A leading watchdog group named Renzi, above, as one of the top 20 most corrupt congressmen for three straight years. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Opening arguments in the Tucson trial of former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi (R-AZ) began Wednesday with federal prosecution characterizing Renzi as having engaged in “lying and stealing … taking advantage of people” and having “sold out his office.” Meanwhile Renzi counsel Kelly Kramer contended that his client “didn’t extort anybody … solicit any bribes” or “defraud anyone.” Charged with 32 counts of conspiracy, fraud and extortion, if convicted the three-term former congressman from Arizona’s 1st District could face up to 400 years of prison.
Dennis Wagner writes at The Arizona Republic:
In 2005 Resolution Copper Mining wanted surface rights to an ore-laden national forest area near [the town of] Superior. Another investment group involving former Gov. Bruce Babbitt [(D)] was seeking to trade private conservation land for potential development properties owned by the government near Phoenix.
In response to their request, Renzi allegedly replied, “No Sandlin land, no deal.”
“That’s extortion,” said Justice Department attorney David Harbach Wednesday.
Redditors enjoy a front-page appearance and are aroused as agents storm through their house.
BOSTON — 9/11 fans rejoiced Thursday after Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested by thousands of paramilitary police units which stormed through nearly 10,000 houses in Watertown, systematically invading every home in the area.
Citizens lauded the merciless efficiency and overwhelming numbers of police who found Tsarnaev critically injured and hiding in a boat.
Eagerly jacked into the story developments on corporate-controlled television media, Twitter, Facebook, and in many cases in real life, Redditors ate junk food and excitedly watched police storm through their houses.
A collective sigh of relief echoed through the Twittersphere when the police announced, “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.” Exuberant families ran into the streets chanting, “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.!”
Police photographers captured the barbarian’s arrest and tweeted it to their quivering, orgasmic fans in real time.
Glorious Stormtroopers accost fiendish Muslim enemy.
WASHINGTON — The Internet Chronicle has obtained footage of classification authorities discussing the classification process and allegations of overclassification. Early this month the national intelligence director counsel, Robert Litt, and a former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard, took questions from attendees of a Brennan Center forum on secrecy and security.
Leonard pointed out that Obama administration officials had been instructed not to discuss the CIA’s targeted assassination program. That statement at the forum by Leonard, who served from 2002 to 2007, was in line with what former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told MSNBC’s last month. Then Gibbs said that his own vetting process had included that instruction that he was “not even to acknowledge the drone program.”
“[W]hen the principal architect of that program,” said Litt on March 14, “goes before Congress in order to be confirmed as a director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he then makes the observation that, ‘yeah, maybe it’s a good idea to debate these things in public.’”
But, said Leonard, Brennan’s call for transparency about the CIA’s drone came too late. Leonard said that when the government unleashes any and all violence upon an individual, the American public must be informed.
Our next snippet of footage comes in the Q-and-A, when an attorney rose to ask the national intelligence director’s own lawyer about the nature of alleged retroactive classification. This analyst cannot be sure of her client list, but the cases she mentions seems evocative of that of whistleblower Thomas Drake. Leonard has been altogether sympathetic to his plight.
The incidence of retroactive classification has for years heightened concerns among activists and whistleblowers that classification could be used for professional retribution — not, to wit, safeguarding the American people.
Executive Order 13526, from 2009, is intended to prohibit overclassification, and the questioner references its matter. (Specifically, she alludes to Section 5.5(b)(2), which offers “sanctions” for overclassification.) What stood out in the hundreds of thousands of State Department cables leaked by Bradley Manning is not the career-ending content but rather the arbitrary level of secrecy present. Said Litt at a later point in the forum (see video below), “My experience is that there’s very little conscious abuse of the classification process. What there is, is a set of incentives that lead people to apply the rules in a way that leans towards classification.”
The questioner said that her clients, “after their [books have] gone through pre-publication review,” had been told they stepped over the line with disclosures.
When another questioner complained that White House Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) had not been adequately transparent on the use of drones, against foreign nationals and potentially citizens alike, Robert Litt was dismissive.
There is a “long history of Congress,” said Litt, “claiming they’re not getting information from the executive branch.” Indeed at a March 6 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), also of Senate Select Intelligence, expressed misgivings that the Judiciary Committee could not see the executive branch’s legal rationale for the use of drones, abroad or potentially at home.
