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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, April 23, 2014
'Green News Report' 4/22/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
It's our 500th episode! Coincidentally, it's also Earth Day! So, we look both back and forward at climate coverage & the GNR in a very special Green News Report!...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/14 - 4/15/14 - Archives...
CA Green Party SoS Candidate Excluded from Sacramento Press Club Debate
Despite a recent poll showing he leads two candidates who were invited, David Curtis gets snubbed by press group, and he's not happy...
'In Your Heart, You Know He's Right'
Barry Goldwater, the GOP's most conservative Presidential nominee ever, was a leftist, tree-hugging, Big Govt environmentalist whacko hell-bent on destroying the economy...
More Good 'Obamacare' News for Terrified Dems
Will Democrats continue to run scared, or will they embrace the unrelenting string of encouraging Affordable Care Act successes as we head into the 2014 mid-terms?...
'Green News Report' 4/17/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
One year since West, TX disaster; New 'habitable' planet!; Air pollution in poor areas; Record warm March; PLUS: 'Bombshell' study: CA drought caused by global warming...
Previous GNRs: 4/15/14 - 4/10/14 - Archives...
The Climate Is Invading the Earth!
If only the climate was a person that could be defeated with guns -- the world might finally take the threat we face with the seriousness it deserves....
'Green News Report' 4/15/14
GNR Special Coverage: The UN Inter- governmental Panel on Climate Change Report on Mitigation: costs, risks, and opportunities. Is it too late avoid climate catastrophe?...
'Conservative' RW 'Legal' Blogger Defends Freeloading Nevada Rancher
PowerLine's hyper-partisan Hinderaker admits Cliven Bundy 'doesn't have a [legal] leg to stand on', but digs deep to find any reason to defend the scofflaw anyway...
Sunday News Shows Fail to Mention U.S. Senate CIA Torture & Detention Report
Despite U.S. and international crimes outlined in the findings, based on first-hand CIA docs, not a single Sunday show even brought it up...
NSA Knew About, Exploited Internet Open Source Bug for Years
What part of "national security' does the National Security Agency not understand?!...
Destroying America: 'Obamacare' Kills Another Business
Free medical clinic in rural Arkansas to close doors after health insurance reform law leads to lack of customers...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

The Bureaucratic Euphemism of 'Extraordinary Rendition'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/14/2009 3:54pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Part IV of a Five-Part Special Series
(Part I is here. Part II is here. Part III is here. Part V is now here.)

"We pick up a suspect or we arrange for one of our partner countries to do it. Then the suspect is placed on a civilian transport to a third country where, let’s make no bones about it, they use torture. If you want a good interrogation, you send someone to Jordan. If you want them to be killed, you send them to Egypt or Syria. Either way, the US cannot be blamed as it is not doing the work." - Former CIA officer Robert Baer [PDF]

In Part I of this now-five part series, I took care to distinguish the post-9/11 application of torture techniques by the U.S. military from the role played by the CIA and demonstrated how the Bush/Cheney decision to torture predated the quasi-legal Justice Department memos. In Part II, I covered the CIA's dark beginnings, including links not only to former Nazi war criminals but to those Americans who provided financial support to Hitler's Germany, including the late Senator Prescott Bush, George W's paternal grandfather. I also demonstrated how academic studies, performed as part of the CIA's maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, culminated in KUBARK, the CIA's 1963 torture manual. In Part III, I showed how the KUBARK torture techniques, applied by US-trained foreign surrogates, became an essential component of the covert dimension of a US-led corporate Empire --- a means for exerting control over populations resistant to the injustice of a system that values the obscene wealth of a few over the needs of the many.

I had intended this to be the final chapter of a Four-Part Special Series, but length, complexity and new revelations necessitate further division into Parts IV & V.

Here, I will explore the arrogant application of overseas surrogate torture through "extraordinary rendition." The direct application of KUBARK techniques to a "floating population" of "ghost detainees" at CIA black sites will be covered in Part V. In both segments, I will demonstrate how torture was applied not to protect the American people but to help produce doctored intelligence that would provide cover for imperial conquest. I will end with the disturbing yet still unresolved questions as to how many victims of the Bush/Cheney torture regime remain amongst "the disappeared;" how many of those victims are now deceased...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Progressive Marcy Winograd tells The BRAD BLOG why she plans to run against L.A.'s powerful U.S. Rep once again...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/21/2009 12:21pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

[Ed Note: Winograd will be one of my guests on the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show, which I'll be guest hosting all this week from 6p-9p PT, 9p-Mid. ET, on Monday night. Please tune in! - BF]

On October 20, 2005 Time magazine reported that when confronted with the prospect of an FBI investigation into whether she improperly enlisted the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) left a voicemail stating that any investigation of her would be "irresponsible, laughable and scurrilous."

