Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
Our friend Harrison had a family emergency, so the folks at KPFK (the Pacifica Radio outlet in Los Angles, San Diego and Santa Barbara) have asked me to fill in for him today and tomorrow from 3p - 4p PT (6p - 7p PT).
We'll be discussing, among other things, the WikiLeaks disclosures, and the extraordinary campaign against both the organization itself and its founder Julian Assange. Talk about blaming the messenger.
I wrote about it all a bit over the weekend, quoting from both legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as well as John F. Kennedy. And by way of heads up, Ellsberg will be joining me to discuss the entire situation on tomorrow's show!
KPFK is heard on air at 90.7 FM in L.A., on 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, on 93.7FM in San Diego and coast-to-coast and around the globe via KPFK.org where there are more live streaming options for ya. The call-in number is: 310-737-TALK.
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POST-SHOW UPDATE: The audio archive of today's show follows. We discussed the WikiLeaks, the attacks on the organization, JFK's 1961 thoughts on "secrecy", plus election fraud in Alaska, the "Tea Party's" assault on democracy, Obama's horrific negotiating skills and much more. It's a lively commercial-free hour that I hope you enjoy...
Some 250,000 classified cables and embassy dispatches from the State Department are being released today via WikiLeaks latest, and reportedly largest, document dump ever. Within the last hour, news reports based on those documents have begun to be published by various world media outlets that are said to have been given advanced access.
Many, if not most, covert operations deserve to be disclosed by a free press. They are often covert not only because they are illegal but because they are wildly ill-conceived and reckless. "Sensitive" and "covert" are often synonyms for "half-assed," "idiotic," and "dangerous to national security," as well as "criminal."
As well, John F. Kennedy's April 1961 speech on what he described as this nation's abhorrence of secrecy, and the necessity of a free press --- as delivered to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York a year or so before his death --- is rather astonishing, and more than a bit ironic, in light of today's leaks and, as directly, the actions of the Executive Branch and its enablers in this country --- in Congress, in the mainstream media and in the public --- over the past dark decade. JFK's remarks include these thoughts among others that must be heard or read...
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.
And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.
And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary.
Here is a five minute or so excerpt from that speech (the full 19-minute version, and complete text transcript are both posted here)...
Please read on for both a transcript of the above video excerpt, and one or two more quick, but noteworthy, thoughts on it thereafter...
[Ed Note: I'll be guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show several days this week. David Swanson will be one of my guests to discuss his new book. UPDATE: That interview with Swason, a somewhat contentious one at times, is now posted here. - BF]
I didn't write this new book, "War Is A Lie" in order to knock George W. Bush's offensive plagiarized package of lies and open criminality off the top of the book charts, but it certainly would have been worth the effort.
"War Is A Lie" was to be published on Monday, but on Sunday night word was spreading. At 3 p.m. ET the book ranked #1,845 on Amazon.com while Bush's was #1. By 4 p.m. "War Is A Lie" was #1,088; and at 5:30 p.m. #696; at 7:10 p.m. #460; at 8:10 p.m. #226, and at 9:10 p.m. #130. If people kept buying books all night, and certainly if they did so on Monday, Bush was going to be uncrowned. Check where things stand now.
The throne room that Bush made of the oval office may someday be brought back within a representative republic as well.
I've blogged about this today over at Tom Dispatch. Or, rather, I've blogged about the prospects for war and peace in the coming year with the newly elected (or not, who knows?) Congress.
It's going to be fun watching Republican committee chairs subpoena the president and people who obey him, while President Obama has adopted the Bush-Cheney position that Congress has no power over the rest of the government...
If you had any doubt of the shamelessness of Republicans, the following report should end any such questions. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow details how, in 2006, at the exact same moment Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was publicly sliming Democrats for their push for a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, he was privately and directly requesting to George W. Bush that he remove troops in hopes of retaining control of the U.S. Congress in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Got that? McConnell was cynically, and hypocritically, accusing Dems of putting this nation at a national security risk for what he described as their interest in "cutting and running," "retreat," and "waving a white flag" in Iraq, even as he was privately pleading with Bush to bring troops home for purely --- and entirely --- partisan political reasons.
