Friday, May 31, 2013

‘Daily Caller’ story on IRS director’s many White House visits a bust


The Daily Caller story that kicked off the latest round of finger-pointing and blame in the IRS “scandal” currently gripping the right blogosphere and Fox News was actually based on erroneous information. According to the Atlantic, the editorial staff at the Caller overestimated the number of visits by now-former IRS director Douglas Shulman by 146, claiming that Shulman visited the Obama White House 157 times rather than the 11 visits he is confirmed to have actually made.
The Daily Caller eagerly reported on Wednesday that Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee, visited President Barack Obama’s White House “at least 157 times during the Obama administration, more recorded visits than even the most trusted members of the president’s Cabinet.”

The Tucker Carlson-run conservative website failed to make the distinction between the actual White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is covered by the Secret Service’s visitors’ log. Shulman was required to meet with administration officials about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” in the Eisenhower Building. The Secret Service log also covers the New Executive Building, which is located up 17th Street and off the White House grounds.
According to the Atlantic:
Shulman was cleared primarily to meet with administration staffers involved in implementation of the health-care reform bill. He was cleared 40 times to meet with Obama’s director of the Office of Health Reform, and a further 80 times for the biweekly health reform deputies meetings and others set up by aides involved with the health-care law implementation efforts. That’s 76 percent of his planned White House visits just there, before you even add in all the meetings with Office of Management and Budget personnel also involved in health reform.
Furthermore, there’s no proof that Shulman did or did not attend the meetings, since there are no arrival or departure times listed. He may have been scheduled to pass through the Secret Service checkpoints, but this has little bearing on whether he did. Shulman’s time of arrival is only confirmed for 11 specific events between 2009 and 2012. 

“That does not mean that he did not go to other meetings,” wrote the Atlantic‘s Garance Franke-Ruta, “only that the White House records do not show he went to the 157 meetings he was granted Secret Service clearance to attend.”

At least one Shulman visit to the White House grounds had nothing to do with IRS business or the ACA. Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly asked Shulman in a Congressional hearing last week what would occasion a visit to the White House for him.
“Um, the Easter Egg Roll with my kids,” Shulman replied.

Franke-Ruta wrote that Secret Service logs are a wildly imprecise means of determining the comings and goings of visitors to the White House. The procedure is not the only means of getting clearance to enter the White House security perimeter. In large social gatherings like the aforementioned Easter Egg Roll, people enter the White House gates in pre-cleared carloads.

The Center for Public Integrity reported in April, 2011 that “(t)he logs include names of people cleared by the Secret Service for White House entry who never showed up. The Center analysis found more than 200,000 visits with no time of arrival, an indication the person didn’t enter the White House though there is no way to know for certain.”
Even the Caller admitted at the end of its article that “it is probable that the vast majority of visits by major Cabinet members do not end up in the public record.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Leader of Armed March On Washington Calls For ‘Revolutionary Army’ To Topple Government


Thousands of people signed up to attend an armed march on Washington over the course of the last month. But now, the leader of the march is setting his sights much higher than a single demonstration — he wants his armed followers to help overthrow the American government.
About a month ago, a gun activist named Adam Kokesh called for thousands of people to join him in an armed march on Washington, D.C. to “put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny.” As of this writing, nearly 5,200 people have RSVPed for Kokesh’s armed march.

Late last week, however, Kokesh decided to abandon this march in favor of a much larger effort to bring down the entire federal government. In a statement written from a jail cell in Philadelphia (Kokesh faced charges for allegedly resisting arrest during a pro-marijuana rally. He now says he’s been released), the gun activist called for his supporters to form a secessionist “army”:

A new American revolution is long overdue. This revolution has been brewing in the hearts and minds of the people for many years, but this Independence Day, it shall take a new form as the American Revolutionary Army will march on each state capital to demand that the governors of these 50 states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the federal government through secession and reclamation of federally held property. Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while the crimes of this government are allowed to continue, we may have passed the point at which non-violent revolution becomes impossible.

The time to sit idly by has passed. To remain neutral is to be complicit, just doing your job is not an excuse, and the line in the sand has been drawn between the people, and the criminals in Washington, D.C. While some timid souls will say that it is too early, that we can solve this problem through democratic means provided by government, that current levels of taxation are reasonable for the services provided, and that the crimes of this government are merely a tolerable nuisance, it may already be too late.
To be sure, it is likely that only a small minority of Americans will rally to a cry to march upon their state capitols and demand that the United States cease to exist. But Kokesh’s call is troubling for the simple reason that he was capable of convincing over 5,000 people to sign up for an armed march on Washington, D.C. It does not take much imagination to figure out what could go wrong if just a few dozen armed and angry secessionists show up at state capitols throughout the country.

GOP Strategists Relieved By Michele Bachmann’s Exit


Michele Bachmann was as much a tea party hero as she was a constant pain in the neck for Republican operatives concerned with the party’s national image. That stark contrast was well on display Tuesday as the GOP reacted to the Minnesota Republican congresswoman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2014: sorrow and disappointment from the right-wing faithful, relief and gratitude from operatives who want what’s best for the party.

And as deeply as liberals detested Bachmann and everything she stood for, she was a dream come true for Democrats who profit politically from highlighting GOP radicalism.
“Bachmann fit the political tea party moment perfectly,” veteran Republican strategist John Feehery told TPM. “But that moment passed.”

