We all have been tirelessly screaming about issues related to Congressional leaders abdicating their main responsibility of 'oversight.' We have been outraged for way too long at seeing 'no' accountability whatsoever in many known cases of extreme wrongdoing. I, and many of you, believe that the biggest reason for this was, and still is, the lack of true journalism and media coverage --- which acts as the necessary pressure and catalyst for those spineless politicians on the Hill and in the Executive branch. Or, at least it's supposed to. So, in our book, the MSM have been the main culprit.
Well, here is a chance to turn the tables.
At my new blog, 123 Real Change, I'm happy to present an experimental project, Project Expose MSM, created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on the documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers.123 Real Change is inviting all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and even reporters themselves, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored, blacked out or tainted.
Yes, we will be naming names --- myself included.
We will even do so below, in one real-case example, intended to help illustrate how the project will work. In the absence of the real investigative journalism and unbiased independent media we need, this is one way to set the record straight...
The faux Republican outrage over Nancy Pelosi's perceived slight, in charging that CIA briefers directly misled Congress, has been amusing to watch. Even as the Democrats' seeming inability to either defend her, or fear of sinking into the same phony political sandtrap, is disappointing. But Democrats seem to excel at disappointment these days, so that part of the ginned-up story is hardly surprising.
The GOP hypocrisy in charging that Pelosi has somehow hurt the morale of The Agency in the bargain (and, as bonus, that Obama's release of the Bush Torture Memos has endangered CIA operatives) has been all the more amusing to witness, in their complete and entire selective amnesia of their party's own 100%, unqualified support of a White House which, for the first time in the history of this nation, had publicly outed the identity of a covert CIA operative. In unapologetically exposing Valerie Plame-Wilson, and completely destroying her entire, crucial network monitoring the trafficking of WMD in the Middle East along with it, untold damage was brought not only to CIA operatives risking their lives in the defense of this nation, but also to the national security of the nation itself, which was significantly blinded in the Middle East --- and on the issue of WMDs, of all things --- at a time when we were theoretically going to war there, over that very issue. Yet, the Republicans chose to side with the criminals in treason, over the "morale" or "effectiveness" of The Agency in their shortsighted and inexcusable politicization of the matter.
It doesn't get much more absurd than all of that...unless you add to it the Democrats' near-complete incapacity to take on, and tear down, the opportunistic Republicans on their own, absurdist argument in phony defense of the CIA of late.
Ernie Canning, here at The BRAD BLOG, has been documenting the CIA's rich, and often ugly, 50-year history in the use of torture, and other illegalities, as a direct tactic to control foreign populations in the march towards the growth of U.S. Empire in the twentieth, and now twenty-first, century, well-prior to the Bush Administration's claims of the necessity for so-called "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" in the post-9/11 era. Canning's third, and latest chapter in his exclusive four-part series was published here last week.
But more germane, for the moment, to the continuing, cynical, and disingenuous Republican "outrage" over Pelosi's charges that the CIA misled Congress during classified briefings --- as happily amplified by the corporate broadcast media on all of the Sunday News Shows today --- is 42-year CIA veteran Melvin A. Goodman's brief summary of the CIA's rich history in bamboozling Congress published over at The Public Record. As with the use of torture by the CIA, no, The Agency's lies to Congress did not begin in the post-9/11 period, but they certainly reached a high-point (or low-point, depending on your perspective) during that period which the GOP has now chosen for their fully-politicized, hoped-for distraction, in targeting the current Democratic Speaker of the House.
Goodman's summary is worth a quick review --- particularly by Democrats who seem to be caught flat-footed, yet again, in having a clue about how to dismantle, and defang this latest absurd strawman argument mustered by a party with no tools left in their toolbox, other than a fully-compliant corporate media, and a startlingly-inept opposition party.
Today, VelvetRevolution.us announced our new campaign calling for the disbarment of 12 of the Bush-era torture lawyers in four states and the District of Columbia. The campaign, whose VR homepage is at DisbarTortureLawyers.com (where you can sign on yourself, read the complaints, etc.), calls for action to be taken by the state bar associations to revoke the law licenses of attorneys John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Mukasey, Michael Chertoff, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Hayens, and Timothy Flanigan in NY, CA, TX, PA and D.C., following their exceedingly irresponsible and inappropriately liberal interpretation of U.S. law.
