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By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2009 1:00pm PT  

Thanks to VelvetRevolution.us [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder], here are some of the greatly condensed highlights from outside the National Whistleblowers Center on Saturday in D.C., as FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds gave her long-awaited under-oath deposition.

Long gagged under the "state secrets" privilege by the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration's DoJ chose not to re-invoke privilege, paving the way for this information to finally make its way on to the unclassified public record.

Selected public commentary from the attorneys, candidate David Krikorian, and Edmonds, taken before, during breaks, and after the testimony follows. For many many more details, quotes and information about the information disclosed at the deposition, see our Live-Blog coverage from Saturday here...


(The video of the deposition itself is still forthcoming. Monday earliest, so we're told, but no way of knowing anything for sure until it's actually made available. There's some 5 or 6 hours of tape, as we understand it. We hope the text transcript of the entire deposition will also be made available to the public soon as well. Edmonds has stated that she too shares both of those hopes. Until then, however, please do review our coverage from yesterday, for the complete, stunning details of what went on yesterday.)

UPDATE 8/10/09, 3:45am PT: Erik Larson, who was also among the independent media outside the NWC on Saturday, has additional coverage and lengthier video clips here...

UPDATE 8/10/09, 2:11pm PT: Quick update on current release status of deposition video/transcript now here...

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UPDATES INCLUDE: CONGRESS MEMBERS NAMED IN ESPIONAGE, BRIBERY, SEXUAL BLACKMAIL SCHEMES; NEW BREWSTER JENNINGS / VALERIE PLAME DISCLOSURE...
'State Secrets' privilege NOT asserted by DoJ; FBI whistleblower answered ALL questions under oath on Turkish infiltration of U.S. Government...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2009 8:51am PT  

Live blogging coverage of the Sibel Edmonds deposition at the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington D.C. For background see previous coverage:

[Updates at bottom...]

8:00am PT (11:00am ET): The deposition has now begun inside the National Whisteblowers Center, and has not, apparently, been blocked by an assertion of the "state secrets" privilege by the DoJ.

The BRAD BLOG has some folks covering outside the testimony this morning, and I just spoke to some of the folks on the ground outside the NWC, just before the deposition was set to begin, including David Krikorian, who flew in last night from Ohio.

Krikorian said that he hadn't yet seen anybody from the DoJ there, and both he and Edmonds confirmed that there hadn't been any new action (that they knew about) since the late-night legal back and forth between the DoJ and OEC on Friday night. Though Krikorian added that he "wouldn't be surprised" if someone from DoJ showed up. We'll find out later today if they did.

He said his team intended to ask detailed questions on the three major points they'd described in their press release [PDF] issued earlier this week, focusing on whether and how "The Government of Turkey had illegally infiltrated and influenced various U.S. government institutions and officials, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and individual members of the United States Congress."

Krikorian did not seem dissuaded by the FBI's and then the DoJ's attempts to block Edmonds' testimony, and that they intended to be thorough in their deposition. "That's pretty much the whole point of this exercise," he told me.

Schmidt (R-OH)'s attorney is Bruce Fein, the one-time Assoc. Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration who has, over the past several years, become a fierce critic of the George W. Bush Administration. He believed the deposition would not take long, though Krikorian's people may have a differing opinion there.

There are apparently a handful of mostly independent and foreign media outlets present outside the NWC. No corporate MSM, from the reports I've gotten. Independent TV/media, an Armenian English language weekly, and press attache representatives of some foreign governments are among those present.

8:40am PT (11:40am ET): During a break, Edmonds and the attorneys stepped outside.

DoJ still a no-show, so the questioning has proceeded, and Edmonds has been able to say "everything that she hasn't been able to say so far, implicating many members of Congress in a criminal conspiracy," according to interviews with Fein and others.

Edmonds' attorney, Michael Kohn said: "The Justice Department decided not to show. Therefore, the deposition has gone much more smoothly than we had anticipated."