Yet, as reported by Jeff Stein of CQ Politics on April 19, 2009, Harman “was overheard on a 2005 National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former [AIPAC] officials. “In return, the Israeli agent pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee,” Stein reported.

According to Tim Rutten in the LA Times on April 22, 2009, however, "Harman denies any inappropriate actions, let alone a quid pro quo, and Tuesday sent an angry letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. demanding that the full transcripts be released." Rutten, who described it as a "faux scandal," points out that Harman neither "intervened on behalf of the lobbyists" nor became chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Recently, Marcy Winograd, President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles (PDLA), whose 2006 campaign was covered by The BRAD BLOG, announced her intentions to challenge Harman again in the 2010 Democratic primary election. In an email response to our query asking about her intention to run again against Harman, against whom she lost in '06, and about some specific issues of interest to our readers, Winograd noted that she has been a champion of election integrity issues, taking on a Republican CA Secretary of State for his direct work with Diebold lobbyists, as well as challenging U.S. Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) for his 2007 election reform bill because of "its institutionalization of electronic voting systems."

She also said she intends to hold President Obama "accountable, whether it be closing Guantanamo or ending military tribunals or promoting diplomacy over war," even as she notes that she was "alarmed" by the "recent news reports of Harman's quid pro quo with AIPAC," and writes: "I feel it is my responsibility to run [against Harman], to offer constituents a choice, a real choice."

Her email response follows in full below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Or, 'Why corporate control of the media may be hazardous to your health'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/5/2009 2:15pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Ernest A. Canning

"Americans think that it’s healthcare that produces health, when there really is very little evidence for that. What turns out to be really important is the nature of caring and sharing in society….Where societies are more equal --- and economic equality is the thing that is most important in this --- people look after each other…and pretty well everyone does better. There’s almost nothing that is better in a society that tolerates the extreme levels of inequality in the United States. And so, we end up dying younger than people in all the other rich countries, despite spending half the world’s healthcare bill." - Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, March 30, 2009

"Who are we? Is this what we have become --- a nation that dumps people off like garbage who can't pay their hospital bills?" - Michael Moore, following a segment in which a confused elderly woman in a flimsy hospital gown is dumped curbside near a Skid Row rescue mission, in his documentary Sicko!*

In Failed States (2006), Prof. Noam Chomsky, a preeminent linguist and one of this nation’s most prolific political writers, concludes that the U.S. suffers from a “democracy deficit” --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their elected representatives --- which he attributes to the manner in which “elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people.”

The deficit is especially acute in what Chomsky describes as “the most dysfunctional healthcare system in the industrial world.” Chomsky notes that a single-payer system --- that is a system in which all medical providers would be paid by a government entity as now occurs with Medicare --- has long been overwhelmingly favored by “a considerable majority” of the American people, but routinely dismissed by both the corporate media and the leaders of both political parties as “lacking political support” and not being “politically possible.”

The issue touches on the core contradictions which arise because we have allowed private authoritarian entities, corporations, to subvert democracy by controlling our economy, our mass media and the manner in which we conduct elections.

This piece will focus on the irrationality of a privatized health care system which values the wealth of a handful of CEOs of the parasitic and entirely unnecessary middle-men --- for-profit carriers and HMOs --- over the health and very lives of our people. It will explain what corporate America and their bought-and-paid-for politicians do not want you to hear...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Update: Coleman may throw in towel if he loses at MN Supreme Court, according to Roll Call 'sources'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/3/2009 4:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) informed MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell:

I can't sign the certificate until the State court process is complete. We don't know who the winner is, but as soon as that process is complete and they give direction as to signing the certificate, I'm going to sign it…

Pawlenty's remarks are consistent with MN Election Law as interpreted [PDF] by the MN Supreme Court in Franken v. Pawlenty. (The latest MN Supreme Court action in Coleman v. Franken was recently covered here). MN law prevents either Governor Pawlenty (R) or Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) from signing the certificate once an election contest has commenced and before it is completed in state court. It is also consistent with the legal argument presented by Al Franken in his MN Supreme Court brief [PDF] that the MN Supreme Court should order the Governor and Secretary of State to perform what amounts to a "ministerial duty" to sign and countersign the certification of election upon the completion of the state court process. This statement follows, within one day, Pawlenty's announcement that he would not seek a third term as Governor.

[Hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter 'FreedomOfInformationAct']

UPDATE 6/4/09: Roll Call now reports that Coleman also may be ready to throw in the towel if he loses at the MN Supremes: "Sources close to Coleman say the former Senator would likely give up his legal battle and accept defeat if the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in Franken's favor. That's because Coleman anticipates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would ultimately sign Franken's certification papers."

The BRAD BLOG covers your electoral system fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...
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Coleman Attny: 'Send it back to 3-judge panel'; Franken Attny: 'Confident' he'll be seated...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/1/2009 10:42am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

From their respective press conferences following today's oral argument at the Minnesota Supreme Court on former Senator Norm Coleman's appeal of the results of his U.S. Senate election contest...

"We are asking that the court send it back to the three judge panel to apply the same standard as election night...Our case is in the offers of proof." - Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg

"The most important question is how long it will take to enfranchise 4,000 Minnesotans." - Former Senator Norm Coleman

"With a ruling from the State Supreme Court we’ll be at the end of this process...I am confident that at the end of the process...Al Franken will be seated." - Franken attorney Marc Elias

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Judge Sonia Sotomayor likely to be opposed by Republicans despite previous federal confirmations...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/26/2009 12:04pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

President Barack Obama has nominated 54-year old Sonia Sotomayor, a Judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeal in New York, to fill the upcoming vacancy brought about by the pending retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Despite degrees from Princeton (A.B. summa cum laude 1976) and Yale Law School (J.D. 1979), Sotomayor's Puerto Rican roots are truly working class. Her father, a tool-and-die maker with a third grade education, died when she was nine years old. She and her brother, who became a physician, grew up in a Bronx housing project, raised by her single mother, a nurse.

Although she was initially nominated to the federal bench by George H. W. Bush, in 1998 (when she was approved by a vote of 35 to 11, among still serving U.S. Senators) and is considered a judicial centrist by the ABA journal, her nomination to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal was bottled up by Republicans for more than a year after she was nominated by President Clinton. The hold-up was no mere coincidence...

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Component of Empire, Distance through Surrogates & Reagan's Duplicity...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/21/2009 8:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Part III of a Five-Part Special Series
(Part I is here. Part II is here. Part IV is now here. Part V is now here.)

"The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof indication that politicians are trying to impose a system --- whether political, religious or economic --- that is rejected by large numbers of people they are ruling. Just as ecologists define ecosystems by the presence of certain 'indicator species'..., torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to have come to power through elections." - Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (2007)

In Part I of this five-part series, I took care to distinguish the post-9/11 application of torture techniques by the U.S. military from the role played by the CIA and demonstrated how the Bush/Cheney decision to torture predated the quasi-legal Justice Department memos. In Part II, I covered the CIA's dark beginnings, including links not only to former Nazi war criminals but to those Americans who provided financial support to Hitler's Germany, including the late Senator Prescott Bush, George W's paternal grandfather. I also demonstrated how academic studies, performed as part of the CIA's maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, culminated in KUBARK, the CIA's 1963 torture manual.

Here, we will explore how those KUBARK torture techniques became an essential component of the covert dimension of a US-led corporate Empire --- a means for exerting control over populations resistant to the injustice of a system that values the obscene wealth of a few over the needs of the many...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Dark Beginnings, the KUBARK Torture Manual & the storied Bush-family/CIA legacy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/13/2009 8:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Part II of a Five-Part Special Series
(Part I is here. Part III is now here. Part IV is now here. Part V is now here.)

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

I don’t want to give the wrong impression. All nations possess a legitimate need to gather intelligence. There have been large numbers of extraordinarily dedicated CIA employees, like Ray McGovern and Valerie Plame Wilson, who have sought to protect this nation from harm. But there is the dark side of the agency, a covert branch which has engaged in deception, intrigue, torture and assassinations, all designed to destabilize democratic governments in order to advance and consolidate the power and influence of a US-based, multi-national corporate empire.