My colleague Kevin Zeese, an attorney himself, as well as executive director of VotersForPeace.us and a board member at VR, signed the complaints delivered to the appropriate boards for all 12 Bush attorneys. He announced the launch of the initiative at a press conference in D.C. this morning. His published statement, released today with the press conference, is posted in full here.
So far, the coverage in the corporate mainstream media today has been surprisingly decent and fairly widespread. We've seen reports from NY Times, CNN, LA Times, WaPo, Bloomberg, AP and others.
AP's coverage has been interesting, and instructive, to watch. When they first reported on the initiative early today, the lede on their story was [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two outside groups want Bush administration lawyers linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees to lose their licenses to practice law.
Their updated version, which included a few more details, but the same headline, "Complaint seeks disbarment of Bush lawyers," had this as its lede [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of liberal groups filed petitions Monday seeking disbarment of Bush administration attorneys linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees.
Not sure what makes calling for a strict, conservative interpretation of the Rule of Law, versus the wildly liberal interpretations of the Bush Administration (and that's putting it mildly), a "liberal" cause, but that's what I guess we must come to accept from the news organization --- sorry, let me update that --- rightwing house organ that AP has become.
UPDATE: As I've been asked by a number of media folks for a comment on today's initiative, as co-founder of VR, I've been happy to offer them this statement:
"The wildly liberal interpretations of the rule of law by the Bush administration attorneys, in order to justify their torture schemes, should be offensive to the core, to anyone who believes in a strict, conservative interpretation of decades of established U.S. law on the matter, including treaties signed, on behalf of the U.S., by such conservatives as Ronald Reagan."
UPDATE 5/19/09, 8:44pm PT: AP's short video coverage of Kevin Zeese at the presser yesterday is here. But a more complete version of his statement follows below. Also, a big congrats to our Kevin for being honored with the prestigious BuzzFlash "Wings of Justice" award today for his tremendous effort on this campaign!
These are said to be among the photos of prisoner abuse/torture whose release Obama has determined to block. Some of them were obtained, and posted several years ago, by The Sydney Morning Herald (who have more here).
Remember, these prisoners were captured in the war on Iraq, so even the disingenuous claims of Geneva Conventions not applying cannot be used here.
As Drudge and Rush have (predictably) taken to ridiculing these latest noticed photos of abuse/torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. captors, I thought it worth running some of them here, so you could similarly see how "ridiculous" it is to be concerned about this sort of treatment of prisoners on our watch. I'm certain that no U.S. military family would ever object, in the slightest way, were their son or daughter treated this way after being captured by an enemy country.
'Security via obscurity' didn't work as a concept during the Bush Administration. It's difficult to fathom how the Obama Administration would believe it'll work any better for them.
Andy Worthington, who largely broke the story of the reported 'suicide' of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in a Libyan prison, into the English-language press on Sunday (as we helped that night), picked up last night on our followup to the original story, decrying the paucity of coverage of the disturbing report in the U.S. corporate mainstream media.
Al-Libi was, after all, the 'ghost detainee' who had offered a false link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, used loudly by the Bush Administration before the war as a key justification for it, after being tortured by the CIA and Egypt, where he'd been secretly renditioned from U.S. custody at Guantanamo. He would later recant his false 'confession,' explaining that it had come about only after 17 hours of 'mock burial,' and a session of brutal beatings by his captors which followed it.
Newsweek describes the al-Libi affair today as "one of the biggest intelligence fiascos of the run up to the Iraq War" and "a major embarrassment for the Bush administration."
Worthington asked why the initial "media silence," before noting that while U.S. outlets have finally begun to cover the story, one of the better initial reports, from Peter Finn at Washington Post fails to follow up on the paper's own previous coverage of 'ghost detainees,' which included al-Libi, who had disappeared, at some point, from the Bush Administration's long list of suspected 'terrorists' captured following 9/11.
Al-Libi was one of those captives previously reported on by WaPo. His re-emergence in Libya --- where he was spotted by Human Rights Watch at the Abu Salim prison in late April, in apparent good health, but refused to be interviewed, reportedly saying only "Where were you when I was being tortured in American prisons?" --- was punctuated, just two weeks later, by the surprising news of his reported 'suicide.'
