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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 2, 2014
CA Repubs Block State-Paid Automatic 'Recount' Bill
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2013 8:22pm PT  

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!...

Also recently related: "Republicans Suddenly Decide to Care About Big Government Overreach"

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By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2013 9:05am PT  

Ever since last week's disclosures about our massive surveillance state began pouring out from the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, via leaked documents from NSA contractor Edward Snowden, detractors of the leaks have been pillorying them both for, among other things, supposedly putting national security at risk.

The attacks have come from both the Right and non-Right this time around, unlike during the Bush Administration when the attacks on whistleblowing came largely from the Right (and from some elected Democrats.)

At the end of this article over the weekend, I wrote a bit about how bizarre it's been to see partisan Obama supporters literally switching places with their partisan Bush-supporting counterparts, using arguments that are virtually identical to those by made by Republicans to defend Bush on these very same matters during his administration. Those same arguments, almost to the phrase, are now employed by many Democrats to defend the Obama DoJ's crackdown on whistleblowers, secret subpoenas of journalists and, now, as a call to arms against Snowden and Greenwald both for, somehow, putting the nation in danger. (At the same time, as I've also noted on several occassions, it's also amazing to witness some Republicans who've suddenly discovered a new found concern about Big Government Executive Branch overreach and the secret surveillance of U.S. citizens.)

Related to all of this, and true to many of those who have been critical of Snowden and Greenwald from both the Democratic and Republican side, is that while the recent disclosures have put us at risk (or something), as they argue, the issue of our massive, secret, privatized, surveillance state is, nonetheless, a very important issue about which we must have a public debate as a nation. On that, detractors from both sides seem to agree.

Here are just a few examples of that and some thoughts on how twisted this logic seems to be...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2013 7:00pm PT  

I was on Abby Martin's Breaking the Set program on RT America this evening. The video is posted below.

We discussed the NSA leaks and everything related to it, including, briefly, my own disturbing experience --- which I have in common with Glenn Greenwald --- when we were both targeted by a cyber-scheme devised by government defense contractors set to turn tools developed for the "War on Terror" against us, at the behest of major corporate interests.

That is some of what The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst, Ernie Canning was attempting to warn about in his piece this morning on the many broad dangers of what has now become a massive, privatized, largely unaccountable, secret U.S. national security and surveillance state....

[I join Abby just after the 4:00 minute mark, for about 9 minutes.]

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By Ernest A. Canning on 6/11/2013 6:05am PT  

Whistleblower Edward Snowden did more than simply expose a level of NSA surveillance that suggests the entire system has grown dangerously close to that of "Big Brother" in George Orwell's 1984.

In disclosing that he served at the NSA as a third-party contractor employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden's revelations touch upon the disturbing fact that the U.S. has become not only a national security surveillance state, but a privatized national security surveillance state. Our national security apparatus is now run, in no small part, by massive private corporations whose financial interests may be better served by operating in secret and by exploiting and exaggerating public fears.

As reported by The New York Times on Monday, Booz Allen "has become one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States almost exclusively by serving a single client: the government of the United States." The company "reported revenues of $5.76 billion for the fiscal year ended in March."

The majority shareholder in Booz Allen is The Carlyle Group, the massive global asset management firm whose defense industry contracts raised questions of a conflict of interest during the George W. Bush administration in light of the direct financial ties and active rolls in Carlyle maintained by Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, his Sec. of State, James Baker, III, Ronald Reagan's Defense Sec. Frank Carlucci and even Shafiq Bin Laden (Osama's brother).

These new revelations serve as a reminder that 9/11 did more than serve as an economic boon for the military-industrial complex. The events of that horrible day gave rise to an endless "war on terror," to the starkly swift passage of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and eventually, along with it, --- as Sen. Russ Feingold, the only U.S. Senator to vote against the Act, predicted at the time --- to the massive reach of the NSA surveillance state. Feingold's prediction echoed the ominous warning provided by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) some thirty years earlier, that if the NSA's surveillance capabilities were ever allowed to go unchecked, there would be "no place to hide."

But what Senators Feingold and Church do not seem to have anticipated was that this Orwellian level of surveillance capabilities would be placed into the hands of private cyber security contractors, and their billionaire benefactors, whose financial interests lie in an exaggerated state of fear and secrecy. The merger between the NSA and private corporate power raises the specter that this never-ending "war on terror" has given rise to a national security apparatus whose real purpose is to protect wealth and privilege against the threat democracy poses to our increasingly stark levels of inequality.

So, is it terrorism or democracy which is the real target of an omnipresent NSA surveillance capability? Or is it something else entirely?...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2013 3:54pm PT  

Huh...