Edmonds told me in a brief phone conversation during the break: "Bruce Fein is raising objections to everything," though that's to be expected. She said she's been asked, and has answered, questions on Dan Burton (R-IN), Dennis Hastert (R-IL) (who is now a lobbyist for Turkey), and Stephen Solarz (D-NY), as well as other questions on those high-ranking officials and lobbyists in her "State Secrets Gallery."

She added that "somebody said the FBI was given the wrong time, for 11:30 instead of 10:30," though she didn't see how that could be, given that the time for the start of the deposition has been well publicized. In any case, it's now 11:45am ET, so we'll see if they showed up during this break. They have now gone back into session...

9:41am PT (12:41pm ET): Another break...Edmonds still being questioned under direct. Fein believes his cross-examination will last two hours or so once he begins. They are now breaking for lunch. DoJ/FBI still have not shown up.

The deposition is being videotaped and Edmonds hopes that it can be released as soon as possible after the deposition, though there have been some objections about releasing the video tape...

10:09am PT (1:09pm ET): Wow... just had lengthy conversation with Krikorian about Edmonds' testimony. Just wow... coming momentarily...
...
Spoke to Edmonds, who says she's "tired, gotta put some sugar into her system," but that she's satisfied with what's being put on the record so far. "Things we have never discussed outside before."

A lengthy conversation then, with Krikorian, may give you some idea of what she's referring to.

Here's Krikorian, directly quoted. Hang on to your seats...

From my opinion, if I'm some of the current members of Congress, I'd be very very worried about the information that's going to come out of this. There are current members of Congress that she has implicated in bribery, espionage. It's not good. It's crazy, it's absolutely crazy. For people in power situations in the United States, who know about this information, if they don't take action against it, in my opinion, it's negligence.

[Which current members have been implicated?]

[Dan] Burton (R-IN), described as basically accepting bribes and involved in espionage for the Turkish government...she could not discuss the extremely illegal activities that Mr. Burton committed against U.S. interests, as she put it.

Also, a current female Democratic [ed note: I misheard, he later said he didn't know if she was Dem or Rep] member of Congress who has been blackmailed by the Turkish Government...called a 'hooking exercise'...she's apparently bi-sexual and they bugged her apartment, she's married with children, and they set up a relationship with another female who went in and had sexual relationships with her. And they had all the episodes bugged within this current Representative's home and they blackmailed her. ... She wouldn't give her name, but her photograph [is the one with the question mark on it in the "Sibel Edmonds Rogue Gallery." ]

The context of the discussion was that this particular Representative was amenable to passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. And then based on this 'hooking' operation, changed her position. She was reluctant to put this person's name on record.

[CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION FROM EDMONDS, 4:26pm PT (7:26pm ET): After reviewing our coverage, Edmonds clarifies that she did not discuss the specific voting record of the Congresswoman in question discussed above, because she didn't, and still doesn't, know her record on that particular issue. As Krikorian's quote above may have been inadvertently misleading on that point, she wanted to correct that record. - BF]

[Other people implicated included] Livingston (R-TX LA), Hastert (R-IL), Dick Gephardt (D-MO), other non-Congressional members, people like Brent Scowcroft, other appointed members of the U.S. government.

One of the reasons we sought her testimony is especially for these reasons. I can tell you that counsel for Schmidt has been objecting to much of the testimony. I stopped counting the number of objections that were raised. But, she's an extremely credible witness, she knows a lot about what happened. She's implicated Turkish organizations operating in the U.S. with both overt and covert operations.

[Q: Which ones?]

ATC, ATAA, TACA...She talked about how she was recruited to join these operations, she talked about the fact that the Inspector General's report exonerated her, she talked about the circumstances around her dismissal, she talked about the fact that these Turkish American operations were, she said in her words, 'all receiving support from the Turkish government.'

