Washington Update Radio Guests

Scott Draughon

Andrew KreigWashington Update is a weekly radio series of live radio programs heard nationally. Co-hosts are My Technology Lawyer (MTL) Radio network founder Scott Draughon, left, and Justice Integrity Project Executive Director Andrew Kreig. The shows seventh season is scheduled to begin in February. Featured guests are listed below. Visit the archive to hear guest interviews, and contact past and future guests with questions.

 

Upcoming Guests

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Mark Osler, a law professor in Minnesota, will discuss on March 21 his book, essays and lectures citing a Christian basis for opposing on the the death penalty. He currently serves as the head of the Association of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools. His book, Jesus on Death Row (Abingdon, 2009) challenges the death penalty based on the experience of Christ as a criminal defendant. Osler and Chicago public defender Jeanne Bishop have presented the sentencing trial of Jesus in nine states. Osler is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minnesota, and a former federal prosecutor in Detroit from 1995 to 2000. He served as lead counsel in Spears v. United States, where the U.S. Supreme Court accepted his position that sentencing judges could categorically reject a 100:1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines.  His work fighting overly harsh crack sentences was also portrayed in the film American Violet, where he was the basis for the character of Professor Joe Fisher. He has testified as a sentencing expert in Congress and before the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He has authored over 30 academic articles, and writes regularly for CNN, the Huffington Post, Sojourners, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  He earned his law degree from Yale, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. 

 

His works include the following articles and essays:

Victims:  Transforming the Death Penalty Debate and Talking to Each Other in the Dark:  The American Abolition Movement and The Christian Opportunity (with Jeanne Bishop).   These two book chapters will appear in Ashgate Press’s forthcoming volume, New Voices about Capital Punishment (2013).

Drugs, Bombs, and the Erosion of Rights , Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law (forthcoming, Fall 2013) A review of David K. Shipler’s book, The Rights of the People:  How Our Search For Safety Invades Our Liberties.

Roe’s Ragged Remnant,  Stanford Law and Policy Review (forthcoming, Spring 2013).   One of Roe v. Wade’s troubling legacies is two distinct time thresholds—viability and birth—for the attachment of rights.  This odd choice has allowed legal abortion of viable infants.  

 

Recent Guests

Rebecca MacKinnon

Rebecca MacKinnon CoverRebecca MacKinnon speaks Dec. 6 on how Internet users should understand and monitor Internet governance debates occurring in December in Dubai at an important International Telecommunications Union conference. She is a journalist and activist whose work focuses on the intersection of the Internet, human rights, and foreign policy. As a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, she is developing new projects focused on holding technology companies accountable to universally recognized human rights standards on free expression and privacy. As a Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow from September 2010 to August 2012, she examined U.S. policies related to the Internet, human rights, and "global Internet freedom."

Her first book, Consent of the Networked, was published in January 2012 by Basic Books. In 2012 she was named Hearst Professional-in-residence by Columbia Journalism School and listed by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40 years” primarily due to her role as cofounder of Global Voices Online (globalvoicesonline.org) an international citizen media network. She also serves on the Boards of Directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder organization that advances corporate responsibility and human rights in the technology sector. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, MacKinnon worked as a journalist for CNN in Beijing for nine years, serving as CNN’s Beijing Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 1998-2001 and then as CNN’s Tokyo Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 2001-03. From 2004-06 she was a Fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press and Public Policy Research Fellow and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, both at Harvard. In 2007-08 she served on the faculty of the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, where she taught online journalism and conducted research on Chinese Internet censorship. In 2009 she continued her research and writing as an Open Society Institute Fellow, then spent the first half of 2010 as a visiting fellow at Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy. She received her AB magna cum laude from Harvard College.

Gene Gaines, president of the Gaines Group and a co-founder of the Washington, DC metro chapter of the Internet Society, described on Nov. 29 his fears regarding the Internet's stemming from a global conference in Dubai in December to discuss proposals to put part of Internt governance under United Nations control. Gaines said the proposal before an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) conference is part of a long-running goal of incumbent telcos and governments around the world to stifle the kind of low-cost innovation United States development of the Internet has made possible. "This is not a new story," Gaines says, "and actually has been developing for 20 years, though few in the U.S. (particularly in our government) cared either about Europe or the rest of the world."

Gaines, with more than four decades experience in relevant technologies, is a strong supporter of the position of Internet pioneer, Dr. Vinton Cerf.Cerf, the ordinarily diplomatic co-author of the basic protocol for Internet data (known to many as one of the “fathers of the Internet”), denounced the proposed new rules to Reuters as hopeless efforts by some governments and state-controlled telecom authorities to assert their power. “These persistent attempts are just evidence that this breed of dinosaurs, with their pea-sized brains, hasn’t figured out that they are dead yet, because the signal hasn’t traveled up their long necks,” said Cerf (shown at right in a Wikipedia photo) to Reuters.

Gaines continued: "Cerf has been quietly pushing back for years, and the quote of his above is just a reasonable response to the latest developments at the ITU." The Wall Street Journal published an alarming commentary this week, The U.N.'s Internet Sneak Attack. In it, columnist L Gordon Crovitz wrote, "Created in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU last drafted a treaty on communications in 1988, before the commercial Internet, when telecommunications meant voice telephone calls via national telephone monopolies. Next week the ITU holds a negotiating conference in Dubai, and past months have brought many leaks of proposals for a new treaty. U.S. congressional resolutions and much of the commentary, including in this column, have focused on proposals by authoritarian governments to censor the Internet. Just as objectionable are proposals that ignore how the Internet works, threatening its smooth and open operations.  Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla."

TU Secretary-General Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré has positioned himself as a compromise negotiator between United States and international interests, and has downplayed frictions. He told Reuters that even though updates to the treaty could be approved by a simple majority, in practice nothing will be adopted without near-unanimity. “Voting means winners and losers. We can’t afford that in the ITU,” said Touré, a former satellite engineer from Mali who was educated in Russia. Touré predicted to Reuters that only “light-touch” regulation on cyber-security will emerge by “consensus,” using a deliberately vague term that implies something between a majority and unanimity. He rejected criticism that the ITU’s historic role in coordinating phone carriers leaves it unfit to corral the unruly Internet, comparing the Web to a transportation system.

Joe Lauria, United Nations correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, described on Nov. 1 said flood damage in the Metro New York City region, the political fallout, and rumors that a movement is underway within the United Nations to assert control over the Internet. Lauria is an author, foreign affairs correspondent and investigative reporter. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is part of the Sunday Times of London's investigative unit and also covers the UN for the Johannesburg Star. With former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, he is co-author of A Political Odyssey (Seven Stories Press), a look at America's defense industry and false threats.

   

Paul Kangor

 

 

 

 

 

Craig Unger

 

Paul Kangor CoverPaul Kengor, Ph.D. spoke Oct. 4 on his latest book, The Communist. It describes Frank Marshall Davis as a Communist friendly with the Obama family in Hawaii, and an important influence on the future president. Kengor is a bestselling author whose works include Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century; God and Ronald Reagan; God and George W. Bush; God and Hillary Clinton; and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. His articles have appeared in USA TODAY, the New York Times, and many academic journals. A professor at Grove City College, Kengor is a frequent commentator on television and radio. Kengor earned his bachelor's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and his master's from American University. Further details are available from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/The-Communist-Paul-Kengor/dp/1451698097Growing Up Frank), and in an Oct. 3 column in The Blaze, a conservative web publication that has reported extensively on Kengor's allegations. The most recent edition of The Blaze reports that an audio version of the president's memoir, Dreams from My Father, deletes references to Davis.

 

Craig Unger CoverCraig Unger discussed Oct. 11 his new book, Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power. It was published Sept. 4 with this announcement: The epic 2012 presidential contest between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney represents the stunning comeback of GOP boss Karl Rove, the brilliant political operator whose scorched-earth partisanship infamously earned him the moniker "Bush's Brain" and provoked some observers to label him as dangerous to American democracy.

How, after leaving the Bush administration in disgrace, did Rove rise again, and what does it mean that he is back in power? As background, Harper's contributing editor Scott Horton published this Q&A: Boss Rove: Six Questions for Craig Unger. Ungeris the author of the New York Times bestselling House of Bush, House of Saud. He appears frequently as an analyst on CNN, the ABC Radio Network, and other broadcast outlets. The former deputy editor of The New York Observer and editor-in-chief of Boston Magazine, he has written about George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush for The New Yorker, Esquire, and Vanity Fair. He lives in New York City.

John M. Perkis

John Perkins Hoodwinked CoverBest selling author John Perkins reprised his latest book, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded -- and What We Need to Do to Remake Them. Its overview focuses on how Perkins has seen the signs of today's economic meltdown before: The subprime mortgage fiascos, the banking industry collapse, the rising tide of unemployment, the shuttering of small businesses across the landscape are all too familiar symptoms of a far greater disease. In his former life as an economic hit man, he was on the front lines both as an observer and a perpetrator of events, once confined only to the third world, that have now sent the United States—and in fact the entire planet—spiraling toward disaster.

Here, Perkins pulls back the curtain on the real cause of the current global financial meltdown. He shows how we've been hoodwinked by the CEOs who run the corporatocracy—those few corporations that control the vast amounts of capital, land, and resources around the globe—and the politicians they manipulate. These corporate fat cats, Perkins explains, have sold us all on what he calls predatory capitalism, a misguided form of geopolitics and capitalism that encourages a widespread exploitation of the many to benefit a small number of the already very wealthy. Their arrogance, gluttony, and mismanagement have brought us to this perilous edge. The solution is not a "return to normal."

But there is a way out. As Perkins makes clear, we can create a healthy economy that will encourage businesses to act responsibly, not only in the interests of their shareholders and corporate partners (and the lobbyists they have in their pockets), but in the interests of their employees, their customers, the environment, and society at large. As chief economist at a major international consulting firm, John Perkins advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He worked directly with heads of state and CEOs of major companies. His books on economics and geo-politics have sold more than 1 million copies, spent many months on the New York Times and other bestseller lists, and are published in over 30 languages. John is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofit organizations devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit, has lectured at more than 50 universities around the world, and is the author of books on indigenous cultures and transformation, including Shapeshifting, The World Is As You Dream It, Psychonavigation, Spirit of the Shuar, and The Stress-Free Habit. Details

Greg Palast

Greg Palast VoteGreg Palast described his latest book, a warning about voting fraud in the 2012 elections. It is entitled: Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. It and his recent column, 7 Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits, provide guidance for reducing the odds of what he regards as extreme vulnerability of voters to electronic fraud.

Last year, he published, Vultures Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores. The New York Times-bestselling author of Armed Madhouse offered in it a globetrotting, Sam Spade-style investigation that blows the lid off the oil industry, the banking industry, and the governmental agencies that aren't regulating either.

The author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Palast is best known in his native USA as the journalist who, for the Observer (UK), broke the story of how Jeb Bush purged thousands of Black Florida citizens from voter rolls before the 2000 election, thereby handing the White House to his brother George. His reports on the theft of election 2004, the spike of the FBI investigations of the bin Ladens before September 11, the secret State Department documents planning the seizure of Iraq's oil fields have won him a record six 'Project Censored' for reporting the news American media doesn't want you to hear. 'The top investigative journalist in the United States is persona non grata in his own country's media.' [Asia Times.] He returned to America to report for Harper's Magazine. Details.

Jerome Corsi

The two-time No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Jerome Corsi will discuss his latest book, published Sept. 1: The Great Oil Conspiracy: How the U.S. Government Hid the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People. Its publisher describes it as a shocking investigation revealing why greedy oil companies are lying to the American people.

At the end of World War II, U.S. intelligence agents confiscated thousands of Nazi documents on what was known as the "Fischer-Tropsch Process"—a series of equations developed by German chemists unlocking the secrets of how oil is formed. When the Nazis took power, Germany had resolved to develop enough synthetic oil to wage war successfully, even without abundant national oil reserves. For decades, these confiscated German documents remained largely ignored in a United States where petro-geologists and petro-chemists were convinced that oil was a "fossil fuel" created by ancient decaying biological debris. His thesis is: Clearly, big U.S. oil companies had no financial interest in explaining to the American people that oil was a natural product made on a continual basis deep within the earth. If there were only so many fossils in geological time, there could only be so much oil. Big oil could then charge more for a finite, rapidly disappearing resource than for a natural, renewable, and probably inexhaustible one.

Dr. Jerome CorsiCorsi is senior staff reporter for World Net Daily, where he works as an investigative reporter. In 2004, Corsi co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. The success of Unfit for Command permitted Dr. Corsi to devote full time to writing. In the past five years, he has published five New York Times bestselling non-fiction books. In August 2008, he published The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller for a month and remained on the NYT bestseller list for 10 weeks. His most recent non-fiction book, America for Sale: Fighting the New World Order, Surviving a Global Depression, and Preserving USA Sovereignty debuted on the New York Times bestseller list on Nov. 1, 2009. For nearly 25 years, beginning in 1981, Corsi worked with banks throughout the United States and around the world to develop financial services marketing companies to assist banks in establishing broker/dealers and insurance subsidiaries to provide financial planning products and services to their retail customers. He is a frequent guest on talk radio shows nationally and has made repeated television appearances on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN News and Fox Business News.

It argues that no legal authority has ever verified Obama's legal eligibility to be president, that glaring inconsistencies, blackouts, and outright fabrications in his life narrative have generated widespread doubts, and that, in fact, a compelling body of evidence says Obama is not a natural-born citizen as is required of all presidents by Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution. Details.

Lamar Waldron

Lamar Waldron WatergateLamar Waldron reveals his research on what's been omitted in one of Washington most dramatic intrigues. Watergate: The Hidden History: Nixon, The Mafia, and The CIA is an 816-page documentation of his theme:

While Richard Nixon's culpability for Watergate has long been established—most recently by PBS in 2003—what's truly remarkable that after almost forty years, conventional accounts of the scandal still don't address Nixon's motive. Why was President Nixon willing to risk his reelection with so many repeated burglaries at the Watergate—and other Washington offices—in just a few weeks? What motivated Nixon to jeopardize his presidency by ordering the wide range of criminal operations that resulted in Watergate? What was Nixon so desperate to get at the Watergate, and how does it explain the deeper context surrounding his crimes?

Watergate: The Hidden History reexamines the historical record, including new material only available in recent years. This includes thousands of recently declassified CIA and FBI files, newly released Nixon tapes, and exclusive interviews with those involved in the events surrounding Watergate—ranging from former Nixon officials to key aides for John and Robert Kennedy. This book also builds on decades of investigations by noted journalists and historians, as well as long-overlooked investigative articles from publications like Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times.

Lamar Waldron's historical research and nonfiction books have won praise from Publishers Weekly, Vanity Fair, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and major publications in Europe. His groundbreaking research has been the subject of two prime-time specials on the Discovery Channel, produced by NBC News. He Has been featured on CNN, the History Channel, Geraldo Rivera, Fox News, and television specials in England, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Called "the ultimate JFK historian" by Variety, Waldron's previous book is being produced as a major motion picture for Warner Brothers by Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way.

 

Aug. 30

Jesselyn Radack

Jesselyn Radack Traitor CoverJesselyn Radack, one of the nation's most prominent protesters against government ethics violations, describes her memoir, Traitor: The WhistleBlower and tthe "American Taliban." Radack is currently the director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. She was one of the attorneys who represented National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake, with whom she won the 2011 Sam Adams Awards for Integrity in Intelligence. They also both won the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. She is a former ethics adviser to the Department of Justice who came to prominence after she disclosed to her superiors that the FBI committed serious ethics violations and potential fraud on the courts. This was by covering up how their interrogation of John Walker Lindh was without an attorney despite his parents' retention of counsel. Lindh, caught up in the war after working with the Taliban when it was a recipient of United States government aid in 2001, was dubbed "The American Taliban" after his capture during the invasion of Afghanistan. His case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11.

Anthony Lewis, now retired after decades as the lead New York Times columnist on legal affairs, wrote of her book: "This is a riveting -- and chilling -- account of how far the Bush Administration's Justice Department will go to destroy a critic." Her memoir has been well-received by other experts and readers also, as indicated here.

Radack served on the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee from 2005-2007. From 2006 until 2008, she represented government contractors blowing the whistle on fraud in the reconstruction of Iraq. Radack was born in Washington DC and attended Brown University. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year and graduated magna cum laude in 1992 as a triple major with honors in all three majors. Since 1983 when Brown began tracking such data, only one other student has received honors in three concentrations. Radack graduated from Yale Law School and joined the Justice Department through the Attorney General Honors Program, where she practiced constitutional tort litigation from 1995–1999 and then worked in the Department's newly created Professional Responsibility Advisory Office from 1999-2002, when she resigned under pressure after protesting what she regarded as a major fraud on the courts insisted upon by her superiors.

Don Mann

US Navy SealDon Mann discussed on Aug. 30 his impressive military career and new book: The U.S. Navy Seal Survival Handbook: Learn the Survival Techniques and Strategies of America's Elite Warriors. The book, co-authored by Ralph Pezzullo, is already into its second printing by Skyhorse Publishing just a week after the first printing. Mann will discuss his views on another book about the SEALs creating controversy before its publication. A Time writer described it this way in a column posted on Mann's "Frogman" site: Bin Laden Raid SEAL Author Faces Double Jeopardy. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden is slated to go on sale Sept. 4. The author is listed as "Mark Owen," the pen name of Matt Bissonnette, 36, who retired from the Navy last summer, after a career that saw him earn five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

Mann's career included stints as: corpsman; SEAL Special Operations technician; and SEAL (Survival, Evade, Resistance, and Escape) instructor, to name a few. He has been profiled in the pages of Sports Illustrated, the Wall Street Journal, Men's Fitness, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. His book, Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors, was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. With 150 color photographs, the new guide includes life-saving information on: making weapons and tools; finding water; hunting wildlife for food; making shelters; signaling; sea survival. Comments about his new book include:

"While Don describes skills that are critical to survival, what you really gain from reading this handbook is a sense of the attitude required to be successful in the harsh environments in which America's secret warriors thrive."
—John Wright, US Air Force and DoD SERE Trainer.

 

Aug. 23

Joel GIlbert

Joel GilbertJoel Gilbert discussed on Aug. 23 his controversial documentary on President Obama, Dreams from My Real Father. Gilbert and his film argue that the president's biological father was Frank Marshal Davis, not Barack Obama, Sr.

Gilbert is an American film director, writer, and musician. Through his production company, Highway 61 Entertainment, Gilbert directed and produced four documentary feature films on Bob Dylan's music and career. Gilbert appeared in these films as interviewer, and performs on the film soundtracks. In 2007, Gilbert released a controversial political documentary called, Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran and the Revolt of Islam, a history of Islamic-Jewish relations from the 7th Century to today. Gilbert's 2010 release entitled, Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad's Coming War for Islamic Revival and Obama's Politics of Defeat, was featured at the CPAC Conference in Washington D.C. and was a winning film at the Hudson Institute Film Festival in New York City on May 31, 2010. Gilbert also released, Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison, due out September 1, 2010, which is narrated by secret audio tapes purported to have been made by George Harrison.

 

Aug.16

Peter Janney

Author Peter Janney, reared in a CIA family, described Aug. 16 how he has solved one of the nation's most important murder mysteries. The title of his 560-page book gives more than a clue: Mary's Mosaic:The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer and Their Vision for World Peace. Peter Janney Cover

Meyer, the beautiful mother of Janney's best friend while he was growing up in McLean, Virginia, had a torried affair with then-President Kennedy following her divorce from one of the nation's highest-ranking CIA officers, Cord Meyer. Her ex-husband's job was to manage the nation's media behind-the-scenes. In love with Kennedy, she sought to influence his foreign policy in her own ways.

Her unsolved murder in 1964 has remained highly controversial and unsolved despite -- or perhaps because of -- her position in the nation's thought-leader circles. Her brother-in-law was Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Ben Bradlee, who undertook a mission immediately after her death to find her still-secret diary to ensure its contents were not disclosed. Janney grew up in Washington, D.C. during the Cold War era of the 1950s and 1960s. His father, Wistar Janney, was a senior career CIA official.The Janney family was intimately involved with many of Washington's social and political elite. His 568-page book is extensively footnoted and inevitably draws on vast previous commentaries and court records. This includes the trial of a black laborer man tried for Meyer's murder and acquitted,and records involving the JFK assassination. The seven-member Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the president by himself in 1963 with no known conspirators. A Boston Globe feature entitled, Peter Janney on JFK confidante Mary Pinchot Meyer's death is one of relatively few mainstream newspaper treatments so far of the incendiary topic and well-crafted book. For obvious reasons (that include the effort of the Post's top editor to purloin the victim's diary instead of to report it), the topic is sensitive no matter what the qualifications of the author and extent of his research.

The introduction is by Dick Russell, a longtime investigative reporter whose best-sellers includes books on the Kennedy assassionation. He endorses the Janney book as answering many riddles. Russell himself appeared on the show July 5 to discuss his latest book co-authored with former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government.

Don and Dana Siegelman

Dana Siegelman, 27, daughter of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, appears Aug. 16 to describe progress on the nationwide petition her father's supporters have launched to obtain a presidential pardon.

Dana, at right with her father, has recently written and spoken eloquently about why presidential action is justified to redress his 2006 federal convictions on corruption charges. "I am putting all my hope in this last effort to free my dad and restore justice," she says. "Five years ago, my dad, Don Siegelman, was taken away in handcuffs and shackles. Many came to see his case as a travesty of justice. It has been a tumultuous struggle within the court system and a huge blow to our faith in government. He has lost his reputation, practically all his assets, and his freedom."

"I desperately need your help to free my father," she continues. "Please sign this petition to President Obama asking him to restore justice and pardon my dad!" A petition to President Obama for pardon or commutation of sentence is here via Change.org, along with further background.

 

Aug. 9

Thomas W. Hazlett


Dr. Thomas W. Hazlett on Aug. 9 describes his latest research into how government spectrum policy is affecting the way we live and work. He is a professor of law & economics and serves as Director of the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law. He is also a columnist for the New Technology Policy Forum hosted by the Financial Times. He previously held faculty appointments at the University of California at Davis, Columbia University, and the Wharton School, and in 1991-92 served as chief economist of the Federal Communications Commission. He has published widely in academic and popular journals on the economics of the Information Sector. He has provided expert testimony to federal and state courts, regulatory agencies, committees of Congress, foreign governments, and international organizations. His book, Public Policy Toward Cable Television, was co-authored with Matthew L. Spitzer (MIT Press, 1997).

