Now we learn that IRS flagged progressive groups for additional targeted scrutiny when applying for tax-exempt status --- just as they did for "Tea Party" groups. But, in the case of progressives, they continued doing so until this month, even after they had stopped flagging "Tea Party"-related groups, according to documents[PDF] released by Democrats on the U.S. House Ways and Means committee on Monday.
That, of course, is why we also described the pretend "scandal", in a subsequent report, as "nearly as phony as the Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones and ACORN 'scandals'".
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: A Green News Special Report: President Obama's historic speech on climate change - his warnings, initiatives, and what it means for the future ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Dan Savage: 'The War This Time'; Researchers ID organic solar cell materials; Insurers reassess natural disaster policies; EPA abandons study that linked fracking to Wyoming water pollution; Breakthrough: cheaper, better batteries for 300-mile EVs; Record floods in India, Nepal, Calgary; 50k dead bees in OR from pesticides; Houston to get half its electricity from renewables; Ocean seafloor is covered in trash; Megadrought predicted for U.S. Southwest; Volvo tests in-road EV charging ... PLUS: "Goodbye, Miami": as the seas rise, there will be chaos... and much, MUCH more! ...
That said, given this "Catch Me If You Can" international chase, this may be one (very brief) moment, in which I can (for now) forgive the mainstream corporate media for their breathless worldwide, man-of-mystery manhunt coverage. Snowden's Run is, after all, just one helluva good thriller story.
The New York Times' David Carr described it this way: "[A]s Edward J. Snowden made his way across the globe with a disintegrating passport and newly emerged allies, Twitter was there, serving up a new kind of chase coverage, with breathless updates from hovering digital observers speculating about the fleeing leaker’s next move. All day Sunday, it was like watching a spy movie unfold in pixels, except it was all very real and no one knows how it ends."
What is impossible to forgive, however, is another sideline distraction to the substance of Edward Snowden's disclosures that happened on Sunday, though it's a disturbingly important one that needs more light amidst the other, thrilling, if less important distractions. This part of the story came via the national embarrassment otherwise known as NBC's Meet the Press with David Gregory, when the titular host suggested that Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who helped break many of the Snowden disclosures, had "aided and abetted" the former NSA contractor, and should, therefore, be "charged with a crime" himself.
Gregory's friendly help to the U.S. Government's surging War on Journalism was echoed again today, by yet another supposed journalist, when Andrew Ross Sorkin, a financial columnist for the national embarrassment otherwise known as the New York Times, offered (also on live television) that he would "almost arrest" Greenwald in addition to Snowden...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Breaking: L.A. bans single use plastic bags; New study warns 2/3rds of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground; Autism risk linked to air pollution - again; Keystone XL pipeline won't use state-of-the-art technology; Alaska hotter than Florida; PLUS: The world's 1st solar plane an antidote to cynicism? ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Syngenta's dirty tricks campaign to discredit scientists, protect profits; China launches major cap & trade program to cut CO2 emissions; Look out below: Antarctica melting from underneath; Singapore chokes on smoke from deforestation; Many US airports facing threat of sea level rise; Temps in 2300: 'Too hot to live'; Environmental groups delay lawsuit, wait for Obama; NASA: Arctic methane melt at "amazing levels" ... PLUS: VIDEO: Meet the CNBC talking heads dismiss climate science ... and much, MUCH more! ...
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary 'Pentagon Papers' whistleblower offers frank comment on the NSA whistleblower; the dangers of our privatized surveillance state; the failure of Congressional oversight; and journalists 'discrediting their professions'...
"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America," Church said, "and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
On Wednesday, during a fascinating interview on The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, Ellsberg said directly, in the wake of Snowden's disclosures: "We're in the abyss. What he feared has come to pass."
The Guardian has asserted that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden "will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning," do it seemed the perfect time to chat with Ellsberg about all of this.
He offered a number of thoughts about Snowden himself, from one of the few people in the world who may have real insight into what the 29-year old leaker must be thinking and dealing with right about now, and why he may have chosen to both leave the country and then come out publicly. He describes Snowden as "a patriotic American, and to call him a traitor reveals a real misunderstanding of our founding documents."
"What he has revealed, of course, is documentary evidence of a broadly, blatantly unconstitutional program here which negates the Fourth Amendment," Ellsberg said. "And if it continues in this way, I think it makes democracy essentially impossible or meaningless."
As usual, Ellsberg pulled no punches in his comments on the dangers of our privatized surveillance state; the failure of our Congressional intelligence oversight committees (which he describes as "fraudulent" and "totally broken"); and on those who have been critical of Snowden and of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist from The Guardian who has broken most of the scoops on Snowden's leaked documents.
He said that folks like attorney Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker and author Thomas Friedman at New York Times and Senator Dianne Feinstein "are being very strongly discredited," by their attacks on Snowden. "The criticisms they're making, I think, are very discreditable to them in their profession," he says.
And, while answering to my request for a response to Josh Marshall's recent piece at TPM, in which Marshall weights his own conscience on this matter and frankly revealing his natural tendency to support the government over whistleblowers in cases like this, Ellsberg was particularly pointed. "Marshall has a lot to be said for him as a blogger," he said, before adding: "I think what he said there is stupid and mistaken and does not do him credit." He went on to describe some of Marshall's comments as "slander" against Snowden.
One other point that merits highlight here for now, before I let ya listen below. The difference between Ellsberg's circumstances and those in play today.
Ellsberg noted that after leaking top secret Defense Department documents to the New York Times in 1971, detailing how the Johnson Administration had lied the nation into the Vietnam War, President Nixon, at the time, ordered a break-in of his psychiatrist's office and discussed having Ellsberg "eliminated".
"All the things that were done to me then," he noted chillingly, "including a CIA profile on me, a burglary of my former psychiatrist's office in order to get information to blackmail me with, all of those things were illegal, as one might think that they ought to be."
"They're legal now, since 9/11, with the PATRIOT Act, which on that very basis alone should be repealed. In other words, this is a case right now with Snowden that shows very dramatically the dangers of that PATRIOT Act, used as it is. So the fact is, that all these things are legal. And even the one of possibly eliminating him"...
Several days ago, I posted a video showing the stark differences between the positions on massive surveillance programs by candidate Barack Obama in 2007 and President Barack Obama in 2013.
And now, since we're nothing if not "fair and balanced", here is a short video of Sean Hannity of Fox "News" repeatedly lauding massive NSA surveillance programs during the George W. Bush Administration...and then decrying the very same programs as "tyranny" and a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution now that Obama is doing it.
With all due respect to Hannity --- and I have none --- his over the top hypocrisy then versus now trumps even Obama's, hands down. Not to mention the small detail that the programs, as carried out under Bush were, at the time, illegal, while under Obama they have been made "legal". (Or so we are told. There is so much secrecy around them, of course, it is virtually impossible for the public to know either way.) Enjoy!...
The first part of this segment from last Thursday night's Last Word on MSNBC includes a quick summary by NBC's Pete Williams of the first two different blockbuster releases of classified NatSec documents by the UK Guardian's Glen Greenwald this week. (Those two stories are here and here, and came before his third one on Friday.)
If you're familiar with those stories, you can skip to the 5:15 mark in the video below, where Greenwald's appearance begins, and as he responds to threats of investigation, etc. by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and others concerning his release of these documents journalism.
The first part of Greenwald's response: "Let them go ahead and investigate. There's this document called the Constitution, and one of the things it guarantees is the right of a free press. Which means, as a citizen and as a journalist, I have the absolute Constitutional right to go on and report on what it is my government is doing in the dark and inform my fellow citizens about that action ... And I intend to continue to shine light on that and Dianne Feinstein can beat her chest all she wants and call for investigations and none of that's gonna stop and none of it's gonna change"...
That's what journalism should look like, and what every journalist should sound like, in my opinion.
