Saturday, May 18, 2013
He Must Need An Elderly Woman
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
THE INDEPENDENT ARGUES THE SHINE IS OFF BARRY O'S HALO AS A RESULT OF THIS WEEK'S SCANDALS.
THE TELEGRAPH NOTES THAT NOT ONLY IS THE THRILL GONE, IT'S GETTING POSITIVELY NIXONIAN.
BARRY O TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT HE WILL BE RECAPTURING HIS POPULARITY SHORTLY.
"I'VE GOT IT ALL PLANNED," HE EXPLAINED. "WEDNESDAY, I'M GOING TO HAVE A WHITE HOUSE CONCERT BY CAROLE KING AND THAT'LL GET ME LOTS OF LOVE, LOTS OF LOVE."
EXCEPT THAT THE ARTIST IN QUESTION IS 71-YEARS-OLD, HER VOICE IS SHOT AND SHE LAST HAD A MILLION SELLING ALBUM IN 1971 AND FOR MOST AMERICANS UNDER THE AGE OF 45, IT'S REALLY, "CAROLE WHO?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
US House Rep Kenny Marchant: On July 25th, we had another Oversight Committee hearing in which Commissioner Miller and I had an extended conversation about this very subject. And that conversation is in this transcript, anyone can get it on the internet and read the questions but the questions were very specifically about Tea Party groups and their difficulties in getting their tax exempt status, the lengthy conversations that they were having, the questionnaires that they were having to answer. And, again, Mr. Miller in that exchange that you and I had, I came away with that, I felt, with the assurances by you and your office that there were no extraordinary circumstances taking place and that this was just a backlog and there was nothing going on. Mr. Miller, was that your impression of the hearing that day?
Acting Commissioner Steve Miller: Uhm, no sir. What I said there and what I understood your question to be was -- again, we divide this world in two, there's a question of this selection process and there was a question of what was going on at the time of your question. At the time of your question, what was out in the public domain and what I thought we were discussing was the letter. As you called them, the questionnaire. Those were the over broad letters that had been referred to continuously here. Uhm, again, I stand by my answer there. Uh, there was not, uh-h-h-h-h-h, I-I-I-I did talk about the fact that we had centralized -- I believe, I'd have to take a look at it. But I was talking about the fact that we had fixed that problem.
Kenny Marchant: But-but at that time, you knew, by that time, that there were lists being made, there were delineations, there was discrimination going on and that there were steps being taken to try to correct it. But you knew that it was going on at that time.
Acting Commissioner Steve Miller: We had corrected it. TIGTA was taking a look. At that time, my assumption is TIGTA was going to be done with their report that summer. I was not going to go there because I did not have full possessions of all the facts, sir.
Any member of Congress who finds that 'answer' acceptable is an embarrassment. A government official appeared before Congress to testify at a hearing and was asked about potential abuses. He knew about abuses that the Congress didn't with regard to this subject and did not reveal them. His lousy excuse about a report coming out? No. He said (see above) that he had addressed it. But report or no report, you don't conceal from Congress. He played words games and he was dishonest. As USA Today's Susan Page observed on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show today, "Well, we have to go back and look at that, but he certainly left a misimpression among everyone who heard his answers. People heard him as denying it. Now, maybe it will turn out to be some turn of phrase that gives him an exit hatch. But I think it is hard for him to argue that he did not mislead."
That took place this morning in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing. The Committee Chair is Dave Camp and the Ranking Member is Sander Levin. Appearing before the Committee were J. Russell George and Steve Miller. J. Russell George is an Inspector General for the Treasury Department while Steve Miller is the Acting Commissioner of the IRS. The Acting Commissioner. Wednesday, we carried in full the remarks from US President Barack Obama about the 'firing' of Miller. Miller is not fired. As was established in the hearing, he remains on the government payroll, he remains Acting Commissioner of the IRS. He stated so himself today when questioned.
US House Rep Vern Buchanan: Were you terminated or fired? What happened there? Or are you getting ready to retire?
Steve Miller: I was asked to resign and I will retire.
US House Rep Vern Buchanan: Okay.
Steve Miller: Under the civil service rules.
[. . .]
US House Rep Tom Reed: As you sit here today, you were not fired from your job. And I can tell you, in my private experience, you would have been fired on the spot. And all you were allowed to do is resign and retire? And now you come here and try to say I did the honorable thing by falling on my sword' when nothing bad is going to happen to you. You're going to get your full benefits. You're going to get everything that's associated with your retirement as an IRS employee.
Steve Miller: [Laughing] Nohting bad is happening to me, Congressman?
US House Rep Tom Reed: Financially. You're allowed to retire. That's the level of accountability in Washington, DC now. You're still acting [Commissioner]. You came here on the taxpayer dollar today. You're getting a paycheck for being here today. Correct? Correct?
Steve Miller: [Pause] Correct.
There is no accountability. And he laughed. He found the exchange funny. He had many 'cute' moments.
US House Rep Peter Roskam: Why did you say you have notes if you don't have notes?
Steve Miller: Sir, please.
US House Rep Peter Roskam: Do you have notes or don't you have notes?
Steve Miller: (voice dripping with sarcasm) I don't know.
US House Rep Lynne Jenkins stated at one point during the hearing, "I'm sad and I'm sick to my stomach that Americans could be targeted by a government agency based on their political beliefs." Miller was not sick, he laughed, he found things amusing. But why wouldn't it. He's getting away with everything he wanted.
There's no reason to believe Miller was being honest or knows what's going on. One of the people 'disciplined,' the press has noted this week, received an oral warning. Oops. Miller asked about that stated, "The oral counseling that was provided? It turns out that that person might not have been involved." This is a huge scandal. He is the official in charge -- still in charge, still on the job -- and he knew he was appearing before Congress but he still doesn't know who was at fault?
