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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Napa earthquake is a warning for CA's nuke plants; Another coal plant bites the dust; Cutting emissions will save $$$; PLUS: Fighting drought with a 'salmon cannon'...Yep...
Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring the GOP's Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin? Let us catch you up quickly with the latest...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller checks in for 'treatment', may be able to duck prosecution...
Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
In response to bi-partisan calls for reform and disturbing display by militarized local police in Ferguson, MO, the President takes aim at controversial Pentagon program...
Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
Perry Tells NH Businessmen His Felony Indictment Was for a 'Bribery' Charge
Is this another 'oops' moment from the Repub TX Governor and 2016 hopeful? Or something else entirely?...
'Green News Report' 8/21/14
Too much rain in AZ desert; Another toxic spill in Ohio River; Solar breakthrough; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; PLUS: Auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor...
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become; Plus: another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
OR nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


What happened and how 2 Republican judges overruled the State's case and the thorough deliberation of 12 jurors...
By Brad Friedman on 9/21/2013 7:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

Following Thursday's 2-to-1 decision by a three-judge panel from an appellate court in Texas overturning the 2010 felony money laundering convictions of former U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R), the Travis County District Attorney announced her intention to seek a review of that decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

"We strongly disagree with the opinion of Judges Goodwin and Gaultney that the evidence was insufficient," Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg said in a statement. "We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

She said her office is "preparing a response to this opinion and will ask the full Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the ruling."

I've been poring over both the majority decision [PDF] by the three-judge panel's two Republicans, and the dissent [PDF] issued by the Democratic Chief Justice of that court. I'm no expert here, and I'm trying to learn more, but the majority's decision seems to invoke some fairly impressive tortured logic in order to overturn the 12 jurors finding that DeLay committed these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.

Nonetheless, that logic, twisted or otherwise, may well work at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for criminal matters in the Lone Star State...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2013 10:10am PT  

[This article cross-published by Salon...]

Ironically enough, I had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes with former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in federal prison over the weekend. Siegelman, a Democrat, has so far served nearly two years for a "crime" that had never before been considered a crime before he was found guilty of it. He is likely to serve many more years in prison for the charges brought by Republicans, including a federal prosecutor whose husband was the Chief of Staff of Siegelman's gubernatorial rival Bob Riley, a team of folks, including the judge, who are all good friends of Karl Rove and who are said to have "coached, cajoled and threatened" the star witness in the case.

Today, in the meantime, Tom DeLay, the former Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, who was convicted of money-laundering hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars in Texas to give them to candidates --- something which has been an actual crime for decades in the state --- was acquitted of all charges by a 2 to 1 decision of a Texas appeals court.

DeLay never served a day in prison. Siegelman, on the day he was convicted, before the appeals process could even begin, was literally shackled and carted away. The basis for Siegelman's conviction has subsequently been challenged in a letter signed by a group of 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general.

For the record, when I spoke with Siegelman from his federal penitentiary in Oakdale, Louisiana over the weekend, he seemed to be in incredibly good spirits. At least that's the impression he offered during our very short chat. I can only imagine how dispiriting it must be today, however, for him to read the news about DeLay.

Once again, it seems, IOKIYAR.

* * *

• My interview with Siegelman and his daughter Dana, from just over one year ago, after he had finally been released on appeal after serving nine months, and just one week prior to being ordered back to prison, can be heard right here.

• More on the continuing effort to "Free Don Siegelman" here.

• The TX appellate court's 22-page majority opinion is here [PDF] in the DeLay case. The 8-page dissenting opinion is here [PDF].

* * *

UPDATE 9/21/13: DeLay is not entirely out of the woods yet. Here's a more detailed explanation of the court's decision in which the two partisan-elected Republican judges reversed the conviction, while the lone Democrat (the Chief Justice of the Third Court of Appeals in Texas) dissented. As I explain in that follow-up, the Travis County D.A. has now vowed to seek a review of the lower court's ruling at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, though she may run into partisan concerns at that higher court as well.

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With guests: FAIR's Jim Naureckas and Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait...
By Brad Friedman on 9/18/2013 10:05pm PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio we spoke first with Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) about whether the MSM --- despite recent hand-wringing over failures in the run-up to Iraq 10 years ago --- repeated the same behavior in the run-up to the almost-war in Syria.

Next, I was joined by Phil Plait of Slate's "Bad Astronomy" blog to discuss two related-ish things. First, as Plait is based on Boulder, CO, we got an update on the unprecedented "biblical" flooding there, the reasons for it, and the potential dangers to washed out fracking and drilling operations in the area. Second, we discussed the horrible climate change denialist "reporting" over the last couple of weeks that has been cranked up to 11 by Murdoch and his fossil fuel-friendly propagandists in advance of the UN's upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report --- the first since 2007 --- due out next week.

Finally, in whatever time we had left, a few updates on our hoped-for VETO of CA's terrible new voting system bill, SB 360; some good news in journalist Jason Leopold's lawsuit to unseal Guantanamo security documents; the latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen, and a bit more. Enjoy!

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

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Alex Padilla selling measure as needed to allow counties to own their own voting systems, which they are already allowed to do...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2013 7:05am PT  

California State Sen. Alex Padilla continues to mislead the public about SB 360, his radical election reform bill passed recently by the state legislature along partisan lines, and now waiting for a signature, or veto, from Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill, as we explained in our detailed exposé last week, would end all federal testing of new e-voting systems in the state of California. The use of only federally-approved voting systems had long been a requirement in the state. Moreover, the measure would grant unprecedented sweeping executive powers to the Sec. of State to approve new voting and tabulation systems for use in real elections without any certification testing at all, even by state auditors.

Coincidentally, Padilla, the bill's sponsor, is also a leading 2014 candidate for Sec. of State in California.

Last week, we explained how Padilla has been cynically selling this bill for many months as necessary in order for jurisdictions like Los Angeles County to own their own non-proprietary voting systems. Who, after all, other than private voting machine companies (and/or folks who'd like to use such systems to game elections), would be against the idea that voting systems should be publicly owned by the jurisdictions which use them to run their own public elections? But that explanation doesn't really tell the full story.

L.A. has been in the process of developing a new, publicly-owned, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system for some time. (See a new video of their design concepts, all quite troubling for those of us familiar with new, touch-screen e-voting systems, right here or at the bottom of this article.) The county has said they hope to sell their new system to other counties in the state and across the country. But, what Padilla doesn't mention to lawmakers or to the public while pitching his legislation, is that L.A. already owns their own current voting system and has for many years.

"I've introduced a piece of legislation that doesn't mandate, but allows, at the county level, county governments to own their voting systems," Padilla misleadingly announced on KSRO the day before the bill was finally approved by both chambers of the state legislature earlier this month. He cited L.A. County's development as the reason that counties should be able to own their own voting systems...which, he didn't mention, L.A. already does.

The audio clip of the KSRO interview is featured on Padilla's web page...

You can listen to Padilla's brief, 9/5/2013 interview on KSRO here [appx 4.5 mins]:

Since SB 360's introduction back in February, Padilla has been quoted similarly, and misleadingly, in every press release we've seen issued by his office, touting that "Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections."

The next, even more misleading part of the oft-used Padilla quote, has been modified only slightly in his press releases since the bill's introduction last February...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/16/2013 12:58pm PT  

Today, President Obama offered an address to mark the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the beginning of the 2008 collapse of the Wall Street casino or, as the President described it, "the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes." (He also spoke briefly, at the top of his remarks, on our latest mass shooting rampage which took place at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard this morning, reportedly resulting, in the deaths of at least 12 people at the military installation.)

"It was five years ago, this week, that the financial crisis rocked Wall Street, and sent an economy already into recession, into a tail spin," Obama reminded us. "And it's hard sometimes to remember everything that happened during those --- those months, but in a matter of a frightening few days and weeks, some of the largest investment banks in the world failed, stock markets plunged, banks stopped lending to families and small businesses, our auto industry --- the heartbeat of American manufacturing --- was flat-lining."

The President went on to tout the reforms and the recovery that have taken place since that time, arguing that "we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and we’ve begun to lay a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity," while conceding "we are not yet where we need to be."

"Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent," Obama correctly noted. "So, in many ways, the trends that have taken hold over the past few decades of a winner-take-all economy, where a few do better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water or loses ground, those trends have been made worse by the recession."

