently killed a modest reform bill. But a series of FOIA lawsuits also have just shown how the 50-year-old transparency law can still be indispensable. And absent any change in the law, the best way for news organizations to make sure it stays relevant is to use it innovatively and aggressively. A study by Syracuse’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse showed that, with the exception of The New York Times, no legacy news organization sued the government under FOIA in 2014. But where print newspapers have largely faded away, digital-only news organizations — including some that are foolishly caricatured as mere meme generators and gossip mags — are thankfully starting to spend the time and money to fill the gap.
OpEdNews, Whistleblower Reveals AT&T/NSA Unholy Alliance, Joan Brunwasser, Aug. 25, 2015. Interview with noted AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein on warrantless surveillance of AT&T customers.
Brunwasser: What you've just said raises so many questions; where shall I start? How did NSA go from their illegal domestic spying in the '70s to this? I don't get it. Wasn't what was once illegal still illegal?
Klein: There's two facets to the change from the '70s, one political and the other technological. Technologically, there has been a giant qualitative leap in surveillance capability because of the development of really fast computers, coupled with fiber optic cables that can carry huge amounts of data in just a few seconds, and the internet which reaches into every home. Couple that with the leap in storage technology, and you have the makings of a police state. Back in the '60s, for instance, when the FBI wanted to do surveillance on someone (e.g., Martin Luther King), it was very slow and labor intensive--you had to assign agents to tap into phone lines and record with old-fashioned tape recorders. It took a lot of time and effort, and so perhaps only a few hundred people could be spied on at once. Now, with the internet, it's all been automated with computers, which can sweep up the communications of millions of people automatically, and then the data can be searched by an agent using a keyboard.
Montgomery Advertiser, Artur Davis on loss: 'You will see me in four years,' Andrew J. Yawn, Aug. 25, 2015. Artur Davis is already looking forward to the end of a term that hasn't begun yet. Mayor Todd Strange kept his mayoral seat with a solid victory over Artur Davis, Dan Harris, Ella Bell, and Buena Browder Tuesday night, but Davis' speech following the loss was anything but remorseful. Davis' campaign faltered in part due to questions about his commitment to Montgomery after lapses in residency and changes in political affiliation. On Tuesday night, Davis said he is in Montgomery to stay.
Editor's Note: Davis is reported to have spent more than $600,000 of personal funds in his losing effort. The Justice Integrity Project has followed his career closely in three losing campaigns (including his endorsement of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney) after reports from sources that he abandoned efforts as a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee in late 2007 to support those allegedly framed by prosecutors. The reason? Purportedly to secure backing from powerful interests for his own political future.
Miami Herald, Menendez team, prosecutors squabble over allegations of sex with underage prostitutes, Jay Weaver, Aug. 25, 2015. This summer, the defense team for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (shown in photo) and a wealthy South Florida doctor accused the Justice Department of directing a “tainted” corruption case against the close friends. They claimed the probe was initially based on “false” and politically motivated allegations of their having sex with underage prostitutes. The Justice Department punched back this week, asserting those “specific allegations” were “corroborated” — or proven — in early stages of the investigation, even though the New Jersey Democrat and Dr. Salomon Melgen were not charged with that offense in the corruption case filed in Newark. However, federal prosecutors in Miami, who initially reviewed the salacious sex-related allegations anonymously lodged against the pair, found the FBI’s evidence so lacking that they never presented an indictment to the grand jury here in 2013, according to law enforcement sources. Nonetheless, the high-profile investigation regained steam when the Justice Department's public integrity section pursued influence-peddling charges against Menendez and Melgen in April.
Business Insider, Senior US military official: Turkey 'needed a hook' and tricked us on ISIS, Natasha Bertrand and Michael B Kelley, Aug. 25, 2015. Turkey 'decided to light a match' and 'won't be able to control the intensity' of what happens next. Turkey is 'playing a dangerous game' with ISIS — and what comes next could make it worse. US-trained rebels allege that Turkish intelligence tipped off Al Qaeda's al-Nusra Front and orchestrated the kidnapping of US-trained rebels entering Syria, Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy reports. Though experts immediately advised skepticism of the accusations, the situation typifies the contradictory priorities in the faltering partnership between the US and Turkey against ISIS in Syria. "All of this speaks to a bigger issue of how Turkey is perceived to have been nurturing the Islamist side of the Syrian insurgency at the expense of Syrian nationalists," Aaron Stein, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider.
Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, U.S. NATO ally suspected of secretly supporting ISIS to advance his Islamist and electoral agenda
American Conservative, How Turkey Plays the War on Terror, Philip Giraldi, Aug. 25, 2015. Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest. America’s reluctant ally finally offers token assistance against ISIS only as cover for a campaign against the Kurds. The United States’s engagement in the Middle East since 2001 would be a comedy of errors but for the fact that it is not funny. It all began with the exploitation of a befuddled President George W. Bush by a group of neoconservative advisers who had long planned to invade Iraq and oust its President Saddam Hussein using phony arguments about Baghdad being a nest of terrorists and a repository of weapons of mass destruction. The bungled occupation was followed by a prolonged case of democracy building that essentially destroyed Iraq as a nation and eventually led to a sectarian government closely tied to neighboring Iran that had the temerity to ask U.S. forces to leave at the end of 2011. The United States has also given open and covert support to rebel groups operating in Syria in the insane belief that overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad would lead to the creation of a new democracy. Just like in Libya, apparently.
From the start, Turkey, which nominally opposes radical rebel groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, has been curiously absent from the fray, instead arguing that the major effort should be focused on defeating al-Assad. Lost in the shuffle are Washington’s hapless diplomats and soldiers, trying to make sense of the long-abandoned U.S. interests, but that does not mean that Americans will be immune from blowback as the situation continues to deteriorate. The United States Consulate General in Istanbul, where I once-upon-a-time worked, came under gunfire two weeks ago, while Kurdish militants have already begun a new terror campaign directed against foreign tourist targets in Istanbul and along Turkey’s Aegean and south coast.
A Just Cause via Market Watch, Judges Continually Use Bad Law as an Excuse to Send the Innocent to Prison, Staff report, Aug. 25, 2015. A Just Cause Questions Why IRP6 Prosecutors and Judges Allowed the Innocent to Go to Prison. According to a New York Times oped When Innocence Is No Defense, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to decide whether clear evidence of innocence entitles the wrongly-convicted to be freed from prison or given a new trial. "To the average citizen or anyone with a residue of humanity, it would be unfathomable that judges and prosecutors would be capable of imprisoning or failing to free a person they know to be innocent," says Sam Thurman of A Just Cause. "Sadly, this is not uncommon as you might think," adds Thurman. "It happened in the IRP6 case." The IRP6 concerns six software executives from the IRP Solutions Corporation that developed Case Investigative Life Cycle criminal investigations software. The "IRP6" (David A. Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, David A. Zirpolo, and Clinton A. Stewart) were convicted in 2011 of mail and wire fraud in a Denver federal courthouse and have been incarcerated for 3 years in a federal prison in Florence, CO.
The Blaze, Pollster Absolutely Astonished By Focus Group Results on Donald Trump: ‘My Legs Are Shaking’, Oliver Darcy, Aug. 25, 2015. Pollster Frank Luntz was left in absolute astonishment Monday night by the results of a focus group who espoused support for Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, despite watching a series of video clips which some might use to undermine his campaign. Luntz played for the 29-person focus group a series of videos which showed apparent flip-flops, derogatory comments toward women and his brash manner when laying out policy, Time reported. The group was made up of 23 white people, three black people and three Hispanics — mostly college educated and financially comfortable. But, despite this, most were still committed to the real estate tycoon — some even more than when they entered the room. “You guys understand how significant this is?” Luntz reportedly asked the press, who observed the polling, after the results were in. “This is real. I’m having trouble processing it. Like, my legs are shaking.” “I want to put the Republican leadership behind this mirror and let them see. They need to wake up. They don’t realize how the grassroots have abandoned them,” Luntz continued, according to Time. “Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”
Consortium News, The Case for Pragmatism, Robert Parry (shown in file photo), Aug. 24, 2015. Exclusive: Since American neocons emerged in the 1980s, they have pushed an aggressive “regime change” strategy that has left bloody chaos in their wake. The cumulative impact, including Mideast refugees flooding Europe and overuse of sanctions, is now contributing to a global economic crisis. Crashing global stock markets – punctuated by the bracing 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the start of Monday’s trading before a partial bounce-back – are a reminder about the interdependence of today’s world economy and a wake-up call to those who think that the neocon-driven ideology of endless chaos doesn’t carry a prohibitively high price. The hard truth is that there is a limit to the amount of neocon-induced trouble that the planet can absorb without major dislocations of the international economic system – and we may be testing that limit now.
McClatchy, Syrian rebels: Turkey tipped al Qaida group to U.S.-trained fighters, Mitchell Prothero, Aug. 24, 2015. The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy. The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State. Rebels familiar with the events said they believe the arrival plans were leaked because Turkish officials were worried that while the group’s intended target was the Islamic State, the U.S.-trained Syrians would form a vanguard for attacking Islamist fighters that Turkey is close to, including Nusra and another major Islamist force, Ahrar al Sham. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday called for Turkey to do more to contribute to the international fight against the Islamic State. A senior official at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, declined to respond to questions about the incident, saying any discussion of Turkey’s relationship with Nusra was off limits. Former Gen. John Allen, the Obama administration's chief of its ISIS strategy, is shown in a file photo. Story highlights:
- Nusra quickly captured graduates of the U.S. $500 million train-and-equip program
- Motive: Humiliate program, press U.S. to change its focus
- Pentagon says it sees ‘no indications’ allegations are true
The United States and Turkey have clashed for years over what U.S. officials characterize as Turkey’s willingness to work with Nusra, which the U.S. declared a foreign terrorist organization nearly three years ago. Turkey also has openly criticized the train-and-equip program for its insistence that participants agree to focus their efforts on defeating the Islamic State, not on battling Assad. The abductions opened the program to ridicule in the United States, where supporters of arming Syrian rebels quickly used it to make their case that Obama administration policy toward the Syrian conflict is inept. Editor's Note: Other critics allege the policy is worse than inept, and under Allen amount's to coddling a Turkish government more interested in fighting Kurds and helping Islamists than opposing ISIS, which has relied for its growth on Turkey's porous borders with the war zones in Syria and Iraq.
Boston Globe, The Case for Biden-Warren ‘16, Tim Molloy, Aug. 24, 2015. Was Joe Biden’s meeting with Elizabeth Warren (shown in photo) this weekend just a meeting? Or the start of something more? National Review columnist John Fund makes the case that a Biden-Warren ticket could be Democrats’ Plan B if Hillary Clinton loses her place as the party’s frontrunner. His logic: Biden, 72, might run for only one term. (He cites Carl Bernstein.) A single term for Biden could leave the path to the 2020 nomination clear for Warren.
The Awl, Literary Magazines for Socialists Funded by the CIA, Ranked, Patrick Iber, Aug. 24, 2015. In May of 1967, a former CIA officer named Tom Braden published a confession in the Saturday Evening Post under the headline, “I’m glad the CIA is ‘immoral.’” Braden confirmed what journalists had begun to uncover over the previous year or so: The CIA had been responsible for secretly financing a large number of “civil society” groups, such as the National Student Association and many socialist European unions, in order to counter the efforts of parallel pro-Soviet organizations. “[I]n much of Europe in the 1950’s,” wrote Braden, “socialists, people who called themselves ‘left’ — the very people whom many Americans thought no better than Communists—were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.” The centerpiece of the CIA’s effort to organize the efforts of anti-Communist artists and intellectuals was the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Established in 1950 and headquartered in Paris, the CCF brought together prominent thinkers under the rubric of anti-totalitarianism.
For the CIA, it was an opportunity to guarantee that anti-Communist ideas were not voiced only by reactionary speakers; most of the CCF’s members were liberals or socialists of the anti-Communist variety. With CIA personnel scattered throughout the leadership, including at the very top, the CCF ran lectures, conferences, concerts, and art galleries. It helped bring the Boston Symphony Orchestra to Europe in 1952, for example, as part of an effort to convince skeptical Europeans of American cultural sophistication and thus capacity for leadership in the bipolar world of the Cold War. By purchasing thousands of advance copies that it gave away for free, the CCF supported the publication of many of the era’s anti-Communist classics, such as Milovan Djilas’ The New Class. But its most impressive achievement was a stable of sophisticated literary and political magazines. The CCF’s flagship journal was the London-based Encounter, but it also published Preuves in France, Tempo Presente in Italy, Forum in Austria, Quadrant in Australia, Jiyu in Japan, and Cuadernos and Mundo Nuevo in Latin America, among many others. Through the CCF, as well as by more direct means, the CIA became a major player in intellectual life during the Cold War — the closest thing that the U.S. government had to a Ministry of Culture. This left a complex legacy. Here are seven of the best, ranked by an opaque and arbitrary combination of quality, impact, and level of CIA involvement.
Columbia Journalism Review, The end of American Journalism Review and what it means for media criticism, Mike Hoyt, Aug. 24, 2015. AJR is no more. You might not have noticed, because by the time it winked out this summer there was not a lot of it left. The American Journalism Review had gone from publishing 11 semi-solid issues a year with a decent website, to three issues per year, to zero print issues per year with Web content about “media innovation” that was designed and generated by students. Now it’s gone, and you may well be among those whose reaction is: So what?
