Sunday, June 09, 2013

Truest statement of the week

The United States should not be accumulating phone records on tens of millions of innocent Americans. That is not what democracy is about. That is not what freedom is about. Congress must address this issue and protect the constitutional rights of the American people.

-- Senator Bernie Sanders on last week's revelations that Barack Obama was spying on millions of Americans.

Truest statement of the week II

I am barred by Senate rules from commenting on some of the details at this time.  However, I believe that when law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when they call, and where they call from is private information.  Collecting this data about every single phone call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of Americans’ privacy.  
The administration has an obligation to give a substantive and timely response to the American people and I hope this story will force a real debate about the government’s domestic surveillance authorities. The American people have a right to know whether their government thinks that the sweeping, dragnet surveillance that has been alleged in this story is allowed under the law and whether it is actually being conducted.  Furthermore, they have a right to know whether the program that has been described is actually of value in preventing attacks.  Based on several years of oversight, I believe that its value and effectiveness remain unclear.

-- Senator Ron Wyden after last week's revelations of Barack Obama's mass spying on the American people emerged.

Truest statement of the week III

Yes, the situation right now is that the government, since December, has taken -- how do you say?  The face?  We call it an iron face.  You don't see the features, you don't see the expression on the face -- towards the protests that are taking place in the country.  Since December, a great many Sunnis in the western provinces, have risen in order to say that there is a double standard in dealing with many situations that are sectarian in the way that it is being dealt with.  And since that time, the government has taken a stance that 'I do not hear, I do not see, I do not speak.'  It is like a glancing over all of these things.  And it is staying in place.  It is not giving it serious attention that it needs to give.   And since that time, until this very time, every Friday -- because we have Friday prayers that take place at the mosques --  every Friday has been a 'terror Friday.'  We just don't know what is going to happen.  Sunni enclaves become like camps, deployment of Army, deployment of Special Forces, deployment of all military kinds.

-- Iraqi journalist Sahar Issa to Marco Werman (PRI's The World, link is audio) last Wednesday.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Senator Bernie Sanders. 
Senator Ron Wyden.
We had to have three this week.  There was no way we couldn't note Sahar Issa.
The spying on the Americans and the scandals from the White House never cease.  
Ava and C.I. take on USA's Graceland.

Since Iraq wasn't the editorial this week we wanted to be sure we did an update of some form.
Dona moderates a discussion about last week's Congressional hearings with Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I.
This edition's pick?  Alfred Hitchock's Family Plot.

Tomato Ramen's still for sale in the US -- just on the black market.
Two programs you won't want to miss this week.
Repost of press releases from the offices of Senator Patty Murray and Senator Kelly Ayotte.
Repost from Workers World.

Repost from UK Socialist Worker.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: When All The Slaves Are Free

Leave it to The Globe to offer up Barack on the cover and impeachment as a topic last week.

oh bummer

The scandals they were covering was the IRS targeting of political groups, Benghazi and the spying on the press (secretly seizing hundreds of phone records from the Associated Press and seizing various records of Fox News report James Rosen).   Last week, things got a little hotter for Barack.

That's when Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) broke the news:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

It was so outrageous that even the timid Center for Constitutional Rights noted, "As far as we know this order from the FISA court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon subscribers anywhere in the U.S. It also contains a gag order prohibiting Verizon from disclosing information about the order to anyone other than their counsel."

In addition, AP reports, "Separately, The Washington Post and The Guardian reported Thursday the existence of another program used by the NSA and FBI that scours the nation's main Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs to help analysts track a person's movements and contacts. It was not clear whether the program, called PRISM, targets known suspects or broadly collects data from other Americans."

Thursday, US Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Justice Dept.  As reported in that day's "Iraq snapshot,"  Senator Mark Kirk estimated that this spying would have involved as many as 120 million phone calls and Kirk was bothered by one issue: Were members of Congress spied upon?

Senator Mark Kirk:  I want to just ask, could you assure to us that no phones inside the Capitol were monitored -- of members of Congress.  That would give a future executive branch, if they started pulling this stuff, kind of a -- would give them unique leverage over the legislature?

Attorney General Eric Holder:   Uh, with all due respect, Senator, I don't think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss, uhm,  that issue.  I'd be more than glad to come back in a -- in a appropriate setting to discuss, uh, the issues that you have raised but I -- in this open forum, I don't -- I do not

Senator Mark Kirk:  I would interrupt you and say that the correct answer would be:  "No, we stayed within our lane and I am assuring you that we did not spy on members of Congress."

Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski:  You know I'd like to suggest something here.  When I read the New York Times this morning, it was like, "Oh God, not one more thing."  And not one more thing where we're trying to protect America and it looks like we're spying on America.  I think the full Senate needs to get a briefing on this.

Once upon a time, you needed to own a press to have a say in the press.  Now days, you apparently have to be a member of Congress to find out if you've been spied upon.  As C.I. noted, "Kirk, Mikulski and Senator Richard Shelby all agreed it was an important question.  And it's important because it's them.  It's too bad that they don't feel it's important for non-members of Congress.  It's too bad that Mikulski's 'answer' is to call for a closed hearing.  It's too damn bad that she doesn't think the American people are owed answers.  Remember, in American now, 'democracy' translates as something that belongs only to elected members of Congress."

Suzanne Nossel (PEN) points out:

In 1890, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and attorney Samuel D. Warren wrote a seminal article defining a right to privacy. They pointed out that the law already recognized a "right to be let alone" and asserted that the common law "secures to each individual the right of determining, ordinarily, to what extent his thoughts, sentiments, and emotions shall be communicated to others." That zone of individual control, they argued, is essential to enable intellectual and creative freedom. The process of drafting and redrafting an article, story, poem, love letter, or advocacy petition would be radically transformed if the writer focused on the fact that every single version could be sucked into a government server somewhere. Brandeis and Warren rejected the idea that voluntary surrender of privacy in one setting or to one group of people (Facebook friends, for example) forfeited the right to privacy in relation to others. They attributed to the individual the right to "fix the limits" of such disclosure. The freedom to create requires the freedom to control who sees your creation. While its parameters would evolve, the right to privacy became enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the world's most influential international human rights instruments.
Brandeis and Warren ground their right to privacy in the principle of an "inviolate personality," arguing that infringements on the individual's ability to decide who sees their thoughts and writings interfere with basic attributes of personhood and human dignity. This intangible but long-recognized form of harm correlates loosely but unmistakably with the discomfort and disgust most people feel at the thought of a national security bureaucrat, human or mechanical, rifling through our emails even if only to dismiss them unread as dull and useless. Although Brandeis and Warren's arguments were set forth in the context of publishing and public disclosure, the prospect of personal information being involuntarily and secretly disclosed to the government is no less troubling, and probably more so.