She talks about one of the main lobby issues is suppressing U.S. media coverage of the Armenian Genocide and preventing the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress from passing. She said very very strongly that is one of their major issues.

She also attested there is no credible opposition to the historical facts of the Armenian genocide, that it's only coming from Turkey.

[Ed note: Edmonds was raised in Turkey, though is a U.S. citizen. Krikorian is of Armenian descent. Schmidt is neither, but she is co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus.]

Did not have very flattering things to say about former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. ... Actually, I stopped taking notes because I was o fascinated by what she was saying. ... She talked about the Rand Corp., Brewster-Jennings, nuclear secrets...

Frankly it's disappointing that things like this are happening in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Is it a huge surprise? No. Should it be tolerated? Absolutely not. I can't imagine George Washington and Thomas Jefferson allowing this sort of thing to go on in the Republic that they created. I cannot imagine it.

We're talking about High Crimes against the United States government. If the Government is aware of these High Crimes and doesn't prosecute them, I'm not sure what can be said about this.
...
[Q: Do you predict problems with Democrats whose support you will need when running against Schmidt as a Dem in 2010?]

Problem with Democrats...?

Well, Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Solarz are no longer Representatives of the U.S. House of Representatives. I think it would be extremely naive and the height of folly for the Democratic leadership to suggest for a moment that Democrats aren't also corrupt. I don't mean as an entirety, but that there aren't corrupt members of the Democrat caucus. I think there was a recent Democrat down south somewhere who was found with thirty thousand dollars cash in his freezer, or whatever.

If Democratic National Committee or the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Comm.] came out and said, 'hey, we're entirely clean and there's no fault on us,' I think the American public would laugh at them. So, this is not an indictment of one party or the other. This is about standing up for what's right for the country, and what is right for the citizens of our country.

Again, I ran as an independent last time [in 2008]. I'm running as a Democrat [in 2010] because I think right now they're probably the better of the two parties. But nevertheless, I don't necessarily buy into the fact that they're without blood on their hands...

[Q: Did she implicate any sitting Democrats?]

She did not indicate any names of any currently serving Democrats that I'm aware. [Though he wasn't certain if the unnamed female Representative was either Democratic or Republican.]

Krikorian went on to say that he expects to release the video of the deposition, which, along with the transcript, is the property of his legal team. says "There will be...This could be a 10 part YouTube video segment, that we'll put out there."

He doesn't yet know when a transcript will be available.

The cross-examination of Edmonds, by Schmidt's attorney Fein, is still in progress...

12:24pm PT (3:24pm ET) Apparently the proceedings are now wrapping up. It's believed that Edmonds and Krikorian and the attorneys will speak to whatever media are outside the NWC. Will cover...

12:56pm (3:56pm ET) Okay, I believe this will be the final update. But it will end with a BANG. Big time...Read to the end...really...

The attorneys and Krikorian and Edmonds all had a media avail after the deposition completed.

Bruce Fein, the attorney for Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) --- who began all of this with her complaint at the Ohio Election Commission against David Krikorian, claiming he made "false statements" by alleging she took "blood money" from Turkish interests to suppress a vote in the U.S. House on the Armenian Genocide resolution --- was confronted by a reporter with Armenian TV who asked if it wasn't the "cornerstone of free speech" for candidates to talk about freely about these matters.

Fein became very defensive, said that Krikorian "can say whatever he wants about the Armenian Genocide, but what he's not allowed to do is state lies. We don't want to close anybody's mouth when it comes to taking about the Armenian Genocide...What we're trying to do is promote freedom of speech. Some versions are trying to harass individuals who are trying to dispute history."

The reporter, Elizabeth Chouldjian, freelancing coverage today for Armenian Horizons TV, is also with Armenian National Committee of America, and she continue to press her points, and asked Fein if he didn't have a conflict of interest in this case. She had earlier told me that Fein was a Board member of the Turkish Coalition of America, Turkish American Legal Defense Fund and legal counsel for Assembly of Turkish American Associations. She wondered if it was appropriate for Fein to represent Schmidt, since he himself could be called to testify, as a witness on behalf of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations.