A former House Republican aide said Bachmann’s retirement will make it easier for the GOP to continue winning in her conservative-leaning district.
“Crazy members of Congress come, crazy members of Congress go — in both parties,” the aide said. “The biggest impact will be felt by reporters, who loved to quote her and get her saying outlandish things. The fact is that there’s no reason Democrats should have ever made this seat competitive, and without Bachmann there now, it won’t be.”

But to the tea party faithful, Bachmann is a once-in-a-generation star who refuses to shy away from a fight or let political correctness get in the way of truth-telling.
“As a presidential candidate, Bachmann raised the Tea Party profile to new heights, and her contributions to the movement will be long standing,” said Sal Russo, a top activist with Tea Party Express. “It is with great disappointment we learn she will not seek reelection to Congress in 2014. However, we know that her fight for liberty and free markets will not stop at the end of her term. We look forward to working with her as she continues her journey as an influential conservative leader.”
It’s that sort of conservative enthusiasm that motivated House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to publicly thank Bachmann and praise her “courageous voice for freedom.”

Bachmann’s announcement that she will retire comes amid a tough reelection battle and an FBI and congressional investigation into potential campaign finance violations during her presidential run. She insists neither of those two factors affected her decision.

Andy Parrish, her former chief of staff, said Tuesday on MSNBC the congresswoman is being accused of wrongdoing because she’s a conservative star.
“Look, she’s a lightning rod, a conservative lightning rod, a conservative hero. We don’t have many conservatives,” he said. “I think that when you can kind of poke the cage a bit, I think people do that. Here’s a great opportunity, I think, for sort of some individuals to try to make a name for themselves, get a bit of press and try to poke at her.”

The high-water mark of Bachmann’s career was winning the 2011 Ames straw poll in Iowa. But her presidential ambitions — and congressional career — all went downhill from there.
As far as Democrats are concerned, they admit Bachmann has been a boon to their fundraising but insist she revolutionized the GOP in a fundamental, enduring way.

“Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party brand of extremism and obstruction have infected the entire Republican Congress, and her influence shows no signs of waning,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, whose press release used variations of the word “extreme” six times.
“Bachman’s retirement is bad for journalists and Democrats but good for the country,” said Guy Cecil, who runs the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm. “I think I will side with the country.”

In Shocking Announcement Michele Bachmann(R-MARS) Says She Is Not Running For Reelection In 2014 (VIDEO)

Rory Gallagher : Secret Agent

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hume erupts after Juan Williams says call for leak probes ‘came from Republicans’


Fox News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume clashed with fellow Fox News contributor Juan Williams on Sunday after Williams pointed out that the investigations of reporters had started under George W. Bush’s administration and then continued under President Barack Obama.
During a panel discussion about the Department of Justice’s investigation into leaks of classified information published Fox News reporter James Rosen, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Williams if he could defend the president’s decision to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to review his own department. 

“Republicans have been hammering Eric Holder… to go after the leaks, that they have wanted him to pursue leaks that had to do with how bin Laden was killed to secret prisons to the attack on the cyber network in Iran,” Williams explained. “That came from Republicans. And it has been something that the Bush administration started and it has been continued with a vengeance — to everyone’s surprise — by this administration.”

“Eric Holder did not conduct the probe that led people to somehow come to the madhouse conclusion that James Rosen is somehow a co-conspirator, is somehow to be suspected,” he continued. “He signed the affidavit as attorney general of the United States, he did not conduct the probe.”
“The problem is that it went to Holder and he okayed it!” Hume exclaimed. “Are you saying he’s not ultimately responsible as the head man of the Justice Department?”
“That’s why he’s being asked to look at it,” Williams insisted. “He’s the exact right person as the attorney general of the United States to see what prosecutors did.”
“Wasn’t he supposed to see all that before he signed off on the affidavit?” Hume shouted.
“You can’t see everything,” Williams replied. 

“What you do know is, when that affidavit came to him, rife with assertions that this reporter doing his job was acting in a criminal way, he okayed it!” Hume shot back.
“In this case, the Rosen case, he had nothing to do with it,” Williams argued. “All he was doing was signing an affidavit sent to him by his underlings.”

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Hampshire Lawmaker Wants Joe Arpaio's Birther Posse to Investigate Boston Bombing

By Matthew Hendley 

In case you're wondering what kind of people think that the government orchestrated the Boston bombing, it appears that they're the same people who believe that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has discovered fraud in President Obama's birth certificate.

One such person is New Hampshire Republican State Representative Stella Tremblay, who claims that Arpaio's "Cold Case Posse" is one of only two "unbiased" groups that she'd want handling the inquiry into a coverup of the Boston bombing.

See also:
-Boston Marathon Explosions: Fox News Goes Straight to Clueless Joe Arpaio
-Joe Arpaio's Lead "Birther" Swears Evidence Coming Soon

The Huffington Post caught a radio interview Tremblay did on a Boston sports show, as Tremblay suggested that a guy who had his legs blown off in the bombing was faking it.

"All I'm asking is for a full investgiation, not the FBI, but some unbiased . . . there's two unbiased groups -- like the Cold Case Posse or someone else," Tremblay said.

There's only one Cold Case Posse, and that's Arpaio's, which pretty clearly fabricated "evidence" in what we're sure was a totally "unbiased" process.

The "evidence" that wasn't fabricated was stuff that was already floating around the Internet beforehand, and had already been thoroughly debunked by the time Arpaio declared Obama's birth certificate was phony.

