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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown. But who said anything about 'Democratic voters'?...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become, as does yet another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Oregon nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel fuel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
Previous GNRs: 8/14/14 - 8/12/14 - Archives...
Yes, Elections Still Matter: Brad on 'David Pakman Show'
With so many corrupt, corporatist politicians, even on the Democratic side, does voting and fighting voter suppression still even matter?...
Tale of Two Protests
The armed Bundy Bunch and the unarmed peaceful protesters of Ferguson -- one group was courageous enough to have possibly brought substantive, positive change to the nation...
97-Year Old Loses Right to Vote in KS for Lack of Photo ID
Kansas Sec. of State and long-time Republican 'voter fraud' fraudster Kris Kobach wins another one, as senior citizens turned away without voting on Primary Election Day...
'Green News Report' 8/14/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Historic storms, floods from NE to MI to NY, as CA breaks more heat records; China dumping coal, breaking solar records; PLUS: Jimmy Carter slams climate-denying 'nutcases'...
Previous GNRs: 8/12/14 - 8/5/14 - Archives...
News Summer from Hell Continues:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Peace activist and author David Swanson joins Brad to explain why using military force in Iraq, even to stop a genocide, is a terrible idea. PLUS: Much more...
Journalists Now Being Arrested in Ferguson
Reporters pulled out of a McDonald's by militarized police while covering protests of police killing of Michael Brown. Freedom-fighting 'Tea Party' 'patriots' still AWOL...
'Green News Report' 8/12/14
Is weather now more extreme?; ExxonMobil begins drilling with Russia in the Arctic; Methane rising; PLUS: U.S. underestimated Keystone XL emissions...
CA Supremes Nix Corporate Personhood 'Advisory Measure' from 2014 Ballot
Prop 49, a CA ballot initiative calling on Congress to amend the Constitution, will not be allowed on this year's ballot after all...
SIEGELMAN JUDGE ARRESTED FOR BATTERY
Controversial Republican federal judge Mark Fuller charged with beating wife; Daughter of AL's former, now-jailed Governor calls news 'shocking', 'karma'...
Keystone XL Emissions Vastly Underestimated by State Dept.: New Report
Independent study finds carbon pollution may increase four times the amount previously predicted by U.S....
1 BILLION Votes, 31 POSSIBLE Cases of Fraud
Law professor and voting rights expert reveals startling new numbers underscoring the massive, years long GOP polling place Photo ID restriction scam...
GOP Rep Decries 'Disgusting, Despicable Smear Campaign' After Primary Election
In his victory speech, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) lashed out at his U.S. Chamber-backed Republican opponents...
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...


By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2013 4:20pm PT  

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

One of the world's largest ATM manufacturers and, formerly, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic voting systems, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for bribery and falsification of documents.

The charges represent only the latest in a long series of criminal and/or unethical misconduct by Diebold, Inc. and their executives over the past decade.

According to Cleveland's Plain Dealer, a U.S. Attorney says the latest charges are in response to "a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct" by the company....

Federal prosecutors Tuesday filed charges against Diebold Inc., accusing the North Canton-based ATM and business machine manufacturer of bribing government officials and falsifying documents in China, Indonesia and Russia to obtain and retain contracts to provide ATMs to banks in those countries.

The two-count criminal information and deferred prosecution agreement calls for Diebold to pay nearly $50 million in penalties: $23 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and $25 million to the Department of Justice.

The agreement with federal prosecutors also calls for the implementation of rigorous internal controls that includes a compliance monitor for at least 18 months. The government agreed to defer criminal prosecution for three years, and drop the charges if Diebold abides by the terms of the agreement.

Despite at least $1.75 million in bribes said to have been paid the company around the globe, nobody will go to jail for what U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach describes as their "worldwide pattern of criminal conduct," because they are a corporation --- and you are not.

The $50 million the company has agreed to pay is a mere fraction of the firm's $3 billion in annual revenues. That, even though Diebold is a repeat offender --- which may be describing it mildly...

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

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7th circuit's Posner admits 'did not have enough information' at time to judge landmark vote suppression case correctly...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2013 3:16pm PT  

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

This is nothing less than remarkable. The 7th circuit court judge who wrote the majority opinion in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County Election Board case, has now admitted he got it wrong!

