We don't say it often (ever?), but kudos to HuffPo. This is their front page right now...
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
We don't say it often (ever?), but kudos to HuffPo. This is their front page right now...
So what do the Chinese Government and the Rightwing mega-lobbying group calling itself the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have in common? Apparently, they are both interested in hacking into the computer networks of their perceived political opponents and appear to be using very similar techniques and tools to do so, as The Nation's Lee Fang reported on Monday.
A computer security expert cited by Fang notes "lots of overlap" between the recent documented Chinese military cyber hacks and tactics proposed for use by federal contractors working with the U.S. Chamber and their attorneys to discredit their enemies.
Readers of The BRAD BLOG will likely remember the emails hacked by Anonymous in February of 2011 revealing that three U.S. government defense contractors had been working with U.S. Chamber of Commerce attorneys from the Washington D.C. lobbying/law firm of Hunton & Williams to develop a $12 million scheme to target their political opponents --- such as unions and progressive organizations --- by hacking into their computer networks, infiltrating the groups, planting false information in hopes of discrediting them, and using other sophisticated computer tools developed for the "War on Terror" by the three cyber-security firms.
One of the perceived political opponents targeted by the Chamber, we would learn from the hacked emails, was I. Personal details about myself and my family showed up in both the emails and a PowerPoint presentation for the U.S. Chamber prepared by "Team Themis," the name used for the illicit project by the three government contractors, HBGary Federal, Palintir, and Berico.
Lee Fang, who was then a reporter for Think Progress, and Scott Keyes, who still is, originally broke the revelations from the hacked HBGary Federal emails there. A slide in one of the presentations prepared for the U.S. Chamber scheme described the effort to "Discredit, Confuse, Shame, Combat, Infiltrate [and] Fracture" the progressive organizations with online tools, hacking and other dirty tricks in order to "mitigate [the] effect of adversarial groups."
Another slide included a photograph of me, and other personal details meant to target VelvetRevolution.us, a not-for-profit good government group (co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) which has long called for accountability for the Chamber and its mafia-like political tactics.
The news of the hack and its revelations quickly garnered front-page headlines in the U.S. and around the world as an international scandal, even as the Chamber denied having knowledge of the specific cyber-terror threat clearly being created on their behalf by the three defense contractors, and even as neither they nor their attorneys have yet to face any accountability for the scheme to terrorize public organizations and private individuals, such as myself and my family. An official Dept. of Justice investigation into the matter --- and even a brief attempt to do so by Democrats in Congress --- was no doubt crippled by both the enormous power of the Chamber, and the fact that it was the DoJ itself which had referred Bank of America to the very same defense contractors in a parallel scheme mirroring the Chamber's, as revealed by the same email hack. That scheme was being prepared to target perceived supporters of WikiLeaks at the time, including journalist Glenn Greenwald.
"[W]ho better to develop a corporate information reconnaissance capability than companies that have been market leaders within the DoD and Intelligence Community," read one of the proposals [PDF] created by "Team Themis," as delivered to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's law firm Hunton & Williams.
In Monday's report at The Nation, Fang details how recent cyber attacks against U.S. interests, which appear to be emanating from the Chinese Military, mirror tactics used by the U.S. Chamber's thugs in the eventually aborted 2010/2011 attempt to pull off what Fang describes as "one of the most brazen political espionage efforts in recent memory."
Last Friday night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow proudly, and justifiably, crowed about the ratings success of last Monday new NBC News documentary, Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, as narrated by her and based on the 2007 book by David Corn and Michael Isikoff.
"First I want to say thank you, if you tuned in this past Monday to watch the new MSNBC documentary about how the last administration tricked the U.S. into the Iraq War," she said. The film garnered the highest ratings of any documentary in the history of the channel.
"The success is really exciting. It means there will be more of where that came from in coming months and years," Maddow explained before announcing that the film will re-air on Friday, March 15th at 9pm ET. (You can watch the entire documentary online before that right here, if you like.)