All it takes is some signatures from a Tea Party group to get a full "investigation" going, so we'll have to wait and see if Arpaio wants to blow more taxpayer money on another conspiracy theory.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

South Carolina governor appointed white supremacist to steering committee


The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday accused South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley of appointing a white supremacist to her steering committee.
In February, the Republican governor announced she had formed the committee to explore her re-election options. Roan Garcia-Quintana of Greenville was listed as one of the 164 co-chairs.
The Anti-Defamation League has described Garcia-Quintana as a “white supremacist” and “a well-known leader” in the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens.
The group openly opposes the immi­gra­tion of “non-European and non-Western peo­ples into the United States” and condemns “all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” The Council of Conservative Citizens also believes the United States should not tolerate “sexual licentiousness, homosexuality and other perversions, mixture of the races, pornography in all forms, and subversion of the authority of parents.”
The NAACP described the Council of Conservative Citizens as “the largest white nationalist group in the country and direct descendant of the white Citizens Councils that fought to defend Jim Crow segregation during the 1950s and 1960s.”
Though Garcia-Quintana is himself a Cuban immigrant, he has claimed to be purely of European descent.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Republicans Knew About IRSgate Too, Will Now Have To Investigate Themselves

Don’t you just hate when this happens? You’re desperately flailing about for years and years, trying to find just the right faux scandal to investigate so you can finally impeach President Obama (calm down, Jason Chaffetz, no, it isn’t time yet). Maybe it will be the fake-but-real birth certificate. Maybe it will be a rumor that he fathered TWO BLACK CHILDREN. Maybe it will be Benghazi, sorry, we mean BENGHAZIIII!!!!1! Maybe it will be how the IRS investimagated groups of radicals who wave their guns around in public, threatening to not pay their taxes and bring down the whole gubmint, before granting them a special “you don’t have to pay taxes because you are SO SPECIAL” waiver, and since the president probably knew about it all along, he must be investimagated and probably also impeached.
But … but what if the Republicans knew about it all along too?
Much has been made of the fact that senior Treasury Department officials were told about the investigation into the treatment of tea party groups in June 2012 – months before last year’s the Presidential election. Republicans who requested the investigation were also told about it at approximately the same time.
Oh MAN. When Rep. Darrell Issa finds out that some of his own knew about this IRS thing since last summer, he is going to be so steaming mad, he’ll just start investigating everyone and then — wait, what? What’s this? READ MORE »

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GOP Aides Mock House Republicans’ ‘Crazy’ Benghazi Witch-Hunt


GOP aides are criticizing the House Republicans’ partisan witch-hunt over the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya last year, arguing that the Party should focus more on substantive issues, such as lessons learned and how to recalibrate diplomatic security.
Roll Call reports that Republican aides are saying staffers are getting bogged down chasing bogus accusations.
“We have got to get past that and figure out what are we going to do going forward,” a GOP aide told Roll Call. “Some of the accusations, I mean you wouldn’t believe some of this stuff. It’s just — I mean, you’ve got to be on Mars to come up with some of this stuff.” Another aide expressed frustration at accusations that military assets weren’t properly deployed during the night of the attacks and that a team from Tripoli could have been flown in to fight off the attackers:
There are some real issues there and then there is just some crazy stuff,” the senior House GOP aide said. “The crazy stuff is, you know, the airman in Ramstein [Air Base, Germany,] that knew that the Predator [drone] was armed. There are no armed Predators in the region there. The [status of forces agreement] does not allow us to fly them armed, and everybody knows it.” [...]
GOP aides described another criticism aired at a recent House Oversight Committee hearing that there were four security officers at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli who were ordered to remain in the capital for several hours after the first reports of an attack, rather than being scrambled to assist the consulate in Benghazi.
“The stand-down order was for four guys,” the GOP aide said. “When you step back and say how were the people killed at the annex, they were killed by an indirect fire mortar round. Four more M-4s [rifles] inside the annex doesn’t change that outcome. In fact, they might have just created more casualties. We have got to get down to what really happened on the DoD side and for us the DoD side was not properly postured, why?”
It appears that some Republicans are also beginning to see that the GOP’s Benghazi affair isn’t paying dividends. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backed away from some Republicans’ baseless claims of an Obama White House cover-up. And Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in an interview on Fox News on Monday warned his colleagues about taking the issue too far:

BLUNT: I think the real challenge here for Republicans, frankly, is to be patient and methodical when you’re outraged. It’s hard to do when you’re outraged. But the right thing to do here is let the facts come out, don’t try to prejudge what they are.
Rep. John Mica (R-FL) recently dropped his support for a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks. Republicans have been calling for creating the committee, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) hasn’t been supportive. “I think Mr. Boehner made the right decision,” Mica said.
Behind the scenes in the House, a GOP aide told Roll Call that staffers will push to address lessons learned from Benghazi. “We’re trying to stay on the substance of it,” one senior GOP aide said. “There has got to be some good that comes out of those fatalities.”
The State Department thinks so too. On Monday it released a fact sheet detailing its implementation of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board’s 24 unclassified recommendations, which include “plans to send dozens of additional diplomatic security agents to high-threat embassies, install millions of dollars of advanced fire-survival gear and surveillance cameras in those diplomatic posts, and improve training for employees headed to the riskiest missions.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bill last week to provide funding to increase embassy security. The focus “should not be to score political points at the expense of the families of the four victims,” he said. “It should be on doing all we can to protect our personnel serving overseas.”