While some were silent and hoping the whole thing would blow over without hurting Precious of the United State Barack's polling,  Senator Rand Paul was getting active as his office noted in a statement Thursday:

"The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. I have long argued that Congress must do more to restrict the Executive's expansive law enforcement powers to seize private records of law-abiding Americans that are held by a third-party," Sen. Paul said. "When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which would provide exactly the kind of protections that, if enacted, could have prevented these abuses and stopped these increasingly frequent violations of every American's constitutional rights.

"The bill restores our Constitutional rights and declares that the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause."

 Click HERE to view the text of this legislation, which will be introduced when the Senate returns to session on Friday, June 7.

While the always ridiculous MoveOn remained silent and Ben & Jerry's US Action remained inactive, PEN e-mailed the following alert:

Back in 2002, John Poindexter proposed a "Total Information
Awareness" program to spy on everybody, including all American
citizens, complete with a creepy totalitarian logo. The American
people were repulsed, Congress defunded the idea in 2003, and they
dropped it, or so we thought.

Instead they just went ahead and did everything they planned on doing
anyway, except in total secrecy. There was another protest during the
Bush administration when it came to light that wiretaps capable of
capturing the totality of U.S. phone communications had been placed
in telecom switching centers. It did not even slow them down,
probably because most Republicans were too partisan to complain.

Now we learn that under the cheerleading of President Obama, these
eavedropping functions have been extended to virtually all the
biggest internet hubs.

Don't Spy On US Action Page:

The New York Times published a scathing editorial last night.

The New Yorker magazine made the critical point that capturing
so-called metadata is at least as bad as, and may be worse than,
listening to individual phone calls or reading individual emails. If
anything, metadata is a more efficient way to track every movement
and association of every American citizen without exception. Indeed,
the same datataps in place can listen to all the content as well, all
in total secrecy, and who's to stop them?

We are. If only you will speak out now. Demand that our government
stop its rampant abuse of government secrecy to perpetrate the most
pervasive eavesdropping outrage in American history.

Don't Spy On US Action Page:

And after you submit the action page above, we invite you to request
the beautiful, new "Don't Spy on US" bumper sticker we rush designed
overnight, and will get printed and shipped as fast as we can. As
with all our policy message stickers you can have one for no charge,
not even shipping, just by submitting the form.

"Don't Spy on Us" bumper stickers:

Of course, if you can make a donation of any amount, that is what
makes it possible for us to send free stickers to anyone who cannot
make a contribution right now.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.
Contributions to The People's Email Network are not tax-deductible
for federal income tax purposes.

How very disturbing that only PEN steps up -- but how very telling.  Establishing yet again that so many organizations on the left which try to bleed you for money constantly are nothing but shills for the Democratic Party.

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

-- "Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Night Ride Home.

TV: Characters wanted but not required

Graceland debuted on USA Thursday night.  Within ten minutes, it felt as if it had debuted forty years ago.  In fact, series 'creator' Jeff Eastin appears to owe Stephen J. Cannell and Steven Bochco both royalties and apologies.


Graceland is the name of the beach house and agents from various law enforcement branches -- DEA, FBI, ICE --  and, in testimony to the magical powers of a chore wheel, they all cohabitate in peace.  In the real world, these people would be snarling at one another about who had jurisdiction and who was in charge of the crime scene instead of spending the day trying to teach 'newbie' Mike Warren how to surf.

Aaron Tveit plays Mike because Jeff Eastin longs for the day when most males on TV were completely non-sexual.  It's not only as though Friends never aired, it's as though NBC never got the test scores for Jonathan Silverman in season five of Gimme A Break!  Maybe it's Chris O'Donnell's success in NCIS: Los Angeles or just a general affinity for LEGOS that brings the wide and boxy Tveit to California -- where the actor who turns thirty this year but already looks thirty-five -- performs as 'newbie' Mike.

Though Mike can't stop praising FBI agent Briggs (Daniel Sunjata), we learn at the end of the first episode that Mike's actually been sent to spy on Briggs.  His sucking up to Briggs might stand out were it not for the fact that everyone's always praising Briggs.  In fact, the first hour plays like a really bad play by a self-obsessed writer recovering from a non-serious suicide attempt.  Did we mention Jeff Eastin wrote the first episode?

Sunjata was very effective earlier this year on Smash, exhibiting real chemistry with Debra Messing.  Prior to that, his big stand-out was playing Chris on 30 Rock, the cool crew member Liz was so desperate to impress in one episode.  He was in FX's Rescue Me -- a show like many of USA's which kept coming back each season for reasons unexplained.

If Sunjata had any talent for improvisation, he would have exited at least one scene shaking his head and kicking one leg out repeatedly -- to indicate a dog humping his leg because that's what his co-stars (especially Manny Montana as Johnny) came off as.  The part is a lot like the one Patrick Swayze played in Point Break -- but Kathryn Bigelow trusted the actor she hired could project cool  so there was no need to film repeated testimonials from the other characters.

The USA network likes to announce, in their commercials, "Characters welcome."  But the reality is the shows get less and less character based every season.  Graceland, for example, is 80s high concept, fish out of water, at its worst.  USA really made a name for itself with Silk Stalkings. After season two, when CBS dropped the show, USA carried new episodes exclusively through season eight (1999).  The show was USA's first real hit with a scripted drama.  They'd follow it with La Femme Nikita, Monk, Psych, and In Plain Sight -- the latter three especially being character driven.  But then the network grew ever more cartoonish -- so much so that TNT's commercial boast ("We know drama") seemed to be mocking USA.