Here are a couple of examples from AJR. In 2010, it ran a nearly 11,000-word piece by Jodi Enda (“Capital Flight”) documenting the steep decline of Washington reporting—not at political hotspots like the White House, where reporters continue to stumble over each other, but at the bureaus, agencies, and departments where so many life-changing decisions get made, like Justice, EPA, or Agriculture. Where good stories might mean something to, say, a coal miner or a vegetable farmer, or a black voter in North Carolina. The bright accompanying chart that compared numbers of reporters stationed in various offices between 2003 and 2010 was pretty unsettling. Is that kind of press analysis going to run on Colbert or the evening news? Not likely.
American Journalism Review (AJR), Capital Flight, Jodi Enda, June/July 2010. Watchdog reporting is at an alarming low at many federal agencies and departments whose actions have a huge impact on the lives of American citizens. As daily newspapers continue to shed Washington bureaus and severely slash their staffs, fewer reporters than ever are serving as watchdogs of the federal government. Rare is the reporter who is assigned to cover one of the many federal departments, agencies or bureaus that are not part of the daily news cycle. Even if they are large, even if they are central to how Americans live their lives, most parts of the federal government--the very offices that write the rules and execute the decisions of Congress and the president--remain uncovered or undercovered by the mainstream media. Consider that not one newspaper has a reporter who works in the newsroom of the Department of Agriculture, which, with a staff of 104,000, is one of the government's largest employers. Trade publications and bloggers pick up a bit of the slack but have neither the audience nor the impact of more traditional media outlets.
Library of Congress, 15th Anniversary Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 5, 2015, Washington, DC. The Library of Congress hosts the 15th Anniversary National Book Festival, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, at the Washington Convention Center. To mark this special occasion, as well as the 200th anniversary of the Library's acquisition of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, the festival has as its theme Jefferson's quote, "I Cannot Live Without Books." See also, Washington Post, Librarian’s trips abroad, posh hotels all paid for by James Madison Council, Peggy McGlone, Aug. 12, 2015, and Washington Post, David Rubenstein to receive 2015 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, Staff report, Aug. 24, 2015. Billionaire who serves on boards of the Kennedy Center and Smithsonian is honored for his charity work.
Huffington Post, Here Are The Wobbly Democrats Who Could Make Or Break The Iran Deal, Jessica Schulberg and Ryan Grim, Updated Aug. 23, 2015 and originally published Aug. 12. The White House still needs seven senators to promise to protect the nuclear agreement. President Barack Obama needs 34 senators or 144 House members to stick with him in support of the nuclear deal recently negotiated with Iran. Obama has vowed to veto a congressional resolution of disapproval, which lawmakers are scheduled to vote on in September, and one-third of either chamber will be required to prevent the veto from being overturned. The House is considered an easier playing field for Obama, since Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is a strong backer of the deal and has proven adept at holding together her caucus. But much of the speculation has focused on the Senate, where a close look at the landscape suggests that the White House may be able to get to 34.
Business Insider via Yahoo, A reporter says Jared Fogle asked her to put hidden cameras in her children's rooms, Hayley Peterson, Aug. 23, 2015. Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle once tried to persuade a journalist to put hidden cameras in her young children's rooms, according to the woman's claims. "I had two young children at the time, and he talked to me about installing hidden cameras in their rooms and asked me if I would choose which child I would like him to watch," Rochelle Herman said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." Herman said she has been working with the FBI for nearly a decade in its investigation into Fogle, now 37 and the father of two children under 5. Herman told CNN that she wore wires for more than four years to record conversations with Fogle in which he talked to her "numerous times over the course of years about having sex with minors." "He talked about sex with underage children," she told CNN. "It was just something that he really, really enjoyed." Fogle was charged this week with possessing and distributing child pornography and traveling across state lines to have sex with minors. He plans to plead guilty to the crimes and pay $1.4 million in restitution to 14 victims. Herman first grew alarmed by Fogle's interest in minors during a health event at a Florida school in 2007. She was covering the event for a local TV station. Fogle first rose to fame as Subway's spokesman 15 years ago, after losing more than 200 pounds while eating the restaurant's sandwiches. He reportedly has a net worth of $15 million.
FreeDon.org via Daily Kos, Trump and Jeff Sessions, a Perfect Pair, Don Siegelman, Aug. 23 2015. Jeff Sessions (shown in an official photo) endorsed Donald Trump for President in Mobile, Alabama, at the exceptionally large Trump rally. As the U .S. Attorney, Sessions, in order to suppress the Black Vote, sent the FBI out in Alabama's "Black Belt" to round up Black political activists, have them photographed and finger printed, and told that the FBI would be watching what they did in the upcoming general election. Sessions was challenging a Democratic incumbent for state attorney general, and the Democrat was expected to get a landslide of Black votes. To show he meant business, Sessions had two Black activists charged and convicted, both friends of mine. One a sweet 72 year old woman, Miss Julia Wilder, a retired school teacher, who was sentenced to two years, and Ms. Maggie Bozeman, a noted activist in Black politics. I studied the case and the testimony. First, I do not believe they broke the law and secondly, they did not get fair treatment at the trial. Sessions was determined to scare the hell out of the Black activists so they would not get out the vote for his Democratic opponent. Sessions is as far to the right as you can get. He likes the KKK, doesn't like Blacks, and wants every immigrant sent back to wherever they came from. A perfect match for Trump at least on immigration.
Reuters, Netanyahu pressed for Iran attacks, but was denied: ex-defense chief, Maayan Lubell, Aug. 22, 2015. Israel's political leaders pushed to attack Iran at least three times in the past few years but had to back down on the advice of the military and due to concerns about its ally the United States, former defense minister Ehud Barak said. In interviews to his biographers aired late on Friday by Israel's Channel Two, Barak said he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted military operations against Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Israel has regularly hinted it could attack Iran to stop it getting nuclear weapons, something Teheran denies it is seeking. In 2011, two ministers in a top security forum convened to discuss an attack changed their mind and decided against it, Barak said. In 2012 the timing coincided with a joint military exercise with the United States. "We intended to carry it out," Barak said, but going ahead with an attack on Iran while U.S. forces were conducting the exercise would have been bad timing. "You're asking and demanding America to respect your sovereignty when making a decision to do it even if America objects and it's against her interests, you can't go in the opposite direction and force America in when they're here on a drill that was known ahead of time," Barak said. Like Israel, the United States, had said military action was an option if diplomatic efforts failed to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons. The Obama administration says a deal agreed with Tehran in July will prevent Iran getting the bomb.
WND, Donald Trump: Warrior Male Extraordinaire, Kent G. Bailey, Aug. 21, 2015. Donald Trump is the prototypical, archetypal and testosterone-driven alpha male who rules by the sheer force of his personality, imposing physique, quick wit, mastery of repartee and almost hypnotic control over his gathering masses of adoring followers. He is Attila to the Huns, Henry V to the outnumbered English army, Winston Churchill to desperate allied forces, and now our fearless leader against the pagan forces of progressivism and political correctness. He is the unapologetic, quintessential warrior male of yore capable of vanquishing any and all opposition in his way. Trump is not a clown, a bloviating buffoon, an intimidating bully, or just a really rich guy hoping to buy America as a shiny new toy. He is ambitious to a fault, relentless in his desire to control, own and build, and he has success written into the DNA of every cell of his body. Yes, he is egotistical, over the top at times, and less soft and sentimental than some would like, but I think he would do pretty well in that closed conference room with Putin or Kim. They would respect him but not necessarily like him. These are the ways of the warrior males who have ruled the world from the beginning of time.
OpEdNews, Trump, Sadly, Will Bomb, But Even If He Doesn't...., Rob Kall, Aug. 22, 2015. I'm rooting for Trump. The truth, (something Trump uses when convenient,) is that Trump is a negotiator. He's putting out a lot of smoke and offers, but who knows what he'll end up doing. Trump is known as a loose cannon, unpredictable-- and that scares the powers that be in the GOP. But that makes him more interesting as an alternative to the other members of the GOP presidential primary pack. He could end up doing things that drive conservatives up the wall and please progressives, even more so than Hillary.
WhoWhatWhy, Boston Media Suddenly Unhinged Over Marathon Trial, James Henry and Lara Turner, Aug. 22, 2015. Demand Tsarnaev Trial Juror Names; Continue to Ignore Real Questions about the Bombing. The Boston media are furious at information being withheld about the Boston Marathon bombing. But wait — it isn’t what you think. No, they have not suddenly gotten curious about the sorts of inconsistencies, anomalies and outright lies that WhoWhatWhy has documented in approximately 80 articles now. No, they just want access to jurors, presumably to tease out still more maudlin “human interest” stories rather than probe for the truth that appears to be hiding in plain sight. But the media pursuit of the still-unreleased juror names is not just a statement on what the extreme secrecy surrounding Tsarnaev’s prosecution means for oversight of our public institutions. It is also a statement on the establishment news media’s priorities. And in a related matter, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys filed an appeal Monday on behalf of their client. They alleged that the government did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and reiterated their argument that the trial should have been moved out of Boston because of a public prejudiced against their client. More than 12 pages of the appeal have been completely blacked out — presumably because they contain personal information about the jurors. The appeal also cites several other factors as reasons to overturn the verdict and sentence and hold a new trial in a different venue. These include leaks from law enforcement; the numerous memorial events held at subsequent marathons; media coverage of victims and survivors and the circus surrounding Tsarnaev’s family’s visit to the United States to attend the trial.
Wisconsin Gazette, Scott Walker’s chief of staff quits amid plummeting poll numbers, Staff and wire reports, Aug. 22, 2015. Scott Walker’s longtime chief of staff Eric Schutt is stepping down, the governor’s office announced. Schutt is leaving “to pursue other opportunities and to spend more time with family,” Walker’s office said in a statement. It did not say what those opportunities are. Schutt played a key role in helping pass Walker’s three state budgets and his legislation repealing collective bargaining for most public employees.
Bloomberg, Trump Thinks Alabama Is Key to Winning the GOP Nomination, Joshua Green, Aug. 21, 2015. Why the Friday Night stadium gig in Mobile is much more than a Trumpian lark. Donald Trump’s surprise decision to hold a massive rally in Mobile, Alabama, tonight completely puzzled political insiders and journalists. Alabama, unlike Iowa or New Hampshire, is not a critical early state in the Republican presidential primaries, nor is it a general-election swing state that would benefit from early cultivation. So to put it in terms Trump might use: What’s the deal? It turns out, according to two Trump associates I spoke with, that Trump views Alabama, and the other Southern states that hold March 1st primaries, as the key to locking down the Republican nomination. The stadium rally is also a way to deepen his identification with Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who lives in Mobile and whose view on immigrants and immigration — he’s mainly against both — Trump shares. As Sessions told me, he and Trump appeal to the same type of voters, “a lot of middle-class working people, who don’t trust establishment messaging. I call it ‘honest populism.’”
Rolling Stone, Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny, Matt Taibbi, Aug. 21, 2015. Win or lose, Trump's campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid. Trump isn't really a politician, of course. He's a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it. People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum. They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get "crazy," as Thomas Friedman would put it.
Politico, Cruz: Jeb is 'confused' about my citizenship, Katie Glueck, Aug. 21, 2015. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday fired back at Jeb Bush, who a day earlier suggested the senator, who was born in Canada to a son of a Cuban immigrant and American-born mother, was the beneficiary of birthright citizenship. “I appreciate Governor Bush’s concern. I would note it seems he’s having a problem and getting confused between legal immigration and illegal immigration,” Cruz told reporters here ahead of his soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair. “With regard to legal citizens, I’m a United States citizen because my mother was a United States citizen, born in Wilmington, Delaware. And it has been the law since the beginning of the country that the children of American citizens born here or abroad are American citizens by birth.” Cruz, whose father came to the U.S. from Cuba, is advocating the repeal of birthright citizenship protections for the children of illegal immigrants, a position highlighted this week after Donald Trump promoted the idea in his controversial immigration plan.
New York Times, Biden’s Role in ’90s Crime Law Could Hurt Potential Bid, Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 21, 2015. A bipartisan coalition of activists and lawmakers is trying to undo the era of mass incarceration they say the 1994 crime bill helped create.
Al.com, Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis: 'I have never been a customer of the Ashley Madison site,' Erin Edgemon, Aug. 21, 2015. Artur Davis Former Alabama Congressman and current candidate for Montgomery mayor Artur Davis says he has never been a member of cheating website Ashley Madison. Davis is shown in a file photo from his 2008 second at the Democratic National Convention for his Harvard Law School friend Barack Obama. Davis later became a Republican, and lauded GOP 2012 nominee Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention during Romney's campaign against Obama's re-election.
