Legal Kimchi? In a mostly unrelated matter — related only insofar as it also provides additional evidence (if such were needed) that NPR has deteriorated into a transparent propaganda tool of the Washington Establishment — NPR suffered a major loss on August 7. A federal judge affirmed a lower court decision to allow a lawsuit to proceed relating to the neuralgic issue of DNC employee Seth Rich, who was murdered on July 10, 2016 — and who so-called “conspiracy theorists” (like Ray) think played a role in the leak of DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
The day after the Court decision, NPR enlisted the help of discredited Yahoo! News pundit Michael Isikoff (author, with David Corn, of the fiction-posing-as-fact novel Russian Roulette), giving him 37 minutes on its popular Fresh Air program to spin yarn about how the Seth Rich story got started. You guessed it; it was the Russians. No, we are not making this up; see: https://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/
Imagine, “persuasive sourcing” required to separate fact from opinion! What a terrible precedent, were it to be applied to the saga of Russia-gate.
Uh-Oh! Bigger Fish Could Be Fried in “Discovery”
The judge’s decision means the lawsuit can now proceed to the discovery stage, which will include demands for documents and depositions from the parties involved. So, we’ll have to wait to see if the Court will acquiesce to the usual Executive Branch objections that information regarding the murder of Seth Rich must be withheld as a state secret? Hmmm. What would THAT tell us?
By Ray McGovern On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, Dr. Wilmer Leon, host of “The Critical Hour” chose an Intercept article of August 4, 2019 by Micah Lee titled The Metadata Trap: The Trump Administration Is Using the Full Power of the U.S. Surveillance State Against Whistleblowers” for a discussion with Chris Garaffa, a web developer and technologist, and Ray. ( For Lee’s Intercept article, see: https://theintercept.com/2019/08/04/whistleblowers-surveillance-fbi-trump/ .)
Those who read through Micah Lee’s article are left with the distinct impression that, unless you have the extraordinary devotion to the Constitution and are ready for the worst to happen to you (two uncommon traits displayed in action by Edward Snowden), well FAGETTABOUTIT. You will face insuperable odds; they will catch you for sure. Snowden’s rare escape from the clutches of the Deep State is the only exception to this rule. Think about where WikiLeaks Julian Assange ended up; and Chelsea Manning is again behind bars.
In fairness, this may not have been Lee’s intent, and what he describes seems close to the new reality. But he offers little hope that, with all the tools available to government, a whistleblower stands much chance of blowing the whistle and remaining undetected.
Here’s how Dr. Leon set up the conversation:
A recent Intercept article reads, “Government whistleblowers are increasingly being charged under laws such as the Espionage Act, but they aren’t spies. They’re ordinary Americans, and, like most of us, they carry smartphones that automatically get backed up to the cloud. When they want to talk to someone, they send them a text or call them on the phone. They use Gmail and share memes and talk politics on Facebook. Sometimes they even log in to these accounts from their work computers.”
Why does this matter, and how should journalists react?
Not Risen to the Challenge
Well, we know how former investigative journalist James Risen has chosen to react. This was fresh in Ray’s mind since, in an interview Monday on The Hill’s “Rising,” apropos of nothing, Risen decided to call former NSA Technical Director Bill Binney a “conspiracy theorist” on Russia-gate, with no demurral, much less challenge, from the hosts. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OxZEhN9RBYstarting at minute 2:35.)
Since having-done-good-work-in-the-past-and-now-not-so-much Risen can be considered a paradigm for what has happened to so many Kool-Aid drinking journalists, Ray plans to write soon about Jim’s transition from investigative journalist to stenographer. Contributing causes? Micah Lee’s article makes it abundantly clear that the traditional sources within the intelligence agencies, whom Risen was able to cultivate discreetly in the past, are too fearful now to even talk to him. Those at the top of the relevant agencies, however, are only to happy to provide grist. And Topic A, of course, is Russian “interference” in the 2016 election. And, of course, “There can be little doubt” the Russians did it.
“Big Jim” Risen, as he is known, jumped on the bandwagon as soon as he joined The Intercept, with a fulsome article on February 17, 2018 titled “Is Donald Trump a Traitor?” (See: https://theintercept.com/2018/02/16/trump-russia-election-hacking-investigation/ .) A couple of excerpts might provide some taste for Jim’s metamorphosis trimming his sails to the prevailing winds. As seen below, Jim shows himself just as susceptible as virtually all of his fellow “journalists” to the epidemic-scale HWHW virus (for Hillary Would Have Won):
“This, my first column for The Intercept, will focus on … the evidence that Russia intervened in the election to help Trump win. It is already compelling, and it grows stronger by the day.