All of that, as learned via a revelation from George W. Bush's new book, Decision Points. McConnell has failed to deny the allegation, and the Senator's hometown paper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, decries the new revelation as "contemptible hypocrisy and obsessive partisanship that have come to mark the senator's time in office." From their editorial late this week:
Unless he is prepared to call a former president of his own party a liar, Mr. McConnell has a choice. He can admit that he did not actually believe the Iraq mission was vital to American security, regardless of what he said at the time. Or he can explain why the fortunes of the Republican Party are of greater importance than the safety of the United States.
As Maddow explains, the paper is calling for an explanation --- as should all Americans...
A University of Michigan computer scientist and his team were not the only ones attempting to hack the Internet Vote scheme that Washington D.C. had planned to roll out for actual use with military and overseas voters in this November's mid-term election.
According to testimony given to a D.C. City Council committee last Friday by J. Alex Halderman, asst. professor of electrical engineering and computer science at University of Michigan, hackers from Iran and China were also attempting to access the very same network infrastructure, even as his own team of students had successfully done so, taking over the entirety of the Internet Voting system which had been opened for a first-of-its-kind live test.
[See our report last week on details of what had already been disclosed about Halderman's startling hack prior to last Friday's hearing.]
"While we were in control of these systems we observed other attack attempts originating from computers in Iran and China," Halderman testified. "These attackers were attempting to guess the same master password that we did. And since it was only four letters long, they would likely have soon succeeded."
In his stunning public testimony --- before a single member of the D.C. Board of Ethics and Elections (BoEE), and a nearly empty chamber --- Halderman explained how the team had, by the time they discovered their fellow intruders, already gained complete control of the system, it's encryption key and its passwords. The system was developed as part of an Internet Voting pilot program with the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.
As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, Halderman's team was able to take over the system within 36 hours after it had gone live for testing. After having "found and exploited a vulnerability that gave [them] almost total control of the server software," his team was able to steal the encryption key needed to decode "secret" ballots; overwrite every single ballot cast on the test system; change the votes on those ballots to write-in candidates; discover who had already been voted for and the identities of the voters; install a script that would automatically change all votes cast in the future on the same system; install a backdoor to allow them to come back later; and then leave a "calling card" --- the University of Michigan fight song --- which was programmed to play in the voter's browser 15 seconds after each Internet ballot had been cast.
But the new disclosures offered before the committee on Friday, including the hack attempts by computers in China and Iran, may have been as explosive, if not more so, than the previous revelations. They certainly illustrate and underscore a grave national security threat present in electronic voting systems such as the one D.C. had planned to use, as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories computer scientist and cyber-security expert Dr. David Jefferson told me during an interview last Friday night on the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show which I was guest hosting last week.
The hack of the system forced the D.C. election administrators to shut down their plans for the pilot program which was to have gone live in days, as encouraged and partially funded by the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which allocated millions of dollars for such Internet Voting pilot programs.
The revelations of the intrusion attempts from China and Iran, however, would not be the only new, previously unreported bombshells Halderman offered during his Friday testimony...
If We Cared About The Women And Children Of The World
It would be far better to spend $100 billion per year granting them political asylum and paying for their transport and relocation to the US than invading their countries and caressing them with our freedom bombs.
Or you could come up thousands of other ways to spend $100 billion all of which would be almost infinitely better than invading their countries and caressing them with our freedom bombs if we cared about the women and children of the world.
So when an asshole like [Time magazine's managing editor] Rick Stengel suggests we must stay in Afghanistan otherwise more girls will be mutilated even though we're currently in Afghanistan and poor girls are still being tragically mutilated, I don't think that's the real reason he thinks we should be there.
NYU media prof Jay Rosen offers a number of observations well worth reading in regard to the classified Afghan War documents posted to Wikileaks this week, and how this new form of "journalism" changes the game in many different respects (and in very good ones, overall, I would argue).
