Better Believe It
Better Believe It's Journal
Member since: Sun Mar 16, 2008, 10:41 PM
Number of posts: 18,630
Number of posts: 18,630
Obama Indicts Sixth Whistleblower Under the Espionage Act
by Dylan Blaylock
April 5, 2012
On April 3, 2012, the Obama administration indicted intelligence whistleblower John Kiriakou. Kiriakou is the sixth whistleblower that the Obama administration has charged under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information – more than all past administrations combined. In a rare move, the indictment was sealed until today.
Kiriakou is a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) veteran who headed counterterrorism operations in Pakistan after 9/11, organized the team operation that captured suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, and refused to be trained in torture interrogation tactics. In December 2007, Kiriakou gave an on-camera interview to ABC News in which he disclosed that Zubaydah was "waterboarded" and that "waterboarding" was torture. Kiriakou was one of the first CIA officers to label waterboarding as torture, and his interview helped expose the CIA's torture program as policy, rather than the actions of a few rogue agents. Kiriakou further exposed the CIA's torture program and the CIA's deception about torture even to its own employees in his 2009 book, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror.
Government Accountability Project (GAP) National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, a Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower herself, represented National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, the first individual indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act for disclosing massive waste, fraud, abuse and illegality at the NSA through proper channels. The DOJ case against Drake fell apart days before the trial was set to begin last summer, in what was widely seen as a bellwether case for future prosecutions, like that of Kiriakou.
"John Kiriakou is the new Thomas Drake," stated Radack, continuing, "And the case against Kiriakou is just as flimsy as the one against Drake. The Obama administration's unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to target whistleblowers sends a chilling message to any national security worker considering blowing the whistle on corruption and wrongdoing. The Espionage Act is an archaic World War I-era law intended to go after spies, not whistleblowers."
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National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) Condemns CIA Whistleblower Indictment
by Owen Dunn
April 6, 2012
The Department of Justice’s policy of distorting privacy laws to pursue and discredit whistleblowers continues. The Associated Press reported yesterday that a former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, is being charged with leaking classified information after publicly expressing concerns over the use of torture during interrogations.
In the indictment, the DOJ argues that because the interrogation “operation fell within the scope of a CIA counterterrorism program,” all details are therefore critical “national defense information.” Using this type of circular logic and vague, umbrella terminology is now standard practice for the Department of Justice as it works to hide serious legal and ethical allegations, including those made by Mr. Kiriakou in this case.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, stated:
We condemn Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment. The First Amendment means what it says; freedom of speech exists in the United States regardless of the wishes of extremists at the DOJ and CIA who are using outrageous charges to attack whistleblowers. These charges should be dropped immediately, and an investigation should instead be made into those responsible for them.
Posted by Better Believe It | Sun Apr 8, 2012, 09:27 PM (223 replies)
Meet the Press transcript for April 8, 2012
Excerpt from assistant majority leader and Democratic Senator from Illinois
SENATOR DICK DURBIN:
Listen, there's a lot we need to learn across America. But let me tell ya: I was a member of President Obama's bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. That commission of course ended up with 11 of 18 of us voting in favor of it. That included Senator Tom Coburn, a very conservative Oklahoma Republican, and myself. It was a bipartisan statement that we need to combine, put everything on the table, and combine revenue with spending cuts.
Now look at the Paul Ryan budget, and let me start by saying Congressman Ryan voted no on the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan deficit commission. The Ryan budget, which Mitt Romney called marvelous, ends up giving a tax break to the wealthiest people in America of $150,000 a year. Governor Kasich, we can't do that.
We have got to use that money to reduce the deficit. We've got to cut spending and put everything on the table.
Posted by Better Believe It | Sun Apr 8, 2012, 08:56 PM (12 replies)
Good News for Women: Dem Leader Cleaver Says There’s No GOP War on You
April 8, 2012
Very good news today, coming from the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. Mr. Cleaver is concerned about the tone of politics these days, and since it’s unfair for the Republicans to charge the President with waging a war on religion — because he isn’t — it’s only fair that Democrats stop claiming the Tea-Party GOP is waging a war against women — even though they are.
This is a great moral victory for the advocates of false equivalency, not to mention the holy mostly-male warriors who have introduced and/or passed hundreds of bills in state legislatures and Congress to repeal or restrict women’s reproductive rights, rights to demand equal pay, and access to the benefits of government programs designed to benefit millions of women that are being systematically defunded by the GOP’s war on government (sorry).
Also, too, those of you who were waiting for the first Democrat to discredit one of the few effective and totally valid frames that might actually help them win elections can stop waiting. There’s one born every minute. Wonder if he has a mother, wife or daughter to explain this.