Chouldjian had told me that he's been flying around the country, essentially trying to deny that the genocide ever occurred, has sued the state of Massachusetts to put Armenian genocide "denialist" material in text books, is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for putting out an article last year called "State of Denial" which, she says, focused on Turkish interests trying to block Armenian Genocide resolution from being passed.

Fein left very quickly thereafter, so I didn't get a chance to ask him if he, himself, recognized what he called, several times, "the Armenian genocide."

Chouldjian later told Edmonds of Fein's connections to those organizations, several of whom came up in the deposition, apparently. Edmonds had no idea Fein was allied with those organizations.

Michael Kohn, Edmonds attorney, working on behalf of the National Whistleblower Center made his statement to say he's "glad her testimony has finally count out...It's been many years in the making. We're delighted that the Justice Department did not intervene and allowed the testimony to go forward." He said it was "a breath of fresh air from the previous administration." He didn't "think it would have happened with the previous administration."

He was not sure when the transcript of the session would be released. New information today, he said, including naming persons by name and with a great deal of specifics. NWC would review the testimony and disseminate it publicly as soon as possible.

Krikorian stated: "We came here to get the sworn testimony of a very very credible witness in defense against a current Congresswoman. And then, beyond that, doing what is right for the country, which is why I'm running. I plan to win this case, and I plan to win this election," he said.

He said there is an Ohio Election Commission preliminary meeting on Aug. 13th, and a hearing on Sept 3rd, and that he would look at releasing both video and transcript thereafter.

Edmonds, however, seemed to suggest that the video tape, at least, might be released in full sooner.

Here comes a bombshell or two...

At the venue, Edmonds said that she named names and details on all of the Congress members noted on her "State Secrets Gallery" page. And then some.

She said she told them about "Mr. [Marc] Grossman and Brewster Jennings...And the real story about them, not the crap they got from the media."

I was unable to follow up that statement with a question, before she got into a cab, but was able to track her down on her cell thereafter.

First, I asked if she specified whether the sitting bi-sexual, married Congresswoman who had been taped sleeping with a woman, without knowing, and then bribed by Turkish interests with the tape, to vote against the Armenian Genocide resolution had been a Democrat or a Republican. She said she is a Democrat, and that she testified to that during her deposition. (See Krikorian's long statement above for more details on that woman.)

Second, I asked about the "real" story on Brewster Jennings, as opposed to the "crap...from the media" as she mentioned at the venue.

"Basically," she said, "I told them how [third-ranking State Dept. official in the Bush Admin and former Ambassador to Turkey] Marc Grossman disclosed" that Brewster Jennings was a CIA front company to the target of an FBI investigation. "And it was under oath and that some lives may have been lost."

"Novak has nothing to do with it. Wilson has nothing to do with it. Valerie Plame has nothing to do with it. The whole operation has to do with something totally different and it had to do with the American Turkish Council and the Turkish clients who were about to hire Brewster Jennings as an analyst ... and Grossman found out about it, and tipped off his diplomatic contact who was a target of the FBI counter-intelligence, and that person notified the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency], etc."

She says that Brewster Jenning was then "dismantled as soon as the FBI notified the CIA," after which "FBI requested CIA to do a damage assessment, to see if lives would be lost."

All of this, she re-iterated, was "long before, three years before," Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his newspaper column.

Brewster Jennings was "absolutely" dismantled in August of 2001.

"Grossman and [Richard] Armitage, they are the only two people involved. Later on Cheney and his people may have used it, but it had nothing to do with those other things, [Brewster Jennings] was completely destroyed and gone by the summer of 2001."

For those not fully up on Edmonds' story, her job at the FBI was to listen to wiretaps in the counter-intel department, to translate foreign targets caught on those taps. Presumably, that's where her details on the destruction of Brewster Jennings comes from. She was hired by the agency shortly after 9/11.