“[A]ny suggestion,” said Litt this month at the Brennan Center, “that the [House and Senate] Intelligence Committees did not understand the legal basis for the targeted killing program is wrong,” adding that they “were fully briefed on and fully informed of the reason” for drone use.
The legislative branch’s increased demands — climaxing with a day of filibuster by Kentucky Sen. Ran Paul (R) — and the executive branch’s recalcitrance, said Litt, amounts to a “creative tension,” adding, “No amount of reforms that we do will solve that problem.”
Chronicle.su field correspondents spotted PyCon drama queen and feminist partying down with hackers and felons alike at a loft in Newark, New Jersey Sunday night, when supposedly at PyCon.
Richards, supposedly took out her feminist ire out on a poor python programming man at PyCon last weekend, getting him fired in the process. He had 3 kids, one is now dead.
She has been the subject of extreme scrutiny since the child’s death and some speculate she may have possibly been committed via 5150 to a mental institution. However, after field reports spotted her at Newark, New Jersey doing pot and swinging from swings, little to no truth is known to be truer than the truth itself, which can only be the truth.
A wave of paranoia swept through the Anonymous consortium late Monday night when #TeamSabu was introduced by Aaron Bale who claims is a group of Sabu sympathizers and synthesizers, led by the OWS and Wikileaks activist shm00p of UGNazi and Rustle League fame, who is actually Sabu himself.
#TeamSabu is lead not only by shm00p, but has close ties to Adria Richards, who sold exploit code to Matthew Keys in an effort to gain the good graces of LulzSec so she could eventually land a job at the DailyDot. Little did she know that among a group of thugs, hackers and drunks, people would be snapping photos.
So who was at PyCon and why the drama surrounding Adria Richards? Simply to distract us from #OpBlackout and Aaron Bales efforts to thwart Jen Emick with Ron Brynaert in tow.
No one knows for certain, but after reading some threads on abovetopsecret.com, we believe this is Illuminati related, considering Luke Rudkowski was at weev’s sentencing.
Voting Rights Act Section 5′s Covered Jurisdictions, which are More Racist
WASHINGTON — When Wednesday John Roberts and the solicitor general questioned whether any southern concentration of racism was a rationale for Voting Rights Act Section 5′s constitutionality, cynics responded as though the chief justice was blind to a vicious national legacy. One American Prospect article — leaning on a 2005 analysis that concluded the U.S. South was especially racist — was redistributed through Twitter at least 300 times over a day.
The American Journal of Political Science analysis, aforementioned, “Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: Race and Partisan Realignment in the Contemporary South [PDF],” concluded “the regional gap in racial conservatism has not closed since [the end of the Civil Rights era.]”
The exchange between the justice and administration lawyer was in the context of a Supreme Court challenge to the decades-old Voting Rights Act, by Alabama’s Shelby County — a challenge on whether mostly southern states, due to Section 5′s “preclearance requirements,” should have to run voting-law changes by authorities in Washington.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: General, is it — is it the government’s submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than citizens in the North?
GENERAL VERRILLI: It is not, and I do not
know the answer to that, Your Honor, but I do think it was reasonable for Congress –
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, once you said it is not, and you don’t know the answer to it.
GENERAL VERRILLI: I — it’s not our submission. As an objective matter, I don’t know the answer to that question. But what I do know is that Congress had before it evidence that there was a continuing need based on Section 5 objections, based on the purpose-based character of those objections, based on the disparate Section 2 rate, based on the persistence of polarized voting, and based on a gigantic wealth of jurisdiction-specific and anecdotal evidence, that there was a continuing need.
Preclearance requirements mandate that nine states, and localities in seven others, get federal clearance before modifying voting laws. Under the challenged Section 5, localities and states serve in discrimination cases as plaintiffs, who in turn file grievances with the Justice Department.
At The Nation, columnist Ari Berman weighed in Wednesday evening, espousing that southern voter suppression attempts in particular were alive and well:
“[S]ix of the nine fully covered states under Section 5 passed new voting restrictions since 2010, including voter ID laws (Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia), limits on early voting (Georgia) and restrictions on voter registration (Alabama and Texas), compared to only one-third of noncovered jurisdictions during the same period.
