Thursday, April 16, 2009

More And More Of Our Hopes For Justice Are Dissolving Before Our Eyes.

More And More Of Our Hopes For Justice Are Dissolving Before Our Eyes.


“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

–Thomas Jefferson-

Obama: No prosecution for CIA torturers 16 Apr 2009 President Obama said Thursday the United States will not prosecute CIA officials who participated in controversial interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding and slapping and sleep deprivation -- that were secretly authorized under President [sic] Bush and have since [allegedly] been rescinded.

Justice Department Releases Bush Administration Torture Memos --Bradbury and Bybee Memos Are Released In Response to Long-Running ACLU Lawsuits (ACLU) 16 Apr 2009 In response to litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Justice Department today released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture. The memos, produced by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), provided the legal framework for the CIA's use of waterboarding and other illegal interrogation methods that violate domestic and international law.

Abuse of Power: The Bush Administration's Secret Legal Memos (ACLU) 16 Apr 2009 On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture.

  • 18-page memo 01 Aug 2002 from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA
  • 46-page memo 10 May 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA
  • 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA
  • 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA

Spanish AG: No torture probe of US officials 16 Apr 2009 Spain's attorney general has rejected opening an investigation into whether six Bush regime officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, saying Thursday a U.S. courtroom would be the proper forum. Candido Conde-Pumpido's remarks severely dampen the chance of a case moving forward against the Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Spain rejects US torture probe 16 Apr 2009 Spain's attorney general has rejected an attempt to bring a criminal case against six former US officials over torture allegations at Guantanamo Bay. The officials, including former US attorney general Alberto Gonzalez, were accused of giving a legal justification for torture at the US detention centre.

N.S.A.'s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress --In one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant. 16 Apr 2009 The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in "overcollection" of domestic communications of Americans.

Guns, Drugs Seized From Homeland Security Officer --DHS officer was caught with 40 grams of cocaine, 65 grams of marijuana bagged for sale, a shotgun, two pistols, close to 100 rounds of ammunition and more than $6,000 in cash. 09 Apr 2009 A Homeland Security employee at Orlando International Airport is in the Brevard County Detention Center on numerous drug trafficking and gun charges. Timothy Monroe, was arrested Wednesday at his Palm Bay home on Coral Reef Road. According to the Palm Bay Police Department, a three month investigation led them to Monroe. [No surprises here. But it doesn't trump arrest of the three GOPedophiles/DHS employees arrested for child porn/child endangerment last year.]

Israel will not cooperate with UN Gaza war crimes inquiry 15 Apr 2009 Israel does not plan to cooperate with a U.N. agency's investigation into alleged war crimes by Israeli troops and Hamas militants during fighting in Gaza, an Israeli government official said on Wednesday. Israeli forces launched a 22-day offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in late December... According to a Palestinian rights group, 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, were killed in the fighting.





March 27th, 2009

Four Questions on Afghanistan
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, March 27, 2009

President Obama announced his new Afghanistan strategy Friday - the traditional Washington day for burying things. But there weren’t any big surprises. The Administration had been dribbling details out through the news media: more troops, more civilians, narrower goals. As for “narrowing the goals,” in his speech Obama had it both ways: he asserted that “we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future” and that “we are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future,” while striking out against an assumed threat of a “return to Taliban rule,” and insisting that al Qaeda terrorists “would accompany the core Taliban leadership,” which arguably implies that the set of U.S. goals may not have narrowed very much, and that the U.S. is indeed still trying to control Afghanistan and dictate its future.

It is widely recognized that sending more people - whether soldiers or civilians - is very unlikely in itself to change anything fundamental, because the order of magnitude is wrong. The United States has not been, is not, and almost certainly never will be willing and able to commit the resources which would be necessary to transform Afghanistan into a peaceful “democracy” according to the present policy. The most that could be plausibly hoped for is that additional resources would help make a new policy work: a new policy based on a fundamental, political shift in US policy, including accommodation with the bulk of the political forces now backing Afghanistan’s various insurgencies.

And therefore, it matters little in the big scheme of things, how many new troops or civilians President Obama plans to send. If there is no real change in policy, new troops and new civilians won’t accomplish anything. If there is a real change in policy, any success will be due much more to the policy change than to the “surge” under the cover of which the policy change takes place.