Bombshell enough for ya? Let's see if anyone in the corporate media bothers to agree, and/or pick up on this --- now that it's officially "on the record" and, as Edmonds took pains to point out: under oath!

Here endeth today's live-blogging session. We hope to be hitting the road this afternoon (we were supposed to go on "vacation" today, but have had to put things off for this), so if anyone feels like tipping us some gas money, to make up for three hours sleep and today's marathon coverage, we'd much appreciate it!

You can donate to The BRAD BLOG here...

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Says same 'protest' mechanisms, tactics he and his father developed, used on abortion providers like the now-murdered Dr. Tiller...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2009 11:48am PT  

Devastating. From someone who knows these tactics well. And, if the corporate media wasn't under an almost complete stranglehold, such an op-ed from someone like Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back, might actually make a difference.

He says the Republican/industry-run health care "protest" mobs have become "a full blown American version of the Nazi Brown Shirts", the Republican party has now become "profoundly anti-American", and that "They can't compute that their white man-led conservative revolution is dead."

Here's just a few of the money quotes from his must-read at Alternet today which suggests, most disturbingly --- as I have long worried since this corporatist/Republicanist-inflamed thuggery began --- that it may not stop until someone actually ends up dead...

The Republican Old Guard are in the fix an atheist would be in if Jesus showed up and raised his mother from the dead: Their world view has just been shattered. Obama's election has driven them over the edge.
...
Having failed at the ballot box, having watched their Fox News-organized "tea parties" fizzle the intimidation tactics which the Republicans have embraced are being used in a well-financed, top-down orchestrated fake grass roots campaign by corporate interests to try and protect the profits of the insurance business.
...
Democratic members of Congress are being harassed by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior at local town halls. It's the tactic we used to follow abortion providers around their neighborhoods. "Protesters" surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety. We used to do the same to Dr. Tiller... until someone killed him.

Please read his entire piece, or at least the rest of what I've quoted from it below...

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

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ALSO: Glenn Beck-fueled 'near riot' at Tampa forum tonight...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2009 6:59pm PT  

How phony are the phony town hall mobs? Rachel Maddow explains it all for you. If only the rest of the corporate MSM did the same. Her investigation of the so-called public interest groups running this thing concludes: "This is professional, corporate-funded, Republican-staffed PR, and it should be reported as such"...

And tonight, these corporate/Republican/Republicanist-media sponsored and enflamed mobs are, as expected, beginning to turn violent. RAW STORY has details on a Glenn Beck-inspired "near riot" tonight at a forum in Tampa.

Anyone surprised? I'm afraid this is gonna get much worse before it gets better...

UPDATE 8/7/09: Repentant right-wing anti-abortionist movement creator Frank Schaeffer worries about the same thing...

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But is it a fair fight? Why hasn't House Leadership asked CBO for a real cost comparison to public-option plans?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/4/2009 10:01pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In an update to Small Victory for a Long-Term Single-Payer Strategy, I reported that “Rep. Anthony Weiner, (D-NY) will...make a motion before the House Energy & Commerce Committee to...replace H.R. 3200 [the hybrid, "public option plan] with H.R. 676 --- single payer Medicare for All."

In exchange for Weiner's agreement to withdraw his amendment during the House Energy and Commerce Committee health care markup session, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised to permit Weiner to bring H.R. 676 to a vote on the House floor.

But will the House leadership direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to provide a comparative cost analysis between single-payer and alternative plans so that Congress and the American people can make an informed choice? And why have they refused to do so so far?...

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

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Corporate media stand ready to help as usual...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2009 12:42pm PT  

[Updated: Right on cue, the Teabaggers turn out to disrupt town hall meetings over the weekend. Video and details at end of article. ... UPDATED AGAIN: Lots more video now, the zombies come out all over the country.]