Congratulations are certainly due. While there were several new revelations in the film, much of the story of the string of blatant lies and scams culled together to hoax the country into war had already been known to those of us news geeks who follow this stuff too closely. Nonetheless, it was very helpful, and an excellent reminder, to see the entire case laid out in a single, simple, watchable presentation. We're delighted to hear it was a ratings success.
Revisiting that disaster also helped encourage The BRAD BLOG to examine several still-existing loose ends --- beyond the fact that, shamefully, nobody in the Bush Administration has ever been brought to account in any way for what happened, including what are clearly a series of very serious war crimes. Among the points we've been looking into, in the wake of the Hubris documentary, is the questions of whether or not Colin Powell "knowingly lied" in his presentation of what turned out to be blatantly false evidence for the case against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, when the then-Secretary of State spoke to the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003 and helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of an invasion.
Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, admits during the film that he and Powell "did participate in a hoax." But, in a statement in response to our request for comment, Wilkerson vigorously denied that either he or his boss knowingly did so. He sent his statement after we'd published anti-war author and activist David Swanson's critique of the Hubris film, on the day after it initially aired. In the critique, Swanson cites his own 2011 essay which offers evidence to argue that Powell "knowingly lied" during his presentation to the U.N. (Both Swanson and 27-year Sr. CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was cited in Wilkerson's response, each replied to him in turn. You can read all of their responses here.)
While Swanson "applauded" the MSNBC documentary for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he also offered a number of pointed critiques for the cable news channel itself. His observations are on-point in both regards, and help to raise a suggestion for an important and necessary follow-up documentary that, we suspect, would likely garner ratings at least as high as those earned for Hubris.
After all, though Hubris:Selling the Iraq War focused on the lies told by the Bush Administration in the run-up to war, unfortunately, they were not the only ones "selling the Iraq War"...
We'll have a related-ish story on all of this Monday. But, for the moment --- in the comment thread of our recent story about Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's vehement denial that his old boss "knowingly lied" during his infamous 2/5/03 U.N. Security Council presentation of what turned out to be false evidence of an Saddam Hussein's WMD program, there was a fair bit of vitriol directed at both Powell and Wilkerson.
A number of commenters feel that neither of the two men have yet to come fully clean, and argued as much in pretty harsh terms in their remarks.
Longtime BRAD BLOG commenter David Lasagna offered this observation in the same thread in response to some of those commenters...
I would agree that there are gaps in Wilkerson and Powell's narratives. I share the anger and frustration of the continuing themes in this country of no accountability for those in power, whether the issues are war and death, financial collapse and suffering, or the constant lying and gross misrepresentation of history and reality that we're subjected to every day by most politicians and the bulk of the corporate media.
ON THE OTHER HAND, regarding the Iraq War--
[Now UPDATED with a response from 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern at bottom of article.]
In a response to a charge cited by The BRAD BLOG on Tuesday that then Sec. of State Colin Powell "knowingly lied" during his infamous February 5, 2003 presentation of false intelligence to the U.N. Security Council about the need to attack Iraq, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, characterizes the allegation as unfair.
He says points made in support of that claim are "misleading and even spurious" and "not supported in the surrounding narrative."
"I have admitted what a hoax we perpetrated," says Wilkerson in his reply today, sent in response to our request for comment. "But it actually spoils or desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already a bad enough set of misstatements, very poor intelligence analysis, and --- I am increasingly convinced, outright lies --- to take the matter to absurdity with one man, in this case Powell."
David Swanson, who authored the charges in question, as cited earlier this week by The BRAD BLOG, disputes Wilkerson's response. The full remarks by both men are posted in full at the end of this article.
On Tuesday, we ran Swanson's critique of Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, a new NBC News documentary based on the book of a similar name by journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff. (You can watch the entire film online here.)
While Swanson lauded the project for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he offered a number of worthy criticisms as well, including the fact that MSNBC, which aired the documentary, failed to acknowledge its own participation in propagating many of those same lies to the American people.
Featured in the film are several new pieces of information and commentary that have come to light since the original publication of Corn and Isikoff's 2007 book.