Iowa Senate Republican staffer fired after reporting sexual harassment


A female former staffer for the Iowa state Senate Republicans says she was fired only hours after she reported sexual harassment by male lawmakers.
In an interview on Sunday, Kirsten Anderson told WHO-TV that she had worked as the communications director for the state Senate Republican Caucus until Friday when she was fired after providing documentation about the sexual harassment. 

“When you go to the workplace, you should have a safe environment,” she explained to WHO-TV’s Dave Price. “Women especially should not have their body parts scrutinized, objectified. People should not be ridiculed or mocked for simply the color of their pants that they are wearing, and those sorts of things were taking place at the Capitol.”
“Things that would make you blush,” she recalled. “Things that you don’t want your daughter, your mother, your sister having to put up with. And that sort of attitude about women — objectifying women — it has to change.”

Anderson said she was told that the senators “had the authority to terminate me at this time.”
Pressed by Price, the former staffer said that she was not prepared to name names because her complaint “was more about changing the work environment.”
Ed Failor Jr., a top assistant to state Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix, on Sunday insisted that Anderson had been fired for failing to improve her work performance.
“I can assure you that under Senator Dix’s leadership, sexual harassment is not and will not be tolerated,” Failor told the Des Moines Register. “She was given an opportunity to improve her work performance and it did not improve.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Revealed: Republicans knew about IRS investigations of tea party groups last July


Republicans in Congress have known that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asked additional questions of some tea party groups seeking tax exempt status since last July, only recently raising the issue as a matter of controversy according to documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

The questionnaires were revealed after the IRS inspector general explained last week that agents in the Cincinnati office asked for more information of groups applying for tax exempt status if they had the words “tea party” and “patriot” in their title, apparently singling them out over liberal groups seeking similar classification.
“We would be happy to provide a status update to the Subcommittee staff and provide a copy of our interim and final reports on the matter when they are issued,” IRS inspector general J. Russell George wrote (PDF) to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) last July, according to ABC News.

An article in Roll Call found that a series of progressive groups were not subjected to similarly detailed IRS questionnaires after their applications for tax exempt status. Roll Call wrote that “much of the big money flooding the 2012 elections is being spent not by super PACs but by nonprofit organizations that describe themselves as social welfare advocacy groups.”
In response, Issa sent a letter (PDF) to the IRS’ Inspector General office, calling the scrutiny of conservative groups a “campaign of intimidation” and “overreach.” It was to this accusation that George responded in July.

Republicans claimed Friday that George’s admission of embarking on his investigation in July was proof that the Obama administration knew in advance that conservative groups were being targeted in a scandal some conservative pundits say is indicative of a stolen election. Progressive groups have since come forward to reveal they too were targeted with extra-long questionnaires, suggesting the real “scandal” here is more about the flood of dark money groups after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United than an administration run afoul of tax law.

While President Obama has accepted the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, the enhanced scrutiny of tea party groups occurred under the tenure of Bush-appointee Doug Shulman, who resigned in November. Obama named Daniel Werfel, a Bush appointee from the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Miller as acting IRS commissioner.

Fox News Faults Obama For Not Saying What They Edited Out

DOJ Report: US Attorney Leaked Memo To ‘Undermine’ Fast And Furious Whistleblower


In a scathing new report Monday, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General accused onetime Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke of leaking confidential documents to a reporter in a politically-motivated attempt to “undermine” a whistleblower who helped spark the investigation into the “Fast and Furious” operation.
Burke, a former aide to Janet Napolitano while she was Arizona governor and then secretary of Homeland Security, was appointed as U.S. attorney by President Obama in 2009. He resigned as he was initially being questioned about the leak in 2011. 

The Inspector General report described Burke’s conduct as “wholly unbefitting a U.S. Attorney” and referred the case for for possible disciplinary proceedings by the state bar in Arizona. The inspector general found it particularly egregious that Burke’s alleged leak came shortly after he was reprimanded for another leak, to the New York Times, involving the controversial Fast And Furious operation. 

Fast and Furious was an ATF investigation conducted between 2009 and 2011 that was designed to identify firearms traffickers who acted as so-called “straw purchasers” and bought weapons in the United States on behalf of Mexican cartels. ATF hoped to track the guns to their ultimate destinations but in the end lost track of many of the firearms. Some of those weapons were subsequently found to have been used in crimes, including the 2010 murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was shot about 11 miles from the Mexican border.
Burke was the U.S. Attorney who was responsible for overseeing Fast and Furious and the Inspector General’s report indicates he had a strong, personal reaction to the ensuing negative coverage of the operation. According to the Inspector General’s report, Burke made multiple leaks designed to inspire more positive coverage.

The first leak involving Burke appeared in a New York Times article that was published June 14, 2011. That article detailed the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious being spearheaded by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). It included a link to a DOJ memo that detailed the investigation into a Fast and Furious suspect who purchased the guns used in Terry’s killing. That memo was presented as evidence of “the difficulty in catching straw purchasers.”
A heading on the memo that appeared on the Times website indicated it had been faxed from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona. Based on this, two days after the story was published, Deputy Attorney General James Cole called Burke to discuss the leaking of the memo. According to the Inspector General’s report, Burke told Cole “five or six people had access to the document” and he “did not even know” whether the office had a fax machine.