What finally matters are the answers to four questions that are only now beginning to be asked.

1. Will the United States support political negotiations between the Afghan government and leaders of Afghanistan’s insurgencies?

It’s wonderful that President Obama supports outreach to “moderate Taliban” and “low-level fighters” and insurgents that are “only fighting for money.” But that’s not going to end the war. A narrow, circumscribed understanding of “reconciliation” was already the Bush policy. Outreach to “moderate Taliban” will only make a significant difference if it turns out to be the “camel’s nose under the tent” for a broader process of political engagement that draws in leaders of Afghanistan’s insurgencies and the political forces backing them.

“Support” is fundamentally different from “tolerate”: talks between Afghan officials and insurgent leaders are already underway; the U.S. can’t stop them from taking place and isn’t trying to. But the U.S. can ensure that such talks can’t accomplish anything meaningful, by refusing to cooperate. Just as any meaningful peace process is going to eventually result in guarantees by insurgent leaders not to engage in, support, or facilitate military operations inside or outside of Afghanistan, so any meaningful peace process is eventually going to result in binding constraints on U.S. military operations and detentions. The Afghan government, at present, has almost no control over U.S. military operations and detentions. So for talks to be meaningful, the U.S. has to cooperate.

Western officials have conceded that it was a mistake to exclude leaders of the former government from the post-2001 political process in Afghanistan. It’s long past time to correct this mistake.

2. Is the United States prepared to discuss its long-term intentions in Afghanistan?

As was previously the case in Iraq, it’s currently an article of dogma that you’re not allowed to say the words “timetable” or “timeline.” (Although Reps. Lee, Waters, and Woolsey appear to have recently broken the taboo.) There’s no good reason for this situation to continue. In the case of Iraq, “timetable” moved from “unthinkable” to “commonplace” to “provision of signed agreement.”

Similarly, there’s been almost no discussion of “permanent military bases,” in contrast to Iraq, where critics of the war - Iraqi and American - put the Bush Administration on the defensive, early and often, on this key point.

The sooner the idea of a total withdrawal of US military forces from Afghanistan at some point in the future becomes an allowed topic of discussion, the sooner greater space will open for negotiated solutions, since it is widely conceded that the most important motivation for the insurgencies is the presence of foreign troops.

3. Is the United States prepared to relax the political constraints it has previously imposed on Afghan negotiations?

A standard formulation has been: “we support reconciliation with insurgents who are prepared to accept the Afghan Constitution.” There is nothing sacred about the Afghan Constitution. If changing the Afghan Constitution would help end the war, then changing the Afghan Constitution should not be ruled out of consideration. If someone says, “I’m not going to stop fighting until the Afghan Constitution says that Western music is against Islam,” then, if you wish, you can say, ok, keep fighting. But there’s no good reason to rule proposed changes as out of bounds for discussion. Indeed, there are two specific reasons for considering changes to the Afghan Constitution: one, supporters of Afghanistan’s insurgencies were excluded from the process that produced it; two, the present Constitution enshrines elements of centralization which are widely considered key obstacles to effective local governance and stability.

4. Is the United States prepared to address the political roots of Pakistan’s relationship with the Afghan insurgencies?

U.S. officials are regularly quoted saying that the insurgencies in Afghanistan cannot be effectively addressed without addressing the support these insurgencies draw from Pakistan, including from elements in Pakistan linked to the Pakistani military. But discussions of the role of the Pakistani military are generally limited to exhortations to the Pakistani government and military to “do more” to confront insurgents, without addressing the motivations for the Pakistani government and military to “do less,” even though it is conceded that powerful elements in Pakistan see their relationships with insurgent groups as essential elements of national self-defense in their long confrontation with India.

But if you recognize the importance of that, then you should aggressively pursue two things that the U.S. is not doing now, or is doing too little, too timidly and too slowly: one, you would try to help elements of the Pakistani state that are linked to insurgent groups use those relationships to pursue political solutions, so those Pakistani players could cease playing a destructive role without losing their chits; two, you would be aggressively using your influence to resolve Pakistan-India conflicts, so as to reduce the motivation for those elements in Pakistan to maintain those kinds of chits.