See also: Montgomery Advertiser, Where are the mayoral candidates getting their campaign money? Andrew J. Yawn and Brian Lyman, Aug. 21, 2015. Among highlights: Davis spends $643K of own money on campaign. Three of the five mayoral candidates were the primary financial contributors to their own campaign, but no one came close to investing as much as Artur Davis. Artur Davis put $643,000 in personal money in his campaign for Montgomery mayor, according to his campaign finance reports. The loans total 89 percent of the $720,285 Davis has raised. See also Washington Post, Artur Davis, ex-Democrat who backed Obama in 2008, gets role at GOP convention, David A. Fahrenthold, Aug. 16, 2012. Four years ago, Davis was onstage at the Democratic convention: a fast-rising congressman from Alabama, so close to Obama that he provided the official “second” for Obama’s nomination. On Thursday, the Republican Party said he would be a “headliner” at its convention in Tampa, where he will be one of Obama’s most prominent African American critics.
Washington Post, Large Southern rally is part of Trump’s strategy, Robert Costa and David Weigel, Aug. 21, 2015. The GOP presidential front-runner addressed one of the largest crowds of the 2016 campaign Friday night, but his flashy performance in Alabama was about more than just showmanship.
ShadowProof, How One Film Gave Voice to Three Whistleblowers The US Government Tried To Silence, Kevin Gosztola, Aug. 15, 2015. “A person never feels as alone as when the weight of the entire U.S. government is coming down on your head, when Espionage Act charges are being filed against you despite the fact you haven’t committed espionage, and when your personal, financial, and social life are ruined,” John Kiriakou, the CIA torture whistleblower, told Shadowproof. “Jim Spione documented the ugliness of the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers. And it was through that documentation that I realized I wasn’t alone.” Kiriakou and two other American whistleblowers, Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, are the subjects of Silenced, a film directed by James Spione that has tapped into a zeitgeist moment, when people all over the world are deeply concerned about powers their government has claimed to protect security which infringe upon civil liberties, press freedom, and openness in government. The documentary has enjoyed international success since its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014. It has screened at dozens of film festivals and aired on television in Germany, France, Canada, and Japan, and it is now on digital platforms, such as iTunes, making it possible for millions to watch the film.
Washington Post, Former Ravens cheerleader gets 48 weekends in jail for sex with teen, Matt Bonesteel, Aug. 21, 2015. Molly Shattuck, the former Baltimore socialite and Ravens cheerleader who pleaded guilty in June to fourth-degree rape after an incident involving a 15-year-old boy, was sentenced to 48 weekends in jail on Friday afternoon in Delaware. The 48-year-old woman will spend every other weekend in jail over the next two years and be required to register as a sex offender in Delaware for the next 25 years. Shattuck, who gained fame as the NFL’s oldest cheerleader at age 38, was arrested in November and charged with rape and unlawful sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy who was a classmate of her son at the McDonogh School in suburban Baltimore. Shattuck’s arrest rocked Baltimore elite circles in which the diminutive socialite had cut an outsized figure. She was married to prominent Baltimore businessman Mayo A. Shattuck.
Daily Mail, Soldier kicked out of Special Forces for 'shoving' Afghan cop rapist, Staff report, Aug. 21, 2015. Sergeant Charles Martland, 33, was serving in Afghanistan's war-torn Kunduz Province in 2011 when he apparently learned an Afghan police commander he had trained had raped a boy.
New York Times, From Whitewater to Email: David Kendall, the Clintons’ Dogged Lawyer, Peter Baker, Aug. 21, 2015. Today, the object of concern for David E. Kendall is a tiny thumb drive that sat in a safe at his law firm until a couple weeks ago before attracting the attention of Congress, the F.B.I. and the news media. From Whitewater to impeachment, he has waged legal warfare to keep the Clintons’ political careers on track. So as Mrs. Clinton faces questions about her use of a personal email server as secretary of state, no one is surprised she turned to Mr. Kendall.
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum during his Speakers news conference at National Press Club Aug. 20 (Photo/Image: Noel St. John.)
National Press Club, Santorum agrees with Trump on border wall, but wants American workers to build it, Wesley G. Pippert, Aug. 20, 2015. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum proposed before a National Press Club Speakers news conference Aug. 20 slowing the flow of illegal immigrants by building a wall along the border and depriving their children born in the United States of automatic citizenship. Santorum, lagging behind his 2012 pace in his race for the White House, acknowledged that his ideas were similar to those of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. The main difference, he said, was Trump's "lack of specifics." Trump has said he would make Mexico pay for the wall; "I want American workers to build the wall," Santorum said. Santorum said he would build "hundreds of miles of new wall," and use technology and more personnel in enforcement.
Washington Post via PhillyNews.com, Louis Stokes, 90, first black U.S. congressman from Ohio, Emily Langer, Aug. 20, 2015. Former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, 90, an Ohio Democrat who became his state's first black congressman and served 30 years representing a portion of Cleveland, where his brother was elected the first African American mayor of a major American city, died Tuesday at his home.
The Hill, Hillary vs. Media Malpractice, Brent Budowsky, Aug. 20, 2015. The political coverage of the 2016 campaign has reached epic levels of sloppiness and shallowness, at a moment when public opinion toward major media has reached catastrophically low levels of trust, according to surveys from Gallup. According to the latest survey of institutional trust from Gallup, in June television news ranked near the bottom of public confidence in all American institutions, approaching the low levels of trust of the almost universally distrusted Congress. Newspapers barely ranked higher. Another Gallup survey in September 2014 was headlined “trust in mass media returns to all-time low.” When I charge media malpractice in the 2016 campaign I am in the good company of huge numbers of voters. The Clinton email issue involves a mistake but not a scandal. It involves a judgment call but emphatically not a crime by Hillary Clinton — a charge that is the biggest lie in American politics today. When The New York Times ran a front-page story that falsely suggested Clinton was being criminally investigated — a false charge that remains negligently legitimized by many media organizations today — at least the Times ultimately ran a correction of that sterling example of media malpractice. Regarding the emails themselves, based on all public evidence, Clinton did not send one classified email and did not receive one classified email. Anyone who has handled classified information, which I did during my days working for Democratic leaders in Congress, knows that classified information is clearly marked and labeled “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret,” or whatever level of classification is justified.
Washington Post, Jeb Bush getting squeezed on both sides in N.H., Philip Rucker and Jose A. DelReal, Aug. 19, 2015. In a state tailor-made for a center-right, business-friendly, establishment-approved candidate, Bush is caught uncomfortably between the rising forces on his right and left.
Washington Post, In two moments, Clinton’s strengths and weaknesses, Karen Tumulty, Aug. 19, 2015. A blunt talk with black activists showed how she engages; a grilling by reporters about her e-mail system showed how she doesn’t.
Washington Post, Don’t gloat about the Ashley Madison leak. It’s about way more than infidelity, Michael E. Miller, Aug. 19, 2015. Amid reports that hackers apparently had posted online the personal and financial information for up to 40 million members of the infidelities-R-us Web site Ashley Madison, some Americans responded Tuesday night with a shrug. Tuesday’s mega-doxing appears to fulfill the threat issued in July, when the Impact Team first claimed that it had hacked Ashley Madison and said it would publish its customers’ records unless the company “permanently” took down its Web site. But before you celebrate, consider this: the Ashley Madison leak is about a lot more than the public shaming of philanderers. Above all, it’s about Internet privacy.
OpEdNews, Insouciance Rules The West, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), Aug. 19, 2015. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency until his retirement in August 2014, has confirmed that the Obama regime disregarded his advice and made a willful decision to support the jihadists who now comprise ISIS. Here we have an American government so insouciant, and with nothing but tunnel vision, empowering the various elements that comprise Washington's excuse for the "war on terror" and the destruction of several countries. Just as the idiot Europeans produce their own refugee problems, the idiot Americans produce their own terrorist problems. It is mindless. And there is no end to it.
In American politics, interest groups are more powerful than the elected politicians. Look around you. The federal agencies created to oversea the well-being of the national forests, public lands, air and water are staffed with the executives of the very polluting and clear-cutting industries that the agencies are supposed to be regulating. Without a strong movement behind him, from whose ranks a president can staff an administration committed to major changes, the president is in effect a captive of the private interests who finance political campaigns. Reagan is the only president of our time who had even a semblance of a movement behind him, and the "Reaganites" in his administration were counter-balanced by the Bush Establishment Republicans.
Huffington Post, Turkey Pays Former CIA Director and Lobbyists to Misrepresent Attacks on Kurds and ISIS, Harut Sassounian, Aug. 19, 2015. Thousands of articles have been published worldwide in recent weeks exposing Turkey's strategic trickery -- using the pretext of fighting ISIS to carry out a genocidal bombing campaign against the Kurds who have courageously countered ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Wall Street Journal reported on August 12 that a senior US military official accused Turkey of deceiving the American government by allowing its use of Incirlik airbase to attack ISIS, as a cover for President Erdogan's war on Kurdish fighters (PKK) in northern Iraq. So far, Turkey has carried out 300 air strikes against the PKK, and only three against ISIS! Erdogan's intent in punishing the Kurds is to gain the sympathy of Turkish voters in the next parliamentary elections, enabling his party to win an outright majority and establish an autocratic presidential theocracy.
To conceal its deception and mislead the American public, within days of starting its war on the Kurds, Ankara hired Squire Patton Boggs for $32,000 a month, as a subcontractor to the powerful lobbying firm, the Gephardt Group. Among the U.S. lobbyists for Turkey, perhaps the most questionable is Porter Goss (shown in an official photo as CIA Director from 2004 to 2006), who has agreed to sell his soul and possibly U.S. national secrets for a fistful of Turkish Liras.
NBC News, New Orleans Cops Deserve New Trial in Post-Katrina Shootings: Court, Pete Williams, Aug. 18 2015. A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that five former New Orleans police officers should get a new trial on charges related to the shooting of unarmed residents after Hurricane Katrina. The case involves a low point for the police force in the chaos following a natural disaster and for a team of federal prosecutors whose conduct was described by one appeals judge as "sleazy." Just a week after the 2005 hurricane, six people crossing a bridge over the city's industrial canal were shot by police answering an emergency call. Two of the pedestrians were killed, and the four others were wounded.
Council of Conservative Citizens, Donald Trump Exposes The Political Puppet Show, Hunter Wallace, Aug. 18, 2015. On three separate occasions last weekend (in New Hampshire, Iowa, and on Meet The Press), Donald Trump accused Jeb Bush of being a puppet to wealthy donors, and condemned the American political system as being hopelessly corrupted by “highly sophisticated killers” who have 100 percent control. For example:
- Donald Trump (on NBC's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd): "Bush & Clinton will be 'a Puppet' for Campaign Donors" -- When Jeb Bush raises a hundred and four million dollars....He's a like a puppet for those people. He's a puppet. They're going to control Jeb, they're going to control Hillary, she raised $16 million, whoever they put in." Video.
- Trump at news conference: "Jeb Bush is a puppet to his donors. There's no question about it." Video.
AP via Huffington Post, Chelsea Manning Loses Prison Privileges For 21 Days Over Expired Toothpaste, Mollie Reilly, Aug. 18, 2015. The Army whistleblower is barred from the gym, library and outdoors. Chelsea Manning was barred from using the prison gym, library or outdoor areas for three weeks after she was found guilty Tuesday of violating prison rules, including possessing toothpaste with an expired date. Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst serving 35 years in a military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, for providing secret documents to WikiLeaks, was convicted of four infractions during a disciplinary hearing. Manning was found guilty of "medicine misuse" for possessing an expired tube of toothpaste, and "prohibited property" for having the Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, in addition to other reading material. She faced possible solitary confinement for the infractions, but was ultimately stripped of recreational privileges for 21 days.
"The fact that Chelsea had to face today's four-hour Disciplinary Board without counsel and will now be punished for daring to share her voice sets a concerning precedent for the remaining decades of her incarceration," Strangio said. "No one should have to face the lingering threat of solitary confinement for reading and writing about the conditions we encounter in the world. Chelsea's voice is critical to our public discourse about government accountability and trans Justice and we can only preserve it if we stay vigilant in our advocacy on her behalf." Earlier Tuesday, Manning's supporters delivered a petition to Army officials in Washington, urging the military to drop the charges and "stop harassing" Manning. The petition, launched last week, garnered more than 100,000 signatures. "Chelsea Manning is a hero and the whole world is watching the U.S. government’s deplorable treatment of whistleblowers, transgender people, and prison inmates in general," Evan Greer of Fight for the Future said in a statement prior to Tuesday's hearing. An Army spokesperson didn't immediately return The Huffington Post's request for comment.
Ruthless Ambition, Christie campaign on life support as entire GOP field gets Trumped, Louis Manzo, Aug. 18, 2015. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s, so far, short-lived campaign for the GOP presidential nomination is nearing its end. Basically, like others of his fellow GOP contenders, he has been Trumped. All of the so-called campaign professionals, advising their particular clients amongst the huge field of candidates seeking the GOP nomination, have totally misread the American people, as have their counterparts advising Hillary Clinton. The American people, as the 2014 election cycle indicated and polling confirmed, are fed up with the conditions in their country and the out-of-touch Washington pols [both Democrat and Republican] whose polices have taken a wrecking ball to America. The American people have been fed doctored numbers on the health of the nation’s economy and the largesse of other out-of-work Americans who are purposefully not counted in unemployment statistics in order to paint a picture of a rosy economy and robust job growth. The American people have been fed a crock on immigration reforms from the Republican office seekers they elected in 2014. Amidst this anger and the angst of the American people, Chris Christie (shown in an official photo) cannonballed into the pool of GOP contenders to find out that Donald Trump had already drained the water.