But where WaPo covered some of the points mentioned in a press release on al-Libi's death from HRW, they failed to mention any of the other 'ghost detainees' mentioned in the very same press release, whose whereabouts had been a mystery up until now. That, even though WaPo had previously reported the 'missing' status of those same detainees!
Given the disturbing fate of al-Libi --- who, HRW's Tom Malinowski charges, "was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration. He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war" --- it's disappointing that the paper has so far failed to connect dots that could, in this case, help shine a spotlight on growing concerns about some of those other detainees: A spotlight which may help keep them alive, at this point.
There is certainly good reason to question both the timing, and reported means, of al-Libi's death, not the least of which is the point made in several media reports, including AP's, where some have "expressed doubts that al-Libi killed himself, saying al-Libi was a 'true Muslim and Islam prohibits committing suicides.'"
Yet, as Worthington notes, the Post failed to even mention the current status of the other detainees HRW discovered in the Libyan prison, even as they had similarly been sent there by the CIA following claims of abuse and torture at the hands of the U.S....
[Ed Note: See bottom of article for several late updates.]
So, it's been about 16 hours since we covered indie journalist/historian/blogger Andy Worthington's detailed report on the the reported suicide of the man who falsely "confessed," during torture, to a false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The forced confession was subsequently used by the Bush Administration (Bush himself, as well as Powell and others) as justification for the war on Iraq. That, despite the fact that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi recanted his story not long thereafter, as long and widely reported.
As of this moment, not a single mainstream U.S. newspaper or broadcast outlet has reported on the story. Is it not notable? Or are our newspapers just dead set on ensuring their irrelevance by continuing to not report on news that actually matters, no matter how widely it's being reported in other parts of the world?
The former FBI translator and whistleblower suggests blackmail may be at the heart of Congressional refusal to bring accountability and oversight to its own members - such as both Hastert and Harman - in matters of espionage and national security
I have been known to quote long-dead men in my past writings. Whether eloquently expressed thoughts by our founding fathers, or those artfully expressed by ancient Greek thinkers, these quotes have always done a better job starting or ending my thoughts - that tend to be expressed in long winding sentences. For this piece I am going to break with tradition and start with an appropriate quote from a living current senator, John Kerry: "It's a sad day when you have members of Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues. No wonder people look at Washington and know this city is broken."
The people do indeed look at Washington and know that this city is 'badly' broken, Senator Kerry. The public confidence in our Congress has been declining drastically. Recent poll results highlight how the American people's trust in their Congress has hit rock bottom. A survey of progressive blogs easily confirms the rage rightfully directed at our Congress for abdicating its role of oversight and accountability. Activists scream about promised hearings that never took place - without explanation. They express outrage when investigations are dropped without any justification. And they genuinely wonder out loud why, especially after they helped secure a major victory for the Democrats. The same Democrats who had for years pointed fingers at their big bad Republican majority colleagues as the main impediment preventing them from fulfilling what was expected of them.
The recent stunning but not unexpected revelations regarding Jane Harman (D-CA) by the Congressional Quarterly provide us with a little glimpse into one of the main reasons behind the steady decline in the integrity of Congress. But the story is almost dead - ready to bite the dust, thanks to our mainstream media's insistence on burying 'real' issues or stories that delve deep into the causes of our nation's continuous downward slide. In this particular case, the 'thank you' should also be extended to certain blogosphere propagandists who, blinded by their partisanship, myopic in their assessments, and ignorant in their knowledge of the inner workings of our late Congress and intelligence agencies, helped in the post-burial cremation of this case.
Ironically but understandably, the Harman case has become one of rare unequivocal bipartisanship, when no one from either side of the partisan aisle utters a word. How many House or Senate Republicans have you heard screaming, or even better, calling for an investigation? The right wing remains silent. Some may have their hand, directly or indirectly, in the same AIPAC cookie jar. Others may still feel the heavy baggage of their own party's tainted colleagues; after all, they have had their share of Abramoffs, Hasterts and the like, silently lurking in the background, albeit dimmer every day. Some on the left, after an initial silence that easily could have been mistaken for shock, are jumping from one foot to the other, like a cat on a hot tin roof, making one excuse after another; playing the 'victims of Executive Branch eavesdropping' card, the same very 'evil doing' they happened to support vehemently. Some have been dialing their trusted guardian angels within the mainstream media and certain fairly visible alternative outlets. They need no longer worry, since these guardian angels seem to have blacked out the story, and have done so without the apparent need for much arm twisting...
