After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast by Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Washington Post, where he worked for more than a decade before becoming Washington Bureau Chief for the Huffington Post before becoming the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Center for Accountability Journalism at FearlessMedia.org.
His response to that question and others on the recent shameful history and hopeful future of journalism were much more optimistic than mine --- but, as I note during the show, I really need a break (which I hope to get somewhere in the mountains next week), so I may be a even more cynical this week than usual.
On today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, we covered the facts concerning the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict and the protests here in L.A. big time.
In particular, we detailed the lies told by L.A.'s NBC4 and the LAPD about the weekend's peaceful protests, as well as the laudatory behavior of at least one very good cop on the force (LAPD's Capt. Cory Palka, in case you're wondering) who deserves a big-time promotion, in my opinion.
We also had time for a lot of calls from around L.A., South Central, Crenshaw District and beyond as folks (including myself) had plenty to say about it all. We tossed in a bit of NSA, James Comey and the horrendous Glenn Beck to boot. So, enjoy!...
Rowley filed an op-ed in the New York Times this week with 15 questions for U.S. Senators to ask FBI Director nominee James Comey before deciding to confirm him. Naturally, they asked almost none of them during his oversight hearing on Tuesday, choosing to laud him, for the most part, for his willingness to stand up to Bush and Cheney, one very famous night in 2004, while ignoring the fact that, as the ACLU's Laura Murphy describes it: "Comey...also approved or defended some of the worst abuses of the Bush administration during his time as deputy attorney general. Those included torture, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention."
As a 24-year FBI veteran, suffice to say, Rowley did not seem impressed with Comey's often contradictory answers --- particularly on mass surveillance and torture --- in the few instances that he was asked tough questions by the Committee. Her insight here is important and very helpful, particularly as the hearing was, incredibly, almost completely ignored by the corporate media entirely.
We also discussed Edward Snowden and the award that her group, Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, an organization of former national security officials, honored the NSA whistleblower with this week, "praising his decision to reveal the extent of U.S. government electronic surveillance of people in the United States and around the world."
"There's no question in my mind", he said, that the surveillance programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden include both illegalities and unconstitutionalities. They "violate the First and Fourth Amendment of the Constitution" and even "the plain terms of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], the law on which the authority is purportedly based, and...other federal statutes."
Rumold was my guest this week on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast where my hope was to strip away all of the nonsense "controversy" about Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald in order to focus on the actual disclosures, what we know about them, what we don't, and what we know about the lies told by the Administration about them (especially those by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.)
Also, Rumold discussed the status of his EFF lawsuit attempting to force the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to release their 2011 finding on the illegalities/unconstitutionalities of one of the very few programs that they actually rejected.
If you are confused about any or all of that, today's show is a great primer on those key points and several more. The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning described today's BradCast as "fascinating stuff." And though he may be somewhat biased, I --- who am completely objective on these things --- would tend to agree with him.
We also covered the breaking news out of Egypt, as President Mohammed Morsi was forced out of office in a military coup and Al Jazeera English was pulled off the air...live. We quickly discussed the outrageous secrecy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), I had a few (more) very choice words for national embarrassment and professional hypocrite Justice Antonin Scalia, and Desi Doyen joined us, as usual, for the latest Green News Report and details on the next billion dollar natural disaster on its way...
And somehow we managed to fit in a few phone calls and a thought or two on Wendy Davis' stand in TX late last night and the state Republicans attempt to fraudulently pass a radical anti-abortion bill anyway. We got all of that into an incredibly fast moving single show, which follows for you below. Enjoy!
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary 'Pentagon Papers' whistleblower offers frank comment on the NSA whistleblower; the dangers of our privatized surveillance state; the failure of Congressional oversight; and journalists 'discrediting their professions'...
"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America," Church said, "and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
On Wednesday, during a fascinating interview on The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, Ellsberg said directly, in the wake of Snowden's disclosures: "We're in the abyss. What he feared has come to pass."
The Guardian has asserted that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden "will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning," do it seemed the perfect time to chat with Ellsberg about all of this.
He offered a number of thoughts about Snowden himself, from one of the few people in the world who may have real insight into what the 29-year old leaker must be thinking and dealing with right about now, and why he may have chosen to both leave the country and then come out publicly. He describes Snowden as "a patriotic American, and to call him a traitor reveals a real misunderstanding of our founding documents."
"What he has revealed, of course, is documentary evidence of a broadly, blatantly unconstitutional program here which negates the Fourth Amendment," Ellsberg said. "And if it continues in this way, I think it makes democracy essentially impossible or meaningless."