In a possibly foreshadowing 2009 decision involving a Texas voting district, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority’s 8-1 opinion, “The evil that [Section 5] is meant to address may no longer be concentrated in the jurisdictions singled out for preclearance. The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old, and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.” As preclearance opponents argue that the South’s legacy of systematic voter fraud and intimidation is too far in the past for such stringent federal oversight to be relevant, what is clear is that state and locality requests for voting law changes have seen a steady dive, according to Civil Rights Division data.
The political science journal’s authors, Nicholas Valentino and David Sears, went so far as to suggest they were “underestimating true regional differences in racial conservatism, because of white Southerners’ greater tendency to hide true prejudices, and underestimating true regional differences in the linkage of racial attitudes to partisanship, because such correlations should contain more error in the South.”
ix of the nine fully covered states under Section 5 passed new voting restrictions since 2010, including voter ID laws (Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia), limits on early voting (Georgia) and restrictions on voter registration (Alabama and Texas), compared to only one-third of noncovered jurisdictions during the same period.
Will the US Airways-American Airlines merger, yielding a super American, cost consumers more?
WASHINGTON — Consumer welfare in the balance, US Airways and American Airlines representatives faced a House Judicary subcommittee, as the Justice Department weighs a merger that would see the two airlines become the world’s largest. While consumer advocates warned of increased airfares, US Airways VP Stephen Johnson and American Airlines General Counsel Gary Kennedy touted heavy union support for the merger, announced February 14.
Business Travel Coalition Chair Kevin Mitchell remarked before Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, “If you use the logic that you always have to get bigger to compete with the next biggest carrier, we’re going to end up with two megacarriers,” adding, “the logic is flawed.”
As US Airways and American Airlines currently compete in a Raleigh but not Charlotte, North Carolina hub, Representative George Holding (R-NC) asked American Airlines General Counsel Kennedy about Raleigh-to-Washington travelers’ future rates. If the two airlines were to no longer compete in Raleigh, he asked, “Do you anticipate that the fares would go up significantly?”
Mr. Kennedy replied, “Any discussion about fares or that sort of planning and strategy is something that’s down the road for us.” He said that airline fare discussions would take place “probably not until after the merger.”
In a letter to the attorney general and the Transportation secretary, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) urged the cabinet members to evaluate the American-US Air merger for Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act compliance, in light of past airline mergers. “It will be important,” they wrote Tuesday, “to determine how these mergers affected consumer prices, baggage and other fees, frequent flier programs, and airline service.” In 2008 Delta and Northwest merged; in 2010, United and Continental; and in 2011, Southwest and AirTran. The senators’ Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee is set to review the proposed merger March 19.
Before the Antitrust Subcommittee, Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) shared pre-congressional professional experience in which, he said, he was told mergers would reduce cost. He then asked the airline representatives, “What’s going to happen in the first six months, in the first year, in the first three years [after the merger] about pricing?”
Mr. Kennedy said that the airlines “don’t know what will happen.”
“The airline industry is, as I’ve mentioned, a highly competitive business,” said Mr. Kennedy, “and with very thin margins. And that’s going to exist after the merger as it is today and that has an effect on pricing and what those levels are. And so I don’t know what will happen with pricing. We’ll simply be competing on price and schedule and future as we do today.”
Complicating weighing airlines’ respective costs per mile is discounts provided for frequent fliers and differing baggage costs.
WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gesticulated to an applauding crowd as she asked bank regulators about the last time they have “taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial.”
Comptroller Tom Curry replied that he had obtained a large number of consent orders and, when pressed, claimed that he had not had to bring a large Wall Street bank to trial to achieve their “supervisory goals.”
As Securities and Exchange Commission Elisse Walter said she would have to get back to the senator with specific information, on attendee clapped.
Sen. Warren said she was concerned that “too big to fail had become too big for trial.”
Police have still not located the incinerated body.
BIG BEAR, CALIF. — Tuesday Michael Dorner, heavily armed with a .50 caliber anti-vehicle rifle, assault weapons, and a tactical respiration device, shot a police commander down. The cold-blooded killer’s scuba gear rendered tear gas useless for assault, just as David Koresh had strapped gas masks to the faces of his innocent children. The only remaining safe option for police was to burn the building down, yet again, with the use of a camouflaged flamethrower Humvee borrowed from the military. Helicopter cameras spotted this unit arriving at the checkpoint an hour before they were ordered out of the airspace, in an attempt to hide the fact that the building was purposefully burned. Some sources claimed they saw Dorner attempt to surrender, only to be forced back inside the burning building by members of a SWAT team.
