Elaine passed me this article by law professor Jonathan Turley:
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified notes of former CIA Director John Brennan showing that he briefed former President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged “plan” to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” My interest in this story is not simply the serious underlying allegation but the lack of coverage by major networks or media outlets. This was clearly released at this time for political purposes, but that does not make it a non-story. We have often discussed concerns over the active effort by many in the media to downplay stories that would either help President Donald Trump or hurt the Democrats in the upcoming elections. This would seem such a case. Whether this is true or a complete fabrication, it should be major news. In the meantime, the responses from Clinton allies have not addressed the substance of the document and have simply dismissed the entire story as groundless.
Brennan’s handwritten notes would seem extremely serious on their face. It certainly indicates that Brennan considered the issue sufficiently serious to brief the President of the United States on July 28th. The notes state
“We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED]. . . CITE [summarizing] alleged approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”
There is also a notation reading “Any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia” and margin references to “JC,” “Denis,” and “Susan.” If Brennan thought this was serious enough to brief the President, shouldn’t the media consider this sufficiently serious to investigate and report?
Yes, this should be major news and the fact that it is being ignored makes it only more newsworthy.
I would argue that a conspiracy of silence exists and that, if it is not broken, it will be left for historian to chart the depravity of the media and certain politicians in the years ahead.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, October 7, 2020. NEWSWEEK continues its lousy history of 'trend' stories, more trouble in Iraq's KRG, Joe Biden doesn't want to debate, Australia's 60 MINUTES covers Tara Reade's charges, and more.
At NEWSWEEK, Daniel Villarreal offers this useless factoid, "The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more American lives than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed during historic conflicts in Vietnam, Korean, Iraq, Afghanistan and World War I."
What the hell is that supposed to tell us?
The Coronavirus is deadlier than war?
You're comparing the numbers for a pandemic in the US (and only in the US, ''American lives") to wars fought on foreign lands. But it's not even that. It's just Americans killed in wars fought on foreign lands.
Soldiers sent into a foreign country will always be a smaller population.
Let's look at war fought on US soil. The estimated death toll for The Civil War -- an underestimate, war death tolls always are -- is 618,222. Have an equal number of US lives been lost in the pandemic thus far?
Even if it had, comparing a war (usually thought out and planned) to a disease is stupid because it produces no insight, no real knowledge, just a useless factoid.
And if you're going to count the dead in a war and not want to look like a xenophobe, you don't count just the US forces. You count forces on all sides, you count civilians, etc. This is nonsense and the sort of garbage that NEWSWEEK has long trafficked in for years -- going back to its earliest stages as a front for the CIA in Europe.
You have to wonder why, after the 2018 office raid and seizure of computers, the rag didn't just shut down then.
In the real world, Jeff Schogol (TASK AND PURPOSE) reports:
The U.S. military has completed its drawdown from about 5,200 to fewer than 3,000 troops in Iraq, said Army Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, first announced on Sept. 9 that the reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq was expected to be completed by the end of the month.
“This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat,” McKenzie said during a speech in Iraq. “This decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi Security Forces’ increased ability to operate independently.”
Even though Marotto told Task & Purpose that the U.S. military had fewer than 3,000 troops in Iraq as of Sept. 30, a Pentagon spokeswoman issued a statement on Tuesday that appeared to indicate the drawdown is ongoing.
In other news out of Iraq, Human Rights Watch has issued the following:
authorities have unlawfully closed two offices of a private media
outlet, NRT, for over a month, apparently for covering protests and for
broadcasts critical of the ruling party, Human Rights Watch said today.
The Kurdish authorities had no court order and only imposed the shutdown in Erbil and Dohuk, the areas controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, raising concerns that the closure is politically motivated.
“If NRT broke the law, surely the authorities would have taken the appropriate measures to take the outlet to court,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But party officials have instead chosen to take actions outside of the scope of the law.”
The harassment of NRT and its reporters follows a pattern of regional government attacks on the media. In June, Human Rights Watch published a report on the range of defamation and incitement legal provisions that Baghdad and Kurdish regional authorities have used against critics, including journalists, activists, and other dissenting voices.
On August 11, 2020, Shaswar Abdulwahid Qadir, the leader of the opposition New Generation Movement political party in the Kurdish Region, issued a call on NRT, a private media outlet with TV and radio stations and a website that he owns, for public protests to demand better education, employment opportunities, and anti-corruption measures. On August 12, his call triggered protests across the region that lasted for about a week. NRT, which has both Kurdish and Arabic language channels, was the only outlet to cover the protests in any detail.