Is there any accountability at all? By his testimony, not at all. In the most outrageous moment, in response to questions asked by US House Rep Ron Kind, Miller declared, "We now have possession of the facts with respect to the TIGTA report. Now is the time we should be looking at that, now that we have the facts." What? No, actually, the time to look was before the TIGTA report. By the time the Inspector General of the Department is finding fault, you've failed at your job. You should have corrected it and, as we know, the IRS knew long before the TIGTA report. But, Miller insisted to Kind, that now is the time, now that the Inspector General's report has been released. No, supervisors -- including Miller -- should have addressed it, should have found out the problems, should have found out who was involved. Other signs of incompetence? He didn't know that, in addition to political groups, churches were targeted. He appeared before the Committee, after the report was released, to 'answer' questions and he didn't even know that churches were among the targeted. What does he do all day? He also made clear that though he doesn't "believe it should happen," he doesn't believe it's illegal. Maybe he had been fired, as we were led to believe he was, he might have cared a little damn more.
And let's also be clear, this isn't the only IRS problem. The IG has released one report. As IG Russell George's remarks made clear, there are other ongoing investigations about the IRS and this issue. Those investigations cannot be discussed because they are ongoing. Again, this was established in George's exchange with US House Rep Tom Reed. ("That is an accurate statement, sir," George agreed.)
US House Rep Aaaron Schock had a number of issues to raise about what the IRS did. A pro-life was group was asked about the content of their prayers and Miller couldn't weigh in on wehter or not that was an appropriate question for the IRS to ask. Another pro-life group was asked if they taught "both sides of the issue." As anyone knows, I'm firmly pro-choice. That does not mitigate my offense at these questions the IRS asked and, especially with regard to prayer, they crossed a line. It's a damn shame Steve Miller didn't know how to respond but a clear indication he was never up for the job. Schock noted another pro-life group was asked to reveal what writing would be on signs they carried at a protest? Again, Miller had no comment.
Popular responses from Miller included: "I don't know," "I don't believe so," "I have no reason to believe . . .," "I don't think so," "I don't have exact knowledge on that," "I'm really not sure" and "I'd have to go back and check." He wasn't sure if he had notes. He wasn't sure about timelines. He was sure about this or about that.
Tonight, Marcia will cover the hearing at her site, Kat at her site, Wally will cover it at Ann's site and Ava will cover it at Trina's site.
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"THIS JUST IN! USA TODAY EMPLOYS PSYCHICS!"
Friday, May 17, 2013
Psychics are running USA Today!
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
USA TODAY'S GREGORY KORTE USED TEA LEAVES AND A CRYSTAL BALL TO WRITE THE FOLLOWING:
The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service goes far beyond the treatment of Tea Party groups and includes larger issues of abuse of power, the chairman of the House's chief tax-writing committee said at an oversight hearing Friday morning.
"With all due respect, this systematic abuse cannot be fixed with just one resignation, or two," said Rep. Dave Camp, R. Mich., who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. "This is not a personnel problem. This is a problem of the IRS being too large, to intrusive, to abusive."
THAT HEARING STARTS IN AN HOUR IN FIFTEEN MINUTES. REPEATING, THAT HEARING, THAT GREGORY KORTE IS TELLING US ABOUT, HAS NOT YET STARTED.
AS THE SCREEN SNAP DEMONSTRATES, PSYCHIC KORTE ACTUALY POSTED HIS STORY LAST NIGHT "11:40 p.m. EDT May 16, 2013."
THURSDAY NIGHT PSYCHIC KORTE 'REPORTED' ON THE HEARING. AS C.I. OF THE COMMON ILLS HAS LONG NOTED, THE BULK OF THE 'REPORTING' ON CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS THAT THE PRESS DOES IS NOTHING MORE THAN READING THE WRITTEN STATEMENTS SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE 24 HOURS AHEAD OF TIME.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Monday came news of the Justice Dept secretly spying on the 167 year-old news organization Associated Press by seizing their phone records for April and May of 2012. Earlier this month, May 5th, US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft observed:
Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s proclamation of World Press Freedom Day, an occasion for the international community, governments, media organizations, civil society, and average citizens to promote press freedom around the world, to recommit to defend the media from attacks on its independence, and to pay tribute to the journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. Freedom of speech and expression is a cornerstone of all our democratic rights, for an uninformed citizenry cannot be a democratic citizenry. In the United States, our Founding Fathers saw this right as so crucial that they placed it first in our Bill of Rights, decreeing that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”
World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity for us all to oppose repression of the media, to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression, to protect journalists, and to tolerate opinions with which we may disagree. As democracy has increasingly replaced dictatorship around the world, the right of free expression has become a vital mechanism to maintain those hard-won freedoms. Journalists and bloggers keep citizens informed, keep governments honest, and often reveal uncomfortable truths. We must work to ensure that journalists are not persecuted, threatened, attacked, or killed for seeking to inform and educate citizens; we must prevent newer online technologies – sophisticated media tools, networking groups and bloggers reaching millions – from being censored, firewalled, or closed.
It's a message the Justice Dept apparently missed. In its 167 years this month, the Associated Press has won 51 Pulitzer Prizes, has lost over 30 journalists who died while practicing journalism and witnessed the changing technology: "AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years. In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire. A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994. In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world." The Economist observes, "All manner of people who might have wanted to keep their contact with the press secret will have been caught in this dragnet; others might now hesitate to speak to reporters. That concern is not far-fetched: under Barack Obama’s watch, the government has indicted six officials for leaking secrets under a law called the Espionage Act, which had only previously been invoked against government officials three times since it became law in 1917."
Based on Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, this report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo from May 2012 is what has angered the government. It opens with, "The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press has learned."
Today on his radio program The News Dissector (Progressive Radio Network, airs Thursdays at 5:00 pm EST), host Danny Schechter observed that the Justice Dept's actions have "outraged people left, right and center." On parts of the left, sure, parts. As Danny quickly found out when he spoke to his guests. Cult of St. Barack member Al Gioradano (who will never live down his disgraces in 2008) declared it a "big yawn." Hobbyist Gioradano then referred to it as "pout rage."