"I think we did not have enough information," Judge Richard Posner said in remarks at HuffPo Live today. "If the lawyers had provided us with a lot of information about the abuse of voter identification laws, this case would have been decided differently."

Crawford is the Indiana polling place Photo ID restriction case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was upheld in 2008. It is the case cited, usually inaccurately, by Republican advocates of such restrictions, who argue that such disenfranchising laws are not in violation of the U.S. Constitution. For example, it is the case cited (inaccurately) by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott, in his argument against the U.S. Dept. of Justice's current lawsuit attempting to block the Lone Star State's most recent attempt to institute that voting restriction at their polling places. "The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes," Abbott said misleadingly in response to the DoJ's suit, as explained in detail last month by BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest Canning.

But, setting aside the misuse of SCOTUS' very limited ruling on Crawford, the remarkable news today comes via UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen, who transcribes remarks made today by Judge Richard Posner, author of the original 7th circuit majority opinion in Crawford, now completely recanting his original opinion on the case!

Read this from Hasen. It's amazing...

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

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Also seeks to require preclearance for new election-related laws in the Tar Heel State, given its history of racial discrimination...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2013 5:03pm PT  

The U.S. Justice Department announced today that it will be filing suit to block the central provisions of North Carolina's new, draconian restrictions on voting.

The DoJ will also ask the federal courts to require preclearance for new election-related laws in the state.

The Tar Heel State's massive new, controversial restrictions on voting were passed by Republicans this Summer just after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act in June. We've previously described the new measure as the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era.

The DoJ lawsuit is the latest element of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's vow this summer to use "every tool" at the DoJ's disposal to fight for voting rights after SCOTUS dismantled a key provision of the VRA that required jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination in election laws, such as North Carolina, to seek federal approval, or "preclearance" before new election related laws could be enforced.

The suit follows similar action by the DoJ in Texas, where new polling place Photo ID restrictions and Congressional redistricting --- both previously found by the DoJ and federal courts to be purposefully discriminatory in the Lone Star State --- are also being challenged as violations of the VRA and the U.S. Constitution. The federal suit in NC is the latest of several complaints filed against the state's massive new voting restrictions, all of them alleging, with no small amount of evidence in support, that the law is a racially motivated attempt to suppress minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters.

From the DoJ announcement today:

The United States' complaint contends that at least four provisions of [North Carolina's] House Bill 589 were adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The complaint asks the court to prohibit North Carolina from enforcing these requirements, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject North Carolina to a new preclearance requirement.

Note the important point in the above alleging that the NC law is not only discriminatory, it is also purposely so. That argument will be key to the DoJ's case that the new law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as its argument that the state should be "bailed in" to require preclearance, as per Section 3(c) of the Act...

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

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And free ride for Tom DeLay (R), Karl Rove (R) & friends (R, R, R)...
GUEST: The imprisoned former Alabama Governor's son, Joseph...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2013 6:05am PT  

Picking up on The BRAD BLOG's exclusive statement from the imprisoned former Governor Don Siegelman (D-AL) in regard to the alleged $20 million money laundering conspiracy by the currently-acquitted Tom DeLay, former convict Jack Abramoff, fugitive from justice Karl Rove and others to take down Alabama's popular former Governor, I was joined by Siegelman's son Joseph on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast.

Not familiar with the outrageous prosecution and conviction of Siegelman? Or of what appears to be his blatantly stolen 2002 election (on a Diebold paper ballot electronic tabulator?) This is great episode to listen to, as it also includes a lot of background and a few clips from my interview with the former Governor just days before he was ordered back to federal prison last year.

But before you get outraged all over again, we started off the show with a rarely heard good news segment to help soften everything else a bit. Yes, there have been a number of things to be happy and/or encouraged by, of late...though admittedly it's been very hard to notice.

Plus: Details on this weekend's upcoming Los Angeles screening of the tremendous documentary Shadows of Liberty which I'll be hosting for KPFK (I'm also briefly in the film, discussing the Sibel Edmonds story --- if you're in or near L.A., please come on out Saturday and say hey!); More on CA's terrible SB 360 bill that will end all federal testing of e-voting systems in the state (and some worse stuff too); and, of course a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report.

Enjoy! This is a good one!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Alabama's former Democratic governor issues statement to The BRAD BLOG, slamming the former GOP House Majority Leader for his part in a $20 million 'money laundering' conspiracy to defeat him...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2013 6:05am PT  

Ever since last week's reversal of former GOP Rep. Tom DeLay's 2010 money laundering convictions by a 2-to-1 partisan decision of a three-judge Texas appeals court panel, we have been contrasting the Texas Republican's treatment in the judicial system with that of Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman.

Now, the last Democratic governor to serve Alabama is speaking up for himself, in a statement he's furnished to The BRAD BLOG from federal prison, slamming DeLay for what he describes as his part in a $20 million criminal conspiracy with convicted GOP uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and others to defeat him in his bid for re-election, and to ensure he never took office again.

Siegelman is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana for something that 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general agree had never been regarded as a crime until Siegelman was convicted for it. (Watch 60 Minutes' 2008 story on Siegelman's outrageous prosecution here.)

In his statement, the former governor speaks out against "The Hammer" and hammers him hard for what he describes as collusion to "engineer a money laundering scheme to defeat me in my race for re-election as governor and to elect Karl Rove's and Tom DeLay's Republican colleague from the U.S. House, then Congressman Bob Riley."

"I know first-hand, personally --- what I'm about to tell you is not hearsay," Siegelman writes about the alleged scheme to remove him from office through a late night ballot tampering scheme. He explains how the conspiracy resulted in robbing him of his 2002 re-election after it had already been called in his favor by all the networks. Later, before Siegelman --- the only person to hold all four top statewide offices in Alabama history --- could run for Governor again, he says the same cabal worked to have him thrown in jail on what appear to be trumped up charges brought by a Bush Administration prosecutor who also happened to be married to Riley's Chief of Staff.

In the fiery, no-holds-barred statement (posted in full below), Siegelman cites Abramoff's own book, Capitol Punishment, in which he says the former GOP lobbyist "admits for the first time to money laundering to the tune of some $20,000,000 dollars 'to stop Siegelman.'"...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2013 6:32pm PT  

From AP this week...

Critics of a Kansas law requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering urged legislators Tuesday to repeal the policy during their special session, but such an effort immediately stalled.

About 100 people gathered at the Statehouse for a rally sponsored by KanVote, a Wichita-based group that opposed the law, which took effect in January. The NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality Kansas, the state's leading gay-rights organization, also called publicly for the law's repeal.

The law took effect in January, backed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and fellow Republicans, who view it as a way to prevent non-citizens from voting improperly. But more than 15,000 legal Kansas residents' voter registrations are on hold because they have yet to provide proper documents, meaning they can't legally vote.

Wow. 15,000 legal voters stopped from voting. Kansas must have a terrible problem with non-citizens voting! After all, that's all the state's Republican Sec. of State Kobach (who also wrote Arizona's "Papers Please" law) ran on in 2010: stopping "voter fraud"! In fact, his own personal website warns even today: "In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive."

"Pervasive"? Really? So, how many cases of non-citizens voting has he turned up in the two and half years since being elected as Secretary of State?...

--- 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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By Brad Friedman on 9/3/2013 6:05am PT  

Note 1: Pardon the herky-jerky Skype web cam video.

Note 2: The BRAD BLOG article about Eric Holder that I believe my friend Mike Papantonio cited during our conversation, was actually written by our legal analyst Ernest Canning. But, of course, I'm proud to stand behind it 100%! Just wanted to give credit where due.

Note 2a: There are several different issues currently in court between TX and the DoJ, and they get a bit conflated during my conversation with Pap. One issue is the filing by the DoJ asking the court to order that the state of Texas be added, or "bailed in", to the list of jurisdictions requiring federal preclearance for all new voting-related laws, given their history of purposeful discrimination with such laws. The current list of jurisdictions is now empty, since the U.S. Supreme Court killed the Voting Rights Act formula used to determine who should be on that list. The other TX/DoJ case we discuss is the DoJ's suit to block the TX GOP's disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restriction. That law, though it was found discriminatory in 2012 by both the DoJ and a federal court, was re-enacted by TX immediately after SCOTUS gutted the VRA. The DoJ, and other parties, are now suing to block it under the still-existing Section 2 of the VRA, as well as on Constitutional grounds. (We hope to have more details on the lawsuits against the TX GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction law soon. And, I'll add, our coverage should offer some pretty encouraging news for voting rights advocates who, unlike Ernest Canning, may not have dug into all the legal details and already-established facts of the case. --- UPDATE: That article is now here, and offers some very encouraging news indeed about the likelihood that the TX Photo ID law is already doomed in court!)

Note 3: Enjoy!

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Some redactions in the document, they tell The BRAD BLOG, appear solely to protect government, not national security...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2013 11:53am PT  

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are, as a people, inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings," President John F. Kennedy declared to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at New York's Waldorf-Astoria in 1961.

"No official of my Administration," he continued, "whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."

But, that was then.

The U.S. government's legal requests for secret surveillance are, themselves, filed in secret at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and the FISC's rulings on those secret requests are themselves a secret as well.

Last week, however, after more than a year of legal wrangling and lawsuits, the non-partisan Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was finally successful in gaining the public release of one of those secret rulings, an October 2011 decision by the Court finding that the government had, on several occasions, offered the Court "a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program ... buttressed by repeated inaccurate statements."

At the very same time, as they were about to be compelled by a court to release the decision EFF sought, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, "in the interest of increased transparency," released two other redacted court decisions as well. In all, they revealed the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional collection of the emails of tens of thousands U.S. citizens who had nothing to do with terrorism investigations. The documents were all posted on a new Tumblr website created, Clapper said in a statement posted to the site, "to provide the public with direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the Intelligence Community."

As expected, some sections of the October 2011 FISC decision were heavily redacted. Other parts, while redacted, were revelatory nonetheless about the nature of our government's secret surveillance programs. And still other portions seem to be redacted for no legitimate national security reason at all. As a number of national security journalists, FOIA advocates, security veterans and whistleblowers describe to The BRAD BLOG, the reason for some of the redactions appears to be little more than an attempt to keep the government from embarrassing itself --- or even from revealing evidence of its own crimes.

Here's one of the more disturbing revelations, from a footnote, in the previously secret October 2011 FISC decision...

Here's one of the more heavily redacted portions of the previously secret 85-page ruling that rejected a secret surveillance request by the government, after determining that the government had repeatedly misled the Court in its secret filings...

But here is one snippet about which we specifically requested comment from a number of national security journalists, FOIA advocates (including the EFF) and former national security agency veterans and whistleblowers. Note, just for now, the one sentence highlighted in yellow...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2013 6:05am PT  

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint was filed in hopes of blocking the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law, newly re-enacted by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the very heart of the VRA (the Section 4 formula used to determine jurisdictions covered by its Section 5 preclearance requirements for new voting laws) last June.

How did the TX AG respond to the DoJ suit?

Here is the very first line of Abbott's embarrassing website response to it posted yesterday...

AUSTIN --- “Just days after the U.S. Department of Justice arrested a Texas woman for illegally voting five times in the same election, the Obama administration is suing to stop Texas’ commonsense voter ID law. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes, but do help prevent illegal votes. Voter IDs have nothing to do with race and they are free to anyone who needs one.

Ya know what else "Voter IDs have nothing to do with"? The absentee ballot fraud committed by the woman cited by Greg Abbott above in the very first line of his response to the DoJ!

Here (courtesy of Ryan Reilly) is the very first page of the indictment against the woman cited by Abbott as a reason why the state needs their polling place Photo ID restriction law. [Red circle added for TX AGs who may have trouble reading their own legal filings]...

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

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Offer new opportunity for AG Holder to make good on promise to use 'every tool' at his disposal to fight discriminatory voting laws...
UPDATE: DoJ filed suit today, seeking to block TX Photo ID Law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/22/2013 12:54pm PT  

Last week, civil rights groups filed two lawsuits in a North Carolina U.S. District Court, seeking to block what Brad Friedman aptly described as "the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era."

The Tar Heel State has a sordid history of official discrimination, a history that includes 30 successful challenges to discriminatory voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) over the past 30 years. Until the recent Republican takeover of the state, NC had become somewhat more progressive in the area of election law, even allowing for same day registration and voting which is lacking in even most of the more progressive states in the union.

Then, everything changed. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a sweeping new election "reform" bill. The breadth the new law is unprecedented. It targets "nearly every aspect of the voting process," according to one of the new lawsuits. Both complaints allege that the newly minted Voter Information Verification Act ("VIVA" aka HB 589) reflects nothing less than a deliberate, racially-motivated attempt to deprive African-Americans of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

The two federal lawsuits are NAACP v. McCrory [PDF] and League of Women Voters v. North Carolina [PDF].