Are there simply no democratic (small "d") processes left that the Right isn't willing to corrupt to their own corporatized, nefarious purposes? It would seem not.

This from ThinkProgress, concerning the rightwing, corporate-sponsored (read: astroturf) "grassroots" FreedomWatch coalition, and their conveniently leaked talking points instruction memo [PDF] on how to create an appearance of dissension --- "Yell...Stand up and shout out...Rattle Him...Be Disruptive Early and Often" --- at upcoming town hall meetings back in Congressional districts over the August recess...

Rocking the Town Halls - Best Practices

A Political Action Memo

We here in Fairfield County Connecticut conducted an action at Congressman Jim Hime's Town Hall meeting in May 2009. We believe there are some best practices which emberged from the event and our experience, which could be useful to activists in just about any district where their Congressperson has supported the socialist agenda of the Democrat leadership in Washington.
...
-- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

-- Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep's presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early.”

-- Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

As detailed in the full memo, the strategy "worked," and media took the bait in the Himes' Town Hall event mentioned.

Over the weekend, far-right kook Michelle Malkin, for some reason, was allowed a seat at the roundtable on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos as if she was a legitimate voice.

She predicted (video here) that where Democrats and the White House have "vastly underestimated just how grassroots this movement is," they would soon face "townhalls-gone-wild" in the weeks ahead...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2009 1:39pm PT  

David Kurtz at TPM suggests: "How about a program where we can turn in the old, washed-up pundits and talking heads on the cable nets for ones that spew less dangerous emissions?"

And, in not entirely unrelated news, Glenn Greenwald offers the proper perspective on today's report that the corporate ownership of both Fox "News" and MSNBC have interceded into their news divisions' ongoing Olbermann v. O'Reilly Wars because, while it's been good for ratings for both of them, it's bad for the corporations.

To build on Kurtz' notion, how about if we turn in the old, washed-up, corporatized news outlets who live large on our public airwaves and government largesse as well?

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AUDIO: Peter B. Collins speaks to the whistleblowers and experts still sounding the alarm as Bush-era big government intrusion continues unabated...
By Peter B. Collins on 7/29/2009 12:48pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Peter B. Collins

Since I signed off the syndicated Peter B. Collins radio show in March, I've been able to zoom out from the close-up view of day-to-day political combat.

On a daily basis, I reflect on the "change we can believe in" that candidate Obama promised us just a year ago. Certainly, the new administration is better than the Bush/Cheney gang on many fronts; and Bush left Obama an economic meltdown and other serious problems that need attention.

But consider:

  • we still have 135,000 troops and even more contractors in Iraq, with no clear plan or timeline for our exit, just vague promises and the hope that the Iraqis will kick us out next year. Most of the US troops that have left Iraq went to Afghanistan;
  • the escalation of our presence in Afghanistan is very dangerous, and contradicts some of Obama's own statements about the prospects for "success" there. He had the chance to reverse direction after the election, but chose to double down on the "good war";
  • the massive interception of domestic electronic communications continues, and the Obama Justice Department has reinforced and expanded on the bad legal precedents set under Bush/Cheney. Most Democrats are silent on this issue, and I see no effort to restore our privacy rights.

Remember how they dubbed Ronnie Reagan the "Teflon president"? Obama seems to have a new and improved coating, I call it "Leftlon," protecting him from challenges from the progressives who helped him beat Hillary for the nomination.

He keeps reaching out to GOP nuts who want to scuttle his tepid health care "reform," refuses to allow investigations while Cheney spits at him regularly, and expects us to trust the Goldman Sachs Alumni Association to fix the economy that they continue to plunder.

When will Obama deliver for the progressives who got him elected?

That's the central question I'm exploring in my new podcast series. Drop in to www.peterbcollins.com or you can subscribe (free, FREE!) at iTunes.

Here are two fresh programs I'd like you to check out. You can download each and/or listen online below. One is co-hosted with me by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, featuring NSA expert James Bamford as guest. The other is my exclusive interview with Mark Klein, former AT&T technician turned NSA surveillance program whistleblower...