Pouting is accurate -- in terms of describing certain elements of the left. For everyone decrying, you have a large number of pouters. Chris Hedges pouted yesterday on Democracy Now!, whining that his personal stories of choice (no, not his October 2001 front page New York Times article falsely linking Iraq to the 9-11 attacks) of choice didn't get coverage by the AP so what did it matter, the AP was silent, so what does it matter? Well the AP isn't silent on Bradley Manning. They do file repeatedly on Bradley Manning. That was one of his two stories. On Julian Assange? AP doesn't do feature writing. Julian Assange is yesterday's news. It's really not breaking news. AP is a wire service that covers breaking news. Some would journalist Chris Hedges would understand but those people probably missed his October 2001 front page effort to sell the war on Iraq. Before there was Judith Miller, there was Chris Hedges.
On Danny's radio program, it was said who could name a reporter at AP? Who can name a reporter anywhere these days other than TV? Most people can't. I can name a ton of AP reporters off the top of my head including Sameer N. Yacoub, Adam Schreck who are among the reporters covering Iraq. I can name former AP reporters such as Chelsea J. Carter but I'm someone who pays attention. I can track the career trajectories of the last ten years, for example, of Liz Sly and Sam Dahger -- two reporters who have changed outlets repeatedly.
AP stood alone in its coverage of the March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi by US soldiers stationed in Iraq. Brett Barrouquere owned that story. And though he wrote very important reports and would probably have emerged as the best in a crowded field, the reality is others ignored it after the initial revelations. There were court-martials of the soldiers still in the service and there was the trial of the ringleader who had already left the military. Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now!, The Nation, go down the list, didn't give a damn. In fact, Katha Pollitt only covered (half a sentence in a column) one of the most outrageous War Crimes of the Iraq War because she was shamed into doing so by the fact that non-feminist Alexander Cockburn had called it out and she hadn't. When readers and critics began noting that, she finally did a half sentence on a 14-year-old Iraqi girl at home with her family when US soldiers broke into her home, took her parents and her five-year-old sister into another room as they started gang-raping Abeer. As the gang-rape took place, Abeer could hear the gun shots and the screams as her parents and her sister were killed. Then Steven D. Green came back into the living room, took his part in the gang-rape and then shot and killed Abeer which was followed by an attempt to set her body on fire.
This wasn't news to The Nation magazine. This wasn't worthy of a column for feminist Katha Pollitt. When Green's trial started, the AP had a little competition -- local media in Kentucky and Arianna Huffington who, to her credit, saw this as a story worth paying for and The Huffington Post had regular coverage as a result. The trial kicked off April 27, 2009 in Paducah, Kentucky. Apparently, although I thought it was a nine hour drive from DC, it's actually all the way around the world and unreachable by our so-called 'independent media' who couldn't be bothered to cover it. By the same token, AP's the only US news organization filing regularly from Iraq now. Every day they're filing, several times a day.
The pouters on the left who can't be bothered by AP are joined by the Cult of St. Barack which will make you eat lead paint and tell you it's broccoli. Yesterday, Jason Linkins (Huffington Post) exposed Media Matters for America which was working a list of talking points about how the Justice Dept's seizure of records was no big deal:
Finally, the most obvious thing needs to be said: I'm pretty sure that if this probe of the Associated Press had been conducted by a Republican administration, you would not be doing all of this "Let's give the snoopers the benefit of the doubt."
I am pretty sure that your anger over the breach of these journalists' privacy would be epic and righteous and uncowed.
ThinkProgress! You guys need to check yourselves as well!
There are some deeds, I'm afraid, for which having the favored party identification is not an affirmative defense. It is not OK that the DoJ did this because the DoJ is being run by the guys who you perceive to be wearing the white hats. Snooping through the phone records of reporters doesn't become OK because Democrats are doing it, and it doesn't become evil by dint of the fact that Republicans are doing it. IT IS EITHER ALWAYS RIGHT, OR ALWAYS WRONG.
The thing is, Media Matters, you have painted yourselves into a corner here. Someday, in America, there is going to be a Republican in the White House. They will run the DoJ. They will contend with leaks of their own. They will face a choice as to whether to abridge the rights of the press to hunt that source down. They might even choose to do something very much like the DoJ did in this instance.
Linkins is kind enough to add a statement from Media Matters where they insist it wasn't them, it was Message Matters. Here is Message Matters -- above their name at the top of the screen is "Media Matters Action Network." Message Matters is a division of Media Matters. Yesterday evening Michael Isikoff (NBC News) filed a report that even put into question the supposed reason for the investigation:
Within hours after the AP published its May 7, 2012 story, then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, currently the director of the CIA, held a background conference call in which he assured television network commentators that the bomb plot was never a threat to the American public or aviation safety.
The reason, he said, is because intelligence officials had “inside control” over it.
Stephen Walt (Foreign Policy) observes, "The greater but more subtle danger, however, is that our society gradually acclimates to ever-increasing levels of secrecy and escalating levels of government monitoring, all of it justified by the need to 'keep us safe.' Instead of accepting that a (very small) amount of risk is inevitable in the modern world, our desire for total safety allows government officials to simultaneously shrink the circle of individual freedoms and to place more and more of what they are doing beyond our purview." On the first hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show, Diane's topics were the IRS and AP scandals. Her guests were (all men -- how sadly normal for Diane's pathetic show) attorney Scott Fredericksen, NPR gadfly David Folkenflick and the ACLU's Gabe Rottman. We'll note Rottman on the AP scandal.