But to really pursue that last point would mean that you would have to end the taboo against talking about Kashmir, and that might well annoy India, which generally regards Kashmir as “nobody else’s business.” It’s tempting before reflection to think that “we have enough problems,” but as Obama Administration officials have recognized, the problem of Kashmir and Pakistan’s relationship to Afghanistan are inextricably linked, and if assertive US leadership towards India-Pakistan peace might save the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan, wouldn’t it be worth pursuing?



‘Bush Six’ Get Some Love From the Spanish AG

It’s still probably not entirely safe for Alberto Gonzales and five other former Bush administration officials to book summer travel plans to Barcelona. But this morning, it appeared to get a little bit safer.

Earlier today, Spain’s attorney general, Candido Conde Pumpido (pictured), overruled the decision of Spanish prosecutors to adopt a criminal complaint against the six former officials — former Attorney General, former Assistant AG Jay Bybee, UC Berkeley law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith.

Earlier this week, Spanish prosecutors decided to proceed with a criminal case against the group, alleging that they were was responsible for creating the regime at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that condoned harsh interrogation techniques, including torture. Click here for the story, from writer and law professor Scott Horton, writing today in the Daily Beast; click here for the AP’s story.

As Horton reports, however, the decision by Spain’s AG does not mark the end of the case. It now goes back to Judge Baltasar Garzon, who had originally launched the case and must decide whether it will go forward notwithstanding the Spanish attorney general’s call. In the Spanish criminal-justice system, the decision as to whether a criminal prosecution will go forward rests with the judge—not with the prosecutors or the attorney general.

But for now, it appears the momentum has slowed, at least a bit. Gonzalo Boye, one of the human rights lawyers who brought the case, made a point of saying he was going after the Bush administration’s senior lawyers and advisers — not the rank and file military and intelligence agents who may have carried out the abuse.

But prosecutors apparently didn’t buy that argument. Conde Pumpido stated that any torture investigation should focus on those directly engaged in implementing torture techniques, rather than the lawyers who issued legal opinions. “We cannot support this action,” he stated.

Spanish law gives its courts jurisdiction beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes, based on a doctrine known as universal justice. If an indictment had been issued, it would have cleared the way for international arrest warrants, and — in theory, at least — extradition to Spain.

Click here for a recent WSJ opinion piece from Feith himself. Wrote Feith:

The allegation is not that any of us tortured anyone. And it is not that any of us even directed anyone to commit torture. The allegation is that, when we advised President George W. Bush on the Geneva Conventions and detainee interrogations, our interpretations were wrong — in the view of the disapproving Spaniards. According to the complaint, these wrong interpretations encouraged the president to make decisions that led to torture.

The Spanish magistrate apparently believes that it can be a crime for American officials to offer the wrong kind of advice to a president of the United States and, furthermore, it can be a crime punishable by a Spanish court. This is a national insult with harmful implications.


Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form


Published: April 16, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department made public on Thursday detailed memos describing harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama said that C.I.A. operatives who carried out the techniques would not be prosecuted.

One technique authorized for use by the C.I.A. beginning in August 2002 was the use of “insects placed in a confinement box,” presumably to induce fear on the part of a terror suspect. According to a footnote, the technique was not used.

The interrogation methods were among the Bush administration’s most closely guarded secrets, and what was released on Thursday afternoon marked the most comprehensive public accounting to date of a program that some senior Obama administration officials contend included illegal torture.

The memos were released after a tense internal debate at the White House. Saying that it is a “time for reflection, not retribution,” Mr. Obama reiterated his opposition to a extensive investigation of controversial counterterrorism programs.

“In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carrying out their duties relying in good faith upon the legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution,” the White House statement said.

One memo showed that a top Justice Department lawyer issued a legal opinion in 2005 saying that C.I.A. officers were allowed to use a combination of interrogation methods to produce a more effective result.

“Interrogators may combine water dousing with other techniques, such as stress positions, wall standing, the insult slap, or the abdominal slap,” wrote the official, Stephen G. Bradbury.

An early review suggested that the administration had declassified the vast bulk of the memos’ contents, a defeat for C.I.A. officials who had argued that such a step could be harmful to national security. The documents included Justice Department memos from 2002 and 2005 authorizing the C.I.A. to employ a number of aggressive techniques — including sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and “waterboarding,” the near-drowning technique.

