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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 30, 2014
'Green News Report' 7/29/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Obama Admin approves sonic cannons for offshore oil exploration; Bizarre weather across U.S.; CO judge nixes fracking ban; PLUS: Neil Young wants your help in the rainforest...
Previous GNRs: 7/24/14 - 7/22/14 - Archives...
'A Kind of Propaganda War'
After U.N. denial, NBC's David Gregory apologized for use of unverified Israeli video claiming to show rockets fired from U.N. refugee shelter in Gaza where at least 15 were killed by Israel last week...
Bi-Partisan House to Obama: Get Out of Iraq
Overwhelming, if largely symbolic vote in the U.S. House, directs the President to pull U.S. troops back out of Iraq. Directive seen as stinging rebuke to GOP war haws in Senate..
'Green News Report' 7/24/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking: Storm ravages VA campground; New rules for explosive oil trains; Big win against Big Oil in small Maine town; PLUS: U.S. and Rush Limbaugh lead world in denial...
Previous GNRs: 7/22/14 - 7/17/14 - Archives...
Israeli Attack on UN Shelter Kills At Least 15 in Gaza
The strategy of bombing children, but warning them first, will almost certainly result in years of peace and prosperity for the region...
The Good Fight Continues: KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad speaks with John Wellington Ennis, documentarian and activist, on his newest film and his decade-long fight for election integrity...
What We Do Now
"It took one hour and 57 minutes for the execution to be completed, and Wood was gasping for more than an hour and a half of that time"..."Wood, 55, gasped more than 600 times before he died"...
'Green News Report' 7/22/14
Record wildfires in Pacific NW; June 2014 was hottest globally on record; EPA blocks Pebble Mine; CA blocks water pollution; PLUS: To cut emmissions, cut the beef...
Aborted Statewide 'Recount' Reveals It's a Great Time to Steal an Election in California
In the closest election in state history, even a well-funded candidate couldn't afford to find out if he actually lost...
'I Never Realized Voter ID Fraud Had Not Been Proven'
A RW caller's admission to Brad on NC radio underscores unparalleled propaganda power of Fox 'News'...
John Oliver On America's Prison Problems...With Singing Muppets!
HBO's Last Week Tonight offered smarter (and certainly funnier) coverage than you're likely to see anywhere else...
No, JFK Didn't Steal 1960 From Nixon
Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
CA Ballot Prop to Overturn 'Citizens United'
Measure calls for Amendment 'to make clear that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution are the rights of natural persons only'...
UK Deputy PM Condemns Israel's 'Deliberate Use of Disproportionate Response'
Nick Clegg calls attacks on Gaza 'collective punishment' that 'incubates next generation of extremists' and 'needs to come to an end'...
'Green News Report' 7/17/14
Australia's RW govt repeals landmark carbon tax; Obama action on global warming impacts; Record wildfire season in West; PLUS: CA gets tough on water wasters...
Kochs Radical 'Libertarianism' Broke KA
More than 100 top GOPers endorse Republican Gov. Brownback's Dem opponent after tax cuts for wealthy have busted the extremist Koch Brothers' home state...
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...


Another 'Fair and Balanced' failure of the U.S. corporate media...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/4/2013 1:49pm PT  

As the government shutdown began, the corporate U.S. media played its usual unhelpful role by not taking sides in what was clearly a one-sided argument.

"In shutdown blame game, Democrats and Republicans united: It's the other side's fault," declared Washington Post's headline. "Shutdown: Obama and Republicans Trade Blame as Deadline is Crossed," TIME unhelpfully noted, sounding much like the pretend news outlet Fox "News", which declared similarly "Partial shutdown begins: Can Congress, White House compromise?"