Gabe Rottman: Absolutely. And it's important to realize here that the First Amendment and the freedom of the press that it protects is not protecting the press. It's protecting the public. It's protecting our ability and our right to know what the government is doing in our name. And that's all the more important when it comes to national security cases like this where the government has vast authority to make secret its activities. And this particular subpoena is so chilling because of two reasons. First, it's extremely broad. It covered 20 phone lines in offices where more than 100 reporters work. And then in addition to that and perhaps more troubling, the Department of Justice elected to delay notifying the Associated Press that it had issued the subpoena for these telephone records. What that means is the Associated Press was robbed of the ability to go to court to challenge the subpoena.
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"THIS JUST IN! ERIC HOLDER'S IS CONFUSED!"
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Did he read the job description?
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER RANTED, GRUNTED AND SPEWED YESTERDAY AT THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
HOLDER APPEARED TO THINK HE HAD BEEN ELECTED TO SOME OFFICE AND NOT GRASP THAT AS AN APPOINTED OFFICIAL, HE HAS A DUTY TO ANSWER EACH AND EVERY QUESTION THE PEOPLE'S REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS PUT BEFORE HIM. HE SEEMED TO THINK HE WAS ABOVE THE PROCESS AND ABOVE ACCOUNTABILITY.
AND HE NEVER KNEW AN ANSWER AS EVEN THE WASHINGTON POST POINTS OUT:
On and on Holder went: “I don’t know. I don’t know. . . . I would not want to reveal what I know. . . . I don’t know why that didn’t happen. . . . I know nothing, so I’m not in a position really to answer.”
DID NO ONE EVER TELL HOLDER THAT ATTORNEY GENERAL WAS A FULL TIME JOB? THAT IT REQUIRED ATTENTION TO DETAIL?
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS THIS MORNING, HOLDER REPLIED, "YOU MOTHERF**KERS BETTER GET OFF MY DAMN PORCH BEFORE I SICK THE IRS ON YOUR S**TY ASSES!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
This afternoon, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte noted that "just two days ago, it was revealed that the Justice Dept obtained telephone records for more than 20 Associated Press reporters and editors over a two month period. These requests appear to be very broad and intersect important First Amendment protections. Any abridgment of the First Amendment right to the Freedom of the Press is very concerning and members of the Committee want to hear an explanation today." Ranking Member John Conyers noted, "I'm bothered by that our government would pursue such a broad range of media phone records over such a long period of time." Conyers used the occasion to call for the passage of his Federal Press Shield bill. Appearing before the Commitee today, Attorney General Eric Holder stated he supported such a law ("I continue to think that it should be passed") in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee.
Monday came the shocking news that the Associated Press had been targeting the AP, secretly obtaining phone records for the months of April and May 2012. Lynn Oberlander (The New Yorker) observed:
The cowardly move by the Justice Department to subpoena two months of the A.P.’s phone records, both of its office lines and of the home phones of individual reporters, is potentially a breach of the Justice Department’s own guidelines. Even more important, it prevented the A.P. from seeking a judicial review of the action. Some months ago, apparently, the government sent a subpoena (or subpoenas) for the records to the phone companies that serve those offices and individuals, and the companies provided the records without any notice to the A.P. If subpoenas had been served directly on the A.P. or its individual reporters, they would have had an opportunity to go to court to file a motion to quash the subpoenas. What would have happened in court is anybody’s guess—there is no federal shield law that would protect reporters from having to testify before a criminal grand jury—but the Justice Department avoided the issue altogether by not notifying the A.P. that it even wanted this information. Even beyond the outrageous and overreaching action against the journalists, this is a blatant attempt to avoid the oversight function of the courts.
From this afternoon's hearing, we'll note this section.
Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte: It was recently reported that the Justice Dept obtained more than two months of phone records of more than 20 reporters and editors with the Associated Press -- including both work and personal phone lines. There's been a lot of criticism raised about the scope of this investigation. Including why the Dept needed to subpoena records for 20 different people over a lengthy two month period? Why was such a broad scope approved?
Attorney General Eric Holder: Yeah, I mean, there's been a lot of criticism, the staff of the RNC called for my resignation in spite of the fact that I was not the person who was involved in that decision. But be that as it may. I was recused in that matter as I described in a press conference that I held yesterday, the decision to issue this subpoena was made by the people who are presently involved in the case, the matter is being supervised by the Deputy Attorney General. I am not familiar with the ca[se] -- with the way the subpoena was constructed in the way that it was because I'm simply not a part of the, uh, of the case.
Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte: It's my understanding that one of the requirements before compelling process from the media outlet is to give the media outlet notice. Do you know why that was not done?
Attorney General Eric Holder: There are exceptions to that rule. I do not know, however, with regard to that particular case, why that was or was not done. I simply don't have a factual basis to answer that question.
Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte: And it's also been reported that the Associated Press refrained from releasing this story for a week until the department confirmed that doing so would not jeopardize national security interests. That indicates that the AP was amenable to working with you on this matter. If that is the case, why was it necessary to subpoena the telephone records? Did you seek the AP's assistance in the first place? And, if not, why not?
Attorney General Eric Holder: Again, Mr. Chairman, I-I don't know what happened there with the, uh, interaction between the AP and the Justice Dept, I was recused from the case.
Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte: I take it that you or others in the Justice Dept will be forthcoming with those answers to those questions as you explore why this was handled in what appears to be contrary to the law and standard procedure.
Attorney General Eric Holder: Uh, well, again, there are exceptions to some of the rules that you pointed out. And I have faith in the people who actually were responsible for this case that they were responsible for the rules and that they followed them. But I don't have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked because I was recused. I don't know what has happened in this matter.
As disclosed before, I know Eric Holder. I like Eric. That doesn't mean he gets a pass here. We didn't cover Fast and Furious -- it didn't strike me as story nor was it part of our scope, sorry. Rebecca did cover it and when it was tossed out -- I believe by one of her readers -- that it was probably making me mad, she asked me for a comment and I told her she needed to cover what she believed was important and that there was no problem. (Rebecca and I are friends from college, nothing will harm that friendship.)