In Part I of this five-part series, I described how the George W. Bush administration did not wait for legal "permission" from its Department of Justice before embarking on its plan to use torture as means of forcing confessions and other information from detainees. In "Prosecute or Perish" I stressed that the current torture scandal is the product of a half-century of CIA torture; that by failing to prosecute those who tortured in our name in the same manner that we prosecuted the Japanese officers who waterboarded my father during World War II, we not only will expose our nation to the charge of hypocrisy but will endanger the very survival of our constitutional democracy and the rule of law.

As I noted in Part I, we cannot move forward unless we honestly examine our past --- which, in this instance, mandates a careful look at the origins of the CIA...

Dark Beginnings

In a sense, it may be said that the CIA was a stepchild of Nazi Germany. As noted by Joseph Trento in Prelude to Terror (2006), its founder, Allen Dulles, had done business with the Nazis before World War II. Dulles served in the O.S.S. in Bern, Switzerland. From 1945 to 1947, preceding the creation of the CIA, Dulles ran his own private and entirely illegal intelligence service in which he “began a massive ex-Nazi recruitment* campaign, using a State Department refugee office as a front.” The recruitment campaign, Prof. Alfred McCoy observed, in A Question of Torture (2006), entailed more than the use of war criminals as spies. It included German scientists “who had directed Nazi experiments into human physiology and psychology” and whose early research would lay the ground work for CIA torture techniques…

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'Virtually identical' to previous arguments, legal team says; Also seeking order directing Gov & SoS to certify Franken's electoral victory
Oral argument set for June 1...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/12/2009 3:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

During a news conference yesterday (video here courtesy of TheUptake.org) Marc Elias, representing Sen.-elect Al Franken in the election contest brought by former Sen. Norm Coleman, announced the filing of Franken's brief [PDF] responding to Coleman's appeal [PDF] of the decision by the tri-partisan, three-judge election contest panel's ruling which found: "Franken received the highest number of lawfully cast ballots in the November 4, 2008 general election for United States Senator and is entitled to receive the certificate of election."

Noting that, because of its ability to make credibility determinations, a trial court's factual findings are entitled to "great deference" in an appeal, Elias observed that Coleman had a "heavy burden" in showing that the three-judge panel erred on the facts and the law. He says it's a burden the Coleman team has not met in their appellate arguments. Elias noted that the legal contentions made in Coleman's opening brief were "virtually identical" to those that were made and rejected by the three-judge panel.

We discussed Coleman's arguments, and the three-judge panel's rejection of them, last month in 'For Coleman, the End is Near...'. As our legal analysis detailed, we agree with Elias' May 11, 2009 assertion that the Coleman legal challenge is "without merit."

For example, per Elias, Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg continues to tell the media that 4,400 uncounted absentee ballots were improperly rejected, but as we observed...

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Military Torture, Legal Fig Leaves & Premature Exculpation...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/6/2009 12:07pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Part I of a Five-Part Special Series
(Part II is now here. Part III is now here. Part IV is now here. Part V is now here.)

"When any modern state tortures even a few victims, the stigma compromises its majesty and corrupts its integrity. Its officials must spin an ever more complex web of lies that, in the end, weakens the bonds of trust and the rule of law that are the sine qua non of a democracy. And, beyond its borders, allies and enemies turn away in collective revulsion." - Prof. Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture (2006).

Truth and justice are essential components of democracy and the rule of law. We cannot move forward unless we honestly examine our past. Accuracy is vital to every decision we make, be it impeachment, prosecution or a restoration of our nation’s honor and integrity.

This is the first in a five-part series of articles which will strive to correct misperceptions arising from the erroneous blending of military and CIA torture. This task has become especially relevant now that the Justice Department's the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the very section which had issued the torture memos, tasked by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey with investigating itself, has now released a recommendation that none of the authors of the torture memos be prosecuted. This recommendation stands in stark contrast to our nation's post-World War II decision to prosecute German judges for war crimes at Nuremberg.

Part I addresses the relatively public involvement of the U.S. military and private contractors at Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq. It will dispel the notion that the Bush White House sought out independent legal opinions from the OLC before deciding to torture.

