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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Facebook Rightwinger Has 'Questions' for 'American Leftists' on 'Voter ID'
We can't speak for 'American Leftists', but we're happy to answer this terribly disinformed dude's 'questions'...
'Green News Report' 9/30/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Obama creates world's largest marine sanc- tuary; Humans wiped out 1/2 of world wildlife; Also to blame for AUS' hottest year ever; PLUS: Oil co. joins Google to dump ALEC...
Previous GNRs: 9/25/14 - 9/23/14 - Archives...
'BRAD BLOG May Be Sued for Telling the Truth About GOP Operative': Hartmann TV
Brad discusses bizarre threat of legal action by longtime Republican voter registration schemer Nathan Sproul...
BREAKING: 5-4 SCOTUS Ruling Restores GOP Restrictions on Early Voting in OH
Bad news for voters. Good news for Republicans who like to win elections by trying to limit voters' ability to cast their vote...
7th Circuit Deadlock Means WI Photo ID Law Still in Place
Longtime court vacancy likely made difference in 5-5 tie; Scott Walker, GOP rejoice as 'electoral choas' reigns in 'toss up' re-election race; SCOTUS likely next stop for plaintiffs...
Too Much Voting Going On!: GA County Repubs Block Early Sunday Voting
Board of Elections votes against 'partisan' proposal to make voting more convenient, even though County already funded it...
Stewart Explodes Over GOP Climate Science Deniers on House SCIENCE Committee
And who can blame him? As White House Science Advisor forced to 'push a million pounds of idiot up a mountain'...
Federal Court Panel Denies OH Attempt to Avoid Restoration of Early Voting
State Republicans keep trying and trying to make voting harder (for some). Courts keep denying and denying their attempts...
'Green News Report' 9/25/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Climate Week Special Coverage continues: China will cut emissions; Experts say we're not doing enough; Admin makes econ case for action; PLUS: Corporate titans step up...
Previous GNRs: 9/23/14 - 9/18/14 - Archives...
GOP Values: Beating Wives, Suppressing Votes, Threatening Journalists - KPFK 'BradCast'
Latest on cases of GOP wife-beating judge Fuller; GOP voter operative Sproul; MORE...
Sproul Threatens BRAD BLOG With Legal Action After FL Confirms Our 2012 Reporting
GOP operative linked to years of registration fraud allegations sends bizarre email after yet another arrest of one of his workers...
'Green News Report' 9/23/14
GNR Special Coverage: Climate Week 2014 -- Climate March (largest in history), Wall Street protests (can ya hear us now?), special U.N. Climate Summit...
Report Cites Armed Walker Supporters Plotting to Target Democratic Voters in WI
'We can get our agents to watch polling location, identify the individual, and follow them to their residence'...
Resignation or Impeachment Would Be a Gift for Wife-Beating Judge Mark Fuller
2012 docs suggest domestic abuse of two wives and children by federal judge w/ lifetime appointment...
ACLU Files Emergency Petition to Halt 'Electoral Chaos' in WI
Seeks full 7th Circuit hearing after three-GOP judge ruling reinstates Photo ID law just weeks before election...
'Green News Report' 9/18/14
DiCaprio's UN climate role; Jindal plays dumb; Fracking confirmed (again) to contaminate; Black lung coal disease on rise; PLUS: Polluter front groups newest attack...
Audio of 911 Call from Judge Mark Fuller's Wife as She's Heard Repeatedly Struck
Chris Hayes plays horrifying audio from wife-beating incident by U.S. District Court Judge; ALSO: Calls for accountability from two Alabama U.S. Congresswoman...
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 9/2/2013 11:48am PT  

[Hat-tip Miram Elder.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As criminal bankers, Admin leakers, Congressional NSA liars and classified document thieves (like CNN's Jeffrey Toobin) go free...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2013 1:13pm PT  

Despite the U.S. government's inability, during his military trial, to demonstrate any harm to anybody caused by Bradley Manning's leaks, the U.S. Army whistleblower who revealed war crimes and government lies was sentenced today to 35 years in prison.

According to Charlie Savage at the New York Times, "The sentence is the longest ever handed down in a case involving a leak of United States government information to be reported to the public."

Manning, who is now 25-years old, has already served more than three years as he awaited trial. Much of that time was served in solitary, windowless, and often naked confinement 23 hours a day, leading the military judge of his military trial to declare his treatment "excessive". At the time, his potential life sentence was reduced by 122 days. Manning will now be eligible for parole in 9 years, even though the judge acquitted him of the government's most serious charge of "aiding the enemy", which had never before been included in a leak case.