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

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Or, Why blogs will survive, even if corporate mainstream media may not...
By Brad Friedman on 7/27/2009 6:05pm PT  


Kudos --- for the actual reporting and literal legwork --- to Mike Stark of Firedoglake ("Scum of the earth," according to Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)) for nailing this in between FDL reader-funder Capitol Hill reportage on health care (ya know, stuff that actually matters).

Kudos too to Rep. Tommy Franks (R-AZ), for his willingness to admit, for the camera --- unlike all of the other Republicans that Stark tried to get comment from on the Hill --- that Obama is a natural born "citizen of the United States of America."

We were prepared to offer Franks a much-sought, but too-rarely bestowed BRAD BLOG Intellectually Honest Conservative Award, but then he blew it at the very end by noting his condemnation of Obama "for promoting abortion on demand, for standing by and letting Jihad gain traction in the word, and for doing things to undermine our constitution and for turning us into a Socialist nation." Too bad. And you were so close, Mr. Franks!

BTW, in a very related late update, FDL's Jane Hamsher notes...

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By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2009 12:00pm PT  

And on a "lighter" note, Colbert takes a look at the report that AG Eric Holder is "on the verge of" appointing a prosecutor to look into Bush/Cheney torture, and the media's dismal coverage (hello NBC's Chuck Todd!), contending that carrying out the Rule of Law against politicians --- apparently only Republican ones --- should be avoided, because politicians would debate about it on television...

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House Labor and Education Committee Votes to Permit States to Adopt More Progressive Health Plans...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/19/2009 11:06am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

On Friday the House Labor and Education Committee voted 27 - 19 to adopt an amendment offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to HR 3200 [PDF], the hybrid "public option" health care legislation that leaves in place the current multi-payer system. The Kucinich amendment was supported by 13 of the Committee's Republicans. It was opposed by the Committee's chairman, George Miller (D-CA). If it survives a House floor vote and a House/Senate Conference Committee, the Kucinich amendment would insure that efforts to secure single-payer systems at the state level would not be preempted by federal law.

As explained by Donna Smith, co-chair of Progressive Democrats of America's "Healthcare NOT Warfare" campaign during a July 15, 2009 conference call [audio] amongst single-payer activists, the Kucinich amendment does not reflect an abandonment of the effort to enact the national single-payer system embodied in HR 676 [PDF]. As Smith sees it, the right to basic health care is a civil right, and like the earlier civil rights movement, its advocates must be flexible, yet relentless in pressing various strategies to put an end to what I described in "Single-Payer and the 'Democracy Deficit'" as a corrupt, dysfunctional and deadly system which places the obscene wealth of the few over the health and very lives of our citizens.

The Kucinich amendment would permit single-payer advocates in the U.S. to pursue the same strategy used in Canada where a single-payer system was first adopted at the province level, eventually placing pressure on Canada's federal government to adopt a national health care system.

This, by no means, suggests that HR 3200 comes even close to representing meaningful reform...

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By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2009 1:54pm PT  

Earlier this week I wrote about the ABC "News" chuckleheads, and their laff riot over the floated idea of a torture probe, "on the verge of" being announced by AG Eric Holder. They laughed and pooh-poohed the high-larious suggestion on last Sunday's Stephanopoulous.

And now MSNBC offers another egregious example of corporate media failure --- in this case, again, "inside the beltway" corporate media failure --- in their "coverage" of such a possible investigation/prosecution. Glenn Greenwald is, as usual, a must read here beginning this way on Wednesday...

NBC's Chuck Todd --- who, remember, is billed as a reporter covering the White House, not a pundit expressing opinions --- was on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday discussing reports that Eric Holder is likely to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Bush torture crimes. Needless to say, everyone agreed without question that investigations were a ridiculous distraction from what really matters and would be terribly unfair.