Never mind that Democrats had already compromised by agreeing to "Sequestration" level budget cuts, the only question was how would the two sides "compromise" on the Affordable Care Act which had nothing to do with the budget resolution itself, but has long been a bete noir for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the non-U.S. news outlet, The Guardian in the UK, accurately reported that the U.S. government shutdown occurred because Democrats refused to give into the Tea Party's extortion-like demands. Specifically, they wrote, it occurred after "Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance."

Was that so hard? Apparently so, for the U.S. corporate media anyway...

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

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Also seeks to require preclearance for new election-related laws in the Tar Heel State, given its history of racial discrimination...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2013 5:03pm PT  

The U.S. Justice Department announced today that it will be filing suit to block the central provisions of North Carolina's new, draconian restrictions on voting.

The DoJ will also ask the federal courts to require preclearance for new election-related laws in the state.

The Tar Heel State's massive new, controversial restrictions on voting were passed by Republicans this Summer just after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act in June. We've previously described the new measure as the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era.

The DoJ lawsuit is the latest element of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's vow this summer to use "every tool" at the DoJ's disposal to fight for voting rights after SCOTUS dismantled a key provision of the VRA that required jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination in election laws, such as North Carolina, to seek federal approval, or "preclearance" before new election related laws could be enforced.

The suit follows similar action by the DoJ in Texas, where new polling place Photo ID restrictions and Congressional redistricting --- both previously found by the DoJ and federal courts to be purposefully discriminatory in the Lone Star State --- are also being challenged as violations of the VRA and the U.S. Constitution. The federal suit in NC is the latest of several complaints filed against the state's massive new voting restrictions, all of them alleging, with no small amount of evidence in support, that the law is a racially motivated attempt to suppress minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters.

From the DoJ announcement today:

The United States' complaint contends that at least four provisions of [North Carolina's] House Bill 589 were adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The complaint asks the court to prohibit North Carolina from enforcing these requirements, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject North Carolina to a new preclearance requirement.

Note the important point in the above alleging that the NC law is not only discriminatory, it is also purposely so. That argument will be key to the DoJ's case that the new law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as its argument that the state should be "bailed in" to require preclearance, as per Section 3(c) of the Act...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/30/2013 2:11pm PT  

As the latest round(s) of GOP hostage taking play out in Congress, it's worth stepping back a moment to take note of what is at the heart of their ploy-slash-temper tantrum-slash-effort to undermine the very essence of American democracy.

It's also worth taking note of the fact that it's unlikely, ultimately, to work and, if we can take any lessons from what has happened here in California, is very likely to redound, big time, against the Republicans and their "contempt for the democratic process," as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) described it Friday, now on display in the nation's capitol.

"This whole debate over Obamacare is just a small part of what this right wing agenda is all about," Sanders observed during an appearance on MSNBC, as he described the twin threats of a government shutdown and defaulting on our financial obligations in the debt ceiling fight a few weeks from now, as but a part of "a right wing extremist agenda funded by people like the Koch brothers…who put hundreds of millions of dollars into the 'Tea Party.'"

Sanders' observation is vital to a comprehensive understanding as to why the very survival of our representative form of democracy may hinge upon a refusal to cave into a tactic that the Senator describes as "blackmail". Indeed, the New York Times describes the latest GOP tactics as the equivalent of a "ransom note" filled with "extortionist demands". President Obama, who once made the mistake of negotiating with Republicans on such terms, now aptly described the GOP threats, in a speech to The Business Roundtable, as a form of extortion.

Sanders noted that it's as if the Republicans now say: "Elections don't matter! We can shut down the government at any time to get our way!"

And, he's right. That's the plan. But it's not likely to get them what they want. More encouragingly, it's very likely to backfire on them completely...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2013 2:43pm PT  

Not sure what's going on, of late. But still more good news today...

A New Jersey judge ruled on Friday that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, finding that failing to do so deprives them of rights that are now guaranteed by the federal government following a ruling by the Supreme Court in June.