I'm very proud to call Greenwald both a colleague and a fellow target of secretly planned cyberattacks back in 2011 by incredibly powerful corporate/government forces (one of whom, by the way, may well be one of the government Defense Dept. contractors involved in the second of Greenwald's leak reports this week.)
One more point on all of this I'd like to cite, for now...
In truth, they've never given a damn about any of it, unless it seemed to be something they could use to hurt Barack Obama and Democrats in some way. But, even then, the fake outrage was extraordinarily selective.
With yesterday's revelation by Glenn Greenwald at the UK Guardian, exposing the Obama NSA's secret FISA court order to obtain blanket access to months of records from "all telephone calls in [Verizon's] systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries," one might be dumb enough to think that Fox and the Republicans and, especially, U.S. House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrel Issa, would be in an absolute uproar upon learning of the President's tyrannical Big Government overreach and invasion into the private lives of American citizens.
But, of course, we're not that dumb.
Other than Sen. Rand Paul, apparently, few on the Right could care less about any of it. That is, of course, because they never actually cared about Big Government or tyranny or invasions into the private lives of American citizens in the first place.
Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon explains it well, noting that between the time the story broke last night and about 2pm ET this afternoon, Fox "News" and Fox Business, together, had mentioned the story only three times. "Two were quick straight news segments, while the third was a little riff from the 'Fox and Friends' crew." At the same time, he writes, "Fox and Fox Business have mentioned the nine-month-old Libya scandal over 25 times"...
This is why conservative scandal mongers can’t have anything nice. When they’re handed a real scandal that should confirm all of their worst suspicions about government overreach, they fail to take the bait and fall back on a stale non-scandal that cable news has chewed over for months already. They know Benghazi is safe territory for them and that their viewers like it, but it’s too bad the most popular cable news network isn’t doing a better job of informing their viewers about legitimate Obama administration problems.
This afternoon, World Net Daily, the Birther news website, blasted out an email to readers: "Mother of all scandals: Obama’s war on Christians."
"This should be a litmus test for Republicans: either take action against this program, or never invoke liberty or limited government again," Conor Friedersdorf tweeted, regarding the NSA story.
And, of course, that was all beforeGreenwald and Ewen MacAskill's arguably even more alarming story today (also confirmed by Washington Post) revealing a massive, previously undisclosed, top secret NSA program named PRISM which now affords the agency "direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian." The program, they report, allows "officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats."
Fox and friends are, no doubt, scrambling, even now, to ignore that story as thoroughly and as quickly as possible as well. Because, ya know, Benghazi! Or something...Or, maybe its the fact that both programs were begun under George W. Bush, back when Fox and friends didn't even pretend to give a damn about Big Government overreach --- other than when they were calling for more of it.
The TPP is a NAFTA-like "free trade" agreement that not only threatens our national sovereignty, but aspires to supplant the sovereignty of all participating nation-states with a privately-controlled, all encompassing, corporate, global "investor state". The "investor-state" finds its embodiment in the creation of arbitration tribunals which are granted the power to negate the effectiveness of laws passed by individual nation-states.
As explained by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, through TPP, U.S. corporations and their K-Street lobbyists seek to by-pass the legislative process and democratic accountability in order to undermine Internet freedom, U.S. environmental laws and regulations and local laws protecting the health and safety of our citizenry. "Many of those corporations that have failed to get what they want from Congress are now getting their way through the secret back door of the TPP," they write. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also issued a warning that Wall Street is attempting to gut Dodd-Frank through trade agreements such as TPP.
But, as government watchdog group Public Citizen observes, TPP --- which is now augmented by a joint U.S./E.U. call for a similar Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement --- threatens not only U.S. sovereignty but the ability of all nations to protect their own citizenry through the expansion of an already "notorious investor-state system". Such a system allows ethically compromised international business arbitration tribunals to compel nation-states to fork over "taxpayer-funded" penalties to predominantly U.S.-based, multinational corporations as the result of "domestic regulatory frameworks concerning nuclear energy and currency stability, revocation of mining and oil licenses (often in response to contract violations), and numerous other government measures affecting public health, financial stability, access to essential services and the environment."