[Hat-tip Lee Camp on the Twitters]

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By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2013 1:49pm PT  

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Edward Snowden issues warnings about growing global, domestic surveillance state, as political world turns upside down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2013 4:55pm PT  

29-year old former CIA technical assistant and current NSA third-party contractor Edward Snowden has decided to out himself as the source of the leaked national security documents exposing the U.S. government's massive secret telephone records collection and secret access to nine major Internet services providers, as published by journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian over the course of the past week.

"Any analyst, at any time, can target anyone...anywhere," he tells Greenwald in a video interview published this morning by the Guardian, as recorded in Hong Kong where Snowden has taken refuge for the time being. He adds that, "increasingly", secret intelligence collection is "happening domestically."

"Not all analysts have the ability to target everything," he explains. "But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the President if I had a personal email."

Prior to his decision to leak certain classified and top secret documents about "this massive surveillance machine" he said is being secretly built by the government --- documents which, he says, he reviewed specifically to make sure nobody was personally exposed by them --- Greenwald reports, in a separate article, that he "had 'a very comfortable life' that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves."

"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he is quoted as telling the Guardian. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."

Thanks to his leaks from the NSA, "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning" writes Greenwald, with fellow Guardian journalists Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras today.

"The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong," Snowden tells Greenwald in the fascinating video interview...

NSA and the intelligence community in general, is focused on getting intelligence where ever it can by any means possible, that it believes, on the grounds of sort of a self-certification, that they serve the national interest. Originally, we saw that focus very narrowly tailored, as far as intelligence gathered overseas. Now, increasingly, we see that it's happening domestically. And to do that, they --- the NSA, specifically --- targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system, and it filters them and it analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for periods of time, simply because that's the easiest, most efficient and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government or someone they suspect of terrorism, they're collecting your communications to do so.

A decade ago, Snowden had enlisted in the U.S. Army in hopes of going to Iraq with the Special Forces, the Guardian reports. He became disenchanted, he says, when "Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone." Following a serious injury during training, he was discharged, and eventually made his way into the intelligence field, and now the pages of history.

When asked why he decided to expose these programs, and now come out publicly about them at this time, as opposed to staying in the shadows until otherwise discovered, Snowden explains in the video...

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

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Guardian journalist pulls no punches, throws several...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2013 7:05am PT  

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...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2013 5:51pm PT  

In the wake of the latest revelations of our massive, secret, invasive national security surveillance state, I've been trying to remind folks how we got here, and how it was that many on both the Right and Left --- though far more robustly on the Right --- not only allowed for these outrageous intrusions into the private lives of Americans, but actually supported them, a great deal, for well over a decade.

The hypocrisy of some, particularly those on the Right, to be "outraged" about it all now, is laughable.

Nonetheless, for some of the very important context and backstory about how we got to this place --- and how, in fact, some Democrats tried (and failed) to reign in at least the most unlawful excesses of it (even while some also supported it --- talking to you, Sen. Feinstein & Sen./President Obama) --- Rachel Maddow's piece from last night's show is extremely helpful and educational...


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Admin NatSec spokes describes doc as 'update to similar directive dating back to 2004'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2013 1:02pm PT  

Man, Glenn Greenwald at the UK Guardian has got a very good, and very high-level, source (or sources).

After his Wednesday blockbuster release of secret court documents detailing an order to release millions of Verizon phone records to the NSA, and his arguably more disturbing Thursday blockbuster release of classified documents detailing the secret PRISM program allowing the government "direct access" to the servers of giant Internet service providers like Microsoft, Yahoo!, YouTube, Google and Skype, he has, as promised earlier today, just released another major classified document.

This one is a classified 18-page Presidential Policy Directive issued by President Obama last October detailing "Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO)" which "can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging".

It is said, by an Administration national security spokesperson, to be an update to "a similar directive dating back to 2004."

Here are the key details from Greenwald's latest blockbuster report, written along with the Guardian's Ewen MacAskill...

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

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There's been barely a peep from pretend 'conservatives' since news of Obama's NSA spying on millions of American phone records...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2013 7:47pm PT  

Since the latest round of "ScandalMania" began, and long before it, we've been writing about how Fox "News" Republicans have been suddenly pretending to care about "Big Government" overreach.

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 before Greenwald 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.

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By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2013 1:29pm PT  

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), on December 1, 2009, when asked what he'd do if Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died in office: "I don't think any responsible governor at this point would call for a Special Election that would cost ten million dollars."

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) on June 4, 2013, after Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died in office: "I am calling for a special election to be held this year...I don’t know what the cost is and I quite frankly don’t care."

