Category: Blackouts

Some Context for my Concern with Government Corruption

| April 18, 2014 | 7 Replies

I realize that I probably look obsessed due to my many posts about government corruption. Perhaps that is because I saw it first-hand when I worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri. That was back in the late ’80s, when William Webster served as Missouri Attorney General. My job required me to prosecute consumer fraud. That’s not quite how it worked, however. If the target was a significant contributor, I would be given lots of excuses that good cases were “not good cases.” I resisted for many months, documenting my cases as best I could and refusing to close good files–this behavior confused me at first, but then it became all too clear. Ultimately, several substantial cases against major contributors convinced Webster to transfer me out of of the Trade Offense Division. Because I refused his transfer, Webster fired me.

Little did I know that my experiences would become a focus for the 1992 Missouri Governor’s debate. The debate featured Mel Carnahan (the Democrat) versus William Webster (the Republican). Prior to this debate Webster had held a 20-point lead. The election occurred two weeks after this debate, and Webster conceded by 7:30 pm on election night. During the debate Carnahan blistered Webster with accusations much of the night. You’ll get a flavor for this well-deserved barrage if you watch the first 5 minutes–I was discussed beginning at the 3-minute mark. One other Assistant Attorney General also took a bold stand. After it became clear to him that the office was corrupt, Tom Glassberg resigned, immediately driving to Jefferson City to file ethics charges against Webster. Tom wrote a letter defending my reputation and his letter was published by the Post-Dispatch. It was letter I will never forget. A few sentences were read at the Governor’s Debate.

Those were intense times for me, of course. You can’t solve problems like this in a day. It requires immense patience and diplomacy, and bucking the system is risky. When you start resisting, you quickly see who has both a conscience and a backbone. When I see the constant stream of money for political favors stories, I’m disheartened but resolute. Corrupt money and power are formidable, but they can’t prevail where good people organize. I’m sure that my time as an AAG was formative, and it continues to drive me forward.

One last thought is a sad one for me, however. During the Webster scandal, the St. Louis Post Dispatch was an aggressive newspaper that did real investigative journalism thanks to excellent reporting by several reporters, including Terry Ganey. The Post-Dispatch no longer does significant investigative journalism, as is the case with most newspapers. Reporters across the country are being laid off by the hundreds, and this has led to a huge news vacuum. These days, we simply don’t know what is going on in most corners of our government. Many stories don’t see the light of day, and the mass media offer no local alternatives (local TV “news” tends to be a joke). Hence my non-stop interest in media reform through organization such as Free Press. Media Reform and Election Reform need to be fixed before we can meaningfully address any other issues. That has so sadly become apparent.

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Obama Administration officially criminalizes investigative journalism

| May 20, 2013 | Reply

Stunning new development regarding the Obama administration’s war on journalism, and this is not hyperbole. What follows is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald’s analysis:

Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ – that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for “soliciting” the disclosure of classified information – is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

That same “solicitation” theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the US government can “charge [Assange] as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.”

[T]he point of the unprecedented Obama war on whistleblowers and press freedoms: to ensure that the only information the public can get is information that the Obama administration wants it to have. That’s why Obama’s one-side games with secrecy – we’ll prolifically leak when it glorifies the president and severely punish all other kinds – is designed to construct the classic propaganda model. And it’s good to see journalists finally speaking out in genuine outrage and concern about all of this.

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Journalism malpractice unabated

| April 27, 2013 | Reply

At Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Steve Rendall discusses numerous stunning examples, historical and recent, of journalists withholding important stories from the public at the request of the federal government.

Journalism is supposed to hold power to account. That’s the principle implicit in the U.S. Constitution’s singling out a free press for protection. If that principle were respected, the Washington Post’s admission (2/6/13) that it and “several news organizations” made a deal with the White House to withhold the news that the U.S. has a drone base in Saudi Arabia would have been a red flag, triggering widespread discussion of media ethics. But these deals have become so commonplace that the story generated less concern among journalists than did the denial of press access to a recent presidential golf outing.

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The so-called news

| March 18, 2013 | Reply

It turns out, just like you might have expected, that the news is devoid of news.