Over the weekend, the 40-year old advocacy group, Public Citizen, marked the same occasion of the fifth anniversary of the 2008 crash with an email blast highlighting a few numbers the President did not highlight in his remarks today, including a few jarring stats that remind us how and why, despite the modest recovery and incredibly tepid reforms of the past five years, the "too big to fail" foxes still remain firmly in charge of America's economic hen house...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2013 10:15am PT  

From the Eschaton blog [hat-tip Glenn Greenwald]...

Any pundit who advocates war for supposed humanitarian reasons must be able to point to 5 recent occasions when they advocated for achieving humanitarian goals using non-killing methods.

Otherwise, STFU.

Sounds good to us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2013 3:06pm PT  

We have been working on a number of articles in hopes of highlighting concerns about the Obama Administration's so-far, evidence-free case for war against Syria in light of the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack said to have been carried out in a Damascus suburb.

But the matter is a quickly moving target, so to speak. While we hope to get one or more pieces out on those matters in the near future, Talking Points Memo has obtained and just released a document which they say was created by the Syrian government, is being circulated to "most offices" in Congress, according to TPM's sources, and offers the Syrian's case to the U.S. that diplomacy, rather than military attacks, is how they recommend proceeding.

The arguments presented in the 5-page document (posted in full below) on letterhead from the Syrian People's Assembly and signed by the assembly's speaker, Mohammad Jihad al-Lahham, urges the U.S. to "not rush into any irresponsible reckless action."

"You have the power and the responsibility today to convert the United States of America from the war track to the diplomatic path," September 5 letter reads. "We hope to meet there, and to talk, as civilised peoples should. We adopt a diplomatic solution, as we realize that war would be a bloody destructive catastrophic track, which does not have any benefit for all nations."

The letter attempts to play on the sympathies of the U.S. government and public's enmity for al-Qaeda and other "hatred Wahhabi Jihadist Ideology". It also makes a familiar case against military strikes by citing the follies of the Iraq War disaster. But it is the letter's direct response to "Alleged Chemical Attacks" that is most interesting for the moment...

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

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By David Swanson on 9/4/2013 1:14pm PT  

[ED NOTE: Though David Swanson, in the following article, didn't give a reason as to why his source here is unnamed, I asked him why that is. His response: "He asked not to be named, which --- given the Insider Threat Program and the culture of McCarthyism afoot in Washington --- I found reasonable, and not just reasonable but also the only way I was going to get that story." --- BF]

Believe it or not --- after John McCain played video games on his phone during a hearing on bombing Syria, and Eleanor Holmes Norton said she'd only vote to bomb Syria out of loyalty to Obama --- there are decent people in the United States government who mean well and take their responsibilities seriously. One of them, who works on actual humanitarian aid (as opposed to humanitarian bombs) spoke to me.

He said that, beyond those who will inevitably be killed by U.S. missiles in Syria, and those who will die in the escalated violence that is very likely to follow, a great many additional people may suffer for reasons we aren't paying attention to...

"So far, most of the concerns raised in connection with the use of military force in Syria have focused on the risk that the U.S. might become further embroiled in this conflict, and that initially limited strikes could soon spiral out of control, lead to retaliatory attacks by the Asad regime, spread the conflict throughout the region, and inadvertently strengthen terrorist groups linked to al Qaeda. However, there is an additional, more immediate hazard, which has been largely absent from the debate....

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

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

With Brad Friedman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/3/2013 2:13pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Japanese government finally takes over Fukushima as radiation levels spike; Pacific Island nations beg U.N. to act on climate, John Kerry steps up to help; Sequestration cuts helped to spread massive Yosemite Rim fire; PLUS: Hitting the brakes: Americans are driving less than ever ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

Link:
Embed:

Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Drill next door: Here’s what it looks like when fracking moves in; Warming helping crop pests' spread; Fox News wonders what's eroding our beaches; Hunter shoots the first endangered wolf seen in Kentucky in 150 years; US government paid $17B for weather-related crop disasters last year; CNBC: Animals will "snuggle" under Keystone XL Pipeline; CT takes on wood furnaces; Lead poisoning killing wildlife; Pollution, not rising temperatures, may be melting the Alps; Dogs the newest scientific measuring equipment ... PLUS: Scientists leave GOP due to attitudes toward science ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/2/2013 11:48am PT  

[Hat-tip Miram Elder.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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