One of his points in particular caught my eye, as it seems quite pertinent to the extraordinary allegations of former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds which we've been attempting to dig into and report on --- with far too much exclusivity --- for years here at The BRAD BLOG. Rosen's observation, posted below, echoes the general notion I've come to, of late, in regard to her story, and the lack of media coverage of it. In short, it's likely that the Sibel Edmonds story is simply too large for the media to handle --- even those organizations which aren't, themselves, directly implicated in her explosive allegations.
I'm on the road this week (and for the next many), so don't have time at the moment to provide full background on the Edmonds story for those who don't know of it yet, but we've got plenty here at The BRAD BLOG from our years of coverage if you'd like to poke around. Here's a link to one of my recent Hustler articles on her, which offers the basics and includes some discussion of the "too big to bust" theory that Rosen seems to be articulating below.
His point here seems as germane in regard to the Edmonds story as it does to the massive leak of the classified Afghan War documents which he was writing about...
"Right-wing activist Andrew Breitbart has admitted --- on tape --- that he's a terrorist-lover. So why isn't the media covering it?," they ask, getting their priorities right for the first time in a long time, and adding the option to "Sign our petition demanding that the media cover this shocking new revelation."
"We've just uncovered a video in which Andrew Breitbart admits he 'hearts' terrorists while a conservative audience applauds," explain the progressive journalists at MoveOn*.
"Is this video real? Hey, video can't lie, right? Just ask CBS, The Washington Post, Fox, and other news outlets who've faithfully covered Andrew Breitbart's videos," says MoveOn, while failing to name the NYTimes specifically, despite the "paper of record's" egregious leadership in this same regard.
"Our video is just as truthful as any Breitbart has ever released, and deserves equal coverage from the news media," notes MoveOn, with no small bit of evidence to back up the assertion. Here's the damning video providing incontrovertible evidence of Breitbart's love for al-Qaeda:
* If James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles, and Breitbart are "conservative journalists," as they and many in the non-wingnut media have reported, then yes, the folks at MoveOn are nothing other than "progressive journalists."
DAVID GREGORY: Twenty seconds, Tom. How does it end?
TOM RICKS: I don't think it does. I think we have landed in the middle of the Middle East, for better or worse, in a way that none of us expected us to. I think the war in Afghanistan was made much worse by the distracting war in Iraq, which never should have happened. But we are dealing with phenomena in the Middle East that's going to be crucial to this country as long as we're dependent on Middle East oil. So the best exit strategy I can think of is emphasize alternative fuels.
Um, yeah. Bingo. (On the "alternative fuels" part, not the 'can't leave now' part.)
"Fact, the world has divided into rich and poor as at no time in our history," warns Maude Barlowe, head of the Council of Canadians and a founder of the Blue Planet Project.
"Fact, global climate change is rapidly advancing, claiming at least 300,000 lives and $125 billion in damages every year," she says. "Called the silent crisis, climate change is melting glaciers, eroding soil, causing freak and increasingly wild storms, displacing untold millions from rural communities to live in desperate poverty in peri-urban centers. Almost every victim lives in the Global South in communities not responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and not represented here at the summit."
Speaking out as a counterpoint to last week's billion dollar, G-20 Summit, whose leaders she referred to as a "global royalty, who have more in common with one another than they do with their own citizens," and as leaders who came to Toronto with an agenda which offers "more of the bad medicine that made the world sick in the first place—environmental deregulation, unbridled financial speculation, unlimited growth, unregulated free trade, relentless resource exploitation, tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to Social Security and a war on working people," Barlowe delivered a must-see, fact-filled condemnation of a bleak economic and ecological future that is at the heart of what she described as "savage capitalism."
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The video and text transcript of excerpts from Barlowe's powerful "Savage Capitalism" speech, courtesy of the July 2nd, 2010 Democracy Now!, follow below...
Eavesdrop on the phone calls of a U.S. citizen without court order? No.
Target a U.S. citizen for assassination without court order or trial? No problem!...
The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.