Among the documents were the 2005 memos by Mr. Bradbury, then the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, authorizing the C.I.A. techniques. The documents have never before been made public, but an article in The New York Times in October 2007 said that the memos gave legal support for using a combination of coercive techniques at the same time and concluded that the C.I.A.’s methods were not “cruel, inhuman or degrading” under international law.

Another document released Thursday afternoon was a Justice Department memo written August 1, 2002. The memo, written by John C. Yoo and signed by Jay S. Bybee, two Justice Department officials at the time, is a legal authorization for a laundry list of proposed C.I.A. interrogation techniques. The debate about just how much detail to include in the public release has bitterly divided an Obama administration through its early months.

Fueling the urgency of the discussion was Thursday’s court deadline in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the government for the release of the Justice Department memos.

Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, has pressed the White House for weeks to redact sensitive details about specific interrogation techniques. He argued that revealing such information would pave the way for future disclosures of intelligence sources and methods and would jeopardize the C.I.A.’s relationship with foreign intelligence services.

But the most immediate concern of C.I.A. officials is that the revelations could give new momentum to a full-blown congressional investigation into covert activities under the Bush administration.

Obama consulted widely on memos - Mike Allen -
By Mike Allen 
This is what the Bush and Cheney Administration have done to AMERICA?! This isn't 1930;s Germany, America does not Torture! Our greatest vertue is our laws. A beacon for all Civilizations no more. What have they done to this to our Country? !! Reply Quote Report Abuse ... I am sure Mr. Teleprompter was in on all three minutes of the discussions. The moron that pretends to be president will do whatever is bad for America any chance he gets. IMPEACH ODIMBULB NOW! ...
POLITICO Top Stories -

Senate Panel To Investigate NSA Wiretapping Violations
By The Huffington Post News Editors 
It's not even in the Democrats interests to expose the stuff that went on behind the scenes that may have been illegal or unconstitutional. If anything comes of all these "investigations" besides some scapegoating and a couple of slaps on ... previously has proudly announced that "I went through the Ruby Ridge hearings and I went through the Waco hearings" that the Senate Judiciary committeeconducted. Her choice of words is accurate: she sat there like a potted plant in ...
The Huffington Post | Full News Feed -

WASHINGTON — The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that the panel would hold a hearing to get to the bottom of reports that the National Security Agency improperly tapped into the domestic communications of American citizens.

"We will make sure we get the facts," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees learned of the problem in late February from the Justice Department, a congressional official said Thursday. The committees have since had multiple private briefings on the NSA transgressions.

The Justice Department confirmed Wednesday that it had reined in the NSA's wiretapping activities in the United States after learning that the agency had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails while eavesdropping on foreign communications.

Justice officials discovered the problems during a routine review of NSA wiretapping. The government's action was first divulged Wednesday by The New York Times.

The Senate hearing will be closed to the public and will delve into questions raised by The New York Times story that have not been covered in closed-door informal briefings, a committee official said. The official would not say what those issues are.

The House Intelligence Committee has already held four secret briefings on the NSA action, said Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Tx. The House Judiciary Committee was also notified.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the NSA program is classified.



ACLU Fears Obama Administration May Destroy Evidence At CIA 'Black Sites'

Greg Fulton
Published: Wednesday April 15, 2009


The Bush Administration's legacy of torture interrogation may dip further into obscurity if the Obama Administration's vow to decommission overseas detention black sites means evidence of torture would be destroyed.

That's the fear the ACLU is voicing in a little-publicized letter this week to preserve any and all evidence relating to the recently-disclosed CIA black sites where terrorism suspects were held. 

Days ago, it was reported that Spanish officials would seek indictments against members of the Bush Administration for allegedly authorizing torture, and a Wall Street Journal article claimed that the current administration "is leaning toward keeping secret some graphic details of tactics allowed in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations." 

"Among the details in the still-classified memos is approval for a technique in which a prisoner's head could be struck against a wall as long as the head was being held and the force of the blow was controlled by the interrogator, according to people familiar with the memos," the paper reported. "Another approved tactic was waterboarding, or simulated drowning."

The ACLU letter specifically wants evidence preserved on behalf of a detainee currently held in Guantanamo, and was sent directly to CIA Director Leon Panetta.