With that out of the way, on the above, not acceptable. Holder isn't there to be cute or funny or political or angry. He had no reason to bring up the RNC. His job is to sit there, shut his mouth until he's asked to speak and then answer the question. That is his job. And it is Congress' time, not his. So if they ask a question in the midst of a reply, he needs to be silent. He is not elected to office and he is before Congress -- before The People's House, in fact. These are the people citizens elected to represent them. So when he's insulting or silly or anything but professional, it's unacceptable. If he were a private citizen, fine and dandy. But he's unelected official appearing before Congress to answer questions. His behavior was unacceptable. (Marcia will cover more of this at her site tonight.) I don't care for Condi Rice. I don't believe half of what she told Congress at hearings that I've attended. But she's the one to hold up as the example of an official in front of Congress for the way she carried herself. No member of that administration was treated as hostilely as Rice was. That's in part because she's a woman and in part because people like Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft only served one term while Condi was there the full 8 years. But while I rarely felt she was fully honest, I never faulted her for the way she conducted herself before the Committee. And she was treated rudely. I have no problem saying that. What Senator Barbara Boxer did to her in a hearing was the rudest thing I've ever seen.
Holder's behavior also includes his press conference that he noted. But, more importantly, the interview he did with Carrie Johnson (Morning Edition, NPR) that aired this morning.
Carrie Johnson: And Holder only raised more questions when he told reporters he had seen a draft of Cole's letter beforehand. And is that normal practice when you're recused from a case?
Eric Holder: Well, no. I just wanted to see the letter. I saw the draft letter this morning and I just wanted to have an opportunity to see what it looked like so I'd have at least some sense of the case, in case there were things in the letter that [I] could talk about with the press.
Regardless, once you're recused, you stay out of it. That means you don't read a letter because, in your kind, beautiful heart, you want to help the press. I don't care. You recused yourself, you stay out of it. Recusing means you wall yourself off. You don't get to choose which parts you have access to and which parts your review. If you are recused from the matter, you are out of it.
The wall is not porous. Out of it means out of it. That also means you don't make statements of 'faith' about employees. You are out of it. You cannot offer judgments, you can offer facts. You are out of it. Eric Holder's actions are appalling because he is over executing the laws for the Executive Branch and he fails to follow the recusal.
He did clear up that when the Attorney General is recused from a case, the Deputy Attorney General becomes Acting Attorney General on that case. This goes to the issue of the law requiring Holder to sign off on the subpoena. As he explained it to US House Rep Jim Sensebrenner, Deputy Attorney General James Cole would have signed off. (There's more on that which Kat will cover at her site tonight.)
As Attorney General, he is over the Justice Dept and that means he needs to know what's going on. So when he explains that he was recused because he had been interviewed on this case, that's allowed. [Holder knew the information leaked. He was interviewed to determine whether or not he was the leak. For this reason he recused himself.] That's expected. When he's asked by Sensebrenner if Cole was also interviewed in the investigation that caused your recusal" and Holder responds, "Uh, I don't know. I don't know. I assume he was, but I don't know," you've got a problem.
He is the Attorney General. Part of recusing himself was ensuring that whomever took over also had no appearance of a conflict of interest. I have no idea whether Cole was interviewed or not. But I'm not Attorney General. That is something Holder should know. If the answer was "yes," Cole shouldn't have been put in charge? Correct. But Cole shouldn't have been put in charge -- yes or no -- before it was determined whether or not he too was questioned for the investigation. It was Holder's job to not only ensure that he had no appearance of conflicted interests but that the person who the case was handed off to did not have a conflict of interest. Eric Holder didn't do that part of his job.
Nor did he put his recusal in writing. This is an issue. It's not minor. Holder is under the opinion that all he needs to do is say, "Tag, you're it." No. He cannot just tell his Deputy AG that he is recusing himself and the Deputy AG is in charge. It needs to be formal. It wasn't. Under questioning from US House Rep Spencer Bachus, he admitted that it was not done in writing. Did he inform the White House? No, he said because it was an ongoing investigation. I'm sorry but the White House nominated Holder for the post. He reports directly to the White House, he should have informed the White House that he was recusing himself and he should have done so in writing. Holder disagrees. He does allow that it might have been helpful to have put it in writing. Bachus pointed out, "Well it would be in this case becuase you don't know when you recused yourself." To which, he replied, "Well I don't know precisely but I have said that it was at the beginning of the investigation." He also testified that he put two people in charge of the investigation as part of his recusal. Why is he staffing the investigation if he's recused? If he turned power over to the Deputy Attorney General than the DAG should be the one appointing people to lead the investigation.
We'll note more of the hearing throughout the snapshot. Wally's tackling an issue the hearing raises about Congress (he'll be writing at Rebecca's site tonight) and, at Trina's site, Ava's covering nonsense from a member and the member's failure to redeem himself.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
There's a reason why he attacks the press and whistle blowers
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW -- MUST CREDIT BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O REVEALED TO THESE REPORTERS THIS MORNING THE REASON BEHIND HIS WAR ON WHISTLE BLOWERS AND THE PRESS.
"I'M ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW," BARRY O WHINED ASKING THAT SOMEONE CUT HIS GRAPEFRUIT FOR HIM.
"AND," HE CONTINUED AS VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN CUT THE GRAPEFRUIT, "WHISTLE BLOWERS AND THE PRESS MAKE ME LOOK STUPID AND UNINFORMED. SO IF I CAN JUST PUT AN END TO BOTH OF THEM, I'LL LOOK SO MUCH SMARTER."
BARRY O SMILED, TOOK HALF A GRAPEFRUIT, STUCK A FORK IN AND BEGAN SCREAMING.