Washington Post, Fading in the polls, Scott Walker aims to attract Trump voters, Jenna Johnson and Sean Sullivan, Aug. 18, 2015. Scott Walker has sought to reassure jittery donors and other supporters this week that he can turn around a swift decline in the polls in Iowa and elsewhere by going on the attack and emphasizing his conservatism on key issues. In a conference call, one-on-one conversations and at a Tuesday lunch, the Wisconsin governor and favorite of anti-union conservatives told backers that his campaign is shifting to a more aggressive posture and will seek to tap into the anti-establishment fervor fueling the rise of Donald Trump and other outsider candidates. During a conference call with top fundraisers Monday afternoon, Walker and his campaign manager were relatively candid in their assessment of the campaign’s shortcomings, according to notes of the conversation taken by a participant. Walker said the campaign will strive to do better in three areas: protest, passion and policy.
Washington Post, Donald Trump on ‘Meet the Press,’ annotated, Chris Cillizza, August 17, 2015. Donald J. Trump gave an extended interview to "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd over the weekend. It was, as are all things with Trump, something to see. But, since most of you -- a.k.a. normal people -- aren't spending your Sunday morning glued to the tube, I grabbed the transcript of the Trump-Todd conversation -- and annotated it below.
Trump on donors, lobbyists and Jeb Bush: I mean, I gave to everybody, okay? I know those people. He's like a puppet for those people. He's a puppet. Those people, they'll take negative ads on me and on other people because they want him in there because they're going to control Jeb Bush. And not only Jeb. They're going to control Hillary. She raised $16 million-plus. They're going to control whoever's in. The lobbyists, and the special interests, and the donors have 100 percent.
TPM Muckraker, Birthers Say These 4 GOP Candidates May Be Ineligible To Be President, Catherine Thompson, Aug. 17, 2015. In some “strict constitutionalist” circles, people question whether Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and even Rick Santorum qualify as "natural born citizens" who are eligible to be president. The birther movement has come home to roost as the Republican presidential primary heats up. In a column published last week on the website WND, author Jack Cashill noted (in Just who is eligible to be president? Exclusive: Intricacies surrounding births of Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, and Santorum) that questions had been raised about whether four of the 17 candidates in the GOP field were really "natural born citizens" and therefore eligible to run for President. Ted Cruz has already dealt with those questions publicly — the Canadian-born senator from Texas renounced his citizenship with that country last summer in anticipation of a 2016 bid.
New York Times, Republicans Against Retirement, Paul Krugman, Aug. 16, 2015. Something strange is happening in the Republican primary — something strange, that is, besides the Trump phenomenon. For some reason, just about all the leading candidates other than The Donald have taken a deeply unpopular position, a known political loser, on a major domestic policy issue. And it’s interesting to ask why. The issue in question is the future of Social Security, which turned 80 last week. The retirement program is, of course, both extremely popular and a long-term target of conservatives, who want to kill it precisely because its popularity helps legitimize government action in general. As the right-wing activist Stephen Moore (now chief economist of the Heritage Foundation) once declared, Social Security is “the soft underbelly of the welfare state”; “jab your spear through that” and you can undermine the whole thing.
Huffington Post, Donald Trump Promises To Deport Parents Of U.S. Citizens, Also Keep Families Together, Elise Foley, Business mogul Donald Trump released an immigration plan this weekend almost exclusively focused on enforcement and cracking down on unauthorized immigrants, including preventing babies born in the U.S. to undocumented parents from U.S. citizenship as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. The GOP presidential candidate also repeated a vow to end President Barack Obama's deportation relief policies for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. He would instead deport those mothers and fathers, he said. Trump insisted it could be done without separating families -- a claim that, although he does not say so explicitly, would effectively mean forcing out children with the right to be in the U.S. if they wanted to remain with their parents. "We're going to keep the families together, but they have to go," Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd in a "Meet the Press" interview that aired Sunday.
Huffington Post, Here's The Funniest Thing Donald Trump Has Said Yet, Igor Bobic, Aug. 16, 2015. Real estate mogul Donald Trump is dominating GOP polls in the race for the White House. He is the new darling of the conservative faithful. A tough-talking outsider who, his supporters believe, will stand up to China, Japan and Mexico in order to Make America Great Again. Yet unlike serious candidates for president, he receives his military advice from armchair pundits on cable television. Here's the full transcript of Trump's exchange with NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, which The Huffington Post has published in its entirety for full comedic effect.
Mike Huckabee (Gage Skidmore Photo)
Huffington Post, Mike Huckabee Supports Denying Abortion To 10-Year-Old Incest Victim, Lydia O'Connor, Aug. 16, 2015. GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee supports Paraguay's decision to deny an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim, he revealed in an interview Sunday. In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," the former Arkansas governor argued that the Paraguayan government's refusal to allow an abortion for the now-11-year-old, who gave birth last week after being raped by her stepfather, prevented a second tragedy. "Let nobody be misled, a 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible, but does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child?" he asked. He added later, "When I think about one horror, I also think about the possibilities that exist and I just don't want to think that somehow we discounted a human life ... Let's not compound the tragedy by taking yet another life." Paraguay law allows abortion only “in very rare cases when it’s deemed necessary to save a woman’s life,” ThinkProgress noted.
New York Times, After Delicate Negotiations, U.S. Says It Will Pull Patriot Missiles From Turkey, Eric Schmitt, Aug. 16, 2015. The United States said Sunday that it would withdraw two Patriot missile-defense batteries from southern Turkey this fall, a sign that the Pentagon believes the risk of Syrian Army missile attacks has eased since the Patriots were deployed in 2013. Officials said the antimissile systems would be needed elsewhere to defend against threats from Iran and North Korea. A statement issued by the United States Embassy in Ankara from the American and Turkish governments said the Patriots would be sent back to the United States for “critical modernization upgrades.” If needed in a crisis, the batteries and their 250 troops could be rushed back to Turkey “within one week” to fulfill an American and NATO commitment to Turkey’s air defenses.
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Once-secret papers reveal how HOA scheme widened, Jeff German, Aug. 16, 2015. Leon Benzer, the mastermind of the scheme to take over and defraud homeowners associations (HOAs) in Southern Nevada, was sentenced to 15 1/2 years in prison. Benzer, a construction company boss inspired by his lucrative takeover of the Vistana HOAs, moved a decade ago to broaden the scheme across the Las Vegas Valley, according to once-secret government trial papers. Benzer enlisted the help of high-profile attorney Nancy Quon, who invested $3 million in the push to corrupt other HOAs — all with the goal of obtaining additional construction defect litigation for her firm and contracts for Benzer's company to do construction repairs. Quon agreed to share 10 percent of her attorney's fees with Benzer as she sought to file lawsuits and obtain settlements for the HOAs, according to the trial papers.
The 17-page brief written by Justice Department lawyers describes the key players in the massive scheme and provides a road map to how the conspiracy widened and caught the attention of the FBI and Las Vegas police. A total of 42 defendants either pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial in what is thought to be the largest public corruption case ever in Southern Nevada. Earlier this month, Benzer, who pleaded guilty in the scheme, was sentenced to 15½ years in federal prison. Quon was never charged but while under investigation killed herself in March 2012.
New York Times, AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet Traffic, Files Reveal, Julia Angwin, Charlie Savage, Jeff Larson, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras And James Risen. The NSA’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.” AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T. Newly disclosed documents show that the National Security Agency gained access to billions of emails through a “highly collaborative” relationship with AT&T.
Washington Post, Backers fear Clinton hurt by old weaknesses, Anne Gearan, Karen Tumulty and Dan Balz, Aug. 15, 2015. As Bernie Sanders’s popularity grows and the e-mail bad news gets worse, Democrats see the front-runner as insular, defensive and tone-deaf to changes. “A lot of the people who were hired by the campaign were new to the Clintons,” said a prominent Democrat who counts both Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton as friends.
Washington Post, Why Donald Trump makes sense to many voters — even some Democrats, Trump takes to the campaign trail in Michigan and Iowa, David Weigel, Aug. 15, 2015. Trump’s rise and persistence as a presidential candidate has been credited to name recognition, to voter anger and to a specific contempt for the Republican Party establishment. But he is also the candidate talking most directly about the loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries.
Washington Post, As Biden weighs a 2016 campaign, does he want to be the anti-Clinton? Dan Balz, Aug. 15, 2015. By many accounts, Vice President Biden has spent his vacation week mulling whether to run for president — again. The decision will test head and heart and involve no small amount of emotion. Tracking the story of is-he-or-isn’t-he-going-to-run is akin to chasing smoke, even to those who are loyal friends. Few people beyond his family are privy to his real thinking. Some Democrats say his advisers are making calls. Everyone looks for evidence of active pursuit of a campaign. Friends say they don’t yet sense a real campaign-in-the-making, and they doubt there ever will be. But they hedge.
New York Times, Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat, Maureen Dowd, Aug. 15, 2015. The columnist assess the candidate attempting to be nice while remaining true to his instincts.
Supplemental: New York Times, Lightning Round With Donald Trump, Maureen Dowd, Aug. 15, 2015.
On Hillary Rodham Clinton
Highly complex person who can’t help going over the edge. She just can’t stay true to herself. She has a real bad thing going with the emails. I’m not talking politically. That’s one thing and it’s going to be a disaster. But what she did was illegal. She could be having more fun. But this is no fun for her. The F.B.I. is checking everything.”
He’s a stiff. The guy can’t even talk. He has zero energy. You would fall asleep interviewing him.” Jeb said this week that he listens to Paul Wolfowitz’s advice on foreign affairs, that he would not rule out the use of torture and that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal."
On Scott Walker
He gave me a plaque and everything is nice. And I like him. And then about a week ago one of his guys came up and said that Donald Trump is full of it. I said ‘Thank you so much. Now I can hit him.’ I hit Scott so hard. I said his state was a disaster. So there’s a lot of power there. He went from Number 1 to Number 4 in Iowa. I went to Number 1.”
Counterpunch, AIPAC: Headed for Defeat (But That’s Not Why It’s Bad for the Jews), Andrew Levine, August 14, 2015. After Barack Obama became President in January of 2009, and Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister of Israel two months later, the Israel lobby, taking direction from Netanyahu’s government, became more brazen. Perhaps they sniffed out the new President’s weakness; perhaps they despised him for being black. These explanations are not mutually exclusive. Whatever their reasons, the lobby threw subtlety aside – to such an extent that nowadays, its existence – and its power — is apparent to all. Just as no one can plausibly deny that the NSA snoops 24/7 on everything that it can, no one can deny that the Israel lobby is a significant factor in the foreign and domestic politics of the United States. Mainstream media still try to keep news of its machinations to a minimum. But it is a losing battle. The lobby’s activities have become too flagrant, and the word is out. Between now and late September, when Congress finishes “reviewing” the decisions reached in Vienna, AIPAC, along with other leading Israel lobby organizations – working in tandem with reactionary Iranians — will be pulling out all the stops, trying to undo what has been done. They have declared war on the Obama administration.
Huffington Post, Embattled Republican Breaks Silence After Sex Scandal, Says She Won't Quit, Kate Abbey-Lambertz, Aug. 14, 2015. Michigan state Rep. Cindy Gamrat said Friday that she believes she will be vindicated by a misconduct investigation stemming from her affair with a fellow tea party Republican and that she does not plan to resign. The Detroit News revealed Gamrat's relationship with state Rep. Todd Courser last week and detailed Courser's attempt to conceal the affair. Both lawmakers said their spouses were aware of the relationship and that they are working on their respective marriages.
Ben Swann Reality Check: Can The Republican Party Kick Donald Trump Out Of The Debates? Ben Swann, Aug 14, 2015. Billionaire and 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump makes new headlines every day. But something he said that he wouldn’t do during the first Republican debate could reveal some major problems with the debate system. Could the GOP ban Trump from its next debate? Because Trump said he would not rule out running as an independent candidate, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has now said it could ban Trump from the next debate if he won’t make that pledge. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has since directly requested all Republican candidates to pledge that they will not make a third-party run, according to ABC News. Those who do not pledge might not get an invite to future Republican candidate debates, and would likely be restricted from accessing party data on Republican voters. What you need to know is that the RNC claims it has every right to prevent Trump or anyone else from debating because it is a private club. But—Reality Check—in actuality they are not. In fact, American taxpayers spent $400 million administering Republican and Democratic primaries in 2012.
AP via Huffington Post, Jeb Bush Leaves Door Open For Use Of Torture, Staff report, Aug. 13, 2015. Bush said he can't rule out ordering brutal interrogations. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Thursday declined to rule out resuming the use of torture under some circumstances by the U.S. government. "I don't want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement," Bush told an audience of Iowa Republicans, when asked whether he would keep in place or repeal President Barack Obama's executive order banning so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the CIA. "When you are president your words matter," he said. The former Florida governor said that in general, he believes torture is inappropriate, and that he was glad his brother, former President George W. Bush, largely ended the CIA's use of the techniques before he left office. The CIA used waterboarding, slapping, nudity, sleep deprivation, humiliation and other methods to coerce al-Qaida detainees — methods the military would be prohibited from using on prisoners of war.