I've already offered a few of my own observations on the irresponsible Christie's cowardly, hilariously transparent, anything-but-fiscally-conservative hypocrisy in declaring a $24 million Special Election for the U.S. Senate this October, just three weeks before his own already-scheduled-anyway election in November. Now Jon Stewart offers his...

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Prosecutor: 'Absentee voting is the source of all voter fraud'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2013 4:12pm PT  

It seems we may now have at least a partial answer to the Miami-Dade absentee ballot request cyberhacking mystery we initially reported on in March.

As we detailed at that time, some 2,500 absentee ballots were fraudulently requested online for three different 2012 primary elections in Miami-Dade, FL. One race involved requests for Democratic absentee ballots in a U.S. House primary, the other two involved requests for Republican ballots in two different Florida State House primary races. All of the fraudulent "phantom" ballot requests are said to have been flagged as such at the Supervisor of Election's office and, therefore, never fulfilled.

Late last year, a grand jury and federal prosecutors [PDF] were unable to identify the person or persons behind the failed attempts, as well as why they were actually made, since the ballots, had the fraudulent requests not been flagged and prevented, were set to go to the actual addresses of real voters whose online identities had been fraudulently used to make the requests online.

One of the reasons that prosecutors were originally unable to identify those behind the attempted July 2012 cyberhack was because the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used for most of the requests were masked by proxy IP addresses from overseas. It was not until excellent investigative reporting from The Miami-Herald discovered that a number of the requests came from IP addresses located in the Miami-Dade area. For reasons currently chalked up to administrative confusion, the Elections Division never gave those Miami area IP addresses to the grand jury.

Armed with the new information offered by the Miami-Dade IP addresses, it now appears that prosecutors are closing in on suspects believed to be behind at least one of those sets of cyberhacks --- the ones involving the Democratic U.S. House primary. Over the weekend the investigation led to the resignation of the Chief of Staff of the Democratic Congressman who eventually won the primary in question, as well as last November's general election...

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

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'I couldn't stay if the Administration was going to engage in conduct the Dept. of Justice said had no legal basis. I just couldn't stay.'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2013 6:45pm PT  

AP and others are reporting that President Obama plans to nominate, for FBI Director, Republican James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General under then AG John Ashcroft, during some of the darkest days of the George W. Bush Administration.

The news offer a moment to revisit what a real White House scandal looked like --- back when Republicans had no interest in them and back when there were real investigative Congressional hearings and no need to create pretend "whistleblowers" in order to gin up political "outrage" and "scandal"!

For those of you who believe Benghazi is an actual scandal, or even that the IRS idiocy has anything to do with "tyranny" or "abuse of power", you need only look back to Comey's riveting, could-hear-a-pin-drop, 2007 testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, as he described publicly, for the first time, a very real Executive over reach and astonishing abuse of power that concerned not only the federal government spying on all Americans without warrant or cause, but a White House willing to secretly take advantage of a critically ill Attorney General in order to get approval for a program by having it "certified as legal", even when it clearly was not.

That's what Comey described in his May 15, 2007 testimony --- during hearings on the U.S. Attorney Scandal (another very real one) --- about a remarkable event that took place on the night of Wednesday, March 10, 2004, which threatened to result in the mass resignation of the Attorney General, his Deputy AGs, much of their top-level staff, as well as the Director of the FBI. When asked during the hearing why he had determined to submit his resignation after what he saw and what had happened on that fateful night, he responds to Sen. Chuck Schumer: "I believed that I couldn't stay if the Administration was going to engage in conduct that the Department of Justice said had no legal basis. I just couldn't stay."

His testimony describes the night that the Bush's NSA warrantless eavesdropping program was set to expire, as then AG Ashcroft lay in a hospital Intensive Care Unit with a critical case of pancreatitis. Comey, designated as Acting AG during the AG's illness, had refused the White House demands to certify the NSA program as "legal", as was needed for it to continue. The White House was said to have been furious about it, so Dubya, reportedly, personally called Ashcroft's wife to inform her that his own legal adviser Alberto Gonzalez (who was not yet AG) and Chief of Staff Andy Card, were on their way over to the hospital to have the ailing AG personally sign off on the program.

What happened next, as Comey describes it in his testimony below, was an astonishing moment in a very real Constitutional crisis...

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

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'Trans-Pacific Partnership' seeks to supplant nation-states with privatized, global investor-state...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/30/2013 7:35am PT  

While the U.S. corporate-owned media misdirect our attention by focusing on various pretend "scandals", the Obama administration has quietly sought "fast track authority" to secretly negotiate and ram through Congress the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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...

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

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