The moment offers another nice opportunity to revisit a promise made by 2008 Presidential candidate (and then President-elect) Barack Obama, to see if he has been able to keep his word any better than the government argued Bradley Manning did, since Obama described whistleblowing at the time [PDF] as "acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives" and which "should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration"...

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

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An inside-the-courtroom account of what was --- and wasn't --- said during the U.S. Army whistleblower's sentencing phase...
By David Swanson on 8/19/2013 8:05am PT  

I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion. I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down. Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.

I don't blame Bradley Manning for apologizing for his actions and effectively begging for the court's mercy. He's on trial in a system rigged against him. The commander in chief declared him guilty long ago. He's been convicted. The judge has been offered a promotion. The prosecution has been given a playing field slanted steeply in its favor. Why should Manning not follow the only advice anyone's ever given him and seek to minimize his sentence? Maybe he actually believes that what he did was wrong. But --- wow --- does it make for some perverse palaver in the courtroom...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2013 1:45pm PT  

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...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2013 8:35am PT  

From Matt Sledge at HuffPo...

FORT MEADE, Md. --- For three years Bradley Manning and Julian Assange were accused of murder. Members of Congress and the administration said their WikiLeaks document dump endangered U.S. interests --- and lives.

"Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family," Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in July 2010.

Before a press corps hollowed out to a skeleton crew after Manning's verdict, that insinuation is falling apart. Top government officials testifying in open court for Manning's sentencing in recent days have cited no credible evidence his leaks led directly to any deaths. They have instead spoken to diplomatic sources placed at risk and strayed foreign relations. In the words of one official, some allies got "chesty."
...
During the first phase of the trial, the judge overseeing Manning's case prevented the defendant from presenting any evidence against claims that his releases caused any harm. So those revelations, endlessly fought over in the press since WikiLeaks' releases, have all taken place during the sentencing phase of Manning's court martial. They may shave years off his maximum 132.5-year punishment.
...
[T]he most explosive claim about Manning's leaks --- that battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan got U.S. sources killed --- seems to have been settled. The prosecution's first witness was Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, who led the Department of Defense's review of the WikiLeaks releases.

Carr's order to lead the Information Review Task Force came straight from then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Carr and a team of 300 worked for over a year.
...
Not a single death could be linked to names in the WikiLeaks files, Carr testified.

After more than a year of searching, the task force found a single instance where the Taliban claimed to have killed an Afghan source because of WikiLeaks. But then they discovered the cables did not actually contain the source's name.

"The name was not there," Carr said.

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U.S. Army whistleblower still faces more than 100 years in prison despite confession, attempted plea deal, 'excessively harsh' imprisonment and unprecedented use of Espionage Act
UPDATE: Wikileaks' Assange, ACLU, others assail military court's verdict...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2013 11:36am PT  

U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning --- who, earlier this year, was found by the judge in his military trial to have have been illegally punished by the military for months during his captivity --- has just been found not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge filed against him.

The ruling on that point was predicted by "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Dan Ellsberg during my KPFK/Pacifica Radio interview with him in late 2010, just after Manning had been fingered as the likely leaker of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.

While Manning was acquitted today of "aiding and abetting al-Qaida" --- an unprecedented charge in a leak case --- he may still face more than 100 years in prison for the other charges, including espionage and computer theft, for which the military judge just found him guilty. That, despite the government's "failure to demonstrate even one example of someone who was hurt" by Manning's leaks, as CNN's Jake Tapper just noted. Military convictions for sentences longer than a year receive an automatic appeal.

In January, the judge in the case, Army Col. Denise Lind, ruled that Manning's imprisonment, which included some nine months of solitary, often unclothed confinement for 23 hours a day in a windowless cell, had been "excessive in relation to legitimate government interests". At the time, rather than dismiss all charges as the defense had hoped, she reduced his potential life sentence by 122 days.

In an attempted plea bargain, Manning had confessed to many of the charges he was found guilty of today. Manning had admitted to having leaked reams of classified information to the media, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, diplomatic cables, and raw video of U.S. Apache helicopter gunships in 2007 gunning down 11 men in a public square in Iraq. Those killed in the attack included a Reuters journalist and his driver.

The government refused to bargain with the whistleblower, and tried him for aiding the enemy under the Espionage Act nonetheless.