Some of those revelations come by way of Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and, more to the point, Powell's Chief of Staff at the time of his February 5, 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council on the supposed chemical, biological and nuclear threats posed by Saddam Hussein. That presentation by, perhaps, the most well-respected official in the Bush Administration at the time, is widely credited with turning the tide of public opinion in favor of the invasion of Iraq which would commence just weeks later, ten years ago next month.
Unfortunately, virtually every piece of evidence presented by Powell at the U.N., said to have been culled from various intelligence agencies, turned out to be completely false. Some years later, Powell would describe the speech as a "painful" "blot" on his career. As Hubris details, Powell's evidence was not only wrong, but known to be wrong by many in the intelligence community by the time that it was presented to the public as fact by the well-respected Secretary of State.
"Though neither Powell nor anyone else from the State Department team intentionally lied," says Wilkerson in the film, "we did participate in a hoax."
Swanson's critique, however, takes that point further, charging that "The Hubris version of Colin Powell's lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold."
"Powell was not a victim. He 'knowingly lied.'," wrote Swanson, including a link to his own 2011 op-ed at Consortium News headlined "Colin Powell's Disgraceful Lies".
Given the serious nature of the charges cited by Swanson, as detailed in his 2011 piece --- all well-documented with direct quotes from the State Department's own January 31, 2003 Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) assessment repeatedly describing most of the claims Powell would offer the following week at the U.N. as "WEAK" at best, and "implausible" in many cases --- it seemed appropriate to given Wilkerson the opportunity to respond to the direct allegation that Powell was outright lying during his U.N. presentation.
In his response, Wilkerson draws a line in the sand, if you will, against the contention that his former boss "knowingly lied"...
On Monday night, NBC News aired its new documentary, Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, based on the book of a similar name by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. The film offered a number of new and disturbing insights since the original 2007 book was published.
While it may be maddening --- particularly for those of us who followed the massive scam as it was ongoing --- the documentary should be mandatory viewing for those who have lost sight of just how each and every single one of the key reasons used to sell the U.S. on war with Iraq was built on known lies. Each and every point --- from Saddam's alleged ties to al-Qaeda, to his alleged mobile chemical labs, to his alleged nuke program, to those aluminum tubes said to have been for use in uranium enrichment, to the "fissile material" (yellowcake) he was said to have been trying to obtain from Niger --- was a lie. And each an every lie was known to be a lie by the scoundrels and war criminals who sold it to the American public and a compliant American media.
Even with its failures, and several of them are identified here, Hubris reminds us of how each and every one of those points was a scam. Period. And, while it's not expressly highlighted (but should be in a follow up!), we are reminded how none of the liars have ever faced any accountability whatsoever, despite nearly 4,500 U.S. troops killed, more than 30,000 of them wounded, well over 100,000 Iraqi citizens murdered and some $3 trillion looted from our nation's coffers. You should take the time to watch it.
The entire documentary, broken into 6 parts, narrated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and originally aired on 2/18/2013, follows in full below...
As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air.
The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week --- and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world --- as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people.
From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.
But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris. This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials --- watch the entire documentary now online here) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC's role.
Yet, my primary response to that is joy rather than disgust. It is now cool to acknowledge war lies. Truth-tellers, including truth-tellers rarely presented with a corporate microphone, made that happen...
David Corn at Mother Jones offers a preview of some of the new information coming Monday, in Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, an MSNBC documentary based on the book of a similar name by Corn and Michael Isikoff.
The film, to be narrated by Rachel Maddow, is said, like the book, to detail the inside story of how America and the world were knowingly scammed by the Bush Administration into invading Iraq ten years ago next month, leading to, as Corn describes it, "a nine-year war resulting in 4,486 dead American troops, 32,226 service members wounded, and over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians."
"The tab for the war topped $3 trillion," he adds, even though "it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and no significant operational ties between Saddam's regime and Al Qaeda. That is, the two main assertions used by Bush and his crew to justify the war were not true."