First Look / Intercept, Jeb Bush, Hosted By Defense Contractor-Backed Group, Calls Iraq War “A Pretty Good Deal,” Lee Fang, Aug. 13, 2015. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said today that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein was a “pretty good deal.” Bush was speaking at an event sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security (APPS), a group formed and backed by a number of people associated with major defense contractors. According to journalist Alan He, Bush also criticized efforts to reform the National Security Agency’s dragnet metadata surveillance program, telling the audience that it was a “mistake to repeal the metadata provisions of the Patriot Act.” As The Intercept previously reported, the APPS is advised by Raytheon’s Stephen Hadley, BAE Systems’ Rich Ashooh, former SAIC chief executive Walt Havenstein, among other defense contractors and defense industry lobbyists. APPS was formed earlier this year as a pressure group to “help elect a president who supports American engagement and a strong foreign policy.” Costs associated with the war in Iraq, including medical treatment for war veterans, could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next decade, according to a study by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. The war killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civillians, as well as nearly 8,000 U.S. forces and contractors, according to the study.
Video of Bush’s remark was posted online by an attendee of the event:
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Nashville Tennessean, Sources: Al Gore not exploring 2016 presidential bid, Dave Boucher, Aug. 13, 2015. Former Vice President Al Gore is not exploring another run for president, said a Gore spokeswoman and two sources close to Gore. A report published Thursday by BuzzFeed said supporters of the 67-year-old Democrat and Tennessee native "have begun a round of conversations among themselves and with the former vice president about his running for president in 2016." That's not true, said the spokeswoman and others close to Gore. "That would be news to me, so I think somebody's off base," said a friend to Gore. "I've heard nothing along these lines, and I'd be very surprised." BuzzFeed, Al Gore Insiders “Figuring Out If There’s A Path” For Him To Run, Andrew Kaczynski, Aug. 13, 2015. An adviser pours “lukewarm” water on the prospect. Not ice cold. Supporters of Al Gore have begun a round of conversations among themselves and with the former vice president about his running for president in 2016, the latest sign that top Democrats have serious doubts that Hillary Clinton is a sure thing.
Washington Post, Connecticut Supreme Court says the death penalty is unconstitutional and bans executions for inmates on death row, Mark Berman, Aug. 13, 2015. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it would be unconstitutional to execute the remaining inmates on the state’s death row, effectively outlawing the death penalty in that state. This decision comes three years after Connecticut abolished capital punishment while leaving death sentences intact for inmates already on death row. The death penalty in Connecticut “no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose,” Associate Justice Richard Palmer, joined by three other justices, wrote for the court.
Washington Post, After setbacks, U.S. military looks for ways to recalibrate new Syrian force, Missy Ryan, Aug. 13, 2015. Officials say they don't yet know how best to use and protect a smaller-than-expected group of rebels. It was a dismal debut: Shortly after their arrival at an outpost in northern Syria, dozens of U.S.-trained fighters were hit by a surprise assault by 50 al-Qaeda militants. A few days later, five of them were abducted by Islamists. Within weeks of the start of their mission, the new force had disbanded.
Huffington Post, Jimmy Carter Reveals That He Has Cancer, Sam Levine, Aug. 12, 2015. Former President Jimmy Carter (shown in a file photo) revealed he has cancer that has spread to "other parts of his body." The 39th president said that the cancer was discovered during recent liver surgery and that he would rearrange his schedule to receive treatment. Carter, 90, underwent surgery earlier this month to remove a small mass in his liver.
Huffington Post, Scott Walker Signs Arena Deal, Handing $400 Million To Billionaire NBA Owners, Travis Waldron, Aug. 12, 2015. The presidential candidate (shown in a file photo) put taxpayer money behind the new arena despite criticism from economists and conservative allies.
Reuters, 6 Hackers stole secrets for up to $100 million in insider-trading profit, Noeleen Walder, Jonathan Stempel and Joseph Ax, Aug. 12, 2015. An alliance of mainly U.S.-based stock traders and computer hackers in Ukraine made as much as $100 million in illegal profits over five years after stealing confidential corporate press releases, U.S. authorities said on Tuesday. Prosecutors announced charges against nine people in an insider-trading case that marks the first time criminal charges have been brought for a securities fraud scheme involving hacked inside information, in this instance 150,000 press releases from distributors Business Wire, Marketwired and PR Newswire. Prosecutors said Ukraine-based hackers improperly accessed press releases before the distributors planned to release them to the public. The traders gave the hackers "shopping lists" of releases, prosecutors said.
New York Times, When Innocence Is No Defense, Julie Seaman, Aug. 12, 2015. Suppose someone has been convicted of a serious crime, but new evidence emerges proving his innocence. Does he have a constitutional right to be freed? The answer might seem obvious, but it is far from clear that the Constitution protects an innocent person against incarceration, or even execution, if his original trial was otherwise free of defects. Despite growing awareness about the problems of unreliable witness identification, questionable forensic evidence and inadequate legal representation of indigent defendants, the Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to decide this basic question — even though some 115 prisoners have been exonerated from death row since 1989. Now the fate of a 41-year-old man in Georgia raises the question anew.
Communities Digital News, Whistle Blower Summit: Nacchio & Scrushy fight the government...and lose, Michael Volpe, Aug. 12, 2015. Joseph Nacchio (shown in a file photo at right) and Richard Scrushy (at left) were both once CEOs of major corporations. They spoke out. The lesson learned: When the government wants to get you, it will get you.
Times (London), Assange to be cleared as sex claims expire, John Simpson, Aug. 12 2015. Julian Assange is set to be cleared of three sex assault claims next week after spending so long in hiding in Britain that the allegations have expired. The founder of the WikiLeaks website has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than three years at a cost to taxpayers of about £12 million. He took refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over the alleged crimes.
Rolling Stone, Inside the GOP Clown Car, Matt Taibbi, Aug. 12, 2015. On the campaign trail in Iowa, Donald Trump's antics have forced the other candidates to get crazy or go home. It will go down someday as the greatest reality show ever conceived. The concept is ingenious. Take a combustible mix of the most depraved and filterless half-wits, scam artists and asylum Napoleons America has to offer, give them all piles of money and tell them to run for president. Add Donald Trump. And to give the whole thing a perverse gravitas, make the presidency really at stake.
Shadowproof (successor to FireDogLake), US Military Threatens Chelsea Manning with Indefinite Solitary Confinement, Kevin Gosztola, Aug. 12, 2015. The United States military has issued a set of “charges” or allegations against Chelsea Manning (above), which could potentially result in a punishment of indefinite solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth where she is serving her sentence. According to a list the military sent to Manning, which Fight for the Future posted, the allegations include “disrespect,” “disorderly conduct,” “prohibited property,” and “medicine misuse.” All of the alleged misconduct took place during the first part of July. On July 2, Manning allegedly was disrespectful to a “correctional specialist” — or prison guard — during dinner. She also allegedly swept food on to the floor. Manning, who was placed in solitary confinement while under investigation, had her cell inspected on July 9. Officers found “prohibited property” — books and magazines. An expired tube of toothpaste was also found in her cell, which is apparently uncalled for in the military. The “disrespect” toward Manning essentially consisted of Manning refusing to talk to the guard about her conduct. The military had a problem with Manning having the Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover.
Associated Press, Pennsylvania top prosecutor says charges tied to porn emails, Peter Jackson, Aug. 12, 2015. Portraying herself as a victim, Pennsylvania's attorney general said Wednesday that criminal charges threatening to end her career were part of a "grand plan" to conceal pornographic and racially insensitive emails circulated among judges and state prosecutors. "I am innocent of any wrongdoing," Democrat Kathleen Kane said in her first public comments on the case. She challenged a judge to make public the "filthy email chain" that led to last year's porn scandal, promising to call a second news conference and answer every question if the judge met her terms. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, a Republican based in the Philadelphia suburbs, charged Kane with leaking grand jury information to a newspaper reporter in an attempt to embarrass a former prosecutor she believed made her look bad, and then lying about her actions under oath. Kane, 49, (shown in both a portrait, below, and a police photo) faces up to seven years in prison on the most serious charge, perjury. She said the campaign to discredit her began immediately after her office uncovered pornographic and explicit videos, images and jokes in hundreds of emails while examining how state prosecutors under her predecessors handled the child sex abuse case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
WITF (Channel 5, Harrisburg, PA), Timeline of the gathering Kane-storm, Mary Wilson, Aug. 12, 2015. Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol. State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been charged with perjury and other offenses stemming from an alleged scheme to exact revenge on her critics. Kane says the present case against her goes back to porn e-mails exchanged by her detractors that she wants to make public. How did we get here? State House Sound Bites is compiling a timeline of the events leading to this point.
WND, Just who is eligible to be president? Exclusive: Intricacies surrounding births of Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, and Santorum, Jack Cashill, Aug. 12, 2015. The question has been raised for Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and even Rick Santorum – as it was for Barack Obama and John McCain before them – as to whether they are “natural born citizens” and thus eligible to be president of the United States. In helping the formidable Dr. Terry Lakin with his book, Officer’s Oath, I did a fair amount of research on this subject as did Lakin. If you recall, then U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lakin heroically resisted his second deployment to Afghanistan unless and until the man who sent him, Barack Obama, proved he was indeed a natural born citizen. This term, which comes directly from the United States Constitution, takes some explaining. It is often misunderstood or deliberately twisted.
Washington Post, Librarian’s trips abroad, posh hotels all paid for by James Madison Council, Peggy McGlone, Aug. 12, 2015. They enjoy private dinners served on crystal-laden tables in the marbled hall of the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson building. They mingle with members of Congress and the Supreme Court at invitation-only performances and lectures. They travel the world to hobnob with international politicians and performers. They are the one-percenters who make up the James Madison Council, a loosely organized group of donors brought together by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to support the country’s oldest federal cultural institution. Considered an innovative public-private partnership when Billington launched the council in 1990, the group’s contributions have supported the National Digital Library, the National Book Festival and the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, among other library programs. Its members have donated books, maps and other cultural artifacts to the library’s collection.
But like its 86-year-old leader, the James Madison Council is a throwback to a different time. Although its mission is outreach, the group is insular and exclusive. Membership is by invitation and individual donations go undisclosed. This year, the group numbers 69 — a who’s who of industry titans and philanthropists from Detroit, Philadelphia, Dallas and New York — who contribute $25,000 a year and receive exclusive access to the institution and its collections. Although they’ve raised millions, they’ve spent almost half of their recorded contributions on private parties, exhibition receptions, travel and employees and consultants, financial statements from the council and the library show. Now that Billington will retire at year’s end, it is unclear whether the organization he created will continue to exist under a new librarian. The incoming librarian will have the final say, because the group serves at the pleasure of the office, according to council chairman David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group. Rubenstein said that he hopes the group will host more public events and raise more money, and that the new appointee will embrace its efforts. Billington declined to be interviewed. The Library of Congress’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the spending issues but said the council “will continue robustly” under Rubenstein.
Truth In Accounting, Social Security is a benefit, Sheila Weinberg, TIA CEO and founder, Aug. 11, 2015. One of my Facebook friends, George, expressed his frustration that his Social Security check is now (or soon will be) referred to as a "Federal Benefit Payment." He made the following points: This isn't a benefit; it is our money paid out of our earned income! George also noted that he has invested in Social Security and he should get this money back with interest. Unfortunately, Social Security is a pay as you go system. George's contributions are not "invested" for him. His contributions are taxes that are used to pay for current retirees and other parts of the government as Congress chooses. Despite elected official's assertions that Social Security benefits are guaranteed, the promised benefits are not reported on the federal government's balance sheet as a liability. This is because government officials believe the federal government doesn’t owe anyone Social Security benefits beyond the checks that are currently written. Like George, I believe citizens are owed the benefits they have been promised, and Social Security should be reported as a liability on the federal government's balance sheet. At this point in time under current law, Social Security benefits are due to citizens and it is probable that the benefits will be paid. But as pointed out, this contradicts the government's official position. The first stand that needs to be taken is to get the government to acknowledge that Social Security is a liability. If they are not willing to do that, then the Social Security Administration, the administration and members of Congress need to be honest with the American people. Social Security operates like a regular income tax, aiding the government’s debts in a multitude of areas, but the money is not saved or invested as promised. Therefore, citizens should not expect to receive the same amount (or any at all) of benefits as they paid into Social Security.
Washington Post, In Donald Trump vs. Fox News, we have a clear winner: Trump, Chris Cillizza, Aug. 11, 2015. In the wake of last Thursday's Republican debate, Trump made quite clear -- as only he can -- that he thought he had been mistreated by the Fox moderators and, in particular, Megyn Kelly. Then Trump hit Fox where they live -- ratings. He phoned into a series of Sunday television talk shows except, of course, Fox News Sunday. Then there's this reporting from New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, the definitive source for all internal Fox scuttlebutt: "According to a source briefed on the negotiations, Ailes called Trump 'multiple' times yesterday morning 'begging' him to tweet out that they had made peace." Donald Trump has done a lots of things I thought were impossible in the course of this campaign. Staring down Fox News and winning might be his most amazing feat yet.