Cole called Burke again three days later. According to the report, Cole said that, during this conversation, Burke “acknowledged he had not been candid with Cole
during their first conversation” and said he accepted responsibility for the leak to the Times. Burke claimed the memo had been given to the Times by the “press person” in his office, but Cole said he got “evasive” answers when he tried to determine whether Burke personally authorized the leak or was simply taking responsibility as the head of the Arizona office. After this conversation, Burke declined to answer further questions from the DOJ about the Times leak. Cole told the Inspector General he responded by reprimanding Burke for “lying” and “leaking” and warning him not to make further unauthorized disclosures to the media. 

According to the Inspector General’s report, Burke told DOJ investigators he leaked the memo to the Times because the “unprecedented scrutiny and investigations” and “scurrilous media attacks” associated with Fast and Furious were a “nightmare” that caused him to question whether the Justice Department was adequately protecting the reputation of his office.
Burke’s next leak, which is the focus of the IG report, occurred one or two days after he was reprimanded for the memo that appeared in the Times. It involved a whistleblower who helped start the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious and then became one of the operations most prominent critics. 

John Dodson was an ATF agent who was in one of the squads involved in Fast and Furious. Over time, he became increasingly worried about guns that ended up in the hands of criminals through the operation. After Terry was killed, Dodson attempted to contact top officials at the DOJ and ATF about his concerns. When that proved unsuccessful, Dodson and other agents contacted Grassley leading to the congressional investigation into the operation. As part of his efforts to expose Fast and Furious, Dodson gave a March 2011 interview to CBS News and blasted ATF leadership in testimony before a House committee chaired by Issa on June 15, 2011. 

Within two weeks of Dodson’s testimony, Burke leaked a memo Dodson had written. In the memo, Dodson sought approval for an investigation that, like Fast and Furious, would allow suspects to complete gun purchases. Burke was initially forwarded the memo as part of a review of documents that were being forwarded to Congress in conjunction with the Fast and Furious investigation.
“Unbelievable. This guy called Grassley and CBS to unearth what he in fact was proposing to do by himself. When you thought the hypocrisy of this whole matter had hit the limit already,” Burke replied after first reading Dodson’s email. 

According to the Inspector General, Burke forwarded this memo to his private account on June 28, 2011, just one day after he was warned against further making further leaks. He then sent it to a friend of his in Washington, D.C., who ultimately gave it to Fox News’ Mark Levine, who had known Burke for over a year. The following day, Levine and another Fox News reporter contacted Dodson to ask, in light of his criticism of Fast and Furious, whether he had proposed similar investigations. The Inspector General’s report said Dodson informed Levine the memo actually was a proposal requested by his supervisor. Levine didn’t pursue the story, but Dodson’s attorney contacted the DOJ to alert them the memo had been leaked. 

In the ensuing investigation, Burke admitted leaking Dodson’s memo to Levine. However, he said he only provided the memo because he believed Levine was already aware of it. Burke first discussed the leak of Dodson’s memo with the DOJ on August 12, 2011, one day after investigators issued requests for information about the leak. On August 13, Burke spoke with Cole about the memo and they discussed his decision to resign. Three days later, Burke called a DOJ investigator and admitted he leaked the memo to Levine. According to the Inspector General’s office, Burke said he was “at the airport preparing to board a flight and would be on
vacation the following week,” but would meet with investigators when he returned. However, the report said Burke “resigned as U.S. Attorney on August 29, 2011, and declined the OIG’s subsequent requests for an interview.”

The Inspector General’s report does not buy Burke’s claim that he only released the memo because he believed Levine was already aware of it. Firstly, the report found that, even if Burke thought the memo was already public, his actions violated DOJ requirements for staffers to contact the department’s Office of Public Affairs for any media requests “in cases that transcend their immediate district or are of national importance.” The report also noted Burke should have been acutely aware of this requirement because he was already under investigation for “virtually the same alleged misconduct” in conjunction with the Times leak. Finally, the report said the fact Burke provided the memo to Levine through a third party showed he “was aware his actions were improper.”

Along with claiming he believed Levine was already aware of the memo, Burke’s attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has said the leak was not intended “to retaliate against Special Agent Dodson or anyone else for the information they provided Congress.” However, the Inspector General’s report, claimed the leak was “likely motivated by a desire to undermine Dodson’s public criticisms of Operation Fast and Furious” and that there was “substantial evidence” countering Burke’s contention his actions had no “retaliatory motive.” Namely, the report cited the anger Burke admitted feeling over the Fast and Furious controversy in conjunction with the Times leak and claims made by assistants in the U.S. Attorney’s Arizona to investigators that Burke was “frustrated” with Dodson’s House testimony and complained it was “not necessarily completely sincere” in light of the memo. 

As a result of the findings detailed in the report, the Office of the Inspector General said Burke’s case will be referred to the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility to determine whether his actions are sufficient enough to have him disbarred. Neither Burke nor his attorneys could immediately be reached to comment on the report.
View the full Inspector General’s report below.

Federal judge finds probable cause Fox News reporter helped leak classified docs


In the wake of reports that the Department of Justice seized phone records from The Associated Press while investigating an intelligence leak, The Washington Post revealed on Monday that a Fox News reporter had been fingered has a “co-conspirator” in a previous leak of classified documents.
According to the Post, a federal judge found probable cause that Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen solicited a top-secret CIA report on North Korea from government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim in 2009. The report concluded that additional United Nations sanctions would only push North Korea to conduct more nuclear tests. Rosen published details about the report the same day it was made available to Kim and a small number of others in the intelligence community. 