“The Pew Research Center’s annual “State of the Media” study was released Monday. One section of the report — which, when taken in its totality, makes for very gloomy reading — deals with changes in the television news landscape over the past five years. The study’s authors found that, since 2007, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have all cut back sharply on the amount of actual reporting found on their airwaves. Cheaper, more provocative debate or interview segments have largely filled the void.”

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What is at stake in the trial of Bradley Manning?

| March 1, 2013 | Reply

What is really at stake in the trial of Bradley Manning? It’s whether We the People are going to decide to trust our government regarding all foreign policy (and domestic security) matters, despite a long and disturbing track record of government coverups and public lies. Yochai Benkler explains at The New Republic:

Whistleblowers play a critical constitutional role in our system of government, particularly in the area of national security . . . Freedom of the press is anchored in our constitution because it reflects our fundamental belief that no institution can be its own watchdog . . . The implications of Manning’s case go well beyond Wikileaks, to the very heart of accountability journalism in a networked age. . . . If Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy, the introduction of a capital offense into the mix would dramatically elevate the threat to whistleblowers. The consequences for the ability of the press to perform its critical watchdog function in the national security arena will be dire. And then there is the principle of the thing. However technically defensible on the language of the statute, and however well-intentioned the individual prosecutors in this case may be, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror of this case and ask: Are we the America of Japanese Internment and Joseph McCarthy, or are we the America of Ida Tarbell and the Pentagon Papers? What kind of country makes communicating with the press for publication to the American public a death-eligible offense? What a coup for Al Qaeda, to have maimed our constitutional spirit to the point where we might become that nation.

Benkler is slated to testify as an expert witness in Manning’s case. He has written extensively regarding the Constitutional issues at stake in the case, including this article previously discussed at this site.

Consider also, this similar assessment of Manning’s case by Julian Assanage of Wikileaks.

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Stunning lies by the U.S. regarding Libyan Consulate attack and Bin Laden killing

| September 21, 2012 | Reply

The truth is not a surprise to me: the bigoted anti-Muslim film had nothing to do with the attacks on the American Consulate in Libya. Glenn Greenwald explains why so many high-ranking U.S. officials lied:

For one, the claim that this attack was just about anger over an anti-Muhammad video completely absolves the US government of any responsibility or even role in provoking the anti-American rage driving it. After all, if the violence that erupted in that region is driven only by anger over some independent film about Muhammad, then no rational person would blame the US government for it, and there could be no suggestion that its actions in the region – things like this, and this, and this, and this – had any role to play.

The White House capitalized on the strong desire to believe this falsehood: it’s deeply satisfying to point over there at those Muslims and scorn their primitive religious violence, while ignoring the massive amounts of violence to which one’s own country continuously subjects them. It’s much more fun and self-affirming to scoff: “can you believe those Muslims are so primitive that they killed our ambassador over a film?” than it is to acknowledge: “our country and its allies have continually bombed, killed, invaded, and occupied their countries and supported their tyrants.”

It is always more enjoyable to scorn the acts of the Other Side than it is to acknowledge the bad acts of one’s own. That’s the self-loving mindset that enables the New York Times to write an entire editorial today purporting to analyze Muslim rage without once mentioning the numerous acts of American violence aimed at them (much of which the Times editorial page supports). Falsely claiming that the Benghazi attacks were about this film perfectly flattered those jingoistic prejudices.

Greenwald also explains that the version of the U.S. killing of Osama Bin Laden we heard from high-ranking U.S. officials was false in numerous stunning ways. The official version was designed to make the killing seem justifiable.

None of those claims, central to the story the White House told the world, turned out to be true. Bin Laden was unarmed and nobody in the house where Bin Laden was found ever fired a single shot (a courier in an adjacent guest house was the only one to shoot, at the very beginning of the operation). Bin Laden never used his wife or anyone else as a shield. And the house was dilapidated, showed little sign of luxury, and was worth one-quarter of what it was claimed. Numerous other claims made by the administration about the raid remain unanswered because of its steadfast insistence on secrecy and non-disclosure (except when it concerns Hollywood filmmakers).