RT, US ex-intelligence chief on ISIS rise: It was 'a willful Washington decision,' Gayane Chichakyan, Aug, 11, 2015. The US didn’t interfere with the rise of anti-government jihadist groups in Syria that finally degenerated into Islamic State, claims the former head of America’s Defense Intelligence Agency, backing a secret 2012 memo predicting their rise. An interview with retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), given to Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, confirms earlier suspicions that Washington was monitoring jihadist groups emerging as opposition in Syria.
Newsmax, Christie, Paul Get It Right In Debate, Bernard Kerik, Aug. 11, 2015. On the recent Fox News presidential debate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lashed out at United States Sen. Rand Paul for not supporting the NSA's surveillance program, which came off to many watching as a bully mentality and myopic prosecutorial mindset that I’m sure animates Paul’s concerns in the first place.
Whether you agree with Paul’s decision to support the freedoms protected by our Bill of Rights — such as freedom of speech and the requirement of a search warrant, and to place some limits on the otherwise un-cabined and massive NSA surveillance program — is one thing. However, Christie’s rage at a U.S. senator because that senator has serious concerns over our civil liberties and made a decision that he feels would protect the freedom and liberties of his constituents, evidences precisely the prosecutorial mentality that has caused countless injustices across the country and resulted in the incarceration of thousands of people — many of whom are innocent or wrongly convicted.
During their heated exchange, Christie said one thing that perhaps was more frightening than most viewers realized. When referring to those charged with investigating threats against this nation, Christie proclaimed: “We have to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer, and then trust those people and oversee them to do it the right way.”
I’m sure Christie is well intended, but seems to ignore a reality that judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals and countless others have revealed over the past several years, and that is that there is a plethora of increasing evidence that overzealous and over-reaching prosecutors are violating laws themselves, and there is neither oversight nor existing remedy to appropriately hold them accountable.
I was there on 9/11, both during and in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. I spent 10 years of my life, living and working in the Middle East and know and understand the threats we face from radical Islamic terror far better than most Americans. I have personally witnessed death so barbaric that it would haunt most men, and I have nearly died for this country more times that I can count — all out of love for this country.
But, unfortunately, I have also witnessed firsthand that deprivation of liberty by overzealous and over-reaching prosecutors and the irreparable toll they take on people that they wrongfully target and prosecute, and the innocent families and children that they destroy. So, I know exactly what Rand Paul is concerned with and for more reasons than I can count, I am no longer confident that Americans’ freedoms and liberties are adequately protected under the law.
There is no greater threat to a free and democratic nation like ours than a government that fails to protect its citizens' freedoms and liberties as aggressively as it pursues justice. Christie’s desire to protect this country is admirable, but so too is Rand Paul’s — one is from terror, and one is from tyranny. The American people deserved to be protected from both. That’s what I want in the next president.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, The US Economy Continues Its Collapse, Paul Craig Roberts, Aug. 10, 2015. Do you remember when real reporters existed? The false reality in which Americans live extends into economic life. Last Friday’s employment report was a continuation of a long string of bad news spun into good news. The media repeats two numbers as if they mean something — the monthly payroll jobs gains and the unemployment rate—and ignores the numbers that show the continuing multi-year decline in employment opportunities while the economy is allegedly recovering.
The so-called recovery is based on the U.3 measure of the unemployment rate. This measure does not include any unemployed person who has become discouraged from the inability to find a job and has not looked for a job in four weeks. The U.3 measure of unemployment only includes the still hopeful who think they will find a job. The government has a second official measure of unemployment, U.6. This measure, seldom reported, includes among the unemployed those who have been discouraged for less than one year. This official measure is double the 5.3% U.3 measure. What does it mean that the unemployment rate is over 10% after six years of alleged economic recovery? In 1994 the Clinton regime stopped counting long-term discouraged workers as unemployed. Clinton wanted his economy to look better than Reagan’s, so he ceased counting the long-term discouraged workers that were part of Reagan’s unemployment rate. When these unemployed are included, the US rate of unemployment as of July 2015 is 23%, several times higher than during the recession with which Fed chairman Paul Volcker greeted the Reagan presidency.
Washington Post, Rogue drones a growing nuisance across the U.S., Craig Whitlock, Aug. 10, 2015. Most new drone models are sold to novice fliers whom one expert described as often “blissfully unaware” of aviation safety practices. But authorities also worry about the devices’ potential to be used as a serious airborne menace.
Fox News, Turkey's strikes on Kurds could drag US into new front, military sources fear, Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin, Aug. 10, 2015. Just hours after a deal last month allowing the U.S. to use Turkey’s air bases to launch sorties against ISIS, Turkey pulled a move that left American military leaders surprised and outraged, and raised questions about the two nations' alliance in the war on the jihadist army. With only 10 minutes notice to their American partners, Turkey launched a massive air strike of its own July 24 against a Kurdish militant group in the northern mountains of Iraq. The U.S. had barely enough warning to make sure its own forces were out of the way, according to a military source with knowledge of the tension Turkey's attack caused in the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS. "A Turkish officer came into the CAOC, and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” said the military source, describing events that took place in the center, in a secret location in the Middle East. "We were outraged."
Editor's Note: Turkish leader Recep Erdogan (shown in a file photo) reputedly counts on U.S. compliance in an expanded war in Syria to win popularity at home in new elections this fall on an Islamist platform after his party lost its Parliamentary majority in spring elections.
Daily Caller, ‘Even-Keeled’ White House Staffer Arrested After Shooting At Boyfriend With His Own Gun, Chuck Ross, Aug. 10, 2015. An assistant to President Obama who was recently described by a White House official as “even-keeled” has been arrested after she allegedly stole her U.S. Capitol Police officer boyfriend’s service weapon and fired one shot in his direction during a heated argument this weekend. Police say that Barvetta Singletary, who currently serves as special assistant to the President and House legislative affairs liaison, invited her boyfriend over to her home in Upper Marlboro, Md. on Friday. According to NBC Washington, charging documents show that after Singletary and her boyfriend had sex, she confronted him about cheating on her.
Washington Post, Origins of Trump’s luxury empire lie in his father’s more blue-collar buildings, Emily Badger, Aug. 10, 2015. Fred C. Trump, the presidential candidate’s father, was a prolific builder, too, although in nearly every way different from his son.
Strategic Culture Foundation, Partners in Crime: NSA, U.S. Justice Department, and Telecom Firms, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 10, 2015. The so-called USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 is a placebo law designed to placate certain ignorant and uninformed quarters in America concerned about the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of "metadata" on individuals. The USA FREEDOM Act, which is a ridiculous-sounding "backronym" that actually stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring Act," is a ruse designed to continue ad infinitum NSA’s illegal surveillance.
NSA was angling for warrantless eavesdropping even before 9/11. Thanks to courageous NSA whistleblowers like former Chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications Joseph Nacchio, AT&T engineer Mark Klein, former NSA system architect William Binney, NSA senior executive Thomas Drake, and NSA employees Kirk Wiebe, Russell Tice, and Edward Snowden, it is now known that NSA was bent on massive bulk collection of personal data prior to 9/11. The terrorist event merely served as an opportunity for the NSA to turn its foreign intelligence apparatus on the American people.
AP via CBS News, Mich. lawmaker won't resign after fabricating male prostitute story, Staff report, Aug. 10, 2015. A Michigan lawmaker said he won't resign after sending an email to Republican supporters falsely claiming he was caught having sex with a male prostitute and said in a statement released Monday he was the target of a blackmail attempt. The Detroit News, citing audio recordings, reported Friday that Rep. Todd Courser of Lapeer had someone send the email to distract attention from his alleged extramarital affair with another lawmaker.
AP via Houston Chronicle, US appeals court rebuffs NY judge in Argentine debt dispute, Staff report, Aug. 10, 2015. A U.S. appeals court has ruled that a New York judge went too far in a recent decision favoring a second group of holdout investors in a longstanding debt dispute with Argentina. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa should not have ruled in June that Argentina needed to pay $5.4 billion to the so-called me-too debt holders before paying its majority creditors. The court ordered Griesa to limit his scope to the group of hedge funds that initially sued Argentina after refusing to accept bond swaps. The dispute has its roots in Argentina's $100 billion default in 2001. Griesa has repeatedly ruled that Argentina can't make payments on its debt without paying $1.3 billion to the holdout funds.
Washington Post, Trump struggles to turn 2016 fling into durable bid, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, Aug. 9, 2015. The driving force of the billionaire Republican’s campaign remains his mercurial and unpredictable personality, even as he enters a new phase in which questions about his temperament and scrutiny of his positions will mount.
New York Magazine, The Lines You Didn’t Hear in the First GOP Debate, Margaret Hartmann, Aug. 9, 2015. It's now clear that Donald Trump and top adviser Roger Stone had some serious issues (it's unclear whether Stone quit or was fired), but what would Thursday night's debate have looked like if Trump had actually heeded his advice? While Trump boasted that he wasn't really doing any debate prep, the Washington Post reports that he did hold some informal prep sessions at Trump Tower, which "consisted mostly of Trump reading printed-out news articles about policy developments in Washington, culled by spokeswoman Hope Hicks."
Donald Trump is shown in a photo released by Gage Skidmore.
CNN, Donald Trump: No apology on 'blood' remark amid GOP backlash, Eric Bradner, Aug. 9, 2015. Presidential candidate Donald Trump defended himself Sunday from the fierce backlash he's received for criticizing Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly, insisting he said nothing wrong and that he values women. "I cherish women," the real estate mogul told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," adding that he did not mean to imply that Kelly asked him sharp questions during the debate because she was menstruating. "Who would say that?" Trump said Sunday. "Do you think I'd make a statement like that? Who would make a statement like that? Only a sick person would even think about that." The extraordinary exchange with Tapper showed how quickly Trump has shifted from a frontrunner who seemingly defied the laws of politics to the public face of a campaign in turmoil. "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," Trump said during an interview with CNN's Don Lemon on Friday night. "Blood coming out of her wherever." Over the past 48 hours, Trump's own party has piled on to slam his incendiary choice of words, attacking with a vigor not seen during previous controversies during his presidential bid. Trump handled the moment in characteristic fashion -- refusing to give an inch to his detractors and telling Tapper he did "nothing wrong whatsoever."
Fox News, Trump camp says it has fired infamous strategist Roger Stone, Staff report, Aug. 8, 2015. Editor's note: A little bias in the headline?
Roger Stone, a White House advisor to Presidents Nixon and Reagan and consultant to six other GOP presidential campaigns before that of DonaldTrump's, is shown in a file photo.
Politico, Sources: Roger Stone quit, wasn't fired by Donald Trump in campaign shakeup, Marc Caputo, Aug. 8, 2015. Trump says he fired his campaign adviser. His adviser says he fired Trump. Donald Trump made the surprising announcement Saturday afternoon that he was firing his top adviser, Roger Stone, but, hours before that, the political consultant’s friends told POLITICO that he was actually quitting. “Sorry @realDonaldTrump didn’t fire me- I fired Trump. Diasagree with diversion to food fight with @megynkelly away core issue messages,” Stone, referencing Trump’s battle with a moderator of Fox’s Republican debate Thursday, said just before 3 p.m. on Twitter. Later in the day, Trump’s campaign denied the claims from Stone and his friends and said he was fired the night before. Earlier in the day, Stone’s friends told POLITICO that he sent an email to Trump announcing his decision to leave the campaign. More than an hour later, Trump told a Washington Post reporter he fired Stone. The news coincidentally hit Twitter about 15 minutes after Stone told a Fox News TV show that he couldn’t appear Saturday because he was no longer affiliated with the campaign, friends say.
New York Times, Hand-Wringing in G.O.P. After Trump Insults Debate Host, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 8, 2015. Donald J. Trump’s suggestion that Megyn Kelly, a Fox News journalist, had forcefully questioned him at the Republican presidential debate because she was menstruating cost him a speaking slot Saturday at an influential gathering of conservatives in Atlanta.
Guardian, Forget Donald Trump – Megyn Kelly won the Republican debate, Nigel Smith, Aug. 8, 2015. The Fox News anchor emerged on Thursday night as the winner of the first debate — except she’s not running for president. Nor is she even a Republican. But he and his fellow party members were all upstaged by someone who was asking the questions, not answering them: Fox News powerhouse Megyn Kelly. The host of The Kelly File, currently the second most-watched program in all of cable news, behind only Fox’s own The O’Reilly Factor, made headlines during and following the GOP debate for her tough line of questioning. Famously, such an approach led to her asking Trump about his many verbal attacks on women.
New Mexico Political Report, ‘You can’t make this stuff up': Plame Wilson says Trump wanted her support, Matthew Reichbach, Aug. 8, 2015. Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson says the Donald Trump campaign reached out to her for support. Plame Wilson, who has supported a number of Democratic candidates in New Mexico and nationwide over the years, said in a Facebook post on Friday night that someone from Trump’s campaign reached out to her.
Washington Post, Black and unarmed: Shootings by police in 2015, Sandhya Somashekhar, Wesley Lowery and Keith L. Alexander, illustrations by Peter Strain, Aug. 8, 2015. A year after Michael Brown’s shooting death, unarmed black men are seven times more likely than whites to die by police gunfire; 24 have been killed this year.