Radio host Alex Jones played up the implications of this event, saying:
Dorner was just a freedom-loving Patriot like me and you. This is what happens in a police state, people. Things are gonna get real bad real fast. Be afraid! This is the beginning of something big, something historic. People will look back at Dorner and say, “that was bigger than Waco,” because everyone was watching, this time, and the truth is obvious! This is a more historic event than 9/11. We saw the police brutalizing people just trying to tell the truth at Occupy Wall Street. We saw them beating up innocent people. You try to tell the truth, and they’ll burn you out. The evil forces are closing in, and this is the darkest hour. I AM DORNER. I AM ELIAN GONZALEZ. I AM DAVID KORESH! I am AMANDA TODD!
Anonforecast, one of many leaders of Anonymous, gleefully celebrated Dorner’s killings and hinted Dorner was An Anonymous member cooperating with a cell of Anonymous agents known as #OpLastResort, a subgroup of Anonymous with the stated mission of “undermining the very concept of authority.”
Wired’s Spencer Ackerman at the Committee Press Table Thursday
WASHINGTON — Tuesday the public will not have access to the next round of questions to be leveled against CIA Director Nominee John Brennan before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. However conflicting statements and controversial answers from Thursday’s open hearing provide clues as to what committee members, as well as the nominee himself, can expect in closed session.
Ranking Member Saxy Chambliss (R-GA) said Thursday, “We know that the 2009 executive order removed the CIA from the detention business, but the current framework is simply not working to get real-time access to intelligence from terrorist detainees.”
In fact the 2009 executive order to which Sen. Chambliss referred did not totally remove the CIA from the detention business. Despite that executive order’s prohibition on CIA “detention facilities,” it also said, “[t]he terms ‘detention facilities’ and ‘detention facility’ in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” Biographer for former CIA Director David Petraeus Paula Broadwell said, when publicly addressing the University of Colorado, that the CIA had “had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner” at the attacked Benghazi, Libya facility, and that the attack on the facility was an attempt to free prisoners.
CIA Spokesperson Preston Golson told CBS News, “Any suggestion that the Agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless,” and despite the executive order’s claims that CIA detention is allowed under certain circumstances, in November CBS News ran with a misleading conclusion:
President Barack Obama issued an executive order in January 2009 stripping the CIA of its authority to take prisoners.
The move means the CIA can no longer operate secret jails across the globe as it had done under the administration of President George W. Bush.
When asked by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Feinstein (D-CA) about waterboarding in connection with 9/11 plotters, Mr. Brennan described the practice as “reprehensible,” saying that as director the practice would “never come back.” But he told the chair that the CIA was still assessing whether it had been effective in helping capture Osama bin Laden, and resisted calling it “torture,” citing his own lack of legal background. That reluctance came despite Mr. Brennan’s noting that Attorney General Eric Holder considered the “enhanced interrogation technique” out of line with the Geneva Conventions.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) expressed exasperation at the limited number of senators with whom the CIA had been willing to discuss the Intelligence Committee’s 6,000-page report on the interrogation program, a program that promoted waterboarding.
“Why was it that they were willing to talk to [former Intelligence Committee Chair Senator] Pat Roberts [(R-KS)] and me or [Intelligence Committee Ranking Member] Saxby Chambliss [(R-AL)] and [Intelligence Committee Chair] Dianne Feinstein but not anybody else until we literally bludgeoned them, [former Intelligence Committee Ranking Member] Kit Bond [(R-MO)] and I, into agreeing to include everybody? Like Carl Levin’s not trustworthy? You know, I mean, it’s amazing.”
Sen. Rockefeller would also comment on Mr. Brennan’s statement to popular misconceptions about the number of harmed innocents in drone strikes. The CIA, said Mr. Brennan, seeks to “make sure that we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths.”
“[A]ny collateral damage,” the West Virginia senator told the nominee, “is unacceptable.”