"Although we welcome your decision to cease the secret detention and mistreatment of prisoners of the United States Government, we are concerned that the CIA intends to actually destroy the sites—including the buildings and the equipment used to interrogate and torture Mr. Al-Nashiri—before Mr. Al-Nashiri has had the opportunity to fully investigate his conditions of confinement," the civil liberties group wrote in the letter to Panetta, referring to their client, Abd Al-Rahim Hussain Mohammed al-Nashiri, a former detainee. "We write to avoid the destruction of more evidence—namely the actual secret facilities themselves."

The CIA has admitted waterboarding al-Nashiri during this detention, which lasted from 2002 to 2006, while he was funneled to multiple black sites. He has since been held at Guantanamo beginning in September of 2006. The agency later admitted they'd destroyed recordings of his interrogation.

Panetta announced Apr. 9 he would close the secret facilities.

Lawyers say al-Nashiri was housed in three holding sites during four years. The letter requests that all buildings, interrogation cells, prisoner cells, shackles, water boards "and other equipment" be preserved.

Technically, attorneys say the preservation of torture devices gives al-Nashiri due process to discovery evidence under the U.S. Constitution should he be tried domestically. 

"Effectively the CIA 'disappeared' him for four years while it tortured him at will and beyond the eyes of the world," states the letter, which is printed in full below.

A native of Saudi Arabia, al-Nashiri was implicated in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. The Bush Administration labeled him a high-value detainee.

Panetta's office has not commented on the request. The full text of letter follows…



Justice Department Releases Bush Administration Torture Memos 
> See the memos

> Demand Accountability for Torture: Ask Attorney General Holder to Appoint a Special Prosecutor 

Abuse of Power:
The Bush Administration's Secret Legal Memos

On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture. Read the release


-A 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]


-A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]


-A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]


-A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]



During the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, co-hosts Gregg Jarrett and Martha MacCallum defended their network's coverage of the April 15 tea party protests by distorting CNN reporter Susan Roesgen's remark that Fox News "highly promoted" the protests. After playing a part of Roesgen's CNN Newsroom report, in which she interviewed protesters, MacCallum said that Roesgen "went on to say that it was an anti-CNN crowd. She also took a slam at this network in the process." Jarrett, as part of his response, said that "she took a swipe at Fox News saying, well, we contrived the whole thing, which is, of course, preposterous, and she clearly has to know that -- I would hope." MacCallum replied: "Hard to take credit for all those people painting -- hand-painting their own signs and showing up. It's hard to engineer something like that. But we did cover it, and it was very interesting."

In fact, Roesgen did not say that Fox "contrived the whole thing," as Jarrett claimed. Rather, in a part of her report that The Live Desk did not air -- but MacCallum and Jarrett purported to summarize -- Roesgen stated of the protests: "It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox." Indeed, Fox News has aggressively promoted the tea parties, which it has labeled "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties," in dozens of instances. Fox News business contributor and substitute host Stuart Varney even said on the April 13 edition of Fox News' Your World, "It's now my great duty to promote the tea parties. Here we go!"

In an April 15 Politico article, Michael Calderone reported that Fox News "declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy." From Calderone's article:

Nobody's covering the tea parties quite like Fox -- and that's prompting critics and cable news competitors to say that the network is blurring the line between journalism and advocacy.

"Fox appears to be promoting these events at the same time it is presenting them in a way that looks like reporting," said Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

Burgard called the practice "pseudo-journalism," adding: "We have seen this before from Fox News Channel, but its role as galvanizer of opposition to President Obama's policies and leadership posture appears to be emerging."

A Fox spokesperson said the network did not have an executive available to speak about its tea party coverage. A second Fox representative declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy.

CNN and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz said of Fox News: "I don't think I've ever seen a news network throw its weight behind a protest like we are seeing in the past few weeks with Fox and these tea parties."

From the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk:

MacCALLUM: You know, yesterday, right around this time, we were watching -- we always see all the screens of all the different coverage on the other networks, and CNN was covering the tea parties yesterday. Check out this exchange between CNN's Susan Roegsen [sic] and a protester in Chicago. Take a look.

[begin video clip]

ROESGEN: OK, let's see. You're here with your 2-year-old, and you're already in debt. Why are you here today, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty and they had the right --

ROESGEN: Sir, what does this have to do with taxes?


ROESGEN: What does this have to do with your taxes?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hold on, let me finish speaking.

