w/ Brad & Desi
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly flash floods after "biblical" rains in CO; Senate Republicans hold energy efficiency bill hostage; Clean up or close up: EPA's new rules put the squeeze on coal; Huge new aquifers discovered in Kenya; Debunking the Daily Mail/Fox 'News' ruse about '60% increase in Arctic ice' ruse; PLUS: Molasses spill kills thousands of fish in Hawaii ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA Chemist Who Revealed Twin Towers Toxic Dust Fired; Utilities Realize Solar Energy's Threat to their Survival; Boulder Colorado and the Quest for Local Control of Energy; CNBC’s Joe Kernen Lies About Climate Change on Squawk Box; '50 dirtiest' US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea; Australian military: Climate change is a 'threat multiplier'; Tesla challenges BMW on home turf; Nuclear energy on 'collision course' with U.S. water supplies ... PLUS: VIDEO: A Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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...
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...
Aside from tons of callers (I'm tired of "experts" and "pundits", wanted to hear from actual people), and one of the most perfect "bloopers" ever (a brilliantly incorrect sound cue played, in the first part of the show, by the engineer who was in today instead of our usual one), we also spent a few minutes with anti-war activist and author (and occasional BRAD BLOG guest blogger) David Swanson on what he would recommend, in lieu of military strikes, for accountability for the use of chemical weapons. His main response to that question: Get thee to the Hague and file war crimes charges, if that's the case the U.S. is making against Syria!
Lots of interesting perspectives on today's show, almost all of which vary tremendously from the nonsense we're hearing from the Congress and the Administration and the establishment media this week. I'd welcome your feedback as well.
We also quickly hit on a few voting issues, such as our good news today on the TX GOP's most-likely-doomed Photo ID law and more...as well as a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report as usual! Enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
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):
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...
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...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Keystone XL pipeline decision delayed until 2014?; MSNBC's climate change documentary goes missing; Salmon vs. mining: Will EPA approve Alaska's massive Pebble Mine?; Kansas farmers to run out of water within 50 years; A key finding in the plateau of rising temperatures; PLUS: A new parody ad takes aim at electric utility monopolies ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Glenn Beck threatens to fire staff who buy energy efficient lightbulbs; 8 years after Katrina, New Orleans is a monument of hope and future climate threats; Vanishing ocean smell could also mean fewer clouds; Issues surrounding GMO 'Golden Rice'; Climate change overwhelming Detroit's sewage system; GMO corn failing to protect crop from pests; US nukes not prepared for terrorist attacks ... PLUS: MLK legacy: It’s time for civil rights and environmental activists to join hands... and much, MUCH more! ...
Last year, in a petition to President Barack Obama, the advocacy group Change.Org described Edward J. DeMarco, a holdover from the Bush Administration who still serves as Acting Directer of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as "the single largest obstacle to meaningful economic recovery."
Around the time Change.Org began circulating its petition, New York Times' Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, called for President Obama to "Fire Ed DeMarco". The blog detailed how DeMarco had, in defiance of the Obama Administration, rejected a U.S. Treasury Department request "that he offer debt relief to troubled homeowners --- a request backed by an offer that the U.S. Treasury would pay up to 63 cents to the FHFA for every dollar of debt forgiven."
Treasury's request was rejected even though, as Krugman explained, "a reduction in debt burdens would strengthen the economy," creating "greater revenues" that could "offset any losses from the debt forgiveness itself."
The fact that a Bush holdover, who, for so many years, has been committed to protecting the same Wall Street casino --- the market created out of mortgaged backed securities --- whose collapse triggered what Krugman insists is now a "depression", is primarily due to the ability of Senate Republicans to block both of the nominations Obama finally made to replace him...
I was watching a segment last night on Rachel Maddow's show with Desi Doyen, concerning the recent warnings issued to Americans and the evacuations at dozens of U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The actions were taken due, we are told, to "chatter" detected by intelligence services of the possibility of attacks by al-Qaeda (and/or "associated forces") to American interests in the region.
Maddow framed the actions being taken by the U.S. government in the context of the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo --- "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" --- ignored by George W. Bush just one month before the 9/11 attacks. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of that memo.
In her conversation with NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Maddow discussed the memory of that infamously ignored warning, and what effect it may have on the way the U.S. government now reacts to such detected threats. "In a post-9/11 world", the argument goes, President Obama and all future Presidents are likely to be very conscious of not underestimating such memos and "chatter," in the event that an attack does come about, for which they could later be held accountable for having ignored the "clear signs." (Not that George W. Bush or his administration was ever held accountable for such things, but that's a different matter.)
While watching the conversation about the dozens of closed diplomatic posts, I said to Desi, "I bet they're wildly over-reacting. It's not about post-9/11. It's about post-Benghazi."
In either an abundance or over-abundance of caution, U.S. embassies and consulates are being warned and shuttered and Americans are being air-lifted out of countries. It's not the memory of 9/11, at this point, that the government seems to be reacting to. It's as much the Republican reaction and/or over-reaction and/or political bludgeon made of the deaths of four U.S. personnel at our diplomatic outpost in Libya last year that seems to be leading to this reaction and/or over-reaction by the government.
Indeed, moments after I had uttered that thought to Desi, Mitchell said to Maddow: "I think, Rachel, that this is not just post-9/11, this is post-Benghazi."