"OH, MY EYE! MY EYE! THE JUICE SHOT IN MY EYE!" BARRY O EXCLAIMED.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Starting with the latest US government assault on the First Amendment in the name of the so-called 'war on terror,' Dylan Byers and Katie Glueck (POLITICO) speak with AP staffers about their reaction to the news that the US Justice Dept had secretly grabbed the news organizations' phone records for April and May 2012. One person states, "People were outraged and disgusted. No one was yelling and screaming, but it was like, 'Are you kidding me?'"
The Port Huron Times-Herald editorial board observes, "The seizure of journalists' phone records is an attack on press freedom and the constitutional protection of the public's right to know. The American people must see Obama account for this deplorable action." Today, AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe (link is video) and spoke about this assault on the First Amendment with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and guests journalists Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame) Mike Barnicle. Excerpt.
Kathleen Carroll: Well obviously, we're distressed that the Justice Dept felt the need to seize our records and not tell us about it and certainly distressed as our CEO said in his protest to the Justice Dept that the scope of the inquiry's so huge. More than 100 journalists for the AP work at the places whose phone numbers and phone records were seized by the Justice Dept.
Mike Barnicle: Kathleen, the origins of the story have to do with a story that the AP broke on a plot in Yemen that originated in Yemen, correct?
Kathleen Carroll: Well, we're not entirely sure about that but that's our best guess, Mike.
Mike Barnicle: But at the time that that story ran, it ran after the Associated Press cooperated with the government's request to delay the story, is that correct?
Kathleen Carroll: That is correct.
Mike Barnicle: When did you find out from the Dept of Justice, from the government, that these records were subpoenaed, that the Justice Dept was eavesdropping on reporters?
Kathleen Carroll: We got a very brief e-mail Friday afternoon from the US Attorney of the District of Columbia saying that they had these records of these 20 phone lines.
Mike Barnicle: And did it outline in that notification to you, did it outline the time frame in which they were eavesdropping on reporters?
Kathleen Carroll: April and May of 2012.
Mike Barnicle: That vague?
Kathleen Carroll: Yep.
Joe Scarborough: So Kathleen, you say over 100 reporters' phones were -- phone records -- were seized by the government?
Kathleen Carroll: It's 20 different phone lines, Joe, and they -- the phone lines -- include main numbers. If you count all the journalists who would be making calls in and out of those phone numbers, it would be more than 100.
Joe Scarborough: And what's so surprising here, Mike, is, of course, other administrations have done this, have made mistakes. In 2004, the FBI mistakenly did this and apologized for an Indonesian office. Kathleen, this goes right to the core of the Associated Press mission. What is the impact of having the phone records of 100 reporters of the Associated Press seized by the government?
Kathleen Carroll: Well it's clearly distressing to think that -- without our knowledge -- someone is looking at phone calls that we make in the course of daily business and obviously not all of them would be involving this kind of reporting on the story that Mike mentioned, the national security story. It would be calling police officers to see what's going on on a burning house, it would be calling hospitals, it would be talking with government officials of every level -- city, state, federal, in the normal course of business.
Joe Scarborough: Well, Kathleen, it would also be talking to whistle blowers, members of the federal government, people and agencies -- sources saying things not only about the administration that the administration wouldn't want, but other government officials. Do you find this to be a chilling intimidating breach of the Associated Press' constitutional -- You're, you're smiling. I see Carl smiling here. If I'm a reporter and I just found out I was chasing a story with sources that were scared to talk to me and now the federal government, the Justice Dept has their phone numbers inside their agencies, that's chilling not only to the Associated Press but to your sources.
Kathleen Carroll: Well obviously we find this very distressing and I think the CEO put it best in the very strongly worded letter that he sent yesterday to Eric Holder, the Attorney General. I mean, I've been in this business more than 30 years and our First Amendment lawyers and our lawyers inside the AP, and our CEO, also well known First Amendment Lawyer, none of us have seen anything like this.
Carl Bernstein noted, "This administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning. The object of it is to intimidate people who talk to reporters. This was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event and now it's happened. There's no excuse for it whatsoever. There's no reason for this investigation especially on this scale." I know Carl and I want to be clear that he's an investigative journalist. I've shared the tale before of two would-be screenwriters (news reporters) who wrote a (bad) script and wanted input on it. I said, "Your main character's an investigative reporter and we never see any drive or passion for that. There's not even a token reference to Woodward and Bernstein." To which one of the two (the one who reported for the news section of the New York Times) asked, "Who are Woodard and Bernstein?" So to be clear, Watergate was the scandal that buried the administration of Richard Nixon (Tricky Dick). It came to light because of the dogged pursuit of reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. So just to be clear on who Carl is. Reporters Without Borders issued a statement calling out the action and they quoted RWB's secretary-general Christophe Deloire stating:
We share the view of AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt, who called it a 'massive and unprecedented intrusion' in a letter yesterday to US attorney general Eric Holder. We urge the DOJ to comply immediately with the AP's request for the return or destruction of the seized phone records.
We also think that such a flagrant violation of constitutional guarantees needs to be the subject of a congressional commission of enquiry. We regret to see that the federal government has not ended the practices that prevailed during President George W. Bush’s two terms, when officials sacrificed the protection of private data and, above all, the First Amendment right to be informed. This case has demonstrated the need for a federal shield law that guarantees the protection of journalists’ sources, a principle that 34 of the Union’s states already recognize to varying degrees in their legislation.
WBAP's Ben Ferguson discussed the attack on press freedom with the AP's Interim General Counsel Laura Malone. The interview will be broadcast tomorrow morning but WBAP has put on some of it on the web late today.
Laura Malone: They didn't give us any reasoning. The time frame is April and May 2012. They gave us a list of the telephone numbers. We internally matched the telephone numbers to our journalists and that's how we found out what the telephone numbers pertained to. There were some specific journalists who were named in the notification and they gave us the phone numbers but the rest of it was just a string of numbers that we had to go through. That's when we discovered that they had the general telephone numbers and the fax numbers of some of our bureaus. And, again, as I say, the time frame, it simply says from April and May 2012, not limited in any fashion and they don't give a reason why.