ROESGEN: Do you realize --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me finish speaking.

ROESGEN: -- that you're eligible for a $400 credit?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me finish my point. Lincoln believed that people had the right to share in the fruits of their own labor and that government should not take it. And we have clearly gotten to that point.

ROESGEN: Wait. Wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I will tell you what it means [inaudible]

ROESGEN: Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of these stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, I --

[end video clip]

MacCALLUM: All right. She went on to say that it was an anti-CNN crowd. She also took a slam at this network in the process. And, you know, I think what the people were responding to there was that she wasn't letting him answer the question.


MacCALLUM: They could hear what he was saying, and they wanted her to be able to let him finish his thought about Lincoln and about taxes and the meaning of government in our country. So -- interesting.

JARRETT: Well, I suppose it's OK to challenge somebody. It was sort of the tone in the way she went about it I think troubled some people. And then she took a swipe at Fox News saying, well, we contrived the whole thing, which is, of course, preposterous, and she clearly has to know that -- I would hope.

MacCALLUM: Yeah, interesting. All right. OK. Hard to take credit for all those people painting -- hand-painting their own signs and showing up.


MacCALLUM: It's hard to engineer something like that. But we did cover it, and it was very interesting. We're going to have more on it coming up.

From the 2 p.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom on April 15:


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I will tell you what it means [inaudible]

ROESGEN: Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of these stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, ma'am, I --

SECOND MAN: Sir, sir, sir, sir, sir, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Can you stop this, sir?

SECOND MAN: I need to talk to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hold on, hold on.

ROESGEN: OK. Well, Kyra [Phillips, anchor], we'll move on over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ma'am, ma'am, I'd like to [inaudible]

ROESGEN: I think you get the general tenor of this. It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox. And since I can't really hear much more and I think this is not really family viewing -- toss it back to you, Kyra.

Linking to an April 15 articleThe Fox Nation and the Drudge Report claimed that the White House requested that Georgetown University "hide[] 'Jesus' " during President Obama's April 14 speech at Georgetown's Gaston Hall. The headline of the article similarly alleged: "Georgetown Says it Covered Over Name of Jesus to Comply With White House Request." However, as the article made clear in the lead paragraph, the White House requested that Georgetown "cover up all signs and symbols" on the stage -- not solely the name of Jesus, as The Fox Nation, Drudge Report, and the headline suggested. Indeed, quoted a Georgetown spokeswoman saying that the university "honored the White House staff's request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage," and that this request was "consistent with what they've [the White House] done for other policy speeches."

While the Drudge Report at 10:35 am ET on April 16 featured the same headline as The Fox Nation, as of 11:17 am ET, the headline had changed to: "Jesus Missing from Obama's Georgetown Speech ...," linking to an April 16 NBC Washington story with the same headline, and below that, the headline "White House asked university to cover symbol ...," linking to the story.

Later, The Fox Nation added a link to a report by the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody that said, "In a statement ... The White House says any suggestion that the administration purposely covered a cross and a Catholic religious monogram during President Obama's speech this week at Georgetown are 'simply false.' " The Fox Nation link stated, "White House Denies Jesus Report. Believable?"

Notably, several commenters on The Fox Nation -- as of this posting - have used this opportunity to question Obama's faith, calling the president "ANTI-CHRIST" and a "Muslim.", also known as the Cybercast News Service (CNS), is a division of the conservative Media Research Center, an organization that purports to have been founded to "prove -- through sound scientific research -- that liberal bias in the media does exist," and to "neutralize its impact on the American political scene." CNS describes itself as "an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission" and that it "endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story and debunk popular, albeit incorrect, myths about cultural and policy issues."


On the April 15 edition of Fox News' Studio B, host Shepard Smithreported that a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS)report -- which concluded that "rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues" -- "isn't about tea party folks" and that "it sounds like just regular old, everyday people who are conservative just got, you know, got their dander up over something that is not applied to that." During the same segment, national correspondent Catherine Herridge noted that DHSrecently issued "a bulletin that looks at the left-wing groups as well." Nonetheless, Fox News hosts and contributors have continued to advance the claim that the Obama administration is targeting tea party attendees, as well as conservatives and others, simply because they disagree with administration policies and proposals.