As TNT aired The Closer, Saving Grace, Raising the Bar and Rizzoli & Isles, USA was premiering live-action Huckleberry Hound in the form of Burn Notice and cheese cake confection Covert Affairs.  Suits was a brief respite but now it's back to these awful shows that look like the cheesy TV 'action' flicks TNT used to air as part of their 90s TNT Friday Night Movie programming.

With Graceland, Jeff Eastin has hit rock bottom.  He's not only aping the work of 70s TV giants, he's aping his earlier attempts to copy those giants.  Graceland is little more than Shasta McNasty -- a point that becomes obvious when Johnny starts flirting with women -- and, to really get the beach scenes in -- as well as the hero worship, Hawaii.  Both of those shows only lasted one season.  After the dismal ratings for the heavily advertised Graceland, you'd hope it would meet the same fate; however, this is USA which, more and more, seems to be a breeding ground for bad TV.

About Iraq

Through Saturday, Iraq Body Count counts 106 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  The United Nations found April to be the most violent month in Iraq in five years . . . until May topped that.

Last week, Anthony Cordesman offered  "Why Is Obama Ignoring Iraq?" (Real Clear World):

 For all the current attention to Syria, Iraq is the larger and more important state. Iraq is a nation of 31.9 million and Syria is a nation of 22.5 million. Iraq has the larger economy: Iraq has a GDP of $155.4 billion, and Syria had a GDP of $107.6 billion in 2011, the last year for which there are useful data. Most important, Iraq is a critical petroleum state and Syria is a cypher. Iraq has some 143 billion barrels worth of oil reserves (9 percent of world reserves) and Syria has 2.5 billion (0.2 percent). Iraq has 126.7 has trillion cubic meters of gas, and Syria has 10.1. Iraq has a major impact on the overall security of the Gulf, and some 20 percent of the world oil and LNG exports go through the Gulf.
This does not mean the conflict in Syria is not tragic or that it is not important. But from a practical strategic viewpoint, Iraq divided Iran from the Arab Gulf states. Iraqi-Iranian tensions acted as a strategic buffer between Iran and the rest of the Middle East for half a century between the 1950s and 2003. Today, Iraq has s Shi'ite government with close links to Iran and is a military vacuum. Iraq's Shi'ite leaders treat its Sunnis and Kurds more as a threat than as countrymen. Its Arab neighbors treat Iraq's regime more as a threat than an ally, and the growing Sunni-Shi'ite tension in the rest of the region make things steadily worse in Iraq and drive it towards Iran.

Iraqi journalist Sahar Issa shared on The World (PRI) last Wednesday,  "In the neighborhoods where people live, there is fear, there is tension.  At the checkpoints?  There are fake checkpoints where they ask for your name and your i.d.  To tell you the truth, the situation is really quite fearful on the streets." 

And Saturday brought a new kind of bombing -- dog bombing.

Iraq drifts further off the US radar.  So much so that for weeks, as rumors have circulated in the Iraqi press that US Vice President Joe Biden was trying to divide Iraq into three regions, the White House has said nothing.


It took Moqtada al-Sadr calling out the plan or 'plan' from The Godfather of the Division (one of the nicknames Biden's picked up in Iraq over the last weeks) and denouncing Biden as Satan for the US government to respond. And even then, it was the US Embassy in Baghdad (finally) responding.

Wednesday, Alsumaria reported that the US Embassy in Iraq denied today media reports that Biden was overseeing Iraq being split into three sections.  The embassy stated that Biden spoke to the three leaders only in attempt to help keep a political dialogue alive between the various blocs.  On his phone calls, he did not raise the issue of dividing Iraq but instead stressed the need for all participants to work together to find some resolution to the crises confronting Iraq.   Friday, All Iraq News reported on the denial:

The spokesman of the US Embassy Frank Finver said in a statement received by All Iraq News Agency (AIN) that "The remarks reported by some media outlets over the US Vice President Biden’s talks at the end of last week on Iraq, are absolutely groundless." 
 The spokesman added that "In fact, the US Vice President recently talked with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nijaifi and the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Masoud Barzani and urged them to continue working together and stressed the importance of participation of all parties to find solutions to the points of disagreement within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution.”

All of the above combines to beg the question: Who is leading the US effort in Iraq?  And it also begs the question how are US tax dollars being spent?  Especially after Mark Thompson (Time magazine) reported last week on the $2 billion contract that the State Dept has with PAE Government Services, Inc., "That’s a million dollars a day over a five-year period, if the contract hits its ceiling. The down payment is $347,883,498 (don’t you just love such precision? It’s almost a prime number, for Pete’s sake)."

Report on Congress


Dona:  We are back this Sunday morning with another "Report on Congress."   Last week, there were three hearings our panel reported on -- the topics covered include the IRS, rape and assault in the military, terrorism, spying and more.  Let's start with Monday's hearing.  The House Oversight Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing on the IRS scandal.  Witnesses were IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel and Treasury Inspector General for the IRS J. Russell George.    C.I. reported on it in Monday's "Iraq snapshot,"  Wally in "The IRS hands out money to employees like its candy (Wally)," Ava in "Kaptor should resign and give Kucinich the seat," and Kat in "The menace named Marcy."  Kat, Ava and  C.I. all pointed out anti-choice Marcy Kaptor was the Congressional embarrassment in that hearing.  Kat, tell us about conservative Democrat Marcy Kaptor.

Kat: A real idiot.  She came into the hearing ready to 'prove' that the ongoing IRS scandal of political groups being targeted wasn't all that bad.  To 'prove' it she cherry picked from the Inspector General report, apparently unaware that he'd be present or maybe hoping he wouldn't challenge her.  But every point she made 'showing' how the scandal wasn't that bad imploded on her with IG George correcting her over and over during her first round of questioning.  She was so deluded or dumb she even misunderstood a diagram. That was probably the funniest part.  This was during the first round of questioning and everything she's said about the IG report has been wrong and George has corrected her.  So Marcy Kaptor moves to a diagram and sort of in jest says, after she makes some claims, that this is unless she misunderstood the diagram.  Like, 'Only an idiot could get that wrong, right?'  And George clears his throat with an 'actually' moment and explains what she's missed in the diagram as well.  Ava?