One of his recent columns is "The iPhone Turns Five," published by the Wall Street Journal Online June 26. In it, he argues: Forget the shouting about 'open' or 'closed' systems. The magic is in the dynamics of platform competition. This illustrates one of his longstanding themes as one the nation's most influential and widely published scholars on how markets best function in the high-tech communications sector.

 

Aug. 2

Thomas A. Drake

Thomas Andrews Drake shared on Aug. 2 his expert insights on privacy, government spending, and national security issues. He is a former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist, and whistleblower. For years, he has advised against about threats to taxpayers, privacy and the democratic process raised by wasteful national security spending. Among such venues was a recent forum on privacy issues organized by the free-market Cato Institute in Washington, DC.

He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award. As further indicated by his Wikipedia profile: In 2010 the government alleged that he 'mishandled' documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to "plea bargain with the truth." He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer. Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of "Civil Disobedience." Prosecutors wanted Drake to plead guilty, but he refused. He believed that he was innocent of the charges against him. The government wanted him to help prosecute the other whistleblowers. He refused this as well.

He later explained his motivations to the Ridenhour Prizes organization: "I did what I did because I am rooted in the faith that my duty was to the American people" . . . "I knew that you did not spy on Americans and that we were accountable for spending American taxpayer monies wisely."

Wayne Allyn Root

Wayne Allyn Root appears on Aug. 2 to discuss Mitt Romney's just-completed foreign trip and the Tea Party's Texas primary victory this week in the U.S. Senate race and its implications for November. Root is a former Presidential candidate, the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, and a Tea Party favorite. He is proud to describe himself as "The ultimate Capitalist Evangelist": a blue-collar S.O.B. (son of a butcher) turned small businessman, entrepreneur, CEO, home-school dad, and citizen politician. Also, he is a talk show host, best-selling author, business speaker, and TV/radio commentator on the topics of business, economics, entrepreneurship, and politics. He is a regular guest on Fox News Channel, as well as hundreds of national and local radio shows across the USA, with over 1,000 media appearances annually. Wayne's opinions reach tens of millions of Americans as a regular columnist and commentator for many of the most popular political and business web sites- including FoxNews.com, Newsmax.com, TownHall.com, TheBlaze.com, DailyCaller.com, Breitbart.com, PersonalLiberty.com, and many more. He also writes regularly for The Washington Times. He is the best-selling author of seven books. But Wayne is a businessman first and foremost. He runs multiple businesses, and serves as spokesman for numerous national and international companies, including a global precious metals company and law firm. An economist, Wayne also serves as Senior Economic Advisor to a global financial education company. He serves on numerous Boards of Directors. Wayne is also well known in the television and media industries. Wayne started his career as an anchorman and host of five shows for CNBC (then known as Financial News Network). He has hosted, starred and produced many television shows. Today he is a producer of the highest-rated television show on Travel Channel, "Ghost Adventures."

A native New Yorker and graduate of Columbia University, this capitalist evangelist proudly resides in Nevada, a state with zero personal & business income tax. He is proud to be the only Nevadan to ever run on a major U.S. Presidential ticket. He was appointed by the Governor of Nevada to the Judicial Selection Commission in 2010. His web site is ROOTforAmerica.com.

 

July 19

Madeline Drexler

Madeline DrexlerMadeline Drexler, an award-winning journalist specializing in public health, medicine, and science, spoke July 19 about her research findings. "Why Your Food Isn't Safe," published by Good Housekeeping last fall, is one of her recent successes. The Society of Professional Journalists will honor Drexler July 20 at National Press Club with its annual Public Service in Magazine Journalism award for the story, whose reporting was so powerful that it prompted reforms the same week it was published. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared all "Big Six" strains of deadly E. coli bacteria "adulterants" — a move she and Good Housekeeping strongly recommended in this article. The magazine said: This means that starting in March 2012 certain food producers (such as beef producers) will have to test for these strains and, if they are found, destroy the batch or cook it to kill the bacteria. (Before, people had to fall ill — even die — before the contaminated food was tracked down.)

Drexler edits Harvard Public Health Magazine. Also, she is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Food safety, biosecurity, and pandemic preparedness are topics she has covered widely in recent years. Her book Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections (Penguin, 2010) is an update --with new material on SARS, H1N1 influenza, and innovative approaches to global pandemic preparedness -- to her 2003 book Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections (Penguin), both of which have received wide critical praise. Drexler's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, The New Republic Online, USA Today, The Journal of Life Sciences, Nieman Reports, Harvard Magazine, and many other national publications.

Jason Peuquet

Jason Peuquet, also interviewed July 19, is research director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is part of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation. He works on a wide array of budgetary issues and conducts research on budget and economic policy. In particular, he has recently worked on examining the economic recovery, defense and non-defense spending, structural health care reforms, as well as the overall federal budget. His focus is: At the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, several policies are set to take effect that would reduce deficits and debt, but in untargeted and abrupt ways. At the same time, lawmakers much not extend these policies without offsets. A smart and gradual debt reduction plan can be the solution. Peuquet attended George Washington University. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in economics and international affairs.

Dr. Justin Frank

Obama on the CouchDr. Justin A. Frank, a psychoanalyst who comments on political leaders, described his two recent best-sellers, Obama on the Couch (2011) and Bush on the Couch (2004). Frank is a graduate of Harvard Medical School who is a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center. He emphasizes that his views are solely his own. Those in his field sometimes attract criticism for any attempt to use their analytic expertise on public figures who are not their patients. He aptly drew on a different tradition in his field, and visualized how some in the public wanted more commentary. The Boston Globe said of his most recent book:

Obama on the Couch is a fascinating read. Frank approaches this virtual analysis meticulously, closely reading both of Obama's memoirs, combing through speeches and journalistic accounts of Cabinet meetings. The president's puzzling insistence on seeking compromise even with political opponents who have sworn resistance, Frank writes in a tongue-in-cheek diagnosis, is evidence of "obsessive bipartisan disorder." And his chapter on how Obama's critics see him – the psychology, or even pathology, behind some of their complaints – is masterful.

 

July 5

Dick Russell and Jesse VenturaDick Russell discussed his hard-hitting new book co-authored with Jesse Ventura: DemoCrips and ReBloodLicans: No More Gangs in Government. The book, available here, argues that both major parties are incompatible with the desires of the nation's Founders, have failed the public, and should be abolished.

Russell's eight books have ranged from natural history to the assassination of President Kennedy. Among them are the New York Times best-seller American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies That The Government Tells Us, was co-authored with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura. Russell's magazine writing and personal energies have primarily focused on the environment. Even before BP's Gulf oil spill in 2010, he warned about "the crisis impacting the world's fisheries and oceans." His books include the 2008 best-seller, Don't Start the Revolution Without Me, also co-authored with Jesse Ventura.

In 2008, Russell published On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, his second book examining the conspiracy behind the death of President Kennedy. Russell was a consultant on the web-based documentary film, "The Warning," and was featured in a National Geographic documentary on whales. Click for full bio and contact details.

 

June 28

Robert Keith Gray


A close friend to five pRobert Keith Grayresidents, Robert Keith Gray will discuss June 28 his new book Presidential Perks Gone Royal, published in June and excerpted by the New York Post, among other places, in
Air apparent; The unfair advantage of the president's plane. Among those endorsing his book are former Reagan Administration Secretary of Energy John Herrington, a former chairman of the Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich publishing company. Herrington said:

Bob Gray has been a Washington powerhouse from Eisenhower to Obama, with longtime personal knowledge and experience from inside the White House and the Oval Office. He deftly leads the reader on a tour of the Royal Kingdom that has grown up around the American President. This is one of the most important books of this political season. A must read for all Americans.

Bob Gray was Appointments Secretary to the President and member of Eisenhower's Cabinet. He was active in the campaigns of Richard Nixon, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator Eugene McCarthy, Governor Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush. Gray served as National Communications Director of the Reagan/Bush campaign and Co-Chairman of Reagan's 1981 Presidential inaugural. A well-known lobbyist and Worldwide Chairman of Hill and Knowlton, he founded Gray and Company, the only public affairs firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He remains active in public affairs.

Jeffrey Silva

The prominent telecom, media and technology senior analyst Jeffrey Silva discusses on June 28 the nation's shortfall of usable commercial spectrum for commercial wireless services, and what that means for App-hungry consumers and business that hope to expand. Among recent developments is an effort by the Federal Communications Commission to broker an interference settlement between satellite and land-based users of the 2.3 GHz band. This seemingly resolves a decade-long battle at the FCC and frees more spectrum for the SmartPhone operations of AT&T, the largest land-based owner of spectrum in the band.

Silva is a senior analyst for Medley Global Advisers (MGA), which is described as the leading global provider of macro policy intelligence service —for the world's top hedge funds, institutional investors, and asset managers. Its services and global network cover G20 plus Emerging Markets, Central Banks & Geopolitics, Global Oil & Energy Markets and Telecommunications. Silva, who publishes expert analytic reports, joined MGA in 2009 after a 26-year career as a leading telecom-high tech policy journalist and commentator. He served most recently as Washington Bureau Chief of RCR Wireless News, where he tracked telecom and high-tech policy matters pending before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the administration, courts, state governments and state regulatory agencies. Previously, he had stints with the Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Springfield (Va.) Times, the National Captioning Institute and the Voice of America. He holds a B.S. cum laude in communications from the University of Tennessee.

 

June 14

Paul Dickson

Paul Dickson Bill Veeck CoverPaul Dickson, author of more than 60 books and hundreds of magazine articles, will discuss June 14 his latest: Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick. Relying on primary sources, including more than a hundred interviews, Dickson has crafted a richly detailed portrait of an American original: baseball impresario and innovator, independent spirit and unflinching advocate of racial equality, Bill Veeck.

Veeck (1914–1986) was born into baseball. His sportswriter father became president of the Chicago Cubs, and Bill later worked for owner Phil Wrigley, rebuilding Wrigley Field to achieve the famed ambience that exists today. In his late twenties, he bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. As World War II intensified, Veeck volunteered for combat duty, enduring a leg injury that led to a lifetime of amputations and silent suffering. On returning, he bought the Cleveland Indians in 1946—the first of four midwestern teams he would own, preceding the hapless St. Louis Browns (1951–53) and the Chicago White Sox (twice, 1959–61 and 1975–81).

Though foiled in an earlier plan to bring Negro League players to the majors, in the summer of 1947, Veeck integrated his team on field and off, signing Larry Doby, the American League's first black player, and hiring the first black public relations officer, trainer, and scout. A year later, he signed the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who helped win the 1948 World Series—Cleveland's last championship to this day. His promotional genius was second to none, endearing him to fans in every city, while his feel for the game led him to propose innovations way ahead of their time. Veeck's deep sense of fairness helped usher in free agency, breaking the stranglehold owners had on players; indeed, he was the only owner to testify in support of Curt Flood during his landmark reserve clause challenge.

Bill Veeck brings fully to life a transformational, visionary figure who spent a lifetime challenging baseball's and society's well-entrenched status quo. It is essential reading for any fan and anyone with a fascination for twentieth-century America. Dickson has written on a variety of subjects, from ice cream to kite flying to electronic warfare. He now concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball and 20th century history. His most recent titles include Drunk: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and Slang: A Topical Dictionary of Americanisms.

Gov. Buddy Roemer

2012 Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer June 14 recapped lessons learned from his just-ended, 17-month campaign and the next steps he envisions to bring the nation urgently needed reform of politics, including special interest corruption.His May 31 statement said:

After 17 months of a wonderful campaign, the lack of ballot access in all 50 states makes the quest impossible for now. We ran like we would serve – Free to Lead. To protect that freedom, we fully disclosed every contribution. We accepted no contributions above $100. We accepted no PAC money, no Super PAC money, no corporate money, and no lobbyist money. We assumed no debt and we end this campaign with money in the bank. Once again, we ran like we intended to serve. We received contributions averaging less than $50 each from thousands and thousands of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in all 50 states.

We were not included in a single one of the 23 nationally televised GOP debates, and yet received 7% of the popular vote in a national poll conducted just a few weeks ago.

With thanks to his family, supporters and staff, the four-term Congressman and two-term Louisiana governor continued:

America is a nation at risk. Job prospects are inadequate. Trade is neither smart nor fair. The tax code is unreadable and, I say, un-American. The budget is unsustainable. Small business must be re-vitalized. Energy has no strategy. Healthcare is not healthy. Banks are still too big to fail, and comprehensive immigration reform is a fantasy.

As I am no longer a candidate for president, I am free to pledge a good portion of the rest of my life to enacting campaign reform in the halls of Congress and the corridors of the White House. Instead of using my right to the floor of Congress to lobby for corporate clients, I will lobby for the American people who want reform....Again, thank you for standing with me. Don't give up. Don't lose hope. Together, we will continue to reform our country and make America great once again. We are just getting started.

He served four terms in Congress from 1981-1988 as a Democrat, and was Louisiana's Governor from 1988-1992, switching in mid-term to the Republican Party. During his tenure, he enacted reforms that cut unemployment by approximately half, balanced the state budget every year, linked teachers' pay to performance, established education accountability standards, confronted unions, and signed campaign finance reform legislation. Since leaving public office, Governor Roemer has served as CEO of Business First Bank, a business community bank that did not take bailout money from the federal government. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Scarlett, and is the father of three children. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

 

Recent!

Lindsay Markel

Lindsay Markel discussed June 7 her work focusing on criminal and social justice issues, such as wrongful convictions. She is a 2008 graduate of Brandeis University, where she is currently the assistant director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Through the Institute's Justice Brandeis Innocence Project, Markel and other staff and student research assistants use journalistic methods to investigate likely wrongful convictions in which exoneration won't hinge on a DNA test. In November, she co-authored an article for the Boston Globe Magazine, Failing the DNA test. She and Michael Blanding described why Massachusetts is one of only two states in the country without a law granting prison inmates the right to test DNA evidence that might prove their innocence.

Markel, 26, also provides supporting research for other major investigations, as well supervising student research assistants, and overseeing Freedom of Information Act public records requests. Brandeis Magazine profiled her in its spring 2012 issue in a column entitled, A Quest for Justice, illustrated by the photo at left by Michael Lovett of Brandeis outside a Massachusetts prison.

Bob Martin

Veteran Alabama journalist Bob Martin discusses the longstanding federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling June 4 denying further review of Siegelman's 2007 convictions on corruption charges. Martin is Editor and Publisher of the Montgomery Independent, located in the state's capital city, and holds the same titles at the Millbroook Independent, located in nearby community.

Michael K. Bohn

Michael K. Bohn CoverAuthor Michael K. Bohn on May 24 discussed how current developments in golf and baseball reflect traditions. After following a distinguished military career serving two Presidents in the White House, his latest book is Heroes & Ballyhoo: How the Golden Age of the 1920s Transformed American Sports. His other books include Money Golf, 600 Years of Bettin' on Birdies (2007), The Achille Lauro Hijacking, Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism (2004), and Nerve Center, Inside the White House Situation Room (2003). As a freelancer, he writes sports features for the McClatchy newspaper chain, which has thirty papers across the country, and the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, a news wire that serves 1,200 newspapers and magazines around the world. Also, he contributes sports reporting and features articles to the Connection Newspapers, a group of nineteen newspapers in Northern Virginia. His books and recent journalism are available here.

Bohn was a primary contributor and on-screen personality for the 2010 History Channel documentary, "The President's Book of Secrets." He acted as a program consultant for, and appeared in, two BBC Television documentaries about crisis management in the White House, one in November 2002 and the other in April 2003. Also, he appeared in a July 2003 special, "The White House at War," a joint ABC News, New York Times, and Discovery Channel project; and in a 2004 German public TV special, "Palaces of Power."

A career naval intelligence officer, from 1968 to 1988, he twice served the Presidents. During 1970-72, he was a Military Social Aide to President Nixon. He helped manage White House social events ranging from afternoon coffees to Tricia Nixon's wedding. During the second Reagan administration, Bohn was the Director of the White House Situation Room. He organized the flow of critical information into the White House and National Security Council throughout the Middle East kidnappings and international terrorism of the mid-1980s. He wrote daily summaries of world events for the President, Vice President and senior White House officials. After retirement from the Navy in 1988, he joined Booz Allen & Hamilton and managed multi-million dollar contracts with the federal government for five years.

Fox News "Power Play" regular commentator Garland Nixon May 24 predicted how vice presidential nominees will likely affect the U.S. Presidential election in November.

Nixon is a Washington based political commentator following a distinguished career in law enforcement. He is a longtime host on WPFW-FM and on Montgomery County's cable station, as well as a college journalism adjunct professor in communications. Earlier, he rose to the rank of major in Maryland's state public safety system.

Scott Horton

Scott Horton described on May 17 current issues in human rights. He is a New York attorney known for his work in emerging markets and international law, especially human rights law and the law of armed conflict. He lectures at Columbia Law School. A life-long human rights advocate, Scott served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, among other activists in the former Soviet Union. He is a co-founder of the American University in Central Asia, where he currently serves as a trustee, and has been involved in some of the most significant foreign investment projects in the Central Eurasian region. Scott recently led a number of studies of abuse issues associated with the conduct of the war on terror for the New York City Bar Association, where he has chaired several committees, including, most recently, the Committee on International Law. He is also a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, the EurasiaGroup and the American Branch of the International Law Association and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a partner at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler until January 2007, when he left to write a book on private military contractors and to manage a project on that subject for Human Rights First. Since April 2007 he has also been a legal affairs and national security contributor to Harper's magazine and the author of a regular opinion column for the American Lawyer.

Rachael Marcus

Lydia Beyoud

Two accomplished young professionals excited to enter the field of investigative reporting shared their perspectives May 17. Lydia Beyoud, at right, is a graduate fellow at the Investigative Reporting Workshop in Washington, D.C. and is completing her master's degree in Broadcast Journalism and Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Portland State University in Portland, Ore., where she obtained a bachelor's in international studies with a Middle East and North Africa focus. Lydia has been an associate producer of Latin Pulse Podcast, has contributed articles to the Oregonian newspaper and the Middle East Journal, interned at Portland Monthly magazine, and has published literary translations with Words Without Borders.

Rachael Marcus, at left, works at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news center as an American University Fellow. She is currently working towards her Master's degree in journalism at American University. A graduate of Reed College in Portland, Ore., Rachael majored in political science with a focus on international relations. Before joining the center, she interned for the Portland Mercury, an alternative newsweekly, and freelanced for several local newspapers and magazines in her hometown of Laguna Beach, Calif. and Portland, Ore.

Charles Lewis

Charles Lewis, a nationally prominent investigative reporter for three decades, described May 3 the documentary Investigating Powerthat premiered April 26 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The film provides insights from 26 of the most distinguished United States reporters and editors of the past half century. It illustrates what its creators call key "Moments of Truth" from the past half century involving: McCarthyism, Civil Rights, Vietnam War, Watergate, Corporate Power and 9/11. The Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication produced the film in a project taking four years.

Lewis is executive editor of the Workshop, which is at the forefront of a movement to provide non-profit or web-distributed reporting. This is to fill part of the gap left by traditional newspapers and broadcasters. Lewis has been a national investigative journalist for more than 30 years, including as a CBS 60 Minutes producer. A best-selling author, he founded four nonprofits in Washington, including the Center for Public Integrity. The Workshop is funded by foundations and individuals. It is based on the following concepts devised by Lewis and his colleagues, and widely shared elsewhere these days by experienced journalists:

At this critical juncture in the history of American journalism, as the news media and the nature and extent of original reporting itself undergo a very difficult transformation, we must reflect on the inherent, incalculable value of original, independent reporting in our nation and in the world. Facts are and must be the coin of the realm in a democracy, for government "of the people, by the people and for the people," to quote President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, requires and assumes to some extent an informed citizenry….

However, the number of full-time, independent reporters has been drastically decreasing. Since 1992 we have lost approximately one-third of the nation's newspaper reporters and editors in the United States, from 60,000 editorial employees to about 40,000 in 2009.

Lewis is a tenured professor of journalism and since 2008 the founding executive editor of the Workshop. He left a successful career as an investigative producer for ABC News and the CBS News program 60 Minutes and began the Center for Public Integrity from his home, growing it to a full-time staff of 40 people. Under his leadership, the nonpartisan Center published roughly 300 investigative reports, including 14 books, from 1989 through 2004, and was honored more than 30 times by national journalism organizations. His fifth and last co-authored book with the Center staff, The Buying of the President 2004, was a New York Times bestseller.

 

 

Coming Soon!

Dr. Justin Frank

Obama on the CouchDr. Justin A. Frank, a psychoanalyst who comments on political leaders, returns to the show to speak about his two recent best-sellers, Obama on the Couch (2011) and Bush on the Couch (2004). Frank is a graduate of Harvard Medical School who is a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center. He emphasizes that his views are solely his own. Those in his field sometimes attract criticism for any attempt to use their analytic expertise on public figures who are not their patients. He aptly drew on a different tradition in his field, and visualized how some in the public wanted more commentary. The Boston Globe said of his most recent book:

Obama on the Couch is a fascinating read. Frank approaches this virtual analysis meticulously, closely reading both of Obama's memoirs, combing through speeches and journalistic accounts of Cabinet meetings. The president's puzzling insistence on seeking compromise even with political opponents who have sworn resistance, Frank writes in a tongue-in-cheek diagnosis, is evidence of "obsessive bipartisan disorder." And his chapter on how Obama's critics see him – the psychology, or even pathology, behind some of their complaints – is masterful.

Stewart Pinkerton

Stewart PinkertonStewart Pinkerton, the longtime deputy managing editor of Forbes Magazine, is the author of The Fall of the House of Forbes: The Inside Story of the Collapse of a Media Empire. The well-reviewed history is described as follows: Forbes: the legendary name in finance journalism. Synonymous with wealth, grand excess, glamour, and fun as well as style, insight, gossip, and hard-nosed reporting, the media empire and the family behind it form a remarkable story that has never been told. Now, veteran journalist Stewart Pinkerton reveals the hidden machinations, disastrous decisions, and personal foibles of a century-old dynasty that rose to glittering heights and crashed just as spectacularly.

