04/08/2015 archive

More lies your government tells you.

Ex-F.B.I. Agent Claims Retaliation for Dissent in Anthrax Inquiry

By SCOTT SHANE, The New York Times

APRIL 8, 2015

(A) former senior F.B.I. agent who ran the anthrax investigation for four years says that the bureau gathered “a staggering amount of exculpatory evidence” regarding Dr. Ivins that remains secret. The former agent, Richard L. Lambert, who spent 24 years at the F.B.I., says he believes it is possible that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer, but he does not think prosecutors could have convicted him had he lived to face criminal charges.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tennessee last Thursday, Mr. Lambert accused the bureau of trying “to railroad the prosecution of Ivins” and, after his suicide, creating “an elaborate perception management campaign” to bolster its claim that he was guilty. Mr. Lambert’s lawsuit accuses the bureau and the Justice Department of forcing his dismissal from a job as senior counterintelligence officer at the Department of Energy’s lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in retaliation for his dissent on the anthrax case.

Mr. Lambert says the bureau also gathered a large amount of evidence pointing away from Dr. Ivins’s guilt that was never shared with the public or the news media. Had the case come to trial, “I absolutely do not think they could have proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” He declined to be specific, saying that most of the information was protected by the Privacy Act and was unlikely to become public unless Congress carried out its own inquiry.

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- A Brief Interlude

Every other Saturday night here at chez triv there’s a poker game. My nephew/godson Jon and his girl, Jen come over and play Texas Hold ‘Em with me and Cleetus. The game lasts about four hours and it’s my respite, my time off. My mom and dad retire to their room and watch tv–usually. This week my dad dozed off and we had company at the table.

Everything that is wrong and bad about “Access” “Journalism”.

Review: Judith Miller’s ‘The Story: A Reporter’s Journey’

by Terry McDermott, The New York Times

APRIL 7, 2015

In late 2002 and through 2003, Judith Miller, an investigative reporter at The New York Times, wrote a series of articles about the presumed presence of chemical and biological weapons and possible nuclear matériel in Iraq. Critics thought the articles too bellicose and in lock step with the George W. Bush administration’s march to war. They all included careful qualifiers, but their overwhelming message was that Saddam Hussein posed a threat.

Ms. Miller’s defense of her work then was straightforward: She reported what her sources told her. She has now written a book-length elaboration of that defense, “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey.” The defense is no better now than it was then.

The string of exclusive articles she produced before the Iraq war had the effect of buttressing the Bush administration’s case for invasion.

She had built her career on access. She describes finding, cultivating and tending to powerfully situated sources. She writes that she did not, as some critics of her prewar reporting supposed, sit in her office and wait for the phone to ring. She pounded the pavement. And an ambitious reporter with the power, prestige and resources of a large news organization behind her can cover a lot of road.

Opponents of the Iraq invasion and media critics of her reporting accused her of being a secret neoconservative thirsting for war. Whatever her actual politics, though, the agenda that comes through most strongly here is a desire to land on the front page. She rarely mentions an article she wrote without noting that it appeared on the front page or complaining that it did not.

(S)he was the sole reporter embedded with the military team charged with finding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It failed, meaning so had she. Ms. Miller concedes that the Bush administration’s case for war was built largely on Iraq’s presumably ambitious weapons program. In describing what went wrong with one particular claim, she offers a defense that is repeated throughout the book: “The earlier stories had been wrong because the initial intelligence assessments we reported were themselves mistaken – not lies or exaggerations.”

Ms. Miller’s main defense is that the experts she relied upon – intelligence officials, weapons experts, members of the Bush administration and others – were wrong about Mr. Hussein’s weapons. She acknowledges being wrong but not making any mistakes. She quotes herself telling another reporter: “If your sources were wrong, you are wrong.” This is where she gets stuck.

And this is where Terry McDermott ends his Rand Paul 5 minutes of lucidity.

Journalists, especially those who have a talent for investigative work, are taught early to write big, to push the story as far as possible. Be careful; nail the facts; be fair, but push hard. Nobody pushed harder than Ms. Miller. In this case, she wound up implicitly pushing for war.

A deeper critique of her own reporting, and through that example a critique of the entire enterprise of investigative reporting, would examine its inherently prosecutorial nature. Investigators – journalistic or otherwise – are constantly trying to build a case, to make things fit even when they don’t obviously do so. In the process, the rough edges of the world can be whittled away, nuance can become muddled in the reporter’s head, in the writing, or in the editing.

Investigative Reporting?!  INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING?!

Let’s try whoring your soul, bootlicking sychophancy, shilling for war criminals.

What Judith Miller did has nothing to do with investigative reporting.  It was “access journalism.”

And as excited as I am to be here with the President, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of FOX News. FOX News gives you both sides of every story: the President’s side, and the Vice President’s side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking? Reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they’re super-depressing. And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished.

Over the last five years you people were so good, over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Our Intelligence Apparatus, Operating in the Dark

Forty years ago, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr. played a crucial role in exposing decades of appalling secret conduct by U.S. intelligence agencies. Today, he is publishing “Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy,” a timely and provocative book exploring the origins of the national security state and the urgent challenge of reining it in. [..]

In response to the findings, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and established permanent select committees to oversee intelligence operations. Indeed, it was the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that produced the bombshell report on the CIA’s torture program released in December – though not the unredacted report the nation deserves to see. In the post-Sept. 11 era, however, these intended safeguards against excessive secrecy have undeniably and disastrously failed. As I have written before, it’s long past time to form a modern Church Committee to investigate fully secret U.S. intelligence activities in the 21st century.

Jess Zimmerman: How do we tell when helpful interventions online are just creepy surveillance?

If you’ve never done it before, go to Tumblr and search “thigh gap.” I will wait.

In the event that you are an old person like me, you might not have realized that Tumblr is watching your searches. Well, not your searches, exactly – you are, as we’ve established, an old person, whereas more than half of Tumblr users are under 35 and 15% are under 18. But, likely because of these demographics, the blogging site has starting noting when users search certain keywords – “anorexia”, “self-harm”, “suicide” among them – and inserts a message asking you “is everything okay?” You can still click through to your search results, but first you’re offered resources for support. [..]

But even being watched solely by a sophisticated algorithm feels uncanny. In 2012, Charles Duhigg revealed in the New York Times Magazine that, if you stock up on lotion and supplements at Target, the company’s purchase-analyzing algorithm will guess that you’re pregnant and start sending you coupons for baby gear. “Willies” is too weak a word for how people responded to that one – especially once Duhigg told the story of a Minneapolis father who found out that his teen daughter was pregnant only because Target figured it out first. If you’re searching for vitamins and end up getting served discounts on Diaper Genies, it may feel like you have a fairy godmother – but it also feels like you’re being spied on. And you are.

Sally Kohn: Hey, Christian Business Owners: The Government Isn’t ‘Forcing’ You To Do Anything

You may have heard that the government is forcing businesses not to discriminate. It isn’t. If you chose to run a business, you have to follow the laws. If you don’t, that’s a choice-and you choose to suffer the consequences.

Still, in the wake of the controversy surrounding Indiana’s law, conservatives don’t see it that way. Even potential Republican presidential candidates are getting in on the assertions. Rick Santorum recently said:

   If you’re a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print ‘God Hates Fags’ for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up? Should the government-and this is really the case here – should the government force you to do that? This is about the government coming in and saying, “No, we’re going to make you do this.” And this is where I think we just need some space to say let’s have some tolerance, be a two-way street.

There are two problems with Santorum’s reasoning. The first is that a printer doesn’t have to make such signs, under any law, because refusing to do so is not discrimination in any legally prohibited sense. A print shop can also refuse to print a poster that says, for instance, “F*ck Rick Santorum,” either because it disagrees with the language or the sentiment. Both are entirely legally permissible decisions any business can rightfully make.

Jessica Valenti: We can’t end rape stigma by forcing all victims to identify themselves

In a perfect world, there would be no stigma to being a victim of sexual violence. Sexual assault survivors could come forward and talk about their stories without fear of retribution, shaming or harassment. Reporters could print the names of those assaulted, knowing that the victims’ safety would remain intact.

But we do not live in a perfect – or even near-perfect – world. And if we want rape victims to be able to tell their stories in the media, we must protect their anonymity. [..]

But one misguided suggestion to come out of the discussion about rape, reporting and responsibility is that journalists should only publish stories in which the rape survivor agrees to be named. Sonali Kohli at Quartz, for instance, argued that “there is something patriarchal and counterproductive to the idea that sexual assault is presumed to be shameful for the survivor.”

Maria Margaronis: Syriza Can Still Succeed-Even Though EU Officials Are Set On Its Demise

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Moscow today to discuss gas prices, trade and investment with Vladimir Putin; Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis recently left Washington, where he assured the IMF’s Christine Lagarde that Greece will make a loan repayment due tomorrow and discussed with her the Syriza government’s proposed reforms. A symmetrical shuttling, you could say, beyond the EU’s borders; a reasonable hedging of bets at a critical moment for Greece; an assertion of agency. But reading the Anglophone press, you might think the Greek government was about to default on its IMF loan, print drachmas, call snap elections, thumb its nose at Europe, and sell its soul to Putin for a fistful of roubles.

A fog of disinformation surrounds Greece’s ongoing negotiations with its creditors to unblock 7.2 billion euros of loan funds, without which the government is likely to run out of money in weeks (or months-this too is unclear). An April 5 piece in Financial Times, based almost entirely on blind quotes from “senior official[s]” and eurozone finance ministers, suggested that an agreement will only be possible if Syriza ditches its elected left-wing MPs and forms a coalition with two center-left parties, the discredited Pasok and newly created Potami. In The Daily Telegraph three days earlier, Euroskeptic journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard cited unnamed sources “close to the ruling Syriza party” to claim that Greece was about to nationalize the banking system and introduce a parallel currency. This fog is swallowed and recycled by Greece’s private TV channels, bought hacks and politicians. The effect is to spread confusion and mistrust, threatening the already tremulous negotiations, the Syriza government and what’s left of European cohesion.

The Breakfast Club (April Showers)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Funeral of Pope John Paul II; Pablo Picasso dies at 91; Teen aids patient Ryan White dies at 18; Hank Aaron hits 715th home run; Kurt Cobain found dead in home from self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

It takes a long time to become young.

Pablo Picasso

2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Finals

Sunday’s Results-

Score Seed Team Region Record Score Seed Team Record Region
66 1 Notre Dame 35-2 South 65 1 South Carolina 33-3 Mid-West
81 1 UConn 37-1 East 58 1 Maryland 34-3 West

Today’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Region Seed Team Record Region
8:30pm ESPN 1 UConn 37-1 East 1 Notre Dame 35-2 South

It was destined to be.

The first thing you have to realize is the Muffet and Geno hate each other.  No, really.  They try to appear all polite and stuff on the record but they’re really seething underneath.

Well, Muffet does anyway.  I think Geno hardly notices anyone now that Pat Summit is safely in the rearview mirror.

So the question everyone asks is why is UConn so dominant.  For one thing it is the top sports program in Connecticut.  We have no Major League teams, UConn Throwball is a joke, likewise Men’s Basketball.  You want to know the only one that comes close?  Women’s Soccer.

Also Geno could be coaching rabbits or aliens.  He doesn’t care.  The Lady Huskies are are as tough as nails and better than the guys who they regularly scrimmage with and almost always beat.  Geno is the type of coach who would do a split squad simulated game with the Red flags those players with the skills closest to the team they’re matching against, Starter or not, and the Blue flags everyone else, Scrub or not.  Winner hits the hot tub, loser gets extra practice with Geno “patiently” explaining what they did wrong.

He only looks like a nice guy, he’s a godless killing machine.

Now some people see UConn dominance as a problem and have proposed various fixes.  Diana Taurasi says- “grow up.”

And most of Connecticut agrees.  You see, before 1985 it wasn’t much of a program at all and we’ve more than paid our dues.  Some things you can never change no matter how you jigger the rules and one of them is the best teams attract the best players.

There are those who look forward to Geno’s retirement before he doubles John Wooden’s record, that’s as may be.  We won’t have to look far to find some alum he’s taught the system and until the other teams change to keep up, UConn will continue to win baring flukes, injuries, or some super human player.

(ps. Please read the link and for the record I think the Men and Women should play under exactly the same rules, if you want more scoring you need to shorten the shot clock, not lengthen it, and lowering the rims (Geno’s big idea) is just dumb- if you want a dunk contest where only the last 4 minutes matter watch the NBA.)