The facts of how the nation was conned into going to war, Maddow has argued over the past week while promoting and previewing the new film, are important to understand in order to avoid the same thing happening again. "If what we went through 10 years ago did not change us as a nation --- if we do not understand what happened and adapt to resist it --- then history says we are doomed to repeat it," she says.
Maddow says the documentary will likely ruffle many political feathers, and Corn offers a few of the new nuggets of new information on the scam that have been revealed since the publication of his and Isikoff's 2007 book that will be presented in the MSNBC film on Monday, Presidents Day. Among them...
Here is the 'white paper'. With a few tweaks and a more creative title --- like "Murder With Your Hands Clean" --- this memo could sell a lot of copies.
And why not? Either there's a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those "good" leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner --- perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.
The white paper, which is thought to be a summary of a longer memo, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow "outside the area of active hostilities" even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:
The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official. Who is such an official? Who decides whether he or she is informed? What if two of them disagree? What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then? One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree. "Imminent" is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all. "The United States" clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.
And if a high-level official claims it's infeasible, who can challenge that?
When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.
When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don't think anyone has made such a claim to this day. And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time?
The sociopaths who wrote this memo have "legalized" the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.
David Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works for RootsAction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
In the twisted Rightwing world of CNN's Erin Burnett, one "tempers" ones views by favoring war over diplomacy. It's the world upside down. But it's prime-time anchor Burnett's world, so, unfortunately, it must be ours as well.
"In Washington, there's no ruling party," progressive activist and congressional expert Howie Klein of "Down With Tyranny" told me during my interview with him on the Mike Malloy Show just prior to Thanksgiving. We were discussing issues surrounding the increasingly conservative bent of the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House.
"The ruling clique in Washington is what's called 'the conservative consensus'," he continued. "And 'the conservative consensus' is the Republicans, not just in Congress, but the Republicans who stay there forever --- in think tanks, and in the media, and in the consultant world, the pundit world. So them --- and the Democrats who are also part of that world --- that's 'the conservative consensus'. It's everybody but the progressives."
That "conservative consensus" is on display every night on CNN, courtesy of Burnett and her insipid Out Front program. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more blatant example of the "conservative consensus" in the media than her comments that I happened to catch last week while on the road.
Here's Burnett during a discussion on her show last Monday (1/7/2013, the full video is here) about the various concerns --- pretend or otherwise --- about President Obama's nomination of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as the next Secretary of Defense. Her guests were former George W. Bush Speechwriter and Senior Adviser David "Axis of Evil" Frum and former Pentagon Press Secretary for Barack Obama, Doug Wilson. [Emphasis added.]
And in 2006, to David [Frum]'s point, Hagel said, and I'll just quote him in part: "I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible responsible option ... I believe a political ... settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement."
Now, since then, to be fair, he has tempered his point of view. In an op-ed as recently as September, he says "war with Iran is not inevitable, but U.S. security is seriously threatened by an armed Iran."
But is he really outside the mainstream on Iran?
What she did right there, with that almost off-handed, almost imperceptible throw-away line --- "to be fair, he has tempered his point of view" --- is simply incredible to me, and a perfect example of the "conservative consensus" that Klein was talking about.
Since when did shifting one's position towards a possibility of war, rather than diplomatic solutions, become a "tempered" point of view in this country? That nobody on the show even blinked an eye about it is even more astounding.
For the record, no matter the way he is being slimed by the "conservative consensus" at CNN and elsewhere on this and other matters, Hagel, a two-time Purple Heart recipient during his time as an infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, is anything but a pacifist or a so-called left-wing peacenik when it comes to these matters...
We're just returning to The BRAD BLOG Universal News Headquarters from a couple of weeks on the road with family, during which we spent much of our time off the political grid, trying to look the other way, and otherwise hoping our brain might heal a bit in the bargain following an exceedingly grueling year.
Lots to catch up on before we're back at full speed, but if the news out of the White House was always this much fun perhaps this work wouldn't be so difficult in the first place.
Recently, the petition calling on the Obama Administration to "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016," crossed that threshold.
There is no word on whether Dick Cheney was the one who filed the original petition, but the official response from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is awesomely geek-worthy and follows in full below. Among other observations, he astutely asks: "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"
The Force is strong with Mr. Shawcross...
There has been much debate over the last several weeks over the inaccurate use of scenes of torture in the new film Zero Dark Thirty to suggest that so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" were key to the capture and ultimate killing of Osama Bin Laden. (See "Zero Dark Thirty's Wrong and Dangerous Conclusion" by Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, for example, or Glenn Greenwald's "Zero Dark Thirty: new torture-glorifying film wins raves", which asks "Can a movie that relies on fabrications to generate support for war crimes still be considered great?")
Beyond the question of whether it is appropriate or not to use blatantly false and misleading "dramatic license" in a theatrical film which it's filmmaker describes as employing "almost a journalistic approach to film", there is another troubling issue that seems to be getting lost in the debate.
It is disturbing, if not altogether surprising, to find an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times recently, discussing the film, and its related "debate" amongst Democrats and Republicans on the U.S. Senate Intelligence over "the value of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'"
The topic is one we have covered extensively here at The BRAD BLOG --- coverage that has included a five-part series on the history of CIA torture and a dire warning that the very survival of our Constitutional Democracy could hinge on justified prosecutions of those who previously ordered or engaged in torture.
In early 2009, in "Fixing the Facts and Legal Opinions Around the Torture Policy," I took dead aim at the sophistry employed by President Barack Obama to evade his constitutionally mandated obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The same Harvard Law School-educated President who said that, in torture, America had lost its "moral bearings," suggested we must only look forward, not back. As I noted at the time, it was an "illogical formulation [that] was incompatible with the very essence of the rule of law."
Those prosecutions were not forthcoming, and, as a result, we find two writers at Los Angeles Times discussing the dispute triggered by the movie, Zero Dark Forty, over the efficacy of torture without so much as a passing reference to the fact that torture is a crime under both U.S. and international law.
This woefully deficient "coverage" drew a sharp and very personal response, given my family's history, by way of a Letter to the Editor I wrote to the paper, which they recently edited, and then published...
Where was the NRA while the Patriot Act was being passed? Where are they now while it's still in effect?
Most importantly, why didn't our right to bear arms protect us from this drastic, powerful, and seemingly permanent destruction of many of our Constitutional liberties??
Look, if gun owners really and truly want to protect our liberties, they should put down their guns and get politically active. Guns did not protect us and would not have protected us from the Patriot Act. Only active engagement in our political system would have or could still save us from the Patriot Act and/or other infringements of our liberties.
He then added separately...
We'd add only one other thought for now: Where does the 2nd Amendment, or any other, afford anybody the "civil liberty" of buying and purchasing as many semi-assault rifles, boxes of ammo and high-capacity magazines as they want without restriction or regulation? We can't seem to find that in our copy of the U.S. Constitution and, though we've asked, no one has yet identified for us where that "liberty" is enumerated.
That said, Heller's point above is probably far more important.
A few items of late that have caught our eye, but we haven't had time to cover in detail. So, you get the Readers Digest versions for now. You're welcome!
• Susan Rice and the Democrats once again succumb to the demands of terrorists.
• Whodathunkit? But questions arise about the legitimacy of the claims made by Fox' latest wannabe James O'Keefe, about that video purporting to show an "unprovoked attack" by "union thugs" outside the capital building in Lansing, MI this week. The most amazing part? Someone at The New York Times --- yes, that New York Times --- is one of those actually noticing the big honkin' edit in the middle of the video, rather than just reporting it all as unquestioned fact.
• Eric Holder spoke about the need to protect voting rights at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have more than a few bones to pick about it, but we'll just point you to the actual speech for the moment.
• What's the difference between this and just stealing? House Republicans secretly --- secretly --- authorized $500,000 in tax payer dollars to defend the unconstitutional "Defense of Marriage Act". More of that small government "conservatism", apparently.
• Finally, for now, the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, the new theatrical film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reportedly glorifies the torture that led to his capture and killing, even though no torture whatsoever actually led to his capture and killing.
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