Writing from an insider's perspective and first-hand sources developed over his twenty years as a writer and editor at Forbes, Pinkerton takes us to the ritualized formal lunches inside the mansion-like headquarters at 60 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; the lavish advertiser parties on board the family yacht, The Highlander; the sybaritic private life of Malcolm Forbes and the family's increasing discomfort with its patriarch; and the glory days of the magazine, with its news-making stories, high-rolling expense accounts, and bar-setting standards for anyone who aspired to wealth and its trappings. But as the media business changed, Forbes was slow to react, and found itself burdened by Malcolm's immense personal expenses, Steve Forbes's bumbling, self-financed presidential campaigns, and the family's hubris and hesitation in the face of reality. A series of devastating business decisions and an internecine struggle for power forced the sale of the Faberge eggs, the vintage toy collection, the homes, the private island, the yacht, and finally the sale of 40% of the company itself to outside investors…a collapse of shocking speed after decades of unsurpassed success. A compelling narrative account of a powerful family's dysfunction, The Fall of the House of Forbes is a parable of capitalism at its best and worst, and a metaphor for the current state of digital turmoil in media.

Tracie McMillan

Tracie McMillan will discuss her :new book, The American Way of Eating. Her first-person, undercover report describes the food industry's working poor and the lessons for consumers. Reared in a blue-collar family in Michigan, the author harvested grapes and peaches, cut garlic, and worked further up the food chain at Walmart's and Applebee's. She recounts such hardships as injury, heatstroke, identity theft and sexual assault, as well as multiple examples of exploitation by employers.

"Along the way," her publisher's announcement says, "she asked the questions still facing America a decade after the declaration of an obesity epidemic: Why do we eat the way we do? And how can we change it? To find out, McMillan goes beyond the food on her plate to examine the national priorities that put it there. With her absorbing blend of riveting narrative and formidable investigative reporting, McMillan takes us from dusty fields to clanging restaurant kitchens, linking her work to the quality of our meals—and always placing her observations in the context of America's approach not just to farms and kitchens but to wages and work."

McMillan is a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and has won several national awards, including the Harry Chapin Media Award and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, for my work on these topics. Lambasted by Rush Limbaugh in March 2012 in what she described to Forbes as "totally bizarre," her work has appeared in a wide range of publications including the New York Times, Harper's, Slate, Saveur, Salon and Gastronomica.

Bruce DeSilva

Bruce DeSilva Cliff WalkBruce DeSilva has published a second highly regarded crime thriller, Cliff Walk, following his first best-seller, Rogue Island. A native of Rhode Island who began his career at the Providence Journal, DeSilva will discuss his transition from New England journalist to a successful fiction writer. The book's description is:

Prostitution has been legal in Rhode Island for more than a decade; Liam Mulligan, an old-school investigative reporter at dying Providence newspaper, suspects the governor has been taking payoffs to keep it that way. But this isn't the only story making headlines…a child's severed arm is discovered in a pile of garbage at a pig farm. Then the body of an internet pornographer is found sprawled on the rocks at the base of Newport's famous Cliff Walk.

At first, the killings seem random, but as Mulligan keeps digging into the state's thriving sex business, strange connections emerge. Promised free sex with hookers if he minds his own business—and a beating if he doesn't—Mulligan enlists Thanks-Dad, the newspaper publisher's son, and Attila the Nun, the state's colorful Attorney General, in his quest for the truth. What Mulligan learns will lead him to question his beliefs about sexual morality, shake his tenuous religious faith, and leave him wondering who his real friends are.

A Washington Post reviewer wrote in May:

Cliff Walk actually betters Rogue Island. The latter dealt with arson in a run-down Providence neighborhood as well as the fading days of the Dispatch. (DeSilva's 40-year career as a journalist included a stint as an investigative reporter for the Providence Journal.) Rendered with pitch-perfect repartee and a keen sense of newsroom politics and personalities, the often-
hilarious scenes at the paper sometimes upstaged the central action.

 

Other Recent Guests

Jonathan Kay

NeJonathan Kay wspaperman Jonathan Kay discussed April 12 his new book, Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground. Its promo says: "Throughout most of our nation's history, the United States has been bound together by a shared worldview. But the 9/11 terrorist attacks opened a rift in the collective national psyche: Increasingly, Americans are abandoning reality and retreating to Internet-based fantasy worlds conjured into existence out of our own fears and prejudices."

He and his book reject the 9/11 Truth movement, which he calls "merely one segment of a vast conspiracist subculture that includes many other groups."

Kay is a managing editor, columnist and blogger at Canada's National Post newspaper. His freelance articles have appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper's, Commentary magazine, Salon, Reader's Digest and Newsweek. He is a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C. His first book, The Volunteer, co-authored with Michael Ross, became a top-ten bestseller in 2007.

Brett Tollman

Utah attorney Brett Tolman, active in the petitions on behalf of Iowa businessman Shalom Rubashkin, described his reasons April 5. Tolman brings expert experience as former legal counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and as U.S. attorney for Utah, nominated in 2006 by President Bush. He is a widely published author currently co-chairing his firm's white-collar crime practice at his Salt Lake City-based firm, Ray Quinney & Nebeker P.C. Here are excerpts from a letter that he co-signed with six former U.S. attorneys general, three from each major party, along with other senior former officials of the Justice Department:

[T]he prosecution of Mr. Rubashkin has been characterized by an unusual level of aggressiveness, if not overzealousness....Now having been convicted of various bank fraud-related offenses, and despite a jury determination that Mr. Rubashkin did not commit the offenses for personal gain and did not personally profit from his conduct, and despite his extraordinary family circumstances (10 children, including a severely autistic 16-year-old son) and exceptional history of charity and good works, the government is seeking a sentence of life imprisonment -- the functional equivalent of the sentences meted out to the likes of Bernard Madoff, 9/11 terrorists, mafia kingpins and similarly culpable defendants.

William Eyre

William Eyre, Ph.D., is the author of The Real ID Act, a first-of-its-kind book describing government surveillance in the United States. Speaking on April 5, Eyre warns that federal laws and procedures announced as anti-terrorism measures have far-reaching, sinister implications for ordinary citizens and for the nation's democratic process. He says:

"Thousands of pages of statutes and arcane regulations relate to citizens' privacy. Their overwhelming volume and complexity prevent most of us--including legislators who vote on it and press who report on it--from ever having read or understood but a small portion of it. Very few persons have attained the complex, multi-disciplinary educational and experiential background requisite for adequately comprehending this abstruse subject. Oftentimes, the average citizen does not even recognize something as being a surveillance tool or its presence eludes his or her attention."

Eyre is an expert on global information security, surveillance and privacy. He was the first interdisciplinary doctoral graduate in Information Security from Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS). CERIAS is the first and most respected of its kind in the world. Dr. Eyre's studies encompassed international terrorism, cryptography, biometrics, cybersecurity, and computer forensics. Click here for book details. .

Henry Scott

Henry Scott CoverAlso on April 5, Henry Scott discussed his new novel London Comfort: An American Idol's Dangerous Real World Adventure. The thinly disguised fiction portrays celebutante London Comfort, a seemingly brainless Hollywood celebrity who finds herself in the truly brainless world of Washington when a judge sentences her to community service as a White House tour guide. The country is being led by a moronic President, John Edsel, who welcomes the visiting leader of the nation of Georgia at a formal ceremony but confuses the visitor's country with the state of Georgia. Comfort finds that her old coke-filled nights with Hollywood party boys are tame compared to what she finds in the White House -- a world just as exploitive but vastly more dangerous. Appalled, she enlists her black female security guard and an earnest young Secret Service agent to topple the President.

Scott says, "The book is about the intersection of sex and politics, which, in the Western world, had seemed a uniquely American obsession until Silvio Berlusconi came along. And even then, it's interesting that his sexual misadventures were the least of Berlusconi's problems. Publicity about all of them might well have forced the resignation of a U.S. President. The book also is, in part, a look at Americans' fascination with celebrity to the exclusion of competence. As it turns out, there was more to London Comfort than her fans first imagined. An interesting question is why do we always want to elect inexperienced celebrities (Barack Obama would fit in that camp) instead of sober and experienced public officials? We've fallen for the "outside the Beltway" argument, which makes sense to some degree, but not totally. I'd rather see Americans focus on reforming Washington so there's less influence-peddling and corruption in DC and so that we can comfortably re-elect competent and experienced politicians."

The author is a former journalist at newspapers in North Carolina (the Raleigh Times and Charlotte Observer) and Connecticut (the Hartford Courant) and has worked as a business executive at the New York Times (Vice President, New Media/New Products), Out Publishing (President) and Metro New York (Publisher). His Shocking True Story: The Rise and Fall of Confidential, 'America's Scandalous Scandal Magazine', was published by Pantheon in 2009. Two novels are being published by the Pine Forest Press. For details, visit Amazon.com.

 

This Year -- Now on Archive!

Dan Christiansen

Dan Christensen, editor and founder of the Broward Bulldog, will speak March 29 about his latest findings on the 9/11 disaster. He has co-authored with author Anthony Summers this month hard-hitting columns co-published by MSNBC and the Bulldog. They were: Classified documents contradict FBI on post-9/11 probe of Saudis, ex-senator says. It quoted former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-Florida), co-chair of the joint congressional investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as saying the FBI did not inform his panel or a separate investigation co-chaired by Keane, about suspicious contacts between Saudi citizens living in Florida and some of the 9/11 hijackers. Other Christiansen-Summers work included: Saudi who left Fla. before 9/11 considered bin Laden a 'hero,' informant told FBI in '04. Another published by the Bulldog was by Summers colleague Robbyn Swan: New questions about FBI probe of Saudis' post-9/11 exodus.

Christensen is one of South Florida's most experienced reporters. He founded the not-for-profit Broward Bulldog in 2009. As an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald in 2006, Christensen reported how state judges and clerks had hidden hundreds of often newsworthy civil and criminal court cases from public view. Those stories also established that prosecutors and judges in Miami had falsified the public docket to protect informants. The stories led directly to unanimous Florida Supreme Court opinions in 2007 and 2010 that banned those practices. Christensen reported similar stories in 2003-2004 for the Miami Daily Business Review about excessive secrecy in the federal courts in which judges suppressed all information about newsworthy terror and drug cases. The executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press later called Christensen "the nation's leading journalist on an issue of tremendous First Amendment importance: the increasing trend toward secrecy in our nation's courts." His stories in 2005 about the private business dealings of the Broward County Sheriff sparked a federal corruption investigation that landed Ken Jenne in prison in 2007.

In 2000-2001, Christensen's reporting on a deadly gun-planting conspiracy and cover-up by Miami police officers led to more than a dozen federal indictments. Convictions and reform followed, including the establishment of a long-sought Miami civilian police review panel. Christensen earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and urban studies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

Peter Schiff

Financier, author and recent GOP U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff March 15 described his economic and political views, including remarks at an Economic Summit March 14 organized by The Atlantic in Washington, DC. "We need to spend a lot less on education," said Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist for Euro Pacific Capital. Reductions should include what he called "worthless liberal arts degrees." Schiff is a regular on cable financial shows and predicted much of the housing and related financial collapse of 2008. Videos and news articles about the conference are available also on the Atlantic website and through such other news organizations as C-SPAN. Its Summit Examines Ways to "Fix" U.S Economy was one of 12 segments it produced and that are available for free viewing here. Schiff, a radio host for the 10 a.m. to noon Peter Schiff Show, is the author of five books published by John Wiley & Sons. Crash Proof 2.0: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse was published in February 2007 and appeared on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

Doug Waller New Photo

Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan, returned to the show March 8 to discuss the CIA's 65th anniversary this year and the changes since Donovan created its precedessor organization. President Roosevelt made Donovan the nation's top spy in World War II. Waller describes Donovan as "a mythic figure whose legacy is still intensely debated." Donovan directed the Office of Strategic Services (the country's first national intelligence agency and predecessor of today's CIA. Just published in paperback, the book Wild Bill Donovan describes how he introduced the nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on a scale it had never seen before.

Separating fact from fiction, Waller investigates the successes and the occasional spectacular failures of Donovan's intelligence career. Waller is a veteran magazine correspondent, author and lecturer. His five previous books on the military and foreign policy include the best-sellers, The Commandos and Big Red, and the critically acclaimed biography of General Billy Mitchell, A Question of Loyalty. Details.

Lori Andrews

Lori Andrews CoverAuthor Lori Andrews discusses on March 3 her latest book, I know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy. In January 2008, the ABA Journal listed her as a "Newsmaker of the Year," describing her as "a lawyer with a literary bent who has the scientific chops to rival any CSI investigator." She is an internationally recognized expert on emerging technologies. She has created a Social Network Constitution. On March 23, 2012, she and Professor Richard Warner will host a free conference in Chicago on Internet Privacy, Data Aggregation, and Social Networks. Her path-breaking litigation about technologies caused the National Law Journal to list her as one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America." In 2002, she won the National Health Law Teachers Award. In 2005, she was made an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Legal Medicine for her "distinguished achievement in the field of legal medicine."

Professor Andrews is a distinguished professor of law at IIT Chicago-Kent; director of IIT's Institute for Science, Law and Technology; and an associate vice president of IIT. She has been a visiting professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College and her J.D. from Yale Law School.Andrews is the author of 10 non-fiction books, including Genetics: Ethics, Law and Policy, Future Perfect: Confronting Decisions About Genetics and The Clone Age: Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology. She is the author of more than 150 articles on health care policy, biotechnology, genetics and reproductive technologies. She is also the author of three mysteries involving a fictional geneticist. Research on her latest novel took her from the White House to an institute for tropical biology in the jungles of Vietnam. She uses her fiction to address the social issues she covers in her legal work and teaching.

Harold Evans

Sir Harold Evans, guest on Feb. 23, authored My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times, a follow-up to an earlier memoir. "A jaw-dropping social history," commented critic Andrew Marr. "The best education possible in what true journalism's all about." Evans was the editor of the Sunday Times and the Times (and earlier of the Northern Echo and assistant editor of thHarold Evanse Manchester Evening News). A graduate of Durham University, he has written a number of best-selling histories. He followed the late Alistair Cooke in commentaries on America for the BBC. He holds the British Press Awards' Gold Award for Lifetime Achievement of Journalists. In 2001, British journalists voted him the all-time greatest British newspaper editor. He was knighted in 2004.

His memoir, now in paperback, is described by the publisher as follows: Evans recounts the wild and wonderful tale of his newspapering and publishing odyssey, which took him from Manchester to London and finally to America. In England, he would become the editor of two of the most famous newspapers in the world, the Sunday Times and The Times of London; crack England's biggest spy scandal; expose the cause of the world's worst air crash of its time, involving the DC-10; and uncover one of the greatest health scandals of the century. Then it would be on to New York, where he would begin all over again as a book publisher, acquiring the memoirs of Colin Powell, Marlon Brando, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon – and the unknown Barack Obama. Click for details.

Bev Harris

Bev Harris Black Box Voting CoverBev Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century, is scheduled for Feb. 23 to discuss recent revelations of irregularities in the GOP Maine Presidential caucus -- and the secret problem of voting machine fraud. She began writing on the subject of electronic voting machines in October 2002. Her investigative journalism has since been cited in The New York Times (three times), and on CBS, Fox News, and CNN.

In writing Black Box Voting, Harris spent over two thousand hours researching voting machines, and interviewed hundreds of witnesses including many election officials and even voting machine programmers who work directly for the firms that build these machines. During the course of writing Black Box Voting, Harris discovered that one of the largest voting machine companies, Diebold Election Systems, had committed a massive security breach, leaving thousands of sensitive voting system program files on an unprotected Web site. These files have now triggered a national investigation and activism movement to restore clean, trustworthy voting systems. Details: BlackBoxVoting.org.

Erin Siegel

Investigative journalist Erin Siegal appears Feb. 16 on Washington Update radio as she calls for reform of pervasive corruption in international adoption based on her research for her new book, Finding Fernanda. Siegal describes how adoption offers hope to millions but is complicated by pervasive corruption that the average American has few effective ways to thwart. Siegal, a fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University tracked how a Tennessee family's attempt to adopt through a Guatemalan agency led to heart-rending allegations of child kidnapping and a massive scandal. Siegal provides the story through both its powerful human dimensions in a case study and in its wider implications: From 2003-2008, 20 percent of the 100,000 children adopted by United States families came from Guatemala—widely considered to have had the worst international adoption improprieties over the longest period of time. More than one source has referred to the business of adoption between Guatemala and the United States as "the perfect crime." Until now, no one has provided a full picture of how it takes place. The Miami Herald raved: "Heavy-duty investigative reporting and compelling personal testimony,"and the book has been named 2012 winner of the James Madison Freedom Award. Siegal's writing and photography have been published in such publications as the New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, and more. She has collaborated on projects with NGOs, such as the Urban Justice Center, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations. Finding Fernanda is Siegal's first book, with details at Amazon.com and www.erinsiegal.com.

Greg Palast

Greg Palast Feb. 9 discussed his new book, Vultures Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores. The New York Times-bestselling author of Armed Madhouse offers a globetrotting, Sam Spade-style investigation that blows the lid off the oil industry, the banking industry, and the governmental agencies that aren't regulating either. This is the story of the corporate vultures that feed on the weak and ruin our planet in the process -- a story that spans the globe and decades. For Vultures' Picnic, investigative journalist Greg Palast has spent his career uncovering the connection between the world of energy (read: oil) and finance. Palast shows how the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, and Central Banks act as puppets for Big Oil. With Palast at the center of an investigation that takes us from the Arctic to Africa to the Amazon, Vultures' Picnic shows how the big powers in the money and oil game slip the bonds of regulation over and over again, and simply destroy the rules that they themselves can't write-and take advantage of nations and everyday people in the process. Author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Palast is best known in his native USA as the journalist who, for the Observer (UK), broke the story of how Jeb Bush purged thousands of Black Florida citizens from voter rolls before the 2000 election, thereby handing the White House to his brother George. His reports on the theft of election 2004, the spike of the FBI investigations of the bin Ladens before September 11, the secret State Department documents planning the seizure of Iraq's oil fields have won him a record six 'Project Censored' for reporting the news American media doesn't want you to hear. 'The top investigative journalist in the United States is persona non grata in his own country's media.' [Asia Times.] He returned to America to report for Harper's Magazine. Details.

Peter Van Buren

Peter VanBurenAuthor Peter Van Buren described on Feb. 2 his new book, We Meant Well, the day after his talk before the McClendon Group at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. As summarized in a recent column by the Project on Government Overshight (POGO), Interview: Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren on Reconstruction Failures in Iraq: The U.S. wasted billions upon billions of dollars in Iraq on poor contracting practices, but very few insiders are willing to talk about it. Foreign Service Officer Buren is an exception. He served with the Foreign Service for over two decades and worked as a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) leader in Iraq. In September 2011, he released a book about his experiences, titled: We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. After the book's publication, the State Department suspended Van Buren's security clearance indefinitely.

POGO interviewed Van Buren about the contracting waste he witnessed in Iraq, the mistakes the U.S. is still making in Afghanistan, and of course, whistleblower protections. POGO: "The Commission on Wartime Contracting found that the U.S. has wasted $31 billion to $60 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan on contracting. Do you think we've learned any lessons here?" Peter Van Buren: "The mistakes certainly aren't over—we continue to make the same ones in Afghanistan."

Amanda Smith

Cissy PattersonThe dramatic, history-making dynasty of the Patterson-Medill—McCormick family cames to life in the papers of a new biography by Amanda Smith, the featured guest Jan. 19. She authored Newspaper Titan: The Infomous lie and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson, the acclaimed biography of the owner of the most important Washington, DC newspaper of her era. Also, she was the globetrotting sister and cousin of the press lords controlling the largest circulation papers in New York City and Chicago. Smith created what is aptly termed "the galvanizing story of Eleanor Medill (Cissy) Patterson, celebrated debutante and socialite, scion of the Chicago Tribune empire, and the twentieth century's first woman editor in chief and publisher of a major metropolitan daily newspaper, the Washington Times-Herald. The book is summarized this way: "She was called the most powerful woman in America, surpassing Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Clare Boothe Luce, and Dorothy Schiff. Cissy Patterson was from old Republican stock. Her grandfather was Joseph Medill, firebrand abolitionist, mayor of Chicago, editor in chief and principal owner of the Chicago Tribune, and one of the founders of the Republican Party who delivered the crucial Ohio delegation to Abraham Lincoln at the convention of 1860."

"Here is her twentieth-century Washington: its politics and society, scandals and feuds, and at the center -- the fierce newspaper wars that consumed and drove the country's press titans," the book summary states. Patterson took the Washington Times-Herald from a chronic tail-ender in circulation and advertising, ranked fifth in the town, and made it into the most widely read round-the-clock daily in the national's capital, deemed by many to be "the damndest newspaper to ever hit the streets." Amanda Smith was born and raised in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College. She is the editor of Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy. Smith lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children. Click here for readers reviews and sales details at Amanda Smith Books and Amazon.com.

John J. Donohue

Stanford Law School Professor John J. Donohue III Jan. 12 describes his important new study charting the fairness of the death penalty. He analyzed 205 murders in Connecticut from 1973 to 2007 eligible for the death penalty out of a total of some 4,686 murders overall. Donohue, at left, found that nine death sentences resulted, with just one actual execution. He concluded that the process "raises a serious question as to whether the state's death penalty regime is serving any legitimate social purpose." His "Capital Punishment in Connecticut, 1973 to 2007." Overall, the state's record of handling death-eligible cases represents a chaotic and unsound criminal justice policy that serves neither deterrence nor retribution. New York Times columnist Lincoln Caplan extolled the study last weekend in The Random Horror of the Death Penalty.

He has been one of the leading empirical researchers in the legal academy over the past 25 years. He is an economist as well as a lawyer and is well known for using empirical analysis to determine the impact of law and public policy in a wide range of areas, including civil rights and antidiscrimination law, employment discrimination, crime and criminal justice, and school funding. He is the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford, and previously was a member of the law school faculty from 1995–2004. Before rejoining the Stanford Law School faculty in 2010, he was the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He recently co-authored Employment Discrimination: Law and Theory with George Rutherglen. Earlier in his career, he was a law professor at Northwestern University as well as a research fellow with the American Bar Association. Additionally, he clerked with Chief Justice T. Emmet Clarie, of the U.S. District Court of Hartford, Connecticut. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, editor of the American Law and Economics Review, and the current president of the American Law and Economics Association. Full biography here.