Ben Ferguson: For all you know, and I want to clarify this -- my guest Laura Malone, AP Interim General Counsel -- they could have been for months on end or even currently now is there a possibility that the Justice Dept is continuing to do what they told you they were doing in the past?
Laura Malone: Of course they could be doing this now. We would have no idea, no way of knowing if they were really on this general exception. There is a requirement under this set of guidelines that once they do it they have a time under which they have to notify you after the fact. And it's a 45-day notice period but it also can be extended by another 45 days. So the potential is that they subpeonead these records and as a little as a day or two [later] we got the notice or as much as 90 days before we got the notice. So could they be doing this currently? There's no reason to think that they couldn't.
Ben Ferguson: What do you -- my guest Laura Malone AP Interim General Counsel -- from the Associated Press, Atorney General Eric Holder has just said that his deputy ultimately authorized the subpeona to secretly obtain phone records from the Associated Press and he said that he had recused himself early on in the related investigation into leaks of sensitive information that they claim put the American people at risk.
Laura Malone: Mmm-hmm. Well there are a couple of different parts of your question. First of all, under the rules, the Attorney General is supposed to sign off on any kind of subpeona like this. He is now saying -- and we're hearing the same thing that you're hearing -- that he recused himself and assigned this to his Deputy AG and his name is Jim Cole. We just, in the last several minutes, got a letter from Mr. Cole in response to our letter and I have to tell you that I have not reviewed it yet. But we did -- we did just get it and we're reviewing it internally.
As David Jackson (USA Today) observes, "Already facing criticism over the Benghazi attack and Internal Revenue Service problems, President Obama and aides must now deal with news that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of journalists who work for the Associated Press." As Mike observed last night, "Barack Is A Many Scandaled Thing." Let's move to the IRS since targeting critics of the government is targeting free speech -- Trina covered this in "The IRS as an instrument of intimidation." Lucy Madison (CBS News -- link is text but includes video of Charlie Rose addressing the topic on CBS This Morning) reports on a USA Today column today by IRS' Acting Commissioner Steven Miller . Madison notes, "CBS News has confirmed that Miller, who replaced former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman who resigned last year, was informed of the IRS's targeting policy in May 2012. On July 25, 2012, Miller testified before a House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee, but did not mention the agency's heightened scrutiny for the applications of conservative groups. After learning of the controversial IRS practice, he also wrote at least two letters to Congress explaining the process for reviewing tax-exempt status applications; in neither of those letters did he mention the targeting."
The Inspector General of the Treasury has a report due out on the IRS' targeting. Several news outlets have advanced copies. Joseph Tanfani and Richard Simon (Los Angeles Times) explain, "The report looked at records for 298 organizations that the IRS specialists scrutinized for their level of political activity, determining that 96 were pulled out because they had the words “tea party,” 'patriots,' or '9-12' in their names, while 202 did not. ('9-12' refers to a conservative movement to restore the national unity felt on the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.)" Lindsey Boerma and Steve Chaggaris (CBS News -- link is text and video) state the report pins the blame on "ineffective management."
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Crusty Lips Obama dishonors the dead
BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O EARNED A NEW NICKNAME YESTERDAY, "OLD CRUSTY LIPS."
OLD CRUSTY LIPS YAMMERED AWAY 'ABOUT' BENGHAZI YESTERDAY FOR OVER 900 WORDS.
HE HAD THE NERVE TO ACCUSE OTHERS OF DISHONORING "4 DEAD AMERICA" BUT HE NEVER SAID THEIR NAMES. WHO'S DISHONORING THE DEAD?
HE MANAGED TO SAY "MIKE MULLEN," "TOM PICKERING," "MATT OLSEN," "SUSAN RICE" AND "HILLARY CLINTON."
BUT HE DIDN'T SAY "GLEN DOHERTY" OR "SEAN SMITH" OR "CHRIS STEVENS" OR "TYRONE WOODS."
WHO DISHONORED THE DEAD?
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
The so-called 'war on terror' wounds another democratic institution. Mark Sherman (AP) reports that his news organization's phone records for April and May 2012 were seized by the US Justice Dept. Sherman quotes a statement from Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt:
There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.
Revelations of the seizure emerge ten days after World Press Freedom Day. The news also emerges after AP won their 51st Pulizter Prize -- last month photo journalists Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen were honored, and it emerges after AP photo journalist David Guttenfelder was awarded the Infinity Award for Photojournalism only days ago. 167 years ago this month, the Associated Press began as "five New York City newspapers got together to fund a pony express route through Alabama in order to bring news of the Mexican War north more quickly than the U.S. Post Office could deliver it. In the decades since, AP has been first to tell the world of many of history’s most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul." Over 30 correspondents have died in those years in the pursuit of news stories. The story of the Associated Press is the story of changing technology, "AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years. In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire. A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994. In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world."
So what led to the US government's assault on the First Amendment? The AP believes it is this report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo from May 2012 which opened with, "The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press has learned."
What's the problem with the story? That the government didn't want AP to cover it for another 24 hours. At the start of the month a year ago, AP learned of this story -- presumably from US government sources. The report ran May 7th, a day before the administration planned to grab headlines with a news conference announcing the foiling of the plot. (As Goldman and Apuzzo noted in their original report, the White House and the CIA knew AP would be reporting this and AP delayed the story for a week at their request.) Though this appears to fall into what has already been established in Brave New Films' documentary War On Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State, the US Justice Dept insists in a statement that they have done nothing wrong. They tell the Australian Business Insider:
We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.