It begins with a relatively minor incident: A traffic stop. A burglary. A disturbance. Police arrive and tensions escalate. It ends with an unarmed black man shot dead. That pattern played out in March in Madison, Wis., where police responded to reports of a man yelling and jumping in traffic. Pulling a year’s worth of reporting by more than 40 reporters into one definitive story, the Washington Post looks at the tumultuous series of events that began in Ferguson, Mo., and continued to Cleveland, New York, Baltimore, North Charleston, S.C., and throughout much of the country.
Perhaps most infamously, the pattern played out one year ago Sunday in Ferguson, Mo., where a white police officer searching for a convenience-store robber shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. That incident sparked a national movement to protest police treatment of African Americans and turned 18-year-old Michael Brown into a putative symbol of racial inequality in America. So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police — one every nine days, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. During a single two-week period in April, three unarmed black men were shot and killed. All three shootings were either captured on video or, in one case, broadcast live on local TV.
See related graphic, National Police Shootings, Aug. 8, 2015. At least 81 people have been shot and killed by police across the United States within the past 30 days, according to Washington Post data. In total, 585 people were shot dead by police this year. This database is based on news reports, public records, Internet databases and original reporting.
News-Gazette (Champaign, IL), Widespread use of private email revealed a day after Wise resigns, Julie Wurth and Johnathan Hettinger, Aug. 8, 2015. University of Illinois (UI) Chancellor Phyllis Wise conducted extensive university business on a private email account and failed to provide key documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, documents released by the university show. The UI disclosed Friday that an ethics investigation revealed that certain administrative officials used personal email to conduct UI business and failed to turn over those documents as requested, a violation of university policy. The findings came one day after Wise announced that she would step down as chancellor next week.
Washington Post, Former top CIA official arrested at BWI for allegedly trying to bring gun through security, Luz Lazo and Greg Miller, Aug. 8, 2015. A former top CIA official was arrested Thursday evening after allegedly trying to bring a loaded gun, in his carry-on luggage, through a security checkpoint at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Authorities said Alvin Bernard Krongard, 78, of Baltimore County, Md. — who served as executive director of the CIA during George W. Bush’s presidency — was intercepted when he tried to bring a 9mm handgun loaded with five rounds of ammunition past security. Also known as A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, he served as the third-ranking CIA official from 2001 to 2004, when the agency was employing the use of harsh interrogation practices. Editor's note: The importance here is not so much the incident but a reminder of a mysterious and important chapter in CIA history.
Huffington Post, Netanyahu and His Marionettes, David Bromwich, Aug. 7, 2015. Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) is laying siege to the Congress of the United States, not for the first time. He has thrown his voice and channeled his influence into the arena of American legislative politics, to abort the nuclear P5+1 settlement with Iran, which was signed on July 14 by the US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. The Israeli strong man's latest intervention is in keeping with the rest of his political career. He was first elected in 1996 on the wave of Israeli settler chauvinism that followed the signing of the Oslo Accords. His rise came in the wake of the assassination of his opponent, a courageous defender of the accords, Yitzhak Rabin.
A public memorandum detailing the strategy for Netanyahu as leader of Israel was written by the neoconservative war propagandist Richard Perle, along with a small committee of others. The strategy document, "A Clean Break," called for Israel to free itself from the tedious demands of diplomacy once and for all, curtail its efforts to negotiate with Palestinians toward the creation of a state, and give up the idea of joining a neighborhood of nations in the Middle East. With American help, instead, Israel could stand alone as the dominant power, a position it should never compromise by bargaining for peace. To achieve this end, three countries had to be undermined, subdivided, or destroyed: Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
So far, things have gone roughly according to plan. Iraq and Syria are out of the picture -- the latter with considerable satisfaction to the people around Netanyahu. But Iran has continued to pose a stumbling block; and as early as 2008, Barack Obama's interest in lowering the terrorist threat to the US by calming the violence of the region was perceived by Netanyahu as a threat to his plan for dominance.
Unz Review, Trump’s Triumph: Billionaire Blowhard Exposes Fake Political System, Mike Whitney, Aug. 7, 2015. Last night’s FOX News GOP Presidential Debate Extravaganza featured the most riveting two minute political exchange ever heard on national television. During a brief colloquy between Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Fox moderator Brett Baier, the pugnacious casino magnate revealed the appalling truth about the American political system, that the big money guys like Trump own the whole crooked contraption lock, stock, and barrel, and that, the nation’s fake political leaders do whatever they’re told to do. Without question, it was most illuminating commentary to ever cross the airwaves. Here’s the entire exchange direct from the transcript.
Huffington Post, Fox Hosted The Most-Watched Presidential Primary Debate In History, Kim Bellware, Aug. 7, 2015. The GOP primary debate nabbed a higher rating than both the Women’s World Cup final and NBA Finals. A record-setting 24 million people tuned in to Fox News for Thursday night's GOP presidential primary debate, making it the highest-rated primary debate in TV history. In terms of total viewers, the debate was the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of all time, according to Nielsen data -- with the staggering viewership shattering expectations of what was already a highly-anticipated event. The telecast also made history for Fox: it was the most highly-rated broadcast of the network's 20-year history, according to CNN Money. The debate had a Nielsen-metered market household rating of 16.0. By contrast, the Women's World Cup final and NBA Finals drew a 15.2 and 13.9 rating, respectively.
Newsmax, Trump Wins Drudge Report Debate Poll, Courtney Coren, Aug. 7, 2015. Billionaire Donald Trump is the winner of the Drudge Report Poll taken following the first Republican presidential debate. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in second place in the online poll of more than 190,000 Drudge Report visitors, which was taken directly following the debate on Thursday night. The poll only included the candidates who participated in the Fox News debate with the top 10 candidates. Breakdown of the poll results: Donald Trump: 38 percent. Ted Cruz: 15.5 percent. Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson: 10.2 percent.
Washington Post, Donald Trump late-night angry-tweets Megyn Kelly, and it is epic, Rebecca Sinderbrand, Aug. 7, 2015. If Megyn Kelly found some elements of his Twitter feed objectionable before the debate, the post-debate edition probably didn't do much to change that opinion. Trump tweeted — and retweeted other angry late-night Twitter users — more than 30 times between roughly 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Many of those tweets mentioned Megyn Kelly or her debate co-hosts, along with Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who ran a televised post-debate focus group on Fox Thursday night. None of them were compliments.
Washington Post, What Donald Trump didn’t say about his four big business bankruptcies, Drew Harwell and Jacob Bogage, Aug. 7, 2015. Missing from the GOP candidate’s retelling during Thursday's debate is that all four were high-profile embarrassments for his name-brand American empire. What Donald Trump didn’t say about his four big business bankruptcies.
Washington Examiner, Jobs shock: 100% of female employment gains taken by foreigners since 2007, Paul Bedard, Aug. 7, 2015. All of the employment gains among women since the recession hit in December 2007 have been taken by foreigners, even at a time when the numbers of U.S.-born women surged more than 600,000, according to new federal statistics. The jobs data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed gains in the "employment level" among "foreign born women" and losses among "native born women." The charts show that 9.041 million foreign-born women held jobs in December of 2007 compared to 10.028 million today – or a gain of roughly 1 million jobs. In contrast, 59.322 million U.S.-born women held jobs in December of 2007 compared to 59.258 million today – or a loss of nearly 64,000 jobs.
Columbus (OH) Free Press via AlterNet, 10 reasons why John Kasich is no moderate, but a hit man for the rich, Robert Fitrakis, Aug. 7, 2015. Robert Fitrakis is a political science professor, author, attorney, radio host, alternative newspaper publisher, and past political office. Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich, who just announced his candidacy for president, was picked by Fox News for its primetime 2016 candidate debate. This is the man who went to Cleveland and told Browns football fans that he rooted for their arch-rival, the Steelers. But his real loyalty has always been to the rich and powerful. Shown in an official photo, his new allegiance is to his media mentor, Rupert Murdoch. In 2010, the creator of right-wing agi-prop and faux news gave $1 million to the Republican Governor’s Association to get his bloviator elected in his first election.
After working for Murdoch and prior to being elected, Kasich spent his time hawking junk assets for the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment bankers. He helped sell these worthless assets to the tune of $500 million into Ohio’s public retirement system, particularly the State Teacher’s pension funds. He made untold millions, which he refused to disclose, while looting the pensions of school teachers and public employees. Here are 10 ways that Kasich has hurt Ohioans....
Tampa Bay Times, Why did the FBI detain Bob Graham? Lucy Morgan, August 7, 2015. Going to lunch with former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham can be hazardous to retirement. And extremely interesting. He told us about the day in 2011 when he and Adele were heading to the Washington, D.C., area to spend Thanksgiving with one of their daughters. As they stepped off an airplane at Dulles International Airport, two FBI agents approached and asked the Grahams to accompany them to a nearby agency office. Graham had not informed the FBI that he was traveling to the Washington area and to this day does not know how they knew where he planned to spend Thanksgiving or what airplane he would be aboard. A little scary huh? Perhaps his phone is on the NSA's list.
Editor's note: In a photo by the Justice Integrity Project taken at the National Press Club, Graham is shown with his novel Keys to the Kingdom — which portrays in semi-fictional form his understanding of how entities affiliated with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia funded 9/11 attackers, whose role has been suppressed by authorities. Although Graham was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-authored its 2003 report on the attack he and other elected representatives supposedly providing oversight to the powerful U.S. intelligence community face imprisonment if they tell the public what they know, except in circumstances carefully controlled by the intelligence agencies themselves.
New York Times, Bad Decision by Senator Schumer, Carol Giacomo, Aug. 7, 2015. New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer (shown in a file photo), has cast his lot with Republican presidential candidates, other hardliners and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in declaring his opposition to the nuclear agreement that President Obama and five other world leaders negotiated with Iran. Given Mr. Schumer’s wrong-headed and irresponsible decision, Democrats may want to reconsider whether he is the best candidate to be their next leader in the Senate, a job he desperately wants.
The Hill, Fury of left falls on Schumer, Julian Hattem, Aug. 7, 2015. Liberals are livid at Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) decision to oppose the White House’s nuclear deal with Iran, and have threatened to launch a full-scale war as retribution. Activists and former top officials within the Obama administration are openly contemplating whether Schumer’s stance disqualifies him from serving as the next Senate Democratic leader — which he is primed to do — and seeking to temporarily cut off money to Democrats in the upper chamber.
New York Times, Fears of Lasting Rift as Obama Battles Pro-Israel Group on Iran, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Aug. 7, 2015. President Obama had a tough message for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel group that is furiously campaigning against the Iran nuclear accord, when he met with two of its leaders at the White House this week. The president accused Aipac of spending millions of dollars in advertising against the deal and spreading false claims about it, people in the meeting recalled.
Washington Post, Why Sen. Chuck Schumer isn’t actually going to kill the Iran deal, Mike DeBonis, Aug. 7, 2015. The decision from the New York Democrat has been closely watched, but don’t expect a huge impact.
JFK Facts, The late Richard Schweiker on the Warren Commission, Jeff Morley, Aug. 7, 2015. Regarding: Richard Schweiker, Republican Critic of JFK Assassination Probe, Dies at 89, here is what the late Senator Richard Schweiker (R-Pennsylvania) said on Face the Nation in 1976. When asked about the Warren Commission report, Schweiker replied:
I think that the report, to those who have studied it closely, has collapsed like a house of cards, and I think the people who read it in the long-run future will see that. I frankly believe that we have shown that the [investigation of the] John F. Kennedy assassination was snuffed out before it even began, and that the fatal mistake the Warren Commission made was not to use its own investigators, but instead to rely on the CIA and FBI personnel, which played directly into the hands of senior intelligence officials who directed the cover-up.
Washington Post, Frances Oldham Kelsey 1914-2015: Heroine of thalidomide tragedy kept the drug off U.S. market, Adam Bernstein and Patricia Sullivan, Aug. 7, 2015. The scientist raised concerns about the morning-sickness drug that was found to cause severe birth defects. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy awarded Frances O. Kelsey the President's Award for Distinguished Civilian Federal Service.
Huffington Post, CIA: OK, So Maybe We Work With Bad Guys, We don't want to, but sometimes, you know, we have to..., Ali Watkins, Aug. 8, 2015. The CIA is willing to overlook some of its shadier partners’ human rights records if they can still get the goods, according to agency Director John Brennan. In a letter sent to a trio of lawmakers, Brennan expanded on the agency’s controversial relationships with less-than-desirable characters, offering an unusually candid glimpse into the spies' liaison partnerships.
New York Times, From Trump on Down, the Republicans Can’t Be Serious, Paul Krugman, Aug. 7, 2015. This was, according to many commentators, going to be the election cycle Republicans got to show off their “deep bench.” The race for the nomination would include experienced governors like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, fresh thinkers like Rand Paul, and attractive new players like Marco Rubio. Instead, however, Donald Trump leads the field by a wide margin. What happened? The answer, according to many of those who didn’t see it coming, is gullibility: People can’t tell the difference between someone who sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about and someone who is actually serious about the issues. And for sure there’s a lot of gullibility out there. But if you ask me, the pundits have been at least as gullible as the public, and still are.
Washington Post, Trump roils first debate among GOP contenders, Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker, Aug. 6, 2015. He landed like a hand grenade — serving notice that he may run as an independent if he does not win the nomination. Washington Post, The Donald remains on top — at least for the moment, Dan Balz, Aug. 6, 2015. Those expecting a different Trump at the GOP debate were in for a surprise.