Bob Graham

Bob GrahamRetired Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, our guest Dec. 22, the author of Keys to the Kingdom, a highly praised spy thriller that he wrote in part to raise concerns about national security dangers for the country that he was foreclosed from describing except in a format he's described as 40 percent fiction, 40 percent fact and the rest a mixture. Graham is the former two-term Governor of Florida and he served eighteen years in the United States Senate. He was recently appointed by President Obama to co-chair the Bipartisan National Commission on the BP oil spill, and was also appointed by President Obama to Chair the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Bob Graham has also been a regular contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition, a frequent guest on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC News, and has written opinion editorials for the New York Times, Washington Post Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, and many other newspapers and magazines. Bob and his wife Adele reside in Miami Lakes, Florida.

An overview of his book is as follows: Shortly after an explosive op-ed piece about the 9/11 investigation appears in the New York Times, its author, former Senator and Co-chair of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry Commission John Billington, is murdered near his Florida home. Bob Graham is the former two-term Governor of Florida and he served eighteen years in the United States Senate. He was recently appointed by President Obama to co-chair the Bipartisan National Commission on the BP oil spill, and was also appointed by President Obama to Chair the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Bob Graham has also been a regular contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition, a frequent guest on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC News, and has written opinion editorials for the New York Times, Washington Post Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, and many other newspapers and magazines. Bob and his wife Adele reside in Miami Lakes, Florida. Details.

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller, featured guest Dec. 15 and on Sept. 1, is a former two-term elected treasurer of Kentucky and a co-founder of "No Labels," a new national civic group that unveiled Dec. 13 a plan for major changes in Congress, such as a plan to require the president to answer questions on a monthly basis on the floor of the Senate and House. Founded last fall, No Labels seeks to create better government by reducing political partisanship, primarily at the House and Senate.The group convened with 1,000 founders in New York City last December, and has since made news by announcing thCompassionate Community Coverat 60 percent of House members, more Democrats than Republicans, failed to schedule town hall meetings during the August recess.

Miller, a Democrat and attorney, retired in March as Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's Cabinet Secretary of Finance and Administration. He created a personal website called "The Recovering Politician." Miller is the author of the critically-acclaimed The Compassionate Community: Ten Values to Unite America. In his nearly two decades of public service, his other senior positions in state and federal government include work as deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Energy, and legislative director for Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN). He founded Students for Al Gore for President in 1988, revived College Democrats of America in 1989, served as a Deputy Political Director for the Clinton/Gore 1992 presidential campaign, and chaired the Kentucky Democratic Party in 2007. He practices law in Lexington, KY, and blogs for the Huffington Post and his own Recovering Politican site.

 

On Deck

Ron Suskind

Ron Suskind authored Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, a well-regarded new book exploring the hidden history of Wall Street and the White House. He describes it as follows: Success comes down to a single, powerful, quintessentially American concept: confidence. Both centers of power, tapping brazen innovations over the past three decades, learned how to manufacture it. Until August 2007, when that confidence finally began to crumble. In this gripping and brilliantly reported book, Ron Suskind tells the story of what happened next, as Wall Street struggled to save itself while a man with little experience and soaring rhetoric emerged from obscurity to usher in "a new era of responsibility." It is a story that follows the journey of Barack Obama, who rose as the country fell, and offers the first full portrait of his tumultuous presidency. Wall Street found that straying from long-standing principles of transparency, accountability, and fair dealing opened a path to stunning profits. Obama's determination to reverse that trend was essential to his ascendance, especially when Wall Street collapsed during the fall of an election year and the two candidates could audition for the presidency by responding to a national crisis. But as he stood on the stage in Grant Park, a shudder went through Barack Obama. He would now have to command Washington, tame New York, and rescue the economy in the first real management job of his life.
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Ron Suskind introduces readers to an ensemble cast, from the titans of high finance to a new generation of reformers, from petulant congressmen and acerbic lobbyists to a tight circle of White House advisers—and, ultimately, to the president himself, as you've never before seen him. Based on hundreds of interviews and filled with piercing insights and startling disclosures, Confidence Men brings into focus the collusion and conflict between the nation's two capitals—New York and Washington, one of private gain, the other of public. Details.

Jerome Corsi

Dr. Jerome R. Corsi will discuss his controversial best-seller, Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is Not Eligible to be President. The two-time No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Corsi argues that no legal authority has ever verified Obama's legal eligibility to be president, that glaring inconsistencies, blackouts, and outright fabrications in his life narrative have generated widespread doubts, and that, in fact, a compelling body of evidence says Obama is not a natural-born citizen as is required of all presidents by Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution. Details.

Dr. Jerome CorsiCorsi is senior staff reporter for World Net Daily, where he works as an investigative reporter. In 2004, Corsi co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. The success of Unfit for Command permitted Dr. Corsi to devote full time to writing. In the past five years, he has published five New York Times bestselling non-fiction books. In August 2008, he published The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller for a month and remained on the NYT bestseller list for 10 weeks. His most recent non-fiction book, America for Sale: Fighting the New World Order, Surviving a Global Depression, and Preserving USA Sovereignty debuted on the New York Times bestseller list on Nov. 1, 2009. For nearly 25 years, beginning in 1981, Corsi worked with banks throughout the United States and around the world to develop financial services marketing companies to assist banks in establishing broker/dealers and insurance subsidiaries to provide financial planning products and services to their retail customers. He is a frequent guest on talk radio shows nationally and has made repeated television appearances on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN News and Fox Business News.

 

Fall Guests

 

Stuart Weisberg

Stuart Weisberg discussed on Dec. 15 Barney Frank's announcement to retire from Congress at the expiration of his term. Weisberg authored the first biography of the Massachusetts Democrat, the 2009 book, Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman. "Not many Congressmen are worthy of a book, but Stuart Weisberg s carefully researched and authoritative account proves that Barney s life and career are indeed the stuff of fine biography," according to a book blurb by longtime Washington pundits Cokie and Steven Roberts. Weisberg is an attorney who spent ten years as staff director and chief counsel for the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Employment and Housing. He directed the subcommittee s lengthy investigation in 1989 of what came to known as the HUD scandal. During the Clinton administration, he served as chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent federal adjudicative agency. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland. Details.

James Case

James Case called on Dec. 8 for much-increased U.S. tariffs as the best answer for the questions posed by his new book, Why Can't Obama Fix the Economy? "The Earth's resources are rapidly being exhausted," Case argued. "The preJames Case Coversent century will witness lasting shortages of food, water, jobs, energy, and more. Economists have no clue how to deal with any of the above, beginning with the current job shortage."

He drew on his experience to argue that the most influential economics are relying on outmoded Keynesian or free-market theories. Case has a varied career in business and government. He has worked in government, agriculture and higher education, as well as the oil, aircraft and beverage industries. In each, he says he has seen the so-called 'laws of economics' violated with impunity. Among his posts, he was an engineer at McDonnell Aircraft, a mathematician at the Federal Trade Commission, an economist at the American Petroleum Institute and a professor of mathematics at several universities.

John M. Perkis

John Perkins Hoodwinked Cover Best-selling author John Perkins described on Dec. 1 his latest book, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded--and What We Need to Do to Remake Them, which was released in paperback in November. Its overview focuses on how Perkins has seen the signs of today's economic meltdown before: The subprime mortgage fiascos, the banking industry collapse, the rising tide of unemployment, the shuttering of small businesses across the landscape are all too familiar symptoms of a far greater disease. In his former life as an economic hit man, he was on the front lines both as an observer and a perpetrator of events, once confined only to the third world, that have now sent the United States—and in fact the entire planet—spiraling toward disaster. Here, Perkins pulls back the curtain on the real cause of the current global financial meltdown. He shows how we've been hoodwinked by the CEOs who run the corporatocracy—those few corporations that control the vast amounts of capital, land, and resources around the globe—and the politicians they manipulate. These corporate fat cats, Perkins explains, have sold us all on what he calls predatory capitalism, a misguided form of geopolitics and capitalism that encourages a widespread exploitation of the many to benefit a small number of the already very wealthy. Their arrogance, gluttony, and mismanagement have brought us to this perilous edge. The solution is not a "return to normal."

But there is a way out. As Perkins makes clear, we can create a healthy economy that will encourage businesses to act responsibly, not only in the interests of their shareholders and corporate partners (and the lobbyists they have in their pockets), but in the interests of their employees, their customers, the environment, and society at large. As chief economist at a major international consulting firm, John Perkins advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He worked directly with heads of state and CEOs of major companies. His books on economics and geo-politics have sold more than 1 million copies, spent many months on the New York Times and other bestseller lists, and are published in over 30 languages. His Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list) is a startling exposé of international corruption. His The Secret History of the American Empire, also a New York Times bestseller, details the clandestine operations that created the world's first truly global empire. John is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofit organizations devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit, has lectured at more than 50 universities around the world, and is the author of books on indigenous cultures and transformation, including Shapeshifting, The World Is As You Dream It, Psychonavigation, Spirit of the Shuar, and The Stress-Free Habit. Details

James Otto

James Otto Dec. 8 described his cutting-edge lawsuit alleging that two health care companies are exploiting gaps in U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) enforcement to illegally hire more than 200 job-seekers under the HB-1 visa program. The suit Beasley v. Molina Healthcare, Inc. filed in April claims the companies illegally fired 225 highly trained American workers replaced by foreign workers, thus violating civil rights law forbidding job decisions on the basis of national origin. Otto is developing new legal theories to protect American workers and green card-holders from national origin discrimination. In addition to the suit, he notes a pattern whereby Obama administration leaders curry favor with foreigners and U.S. businesses to undermine U.S. workers. Otto, a former Marine Corps officer in the 1970s, is an attorney based in Northridge, CA, is developing new legal theories to protect American workers and green card holders from national origin discrimination. "On December 7, 2011," Otto says, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, through the U.S. Embassy in India, announced that the State Department has authorized the U.S embassy to allow the admission of a limitless number of foreign workers into the U.S. to take jobs that millions of unemployed Americans could and would do. He says such problems are bipartisan, as illustrated in Dec. 7 testimony here in testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in favor of expanding the H-1B visa program, offered to highly skilled professionals and students to live and work in the United States and by comments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also endorsing expansion. Details.

Charles J. Shields

Charles J. Shields discussed on Nov. 17 And So It Goes, the first biography of the visionaryKurt Vonnegut, best-selling novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Shields described why "Vonnegut resonates with readers of all generations from the baby boomers who grew up with him to high-school and college students who are discovering his work for the first time." A Huffington Post review said: "This book fills a much-needed gap, since very little seems to be known about the late Kurt Vonnegut, despite his immense popularity over almost five decades."

Shields also wrote, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, the bestselling biography of Harper Lee, and I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee. He grew up in the Midwest and taught in a rural school in central Illinois for several years. He has been a reporter for public radio, a journalist, and the author of nonfiction books for young people. He and his wife live near Charlottesville, Virginia. Click here for Amazon.com book details.

Guido George Lombardi

Guido George Lombardi Nov. 10 analyzed Italy's debt crisis and its impact on Europe and the United States. Also, he will describe the importance of a major snafu involving leaders of France and Israel, as well as the recent trip to the United States by French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen that he helped organize. The leader of the National Front Party is shown with him below at her Nov. 2 speech at the National Press Club, part of her successful multi-state tour. Lombardi is Executive Director of the North Atlantic League, which promotes Marine Le Pen and guido Lombardipositive foreign relations between Italy, Israel, and the United States. In addition, he has become one of the leaders of Tea Party Italy, which has brought the values of small government and more personal freedom to Italy.

Lombardi is a former executive director of the International Council for Economic Development. He has more 30 years of business, political, and academic experience. His first book, "Liberta' e Progresso Economico" (Freedom and Economic Progress) was critically acclaimed by Italian academics and political leaders, and was received by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. His follow up work "The Value Matrix," earned him high praise from American business leaders such as Donald Trump and Slimfast CEO Daniel Abraham. Lombardi has consulted for political parties in Italy for over 30 years including those in Italy's current ruling coalition. Lombardi For more information, click here for personal details and here for North Atlantic League information.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen spoke Nov. 2 at the National Press Club in an exclusive interview reprised on the show as part of her United States tour in November as she builds support for her 2012 race to become president of France. She called the euro "an idiotic currency" and said she would push for a return toMarine Le Pen the franc if elected next April. She said the world economic system "seems to me to be completely out of control." A member the European Parliament and the leader of the National Front Party in France, she said the euro "is producing poverty, unemployment, de-industrialization, an explosion of inequality and everywhere, despair." She called also for France to withdraw from Libya, and curtail immigration. Update co-host Andrew Kreig helped arranged the talk, and is shown at right shortly before her Press Club speech. Her U.S. senior strategic advisor, Guido Lombardi, is at left in the photo by his daughter, Lejia. Shortly afterward, the room filled with about 50 journalists, including a half dozen television crews. Le Pen's visit to Washington included visits with Congressmen Ron Paul (R-TX), a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). She was mobbed by the French press during her visit, as described here. An attorney, she is the youngest daughter of the French politician, Jean-Marie Le Pen, former president of the FN. Her aim is to expand the political influence of the FN and transform it into a "big popular party that addresses itself not only to the electorate on the right but to all the French people."

David Stewart Burr Cover

David O. StDavid Stewartewart, a noted historian and legal scholar, speaks Oct. 27 about his latest book, American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America, which is released in paperback this week. After practicing law for more than 25 years, Stewart turned to writing history (though he still practices law). His first book, The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, was a Washington Post bestseller and won the Washington Writing Award as Best Book of 2007. Two years later, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy, was a Davis-Kidd Bestseller and was called "by all means the best

 Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters - TBA

Andrew Kreig uses his decades of investigative journalism talent to unmask the characters who have manipulated our democratic institutions. His formidable sources and sophisticated insights will enable elected officials, journalists, professors, and voters to evaluate the power interests at stake in the November 2012 elections. This is a frightening book that challenges all of us to act bravely. We must rouse ourselves to prevent a small number of wealthy, cynical men from usurping the power that rightfully belongs to the American citizen. He identifies these men, reveals their motives, shows us how they intended to accomplish their goals, and thus puts all of us on notice in this powerful exposé.

Lillian McEwen, author, D.C. Unmasked and Undressed

Andrew Kreig was for many years a celebrated reporter for the Hartford Courant and author of Spiked. He went on to lead with distinction the Wireless Communications Association and the Justice Integrity Project. These efforts help provide the intimate knowledge of the Washington, national, and global affairs required for such ambitious reporting.

Robert Ames Alden, former president of the National Press Club, co-founder and former president of the National Press Foundation, and former Washington Post World News editor

Thought provoking. Controversial. Presidential Puppetry is sure to raise lots of eyebrows. One of those books that inspires readers to look deep beneath the surface.

John Perkins, New York Times best-selling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and other books

Four decades ago, I described shocking abuses of the troops and taxpayers when I went on-the-record with Jack Anderson following my resignation from CIA service in Indochina during the Vietnam era. The situation is far worse now.

John Kelly, former news editor at NBC-TV and CBS-TV, and former CIA officer

A look behind the scenes in an uncompromising account of U.S. presidential politics. It’s a must-read for international readers.

Eelco H. Dykstra M.D., chairman, International Katrina Project Europe, based in The Hague

Andrew Kreig’s keen investigative skills, outstanding authoring and established track record make his aptly titled, Presidential Puppetry, a ready source of vital information!

Ron Fisher, Captain, U.S. Navy (retired) and Chair, WeThePeople.now.org

Everybody should know that Andy Kreig is the man to see in Washington, DC to report the most important stories.

Dana Jill Simpson, progressive political analyst

One of the main reasons that the population of investigative reporters has not become extinct in Washington is because of the continued existence of Andrew Kreig. Most of the rest of the media population has undergone a subtle but systematic information terror campaign orchestrated by avaricious oligarchs that has hunted them down and expelled them from the media territory. All of us interested in the truth should be thankful that Andy's talents continue to ensure that darkness of media manipulation is not the only characteristic that envelopes the issues in Washington and the world.

John Edward Hurley, Washington commentator, civic leader, and historian.

As I read key portions of Andrew Kreig's book I had the feeling that its insights could make good leaders better, and could give bad ones serious concern that their ongoing injustices have been exposed in a way that demands remedial public action.

Clifford Arnebeck, public interest attorney who has challenged the integrity of the 2004 Ohio presidential election

This is clearly the worst of times in many decades, perhaps since the Civil War. The problem that a writer has is that you can write this, explain it, argue it, prove it. But, in the end, the reader and friends have to do something about it.

Sam Smith, Progressive Review publisher, DC Statehood movement co-founder, and author of books that include Shadows of Hope, Captive Capital, and Why Bother?

Buy and read this book. You'll learn a lot more than you could have imagined, and you'll start seeing the world, politics, and the justice system in a very different, clearer, smarter way. This book exposes the puppet masters who pull the strings of leading officials in both major U.S. parties, including Obama and Romney. Its entertaining, cutting-edge reporting provides the kind of information that we in the independent press believe vital to informed decision-making.

As a publisher of Andrew Kreig's work, I confess to looking forward to publishing Andrew's postings, because he is an investigative journalist combined with constitutional scholarship extraordinaire. This book takes his investigations to the next level, connecting the dots to unveil a big picture that is startling yet not surprising at all. The book goes into great depth, showing the connections behind the candidates. For example, I’ve written that Mitt Romney should be regarded as “Bishop Romney” because his experience in that LDS post is longer and more relevant to voters than his single term as governor. Kreig's book amplifies that theme into a full historical context found nowhere else regarding Bishop Romney and his ascendancy within the revamped, tea party-oriented GOP. The book applies similar treatment to President Obama and many more U.S leaders.

The author has been a respected OpEd News contributor for years. So I am not surprised this book’s revelations have enduring and even global significance.

Rob Kall, publisher of OpEdNews.com, host of The Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show, and blogger for Huffington Post

Justice Integrity Project

Kreig’s investigative reporting includes two articles that ultimately cost federal judges their jobs, while affording them a full opportunity to tell readers their side of the story. One documented a longtime bankruptcy’ judge’s ethical lapses during the course of an otherwise distinguished career. The other revealed an administrative law judge’s sexual harassment of staff.

 

 

Another exposé grew out of his coverage of a Hartford trial that marked the first major success of prosecutor Paul Coffey, who went on to lead the Justice Department’s national Strike Force on Organized Crime and Racketeering. After the trial Kreig asked City of Hartford officials: Who recommended for a gun permit a defendant convicted of racketeering? When they refused to answer, Kreig filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action to compel disclosure—leading to a precedent-setting victory in the Connecticut Supreme Court decision City of Hartford v. Kreig. Disclosures enabled Kreig and the Courant to report that the city’s mayor and the state’s top lower court prosecutor had provided character recommendations for the gangster. The ruling helped solidify FOIA nationally as a way to obtain local records.

 

Exploring how an innocent person might be sentenced to death, Kreig authored a Courant editorial describing the death row ordeal of murder defendant Jerry Lee Banks, who tragically relied upon an incompetent defense lawyer during a frame-up by local police in Georgia.

 

 

Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper

"To Spike": Originally, to make a cannon useless by driving a spike into its fuse hole. In newspaper slang, to with hold information from publication -- either by impaling a typed story onto a spindle or by vaporizing words from a computer screen.


Each day across the country, clusters of editors meet to decide what the public should learn about "the news" -- everything from sports to crime. Sensitive questions arise. For example, how hard should reporters try to ferret out the sex lives of a politician, judge or minister? People with a solid stake in their communities once ran these news conferences for the most part. But giant chains are taking over the American information industry. Their executives must respond to pressures from distant corporate headquarters and, ultimately, from Wall Street's investors.


The first book of its kind, SPIKED is the inside account of one acquisition, that of the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. SPIKED shows how hidden imperatives and taboos corrupted America's oldest newspaper after it was bought by one of the most respected media firms in the country, the Times Mirror Co. of Los Angeles. Learn how the chain's executives:

  • Repeatedly misled readers, government officials and Pulitzer Prize judges;
  • Shamelessly inflamed minorities against police while its own reporter was finding irrefutable evidence that police did nothing wrong;
  • Intimidated public officials so that they did not dare reveal the newspaper's deceptions;
  • Refused to report health hazards and abusive insurance company practices uncovered by experts and its own staff of reporters;
  • Paid a reporter $50,000 in hush money.

 

As the chain twice transformed Connecticut's dominant newspaper from top to bottom, a lavish advertising campaign kept telling readers, "We're interested in what you think."But behind the Madison Avenue glitz, a chilling real-life drama unfolded in secret.


Zealotry. Bungling. Conflicts of interest. Cruelty to the powerless. Deference to the powerful. Deceptive news stories and prize applications. Sexual pressure upon staff. Cover-up. This occurred in a sophisticated, high-income state known as "The Land of Steady Habits." Yet it could be anywhere.


Throughout the print and broadcast industries, large firms are acquiring and transforming smaller ones. In revealing a pattern of grossly unethical conduct, SPIKED raises serious questions about whether anyone is watching our society's watchdogs.


SPIKED is as timely as today's headlines -- and just as important.

-

Featured Monthly Commentary

 

A Dead Child and Childish Things

By Jeanne Bishop (below)

Huffington Post / Feb. 1, 2013.

We are in the midst of an important discussion now, about how to prevent the senseless slaughter that has claimed the lives of innocent first-graders and their teachers in Newtown, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl in Tucson, moviegoers in Colorado, college students at Virginia Tech, my own sister and brother-in-law in their home in Winnetka, Illinois, and now, this latest victim: a vibrant, promising high schooler with a lifetime of possibility before her. It is time for the adult participants in that discussion to grow up, to listen politely and speak respectfully, to seek consensus rather than conflict, to work together to forge a solution.

We owe it to the children who have died, to all children. We owe it to Hadiya Pendleton, a child who helped celebrate the inauguration of a president, who deserved that chance the president spoke of, the chance all children deserve: to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Read more here.

Editor's Choice: Click below to read the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for February 2013.

 

Other JIP Clips:

Feb. 28

Washington Post, Manning Pleads Guilty to Counts in WikiLeaks case, Julie Tate and Ernesto Londoño, Feb. 28, 2013. The Army private charged in the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history pleaded guilty to 10 charges Thursday and offered an impassioned defense of his actions, arguing that he sought to spark a national debate about what he described as the nation’s obsession with “killing and capturing people.” The testimony marked Pfc. Bradley Manning’s first detailed account of his disclosure of a trove of U.S. diplomatic cables and military documents in 2010 to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy organization he said he approached after he was unable to entice The Washington Post and the New York Times.

