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...|
Just getting back on the grid today after a few days off of it, so getting caught up with much, including today's release of the legal memo [PDF] detailing the Obama Administration's claim of legal authority for the 2011 targeted drone killing of U.S. citizen and alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
(Three other U.S. citizens were also killed in drone strikes abroad, including al-Awlaki's 16-year old son one month after his father, though the Administration contends those killings were incidental deaths during strikes targeting others...as if that makes them less awful somehow? In any event...)
As the Washington Post notes, portions of the document are redacted, including "paragraphs that presumably explained why the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel determined that killing Awlaki in a drone strike would not violate the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees due process to U.S. citizens accused of crimes."
The paper adds, however, that "the memo provides previously unknown details about the reasoning behind one of the most controversial counterterrorism operations carried out by the U.S. government since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."
But what caught my eye in particular today, was the Congressional Progressive Caucus' somewhat snarky, if very clever, promotion of their press release in response to the released (and redacted) memo, which Roll Call's Steven Dennis describes as "Progressive Caucus Trolls Obama on Drone Memo"...
I was proud to have the 2014 Green Party candidate for CA Sec. of State David Curtis (in photo on the left, not smiling), as my first guest this week on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast. While he and I disagree on a few important things (like Internet Voting, which he still hopes for, despite our Twitter conversation last month), there's one thing we certainly agree on: It was outrageous that he was excluded from today's SoS candidates debate held by the Sacramento Press Club. That, despite the fact that he recently polled higher than two of the candidates who were invited to participate.
[CORRECTION: On air I said that the CA statewide primary was June 2 this year. In fact, it's on Tuesday, June 3. The deadline for voter registration by mail for the primary is May 19th. You can register online here. Apologies for the error!]
As my second guest this week, I was also proud to welcome back investigative journalist Jason Leopold on the heels of his Guardian interview with Dr. James Elmer Mitchell (in photo on the right, smiling), one of the central architects of the Bush/Cheney-era CIA torture program. The interview was Mitchell's first since turning the skills he acquired as the chief psychologist at a U.S. Air Force survival school --- where U.S. troops were trained in how to avoid false confessions and propaganda under enemy torture --- into a program to use torture techniques to extract...the truth(?)...from Al Qaeda prisoners after 9/11. While we aired a few never-before-aired clips from Leopold's interview with Mitchell, there are more now available right here.
Finally, as always, Desi Doyen joined us, this week for our 500th episode of the Green News Report. Buckle up!
Download MP3 or listen online below...
Given that every Sunday network news show decided to completely ignore it, I thought it my duty to read the entirety of the leaked findings from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA Torture and Detention on the air during this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio.
You're welcome, war criminals!
Also on this week's show, the continually growing evidence of the success of "Obamacare" (and a caller who self-identifies as "full on Left. I'm not even liberal, I'm further Left than that", who takes me to task for citing the facts) --- and why it's time for Dems to grow a pair and start running to not just retain the Senate but also take the U.S. House.
A word or two on home-grown Rightwing extremist terrorism and the fecklessness of the Dept. of Homeland Security which, thanks to bullying from Republicanists and Fox "News", cowered from and retracted their report on same back in 2009 despite the mounting death toll ever since.
Also, a bunch of good callers and more that you'll just have to tune in to hear about, including a visit by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report and some other stuff. Enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below...
Late last week, the twenty conclusions of the U.S. Senate's report on the Bush-era's secret CIA torture and detention program was leaked and published by McClatchy.
As we noted on Friday, when we also published the report's disturbing conclusions [PDF], the 6,600-page study, based on first-hand CIA documentation, reveals massive illegalities and war crimes by everyone from CIA contractors to agents to higher level officials at that agency and others.
The report is said to detail wide-spread crimes that are not only in violation of U.S. law, but also international laws which our nation has an obligation to enforce, thanks to treaties we have long been a party to. And, if we don't enforce those laws and hold the criminals accountable for lawlessness such as torture, all the rest of the nations signed on to such treaties along with us, such as the UN Convention against Torture, have a legal obligation to do so.
The prohibition against torture under that treaty is absolute for all nations. "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture," according to Article 2 of the treaty.
All of that comes on the heels of revelations that the CIA itself had used the computers of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in an attempt to sabotage the committee's report.
Yet, with a report that important and a story that big, not a single U.S. network "news" show on Sunday found the time to even mention the report. Not NBC's Meet the Press with David Gregory, not ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, not CBS' Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, not Fox "News" Sunday with Chris Wallace.
On Friday, we mentioned that the U.S. Senators who recently voted to release 500 redacted pages of the report (we're still waiting on the White House to take action to redact and release it), argue that release is necessary to avoid this country ever going down this same path again.
We opined in response that "only actual prosecution will deter that eventuality", that "As long as those who committed such vile and abhorrent crimes are not actually held accountable, all of this will almost certainly be repeated in the future," (by both us and other nations) and that "if we fail to prosecute, we will also have little ground to hold other rogue countries accountable for the same crimes in the future."