Cleaver did everything but grovel before the far right sexist creep Ralph Reed. BBI
Posted by Better Believe It | Sun Apr 8, 2012, 08:36 PM (23 replies)
Repudiate ‘Obamacare’?: Here is a radical strategy for Obama
By Paul F. deLespinasse
April 7, 2012
No matter how the Supreme Court decides the medical insurance cases, we face prolonged uncertainty. If it upholds the law, Republicans will sabotage implementation and promise to repeal it when they return to power. If it strikes down the law, the uncertainty will be what, if anything, Congress will do next. Confusion will be even greater if the court only strikes down parts of the law.
The only way to avoid crippling uncertainty will be to stop the Supreme Court from making any decision at all. President Obama could do this by announcing that he is now convinced — after considering the arguments at the Court — that the 2,700-page law is unconstitutional. He would add that he has also concluded the law is unwise: too complex, precarious in its financing, too many provisions added merely to gain votes needed for passage. He can say we must do better than this and ask Congress to repeal the entire mess, depriving the Supreme Court of any opportunity to make a further mess. Congress would undoubtedly comply with this request.
Obama would explain that the obvious solution to our insurance problems would be a single-payer system (“Medicare for all”) financed by taxes, which would clearly be constitutional. Unfortunately he had to rule this out during his first term because he had promised not to raise taxes on anybody but the rich. He would apologize for making a promise that prevented him from doing what he thought best for the country.
Obama would announce that his re-election campaign will focus on showing voters why a single payer system is the best idea, noting that his promise not to raise taxes was only for his current term. He will note that elimination of insurance premiums (now paid directly or indirectly by employees) will make up for the tax increases required by a single payer system. In fact the average person will come out ahead since money now paying for insurance company management will be greatly reduced.
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Posted by Better Believe It | Sun Apr 8, 2012, 10:48 AM (57 replies)
Putin On the Ritz
by Abby Zimet
April 6, 2012
In Moscow, a few days before the Russian election, an exuberant crowd - including a couple getting married - put on the coolest, hugest, most joyous flash mob you've ever seen to the tune of "Puttin' On the Ritz" - in the snow, yet. A tentative online consensus thinks they're protesting Putin; either way, they're fabulous.
“Dressed up like a million dollar trooper/Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper.”
Posted by Better Believe It | Sat Apr 7, 2012, 07:00 PM (58 replies)
What Obama's Willingness to Deal with the Tea Party Right Means for Progressive Politics
Obama was willing to make substantial cuts to the crown jewels of liberalism--Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid--in order to get a deficit-reduction deal with Republicans.
By Guy Saperstein
Guy Saperstein is a former civil rights attorney and past-President of The Sierra Club Foundation. He is a board member of Brave New Films.
April 4, 2012
Obama’s willingness to bargain away core progressive values of the Democratic Party in a deficit-reduction deal comes after his meltdown on a large range of issues dear to progressives: His unconditional support for Bush's Wall Street bailout; his escalation of the Afghanistan War; his acceptance of Bush-era limits on civil liberties; his shift from supporting the healthcare public option and opposing individual mandates during the 2008 campaign to subverting the public option and backing individual mandates in 2009; his extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich (in exchange for Republicans allowing an extension of unemployment benefits and aid to cash-strapped states); his withdrawal of strong EPA rules on clean air; his gratuitous attacks on “the professional Left.”
So, the question for progressives is, “What do we do now?”
Obama supporters would answer that question by arguing that now is not the time to criticize the president because the alternative--electing a Republican--would be worse. Now is the time to mute criticism, because criticism can be embarrassing and dispiriting. Buck up, Dems, forget issues and actual performance, now is the time for cheerleaders, not critics. We can reconvene on the issues after Obama gets re-elected
I think exactly the opposite is true. The only leverage progressives have on Obama is now, not later, not after the election. After the election, what is most likely is that Obama will return to his vision of himself as someone standing above politics, capable of making a “Grand Bargain” with Republicans, as a serious deficit hawk, as someone willing to put Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the chopping block before he demands more sacrifices from the rich and well-connected.
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Posted by Better Believe It | Sat Apr 7, 2012, 01:15 PM (348 replies)
Pete Seeger: Where Have All the Protest Songs Gone?
Now 92 years old, the legendary folk singer recalls his pioneering days touring college campuses and discusses his favorite songs
By Aviva Shen
Smithsonian magazine, April 2012
Do you have a favorite song that you’ve performed or written?