Part II will discuss the CIA's dark beginnings, including its recruitment of former Nazis, its devotion to covert "psychological operations" as a founding principle, the experiments on unwitting subjects that were part of a maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, and the scientific studies that led to KUBARK, the CIA's torture manual.

Part III provides a vital historical account of CIA torture applied by surrogates in developing nations as a component of empire, an account that belies the suggestion made by the The New York Times that CIA torture first arose as an aftermath of 9/11.

Part's IV and V will address the CIA's involvement in extraordinary rendition and an ultra-secret system of “black-sites” into which “ghost detainees” would disappear. It will show how the techniques used on "ghost detainees" are the culmination of a half-century of CIA research and practices...

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Senator-elect Franken, when seated, will give democrats a filibuster-proof majority...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/28/2009 1:06pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

The New York Times just reported:

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said on Tuesday he would switch to the Democratic party, presenting Democrats with a possible 60th vote and the power to break Senate filibusters as they try to advance the Obama administration’s new agenda.

Specter's announcement reflects an estrangement from the increasingly authoritarian, hard-right ideologues who now control the shattered remnants of the Republican Party. In California, the Republican Party passed a resolution to deny funding to six Republican lawmakers who joined with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats, passing a budget to prevent this state from falling into an economic abyss. In the U.S. House of Representatives, every Republican acted as one to say “no” to a vital stimulus, offering only the very measures that led to the current economic meltdown—tax cuts for the wealthy. Three Republican Senators, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, had no sooner broke ranks in voting for a compromise version of the stimulus package before they found themselves targeted by conservative groups, with Specter facing a primary challenge from hard-right Republican Pat Toomey.

It is a testament to how far the remnants of the Republican Party have moved to the right that RNC Chairman Michael Steele suggests Specter would have been defeated by Toomey because of the former moderate Republican's "left-wing voting record."

As we pointed out previously, upon the anticipated denial of former Senator Norm Coleman's appeal by the MN Supreme Court, Senator-elect "Franken...would be in a solid position --- legally and politically --- to then lobby the Senate hard and directly for an immediate seating, even if Coleman chooses to continue his fool's errand with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court." Franken would become the 60th member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, ending the ability of the 'Party of No' to block the Democratic agenda --- unless either Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe beat him to it.

UPDATE 4/29, 5:55pm PT: In an op-ed appearing in today's New York Times Senator Snowe observed that "being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of 'Survivor' --- you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe." Whether that means that she would be prepared to follow Specter off the reservation remains to be seen.

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Sending them out to chase shadows...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/27/2009 11:12am PT  

Opinion by guest blogger, Ernest A. Canning

Keith Olbermann was astonished (full video below):

Despite the new wealth of evidence that the Bush administration’s desire to torture suspects was driven by a desire to gin up phony links between Iraq and al Qaeda, not by concerns about another terrorist attack, former Vice President Cheney is sticking to his story that it was all about terrorism. In part II of his interview with Fixed News, the Dark Lord accusing the Obama administration of not believing that the U.S. is threatened by terrorism.

The Fox "News" interview was vintage Cheney. He referred to torture as “a robust interrogation program on detainees” that was vital “to the very existence of the nation.”

CHENEY: What the Obama administration is doing, in effect, is saying that we don’t need those tough policies that we had. That says, either they didn’t work, which we know is not the case—they did work, they kept us safe for seven years...

You have to see a Cheney performance in order to appreciate the effectiveness of Cheney propaganda. Unlike George W. Bush, who was inclined to trip over his own tongue, Cheney has perfected the quiet lie. His words may be false but he delivers them as facts so uncontroversial you’d think he was a local network anchor reporting on traffic conditions...

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The Case for 'Looking Forward' to the Impeachment of Jay S. Bybee...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/22/2009 9:48am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

At the same time he took a step forward, releasing the four Justice Department torture memos he described as a "dark and painful chapter in our history," President Barack Obama assured CIA employees, who tortured under cover of these quasi-legal sophistries, they would not be prosecuted. The President said this was "a time for reflection, not retribution...nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibb explained that the President insisted on "looking forward." U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder not only seconded the President's promise not to prosecute, but vowed to provide legal counsel to defend these war criminals and to pay the damages awarded to their victims.