Ava: So then comes round two.  By now, even Marcy Kaptur can grasp she looks like the biggest fool in Congress.  She decides, apparently, 'Screw the IG report!'  She doesn't ask about it, she doesn't reference it, she just offers up a sermon.  The IRS deserves applause for targeting conservative groups, Marcy Kaptor insists.  That's what they're supposed to do!  She is sounding so insane that even Democrats on the panel are looking over at her like, "Is she for real?"

Dona: Ava recommended Kaptor give Kucinich the seat.  Redistricting found the two Ohio Democrats running for the same Congressional seat in 2012.  Kaptor won the primary.  Kucinich is out of Congress.  But I looked and he commented May 28th on this scandal in an appearance on Fox News, link goes to video and he noted that "people don't want this kind of intrusive power used against them for political purposes.  That's why this is not going to go away soon."  And he also stated,  "We as Americans have to close ranks here. Because when it comes to making sure that the power of government will not be used, this shouldn't be a Democrat or Republican issue, a left or a right issue, we all must agree on it."  And, reading over your reporting, Democrats and Republicans in the hearing did agree on that with the exception of Marcy Kaptur.   Wally, you were appalled by the IRS handing out money to its employees.

Wally: Since 2010, the IRS has given out 93 billion dollars in bonuses. This at a time of massive unemployment and supposedly dire financial conditions.  Sarah Hall Ingram, who was over the tax exempt division at the IRS --

Dona: Where the scandal took place.

Wally: Where, from 2010 onward, political groups were targeted for the 'crimes' of using terms like "patriot," "Tea Party," and teaching about the Constitution.  Ingram is now over ObamaCare for the IRS, Lois Lerner is over tax exempt organizations or was before  being placed on administrative leave after taking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to answer Congress' questions last month.  But from 2010, Sarah Hall Ingram received approximately $103,000 in bonuses.  Which is outrageous even before you factor in that her department's performance should have resulted in no bonuses or praise.

Dona: Outrageous.  That was the hearing that took place Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on rape and assault within the ranks.  C.I. reported on it in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," Ava in "Saxby Chambliss' gross stupidity," Wally in "Senator Bill Nelson sets the tone," Kat in "Senator Kirsten Gillibrand didn't come to play" and C.I. again in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot."  Except for the Wednesday snapshot, all of the reports are on the first panel.  The first panel was composed of: Gen Martin Dempsy (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Gen Ray Odierno (Chief of Staff of the Army), Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert (Chief of Naval Operations), Gen James Amos (Commandant of the Marine Corps), Gen Mark Welsh (Chief of Staff of the Air Force), Admiral Robert Papp Jr. (Commandant of the Coast Guard), Lt Gen Dana K. Chipman, JAGC, USA Judge Advocate General of the United States Army,  Vice Admiral Nanette M. DeRenzi, JAGC, USN Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy, Lt Gen Richard C. Harding, JAGC, USAF Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force, Maj Gen Vaughn A. Ary, USMC Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Rear Admiral  Frederick J. Kenney, Jr., USCG Judge Advocate General of the United States Coast Guard and Brig Gen Richard C. Gross, USA Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Has there been a larger panel at a hearing you've attended before?

Wally: I would say no.  And that's probably why the hearing was so damn long.

Dona: C.I. addressed that.  Here's some of that, "This hearing went on way too long.  I do understand why it was structured the way it was. (And was honestly thrilled when Chair Carl Levin announced, right before the three hour mark as questioning of the first panel continued, that the panel would not have a second round of questioning.)  Having all the chiefs there on one panel was important.  The second panel was composed of people most likely to work through any legal process within the military with those who've been assaulted or raped and the the third panel were experts on the topic."

Wally: I told her I'd write about Senator Bill Nelson because he's my senator -- one of my two senators -- and because I felt he had an important role in the hearing.  But I wasn't looking forward to writing about it, no.

Kat: I said I was going to write about The Rockford Files or some 70s television show.  I wasn't joking.  I said that as the hearing finally ended.  7 hours and thirty or forty minutes is too damn long for a hearing.  That was insane.  There were too many witnesses.  It should have just been the joint chiefs on the first panel and, as C.I.'s said, take the other two panels and put each one of them on another day.  It was just too much.  It was overwhelming.

Ava: I wouldn't have attended if I'd known it was going to be that long.  I had told my mother that if the hearing ran long, go on with my daughter to this excursion we were going to do as a threesome and I'd catch up.  Fortunately, my mother did leave without me.  Otherwise, they would have been waiting and waiting and waiting.  As it was, I wasn't able to join them.  I couldn't believe it.  Who the hell does an all day hearing?  We do have lives, you know?  As it was, the third panel found most people leaving.  And that wasn't fair to them.  But who in the hell has 8 hours to waste like that?  And you've got to get there early to get a seat.  So we were there ahead of time and it did end up being eight hours in that awful room.  And it was hot in there.  Kat notes in her report on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that she was covering her in part because C.I. had to get up and run to the bathroom and missed her questioning.  It was so hot in there, I felt sick.  I didn't throw up like C.I. but I felt very frustrated and very angry.

Dona: From a media perspective, Ava, it wasn't smart to schedule an 8 hour hearing.

Ava: No, it was not.  I left the hearing wanting to scream.  C.I. stopped and spoke to a few of the veterans -- and the only ones who stayed for the full hearing were pretty much the veterans -- and I usually try to do that too, we all do, but only C.I. did.  Speaking for me, I just wanted to get out of that hearing room.  The second panel was ignored by the press except for the prepared statements -- written statements submitted ahead of time and most reports also ignored the third panel except for the written statements.  It was stupidity to schedule a hearing like that.  It ended 30 minutes -- C.I., what's the ABC station serving the area?


Ava: Thank you.  So it ends 20 minutes before six p.m.  WJLA has already started local news.  It's about 5:40 or so when the hearing ends.  At 6:30 pm, ABC World News will kick off.  And that's really not enough time to give the media.  It's just outrageous and it was a very poor reflection on Committee Chair Carl Levin.

Dona: C.I.?

