We don't say it often (ever?), but kudos to HuffPo. This is their front page right now...
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...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
We don't say it often (ever?), but kudos to HuffPo. This is their front page right now...
As the Dow hit its all-time record high yesterday (continuing same today) and while corporate profits continue to hit record highs along with it --- underscoring, yet again, that Barack Obama is the worst socialist ever --- there are a couple more charts worth reminding you about today, courtesy of Rachel Maddow's show last night...
And while corporate profits sky-rocket, unemployment slowly (really slowly) improves, and Republicans hold the nation hostage with the "Sequester" by refusing to close any tax loopholes for the rich which might serve to increase revenues by even the tiniest amount, there is this chart to ponder...
So, remember, when you hear Republicans claim they are concerned about "the deficit", they are not. They are flat out lying. They are concerned only about maintaining low taxes and sky-high profits for corporations and the rich people who need those tax-payer funded giveaways the least.
So what do the Chinese Government and the Rightwing mega-lobbying group calling itself the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have in common? Apparently, they are both interested in hacking into the computer networks of their perceived political opponents and appear to be using very similar techniques and tools to do so, as The Nation's Lee Fang reported on Monday.
A computer security expert cited by Fang notes "lots of overlap" between the recent documented Chinese military cyber hacks and tactics proposed for use by federal contractors working with the U.S. Chamber and their attorneys to discredit their enemies.
Readers of The BRAD BLOG will likely remember the emails hacked by Anonymous in February of 2011 revealing that three U.S. government defense contractors had been working with U.S. Chamber of Commerce attorneys from the Washington D.C. lobbying/law firm of Hunton & Williams to develop a $12 million scheme to target their political opponents --- such as unions and progressive organizations --- by hacking into their computer networks, infiltrating the groups, planting false information in hopes of discrediting them, and using other sophisticated computer tools developed for the "War on Terror" by the three cyber-security firms.
One of the perceived political opponents targeted by the Chamber, we would learn from the hacked emails, was I. Personal details about myself and my family showed up in both the emails and a PowerPoint presentation for the U.S. Chamber prepared by "Team Themis," the name used for the illicit project by the three government contractors, HBGary Federal, Palintir, and Berico.
Lee Fang, who was then a reporter for Think Progress, and Scott Keyes, who still is, originally broke the revelations from the hacked HBGary Federal emails there. A slide in one of the presentations prepared for the U.S. Chamber scheme described the effort to "Discredit, Confuse, Shame, Combat, Infiltrate [and] Fracture" the progressive organizations with online tools, hacking and other dirty tricks in order to "mitigate [the] effect of adversarial groups."
Another slide included a photograph of me, and other personal details meant to target VelvetRevolution.us, a not-for-profit good government group (co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) which has long called for accountability for the Chamber and its mafia-like political tactics.
The news of the hack and its revelations quickly garnered front-page headlines in the U.S. and around the world as an international scandal, even as the Chamber denied having knowledge of the specific cyber-terror threat clearly being created on their behalf by the three defense contractors, and even as neither they nor their attorneys have yet to face any accountability for the scheme to terrorize public organizations and private individuals, such as myself and my family. An official Dept. of Justice investigation into the matter --- and even a brief attempt to do so by Democrats in Congress --- was no doubt crippled by both the enormous power of the Chamber, and the fact that it was the DoJ itself which had referred Bank of America to the very same defense contractors in a parallel scheme mirroring the Chamber's, as revealed by the same email hack. That scheme was being prepared to target perceived supporters of WikiLeaks at the time, including journalist Glenn Greenwald.
"[W]ho better to develop a corporate information reconnaissance capability than companies that have been market leaders within the DoD and Intelligence Community," read one of the proposals [PDF] created by "Team Themis," as delivered to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's law firm Hunton & Williams.
In Monday's report at The Nation, Fang details how recent cyber attacks against U.S. interests, which appear to be emanating from the Chinese Military, mirror tactics used by the U.S. Chamber's thugs in the eventually aborted 2010/2011 attempt to pull off what Fang describes as "one of the most brazen political espionage efforts in recent memory."