As I say, Greenwald's analysis of how far off the rails such insider "journalism" has now gone; how far from what the nation's Founders intended; how completely and utterly out of touch these guys actually seem to be from the public, is a must-read. So please do.

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By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2009 2:26pm PT  

At this rate, Beck is turning himself into a real contender against Palin for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination! A very impressive moment from his radio show today, courtesy of Media Matters, sure to make the wingnuts go further gaga for him!...


Now, if he'd only shoot someone in the face, he'd be a lock for the nomination!

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Editorial on key national election reform bill egregiously misrepresented by both the 'Paper of Record' and the Democratic U.S. Congressman who authored it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2009 12:27pm PT  

It's been nearly a month since the New York Times misinformed readers by describing NJ Democratic Congressman Rush Holt's national election reform bill (H.R. 2894) by inaccurately writing that it "would require paper ballots to be used for every vote cast in November 2010."

As it's currently written, it will do no such thing. It won't be until 2014 that a paper ballot for "every vote cast" will be required.

Election integrity expert Ellen Theisen, of VotersUnite.org (who had previously endorsed the bill, until withdrawing the group's endorsement after a different provision was amended prior to final introduction), told us earlier this month she believed the Times' assertion, in the unbylined editorial, was a "glaring inaccuracy" and a "complete misrepresentation of the bill."

Election attorney John Bonifaz, director of VoterAction.org, which has fervently endorsed this version of Holt's bill, later concurred, in response to a request for comment from The BRAD BLOG, that the Times was inaccurate in its representation of the bill.

While the Times has yet to take note, or issue a correction, Holt himself has responded to our concerns by somewhat re-writing the bullet-point on his website --- which had previously offered inaccurate language describing the bill almost identical to the Times' mischaracterization --- in order to somewhat more accurately describe what the bill actually does...

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Corporate MSM minimize, serious journalist bloggers offer appropriate coverage, condemnation
Plus: YOU can take action...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2009 7:04pm PT  

Following up on Saturday's NEWSWEEK scoop that Attorney General Holder "may be on the verge of" appointing a prosecutor to investigate Bush/Cheney-era torture, Digby notes how the chuckling dinosaurs of ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday snickered their way through a discussion of prosecution for torture by the Bush/Cheney regime (in our name!) as if they were wise-cracking about any old political brouhaha from inside the Beltway. (Video/transcript here, courtesy of C&L.)

Note to Stephanopoulos: How about featuring some actual journalists and bloggers who've actually been covering this issue for months (years?) before you eventually come to wonder why your show has gone the way of all the dead trees in the newspaper publishing business. Greenwald, Scahill, Wheeler, Horton all come to mind. It might bring your show up to date...or at least, up to 2006 or so.

The serious folks out there, several mentioned above, took a look at Saturday's NEWSWEEK report with the grim sobriety and analytical acumen that it deserves, while in largely shabby followups Washington Post, New York Times, and Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal all seem to float anonymously sourced trial balloons, averring the notion that only low-level rogue interrogators who exceeded the boundaries of the DoJ's illegal torture justification memos would be targeted by such an investigation.

On that point, while Glenn Greenwald charges such an approach would be arguably "worse than doing nothing," as it would "actually further subvert the rule of law rather than strengthen it," he also notes:

It's worth emphasizing here that all of these reports are preliminary and from anonymous DOJ sources, so it's a bit premature to get too worked up over a prosecution approach which Holder hasn't even announced yet. Still, given how many DOJ sources went to multiple newspapers at the same time to disclose Holder's plans, it seems clear that this was a coordinated, approved effort to disseminate Holder's intentions as a "trial balloon" to gauge public reaction.

Scott Horton's reporting counters the indications from anonymous sources in the increasingly obsolete WaPo, Times, and WSJ coverage which suggests focus on only low-level agents and contractors, rather than policy makers, by reporting that his sources at DoJ indicate just the opposite [emphasis ours]...

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