So once again, our government officials have almost no regard for the truth and our corporate media shows that its main job is to serve as stenographer for the U.S. government.

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The Rocky Anderson Alternative as President of the United States

| August 26, 2012 | 6 Replies
The Rocky Anderson Alternative as President of the United States

You won’t hear the mass media talking about Rocky Anderson. You won’t hear Anderson speaking at any of the Presidential Debates, because the corporations that run our elections will make sure that Anderson is not invited to any of these debates.

Anderson, a two-term mayor of Salt Lake City, is running as the nominee of the Justice Party. He is sorely disappointed in Barack Obama’s decision to support passage of NDAA. He is a strong believer in the need to take definite steps to reduce production of greenhouse gasses (he took serious steps as Mayor). He very much supports the aims of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. He challenges Americans to reject the “fear-driven argument” that they must vote for one of the two dominant political parties. [More . . . ]

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Barack Obama emulates George W. Bush, again.

| March 14, 2012 | 4 Replies
Barack Obama emulates George W. Bush, again.

Glenn Greenwald has just published this infuriating story. It starts with a big lie: the U.S. and the government of Yemen have a good laugh that a U.S. drone attack on Yemeni soil, killing 14 women and 21 children was a successful attack against “insurgents” and “militants” that did not involve the U.S. When a reporter exposes the U.S. involvement, a fact that has been corroborated by a Wikileaks cable release, he ends up in prison on trumped up charges. When he’s about to be pardoned, Barack Obama intervenes. The reporter, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, has spent the past two years in prison, where he has been beaten and held in solitary confinement. This is all part of a highly coordinated war on whistle-blowers by the Obama Administration, a fact duly ignored by most media outlets, who serve as stenographers for the American military-industrial complex and its Commander in Chief:

So it is beyond dispute that the moving force behind the ongoing imprisonment of this Yemeni journalist is President Obama. And the fact that Shaye is in prison, rather than able to report, is of particular significance (and value to the U.S.) in light of the still escalating American attacks in that country. Over the past 3 days alone, American air assaults have killed 64 people in Yemen, while American media outlets — without anyone on the scene — dutifully report that those killed are “suspected Al Qaeda insurgents” and “militants.”

Should anyone trust the United States’ claims about whether any dead people were “terrorists”? Greenwald says no (and see here).

It’s incredibly instructive to compare what we know (thanks to Shaye) actually happened in this Yemen strike to how The New York Times twice “reported” on it. I quoted above from these two NYT articles, but it’s just amazing to read them: over and over, the NYT assures its readers that this strike was carried out by Yemen (with U.S. assistance), that it killed scores of critical Al Qaeda leaders and other “militants,” that the strike likely killed “the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, and his deputy, Said Ali al-Shihri, who were believed to be at the meeting with Mr. Awlaki,” etc. How anyone, in light of this record of extreme inaccuracy, can trust the undocumented assertions of the U.S. Government or the American media over who is and is not a Terrorist or “militant” and who is killed by American drone strikes is simply mystifying.

There is much more to be considered in Greenwald’s piece, all of it ignored by Obama apologists everywhere. And no, I’m not a Republican. I voted for Barack Obama, yet I find many of his actions disgraceful.

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Atheist editor of high school newspaper denied right to publish article

| February 23, 2012 | 7 Replies
Atheist editor of high school newspaper denied right to publish article

Krystal Myers is a student at Lenoir City High School (in Tennessee), which has a predominantly Christian student body. She is also the editor of her public high school newspaper. She also happens to be an atheist. KnoxNews reports on a recent incident:

In a recent editorial that Myers, 18, intended for the Lenoir City High School newspaper entitled “No Rights: The Life of an Atheist,” she questioned her treatment by the majority.

The article criticized the school for promoting prayer at school events, including school board meetings. Why was Krystal denied the right to publish her article?

Schools Director Wayne Miller said it was the decision of the school authorities not to allow publication of Myers’ editorial because of the potential for disruption in the school.

I’d like to know more about the article. If Kristal happens to read this post, I hope she’ll contact me. I would certainly consider publishing her article here at DI, if she’s interested.

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