FireDogLake, Bradley Manning Describes ‘Collateral Murder’ Video as ‘War Porn,’  Kevin Gosztola, February 28, 2013. In a military court at Fort Meade, Maryland, Pfc. Bradley Manning pled guilty to unauthorized possession of certain information, to willfully communicating that information to an unauthorized person, WikiLeaks, and that the conduct was “service discrediting” or prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the military.

Legal Schnauzer, Why Do Ex Wives Of Campus Crest CEO Ted Rollins Tend To Issue Warnings About Possible Child Abuse? Roger Shuler, Feb. 28, 2013.  Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins did not realize it at the time, but she now says Ted Rollins' first wife tried to warn her that he might abuse her two sons from a previous marriage. Sherry and Ted Rollins were married for 14 years before their divorce was finalized in 2005, right here in my backyard, Shelby County, Alabama. Ted Rollins grew up in one of the nation's wealthiest families, the folks behind Orkin Pest Control, and he has gone on to become CEO of Campus Crest Communities, a Charlotte-based developer of student housing that has received more than $400 million in Wall Street support.
 
Legal Schnauzer, Author Disputes Official Story of 9/11 Terror Attacks, Then Winds Up Dead In the California Desert,  Roger Shuler, Feb. 28, 2013. The author of a recent book that questions the official story of 9/11 was found dead earlier this month--along with his teen-age son and daughter and the family dog--at their home in the desert community of Murphys, California. Authorities concluded that Phillip Marshall and the other victims died on February 2 from a murder-suicide. But a prominent investigative journalist recently visited Calaveras County, spoke to many of Marshall's neighbors and friends, and found powerful reasons to doubt the official finding.

Washington Post, U.S. Pledges food and medicine to Syrian rebels, Anne Gearan and Karen DeYoung, Feb. 28, 2013.The Obama administration will provide food and medicine to Syrian rebel fighters, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday, opening the first channel of U.S. aid to the opposition military. The cautious foray into front-line battlefield support fell far short of the heavy weaponry and high-tech gear the rebels seek. But Kerry said he would take additional opposition requests “back to Washington for further consideration.” Standing with Kerry in an appearance before reporters, the leader of the political opposition had no words of thanks for an offer that still represents a hedge of the U.S. bet on the group it helped to form last year. Syrian Opposition Coalition chairman Mouaz al-Khatib angrily appealed for help in establishing a humanitarian corridor to the besieged city of Homs and said the rebels are tired of Western complaints about extremists in their ranks.

Washington Post, Efforts to avert cut are dropped, Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Feb. 28, 2013, One day before automatic spending cuts were due to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies, Congress on Thursday abandoned efforts to avert the reductions and left town for the weekend. The sequester is here, and policymakers have no plans to end it. President Obama is scheduled to meet Friday at the White House with congressional leaders, but expectations for the meeting are low. House Republicans are already turning their attention to the next deadline on March 27, drafting a measure that would avoid a government shutdown while leaving the sequester in place through the end of September.

New York Times, Ben Bernanke, Hippie, Paul Krugman, February 28, 2013. We’re just a few weeks away from a milestone I suspect most of Washington would like to forget: the start of the Iraq war. What I remember from that time is the utter impenetrability of the elite prowar consensus. If you tried to point out that the Bush administration was obviously cooking up a bogus case for war, one that didn’t bear even casual scrutiny; if you pointed out that the risks and likely costs of war were huge; well, you were dismissed as ignorant and irresponsible. And, even more remarkably, a very similar story has played out over the past three years, this time about economic policy. Earlier this week, Mr. Bernanke delivered testimony that should have made everyone in Washington sit up and take notice. True, it wasn’t really a break with what he has said in the past or, for that matter, with what other Federal Reserve officials have been saying, but the Fed chairman spoke more clearly and forcefully on fiscal policy than ever before — and what he said, translated from Fedspeak into plain English, was that the Beltway obsession with deficits is a terrible mistake. And an end to deficit obsession can’t come a moment too soon. Right now Washington is focused on the idiocy of the sequester, but this is only the latest episode in an unprecedented run of declines in public employment and government purchases that have crippled our economy’s recovery. A misguided elite consensus has led us into an economic quagmire, and it’s time for us to get out.

National Press Club Wire, U.S. GDP will grow If trade deficit drops, says economist Dean Baker, Andrew Kreig, February 28, 2013.  Washington economist Dean Baker, left, told a National Press Club Newsmaker audience Feb. 28 that U.S. trade deficit reductions deserve far more attention as a strategy for domestic economic growth. Baker, co-director and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said the U.S. economy has lost $8 trillion in wealth from the economic downturn beginning at the end of the Bush administration. "The idea that job creators are going to create jobs if we make them happy is not going to happen," Baker said. Employers are going to hire, he continued, only if they have foreign or domestic customers with money to spend.

OpEdNews, The ABCs of Sequester with William Rivers Pitt, Joan Brunwasser, Feb. 28 , 2013.  My guest today is author, political activist, Truthout editor and columnist, William Rivers Pitt. Welcome to OpEdNews, Will. This week, you wrote "The "Fix' is In: Laying Bare Some Sequester Lies." With the sequester due to kick in shortly, this is a golden opportunity to bring our readers up to speed. Let's begin at the beginning. What is this much ballyhooed sequester? It was determined that $4 trillion in deficit reduction is required to get the nation's economic house in order.

Feb. 27

Wayne Madsen, Phil Marshall's "tweets" prior to his death, Wayne Madsen Report, Feb. 27, 2013. (Subscription required.) Does the road from Murphys, California lead to Dallas in 1963? [Editor's Note: Author Phil Marshall, shown at right with his two children, was working on the JFK assassination among other investigative projects when he was found dead with his children of gunshot wounds under suspicious circumstances in California. Wayne Madsen investigated the story.]

Feb. 26

FireDogLake, Supreme Court Rules Warrantless Wiretapping Law Cannot Be Challenged Without Proof of Secret Surveillance, Kevin Gosztola, Feb. 26, 2013. In a lawsuit against a warrantless wiretapping law and filed on behalf of human rights attorneys, journalists and human rights and media organizations, the Supreme Court ruled the plaintiffs bringing the suit do not have standing for the lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the case alleging the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 made it legally permissible for the government to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications, even if there was no probable cause or individualized suspicion for such surveillance.  In March 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs did have standing to challenge. It did not buy the government’s position, which according to the ACLU was that plaintiffs should not be able to sue without showing they have been monitored under the FAA but the government should not have to disclose information to plaintiffs on whether they have been monitored.

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Ex-trooper admits beating, Patsy R. Brumfield, Feb. 26, 2013. Christopher Gary Hughes of Tupelo, once a highly decorated state trooper, faces prison time after he admitted he kicked and stomped a woman in the Lee County Jail. The incident occurred more than five years ago, and a federal indictment against Hughes came just days before the five-year deadline to act. 41-year-old Hughes admitted he beat the woman – Carol Wampler-George – while she waited on a blood-alcohol test at the jail.He was not charged with the beating, but rather with depriving the woman of her constitutional rights to be protected against extensive force and illegal search and seizure “under the color of law,” which means as a working law enforcement authority.

Feb. 25

Latin Times, Michelle Obama Presents Best Picture Oscar, Sparks Conservative Controversy [VIDEO], Staff report, Feb. 25, 2013.  First lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Oscars last night, but avoided all the red carpet fuss by linking in via satellite live from the White House to present the Academy Award for Best Picture to "Argo." "[These films] taught us that love can beat all odds," Obama said during the Best Picture introduction. "They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves." It's through cinema, Obama said, that "our children learn to open their imagination and dream just a little bigger and to strive every day to reach those dreams." "Argo," a film about a plan executed by the CIA to rescue six Americans trapped in Iran during the Carter-era hostage crisis, went head to head with other politically driven films such as "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty," but came out on top. In her surprise appearance, Michelle Obama presented the award live from the Diplomatic Room of the White House. 
 
US News and World Report, Should Michelle Obama Have Presented at the Oscars? The First Lady appeared live via video from the White House to present the award for Best Picture, Teresa Welsh, Feb. 26, 2013,  First lady Michelle Obama, surrounded by servicemen and women, made a surprise appearance at Sunday night's Oscar ceremony when she appeared via live video from Washington to present the award for Best Picture. Jack Nicholson was present on stage to hand off the award to Ben Affleck for Argo. Obama praised the nominees for the night's highest honor, saying the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar could teach lessons that "apply to all of us no matter who we are, what we look like, where we come from and who we love."

New York Times, Obama’s Treasury Nominee Got Unusual Exit Bonus on Leaving N.Y.U., Danny Hakim, Feb. 25, 2013. President Obama’s nominee to lead the Treasury Department, Jacob J. Lew, got a $685,000 severance payment when he left a top post at New York University in 2006 to take a job at Citigroup. The payment, which a university official acknowledged on Monday, is considered unusual by outside experts in benefits and raises questions about why a tax-exempt university would give a large exit bonus to an executive who was departing voluntarily. The payment was not disclosed in the university’s publicly available tax records, and it is receiving scrutiny from Senate Republicans as they consider Mr. Lew’s nomination, which is expected to come up for a vote in the Finance Committee on Tuesday. At the time of his departure, Mr. Lew had been executive vice president at N.Y.U. He had typically earned $700,000 to $800,000 a year since his hiring in 2001, and sometimes more, according to the university’s tax records.

Legal Schnauzer, U.S. Supreme Court's Reputation Sinks Into Toilet With Its Refusal To Review Paul Minor Convictions, Roger Shuler, Feb. 25, 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court announced last week that it would not grant certiorari review in the case of Paul Minor, right, a former trial lawyer from Mississippi. Citizens who closely followed the Bush v. Gore debacle after the 2000 presidential election already know the high court's reputation is in tatters. Any doubters ought to be convinced by the refusal to consider the Minor convictions, which probably are due to be overturned on at least a dozen grounds. No. 1 on the list, for purposes of the SCOTUS petition, was that the high court's ruling in a 2010 case involving former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling means the jury instructions in Minor were incorrect, and the convictions no longer rest on good law. Minor's legal team, led by criminal-justice expert Albert Alschuler, makes a powerful argument to that effect in a 237-page petition filed with the high court. (The full petition can be viewed at the end of this post.) There can be no serious debate that Alschuler is correct, and here is why: Minor and two codefendants--former state judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield--were tried under the federal honest-services fraud statute and convicted on alleged violations of Mississippi state bribery law. But SCOTUS used Skilling v. U.S., 130 S. Ct. 2896 (2010) to establish a uniform national standard in honest-services cases and found that they must be grounded in federal law, not state laws.

Feb. 23

Washington Post, A different kind of black-and-white issue, Colbert I. King, Feb. 23, 2013. This week I received an e-mail with the subject line: “Please Colbert, write about Jesse Jackson Jr. and father.” It was a racial taunt, perhaps best ignored. The writer chose to view the fall of Jesse Jackson Jr. (at left) through the lens of race, ignoring how widespread the conduct he deplored has become. Public figures fathering a child out of marriage? The e-mailer failed to mention former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R); former senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards; Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.); former New York representative Vito Fossella (R); the late Republican senator Strom Thurmond, a former presidential candidate; or former New Mexico senator Pete Domenici (R) — all of whom did what Jesse Jackson Sr. had done. Misconduct while in public office? The list of violators is endless and spans the racial and religious spectra.

Washington Post, U.S. tech giant named to South Korean Cabinet faces hitch over CIA ties, Thomas Heath, Feb. 23, 2013. He is a scientist and ultra-wealthy, a low-key Navy veteran who could pass unnoticed at a Wizards or Caps game but who happens to be a part owner of both teams. Now Jeong H. Kim, 52, may be about to add another line to his glittering résumé: Cabinet secretary in South Korea, where incoming president Park Geun-hye has tapped him to run the ministry of science and technology. But there is a hitch. Kim’s diverse background also happens to include time working with the Central Intelligence Agency. Now this unassuming Potomac resident is not only becoming a household name half a world away, but he is also setting off a political firestorm there. As president of Bell Labs, Kim developed an advisory relationship with the CIA. In-Q-Tel, where he served as a director, helps the CIA maintain relationships with tech start-ups whose products can help the intelligence community. He also served on the External Advisory Board, an informal group of advisers that counsels the CIA’s top leaders on interactions with businesses and the public. Other members have included former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, investment banker Vernon Jordan and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers.

Washington Post, Maryland’s proposed online ballot system called vulnerable to cyberattack, Aaron C. Davis, Feb. 23, 2013 A controversial change in Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s otherwise popular bill to expand early voting could lead to voter fraud and expose the state’s elections to cybersecurity threats, according to a voting group and election technology experts. The provision, sought for more than a year by Maryland’s State Board of Elections, would allow any Marylander to receive a password by e-mail to download and mark a ballot at home before mailing it back to elections officials. But the problem, critics warn, is that the e-mail system lacks basic protections and there would be no signature verification or other means to ensure that the person for whom the ballot is intended is actually the person who casts it. Experts have also warned that the proposed online ballot delivery system could be hacked on a massive scale because of a second and related vulnerability that still exists with the state’s new online voter registration system. Maryland residents can register to vote online with a driver’s license number. But in Maryland, that number is a formula of a resident’s name and birth date that can be found online.

Wayne Madsen Report, Exclusive: Investigative Author Phil Marshall right-handed but sheriff claims he shot himself in left side of his head, Wayne Madsen, Feb. 22, 2013 (subscription required). Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, right, travelled to the California home of fellow investigative reporter Phil Marshall to explore a local sheriff's prompt verdict that Marshall had killed himself and his two children in their home in a remote community near the Nevada border. Madsen's findings: "New evidence proves sheriff's report inconclusive in Marshall family deaths." Petition: Please sign this petition to the White House for the Department of Justice to investigate the murders of author Phil Marshall and his children. "Author and Iran-contra scandal expert Philip Marshall, his 17-year old son Alex, his 14-year old daughter Macaila, and their pet dog were shot to death on or about January 31, 2013 at their home in Murphys, CA. The Calaveras County Sheriff's Department prematurely contaminated the crime scene and ruled the deaths a murder-suicide by Mr. Marshall even though forensic evidence proves the deaths to be a triple homicide. Mr. Marshall, a retired United Airlines pilot who once worked with DEA/CIA contract employee Barry Seal, himself gunned down in Baton Rouge, LA on Feb. 19, 1986, as well as Iran-contra scandal felon Oliver North, had good reason to fear for his life. The murders of the Marshalls call for a full investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice and the FBI."

Huffington Post,  (VIDEO), Dan Rather: Evening News Isn't What It Used To Be (VIDEO), Feb. 22, 2013. Dan Rather sat down for a wide-ranging interview, and was asked if the "authoritative anchorman" is dead in the current media landscape. "I don't think it's dead, but I do think it's ailing," he replied. He pointed to CBS News' Scott Pelley and NBC News' Brian Williams, saying, "They still are seen as authoritative, but not nearly as was the case as in the times of Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite, or yes, even Dan Rather or Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw."  Dan Rather suggested that evening news anchors are losing their relevance during an appearance on HuffPost Live Friday.  Rather sat down for a wide-ranging interview, and was asked if the "authoritative anchorman" is dead in the current media landscape. "I don't think it's dead, but I do think it's ailing," he replied.

JFKFacts.org, Morley v. CIA: Why I sued for JFK assassination records, Jefferson Morley, Feb. 23, 2013. In reporting on my February 25 federal court date with the CIA, I explained the goals of my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking certain ancient JFK assassination records. But with U.S. government officials impugning my professionalism, I realize I should explain in more detail why — and how — the documents I seek are related to JFK’s assassination. My contention is that at least some of the files I seek are related to JFK’s assassination. If this claim is correct, then certain CIA officials are violating the law in 2013....I have sought to clarify the issue through official channels without success. The staff of the National Archives is responsible for enforcing the JFK Records Act. At my request, interested Archives staffers asked the CIA for permission to review the Joannides files. The CIA refused, saying the matter is under litigation, referring to my case.  The audacity of the CIA is impressive, or appalling, depending on your politics. The agency cites my lawsuit seeking release of certain ancient JFK files as a way of preventing the National Archives from enforcing the JFK Records Act, which requires release of such documents.

Feb. 22

Legal Schnauzer, Alabama Anti-Gambling Activist Faces Tax Burden, Thanks to Money Flow From Riley To Hubbard, Roger Shuler, Feb. 22, 2013. One of Alabama's most prominent anti-gambling activists could face a substantial tax burden because about $1 million in campaign contributions were routed through his non-profit organization to companies owned by House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), sources tell Legal Schnauzer. A. Eric Johnston, director of Citizens for a Better Alabama (CBA), says former Governor Bob Riley, right, funneled the money through CBA to two companies owned by Hubbard, a long-time Riley ally. That revelation came in a report yesterday from Bill Britt at Alabama Political Reporter. Britt hints at a rift between Johnston and his "pro family" organization on the one hand, with Riley and Hubbard on the other--even though all have been seen as prominent conservative voices against gambling. The source of the rift is not clear from Britt's article. But our sources say Johnston's group might lose its tax-exempt status because it accepted funds that wound up with Hubbard's companies. That could leave Johnston with a sizable bill from the IRS, one he did not see coming. "People in Montgomery know that Eric Johnston is sweating," one source says.

OpEd News, Imperial Propaganda: Our Highest Achievement, Joe Giambrone, Feb. 22, 2013. Hollywood likes to pretend that things aren't political when they are. It's that bi-partisan nationalist myth that if both corporate parties agree to cheer for the empire, then everyone cheers for the empire.  It's gotten so bad now that races like the Oscars and the Writer's Guild screenwriting award are tight contests between one CIA propaganda film and another CIA propaganda film.  The first one helps to demonize Iranians and set up the next World War scenario, while the second film fraudulently promotes the effectiveness of state-sanctioned torture crimes. If there ever was a time for loud disgust and rejection of the Hollywood / Military-Industrial-Complex, this would seem to be it.  Naomi Wolf made a comparison of Zero Dark Thirty's creators Bigelow and Boal to Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will).  That, to me, seems inappropriately offensive to Leni Riefenstahl.  The good German filmmaker never promoted torture through deception. Nor was Triumph a call to war. The film was simply an expression of German patriotism and strength, rebirth from the ashes of World War I. The current insidious crop of propaganda, as in the CIA's leaking of fictional scenes about locating Osama Bin Laden through torture extraction, are arguably more damaging and less defensible than Riefenstahl's upfront and blatant homage to Hitler's leadership.

DailyMail, Death from a swarm of tiny drones: U.S. Air Force releases terrifying video of tiny flybots that can can hover, stalk and even kill targets, Michael Zennie, Feb. 19, 2013. The U.S. Air Force is developing tiny unmanned drones that will fly in swarms, hover like bees, crawl like spiders and even sneak up on unsuspecting targets and execute them with lethal precision. The Air Vehicles Directorate, a research arm of the Air Force, has released a computer-animated video outlining the future capabilities of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). The project promises to revolutionize war by down-sizing the combatants. See also, You Tube, Drone after snow, Anthony Cumia,  Feb 11, 2013. The videographer took showed his home area after a snow storm, using a S800 drone.

Washington Post, Washington Post Co. reports 4th quarter loss, Steven Mufson. Feb. 22, 2013. Kaplan unit, newspaper division continued to struggle; revenues at each dropped about 6 percent.

Washington Post, Obama makes immigrants, advocates impatient, Rosalind S. Helderman, Feb. 22, 2013 The anger at President Obama’s deportation policies among some of his otherwise most ardent allies could pose a surprising complication in coming weeks to the delicate negotiations to overhaul the nation’s immigration system that are now underway.  The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any administration in history, provoking deep political tensions that could narrow the president’s ability to make concessions Republicans will probably demand as part of a comprehensive deal.

Feb. 21

OpEd News, Beyond Demonstrations, Beyond Civil Disobedience, Rob Kall, Feb. 21, 2013.  Demonstrations may look grassroots, but they're really top down. A handful of organizers set the time and place and they hope people will show up. Sometimes a handful of powerful or famous people will show up to give talks. It's not that demonstrations don't work at all, but they are so inefficient and usually ineffective, as commenters who participated ten years ago in the massive worldwide anti-Iraq war protests have observed.  The most tame, least effective demonstrations disrupt the least. I think the more effective demonstrations disrupt-- work, traffic, or in some way, business as usual.

WhoWhatWhy, The Saga of Barrett Brown: Inside Anonymous and the War on Secrecy, Christian Stork, Feb. 21, 2013. Alleged “hacktivist” Barrett Brown, the 31-year old mislabeled “spokesman” for the shadowy hacker collective known as Anonymous, faces federal charges that could put him away for over a hundred years. Did he engage in a spree of murders? Run a child-sex ring? Not quite. His crime: making leaked e-mails accessible to the public—documents that shine a light on the shadowy world of intelligence contracting in the post-9/11 era. A critically acclaimed author and provocative journalist, Brown cannot be too easily dismissed as some unruly malcontent typing away in the back of a gritty espresso lounge. He is eccentric. And he was clearly high on something, if only his own hubris, when he made a threatening video that put him in the feds’ crosshairs. But that’s not the real reason for the government’s overreaction. Evidence indicates it has a lot more to do with sending a message to the community he comes from, which the government sees—correctly—as a threat. The Barrett Brown case is simply the latest in a string of prosecutions in which the government pursues anyone involved in making information “liberated” from governmental or corporate entities easily accessible to the public. Those targeted are not necessarily accused of the illegal entry itself (the “hack”) or violating contracts (as in the case of a “leak”). These are people performing a function analogous to that of a newspaper—yet they can face prison sentences longer than those prescribed for murderers, rapists, and terrorists.

Truthout / Buzzflash, John Brennan Was Number Two at the Bush/Cheney CIA During Renditions, Enhanced Interrogations, and the Iraq War, Mark Karlin, Feb. 21, 2013. Given that we are coming up on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, it is worth noting that President Obama's CIA chief nominee, John Brennan, was a Bush/Cheney man at the top level of the intelligence agency during the post 9/11 period. In 1999 he was appointed chief of staff to George Tenet, then-Director of the CIA. Brennan became deputy executive director of the CIA in March 2001. Remember, this was at a time that Cheney, as vice president, was taking unprecedented trips to CIA headquarters in Virginia to muscle the intelligence officers there to create facts to fit the propaganda justification for invading Iraq. There is no indication that Brennan objected or tried to keep the agency independent of the coercion. More than that, Brennan was a cheerleader for torture and rendition, as Glenn Greenwald noted back in 2008, when he expressed concern about Brennan's role as a national security advisor in the Obama White House: "It simply is noteworthy of comment and cause for concern — though far from conclusive about what Obama will do — that Obama’s transition chief for intelligence policy, John Brennan, was an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity."