While D.C. and its media hacks continue to play along with the Republican "Debt Crisis!!!" hoax, and pretend that "Obama just needs to lead on the Sequester!!!", it's worth remembering the following chart, described on Saturday by WaPo's Ezra Klein as "The single best chart on the policies driving our deficits", as recently updated for what they say is the final time...
The first section of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870 after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, reads simply: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
The second, and final section of the 15th Amendment, is even shorter: "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
Congress is charged with determining the "appropriate legislation" to assure that voters are not discriminated against on the basis of race. And, though it took almost another 100 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment to do so, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was passed to help ensure exactly that.
In 2006, in continuing its duty to uphold the Constitution, after 21 Congressional hearings, including testimony that amounted to some 15,000 pages of evidence, the VRA was re-authorized for another 25 years by an astounding 98 to 0 margin in the U.S. Senate and a nearly-as-impressive 390 to 33 in the U.S. House.
"There was a lot of invidious discrimination shown," says Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who chaired the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at the time. He characterized the hearings, which closely examined the extent to which racial discrimination still affects minority voters, as "one of the most extensive considerations of any piece of legislation that the United States Congress has dealt with in the twenty-seven and a half years that I have [served]."
That year's VRA re-authorization was signed into law by Republican George W. Bush. The law's three other federal re-authorizations (in 1970, 1975 and 1982) were also signed into law by Republican Presidents.
One of the most successful, and universally respected pieces of bi-partisan legislation in our nation's history, however, is now coming under serious attack from Republicans and a group of billionaire funders in the years following its last re-authorization. Since that year, an unprecedented number of challenges against the VRA --- specifically its Section 5, which applies to some 16 different jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination --- have been filed in the court system, at the same time that a tidal wave of voter suppression laws have been passed by GOP legislatures across the country, most notably, in many of the jurisdictions covered by Section 5.
A challenge to that section of the VRA, which served to block a number of new restrictions on voting and voter registration during the run-up to the 2012 election, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, and the outlook for the crucial protections that Section 5 has offered for decades are now potentially in very grave danger of being struck down entirely...
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"...
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 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--
[Now UPDATED with a response from 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern at bottom of article.]
In a response to a charge cited by The BRAD BLOG on Tuesday that then Sec. of State Colin Powell "knowingly lied" during his infamous February 5, 2003 presentation of false intelligence to the U.N. Security Council about the need to attack Iraq, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff at the time, characterizes the allegation as unfair.
He says points made in support of that claim are "misleading and even spurious" and "not supported in the surrounding narrative."
"I have admitted what a hoax we perpetrated," says Wilkerson in his reply today, sent in response to our request for comment. "But it actually spoils or desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already a bad enough set of misstatements, very poor intelligence analysis, and --- I am increasingly convinced, outright lies --- to take the matter to absurdity with one man, in this case Powell."
David Swanson, who authored the charges in question, as cited earlier this week by The BRAD BLOG, disputes Wilkerson's response. The full remarks by both men are posted in full at the end of this article.
On Tuesday, we ran Swanson's critique of Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, a new NBC News documentary based on the book of a similar name by journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff. (You can watch the entire film online here.)
While Swanson lauded the project for helping to "prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq," he offered a number of worthy criticisms as well, including the fact that MSNBC, which aired the documentary, failed to acknowledge its own participation in propagating many of those same lies to the American people.
Featured in the film are several new pieces of information and commentary that have come to light since the original publication of Corn and Isikoff's 2007 book.
Some of those revelations come by way of Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and, more to the point, Powell's Chief of Staff at the time of his February 5, 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council on the supposed chemical, biological and nuclear threats posed by Saddam Hussein. That presentation by, perhaps, the most well-respected official in the Bush Administration at the time, is widely credited with turning the tide of public opinion in favor of the invasion of Iraq which would commence just weeks later, ten years ago next month.