Court records did not identify Rosen by name, but government officials confirmed to the Post that he was a target in the case. Both Rosen and Fox News declined to respond to the paper about the allegations. 

In the court documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described a cloak-and-dagger system of communication and meetings between Kim and Rosen, including one or more “face-to-face” meetings at the State Department. The FBI tracked key cards to determine that both men entered and exited the State Department within minutes of each other.
Reyes said that the evidence showed that Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”

Rosen had allegedly instructed Kim how to send codes through a Google account to signal if a meeting was taking place: “One asterisk means to contact them, or that previously suggested plans for communication are to proceed as agreed; two asterisks means the opposite.”
According to the affidavit, Rosen asked Kim to provide “what intelligence is picking up” so that he could break the news “ahead of my competitors.” He also said he would “love to see some internal State Department analyses.”

A federal judge agreed that there was probably cause that Rosen had broken the law and took the unusual step of signing off on a warrant for his emails. The case differs from the DOJ’s seizure of Associated Press emails because the AP is not considered a target in that case.
U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr., whose office is investigating the case, said that the government “exhausted all reasonable non-media alternatives for collecting the evidence” before going after Rosen’s emails, the Post reported. No reporter has ever been prosecuted for seeking classified intelligence. 

A copy of Rosen’s report was found in “plain view” in Kim’s office by diplomatic security in September of 2009, and he later admitted multiple contacts with the Fox News reporter.
First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin, who also represented The Associated Press, told the Post that the investigation was “a very dangerous road to go down.”
“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” he said.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Republicans Fabricated Smoking Gun Emails They Maybe Illegally Leaked; Forgot To Add Smoking Gun

First, a disclaimer: We, like you, are so. Fucking. Tired! of Benghazi. If Republicans had just taken our advice, they would not be suffering in the polls because they are wasting everyone’s time, and we would not be weeping into our latte because we have to keep struggling to wring a few drops of funny out of this fucking nothingburger of a non-anything story. But this was too good to pass up: Not only were the “smoking gun” Benghazi emails that leaked this week actually devoid of anything that could be called a “smoking gun,” we now know that a) they were mostly just made up, and b) they came directly from unnamed Republican sources. READ MORE »

The Backstory on Those ‘Doctored’ Benghazi Emails


Sources with knowledge of key congressional briefings earlier this year on administration emails regarding the Sept 11, 2012 Benghazi attack tell TPM that those in attendance were provided clear information that the White House remained neutral in adjudicating a dispute between the State Department and the CIA over talking points at the center of a months-long controversy.
In walking members and their staffs through the internal emails, the administration provided extensive explanations of how the talking points evolved, sources in attendance tell TPM. The extent of the information provided in the classified briefings calls into further question how a summary of the emails that was leaked to ABC News overstated the White House’s role in crafting them. An intelligence official who participated in the briefings and spoke to TPM says that the discrenpacy between the emails he briefed Congress about and the ABC News report “speak for itself.”
The semi-dormant controversy over the Obama administration’s conduct during and after the attack on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi re-erupted last week when ABC News published a report that lent credence to GOP suspicions that the White House was deeply involved in preparing official talking points about the attack to tamp down the story for political reasons.
The ABC report was based on notes taken by a still-unnamed source, presumably a Republican, in attendance at one of two briefings the administration held for members and senior staffers of the Senate and House intelligence committees and top leadership offices in February and March of this year. The ABC report contained a great deal of the information the White House would ultimately reveal itself this week when it released all of the inter- and intra-agency email communication that ultimately resulted in the talking points Susan Rice used in a now-infamous series of appearances on network news shows on the Sunday after the attack.
But it got one big part about the White House’s role wrong:
In an email dated 9/14/12 at 9:34 p.m. — three days after the attack and two days before Ambassador Rice appeared on the Sunday shows — Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote an email saying the State Department’s concerns needed to be addressed. “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”
It turns out that’s not what the email said. To quiet the growing furor over the idea that the White House had thumbed the scale on the State Department’s behalf, a government official subsequently leaked to CNN the full text of Rhodes’ message, which was assiduously neutral about each relevant agency’s concerns.
But discussions with several people in attendance at or with knowledge of the two congressional briefings suggest that members and staffers were left with the opposite impression — that the White House had remained neutral in the dispute between the State Department and the CIA — and that after a thorough run-through, they were given ample time to take notes not just about the briefing itself, but in theory to transcribe key emails verbatim.
“When I say they were allowed to have the documents for as long as they wanted, they were allowed to take notes for as long as they wanted as well,” the intelligence official said.
The discrepancy between the documents ABC was provided and the official records has led White House officials, congressional aides, and outside observers to the conclusion that a GOP member or staffer falsified notes or tendentiously interpreted administration emails — and then leaked them — to create the impression that the White House had sided with the State Department in an intra-agency dispute to protect President Obama from political blowback.
“I got a lot of questions probing in a lot areas,” the intelligence official said. “Truthfully I cannot recall whether I specifically got any questions asking about the White House. All the questions I got were not sort of tendentious questions but they were asking facts, to understand what went on.”
After those briefings, the Benghazi controversy quieted down for several weeks — a tellingly long silence given how damning the emails supposedly were — until ABC’s report, including its characterization of the White House’s involvement, exploded in the press late last week. Karl, who downplayed the discrepancies between the summaries he relied on and the actual emails, was not immediately available for comment for this story.
“I wouldn’t go into what the members said in the meeting,” the intelligence official said. “The relationship between what the documents show and what the report said sort of speak for itself.”
A congressional source who attended one of the two meetings had a similar recollection.
“I don’t recall a single member asking a single question or making a single statement suggesting the White House played anything other than an appropriate role in resolving the disagreement over the talking points,” the source said.
On top of that, the source added that the CIA had acknowledged on other occasions making all of the major changes to the talking points itself, irrespective of the State Department’s concerns.
“The CIA itself and then the ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] who walked us through the emails all made clear that every one of the changes with regard to the involvement the naming of al Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia were made by the CIA,” the source added. “Petraeus and Morell were saying that last year…. They were extremely forthcoming about that from the beginning. That piece of knowledge was repeated so many times in so many different briefings it would be impossible for me to believe that anybody left with the impression that anyone other than the CIA made the changes.”
This source draws a connection between the notes quoted in the ABC report, and an April report from House Republicans which attributes the changes to the State Department.
“The House Republican report so distorted its coverage of the talking points changes. … I see no reason to believe it wouldn’t be the same thing with regard to the Ben Rhodes email.”
A senior House Republican aide with knowledge of the briefing but who denies being ABC’s source still largely backs the GOP characterization of the emails, and says any mischaracterizations were unintentional, and the result of poor communication.
“The idea anyone was nefariously putting words in people’s mouths just isn’t based in reality,” the aide emailed. “This ALL goes back to a disconnect between quoting summaries vs quoting verbatims. And, again, ABC acknowledges they weren’t clear enough in their first story about what they were told they had been given.”
That explanation doesn’t cut it for Democrats.
“I think they thought that this stuff would never be declassified or something,” said one House source with knowledge of the briefing. “Some of them could’ve taken really bad notes, but to me this looks more intentional.”
To the congressional source in attendance, it’s all part of the GOP obsession with Benghazi. “I know for a fact that some of the Republican critics — they are true believers. …. They may not have found the smoking gun yet that convinces everyone else there was a coverup, but there’s no question in their mind that it’s there somewhere, evidence notwithstanding.”

