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...
"In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill...we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one." --- Plato
During the campaign, amid their state of elation, many disregarded Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama's past record and took any criticism of these past actions as partisan attacks deserving equally partisan counterattacks. Some continued their reluctant support after candidate Obama became grand finalist and prayed for the best. And a few still continue their rationalizing and defense, with illogical excuses such as 'He's been in office for only 20 days, give the man a break!' and 'He's had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!' and currently, 'be reasonable - how much can a man do in 120 days?!' I am going to give this logic, or lack of, a slight spicing of reason, then, turn it around, and present it as: If 'the man' can do this much astounding damage, whether to our civil liberties, or to our notion of democracy, or to government integrity, in 'only' 120 days, may God help us with the next [(4 X 365) - 120] days.
I know there are those who have been tackling President Obama's changes on change; they have been challenging his flipping, or rather flopping, on issues central to getting him elected. While some have been covering the changes comprehensively, others have been running right and left like headless chickens in the field - pick one hypocrisy, scream a bit, then move on to the next outrageous flop, the same, and then to the next, basically, looking and treating this entire mosaic one piece at a time.
Despite all the promises Mr. Obama made during his campaign, especially on those issues that were absolutely central to those whose support he garnered, so far the President of Change has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. Not only that, his administration has made it clear that they intend to continue this trend. Some call it a major betrayal. Can we go so far as to call it a 'swindling of the voters'?
On the State Secrets Privilege
Yes, I am going to begin with the issue of State Secrets Privilege; because I was the first recipient of this 'privilege' during the now gone Administration;
Back in December 2007, when I wrote "Torture is Wrong, Illegal and It Doesn't Work," I mentioned that "the FBI agent who reportedly had the best chance of foiling the 9/11 plot, Ali Soufan, the only Arabic-speaking agent in New York and one of only eight in the country, and who has since resigned from the FBI, could and should tell people the truth of how the CIA's tactics were counterproductive."
Well guess what?! HE FINALLY DID SO ON WEDNESDAY! The points Soufan makes are very instructive as our country begins to unravel the differences between the fictional world of Hollywood's "Jack Bauer," and the real world dilemmas and questions of morality and legality as faced by actual intelligence and law enforcement officers.
"My Tortured Decision" is how former FBI Agent Soufan titled his New York Times op-ed, speaking out to specifically refute a number of Dick Cheney's lies about how torture "worked." The truth, according to Soufan, is quite the opposite from how Cheney continues to paint it...
During the exchange between Rove and Roe, as reported by Schroeder, Rove tells Roe that he has a file on Feeney, and Roe, who was angry with Rove for cracks he'd made on Fox "News" at Feeney's expense just after the extremely corrupt FL Republican had lost his 2008 election, says angrily to Rove: "You guys wouldn't be in the White House without Tom."
Given the coverage we've offered over the years on Feeney, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis' allegations against him, several folks --- including our friends Marcy Wheeler of emptywheel and Patty Sharaf, filmmaker of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story --- sent us the link to the Politico article, asking our opinion on what Roe may have meant by that crack.
In the interest of keeping links to that story from continuing to pile up in our Inbox, here's our take on Roe's purported comment to Rove...
A federal appeals court has dealt a blow to the investigation of a former congressman in a ruling that could also limit probes of other lawmakers, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The order, which has not been made public, came during the grand jury investigation of former representative Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and his potential ties to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the sources said. The appellate judges who issued the ruling did not say when they would release an opinion explaining their decision, which reversed a lower court order favorable to prosecutors seeking documents and grand jury testimony, the sources said.
Even without knowing the details of the ruling, sources and legal experts said it is important because it is the second time in two years that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has sided with Congress in its fight with the Justice Department over what protections lawmakers are granted under the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause. The clause is designed to shield lawmakers' official work from executive branch interference and has been increasingly cited by members of Congress under federal investigation.
The corrupt Feeney, as regular readers of The BRAD BLOG likely know, is currently under federal investigation due to his association with jailed Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In 2003 Feeney went on a junket with Abramoff to play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland. He would later claim he had no idea that the trip was illegally paid for by lobbyists.
For more details on the appellate court ruling --- or rather, hints, given what little is available on it for the moment --- please see WaPo's coverage today to hunt for clues.
One other very interesting point we hadn't noticed previously...