It is the first time a court has struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it comes as Gov. Chris Christie continues to oppose allowing gay marriage in the state. His administration may appeal.
...
Lawmakers passed legislation in 2012 to allow same-sex marriage, but it was vetoed by Mr. Christie, a Republican who is considered a leading candidate for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
...
Judge [Mary C.] Jacobson’s opinion said same-sex marriages would be allowed starting Oct. 21.

If Christie would like to be a true conservative here --- one who believes in equal protection for all, as per that thing called the U.S. Constitution --- he'd give up the ghost on this one and not appeal Jacobson's decision. But, Republican primary voters don't want actual conservatism. They want Rightwingism. Your move, Chris.

Either way, this continues to signal the ultimate end --- and probably sooner than we all suspect --- of marriage discrimination across the entire nation. (Yes, they're coming for you Utah, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, et al! Get over it.)

And it also represents still more surprisingly good news for a Friday --- for any day, actually --- following on this very good news previously. This can't continue.

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Allegations underscore need for Congressional investigation, grants of immunity, BEFORE authorization for use of military force...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/11/2013 11:58am PT  

On the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. presentation of inaccurate information concerning Iraqi WMD and alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a group of high-ranking, former intelligence agency veterans and whistleblowers calling themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published their very first "VIPS Memo" to George W. Bush.

In their February 5, 2003 memo [PDF], the former intelligence professionals warned of the politicization of intelligence used by the Administration in their case for war, and cautioned against rushing into military action. They were, of course, ignored by Bush at the time.

A full decade, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies later, here we are again, as a President of the United States continues his call for U.S. involvement in yet another military excursion in the Middle East based on a "just trust us" public assessment of purported classified evidence.

Repeating the course they took in hopes of warning Bush after Powell's UN presentation, last week VIPS published another warning in the form of a memo to President Barack Obama, warning that his advisers may not be keeping him fully informed and asserting, among other things, "the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21."

While the VIPS memo presents a disturbing alleged scenario detailing claims that U.S. allies and intelligence officials had advanced knowledge of the August 21 chemical attack, like the White House claims, the VIPS scenario offers little more than serious, if unproven allegations unless and until they are substantiated, or refuted, by hard evidence or, preferably, a Congressional investigation including full immunity for the sources cited by the former intelligence veterans...

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By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2013 8:13pm PT  

The bulk of today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio was focused on the mess that is Obama's Syria policy.

Aside from tons of callers (I'm tired of "experts" and "pundits", wanted to hear from actual people), and one of the most perfect "bloopers" ever (a brilliantly incorrect sound cue played, in the first part of the show, by the engineer who was in today instead of our usual one), we also spent a few minutes with anti-war activist and author (and occasional BRAD BLOG guest blogger) David Swanson on what he would recommend, in lieu of military strikes, for accountability for the use of chemical weapons. His main response to that question: Get thee to the Hague and file war crimes charges, if that's the case the U.S. is making against Syria!

Lots of interesting perspectives on today's show, almost all of which vary tremendously from the nonsense we're hearing from the Congress and the Administration and the establishment media this week. I'd welcome your feedback as well.

We also quickly hit on a few voting issues, such as our good news today on the TX GOP's most-likely-doomed Photo ID law and more...as well as a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report as usual! Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/4/2013 6:05am PT  

With Brad Friedman

Greg Abbott, the Lone Star State's Attorney General, made a fool out of himself recently when he issued his public response to a U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit challenging the Texas Republicans' new polling place Photo ID law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and of the U.S. Constitution.

The "facts" he publicly offered in the law's defense were wholly misleading and, worse, plainly inaccurate. But if Abbott thought that was embarrassing, he may have no idea what he's in store for when he actually shows up in a court of law, seeking to defend the Photo ID law which Texas Republicans enacted in 2011 as part of a desperate attempt to cling to power.