FireDogLake, Lawrence Lessig Lecture on Aaron Swartz, Law and Justice in the Digital Age, DSWright, Feb.  21, 2013. Lawrence Lessig marked his appointment as Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School with a lecture titled “Aaron’s Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age.” The lecture focuses on the Aaron Swartz case which Lessig says he approaches less as an intellectual and more as a citizen and friend given his extensive personal history with Swartz. Lessig also clarified Swartz’s position on copyright.

Legal Schnauzer, Documents Related To AG's Raid At VictoryLand Prove Luther Strange Trampled All Over The Law, Roger Shuler, Feb. 21, 2013. Attorney General Luther Strange makes the extraordinary assertion in documents related to this week's VictoryLand raid that an Alabama circuit judge has no discretion in the issuance of a search warrant, as long as the application is presented in the proper form. If the application adheres to certain technical requirements, Strange claims, a circuit judge must approve the search warrant. That was the attorney general's primary argument in seeking a writ of mandamus that would force a Macon County judge to approve the warrant. The Alabama Supreme Court apparently agreed because it issued the writ, ordering Judge Thomas Young to sign off on the search.Feb. 20

Washington Post, When solitude is torture, George F. Will, Feb. 21, 2013. Tens of thousands of American prison inmates are kept in protracted solitary confinement that arguably constitutes torture and probably violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Noting that half of all prison suicides are committed by prisoners held in isolation, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has prompted an independent assessment of solitary confinement in federal prisons. State prisons are equally vulnerable to Eighth Amendment challenges concerning whether inmates are subjected to “substantial risk of serious harm.”  America, with 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of its prisoners. Mass incarceration, which means a perpetual crisis of prisoners re-entering society, has generated understanding of solitary confinement’s consequences when used as a long-term condition for an estimated 25,000 inmates in federal and state “supermax” prisons — and perhaps 80,000 others in isolation sections within regular prisons. Clearly, solitary confinement involves much more than the isolation of incorrigibly violent individuals for the protection of other inmates or prison personnel.

New York Times, White House Tactic for C.I.A. Bid Holds Back Drone Memos, Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, Feb. 20, 2013. The administration may deny Senate Democrats information on targeted killings but tell Republicans more about a militant attack in Libya to win confirmation for John O. Brennan as C.I.A. director. Rather than agreeing to some Democratic senators’ demands for full access to the classified legal memos on the targeted killing program, Obama administration officials are negotiating with Republicans to provide more information on the lethal attack last year on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to three Congressional staff members.

Legal Schnauzer, Did AG Luther Strange and Alabama Supreme Court Skirt The Law In Launching A Raid At VictoryLand? Roger Shuler, Feb. 20, 2013.  Did Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange follow proper procedures in seeking a search warrant, which was executed yesterday morning, for the VictoryLand casino in Macon County? Did the Alabama Supreme Court follow established law in ordering that the search warrant move forward? Did Strange have valid grounds for filing a lawsuit, announced yesterday, with the aim of shutting down casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians? The answer to all three questions, based on our initial research, appears to be no. In light of yesterday's events, can Alabamians cite reasons to have faith in our chief law-enforcement officer and our highest court? I can't think of any.

Legal Schnauzer, Ex Wife of CEO Ted Rollins Might Have Been Warned That She Was About To Marry A Child Predator, Roger Shuler, Feb. 20, 2013. Sherry Carroll Rollins did not realize it at the time, but she probably received a warning that her husband-to-be might be a child molester. She was living in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Ted Rollins, and they soon would be married. That's when the strange words came via a phone call from Monica Bulich, the woman who had been married to Ted Rollins previously.

Feb. 19

Huffington Post, Whine Free Zone, Howard Fineman, Feb. 19, 2013. The president jets off to play golf for the weekend at a private resort, leaving the traveling press outside the gates, at a hotel 25 minutes away -- and suddenly there's a full-blown First Amendment crisis. President Obama's lost weekend with Tiger Woods has become the latest iteration of a pervasive media meme: that Obama is "aloof" and that his White House is the most manipulative, secretive and press-averse in modern times. Obama isn't aloof. He talks plenty, just not very often to what used to be called "the national press corps." My advice to colleagues, for what it's worth: stop whining and start (or keep) digging. What about reporters asking serious, substantive questions about policy matters? It's hard to get the simplest answer from the lowest functionary, not to mention an illuminating answer -- on the record or off -- from a higher-up. The White House should (but never will) admit that, Murdoch and Tea Party bloggers aside, it has enjoyed some of the tamest presidential coverage since the early '60s.

Politico, Obama, The puppet master, Jim Vandehei, and Mike Allen, Feb. 19, 2013. In his first term, Obama held brief press availabilities after photos ops or announcements one-third as often as George W. Bush did in his first term — 107 to Bush’s 355. While White House officials deny it is intentional, this administration — like its predecessors — does some good old-fashioned bullying of reporters: making clear there will be no interviews, or even questions at press conferences, if aides are displeased with their coverage.

Feb. 18

Legal Schnauzer, U.S. Supreme Court Must Face A Comedy Of Errors In Considering A Review Of The Paul Minor Case, Roger Shuler, Feb. 18, 2013.  How entrenched is the rot in our federal judiciary? How grotesque is the corruption and incompetence in U.S. courtrooms? Those questions perhaps can best be answered by reviewing the Bush-era Paul Minor prosecution in Mississippi. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) now is considering a petition to review the Minor case and overturn the convictions of three men who went to federal prison for crimes they did not commit--in fact, for "crimes" that do not exist under federal law.

Jerusalem Post, Calling out Terrorism, Gadi Adelman, Feb. 18, 2013. The new White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, says there's "a grave concern" about delays in assembling President Barack Obama's second-term national security team. When dealing with CIA Director-designate John Brennan the “grave concern” should be his ability and fitness for the position, not how long it is taking to approve him.

Feb. 17

New York Times, Voting Rights Act Is Challenged as Cure the South Has Outgrown, Adam Liptak, Feb. 17 2013. Jerome Gray, a 74-year-old black man, has voted in every election since 1974 in this verdant little outpost of some 4,000 people halfway between Mobile and Montgomery. Casting a ballot, he said, is a way to honor the legacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a civil rights landmark born from a bloody confrontation 70 miles north of here, in Selma. The franchise remains fragile in Evergreen, Mr. Gray said. Last summer, he was kicked off the voting rolls by a clerk who had improperly culled the list based on utility records. A three-judge federal court in Mobile barred the city from using the new voting list, invoking Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires many state and local governments, mostly in the South, to obtain permission from the Justice Department or from a federal court in Washington before making changes that affect voting. That provision is also at the heart of one of the marquee cases of the Supreme Court’s term, Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96, which will be argued on Feb. 27. It was brought by Shelby County, near Birmingham, and it contends that the provision has outlived its purpose of protecting minority voters in an era when a black man has been re-elected to the presidency. The Voting Rights Act was a triumph of the civil rights movement. It was a response, the Supreme Court said in upholding it in 1966, to “an insidious and pervasive evil which had been perpetuated in certain parts of our country through unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution.”

Feb. 16

Huffington Post, Obama's Voting Reform Plan All Pomp, Little Circumstance, Jason Linkins, Feb. 16, 2013. It's now pretty much an historical fact that the road to President Barack Obama's re-election ended up running a lot smoother than the hyped-up punditocracy had predicted in advance of Election Day. That is, at least from the perspective of the candidate and his campaign functionaries. Closer to ground-level, Election Day was anything but smooth for large swathes of the electorate, who in many cases encountered long lines, late nights, the usual widespread confusion, or some combination of all three.

Guardian, Obama DOJ again refuses to tell a court whether CIA drone program even exists, Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 14, 2013. The Obama DOJ again tells a court that it cannot safely confirm or deny the existence of the CIA drone program. It is not news that the US government systematically abuses its secrecy powers to shield its actions from public scrutiny, democratic accountability, and judicial review. But sometimes that abuse is so extreme, so glaring, that it is worth taking note of, as it reveals its purported concern over national security to be a complete sham. Such is the case with the Obama DOJ's behavior in the lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the CIA to compel a response to the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Obama's CIA assassination program. That FOIA request seeks nothing sensitive, but rather only the most basic and benign information about the "targeted killing" program: such as "the putative legal basis for carrying out targeted killings; any restrictions on those who may be targeted; any civilian casualties; any geographic limits on the program; the number of targeted killings that the agency has carried out."

Washington Post, Cash-strapped Job Corp's won't take new recruits, Sara Halzack and Josh Hicks, Feb. 16, 2013. The Department of Labor has suspended new enrollment into one of the nation’s largest job-training programs for low-income youths, citing cost overruns that critics have blamed on mismanagement. The Job Corps enrollment freeze could close the door on as many as 30,000 young adults struggling in a troubled economy and could cost about 10,000 staff jobs, according to the association that represents private operators for the program. More than 70 members of Congress from both parties have written to the department requesting explanations for the program’s shortfall, which sources familiar with the budgeting process have pegged at $61.5 million. Two lawmakers have also complained to the White House.

Huffington Post, Paul Krugman: Raising The Minimum Wage Is 'Good Policy,' Staff report, Feb. 16, 2013. Increasing the minimum wage is "actually good policy," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote in a blog post on Saturday. President Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour during his State of the Union address last week. While many on the right say that raising the minimum wage could make it more difficult for employers to hire people and therefore cause higher unemployment, Krugman argued in his post that this simply is not the case. "There just isn’t any evidence that raising the minimum wage near current levels would reduce employment," Krugman wrote, citing a report by John Schmitt from the Center for Economic Policy and Research. 

Feb. 15

Lawfare, John Brennan’s Answers to SSCI Post-Hearing Questions, Jack Goldsmith, Feb. 15, 2013. They are available here.  Lots of interesting stuff on a first quick read, but two thing stand out.  First, in response to the question “Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?,” Brennan gave this non-response, which is sure to lead to more questions and concerns: “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”  And when asked to identify “those specific individuals to whom you expressed concerns (regardless of medium – email, text, conversations, phone calls) about the effectiveness, or legality of the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) program,” he listed no specific individuals but reiterated the nature of his concerns.

Lawfare, Today’s Headlines and Commentary, Raffaela Wakeman, Feb. 15, 2013. Yes: Senate Republicans took an unprecedented step yesterday in preventing the invocation of cloture on their former colleague Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the Secretary of Defense. Here’s The Hill, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. That’s not the only nominee who’s getting delayed; there’s also four-star Army General Lloyd Austin, the White House’s pick to run CENTCOM.  Senators have stalled Austin’s confirmation, while demanding more details about the U.S. draw-down in Afghanistan, Carlo Munoz of The Hill says.

FireDogLake, Every Day the Senate Gets More Idiotic: Chuck Hagel Edition, Jon Walker, Feb. 15, 2013. From its anti-democratic design, to its bizarre rules, to the absurd way it is run, the United States Senate is simply a terrible institution. Yet whenever I think my opinion of the chamber can’t get any lower the Senators manage to find a new way to disappoint me. The recent failure of the cloture vote for Chuck Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary brings Senate stupidity to a new low. If Hagel was unqualified, possibly involved in scandal, determined to have committed a crime, or even if senators were not given enough time to vet Hagel, blocking his nomination might be reasonable. None of that applies in this case. There has been no real scandal, no indication Hagel could not handle the job, and given that many of the Republican senators voting against him served with him for over a decade, they have had plenty of time to form an opinion. As far as I can determine from Republican statements the reasons they are blocking the appointment of a fellow Republican is because he said mean things to Bush, and they wanted to make the White House do something about a completely unrelated matter. This is not advising or consenting. This is childish grudge-settl;ing and political hostage taking. It is hard to know what is more disgraceful, why the minority chose to block Hagel or the fact that the majority has so pathetically abdicated their role by choosing to needlessly give the minority the power to do something so petty and stupid.

Washington Post, The Post's last ombudsman? Patrick B. Pexton, Feb. 15, 2013. It is possible that I’ll be The Washington Post’s last independent ombudsman and that this chair will empty at the conclusion of my two-year term Feb. 28. If so, that will end nearly 43 years of this publication having enough courage and confidence to employ a full-time reader representative and critic. Officially, no final decision has been made. Discussions are underway within The Post about how to respond to reader complaints and concerns without an independent ombudsman. But I think the tea leaves are clear. For cost-cutting reasons, for modern media-technology reasons and because The Post, like other news organizations, is financially weaker and hence even more sensitive to criticism, my bet is that this position will disappear.

Feb. 14

Huffington Post, "They Know We Know It." Get Politicians On The Record About Corruption, Lawrence Lessig, left, and Nick Penniman, Feb. 14, 2013.  "There's another challenge that we must address and it is the corrupting force of the vast sums of money necessary to run for office. The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself." No, that's not a quote from the President Obama's State of the Union address. But it is from a recent speech by the newest member of his cabinet: John Kerry. We both were struck by Kerry's candidness and eloquence on the matter of money in politics as he gave his farewell address to the Senate, where he has spent the last 28 years of his life. We were so struck, in fact, that we - and our good friends at HuffPost, including Arianna -- need your help. We're calling it the On the Record Project. We need to get every member of the House and Senate on the record about the force "that threatens to steal our democracy itself."

Washington Post, Senators turn the tables on Caymans investor Jack Lew, Dana Milbank, Feb. 14, 2013. President Obama won reelection in part by beating up on his opponent for receiving big corporate payouts in exchange for dubious work and for socking away money in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. So it’s a bit, well, rich that Obama chose as his new Treasury secretary a man who received a big corporate payout for dubious work and who socked away money in the Cayman Islands. [Jack Lew, the president's nominee for Treasury secretary, is shown at right.]

Washington Post, Senate Republicans filibuster Hagel nomination, Paul Kane, Feb. 15, 2013. Senate Republicans delivered a sharp rebuke to President Obama on Thursday when they began a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense. The confirmation process stalled Thursday when GOP senators deprived Hagel of the 60 votes needed to move it to its final stages. Republicans said they were seeking a delay so they could look more closely at the nominee.

Roll Call, Hagel Confirmation Fight Revives Debate Over Senate's Filibuster Rules, Niels Lesniewski and Humberto Sanchez, Feb. 14, 2013, The ongoing debate over confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be Defense secretary took a detour Thursday into a partisan disagreement over what constitutes a filibuster. Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats said the 58-40 cloture vote, short of the 60 needed to limit debate, represented a filibuster by GOP senators.

Huffington Post, False Spontaneity of the Tea Party, Al Gore, Feb. 14, 2013. A  new study by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Medicine reveals that the Tea Party Movement was planned over a decade ago by groups with ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote the anti-science, anti-government agenda of powerful corporate interests. The two organizations mentioned in the report, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, used to be a single organization that was founded by the Koch brothers and heavily financed by the tobacco industry. These organizations began planning the Tea Party Movement over ten years ago to promote a common agenda that advocated market fundamentalism over science and opposed any regulation or taxation of fossil fuels and tobacco products. The disturbing history of links between market fundamentalists, the tobacco industry and the Tea Party movement is part of an even larger trend that I describe in my new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Following the era of Progressive and New Deal reforms that restrained corporate influence in American politics following the infamous Robber Baron Era, market fundamentalists were once again motivated and radicalized by the social turbulence of the 1960s. In 1971, a prominent lawyer for the tobacco industry, Lewis Powell, wrote a memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that presented a comprehensive plan aimed at shifting the balance of political power in favor of corporations. President Nixon appointed Powell to the Supreme Court just two months later.

Washington Post, Obama's proposed voting commission under partisan fire from both sides, Nia-Malika Henderson and Felicia Sonmez, Feb. 14, 2013. Some conservatives see initiative as federal overreach; some voting rights advocates say plan is too timid..

Washington Post, Senators delay vote on Brennan, seek more information about drone campaign, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Feb. 14, 2013. A Senate confirmation vote on John O. Brennan as CIA director has been postponed for at least two weeks as lawmakers step up pressure on the Obama administration to provide more information about its drone campaign against terrorism suspects. In particular, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she is seeking seven Justice Department memos related to the administration’s targeted killing program, in addition to four the committee has been allowed to view.

Huffington Post, Chuck Hagel Confirmation: Senate Vote Fails To End Filibuster On Obama Pick, Sabrina Siddiqui, Feb. 14, 2012. Senate Republicans successfully foiled attempts to confirm Chuck Hagel for the post of defense secretary on Thursday, by denying him the 60 votes needed for the nomination to proceed. Democrats ultimately came up short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and end the Republicans' filibuster, with a final vote count of 58 to 40. Republican Sens. Mike Johanns (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats in their failed effort to end debate. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voted present. The nomination is hardly dead. In fact, it looks increasingly likely that Democrats will be able to muster the needed votes to confirm Hagel's nomination after a 10-day recess.

Associated Press/Washington Post, AP Exclusive: Documents sketch close dealings of Nixon, Clinton, on Russia, foreign affairs, Feb. 14, 2013.  In the final months of his life, Richard Nixon quietly advised President Bill Clinton on navigating the post-Cold War world, even offering to serve as a conduit for messages to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other government officials, newly declassified documents show. Memos and other records show Nixon’s behind-the-scenes relations with the Clinton White House. The documents are part of an exhibit opening Friday at the Nixon Presidential Library, marking the centennial of his birth. Clinton has talked often of his gratitude to Nixon for his advice on foreign affairs, particularly Russia. In a video that will be part of the exhibit, Clinton recalls receiving a letter from the 37th president shortly before his death on April 22, 1994, at a time when Clinton was assessing U.S. relations "in a world growing ever more interdependent and yet ungovernable." At left, Richard Nixon meets Bill Clinton at the White House in 1994 (Richard Nixon Foundation Photo).

Huffington Post, Law Enforcement Alliance Of America, NRA Front-Group, Spends Millions To Elect Pro-Gun Judges, Christina Wilkie, Feb. 14, 2013. The National Rifle Association has spent more than $2 million to fund a group that helps elect conservative pro-gun judges and state attorneys general, people likely to rule in court and try cases that will be favorable to the gun lobbying interests. The group is called the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA), and details of the NRA's funding are laid out in a new report issued Thursday by the nonprofit Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-leaning think tank. The LEAA does not disclose its donors, but CAP researchers analyzed NRA tax returns and public records to determine that the group was founded in 1991 with money from the NRA, and has received a steady stream of payments from the nation's largest gun lobbying group ever since. The report found that the LEAA also has received money from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Institute for Political Economy, While Left And Right Fight, Power Wins, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 14, 2013. We have a government whose elected members are beholden to a private oligarchy, consisting of the military/security complex, Wall Street and the financial sector, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and the energy, mining, and timber businesses, with the power to shut down people’s protests at their exploitation by robber barons and government alike. Vast amounts of government debt have been added to taxpayers’ burdens in order to fight wars that only benefit the military/security complex and the Israel Lobby. More vast amounts have been added in order to force taxpayers to cover the reckless gambling bets of the financial sector. Taxpayers are denied interest on their savings in order to protect the balance sheets of a corrupt financial sector. Legitimate protestors are brutalized by police and equated by Homeland Security with “domestic extremists,” defined by Homeland Security as a close relation to terrorists. Today Americans are not safe from government or private power and suffer at the hands of both. What can be done? From within, probably very little. The right blames the left, and the left blames the right.

Feb. 13

Black Agenda Report, Obama’s State of the Corporate Union, Glen Ford, right, Feb. 13, 2013.  President Obama’s State of the Union address makes it official: the 2012 election has brought us back to 2011, when the outlines of his grand bargain with the Republicans became clear. In his vision for future, “austerity in people’s programs is traded for tax breaks for corporations that will, in totally discredited theory, bring back the jobs they had outsourced overseas.” It was an impassioned performance by a cynical politician who offers little but corporate tax incentives and continued austerity. Barack Obama peppered his State of the Union address with up-tempo buzzwords about illusory “progress,” but the president’s substantive message was that he is determined to complete the austerity bargain he struck with the Republicans in 2011. Thus, it is a sign of “progress” that “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances” – meaning, he will collaborate with the GOP in cutting almost $2 trillion more. The big cuts will come from those programs that enjoy overwhelming support among Americans. He claims to be with them in spirit while opposing them in practice. “Those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms – otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.” His reasoning is identical to the Republicans, who say these programs must be bled, or die.

Washington Post, Hagel confirmation will take 60 votes, Paul Kane, Feb. 13, 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion Wednesday to begin the confirmation debate of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, setting up a vote by Friday that would require 60 votes to cut off a potential filibuster by Republicans. Democrats had been hoping to avoid needing a supermajority to clear the confirmation hurdles for Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska whose centrist views on national security drew stern rebukes from his former Senate Republican colleagues during hearings before the Armed Services Committee last week

Huffington Post Live, Obama's Voting #Fail, Jacob Soboroff and Alyona Minkovski, Feb. 13, 2013 (7-minute video). The President talked voting rights during the SOTU, but he failed to impress Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., who joins us.

Legal Schnauzer, Joe Biden Provides Hope That Obama White House Finally Will Get Serious About The Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, Feb. 13, 2013. The Obama administration's performance on justice issues has been dismal so far, but Vice President Joe Biden recently provided a glimmer of hope that the White House might be starting to get serious. And that could have an impact on the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, which generally is seen as the most blatant political prosecution in U.S. history.

Guardian/OpEd News, Italy's Ex-Intelligence Chief Given 10-Year Sentence For Role In CIA Kidnapping, Glenn Greenwald, Feb. 13, 2013.  To see just how extreme the US "culture of impunity" is, consider the extraordinary 2003 kidnapping by the CIA of the Muslim cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (Abu Omar), from the streets of Milan. Nasr, who in 2001 had been granted asylum by Italy from persecution in Egypt, was abducted by the CIA and then shipped back to Egypt where he was imprisoned for four years without charges and, he says, brutally tortured by America's long-standing ally, the Mubarak regime. Der Spiegel described just what a standard kidnapping it was: Nasr "was seized in broad daylight on the open street, pushed into a white van, taken to the Aviano military airport and then flown to Egypt via the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany." Yesterday, an Italian appellate court sentenced the country's former intelligence chief, Niccolo Pollari, to 10 years in prison "for complicity" in that kidnapping. In other words, not only did the CIA kidnap Nasr and deliberately send him to an allied regime notorious for torture -- a serious crime no matter who he was -- but, as it turns out, he was guilty of absolutely nothing. What made him a kidnapping target was that, according to the New York Times, his "anti-American speeches and calls to jihad were resonating with young Muslim men who were attending his Islamic center." Yesterday's 10-year sentence was based on a 2010 finding by an Italian judge that "the Italian secret service was most likely aware of, 'and perhaps complicit in,' the operation." In 2009, an Italian criminal court found 23 individual CIA agents (including the Milan station chief, Robert Lady) guilty of kidnapping and other crimes, but was forced to try them in abstentia because the US (first under Bush and then Obama) pressured the Italian government to suppress extradition requests issued by Italian courts to compel those CIA agents to travel to Italy to stand trial. This entire case reveals vital facts about the culture of impunity for high-level officials that prevails in the US even when they commit the most egregious crimes.