On August 19, NRT’s news director, Rebwar Abd al-Rahman, and another employee who was there told Human Rights Watch that the Asayish – the regional government’s security forces – raided their office in Dohuk and held the staff there for several hours, then ordered them to go home, seemingly in response to the protest coverage.
Al-Rahman said the security forces did not present a court order but said that they had instructions from a Kurdistan Democratic Party official to close down the offices. Al-Rahman said the Asayish also closed their Erbil offices on the same day, again without presenting any court documents. The offices have remained shut, though the channel has remained on the air as authorities did not close its headquarters in Sulaymaniyah down. This has meant that reporting teams in Dohuk and Erbil have been unable to report from the field and appear on TV spots.
Dindar Zebari, the regional government’s coordinator for international advocacy, alleged in a statement to Human Rights Watch on August 23 that NRT and Qadir “consistently aimed to exploit the freedom media agencies enjoy in [the KRI] for their own political agenda … they usually resort to provocative propaganda campaigns amid critical circumstances, such as during the war against terrorism and coronavirus outbreak.”
He said the outlet had violated article 2 of Law No. 12 (2010), which he said makes it a crime for a media outlet to encourage “public disturbance and harm social harmony.” The law allows the Youth and Culture Ministry to close the outlet for 72 hours as an initial penalty, then one week if the violation continues, and finally to withdraw the outlet’s license, he said.
Zebari said that in this case the attorney general had called for suspending NRT’s broadcasts for “encouraging citizens to violate the preventative and social-distancing measures issued by the government,” at the request of the ministry. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine which law Zebari was referring to, given that the law he cited relates to the regional government’s Municipalities and Tourism Ministry.
Zebari said the Youth and Culture Ministry had issued several warnings to NRT, most recently on June 3. However, the head of the Youth and Culture Ministry, Shirwan Aula, said on September 8 his ministry had issued no warnings. On September 9, Zebari accused NRT in a Facebook post of “inciting people to protest and rebel against authority … NRT is always violating the laws by provoking protests and public disorder,” and said that the outlet would be charged under the regional government’s Press Law.
One of NRT’s lawyers, who asked to remain anonymous, told Human Rights Watch on September 17 that the authorities had not sent the company any official warnings or summons to court. He said another lawyer had gone to the Erbil courthouse to confirm whether any legal suits were pending against the company but that court authorities said there were none.
Al-Rahman and the lawyer pointed out that NRT’s headquarters in Sulaymaniyah had not been closed down, which they said indicates that the decision to close the Erbil and Dohuk offices was political, as those governorates are controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, while Sulaymaniyah is not. A court-ordered closing would have to apply throughout the region, including in Sulaymaniyah.
The authorities have taken other measures to intimidate NRT’s staff. On August 19, the Asayish arrested an NRT reporter in Zakho under the KRI’s Law for the Organization of Demonstrations (11/2010), which prohibits people from participating in protests for which the organizers have not sought advanced permission from authorities.
They held him for 11 days, then released him on bail and later dropped the charges, acknowledging he had been covering the protests as a journalist, al-Rahman, the news director, said. He said they also confiscated video equipment of two other reporting teams in Akre, one as a team passed through a checkpoint to report on a Turkish airstrike and the other at a checkpoint outside of Amadiya.
While international human rights law allows governments to place restrictions on the media for national security reasons, these restrictions must be prescribed by legislation and be “necessary in a democratic society.” Any limitation must respond to a pressing public need and be compatible with the basic democratic values of pluralism and tolerance. Restrictions must also be proportionate – that is, balanced against the specific need for the restriction.
Restrictions may not be used to suppress or withhold information of legitimate public interest not harmful to national security, or to prosecute journalists for reporting such information. For the government to fulfill this responsibility, journalists should be able to report on all viewpoints, including those which are in conflict with authorities, without fear of arrest.
Authorities should immediately allow NRT to reopen its offices, and refrain from further acts of intimidation.
“The Kurdistan government has no right to silence coverage of protesters and their demands,” Wille said. “And it definitely does not have the right to shut down an entire outlet, illegally, just for covering protests.”
As noted in the September 24th snapshot, Iraq's Kurdish president Barham Salih has a reporter arrested. The Committee To Protect Journalists issued the following on the day Salih addressed the United Nations:
New York, September 23, 2020 – Kurdish authorities in Iraq should immediately release journalist Bahroz Jaafer, drop all charges against him, and allow the press to cover and write critically about politicians without fear of detention or legal action, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, police arrested Jaafer, a columnist for the independent news website Peyser Press, in the northeastern Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah and transferred him to the Azmar police station, where he remains in detention, according to news reports and a statement by the Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy, a local press freedom group.