In December of 2010, I discussed Manning's case with Ellsberg, who has some experience in this sort of thing. He seems to have nailed it in his prediction concerning the unfounded allegation that Manning committed treason by aiding the enemy, the most serious charge then alleged against Manning, and the one for which he was acquitted today.

As Ellsberg told me at the time...

ELLSBERG: Bradley Manning is not a traitor any more than I was. I'm sure from what I've read that he in fact is very patriotic, as I was. And indeed the charge of treason in our country, in our Constitution, requires aid and comfort to an enemy with whom you adhere --- and adherence to an enemy to the disadvantage of the United States. I don't think Bradley Manning or I intended at all to be disadvantageous to the United States. Quite the contrary. To do things, as I've said, to reveal truths that would reduce the danger that our policies are subjecting Americans to. And Bradley Manning, I'm sure, does not adhere to the Taliban or to al-Qaeda any more than I adhered to the Viet Cong, which was zero. So that charge is ignorant, let's say, of what the term means in America.

The text transcript and audio from my full December 1, 2010 interview with Daniel Ellsberg is posted here...

* * *

UPDATE: Here is the Transcript [PDF] of Manning's judge reading today's verdict on every count against him. Sentencing will take place at 9:30am ET tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 12:31pm PT: Here are a few very quick reactions to the Manning verdict, from ACLU and others, that are worth noting...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2013 9:23pm PT  

Today on the KPFK/Pacifica BradCast:

My take on what happened in the 100% unverifiable Mark Sanford "victory" over Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina's Special Election for the U.S. House on Tuesday; How the media are pulling "an Iraq" all over again on the supposed use of chemical weapons in Syria; a bunch of great callers (including one who completely disagrees with me on Internet Voting); Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report; and all of the Jodi Arias and Benghazi news you will ever need!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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UPDATES: U.N. Commission urges caution on findings; 42 Syrian troops reportedly dead, 100+ missing after weekend air strikes by Israel; U.S. media urge intervention...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2013 7:33pm PT  

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

So, wait. It wasn't the Syrian regime, but rather the Syrian rebels who used sarin nerve gas recently? That's the story being reported tonight by Reuters, from actually named sources among U.N. investigators. But will anybody notice? Or, with Israeli airstrikes already under way, and the neo-cons already demanding another new war, is the news too little, too late...again?

The week before last, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, reading from a letter sent by the White House to Congress, announced that the Administration believes that the Syrian government recently used chemical weapons against its own people. If true, it would be a move which President Obama had previously described as a "red line" and a "game changer" in the Administration's policy on the two-year old civil war still raging in that country.

Hagel's statement was somewhat measured [emphasis added]: "Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin."

A few days later, during a Presidential press conference, Obama himself was also measured, even back-tracking somewhat on the claim that it was "the Syrian regime" which used the chemical weapon, as Hagel had initially announced, setting off "Breaking News!" tweets around the globe.

"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened," the President said, seemingly responsibly. "And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts."

He went on to decry "rushing to judgement without hard, effective evidence," that he planned to work with "neighboring countries to...establish a clear baseline of facts", and that he had "called on the United Nations to investigate."

But the war genie was already out of the bottle. At least for many in both the corporate media and the neo-con Right...

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

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The BRAD BLOG's Desi Doyen discusses that and much more while guest hosting last night's 'The Young Turks'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2013 2:07pm PT  

If you haven't noticed, of late, Desi Doyen --- the Managing Editor of The BRAD BLOG's Green News Report and my co-host on that nationally syndicated radio feature --- has been guest hosting The Young Turks' nightly online video show quite a bit of late. (She did so several times already this week, and will be back again tonight. You can watch tonight's airing right here from 9p-11p ET / 6p - 8p PT.)

One of the segments from last night's episode, while disturbing, is worth flagging at least briefly here, as its an issue we've touched on throughout the years, going back to the earliest years of the Iraq War. It's also one that has been under-covered and under-investigated by the mainstream corporate media.

The use of depleted uranium, a byproduct of the nuclear power industry, in U.S. weaponry is believed by many to be tied to an alarming increase in birth-defects in Iraqi children, as well as cancer rates in members of the U.S. military. While some studies report no significant health risks due to the use of such weaponry, a lack of long-term studies leaves the issue, for now, an open question --- at the very least. Truthout's Mike Ludwig reported this week that "The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has estimated that 1,000 to 2,000 metric tons of depleted uranium was fired during the 2003 war in Iraq," and that clean-up costs for some 300 to 365 sites where "depleted uranium contamination was identified by Iraqi authorities" is estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars.

While the U.S. and British governments "disputed allegations that their weapons have poisoned soldiers and civilians and caused increased rates of cancer and birth defects," as discussed in the segment below from last night's TYT show, the reported rate of birth defects in Fallujah, for example, is now said to be 14 times higher than it was in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs there.

The use of depleted uranium in U.S. weapons is believed by some to be one of the reasons for that alarming statistic, as Desi discussed along with TYT regulars Ana Kasparian and Steve Oh last night. [WARNING: Some of the photos shown in the segment are graphic and disturbing]...

A couple of the other (less graphic) segments from TYT in which the lovely Desi helps with righteous rants and the raking of various muck include...

• Amazing backlog of Veteran Benefits begs question as to who actually "supports the troops"? (A particularly sharp, and personal, Desi rant in this one!) Watch it here...

• "Catfight" breaks out between current and former GOP chairs Reince Priebus and Michael Steele. Watch it here...

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Tells 'Democracy Now!' his decision to end life comes after years of being 'sick and tired of being sick and tired'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2013 4:05pm PT  

Yesterday we published Tomas Young's "Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran", in which the 33-year old U.S. Army veteran, paralyzed from the chest down during an ambush on a rescue mission in Iraq in 2004, announces his plan to soon allow himself to die, as his physical condition has intolerably deteriorated.

We included a link to our own interview with Tomas in 2005 when he first came down from Kansas City to "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX, on his honeymoon, in support of Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey was killed on the same day, in the same city --- 4/4/04 in Sadr City --- where Tomas was shot twice and gravely injured in the unarmored truck his platoon had been sent out in.

Tomas has been a tremendously heroic and outspoken anti-war voice over the years, as we were reminded once again today during this morning's heart-wrenching episode of Democracy Now! devoted to his story. Phil Donahue, co-director of the 2007 documentary film about Tomas, Body of War, (in which our '05 interview with Tomas is briefly seen) is on hand as well for the discussion. The hour included a live satellite interview with Tomas, who now struggles to speak. His thoughts seem very coherent, but what is left of his body and its functions are clearly breaking down. He is joined by his wife Claudia.

It is all worth watching, if you can spare the time. The clips from Body of War, especially the one in which Tomas speaks with the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-VA) as they read off the names together of the "Immortal 23" who voted against the Iraq War in the U.S. Senate, are particularly moving.

This is the story of the Iraq War ten years later --- and how it broke this nation just as surely as it broke Tomas Young's body and eventually his spirit and will to live...

After the lengthy segment above, Donahue is asked about his plight at MSNBC where he was fired just before the war began, as we would later find out from an internal executive memo, because his show included too many anti-war voices.

He says the episode reveals "how corporate media shapes our opinions and our coverage."

"They were terrified of the anti-war voice. And that is not an overstatement," Donahue says. "If you're General Electric, you certainly don't want an anti-war voice on a cable channel that you own. Donald Rumsfeld's your biggest customer!"

He explains again how he was required to have two pro-war voices for every anti-war voice he had on his show. "I could have [Bush Admin Iraq war hawk and architect] Richard Perle on alone, but I couldn't have Dennis Kucinich," he explains. "I was considered 'two liberals'." That segment can be watched here.

Finally, in the last moments of the show, Tomas reads his "Last Letter" to Bush and Cheney aloud and answers Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman's question as to whether there is anything that might lead him to change his mind about his decision to soon stop using his feeding tube in order to allow his life to end.

That video segment, including Tomas' answer to Goodman's question, follows below...

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By Tomas Young on 3/20/2013 10:29am PT  

NOTE FROM BRAD: On August 28, 2005, I was the first in the national media to interview U.S. Army Specialist Tomas Young at "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX. He and his then wife Brie had come down from Kansas City on their honeymoon to support Cindy Sheehan, the "Gold Star Mom" who was famously demanding a meeting with George W. Bush. Tomas' unarmored vehicle had been ambushed in Sadr City, Iraq on the same day that Sheehan's son Casey was killed in the same city. The attack left Tomas paralyzed from the chest down.

Since Bush had refused to meet with Sheehan --- claiming he had already met with her some months earlier, prior to proclaiming those who had died in Iraq had done so for a "noble cause" which he refused to define --- Tomas wanted to find out if he might be able to meet with Bush himself to ask what the "noble cause" was. We came up with the idea to paint a sign to help the media notice his plight. Some of the other veterans who were there as well helped to create the sign and it was, indeed, picked up by AP at the time.

Some years later, Tomas' story would be told on 60 Minutes, and then in a heart-wrenching 2007 documentary film, Body of War, by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro. (My interview on the ground at "Camp Casey" with Tomas and Brie is seen briefly in both. The full audio of my interview with them is posted in full at the bottom of this article, after Tomas' letter.)

He and Brie have since divorced and Tomas remarried last year. Now, ten years this week after the launch of the War on Iraq, what was left of Tomas' body is failing and, as Chris Hedges recently reported, he has decided to let himself die. Now in hospice care, Tomas, who was 25 when we met and is now just 33-years old, plans to end his long fight. He says he will remove his own feeding tube sometime after his first anniversary with his new wife Claudia in April and before the second birthday of his niece in June.

The following open letter, which Tomas says is his "last", was originally published this week at TruthDig and republished in full here with their permission.

* * *

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all-the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans-my fellow veterans-whose future you stole...

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Why NBC News' next documentary must examine the network's own failures in the run-up and aftermath of the Iraq invasion...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2013 6:05am PT  

Last Friday night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow proudly, and justifiably, crowed about the ratings success of last Monday new NBC News documentary, Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, as narrated by her and based on the 2007 book by David Corn and Michael Isikoff.

"First I want to say thank you, if you tuned in this past Monday to watch the new MSNBC documentary about how the last administration tricked the U.S. into the Iraq War," she said. The film garnered the highest ratings of any documentary in the history of the channel.

"The success is really exciting. It means there will be more of where that came from in coming months and years," Maddow explained before announcing that the film will re-air on Friday, March 15th at 9pm ET. (You can watch the entire documentary online before that right here, if you like.)

Congratulations are certainly due. While there were several new revelations in the film, much of the story of the string of blatant lies and scams culled together to hoax the country into war had already been known to those of us news geeks who follow this stuff too closely. Nonetheless, it was very helpful, and an excellent reminder, to see the entire case laid out in a single, simple, watchable presentation. We're delighted to hear it was a ratings success.

Revisiting that disaster also helped encourage The BRAD BLOG to examine several still-existing loose ends --- beyond the fact that, shamefully, nobody in the Bush Administration has ever been brought to account in any way for what happened, including what are clearly a series of very serious war crimes. Among the points we've been looking into, in the wake of the Hubris documentary, is the questions of whether or not Colin Powell "knowingly lied" in his presentation of what turned out to be blatantly false evidence for the case against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, when the then-Secretary of State spoke to the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003 and helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of an invasion.

Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, admits during the film that he and Powell "did participate in a hoax." But, in a statement in response to our request for comment, Wilkerson vigorously denied that either he or his boss knowingly did so. He sent his statement after we'd published anti-war author and activist David Swanson's critique of the Hubris film, on the day after it initially aired. In the critique, Swanson cites his own 2011 essay which offers evidence to argue that Powell "knowingly lied" during his presentation to the U.N. (Both Swanson and 27-year Sr. CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was cited in Wilkerson's response, each replied to him in turn. You can read all of their responses here.)

While Swanson "applauded" the MSNBC documentary for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he also offered a number of pointed critiques for the cable news channel itself. His observations are on-point in both regards, and help to raise a suggestion for an important and necessary follow-up documentary that, we suspect, would likely garner ratings at least as high as those earned for Hubris.

After all, though Hubris:Selling the Iraq War focused on the lies told by the Bush Administration in the run-up to war, unfortunately, they were not the only ones "selling the Iraq War"...

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By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2013 7:17pm PT  

We'll have a related-ish story on all of this Monday. But, for the moment --- in the comment thread of our recent story about Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's vehement denial that his old boss "knowingly lied" during his infamous 2/5/03 U.N. Security Council presentation of what turned out to be false evidence of an Saddam Hussein's WMD program, there was a fair bit of vitriol directed at both Powell and Wilkerson.

A number of commenters feel that neither of the two men have yet to come fully clean, and argued as much in pretty harsh terms in their remarks.

Longtime BRAD BLOG commenter David Lasagna offered this observation in the same thread in response to some of those commenters...

I'm uncomfortable with a lot of the Wilkerson bashing in this comment thread.

I would agree that there are gaps in Wilkerson and Powell's narratives. I share the anger and frustration of the continuing themes in this country of no accountability for those in power, whether the issues are war and death, financial collapse and suffering, or the constant lying and gross misrepresentation of history and reality that we're subjected to every day by most politicians and the bulk of the corporate media.

ON THE OTHER HAND, regarding the Iraq War--

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