As Media Matters for America noted, the DHS report concludedthat "rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment." The report also cited as potential mobilizing issues for right-wing extremism "immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use," as well as "[r]ightwing extremist paranoia ... harkening back to the 'New World Order' conspiracy theories of the 1990s." The report further warned of a possible resurgence among extremist groups that "will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat," citing, in part, a 2008 FBI report authored during the Bush administration.

On Studio B, Smith asked Herridge of the report, "Who and what are they talking about here? I mean, this isn't about these -- this isn't about tea party folks." Herridge replied:

No, essentially the driver in these intelligence assessments is the downturn in the economy. What they say essentially is that when people have less money, they're out of work, they feel disenfranchised, this is fertile ground for groups on the left as well as groups on the right.

And you remember from reporting on this show, Shep, that even at the end of last year, prior to the inauguration, the Homeland Security department under the Bush administration was sounding the alarm about the potential for right-wing groups to act, specifically because of the economy, and also because America was going to have its first African-American president.

Herridge also noted that the DHS report "does talk specifically about returning veterans as being sort of attractive targets for these groups, because they've got the weapons training and they may feel somewhat disenfranchised when they return for a variety of returns." She later added, referring to the reports on left-wing and right-wing extremists, "I would point out that both of these assessments, Shep, were commissioned under the Bush administration. It takes some time to do them. They only came out after he had left office." Interviewing former CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker later in the segment, Smith said of the reaction to the report on right-wing extremists, "[I]t sounds like just regular old, everyday people who are conservative just got, you know, got their dander up over something that is not applied to that." Baker replied, "Yeah, it really is. It's a little bit, unfortunately, it's a little bit what the Republicans on the conservative side have been doing."

Later on April 15, even after Smith's and Herridge's reporting, the following Fox News personalities continued to allege or suggest that the Obama administration is targeting Americans simply because of political differences:

  • On his Fox News show, aired live from a San Antonio tea party, Glenn Beck stated to the attendees, "I read something from the Department of Homeland Security that said you're an extremist." He continued: "Moms that worry about massive debt, they are extremists. If you happen to believe that a state has a right to tell the federal government, 'No, we don't want your money,' you're a possible threat or an extremist. And the government -- the government may need to watch you."
  • On The O'Reilly Factor, radio host Laura Ingraham stated, "[T]his is the same media that wails when we have a terrorist surveillance program in place. And nary a word from them of indignation when we have a Department of Homeland Security issuing reports about right-wing extremism and equating, you know, domestic terrorism with, you know, the vets coming home from Iraq and people who are single-issue focused." She then asked, "Where's the outrage expressed by the media about that kind of, perhaps, surveillance of undesirable people who happen to be more conservative?"
  • Also on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Dennis Miller stated: "Now we've got [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano coming out, talking about the right-wing conspirists [sic]. For God's sakes -- hey, Janet, if you're going to hover over me like this, at least ditch that Frank Luntz haircut, OK? Because I need something a little more together."
  • On his Fox News show, aired live from an Atlanta tea party, host Sean Hannity claimed, "I'd bet any amount of money -- you know they came out with -- the Department of Homeland Security, that no longer uses the term war on terror, they're calling it an overseas contingency operation. This is amazing. But they -- if you have a pro-life bumper sticker on your car, if you have an 'America is overtaxed' bumper sticker, if you have a pro-Second Amendment bumper sticker, they're viewing you potentially as a radical." Later in his show, he added, "The Homeland Security department is probably checking the license plates of everybody here."
  • On Fox Business Network's Cavuto, aired live from a Sacramento tea party, Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin stated, "[W]hat we're seeing is -- what we've seen with this White House and with the Department of Homeland Security smearing of people who are patriots." Host Neil Cavuto replied, in part, "[T]hese are great people here; I wouldn't call them kooks or fringe."

As Media Matters documented, on April 14, Hannity, Malkin, and Fox News national political commentator Andrea Tantaros all responded to the DHS report by alleging or suggesting that the Obama administration is targeting Americans simply because of political differences, and suggested that the Obama administration declassified the report to coincide with April 15 tea parties.

Additionally, on April 15, linked to an open letter from the American Legion to the DHS, which made no mention of tea parties in its report, to the headline, "Is Homeland Security Targeting Tea Parties?" 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Fair Use Notice: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.