Despite the new wealth of evidence that the Bush administration’s desire to torture suspects was driven by a desire to gin up phony links between Iraq and al Qaeda, not by concerns about another terrorist attack, former Vice President Cheney is sticking to his story that it was all about terrorism. In part II of his interview with Fixed News, the Dark Lord accusing the Obama administration of not believing that the U.S. is threatened by terrorism.
The Fox "News" interview was vintage Cheney. He referred to torture as “a robust interrogation program on detainees” that was vital “to the very existence of the nation.”
CHENEY: What the Obama administration is doing, in effect, is saying that we don’t need those tough policies that we had. That says, either they didn’t work, which we know is not the case—they did work, they kept us safe for seven years...
You have to see a Cheney performance in order to appreciate the effectiveness of Cheney propaganda. Unlike George W. Bush, who was inclined to trip over his own tongue, Cheney has perfected the quiet lie. His words may be false but he delivers them as facts so uncontroversial you’d think he was a local network anchor reporting on traffic conditions...
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...
Of course, the video above underscores the plain truth that the "protesting" tea baggers sore losers, had no real clue what the hell they were even doing at their tiny "protests" on Wednesday, which they only showed up for, to protest against their own best interests, because Fox "News" told them to. The photo below (courtesy "rumproast") may say it all...
All of Wednesday's confused, desperate (though rather amusing) "protests" were, of course, dwarfed in size, actual meaning, and actual grass-rootsness, by dozens of actual grass-roots protests during the Bush years, such as this one against the Iraq War and these when Bush was inaugurated in '05, even though somehow Fox "News" forgot to promote those actual protests, and the rest of the corporate media forgot to cover them at all.
But ssshhhh...don't tell the tea baggers sore losers, they think they've started a "revolution"...
That's right, according to AP tonight, following the just released final ruling [PDF] from the 3-judge election contest court in Minnesota, Senator-elect Al Franken (D-MN) is not the "winner" of the election. Rather, he's merely the "leading vote-getter."
Are they kidding?! "Leading vote-getter"?! Apparently not.
Will that be how AP reports the results of elections on Election Nights from now on? The one with the most votes counted in the unofficial results will be the "leading vote-getter"? Somehow, we've got the feeling that AP's headline refers only to this race, and only since it's Franken, not Coleman, who actually won.
As The BRAD BLOG pointed out late last week, Franken isn't "leading" as the New York Times, MSNBC and others reported it last week after the court's final tally of all lawfully cast ballots concluded. And he certainly isn't the "leading vote-getter." Franken won. After one of the most painstaking and transparent hand counts, and then one of the longest election contests in U.S. history, it has been determined that Franken received more lawfully cast votes than anybody else in the race. Period. Furthermore, he has no legal leg to stand on in his likely appeal(s), as we detailed last week. All of that makes Franken the winner of the election, and former Sen. Norm Coleman the loser.
If Coleman wishes to try to overturn Franken's win --- and he's promised an appeal to the MN Supreme Court at the very least --- that's up to him. But Franken won the election. Got that AP? New York Times, et al?! Is that so difficult to report accurately?!
UPDATE 5:41pm PT: The rest of the media, other than AP, appear to be doing better in reporting on Franken's win tonight...
UPDATE 7:13pm PT:NY Times' headline: "In Minnesota, Another Blow to Coleman". Apparently "the paper of record" continues it's allergy to the word "win," along with AP. Downplaying the facts of the matter, Adam Nagourney writes tonight:
By any measure, this latest ruling – the latest in a string against Mr. Coleman – further diminishes his hopes of holding on to his seat.
Franken received the highest number of lawfully cast ballots in the November 4, 2008 general election for United States Senator for the State of Minnesota and is entitled to receive the certificate of election.