Rapidly shifting voter demographics are quickly working against the Lone Star Republican Party. The numbers are leading them into a panic over an ever-increasing minority population and rising voting rates to go with it. So they have been, since 2005, attempting to squelch the inevitable by trying to tamp down minority turnout any way possible. But Texas Republicans are not only in a battle with demographics. The key facts about the Lone Star State's Photo ID restrictions --- as already determined in a court of law --- are not on their side either.

In both United States v. Texas, the DoJ's newly filed legal challenge to the Texas Photo ID restriction law, and in Veasey v. Perry, a separate federal lawsuit filed by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) and later joined by Dallas County, the plaintiffs not only set forth allegations but facts already found to be true last year by a unanimous three-judge U.S. District Court panel.

Those already established facts reveal that the state's Photo ID law (SB 14) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it imposes unreasonable, and often impossible, burdens upon the right of the poor to vote that would likely result in disenfranchisement. The three judge panel further found, via "undisputed record evidence", as they described it, that a disproportionate percentage of poor Texans who would be subject to such disenfranchisement are Hispanic and African-American.

At the time, however, despite establishing those uncontested facts, those Constitutional concerns were not the basis of the case in front of the federal court in question. But they are now.

Given the Lone Star State's acknowledgment during the previous litigation that it could not contest the facts already on record, the Texas Republicans' gambit to try and turn back time at the polls, or, at least, slow it down as the demographic clock continues to tick against them, is exceedingly unlikely to work. Here's why...

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President says 'all of us should be accountable' for military action against Syria; Places ball in Congress' court...for now...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2013 1:06pm PT  

That headline shouldn't have to be ALL CAPS, since it's the rule of law and all, barring a "national emergency", which clearly this is not. But it's a reflection of how much Executive Power has changed over the past several decades, particularly over the last one.

It's also a reflection of how much many "experts" and pundits had expected an announcement that military action was about to happen, or had already had. That's not what the President's remarks today turned out to be about.

In a statement from the Rose Garden --- with the chanting of anti-war protesters heard in the distance --- President Obama announced that "after careful deliberation," he has "decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets," in the wake of their alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack against more than 1,400 citizens in a Damascus suburb.

Charging the attack "presents a serious danger to our national security," Obama said military action against the regime "would be designed to be limited in duration and scope," and meant to "hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out."

He explained that while the military is prepared "to strike whenever we choose...our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order."

And then, here was the most newsworthy portion (even if it shouldn't be so):

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.

Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.

"All of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote," he explained, dropping the ball squarely back into Congress' court --- for now.

He also stated that while "the country will be stronger...and our actions will be even more effective" with a Congressional debate and vote to back action, he says he believes he has "the authority to carry out this military action without specific Congressional authorization." He did not state what that "authority" is, however, nor if he will exercise it should Congress vote against authorization, as the British Parliament surprisingly did earlier this week.

The President further offered his argument as to why the United States must take action in this case. [The complete text and video of Obama's remarks are posted at the bottom of this article.]

Congress is not currently scheduled to reconvene from their summer break until September 9. The President did not call them back into session earlier, and, as we pointed out several days ago, while many members have signaled they are willing to come back, if called upon by the President to do so, few if any have actually called on Congressional leaders to summon members back to Washington on their own.

That the President is appearing, for now, to follow the rule of law and the Constitution, and hand back some power to Congress that has, for so long, been usurped by the Executive Branch, left many on Twitter both pleased and agog today. Here's a sampling...

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U.S. releases intel assessment of evidence on purported use of chemical weapons by Syria --- So now what?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/30/2013 1:39pm PT  

Late last night we flagged the New York Times report claiming that "momentum for Western military strikes against Syria appeared to slow," following the UK Parliament's stunning vote to reject military intervention there, after Prime Minister David Cameron's government released a fairly thin intelligence assessment and a less-than-persuasive legal theory for taking such action.

Today, the U.S. released its own unclassified intelligence community assessment of what they describe as "high confidence" that the Syrian regime --- at least someone within it --- launched a large chemical weapons attack on neighborhoods near Damascus on August 21.