C.I.: In 2008, for three days, then-General David Petraeus and then-Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker testified to Congress.  Over and over.  And we were at those hearings, all four of us, and none of those hearings lasted eight hours.  The biggest problems, the real reason it went over, was because it wasn't a hearing about the issues.  It was largely a hearing about how Senator Kirsten Gillibrand must be wrong.  Carl Levin and many others wasted time on that over and over.  I'm not saying she's wrong, by the way, I agree with her.  But Levin and many others wanted to turn the hearing into that.  And that was on the first panel, the second panel and the third.  Kat?

Kat:  I have never seen that before in any hearing we have attended.  I have strong praise for Gillibrand because she was not just standing up to a number of Republicans on the Committee, she was also having to stand up to the military brass and to members of her own party on the Committee including the Chair.

Dona: What is she proposing?

Kat: "S. 967 the Military Justice Improvement Act, a critical bill that professionalizes the military justice system by ensuring that trained, professional, impartial prosecutors control the keys to the courthouse for felony- level crimes while still allowing commanders to maintain judicial authority over crimes that are unique to the military and requiring more expeditious and localized justice to ensure good order and discipline."  Like C.I., I'm quoting from the Service Women's Action Network summary of the bill.  They are backing that bill.

Dona: So all she's doing is asking that felony crimes be decided by prosecutors and not by military commanders.

Kat: Right, to hear Levin and Senator James Inahofe and so many others, this will destroy the military.  It will end all order.  Do you believe that?  I don't.  I'm like C.I., this really wasn't an issue for the first half of the 20th century and commanders really just crafted this power in the second half -- because rape wasn't a talked about issue in an all male military -- and they're acting like this is a power they were given and have had.  Now the reality is that they've abused this power.  They have used it to protect friends.

Dona: There's the infamous case of the commander who overturned the assault conviction of a friend last February.  And that's just most recently.  Wally, the hostility towards Gillibrand?

Wally: It was there.  And I would argue that's why she was treated rudely by the generals.  I'd argue the women were all treated poorly and I would blame Carl Levin for that.  Maybe he needs to step down?  He created a men versus women split, enforced it, promoted it.  And the rudeness that was directed at the women by the first panel and by the members of the Committee went on until Senator Bill Nelson did his questioning.  He was loud and he spoke slow.  He's not a rapid talker most of the time.  But he was louder than usual and slower than usual.  And a lot of the nonsense stopped immediately.  You could feel a level of recognition register with the panel of the fact that they were before Congress and they immediately got more respectful.

Dona: You pointed out that Senator Kay Hagan went after Nelson and not only were they respectful but Gen Ray Odierno made a point of thanking her for her question.

Wally: Right.  There was so much disrespect on the Committee.  From the top, from Levin.  And, sadly, from Inahofe.  I say "sadly" because the hearing wouldn't have been as out of control at the start if the Republicans didn't have term limits on Committees.  Term limits is why Senator John McCain wasn't Ranking Member.  And McCain's on the Committee still and he was much more respectful than Inhofe or Carl Levin.  If I were a woman on the Senate, I'd be registering a complaint.

Ava: But to who?  There are 100 senators -- counting the one New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just appointed.  Only 20 are women.  That's a fifth.  They are not in leadership and you could argue that Harry Reid being Senate Majority Leader goes a long way towards endorsing disrespect for women.  If I were on the Senate, I'd be very depressed.  And I think Wally is exactly right.  I think Senator Nelson saw just how out of control the hearing was becoming and just how much disrespect was being shown to senators on the panel and I think he used his volume and speaking pace intentionally to snap the panel to attention.

C.I.: In a way, the way the women on the Committee were treated was perfect because it demonstrated the problem that women in the military have.  There are peers they serve with like a Bill Nelson who take the issue seriously but there are others that they serve with who just don't have a clue.

Dona: Saxby Chambliss.  Ava, you wrote about that.

Ava: He thinks rape is about teenage lust.  He's that stupid.  He thinks rape is just sex.  And I think Levin thinks that on some level and that's why he refuses to take this issue seriously.

Dona: The generals didn't take it seriously?

Kat: C.I. pointed out that Gen John Amos called it a crime as early as his opening statements and continued to do so in the hearing.  He was sometimes parroted by others on the panel and sometimes wasn't.  Amos is the only one who spoke with any conviction on the matter as far as I'm concerned.

Dona: What was the argument from the chiefs?

C.I.: 'Give us time and we will handle it.'

Dona: But they've had time.

Ava: Exactly.

Dona: And it's not handled.  So they argue they need more time.  From C.I.'s report, I'm going to quote Senator Claire McCaskill:

I have spent -- as many of you know, hours and hours with your prosecutors over the last several months, I've had long conversations with several of you at the table including those who are heading up our various branches.  I want to start with the fact that I think part of the problem here is you all mushed together two separate issues in ways that are not helpful to successful prosecution.   There are two problems.  One is you have sexual predators who are committing crimes.  Two, you have work to do on the issue of a respectful and healthy work environment.  These are not the same issues.  And with all due respect, General Odierno, we can prosecute our way out of the first issue.   We can prosecute our way out of the problem of sexual predators -- who are not committing crimes of lust.  My years of experience in this area tell me they are committing crimes of  domination and violence.  This isn't about sex, this is about assault, domination and violence.  And as long as those two get mushed together, you all are not going to be as successful as you need to be at getting after the most insidious part of this which is the predators in your ranks that are sullying the great name of our American military.  I-I want to start with, I think the way you all are reporting has this backwards because you're mushing them together in the reporting.  Unwanted sexual contact is everything from somebody looking at you sideways to someone pushing you up against the wall and brutally raping you. You've got to, in your surveys, delineate the two problems because, until you do, we will have no idea whether you're getting your hands around this.  We need to know how many women and men are being raped and sexually assaulted on an annual basis and we have no idea right now.   Because all we know is we've had unwanted sexual contact: 36,000.  Well that doesn't tell us whether it's an unhealthy work environment or whether or not you've got criminals.  And you've got to change that reporting.  Success is going to look like this: More reports of rape, sodomy and assault and less incidents of rape, sodomy and assault. So everybody needs to be prepared here.  If we do a good job, that number of 3,000 the Chairman referenced, three-thousand-and-something, that's going to go up if we're doing well but overall the incidents are going to be going down.  But we have no way of being able to demonstrate that with the way you're reporting now.  

Dona (Con't): To me, that says, "The brass doesn't get it."  They're lumping it all together.  Rape and a wink or an inappropriate joke, it's all the same.  And Kat's report notes that Senator Gillibrand made a similar remark about this lumping together.  If they can't even grasp the difference enough to record the statistic correctly, enough to categorize, how can they grasp anything else?  Reading your reports, honestly, I was depressed.  The military doesn't seem to get it and a number of senators -- Levin among them -- seem to want to look the other way.

Kat: And that might be part of the reason for the reaction to the length of the meeting.  We've had this meeting over and over in Congress.  And now we had it again and it was obvious how nothing had changed and instead of Congress providing oversight on that we saw the Committee Chair and Ranking Member making excuses and acting like this was all no big deal -- 'Sure, take more time to fix it, it's not like this is an important issue.'

Dona: In your reporting on the issue, unless you're quoting someone, you're all saying "rape and assault" and not "rape and sexual assault."  There were a few e-mails about that.

Ava: Let me grab that.  Rape isn't sex.  You've already quoted Claire McCaskill on that so I will just add that if Saxby Chambliss could grasp the difference, he wouldn't be seeing rape as horny teenagers going wild.   But as long as we continue to use terms like "sex assault" and "sex crime," we are signaling to some that it is about sex.  Rape and assault covers what's going on.  None of us think that 2014's going to roll around and we'll all be saying "rape and assault" but we are hoping that in 20 years, it will be the norm.  We're doing our part to get there.

Wally: And it goes to the crime issue from before.  These are crimes.  But only Gen John Amos was able to speak to that with any conviction.  I also think that they're seeing -- people like Levin and some of the generals -- rape as 'powerful sex' and 'warrior sex' and they're against the efforts being pushed by a number of female senators on this issue.

Dona: I really think you're right, Wally.  The day after your reports on the first panel ran, my mother called me to talk about the hearing -- she caught it on CSPAN and read your reports -- and she said Carl Levin acted as if he thought they were trying to turn the military "into choirboys.  He doesn't get that these are crimes."

Ava: Dumb question, I'm sure, but your mother watched all the hearing on CSPAN?

Dona: No.  I don't know if they aired it all.  She watched the first panel.  It was airing after C.I.'s snapshot went up -- CSPAN was repeating the first panel.  So she read C.I.'s report, caught the first panel and then read your report and Kat and Wally's. Okay, we've got a third hearing to cover.  Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Justice Dept Thursday.  C.I. reported on it in Thursday's  "Iraq snapshot" and in "Yet another reason to set Lynne Stewart free," Ava in "Known terrorists can fly on US commercial planes," Wally in "50 million reasons to reduce the federal prison population," Kat in "Richard Shelby loves Caprice" and C.I. again in Friday's "Iraq snapshot."  Ava, let me start with you.  What a topic.

Ava: Wasn't it?  And think about it in terms of what we learned this week.  We're all being spied upon, all of our phone records, our computer records, we're being spied on by the US government.  But the same US government allows known terrorists to fly on commercial planes.  Suspected ones as well.  But known terrorists who've been convicted or confessed are allowed to ride on commercial flights.

Dona: Explain it.

Ava: The government has been putting terrorists into the witness relocation program.  They do not then cross-reference -- meaning the terrorist's original name is on the no-fly list but the new name they get in witness relocation doesn't go on it.  So they're not on the no-fly list.  They can fly on their own at any time.  What about when US Marshals schedule flights for them -- say for official government buisness?  Two Marshals escort them to the airplane they're taking off from.  That's it. They don't ride on the plane and they don't advise any air marshall on the plane, 'Hey, you've got a terrorist on the flight.'  When the plane lands, 2 Marshals will meet the terrorist at the airport.

Dona: That blows my mind.  Okay, Wally, you emphasized something else we learned in that hearing.  What are the fifty million reasons to reduce the federal prison population?

Wally: Dollars.  We would save 50 million dollars just be sending 3% of the foreign nationals in our prisons back to their home countries.  Just three percent.

Dona: And I can hear someone arguing that the problem is they're killers or arsonists or something like that.

Wally: Well, the 3% figure would give the power to be very selective about who to send home.  Also most of the violations these days are not -- for foreign nationals in federal prisons -- are not for violent crimes.

C.I.: Jumping in to note that testifying at the hearing was Attorney General Eric Holder and Inspector General Michael Horowitz.  Wally's referring to the findings in the IG's report and the IG's testimony.

Dona: Thank you for that.  And what's the most common offense for foreign nationals in federal prisons?

C.I.:  Horowitz testified that immigration was now the main charge, then drugs, then fraud, then firearm crimes.

Dona: And he spoke of compassionate release and the need for it.  And yet, Kat, Senator Richard Shelby had only one focus.  What was it?

Kat: To Shelby, all that mattered was industrial espionage.  Guess he must have a lot of industries voting for him and no people.  He couldn't relate to the people but he was outraged on behalf of industries.

Dona: I would love to continue this but we're already over time.  Let me note that this is a rush transcript.

Film Classics of the 20th Century

movie montage

In 1976, the master of suspense's final film was released.


Alfred Hitchock's Family Plot is a comedy thriller which reunited Hitchcock with Ernest Lehman, who wrote the screenplay to North by Northwest.


Barbara Harris is Madam Blanche Tyler -- fake psychic.  Bruce Dern is her boyfriend and partner in deception George Lumley.

Elderly Julia Rainbird (Cathleen Nesbit) feels haunted by her dead sister whose son was given up for adoption years ago.  She offers Blanche $10,000 if she will use her spirit guides to locate the son.  George is thrilled when Blanche informs him of the potential payday but less enthusiastic when he discovers all the main witnesses are thought to be dead.

Dead is almost a mysterious blond before George slams on the brakes.


A mysterious blond with a gun.


Who is working with William Devane's Arthur Adamson to kidnap various figures for ransoms in precious jewels.


Oh, and the blond's Karen Black.


Playin Arthur's girlfriend Fran.  Arthur loves the blond wig and six inch heels but Fran's less enthused so when they kidnap a man of the cloth, she opts for a more low key disguise.


Meanwhile, Blanche and George have to find Julia's nephew which means chills . . .


and spills.

fp 1313

Blanche finds Julia's nephew and, yes, it's Arthur.


But solving that mystery only creates more problems.

It's a tight film and one that argues Hitchcock had plenty more to say and wasn't running on fumes.  This is a masterpiece -- though you wouldn't know it from the lousy DVD transfer which looks like someone filmed it off a TV screen.  The cast, including Katherine Helmond in a small but pivotal role, is first rate and Dern and Harris are one of Hitchock's most appealing couples.


In fact, forget Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman, only Eva Marie Saint rivals Barbara Harris  for finest performance in a Hitchcock film.  The Tony award winning Harris has made relatively few films for an actress nominated four times for a Golden Globe (including for Family Plot) as well as for an Academy Award (Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?).  But when she does appear before the camera, she never fails to create magic as she's demonstrated in Robert Altman's Nashville, as Jodie Foster's mother in the original Freaky Friday,  The Manchu Eagler Murder Caper Mystery, The North Avenue Irregulars and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

It's a real shame Hitchcock was in poor health and no one else thought to follow up on re-coupling Harris and Dern onscreen.  They bring out the best in each other and just one more teaming with Harris could have allowed Dern to become the leading man he showed so much promise for in this film.  (Dern, thanks to roles like Bob in Coming Home, went on to become one of the best character actors in film.)

Tomato Ramen for sale on the DC black market

In the nation's capital, you can find many things.  Including a thriving black market where mass profit takes place.

Are you looking for a vintage collector's item toy still in its original packaging?  You can find it there, you can even see it there, but you're not bringing it home without dropping a lot of cash.

Ramen noodles are very basic.  You can get them for as low as 19 cents a package at some stores.

But the noodles you can pick up in grocery stores isn't the one people want to pick up.

The obsession is with Tomato flavor Ramen.  Around the country, the obsession is with the discontinued flavored noodles -- discontinued in 2003.  On E-Bay, you can often find an approximate Tomato Ramen noodles package, but not the real thing.  (Even now a faux one is selling -- buy it now! for $31.90.)

But how much would a real Ramen noodle lover pay for a tomato flavored package?

ramen 13

In DC, you're not leaving the black market without dropping $300 bucks.  And you'll be told the supply is getting ever smaller so you'd be smart to stock up while it's still "only" $300 a package.

A thriving black market in the nation's capital -- reminding us all of how the economy has not recovered and how we're not that far from the USSR in its final days.

Don't miss radio

This week, the must hear comes from Canada.  Legendary artist Joni Mitchell will be the guest on the CBC radio program Q with Jian Ghomeshi:

Next week on Q, we present a feature interview with Canadian folk icon Joni Mitchell. Jian travelled to Los Angeles to interview her at her home. It was a wide-ranging conversation and we'll be devoting a full hour of Q to it on Tuesday, June 11. Joni Mitchell be honoured by the Luminato Festival with a tribute show in Toronto on June 18 and 19. But for now, click through for a photogallery of her remarkable career. 

joni mitchell

A Joni Mitchell interview is a rare thing.  You won't want to miss this -- over the airwaves or streaming.

Before that Tuesday broadcast, you might also want to check out The Diane Rehm Show's second hour on NPR Monday:

What's private in the modern age: government collection of personal data, cyber theft and the balance between privacy and security.


Stewart Baker
attorney at Steptoe and Johnson, former general counsel at National Security Agency and former assistant secretary of policy at Department of Homeland Security.
Marc Rotenberg
executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and teaches Information Privacy Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
Siobhan Gorman
Intelligence and Homeland Security correspondent at The Wall Street Journal.

Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013

Senators Kelly Ayotte and Patty Murray's "Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013"  is one of the bills attempting to end rape and assault in the military.  Their offices issued a joint-statement today:

June 4, 2013
Contact: Meghan Roh, 202-224-2834 (Murray)
Contact: Liz Johnson, 202-224-3324 (Ayotte)



Bipartisan Murray-Ayotte legislation would expand Air Force program and provide trained military lawyers to victims of sexual assault in all service branches

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today focused on efforts to stop sexual assaults in the military, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh praised the success of an Air Force pilot program that provides victims with a military lawyer to assist sexual assault victims through the legal process.  A key provision in the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) on May 7, would expand the successful Air Force program to all service branches by providing victims of sexual assault with a Special Victims’ Counsel – a trained and certified military lawyer to assist the victim throughout the process.

In response to a question from Senator Ayotte, General Welsh testified that responses from victims regarding the Air Force’s Special Victims’ Counsel pilot program have been “overwhelmingly positive.”  He testified earlier in the hearing that he intends to recommend the continuation of the program.


Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh:

“Feedback from the victims has been very, very positive.  We believe the program is working very well for us, we’re excited about where it’s going….I’m going to recommend to my Secretary that we continue the program…”
“The positive return rate is about 95 percent on these surveys, overwhelmingly positive about the benefits of having someone who understood the legal process, who was by their side supporting them primarily the entire time, who shielded them from unnecessary questioning, who helped them understand the intricacies and the confusion and the tax law of the legal system that they're now in.”
“The special victims counsel, in my mind, is one of the set of game-changing things that can help us in this area across the spectrum of issues related to sexual assault. Right now it's the only one we have found that is really gaining traction.”

Colonel Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, U.S. Air Force:
The special victims’ counsel…gives the victim a voice.”

Ground the Drones! (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World.

‘Ground the drones!’

By on June 9, 2013 » Add the first comment.
Civil rights activist, Joe Beasley, May 28.Photo: Creative Loafing Atlanta
Civil rights activist, Joe Beasley, May 28.
Photo: Creative Loafing Atlanta

An upscale Atlanta hotel was the venue for an international conference on drones that brought scientists and researchers, manufacturers, investors, government and police officials, and representatives of the military together to project the future applications of unmanned aerial devices.

Alarmed and outraged by the U.S. use of drones in assassinations in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen and the threat to civil liberties everywhere, the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta initiated a call for daily protests during the four-day meeting, May 28-31.