As she initiated the meeting Sen. Feinstein stated the executive branch offered the committee figures of drone strike collateral damage “typically” in the “single digits” each year. These figures stand in heavy contrast to many estimates, particularly one 2009 figure of 119 from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
At deadline Thursday Wired’s Spencer Ackerman would attribute these estimates to the CIA, not to another possible “executive branch” entity, again, Sen. Feinstein having only cited in the hearing the “branch” as the committee’s source:
During the hearing, Feinstein forcefully insisted that the CIA’s drone strikes kill only “single digits” of civilians annually . . . She suggested that media reports and nongovernmental organization studies claiming larger percentages of civilian deaths from the highly classified program are ignorant. Feinstein emphasized that the CIA has hosted committee staff over 30 times to conduct oversight over the drone program . . . [I]f the CIA misled Congress about torture, how can the committee be confident it’s not misleading Congress about civilian deaths from drones?
Bemoaning a lack of transparency about the Benghazi attack, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) would receive from the nominee a saw about the importance of separation of powers. “I want to be mindful of that separation,” said Mr. Brennan, “but at the same time meet your legitimate interests.”
Sen. Chambliss confronted Mr. Brennan with statements from former CIA Executive Director Alvin Krongard and boss to the nominee. The senator followed up on statements Mr. Krongard gave The Wall Street Journal last month:
Mr. Krongard said CIA officials submitted possible techniques to Justice officials for review and approval, without taking a stand on specific tactics.
“John would have been part and parcel of that process,” Mr. Krongard said in an interview. “These are approved techniques done under the limitations that came along with them.”
However, Mr. Brennan wasn’t involved in the day-to-day decisions carrying out the program, Mr. Krongard said. “John, as far as I am concerned, gets a total, clean pass,” he said. He said he didn’t recall Mr. Brennan voicing misgivings about the program, but added “that doesn’t mean that he did or he didn’t” have any.
Media critics such as Media Matters for America and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) pointed to statements from a 2007 CBS “The Early Show” interview to disparage the nominee for supporting waterboarding or torture. FAIR’s Jim Naureckas, indicting New York Times reporters for what he deemed a morally relativistic brand of objectivity, said last month Mr. Brennan’s support for torture was “a matter of public record.” Mr. Brennan’s citing the effectiveness of waterboarding, wrote Mr. Naureckas, meant that Times reporter Scott Shane terming characterizations of Mr. Brennan as “accusations” was bordering on sophistry. FAIR highlighted this Brennan quote from that interview, with CBS’s Harry Smith:
There have been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists. It has saved lives.
Similarly, Media Matters accused the media, particularly the Los Angeles Times, of “downplaying” Mr. Brennan’s support for enhanced interrogation techniques. Media Matters, unlike FAIR, did acknowledge one contravening Brennan quote from the “Early Show” interview, which claimed waterboarding met “the classic definition of torture.”
Waterboarding has critics even among those who claim it is effective. As waterboarding whistleblower and former CIA case officer wrote in his autobiographical The Reluctant Spy:
[E]ven if torture works, it cannot be tolerated — not in one case or a thousand or a million. If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. Barack Obama got it right when he declassified the [Office of Legal Counsel] memos of 2002 and 2005: “Torture,” the president of the United States said, “corrodes the character of a country.”
Mr. Obama’s opponent in the 2008 election, Senator McCain, also characterized waterboarding as torture, also opposing the practice.
WASHINGTON — City College of San Francisco Computer Science Professor Sam Browne told The Internet Chronicle that whatever NullCrew has planned for the Pentagon on Valentine’s Day, it won’t be hacktivism. Mr. Brown, who teaches ethical hacking and has addressed the DEF CON cybersecurity conference, says that NullCrew acts in violation of the liberal causes they tout.
A NullCrew spokesperson has variously described the hacking group’s motives in terms of nihilistic schadenfreude and activism.
Their real message is: “We are powerful, fear us!” The political slogans they spout are just a paper-thin cover story.
If you want real social change, you do it the way Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. did it–carefully reasoned nonviolent actions, done in the open, accepting the social sanctions they provoke. Hiding in the shadows, stealing data, harming innocent people, and evading justified law enforcement actions, is not the way to influence people to support your cause. It just scares people, as it should, and encourages them to support more Draconian law enforcement measures to stop the scary hackers.
Several Anonymous actions and threats of action have operated under the presumption that, in threatening the online security of randomly chosen individuals, government entities will be inspired to not clamp down on users’ Internet privacy; or users’ redistribution of links to copyrighted content, for whatever end.