I keep reminding people that an editorial in rhyme is not a song. A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think. Now, Woody Guthrie will have his 100th birthday this July 14. He wrote thousands of songs. Every day of his life he was jotting down verses on a little pad in his pocket and once his pad was full he’d get a new one. We were riding in a plane once to sing for some strikers in a union in Pittsburgh, and I was reading a newspaper or magazine. Lee Hays, the bass singer, fell asleep, but Woody was jotting down something on a piece of paper they had given him and he left the piece of paper in his seat when he got up to go. I went over to get it. He had verses about, what are these people below us thinking as they see this metal bird flying over their head, and what’s the pretty stewardess going to do tonight, where is she going to be. I said “Woody, you should know how I envy you being able to write songs like this.” He literally wrote verses every day of his life. And if he couldn’t think of a verse, he’d go on and write a new song. Quite often though, when he got his verse written, he’d think of some old melody that people knew which fit his verses.
Haven’t you done that?
There was an Irish lumberjack song, and I didn’t know I was using it or misusing it. But I was writing in an airplane, and the verse of this Irish lumberjack song, “Johnson says he’ll load more hay, says he’ll load ten times a day.” I was making up a verse: “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing.” Well, it probably will reach more people than any other song I’ve written. Marlene Dietrich sang it around the world. When her youthful glamour was gone, she had Burt Bacharach put together a small orchestra and for several years she sang around the world. If she was in an English-speaking country like Australia she’d sing it in English, but if she was in Buenos Aires or Tokyo, she’d sing the German verse. The German translation sings better than the English: “Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind.” When she went back to Germany, the old Nazis were out to run her down, “don’t listen to this woman, she sang for the soldiers fighting us!” But that very month her song was number one on the German Hit Parade.
How do you feel about your songs getting covered and interpreted by so many other people?
I’m very proud. It’s a great honor to have different people sing it—even if they sing them differently. Ani Difranco got a group of young men, I think all 10, 11, 12 years old called Roots of Music, and they have a brass band, trumpets and clarinets and so on down in New Orleans. They used a song, which I recorded; I didn’t write the song but I recorded it with my banjo and it became well known: “Which Side Are You On.” By the time they got done rearranging it, you wouldn’t think it had anything to do with my song, except the title.
Read the full interview at:
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Pete-Seeger-Where-Have-All-the-Protest-Songs-Gone.html#ixzz1rNUvnhc7
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Pete-Seeger-Where-Have-All-the-Protest-Songs-Gone.html#ixzz1rNU6wfKd
Posted by Better Believe It | Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:50 PM (3 replies)
Playing Inflation Games with Grandma: The Washington Consensus and the Chained CPI
By: Dean Baker
April 5, 2012
All the inside Washington types seem to agree, we should change the indexation of Social Security benefits to the chained consumer price index (CPI). This would supposedly make the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) more accurate and save the government big bucks. Sounds great, right?
At the most simple level, the switch to a chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) is a way to reduce the annual COLA (Cost of Living Allowances) in Social Security by roughly 0.3 percentage points. That may sound trivial, but it is important to remember that this sum adds up over time. After ten years, this lower annual cost-of-living adjustment would imply a reduction in benefits of roughly 3 percent, after 20 years the reduction would be 6 percent, and after 30 years close to 9 percent. So this is real money.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has done research indicating that the Social Security population has qualitatively different consumption patterns than the rest of the population. This research suggests that a consumer price index based on the consumption patterns of the elderly would show a higher rate of inflation.
This is a simple way to distinguish between people who want an accurate COLA and people who just want to cut benefits. Those who want an accurate COLA advocate having BLS construct a full elderly CPI. People who just want to switch the indexation to a chained CPI simply want to cut benefits.
Read the full article at:
Posted by Better Believe It | Sat Apr 7, 2012, 11:50 AM (63 replies)
Mitt Romney Flip-Flops His Way to the Top
by Alexander Cockburn
April 6, 2012
Eight years ago, Romney began his bid to win the Republican nomination, only to be crushed by John McCain. In that campaign, he was tagged as a crypto-liberal former governor of Massachusetts and author of a health plan derided by Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
Week after tedious week in his second bid, Romney has had to stab his own plan in the back, lashed by his Republican opponents as the true originator of "Obamacare," now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Whatever tincture of liberalism he might once have exhibited has long since vanished. His conservatism is of a harshness way beyond the positions of the last Republican challenger to a Democratic president, Bob Dole, who was thrashed by Bill Clinton in 1996.
Romney's opportunism in junking previous positions when under conservative pressure has been unremitting. I
n February, president Obama trailed Romney in the top 12 swing states, 46 to 48 percent. Yesterday a USA Today/Gallup poll reported that in these same swing states a majority of registered voters now favor Obama by 9 points. According to the USA Today/Gallup pollsters, the biggest change came from women younger than 50, where the president now leads Romney by 2 to 1. Not long before the poll was taken, Romney, fending of attacks from Santorum, said he wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood and endorsed the Blunt amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny coverage of contraception on religious grounds.
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Posted by Better Believe It | Fri Apr 6, 2012, 01:55 PM (3 replies)