The fact that the twenty, very easy-to-read bullet point conclusions from the U.S. Senate report, which has been years in the making --- as based on first-hand documentation of the crimes --- were released last week, and not even mentioned once on any of the four major Sunday network news shows underscores our point. The release of data is all well and good. But it's only when the perpetrators start being frog-marched to jail that the mainstream corporate media --- and, thus, the American public --- will begin to give a damn about one of the darkest moments in this nation's history.
As of now, at least if Sunday is any indication, evidence suggests that the MSM doesn't give a damn. Therefore, neither will the American people. Thus, we are destined to repeat this abhorrent chapter and, once again, like so many shameful chapters in our recent past, the corporate mainstream media themselves will have played a lead role in helping to make sure that happens.
The leaked release [PDF] of the conclusions from the long-researched and much-debated U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's still-unreleased 6,600-page report on the CIA's Bush-era secret detention and
enhanced interrogation torture program reveals illegalities by the agency that include lying to Congress (and potentially the White House), the leaking of classified material and the misleading of federal investigators at both the CIA Inspector General's office as well as the Dept. of Justice.
The conclusions allege that the conditions for imprisonment and the torture that often accompanied it were "brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers." But that's not all.
The report finds the CIA was incompetent in their handling of the program, endangered national security in the process, and appears to have committed international war crimes. There is also the small fact that the interrogation techniques used by the CIA failed to reveal any actual intelligence and, as the report concludes, "damaged the United States' global reputation, and came with heavy costs, both monetary and non-monetary."
Other than that, the program worked great!
It's little wonder then that the CIA has gone to such lengths --- including spying on and attempting to sabotage the work being done by the Senate committee itself since 2008 --- to try and cover it all up. It's also little wonder that one of the program's most ardent supporters, Dick Cheney, has been working so hard to lie about it all for so many years. If you were likely a war criminal, wouldn't you do the same thing?
What may be considered more of an outstanding question is why the Obama Administration decided that it was okay to not prosecute the perpetrators of the blatant and broad swath of U.S. and international crimes detailed in the report as having been allegedly carried out by the CIA, its agents, its contractors, and any number of other high-ranking federal officials who knew about some or all of it.
The Senate Intel Committee has voted to release about 500 pages of the report, though those pages must be first redacted and then released by the White House (which may have its own complicity in a number of the crimes detailed.) The Senators have argued that the release is necessary to avoid this country ever going down this path again. But, in truth, only actual prosecution will deter that eventuality. As long as those who committed such vile and abhorrent crimes are not actually held accountable, all of this will almost certainly be repeated in the future.
Furthermore, if we fail to prosecute, we will also have little ground to hold other rogue countries accountable for the same crimes in the future.
The report should be released in full, even if it must be leaked to the media, and the perpetrators of the crimes detailed within should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If the U.S. won't do that, other countries are obligated to try and do so themselves under treaties that both they and we are a party to.
The twenty bullet point findings from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report, as leaked to McClatchy, which released them on Friday, follow in full below...
If you didn't happen to see what happened Tuesday on the U.S. Senate floor [full video/transcript here] when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) unleashed a stunning 38-minute speech excoriating the CIA for spying on U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staffers' work on a 6,300-page report detailing torture by the Bush-era CIA, you'll want to listen to this week's BradCast.
Even if you did see what happened on Tuesday, you should tune in to this week's show, as I suspect you'll get details on the various plots, cover-ups and related schemes that you haven't yet heard. I was joined to discuss the mess with our old friend Marcy Wheeler, the encyclopedic national security expert from Emptywheel.net and now Senior Policy Adviser at The Intercept.
She's been tracking this since at least 2009, and we went through the remarkable timeline beginning with Bush's
"Enhanced Interrogation" torture program just after 9/11, through the CIA's attempted cover-up, shredding of videotapes and removal of documents from the Senate staffer's computers, on up to yesterday's explosive comments from DiFi and the implausible denials from CIA Chief John Brennan (and the calls for criminal charges by both parties) which Wheeler and others are now describing as a bona fide "Constitutional Crisis".
This is an extraordinary story. It's Spy v. Overseer; CIA v. U.S. Senate; Executive Branch v. Legislative Branch; DiFi v. Brennan; Hypocrisy v. Reality; Torture & Cover-ups v. Rule of Law & Constitution. And it all could, as Mother Jones' David Corn argues, very well "undermine the basis for secret government" itself.
In the second part of the show, we covered several much more encouraging news items from the past several days, as well as the latest Green News Report. Buckle up and enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below...
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...
In disclosing that he served at the NSA as a third-party contractor employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden's revelations touch upon the disturbing fact that the U.S. has become not only a national security surveillance state, but a privatized national security surveillance state. Our national security apparatus is now run, in no small part, by massive private corporations whose financial interests may be better served by operating in secret and by exploiting and exaggerating public fears.