Authorities charged Jaafer with criminal defamation, according to the Metro Center. If tried and convicted under Article 433 of Iraq’s penal code, Jaafer could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to 100 dinars (about 8 US cents).
The arrest was sparked by a defamation complaint filed by the lawyer of Iraqi President Barham Salih, in response to a column by Jaafer criticizing the president, according to those reports.
“Iraqi authorities should develop a thicker skin and stop resorting to the criminal code to stifle critical reporting and commentary,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Iraqi President Salih should immediately drop the defamation complaint against journalist Bahroz Jaafer, and local authorities should release him unconditionally.”
On August 29, Jaafer published a column titled “How much longer will the president be driving the wrong side?” in which he criticized Salih, also an ethnic Kurd, for allegedly failing to support Iraqi Kurdistan amid disputes with the national government over land, oil, and the autonomous region’s budget.
Karwan Anwar, head of the Sulaymaniyah branch of the government-funded Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate, told local broadcaster Rudaw that Jaafer, a member of the syndicate, is required to remain in detention until a hearing scheduled for September 30, unless he is granted bail beforehand.
The Iraqi president’s media office did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app. Dindar Zebari, the Kurdish regional government’s coordinator for international advocacy, did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Salih's done nothing to help the Iraqi people -- that includes the Iraqi activists. Sunday we noted the kidnapping of activist Sajjad al-Iraqi.
Turning to the US where a presidential election is weeks away, Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden has declared that there should be no second debate if President Donald Trump, Republican nominee, has COVID.
There's so much wrong with that. For starters, a debate should bring in all candidates who have a statistical chance of winning based on ballot access. That means Jo Joregensen of the Libertarian Party should absolutely be there. Is Joe scared to debate Jo? Yes, he is. Also present should be Howie Hawkins who has the statistical chance of winning.
So there's that.
There's also the issue that Americans have COVID and have had COVID. Is Joe going to spit on them, disrespect them, call for them to be shunned, maybe rounded up and locked up?
I get that it's confusing for Joe Biden, a man who thinks it's appropriate to grab a woman from behind, sniff her hair, touch a little girl's chest were her nipples are, etc.
Donald's a man. Joe may be confused and think that he has to wrap himself around Donald the way he wraps himself around women and girls.
Here's NBC NEWS with a video of some of his inappropriate moments.
Here's CNN's footage.
Here's ABC NEWS reporting on women coming forward.
Here's CBS NEWS interviewing one of the women Joe was inappropriate with.
Here's Samantha Bee's take.
Tara Reade has credibly accused Joe of assault. While 60 MINUTES in the US has ignored the story, 60 MINUTES in Australia covered the news this week.
"Governing," he insisted when trying to defend his inappropriate behavior, "is about contact.'' His words. His choice. He said them in the video response he taped.
Now he wants to call off a debate by claiming otherwise?
When the going gets tough, Joe goes running. He cowardly ran from Vietnam. (Yes, cowardly. He has voted to send others to war and he has postured as though he himself were a veteran so his actions are cowardly.) He ran from Vietnam pretending he had asthma -- asthma that didn't prevent him from being on sports teams in high school or college (football and baseball).
Now the coward wants to run from the debates?
Not very presidential.
At least he has illegal support from foreigners -- I'm referring to the in-kind donations that are the coverage coming out of the UK's GUARDIAN. The most recent garbage is that Joe can carry Texas!!!!
Far from the whoring by the pro-war GUARDIAN, you have former US House Rep and former candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination Beto O'Rourke Tweeting three days ago:
By the way, THE GUARDIAN bases their story on Dallas County with a nod to McAllen. Dallas County? We have a ton of community members from Dallas County. What would they tell you? I'm on the other phone with Sabina right now (one phone to dictate the snapshot, one to talk to Sabina). She wants you to grasp that this is the part of Texas, her home, where they have elected a Latina sheriff, an openly gay Latina. She states this is not reflective of all of texas and points to Ron Kirk's disaster -- when he ran for the US Senate. Kirk had been the Mayor of Dallas. His run for the Senate was a joke (and East Texas community members pointed out in real time that he didn't even air commercial in East Texas). Dallas is one city -- a majority-minority city. It is not Texas. It is a part of Texas.
Beto knows Texas, his home state, much better than reporters for a foreign outlet. He's stating what needs to be done. And yet THE GUARDIAN's offering puff pieces and fantasy fiction.
The following sites updated: