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By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2005 11:55am PT  

Picking up on some of our shop talk from over the weekend...Radio Free Blogistan runs an interview today with Larisa Alexandrovna, associate editor and reporter for the excellent internet-only news site, RAW STORY.

Alexandrovna has been responsible for a number of RAW STORY's finest scoops of late, and is the organizer behind the recently announced effort to develop the Open Source Press Association (OSPA), an independent alternative to the Associated Press to be comprised of indy media groups and investigative bloggers. She's also one feisty and determined reporter as The BRAD BLOG can personally verify.

She gives The BRAD BLOG an appreciated plug in the interview, which runs a bit too long and is full of typos, accidentally pointing up yet another key element currently too-absent from the blogosphere (ours being no exception): Editing. Perhaps that alone is reason to hope the OSPA shapes up quickly to fullfill its mission as she envisions it.

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By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2005 9:43pm PT  

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Clint Curtis Right Again!
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2005 6:59pm PT  

Why did an illegal alien who was an admitted and convicted spy for China receive just three years probation and a $100 fine? Does everyone caught spying on America recieve such treatment? Or only those who are friendly with Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) and friends? ...DETAILS ON MONDAY...

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By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2005 1:47pm PT  

It's all a bit too much "shop talk" even for me. But, in truth, the discussion of blogs, bloggers and blogging affects all of us here in one important way or another.

Either because one of us happens to be the author of this blog, a commenter on this blog (yes, you too could be held responsible one day for what you say, whether we like it or not!) or because we're just all citizens of this country and/or this world, and --- contrary to what happens in Vegas --- what happens in America doesn't necessarily stay in America. Unfortunately enough for those of you not here in America.

So there's a Blog versus MSM or MSM versus Blog or, more ominiously, The Law versus The Blogger and The MSM firestorm a-brewin', and you folks should well be paying attention to it. Inside baseball or otherwise.

Adam L. Penenberg, in this week's Wired News, shares a reminder, and a legal opinion or two, that, as the headline says, avers there is "No Protection for Bloggers".

In the bargain, he also reminds us that there is precious little protection for MSM reporters as well in this day and age. And as much as we might like to see Judith Miller of The NY Times spanked hard and/or possibly sent down for a week or two of "rehab" at Gitmo for her transgressions at the “Gray Lady” in the year prior to the War on Iraq in which she personally played no small part in helping us get there in the first place, we find it more than a bit appalling that she may be facing 18 months in jail for not disclosing a source for a story she never even reported.

In the meantime, Robert Novak, who did report the story on Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, being a covert CIA operative and has admitted to having at least "two senior administration officials" as sources for it, has somehow gotten off scot-free.

We guess it's not actually what you know, but who you know. Or so it would seem in the case of undercover-CIA-operative-outer Novak, of whom Poppy George HW's quote from 1999 would seem to more than aptly apply: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors." (Source: 4/26/99, Speech at "Dedication Ceremony for the George Bush Center for Intelligence", full speech at the CIA website...ed note: I do not believe I will make it through another four years of this kind of irony without my head actually exploding)

But back to Penenberg's piece, whose final grafs inspired this article. Here they are:

Earlier this week, a three-judge federal court of appeals panel upheld a ruling in which Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine were sentenced to up to 18 months in jail for refusing to disclose their sources to a grand jury investigating a leak that disclosed the identity of a CIA agent.

Most ominously for the blogosphere, Judge David B. Sentelle, in addressing reporters' privilege, asked if it protected "the proprietor of a web log: the stereotypical 'blogger' sitting in his pajamas at his personal computer posting on the world wide web his best product to inform whoever happens to browse his way? If so, then would it not be possible for a government official wishing to engage in the sort of unlawful leaking under investigation in the present controversy to call a trusted friend or a political ally, advise him to set up a web log (which I understand takes about three minutes) and then leak to him under a promise of confidentiality the information which the law forbids the official to disclose?"

The judge seems concerned that bloggers (in pajamas, no less) might be used by their sources.

Isn't this what Robert Novak, the first to out CIA operative Valerie Plame in a July 2003 syndicated column, has been accused of?

Yes, it is. (ed. Note: And yes, our head may indeed explode if this intolerably cruel irony keeps up.)

Inside baseball or not, the tide is turning. And quickly. The barbarian bloggers are at the gate, and the MSM, along with The Law is going to spend the next few months and years figuring out what to do about it.

One of Judge Sentelle's poor pajama'd bloggers may someday find themselves as the unfortunate test case in determining just who is a "journalist" and who isn't, while even the "journalists" find out they may have no more protection in this majesty's kingdom.

So, is it too early to turn our earlier shameless plea for donations into a necessary collection for the official BRAD BLOG Legal Defense Fund?

Let us hope so.

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By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2005 12:51pm PT  

As the pointless dying continues unabated...

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By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2005 7:29pm PT  

As requested...The Gannon/Guckert scandal is moving quickly. AmericaBLOG and RAW STORY are both all over it. I'm working on a few things, so can't add to it for the moment. But you can. As you wish. Right here...

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By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2005 4:04pm PT  

The story of CNN's bogus North Korean nuke plant photos seems to have legs of its own, as links to our original exclusive report (and its followups here and then here) continue to sweep around the net with surprising popularity.

And in print, The University of Texas' Daily Texan picks up on the story of the Iran/N. Korea/Iraq satellite photos (all of the same nuclear facility as it turns out, presumably in Iran) which ran on CNN's website, and then were found also to have been running at least a year earlier on the U.S. government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website at least a year prior to having shown up on CNN. On RFE/RL they were variously used to illustrate nuke or WMD sites in Iran, North Korea and Iraq!

The unbylined Daily Texan opinion piece points out the troubling "easily duped" state of the U.S. media by describing it as "whacky-tragic". They follow up our reporting with a similar statement from a different RFE/RL employee than the one we spoke to. Though, notably, like us, it seems they were similarly unable to get any statement from CNN on the matter.

Advancing the story a touch, their piece closes with...

It's an easy mistake to make, specifically after the passage of the "Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005." Section 914 of the act makes satellite photography the government takes or buys immune from Freedom of Information Act requests.

There is no question both Iran and North Korea have nuclear programs - Iran admits to researching nuclear technology for non-weapon energy production. North Korea says it has nuclear bombs. But the media has not had good luck with satellite photography; before the invasion of Iraq, then Secretary of State Colin Powell used satellite photography to make the case before the U.N. that Iraq had WMD laboratories. That turned out to be false. What, in retrospect, were probably fire trucks became "decontamination vehicles," and flatbed trucks became "mobile weapons labs."

Considering this administration's willingness to misrepresent the facts to the tragiwacky media and ambitions to use propaganda, until satellite photography is fully opened to the public, it should enjoy the same skepticism one would reserve for a report in Chinese news agency Xinhua or communist-run Pravda.

We appreciate that they've given "blogger Brad Friedman" credit for first reporting the story. And our thanks to BRAD BLOG reader "Ziggyczar" for bringing the piece to our attention!

We have continued over the last week to get comment from CNN, and will continue to do so. We will, of course, report here when and if we are able to get one.

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Letter Entirely Unthreatening, Claims Reported from Feeney and Unnamed YEI Attorney Unfounded!
MSNBC Prime-Time Star's Original Unconfirmed, Unfortunate, Irresponsible Report Entirely Off-Base!
By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2005 1:32pm PT  

In a text-book case of everything that the MSM might appropriately use to illustrate everything that can be wrong and dangerous about bloggers and blogging, a report filed just before Christmas on the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Inc. (YEI) vote-rigging software scandal was published by a blogger.

The report included demonstrably false information passed on by the blogger on behalf of both Feeney and an unnamed attorney from YEI. The report was so poorly researched, so scurrilously irresponsible and so inappropriately damaging to a single American citizen, that if all blogs articles were like this one, we'd be the first in line calling for the immediate abolition of all such Internet web logs.

Unfortunately, that reprehensible report was filed on the "Bloggerman" blog of the mainstream media's (or MSM's) own Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's prime-time Countdown program.

As we reported back in late December of last year, Olbermann gave a wonderful Christmas gift to Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) and his longtime friends and clients at YEI by filing a one-sided, unconfirmed and unverified report on his blog, sourced only by Feeney himself and YEI's unnamed attorney.

The victim was, of course, Clint Curtis, who Olbermann didn't even bother to reach for comment before giving Feeney a national platform to say that Curtis had "slandered and defamed a lot of people." Neither did Olbermann give any examples of who Feeney was claiming to have been slandered nor how they were defamed.

(Attempts to reach Olbermann for comment after he posted his blog item went unanswered, but his producer, who asked to remain unnamed, distanced themselves from the "reporting" by telling The BRAD BLOG that "this was Keith Olbermann's writing. He didn't work with me or anyone else on this.")

There was a fair amount of other inaccuracies in his report, but it was this following chestnut, apparently not fact-checked in any way, from an unnamed YEI attorney (believed to be Tom Feeney's old law-partner and current contributor, Michael O'Quinn) that has really ticked us off over the last two months:

Its lawyer claims Curtis has previously threatened the firm and its top officers, in writing, and that they were sufficiently concerned to file a police report as a result.

...And what might have been, for actual reporters, a promising lead or break to look into in order to advance the story and perhaps add a new dimension to it, was dumped wholly unfact-checked on an eager public from Mr. Olbermann's high-profile perch.

The BRAD BLOG has spent the last two months attempting to track down this anonymously claimed threat to "the firm and its top officers". A threat, mind you, that was described as being "in writing" and apparently so threatening that it required a police report be filed.

Olbermann, apparently, thought it perfectly proper to pass that information on to the nation without asking the unnamed attorney if he might be allowed to review the alleged "in writing" threat, or to even contact the police to find out if, in fact, any such report had ever been filed.

Well, The BRAD BLOG did both.

After nearly two months trying to track down the unchecked Olbermann report, we've finally located the supposed threatening writing as well as the police report which was indeed filed. Though it was not filed at YEI's local police precinct in Oviedo, FL. Nor by "the firm" or its "top officers".

It was filed in Winter Springs, FL, the next town over, at the local police precinct of Mike Cohen, Curtis' co-worker and the executive secretary, at the time, to YEI's CEO, Mrs. Li-Waon Yang. The letter "sufficiently concern[ing] to file a police report" as Olbermann described it, seems very clearly meant as an attempt by Curtis to help his former friend and co-worker, Cohen, not to threaten him...

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

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(Or so they tell us.)
By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2005 2:43am PT  

Please go vote for us in the finals of the 2004 Koufax Awards if you haven't already! The big guys with more readers get more votes! So let 'em hear from you! But only vote once per Finalist category! This isn't Florida, ya know!

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By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2005 9:42pm PT  

The text which is a bit too small to read up there says...
LITTLE GUY ON LEFT: "Tell them to go to bloggery"
LITTLE GUY ON RIGHT: "Too late I fear"

Too late, indeed.

(Hat tip to BRAD BLOG commenter "Charles" for the find!)

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By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2005 5:04pm PT  

Of the 14,000 sites that Popdex.com claims to "crawl" to "determine the most popular links on the Internet", it seems that our exclusive from Monday on CNN's Identical Nuke Plants in both North Korean and Iran is, as of this posting, the #1 most popular link on the Internet!

Seems a bit difficult to believe to us, but there it is. We'll take it!

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(Let's hope it lasts!)
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2005 4:53pm PT  

Long time BRAD BLOG readers will recall our (fairly) regular "Daily Show Moment"; a somewhat regular staple here featuring a "best moment" from a previous evening's The Daily Show.

We admit we became somewhat disenchanted with them after the election and their lack of coverage of "Election Irregularity" issues. Just as we became somewhat disenchanted with a number of (theoretically) progressive bloggers who displayed some revealing "true colors" vis a vis their timidity in covering such issues at a time when we needed all hands on deck.

It's clear, at the very least, that the eventual historical challenge to the Ohio Electoral Votes in Congress on Jan 6th, 2005, at least validated the concerns that a few of us bloggers were willing to discuss openly and report vigorously on after November 2nd. (And it was amusing to watch some of those other bloggers begrudgingly cover the Congressional Electoral Challenge event on Jan 6th...But we digress.)

So it was, last night, with no small amount of interest, that we noticed, in the wake of the Gannon/Guckert Scandal, The Daily, for the first time to our knowledge, had finally acknowledged that blogs actually exist! Let's hope that was a watershed moment for the real news-breakers of late having finally cracked into the "mainstream".

With that in mind, here's an amusing moment or four from The Daily Show's notable blog-o-rama from last night as their entire first segment was devoted to blog-related matters...

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

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Discussing Clint Curtis Story and much more!
Being the media!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2005 11:42am PT  

Sorry for the short notice, but we were just asked to jump in and do the show today at 1:20pm PT (4:20pm ET) for twenty or thirty minutes to discuss the Clint Curtis story on Radio Left.

UPDATE: I was told I'd be on for about 20 or 30 minutes, and we ended up chatting for an hour! About Clint Curtis, about Velvet Revolution, left and rightwing blogging, Jeff Gannon, weak-kneed Democrats, hypocritical Republicans and the state of politics and the country in general. Was a lot of fun!

Since I didn't know I'd be on that long, my computer stopped recording around the 40 minute mark, so there's a few minutes missed in my recording and a glitch in the tape right around that point before I was able to start up the recording again.

My thanks to Geoff Staples of RadioLeft.com for inviting me on. And I look forward to chatting with both him and his partner Carolyn again in the near future!

You can listen up if you wish, via one of the following links (NOTE: If there's any surveillance experts out there who wish to offer an opinion on all of that clicking you'll hear on my phone line, and if it sounds like a phone tap to you, let me know! If my phone is now tapped, then...Hi Guys!...How are ya?!...I guess I have the radio show I always wanted, but didn't even know I already had! :-)

(As mentioned previously, working on several stories I'd hoped to have ready for today...Due to this delightful interruption and a few others, I've been set back. As usual. Hope to have a few things, however, later this evening, and more again for tomorrow in any case!)

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We've found a Broadcast Journalist Who Gets It!
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2005 5:03pm PT  

...At least in regards to the Gannon/Guckert scandal. No wonder they've relegated her back down to CourtTV.

Crooks and Liars has the video from AmericaBLOG's John Aravosis' appearance today on Crier's show. Take a look at what the broadcast media is supposed to look like in this country!

Can we clone her?

(P.S. The problem in this country is just activist bloggers in case you didn't get the Fox News Alert.)

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Identical Photo Used in Stories on both Iran and N. Korea was also used with IRAQ Stories!
All have been 'disappeared' from U.S. Funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website! Still no Explanation for CNN's Use of Same Iranian Facility on Their N. Korea Story!
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2005 2:18pm PT  

After yesterday's BRAD BLOG exposé on the use of a satellite photo of a (presumably) Iranian nuclear facility which was misrepresented as a nuclear facility in North Korea by the U.S. Government funded "news" site Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an April 2004 story, the site has now removed that photograph from the article without giving explanation on their webpage for the removal.

To make matters worse, we pointed out yesterday that the photo of the (follow closely now) supposed Iranian nuclear facility that was used with the article on North Korea was actually filenamed "Iraq-nuclear.jpg"!

It has now been discovered that the same photograph was indeed also used on RFE/RL stories about WMDs in Iraq!

A search of RFE/RL's website reveals that there were at least 9 different instances of that same "Iraq-nuclear.jpg" photo being used along with stories about nuclear or WMD programs in all three different countries. The first known instance of its use at RFE/RL was on February 5, 2004 in an article headlined --- ironically enough --- "CIA Head Defends WMD Intelligence on Iraq"!

In another instance (see screenshot at bottom of this story, captured prior to scrubbing of photo), a story from RFE/RL published on April 20, 2004 titled "Iraq/U.S.: New Book Contradicts CIA Director's Intelligence" the photo was --- again, ironically enough --- used above the caption: "Convincing enough?"

As of this afternoon it seems that all of the RFE/RL stories on either Iraq or North Korea, which had once used that same file photo to represent nukes or WMD in all three respective countries, have now had the photo either removed entirely or replaced by another. Only the stories on Iran continue to use the photo, and even one of those was changed to a photo of the International Atomic Energy Association's Muhammad el-Baradei (again, for reasons not explained on the site).

After asking for comment on the originally discovered use of the photo with their North Korea story from March 2004, Martins Zvaner from RFE/RL's communications office emailed the following explanation to The BRAD BLOG...

Thank you for contacting us, and pointing out the disconnect between an article posted to the RFE/RL website by Mark Baker (1 March 2004, "North Korea: Six-Way Talks Seen As Neither Success Nor Failure", http://www.rferl.org/fea...7-B73C-B1CBA3BC60E6.html) and the photo that accompanied the article. We regret the fact that the photo was 1) misidentified as of an Iraqi facility when in fact it is of an Iranian facility and 2) that it was used to illustrate a news article that dealt exclusively with the six-way North Korean nuclear negotiations. That photo has now been removed from the article on our website.

Zvaners supplied no answer to our inquiry into the original source for those photos. That issue is of the utmost curiosity here given that it was originally CNN's use of a photo of the same purported Iranian facility represented as a North Korean facility in their story last Saturday on six-way talks with North Korean President Kim Jung Il.

CNN, unlike RFE/RL is not funded by the U.S. government and, in theory, should be checking facts before reporting to America and the world and displaying photos possibly supplied by Administration officials who may have a particular agenda to grind.

Our discovery of the photo on additional stories at RFE/RL, including Iraq stories, occurred during the interim as we were waiting for the above email reply from RFE/RL. We have since followed-up asking for further explanation of the photograph's use on the Iraq stories and why no explanation was given for the various removals of the photo from the many different web pages. We will update with that reply when and if it is received. (NOTE: We have now received a reply to our follow-up email to Zvaners. Please see the bottom of this article for that updated info.)

As BRAD BLOG's story from yesterday pointed out, RFE/RL is funded by the U.S. Government and its corporate board of directors is composed of nine Presidential appointees. It broadcasts news from an American point of view across Europe. Therefore, the use of American propoganda is not wholly surprising for them.

CNN's use, however, of the same Iranian facility in a story about North Korea still requires some explaining since --- in theory --- CNN is not a government-funded propoganda arm of the United States government!

It was the discovery of CNN's use of that same alleged Iranian nuclear facility used to represent a facility in North Korea that begin this odyssey on Monday with this BRAD BLOG exclusive showing the use of the same facility in stories over the past week describing the image respectively as a nuke plant first in Iran and then again as one in North Korea.

We have attempted since Monday to receive an explanation from CNN who has since replaced the photo on their North Korea story following our story. Numerous messages to various CNN divisions have gone unanswered, while a staffer in their Press Relations office yesterday morning promised us a comment "soon". We are still waiting to hear back from them and will report what --- if anything --- they have to say for themselves.

The stories at RFE/RL which all used the same Iranian nuclear facility photo are listed here (we have most of the original stories cached showing the photo which has, in most cases, now been scrubbed from these pages):

  • CIA Head Defends WMD Intelligence On Iraq
    Published: Feb 5, 2004
    Caption used below photo: None.
    Original photo status: Now replaced with generic map of Iraq.
  • World: A Lively Nuclear Black Market Raises Fears Of Terrorists Getting The Bomb (Part 1)
    Published: Feb 26, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "Suspected nuclear facility in Iran".
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • World: Stopping Proliferation Requires Tough New Laws (Part 2)
    Published: Feb 26, 2004
    Caption used below photo: None.
    Original photo status: Replaced by photo of Muhammad el-Baradei
  • North Korea: Six-Way Talks Seen As Neither Success Nor Failure
    Published: Mar 1, 2004
    Caption used below photo: None.
    Original photo status: Removed.
  • Powell Says U.S. Intelligence On Iraq Mobile Labs Flawed
    Published: Apr 3, 2004
    Caption used below photo: Unknown. Gone before we could capture it.
    Original photo status: Removed.
  • Iraq/U.S.: New Book Contradicts CIA Director's Intelligence
    Published: Apr 20, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "Convincing enough?"
    Original photo status: Removed.
    (screenshot of pre-scrubbed story below)
  • Iran: EU 'Big Three' Meet With Tehran Over Nuclear Program
    Published: Nov 5, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "A suspected nuclear facility in Iran"
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • Analysis: How Close Is Iran To The Bomb?
    Published: Dec 15, 2004
    Caption used below photo: "Is this site producing a nuclear weapon? (file photo)"
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • U.S./Iran: Former Weapons Inspector Says U.S. Must Avoid Mistakes Of Iraq
    Published: Feb 8, 2005
    Caption used below photo: "Suspected WMD site in Iran"
    Original photo status: Still included with story.
  • UPDATE: Martins Zvaners from the communications office at RFE/RL has replied to our follow-up questions with this answer:

    The photo in question was misidentified when our web editors first secured it in early 2004; months later (i.e. after the article you refer to below was posted) when they learned it was of an Iranian facility, they refrained from using it with any articles other than those linked to Iran. Unfortunately, that file (with "Iraq" in its file name, which is what you see when you mouse over the photo) has only just been replaced by one titled "iran-nuclear-satellite.jpg". We have gone through our website to make sure that this photo, with a properly descriptive name, accompanies only those articles where it is appropriate. Again, we regret any confusion that may have resulted from this mistake.

    To my knowledge, our web editors got the photo file from a wire agency photo service, run by either AFP or the Czech news agency CTK.

    So he's blamin' it on the Czechs, huh?! ;-)

    Either way, we appreciate the quick response from Mr. Zvaners. Especially, while we're at three days and counting and still waiting for a reply...any reply...even a made up reply...from CNN.

    ReddIt this story!



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