As we've been predicting for some weeks ago, the flood of revelations that would be flowing forth after Obama was sworn in would likely make what we currently know about Bush Era illegalities and incompetence seem like barely the tip of the iceberg.
Just one day after the Inauguration, Russell Tice, the NSA whistleblower who originally participated in that agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program, and revealed details of same to the New York Times' back in late 2005, has now come forward with more details that he had been disinclined to release previously (he had been, after all, hounded by the FBI, subpoenaed by a grand jury, etc. after his original, heroic revelations.)
He spoke yesterday on MSNBC, revealing that American journalists were targeted by Bush's program which "had access to all Americans' communications." Please watch the remarkable video interview at right. Both that, and the text below, is from RAW STORY's coverage last night...
"The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications --- faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications," Tice claimed. "It didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications."
"In one of the operations that I was in, we looked at organizations, just supposedly so that we would not target them," Tice told Olbermann. "What I was finding out, though, is that the collection on those organizations was 24/7 and 365 days a year --- and it made no sense. ... I started to investigate that. That's about the time when they came after me to fire me."
When Olbermann pressed him for specifics, Tice offered, "An organization that was collected on were US news organizations and reporters and journalists."
"To what purpose?" Olbermann asked. "I mean, is there a file somewhere full of every email sent by all the reporters at the New York Times? Is there a recording somewhere of every conversation I had with my little nephew in upstate New York?"
Tice did not answer directly, but simply stated, "If it was involved in this specific avenue of collection, it would be everything."
At the end of the MSNBC interview, Olbermann asked Tice to appear again this evening (Thursday) for more discussion on this issue.
[UPDATE 1/8/09: Oops! The article discussed below is indeed from Wednesday, but from a Wednesday in 2007! March 14th to be precise. I'll not out the colleague who sent it to me, who similarly thought it was published yesterday. But I'll thank the commenter who finally noticed the date on the Reuters article, re-remind myself of the the dangers of "road blogging" too quickly, and otherwise make myself feel better by noting that my originally expressed caution about getting too optimistic at this point was apparently well placed. As another commenter then noted, the original bill in question was later blocked in the Senate by an unknown, likely-Republican, Senator. Let's hope the Ds now have enough votes and control of the Senate to avoid the same fate for these bills that need to be passed now in the new Congress. And my apologies for the false-positive alarm. - BF]
That's the second such award for an election integrity documentary (both featuring yours truly, so clearly, we'd expect no less!) recently, as the San Diego Film Festival's "Best Doc" award went to David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections in late September.
MSVL has received some great press of late, even as I haven't had time to cover it. Most recently, Epoch Times called it "a great entertaining thriller," and said it was "alarming" and "outrageous." And Meet the Bloggers reviewed the film as "truly one of the scariest movies I've seen in a very long time" and called it "gripping." (Other recent reviews here and here.)
Snail mail works as well. If you can help, please make checks payable to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
It's been a very rough season around here, and we'd greatly appreciate the support if you're able. For those who have contributed over the last week or so, and are waiting for your DVDs, they're coming soon! I've gotten a bit backed up over here of late for some reason or another. Thanks for your patience...and for your support! It means the world...
Republican Congressman Tom Feeney, rated by nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (C.R.E.W.) as one of the "most corrupt members of Congress" for three years straight, has been defeated in Florida's 24th district. Regular readers of The BRAD BLOG readers know Feeney as the man who allegedly asked computer programmer Clint Curtis to write vote-flipping software in 2000 and escaped all accountability in an investigation stacked with Jeb Bush loyalists. (Full Curtis/Feeney scandal story summarized here, indexed in full here, new documentary film about the terrifying story here.)
According to the official FL Sec State website, as of 9:25 PM Eastern time, Feeney is losing to his Democratic challenger, Suzanne Kosmas by 19 percentage points--59% Kosmas, 40% Feeney. While we here at The BRAD BLOG are of course saddened that it was not Clint Curtis himself --- who left the Republican party after his dealings with Feeney and ran as a Democrat to unseat him in '06 and again in '08 when he lost in the primary --- who finally ended Feeney's ruinous reign, hey, any way we can get rid of Feeney, we'll take it. Of course, Kosmas is a corporate blue dog Dem with ethics issues of here own, as we've discussed here previously, but at this point we'll take the lesser of two evils and happily discharge Mr. Feeney. Here are your walking papers, sir. Job poorly done. Now Go Away. Hopefully to jail. Until then, we're sure he'll land in a cush lobbyist gig within a week.
In other great news, Congressman Robert Wexler is projected to win Florida's 19th district handily with 69% of the vote. Wexler, one of the few Congressional Democrats with teeth, has been a proponent of impeachment and accountability for the Bush administration. His return to Congress to finish his work is a very good thing indeed.
For more info on The BRAD BLOG's continuing investigative series on The Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Vote-Rigging Scandal series, please see:
- A Quick Summary of the story so far.
- An Index of all the Key Articles & Evidence in the series so far.
In late 2008 a documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story was released. More info on the remarkable film here.
I was live on the popular Riz Kahn program yesterday on Al Jazeera English, along with Clint Curtis (he in FL, myself in L.A.) to discuss the terrifying new documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story and related concerns about electronic voting in our current general election. AJE, for those who don't know, is a very well respected, and widely viewed worldwide cable/satellite channel, run by former BBC folks like David Frost. Here's what aired live yesterday...
If you'd like your own DVD of the MSVL documentary --- which has been getting rave reviews from all quarters --- I'd be delighted to send you one, signed by both myself and the filmmaker, Patty Sharaf, in exchange for a $50 contribution to The BRAD BLOG.
Alternately, or in addition, if you'd like a copy of the award-winning Uncounted (which I'm also in, but it's still good anyway), signed by filmmaker David Earnhardt, a $50 contribution here will get you one of those as well.
We soon may not have Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff) --- the Florida congressman accused of conspiring to create vote-rigging software, and one of the country's most corrupt --- to kick around anymore, as reports The Miami Herald on Friday.
But that good news could lead to even better news...
Well, isn't this rich? Tom Feeney --- yes, that Tom Feeney, the one who is alleged to have commissioned vote-rigging software for touch-screen voting machines in 2000, as testified to by former Republican software programmer Clint Curtis in a sworn affidavit, sworn testimony to congress, and a successful polygraph test --- went on Fox "News" this week to decry unsubstantiated charges of "voter fraud" by the low-income voter registration community organization ACORN.
(And if you're done laughing...)
Feeney --- the man who, as Speaker of the FL House in 2000, also promised to award all of the state's electoral votes to George W. Bush no matter what the ballots and Supreme Court had to say about it --- then went on to compare ACORN to the KKK...
Rady Ananda at OpEdNews opens her review of Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story by declaring it "the most explosive documentary produced in recent memory, involving murder, espionage, cover-up, electoral cyber fraud and a United States Member of Congress with ties to the Bush Administration."
More details, pull-quotes from other reviews, and video preview here.
Haven't seen it yet? If you've got LinkTV, you can still check it out there. Otherwise, DVDs are available for prchase at the MSVL website, or better still, for a few dollars more, you can get one signed by both myself and the filmmaker Patty Sharaf with a $50 donation right here!
What more could you ask for? Collectors versions of great documentaries for you to watch and share, and all the while supporting the work we do here, so we can keep on doing it! And maybe by the time we're done, democracy gets saved somewhere in the bargain and everyone's a winner!
(Snail-mail works for all of the above as well. Send to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028)
Congrats to David Earnhardt and company on winning "Best Documentary" at last weekend's San Diego Film Festival, for Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections! I'm quite sure the win was due to my appearance at the Q&A following the Saturday night screening down there.
And finally...if you'd like a copy of both great documentaries (I'm in both, but they're really good anyway!), a donation of $75 or more will get 'em both shipped straight to ya! (Snail mail also works for all of the above: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028)
Congrats and thanks all around! People are getting the message because you are making noise!
Kansas City Star is among the first out of the box to review the film, calling it a "Must See!" and declaring that it "plays like a high-tension political thriller."
The terrifying feature-length documentary, shot in high-definition video, details, for the first time, the complete Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises vote-rigging scandal, in all of its, yes, sometimes very gory detail. It also tells a tale of the media, as it details my attempts to tell the story over the last four years, to a corrupt, detached, and too-often frightened corporate media. The BRAD BLOG broke the Curtis story originally in late 2004, and we've been investigating and reporting on it ever since.
The DVD of MSVL is finally available for purchase at VotingLies.com and will also be premiering beginning this weekend on LinkTV, for those of you lucky enough to get the satellite TV channel. See LinkTV's main Murder, Spies page for air dates and times, as well as an extended five-minute preview of the film. Sharaf has been kind enough to offer the DVD --- signed by herself and myself --- available as our newest, and perhaps most appropriate, BRAD BLOG premium ever! An online donation of $50 or more gets you your own copy! (And just in time for Halloween!) Snail mail works as well, if you prefer to send a check to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The support is greatly appreciated and very much needed.
LinkTV narrates their own 60-second preview of MSVL below...
For those who aren't familiar with the remarkable Curtis/Feeney story of the Florida software programmer who says he was asked by a powerful Republican to create vote-rigging software, where have you been? See this summary version for the quick details.
For those who are familiar with the story, you will learn details in MSVL you never knew, along with new interviews on the case from Gore Vidal, reporter Bob Fitrakis, computer security expert Harri Hursti, whistleblower Steve Heller, Curtis co-worker Mavis Georgalis, and many more!
While the Curtis story has been told, often beautifully, in a number of other documentaries, such as Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections and Stealing America: Vote-by-Vote, this is the first to go all the way into all of the frightening details underscoring this case, including the mysterious death of Florida's Inspector General Raymond Lemme while investigating the allegations, and the bizarre case of the convicted Chinese spy, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, who worked at the firm with Curtis.
A few quotes from some of the early reviews:
"Must see!...Plays like a high-tension political thriller...Amazingly elaborate and detailed...Want to get hoppin' mad? This'll do it...Let's hear it for paper ballots." - Bob Butler, Kansas City Star
The film is also screening at a number of upcoming film-festivals around the country, including the New Jersey Film Festival this weekend. See the MSVL website for dates & times.
Four years later, I'm happy to still be here to see the release of the film, quite frankly. There were some pretty scary days back there. It's regrettable that nobody's yet gone to jail, but maybe we're getting closer. For many of you who found this blog because of the Curtis story back in 2004, thank you for all of the support throughout the years! I hope you'll get the film, enjoy it, and continue to spread the word.
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) --- cited for the third year in a row by a public interest watchdog as one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" --- has finally decided to "apologize" for going on that $75,000 lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland in 2003, along with the disgraced, and convicted, Jack Abramoff. The "apology" comes in the form of a desperate, 30-second campaign ad (at left.)
Feeney is the last remaining member of Congress to have gone on one of those Abramoff-funded private jet trips to hit the links in St. Andrews. The other two, Tom Delay (R-TX), who went in 2001, and Bob Ney (R-OH), who went in 2002, have both left Congress in disgrace and under indictment.
You'll note that the ad --- in which Feeney never bothers to mention that he's a Republican --- ends, laughably, with: "Because public service is about being honest, even when you make a mistake."
That line might more appropriately, at least for Feeney, have been: "Public service is about admitting that you broke the law, five years after you took a huge favor from a corrupt lobbyist and were finally forced to admit it outloud in a desperate, last-ditch attempt, to save your Congressional meal ticket."
But he might have had trouble getting all of that into his :30 spot.
The ad also says, on screen: "Get the facts: Tom Feeney.com" Might we suggest if you really want the facts on Tom Feeney, one of the filthiest players remaining in Congress, that you see instead our special coverage page about him, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis. Curtis worked at the same company as Feeney, back when Feeney was both the powerful Speaker of the Florida House and a lobbyist for the software firm with millions of dollars in state contracts. The same company also employed undocumented Chinese aliens working on systems for NASA and others, even as Feeney has continued to protect that company to this day (he was also their one-time general counsel) and has housed his campaign headquarters in their building.
A remarkable documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies, covering that story, and The BRAD BLOG's attempts to tell it over the last four years, has just been released. If you'd rather learn the facts in movie form, please check out that film! NOTE: It's terrifying and includes untold details on at least two grizzly deaths related to the Curtis/Feeney scandal.
Curtis himself eventually switched to the Democratic Party following the incident and, after Congress refused to take action on Feeney, he ran unsuccessfully against him in 2006. His attempts to do so again this year were derailed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which backed wealthy opponent Suzanne Kosmas in the primary. With polls showing the well-funded Kosmas in a tight race with Feeney, clearly, one of the dirtiest Republicans in America is now running very scared.