Defense One, The Pentagon Wants a Secretive Cyber Arms Dealer To Hack Its Networks, Aliya Sternstein, Aug. 6, 2015. The company, Endgame, is part of a legal but controversial industry that sells governments hacking tools called 'zero days' to pinpoint vulnerabilities. The protection arm of the U.S. Cyber Command says it needs products from Endgame, a company known for crafting hacking tools, but purely to safeguard military networks. The tools for Cyber Command “cyber protection teams,” however, will not be used to attack adversary networks, but rather to find weaknesses in the dot-mil domain, according to the Air Force, which is managing the purchases.
Washington Post, Tyler Drumheller, CIA officer who exposed U.S. reliance on discredited Iraq source ‘Curveball,’ dies at 63, Greg Miller, Aug. 6, 2015. Tyler S. Drumheller, a high-level CIA officer who publicly battled agency leaders over one of the most outlandish claims in the U.S. case for war with Iraq, died Aug. 2 at a hospital in Fairfax County. He was 63. Mr. Drumheller held posts in Africa and Europe over a 26-year career during which the CIA’s focus shifted from the Cold War to terrorist threats. He rose to prominent positions at CIA headquarters, serving as chief of the European division at a time when the agency was abducting al-Qaeda suspects on the continent and U.S. allies there faced a wave of terrorist plots.
But he was best known publicly for his role in exposing the extent to which a key part of the administration’s case for war with Iraq had been built on the claims of an Iraqi defector and serial fabricator with the fitting code name “Curveball.” Mr. Drumheller spent the bulk of his career as an undercover officer seeking to avoid public attention. But after retiring in 2005, he emerged as a vocal critic of the George W. Bush administration’s use of deeply flawed intelligence to build support for its decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Curveball, who had defected to Germany in the late 1990s, was the primary source behind the administration’s assertions that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq had developed biological weapons laboratories — lethal germ factories supposedly built on wheels or rails to evade detection. The claim was included in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech as well as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations designed to marshal international support for intervention in Iraq.
Wall Street Journal, How Jeb Bush Spent His Years on Wall Street, Justin Baer, Aug. 4, 2015 (Subscription required). Former governor’s time at Lehman and Barclays sets him apart from other presidential hopefuls. Ten weeks before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., a financial disaster that ushered in the global economic crisis in September 2008, Jeb Bush was in Mexico City to seek help from billionaire Carlos Slim. Mr. Bush signed on with Lehman after leaving the Florida governor’s mansion, making it clear he wanted work as a hands-on investment banker rather than hold a ceremonial role typically given ex-politicians. Now was his chance. Mr. Bush was a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Slim, at the time ranked as the world’s second wealthiest individual and one of several deep-pocketed investors on Lehman’s radar. “Project Verde” was supposed to bring home badly needed cash and confidence. Mr. Slim, however, was more interested in talking baseball than investing in the troubled firm.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives President Barack Obama a banner after their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2015. The message reads, "The highest virtue is like water." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Arab Daily News, Mordechai Vanunu's September: High Court and a Kindle Book, Eileen Fleming, Aug. 4, 2015. Next month, Israel’s High Court of Justice will consider Mordechai Vanunu’s eighth petition demanding removal of the draconian restrictions instituted on 21 April 2004, when Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower was released from 18 years behind bars to open air captivity. Also in September, my seventh book Heroes, Muses and the Saga of Mordechai Vanunu will be published at Kindle. Wwhat follows is an excerpt regarding the legend of Vanunu’s honey trap. In 2006, I asked Vanunu what was he thinking when he flew to Rome with Cindy, who he had thought was an American beautician on holiday in London. Vanunu told me: Many journalists come here to the American Colony from CNN and NY Times. They all want to cover my story, but their editors say no. CNN wants to interview me; but they say they can’t do it because they don’t want problems with the Israeli censor. BBC is doing the same thing. Sixty Minutes from the United States from the beginning they wanted to do a program, but because of the censor situation they decide not to do it. Also big media from Germany, France, Italy, Japan. None of them wants problems with the Israelis. Not having any problem with making problems for Israel, I tracked down Vanunu’s ‘honey trap’ Cindy/Cheryl Hanin Ben Tov.
Wikipedia, Mordechai Vanunu, born in October 1954 and shown in a 2009 photo via Wikipedia, is an Israeli former nuclear technician who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents. He was transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors. Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he became subject to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement.
Wayne Madsen Report, The Surveillance State is upon us, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 3, 2015 (Subscription required). When it comes to investigative reporters probing the activities of the rich and powerful, we are the virtual "canaries in the coal mine." And nothing points to the current state of surveillance powers as our current investigation, the details of which will become known to all of our members and readers in due time. So far, there is little doubt that from the National Security Agency and its meta-databases down to small town police departments that have the capability of fusing data from such law enforcement networks as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (NLETS) with private data from credit card companies, telecommunications providers, and social media, a reporter on special assignment cannot remain anonymous for very long.
Guardian, Ted Heath: IPCC to probe alleged failings in child abuse investigation, Peter Walker, Aug. 3, 2015. The independent police watchdog has launched a formal inquiry into claims that Wiltshire police did not properly investigate allegations of sexual offences against children involving the former Conservative prime minister Edward Heath. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the inquiry, linked to a wider investigation into allegations of historical sexual abuse, was triggered by claims made by a retired senior police officer. It centres on claims, not that the force failed to pursue a case against Heath himself, but against another person, who had threatened to make allegations against the politician, the IPCC said. It added: “The IPCC is to investigate allegations Wiltshire police didn’t pursue a prosecution when a person threatened to say Sir Edward Heath may have been involved in offences concerning children.” Heath, who died aged 89 in 2005, was prime minister from 1970 to 1974. He lived in Salisbury, Wiltshire, for many years. His former home Arundells is now open to the public.
Joseph P. Nacchio, former chairman/CEO of Qwest Communications, at July 29 Newsmaker on NSA reform. Mike Smith (seated) of the Newsmakers Committee moderated the event. Photo/Image: Noel St. John.
National Press Club, Nacchio, at NPC Newsmaker, warns of NSA overreach on phone records, Mike Smith, Aug. 2, 2015. Joseph P. Nacchio, the former chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications International and convicted felon on insider trading who spent 72 months in federal prison (and forfeited $62 million), warned that the newly passed USA Freedom Act doesn't go far enough to rein in National Security Agency scrutiny of Americans’ digital and phone records. At a July 29 National Press Club Newsmaker, Nacchio, the Brooklyn-born son of a longshoreman who earned an MBA from New York University and a master’s in engineering from MIT, charged that the USA Freedom Act does not adequately reform the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was ruled unlawful by an Appeals Court in May, 2015. On June 2, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act just hours before all surveillance authority was stripped from NSA and other intelligence-gathering agencies. The new law provides limits on bulk collection of phone records.
Reuters via Huffington Post, In Effort To Neutralize ISIS And Protect American-Trained Forces, U.S. To Conduct Airstrikes In Syria, Phil Stewart, Aug. 2, 2015. Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith refused to comment on the rules of engagement, but said the U.S. military's program focuses "first and foremost" on combating Islamic State militants.
Huffington Post, Journalists Attend Private Koch Brothers Gathering, But Agree Not To Name Donors, Michael Calderone, Aug. 2, 2015. Aren't they a big part of the story? Several news organizations gained rare access Saturday into a private gathering of influential Republican donors hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. But journalists covering the three-day event, held at a luxurious California resort, had to agree to an unusual restriction. They weren’t allowed to report the names of any of the 450 donors attending without the individual’s permission. The Washington Post’s Matea Gold disclosed in a Saturday night piece that her paper was “one of nine news organizations allowed in to cover the traditionally private confab, on the condition that the donors present not be named without their permission.”
Bloomberg, Richard Schweiker, Republican Critic of JFK Assassination Probe, Dies at 89, Aug. 3, 2015. Richard Schweiker, the former senator who helped reveal the U.S. intelligence community’s shortcomings in the investigation of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, has died. He was 89. The former congressman, who represented Pennsylvania for eight years in the House and 12 years in the Senate, became secretary of the Health and Human Services Department under President Ronald Reagan in 1981. A Republican with a moderate-to-liberal voting record, Schweiker was an anomaly in Reagan’s conservative administration and belonged to a party wing that no longer exists. As a senator, Schweiker (shown in a file photo) had bucked his fellow Republicans by voting against President Richard Nixon’s antiballistic missile system, rejecting two of Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees, speaking out against the Vietnam War and being one of the first Republicans to call for Nixon to resign following the Watergate scandal.
In related news: A funeral service, interment and a reception are to be held starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at Central Schwenkfelder Church, 2111 Valley Forge Rd., Lansdale, PA. The following day, Sunday, Aug. 30, there is to be a 12:30 p.m. celebration of life service and a reception at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 4900 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington. The public is welcome at both memorial events.
JFK Facts, The late Richard Schweiker on the Warren Commission, Jeff Morley, Aug. 7, 2015. Here's what the late Senator Richard Schweiker (R-Pennsylvania) said on Face the Nation in 1976. When asked about the Warren Commission report, Schweiker replied:
I think that the report, to those who have studied it closely, has collapsed like a house of cards, and I think the people who read it in the long-run future will see that. I frankly believe that we have shown that the [investigation of the] John F. Kennedy assassination was snuffed out before it even began, and that the fatal mistake the Warren Commission made was not to use its own investigators, but instead to rely on the CIA and FBI personnel, which played directly into the hands of senior intelligence officials who directed the cover-up.
Alternet, Jimmy Carter: American Democracy Has Been Subverted into an 'Oligarchy' with 'Unlimited Political Bribery,' "The incumbents, Democrats, and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves," Thom Hartmann, Aug. 1, 2015. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines an 'oligarchy' as: "A government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes." Former President Jimmy Carter had some choice words for our form of government, post-Citizen's United, on my radio program this week. When I asked him his thoughts on the state of American politics since five right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court opened the doors to "unlimited money" in our political discourse via Citizens United, Carter was blunt and to the point. “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. senators and congress members." [Carter continued: "So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over."
The National Memo, Trump: Documentary The Donald Suppressed, Free At Last, David Cay Johnston, Aug. 1, 2015. A documentary that Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, killed 25 years ago with threats of litigation is now available for all to view on the Internet. Trump: What’s The Deal? paints a powerful and disturbing picture of a financial Dorian Gray whose public image bears little resemblance to his conduct away from the cameras, including hiring actors for $50 each to applaud at his campaign announcement.
In public, Trump presents himself as a businessman so skilled his deals are an art form. The 80-minute documentary peels back this façade. Hidden from public view, the documentary shows Trump manipulating politicians and the criminal justice system, pocketing millions in taxpayer welfare, not paying people he hired, doing some of his biggest deals with mobsters, retaining a cocaine dealer as his helicopter pilot, and evidently benefiting from having his sister working in the Justice Department before winning appointment as a federal judge. Former advisors and employees describe furious tirades that no one, not even his family, could escape.
The film reveals how Trump repeatedly engaged in questionable conduct — such as intimidating tenants of a Manhattan building he wanted to empty — but drew little attention from law enforcement. One top city official says on camera that Mayor Abe Beame, a childhood pal of Trump’s father Fred, instructed him that Donald Trump was to get whatever he wanted from city government. The documentary also delves into Trump family values — a matter presumably of deep interest to conservative Republicans, many of whom tell pollsters they want the casino mogul to be America’s next president.
Trump carried on a five-year affair with Marla Maples, and then sought not just to publicly humiliate his first wife Ivana, but also to profit from her humiliation. Ivana Trump appears in the film. “If you’re good to him, he’s incredible,” she tells the camera. “If you’re bad to him, you’re dead.” That interview was filmed back when Ivana testified in court proceedings that Trump had not touched her in 16 months, but one night flew into a rage, tore clumps of hair from her head and then “raped” her, a word she later said was not meant to imply criminality.
Libby Handros, one of the filmmakers, said she decided to post the documentary and its trailer because she believed that as a presidential candidate, Trump required public examination.
New York Times, The Donald’s Gifts for Jeb Bush, Ross Douthat, Aug. 1, 2015. What matters most, politically, about the “I Am Trump” spectacle isn’t what the Donald does but whom he helps. Trump won’t be the Republican nominee, but the eventual nominee may end up owing him a debt of gratitude for services rendered along the way. For now, it’s easiest to see who will owe Trump their resentment, since just about every dark-horse candidate has been effectively bigfooted by the Donald. But among Trump’s potential beneficiaries, the man most likely to be indebted is Jeb Bush. A few months ago, Jeb looked like the weakest of front-runners: The field was deep, his own poll numbers were lackluster, and he was facing two candidates in particular – Marco Rubio and Scott Walker – who seemed just as capable of uniting the party, more appealing to the average Republican voter, and more compelling as general election candidates than another Bush dynasty.
Reader comment from Richard Head, Mill Valley, CA: DESPERATION!! That's what the Repubs face. They have car full of fools and clowns and the biggest loudest clown is getting the attention. They have one place to go: Trump. Bush? another cookie cutter politician like his brother, puppets.