Unfortunately, virtually every piece of evidence presented by Powell at the U.N., said to have been culled from various intelligence agencies, turned out to be completely false. Some years later, Powell would describe the speech as a "painful" "blot" on his career. As Hubris details, Powell's evidence was not only wrong, but known to be wrong by many in the intelligence community by the time that it was presented to the public as fact by the well-respected Secretary of State.
"Though neither Powell nor anyone else from the State Department team intentionally lied," says Wilkerson in the film, "we did participate in a hoax."
Swanson's critique, however, takes that point further, charging that "The Hubris version of Colin Powell's lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold."
"Powell was not a victim. He 'knowingly lied.'," wrote Swanson, including a link to his own 2011 op-ed at Consortium News headlined "Colin Powell's Disgraceful Lies".
Given the serious nature of the charges cited by Swanson, as detailed in his 2011 piece --- all well-documented with direct quotes from the State Department's own January 31, 2003 Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) assessment repeatedly describing most of the claims Powell would offer the following week at the U.N. as "WEAK" at best, and "implausible" in many cases --- it seemed appropriate to given Wilkerson the opportunity to respond to the direct allegation that Powell was outright lying during his U.N. presentation.
In his response, Wilkerson draws a line in the sand, if you will, against the contention that his former boss "knowingly lied"...
On Monday night, NBC News aired its new documentary, Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, based on the book of a similar name by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. The film offered a number of new and disturbing insights since the original 2007 book was published.
While it may be maddening --- particularly for those of us who followed the massive scam as it was ongoing --- the documentary should be mandatory viewing for those who have lost sight of just how each and every single one of the key reasons used to sell the U.S. on war with Iraq was built on known lies. Each and every point --- from Saddam's alleged ties to al-Qaeda, to his alleged mobile chemical labs, to his alleged nuke program, to those aluminum tubes said to have been for use in uranium enrichment, to the "fissile material" (yellowcake) he was said to have been trying to obtain from Niger --- was a lie. And each an every lie was known to be a lie by the scoundrels and war criminals who sold it to the American public and a compliant American media.
Even with its failures, and several of them are identified here, Hubris reminds us of how each and every one of those points was a scam. Period. And, while it's not expressly highlighted (but should be in a follow up!), we are reminded how none of the liars have ever faced any accountability whatsoever, despite nearly 4,500 U.S. troops killed, more than 30,000 of them wounded, well over 100,000 Iraqi citizens murdered and some $3 trillion looted from our nation's coffers. You should take the time to watch it.
The entire documentary, broken into 6 parts, narrated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and originally aired on 2/18/2013, follows in full below...
As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air.
The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week --- and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world --- as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people.
From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.
But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris. This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials --- watch the entire documentary now online here) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC's role.
Yet, my primary response to that is joy rather than disgust. It is now cool to acknowledge war lies. Truth-tellers, including truth-tellers rarely presented with a corporate microphone, made that happen...
David Corn at Mother Jones offers a preview of some of the new information coming Monday, in Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, an MSNBC documentary based on the book of a similar name by Corn and Michael Isikoff.
The film, to be narrated by Rachel Maddow, is said, like the book, to detail the inside story of how America and the world were knowingly scammed by the Bush Administration into invading Iraq ten years ago next month, leading to, as Corn describes it, "a nine-year war resulting in 4,486 dead American troops, 32,226 service members wounded, and over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians."
"The tab for the war topped $3 trillion," he adds, even though "it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and no significant operational ties between Saddam's regime and Al Qaeda. That is, the two main assertions used by Bush and his crew to justify the war were not true."
The facts of how the nation was conned into going to war, Maddow has argued over the past week while promoting and previewing the new film, are important to understand in order to avoid the same thing happening again. "If what we went through 10 years ago did not change us as a nation --- if we do not understand what happened and adapt to resist it --- then history says we are doomed to repeat it," she says.
Maddow says the documentary will likely ruffle many political feathers, and Corn offers a few of the new nuggets of new information on the scam that have been revealed since the publication of his and Isikoff's 2007 book that will be presented in the MSNBC film on Monday, Presidents Day. Among them...
[UPDATED THRICE following the State of the Union address.]
Ryan J. Reilly had the scoop at HuffPo tonight. We're about to get another bipartisan commission on voting reforms...
The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.
After the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission headed by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford was created by Congress. The commission offered reforms that ultimately helped lead to the disastrous Help America Vote Act of 2002. That bill, among other things, offered some $4 billion in federal money to states in order to "upgrade" to computerized voting systems. Those same systems, using proprietary hardware and software from private vendors, tally votes in secret and continue to fail in election after election even today.
After the 2004 Presidential election fiasco, a private bipartisan commission was created, as The BRAD BLOG was the first to reveal, by high-level Republican operatives and former Bush/Cheney officials calling themselves the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). The private commission, formed in secret, was headed by Carter and longtime Bush family friend James A. Baker III, the man who took Bush's 2000 fight to keep ballots from being counted in the state of Florida all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The inclusion of Baker on the commission led to an uproar from Election Integrity advocates, a furious response at The BRAD BLOG from the commission's Executive Director for our revelation of the scam, a letter from then Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) stating his "strong opposition" to Baker's presence on the commission, and then a guest-blog from Conyers himself, here at The BRAD BLOG.
As Conyers noted at the time, and as the sham Baker/Carter commission's report ultimately showed, the private commission was created in order to lay the groundwork for polling place Photo ID restrictions down the road. "Make no mistake about it," Conyers wrote here at the time, detailing his belief that the commission's push for Photo ID restrictions was "more of the same old Ken Blackwell-style Republican electoral dirty tricks, where Democratic voters are deliberately disenfranchised so that Republicans can win elections."
While the privately created Baker/Carter commission was meant to appear similar to the official Ford/Carter blue-ribbon commission (Ford was ailing at the time of the second commission, so was replaced with Baker), we can only hope that whatever new commission President Obama has in mind won't end up with the same "dead-on-arrival" recommendations as the ones from Baker and Carter. Though those recommendations were roundly criticized at the time, they are still cited today --- as if they were official recommendations --- by Republicans hoping to disenfranchise legal American voters through new restrictions on voting.
UPDATE: Reilly at HuffPo had it right. The President announced his call for a new commission during his State of the Union address tonight...
How far to the Right has the Republican Party gone over the past few years? So far that they now seem to even consider Karl Rove a traitor to their cause.
As evidence, take a look at these headlines from Rightwing sites taking Rove to the woodshed this week in response to his recently announced plan to form the "Conservative Victory Project" Super PAC to keep "Tea Party" candidates who Rove feels can't win general elections, from winning Republican U.S. Senate primaries in the first place...
That's some serious blow-back from Rove's own base --- or what used to be his base. Yes, the hard right Brain of Bush is now far "to the Left" of his own party. Oh, well. Win by the sword, etc...
Rachel Maddow's full segment from Tuesday night, on the GOP's attempt to rebrand themselves and the civil war that seems to be ensuing --- particularly as two of the House's most extreme Rightwing loons, Rep. Paul Broun (GA) and Rep. Steven King (IA), each plan to seek their party's nomination for U.S. Senate in their respective states (Broun is really a piece of work, as Maddow details) --- follows below. Get your popcorn...
Here is the 'white paper'. With a few tweaks and a more creative title --- like "Murder With Your Hands Clean" --- this memo could sell a lot of copies.
And why not? Either there's a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those "good" leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner --- perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.
The white paper, which is thought to be a summary of a longer memo, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow "outside the area of active hostilities" even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:
The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official. Who is such an official? Who decides whether he or she is informed? What if two of them disagree? What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then? One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree. "Imminent" is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all. "The United States" clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.
And if a high-level official claims it's infeasible, who can challenge that?
When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.
When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don't think anyone has made such a claim to this day. And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time?
The sociopaths who wrote this memo have "legalized" the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.
David Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works for RootsAction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
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