Feb. 12

Institute for Political Economy/OpEd News, Obama's Expanding Kill List, Paul Craig Roberts, left, Feb. 12, 2013. Prosecutors always expand laws far beyond their intent. Attorneys in civil cases do the same. For example, the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was passed in order to make it easier for the government to convict members of the Mafia. However, the law, despite its intent, was quickly expanded by prosecutors and attorneys and used in cases against pro-life activists, Catholic bishops, corporations accused of hiring illegal immigrants, and in divorce cases. "Junk bond king" Michael Milken, a person with no ties to organized crime, was threatened with indictment under the RICO Act. Prosecutors have found that the asset freeze provision in the Act is a convenient way to prevent a defendant from being able to pay attorneys and, therefore, makes it easier for prosecutors to coerce innocent defendants into a guilty plea. We are now witnessing the expansion of Obama's Kill List. The list began under the Bush regime as a rationale for murdering suspect citizens of countries with which the US was not at war. The Obama regime expanded the scope of the list to include the execution, without due process of law, of US citizens accused, without evidence presented in court, of association with terrorism. The list quickly expanded to include the American teen-age son of a cleric accused of preaching jihad against the West. The son's "association" with terrorism apparently was his blood relationship to his father.

Fox News, Brennan-led secret raids may have led to Benghazi retaliation, book claims, Staff report, Feb. 12, 2013. Former CIA Director David Petraeus and other top intelligence officials were kept out of the loop on secret raids in Libya which may have triggered the attacks on the U.S. Consulate last year, according to a new book out Tuesday. According to the authors -- a former Navy SEAL and former Army Ranger -- the man tapped by President Obama to lead the CIA in his second term, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, was behind those classified "combat operations" which were allegedly conducted in the run-up to the September 2012 terror attack. The e-book, called "Benghazi: The Definitive Report," covered a number of behind-the-scenes claims, including that Petraeus was ensnared by a "palace coup" at the CIA that ultimately helped expose his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell. But the fresh claims about Benghazi fuel a debate that has simmered steadily since last year about what led to the Benghazi attack. Brennan is fielding questions in a classified Senate committee meeting Tuesday, as part of his nomination to lead the CIA and Libya is likely to come up. The new book, by Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb, describes highly classified operations that were conducted against Libya militants after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi. "Brennan waged his own unilateral operations in North Africa outside of the traditional command structure," the book says, calling it an "off the books" operation not coordinated with Petraeus and the CIA. The authors then claim that these raids were a "contributing factor" in the militant strike on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex on Sept. 11. The raids, they said, "kicked the hornets' nest and pissed off the militia." While highly critical of Brennan, the authors also go on to detail tensions at the highest levels of the CIA. They claim that, while the FBI had already been investigating Petraeus and Broadwell, officials inside the CIA aided and encouraged that investigation. The officials, according to the book, were disappointed with Petraeus for "pursuing paramilitary operations" and allegedly moving the CIA away from its "roots in intelligence collection." Further, the book claimed Petraeus' bodyguards helped spill the beans on Petraeus' affair. It was well known to Petraeus' Personal Security Detachment (bodyguards) that he and Broadwell were having an affair. He wasn't the only high-ranking Agency head or general engaged in extramarital relations, but when the 7th floor wanted Petraeus out, they cashed in their chips," they wrote. "The reality of the situation is that high-ranking CIA officers had already discovered the affair by consulting with Petraeus' PSD and then found a way to initiate an FBI investigation in order to create a string of evidence and an investigative trail that led to the information they already had -- in other words, an official investigation that could be used to force Petraeus to resign."  The White House has not responded to a request for comment on the book.

Feb. 11

WhoWhatWhy, US Media Double Standard–on Uprisings in Syria and Uprisings in the US, Russ Baker, Feb. 11, 2013. A recent article in the New York Times underlined the double standard at the heart of mainstream news coverage of the conflict in Syria—and of unrest back home in the United States. Under the headline “A Faceless Teenage Refugee Who Helped Ignite Syria’s War,” the Times tells the story of bold teenagers whose acts launched the uprising that will likely lead to the end of the long-running Assad family dictatorship in Syria. The overall tone of the article is that the young man is a brave figure, to be admired. And, of course, that is correct. The problem is this: how would the New York Times react to a teenager in New York setting fire to a new police kiosk? How would it react to graffiti sprayed on the wall of the New York Times’s new headquarters building?

Huffington Post, Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaire Koch Brothers, Brendan DeMelle, Feb. 11, 2013.  A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene. Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry's role in driving climate disruption. The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party's anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.

Legal Schnauzer, "Your Honor" In Michigan Gets A Witness Pregnant To Join Our Growing List of "Judges Gone Wild," Roger Shuler (with pet schnauzer at right), Feb. 11, 2013. A judge in Detroit has been suspended after reports that he was having sex with a woman who had a child-support case in his court. For good measure, the judge has been accused of getting the woman pregnant.  Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree has worked to earn his title as "Detroit's Sex Judge." In April 2012, he made headlines by sending nude photos of himself via text to a married court bailiff. Did McCree display any remorse on that occasion? Not exactly. His response, upon being confronted with the photos, was, "Hot dog, yep, that's me. There's no shame in my game."  McCree fits right in with other "Judges Gone Wild" we've covered here at Legal Schnauzer. Our favorite has to be Jack Camp, the U.S. district judge from Atlanta who was arrested on drug and weapons charges stemming from his relationship with a stripper. But McCree is coming up fast on the outside, and here is how, from a report about "Your Honor's" most recent escapades.

OpEdNews, Roger Shuler Muses on Justice Department's Odd Priorities, Joan Brunwasser, left, Feb. 10, 2013. How is this for irony? The Democratic Party, since passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, has consistently stuck its neck out to stand up for justice issues. In the process, it has paid a huge electoral price, just as Lyndon Johnson predicted. But now we have our first black president turning his back on the very justice issues that have given his party its moral authority.

Legal Schnauzer, A Skillful Interviewer Helps Yours Truly Shine Light On The Obama Administration's Justice Priorities, Roger Shuler, Feb. 11, 2013. The Q & A is one of my favorite journalism formats. In the hands of a skillful practitioner, a question-and-answer session can shine light on issues that might be missed or hidden in a standard narrative. For my money, Joan Brunwasser of OpEd News is one of the most astute interviewers in the world of progressive online news. I've had the honor of being Joan's subject on a number of occasions, usually on matters related to the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Daily Howler, Turse and Moyers discuss our “forbidden history!” Bob Somerby, Feb. 11, 2013. Journalist Nick Turse describes his personal mission to compile a complete and compelling account of the Vietnam War’s horror as experienced by all sides, including innocent civilians who were sucked into its violent vortex. “American culture has never fully come to grips with Vietnam,” Turse tells Bill Moyers, referring to “hidden and forbidden histories that just haven’t been fully engaged.” We were struck by Turse’s use of that term—forbidden histories. Forbidden histories are the flip side of those journalistic legends and facts. It’s interesting that John Kerry is involved in this forbidden history, because he also played a starring role in the string of legends and myths which began in 1987, a year when our political journalism changed. In 1987, the mainstream press corps initiated its long, inane, disgraceful war against a string of Democratic White House candidates. They took down Biden and Hart in that cycle, tried hard to take down Gore. Paul Krugman keeps telling a forbidden story, although he doesn’t seem to see that his story is forbidden — that no matter how many times he tells it, it will be completely ignored. (And mocked.) Career liberals will agree not to care. Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! Careers hang in the balance!

Feb. 10

Huffington Post, Lindsey Graham Plans To Block Chuck Hagel, John Brennan To Get Answers On Benghazi (VIDEO), Amanda Terkel, Feb. 10, 2013.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), left, plans to block two of President Barack Obama's top national security nominees until he gets answers from the White House on the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Graham said he was not going to let Chuck Hagel go forward as Secretary of Defense nor let John Brennan move ahead as CIA director unless he gets more information on the president's involvement in the response to the consulate attack that resulted in the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

Daily Mail (United Kingdom), David Petraeus was brought down after betrayal by vengeful CIA agents and his own bodyguards who made sure his affair was exposed, claims new book, Michael Zennie, Feb. 10, 2013. The revelations come from 'Benghazi: The Definitive Report,' written by Brandon Webb, a retired Navy SEAL, and Jack Murphy, a former Army Ranger and Green Beret. EXCLUSIVE: David Petraeus was brought down after betrayal by vengeful CIA agents and his own bodyguards who made sure his affair was exposed, claims new book. Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL, and Jack Murphy, a former Green Beret, reveal the new claims in their book 'Benghazi: The Definitive Report.' Petraeus was humiliated after a 'palace coup' by high-level intelligence officers who did not like the way he was running the CIA, authors say. The book also claims that Petraeus and Ambassador Chris Stevens were caught off guard by Benghazi consulate attack because they weren't briefed about on-goi. U.S. military operations in Libya. Webb and Murphy say Benghazi attack was a retaliation for secret raids authorized by Obama security adviser John Brennan.

Associated Press/Huffington Post, Dick Cheney Criticizes Obama National Security Appointees In Speech, Bob Moen, Feb. 10, 2003. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military. "The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal," Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party. Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation's national security that "good folks" hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.

FireDogLake, FDL Book Salon Welcomes Sam Pizzigati, The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, John Cavanagh,  Sunday February 10, 2013. I can think of few books about a slice of American history that have more relevance to the vital debates of today than Sam Pizzigati’s “The Rich Don’t Always Win.” Sam’s book tells the story of how the United States, one of the world’s most unequal societies in the early 1900s, became by the middle of the 20th century one of the most equal nations on earth. He shows how average Americans, organized in the labor and other movements, mobilized and vanquished a plutocracy even more powerful than ours today.  Why is this relevant to today? Well, starting with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the U.S. government — fueled by a far right ideology — passed “free market” taxes and other policies that left the nation once again as one of the most unequal on earth by the beginning of this century. 

Feb. 8

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), The cost of Obama's secret drone war, PJ Crowley (a former admiral and assistant U.S. Secretary of State), Feb. 8, 2013. By the time John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, finished three hours of public testimony before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, two things were clear. First, Mr Brennan will be confirmed. And second, despite nearly a dozen years of war, there are profound disagreements both within the United States and beyond about how this conflict has been and should be waged. Mr. Brennan provided a forceful defense of the Obama administration's war against al-Qaeda over the past four years, particularly its increased employment of drones in various countries he declined to specify. He made clear that the administration believes it has the legal authority to use lethal force in self-defence against al-Qaeda and associated forces wherever there is an imminent threat against the United States and capture is not feasible. "The drone campaign undercuts the very civilian government the United States is spending billions in aid to build up.” The committee was clearly supportive of the continued use of drones in the ongoing war against al-Qaeda. Americans by a wide margin share this view. But that is not the case outside the United States. The rest of the world questions the legality of their use, viscerally so in a country such as Pakistan, where drone attacks increased significantly during President Obama's first term. While Mr. Brennan declined to discuss where drones are employed, Ambassador Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, displayed no such reticence. In a discussion with reporters in Washington two days before Mr. Brennan's testimony, she made clear that the civilian government in Islamabad views America's continued deployment of drones as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, as well as strategically counter-productive. "We need to drain this swamp and instead it [the drone campaign] is radicalising people," Ambassador Rehman said. Pakistani demonstrators shout anti-US slogans during a protest in Multan on 8 January 2013 Some 74% of Pakistanis polled by Pew last year termed the US an "enemy." "It creates more potential terrorists on the ground and militants on the ground instead of taking them out. If it's taking out, say, a high-value or a medium-value target, it's also creating probably an entire community of future recruits." Recent polling tends to support Ambassador Rehman's view. An estimated 74% of Pakistanis polled by Pew last year termed the United States an "enemy." Drones are a clear factor.

New York Times, Debating a Court to Vet Drone Strikes, Scott Shane, Feb. 8, 2013. Since 1978, a secret court in Washington has approved national security eavesdropping on American soil — operations that for decades had been conducted based on presidential authority alone. Now, in response to broad dissatisfaction with the hidden bureaucracy directing lethal drone strikes, there is an interest in applying the model of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court — created by Congress so that surveillance had to be justified to a federal judge — to the targeted killing of suspected terrorists, or at least of American suspects. “We’ve gone from people scoffing at this to it becoming a fit subject for polite conversation,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas. He said court approval for adding names to a counterterrorism kill list — at least for American citizens abroad — “is no longer beyond the realm of political possibility.” A drone court would face constitutional, political and practical obstacles, and might well prove unworkable, according to several legal scholars and terrorism experts. But with the war in Afghanistan winding down, Al Qaeda fragmenting into hard-to-read offshoots and the 2001 terrorist attacks receding into the past, they said, it is time to consider how to forge a new, trustworthy and transparent system to govern lethal counterterrorism operations.

Guardian, Drone attacks and new NDAA law under fire as critics fear US civil liberties are being undermined, Paul Harris, Feb. 9, 2013. President Barack Obama is facing a liberal backlash over his hardline national security policy, which critics say is more extreme and conservative than that pursued by George W Bush. The outrage comes after a week in which Obama's nominee to be the next head of the CIA, current White House adviser John Brennan, faced a grilling from the Senate intelligence committee over his enthusiastic support of using unmanned drones to strike suspected Islamic militants all over the globe. It also comes after a court hearing in New York in which numerous liberal activists and journalists argued that a new Obama law – the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) – has dealt a serious blow to civil liberties by allowing American citizens to be detained indefinitely without trial.

Feb. 7

Washington Post, In heated exchanges at Senate hearing, Brennan defends drone strike policies, Greg Miller, Feb. 6, 2013. CIA director nominee expresses dismay with way administration’s actions have been perceived.A Senate hearing on the nomination of John O. Brennan to serve as CIA director exposed deep skepticism of key aspects of the Obama administration’s approach to fighting terrorism, including its unprecedented reliance on targeted killing and the secrecy it maintains around the exercise of that lethal power. Brennan, who served as the White House’s top counterterrorism adviser for the past four years, was challenged in often blunt terms to explain why under President Obama the number of drone strikes has soared while captures of terrorism suspects have dwindled to single digits. He was prodded to defend the administration’s refusal to provide basic information, including the death toll in drone strikes, and was asked to square his assertion that he opposed the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation measures with not trying to stop them while he was in the agency’s leadership ranks during the George W. Bush administration.

Washington Post, Panetta: Pentagon backed arming Syrian opposition groups, Associated Press, Feb. 7, 2013. Top Pentagon leaders said for the first time Thursday that the Defense Department backed the idea of providing arms to opposition groups in Syria.Until Thursday, the Pentagon had only said publicly that U.S. policy is to give only humanitarian assistance to rebels battling President Bashar Assad’s regime. Providing arms has been the subject of ongoing internal administration debate. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Barack Obama made the final decision against arming the rebels. “Obviously there were a number of factors that were involved here that ultimately led to the president’s decision to make it nonlethal,” Panetta said. “I supported his decision in the end.”

Huffington Post, Gulf War Syndrome, Other Illnesses Among Veterans May Be Due To Toxic Environments, Lynne Peeples, Feb. 7, 2013. In 1991, as part of Operation Desert Storm, former U.S. Ar  injuries inflicted by bullets or shrapnel.
"It's just been one thing after another," said the veteran, who now resides in Miami and whose ailments run the gamut from lung disease and sleep apnea to, most recently, terminal breast cancer. "At one point," she said, "I was on over 50 pills." Former Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tim Wymore, who was deployed to Iraq in 2004, suffers from an array of health problems that mirror Lovett's. "Everyone has the same things," said Wymore, who has inexplicably shed 40 pounds in the last few months. "It's just weird."

Huffington Post, John Brennan Confirmation Hearing: Obama CIA Director Pick Faces Senate Intelligence Committee, Kimberly Dozier, Feb. 7, 2013. President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA faces a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing just hours after lawmakers are expected to receive a classified report providing the rationale for drone strikes targeting Americans working with al-Qaida overseas.John Brennan, right, the White House counterterrorism chief and Obama's nominee to run the nation's spy agency, helped manage the drone program. The confirmation hearing Thursday sets the stage for a public airing of some of the most controversial programs in the covert war on al-Qaida, from the deadly drone strikes to the CIA's use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding during President George W. Bush's administration.

Huffington Post, John Brennan And Warrantless Wiretapping, Matt Sledge, Feb. 7, 2013. It's been all drones and all John Brennan all the time this week: ever since Michael Isikoff dropped his bombshell about an administration white paper justifying targeted killing on Monday, everyone's been talking about flying death robots. Last night the White House announced that it would allow Congress access to the Office of Legal Counsel memos that lay out why it thinks it can kill American citizens. Today John Brennan gets grilled by the Senate Intelligence Committee. In all this talk about targeted killing (and remember, it's not just drones), it's easy to forget that John Brennan has also been at the heart of two other high-profile national security controversies. One was the CIA's torture program, which Brennan was aware of but did not object to during the Bush administration. The other is warrantless wiretapping. During the Bush administration, said journalist James Bamford, author of several books on the National Security Agency, it is likely that Brennan would have known about the secretive program that allowed spy agencies to listen in on Americans' phone calls without a warrant.

The Hill, Karl Rove: The biggest loser, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator, Tea Party Patriots, Feb. 7, 2013. While Barack Obama is busy shredding the Constitution, Washington, D.C. insider Karl Rove is busy trying to destroy what is left of the Republican Party by launching a multi-million dollar Super PAC to usurp representative democracy, disenfranchise American voters, and concentrate even more power in Washington DC. Rove, at left,  and the professional “consultant class” think that only Washington D.C. insiders like them – not the American people – should get to decide who runs for public office. That’s why he is launching the “Conservative Victory Project” – a Super PAC whose mandate is to wrestle local decision-making power away from the American people, so that only Washington DC insiders can hand-pick our candidates – against our will – again. What happened the last time Washington D.C. insiders hand-picked our candidate? We got Mitt Romney; a man who struggled day after day to articulate a conservative position on the economy, which the consultant class told us was the area of his expertise. The result of their “brilliant” campaign: four more years of Barack Obama. That’s what happens when the consultant class decides what’s best for American citizens. They listen to focus groups instead of our founding fathers.  They value polling over principle. And they choose mushy establishment candidates over strong, principled conservatives. Their results speak for themselves. Barack Obama is still president. Harry Reid is still Senate majority leader. And Speaker John Boehner is still caving in to his Democratic opponents almost every chance he gets. It is laughable that Rove is calling his new “command and control” group the “Conservative Victory Project.” First: it is not a “Conservative” project. It is a project designed to shut out real conservatives, and to protect establishment Republican candidates who are hand-picked by a small cabal of Washington DC know-it-alls – over the objections of the American people.

Huffington Post, Drones Memo Not Shared With Senate Staffers: Dianne Feinstein, Ryan J. Reilly, Feb. 7, 2013.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) revealed Thursday that the government refused to allow staffers with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to view the memo that lays out the legal rationale for the government’s targeted killing program. “Our staff were banned from seeing it this morning,” Feinstein told John Brennan at a hearing on his confirmation as CIA director. “We have lawyers and very good staff. This is upsetting to a number of members. We depend on our staff because you can't take material home. You can't take notes with you, so the staff becomes very important.”

Institute for Political Economy, It Has Happened Here, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 7, 2013. The Bush regime’s response to 9/11 and the Obama regime’s validation of this response have destroyed accountable democratic government in the United States. So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document....Just consider the wrongful conviction of Alabama’s Democratic governor, Don Siegelman by what apparently was a Karl Rove plot to rid the South of Democratic governors. The “Democratic” Obama regime has not investigated this false prosecution or given clemency to its innocent own. Remember how quickly Bush removed the prison sentence of Cheney’s operative who revealed the name of a CIA undercover agent? The Democrats are a cowed and cowardly political party, fearful of justice, and as much a part of the corrupt police state as the Republicans. Today the purpose of a prosecution is to serve the prosecutor’s career and that of the party that appoints him or her. A prosecutor’s career is served by high conviction rates, which require plea bargains in which the evidence against a defendant is never tested in court or before a jury, and by high profile cases, which can launch a prosecutor into a political career, as Rudy Giuliana achieved with his frame-up of Michael Milken. The US actually has more of its citizens in prison than “authoritarian” China which has a population four times larger than the US. 

Fox News, Wireless exec with ties to Obama wins contract to supply poor with smartphones, Feb. 7, 2013. A cellphone company run by a major Democratic donor and President Obama backer has extended its foray into government contracts, from the so-called “Obama phone” to a project intended to provide high-speed Internet access to low-income families -- amid criticism its product is ill-equipped. Critics also suggest TracFone Wireless CEO F.J. Pollak used his Obama connections to help his company get one of the 14 contracts. At issue is a $13.8 million pilot project by the Federal Communications Commission that attempts to find the best ways to increase the broadband access rate among the poor and help improve their digital skills – to eventually help them manage household finances, look for work and do other tasks. The contracts were awarded late last year. The maximum support for the project is $915,000. Pollak and his wife, Abigail, are major Obama bundlers and Democratic donors. The couple hosted a $40,000-a-plate fundraising dinner in June at their Miami Beach home. And Abigail Pollak alone raised at least $632,000 for the Obama re-election effort, a total $1.56 million for him since 2007, according to a financial documents obtained by The New York Times. "That has absolutely nothing to do with business,” Jose Fuentes, a spokesman for TracFone's parent company, America Movil, told the Washington Times. “There's been no pay-for-play — or even favors. What he does in his private time is his."