As usual, Ellsberg pulled no punches in his comments on the dangers of our privatized surveillance state; the failure of our Congressional intelligence oversight committees (which he describes as "fraudulent" and "totally broken"); and on those who have been critical of Snowden and of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist from The Guardian who has broken most of the scoops on Snowden's leaked documents.
He said that folks like attorney Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker and author Thomas Friedman at New York Times and Senator Dianne Feinstein "are being very strongly discredited," by their attacks on Snowden. "The criticisms they're making, I think, are very discreditable to them in their profession," he says.
And, while answering to my request for a response to Josh Marshall's recent piece at TPM, in which Marshall weights his own conscience on this matter and frankly revealing his natural tendency to support the government over whistleblowers in cases like this, Ellsberg was particularly pointed. "Marshall has a lot to be said for him as a blogger," he said, before adding: "I think what he said there is stupid and mistaken and does not do him credit." He went on to describe some of Marshall's comments as "slander" against Snowden.
One other point that merits highlight here for now, before I let ya listen below. The difference between Ellsberg's circumstances and those in play today.
Ellsberg noted that after leaking top secret Defense Department documents to the New York Times in 1971, detailing how the Johnson Administration had lied the nation into the Vietnam War, President Nixon, at the time, ordered a break-in of his psychiatrist's office and discussed having Ellsberg "eliminated".
"All the things that were done to me then," he noted chillingly, "including a CIA profile on me, a burglary of my former psychiatrist's office in order to get information to blackmail me with, all of those things were illegal, as one might think that they ought to be."
"They're legal now, since 9/11, with the PATRIOT Act, which on that very basis alone should be repealed. In other words, this is a case right now with Snowden that shows very dramatically the dangers of that PATRIOT Act, used as it is. So the fact is, that all these things are legal. And even the one of possibly eliminating him"...
Just a quick note to mention that, after several weeks of the latest KPFK/Pacifica Radio fund drive, The BradCast will be back LIVE today (6p ET/3p PT), and my guest will be the leaker of the Pentagon Papers, the legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
Seeing as how The Guardian has asserted that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden "will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning," it seems a good time to chat with him about all of this.
You can listen LIVE to the show at 3p PT/6p ET on air at 90.7FM in Los Angeles (and other points of the terrestial dial around southern California), as well as via the TuneIn radio app, or streaming at KPFK's website. (The show is also now heard on the Progressive Voices channel on TuneIn at 6p ET on Saturdays and Sundays as well, btw!)
I also wanted to take a second to publicly thank Kevin D'Haeze of the video production house Rock Island Media for answering our public request for help in creating a new logo for The BradCast! You can see it up above.
Kevin's work, creativity and patience with my ridiculous requests was exemplary during the entire process. I'm endlessly grateful, and couldn't recommend him or his production house any more. For an idea of what they do to actually make a living, check out their website and cool promo video below...
Thanks again, Kevin! And now...since crowd-sourcing worked so well on this one...if anyone out there feels like helping me out with some serious WordPress programming (not just template design!) please let me know that as well!
While The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio usually airs live on Wednesday's, we did a special Monday version this week, as I was filling in for my friend Harrison who was on the road today and unavailable to do his normal show.
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!...
Obama's response: "Well, I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed."
He added that he was planning "to go back at" his effort to close the prison which was blocked back in 2009 by Congress.
But did he really mean any of it? I spoke with Truthout.org's investigative journalist Jason Leopold on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast about that very question today. Leopold has been covering Gitmo for a decade now, recently returned from a visit there and plans to be heading back soon.
The conversation was both enlightening and enraging, particularly given that, despite his suggestion to the contrary, Obama already has the ability to immediately free about half of the prisoners there who were cleared of all charges at least three years ago, if not longer. He could do it today...if he wanted to...or had the political courage to do it.
Also on this week's show, a bit of a rant on "blaming Bush"; the one woman who could have kept Dubya's disastrous reign from ever happening in the first place; a heads-up on the upcoming 100% unverifiable Special Election for the U.S. House in SC; some Green News with Desi Doyen; and, maybe, I decide to come out as both black and gay...But you'll have to tune in to find out if I do!
To date, 15 have been killed by the blast, including 12 first responders, with nearly 200 others injured. The explosion covered some 37 blocks and left a crater nearly 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep at the plant itself. Galindo offers the latest on how the tiny town of 2,600 is holding up, how they are dealing with concerns about governmental oversight of the plant (or lack thereof), and the continuing investigation into the mystery of what may have caused the disaster.
The good news: When the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation gets its new voting system, perhaps as early as 2015, it will not including Internet Voting, according to Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of Los Angeles. The bad news: It will very likely include touch-screen computers and, with them, 100% unverifiable voting.
I interviewed Logan last week on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show [full audio interview is at the bottom of this article], and we had a very informative discussion about what voters in Los Angeles may have to look forward to in the coming years, as well as many of you in the rest of the country, since the new system is being designed with an eye towards selling it to other counties in California as well as in the rest of the country.
So this is not just a local L.A. story. It's likely to affect the way that votes are cast and tallied in much of the nation. It's well worth paying attention to, even if, unlike me, you don't live here.
Los Angeles County alone "has more voters than 42 of the 50 states," according to Logan's office. It features nearly 5,000 precincts. Well over 3 million votes were cast in this one county alone during the November 6, 2012 Presidential Election. When Logan took over the job of Registrar after our previous one resigned, suddenly, just months before the 2008 President Election, he had a monster of a job to take over. It's still a monster. And it may soon get even more gargantuan as he attempts to re-work, re-design and, indeed, re-think how voters vote here, and as we move from our current publicly-owned voting system to our next publicly-owned voting system. (L.A. is one of the very few jurisdictions in the nation which owns, maintains and designs its own system. Most similar systems in the rest of the state and nation are proprietary, owned by the private companies which make them, and don't allow even the election officials in those jurisdictions access to their "trade-secret" software and source code.)
While, happily, Logan offered me some assurance that we won't be casting votes over the Internet with his new system --- an assurance that should bring some measure of relief to both Election Integrity advocates as well as the consensus of computer science and security experts who are also experts in voting systems --- there is still much cause for concern, as this still-unknown voting system begins to take shape...
On Wednesday's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I interviewed Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. He's fresh off his win in federal court where a U.S. Magistrate Judge found earlier this week that the Obama Administration violated federal law by not taking the effects of fracking into account in its environmental assessment before leasing areas of the Monterey Shale Formation in California to oil companies.
We discussed the case and its first-of-its-kind ruling, the impact it may (hopefully) have on similar fracking land leases elsewhere in the state and nation, and what the hell supposedly "liberal" Democrats like Barack Obama and CA Gov. Jerry Brown must be thinking.
I also covered this week's election fraud felony guilty pleas by a staffer for Newt Gingrich's 2012 Presidential campaign, the pending felony charges against a co-defendant and additional arrests that prosecutors say may be coming soon. All a part of Gingrich's failed attempt to qualify for the 2012 GOP Presidential primary in Virginia, and his unbelievable hypocrisy in downplaying fraud in his own campaign that was far worse than anything ACORN ever did (or, actually, didn't do.)
Finally, we had an extended Green News Report segment with Desi Doyen, to discuss, among other things, Rep. Joe Barton's amazing comments today, and the new attempt by Fox "News" to raise George Orwell from the grave by describing environmentalists as "climate deniers"...
It's been a big gay week at the U.S. Supreme Court! So it seemed time to call on my friend Mike Rogers of RawStory.com to join me on the KPFK BradCast to talk about it all.
Rogers has joined me over the years for various 'Big Gay Hours' on the radio --- going all the way back to the darkest anti-gay years of 2004 and 2005 when the campaign against marriage equality had first been weaponized by the Republican Party. So it is with some joy that we were able to mark the extraordinary victories, and speed with which they have happened, for the gay community, as well as for those of us in the constitutional conservative community who believe in things like Equal Protection under the Law, etc.
We discussed both the CA Prop 8 and DOMA hearings this week at SCOTUS, how we all got here, and what has become of some of those closeted gay politicians who fought against gay rights and inspired Rogers to become an investigative blogger, open his old BlogActive.com site and begin reporting (and outing) the hypocrites standing in the way of equality for all. His work, outing folks such as Sen. Larry Craig and others, eventually helped to inspire Kirby Dick's 2009 documentary Outrage (in which he is featured).
We played and discussed some of the clips from this week's hearings, including some of the shameful performances from Justice Antonin "Just Makin' Shit Up Again" Scalia, Prop 8 proponent attorney Charles Cooper and the Obama Administration's horrible Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
I also covered a bit of the mysterious Florida Election cyberhack story out of Miami-Dade (and a new clue to the mystery), and Desi Doyen joined me to have a laugh at the Tennessee "conservatives" who've suddenly found an amusing reason to finally give a damn about mountaintop removal mining, and for the latest Green News Report...