“There can be little doubt now that Russian intelligence officials were behind an effort to hack the DNC’s computers and steal emails and other information from aides to Hillary Clinton as a means of damaging her presidential campaign. …
“To their disgrace, editors and reporters at American news organizations greatly enhanced the Russian echo chamber, eagerly writing stories about Clinton and the Democratic Party based on the emails, while showing almost no interest during the presidential campaign in exactly how those emails came to be disclosed and distributed. The Intercept itself has faced such accusations. The hack was a much more important story than the content of the emails themselves, but that story was largely ignored.”
You got that exactly backwards, Jim. Where you been? The “mainstream media” echo chamber worked very effectively to divert attention from the highly embarrassing content of the emails (showing the dirty tricks used to sabotage Bernie Sanders). The echo chamber music was all about Why did those dastardly Russians hack into the DNC, with John McCain calling the alleged “hack” “an act of war.” Don’t you remember?
Good Advice From Another “Big Jim”
Here’s how Huckleberry Finn’s black friend, Big Jim, answers Huck’s question about accommodating to the conventional wisdom — in this case on slavery: ”Just because … everybody believes it’s right, that don’t make it right.”
The interview with Kim.com is broken down into three segments, each with following commentary. The segmented interview starts at minute 45:35 and goes to 1:58:15, with intermittent commentary and with Binney adding still more remarks until minute 2:15:00. George Szamuely adds his own remarks at the end until minute 2:34:30.
There they go again, the incorrigible Joe Lauria & and the Nevertheless-She Persisted Elizabeth Vos, practicing the forgotten art of agenda-free journalism — including actually interviewing key players like Michael Isikoff, Ed Butowski, and Kim Dot.com.
IMPORTANT: The evidence presented by Kim.com about Seth Rich can be verified or disproven if President Trump summons the courage to order the Director of NSA to dig out the relevant data, including the conversations to which Kim.com refers — and if the NSA Director complies with the order (which, sadly, is not a foregone conclusion). Trump has flinched more than once rather than confront the Deep State — and this time there are a bunch of very well connected, senior Deep State practitioners who could end up in prison. George Szamuely, the wrap-up commentator, expressed doubt that Trump has it in him to face them down.
Szamuely’s doubts are surely warranted, and the smart money should be put on his view. The question this time around, though, is whether Attorney General William Barr, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and special DOJ investigator John Durham — not to mention Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham — will come up with such such tangible, convincing proof that Russia-gate was a fraud from the get-go, that the President will overcome his fears.
If he does, and if he gives his investigators freedom to pursue the evidence where it leads — without fear or favor vis-a-vis the Deep State — the die will be cast. But don’t expect Brennan, Clapper, Comey, et al. to go without a major fight. The next several months are bound to be highly interesting. Among other things, they are likely to provide good insight into who is in actually in charge in Washington.
Lawrence wrote an equally good piece last August (See *** below) marking the first anniversary of the Memorandum in which VIPS told the President of forensic evidence casting doubt on the claim that Russia, or anyone else, hacked into the DNC. Here’s how that article started:
A year has passed since highly credentialed intelligence professionals produced the first hard evidence that allegations of mail theft and other crimes attributed to Russia rested on purposeful falsification and subterfuge.
Well, another August is here — still without any credible substantive challenge to VIPS’ main conclusions in 2017. And now, even U.S. District Judges are scratching their heads, asking (in legalese) Where’s the beef?
The way that so many people still have their heads in the sand, there is the (sad) prospect that that Patrick Lawrence will have to write a three-years-after piece next August. As Mark Twain is said to have warned, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Plus, after three years of “Russia-Russia-Russia” in the corporate — and even in some “progressive” — media, this conditioning will not be easy to reverse. Here’s how one observer described the situation last week, in a comment under one of Ray’s pieces on Consortium News:
“… One can write the most thought-out and well documented academic-like essays, articles and reports and the true believers in Russiagate will dismiss it all with a mere flick of their wrist. The mockery and scorn directed towards those of us who knew the score from day one won’t relent. They could die and go to heaven and ask god what really happened during the 2016 election. God would reply to them in no uncertain terms that Putin and the Russians had absolutely nothing to do with anything in ‘16, and they’d all throw up their hands and say, “aha! So, God’s in on this too!” … [Emphasis added.]
“It’s the great lie that won’t die. The cog-dis is simply too much.”
Includes a short clip of the “near universally praised” Robert Mueller testifying to a gutless House Intelligence Committee, blowing intelligence smoke about the dangers from Iraq a month before the U.S./UK attack.
Charlie Glass is among the most knowledgable on Syria. Would it not have been better for former Secretary of State John Kerry to have sought counsel from Glass and other highly experienced, objective observers, rather than end up pulling out his hair in acknowledgment that NOT EVEN HE, NOT EVEN JOHN KERRY could figure out how to handle an — admittedly situation about which he and his advisers enjoyed abysmal ignorance.
Here is a painfully revealing remark made by Kerry at a Washington conference convened by The Atlantic on September 29, 2016. Ray was there, but no one he talked to seemed able, or willing, to see the remark for what it was. In a word, what let Kerry to believe that he could “align forces?”
SECRETARY KERRY: — but Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusrah. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces. So it’s —
MR STEVE CLEMONS: So in the middle of that, why did you think you could get a ceasefire?
In place of sustained media attention to the end of the human species from global warming, its even more imminent demise in nuclear warfare, or the further evisceration of democratic discourse in a society riven by historically unprecedented wealth inequalities and unbridled capitalistic greed, corporate media suffocate their publics with a puerile narrative of alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.Talk about opportunity costs! And talk about things Trump should be impeached for!
Ray strongly encourages all his acquaintances — including old intelligence analyst colleagues — who are susceptible to infection by “red virus particles” and “whataboutism” to read Dr. Bivens’s essay carefully. One of Ray’s former co-workers became so infected by the red virus that he felt he needed to “denounce” Ray publicly in November 2017 for “adulation of Putin.” Several weeks later he emailed to say that he was “relieved that I need no longer fear that I will be investigated for having associated with you.”
Another former colleague asked Ray yesterday why “you and The Donald are so tight.” This old friend dismissed the Deep State as “the political Unicorn,” and asked Ray, “When did you buy in to all this?” Yes, it’s that bad; and these are highly intelligent people, if — like Ray — a little long in the tooth.
The Great Tragic Comedy of Modern Journalism is, of course, far more tragedy than comedy and has taken its toll. That’s why Ray would really like folks to read what Dr. Bivens has written out of his long experience practicing journalism before practicing medicine. His article is an excellent follow-on to the excellent one by Matt Taibbi that we posted yesterday (See: https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-rise-and-fall-of-superhero-robert.)
It proved too difficult for Robert Parry, founder of Consortium News, to bear what was happening to the profession he practiced with unusually high integrity. Bob had a stroke on Christmas Eve 2017, and had to struggle to put together his cri de coeur a week later. (Please See: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/12/31/an-apology-and-explanation/ .) He no doubt sensed it might be his last chance.
Robert Parry died on January 27, 2018. Here are some excerpts from what he wrote on that New Years Eve. Yes, FAR MORE TRAGEDY than comedy. An Apology and Explanation By Robert Parry, December 31, 2017 From Editor Robert Parry: For readers who have come to see Consortiumnews as a daily news source, I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days. On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that “every day’s a work day” had something to do with this.
Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse. …
The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014. The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the “other side of the story.” Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a “Putin apologist” or “Kremlin stooge.”
Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many “liberals” who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.
The Trump Crisis
Which brings us to the crisis that is Donald Trump. Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has solidified the new paradigm of “liberals” embracing every negative claim about Russia just because elements of the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency produced a report last Jan 6 that blamed Russia for “hacking” Democratic emails and releasing them via WikiLeaks. It didn’t seem to matter that these “hand-picked” analysts (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called them) evinced no evidence and even admitted that they weren’t asserting any of this as fact.
The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside. On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump “Resistance.” The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal.
Other people, including senior editors across the mainstream media, began to treat the unproven Russia-gate allegations as flat fact. No skepticism was tolerated and mentioning the obvious bias among the never-Trumpers inside the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community was decried as an attack on the integrity of the U.S. government’s institutions. Anti-Trump “progressives” were posturing as the true patriots because of their now unquestioning acceptance of the evidence-free proclamations of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers – or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life. To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism; it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could; not to slant the “facts” to “get” some “bad” political leader or “guide” the public in some desired direction. …
Ironically, the ugly personal characteristics of Donald Trump – his own contempt for facts and his crass personal behavior – have stripped the mask off the broader face of Official America.
What is perhaps most alarming about the past year of Donald Trump is that the mask is now gone and, in many ways, all sides of Official Washington are revealed collectively as reflections of Donald Trump, disinterested in reality, exploiting “information” for tactical purposes, eager to manipulate or con the public. While I’m sure many anti-Trumpers will be deeply offended by my comparison of esteemed Establishment figures with the grotesque Trump, there is a deeply troubling commonality between Trump’s convenient use of “facts” and what has pervaded the Russia-gate investigation.
My Christmas Eve stroke now makes it a struggle for me to read and to write. Everything takes much longer than it once did – and I don’t think that I can continue with the hectic pace that I have pursued for many years. But – as the New Year dawns – if I could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate “information warfare” in favor of an old-fashioned respect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.