Is that unclear?! In most worlds, other than the Times' and AP's in 2009, that would mean Franken has won. But the Times, like AP, just can't seem to say it. Now why would that be?
And in AP Sports...
Pittsburgh Steelers Leading Touchdown-Scorer
UNC Tarheels Leading Basket-Maker
As long promised, The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system 2008, fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...
No. He's not crazy at all. Glenn Beck pours metaphorical "gasoline" on "himself," his viewers, and his imagined newly-tyrannical America, and his own, and his viewers', rapidly accelerating, self-perpetuated sense of victim-hood. When he/they eventually --- and it shouldn't be long at this rate --- actually light the match and blow themselves/us up, feel free to point back to this item, when we're told "who could have predicted it?"...
Beck's daily hour on governmentally subsidized cable TV, and three hours daily on our publicly owned radio waves, is a tremendously responsible use government welfare, and reflects brilliantly on our Founding Fathers' guarantee to one single industry --- and one single industry only (the press) --- in our U.S. Constitution.
That's a very responsible use of that singular Constitutional dispensation, Glenn. Keep up the bad work.
BTW, in case you missed it on Wednesday, Jon Stewart --- an actually responsible steward of public largess --- spoke directly and brilliantly to the crazies like Beck and Hannity and O'Reilly and Levin and Bachmann et al, by informing them (since they don't seem to know): "I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing...that's not tyranny, that's democracy"...
That video --- actually worth watching and taking notes --- follows below...
Over the last few months, it looks like the wingnuts have undertaken a specific and systematic effort to try and downrate items that don't reflect well on them at places like REDDIT and DIGG.
Of course, lots of recommendations on those two sites result in thousands --- if not hundreds of thousands --- of more eyeballs to the various stories we run here at The BRAD BLOG --- stories which are often not seen anywhere else in the media, even in the Progressive Blogosphere for that matter!
So your REDDITs and DIGGs actually do matter quite a bit, particular now since the wingnuts seem to have begun their downrating campaign. Click here to see the amazing number of DOWN votes at REDDIT, for example, for last night's "Franken Isn't 'Leading'; He Won and Coleman Lost" story. Without all that downrating, the story would easily have made it to the front page of REDDIT for a long while, and therefore been propagated across dozens of other key sites on the net as well.
It takes about 30 seconds to sign up for REDDIT and/or DIGG the first time, and then you can remain logged on forever. It then takes less than 2 seconds to vote for and/or uprate our stories here at The BRAD BLOG without even leaving this page by hitting the REDDIT and DIGG vote icons for stories that you believe are important to get out there.
Your 2 seconds of a mouse clicking matters. Really. And, as ever, your help is much appreciated! (And thanks to those regular DIGGers and REDDITers who already help out!)
Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning, with Brad Friedman
In his March 31st article at Media Matters, Eric Boehlert contrasted the difference in corporate media coverage between Florida's 2000 Presidential election contest and Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate election contest. "Norm Coleman's a sore loser," Boehlert argued, and asked "Why won't the press say so?"
He details the striking difference in the corporate media coverage of the two races, where Florida 2000 was both much closer and, as it would determine the Presidency of the United States, arguably more 'important' to get right, and yet the constant media framing continuously painted Al Gore as a "sore loser" for not bowing out 'gracefully' or 'admitting defeat' in the days following the razor-thin election (which, as we would learn later, Gore had actually won, having received more votes across the state of Florida [PDF] than George W. Bush, had the U.S. Supreme Court not kept the ballots from actually being counted).
But to go one further than Boehlert, we'd ask not why the media fail to describe Coleman as a "sore loser," but rather, why it is that --- particularly since Tuesday's final count of any remaining, lawfully cast, previously uncounted absentee ballots --- the media fail to describe Coleman as the loser at all, much less a sore one.
From the New York Times to AP to MSNBC, and even Democracy Now!et al, despite all countable ballots having now been counted, and clear rulings having been issued by both the MN Supreme Court and the bipartisan three-judge panel overseeing the contest, the media seem to have developed an aversion to using the "L" word --- loser --- in their coverage of the MN contest. Perhaps it's because they're listening to only one side of the argument (Coleman's), but the facts of the case, and the many clear court decisions, leave no question that Franken is the winner, and Coleman is the loser. So why won't they say so?...