As reported by The New York Times on Monday, Booz Allen "has become one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States almost exclusively by serving a single client: the government of the United States." The company "reported revenues of $5.76 billion for the fiscal year ended in March."
The majority shareholder in Booz Allen is The Carlyle Group, the massive global asset management firm whose defense industry contracts raised questions of a conflict of interest during the George W. Bush administration in light of the direct financial ties and active rolls in Carlyle maintained by Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, his Sec. of State, James Baker, III, Ronald Reagan's Defense Sec. Frank Carlucci and even Shafiq Bin Laden (Osama's brother).
These new revelations serve as a reminder that 9/11 did more than serve as an economic boon for the military-industrial complex. The events of that horrible day gave rise to an endless "war on terror," to the starkly swift passage of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and eventually, along with it, --- as Sen. Russ Feingold, the only U.S. Senator to vote against the Act, predicted at the time --- to the massive reach of the NSA surveillance state. Feingold's prediction echoed the ominous warning provided by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) some thirty years earlier, that if the NSA's surveillance capabilities were ever allowed to go unchecked, there would be "no place to hide."
But what Senators Feingold and Church do not seem to have anticipated was that this Orwellian level of surveillance capabilities would be placed into the hands of private cyber security contractors, and their billionaire benefactors, whose financial interests lie in an exaggerated state of fear and secrecy. The merger between the NSA and private corporate power raises the specter that this never-ending "war on terror" has given rise to a national security apparatus whose real purpose is to protect wealth and privilege against the threat democracy poses to our increasingly stark levels of inequality.
So, is it terrorism or democracy which is the real target of an omnipresent NSA surveillance capability? Or is it something else entirely?...
29-year old former CIA technical assistant and current NSA third-party contractor Edward Snowden has decided to out himself as the source of the leaked national security documents exposing the U.S. government's massive secret telephone records collection and secret access to nine major Internet services providers, as published by journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian over the course of the past week.
"Any analyst, at any time, can target anyone...anywhere," he tells Greenwald in a video interview published this morning by the Guardian, as recorded in Hong Kong where Snowden has taken refuge for the time being. He adds that, "increasingly", secret intelligence collection is "happening domestically."
"Not all analysts have the ability to target everything," he explains. "But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the President if I had a personal email."
Prior to his decision to leak certain classified and top secret documents about "this massive surveillance machine" he said is being secretly built by the government --- documents which, he says, he reviewed specifically to make sure nobody was personally exposed by them --- Greenwald reports, in a separate article, that he "had 'a very comfortable life' that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves."
"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he is quoted as telling the Guardian. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."
Thanks to his leaks from the NSA, "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning" writes Greenwald, with fellow Guardian journalists Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras today.
"The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong," Snowden tells Greenwald in the fascinating video interview...
A decade ago, Snowden had enlisted in the U.S. Army in hopes of going to Iraq with the Special Forces, the Guardian reports. He became disenchanted, he says, when "Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone." Following a serious injury during training, he was discharged, and eventually made his way into the intelligence field, and now the pages of history.
When asked why he decided to expose these programs, and now come out publicly about them at this time, as opposed to staying in the shadows until otherwise discovered, Snowden explains in the video...
Man, Glenn Greenwald at the UK Guardian has got a very good, and very high-level, source (or sources).
After his Wednesday blockbuster release of secret court documents detailing an order to release millions of Verizon phone records to the NSA, and his arguably more disturbing Thursday blockbuster release of classified documents detailing the secret PRISM program allowing the government "direct access" to the servers of giant Internet service providers like Microsoft, Yahoo!, YouTube, Google and Skype, he has, as promised earlier today, just released another major classified document.
This one is a classified 18-page Presidential Policy Directive issued by President Obama last October detailing "Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO)" which "can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging".
It is said, by an Administration national security spokesperson, to be an update to "a similar directive dating back to 2004."
Here are the key details from Greenwald's latest blockbuster report, written along with the Guardian's Ewen MacAskill...
Before things turn too ugly this week, let's take a moment to flag four great progressive things --- arguably, four great conservative progressive things --- which all happened on Friday.
The first two items got a fair amount of notice, the second two, not so much. But since they all happened on the same day, and that day was Friday, when such stories tend to disappear all together, they are all worth briefly flagging here to make sure you're aware of them...
After the two court rulings above on Friday, former Constitutional attorney and civil liberties champion Glenn Greenwald tweeted wryly: "Wow ... it's like we have a 3rd branch or something."
Much of this nation's government, all three branches, are largely stuck and broken in the muck and mire of partisan, corporate-sponsored quagmire or worse. So the fact that we had four important, not-horrible, arguably excellent things happen within that quagmire all on the same day on Friday are worth, at least, noting here for the record.
We don't say it often (ever?), but kudos to HuffPo. This is their front page right now...
[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...
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