A press conference on the opening day, May 28, received extensive media coverage, since President Obama — reacting to growing opposition to the expanded use of drones by his administration, including the killing of U.S. citizens abroad — had just declared changes in his policy. The speakers at the media event included Azadeh Shahshahani, president of the National Lawyers Guild and ACLU of Georgia staff member; Georgia State professor Henry Carey; All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party leader, Sobukwe Shukura; Courtney Hanson of Women’s Action for New Directions; and Joe Beasley, Rainbow/PUSH Southern regional director and Air Force veteran.

At the conclusion of the press conference, a delegation led by civil rights leader Joe Beasley entered the hotel, determined to take their objections directly to the conference meeting room. Although stopped by hotel security, the group held their ground in the lobby, complete with their large signs, declaring drones a terrorist weapon and the killer of children.

Each successive day, a protest was held outside the hotel, presenting a visible anti-drone message to the steady flow of traffic on one of Atlanta’s major thoroughfares.

A conference spokesperson tried to deny the criminal use of drones by stating that the conference was concentrating on benign uses such as monitoring climate change, but the closing day’s keynote speaker went to the crux of the matter. His topic, “Future Air Force Vision for Remotely Piloted Aircraft,” urged greater development of drones to ensure U.S. command of global airspace and conflict zones.

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Bradly Manning (Judith Orr, UK Socialist Worker)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

Bradley Manning - a soldier's leaks exposed US 'bloodlust'

As Bradley Manning faces court martial for leaking military files to Wikileaks, Judith Orr says he is standing firm despite the threat of a lifetime in jail

Bradley Manning used to be an intelligence analyst for the US army. Now, aged 25, he faces a lifetime in jail with no chance of parole.

Bradley faces 21 charges—all relating to his leaking of files about US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq to the Wikileaks website.

His court martial began in Maryland on Monday of this week.

Bradley does not deny leaking the materials, which include 500,000 battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, he called the “War Logs”.

He was horrified at what he was seeing and reading about what the US was doing through his job.
He wanted to provoke public debate about US actions in the wars.

At a pre-trial hearing in February of this year he said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

One of the leaks was a clip of video footage of a US Apache helicopter crew killing 12 people, including two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007.

One of the crew is heard referring to the casualities as “dead bastards”.

Bradley said, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have.”

He compared it to a child “torturing ants with a magnifying glass”.

Bradley is pleading not guilty to the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy”.

The prosecution claims that Bradley “knowingly gave intelligence information” to Al Qaida because once it was online Al Qaida had access to it.

Bradley has suffered torture during his imprisonment since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010.

For the first ten months he was kept in solitary confinement. He was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction and sunlight, and was often forced to stay completely naked.

United Nations investigator on torture, Juan Mendez carried out a 14 month investigation after complaints about Bradley’s treatment.

He concluded that Bradley had suffered “cruel and inhuman” treatment.

A judge has ruled that Bradley will get a 112-day reduction in any jail sentence he receives because of this treatment.

Professor Laurence Tribe, who was until recently a senior advisor to the US Justice Department, has also protested over Bradley’s treatment.

Tribe was a Harvard professor who taught president Barack Obama.

Protesters confronted Obama about Bradley’s treatment at a fundraiser event in April 2011. Obama’s response was that Bradley “broke the law”. 

No trial to confirm innocence or guilt had taken place at the time.

As Bradley faces his court martial, US troops still occupy Afghanistan and the crimes of US imperialism go unpunished.

But Bradley is standing firm. He described his feelings after sending the files to Wikileaks. 

He said, “I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and what I had read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan every day.”


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Iraq snapshot,"  "The IRS hands out money to employees like its candy (Wally)," "Kaptor should resign and give Kucinich the seat" and "The menace named Marcy"; "Iraq snapshot," "Saxby Chambliss' gross stupidity," "Senator Bill Nelson sets the tone," "Senator Kirsten Gillibrand didn't come to play" and "Iraq snapshot"; "Iraq snapshot," "Yet another reason to set Lynne Stewart free," "Known terrorists can fly on US commercial planes," "50 million reasons to reduce the federal prison population," "Richard Shelby loves Caprice" and "Iraq snapshot" -- Congressional reporting from C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat -- they cover the Senate, they cover the House.  This is reporting and we're always proud to be able to point out that this community does actual reporting.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Scandal" -- Isaiah on the non-stop White House scandals.

"Another senator dies in office" -- Betty raises an issue we've been raising at Third since 2008 -- the Senate needs to implement a retirement age.

"gwynie the unloved" -- Rebecca notes Paltrow.

"Chris Hedges is pure trash and he started the false link between Iraq and 9-11," "If there's anyone more stupid than Bob Somerby it's his crackers," "Jill Abramson is an embarrassment," "The always disgusting Chris Hedges" "Micro Pilger 'Women be bitches'"-- the vast big silly of Hedges, Abramson, Somerby and John Pilger..

"Asparagus Stir-Fry in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers an easy recipe.

"revenge," "Bill Moyers is worthless," "Elizabeth Perkins was amazing," "The Client List" and
"Revolution (turning the electricity on)" -- Rebecca, Ruth, Stan and Marcia on TV.

"The useless Marcy Wheeler" and "Why is Joseph Kishore such a punk ass?" -- Kat and Marcia note the worthless.

"Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," "Broke down Netflix"  and "Scandals, parties and Mickey Mouse" -- Stan and Mike on movies.

"Barry O's Browsing History" and "THIS JUST IN! AND WHAT IF HIS INTERNET USAGE WAS SPIED ON!" -- Cedric and Wally spy on Barack.

"More IRS corruption," "Crooked Kathleen," "Barack, can you hear me now?," "47% of americans don't believe barack," "More lies from Carney," "The embarrassing Jay Carney," "More spying, more abuse from the government,"  "Time to start discussing impeachment," "More spying from Barack," "50 million reasons to reduce the federal prison population" and "No wonder Lois Lerner took the 5th" -- the community covers some of the scandals.

"Commander of the Groin" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Idiot of the Week" -- Mike crowns the idiot of the week.

"Big Butted Michelle Obama's latest drama," "You can take the rat out of the hood but . . ." and
"THIS JUST IN! YOU CAN TAKE THE RAT OUT OF THE HOOD ..."  -- Betty, Cedric and Wally on the embarrassing Michelle Obama.

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