The attack, the assessment says, resulted in the death of 1,429 people, "including at least 426 children". According to the document, the "high confidence" assessment is "the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation."

Along with the release of that assessment, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered a very straightforward statement (worth reading in full). Please note, however, that the intel assessment, as well as Kerry's statement, did not include the actual first-hand evidence from which the intelligence community is making their assessment, only their evaluation and summary of that evidence. The Administration says they are sharing more of the actual, still-classified assessment and/or evidence with members of Congress.

Kerry noted during his remarks that the intelligence community has been "more than mindful of the Iraq experience," and promised, "We will not repeat that moment." He also added: "the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility."

For his part, the President, in a statement made just before a White House meeting this afternoon, announced that he has made no final decision on action in Syria, but is currently considering a "limited narrow act" which, he says, "in no way involves boots on the ground" or a "long term campaign."

While both Kerry's remarks and Obama's brief comments referenced "consultation" with Congress, neither noted either the legal or Constitutional requirement to receive authorization from them, as we called for earlier, before launching a military intervention, "limited", "narrow" or otherwise, other than in a case of "national emergency".

Both men did, however, offer the case that we must demonstrate the world means what it says about the use of chemical weapons, as banned by the Geneva Convention after WWI and again in various treaties in the nearly 100 years since then.

With all of that in mind --- and, for now, taking the U.S. intelligence assessment at face value for the purposes of this article --- the central point here seems to be that, while killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people with conventional weapons is, apparently, tolerable, using chemical weapons to kill some of them is a war crime. And war crimes, we are told, are a bridge too far.

Really?...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2013 10:30pm PT  

In a fairly remarkable defeat to the UK Conservative Party's Prime Minister David Cameron, the British Parliament voted against intervention in Syria in a preliminary vote today. That could change in a subsequent vote, but, hey, at least they met, debated and voted! And that was after Cameron's government actually, publicly offered their legal basis for such intervention and an intelligence assessment [PDF] they claim supports it.

Meanwhile, back in these United States, John Nichols details the several bi-partisan --- and surprisingly robust --- Congressional letters calling on President Obama to seek Congressional approval before taking military action against Syria. So far, over 150 members of Congress have signed on to those efforts.

In all, the New York Times concluded this morning (even before the vote in Parliament): "momentum for Western military strikes against Syria appeared to slow."

While a healthy portion of the U.S. Congress members speaking up are progressive Democrats, interestingly (though, perhaps, not surprisingly?), there are far more Republicans, this time around, joining the effort to call on the President to wait for an Article 1, Section 8 declaration of war from Congress --- or, at least, some form of authorization from the Legislative branch --- as clearly envisioned (an actual conservative would say "required") by the U.S. Constitution.

It's nice to see Congress, this time around --- at least more than 150 of its members --- calling on the President to do the right thing. On the other hand, Congress has its own responsibility here...

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PLUS: EFF's Trevor Timm on FISA Court and the U.S. Secrecy State...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2013 8:20pm PT  

What was the one, most important takeaway from today and Saturday's 50th Anniversary commemoration of MLK's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"? The one issue that seemed to make it into the remarks of just about everyone who spoke?

That's what we discussed during the first part of today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast, along with sound clip highlights from some of the most notable speakers. (Hint: If you didn't hear the fiery remarks of Rep. John Lewis --- the youngest speaker at the original 1963 remarks --- on Saturday, you'll now get to hear them in full.)

In the second part of the show, we were joined by Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Freedom of the Press Foundation to discuss the release of the secret FISA Court's 2011 decision finding the government had misled the court multiple times, and collected the emails of tens of thousands of Americans not involved in terrorism in any way; and about the massive secrecy state we discussed in The BRAD BLOG's special investigative report this week.

Also, Desi Doyen joined us as usual with the latest Green News Report, the one with one of my favorite all-time endings! Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2013 7:26pm PT  

Warren Rojas at Roll Call reported some encouraging news yesterday.