To eavesdrop on the terrorism suspect who was added to the target list, the American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is hiding in Yemen, intelligence agencies would have to get a court warrant. But designating him for death, as C.I.A. officials did early this year with the approval of the National Security Council, required no judicial review.
“Congress has protected Awlaki’s cellphone calls,” said Vicki Divoll, a former C.I.A. lawyer who now teaches at the United States Naval Academy. “But it has not provided any protections for his life. That makes no sense.”
Hilarious. Fox "News" refuses to run the following :30 second ad --- which MSNBC and CNN have already been running without problem --- from VoteVets.org, on the grounds that it's "too confusing", according to Ben Smith at Politico:
"Too confusing"? The only thing too confusing about it for Fox "News" viewers, perhaps, is that it may not sync up with their spoon-fed Republican/Fossil Fuel Industry political propaganda programming. The ad might just blow their circuits or something.
Why anybody still refers to that network without putting quotes around the word "News," as we have been doing here for years, is beyond us. And oh yeah, why does Fox "News" hate both the troops and free speech?!
House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has just issued a statement [posted in full below] calling on the FBI to fire those who broke the law by issuing improper letters from the FBI in order to receive access to thousands of Americans' phone records from 2003 through 2006 under the guise of "national security."
"I call upon FBI Director Mueller to take immediate action to punish those who violated the rules," Conyers says in the statement, "including firing them from the agency."
"Today's hearing showed that the FBI broke the law on telephone records privacy and the General Counsel's Office, headed by Valerie Caproni, sanctioned it and must face consequences," said Conyers. "In some cases agents sent letters with information known to be false."
His statement even quotes the former Republican chair of the Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), sharing the sentiment:
'I'm extremely disappointed that every time Congress has tried to plug potential civil rights and civil liberties violations in our counterterrorism activities, the FBI seems to have figured out a way to get around it.
In a related matter, late last month a federal judge found the Bush Administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program to be illegal. So this would be the second time in several weeks where the former administration was found to have violated the law and the U.S. Constitution in order to spy inappropriately and illegally on American citizens.
Will those Tea Baggers who claim to believe in the Constitution and the Rule of Law join the call for accountability yet? (Careful: It's a trick question, Tea Baggers, since the accountability would include members of the Bush Administration, and we realize your calls for "accountability" only go so far. On the other hand, if it's okay for Bush to have done it, we'll presume you don't mind if Obama spies on you either.)
Conyers' complete statement, issued late this afternoon, follows below...
As we have long tried to get across to anyone who would listen, the greatest threat to "secure" computerized systems --- such as the electronic voting systems, incredibly, still in use in all 50 states for this year's crucial election cycle --- comes from insiders.
IDG News Service - A Bank of America computer specialist is set to plead guilty to charges that he hacked the bank's automated tellers to dispense cash without recording the activity.
Rodney Reed Caverly, of Charlotte, North Carolina, is scheduled to plead guilty to a computer fraud charge next Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte, according to his lawyer Christopher Fialko, who declined to comment further on the case.
Caverly was charged last week with one count of computer fraud for allegedly writing a malicious program that ran on Bank of America's computers and ATMs, according to court filings.
He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Caverly had worked in Bank of America's IT department where he designed and maintained computer systems, including those used by the ATMs. The alleged scam ran between March 2009 and October 2009.
The gullible are welcome to buy into the Rightwing propaganda that ACORN is somehow stealing elections, despite the complete dearth of any actual evidence that any vote has ever been illegally cast in any election vis a vis an improper registration by an ACORN worker.
But the facts, demonstrated yet again by the BofA story, are much as non-ideological computer scientists and security experts have been trying to warn for years in regard to electronic voting systems: the greatest threat to such systems comes from insiders, such as election officials who can manipulate results simply and directly and in such a way that they are unlikely to ever get caught doing it.
Even the sham 2005 Rightwing-created Baker/Carter National Election Reform Commission --- created almost entirely to put an "official"-appearing imprimatur on the call for disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at polling places --- was forced to admit as much in their final report...