Great Britain's Times Online, quoting an unnamed former official, suggested there may be cases where the CIA exceeded the DOJ guidelines; perhaps even killed detainees. The President's hint at immunity does not extend to officials who exceeded the guidelines. Although the President, in his remarks, made no mention of those who ordered torture, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told ABC's George Stephanopoulos last Sunday that the President did not believe "those who devised the policy" should "be prosecuted."

The President's promise not to prosecute generated a firestorm of protest from the legal community. Law Professor Jonathan Turley blasted the effort to equate law enforcement with "retribution."

He is trying to lay the ground work for principle when he is doing an unprincipled thing....President Obama himself has said that waterboarding is torture, and torture itself violates four treaties and is considered a war crime. So the refusal to allow it to be investigated is to obstruct a war crimes investigation.…There aren't any convenient or inconvenient times to investigate war crimes. You don't have a choice....You have an obligation to do it, and what I think the President is desperately trying to do is to sell this idea that somehow it's a principled thing not to investigate war crimes because its going to be painful…It will be politically unpopular because an investigation will go directly to the doorstep of President Bush…and there's not going to be a lot of defenses that can be raised for ordering a torture program.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) who serves on a House Intelligence Sub-Committee, added fuel to the firestorm by contrasting the President's advancement of the "I was only following orders" defense to the principles our nation applied at Nuremberg after WWII. Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said the President's refusal to prosecute violates the UN Convention Against Torture.

Before discussing the refreshing news that we have a President who, in the face of such a powerful critique, is not afraid to reverse course, let's consider what it means to "look forward" given that the principle author of these torture memos, Judge Jay S. Bybee, now sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, passing judgments on others. Absent incapacity or impeachment, there he will stay for the rest of his life...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/20/2009 9:51pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Operating out of an undisclosed location, former Sen. Norm Coleman's attorney, Ben Ginsberg, announced that the Coleman legal team had filed a notice of appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the three-judge panel decision [PDF] declaring that Al "Franken received the highest number of lawfully cast ballots in the November 4, 2008 general election for United States Senator and is entitled to receive the certificate of election."

Ginsberg asserted that the appeal was based on the same contentions made during the course of the election contest, especially as it relates to equal protection and an alleged disenfranchisement of some 4,400 Minnesota voters.

Franken attorney, Marc Elias, responded, noting that five of the six claims made by Coleman's appeal seek not to add additional votes but to delete votes already counted. Elias announced on TheUptake.org that he plans to file a motion on Tuesday with the MN Supreme Court asking that the court order expedited briefing, with Coleman's brief to be filed by Monday Apr. 27, and Franken's response on May 2.

There's not a whole lot new or unexpected yet here, for the moment, though a review of the political balance of the MN Supreme Court who will hear Coleman's appeal is probably worth a quick look, right about now...

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The MN Contest Court's air-tight, 68-page decision leaves no room for doubt: Franken won; But when will he be seated?
We take a look at his options...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/16/2009 3:48pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

“This long delay in the seating of Minnesota’s second U.S. Senator has come at a time when our state badly needs help from Washington. Since Election Day, Minnesota has lost 56,000 jobs. Since Election Day more than 9,000 Minnesota families have lost their homes to foreclosure.”
--Senator-elect Al Franken (D-MN), 4/13/09 statement

The Monday, April 13, 2009 decision [PDF] came as as no surprise, certainly not here at The BRAD BLOG where we concluded on Feb. 22, 2009 that former Sen. Norm Coleman’s legal challenge to the Jan. 5, 2009 bi-partisan MN state canvassing board's determination that Al Franken had won the U.S. Senate election was “dead in its tracks.”

Earlier this month, at a time when the mainstream media got it wrong, we accurately reported that the April 7, 2009 order [PDF] meant that the last of the lawfully cast votes had been counted; that Franken won, and; Coleman lost. We went on to predict that the three-judge panel would likely “provide a written explanation of its denial of any other relief…when it enters a final judgment…” We added: “But make no mistake. There are no more votes to be counted. 312 votes is the margin of victory for Al Franken over Norm Coleman.”

In fact, there were no more votes to be counted, as we reported, even as the bulk of the rest of the media hedged their bets. So with the votes all tallied determining that Franken was the victor, and Coleman lacking any legitimate legal recourse, what are Franken's legal and political options, and when might he finally take his rightful seat in the U.S. Senate?...

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