What, you hadn't heard about this? Perhaps because the corporate media, and both major political parties, would prefer you keep your eyes on the shiny, pretend objects (Benghazi "scandal"! IRS "scandal"!) rather than the policies supported by both parties that will actually have a very real impact on your life and our country...
President Obama recently nominated Tom Wheeler as the new Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal agency tasked with protecting the public interest in broadcasting, particularly over our public airwaves.
One of the first questions Wheeler's FCC will have to (reluctantly?) decide: Is Talk Radio the same as "bonafide news"?
More than three quarters of the American public say no, according to Pew Research, and one would think an agency sworn to protect the public interest and its airwaves would agree with that vast majority. But will Wheeler choose to put the public interest first, or will his FCC continue to simply turn a blind eye, as the agency has done since the Reagan administration?
After what we documented last year in Wisconsin, and after official complaints were filed in turn with the FCC about how corporate radio stations there appear to have abused their licensed privilege to broadcast over our public airwaves, that question may finally have to be answered by the federal agency tasked with enforcing the law over those very airwaves...
In it, we briefly documented the Obama DoJ's attack on journalists and journalism, as most recently highlighted by the sweeping subpoena of AP reporters' phone records and the naming of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to subpoena his email and much more in the course of a national security leak investigation. We highlighted how these sorts of outrageous attacks on the media were something that the Right had very much approved of under Bush, and even under Obama, at least until it struck a bit too close to home for them, particularly with the latest news about Rosen. Now, of course, Fox and friends claim to be outraged! about it all.
In our report, we cited an excellent recent piece by Constitutional attorney turned UK Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald. In that column, he smartly decried the aggressive actions of the Obama Administration. At the end of his piece, in an update, he dinged the Right for their hypocrisy in this matter. (It was the latter which we generally focused on in our own piece, though we also pointed out how Greenwald has been extraordinarily consistent over the years in his no-holds-barred critique of First Amendment erosions, whether they were carried out by the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration. For his championing of First Amendment rights he has received much partisan criticism over the years, first from Bush loyalists during the Bush Administration, and now from partisan Obama loyalists during the current administration.)
In response to our piece, BRAD BLOG commenter "Billy" went off on a tear against Greenwald, charging that "he has been lying incessantly about the James Rosen story"; that he "has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting"; that he is "an opponent of Barack Obama [who] won't let the truth get in the way of that opposition"; and, perhaps most sharply, that he "is now in the same business as [Republican Congressman and U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman] Darrell Issa."
Setting the invective aside, the main of Billy's critique of Greenwald seems to be that Rosen's original 2009 article at Fox --- the one which resulted in the DoJ naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator and the indictment of Rosen's alleged State Department leak source Steven Jin-Woo Kim --- led to the dangerous exposure of U.S. intelligence gathering operations and assets in North Korea.
Rosen's report on North Korea "presumably made it very easy for them to eliminate the operation," Billy argued, in apparent support of the Obama DoJ's actions. "At worst, this publication may have cost American intelligence sources their lives."
"But Glenn Greenwald, who has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting, described Kim's leak to Rosen as a case of communicating 'innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington.' Clearly it was not," fumed Billy.
We asked Greenwald whether he had yet to reply to the charge that he had "lied" about the Rosen case when describing the reported leaks as "innocuous" and, if not, if he'd like to. He sent us a response to that allegation, which he asked that we publish in full. Happy to. The complete response from Greenwald follows below...
Had Karl's error --- compounded by his "cover-up" even more than his original "crime" --- contained news that falsely appeared good for Democrats instead of for Republicans, he would have been hammered and forever discredited by the Right until finally fired by ABC News. But, alas, his completely false report on Benghazi benefited Republicans rather than Democrats, so no biggie, it seems. He gets to keep his career!
ABC's Karl, however, wasn't the only top-tier network newsman who blew it big time, further tarnishing the profession over the past week, not by a long shot.
"Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups --- and political intimidation --- in this administration," declared the opportunistic Republican Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee during a hearing today on the "scandal" related to the IRS use of Rightwing words such as "Tea Party" to help identify groups applying for tax-exempt status which might be operating in violation of the tax code.
The key phrase there is: "Listening to the nightly news..."
Rep. David Camp (R-MI) was correct in at least that part of his statement. If you listened to the way this supposed "scandal" is being reported by the bulk of the corporate media, you'd think the poorly chosen criteria used by low-level IRS officials in trying to identify taxpayer-subsidized organizations that might be carrying out political operations in violation of the law, was part of a "culture of cover-up" and "political intimidation" on par with Richard Nixon ordering his Dept. of Justice to target political enemies.
Then again, if you listened only to the corporate media, you --- like the Obama Administration --- also probably thought that the phony, trumped-up "scandals" that led to the inappropriate firing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, the cowardly firing of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and the outrageous federal defunding of ACORN were also the unhappy result of an endemic culture of corruption by the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party and its insidious political apparatchiks.
Those fake scandals, however, all three of them, were shams. They were eventually identified as such, though only after a great deal of harm to Sherrod, Jones and ACORN had already been done by the Democrats who fell for them and acted out of knee-jerk and cowardly fear to try and contain the perception of "scandal" which was, naturally, helped along by the very loud misreporting of "the nightly news".
Our general assessment --- based on the IG's findings --- that this "scandal" appears to be an enormous over-reaction to poorly thought out procedures and lousy management by low-level IRS officials, has been shored up since publishing our article yesterday, both by today's House hearings and by scattered media coverage elsewhere.
As usual, with these things, the Republicans cry "COVER-UP!", "OUTRAGE!", "SCANDAL!"; the corporate media credulously, unskeptically and dutifully reports it as such; the Obama Administration knee-jerks out of fear and starts firing people (like the Acting Commissioner of the IRS who wasn't even at the agency during the period in question) in hopes of showing how they are on top of things and will not tolerate such "outrages!"; and Republicans opportunistically use the entire matter to create a phony sense of partisanship, incompetence and tyranny (seemingly opposite notions, but never mind that) on the part of the Administration.
It works every time, it seems, since the very top-tier corporate media, as well as the Obama Administration, keep falling for it over and over and over again...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hysterical Fox 'News' flip-floppery on Tesla; Consensus strikes again: 97% of climate scientists say global warming is man-made, but the public thinks it's evenly split; CO2 levels pass 400ppm; You're already paying a 'disaster tax'; PLUS: Thanks to renewable energy, one town now has too much money ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Explosive pig poo foam!; Supreme Court rules for Monsanto; Floods could overwhelm London barriers; Conoco-Philips CEO admits humans cause global warming - but is against getting off oil; Interior Dept issues new fracking rules; Ernie Moniz confirmed as Energy Secretary; Stephen Chu wishes he'd accomplished more on climate change; Japan takes first step to a permanent reactor shutdown after Fukushima ... PLUS: Vote with your wallet in the supermarket? There's an app for that ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Sequester budget cuts hit federal firefighting response during an early wildfire season; More good news for Tesla Motors, bad news for loser Mitt Romney; Scientists accidentally discover new way to make cleaner steel; Another city votes for solar on all new construction; PLUS: Sec. of State John Kerry bluntly criticizes the US for climate change inaction ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Idiocracy: WSJ's 'CO2 Is What Plants Crave'; Chile offers to export fresh water to Qatar; US shale oil supply shock shifts global power balance; Oil companies turn to shipping by rail; Supreme Court rules for Monsanto; Plans to export U.S. natural gas stir debate; Turning CO2 emissions into algae, fuel & animal feed; Panasonic to give away 100k solar lanterns to developing countries; Cutting down rain forests mean less hydropower for developing nations: study ... PLUS: America's first climate refugees: Newtok, Alaska is losing ground to the sea at a dangerous rate and for its residents, exile is inevitable ... and much, MUCH more! ...