GOP Sources Altered Benghazi E-Mails To Suggest A Cover-Up, Reporter Confirms


Since September, Republicans have claimed the Obama administration covered up the truth about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya by altering the talking points Susan Rice used on the Sunday morning talk shows. To bolster the story, Republicans misquoted or significantly embellished the emails officials used to draft Rice’s remarks, the CBS Evening News reported Thursday.
CBS News’ Major Garrett confirmed that it was a GOP source who leaked the altered emails.
The miscast quotes affect at least two emails that include a State Department spokesperson and a White House deputy adviser — the two parties GOP lawmakers insist were trying to engage a cover-up on behalf of the Obama administration to protect the president’s chances of re-election.
A leaked email adds new language to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland’s email, including a specific reference to al-Qaeda:
“The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda’s presence and activities of al-Qaeda.
The actual email read:
“The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.
A leaked email written by deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes suggests that he asked for the final draft to remove references to warnings about specific attacks, a demand made by the State Department:
We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.”
But the actual email did not mention the State Department:
We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.”
Since the congressional hearings last week, the White House on Wednesday released a hundred pages of emails from after the consulate attack. The full version undermines already-thin accusations that this is a White House scandal.

Guest Post From A U.S. Marine About Barack Obama’s Shocking And Disgusting Use Of An Umbrella

Yesterday we learned of one more reason to impeach the Kenyan impostor: as he was giving his press conference with the Turkish whoever, it began to rain, and he summoned two United States Marines over to hold umbrellas over himself and his Very Important Guest. Commentors at the Free Republic howled that PBO was trying to “humiliate” the Marine Corps by “demeaning them” and “demoralizing them.” They were very mad! Then one M. Joseph Sheppard, to whom apparently we have not been paying enough attention, tried to explain: we were wrong to simply point out other presidents having umbrellas held for them. The shocking scandal was that Barack Nobumer had made Marines disregard their own code, by holding umbrellas. He cited some uniform regulations, as if a Marine performing a service for his Commander-in-Chief were the same as a Marine delicately shielding himself from the elements while humping up a mountain or to keep his hair dry while doing drillsies.

In short, M. Joseph Sheppard is A Idiot. (And so, apparently, is the rightwing shitrag Daily Mail, which also thinks Obama made Marines “break the rules,” because they are A Idiot, and also because the piece was wrote by former Daily Caller shitragger-in-chief David Martosko, most recently seen asking why Joe Biden loves child rapists.)

Nonetheless, we called our older brother, Eric Steinberg, to ask if there could possibly be anything to the nonsense M. Joseph Sheppard and the entire Internet was vomiting all over the place, before it could get on our shoes.


Then he decided to calm down, and write his words, with a lot of violent ideation that would get him banned five times over for disregarding the Rules for Commenting Radicals. Do not try this at home (or in the comments).
A Reply to M. Joseph Sheppard by Eric Steinberg, once and always USMC
Shut your cockholster, you civilian sack of shit. READ MORE »

Thursday, May 16, 2013

10 Ridiculous Christian Right Prophesies

There’s nothing right-wing Christians love better than making wild predictions or invoking outright prophecies that invariably turn out to be false. Here’s 10 of the best from recent years.

1) Mitt Romney would win in 2012 and go on to be a two-term president. One week before the 2012 election, Pat Robertson assured viewers [3] that Romney would not only beat Barack Obama for the presidency, but go on to be a two-term president. “Because the Lord told me,” he confidently explained to his guest. So either the Lord is lying to Robertson or Obama is more powerful than God. Or, I suppose, it could be that Robertson himself is a liar, though it’s considered impolite to say so directly.

2) If Obama wins in 2008, the Bible will be classified as “hate speech” and banned from the airwaves. In 2008, Focus on the Family sent out a letter [4] from a fictional Christian in 2012 describing the decrepit, destroyed America that would be sure to exist in four years if Obama won in 2008. Some predictions, such as gays in the military and universal healthcare legislation, came true, but somehow the predicted arrests of people reading the Bible on the airwaves have not come to pass.

3) Making emergency contraception available without a prescription will cause “sex-based cults." With the legal battles over Plan B emergency contraception continuing, it’s worth looking back at some of the dire predictions made about the drug’s availability in the past. Back in 2004, one of Bush’s Christian right hires to the FDA, Janet Woodcock, warned that making Plan B available without a prescription [5] could cause the drug to take on “an ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B.” Shortly thereafter, the FDA removed the prescription requirements, though the drug still has age restrictions on it, which are currently being fought out in court. However, the sex-based cults haven’t manifested, though a handful of unwanted pregnancies have probably been prevented.

4) Legal gay marriage will lead to legalized parent-child marriages. In 2008, Rick Santorum warned [6] that if gay marriage was legalized, all bets are off. (At the time, only Massachusetts had same-sex marriage.) “I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?” he whined. Since then, 10 more states have legalized same-sex marriage and Minnesota is on the verge of becoming the 12th. [7] So far, the predicted legalized incest has not come to pass in those states. Nor have any other dire religious right predictions [8] about the “breakdown” of “traditional” marriage come to pass. Polygamy remains illegal and the divorce rate seems completely unaffected by same-sex marriage.

5) RFID microchips, the Mark of the Beast, will be implanted in all Americans on March 23, 2013. The Christian right has long worried about RFID chips, microchips that are easily scanned [9] and can be used for a variety of tracking purposes, mostly commercial. A rumor rapidly spread in Christian right circles that the Affordable Care Act, which they call “Obamacare,” would require mandatory microchipping of all Americans on March 23, 2013. A sample page spreading this rumor [10] was flagged at Daily Kos and had language like, “its a micro chip injected in your hand. it will contain all your personal data heath and bank accounts etc. its also a GPS device being monitored. they can deactivate it at any time if they find you suspicious or not loyal to their government or go against them or their system and you will lose everything you ever had.” For those keeping track, on March 23 [11], Colorado legalized civil unions and Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown during March Madness, but only dogs and cats were forcibly microchipped that day.

6) If the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, death panels will subject unproductive old people to execution. The claim that the ACA mandates “death panels” to rule on the right of old people to live is part of the larger religious right unease with healthcare generally, which tends to manifest most when it comes to reproductive health but also touches on end-of-life issues, as evidenced by the Terri Schiavo debacle. On the eve of the Supreme Court decision on the fate of the ACA (they upheld it), religious right icon Sarah Palin wrote on her Facebook [12] page, “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.” The court upheld the legislation, which is currently being implemented, and death panels are nowhere in sight.

7) If Obama wins in 2012, conservative Christians will basically lose their right to vote and other freedoms. Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily predicted [13] prior to the 2012 election that if Obama won, “any Republican, conservative, independent journalist, pro-life activist, returning veteran, gun-rights activist, constitutionalist, Bible believer or critic of Obama” would lose their human rights, and that Obama would specifically “shut down and destroy all independent media.” He also predicted, “There may not be another free and fair election in America.” On May 7, South Carolina’s first district put this prediction to the test, holding a special election to determine its new congressman. By all accounts, it was a free and fair election, and the Republican won.

8) Sharia law! One of the favorite pastimes of the religious right is predicting that on X date, democratic rule of law will be overturned and replaced with sharia law. Glenn Beck pegged the day that Obama would start imposing sharia law [14] as March 3, 2011. Two years later, mandatory adherence to a fundamentalist imam’s view of Islam still hasn’t manifested. During the election, a Christian right group called Government Is Not God [15] ran ads claiming an Obama re-election meant sharia law across the land. So far, no signs of the Islamic theocracy that we were all supposed to be living under already.

9) The military will courtmartial Christian soldiers who don’t hide their beliefs. A rumor rapidly spread through the Christian right, with the help of Fox News and Breitbart News [16], that the military would soon start prosecuting any soldier who was out about being a Christian. Various news sources and, of course, Rep. Michele Bachmann protested this supposed new policy banning the expression of faith in the military. It is, of course, nonsense. The only military policy in play is a very old one, disallowing religious people from badgering and harassing those who don’t share their faith. But the impending end of religious freedom for soldiers is, simply put, a lie.

10) Obama will rise up and take over the world for Satan, triggering Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ. One in five Republicans believe Obama is the Antichrist [17], who is, for those who haven’t read the Left Behind,series, supposed to be an emissary of Satan who takes over the world and triggers an all-out war between the forces of hell and of heaven, bringing the world to an end. A tall order for a man who only has three and a half years left in office and who seems to be making no movement in that direction, but then again, such an important being surely has magical powers to make it happen. This one hasn’t been conclusively disproved yet, but I’m including it on the list on the grounds that on the slim chance it does turn out to be true, probably no one will be reading this article looking to say they told me so anyway.