The League also filed a separate legal challenge in state court, Currie v. North Carolina [PDF]. The state case alleges that VIVA’s polling place Photo ID restrictions violate the NC Constitution, which treats voting as a "fundamental right." (A legal analysis of the state challenge will be covered in a subsequent article).

Earlier this Summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court carved out the very heart of the federal Voting Right Act with their 5 to 4 Shelby County v. Holder decision, they acknowledged that their ruling "in no way affects the permanent nationwide ban on racial discrimination." The controversial decision rejected the formula established by Congress in the VRA's Section 4, used to identify jurisdictions to be covered by the Act's Section 5 requirement for those covered jurisdictions to receive preclearance from the DoJ or a U.S. District Court before enacting any new election-related laws. The SCOTUS decision did not, however, eliminate the right of individuals, civil rights organizations, or the DoJ to file lawsuits seeking to block discriminatory laws under the VRA's Section 2, which bars discrimination in all 50 states.

Therefore, the new federal lawsuits filed in NC do not, and need not, challenge the Shelby County decision. Their factual allegations, however, suggest that Chief Justice John Roberts was in grave error when asserting, on behalf of the Court's right-wing majority, that "the conditions that originally justified [Section 5 preclearance] no longer characterize voting in covered jurisdictions"...

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

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UPDATED: NSA domestic surveillance data used for IRS investigations...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2013 6:35am PT  

[ED NOTE: An abridged version of this article was republished by the Ventura County Star on 8/17/2013.]

On Aug. 1, my Congressional Representative, Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), forwarded a letter to me in response to a query as to why she was amongst those responsible for the recent narrow defeat (205 - 217) of Amash-Conyers, a bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' phone records.

The response did not address the actual substance of Amash-Conyers. Instead, her complaints about the measure were procedural, as she explained...

I have worked vigorously to protect civil liberties over my entire career in public service, and will continue to do so. However, we must address the very complex issues related to our privacy, rapidly advancing technology, and threats to our national security that exploit these advancements, in a deliberative, thoughtful, and responsible way with vigorous public debate. Crafting legislation that deals with such foundational issues cannot be accomplished in an amendment to an appropriations bill, as was the strategy with the Amash amendment. Furthermore, it allowed for only fifteen minutes of debate, which is not acceptable for such an important and complex issue that the public and their elected representatives rightfully care so deeply about.

While there's some legitimacy in Brownley's objection to an arbitrary 15-minute time limit for debate on such an important matter, the issue is not as "complex" as the first-term Congresswoman characterizes it. The one paragraph amendment, and its implications --- unlike the PATRIOT Act, FISA and the opaque secret interpretations of those laws she was effectively voting to keep in place, as is --- were fairly straightforward, in fact...

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

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Files papers seeking requirement of federal preclearance for voting laws in TX, promises similarly aggressive action elsewhere...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/29/2013 1:47pm PT  

The Department of Justice (DoJ) will not idly remain on the sidelines as the GOP seeks to illegally game the electoral system in the wake of what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder referred to as the "deeply disappointing and flawed" Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

That decision, which carved out the very heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by finding unconstitutional the formula used to determine which jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination are required to "pre-clear" new election laws with the federal government before they can be enacted, has been a dramatic "setback", as Holder described it, to the voting rights movement, and has even proven to be a great leap forward for vote suppressors.

But, in a speech last week to the National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, Holder signaled his intentions to fight back against the activist Court:

I have already directed the Department’s Civil Rights Division to shift resources to the enforcement of a number of federal voting laws not affected by the Supreme Court’s decision --- including the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act [VRA], prohibiting voting discrimination based on race, color, or language.

And today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act...based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.

The DoJ then promptly filed a July 25, 2013 "Statement of Interest" in Perez v. Texas, a federal court case challenging the imposition of new Congressional redistricting maps in the wake of the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, despite the fact that both the DoJ and a panel of federal judges nixed the same map last year after it was found to have been purposefully discriminatory just last year.

The DoJ argued in its filing last week that, because the evidence presented both in Perez and in Texas v. United States, revealed intentional violations of the 14th and 15th amendments in the redistricting schemes at issue, the court should impose a ten year preclearance requirement upon the State of Texas as an equitable remedy available pursuant to Section 3(c) of the VRA.

In short, while SCOTUS gutted the VRA's existing Section 4 formula for determining jurisdictions to be covered by Section 5 pre-clearance requirements, it left Section 3, which allows for jurisdictions to be added or "bailed in" to the list of those subject to preclearance intact. The DoJ now wants Texas added to the list of such jurisdictions.

It is of critical importance to note, however, that Holder's Urban League speech made clear that his intentions of pushing back were neither limited to Texas nor to Section 3.

"This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last," Holder vowed.

He then stated (emphasis added): "My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination wherever it is found."

As observed by University of California Irvine Law Prof. Rick Hasen, Holder's pledge to have the DoJ "use whatever tools it has remaining in its arsenal to protect minority voting rights" is "a big deal."

It's a "big deal" not just because of the creative use of Section 3 in Perez, but also because the DoJ is joining a case originally brought "under Section 2 of the [VRA] to enforce the guarantees of the [14th & 15th] Amendments against racial discrimination in voting." The DoJ's actions here suggests that they are finally prepared to add the power and resources of the federal government to legal efforts to protect the right to vote that had been primarily made during the last election cycle by privately-funded, public interest groups like the ACLU and League of Women Voters...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 11:10am PT  

"If we do not seize this unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we are all going to live to regret it," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned during a lengthy but powerful speech before the Center for American Progress on Tuesday.

In his remarks, Wyden, who has served on the Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, left no room for anyone to doubt the liberating impact of the recent revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For years, Wyden said, he had wanted to expose the extent to which the Executive Branch of our government and the leaders of the "intelligence community" had deceived the public about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, but, due to Senate's rules in regard to classified material, he was "not even allowed to tap the truth out in Morse code."

That roadblock has been removed. "The disclosures by an NSA contractor lit the surveillance world on fire," Wyden told the assembled students, journalists and policy wonks yesterday. "Several provisions of secret law that were secret were no longer secret, and the American people were finally able to see some of the things we [he and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)] had been raising the alarm about for years."

That alarm centered not only on the unprecedented extent of the NSA's still-expanding, domestic surveillance capabilities but also, as he explained, on the unnecessary and dangerous, post-9/11 development of a secret system of laws that threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

These provisions, he warned, allow "the Executive to secretly follow a secret interpretation of the law under the supervision of a secret, non-adversarial court and occasional secret Congressional hearings"...

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Nomination of James Comey, described as a 'big, hairy deal' by Rachel Maddow in May, seemingly forgotten by her and colleagues
Controversial Bush-appointee otherwise set to head FBI for next decade...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2013 1:50pm PT  

I have been unable to find any evidence that even one single primetime program at cable news channel MSNBC --- which bills itself as "The Place for Politics" --- spent even one minute of coverage on this week's 3-hour oversight hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next Director of the FBI.

The current Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, was appointed by George W. Bush, and has served in that position since the week prior to 9/11/2001. During his tenure, there has been a vast, radical expansion of the use of torture, indefinite detention, and massive foreign and domestic surveillance by the U.S. Government. While the term for an FBI Director is ten years, Mueller has served almost twelve, following a two-year extension requested by Obama and authorized by the Senate --- which is responsible for advice, consent and confirmation of FBI Director nominees --- in 2011.

James Comey, Jr., who served as U.S. Deputy Attorney General during the George W. Bush administration, after having served as one of Bush's U.S. Attorneys, has been nominated by Obama to become the next Director of the FBI. He will, in theory, serve ten years if confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will be the first FBI Director appointed after 9/11.

According to the FBI's website, the Director oversees "56 field offices located in major cities throughout the U.S., approximately 380 smaller...resident agencies in cities and towns across the nation, and more than 60 international offices called 'legal attachés' in U.S. embassies worldwide." The Bureau employees almost 36,000 people and has an annual budget of just over $8 billion.

Even without the ongoing national (and international) debates about the U.S. use of torture, indefinite detention and its massive worldwide and domestic surveillance policies in the wake of disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, it seems the oversight hearings for any new FBI Director, which, in this case, would be only the 7th in its history, would be newsworthy.

Given the importance of the role and the enormity of the appointment, especially at this moment in history, the fact that the entirety of MSNBC's primetime line-up seems to have completely ignored those hearings entirely, seems newsworthy as well.

All of that even more so, given the man who was nominated for the job and the extraordinary content of the hearings...

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