Jason Thigpen, a rookie Republican candidate for the U.S. House in North Carolina, is swimming against the GOP tide. He is describing the state's new voter suppression law --- passed on party lines by a super-majority Republican legislature and signed by the state's new Republican Governor --- for what it is: a "turd" meant to keep legal voters (certain ones, the ones who tend to vote for Democrats) from casting their legal vote.

He's also been able to see through the GOP/Fox "News" smokescreen about the facts in regard to in-person impersonation polling place voter fraud, namely, that it is virtually non-existent.

We've called NC's new law the worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era. But Thigpen, described as a "political newcomer looking to unseat Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC)" in next year's primary, was even far more direct than that...

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

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Some redactions in the document, they tell The BRAD BLOG, appear solely to protect government, not national security...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2013 11:53am PT  

"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 secret proceedings," President John F. Kennedy declared to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at New York's Waldorf-Astoria in 1961.

"No official of my Administration," he continued, "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."

But, that was then.

The U.S. government's legal requests for secret surveillance are, themselves, filed in secret at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and the FISC's rulings on those secret requests are themselves a secret as well.

Last week, however, after more than a year of legal wrangling and lawsuits, the non-partisan Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was finally successful in gaining the public release of one of those secret rulings, an October 2011 decision by the Court finding that the government had, on several occasions, offered the Court "a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program ... buttressed by repeated inaccurate statements."

At the very same time, as they were about to be compelled by a court to release the decision EFF sought, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, "in the interest of increased transparency," released two other redacted court decisions as well. In all, they revealed the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional collection of the emails of tens of thousands U.S. citizens who had nothing to do with terrorism investigations. The documents were all posted on a new Tumblr website created, Clapper said in a statement posted to the site, "to provide the public with direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the Intelligence Community."

As expected, some sections of the October 2011 FISC decision were heavily redacted. Other parts, while redacted, were revelatory nonetheless about the nature of our government's secret surveillance programs. And still other portions seem to be redacted for no legitimate national security reason at all. As a number of national security journalists, FOIA advocates, security veterans and whistleblowers describe to The BRAD BLOG, the reason for some of the redactions appears to be little more than an attempt to keep the government from embarrassing itself --- or even from revealing evidence of its own crimes.

Here's one of the more disturbing revelations, from a footnote, in the previously secret October 2011 FISC decision...

Here's one of the more heavily redacted portions of the previously secret 85-page ruling that rejected a secret surveillance request by the government, after determining that the government had repeatedly misled the Court in its secret filings...

But here is one snippet about which we specifically requested comment from a number of national security journalists, FOIA advocates (including the EFF) and former national security agency veterans and whistleblowers. Note, just for now, the one sentence highlighted in yellow...

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50 years later, the message remains...And so does this man's sign!...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2013 2:42pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2013 6:05am PT  

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint was filed in hopes of blocking the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law, newly re-enacted by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the very heart of the VRA (the Section 4 formula used to determine jurisdictions covered by its Section 5 preclearance requirements for new voting laws) last June.

How did the TX AG respond to the DoJ suit?

Here is the very first line of Abbott's embarrassing website response to it posted yesterday...

AUSTIN --- “Just days after the U.S. Department of Justice arrested a Texas woman for illegally voting five times in the same election, the Obama administration is suing to stop Texas’ commonsense voter ID law. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes, but do help prevent illegal votes. Voter IDs have nothing to do with race and they are free to anyone who needs one.

Ya know what else "Voter IDs have nothing to do with"? The absentee ballot fraud committed by the woman cited by Greg Abbott above in the very first line of his response to the DoJ!

Here (courtesy of Ryan Reilly) is the very first page of the indictment against the woman cited by Abbott as a reason why the state needs their polling place Photo ID restriction law. [Red circle added for TX AGs who may have trouble reading their own legal filings]...

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