Feb. 6

Washington Post, Menendez tried to help donor in billing dispute, Carol D. Leonnig and Jerry Markon, Feb. 6, 2013.  Democratic N.J. senator raised concerns with federal health-care officials about their finding that a Florida doctor’s clinic had overbilled the government by $8.9M. Sen. Robert Menendez, left, raised concerns with top federal health-care officials twice in recent years about their finding that a Florida eye doctor — a close friend and major campaign donor — had overbilled the government by $8.9 million for care at his clinic, Menendez aides said Wednesday. Menendez (D-N.J.) initially contacted federal officials in 2009 about the government’s audit of Salomon Melgen, complaining to the director overseeing Medicare payments that it was unfair to penalize the doctor because the billing rules were ambiguous, the aides said. Last year, in a meeting with the acting administrator of the agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid, Menendez again questioned whether federal auditors had been fair in their assessment of Melgen’s billing for eye injections to treat macular degeneration, the senator’s aides said.

Washington Post, Obama will let lawmakers, see targeted-killings memo, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, Feb. 6, 2013. Dispute over justification to kill American terrorism suspects overseas threatened to derail hearing for CIA pick Brennan. President Obama yielded Wednesday to congressional demands that he provide access to a secret legal memo on the targeted killing of American terrorism suspects overseas, avoiding a confrontation that threatened the confirmation of John O. Brennan as his new CIA director. Obama directed the Justice Department to hand over the document to the two intelligence committees “as part of the president’s ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters,” an administration official said.

Feb. 5

New York Times, With Brennan Pick, a Light on Drone Strikes’ Hazards, Robert F. Worth, Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, Feb.5, 2013. The chief architect of a clandestine campaign of targeted killings, John O. Brennan, will face a Senate hearing Thursday as President Obama’s nominee for C.I.A. director.  Late last August, a 40-year-old cleric named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber stood up to deliver a speech denouncing Al Qaeda in a village mosque in far eastern Yemen. As the five men stood arguing by a cluster of palm trees, a volley of remotely operated American missiles shot down from the night sky and incinerated them all, along with a camel that was tied up nearby. The killing of Mr. Jaber, just the kind of leader most crucial to American efforts to eradicate Al Qaeda, was a reminder of the inherent hazards of the quasi-secret campaign of targeted killings that the United States is waging against suspected militants not just in Yemen but also in Pakistan and Somalia. Individual strikes by the Predator and Reaper drones are almost never discussed publicly by Obama administration officials. But the clandestine war will receive a rare moment of public scrutiny on Thursday, when its chief architect, John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faces a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama’s nominee for C.I.A. director.

Huffington Post, The Rule of Law or the Rule of Men? Ralph Nader, Feb. 5, 2013. Last week, the State Department reassigned the official responsible for the "diplomatic issues" pertaining to the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison. This was a telling sign that the Obama administration is abandoning its long-held but little-fought-for promise of closing that notorious facility where a majority of prisoners proved to be innocent, often victims of bounty hunters in Afghanistan during 2001 and 2002. With this new development, infinite detention has become ingrained in the woodwork of the government. The Obama administration has failed to present a viable path forward in ending this cruel and inhumane practice. As such, the military will continue to "detain" prisoners that it classifies as terrorists or supporters of terrorists without charges, without trial, and without any oversight. Furthermore, the language used to describe this detention authorization is so broad that many argue that even American citizens are now susceptible to indefinite imprisonment. So much for habeas corpus!

Washington Post, U.S. has secret drone base in Saudi Arabia, Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, Feb. 5, 2013. John Brennan’s CIA nomination opens Obama to scrutiny over targeted-killing policies that the administration has fought to keep hidden, including the establishment of the facility two years ago in the kingdom.

Washington Post, The Justice Department’s chilling ‘targeted killings’ memo, James Downie, Feb. 5, 2013. On Monday night, NBC News’s Michael Isikoff published a Justice Department memo justifying the “targeted killings” — without due process — of U.S. citizens who are leaders in al-Qaeda or “associated forces” but are “outside the area of hostile activities,” such as Afghanistan. The document is based on a still-classified memo on targeted killings of U.S. citizens prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The summary memo is a chilling document, full of twisted definitions, gaping loopholes and hints that the White House still isn’t sharing its full justification for killing citizens without due process. Given the extraordinary power the executive branch is claiming, legislators in both parties must ask tough questions of Obama and his national security team, including threatening to hold up key appointments, if necessary.

Washington Post, U.S. needs a rulebook for secret warfare, Jack Goldsmith, Feb. 5, 2013. Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, is a professor at Harvard Law School and a member of the Hoover Institution task force on national security and law.  “A decade of war is now ending,” President Obama proclaimed in his second inaugural address. But war is not ending, it is changing — and has been for years. Obama has cut back on heavy-footprint, conventional-force war in two countries. At the same time, he has presided over the rise of a secret, nimbler war defined by covert action, Special Forces, drone surveillance and targeting, cyberattacks and other stealthy means deployed in many countries. This new form of warfare needs a firmer political and legal foundation. The legal foundation rests mostly on laws designed for another task that government lawyers have interpreted, without public scrutiny, to meet new challenges. Outside the surveillance context, Congress as a body has not debated or approved the means or ends of secret warfare (except, perhaps, through appropriations). Because secret surveillance and targeted strikes, rather than U.S. military detention, are central to the new warfare, there are no viable plaintiffs to test the government’s authorities in court. In short, executive-branch decisions since 2001 have led the nation to a new type of war against new enemies on a new battlefield without focused national debate, deliberate congressional approval or real judicial review.

David Petraeus and Paul Broadwell

WhoWhatWhy, Exclusive -– Petraeus: the Plot Thickens, Douglas Lucas and Russ Baker, Feb 5, 2013. Was the ambitious General David Petraeus targeted for take-down by competing interests in the US military/intelligence hierarchy—years before his abrupt downfall last year in an adultery scandal? Previously unreported documents analyzed by WhoWhatWhy suggest as much. They provide new insight into the scandalous extramarital romance that led to Petraeus’s resignation as CIA director in November after several years of rapid rise—going from a little-known general to a prospective presidential candidate in a stunningly brief time frame. Among other revelations the documents show that: 1) Petraeus was suspected of having an extramarital affair nearly two years earlier than previously known; 2) Petraeus’s affair was known to foreign interests with a stake in a raging policy and turf battle in which Petraeus was an active party; and 3) Those providing the “official” narrative of the affair—and an analysis of why it led to the unprecedented removal of America’s top spymaster— have been less than candid with the American people.

Town and Country, Four-Star Scandal, Vicky Ward, March 2013. Sisters Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam invaded Tampa society like twin buccaneers. They were hilariously over-the-top, stars of their own imaginary reality show. But as they climbed ever higher, the revelations became ever more disturbing, with an FBI investigation, an American hero brought down, and, told here for the first time in detail, a tangled history of their own.

War is a Crime, The Good Intentions That Pave the Road to War, Diana Johnstone, Feb. 5, 2013. Opposing genocide has become a sort of cottage industry in the United States.Everywhere, “genocide studies” are cropping up in universities. The Bible of the campaign is Samantha Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell.” Ms. Power’s thesis is that the U.S. Government, while well-intentioned, like all of us, is too slow to intervene to “stop genocide.” It is a suggestion that the U.S. government embraces, even to taking on Ms. Power as White House advisor. Why has the U.S. Government so eagerly endorsed the crusade against “genocide”? The reason is clear.  The obsession with “genocide” reverses the final judgment of the Nuremberg Trials...War is transformed into a chivalrous action to rescue whole populations from “genocide.” At the same time, national sovereignty, erected as the barrier to prevent strong nations from invading weaker ones, that is, to prevent aggression and “the scourge of war”, is derided as nothing but a protection for evil rulers (“dictators”) whose only ambition is to “massacre their own people.”

Legal Schnauzer, Obama Department Of Justice Finally Takes A Stand, By Cracking Down on Traffic-Ticket Fraud In Philly, Roger Shuler, Feb. 5, 2013. Why did the Obama Justice Department spend three years investigating traffic tickets in Philadelphia while it has ignored far more serious wrongdoing around the country? Let's consider just a few of the stories we've reported here at Legal Schnauzer.

FireDogLake, Obama Says Medicare and Social Security Cuts Still on the Table, Jon Walker, Feb. 5, 2013. No bad idea supported by President Obama is ever permanently defeated, it is at best simply stopped temporarily. In a statement today about the sequestration cuts Obama wanted to make it clear that the proposed entitlements cuts that he has previously backed are still on the table. In fact Obama made sure to repeat this point. From the transcript: "The proposals that I’ve put forward during the fiscal cliff negotiations, in discussions with Speaker Boehner and others, are still very much on the table." While Obama did not specifically mention any entitlement cuts in this statement, it is being widely reported what cuts Obama has back in previous possible deals. The biggest were raising the Medicare retirement age from 65 to 67 and switching to the chained-CPI for Social Security. The switch to chained-CPI would effectivey be a yearly cut on every senior with the sizes of the cut growing as a senior ages. Raising the Medicare retirement age would be an uniquely terrible policy. That would increase health care cost for seniors, businesses, states, and individuals while saving the federal government relatively little money. Obama really wants to cut Social Security and he wants to make sure everyone knows it.

Huffington Post, White House Reporters Pepper Jay Carney With Questions About Drone Memo, Jack Mirkinson, Feb. 5, 2013. White House reporters tried in vain to get information from press secretary Jay Carney, left, about a newly released paper that deals with the Obama administration's killing of American citizens. The paper, which was obtained by NBC News, lays out some of the government's justification for the assassination of Americans with drone strikes. The memo says that the US can order the killing of Americans if they are believed to be senior Al Qaeda members, even if they are not actively plotting attacks. Carney was asked about the paper at the very beginning of Tuesday's briefing. He called the strikes "legal, ethical and wise," and said that they were constitutionally sound. “The president takes his responsibilities very seriously,” Carney said. “And first and foremost that’s his responsibility to protect the United States." He added that the strikes were conducted “in a way that is fully consistent with the Constitution and all the applicable laws." And that, essentially, is all he would say, despite a torrent of questions about the paper.

Bloomberg, Murdoch-Coveting Papers Must Wait as Rift Stalls Media Rules, Todd Shields and Edmund Lee, Feb. 5, 2013.  A move to make it easier for companies to own U.S. daily newspapers and nearby broadcast stations has stalled amid partisan tension that could prevent deals between companies such as Tribune Co. and News Corp. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, hasn’t won approval of his proposal to ease a ban on cross-media ownership almost three months after asking fellow commissioners to vote for it. The FCC proposal’s fate may determine whether News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has a chance to buy Tribune Co. newspapers in U.S. markets where his company owns Fox television stations. Tribune emerged from bankruptcy Dec. 31 with a plan to focus on its broadcast properties, and Murdoch plans to take a close look at the newspapers if they become available, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking. “They’d be changing rules for Rupert Murdoch to potentially make a run at the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times,” Craig Aaron, president of the Florence, Massachusetts-based policy group Free Press, said in an interview. The cross-ownership changes proposed by Genachowski are similar to those passed by the agency on a Republican-led vote in 2007 and struck down by an appeals court in 2011. Like the earlier effort, Genachowski’s would allow newspaper-broadcast common ownership in the 20 largest U.S. media markets so long as a television station isn’t among the top four in audience size, as measured by Nielsen Holdings NV.

Feb. 4

Daily Beast, Michelle Rhee: My Break With the Democrats, Feb. 4, 2013. As a lifelong Democrat, controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee never thought she’d support school vouchers. Until she did. In Radical, she details her transformation. When I began my stint with the D.C. public schools, I had strong ideas about what education reform should look like and what it shouldn’t look like. I believed wholeheartedly that we had to have a very strong focus on teacher quality. I was also a believer in charter schools. I had seen their value when I served for a couple of years on the board of the St. HOPE Public Schools. I guess that was my first break with Democratic dogma. I knew that charter schools were anathema to teachers' unions. I also knew the best ones could serve children extraordinarily well. For all of those reasons, my view on vouchers was set. But soon after I arrived in Washington, D.C., I was in a pickle. The District of Columbia had Opportunity Scholarships, a federally funded voucher program that helped poor families attend private schools. The program was up for reauthorization, and there was a heated debate going on in the city. “You’re the most high-profile education official in the city,” a Washington Post reporter asked. “Do you think the Opportunity Scholarship program should be re-upped?”

NBC News, Exclusive: Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans, Michael Isikoff, Feb. 4, 2013. A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the  September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes. The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director.  Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.”

FireDogLake, Legal Review of Presidential Power to Engage in Preemptive Cyber Strikes to Remain Secret, Kevin Gosztola, Feb. 4, 2013. A recently published story from the New York Times reports a “secret legal review” has been conducted on the use of cyber warfare by the United States. It concluded President Barack Obama has “the broad power to order a preemptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad.” Unnamed officials involved in the review inform that the administration is moving in the coming weeks to “approve the nation’s first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyber attack.” These rules, according to David Sanger and Thom Shanker, will “govern how the intelligence agencies can carry out searches of faraway computer networks for signs of potential attacks on the U nited States.” If the president approves a strike, the government will be able to “attack adversaries by injecting them with destructive code — even if there is no declared war.”It further adds, “The Pentagon would not be involved in defending against ordinary cyberattacks on American companies or individuals, even though it has the largest array of cybertools. Domestically, that responsibility falls to the Department of Homeland Security, and investigations of cyberattacks or theft are carried out by the FBI.”

FireDogLake, If Tagg Romney is your Best Hope you are in Serious Trouble, Jon Walker, Feb. 4, 2013. This story in the Boston Herald perfectly demonstrates why it was so fortuitous for Democrats that Scott Brown decided not to run in the Massachusetts special election to replace John Kerry. According to the Herald some “heavyweight Republicans” are urging Tagg Romney.Tagg Romney is considering a run in the special Senate election now that Scott Brown has opted out, the Truth Squad has learned.

Huffington Post, Extraordinary Rendition Report Finds More Than 50 Nations Involved In Global Torture Scheme, Joshua Hersh, Feb. 4, 2013. More than 50 nations played a role in the extraordinary rendition of terrorism suspects in the years after 9/11, a new report has found. The program, started under President George W. Bush, involved shipping suspects off to foreign prisons and CIA "black sites," where they often faced torture.  The U.S. counterterrorism practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which suspects were quietly moved to secret prisons abroad and often tortured, involved the participation of more than 50 nations, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Open Society Foundations. The OSF report, which offers the first wholesale public accounting of the top-secret program, puts the number of governments that either hosted CIA "black sites," interrogated or tortured prisoners sent by the U.S., or otherwise collaborated in the program at 54. The report also identifies by name 136 prisoners who were at some point subjected to extraordinary rendition. The number of nations and the names of those detained provide a stark tally of a program that was expanded widely -- critics say recklessly -- by the George W. Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has been heavily condemned in the years since. In December, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, condemned the CIA's detention and interrogation efforts as "terrible mistakes."

Feb. 3

Institute for Political Economy, Obamacare: A Deception, Paul Craig Roberts, February 3, 2013. The article below is the most comprehensive analysis available of “Obamacare” – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The author, a knowledgeable person who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how Obamacare works for the insurance companies but not for you. Obamacare was formulated on the concept of health care as a commercial commodity and was cloaked in ideological slogans such as “shared responsibility,” “no free riders” and “ownership society.” These slogans dress the insurance industry’s raid on public resources in the cloak of a “free market” health care system. What this means is that those Americans with the least or no disposable income are faced in effect with a substantial pay cut. Obamacare not only rations health care by what a person or family can afford, but also has implications for Medicare patients. Hundreds of billions of dollars are siphoned from Medicare to help pay the cost of Obamacare. The health care provided to Medicare patients will decline with the reduced payments to care providers. Health care seems destined to be rationed according to the age and illnesses of Medicare patients. Those judged too old and too ill could be denied expensive treatments or procedures that would prolong their lives.

OpEdNews, Selective Tyranny: Why "Terrorized" Gun-Owners Applaud Obama's Worst Constitutional Abuses, Gustav Wynn, Feb. 3, 2013. When a gun rights advocate brings up the Second Amendment, I ask them why they wouldn't defend the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment from either Bush or Obama. If they are willing to fight for the Bill of Rights, why do gun-lovers not just allow but fight for stripping our right to a jury trial, to privacy or protest? Worse yet, if firearms are the answers to stopping government tyranny, why are gun owners first to grant this government the authority to unilaterally label US citizens as terrorists and wipe them off the map? Codified by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, the 2011 NDAA makes firearm ownership yet another "red flag" for the government as they locate, track, eavesdrop and ultimately, assassinate citizens solely on their say-so, without oversight or transparency. Isn't this exactly the opposite intent of the Second Amendment?

Roll Call, Goodlatte at Nexus of Obama Agenda, Jonathan Strong, Feb. 3, 2013. As the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte plans a slow approach to considering changes in immigration law. Virginia Republican Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte is important, but don’t expect him to tell you that. He’s the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and huge segments of President Barack Obama’s agenda must go through his committee. That includes bills on the topics of gun control and immigration, both of which are enjoying political momentum that would have been shocking only months ago, when Goodlatte was gearing up to take his new post. Meanwhile, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has vowed to return the House to regular order, elevating the importance of committee chairmen. But most would be forgiven for not knowing anything about Goodlatte. His reaction to this newfound importance has been to retreat, almost turtle-like, into a shell and away from the spotlight.

Salon, Karl Rove's War On the Tea Party, Jillian Rayfield, Feb. 3, 2013. Karl Rove is backing a new effort to stop the Tea Party in its tracks. The Tea Party is, predictably, not pleased. The New York Times reported over the weekend that Rove's super PAC American Crossroads is backing a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, which will enlist big-money GOP donors to fight back against Tea Party groups that are looking to oust Republican establishment candidates in the 2014 primaries. The idea is to prevent any more Todd Akins or Richard Mourdocks from making it through to the national stage. "There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected," said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the "super PAC" creating the new project. "We don't view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win."     The effort would put a new twist on the Republican-vs.-Republican warfare that has consumed the party's primary races in recent years. In effect, the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election.

Guardian / OpEd News, JSoc: Obama's Secret Assassins, Naomi Wolf, Feb. 3, 2013.The president has a clandestine network targeting a 'kill list' justified by secret laws. How is that different than a death squad? The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global "war on terror." It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home -- and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation's contemporary history.

Feb. 2

Huffington Post, Paul Krugman Battles 'Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop,' And Not By Himself, Jason Linkins, Feb. 2, 2013.  Paul Krugman is no stranger to going on teevee and encountering, well, people of an addled aspect -- he's done "Squawk Box", after all! But there was something very special about one of his most recent appearances on MSNBC. You thought that Felix Baumgartner dude who fell to earth for Red Bull was extreme? Take a seat, balloon boy. Paul Krugman has become the first human I've ever witnessed escaping from the gravitational pull of something with black hole-like density: Joe Scarborough and his gang of deficit hacks. Krugman has this interesting thesis about the way "thinking" congeals among media elites. He thinks that they are overly obsessed with a deficit crisis that is decades from happening, if it happens at all. He observes that in this time of widespread unemployment and grievous economic dislocation -- a continuing condition of the lightly tended to 2008 economic calamity -- and against all evidence, the media elites have become convinced that the long-term budget deficit is the actual crisis that's emerged in America, to claim its future. And then you get a cycle -- blather, wince, repeat -- in which all of these cosseted simps reinforce one another until this bizarre line of thinking is deeply entrenched and inalterable. It's an old yarn, and Krugman's far from the first person to notice. Greg Sargent calls it the "Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop," and as the National Journal reported back in May of 2011, it's been unfolding within the media and distorting its coverage -- mostly to the expense of the more serious unemployment crisis.

Newsmax, The Ed Koch I Knew – A Remembrance, Christopher Ruddy, Feb. 2, 2013. The president and CEO of Newsmax writes: On Friday I learned that my good friend Ed Koch passed away.ggg; Late yesterday I posted to Newsmax a remembrance about him, sharing some personal insights about him and the role he played in my career and with Newsmax. I also discussed his relationships  with President Obama, Cardinal O’Connor, the Clintons, George Bush and others – and how he made a significant difference in the lives of so many. Please enjoy.

Talktainment Radio, Bob Fitrakis and Cliff Arnebeck discuss the electronic vote rigging that Chuck Todd of MSNBC claims is a myth, Feb. 1, 2013. Citizen advocate and political agitator Bob Fitrakis revives his public affairs talk radio program Fight Back! online, broadcasting live on talktainmentradio.com. The focus is on recent comments by NBC Political Director Chuck Todd, who again disputed the possibility of election machine fraud. The confusion of disputed election results, unequal cuts to public school funding and hate groups & speech are only some of the issues Bob Fitrakis takes to task. This online radio broadcast helps everyday American’s “Fight Back!” Keeping local, state and national officials accountable to the citizens they serve.  Public affairs are never more transparent than when Bob Fitrakis takes aim, exposing the loopholes used to fleece hard working Americans.

Huffington Post, A Dead Child and Childish Things, Jeanne Bishop, Feb. 1, 2013. We are in the midst of an important discussion now, about how to prevent the senseless slaughter that has claimed the lives of innocent first-graders and their teachers in Newtown, a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl in Tucson, moviegoers in Colorado, college students at Virginia Tech, my own sister and brother-in-law in their home in Winnetka, Illinois, and now, this latest victim: a vibrant, promising high schooler with a lifetime of possibility before her. It is time for the adult participants in that discussion to grow up, to listen politely and speak respectfully, to seek consensus rather than conflict, to work together to forge a solution. We owe it to the children who have died, to all children. We owe it to Hadiya Pendleton, a child who helped celebrate the inauguration of a president, who deserved that chance the president spoke of, the chance all children deserve: to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Huffington Post, Government Fails To Tackle Unemployment As Sequestration Looms, Bonnie Kavoussi, Feb. 1, 2013. The January jobs numbers released earlier on Friday show that while the private sector added 166,000 jobs, the government shed 9,000 positions in January. Those job losses have ripple effects throughout the economy, economist Dean Baker explained. "If these people were still getting paychecks, they would have spent them, and that would have employed people elsewhere in the economy," the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told The Huffington Post. He estimated that government job cuts have cost the economy more than 1 million jobs total. The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday, not much lower than a year ago. In contrast, the unemployment rate averaged 4.6 percent just before the recession, according to BLS. The government has cut 719,000 jobs since President Barack Obama took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some economists said this has stymied jobs growth, since the government is a major employer, and its employees' spending provides income to other workers.