The way our government now reacts to such events is not necessarily based on common sense, it seems to be as much based on fear. Not necessarily fear of being attacked, but fear of missing some important warning or another and then being held politically accountable for it later.
Since so much of this is kept secret --- except for stuff classified as "secret" and "top secret" that is routinely leaked by government officials who, unlike whistleblowers, are almost never held accountable for such leaks of classified information --- we are largely left to simply "trust" that the government is accurately portraying the threat, whether they are or not, and whether they are simply over-reacting out of caution and/or political ass-covering.
All of this, then, adds an interesting light to a curious story reported this week by Al-Jazeera English's Jason Leopold (formerly of Truthout) highlighting the government's seemingly bizarre claims that they have concerns that al-Qaeda may "attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo" or otherwise, somehow, "undermine security at the facility" if too much is known about what goes on there.
But that's not the most interesting aspect of the story...
[This article cross-published by Salon...]
Full Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG has not been shy in calling out Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for some fairly outrageous stuff over the years.
Who can forget, for example, the time when, as Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 2005, he shut down the microphones and lights in the middle of an oversight hearing on the PATRIOT Act when he did not approve of the testimony offered by witnesses called by Democrats?
It was outrageous, it was inappropriate, and we reported it as such at the time, just as we did in 2011 when, in a bit of déjà vu, he similarly shut down a town hall event in WI after protesters there expressed outrage over the Republicans' radical anti-union law recently adopted in the state.
So it is with much sincerity and great appreciation that we "call him out" today, not for outrageous behavior, but for his outspoken and unwavering support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after the very heart of that landmark civil rights legislation has been violently carved out by a 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June...
Earlier this week, Joe Conason, Editor-in-Chief of The National Memo, tweeted out word that he would be interviewing Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). He was seeking questions for the Senator who has been a member of the Select Intelligence Committee since 2001, and among the most outspoken in his attempts to inform the public of the massive, out-of-control U.S. surveillance state. Wyden offered a detailed speech on this topic earlier this week, as Ernie Canning reported here and as I discussed on this week's BradCast.)
[DISCLOSURE: I contribute articles, from time to time, at National Memo.]
I sent a couple of questions to Conason via Twitter (here and here), and I'm happy to see that, during the course of his interview with Wyden on the surveillance issues, he asked those questions, almost verbatim --- particularly the first one, the answer to which became the basis for National Memo's headline to the interview: "Wyden: How We Forced the NSA to Curtail Email Spying Programs".
The news central to Wyden's answer --- at least it was news to me, since I missed this item if it has otherwise been reported before this --- is that, according to the Senator, "the Obama administration a few weeks ago said that they had closed the [email surveillance] program down for what they called operational reasons."
That would be very good news, if so, and along with this week's debate in the U.S. House, yet another apparent positive outcome to the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Here are my two specific questions and Conason's use of them in the interview, along with the answers provided by Wyden...
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, we spent zero time on the royal baby or Anthony Weiner! You're welcome!
Instead, economic policy reporter/muckraker David Dayen joined me for a quick discussion about Obama's "big" economic speech at Knox College in IL on Wednesday afternoon; Then it was on to Sen. Ron Wyden's Tuesday warning about NSA "secret" surveillance laws (and we took a bunch of great listener phone calls along with it); We spent some time on the high-ranking Kentucky election official fraudsters convicted of 156 years but now ordered by an appellate court to receive a new trial and the massive voter suppression legislation moving its way through the North Carolina statehouse; and more!
It was a very lively show! Enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
A bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and former House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), was defeated late today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' telephone records. It failed by a narrow margin of 205 to 217.
The Amash-Conyers amendment represented the first Congressional challenge to the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records in the wake of recent disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The vote came just one day after a speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has served on the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, in which he not only warned about the unlimited scope of the NSA's ever-expanding surveillance capabilities but the unnecessary development of a secret body of laws that, he argued, threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.
Ironically, NSA Director General Keith Alexander, did his best to underscore Wyden's warnings. Where the Obama administration and other members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committee publicly lobbied against Amash-Conyers, Alexander scheduled "a last-minute, members-only briefing" to lobby against the measure behind closed doors.
Alexander, whom James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factor: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, has described as "the most powerful person that's ever existed in the American intelligence community," took pains to insure that his own efforts to privately lobby against this public bill be classified as "Top Secret," thereby precluding public consideration as to the reasons why publicly-elected officials might refuse to rein in unfettered access to the telephone records of millions of law-abiding Americans.
Rather than look at today's vote as a defeat, the ACLU's Michelle Richards told The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that the vote's narrow margin reflects "a 'sea change' in how Congress views bulk surveillance," describing the bi-partisan debate on the House floor as "a great first step."
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who originally broke a number of the stories related to Snowden's disclosures, tweeted during the floor debate: "Edward Snowden did what he did to make everyone aware of all this, and to prompt precisely this debate. That was his motive." He also observed this irony, after the House Democratic leadership rallied against the amendment and the measure ultimately went down to narrow defeat: "A majority of Dems supported the Amash/Conyers amendment to defund NSA bulk spying - majority of GOP joined [with the White House]."
UPDATE 7/25/13: According to AP today, Congressional "Opponents of the National Security Agency's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House"...
"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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