The targeting of the venerable news organization comes as the White House is already reeling from another abuse scandal: the IRS went after conservative political organizations. That scandal emerged Friday. Lucy Madison (CBS News -- link is text and video) quotes US President Barack Obama declaring today, "If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it." If? Chip Reid (CBS News -- link is text and video) reported Friday on the emerging scandal and included the IRS' Lois Lerner stating of her agency's inappropriate behavior, "They used names like tea party or patriots. And they selected cases simply because the application had those names in the title. That was wrong. The IRS would like to apologize for that." Over the weekend, Gregory Korte (USA Today) reported that while Lerner maintained that the targeting took place only in 2012, she "was briefed in 2011" of the same actions taking place that year. Though no supposedly left or liberal groups were targeted, Lerner has insisted on Friday that this wasn't partisan or political. Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) reported yesterday afternoon, "The documents, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where 'statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run'." That makes it partisan. In addition, we've repeatedly noted here the violations in tax exempt status on the left. Whether it's then-WBAI executives going on the air of WBAI (a public radio station with tax exempt status) to endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 general election or NOW repeatedly claiming an 'oopsie' each presidential year as it goes around saying "NOW has endorsed" whatever Democrat when, in fact, NOW can't endorse. NOW can't have its tax exempt status and make those endorsements. That's why they created NOW PAC -- which is cheap and shoddy way -- but legal -- to get around that. So NOW PAC makes the endorsements but the president of NOW always knows no one knows or gives a damn about NOW PAC so, for example, then-NOW president Kim Gandy went on NPR in 2008 to discuss the endorsement. From the interview Renee Montagne did with Gandy for Morning Edition on September 16, 2008:
Ms. KIM GANDY (President, National Organization for Women): Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Who will NOW be endorsing?
Ms. GANDY: NOW is going to be endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket a little bit later on this morning.
MONTAGNE: Just list for us briefly the main positions held by Barack Obama that you think would make him the right man to become president, and alternatively, John McCain, why he's the wrong man.
Repeating, NOW does not endorse. From their own FAQ sheet, "NOW's Political Action Committee, or NOW/PAC, supports candidates in federal elections (for Congress and the Presidency). You must be a member of NOW to contribut to NOW/PAC. NOW/PAC is the only part of the national organization that can endorse federal political candidates."
Do you get that? Because NPR didn't. And when the then-president of NOW Kim Gandy announces on the airwaves that NOW has endorsed, NOW has violated its tax exempt status.
That's where you pull the tax exempt status. These PACs never should have been created to begin with, they're dishonest and spit on the spirit of the law and make a mockery of our elections and they are as damaging as so-called 'soft money.' But once they were allowed, the deal was, the PAC endorses, not the organization. NOW's tax exempt status should have been pulled over that. And that's before you get into the use of NOW -- the organization's -- data base being used to promote NOW PAC's actions and those letters and e-mails also failing to note the it's "NOW PAC" and not NOW doing the endorsing.
So, yes, this was partisan. If you abused your tax status to help Barack's election, the IRS didn't investigate you. But if you used it to speak out against the government, then they harassed you. For audio reporting of this scandal, click here for The Takeaway with John Hockenberry's discussion with correspondent Todd Zwillich.
As the scandal over the IRS targeting the White House's political opponents continues to make waves, the White House now takes aim at the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, four years and two days after a man took aim and launched a killing spree that left five dead, there is a conviction. Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times) reports US Sgt John Russell has been declared guilty today for the murders of 5 US service members in Iraq. Dropping back to the May 11, 2009 snapshot:
Today the US military announced a Camp Liberty shooting at 2:00 p.m. Iraq time in which five US service members were shot dead. In a second announcement, they added, "A U.S. Soldier suspected of being involved with the shootings is currently in custody." Luis Martinez and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) encourage people to watch ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson this evening for a report on the shooting. Tom Leonard (Telegraph of London) states three more US soldiers were wounded in the shooting as does CNN; however, Jenny Booth (Times of London) goes with "at least two others were wounded" and she quotes Lt Tom Garnett (military spokesperson) stating, "The shooter is a US soldier and he is in custody." CNN states the shooting took place at a clinic for US service members seeking assistance with stress. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) cites a US military official: "The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident shook up soldiers, many of whom are in their third and even fourth tours. Some broke down in tears, he said." Yochi J. Drezen (Wall St. Journal) draws the conclusion that many are drawing (and they may be right or they may be wrong) which is that it was likely fratricide, "Such crimes were more common during the Vietnam War, but have occurred only sporadically in Iraq. In 2003, Sgt. Hasan Akbar killed two soldiers and wounded 14 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait; he was convicted and sentenced to death. In 2006, Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was charged with murdering two officers in a suspicious explosion in Tikrit, though he was later acquitted. And last year, an American soldier was arrested in the shooting deaths of a pair of other soldiers at a base near the Iraqi city of Iskandariya."
AFP explains, "Russell, who has previously denied responsibility, admitted the killings last month, in a plea deal worked out by his lawyers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), in the northwestern US state of Washington." BBC News adds, "Russell, a 14-year-veteran, will now begin the sentencing phase of his court martial, where a judge will determine whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison or have the possibility of release one day."
The five killed were identified in two separate news releases by DoD in May 2009. First, the Navy member killed:
Commander Charles K. Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., died May 11 from injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
A day later, DoD identifed the four members of the Army who were killed:
Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Texas. He was assigned to the 55th Medical Company, Indianapolis, Ind.;
Staff Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany;
Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo. He was assigned to the 277th Engineer Company, 420th Engineer Brigade, Waco, Texas; and
Pfc. Michael E. Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany.
In May of 2009, CBS Evening News featured a report by Bob Orr in which Orr spoke with people who knew Sgt John Russell -- including his son John Michael Russell. Excerpt.
22-year-old John Michael Russell: For him to do something like that, he couldn't have been in his right state of mind. They had to -- they had to put him to a breaking point and just -- he just had to have lost it. Just lost all train of thought to do anything like that.
Bob Orr: [Sgt] Russell's father said he may have snapped fearing his military career could be ended by a stress diagnosis
Kim Murphy notes that at Sgt Russell's "mother and sisters" were present in court today as the verdict was announced.
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